Tuesday 28 December 2021

I was, of course, completely wrong - we seem to be beating Delta

 A few weeks ago the government of New Zealand did something that seemed so egregiously stupid it spurred me out of my blogging lethargy and got me posting again.  I was furious at how they had decided to give up - as I saw it - in the face of the Delta outbreak and just let us 'take it on the chin' in Johnsonesque style.

Turns out I may have been wrong as we seem to be - perhaps, perhaps - about to squash Delta.

Just on time for Omicron.

Get boosted, people.

(And yes, I'm aware most people probably don't bother getting tested over Christmas, even when they feel sick, and this will have reduced the identification of cases.  But the over all trend has been indicating the virus  has been struggling to find purchase, in spite of the government's move away from elimination.  We'll probably see a spike in cases in a few days as people who would have been tested in the last few days come forward; we should try not to panic too much when that happens.)

Sunday 19 December 2021

Conservative peer wants us all dead

 Says it all, really:

Lord Frost, who has led negotiations with the EU, is reported to have handed in his resignation letter to Boris Johnson last week. But the Mail on Sunday reported he had been persuaded to stay on until January.

The newspaper reported it was the introduction of plan B coronavirus measures, including the implementation of Covid passes, that prompted Lord Frost’s decision. It also said he had become disillusioned by tax rises and the cost of net zero policies.
He's essentially resigning because he's opposed to trying to stop people dying from COVID, having to pay more tax because of the costs associated with COVID and climate change response / mitigation.

In other words, he's happy for us all to suffer and die if it means his 'liberty' (i.e. wealth and associated privilege) are not impinged upon.

Because generally the wealthy will not have as rough a time of COVID - or climate change - as the rest of us.  Their privilege will insulate them from - more or less - from the ravages of the pandemic, in either the economic or health spheres.  They won't be stacked up in NHS hospitals, or struggling to find mney to pay rent, or worrying about their businesses collapsing.  Their main concern will be wether the bloody lockdowns or travel restrictions or - shudder - vaccine passports will affect their God given right to do whatever they bloody well choose.

Nor will climate change hurt them too much.  Again, wealth, power and privilege will insulate them and the won't be sweltering in poorly ventilated housing, or made homeless by flooding, or face the prospect of their home becoming worthless in the face of coastal erosion.  And they obviously aren't too bothered about the likelihood of it harming the prospects of their grand children or great grandchildren - so much for wealth cascading down the generations.  Because they are absolutely selfish.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Eric Clapton and the Impoverished German Widow

 So, Eric Clapton - estimated worth in the hundreds of millions of pounds - has successfully persecuted (sic) a German widow so hard up she was reduced to selling her dead husband's CDs on EBay.  One of which happened to be a copy of a bootleg recording of a concert - even though the widow says it was purchased legally from a music store.

A multi-millionaire suing a widow is very unpleasant, but as the Guardian notes, it is not the only unlikeable thing Clapton has done recently:

Clapton has made headlines in the past 18 months for taking a staunch stance against Covid-19 protective measures such as lockdowns, vaccines and vaccine passports.

He claimed to have experienced a severe physical reaction to his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab, and referred to scientific research – which has found vaccines to be safe and life-saving – as “propaganda”. 

 In December 2020, he collaborated with another noted vaccine sceptic, Van Morrison, on the song Stand and Deliver, which likens adherence to government restrictions to slavery. 

The song prompted the Black blues musician Robert Cray, who was born in segregated Georgia, to withdraw from supporting Clapton on his US summer tour as planned, the Washington Post reported. 

On that tour, Clapton was photographed posing with Texas governor Greg Abbott, who signed into law the country’s most restrictive abortion legislation and a measure to limit who can vote in the state.

I don't have a dog in the fight - I am not a German widow and I am of the opinion most of Clapton's musical output can be described as hateful and unpleasant, but that's subjective.  So let's not worry about the eternal crappy noodlings of Layla and I Shot The Sherriff.

Let's delve deeper into Clapton's personal history here.  I've been reading London Calling by Barry Miles, a history of London's counter-cultural underground.  It isn't quite as good as it should be (tldr: Hippies were good, punks were a bit crap really, there were some painters and artists and everyone drank too much, and Alex Trocchi was perhaps one of the worst human beings to ever exist) but it does include a recommendation from one Boris Johnson on the back ("I devoured this wonderful cultural history" - no you didn't, Boris.)

And it does mention a particularly pleasant episode in the Life And Adventures Of Eric Clapton, a sort of musical Lara Croft (though less buxom and unfortunately real) shamelessly raiding the graves of the Blues legends.  On the 5th of August, 1975, Clapton exhorted a crowd at a concert in Birmingham to vote for racist provocateur Enoch Powell:

Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. I don't want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch's our man. I think Enoch's right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans don't belong here, we don't want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don't want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!

Just take a moment to read that again and consider, this man has continued to enjoy a career as a revered (by people who like endless guitar wankery) musician.  Whatever your views on 'cancel culture' or separating the artist from the work, you have to admit, Clapton probably deserved just a tad more opprobrium than he received.  This is a man howling racist hate a crowd of thousands - who had come to hear him masturbate his guitar, now expound his political beliefs - and he's never been adequately censured for it.  Nowadays, he'd be shunned by fans, dropped by his record company and find it hard to book venues - and quite right too.

(After manually typing in the quote from the Miles book I discovered I could just have copied it from Wikipedia.  The Wiki version is even longer and more disgusting, so I have done just that.)

