Here we go again

Palace of Westminster in 2011 Copyright John New
Palace of Westminster in 2011 Copyright John New
Palace of Westminster in 2011 Copyright John New

Another year another election

So 2017 brings with it the unexpected situation of a general election despite our political leader saying there would be no election until 2020. What got me into blogging back in 2015 was the general election of that year and a Uni project blog on the GE of 2015. Sadly that is no longer publicly accessible.

Politicians lies.

Again de-ja-vu with our leaders contradicting statements strongly made. Can we trust them? Can we heck. I will be voting, however, I wish my vote would count in a proportional representative system, sadly it won’t and yet again I expect I will be backing the runner-up!

Just a short blog post then this time from a cynic. Seen it all before. As Mark Twain famously said – “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

Does anything change, no: back in June 2016 what was the title of that month’s blog post, yes you’ve guessed it – Politicians lies.

 

Weymouth

Beach scene

Perspectives on our coastal towns.

Beach scene
A packed Weymouth Beach

The English town of Weymouth is currently courting controversy as a result of a local photographer’s twitter post and his remarks of the shabby state of some areas. As a resident of the area I can concur with some of the views but this is a malaise of the British coastal town in general. Several recent news stories highlighted the problems of widespread seaside poverty, and problems with educational standards in seaside towns are even admitted to by central government so there is an issue at a national level for coastal communities.

Long gone the royal visitations that gave Bognor its’ Regis name tag, and locally to the village of Wkye Regis and the Borough of Melcombe Regis, favourite of George III; both subsumed into greater Weymouth.

The mirror of time – Weymouth’s maritime imagery.

You can’t get away from the sea. Some might say that’s a problem if you live at the seaside, others would say it’s a gift. It dominates, drawing like a magnet, inspiring and angering in equal measures. Constraining yet, at the same time, offering the open vistas of hope and opportunity. The big skies, the far off horizon an apparent chance to escape, to flee, but economically a millstone of low wages and part-time, seasonal employment. The history of the British seaside, our great maritime naval traditions, our culinary delight of fried fish and chips, of ship building, scientific exploration, changing with time and, like the tide, subject to its’ never ending ebb and flow.

A glorious past captured by the camera, the bathing beauties, golden sands, charabancs and Mr Punch, mirrored by war and destruction. The bombs that rained down on those same golden sands taking the lives, snuffing out the dreams. The plumes of smoke and flame as The Rex burnt down, the rebuilding of shattered dreams, hope and expectation. Yet, behind it lies the sea, ever present but changeable, shaping our fortunes, forging our destiny, framing our outlook. So moody, blue or grey, cold yet inviting, calm one day angry the next.

The days of the coaster with its’ salt-caked smokestack, the sleek grey of the warship, have been and gone, and the fishing nets lie abandoned. Even the ferry, the twice daily lifeline, gone. But not the sails, they remain, some large, some small, that link with a pre-mechanised past, the time of the engravings, the leather bound volumes, the smell of the salt sea air. Intermingled the Tupperware cruisers, chrome and shiny, whirling radar, and flapping aerials. But the sea, she lies, waiting to pounce, the orange of the lifeboat ever present, another linking thread back through the cameras lens, back to the black and white, the rowing boats and rescues; the breeches buoy, and the rocket apparatus. The ever present sea, at times angry, surrounding, enveloping, shaping, changing inspiring the artist and giving work for the news reporter.

You can’t get away from the sea.

Photo of big waves, Chiswell, Dorset.
Big waves, Chiswell, Dorset.

All images used are by, and remain the copyright of, John New.

NB: The above piece was inspired by an exhibition of Weymouth and South Dorset history in photographs. Weymouth Library, January 2017.

RBS and Brexit

RBS and Brexit
Palace of Westminster in 2011 Copyright John New
Palace of Westminster in 2011 Copyright John New

Why the simplicity on this important issue? Watching the recent news story coverage of RBS and Brexit I felt that most journalists got it wrong. In simplistically reporting this as a short-term item, they seriously missed the point. I voted  remain and will do so again if we get a second chance to do so.  However, that said, my decision is not based on unswerving 100% loyalty and support of everything the the EU does and imposes on member countries.  Peaceful debate is always preferable to war, that was my prime reason for being pro-remain, and why I hope the necessary leaving legislation is never activated. It did not, and does not, mean I automatically accept as correct all the outcomes of EU mandates.

