Let freedom ring

My blogging has been a little hit and miss of late but there are big changes going on all the time.

Russian war planes. Is Putin the Anti-Christ? Syriza – will they won’t they?? Who’ll win what at the Oscars? Who killed that girl last year on that BBC show?

The big issues that drive us just keep on coming, so where do I start?

I guess Syriza, as I took a bit of a verbal beating around Christmas for daring to suggest that you can’t vote your way out of political system designed to serve and protect itself. The argument laid at my laptop screen was that the Greeks had a chance to vote out austerity by electing a socialist party, a vote made more important by the presence of far right elements such as the Golden Dawn. “You say there is no difference between Syriza and Golden Dawn? Then you are lost!”was their Obi-Wan Kenobi cry.

That is not quite what I said. I said that I did not believe that Syriza would have the ability to deliver what they promised, a reverse of the bailout programme, which has seen 25% youth unemployment and over 50% unemployment on the whole. Syriza were voted in on the belief that they would deliver the promises they made when they started the course 4 years ago. I believed this because ultimately, the men and women in suits that we vote on are not the ones who hold the cards, it is the faceless ones in corporations that do.

What we have witnessed in the build up to the recent Greek elections were a watering down of Syriza’s position. Instead of promising to tear up the austerity programme, they promised to renegotiate the bailout. One month on and the newly elected Greek Government have dipped their toes into the piranha tank by suggesting they could exit the agreement and the Euro but as the deadline loomed, they settled for an extension, with their home work to follow like a naughty school child late with an assignment. The early signs are this new, negotiated programme is full of measures that any self-respecting government would expect, such as dealing with tax evasion.

How can a victim negotiate with their assailant?

The Greeks rallied for real change. Thousands took to the streets to see this change take place, now Tsipras and Syriza have a duty to deliver, by any means necessary, what the people asked for. If they don’t get it, do not be surprised to see them back on the streets demanding another election.

Which was the crux of my point about the values of voting in our current political system. Voting is always held up as the pinnacle of democracy, what people have fought and died for generations and that by not voting, we discredit their struggle. I disagree.

Much of the mainstream media is pushing, like never before, to ensure people vote this May in the General Election 2015. Why? Sky are running their campaign for kids to stand up and be counted, movies flicker on our cinema screens debating this very topic, using historical and visceral images of men and women being beaten on bridges for daring to try to vote, all designed to shame us into voting this May. Where I disagree is that it is not the vote that changes things, but the struggle that comes before it. People taking direct and indirect actions to influence an issue, using civil disobedience, economic withdrawal and a variety of other techniques to achieve their goal but crucially by acting together. These are tactics that have proved successful throughout our history but lessons we have perhaps forgotten. The vote then comes as a way of placating us, to end the uprising and this is what the establishment fears the most; not our vote, but our strength, as a collective. This is why they work so hard to divide and rule us using the politics and language of fear and hatred.

Of the movie Selma, which I refer to in respect of movies raising the importance of voting, the movie touches on a bigger issue of what the point is in having the vote if you are unable to use it or make it count? The way our current democracy (and I would like a proper definition of what democracy really is?) works is that we have a popularity contest, we pick someone we like better (or hate less than the others) based on the image portrayed of them by our media and then wait to be told for 5 years what we may or may not be entitled to vote on. The rest of the time, the part-timers sit in one of their 9 bars or 13 restaurants, drinking tea, whilst the House of Commons sits largely empty as a debate on one of a thousand different issues that may or may not affect you directly rages on until a bell rings. Then they scurry around like cockroaches on a landfill when the lights come on, voting how their party whip tells them to. If they don’t, they are ejected from the party and end up facing discipline. No mandate. No accountability, not at least until the next popularity contest is called and what’s worse is that the majority of them LIKE it this way.

How can that be democracy? They get voted in and decide for you without clear mandates? Sounds like dictatorship to me. You can lobby and speak to them until you are blue in the face (I have done so) but it is all for nothing as they will do their own thing, or what their party whip tells them to, unless they have a conscience. They can lie, cheat, defraud and mislead with impunity and like victims of domestic abuse, we keep going back for more, hoping that things will get better because they want what’s best for us. By voting in the current political system we are only legitimising what they do to us because we have no real say on any of the decisions made.

