jez 3

POPCORN THOUGHTS – Justice, Jeremy Corbyn and the Fear of ‘The Other.’

by Lizzie Soden –

N.B. This piece was written during Jeremy Corbyn’s FIRST leadership race, and when Teresa May was merely a Home Secretary. How things change. You couldn’t make it up. 

Gis a job? 

Whilst dreaming about living above the poverty line, I just got an email informing me of “Jobs you might be interested in” from LinkedIn.

Director of Strategy

UK Ministry of Justice

London, United Kingdom

About the role

Bringing together a small team of policy professionals and external Policy Fellows, you will provide high-quality strategic advice to the Secretary of State – influencing and defining the way forward on his highest priorities. You will introduce a new culture of innovation here too, encouraging creative thinking, constructive challenge and evidence-based problem solving at every level.

Yep. I could do that…

About you

We are looking for someone with outstanding political judgment and exceptional policy and strategy skills. You will need to be a talented influencer with strong networking abilities and the gravitas to liaise at the highest levels of Government. Add to that a commitment to leadership and you could be our ideal candidate.

I AM the ideal candidate, except for the leadership bit. Personally I favour non-hierarchical consensus run working environments. So this job would entail working with Theresa May (even though it refers to the secretary of State as a ‘he’). Can you imagine the kind of attributes they would require in the person specification?


  • Must not be able to distinguish moral responsibility from socially constructed notions of responsibility.
  • Must demonstrate support for the principle that money must be valued above any human being’s essential needs or dignity. 
  • Must be able to willfully ignore the fact that hard work and financial reward are not synonymous with each other in the unfair market economy.
  • Must be able to wilfully ignore that the phrase “something for nothing” applies far more accurately, and in far greater financial worth, to those with tax avoidance experts on hand and/or inherited wealth.
  • You will research and present a report, on the cost-saving benefits of re-instating workhouses.
  • In order to further reduce the welfare budget your role will be to promote self-sufficiency, and reduce housing needs by having people live on the street.
  • You must work with the police to ensure homeless people are kept out of wealthy neighbourhoodsI in order not to be noticed, or distress and harrass the residents.
  • In order to promote self-sufficiency amongst the homeless, encourage them to become more efficient beggars. On the street, physically disabled and small children are always a money-spinner, especially if they are crouching in the rain. The two eldest children must ensure their youngest brother or sister get a good spot to get the maximum foot traffic.

Regarding current crisis situation in Calais. 

  • Must be able to actively promote a ‘get tough’ campaign on Asylum seekers.
  • You must ensure this campaign should induce people to believe that large proportions of what they pay in tax is being robbed by these lazy and selfish invaders.
  • You will work with the Daily Mail and other sympathetic media, encouraging the British people to perceive Asylum seekers coming to Britain as vermin.  N.B The Daily Mail already have plenty of experience doing this. During World War II, they successfully encouraged much of the British public to perceive  Jewish Asylum seekers as vermin.
  • You must orchestrate a public information campaign to inform people that Asylum seekers are only coming here for the 5 quid a day they can get to live on, by peeling it off our streets paved with gold. You will be able to achieve this with the help of the Daily Mail and other sympathetic media.
  • You must ensure that information about the numbers of Asylum seekers arriving, as well as the projected amount of Asylum seekers who may come in the future, is greatly exaggerated. You will be able to achieve this with the help of the Daily Mail and other sympathetic media.
  • You must have the ability to dodge questions and objections regarding the actual numbers relating to Asylum seekers arriving, as well as the projected amount of Asylum seekers who may come in the future.
  • Desirable – Ability to work with those members of the Labour Party who agree with us about Asylum seekers and are concerned that Trotskyists, disguised as caring locals, are giving some of the Asylum seekers 3 hot meals a day and cups of tea. 

Asylum seekers enjoying free cups of tea.

If you are successful we will nurture in you a love of people knowing their place. You will be in a key position to turn back time to a Britain where employment rights (regular income, paid holiday, health and safety, sick pay, and the ability to negotiate wages) didn’t exist.

