Blog-a-day

King Jeremy Of The Glass Pool

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So, it appears as though Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing outsider who barely scraped a place on the ballot paper with some of those nominating him on record as saying they don’t actually support him, might win the Labour leadership election. And, as you would expect, all those Tories who registered to vote for him “for a laugh” are now panicking though doing their best to make it look like everything is just dandy.

One criticism that even some who actually do support him give is that “Corbyn isn’t very electable”. In 2020, the year of the next general election, Jeremy Corbyn will be 71 years old. Many think that a 71 year old Prime Ministerial candidate just wouldn’t be an attractive option to the voting public. Many think that a 71 year old wouldn’t be interested in the job anyway. Others – again, some of whom are his supporters – claim that it’s his beliefs that are not very electable. Apparently being “left-wing” within the Labour party is now something to feel iffy about, rather than it being the norm, as it should be.

The trouble is the public, individually, are clever but as a group are fairly stupid. No, not stupid – that’s not fair: malleable. It’s easy to just follow the crowd, to not have to worry about what you think about something, when so many other people are doing something already. If those around you are saying “Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity talk is not something the public can get behind, not something that’ll work in action” then it’s easier than you think to start believing it. It’s easy to not question what we’re told.

Unfortunately society as a whole has been taught that there’s a way of doing things. We’re told – regardless of “expert opinion” to the contrary – that austerity is needed, it works and it must be followed through. Most of us believe this now, like we believe “illegal immigrants get all the benefits” (I don’t think someone in the country illegally will be too eager to fill in loads of DWP forms, somehow) and that “wealth trickles down” (obviously bollocks spun by those at the top). What frightens Jeremy Corbyn’s critics is the fact that he’s doing a fair job at convincing people to think differently, to question the narrative we’re fed daily by the right wing press.

What we have to be careful of, however, is getting lost in the echo-chamber of social media; the self-affirming hall of mirrors that sees us surround ourselves (virtually) with people we know agree with us. We Tweet something, everyone agrees, we feel that it must be right. We forget there are more people who disagree with us, hiding in their own little bubble with their own nodding dog followers. We hear them sometimes, nagging and moaning on the sidelines, but we ignore them or, worse, shut them down with the help of our own disciples.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: I’m so glad people are turning out to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak. I’m really pleased he’s getting a platform to share a message that’s rarely allowed in political parlance these days. I think he’ll win the leadership and, electable or not, will at least be a voice of humility, decency and solidarity in a House partly made up of braying toffs in expensive three-pieces. Do I think he could be Prime Minister? Sure! Why not? He’ll have the best part of five years, if he wins, to convince the rest of the country that he’s the one to listen to. Do I think he’ll hang about that long? Yes. How much longer after 2020 he’ll stay, however, is anyone’s guess.

BUT. It’s important to remember that this wave of hype, this tide of hope we’re all riding on, hoping for a Corbyn win, is sloshing about inside a glass room; it’s powered by our own breath. We drop a pebble of hope into the water and bask in the ripples returning from the walls. It’s all us. Only us. Sure, there may be many of us, but the hype is ours not everyone’s. We must never forget that, no matter how confident we are now, not everyone shares this feeling. The media are either lapping it up or slamming it, depending on their leaning, because it’s a great story: The underdog is ahead by a nose! But there’s every chance we’ll see the windows break and the real world flood in. Maybe – just maybe – Jeremy won’t win. Maybe we’re hoping for a little too much. Maybe we’re putting more faith in everyone else than they deserve. Maybe.

But I hope not.

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You Never See A Lion Without A Mobile Phone

British-truck-drivers-stabbed-attacked-Tommy-Harrison-migrants-Calais-France-585530Earlier this week something terrible happened. A Minnesota dentist illegally shot, killed, beheaded and skinned Cecil the Lion (when I was a kid, Cecil was a Caterpillar), the star attraction of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The world went mad. There were calls for the hunter to meet a similar fate as that of his prize, for him to lose his business and face financial ruin (which, considering he reportedly paid £32k to kill a lion would probably take some time) and, from the more level-headed among us, for him to face poaching charges in Zimbabwe. The latter is what should happen. What shouldn’t happen – regardless of how cruelly sad the situation is – is for the world to care about a lion while giving less than a shit and a half about the plight of the thousands of migrants currently camped near Calais.