But I digress, quite badly in fact but it’s late, I’m tired and wondering how long it will be until the pot shots start raining in because I hold a different view-point on how we achieve the same goals.

The point is that Syriza have a duty to the people who believed in them to do the things that they said they would and create a better world for them than the one being forced upon them by the economic terrorists at the ECB and IMF and at the moment they are failing to realise those ideals. Don’t take my word for it, read it from the horses lips as this 92-year-old on the front line of the battle against austerity says.

As a wise man once said, it’s not who they are underneath but what they DO that defines them. We are watching, we are waiting. Now let freedom ring.



Occupy Democracy: Exposing the weakness of our value system

Matthew Rees from the Centre for Policy Studies has just written an article claiming that the people at the Occupy Democracy site in Parliament square bemoaning the infringement of their civil liberties for having tarpaulins taken off them, are doing civil liberties a disservice by trivialising what he deems are “genuine attacks” on civil liberties, such as the illegal tapping of journalists phones.

Freedom is the freedom

Founded by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974, it would at this point be easy to comment on the right-wing think tank a apart for its political alignment, but then that would make me no better than them. Instead I would rather concentrate on the crux of the argument about whether one form of infringement on civil liberties is worse than another or if it is all the same? I have heard this referred to previously as the “least worst offence.”

To quote Matthew Rees he states: “Eye-witness accounts of police heavy-handedness have been widely reported in the news this week, and rightly so. A number of arrests have been made so far but many appear to be for relatively minor offences..” but tempers this with another quote later on stating: “The health of true civil liberties in this country is a cause for concern. The introduction of ‘secret trials’ and closed material procedures by the Justice and Security Act 2013, which prohibits the disclosure of ‘sensitive’ legal material to the public and defendant, is undoubtedly a cause for concern. In addition, recently exercised police powers to search the confidential phone records of journalists, the spate of surveillance and anti-terror measures enacted in the last decade, and diminished access to justice are all real threats to civil liberties.

I would agree that the very existence of secret trials, the pressure applied to the Guardian’s Greenwald over the Snowden files and the numerous bills, acts and bylaws passed in parliament over the last 15 years are all gross attempts at curtailing our civil liberties but, crucially, that does not make these any more or less important than the breaches of civil liberties and the right to protest found by the people at the Occupy Democracy camp, or rather the noticeable lack of one. Rees makes reference to the Hong Kong protestors and the claim by journalist Donnachadh McCarthy that we are now less democratic than China, to some extent that much is true with tents pitched on highways, structures and tarpaulin clear and present. Here, in the UK, a simple piece of string attached to a sign and a bag to stop it flying into the road was deemed to be an illegal structure by the private security firm apparently marshalling our MET police officers. Rees describes this as ‘camp rhetoric’ but it could not be further from the truth. It is the same argument and debate. The severity of the perceived scale of injustice is not what counts but the fact that an injustice has occurred in the first instance, this is all that matters. Martin Luther King said that an injustice anywhere was an injustice everywhere, to accept the disproportionate treatment of humans at an occupy democracy protest by police because it is the ‘least worst’ case is unacceptable and is rightly challenged and called out.

At this point I could quote the famous pastor Niemoller’s ‘First They Came‘ poem or another quote from Malcolm X or Martin Luther King about freedom and liberty but think that the most relevant thing to say would be to compare the views expressed by Rees and that of the philosophy of the boiling frog; if you put a frog into boiling water, it jumps straight out. If you put it into a pot of cold water and turn the heat up gradually it will boil alive. That is the reality of the views expressed by Matthews Rees, exposing the weakness of our value system in putting greater value on one set of freedoms over that of others we risk losing them all and why we must challenge it at every turn.




MLK had a dream, now I have a nightmare – 2013

Martin Luther King (MLK) spoke of a dream, a dream whereby the content of someones character becomes more important than the colour of their skin. In Washington this week thousands gathered to listen to three Presidents; Carter, Clinton and Obama, along with members of MLK’s family to pay tribute to his speech that has transcended the ages. Unfortunately that dream, regardless of what Obama and Clinton said yesterday, is yet to be realised for billions on this planet, including Americans and of course us Brits.