Clapton has, as far as I am aware, not apologised for his comments, merely trying to excuse himself by saying he didn't know what came over him and that whatever came out as a "garbled thing."  Eric, it wasn't garbled.  It was pretty clear what you were saying.  You wanted people to vote for Enoch Powell because you wanted foreigners - sorry, wogs - sent 'home.'

Clapton performed at a Nelson Mandela freedom concert (again, per Barry Miles) in 1988.  Jerry Dammers, from The Specials, reminded him of his comments from 1976 and suggested he could use this as an opportunity to balance the books: "You know, this is your chance to formally apologise for what you said."

Clapton declined the chance to show he is a decent human being, telling Uncut magazine, "I thought, "You must be fucking joking."  And I wouldn't do it.  I was so insulted."

Yeah, how insulting, holding someone accountable for their words and actions.

Eric has aligned himself with almost every reactionary political position going, defending the right of the aristocracy to tear foxes to pieces for entertainment, and of people in general (a true democrat!) to spread COVID-19 (on the day I write this, Britain set a new record for cases, almost breaking the 100,000 new cases barriers.  Eric must be proud of our efforts!)

Sadly, Eric's forthright positions have led to people ... not wanting to know him so much.  It's a bit late, and very disappointing it wasn't his unapologetic racism that led to people shunning him, but he is finding it harder to meet up with his old mates and buddies: 

In October, Clapton told a site run by a prominent anti-vax campaigner: “Over the past year, there’s been a lot of disappearing, you know – little dust around with people moving away quite quickly. And it has, for me, refined the kind of friendships I have. And it’s dwindled down to the people that I obviously really need and love.”

Eric, if one person think's you're a dick and cuts you off, maybe it's them that has the problem.  But when lots of people are doing it, maybe its you.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Living history

 Boris Johnson is fond of history - the boyish, fun bits about wars, Empire and plucky Brits winning against the odds and what not.  He particularly fond of Winston Churchill and really, really fond of matching himself up against Winston Churchill.

Only, he is comparing himself to the wrong World War 2 Prime Minister.

Today over a hundred of his MPs voted against him, on the absurdly important issue of How We Stop People Dying Of COVID.  Which - since we're talking about Johnson here, never one to miss a chance point to history and claim he's somehow being Churchillian - smells a bit like the Norway vote.  Though Chamberalin won the vote, the rebellion undermined his authority and he felt he could not continue as Prime Minister.  So he resigned which resulted in Churchill becoming PM.

Only, of course, Johnson is in the role of Chamberlain here, not Churchill.  Though it is doubtful that he has the wit, honour or decency to follow Chamberlain's lead and step down when faced with the reality that he is not up to the job.

Sunday 12 December 2021

British Labour take a 9 point poll lead

From Opinium, reported in the Guardian.  This, the Guardian is at pains to point out is the biggest lead the party has enjoyed since 2014 or (as they might have preferred to put it since Before Corbyn.

You have to wonder how Labour might have done in 2017 or even 2019 if the right wing of the party had not spend four years trying to assail the hapless and affable Mr Corbyn, and instead directed their energy towards getting a Labour government elected.

Also described by the Guardian, the Lib Dems (remember them?) are threatening a Ribble Valley style upset in the absurdly conservative seat of North Shropshire.

I am horrified to realise I am old enough to remember Eastbourne and Ribble Valley - two glorious by election victories of thirty years ago, where the Lib Dems overturned massive Tory majorities in traditional Blue seats.  The Conservatives were at the wrong end of a decade in power, seen as being in office but barely in power, lurching from crisis to crisis and facing a Labour Party that had replaced its worryingly leftwing leader with a younger, more media friendly person - in this case Neil 'father of Stephen' Kinnock.

You'll remember Stephen Kinnock as the chap who was so delighted at Labour's gutsy performance in 2017 he almost looked unhappy.

Unrestrained Joy on the faces of Stephen Kinnock and his coterie as they absorb the 2017 election result.

With self control like that, he should play poker.  No indication of the internal celebration undoubtedly going on under that worryingly smooth pate.

Of course, one should be cautious.  Following the humiliations of Eastbourne and Ribble Valley, the Conservatives won the subsequent election in 1992 and remained in power for another six years.  Neil Kinnock went off to enjoy a long career of doing obscure, but probably well remunerated, jobs in Europe, so he can probably be blamed for Brexit as well as losing the 92 election.  Starmer has a lot of work to do to convince people - on the left as well as the right - that he is worth voting for.

There is a chance of a Labour government in 2024.  It's a long road.  But the process needs to start now.  Corbyn's tenure was derailed by factionalism.  Starmer has shown himself very unwilling to heal rifts.  That will mean labour going into a future election still licking the self-inflicted wounds of 2019 and risk returning another five years of Conservative misrule.

He needs to restore the whip to Corbyn and start acknowledging the left are a valid and legitimate part of the party.  He needs to remember the galvanising effect of the 2017 manifesto, with its clarion calls for social democracy and progressive policies.  He needs to reject the bland managerialism and unconvincing attempts to portray 'quiet competence' that won't 'spook the markets.'  That's not worth voting for.  Whatever it is that made Starmer want to be a Labour Party member and fight to become Labour leader, he needs to find it again.


 From the Guardian : The  Observer  understands that as well as backing away from its £28bn a year commitment on green investment (while sti...