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activism Corbyn economics Election Hastings Housing Labour NHS Politics prejudice Uncategorized

Make lousy politicians a minority

We could do this. Here’s how…

There are millions of people in this country who, like me, have used the phrase ‘politically homeless’. They have been thrown out of, or lost faith in, their ‘natural’ choice of party. There are also increasing numbers of people who, like me, have realised there’s more to politics than the competition between red, blue and any other party colours that choose to challenge the tyranny of red and blue. We know the ‘minority parties’ won’t get far, though, and many of us are having trouble believing we can magically agree on yet another new party, and get them into a realistic position before the next election.

There’s a better way

There are millions of people, if you put them together, who have thrown their efforts into the anti-austerity movement, perhaps via the People’s Assemblies, or through their unions. Others have chosen one of the big issues our survival depends on, and started working with XR, or Stop the War, or the women’s movement.

It’s become obvious to most that the main political ‘opposition’ known to the establishment is Keir Starmer’s Labour, despite the fact that Labour’s willingness to defend basics is minimal. By basics, I mean things most of us agree that we need – like the NHS, water, power and transport services, housing and workers’ rights. Many people also value women’s rights, anti-racism and of course the environment, and that means millions won’t sit easy with a party that neglects or worsens those issues.

You are being taken for a ride

Starmer’s Labour is cheerfully dancing to the right, confident that they don’t have to be much different to Johnson’s Tories now. They think a few familiar names from the last century, a few professional looking politicians who handle themselves better than Johnson, is all they need. The Greens are still too absorbed in arguing with each other over whether women exist to come anywhere near XR in environment-defence campaigns let alone on any other issue that matters to real people. The Lib Dems are still as pointless as they have been ever since Nick Clegg demonstrated their ‘beta Tories’ stance. There are other options in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, if you’re Welsh, Labour may seem less of a lost cause to you but for English voters, no other party is going to get a nose into Westminster politics unless we force our politicians into a complete overhaul of the voting system, and indeed, many have joined vote-reform pressure groups.

Great – we need that. Join a vote-reform pressure group, but that isn’t very exciting, and doesn’t feel like the whole of an answer, does it?

Get mad AND get even

The politicians you shout at on the telly are all completely confident that you’ll choose red or blue or give up and do nothing. It’s time to prove them wrong. In the next election, there will be a lot of people who will need to be persuaded to vote at all. This is the situation where inspiring independent candidates have a really good chance and, if those independents want to win, now is the time to be planning and organising. But they need to have something most maverick independents don’t have. They need an organisation, and some informed supporters.

If you’re a member of a campaigning group of any kind, on any issue, national or local, that has natural justice on its side, get talking now about whether you have someone who’s real candidate material – someone your group would rally round with enough enthusiasm to inspire others. You should be preparing now, to offer your own Refugee Support candidate, or Housing is a Human Right candidate, or Anti-Austerity candidate, or No Shit candidate (the latter has become a popular slogan in my town, since our water company was taken over by a shameless, profiteering polluter).

Take back control

In the last two general elections, independent candidates were often unpopular because the main parties had a lot of passionate support. In one of those elections in my town, an independent candidate won a mere 400 votes but they were votes that could have toppled an unpopular MP. Although that maverick candidate raised some important issues and gave the unpopular MP some nasty moments in the hustings, he was seriously considering leaving town after voting day, for his own safety. The situation has changed now. In most constituencies, no-one would weep for the loss of main party offerings.

Consider both council and national elections. Don’t let the reds and the blues choke our politics. If every council had a range of experienced, specialist independents, if every hustings at the next GE had a range of candidates speaking knowledgeably on the real issues, seasoned activists from those pressure groups we all support, like We Own It, Defend the NHS and the rest – if that happened, the major parties would have to pull their socks up, start doing real politics, or lose seats big time.

That will make them listen to you. Think about your groups and campaigns, talk the issue through with fellow activists, and get organised now. It’s a big job, but it’s far, far more satisfying than sitting around feeling bullied by lousy politicians. Find a well known campaigner on an important local issue to put up for council, and an effective activist on a big national issue to put up for the next General Election. At the very least, your candidates will raise the level of the debate and make the big party politicians work but it’s perfectly possible that if enough groups did this, we could make lousy politicians a backward-looking minority on your council and in Westminster.

Doesn’t that idea just bring joy to your heart? Who are you going to talk to? Which of your local groups could do this? Let’s get to it, now.

Categories
Book reviews Corbyn Labour media Politics Uncategorized

On reviewing a book I haven’t read

Well I’ve never done this before. The book is Citizen Clem by John Bew. The pic at the top of this article is from the Ken Loach film, Spirit of ’45. When you’ve read this book review, if you’re interested in all the talk of Jeremy Corbyn being like (or not like) Clement Attlee, I suggest you watch that film. It’s probably better than this book, and it’s more likely to contain the information that’s relevant to us today:

Categories
Election Hastings Politics

Our Election Campaign (not theirs)

I don’t follow sport closely but from my viewpoint the main role of a manager seems to be that of scapegoat. Player falls over own feet and his team loses? SACK THE MANAGER! Team have a bad run and fail to work together? SACK THE MANAGER! Team put in remarkable hours training and come out ten times as good? MANAGER’S A GENIUS (until next week).

