Tuesday, 14 January 2020

If... ...McGonagall made music - The album

A few months ago I mentioned my album, If... ...McGonagall made music, on here. Well it's finally finished.

The album consists of ten tracks and has been released on SoundCloud track by track over the last few months with the final track ‘Silvery Tay’ being the last release. It is also available to purchase as a download, on a pay what you feel able to basis.

First and foremost I'm an artist and I approach composing in a similar way to my art. Well, actually music is just another artistic strand. Music composing for me is a process very much like collage.I hope I've made it challenging, so it'll never have popular appeal, but I don't really care about that. If some people like it well that's good, if people don't like it well that's fair enough too.

My music doesn’t fit into any one particular genre. Loosely speaking it’s a mix of ambient and up tempo avant garde, but it contains quite a lot of emotions and influences, so that categorising it is difficult. Which is how I like it.
















Thursday, 2 January 2020

A co-operative networked Labour movement


Following on from my Eureka post of the other day I saw this article on openDemocracy entitled, The revolution will be networked, by Paul Hilder. It offers some very good arguments as to how the left needs to organise going forward. I urge you to read it.

We can take back control by building a popular progressive network, a movement built from the ground up. Now is not the time to give up hope. A people's network can help establish true democracy and put real power in the hands of the people. It will require action and enthusiasm action to make a start on some of the practical issues that need addressing, and action to start projects that will help to improve working people's lives. We need to educate people and help them to help themselves. Enough is enough.

It will mean a lot of work at grass roots level. Improving and expanding the foundations that we need to build upon. We have to build socialism, we have to build Jerusalem from below upwards. It cannot and will not be imposed from above. As the article says:

Rather than simply seizing the broken machinery of top-down control from the old right, the Corbynite left should be leading Labour towards a networked party. It is time to build a base of millions of active and empowered supporters, to fundamentally reshape our country’s culture as well as our politics. Only then will Labour grow strong enough to win; only then will Labour truly deserve to.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone that feels of a same mind and wants to get things done.




Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The Silvery Tay



A little piece of music inspired by my spiritual home of Dundee, and in particular the Firth of Tay whose banks it sits on. The video is made from clips I took on my last visit. Happy Hogmanay.

Eureka!

Or is it an epiphany?

I retired at the end of June this year and so far I’m enjoying it. For the first few months it all felt like a very long holiday and then I started to feel like I was wasting a lot of time. I’d been doing art but that didn’t feel like enough. One needs an active and interesting life to be able to draw inspiration for creating. The older I get the more aware I am of my days being numbered, of time running out. I had just started to look around for something to do when the election was called. Whilst I thought it was a pretty stupid time to call an election I was keen to do my bit. It was quite pleasurable going, what felt like, back to work. Despite it often being monotonous in its process the conversations were interesting and mostly good humoured, and I enjoyed the taking part as part of a team again. Obviously I was gutted by the result but the key now is to go forward.


I don’t really celebrate Christmas, so no obscenely oversized meal for me, just an ordinary sized light snack for me at lunchtime. It was accompanied by a little light reading; I happened upon an article on the openDemocracy website entitled Labour should focus on building a new co-operative economy from the ground up. A very interesting read. It seemed to be saying things that chimed with me. Ideas that equated to the way I had been thinking for quite some time. It’s always pleasing when you come across people that think the same as you, especially when it’s around ideas that perhaps deviate from the orthordox.

One disadvantage that the left has in politics is that the right wing have all the infrastructure, the mainstream media outlets and money. We can be well organised and have a large membership, but if we can’t get our message across we can’t make progress. We also need to challenge many of our traditional ways of thinking. Given that it’s going to be five years before the next general election we have to perhaps consider that there are other ways of radically changing this country. Centralised control and planning might not be the way forward. We need to think this unthinkable thought. Perhaps the way forward is to develop an alternative economy. This Tory government doesn’t give a shit about the working classes. Do we just drop to our knees and let them do their worst or do we fight back? If they won’t help the working classes then we should just blinking well help ourselves. The Labour movement needs to reorganise, modernise and rebuild its network and reach out to people. We need to restore trust in our movement, we need to help people to improve their lives; co-operation is the key.

An alternative economy, a new commonwealth, will enable us to take back control, build in sustainability, reinvest in local economies, establish co-operatives to tender for local and national government contracts, starve traditional capitalist businesses of custom and generally shift the balance of power. Also if we shift the power base away from London and develop a network of co-operative economic cells it will make it much more difficult for the right to divide us. Economic and political devolution needs to be strived for. Public ownership doesn't necessarily mean government ownership.

We also need to help educate people. Take over the running of schools. Set up colleges. A highly educated working class would be a powerful force. Now when I say educated I don’t mean trained as in the current tick box regime, I mean educated with the power of critical thinking and able to apply logic. As a movement we definitely need to take the moral high ground. We also need to present a more positive approach; less of a protest group more of can do organisation for change. We all need to moderate our language. It's okay to be angry but it's not acceptable to be aggressive, to wish people ill etc. That's fascism. We need to be smart. We need to prove we are better than the right. Robustly arguing our beliefs but politely. Aggression prevents equality. Aggression is oppression.

