evil empire

Three sketches in conte crayon on black paper started outside and finished at home, stimulated by the recent life drawings of Rosie Scribblah.

Here are the original sketches, the first from my bike on the footbridge over the ford by the watermill, the other two on foot while my dog sat patiently by.

These drawings are a small respite, but with a pandemic uncontrolled by active choice of those with power, democracy devalued and the world moving to the tipping point for massive climate change, there seems small comfort in art. We are on the brink of knowing whether democracy can have a small win against careless self-serving misgovernment, a little step towards the next struggle, or whether the full force of devastation and destruction is to be unleashed on us at this time.

Democracy is not only on election day

 

Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough may turn out to be the catalysts for change, but only if we wake up and act both as individuals and collectively. The election defeat for progressive parties (south of the border) wanting to address climate change is a significant step backwards; the middle aged and old putting our present comforts or despair ahead of hope, against the interests of our clearer-sighted children.

I have pasted below the links to the excerpts from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, in which the two talk, linked between London and Stockholm, and also the interview with retiring Bank of England governor Mark Carney.  The interview with a spokesperson from Shell does not appear to have been posted by Radio 4.  Shell’s perspective appears to be that activism is good if it changes consumers’ opinions which in turn creates markets for green energy and so will drive green investment in a capitalist economy; in other words, when the local neighbourhood is burning, reluctant punters might decide to switch provider.

Greta says “Read up. Inform yourself about the actual science and situation… Be an active democratic citizen… Democracy is not only on election day, it’s happening all the time”.

Of these sketches, the one immediately below was done outdoors from my bike.  The rest were from photos, practice at expressing a landscape and sky with black and brown lines, bleeding ink, wash and conte crayon.  I finished with the drawing that headlines this piece.

Enter Creon

Chorus:

“King Creon.  All hail to Creon.

He’s the new king but he’s right

For this city at this moment.”

Creon:

“Gentlemen.  We have entered calmer waters.

Our ship of state was very nearly wrecked

But the gods have kept her safe.”

 

The Burial at Thebes: Sophocles’ Antigone.  Seamus Heaney

Bollocks to Brexit

Here is Parliament Square this evening, as people mill about not quite ready to go home after the People’s Vote march.  The statue of Churchill facing into the gale is silhouetted against the white cladding covering part of St Margaret’s Church.

We are in this odd position in which Parliament cannot bring itself to ratify the treaty by which we leave the European Union with a transition period and without immediate chaos.  All arrangements ending our membership are detrimental to the wider economic and political interests of the UK,  so whatever might be the stated opinions of individual Members of Parliament, psychologically and collectively they just cannot bring themselves to commit this act.

The small number of die-hard radicals of the Conservative Party actively want to leave without a treaty, the so-called No Deal, so they and their class can profit financially from the chaos that will impoverish the majority.  The even fewer Northern Irish Democratic Unionists prop up the government and are unrepresentative of the people of that province.  They reject the treaty because it makes transparent the political reality:  after Brexit, Northern Ireland must have a status different to mainland UK if there is to be no return to a hard border with Eire and the sectarian polarisation that would bring.  My party, Labour, reject the treaty not because it is bad (because all routes out of the EU are bad) but because we have three more years of government by a wretched Conservative Party unwilling to seek a consensus vision for Britain after Brexit.  It is a certainty that the Conservatives will cast in law a post-Brexit settlement which undermines workers’ pay, conditions and rights and environmental protections.  They will be free to enter trade deals with other countries to reshape our National Health Service on the USA for-profit model and prevent government limiting the exorbitant prices of pharmaceuticals.  This is the one chance for Labour to bind the government’s hands.  However, strategically they are on the back foot as Theresa May doggedly refuses to compromise, beyond all reason.

So here I was at the the largest political protest in the UK’s history: a million people united in demanding a second referendum and a chance to reject Brexit this time round or at least a way out the impasse Parliament has created.  Still, even if Brexit were to be overturned, what will we do about the conditions of austerity and inequality which so disaffected people in the first place, and which are frankly so much more important than whether we stay in or leave the European Union?  I begin to realise Brexit is a side show.  In or out of the EU, what we need is political vision which addresses with intelligence and compassion the real issues: planetary destruction, violence and poverty.

Note the most middle class insult ever on a banner (or is this reverse snobbery?) “Theresa May puts the milk in first” with a picture of a cup of tea.

Acolytes

Hunched, edematous and dishevelled, angry, apocalyptic, snide, the only guy in the room who actually read books, less strategist than plotter …

The Republican establishment machine-man, despairing, scapegoated, mocked for his diminutive size …

The corporate Democrat, propelled as family to the highest of roles without qualification, aptitude, preparation or moral compass … drawn to rich power-men …

 

Impressions from Michael Wolff “Fire and Fury”