Fuck-it, that’s me out then…but it’s not the end of the world.

New conversations about the same old issues. 

I am still excited by the paradigm shift in politics across Europe that offers alternatives to the Austerity narrative. Here’s the thing. The Austerity narrative and the measures arising from it only really serve the interests of a small proportion of society at the top. Across the West, irresponsible lending and gambling of money by those actually at the top (the financial services industry and big business) resulted in an inevitable financial crash. Austerity is the idea that we should slash public spending that constitutes a safety net for the less well off. This slashing is done to pay the debts caused by the financial crash. The people responsible for the crash get handed that same safety net to pay their tab, supposedly averting economic disaster. The obscenely rich people who caused the financial crash don’t have to take any responsibility for causing it in the first place and can continue their life of luxury. The less well off who did nothing to cause the financial crash are plunged further into economic poverty, homelessness and a dependency on food-banks. Those that promote the Austerity narrative persuade the public that the safety net for the less well off is a ‘luxury’ the country can only afford when the deficit is reduced and there are no government debts. They also tell us that this is the only way to return to a place where the economy grows. It’s ironic that many economists, as well as some people in the financial services industry, have solid arguments to counter the Austerity narrative. They object to the idea that it will in any way rejuvenate the economy. (i)

In the end it is all about a clash of ideologies, in terms of the issue of whether we need to have a Welfare State. It all comes down to moral questions, about what kind of society we want to live in. To me it looks like the Austerity narrative is just a convenient tool to justify the shrinking of the Welfare State. This is why I find it strange that there is all this hysteria about a shift to the Left. It is only the Left who are offering alternatives to the Austerity narrative. I have never understood why the words ‘the Left’ induce such fear in otherwise reasonable people. I think it might be that they equate all Left Wing politics with the oppression carried out by evil communist dictators. People are led to believe that any move to the Left means that it is only a matter of time until we live in the equivalent of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Are they really new conversations or forgotten conversations? It’s about the principles surely. 

They don’t seem to remember the gentle and polite, pipe loving British socialist chaps like Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson, who dramatically increased living standards and economic growth by doing the opposite of Austerity. They had social justice at the core of their economic policies. What they did wasn’t perfect. They misjudged some things, but on the whole it was far better for a much larger number of people. They encouraged social mobility for the less well off, and created a much fairer distribution of wealth.

Within the Labour party, there is a lot of talk and fear about those that might be supporters of Trotsky at the moment. He was a lot of things, but he wasn’t actually an evil communist dictator. He was exiled from Russia by Stalin, who WAS an evil communist dictator. I am by no means a Trotskyist. I think many of his ideas were very dodgy, immoral and cruel. Some of them though were insightful and good. No different to Tony Blair really. All humans like to find explanations for, and answers to, questions about why things are as they are. Nobody can agree in the end. I honestly could never religiously follow a political scripture, written at one particular time by one particular human being. On the whole, isn’t it better to think for yourself? Free thinking is underrated. You can learn new bits of information, and weave these into a tapestry of ideas you continually cross-check and refine. Never assume the tapestry is finished. Never force it wholeheartedly on other people. You obviously can’t develop your own world view in a vacuum. None of us are wholly original in our ideas. We are influenced by people we relate to, and we appropriate ideas from all over the place. We all adopt ways of looking at the world that resonate with our particular life experience and values. They serve our self-interest in some way, whatever side of the political spectrum we’re on. Some of us find it very uncomfortable though, to serve our own self-interests at a cost to others who are more vulnerable and need our help. Some of us don’t find it uncomfortable.

Economic advantages or disadvantages cause us to live in totally different worlds, and exist within totally different social strata. Different social strata give us different perspectives, as well as different amounts of power over our own lives. The biggest issue for me that needs to be challenged today is the widening gap between the top and bottom social strata. In Britain, it hasn’t been this wide since the Victorian times. Those few at the top are gaining increasingly obscene amounts of money and power. Those not at the top are losing increasingly obscene amounts of money and power.

