“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Saturday, 22 November 2014

On snobs and bigots.


"………..Snobs and bigots. Of the two I think that snobs are the worst beacause a bigot can change. I know that because I was once one myself. But as far as I am  I am aware there is no known cure for snobbery."
                                                                                                                 
                                                                                           Speaker John Bercow.

"In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save The King than of stealing from a poor box."
                                                                                                                       
                                                                                             George Orwell.

                                                                                                                    

Image from Islington.


So what do we know about Emily Thornberry? Classic middle-class Labour party background. Father was a UN Assistant Secretary General who once stood for parliament on a Labour ticket. Mother a teacher and Labour Councillor. Parents divorced, brought up on an estate on the outskirts of Guildford. Secondary Modern education but made it to university and a career as a barrister. Married to High Court judge. Lives in posh bit of Islington. There are thousands of women like Emily all over the country but mainly in the South East of course.  They would certainly claim to be "left wing" and do hold strong views on gender and racial equality. What these people really struggle with is the working class, white principally but working class in general really, once you strip away the condescending patronage for blacks and Asians.  The idea of fat, peelhead blokes who support the England Team, like a pint and can be a bit loud is enough to send shivers down the spine of the likes of Emily Thornberry. Shame really. If they bothered to get to know each other they would probably rub along alright.
You would think by now that politicians would be wise to the pitfalls of social media. Oh look! White van man with England flags. I'll take a photo and send it to my mates so we can all have a snigger. Just like we used to do at school about girls with the wrong length skirts or boys with the wrong width trousers. Who will be the first politician to post a picture of a black kid eating a watermelon and label it "View from South London"?
 Let me put you in the picture Emily. You can have contempt for what you consider to be the archetypal white working class. Fill your boots as far as I'm concerned. But just don't expect them to vote for you.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The strange world of the Kibbo Kift.


The British political fringe holds a fascination for many people. Some have made a lifetime commitment to tracing and detailing the family tree of various Trotskyist organisations.  Others have become experts in the genealogy of  extreme right wing groups and burn the midnight oil looking for suspected neo-nazi connections. Of all the unusual organisations in the shadowy world of the political margins few can be quite as odd as The Kindred Of The Kibbo Kift. Founded by one John Hargrave, The Kift was a splinter group from, of all things, Baden Powell's scout movement. This unusual combination of camping, pseudo-Saxon folklore, woodcraft and Social Credit, would eventually split into The Greenshirts (who famously lobbed a green painted brick through the front window of 11 Downing Street) and the other part of the movement that aligned with the Labour Party.

The Labour faction would in turn evolve into what Alexei Sayle once described as "the paramilitary wing of the Co-Op", the Woodcraft Folk. The Greenshirts would fall foul of the 1936 Public Order Act that banned the wearing of political uniforms and would re-form as the Social Credit Party before disappearing altogether. The Woodcraft Folk are still going strong as far as I know but the nearest thing to Social Credit now is the citizens income policy of the Greens. The archives of Kibbo Kift are held in The Museum of London.
I also stumbled across this very interesting and detailed history of Kibbo Kift. Well worth a look

Monday, 17 November 2014

Anarchy in the PKK.

If there is one BBC programme maker who can get my attention it's Adam Curtis. Interested in what's happening along the Turkish/Syrian border right now? Want to know about the influence of Murray Bookchin on the PKK?  Adam Curtis is your man.

Bearing up under the strain.

About this time of year my mother would usually buy a copy of Old Moore's Almanack. I was amazed to find recently that this handy guide to astrological predictions for the year ahead is still being published by the same W Foulsham who produced it when I was kid. I remember that apart from the predictions of Royal Weddings, and other such disasters there were loads of adverts for sure-fire betting systems and a variety of lucky charms with "Joan The Wad" being a favourite if memory serves.
The news this morning is that David Cameron is warning of total financial meltdown, Islamic State have captured the Syrian town of Dabiq that in Islam is supposedly the location for Armageddon and there has been a pre-Christmas outbreak of bird flu on a duck farm in Yorkshire. Other than that it's all good.
Old Moore's Almanack might not be such a bad investment after all.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Puppy sandwich anyone?

I don't find it at all difficult to understand why a Northampton based sandwich making concern are recruiting staff from Hungary despite the town having almost 8,000  unemployed. The company are looking for an energetic, compliant workforce who will do 12 hour shifts in freezing temperatures and be happy with the minimum wage; and Eastern Europe is full of such poor souls. There seems little chance of the situation changing because there is little chance of seeing once again the kind of confident, organised working class that was the bane of the Daily Mail before the curse of the Thatcher Dynasty descended on the nation. I understand perfectly capital's fondness for Hungarian sandwich makers but what I do find difficult to get my head round is the apparent need for this country to import puppies from abroad. I know that we have a skill shortage but surely we can breed our own dogs. Can it really be cheaper to import puppies when the only labour involved is the bitch's? I thought that I understood globalisation but clearly I have some way to go. So much to learn - so little time.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Kingston drift.

Yesterday the artist Laura Oldfield Ford led a group drift around the back streets of Kingston Upon Thames. Apart from the implausibility of anyone "leading" a "planned" drift, it turned out to be a good way to spend an afternoon. Laura is tiny, very friendly and obviously hugely talented. I loved her art work and admired her politics. Towards the end of our walk she was talking about her experiences with so called "careers guidance" at school. Attending what she described as a "shit comprehensive", Laura had told the teachers that she wanted to be an artist. She was advised to get a job in a stationary and art material shop. Hearing this I was immediately transported back to my own Norlington Road Boys Secondary Modern. Most of us were destined for the factories with the more polite and less disreputable  looking perhaps getting office work. Retail, or "shops" as we called it in those days, was another possibility. And so it was that any sporting ability would probably lead to a job in a sports goods shop. Although I languished in the second class from the bottom for all of my academic career, I was an avid reader and this was enough for me to be sent off to work for WH Smith flogging newspapers on Liverpool Street Station. Laura clearly survived "careers guidance" and so I suppose did I but my heart bleeds for the kids who are crushed by the system. All those unfulfilled dreams, all that lost potential.

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