Neo-liberalism

I have some support for the Brexiteers position that too much in the EU system is centralised and this area is one of them. I have always hoped that parties of the left would unite politically through the EU and stop the unswerving drift to neo-liberalist policies.  This desire to sell off state assets is one of them. I have not transferred my account to RBS for two reasons, no local branches, and they were always going to be sold back to the private sector.

A state bank would be good

As a socialist I don’t like much that my current bank stands for in regard to underlying ethics. I do want to bank with a state owned, solidly constructed fiscal entity that offers traditional, simple banking. It is too simplistic to blame the change and banking crisis solely on  building design chages, from solid and classical to modernistic light and airy, but this represented the attitudes at the top. Solid and dependable became light and risky, then collapse.

The dilemma the journalists missed – the key story

Are we in or are we out? This whole RBS and Brexit question surely is right at the core of what we voted on. Why, after the Brexit vote, does this sale of RBS assets still have to go through? If the EU demand it, well we’re supposed to be leaving them anyway, so why can’t HM Govt simply ignore and challenge the rule. UKIP’s view would be that. Where is the debate on this?

Where is the opposition?

These are British (Ok Scottish) assets. The SNP appear to this Englishman to be too busy deciding if they want to be pro-EU independent, or socialist Scots, to actually fight the true corner of stopping the sale and keeping this bank as a nationalised asset. As a major employer, based in Scotland, run for the benefit of all, bigger the better surely.

UKIP have spent so much time faffing over a new leader they have missed the boat on using stopping this sale as an example of defying Europe – but then are they just narrow minded, pro-capitalist Tories in disguise?

Labour, as for UKIP, too busy destroying the party with internal politics to actually fight for the retention of what is already partially nationalised, whilst at the same having airy fairy dreams of more nationalisation; which the electorate isn’t yet ready for as it has not seen an example of something profitable being state owned – RBS run as a stable, bank would give that option.

Farcical, pro-right, press coverage

What a farce and perhaps an other example, despite what the establishment (I.e Tory supporting) claim, of the embedding of a right wing, everything capitalism wants is good, editorial ethos within most of our leading media outlets.

Southampton bombing raid 75th anniversary

Canute Road adjacent the Old Docks with buildings old and new.

Southampton bombing raid 75th anniversary

The 1st December 2015 was an odd day radio-wise. On the way in to Uni in the morning the local radio were reminiscing about the tragic loss of life and buildings in the worst Southampton bombing raid of World War Two.  75 years ago on the night of 30th November/ 1 December the Luftwaffe’s Southampton bombing raid pasted the City. The BBC Radio Solent website has much of interest regarding the event including a map of where the bombs, totalling over 700, fell.

On the way home it was announced that our elected MPs (Regrettably mostly macho males) are going to debate more bombing of the Middle-East.

Southampton bombing raid. Canute Road adjacent the Old Docks with pre and post war buildings
Canute Road adjacent the Old Docks with buildings old and new. Copyright John New.

Bombing doesn’t work

As the Germans discovered between 1939 and 1945 blitzing the UK’s citizens did not make us surrender. As we also discovered, bombing didn’t make the Germans surrender either. As the Germans realised, and later the US also found when bombing Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia, it does not win you the war.  Those may be old wars, but the IRA terror campaign failed to win independence for Ulster, and the recent Iraq campaigns didn’t work either, hence the current mess.

Bombing isn’t a successful tactic. In this instance, arguably, it will only alienate even more civilians against western society thereby making the situation worse not better.

In a battle of hearts and minds, aggravating the enemy with high-explosives is never going to be an answer. In this instance ground assaults aren’t ideal either, given the nature of the opposition, but surely a marginally preferable option.

Updated – House of Commons vote

Regrettably, from the view of a pacifist the Guardian reports that the bombing campaign was supported by our MPs.  Time will tell if the decisions was, or was not, a correct one.  On the evidence of most recent military activity I am sceptical.

The standard journalistic approach to these bombing raids over Syria is supportive of the establishment attitude to military involvement.  It may be a personal observation but this is all a little too gung-ho for me and overly reminiscent of nineteenth century gunboat diplomacy.

 

Replacement post.

Note:  This post was originally made on 1st December.  However the earlier iteration of this blog was lost due to computer issues.  This replacement, rewritten version was uploaded on 20 December 2015.