Here’s the thing. No human being ‘deserves’ or ‘earns’ extreme wealth compared to the majority of us. No human being deserves to unjustly suffer as a result of unfair distributions of wealth, which on the whole, are pretty random. Whether you are wealthy or poor is the result of many things; your place of birth, the time you were born into, your familiy’s economic circumstances, what you inherit, your individual talents, whether you can nurture them, your luck along the way, your education, your access to certain social circles, your values and beliefs, your world view, your physical and mental health, your physical and intellectual capabilities, and arguably your temperament.

However, we are sold various myths; myths like wealth has everything to do with “how hard you work,” or “how lazy you are,” or “how responsible you are.” These myths are perpetuated to prop up the sense of entitlement and superiority that many of the rich just ooze. I guess it also helps to assuage their feelings of guilt.

Of course, there are lazy, irresponsible, greedy, selfish and cruel traits in all of us. You can see those traits in every social stratum. I suppose it comes down to how you want to live your life and how you control those traits. How much does injustice matter to you? How much empathy do you have? How compassionate do you choose to be? It is useful to ‘nurture’ those negative traits if you want to get rich and/or powerful, via the ‘dog eat dog,’ ‘treading on others to get there,’ or ‘stabbing people in the back,’ methods. I feel sorry for those people who do this. They often end up pretty unlovable and lonely. They often lose out on meaningful relationships. They probably die alone. 

People also fall into the trap of assuming all those who are financially well-off are pro-Austerity because it’s in their interests. They think that anyone with money who acts with a moral conscience is a hypocrite, regardless of how they gained their wealth. That doesn’t make any sense to me either.

How dangerous was Trotsky? 

Anyway, back to Trotsky, and people’s often irrational fear about him. He was just a bloke. He had some good ideas and theories, built on how he interpreted Marx’s theories. Academic theories are really just narratives that encase a particular person’s rather complicated views. It’s best not to treat them as scripture. They are subject to change and re-invention if they are any good. Times change. Good theories provoke thought, and help people see things in certain ways. If they are insightful, they get people involved in new, illuminating conversations. They make people who don’t agree angry sometimes. They make people who do agree feel a little bit more righteous to find they are not alone in thinking what they do. Some people, however, thrust their favourite theorist into the role of a higher being whose word we must all take as being the only and definite truth of the matter. That happens in academia, economics, science, popular culture, and in the political realm. I am not sure why that is, except human beings like to have answers so they don’t have to think about things anymore. Big and complicated answers to big and complicated questions are like heroin. They make people feel soothed. Like an out of control drug habit, the theorist gets to be in the role of the dictator. The theorist becomes the only voice we should listen to. That’s my theory anyway.

So, Trotsky wasn’t right about everything, was advocating some dubious proposals, and did some terrible things but he wasn’t an ‘evil communist dictator.’ You can be influenced by people who advocate dubious proposals and do terrible things without condoning them. You can like Aristotle without liking slavery (even though Aristotle liked slavery). You can like Plato without wanting a dictatorship (even though Plato wanted a dictatorship). As with ‘some’ of the world’s rich and powerful, (including those that caused the economic crash) dictators generally have a certain type of damaged psychological make-up, a make-up which isn’t prevalent in the vast majority of people. If it were, we would have self-appointed dictators popping up all over the place. Not many people have dictator or autocratic personality essentials. Most people don’t have narcissistic delusions of grandeur, or a megalomania that is almost impossible to satisfy. To develop into a dictator, in addition to having a hefty percentage of the 12-15 particularly aggressive gene variants, not to mention a dysfunctional frontal lobe and amygdale, you typically need to have been abused in childhood.

The Tories were added to a Wikipedia list of ‘right-wing dictatorships’ – and the culprit appears to have done it on a government computer. [ii]

There you go…that’s why you can’t trust Wikipedia…or can you? I shall put my faith in Wikipedia definitions here. Fuck academic conventions.

