Wednesday, 31 March 2021

WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY DO I WANT - AND IS IT THE SAME AS THE SOCIETY WE NEED?

 I reference my friend, David Siggers in Brent, London, in chapter 5 of 'Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic' (2021, pending) - as you will have seen if you opened this month's Mailchimp newsletter. David gifted me a newspaper cutting last year that informed me about Brent's terrible position as one of the areas worst-hit by COVID-19 infections and deaths. I then incorporated some of that awful detail into my pandemic story. David is featured in this blogpost of mine from 2017 - see this link here.

More recently, David sent me another gift - this time, a book: 'Alone in Berlin' (1947/2009), written by the German author, Hans Fallada (1893-1947). David wrote: 'the protagonists reminded me of you and other bloggers drip-drip of information against this government'. Thank you, David. Sam Munson in The National wrote that Fallada's work is 'the great novel of German resistance ... (and) deserves a place among the 20th century's best novels of political witness'. Philip Hensher in the Independent describes the book as '(Fallada's) heartbreaking tale of futile resistance in Nazi Berlin'. I am fifty pages in; there are around 600 pages in all. I am hooked. It is gut-wrenching.


When a democracy slipped into dictatorship - and fear governed every encounter


I began my formal resistance to the new government in the UK the day after they were returned to power back in December 2019 - see this link here - but you will have seen if you opened the link that my warnings pre-date that General Election at the end of 2019. From my political and social and spiritual perspective, as a christian socialist, I find what has happened over this last decade - and particularly in this last last year and a half - deeply troubling. 

Who else thinks so? I was inspired to wrote this blogpost today by an article in one of my two daily newspapers: the 'i' (the other one is the 'Morning Star'), written by the columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, under the title: 'Racism and sexism stalk this land that I no longer recognise'. Here are some

Saturday, 20 March 2021

DAVID JAMES PATTERSON (1935-2021) - MY REMARKABLE TEACHER

On Wednesday this week between 1 pm and 1.40 pm, thanks to the wonders of a webcam installed at a Brighton crematorium, I made my virtual attendance at the funeral of a man - David Patterson - who transformed my life. 


David Patterson was a significant person in my life before I became a systematic photographer - this was the one picture I found in my archives that included David. He is the one wearing the hat. I like its symbolism. He is the self-effacing responsible adult almost indistinguishable from the children whose lives he was shaping for the better. I think this must have been taken on the Devon walking holiday in the summer of 1964. 


David - Mr. Patterson - became a member of staff at Dartford Grammar School (DGS), as a newly appointed history master, in September 1963. History was my favourite subject and I was looking forward to being taught by W. W. Wilkinson, the Head of History, for the next two years leading up to my GCE examinations. Wobbly Wobbly Wilkinson was a legend, as they say these days, and I loved his lessons in which he would dictate his notes on 20th century British history and we would sit in silence for forty-five minutes and copy them to the letter. My A-grade pass was guaranteed and was duly delivered in the summer of 1965. Meanwhile, Mr. Patterson was making his mark in the school. 

My instincts as an historian and archivist - shaped of course by David Patterson as you will discover - have enabled me this morning to trawl through copies of the DGS school magazines for the period from 1964-68 in order to find the evidence of how David made that impact.  

In the 1964 edition of 'The Dartfordian' I discovered a piece I had forgotten all about - an account written by R. E. K. Donovan, 4A,with the title: 'Walking Tour of the Cotswolds'. This would have been

Thursday, 18 March 2021

THE ROAD FROM DEMOCRACY TO OLIGARCHY - PART TWO - WHERE ARE THE GOOD PEOPLE IN POLITICS WHEN YOU NEED THEM?

My first blogpost in this series ended on a note of optimism, tempered by an advance warning of a wake-up call for me lurking around the corner. In this second blogpost, I am sharing the update on my persona as a Labour Party activist that I posted on my website in 2019 (see this link here) - and then bringing my personal story right up-to-date with a fresh update that takes you, the reader, into the present time as I consider my options. All this will be set in the context of the latest moves by those misgoverning us to take the country further along the road from democracy to oligarchy. 

Let's begin within that wider context of national politics.

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, posted this message below on Facebook early yesterday evening, Tuesday 16 March 2021: 

'I spoke out against the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill in the House of Commons debate today. We have never seen anything like this Government before. Our democracy is being swept away in a calculated programme to leave the public muted and powerless. If this Bill goes through, anyone who values their democratic rights must get organised and fightback.' 



Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South


Two days before, the Observer newspaper had a leader article under the heading 'Civil liberty' in which the Metropolitan police force and its leadership are castigated for their failure to recognise their own institutional racism and sexism. This is a police force that decided to clamp down a day earlier on a peaceful vigil to commemorate the lives of women killed by men - a vigil called in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard. The man now charged with her kidnapping and murder is a serving officer in the Met. This is a police force that refused to engage with the women planning the vigil and cited government Covid regulations in the lockdown as the reason. As the Observer states: 'This is misogyny.'  

So it is - and it is important to understand the link between any government and their police forces. In

Sunday, 14 March 2021

THE ROAD FROM DEMOCRACY TO OLIGARCHY IN THE UK - HOW WE ARE BEING BLINDSIDED BY THE FEW - PART ONE

I am interested in what is happening right now in the world of politics. Very interested - and I would like to share my thinking in this series of blogposts I have called: 'The Road from Democracy to Oligarchy'. 

The Greek for 'few' is oligoi'. Government by the few, in their own interests, is therefore called 'oligarchy'. We are more familiar with the term 'democracy' - government in the interests of all, with the consent of all as expressed through the right of all to vote in elections to decide who should govern our state.  

Democracy was never a gift from the few to the many. It was hard-won. My argument in this blogpost is that we are living through a period when democracy may survive by name but the nature of our state is changing as each year passes in such a way that the interests of the few become ever more entrenched. We are witnessing, if we have eyes open wide enough to see, the return of our realm to the state of being an oligarchy. I think that this shift will see Britain become more and more identifiable as a 'failing state', perhaps even a 'failed state'. 

I am an historian by training and qualification; we all need a sense of history. Yet history was only 'more or less bunk' to a capitalist such as Henry Ford whose primary concern was the present pursuit of profit. 


And yet surveys indicate that a third of Americans believe in the literal truth of the book of Genesis in the Christian bible - how do you square believing in Creationism with the rejection of history and the pursuit of profit in the present and future?   


A 'misplaced' grasp of the past is seen as a serious problem for both single-minded ruthless individuals intent on climbing the greasy pole in the here and now and multi-national corporations whose concerns are principally with profits and dividends. If you have knowledge and understanding of the past, in so far as that leads to a sense of how injustices have arisen and been overcome, you have the imagination to see how the world can be made better through stopping the bad actions of such self-centred people and institutions. You then become, in the eyes of the few, a potential 'troublemaker' with a 'misplaced' view of the past - a 'Marxist', even.  

I will be presenting the case that our present coronavirus pandemic is being used by the few who are misgoverning us as a cover for actions that will further advance their move towards oligarchy. 


Thanks to the Guardian cartoonist for this cutting edge piece, pointing the way to oligarchy. 


I will also be saying that their moves must be challenged and resisted. 

Our planet is teetering on the edge of a climate catastrophe. Over the next five years, the leaders of the

Friday, 5 March 2021

THE LATEST YOUGOV POLL HAS THE TORIES 13 PERCENT AHEAD OF LABOUR - WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT!?!

A YouGov survey yesterday gave the Tories a 13 point lead. Amazing the power in a dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccination fluid. These drugs seem to have been manufactured with an extra ingredient that leaves those vaccinated with significant memory loss. 

How can so many have forgotten that this misgovernment from which we suffer was responsible in the first place for our pandemic?

Their leader and his lackeys decided to put the power of the market and the pursuit of profit before the lives of people. Johnson and Co chose to do what Jacinda Ardern, the PM in New Zealand. called 'the unthinkable'. They pursued a policy of herd immunity and some leading scientists colluded with them. As a result, we soon suffered one of the three worst per capita death rates from COVID-19 in the world - and that terrible indictment of this apology of a government continues. We have had approaching 150,000 fatalities from the virus; in New Zealand, the figure is less than 30. 

New Zealand international rugby back in action - full house - no masks - summer 2020




Jacinda Ardern effectively naming the 'unthinkable' - the policies of Mr B. Johnson of UK infamy


How can so many have forgotten that we are experiencing the deepest recession of any G7 nation?  (I should express my gratitude at this point to Mirror Politics who this morning inspired this post and helped frame its structure.)

How can so many have forgotten that the arrival of new mutations in the COVID-19 virus has