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But She Wanted to be a Sailor by Irene Raspollini. Used with permission.

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter,” wrote the Victorian novelist Charlotte Brontë, “- often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.” Perhaps t…

Source: Irene Raspollini – On Art and Aesthetics

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My niece flew back to London and university yesterday and I miss her beautiful and savvy countenance. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do! In this reblog, Serena Trowbridge casts her eye upon our (UK) political leaders’ choice of ‘favourite’ poems. Interesting!

Culture and Anarchy

In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Andrew Motion, in his role as head of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, writes about party leaders’ reluctance to commit to protecting greenbelt land. He also asks them for their favourite poems about the countryside. (You can read more about Motion’s interviews with the party leaders here). Their responses were:

David Cameron: Gray’s ‘Elegy

Nigel Farage: George Meredith, ‘The Lark Ascending

Natalie Bennett: Aemilia Lanyer, ‘Ode to Cooke-ham

Ed Miliband: Blake’s ‘Jerusalem

Nick Clegg: Blake, ‘Eternity

20130722-095212-PM.jpgCameron’s choice of Gray’s poem is not remarkable; he commented that it is a ‘magical’ poem which was a leaving present from his school – not surprisingly, since both were Eton men. The poem was once voted the UK’s most popular poem, and was also Gordon Brown’s favourite poem, though he more perceptively commented that the poem…

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Michael Rosen, Writer

This article by the British children’s author, Michael Rosen, is marginally off-topic but I believe it should be read by everyone in light of what’s happening in the UK and around the planet. If I’m reading it correctly, it’s a ‘call-to-arms’ for us to think in different ways about the world around us in the hope that we can change the limiting structures and hierarchies that have been in place for centuries, and by doing so, enable better, happier and more satisfying lives for every person. Something has to give, that’s for sure, or we will be wedged forever in a universe where the poor become poorer and the rich richer, surrounded by a landscape devoid of meaningful culture.

Incidentally, if you haven’t already read and shared Michael Rosen’s books with  your children, you’re missing a trick. My favourite is You’re Thinking About Doughnuts.


1. In the place that gets called ‘left-of-Labour’ or the ‘radical left’ or the ‘alternative left’, there have been all sorts of shifts and realignments. This is not as new as it looks. They happen all the time. The big ones happen when the most vociferous, most successful of the groupings goes through a crisis.

2. The real crisis for the ‘radical left’ is that we have failed to dent the politicians-media agreement about how to present the economic crisis. This agreement runs something like this: some bankers did some silly things…the result was a lot of debt and a credit squeeze…Labour did some silly things…the only way out of it is for government to spend less…this means that we must all agree that to save our skins, we must cut public spending…and we must freeze or cut wages…the only people who can be trusted to do this are the Tories.

3. We know that this is a hoax. Even quite right-wing politicians like Alan Johnson call it a ‘fat lie’. In fact, there are several lies. The bankers (and all the other financiers) weren’t just naughty. They smashed up big sections of the system that enables capitalism to operate. Through our governments’  actions all over the world, we have been taxed to keep that system solvent. Through our governments’ actions we have lost large sections of our welfare, education and cultural institutions – hospitals, schools, social services, benefits. Through our governments’ actions, people’s wages have been cut and/or people put out of work.

4. While this has been going on, the super-rich, the hyper-rich have got richer. The main reason why they have got richer is because the ‘cost’ of employing people has gone down. I say ‘cost’ in inverted commas, because it’s only a ‘cost’ from the point of view of those who employ. For everyone else it’s their ‘income’ or ‘spending power’. People don’t see themselves as a ‘cost’ nor should they!

5. So, ‘austerity’ is in fact, a realignment, a shuffling. It’s the means by which the poor stay poor (or are made poorer) and the rich to stay rich (or get richer). It’s nothing to do with the money that Labour did or did not borrow during its time in power. It’s entirely to do with the decisions that are made by financiers, finance ministers and giant corporations. Having taken risks that failed (on a massive scale, involving all sorts of gigantic fiddles and cons), they are trying to claw back solvency through making the mass of people work for less money and have much less by way of public services and benefits.