I am just jesting. I enjoy debating about different political ideologies with reasonable people, and I try not to make my mind up about people’s likability or virtues until I know them. Good people come from all over the political spectrum. So do good ideas. Ideas, policies and actions in the political sphere are either loved or hated depending on what world you live in. In the West, we have to live alongside people who we think, believe a lot of shit. It’s the price we pay to live in this somewhat flawed democracy. It’s also the price we pay for not living under a dictator. We change things for the better by persuading people that we are advocating change for good reasons. It’s effective to use well thought out arguments, especially when talking to political ‘enemies.’ Allowing people to discuss and disagree is what free speech is all about. In order for free speech to produce anything good in a democracy, you need a certain amount of compassion. It’s lazy to criticise the person rather than what they believe. However, people are passionate about politics I hate, and those people just wind me up.

The angry mobs are ever present.

Shouting at people who disagree with you and claiming that you have all the answers is a waste of time. The House of Commons haven’t worked that one out yet. We have all encountered that kind of bigotry. On the Left there have always been folk being pompous, strutting their stuff, advocating everyone apart from them is reactionary. They are not immune from black and white thinking. It never really gets them anywhere. I’ve never bought into it.

From factions of the whole of the political spectrum, (and from organised religious groups, actually; they are pretty similar) you inevitably get pre-internet equivalents of Twitter storms still going on. A small group of people making lots of noise, standing in the middle of City Centres with placards, shouting simplistic and vitriolic, unnuanced slogans at unassuming shoppers. As far as I know that approach, either in the real world or the virtual realm, has never actually changed people’s viewpoints. Shaming, harassing and abusing people, inevitably causes them to become defensive, and more prone to hang on to their beliefs. Shouting out what you think, in the equivalent of 140 characters or less, is more of a case of chanting and cheerleading, to those who are like-minded. Its about feeling safe in a group, surrounding yourself by your team, your tribe, and feeling like you have a sense of community and belonging. The problem is, only surrounding yourself with your own tribe can cause you to not see the wider picture. It demonstrates a kind of fear of  the outsider, the unfamiliar, or the ‘other.’

Whether or not you agree with these groups of people, this is kind of what freedom of speech is all about. In this digital age, online communities, who unite on Twitter, shaming, harassing and abusing people they don’t agree with, are inevitably formed in terms of shared interests and viewpoints; from cat-lovers to those who identify as cats. (They are coincidentally called ‘otherkins.’) Incidentally, images of cats account for the highest number of images with the same subject matter, on the internet, (if you discount porn.) I don’t get it. I digress. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about Left-wing politics.

Left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. They typically involve concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others, and a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.‪ 

Podemos (Spanish: [poˈðemos], translated in English as “We can”) is a Left-wing political party in Spain, founded in March of 2014. Although they are on the Left, they have a compelling approach to politics.

Their approach is based on the assumption that, outside politicised bubbles, most do not think in terms of “left” and “right”. Outside the political world, most think in terms of issues to be addressed in a way that is convincing, coherent, and communicated in a language that people understand. Statistics and facts won’t win the support of millions; we’re human beings, we think in terms of empathy. Stories are more persuasive, because they speak to us emotionally. Why else do rightwing tabloids focus on extreme examples of benefit “scroungers”? They know such stories make their readers’ blood boil; they are human stories that connect emotionally, and powerfully so. [iii]

Do we always have to follow the leader?

If it turns out (as I am sure it will, ) that Jeremy Corbyn ends up facing off against the Tories at the next election many Labour politicians will have to venture out of their own tribes.

Jeremy Corbyn is a very different type of Westminster politician. I admire him immensely. He’s the only Labour party leader that can actually ride on the wave of the anti-austerity spirit d’age that is currently sweeping across Europe. He’s the only leader  seemingly offering, from a place of conviction, a real alternative approach to our country’s economic management. His stories speak to us ’emotionally’ because they induce real empathy, and resonate with us. They come from a place of compassion and a sense of real justice.

