It’s Your Laugh


The most obvious fact about the immediate political future is that Blair will win the next election by some margin. Questions.. Questions.. How can a man who is steeped in such great dishonesty again become the chosen representative of nearly 60 million people? Answer – very easily. And is this a reflection upon the character of the majority of those 60 million people? Well yes…. is the straightforward answer. It’s a reflection upon all of us, and in many ways. First off, perhaps, our parliamentary system is to blame. Unlike other European systems it was not brought into a more modern world at the end of the Second World War for the simple reason that alone among the bigger western European nations, Britain perceived itself as victorious and therefore justified in revelling in the divine right of the government of victory.

For parliament’s selfish and vested inability to see that Proportional Representation is perhaps the most convenient way to more effectively enfranchise the majority of the populace, it has damned us all to despotic democracy. A form of government in which the leader is virtually beyond the law… and can railroad law through at his/her own beck and call.

This in turn leads to frustration and apathy on the part of the majority of the electorate.. which is abetted by majority elements of the tabloid press who are willing to become lap dogs to political masters. They are paid to do so by companies whose business is to influence taste and to subdue debate in favour of prejudice.. and petty prejudice at that. One looks no further than the companies owned by Rupert Murdoch. Fed with such onstream opiates as Celebrity Big Brother and the Daily Sketch, who can blame the the man who works for fifteen hours to stave off mortgage default, or the woman who slaves for 24 to help them stay afloat for saying, “Why bother?” They both know that the system is the winner; that there is no hope in fighting it. That it’s a tireless monolith in the hands of the elite.

The myth that informs us that this particular version of democracy is about to ‘free’ the world is a universal western myth. According to the Bush administration ‘democracy’ is about to ‘free’ the world. This isn’t even tired rhetoric, it’s just profound dishonesty. It’s a lie on the same scale as Robert Mugabe’s insistence that Zimbabwe is a democracy.

Democracy surely should not boil down to a choice between white and black, or green and red. It should obviously contain all the shades. Otherwise there are real thinking people who are left with no choice at all. It’s easy to see that if you are given a choice between Michael Howard and Ablair, you will obviously abstain.. or choose Ablair; but the younger you are, the less that that matters. The less you know about what’s gone before. The less relevance the past has. The old ‘right’ is now dead. The new ‘right’ is currently in power. And likely to stay there for as long as it takes an alternative balance on the left to form itself. Which looks as though it’s likely to take at least a decade. In other words, I’ll be very lucky to see any real challenge to the current status quo during my lifetime. Left.. left.. left right left… what’s the difference?

This would be depressing if I hadn’t walked away from it 15 years ago. But still I look back.. and still I’m involved in trying to assist my countrymen to see further than the abject nonsense that masquerades in the name of democracy in 2005. I can’t help looking back. And I’m compelled to continue to act.. quite simply because, like a lot of others, I can see straight through A Blair. And like millions of others, I saw through him the day I first set eyes on him. It’s likely that I never saw a more obvious phony.

My own reaction to the initial knowledge was.. ‘so place and time is all.. after all’. But surely, things have to be a little more balanced than this? Rights have to be shared by all of the population, not just among those who happen to be articulate enough to qualify as barristers.

When Blair first appeared, my heart sank. We’d ‘elected’ a lot of half-baked politicians during my lifetime, people you wouldn’t have wanted to share a moment with, never mind a whole parliament. Enoch Powell stank of Oswald Mosely, Eden was aloof and detached; Macmillan was condescending even if in the end he turned on Thatcher. Thorpe was weird, Heath even weirder, Ridley and Tebbitt despicable, Thatcher unbelievable. But Blair beats all of them. When I first became aware of him I thought that Tony Blackburn had become Home Secretary. In the end.. it was much worse than that.

As it’s transpired, this man has presided over the worst reputation for state dishonesty that his country has ever witnessed. His smarmy approach to office has always depended on the self-satisfied grimace of a pop star. He could never have made the grade as a musical artiste, but as an international con artiste he’s been a massive hit. That the application for a more even spread of basic human rights should reside in the will of such a blatant self-serving egotist is tragic. I don’t go in for personal attacks, so I’ll stop short of going where I really want to go with that.

Enough to say that we have a leader who has conspicuously embroiled the world in a seemingly now endless conflict it would have been much better to have avoided. Could the archaic US political machine have acted unilaterally?.. without explicit support from the Blair government? In my opinion.. absolutely not. So that what we have in direct consequence is a world in more conflict than it needed to be, with Human Rights virtually ignored. What we actually have is a massive degradation in the credibility of world politics. Blaming the inept US administration for this falls short of the mark. Yes, Bush and company are gung-ho gun totting stalwarts of the firearms lobby, but they are strangely isolated from world politics. Many of them regard themselves as being above and beyond it, and for huge tracts of the United States, domestic politics are all there is.