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Election Politics

The last blog before the election from a ker-nackered campaigner

Woke up this morning stiff, rattling and exhausted. How many desperate conversations, how many sessions of leaflet waving and door-knocking, how many brain-cells battering against the algorithms trying to send the message where other messages cannot reach? How much? How long? How far? How, how, how?

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Election Hastings Labour Politics

About the Censorship at Rye Hustings ***updated***

(If you’re looking at this for the 2nd time, please scroll down to the bit about the election results at the bottom). They never learn, do they? The one sure result of attempts to censor anything is to amplify it across the world. That amazing clip of Amber Rudd instructing the chair at the Rye hustings to silence another candidate was seen everywhere from Craig Murray’s Edinburgh-based blog to the Daily Mirror website.

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Election Politics

If I’m so clever…

I am Vice-Chair (membership) of Hastings and Rye Labour Party. In many ways, I’m in the wrong job in this election campaign. I am constantly being asked to do things that I’m not good at, in ways that make no sense to me, and that are emotionally and physically exhausting. The people around me do not seem to notice this at all.

Categories
Election Labour

What you do now is…

You were as upset by what happened in Manchester. You’ve been all keyed up trying to do your best for a fast and furious election campaign, and now you feel sad and sorry and worried sick. The campaign’s been halted. And while you sit there trying to work out the rules, (Tory) government ministers are on TV and radio, telling listeners how they’ll keep us all safe, and the media billionaires and their right-wing supporters run riot all over the news stands and social media.

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Book reviews Election NHS

Nurses’ public duty

Oh, just look what is being advertised on social media. Now, why would an election period where the Tories are angling for the ‘older’ vote be a good time to advertise ‘affordable’ private health provision? And, as with Tory affordable housing, may we ask ‘affordable to whom’?

Categories
Corbyn Election Labour

Answer to the answers to ‘The answers’

This is a thank you to the many people who commented on my ‘doorstep answers’ blog post here,  or on Facebook or elsewhere. The comments tend to fall into two categories –  “they won’t believe it” and “here’s some better info”.

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Corbyn Election Labour

The answers…

“Where’s the money going to come from?” It’s a question a lot of people ask on the doorstep, when Labour campaigners come around and tell them we have the answers to the problems the Conservatives have created. Surprisingly often, the question wrong-foots the canvassers. It’s because it’s such an illogical question. How do you pay for a revenue generator? It’s like saying where do you find the energy to eat your dinner?

Here’s my answer:

How do we pay for renationalising the NHS? By rejecting deals with private companies that put hospitals expensively in debt, by refusing all corporate ‘services’ that are priced so high to pay for share-holders’ dividends and commercially minded managers’ salaries.

In short, we pay for renationalising the NHS by renationalising the NHS.

How do we pay for renationalising the railways? Pretty much as above, except that we don’t even have to get into arguments about ‘compensation’ for companies that were expecting to get rich out of our railways – we just take them back when their franchises end. We could also drop ticket and season ticket prices so that more people could afford to use the railways, if we re-invested the money currently going to foreign companies in profits.

In short, we pay for renationalising the railways by not paying for any more franchise deals.

How do we pay for all the local authority schools, childrens’ centres, libraries, museums and other education projects we’ve been losing in recent years? By ceasing to funnel vast amounts of government money into private and semi-private ‘academy’ companies.

In short, we pay for education and culture by renationalising education and culture.

How do we pay for running the tax collection system properly?

By adjusting taxes so that those who can afford to pay more – the millionaires, the billionaires and the corporations – do pay more. We can put a small proportion of the revenue generated that way into re-staffing and powering up the HMRC so that it has the capacity to administrate and collect all the tax that should be collected. The result will be a MUCH greater income, with less burden on those who DON’T have large amounts of money to pay taxes with.

How do we pay for setting up a national investment bank?

With the rest of the income generated by sorting out the tax system.

How do we pay for the council houses, the new schools, childrens’ centres and care services, and the green infrastructure we’re desperate for? With the money generated from the national investment bank, once it’s set up and funded by the money rolling in from the HRMC.

How do we get everyone who wants to work back into work so they can pay some taxes and keep things rolling? By employing them to get on with all the things listed above.

Any other questions?

Update added 20th May 2017: some other questions did come up – here are some answers to those, courtesy of We Own It  …

Update added 30th May:

More answers please pass around one more time, with the added message for any Tory-leaning friends that…

the BIG, BIG problem with selling off your assets to gain funds is that it comes to a dead stop when you run out of assets.