Politics For Beginners

Since the onset of social democracy for the masses in Britain, post 1928, politics has been seen to be slowly drifting to the middle. By the end of the 20th century this had become a worldwide phenomenon, and it’s now possible to study the development of ‘the middle’ ground, (which is at different stages across the planet), depending to social conditions. Perhaps the models which are most progressed are those existing in the new world democracies where ‘old world baggage’ has largely been jettisoned. Canada is perhaps a good example of this.

In Britain, old world baggage is still a profound cultural item. 1066 and all that, and although getting to the middle started in 1215, it’s only just arriving now. Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham hung on for a long time here.

However, we’re nearly there. The Blairites stopped the pendulum from meandering out towards the left, after Thatcher’s cronies had tried to get back to the fleeting fantasy of virtual feudalism, old money and the shires, and has reached a place where neither has very much currency any more; i.e., the middle. The last ten years, since the IT explosion, has seen a huge rise in paper money theft by scam artists, which has landed the world’s financial centres in massive amounts of debt.

It’s not hard to notice that the media polls of the last couple of weeks have had Cameron on 34%, with Brown fading and Clegg rising, both on 28%. This potentially means several things. Brown’s old religion isn’t cutting it anymore, and his support for the Iraq war has come home to roost. His is probably the most just solution for the British economy. It probably involves less pain than The Sheriff of Oxford would heap onto the public sector; but it’s probable that his moves are going to be achieved without him actually being at the helm. Milliband will overtake him very soon.

Cameron is a very fresh face – hiding the frayed edges of the uneasy union between Basildon boy and old Etonia with all the arrogance that can come with perceived inherited entitlement. The politics of his party will involve trying to shore up what residual wealth there is in the shires and the off-shore City and relying on a great deal of Middle England charitable pre-grannies to fill the craters he creates in the public sector.

Clegg is an extremely fresh face who was never allowed more than two questions at PMQs on a Wednesday lunchtime and who has exploded onto the electorate with all the frustration he’s been harbouring for a couple of years and more. His precise policies are not as honed as the other two, as yet, but he has a better idea of where we’re at both on a human level, as a thinking person, and as a politician. He’s more real, but his policies, as with all three parties, will have to be tailored to the actual circumstances existing on the actual balance sheets at the Bank and Whitehall.

In a fantasy world, I’d rather have him as the next leader, being assisted by Vince Cable, with Brown on hand for advice, but that’s just fantasy. Unless something remarkable happens, Brown is gone, and actually deserves to be. I rate his economic nouse on a higher level than the other two but he’s not the leader. He was washed up on Blair Rock as a leader. He should have struck out with Robin Cook against the Iraq War but he didn’t and he’s tired figure now. He has the voice, but he should have used it for all the people not just the Presbyterians.

So what do we have? We have three ghosts of three parties who’ve been with us since the 19th century. The conservatives have changed the most, because they’ve been forced to, to stay in the game, but they still represent an old world that should now be gone. Labour represent their antithesis. Born in the late 19th century out of justified social unrest they have reached their goal with a nanny state that doesn’t quite know how to pay all the nannies any longer. Then there’s a so called Liberal Democratic Party which was totally reborn in the late 20th century out of the elements of the labour party who wanted to move toward the middle (the SDP), and virtually the old Liberal party of Joe Grimmond with its fair middle class principles which leant to the left.

This means that what we have is a working class and its supporters and sympathisers on the Labour left, the Liberal party to the left of middle, and a conservative party trying to maintain the class divisions and modus operandi of 60 years ago (“You never had it so good”) with that same condescending tone in the delivery of “you”. This means that 34% of people are on the right of the spectrum, and 66% in some way lean to the left. If I lived in a constituency with a big Labour or conservative majority I’d vote for the green party, but I don’t, so the best thing that I can do would be to try to help change ‘Old’ politics for good by voting Liberal. In our different ways, 66% of us will do that. We should not be dethroned by the 34% who will vote for something slightly more antisocial.


1. Do not accept Osbourne under any circumstances.

2. Vote for Clegg.

3. In a safe seat, vote Green.

And hope that Miliband is Labour leader by June 1st.

Then hope that social justice is the model that allows the ape to successfully address the neurotic shortcomings that would threaten his own survival.