I have voted Labour since I was old enough to vote in 1979. Sometimes I have been a more enthusiastic Labour supporter than others, just so you know. However, as much as people may decry “they’re all the same,” when Labour moves to the Centre Ground, I have never thought this was true. The Centre is still nearly always better than the Right. Some Centre candidates will have some good ideas not found in either the Left or Right. However, most of them never seem to have much conviction in what they are saying. The need to get elected at all costs comes first, above seemingly any sense of integrity. The public are sick of this. All governments make mistakes, because they are made up of human beings. People have been crying out for political representatives with honesty and conviction. They want to know where they stand. They also want them to stop lying and covering up their mistakes. Everyone knows that, except for the spin doctors and the politicians who listen to the spin doctors. I don’t think they get out much. If they did, they’d know that trying to say what you ‘think’ the general public want you to say, in order to get elected, doesn’t work. The public are a pretty diverse lot and pretty media savvy at that. Because Jeremy Corbyn is not playing those games, he is extremely electable.

Houses of Parliament

This is where the country is run from, allegedly encased an a huge bubble.

Why can’t we act like adults even though Westminster politics are an elaborate game? 

Westminster politics still adopts notorious ‘squabbling kids in a playground’ tricks. This is why they resemble squabbling kids in a playground to us outside of Westminster. Liz, Yvette, and Andy in the leadership race accused Jeremy (the geeky kid who doesn’t want to join in with them) of misbehaving, so as to distract us from the way they themselves misbehave. Like kids in the playground, the aim is to not get in trouble, avoid being caught out, and get away with things they know deep down are wrong. You can always tell when kids are lying and trying to get away with it. They can’t stick to the story they have concocted when cross-examined, and you know they aren’t talking with any conviction… bless them. They probably just need an objective and responsible teacher to point out why they shouldn’t do what they’re doing.

Imagine…(That wasn’t an intended reference to Jeremy’s chosen ‘victory’ song by the way. ) …

“Please Miss, Jeremy is taking the party back to the 80’s and being all left-wing, and it’s not fair because then we’ll be unelectable.”

“You know it’s not necessarily true that we would be unelectable. The world today is totally different to the way it was in the 80’s. Jeremy can’t actually take us back there. The issues are different. Our industries and the way we work are different. New technology has moved things on in ways we could have never imagined. You weren’t even old enough in the 80’s to understand all the complicated nuances of what was going on. Jeremy actually lived through it as a member of parliament, and has obviously learnt a great deal since then. None of us are the same people we were 35 years ago. To tell you the truth, he seems far more inspired by the  politics of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson. They weren’t even around in the 80’s. We have not had levels of in-work poverty, (relatively to average standards of living,) or such massive gaps in terms of wealth distribution between the richest and the poorest since the 1890’s; forget the 1980’s!

“But Miss, George Osbourne said..”

“I don’t want you to listen to or repeat all those silly stories George has been saying. He’s just trying to put those stories in your head to regain power. It’s not nice, and they’re not true. Just because other people are telling the same silly stories in the newspapers and on the television, that doesn’t make them true. They’re all just sticking up for each other because they’re friends. Lies are lies. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It just shows they can’t think for themselves.”

“But Miss…”

“Be quiet Liz Kendall! Remember that although it is true that by moving to the central ground, Tony and Gordon took over successfully in 1997, everything has changed since then. They were living in a post-Thatcher world. They made the mistake of playing by her rules. Under Thatcher, Britain carried out a lot of de-regulation of the financial industry, and the consequences of that have come home to roost on many occasions. In the 2000s, some nasty men tried to steal everybody’s money. Then we had a world-wide financial crisis in 2008, the effects of which were unfairly pinned on Gordon, who admittably was a bit naive. No-one really stood up for him. Then David Cameron became prime minister by lying to poor Nick Clegg, making him think he was his friend.”

“But Miss, Tony and Gordon were elected because they were trying to please everyone, and that’s why everyone loved them. Jeremy will make everyone hate us, because he’s not wanting to please everyone. It’s not fair! We have to do what Tony and Gordon did!”

“Remember Andy Burnham, Tony told a massive lie and stopped listening to others and many innocent people were injured or killed in unjust wars. Gordon tried to put things right but it was too late. We weren’t picked for the last 2 recent elections because people thought we were the same as David and George. People also thought we were friends with some very greedy pricks. Also, David and his friends told everyone the fib that Gordon was wholly to blame for the financial….”

