Monday, 18 February 2019

Good Riddance

To the not so magnificent seven who have jumped ship from the Labour party today to form their new 'centrist'* party, the Independent Group, I say this

*Can you really claim to be 'centrist' when you backed the Iraq war and refused all investigations into it, when you disagree with public ownership and putting an end to austerity or when you (Gavin Shuker) threaten to resign if gay marriage becomes law? Hmm.

Of course there'll be much waffle from the right wing press and the BBC about how great it is that these MP's have taken a stand (as opposed to the simple truth, which is they're protecting their own interests) and indeed the split has been welcomed already by Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage, which tells you all you need to know, but remember this; some people are like clouds. Once they've gone, it's a beautiful day.

Now they should do the decent thing and allow by-elections in their constituencies - they were democratically elected as Labour MP's and they must go back to their constituents now they have chosen not to represent the Labour party. That they refuse to do this once again shows how they are only interested in themselves because, the chances of them winning a by-election, are very slim indeed.

That this should happen in the wake of the death of Paul Flynn speaks volumes. Flynn is the only great loss to the Labour movement today.

RIP Paul Flynn

I'm very sad to hear about the death of Paul Flynn MP at the age of 84

Flynn had been the Labour MP for Newport West since 1987. One of the longest-serving Welsh MP's, he was a passionate and tireless campaigner against the Iraq war and for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, and was once described as 'the thinking man's Dennis Skinner'.

An independent thinker and a proper Labour man, Flynn was a career backbencher but answered the call in 2016 to briefly serve on the front bench in the wake of the Blairites meddling against Jeremy Corbyn, an experience he was said to have enjoyed. Recent ill health saw him announce his intentions to step down as an MP 'as soon as possible' in October last year. 


Saturday, 16 February 2019

RIP Bruno Ganz

The great Swiss actor Bruno Ganz has died at the age of 77 from colon cancer.

Ganz will perhaps best be remembered for playing Hitler in the 2004 film Downfall, which many cite as the definitive portrayal of the monster. But I first come across his talents in Wim Wenders' 1977 film The American Friend (an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley's Game) in which he played opposite Dennis Hopper. He was also the star of Wenders' much loved 1987 film Wings of Desire, and its sequel Faraway, So Close in 1993. Ganz was so feted in Germany that he was the holder of the prestigious Iffland-Ring, a prize given to the most significant and worthy German-speaking actor.

Other credits included Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampire, The Boys from Brazil, The Manchurian Candidate, The Baadar Meinhof Complex, The Reader, Unknown and The Party.


RIP John Stalker

Sad to hear of the death of former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester John Stalker this week at the age of 79.

Stalker gave over 30 years of dedicated service to the police force and was one of the investigating officers on the Moors Murders. But perhaps most famously of all, he was brought in to investigate the RUC's shoot to kill policy in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, where his integrity suffered at the hands of an RUC and Security Services smear campaign. The simple fact of the matter was that the truth he sought was not one the establishment wanted to be known. Over thirty years on and the families of the six unarmed men shot by the RUC still have no inquests or justice. 

Stalker's memoir remains compulsive reading and his inquiry into the RUC formed the basis of two dramatised films; Ken Loach's Hidden Agenda (which is the Stalker affair in all but name) and Yorkshire Television's Shoot to Kill which starred Jack Shepherd as Stalker. The author GF Newman also wrote his novel The Testing Ground which had direct parallels to the Shoot to Kill inquiry and was later loosely adapted by the BBC as the then near-futuristic Nineteen96 starring Keith Barron. David Peace was also inspired by Stalker when he came to write his Red Riding series of novels which were subsequently adapted by Channel 4 with Paddy Considine as a Stalker-like honest detective heading up an inquiry into a corrupt and failing hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.


Friday, 15 February 2019

I Believe That Children Are The Future... the song goes, and today we have seen that to be the truth as an estimated fifteen thousand children from around the UK went on strike from school to demand that the government urgently take the climate emergency seriously.

This movement all began with fifteen-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who began skipping classes last September to protest outside government buildings. It's an inspiring movement and a delight to see, but of course Downing Street have criticised it, saying that the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging. 

Um, not have as damaging as doing bugger all about this huge threat! 

Indeed Thunberg herself tweeted that whilst Theresa May claims this day of action wastes lesson time, "political leaders have wasted thirty years of inaction. And that is slightly worse".

It comes as no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas were the only leading political figures who stood in solidarity with the children of the UK today. 

These children are facing detention for their actions but are not to be deterred; there is talk of regular strike action to achieve their demands, and I hope that is the case.

Children are the future. They need to know that our planet has one too. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Out On Blue Six: Billy Bragg

Earlier today I posted Billy Bragg's Fourteenth of February to celebrate St Valentine's Day. But if, like me, you're single and the whole day is a pain in the hole, don't worry, cos Billy's got us covered to with Valentine's Day is Over....

And in just 5 minutes time that's exactly what it will be. Over for another year.

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Out On Blue Six: Billy Bragg

Hello young lovers everywhere! And old ones too! What else would I choose for St Valentine's Day but Billy Bragg's The Fourteenth of February? Enjoy...

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