But to totally blame the Americans for the war on Iraq and the further demolition of integrity is lame. The massively over-armed Pentagon needed moral support. And they got it. From the man who is most to blame for the current continuance of world unrest. Tony Blair. He’s the man who sanctioned it, the man who seconded it. Without him, IT WAS A NON-STARTER. That he is the leader of the worlds second biggest arms producer gave that sanction the kind of authority it needed.

(Quote.. ‘In former times American policy makers treated (or at least pretended to treat) the use of force as evidence that diplomacy had failed. In our own time they have concluded (in the words of Vice President Dick Cheney) that force “makes your diplomacy more effective going forward, dealing with other problems.” Policy makers have increasingly come to see coercion as a sort of all-purpose tool. Among American war planners, the assumption has now taken root that whenever and wherever U.S. forces next engage in hostilities, it will be the result of the United States consciously choosing to launch a war. As President Bush has remarked, the big lesson of 9/11 was that “this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense.” The American public’s ready acceptance of the prospect of war without foreseeable end and of a policy that abandons even the pretence of the United States fighting defensively or viewing war as a last resort shows clearly how far the process of militarization has advanced.

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War, copyright © 2005 by Andrew J. Bacevich.)

In succumbing to that infantile will to brute force, and committing the UK, and abetting the USA, to that action, Blair has seriously degraded the esteem in which Britain used to be held world-wide as to its fairness, its judgement and its humanity. We were having a hard time of it as it was, puffing and blowing as the whipping boy of the UN Permanent Security Council, with gathering past indiscretions hanging over us, but with this, Britain has sunk right back into the pack of barrack-room practitioners and pariahs we like to think are beneath us. At this point our standing is somewhere underneath most of western Europe. We have been seen to dance to the tune of the reactionary rottweiler of world politics.

We’ve all experienced the lead-up to one of the latest degrading episodes in parliament, The Prevention of Terrorism Bill, the conflict of cultures, the one-sided 50 year outrage in Palestine which has exacerbated cultural tensions around the world. We can all apportion blame according to our own understanding of history. We can all point fingers. But the time for that is gone. It’s now time to bring everyone into the fold. And I mean everyone. Without pointing fingers, an easy calculation to make is that Ariel Sharon, Tony Blair and George Bush have murdered more people than Osama Bin Laden. Osama wouldn’t have become a world event if elements in the Arabian culture hadn’t felt that they needed to conduct a guerilla war with no holds barred.. against the west.

Over the last 30 years, the IRA have been engaged in the same kind of thing. In the last few weeks they’ve fallen foul of their own gun culture. It was always going to happen. They’ve had at least five years to put the gun behind them.. but the gun is a very sexy whore. The gun cultures only true philosophy has long since become absolutely unacceptable in this age. For 20 odd years the IRA made sure the world knew how the ‘minority’ was being treated in N.I. That particular minority were being treated very poorly indeed, and the British Government abetted that, because they were in government in the province and saw no reason why the status quo should not continue in its old sweet way regardless…. Which outraged most of us who were aware but uninvolved. There is no doubt that in 1990 Sein Fein/IRA had the moral high ground. To have surrendered it to Ian Paisley’s rabble within fifteen years only begs one question. What happened to turn the right into the wrong? And the answer is obvious.. seduction.. seduced by explosive power…. into believing that the moral high ground is static, and not immediately connected with events on the ground. With mobile and naturally progressive attitudes at street level.

So now the political wing is desperate to distance itself from the gun and crime culture it still helps to foster. Albeit that Robert MacCarthy died in circumstances that will not exonerate the company he was allegedly keeping. That he was allegedly associating with a suspected robber at the moment he was murdered changes nothing.

There have been many deaths and there continues to be much destruction, but if the party can throw out the gun culture and the criminal element, then in 30 years it will have come from nowhere.. to winning a permanent place at the table for it’s disenfranchised support. But all of that is now in question. The elite membership has now created a contra ‘cause celebre’ because of its own inability to be able to come to terms with the present universal necessity to come to the party with a willingness to put the past to rest. To assume equality without having to need further payment for former injustices. To act with present dignity.

One of the sisters of the murdered Robert McCarthy is now likely to stand in some future election against the philosophy of her masters to point her masters in a different direction. All a bit embarrassing for the masters. For whom there are two big lessons. The same two that have been outstanding for years now…… The one is to drop the gun as soon as is possible.. the other is not to stand aloof from their support, but to allow themselves to be moderated by the collective wisdom of their broad support.