“But Miss, Jeremy will make everybody start fighting and split us all up. He doesn’t do what he’s told…”

“Well Yvette Cooper, that’s because Jeremy stands up for what he believes in. We should all do that if we feel strongly. I know you do. Funnily enough, everybody’s already fighting anyway. It’s got little to do with Jeremy. You know lots and lots of people didn’t vote for us after they felt no-one understood them or the issues they  face because of the Austerity measures. They don’t see the point of joining in the game anymore. That means lots of people who stopped voting for us, may now come back; and people who didn’t vote at all, may now choose to. I have a feeling that if you listened to Jeremy and the people he is reaching, you may be influenced in a good way, and be brave enough to start new conversations.”

“So Miss, Jeremy isn’t really splitting us all up? He’s bringing us back together?”

“Yes children. Now, remember you are all different, and you won’t agree about everything but that’s just life. Things are complicated and that’s OK. You all have some shared core values I hope. Now run off and play nicely with each other.”

Sing-along FOLLOWING THE LEADER – A delightful children’s game courtesy of Walt Disney’s Peter Pan

jez jez 2

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn and a return to political integrity.

Hundreds of thousands of new people have recently engaged with the Labour Party, inspired on the most part by Jeremy Corbyn. Those eligible to vote in the leadership campaign trebled. He is bringing hope to those who felt no elected representative was speaking for them. To get the chance to vote for him to be Labour Party leader they could either join the Labour Party, become an affiliated supporter through one of Labour’s affiliated organisations or unions, or register that they support the Labour party online by paying a one-off fee of £3.00  During the period where new people were becoming involved in the leadership contest (via one of those three routes) I woke up one morning to read something I found very perturbing. It was an article about the actions of Harriet Harman, the present acting leader of the Labour Party, and spokesperson for the seemingly shambolic and bemused neo-liberal Westminster Labour tribe.

Labour MPs have been ordered to vet people who have applied to join the party, amid growing concern that Trotskyists and others* are signing up to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election……Harriet Harman, Labour’s acting leader, has sent all the party’s MPs the names of the recruits in their constituencies, and asked them to weed out known opponents. She adds that the names of new recruits are being sent to local party officials “in real time”. They have been asked to “check there aren’t any people known to them to be members of other parties, or who do not support the Labour Party.[iv]

What criteria was applied here to check new recruits? I imagine weeding out members of other parties might be quite straight forward, but identifying those that ‘potentially’ don’t support the Labour Party’s values is a minefield.  For a start, the term ‘others’ is pretty non-descript. It could be any other person than the person doing the weeding out. In fact, it could mean any other person who is inspired by Jeremy Corbyn, because what he is saying resonates with them.

Our fear of the other surfaces again.

Humans have a base brain fear of ‘the other.’ Civilisation is built upon humans rising above those base brain influences. (Judging by the present governments immigration policies and hysteria about Asylum seekers, I think we can conclude they are pretty obviously quite primitive.) In the case of the fear of people invading  the Labour Party, it seems the ‘others’ or ‘known opponents’ were a group made up predominantly of Trotskyists, Activists, Tories, and other dodgy people that were trying to sabotage the voting process. Regarding Tories, it is true that The Times newspaper decided to have a right old giggle by urging its readers to pay 3 quid and pretend they supported the Labour Party. The aim was to have a jolly good time and vote for the supposedly unelectable Jeremy Corbyn, thus fucking up Labour’s chances in the next election. It is probably pretty easy to identify some of them as ‘known opponents’ if they are members of the Conservative party, but how could they know if particular people might ‘really’ want to support the Conservative Party instead of the Labour Party? (My prediction is that those who escape will have their actions come back and bite them on the bum, so that’s fine.)

