The Jungle, day two

DSC_0332 DSC_0318 DSC_0291 DSC_0174 DSC_0144 DSC_0124I have just got back from the Jungle refugee camp here in a blisteringly hot Calais. There is no doubt about it, the plight of the refugees has slipped down the news agenda. More young men are arriving all the time in the Jungle camp and many members of the public think, because they saw film of part of the camp being cleared, that less aid is required. This is absolutely not the case. Stocks are dwindling and have to be replenished. Only a minority of women and children are in this camp because many of these refugees were hunted by their regimes. Young males are seen at the forefront of opposition to the states from which they flee so we need a lot of jogging pants with elasticated bottoms, hoodies, trainers. The press wants to demonise these guys. In my eyes, they are heroes, trekking across the world for a better life. Let’s do our little bit to help their dreams come true.
Solidarity.

Of Corbyn, myths and mischief-makers

We can see many of the broad threads of the anti-Corbyn campaign’s strategy. You carry out the real and verifiable intimidation of suspending two pro-Corbyn constituency labour parties with no substantive evidence then condemn threats and intimidation. A cursory glance at Wirral shows how wafer-thin that evidence is: there was no brick ‘through Angela’s window’, but a brick through a stairwell window shared by multiple occupiers; there was no police advice not to hold meetings; there were no allegations of abuse received by party officials. So what? You suspend anyway. Just as they maintained a drip, drip, drip of resignations, now the oust Corbyn chorus carries out a drip, drip, drip of letters to Corbyn, complaints to the press (the notion that Corbyn was calling in the IRA through daddy to sort out a St Helens MP) The most pernicious element of all this is that mud sticks and stuck mud demoralises Labour supporters who are not at the meetings and demonstrations to see the whole thing is manufactured. You know what you do then, when you have smeared the Labour leader day after day, week after week, you wait for the inevitable poor polling data and you say:
“See, Jeremy is unelectable.”
The whiff of hypocrisy is acrid. We have to continue to patiently dismantle the wall of myth and press the case for a radical socialist alternative. The PLP majority has the Tory press to convey its message, we have mass public agitation.

Refugees need your help

Day two at the jungle. The main thing I think I have to say is that the camp is still there and refugees are arriving. Numbers are at least five thousand, quite possibly more and people continue to turn up. We met one guy who arrived yesterday. Stocks of food and other necessities are running. They desperately need donations. The feeling is one of solidarity and hope as well as the grinding discomforts of being stranded. Volunteers and refugees intermingle freely. Everybody shakes your hand and beams a hello. The school is a revelation. It was a hive of activity as we arrived, the volunteer teachers taking small groups through the finer details of English, French and Maths. In parallel, there is the continuing mischief-making of the police. Some of the refugee-run restaurants are closed. Food and cooking equipment has been seized. So, overall, an inspiring experience, but a community under pressure.
Please donate, using the Care 4 Calais website:

care4calais.org

 

172 happy, smiley people

Ange: “We need to rally round a single, united, strong leader. Me.”
Owen: “I think I’ll stand.”
Ange: “You bastard. Look, I am a single, united, strong leader.” (Sighs). “OK, we need to rally around either me or the robot in the glasses. Two united leaders.”
The Dugong. “I’m thinking about it.”
Ange: “Wha….? OK, we need to rally around either me or the robot in the glasses or the incredibly right wing aquatic mammal.”
Yvette: “Don’t count me out.”
Ange: “Oh, for f…..”
Owen (whispering): “Kinder, nicer, pinker, cuddlier, lovelier, more fragrant politics.”
Ange: “Oh, screw you, you opportunist four-eyed tw…..”
The curtains close on another happy day on Waltons Mountain.