In the interests of an immediate feel-good factor, and ultimately in the interests of world peace, would the Americans now invite all former adversaries to the table, with an equal opportunity to have their say, and to enjoy equality in the collective human ear? And to allow voices to be heard above bombs. Would the Americans now allow Osama Bin Laden to speak? And to perhaps eventually to become moderated by the general nature of humanity in his own locale, 95% of whom are at heart fairly gentle people who don’t want confrontation. (Would he perhaps naturally be ostracised by that gentler 95%? Unlikely, but not impossible.) Could the USA/West ever allow him a rehabilitated democratic voice.. instead of promising ultimate humiliation by punishment or further isolation? And by association, treating the whole of his nation in the same way. This is a big ask.

Although he’s not killed as many as we have, he’ll forever be regarded as a criminal in the west. On a par with Adolf… kind of thing. I detest his adopted view of the world.. the closeted paranoid religious nut case, but we must realise that there could be a way back into the fold for him. Perhaps this should happen. He has a history of contact and evolution with the west. It’s mainly a violent dialogue with no quarter asked or given, but if he can be brought to the political table, he brings a lot with him. He would bring the possibility of moderating extreme opinion in the whole of the middle east. Please don’t tell me that you can’t see this. Please don’t tell me that gradually bringing Al Qaeda to the table will not produce positive results, because I won’t believe you.

Bin Laden won’t ever be as articulate as Martin McGuinness, but there’ll be someone in his wing who is. And what we most need is for that articulate mouthpiece to tell us what to do. We’ll already know of course, we’ll just have to be reminded about how life really is. Would it have been wrong to engage Hitler in 1933? How many tens of millions of lives might have been saved? How much pain averted? It certainly isn’t wrong to engage the Bush hegemony, and as often as possible.. if only to be able to retain the right to challenge bullshit. Before the world drowns in it.

I’m not an apologist.. far from it.. I’m much closer to being a complete atheist. I’m on the other side to Osama, Blurt and Bush, 180º, but I’m bright enough to realise that this can never be an exclusive human society. For anyone.

No side can be right. The side with the hydrogen bomb cannot be right. The side with the strict gospel according to their prophet cannot be right. The one side has to try to imagine what their prophet would do in this circumstance. Would he expound violence and hate.. or would he take a different attitude? Likewise, those armed to the teeth must stand back from their weaponry and imagine the carnage on a human scale, and ask themselves whether carnage on that scale is worthy of their own prophets, and whether or not those prophets would sanction dust rather than dialogue.

The question I have to continually ask myself is.. is this a whole world? Is it a straight world? Do we forever want/need to exclude people we don’t agree with.. to the point where they are forced to take up arms against us? If we (all of us, collectively) do want to continue with hostilities then I have to think that nothing has changed for a thousand years and more.. or is ever likely to. Can we help to introduce a culture of universal brotherhood? To the furthest and most isolated parts of the human condition? One where world religions are explained to young people in simple and factual terms, with no attempts to plumb emotional tabloid reactions to events so distant and so foreign that they become farcical in a modern context. Can we really even think about founding a brotherhood based on world wide information and shared compassion?

Obviously there are manifold obstacles to this; from the emergence of China and India as world powers who are potentially going to put more stress on the production of cheap fuel and more emissions into the atmosphere…. and undercut.. and destroy whole ancient industries and their anachronistic financial practices in the west…. across to potential crises of planet water management, and so on, all the way down to child poverty and conditions which will always be rife for the kinds of revolution we can no longer afford. Revolutions which tear us apart and breed the kind of suicidal sorrow that not only touches us all, but influences future behaviour. Without getting human rights at the top of the list right now we risk destroying the world because of our own stupid ignorance. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO EXCLUDE ANYONE. No longer can we really continue to think about punishing ‘the enemy’. Particularly when quite a lot of us recognise that we are the enemy. We have to make the effort to come to dialogue with any perceived ‘enemy’, before the enemy within blows us all off the planet.

We can no longer afford to be divisive. Good people are among us.. they must be encouraged at every step. We must learn to be led by people with unquestioned humanity and great humility. By wisdom rather than force, by persuasion rather than by confrontation, by responsibility rather than by hype, by integrity than by wealth. We must open ourselves up to negotiation. And ultimately to genuine arbitration. Without availing ourselves of why the opposite viewpoint is held, we lay ourselves open to continuous conflict. IS THIS WHAT WE WANT?

