Seven years into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and just 95 days away from what could be the most crucial General Election since the Second World War, and Ed Miliband and the Labour Party are in deep trouble.
If you think they aren’t just watch this brilliant comedy video by the Artist Taxi Driver:
So what can be done about it? What should the Labour Party be saying in its 2015 Election Manifesto?
Over the past 40 years I’ve watched the rich and powerful greedily chomping their way through every scrap of public property they could get their hands on – from British Aerospace and British Telecom to gas, electricity, water, British Rail , the Royal Mail and now – the last remaining jewels in the Great British public’s crown – the NHS and the BBC.
It’s not hard to understand why they want all this stuff. If you sell things people don’t really need, your profits are hostage to the whims of fashion, but if you have a monopoly on all the things people can’t live without then your profits are guaranteed for life.
A video Christmas Card: a load of YouTube videos mashed up with a home-made song.
“Woe is us, we”re in a lot of trouble. We’re at a point of maximum denial. People are ignoring the obvious, They’re keeping the news out of the News.”
“The oligarchic character of the modern English Commonwealth does not rest, like may oligarchies, on the cruelty of the rich to the poor. It does not even rest on the kindness of the rich to the poor. It rests on the perennial and unfailing kindness of the poor to the rich.”
In the age of global terrorism, the need to increase security to protect our freedom is something most of us accept without a second thought. “If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to worry about” is the mantra repeated whenever concerns are raised about any loss of civil liberties accompanying increased surveillance – succeeding not only in dismissing those concerns but also implying that anyone who IS concerned MUST have something to hide.
So what Benjamin Franklin had to say on the subject seems to make about as much sense as saying that those who are willing to trade money for something they want deserves neither and will lose both. Everything comes at a cost, and loss of liberty is the cost of safety. Everybody understands that.
But what DOES make sense are the constant threats to our safety and well-being that we hear about on the news everyday. Every kind of ill, from terrorism to carbon emissions, from measles to AIDS. All are kinds of illness. All put is ill-at-ease. All are kinds of dis-eases to which we are continually trying to find a remedy or cure.
That’s one of those sayings anyone over the age of 60 probably heard quite a lot when they were young but rarely hears now. Like nursery rhymes and coal scuttles, it’s a relic of a bygone age. But that doesn’t mean its not worth preserving, because what is says could be very useful in the times we’re living through now.
What that saying reminds us is that every picture has its shadows and it’s source of light. Every positive has a negative. Every thesis has its antithesis. Every bad has a good. Every good has a bad. Or, in other words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
Here’s a video not many people have watched, or are ever likely to watch. It’s a 40 min speech given by barrister Michael Shrimpton at the Britain on the Brink conference in Winchester on 22 September 2007.
What was the Britain on the Brink Conference you might ask? Well, according to the YouTube blurb is was:
A one day Conference by and for people of all parties and of none.
Hardly the kind of catch line that’s likely to attract many YouTube hits you might think. And you know what? … It hasn’t!
It features a leaked phone conversation between top American State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and America’s Ambassador in Kiev which, according to Stephen Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies and Politics at New York and Princeton Universities, shows that the Obama administration plotted “a coup d’etat against the elected President of the Ukraine!”
WTF!!! That’s pretty important information which puts President Putin’s response in a completely different light.
In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfil its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.*”
So it’s a bit of a surprise to discover those words were the rulings of a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Hugo Black, in the landmark decision in June 1971 protecting the right of the press to publish government secrets in the Pentagon Papers leaked by the whistleblowerDaniel Ellsberg.
“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.
The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves”
Sound familiar? It did to me when I stumbled across it on the Democratic Underground website. I thought it was a pretty accurate description of how things have changed in the UK since 9/11. So it was a bit of a bummer to discover it was taken from a book about the rise of fascism in Germany in the years leading up to World War II.