This week our Prime Minister and all-round bell-end, David Cameron, went on the news to give his latest eye-watering faux-concerned sound-bite about the “Migrant Crisis in Calais”, saying that there are “swarms of migrants” trying their level-best to break into our country, steal your handbag and shit on your kitchen floor, or something. The rest of the country seem just as sympathetic, or most of them anyway. I’ve seen calls for the desperate people camped at Calais – most of whom are fleeing war-zones and certain death, having travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles for months or years, giving up their entire lives for the chance of refuge –  to be shot dead on the spot, to be “imprisened (sic) in camps” and to be sent back to where they came from. One person on Facebook made the jarring observation that “they [the migrants] claim to be poor and needy but they all have the latest trainers and you never see one without a mobile phone, do you?!”… People – the media, politicians, the fella in the pub – just seem not to care as much about their fellow human beings as they do about a lion.

Why, you ask, would this be the case? Why do so few seem to care so little? A friend of my brother hit the nail on the head in a simple yet profound way. “The lion had a name”, he said, “that’s all.” And he’s right, you know. Most people couldn’t even tell you where these migrants are originally from. Most people have no interest in why these people are literally dying to get to the UK. Most have read no further into this situation than the first few columns in a right-wing, agenda-pushing newspaper. These aren’t people to many, they’re simply migrants. They come in “flocks”, “hoards” or “swarms”. When they die they aren’t deceased people, they’re “migrant bodies on the track”. Dehumanised. Little more than animals. Or not even as important.

Because the lion, on the other hand, had a back-story, a name, a unique black mane which made him special, made him something worth remembering, worth mourning. Someone I am no longer friends with on Facebook posted a petition demanding the extradition of the Minnesota Dentist (that sounds like a Darts nickname) on poaching charges at 9.00am and was posting a so-called joke that goes “four immigrants found suffocated with Tesco carrier bags: Every Little Helps!” by 9.30am. It’s disgusting and saddening and I’m ashamed to know these people.

Until the language we use changes, until the “celebrity” nature of death and suffering is curtailed in favour of factual, informed comment of the real important issues of the day – and not just in passing, but in depth and including context aplenty – and is covered responsibly by the press (don’t hold your breath!) we will, unfortunately, have to keep hearing about the selfish, aggressive flocks of illegal immigrants swarming into our country to take YOUR job, to be given – for FREE – a house that YOUR son or daughter can’t afford and every other bullshit, borderline-racist, tabloid-wank lie that our shameful establishment churn out to fit their continuing agenda. Shoot me now.

The Hidden Joys Of Dog Ownership

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We’ve had our Schnauzer, Digby, for a whole month now and I’m starting to learn some things they didn’t tell me when I signed up for this. Some things that are joys like the other pleasures of having a dog, but less glamorous. Nothing to brag about. Well, I’m bragging.

There’s nothing quite like going for a walk in the cold, driving rain; Nothing quite like waking up to needle-like puppy teeth being driven into your earlobe; Nothing like the “dog snogs” you get immediately after half an hour of your pup chewing dried tripe strips. There’s nothing quite like coming home from that walk in the cold, driving rain but this time with a warm bag of shit in your hand; Nothing quite like the noise he makes at, well, anything he’s never seen before; Nothing quite like knowing that, wherever you’ve been and no matter how long you were gone, you’ll be greeted by your dog as though you’ve just returned from a decade at war.

Having a dog is a fantastic thing. Instantly, they become part of the family – not just a pet, but an actual family member. It’s a companionship that is unlike anything else. Walking isn’t a pointless activity anymore and his routine becomes your own. And when you’re feeling ill, as both me and my wife have been for a while, the dog knows.

The dog cares. The dog tried his best to help. We love having Digby with us. Love it.