For me starting to work on some of these initiatives is far more important than who our next party leader is. Not that it’s not important. The real power of the party is in its members and that’s how it needs to stay. Yes it’s important to win back power on a national level, because that way we can put so many beneficial changes into place, but in the meantime there is much we can do to show the world that we are a credible political movement and that we practice what we preach. We need to take back control from the elite and enable a transition of power to the people in a way that no government can take it away again.

These arguments need to be refined but for me they form the basis of something I can work on and discuss with other people.I for one have found my occupation, my cause célèbre, and something I can dedicate time to in a bid to try and help others.





Thursday, 26 December 2019

The decade doesn’t end here!

The current decade ends on 31/12/20.

To distort* slightly Goebbels’ quote “If you tell a lie… ...keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” and that’s just what has happened in terms of how we classify what a decade is, thanks to the media. They peddled the lie that the millennium ended on the 31st December 1999 (when obviously it ended a year later of 31/12/2000) and they continue to end decades a year too early. The Victorians knew when decades, centuries and millennia ended why don’t we?

There's enough lazy thinking and illogical behaviour in the world without adding to it unnecessarily. The last year of a decade, a century or a millennium always ends in a zero. It's very simple maths. It has nothing to do with Gregorian or Julian calendars. People that even mention that in a conversation about this stupidity are going off on a pointless tangent. It’s all about logic. Whatever calendar you work to, if you use numbers as the measurement, the first year of the calendar will always be one. You wouldn’t have a year zero. Zero represents nothing. Having a year zero would be like saying this is a year but really it isn’t as it’s a year without value. So by applying logic the first year is always 1, and therefore the last year of the first decade will be year 10, and thus the pattern will continue. If you can’t grasp that then there is no hope for you quite frankly.

Now you're probably saying, so what? In the great scheme of things does it really matter? Well on one level it really doesn't, but it's an indicator of what a poor state we are in if people can't grasp a simple maths concept. If people aren’t capable of understanding simple maths how the hell are they going to grasp even the basics of economics, and therefore be able to make political/voting decisions?

Of course you could argue that you can re-calibrate the calendar and start decades, centuries and millennia at 0. Which you could do, but you could also take 14.5 years and decide to call it a Doris! I'm not sure how useful it would be but there's nothing to stop anyone doing it. The whole point of measurement surely is that it's a communication tool. A way of telling someone how much of something you have got etc. If we're all using different measurements how do we communicate what we really mean?

So people, please stop this gross stupidity and start measuring things properly again.




*I like the irony of that.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Season's greetings

Season's greetings to all my readers. I don't really celebrate Christmas. I've mostly removed that pain from my life but there are certain aspects of what I prefer to call Yuletide that I don't mind, music and lights being two of them. So combining the two here a little festive tune I wrote along a video featuring some of the lights of Norwich. Enjoy.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Unity is strength

Ask ten Labour party members why we lost the election and you'd get at least eleven different answers. I have no idea (apart from Brexit) as to why we lost the election in such devastating fashion. I hope when the dust has settled all will become clear. But until that time arrives it would be useful to stop the blame game. To one degree or another all party members are responsible for what happened. You cannot blame one person or group of people.

I’m a remainer but I feared all along that calling an election before the dreadful deed was done was asking for trouble. The opposition parties should have stood firm. But of course they didn’t. The cowardly LibDems capitulated yet again. Anyway what is done is done and we can’t go back.

One thing as a party that we need to realise is that we are still a broad church. We need to accommodate as many views as we can. I say this as someone on the left of the party. There is room for both socialists and social democrats in the Labour party. We can’t have one side or the other throwing their toys out of the pram if they don’t get all their own way. If we don’t appeal to as wide an electorate as possible we can never hope to regain power. And not only that. We need to at least be talking with other parties on the left of the Tories. Whilst we don’t necessarily want to mimic their policies we need to at least have some understanding. Looking at the overall numbers of votes cast and where they went it would appear that a large proportion went to the Greens and the LibDems; divided, they (the Tories) conquered. We have to at least discuss some kind of cooperation. Don’t we?

But problems don’t just lie with the Labour party. There are a lot of very vulnerable people in our society. People that will be at the mercy of the bullying, uncaring, vindictive Tories. How do we protect them? Can we assemble a broad coalition of resistance? Can we form our own alternative economy? Can we opt out of as much of the mainstream, the part that the neoliberals control, as we can? We need to try and as much as possible hit the neoliberals where it hurts. Break free from many of the bonds they control us with? We need a rebel alliance made up of left of centre organisations, societies and charities. A large well coordinated resistance movement. Our far from perfect democracy is about to be destroyed. We need to hold on to as much as we can.

I don’t have many answers yet. But I do have a lot of questions. Some of those questions are difficult, but we shouldn’t shy away from them. We must ask them. Divided we will fall again, united we can win at every opportunity going forward.


