Tagged: Private Eye

Grassroots music and politics – 1

Here’s an idea… forget the spin-doctors and the mainstream media and instead explore the political landscape via the music it’s inspiring.

You probably won’t have heard much, if anything, of what follows. It’s not played on the TV or radio, the political parties themselves don’t know it exists and almost certainly wouldn’t care for it if they did – with one exception. There is one party who understand the concept very well – can you guess which one ?

This is folk music (small ‘f’), music performed by folk, singing about their concerns. For the most part it’s DIY recordings and videos, probably made on no budget at all in most cases, and released into the wild via Youtube and other sites.

It’s not-for-profit, its makes no money for corporations, it almost certainly wont be on your radio. But its inventive, satirical, funny, vitriolic and often thought-provoking. What else do you need ?

Once upon a time, protest music like this would have been the domain of either a person with a guitar (the folkie approach) or a band (the punk approach). Both would have had to use a recording studio for best results, press records or cassettes, and then have to distribute them.

It all took time and money.

Nowadays you can have a recording studio on your PC, record and mix your track and within minutes post it on the internet. Within an hour it could be heard by more people than you’d ever have believed possible in the old days.

What follows is a selection of these songs. They are mainly protesting against various parties or individuals – there are actually very few songs promoting political parties, and they are usually pretty dire – as an example I’d point you towards ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read’s ‘Ukip Calypso’, which had to be withdrawn from sale after claims that it was racist. I reckon it was the attempt to sing it in a fake West Indian accent that did it.

Ukip tried to salvage something from the wreckage by saying that all proceeds would go to the Red Cross to help fight Ebola, only for the Red Cross to reply;

“As a neutral organisation, we cannot benefit from something which overtly supports one political party.

“In addition, the Red Cross has a proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers who are negatively referred to in the lyrics.”

Doh !

Read later told BBC London:

“People are very, very, very quick to take offence now at something that years ago would have been deemed to be a bit of satire and a bit of fun..”

Could this be the same Mike Read who in 1984 was instrumental in getting the BBC to ban Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” on the grounds that it was obscene ? I think it could.

For the record (sic) “Relax” subsequently shot to Number 1 in the charts, stayed there for five weeks, going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming the seventh best-selling UK single of all time.

Banning things rarely makes them go away.

Well, since we were talking about Ukip, I’ll start with selection of songs about them.

There are lots of them ! I’ve chosen a small selection of my favorites.

Interestingly, there are a lot of female artists recording anti-Ukip songs…make what you will of that.

Anyone who reads Private Eye will know that Ukippers tend to have a very low tolerance of satire directed against them, so perhaps they might want to skip therest.

The rest of you… enjoy !

Who Put The U In UKIP? – David Goody


(Dont) Vote Ukip – K Pizz

 

Fab Farage: A UKIP Odyssey (featuring Stella)

 

The Daily Mail UKIP Song

 

Ukip – Jonny & The Baptists


And my favorite…

Lets put the blight back into Blighty
Like the Dark Ages, but more white-y
Song For UKIP – Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

 

To be continued…

 

In the ‘I’ Today: Grant Shapps Tried to Shut Down Left-Wing Blog

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

Here’s another instance of the Tories attempting to silence Left-wing bloggers and online critics. Today’s I newspaper for the 18th December 2014 has a story on page 4 about Grant Shapps being accused of trying to shut down The Political Scrapbook. Shapps used his lawyers to try to bully the blog, sending it three letters threatening to sue because of two stories it published about the Tory chairman. The same firm of lawyers acting for Shapps also sent a letter threatening legal action on behalf of another, unnamed Tory MP, who was also the subject of a blog post. Despite the threats, neither Shapps nor his unnamed colleague have followed up with legal action.

This isn’t the first or only time politicians, of both the Left, Right and Centre, have tried to close down their critics through threats of legal action. There have been any number of cases of…

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Another Shambles At The DWP: Community Work Placements Fail To Launch

the void

g4s-workfare Despite a high profile launch of the latest mass workfare scheme two weeks ago, DWP documents confirm that in fact it hasn’t started yet.

The unpaid Community Work Placements are one element of ‘Help To Work’.  This is the latest draconian scheme concocted by Iain Duncan Smith as part of his increasingly desperate attempt to prove that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.  The £300 million initiative involves claimants sent on six month’s full time workfare for ‘community organisations’ under the threat of benefits being stopped.

The scheme is mired in chaos with sources at the beginning of the month saying that no-one who works in Jobcentres has “been told anything about it”.  This is confirmed by a DWP newsletter which says that “the first claimants will be referred onto Community Work Placements from the end of May 2014”.  It is even unclear whether daily signing, or mandatory interventions –…

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Government Squabbles Over Child Poverty Definition While Parents Struggle To Find Full-Time Jobs

The number of children whose parents cannot find full-time work and are forced to work one or more part-time jobs has soared by 46% since the coalition government came to office, latest figures show.

Figures obtained by Newcastle Labour MP Catherine McKinnell show that between 2010 to 2013 the number of children whose parents were working part-time hours rose from 443,000 to 646,000, which Labour claim is a significant blow to the government’s child poverty strategy.

She said:

“While Ministers have been squabbling about how poverty is defined, these figures show how much tougher life is for families under David Cameron’s government.

“Getting parents into work should be the key step towards increasing their standard of living and reducing the number of children living in poverty. But for far too many families at the moment being in work just isn’t enough to meet the basic cost of living.

“Labour will back families and help to make work pay. We will expand free childcare for working parents, strengthen the minimum wage and crack down on exploitative use of zero-hours contracts. And we also want to introduce a lower 10p starting rate of tax, to help 24 million people on middle and low incomes.