In my recent participation in the video portrait ‘The Magpie Index’, which was very well conceived and put together by Richard Grayson, I said something to the effect that Jason’s journey to capture ‘The Golden Fleece’ had come down to us from the other side of eight thousand years ago. This is probably untrue because the story has too many elements of the Bronze Age about it.

What I meant to say, but in the heat of the moment, only alluded to, is that ‘elements of Homeric stories probably date back to a time well before the Bronze Age’. (which probably began C. 5300 years ago). Gold itself was in use 6 thousand years ago, but it’s conceivable that some of the Homeric stories predate that.

I noticed this when I saw the video through for the first time at The Baltic in Newcastle, so I thought that I’d make a correction before someone else made comment. ;-)


I received this on March 17th 2010 from deepest bellsouth.net

Comment: I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t purchase anything from someone that hates his own race. Pathetic.

I felt that I should reply to the uninformed taunt that this represents, so I wrote the following:-

‘I Hate The White Man’ was written in response to the many injustices that the peoples/tribes of Europe had inflicted on greater Humanity in the modern age. Roughly over the period since the more precise mapping of the planet at the beginning of the age of discovery; which brought us into contact with peoples we considered, wrongly, to be inferior. Perhaps the crucible for this was the bloodbath of 14th Century Europe, second only to the 20th Century in terms of carnage, but that strays into opinion and theory.

Other races were successively subjected to racism, slavery, apartheid, torture and genocide by the elite classes of Europeans. Mass genocide in Africa, North America and Europe ensued, including the virtual extinction of a viable alternative way of life in North America.

Whether you believe this, or give recorded history the credit it deserves, or not, depends largely on the way you have been educated.

I was simply reminding the new generation about their responsibilities to history and to human culture at the time. It is now obvious that reminders of the dangers of allowing brutal social mechanisms to repeat savage histories will be necessary for every new generation of every race. Unfortunately, though our social mechanisms, eg., The United Nations, are very well intentioned, we have continued to set a very poor example to the rest of the world, eg., The Iraq War. So much so that we have now passed many of our bad habits on to the rest of humanity… and they have reciprocated in kind, eg., Al Qaeda, Robert Mugabe etc, etc.

I could never hate my own race without hating myself, and I don’t. The words to the song are a sentiment.. and intended as a shock tactic and wake-up call. In 1968, when it was written, the white man was the world bully. Perhaps we hadn’t yet entered into the general cynicism that has mainly pervaded since, but many of us could see and feel it coming. People like me, and there were many of us, were trying to hold it back. In the end, a forlorn task. We were trying to base our lives on different ethics. Many of us have refused to renege on these ideals. They are ideals that don’t involve rip-off, economizing with the facts, sharp practice, injustice, depravation, prejudice, humiliation or murder.

Whether you choose to live with that kind of a general ethic or not will largely depend on the way you have educated yourself, or been educated.


Some famous quotes..

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.” Chief Red Cloud

“We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.” Chief Seattle

“I’ve asked myself again and again whether it wouldn’t have been better if we hadn’t gone into hiding, if we were dead now and didn’t have to go through this misery, especially so that the others could be spared the burden. But we all shrink from this thought. We still love life, we haven’t yet forgotten the voice of nature, and we keep hoping, hoping for . . . everything.” Anne Frank (Hiding from the Gestapo, May 26, 1944)

Joanna Newsom and Roy Harper. An avant-garde acoustic evening.

I’d heard rumours, through Jim O’Rourke, a young friend and communicator of mine. I had young fans and friends over in the USA. There were strange little tidbits coming through to me. I thought that it was something nice happening somewhere, because sometimes, nice things happen anyway. Then, almost imperceptibly, things moved into a different gear. I’d obviously forgotten about what it was like to be young.. well.. I hadn’t, because no matter how old I get, I’ll still be young, but there are degrees, and when you’re young and really vibrant, things can happen really quickly. Suddenly I was reading a Grauniad article about Joanna Newsom, and I read it twice, because Jim had told me that she thought highly of my work.