MP’s and local party officials  managed to reduce Jeremy Corbyn’s potential supporters by about 1,200 ‘others’. I hope that means they can now sleep at night. One removed voter was a bloke kicked out of the party in the 80’s because of some flimsy anecdotal evidence that he was a Trotskyist. Does that make him a ‘known opponent’ in 2015? No, but it certainly puts him on the list of undesirables. I hope they cross-examined all those 1,200 people with a bright light shining into their eyes. That would have been a better way of identifying their beliefs and affiliations than what Harriet Harman actually did. I’m not saying Harriet Harman didn’t have some good intentions. I am just bemused about the absurd ways she thought she could have identified potential opponents. It must have been bloody difficult.

We share too much methinks.

They should just check-out social media. It seems that on Facebook most people share everything they need to know; what groups they belong to, what pages they like, where they went to school, their taste in films and music, who they mix with, everyone they have ever mixed with but haven’t seen for 30 years (or is that just me?) As everyone knows, there is even a space on Facebook for filling in your political views. Mine says ‘socialist.’ Fuck me. I share far too much on Facebook. It entices you to because it offers you that not entirely honest, ‘privacy’ settings button. I guess if I deleted all that shit now they’d still be able to retrieve it from the vaults of Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual cellar.

The British government quietly changed anti-hacking laws to exempt GCHQ and other law enforcement agencies from criminal prosecution, it has been claimed. Details of the change were revealed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which is hearing a challenge to the legality of computer hacking by UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies….The Government amended the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) two months ago. It used a little-noticed addition to the Serious Crime Bill going through parliament to provide protection for the intelligence services. The change was introduced just weeks after the Government faced a legal challenge that GCHQ’s computer hacking to gather intelligence was unlawful under the CMA. [v]

The problem is most of us in the Labour Party could mistakenly be seen as one of those ‘others’ by their criteria. We could raise suspicion because of our friends list. I don’t even know how most of my friends vote except for those that are Facebook’s more vociferous politicos. Most of those vocal types are also Activists. Ok, for some that might only mean signing an online petition. Does that count?  No doubt a few of them may have identified as being a Trotskyist in the past, and share some of his views. I also have family and friends who I love very much who vote Conservative. I think they are somewhat deluded and vice versa. I undoubtedly have a fair few friends that could be labelled pretty dodgy. Can my character be painted with that same ‘Trotskyist, Tory or ‘others’ brush? Could who I know deem me to be unfit to vote for the leader of the Labour Party? I don’t agree with them about everything, OK? I don’t agree with everything anybody says. Not even Jeremy Corbyn, especially not his choice of Imagine by John Lennon as his victory song. Bit sappy. 

As for Mark Zuckerberg. He incidentally, hangs out with some dodgy people. Mark, in 1990 that guy next to you was convicted of felony possession of drugs and possession for sale. Watch out if you fancy signing up to vote for Corbyn!


At the end of the day, who actually decides or can possibly really know who is a Trotskyist, an Activist, a Tory supporter, or just plain dodgy? Can Trotskyists merely be identified as those giving hot meals and cups of tea to newly arrived Asylum Seekers? Also, what’s all this about keeping those Activists out? Haven’t activists often been at the cutting edge of social change? If we just courted ‘public opinion’ we would still have people imprisoned for being homosexual. Gay rights activists, members of the women’s liberation movement, and members of the anti-racist movement were one of the reasons unjust attitudes and laws have changed. Are they allowed to be in the Labour Party? Hold on, a lot of acting MPs were Activists! I bet loads of them Rocked against Racism with the rest of us. I am sure I remember Harriet Harman at an anti-Corrie bill or CND march back in the day.

I am getting all confused and indignant now. You do realise that Jeremy Corbyn could definitely get excluded by their criteria. It’s all so complicated.

What’s wrong with being critical and protesting? Isn’t that how things change?