The mother of all resignations

So the mother of all Thatcherites has chucked in the towel. Of course, Mrs Leadsom says it is because she has had a Damascene conversion and realises that Theresa May is a fragrant angel with class written through her mighty soul like the lettering through a stick of rock. What is more likely is that she has buckled for several reasons:
• She clearly fiddled her CV and got rumbled. She is not the Dark Magician of Financeland as she led everyone to believe.
• She has uncomfortable tax avoidance lurking in her tax accounts hence her decision to reveal only one year.
• She shot herself in the mumsnet with her scurrilous comments about Theresa May, making herself look unfit for office
This should spell something out to people in the labour movement. The Tory hierarchy has leant on Leadsom and used her indiscretions to end her candidacy. For all their troubles, and the fractures in the Tory party run deep, this is one of the world’s most successful and ruthless ruling class parties. They were ready to dump even the Blessed Margaret when she became a liability. The Tory Party pursues ruling class interests in the most determined fashion.
Contrast this with the Labour Party. When it has a candidate that would stop triangulating with Tory interests and pursue the interests of working people, under a principled candidate like Jeremy Corbyn, 172 members of the PLP, to varying degrees, circle their leader and hack at him (metaphorically) in front of the variously gleeful and horrified eyes of the public, Labour voters and members and the watching Conservative benches.
Just as in the miners’ strike the Labour right and much of the centre and soft left fail to pursue the interests of working people with the same vigour as the Tories pursue the interests of the establishment.

Black Lives Matter, Liverpool

DSC_0058 DSC_0221 DSC_0233I have just returned from one of the most pulsating, militant demonstrations I can remember. Black Lives Matter was young, multi-ethnic, radical….and fast. Many of the leaders of the march were young women. After a vigil with rhythmic clapping and chanting, we set off at breakneck pace, weaving through the city. When I marched in 1981 with the Liverpool 8 black community after the riots, many white people looked on stony-faced. This time it was very different, with lots of white people raising clenched fists and cheering. This included a number of elderly men and women, taxi drivers and restaurant-goers. Soon we were marching out of the city centre. “Where are we going?” I asked. Lodgie. Lodge Lane is Liverpool 8, on the edge of Sefton Park. After several gatherings, again cheered on by the local community, black, white, Somali, we roared back into the city via Upper Parliament Street, epicentre of the riots in ’81. This must have been a five mile round trip, noisy, angry and crackling with energy. Next Saturday, we do it all again.

Cracks

The politician stands before the public
And his voice cracks.
The parent watches the politician
And her heart breaks.
A break is a crack.
A crack opened in Iraq
All those years ago.
The crack spread and spread.
Seeds were cast in the crack
And a poisonous weed grew
And more hearts broke.
New cracks widened and ran
And new seeds were sewn
And more and more poisonous weeds
Spill out and grasp our limbs.
The politician stands before the public.
His voice cracks.
His heart does not break.

I’d do anything

I hope nobody has already done this. Sing along to the tune of I’ll do anything from Oliver.

I’d do anything
For you dear anything
For you mean everything to me.

I know that
I’d go anywhere
For your smile, anywhere —
For your smile, ev’rywhere —
I’d see.

[GEORGE]
Would you go to war?

[TONY]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
And no Jaw Jaw?

[TONY]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Ignore all the facts?

[TONY]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Make lots of dodgy pacts?

[TONY]
What? With neocons?

I’d risk everything
For one smile — everything
Yes, I’d do anything…

[GEORGE]
Anything?!

[TONY]
Anything for you!!

[TONY (spoken)]
‘Ere now, Jack, you just copy
me and George and I’ll help you out with the words, alright?
So it’s “I’d do anything”

[JACK (sung)]
I’d do anything

[TONY (spoken)]
For you dear

[JACK (sung)]
For you dear, anything

[TONY (spoken)]
For you mean

[JACK (sung)]
For you mean everything to me

[TONY (spoken)]
Ah, that’s lovely.

[JACK]
I know that
I’d go anywhere
For your smile, anywhere —
For your smile, everywhere
I’d see

[GEORGE]
Would you repeat my lies?

[JACK]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Put bombers in the skies?

[JACK]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Level half Baghdad?

[JACK]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Blow up Fallujah?

[JACK]
And back again!
I’d risk ev’rything
For one pat — everything —
Yes, I’d do anything

[GEORGE]
Anything?!

[JACK]
Anything for you!!

[GEORGE (spoken)]
Dance, Limies.

[TONY and JACK (spoken)]
Oh, alright, George.
1-2-3…

[GEORGE]
Would you pray with me?

[ALL]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Subvert democracy?

[ALL]
Anything!

[GEORGE]
Tho’ your hair goes grey?

[ALL]
Anything!
[GEORGE ]
Would you squirm all day?

[ALL]
Hang ev’rything!
We’d risk kith and kin
To save your skin
Yes, we’d do anything
[GEORGE ]
Anything?!

[ALL]
Anything for you.