In the light of the Empire’s flailing backlash for 9/11, we have truly set a course for a lifetime of fearful glancing over shoulders. We have invited the demon on board. The fear factor.. All because, a couple of years ago, an arrogant politician thought he could avoid council.. true council.. with others.. and in some presidential mania, took the whole world into a completely unnecessary direction. When we could have made peace, we made war. We are now totally estranged from a world we once helped to build. We are no longer the masters of that. The world is now being built elsewhere. We need to be able to negotiate. To keep places at the table open to the whole of humanity. To actively disarm any will towards domination.. lest we become.. in the end.. dominated.. without having had the chance to explain, by example, to the future masters, that active domination can only lead to more confrontation, pain and blood-letting.

A lot of people will not see it this way. A lot of people are hostages to fortune.. and fortune at this minute in time is starting to favour cowardice. Lash out first and ask questions later. Foolhardy stuff we all would have hoped to have left behind at this stage in history. Like most of us, I have to admit that I am myself divided on many questions and issues, but there is one issue upon which I have no division. The issue of Human Rights. For example, a month ago we saw a ‘muslim’ girl granted her right to wear her jilbab to school. I don’t have any issue with her right to do just that. I might have issue with her faith in fantasy, but not with her right to wear what she considers to be fashionable. I wore blue suede shoes to school in 1957. I was sent home to change.. and given 3 detentions.. 3 saturday mornings at school.. which really improved me.. she’ll grow out of her clothes, but hopefully she won’t grow out of her attitude.

When I was her age, I was fined £60 for defiling St. Annes-On-Sea Town Hall, which at the time I thought they deserved, but that’s another story. Back at the ranch, human rights are THE most important item on the human world agenda. Without human rights we are nothing. We have no real recognition of each other. We are little more than baboons whose rights of passage involve nothing more than cunning: where the alpha male rules with attitude, without compunction, and with pure violence.

Last month we had the spectre of all parties sticking their great oars into the ‘Travellers’ waters. In the 80s I was greatly supported by the travelling community, and I’ve shared a few fires with folks who still turn up to see me. We will always welcome each other. There are approx. the same ratios of good to bad among the Travellers as there are in settled society.. they just represent a different lifestyle. Some have been forced into the travelling community because they couldn’t make straight society. The despair generated by the Thatcher era was enough to drive many families to drop out of the loop, and to seek alternative means of existence. Just because the opportunity was there.. the opportunity of the road.. and tomorrow being always a new day.. a lot of people took that opportunity. For some of us, it was like being witness to a great revulsion and a necessary rebirth of some kind of primaeval need for nomadic life.

I was greatly encouraged by what I sometimes experienced among the Travellers. Many of them have a sense of community that is far too deep for the likes of Michael Howard ever to be able to recognise. For me, and for them, Michael Howard represents all of what many of us find so repulsive about the way that this society and it’s media functions in the early 21st century.

Last month, the media took us all on an overblown journey to a hospital bed in the USA which had been occupied for the last fifteen years by a poor woman who’d become famous for being ‘vegetative’. What was really going down was that Condoleeza had been to China to fix up the ‘One China’ deal with Peking. What this means is that the worlds leading superpower and the worlds leading superpower-in-waiting have agreed that Taiwan is up for grabs.. that eventually it’ll be open season on Taipei. Weird stuff… the island that Chang Kai Chek took over in 1949 as a refuge for all the Chinese who didn’t think they wanted communism… the island that’s always regarded the US as its number 1 ally.. has just been betrayed, again, by the US.. no question. The US is now in almost complete concert with the vestiges of Chinese communism… funny… even. MacArthur would turn in his grave. So to speak.. But they/we all know what’s coming. We can see it as the headlines slowly materialise. Power is all.

Which brings me to this thought. If you want to vote for the continuance of pure violence, then king tony is your man… or king michael! If you don’t want to go down the same old road to the same old ruin, then change it now.. give peace a chance.. vote for something other than a Jurassic parliament. Venture into an honourable direction.. and if you’re in any constituency where Peace And Progress have a candidate standing, then please know that that candidate won’t be taking your vote into the ‘vested opposition to the immediate future of my personal status’ lobby. That the candidate will carry Human Rights with him/her as the primary objective of their prospectus. And that they will carry many of the hopes of a growing number of disenfranchised people with them.