Thursday, 12 December 2019

Great Britain, the end is nigh

I'm posting this just before the polls close on the day of the General election. I'm not planning on staying up to watch the results. I'm not sure I can stand the pain. I'm expecting to wake up tomorrow to find that most sane persons' worst nightmare has been realised.

I fear that the Tories will win enough seats to destroy the UK. They will implement Brexit. England will become an even more hateful place to live and the Union will start to fall apart. By this time next year I fully expect the Scots to have voted for independence. I wouldn't like to guess at the dynamics of the journey that Northern Ireland will make but I don't doubt that it will result in a united Ireland at some point in the not too distant future.

England is fucked and a lot of poor people are going to suffer more and more. There will be blood on the hands of anyone who has ever voted Tory.

When Scotland leaves the Union it will make it impossible for England to vote in a Labour government with the first past the post voting system. England will be damned. I can see civil unrest and bloodshed coming it's way. I hope I'm wrong.


Sunday, 24 November 2019

Election memes

Here's a series of political memes I've created for use in the General Election campaign. If anyone would like to use them please feel free to copy and distribute:









Friday, 22 November 2019

We're all doomed. Here's why.

Are we all doomed? Is the end is nigh?

The only way that the human race will survive is by cooperation. So there you go, we are all fucked!

It's probably about a minute to midnight on the clock of human existence. We don't have long before the endangered species known as the human race starts to die out. For all we know it might have already started.

Pretty soon there’ll be no more people left on Earth. That, I don’t think we can doubt. I would imagine very little can be done to stop our extinction. But what can be done is to delay our demise for as long as possible. But that won't be easy. It won't happen if we carry on doing business as usual. We can all try and do our bit and some can do it better than others. It's not easy to lower the impact one has on our environment as we are pulled this way and that purely in order to survive. The biggest effect will be if governments take action.

Extreme wealth is killing our environment. Neoliberalist capitalism is the enemy of the people, the enemy of the human race, and until we can eradicate it we are on a downward spiral of death and destruction. There will no doubt be many that won't be able to grasp this concept. They won't see that capitalism is a cancer that's now quite rapidly killing us all.

We need a new form of economics. One not driven by growth. But by sustainability. Not by capital but by need. The market won’t sort the problems with our environment. Competition and the push for growing consumption only quickens the pace of our destruction. It’s not in capitalism’s interest to claw back on it’s continued abuse of our life-support system. Selfishness and greed will kill us all.

When I wrote this post a little while back I knew nothing of Extinction Rebellion. I may have heard a reference or two but hadn't really registered what it was all about. Obviously I’ve heard of them now. Their message is a bold one, and one I mostly agree with.

All the recycling by well meaning bike riders who knit their own jumpers is but a drop in the ocean. There’s no reason not to do it as it all helps but alone the conscientious people can't compensate for the nerdowells . We can also help by not having children, stop owning pets, stop flying and stop eating meat in any great quantity (I will turn to this subject in a subsequent post). But it still wouldn’t be enough. Governments need to change things to make any real impact.But not just our government, all governments. Cooperation is the key to our survival.

I'm not the best example of an environmentally friendly human. I know I could do better, and many others could too. But not all of us. Yes our environment is important but if you’re living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet, waiting in the ever extending queue for NHS healthcare quite frankly the aims and ambitions of Extinction Rebellion are not going to figure on your radar much at all. It’s more of an issue for those a little further up the socio-economic scale. If you’re living in poverty you are going to be more worried about where your next meal is coming from or how to pay the next bill that comes in. You’re not going to be worrying about what’s going to be happening in ten or fifteen years time. And quite understandably so. But in reality the solution to lifting people out of poverty is going to be the same as slowing down the climate catastrophe.

We live on a planet of finite resources which we are squandering at an alarming rate. We obviously need to cut right back on overall consumption. But if those resources are not shared out equitably we are doomed to failure. We can only save our environment if we cooperate, rather than competing with each other. That means we need to change the way we govern ourselves, because if we don’t we can change nothing. It’s all very well shouting about how we are killing our planet but unless we’re all prepared to become less greedy, less selfish and vote for change, our days are numbered. Now you can call the new equitable, co-operative form of government that will be needed to address these issues what you like, as labels really aren’t that important, but what you’ll end up with is socialism. It is the only system that can do the job. Pure democracy. Pure co-operation.

So the first priority for people across the world is to establish true socialist governments. Their priority would be to lift people out of poverty whilst at the same time reducing overall consumption of those elements which are the cause of the climate catastrophe.

We can't adopt a siege mentality either. There is only one world and we can't live in isolation, hoping that the problems will go away because they won't. We are going to see mass migration, and on a scale that we’ve never seen before. If we don’t welcome environmental refugees then that will be our loss, and they will come anyway. We won’t be able to stop them. After all, they will have nothing to lose.

If we don't act soon it will be too late. Technology isn't going to save us. It'll be too late for that.

My own personal view is that we will not be able to slow the speed of our destruction as quite frankly we are too stupid to do such a thing. I'm not a pessimist. I'm not an optimist. I consider myself a realist.