Labour rally in the rain for a safer saner fairer Britain

This election has pitted a positive optimistic vision from Labour against the miserable inward looking austere negative Conservatives.  It’s an uphill battle: hope is frightening, always with the risk of disappointment whereas the Conservatives offer the narrow comfort of savage certainty.


This was from the Labour rally in Birmingham earlier tonight, on tan paper in conte crayon.

And there really was a double rainbow.

reflections

This was an attempt on toned paper to capture the dark reflections of trees in a brook running through the woods.

I see this drawing was done two years to the day from this reflection on the outcome of the 2015 general election.  Then, fear of a progressive coalition including the Scots drove the English to give the Conservatives the majority it needed to blunder into the pit of deceit and despair that is Brexit.

This time Labour stand out with a brave and hopeful manifesto of investment in people.

Sadly, the polls still suggest that people will choose the bleakness and self-serving incompetence of the Conservatives: perhaps hope hurts more than savage certainty.

More power Igor, give me more POWER!

The Conservative Party is on course for a triple figure majority in the 8th June general election despite causing impoverishment and cutting us off from our main trading partners without planning.  They can spin a good yarn and have powerful interested media outlets to promote it.  As for the three left of centre parties, Labour lacks an engaging narrative whereas the Liberal Democrats and Green Parties both tell clear stories.  All three seem to have at best niche appeal while May is pitching for the kind of nationwide approval only Tony Blair achieved in recent times.

We cannot despair.  We remain a parliamentary democracy and the government must answer to elected MPs.  Every seat denied the Conservatives, indeed every seat they hold by only a slender margin, brings them closer to scrutiny.  Though left centre parties face defeat, it is still worth campaigning.

A progressive alliance, as called for by the Green Party, is unlikely to deliver a left centre government but it can make it harder for Theresa May to narrow state-funded healthcare provision or impose divisive education policies: she may be opposed by some in her own side as well as by a slightly stronger opposition.  What we do now may help sow the seeds of change for the future.

In at least one seat there are moves to give an anti-Tory candidate a clear run.   Lists of marginal constituencies and how to vote tactically are starting to circulate on-line.  A think tank, Compass, is crowd funding for a website to help people build non-partisan alliances.  Small groups seem to be springing up of non-aligned inexperienced people, wanting to know how to help.

I think we need a non-partisan campaigning handbook if we are to make democracy work for us.  One of the earliest tasks is to work to increase voter registration.  Even if local parties cannot make way for a joint candidate, might they at least cooperate on that?

 

 

 

 

 

Momentum rally

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Last Saturday, I went to the Momentum rally.  We were told Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was coming straight from Glasgow, from speaking at the memorial for Keir Hardie, founder of the party and our first member of parliament 132 years ago.

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The square was filling up with the several thousand-strong crowd of supporters and interested passers by.   Too distant from the podium to capture the warm-up speakers, I seemed mostly to sketch the backs of people’s heads.

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I moved round to the other side to try to get closer but now was blocked from the speakers by the deaf translator in a check dress, signalling animatedly and passionately.  The organiser tried to whip up religious passion, wanting us to sing “Jez we can” to the non-tune of the crowds’ chant “here we go”.   Diverse though the crowd was in many respects, in this they were English to the core.  She failed utterly.  By contrast, my drawing lost all sense of proportion and the Sikh sound engineer appeared in my sketch to rise god-like from the masses.

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Jeremy had arrived and was eventually allowed to speak.  His voice keeps the same pleasant pitch and randomly rises and falls in volume, without obvious connection to the points he is making.  He is the anti-demagogue, the opposite of populist, using his non-eloquent skills to provide a masterclass in un-rhetoric.  He whips the crowd into an intense absence of frenzy.  What comes across is an honesty, humanity and approachability that has us cheering every point.

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Jeremy Corbyn as Obi Wan Kenobi

I was tickled by the joke that new leader of the Labour Party resembles Alec Guinness as the heroic Jedi Master who comes in from the wilderness to guide the resistance against the evil Empire.  It is easy to cast George Osbourne as Darth Vadar.   I am not sure who is Yoda though.

Corbyn as Obi wan Kenobi (1)

Jeremy Corbyn as Jedi Master coming in from the wilderness: pencil and charcoal and photo-shopped with glow filter.

In real life we need a strong and credible Labour Party holding the government to account and building alternative policies.  Corbyn has the overwhelming  support of the Labour Party but not the Members of Parliament.  As ordinary voters, in or out of the Party, we need to tell all of them, leadership and backbenchers we absolutely expect them to bury their emotional differences and work together to hone credible policies that challenge the failed economic orthodoxy and support social justice.

It would be great if we could contact our MPs and tell them this.  A twitter campaign might look like this:

I am an NHS consultant and LP member. I ask Labour MPs to unite for social justice and to protect the environment. #MPspleasebackCorbyn

The idea would be each of us to say who we are and, if we want, our political affiliation, and also the issues topmost in our mind, but keep the same message and hash tag.  This is not a matter for Labour supporters and members only: all of us need a strong opposition functioning in parliament and now is the time for all of us to shape Labour into the party that reflects our concerns.

If anyone knows how to start a twitter campaign on these lines, now would be a good time to start.