I listened to her records. There was something sublimely attractive about them, and their aim was deep. Then there was a perceptible build up to an invite to play The Royal Albert Hall with her the following year. I accepted not knowing what to expect. I was curious more than anything else. When I got there, there was a big harp and a few chairs on the stage. I re-acquainted myself with the old building again.. wandered around, front and back. It doubles as the English Nation’s Village Hall, and I sat in the empty auditorium soaking in it for a while. I was thinking about where Rudyard Kipling might have sat when there was some movement stage right. This was joined after a few minutes by a delicate and beautiful young woman. She was instantly recognisable. After her first few verses of music, I realised that it was going to be hard to take my eyes off her. The sounds she was making belonged to another world. It was obviously her world, an exotic dreamscape with womanly edges. I was impressed.

Then we met, and things changed. Immediately. I recognised what a potent mix she is as a human being, and I was enchanted. On the night, I played my favourite record for her, and she was truly delighted. So was I. I came over from Ireland again when she played a beautiful concert at Somerset House, and we spent an hour exchanging worlds with each other. I left with my faith in humans elevated, and feeling grateful for her friendship. In the meantime, I’d visited Tokyo, where Jim O’Rourke had mixed a concert of mine at my request, and we’d spoken enthusiastically about her.

I hadn’t thought about much of this for a year, except that Joanna is one of the few things I listen to when I visit the computer. Then I received an email from her record company in January asking me whether I wanted to do a tour with her. I’d kind of retired. I’d thought that I’d come to the end of the road gigging. I was being more inspired by nature than by song-writing, and I hadn’t really thought about playing to people again. Ever.

I thought about it for a while. Did I really want to gig again? I seemed to be letting it slip.. 10 days passed. Then I got a bit depressed thinking that if I didn’t do it I’d be letting both of us down. I got in touch again to see if it was still on, and received a really lovely note back from Joanna saying that she’d be honoured to have me on board. I was happy again.

This is something I really want to do. She inspires me, and I think it must be mutual. The fact that she’s un-retired me, and makes me smile, is something I’m only just beginning to think about. What next!?

(please see the webite for show details… London, Bruxelles, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Paris)

The Flowers

My partner takes a yearly holiday visiting her beloved Appalachian Mountains for a month in the Autumn, or as she refers to it, ‘The Fall’. This is the time of year of course when everything that has been on the trees for the year falls off them, in varying shades of scarlet, vermilion, peach, orange, lemon and even ginger. When we first met, I was in mid-stream, so I took myself off to deepest India for a new mind and she went off to walk the Appalachian Trail, alone, which is a hike in the eastern US of about 2170 miles from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Mt Katahdin in central Maine. The highest point she went over was Mt Washington at over 6,000ft. A long way for a lone woman.

This month of solitude every now and then gives me a chance to wind down, or wind up, as the case may be. For the last few years it’s involved me scouring tree nurseries to further enhance my patch of wilderness. The routine of being alone is different. A host of bachelor stuff starts to happen again. Things get left where they’re handy, and more to the point, where I can find them. Sometimes I think that I’m only using one plate, one set of cutlery and a mug. Not true perhaps, but close. There’s plenty of entertainment.. huge amounts of it.. too much in fact, and late at night, the baseball season is fast coming to its usual lofty finale.

I’m vaguely aware of when she’s coming back. At first it’s a long way off, but then it all seems to cascade in as fast as I can count to ten. This year was no different. I thought about buying flowers a few days beforehand, but then I thought that I’d better save that till the last day, not wanting them to be looking tired on her return. Just before she left, one of the toilets sprang a leak, and I’d rubbed the bottle of my local plumbing genie to come and fix it. He was really busy but promised that he’d do it within a week or two. When I rang him again a couple of weeks later, he’d done his back in, but promised me he’d be there. Eventually, through no real fault of his own, we got down to it the day before her return.

Obviously, fixing the loo was the priority, and neither of us thought that it would take that long… but if I’d thought about it, this has been the loo which has given me the most problems in my life. I bought the house when I was finally exiled from England. A long story for another day. The house was a virtual shell, so at least 2 toilets were needed. I bought these in a little designer bathroom shop in the middle of Nottingham. One of them is a replica Victorian willow pattern loo, and is still in its box in the attic. The other was put into the house straight away… by a cowboy. It’s a very finicky little Italian job with different plumbing than a normal loo, which means that normal pipes and fittings have to be botched onto it. Ideal stuff for a cowboy.

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