Tony Benn – an inspiration.

“When people are scared, they turn to the right. It has been the same in all great economic catastrophes.” – Tony Benn speaking to the BBC in 2009 after the release of the final installments of his diaries.

Hands off IRan Tony BennTony Benn died today aged 88 and will be remembered for his unshakeable belief and commitment to true democracy, the right to life, religious harmony, the NHS and his opposition to war. Time and again he called for the arrest of the war criminal Tony Blair for his part in the illegal war in Iraq having had to bear witness to the UK twice in 10 years marching to the aid of the American government in Iraq. One of his last speeches was to call for the UK to think twice about engaging in a war with Syria. He was fearless in the face of adversity and never too afraid to tell it how it was.

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Tony Benn was born in 1924 and lived through the Blitz, this first hand experience of the horrors of war were the foundation from which his opposition to our imperialist nature flourished. He was a staunch Labour MP and worked at point for the BBC, two institutions that failed him horribly in later life as New Labour came to power in 1994 with the election of Tony Blair as its leader in opposition, who set about tearing up their associations with the labour movement and the working class in favour of big business and the military industrial complex, and the BBC fell the way of other news institutions in merely repeating what they were told and seldom offering any real investigative journalism. He once famously accused the BBC of succumbing to political pressure from the Israeli government’s wishes over a report on aid for Gaza.

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Time and again Tony Benn stood for justice, providing one of the loudest voices people in this country have ever had against corruption and the attacks on our way of life. I had the privilege of meeting Tony Benn just over 14 months ago where you could see that despite his outwardly frail frame, that there was indomitable spirit contained within. The thrust of his speech centered particularly around the very real and dangerous risks we face of losing our NHS to the vultures in the private sector. For anyone in the room unsure about the creation of this wonderful institution, they would have left with no doubt the historical context of its creation, how, why and the importance that we fight for it with every breath as it has for us throughout the generations.

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As when Nelson Mandela died and more recently Bob Crow, it would be easy for us to focus on any negative of voices commenting on his passing, or the lack of content within others, which makes it all the more important to focus on the great and inspirational life that he lived. Many will say that there will never be another like him, I would prefer to envisage a time in the future when we will look on others as we do Tony Benn today, a champion of the people, of truth and justice. With each passing of these icons it falls on each of us to rise to the challenge and remember them by honouring their legacies.

Last pic Tony Benn

“I try to operate on two unconnected levels. One on the practical level of action in which I am extremely cautious and conservative. The second is the realm of ideas where I try to be very free” ~ Tony Benn, 1925 – 2014

From cradle to grave

THE MADHOUSE has been overrun and they have left a calling card. A toy plastic credit card.

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The Early Learning Center toy where your child can learn everything about money except for the fact that it is not real to begin with, or that the plastic your children are playing with actually has more intrinsic value than the digital numbers floating around the ether that determines whether people eat or not because it is the byproduct of a million years of fossilised flora and fauna.

The Early Learning Center toy comes complete with plastic money and credit card, where your child can learn about money and how to get in to debt with their plastic friend, not taking in to consideration the fact they were £73,000 in debt before they were even born. Of course, these toys are hardly new but there is something genuinely crazy about the way the world is going.

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A meme sprang up this month of a bag of 100 plastic pennies worth more than $3 (or £2 something) which questioned the sanity of paying more for fake money than the value of its real life equivalent.  I just could not get my head around this and thought it was an early April Fool’s, so I took to the Internet to find out the truth and this is when I found the new credit card toy from the Early Learning Center and had a mini meltdown.

If only I had just gone to bed.

The sad thing is that parents really feel that they are doing their kids a favour by purchasing this crap and calling it educational, but we cannot criticise because they mostly know no better themselves about the truth of money and so the cycle continues. It is a 360 degree immersive advertising campaign, designed to do one thing; ensure perpetual debt slavery.

The problem comes when people have become so embedded in the lie that it makes it hard for them to see the truth, that the monetary system they put so much trust in is just a ponzi scheme, built on debt and that mortgage defaults and bankruptcy are inherently built into it. The only reason it endures is because of the blind faith we as a society have put in it. It is the reason we have austerity, library closures, cuts and closures to our emergency services and privatisation of our NHS. You couldn’t make it up.

The first step to breaking free from our chains is to first see that we are imprisoned. A good start would be the group Positive Money, another would be this video by Peter Joseph from The Zeitgeist movement in 2008.

Right now I am going to get my head and just remember that “everything is awesome.”

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We are all standing on the shoulders of giants

Recently a tweet by a man named Derek Nichols, about his brother Jordan’s poem, gained much attention on the social media ether.

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The poem is a clever play on words that can be read forwards and backwards and gained a great many plaudits from across the world. It has however started to pick up the usual scorn from some quarters as it appears the poem by young Jordan, 14, emulates another poem called Lost Generation. Does this really detract from the efforts of a young boy, or should we applaud the views and feelings he harbours about the way our world and way of life is headed?

We live in a time where nearly every movie or song is a copy, remake, or re-imagining of a classic (sometimes not so classic) and yet we pour adulation on these great feats of ‘art’, sometimes bestowing the highest of honours and awards on them in the process, yet when a young boy sees inspiration and does the same thing with a poem, a poem that holds a far greater and important message than say ‘The Amazing Spider-man’ for example, we are intent on killing him for it. Virtually nothing in the world of art is original today because we have killed creativity in our schools and we are a poorer society for it.

There is much darkness in this world and our news (when it is not covering celebrity trials) and we should take stock of moments like this to encourage our children to make more art, seizing inspiration from things such as the Lost Generation poem and perhaps reignite the artist within ourselves too, for it is the only way to shed some light on the darkness. When we do so we should remember one thing; we are all standing on the shoulders of giants.