The ghetto looks the same from the front of the bus and now people are being left behind from all cultures at a phenomenal rate.

We live in a time where a country that supported Saddam Hussein whilst he gassed a million Kurds, selling him chemical weapons, now finds itself prepared to start a war with Syria over an allegation via YouTube that the government used chemical weapons on its own people. Unwilling to wait for a United Nations inspection report, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama, is preparing public opinion and wants to get on with it ahead of his trip to Petersberg on Tuesday for the G20. His lap-dog David Cameron is upset that the opposition, Labour, have vetoed any action until such time as the UN inspectors report has been digested. Labour of course were the puppets in charge when Tony Blair lied through his teeth with Jack Straw and told us Saddam was stock piling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and so have steadied the surge for action, conscious of a backlash from the people of the UK for condoning another illegal war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, the land of the free, use depleted uranium in their munitions that left thousands of Iraqi children deformed and with cancer, they reigned down white phosphorus on  civilians, said nothing when Israel did the same and yet they find the alleged actions of the Syrian regime unacceptable. The Syrian civil war has been waging for over two years and at no time have the American or UK government been interested in anything other than selling arms to a rebel group that has not been properly vetted and that has served only to perpetuate and escalate the war. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America, who dropped an atom bomb on the people of Hiroshima just to flex their military might, speak out against the Israeli right to retaliate against indiscriminate bombing, who will now chastise the Syrians when they retaliate to any intervention carried out by the axis of peace. I have a nightmare. We live in a time when Madeline Albright said it was justifiable for the U.S. to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions and bombings and now claim to care about Syrian children, I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of a UK pilot being shot down by Syrian forces using a surface to air missile sold to them by Russia, which will result in ‘boots on the ground’ and the Middle East spontaneously combusting. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare that Russia and China will take an exception to the world police mobilising to annihilate Assad and will offer their services to stop them. I have a nightmare that Hezbollah will see any action by the West as an act of aggression and that this will result in the Syrian civil war spilling on to the streets of the UK and America. I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where in the UK we have go home vans driving around the streets, 50 years on from the I have a dream speech by MLK in America. The UK has not had a Civil rights struggle the same as America but the cry is the same, we all want to be free. I have a nightmare. I have a nightmare of the black shirts, police, stopping people in the streets and asking them if they have the correct paper work. I have nightmares that doctors will ask to see our paper work to ensure we have the right to medical treatment. I have a nightmare that the fire and ambulance service will end up privatised and we will only receive their help if we have the correct insurances, I have a nightmare.

We live in a time where America and the UK attack China and Russia for vetoing the option for action on Syria until the UN inspectors results are in, when somewhat hypocritically they veto any decisions taken that involve Israel.

We live in a time where Tony Blair, who has the blood of men women and children on his hands, should be arrested for his war crimes but instead has been appointed a Middle East Peace envoy and now we have to listen to him bleat on about how we should resolve the conflict and his talk of intervention. It is like asking a heroin addict for advice on the best way to dispose of methadone. 30-50 people a day dying in bombing incidents Tony Liar, well done!

We live in a time where MLK had a dream but Barack Obama has a drone and they operate out of America, the UK and a host of other airbases across the planet and they kill people indiscriminately without trial. They focus on first responders because they too may be ‘the bad guys’. When it is American or British first responders to scenes of ‘terror’ on our streets, they are commended for their bravery; in Yemen, Pakistan and soon to be Syria, they are regarded as the enemy. I have a nightmare.

MLK’s dream is one that changes with each generation, today we have civil partnerships and gay marriage, or as I like to call it, marriage. I have a dream was a call to mobilise on the back of peaceful direct action and civil disobedience that has been lost in the MTV generation, but it is one that I feel is being slowly regained as more and more people are becoming aware of the deceit and corruption of the power principle personas at the head of our states. If we want freedom to ring across the continents and throughout the ages we must rise up together against the tyranny and corruption of these people in position of influence and stand for each other across the variety of issues that face us all. There are no problems but human problems.

“We can bomb this world to pieces but we cannot bomb it into peace” ~ Michael Franti