Can someone tell me exactly what’s wrong with being a protest movement against the current government? Elected representatives are always harping on about protest movements as a negative force. What are they scared of? I am guessing many politicians at Westminster probably don’t really understand computers, the internet, or social media. They get their friend’s sons and daughters, AKA young interns, to do all that stuff for them. They are used to a time when undercover infiltration of left-wing groups who could be ‘Enemies of the State’ was carried out by the police. This was stopped in 2009. It might have been because those poor police officers could no longer put up with all that earnestness. The police were also subjected to people dancing really out of time, (with zero hip-movement,) flouncing around in sandals and socks, to very bad Latin American music. This is what normally happens at fund-raisers for worthy Left-wing causes. The people at these fund-raisers could no sooner be anyone’s enemy than Jeremy Corbyn could be an evil Left-wing dictator, no matter how much Trotsky either of them have read. (I apologise now for seemingly propping up that Leftie stereo-type, but just so you know, I have been to many Left-wing fund-raising nights. I know all this stuff from experience.) Anyway, maybe the other explanation for the police pulling out in 2009 is that they weren’t needed anymore due to the rise of people using social media. Call me a conspiracy theorist but…

Since when have all invaders been a threat? 

So my final popcorn thought for now, is that there is a propensity in humans to see ‘The Other’ or ‘Others’ as potentially dangerous invaders. They are trying to infiltrate our tribe, whether they be trying to get into our country or into our political party. We live in a democracy. Are we going to say that you can only get involved in democracy if you believe what certain parliamentary candidates are advocating? Now that does sound like a fucking Dictatorship to me.



[iii] Owen Jones

[iv] ANDREW GRICE  The Independent POLITICAL EDITOR Tuesday 04 August 2015


Who Are We

Culture On The Offensive

publishes philosophical writing about contemporary culture. This takes the form of a new kind of multi-media online essay. We also engage in conversations with controversial thinkers and present post-Socratic dialogues around universal themes.

We run talks and events, as well as short and long courses both on and offline.


We are looking for new contributors

We want our writers to submit pieces to us that inspire them. We want our writers and readers to feel as though CULTURE ON THE OFFENSIVE is a platform for expressing and exploring new, maybe controversial, but definitely thought provoking ideas that allow people to understand contemporary culture in new ways.

Writers, Illustrators, Artists

Join-In For Free

You can sign-up and join-in for free.

Once registered you can comment on our articles. If you wish to sign-up and support us by paying a small subscription and becoming one of our ‘plus-ones’, you can:

Attend talks, events, and courses for discounted prices, and get discounts on our books as they are published from assorted content on the site.

There is 1 comment

Add yours
  1. Deliberator

    Albeit a fair bit of tongue in cheek, there are loads of interesting points raised here. As I was reading it, I had Radio 4 on, listening to Andy Burnham warn everyone about Jeremy’s credibility in terms of not costing his proposals, and coming over as another Labour leader who could not be trusted with the economy. He wasn’t saying Labour CAN be trusted with the economy, and heres our record etc etc. That Labour didn’t cause the financial crash but contributed to it happening by “trusting” and accepting business’s priorities (which were to make big profits) believing this would be a way to ensure economic growth. They sacrificed their moral responsibility to have social justice at the heart of their judgements. Jeremy is correcting that. He iS ensuring we can manage our economy by not cosying up to the uber rich, and investing in public services and housing, and ensuring profits made by rail, energy, postal service companies go back to the state. etc. He is not saying they should be nationalised in the same way by a huge bureaucratic centralised state mechanism. He wants to devolve that responsibility to the regions. Same with taking back control of education. that would be devolved, but be in overall state control. Any candidate presenting a manifesto from a position of opposition, does in some ways have the privilege of selling their policies and manifesto’s as principles, without actually facing their true cost. Inevitably when in power some of that has to be dropped. Jeremy is not advocating anything but a sensible approach of working and listening to expertise and different viewpoints, not casting things in stone, working collectively and in consultation with those on the front lane. Maybe some of the things he would love to do will not be possible due to our democratic process. Look at Obama. His hands were tied on so many things. The more people say he has not got economic credibility, from within the party, the less likely we will win at the next election. I hope they will unite behind him, offer their expertise and know that he is the kind of bloke who will not be offended if he is wrong about stuff. Manifesto’s are aims. You can’t always carry out all your aims. That is true of every politician who takes power.

Post a new comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.