“But while ordinary families are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, David Cameron has given a £3 billion tax cut to the top one per cent of earners. We’d reverse that after the election as part of our plan to get the deficit down in a fairer way.”

The government has been forced to shelve plans to redefine the definition of child poverty which is currently defined by a households income. Children are said to be living in poverty if their parents total income is less than 60% of the national average.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, wanted to change the way child poverty is measured, by taking a child’s family life into account as well as a family’s income, such as a child’s education and whether or not they come from a workless household.

Iain Duncan Smith was close to securing a deal with the Liberal Democrats, but it is understood that the plans were vetoed by George Osborne at the Treasury Department.

Liberal Democrat Education Minister David Laws, told the BBC:

“I can’t get into the entrails of why the Conservatives have been unable to agree and come forward with a serious set of measures. They will have to explain that.

“What I’m not willing to do is to allow this key debate over measures which are so important in driving the right policies in future to simply be vetoed by one party.”

“I can’t get into the entrails…”  That’s a weird and rather unpleasent scenario. Bet that’ll be appearing in a future edition of  Private Eye.

He added: “The Liberal Democrats have a very clear idea of what the new measures should be, and we’re not going to allow the Conservative Party simply to end discussion of this.”

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves MP said:

“Child poverty is set to rise by 400,000 under David Cameron’s government, while ministers squabble over the way poverty is defined.

“The row between George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith does nothing to help working people who are £1,600 worse off a year because of the cost-of-living crisis.

“If David Cameron was serious about cutting child poverty he would scrap the bedroom tax, introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee, strengthen the minimum wage, incentivise the living wage and extend free childcare for working parents.”

The former Labour MP who chairs the current government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Alan Milburn, said: “A strategy which cannot be measured is meaningless.

“Despite taking more than a year to think about it, the government has drawn a blank, apparently unable to reach agreement on what a new set of measures should look like.

“The government has ended up in a no-man’s land where it has effectively declared its lack of faith in the current measures but has failed to produce an alternative set. This is beyond Whitehall farce.”

> The last few years have been a Whitehall farce… it’s just a pity Labour didn’t feel the need to start kicking up before. I’m sure the proximity to the next General Election is purely coincidental…

Source – Welfare News Service,  04 March 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/government-squabbles-child-poverty-definition-children-parents-working-part-time-soars-46/

Explaining the Coalition’s War on the Poor and Disabled

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

Stow Rich Poor

A rich man ignoring a beggar’s cries for charity, from Bateman’s Chrystal Glass of Christian Reformation of 1569

The Coalition is responsible for some of the harshest and punitive legislation directed at the poor, the unemployed and the disabled in recent years. Under the pretext of trying to pay off the immense debt created by the bank bailout, Cameron and Clegg have together passed highly illiberal legislation intended to pare down the welfare state to its barest minimum. The result has seen as massive resurgence in poverty in the UK, with thousands now reduced to relying of food banks or scavenging in skips for food. This has been accompanied by a concerted campaign of vilification and demonization directed at the poor, the unemployed and the disabled. The middle market tabloids, the Daily Mail and Express, are notorious for their attacks on single mothers, unemployed ‘scroungers’ and immigrants, whom they…

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Nine Sunderland Libraries To Be Closed

Despite grassroots protests,  including occupation of threatened buildings, by Hands Off Sunderland Libraries, nine libraries across Sunderland have been closed by the city council, in a bid to save 850,000 pounds.

The libraries affected are those at Doxford Park, Easington Lane, East Herrington, Fence Houses, Hendon, Monkwearmouth, Silksworth, Southwick and Washington Green.

Coun. John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, wellness  and culture:  “This is a very emotive subject and we recognise the strength of people’s  feelings.

“As I’ve said before, we probably wouldn’t have gone down this route if the council didn’t need to make 110 million pounds savings as a result of cuts from central government. The fact is the library service needs to save 850,000 pounds, so we have had to look at changing how we do things as budgets continue to be cut and resources become  ever more stretched.

“As councillors, we have to make difficult decisions . Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.

“But I firmly believe that the new library service will be much more flexible to fit in with people’s needs and will result in better services reaching more people  across a wider range of locations.”

Eh ? How does closing public services across a wide range of locations reach more people across those same locations ? I suspect the only flexibility resulting will be the closed service users, who’ll have to be a lot more flexible to find an open library.

How much will be saved really ? Has any account been taken of vacant buildings needing to be maintained, books and equipment to be mothballed, staff who lose their jobs ?

“Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.”  A nice attempt at emotional blackmail, but what exactly are libraries if not children and adult services ?

And should it be either/or anyway ?  We know only too well about the nature of the current national government, but Sunderland City Council is Labour controlled. Shouldn’t they – and other Labour controlled councils – be providing, you know, opposition ?  Getting together and going head-to-head with the government perhaps ? Making a moral stand ?

We’ve been promised years more austerity, whoever wins the next general election. Now the process has been started, which libraries will be next ?

As noted in no less an organ than Private Eye (#1349) –

Sunderland library chiefs have some handy advice on what can replace local libraries facing closure.

“Because of Facebook, because of gadgets, we dont need libraries the way we used to when I was 15,” Cllr Graeme Miller told a public meeting, which agreed proposals for the closure of nine libraries to save #850,000 a year.

Quite apart from how completely un-useful Facebook is for most homework, research or reading for pleasure, Sunderland is part of the UK region with the highest concentration of people off-line, with a recent survey finding only 42% of less well off people in the city had online access from any type of “gadget”, including computers, smart phones  and so on.

Quite.

Hands Off Sunderland Libraries on Facebook at –
https://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Hands-off-Sunderland-Libraries/615546618458212