If A Peace And Progress candidate is not standing in your area, and you feel cheated in the face of the current status quo, then you should help to divide new labour and the conservatives, by voting for something else on the ballot. If you believe the Lib Dems have a chance to beat the government candidate in your constituency, then it’s your duty to make sure that that one happens. You’re in the driving seat. No excuses.. we need proportional representation,,, ASAP…. BY ANY MEANS WE CAN GET IT BAR FRAUD OR VIOLENCE. WE NEED ALTERNATIVE VOICES. PEACE AND PROGRESS IS ONE OF THOSE.. AND A VERY GOOD ONE. YOU OWE IT TO THE FUTURE OF EQUALITY TO GIVE THIS CURRENT GOVERNMENT A VERY HARD TIME THIS TIME ROUND. PLEASE GO OUT AND DO JUST THAT. DON’T JUST SIT ON YOUR ARSE AND LET ROME RULE UNCONTESTED. GET UP AND FIGHT BACK. THIS IS A FULL SCALE SKIRMISH. IT MAY NOT TAKE ON THE SHAPE OF A BIG BATTLE YET. JUST, FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU CAN PERHAPS VOTE FOR NEXT TIME. Take it from an old soldier.. this is one of the last chances you’ll ever have of voting for a world you would prefer. Vote for something other than Blair. YOU HAVE NOW KNOWN FOR QUITE A FEW YEARS THAT HE COULD NEVER REPRESENT YOU. So why help to re-elect him? Because he’s the best of a bad lot? Nonsense. There are plenty of more eligible people.

In the first rough draft of this essay a week or so ago, I wrote to this effect… ‘One final thought. The Church of Rome is about to take its allegedly 1.1 billion ‘faithful’ further to the right. Further into denial that it could have had anything to do with the amount of AIDS deaths in Africa, further into denial of complicity in The Holocaust, further into denial that it has been complicit in hundreds of years of violent rape of children, and further into excusing the brutal fascism of people like Pinochet simply because they were ‘good catholics’. That the leading christian bureaucracy on earth feels the need to do this is is not only a reaction to the religious, political and secular competition it sees rallying against it, but must also be seen as an act of concert with the majority of western politicians’. (Who must be seen to continue to act as superstitiously as their flock). This week, nothing has changed.

Please vote against this swing towards cowardice and paranoia. Please vote against Blair.

It’s your laugh.*

Roy Harper.. 27th April 2005

PS. Britain was the first of the bigger european states to experience virtual industrial collapse in the 80s, and has, by equal amounts of design and luck, emerged out of the consequent inflation/stagflation, boom bust cycle before it’s main European counterparts. Mainland Europe is perhaps still suffering under illusions that it can compete, production-wise, with emerging economies to the east who have half the labour costs. The current British government presently enjoys the advantage of having gone into heavy industrial manufacturing melt-down first, in a european context. In the aftermath, Britain now basks in the revenue generated by a couple of decades of successful emersion into a national ‘service industry’, (which includes the military). Most of the manufacturing industry which existed in 1950 is now either moribund.. or just plain dead. And ‘service industry Britain’ is nearly all there is. The last vestiges of the British car industry died a few weeks back, and will soon be covered over as if it’s been dead a good 10 years. And no one outside the West Midlands will even know.. or for that matter give a shit, because everyone knows, and for its own survival, the government will make sure that it quickly becomes part of percieved information…. that the £ cannot compete in the general world market place. It’s just too bloody expensive.

With all this in mind, for the majority of people, voting Blair back in again has nothing to do with making a moral decision. It has much more to do with the perception of how the economy is now situated.. with cash in the pocket.. with voting for what you think is going to hit your pocket the least. How limp-wristed is that? The parties, it seems to me, can’t afford not to be within a whisker of each other as far as the balance book is concerned. That might not have been true in 1970, but it sure as hell is now. So.. who d’you vote for? Especially if you’re to consider where your heart really is with regard to morality. Well there’s a choice. In descending order, they are:- Number 1, you vote with your conscience. 2, you vote tactically if you’re given half the chance. 3, you vote for a fast talking mealy mouthed lawyer who will kill children and sell his soul for power. (There are probably 2 of them, although I may be doing Michael Howard an injustice.. if that’s possible). And don’t be fooled by Blair saying that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a conservative government, because the very obvious first eventuality of a Lib/Lab alliance would defeat the conservatives before day 1 of any immediate conservative government. All you need to do is add up the joint support. Worst case scenario it will be 35% + 21%, which equals 56%. Which isn’t remotely going to happen. Over to you.

Peace And Progress have three candidates standing. They are: Azmat Begg in Birmingham Hodge Hill, Sylvia Dunn In Folkestone against
Michael Howard, and Babar Ahmad (currently detained at Belmarsh facing
extradition to US on terrorist ‘charges’) in Brent North.

* “It’s your laugh”!, became a favoured form of greeting one another in the early 70s, especially among the Zeppelin crew. The expression came from a Monty Python sketch.

Copyright 2005 Roy Harper