6. The ‘radical left’ has been saying this throughout the time of the crisis. However, we haven’t dented the consensus. This argument is hardly ever heard. Or, when it’s heard, very little happens. There are of course sporadic and brave efforts by people to defend jobs, wages and services. But, if we are ruthless and honest with ourselves, what has happened is that this hasn’t spread far and wide. It hasn’t become ‘generalised’, as the jargon has it.

7. And, just as importantly, it hasn’t enabled us all to see clearly that ‘wealth’ isn’t really what turns up in the figures on bankers’ computer screens. It isn’t even really ‘money’. Wealth is what we make and do with our minds and bodies. We work in places made with the past effort of the minds and bodies of our forbears. All the machines and infrastructure that enable goods and services to be produced and pass between us are made through…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


All I Want for Christmas © First Night Design

All I Want for Christmas © First Night Design
The name around the Sheriff of Nottingham’s neck,
Iain Duncan Syndrome, is a satirical reference to Iain
Duncan Smith, minister for the DWP, which listeners to BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz , the best satirical series bar none, will recognise.

Christmas may be known traditionally as a time of joy and excess but there are now too many people on the planet who don’t have enough to eat, let alone give presents to those they love. War, civil or otherwise, is devastating the lives of millions. Dictators continue to wield power. Governments in supposedly developed and democratic countries are demolishing the infrastructures our forbears fought and died for. In my country alone, the Tory/LibDem coalition that holds power, and let’s not forget we did not vote them in, continues to pursue a path that has them demonising and persecuting the most vulnerable. And laughing when they hear stories from Labour MPs about their constituents that would break the heart of any decent person.

I never imagined when I began this blog that I would ever post about politics. I save the subject for tweets but I have never felt such anger, frustration and despair in my life.  I am ashamed to belong to the same race as these public schoolboy millionaires who are hell-bent on lining their own pockets at the expense (pun intended) of the rest of the population, particularly the poor (did you know it’s their own fault?), the disabled (did you know that life-long conditions are curable in as little as a year?), and the unemployed (did you know they’re supposed to find jobs where none exist?).

One of the biggest problems is that a majority read the right-wing newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail which toe the party-line and print as fact the mightily skewed statistics given out to them, not to mention the outright lies being bandied about by such as David Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey. Or they don’t ‘bother’ with politics.

If we don’t wake up to the real world and what is being done in our name, our country will be destroyed for generations to come, if not for good.

I could say more but there are others who are saying these things far better than I ever could and with the facts to back it up.

Vox Political
Pride’s Purge
Jayne Linney
Benefit Tales
Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
A Girl Called Jack
SPeye
Michael Meacher MP (Labour)
The Independent
The Guardian
New Statesman
Daily Mirror

I leave you with these questions:

  • Is it right that in the sixth-richest country in the world, there will be 80,000 children homeless this Christmas?
  • Is it right that people are committing suicide rather than be made homeless by cruel benefit cuts?
  • Is it right that bankers, who caused the crisis in the first place, should go on lining their pockets with massive pay rises and bonuses while the ‘hoi-polloi’ suffer?
  • Is it right that politicians should grant themselves a pay rise over the rate of inflation when most people’s wages have remained stagnant and the cost of living has increased I don’t know how-many-fold?
  • ‘Why if you can’t get a job and are 5 minutes late for a job interview or work programme do you get ‘sanctioned’ and have all your benefit (for which you’ve contributed all though your working life via national insurance contributions) taken away for 4 weeks and left with no money at all, whereas if you cheat the State through elaborately artificial tax avoidance on an industrial scale (notoriously like Barclays Capital or indeed any big bank) you’re not bankrupted, not disqualified from continuing in the finance sector you’ve disgraced, and not sent to prison?’ [from Michael Meacher MP’s latest blog post.]

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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