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.

Thoughts while cycling and having a pint

It was like a wee yappy dog stampeded the herd into the jaws of the waiting wolves.

“Better the predator we know” mooed the English.

The herd philosophy was … do herds have philosophies?

The herd instinct was “they’ll mainly pick off the weak and sick”.

Perhaps true…

Unless of course the predators have become stronger, more cunning, more capricious,

And have found a taste for richer meat.

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Lapworth lock – penned sketch, overlaid with a light dusting of conte crayon

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Lapworth lock – pen, ink and water sketch from the bike

When I last cycled here, it was winter.  I did not stop for beer and put a more opaque layer of pastel and conte crayon over the penned sketch.

Schroedinger’s election

It’s six in the morning and I write this after taking down the election poster, but not yet knowing the outcomes.  Reflecting my mood, I am listening to Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat.

The last polls suggested the leading parties were neck and neck, leadership of the next government balanced on a knife edge.  For as long as I don’t look, this is still true: we have at one and the same time both Labour and Conservative-led coalitions.  In a few minutes, I will collapse the probabilities by looking.  And I fear that what I will find is a Conservative near majority.  Their interests converge with those of the Scots Nationalists in breaking up the country so a narrow cadre of financial interests can rule without check the broken remnants.

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Election day was also my son’s tenth birthday.  The day turned out themed around sloths, his totemic animal.  Here he is last weekend, sitting on the train reading Philip Pullman on his way to watch his mother run her first 10K race: 58 minutes by the way.

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Here are my remaining sketches from the last week, an attempt to visualise the bird beneath the feathers.

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Rainbow

Up and down the roads, I see giant, smug-blue bills being posted, supporting the Conservative Party candidate in the General Election. In this constituency, just 175 votes (0.03% of the electorate) separated the Liberal Democrat winner and Conservative runner-up in 2010. It is a top target for the Conservatives to win.

Tactical voting 3

Our house is divided between Labour (signified by red) and Green supporters (and one undeclared!).  It makes sense to us to support the Liberal Democrat candidate (signified by yellow).  As no party poster represents our views, I have made my own.   It would be fun to see more home-made election bills going up, especially (from my point of view) if they shared this rainbow of party colours.

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Home-made poster now on display, much to the embarrassment of my family who think I am a bit mad.

The current predictions are that Labour and Conservative will each win around 270 seats, with 325 required for an overall majority.  The Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists will hold the balance of power and, with a predicted solitary Green MP, could support a Labour minority government or left-leaning progressive coalition.  The more seats the Conservatives take, the more likely they are to lead a government, driven rightwards and towards authoritarianism by their extremist wing and partners.

To those who say we should always vote true to the party we support, I say this.  Let the parties take care of themselves.  As voters, we have to game the system against the odds, to get the government closest to what we want.

Tactical voting 2

This was my first attempt at a home made poster.  I like the idea of voter-driven reciprocity to challenge the system whereby parties take some seats for granted whereas a handful of marginal seats determine our futures. Using this website, I was really pleased to have had a promise of a Labour vote in Hammersmith from a Lib Dem supporter in exchange for my Lib Dem vote locally.  However, the vote swapping site seems to lack sufficient participants to be really viable.

 

 

Imaginary dragons: thoughts while walking round an extinct volcano

A few weeks before the General Election, parties that expect to form governments stand on a platform of “financial rectitude”.

This is strange because it does not seem that peoples’ livelihoods have been threatened by lack of financial rectitude so much as by a cult-like adherence to an economic orthodoxy that sanctifies national debts to financiers over what is owed to the populace. Financial institutions created debts from nothing and sold them as assets. In this cult, money debts carry a moral imperative: sooner that someone is impoverished than the bank is not paid.

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Rock shelter, built to capture moisture and encourage vegetation on the arid slope of dead volcano. Pen and ink, watercolour, conte crayon.

 

I have found illuminating David Graeber’s broadcast series Promises Promises: a History of Debt, available on BBC IPlayer and based on his book, Debt: the first 5000 years. Part of his thesis is that debt and credit are ancient concepts, reflecting the webs of reciprocity throughout society. Credit and debt are an essential lubricant in human relationships and enterprise, but are inherently unstable: debt tends to accumulate causing poverty and societal unrest. Periodically, ancient monarchs felt obliged to declare jubilees in which debts were annulled. What we call the economy is a much narrower concept, typically focusing on money which for us is the sharing out of national debt as currency that can be taxed.

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Seaward rim of dead volcano – compressed volcanic ash eroded by the winds. Watercolour sticks, wash, pen and ink.

 

My other source of economic wisdom is the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s first book The Colour of Magic. The world is flat, carried on the shoulders of four elephants riding on the cratered carapace of the gigantic space-faring turtle A’Tuin. On this disc is the Wyrmburg, a massive mountain balanced upside down on its pinnacle by magic, on which beautiful near-naked warriors do ariel battle on the backs of imaginary dragons. Whatever you do, don’t stop believing: it’s a long way down to crash.

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Looking across the caldera. Love tokens writ large in stones in the crater. Conte crayon

 

I belong to a political party which states the following on my membership card.

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

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Lichens colonise the seaward slopes of the volcano and vegetation concentrated where the scant waters collect in the crater. Pen and ink, conte crayon, clean water.

 

In this election, the Labour Party is standing on a platform of financial rectitude. Despite this, I choose to believe that, if Labour forms a government, its leader, Ed Miliband, has the toughness, intelligence and decency to respond flexibly and humanely to the challenges of the next five years.

Why is Labour’s manifesto so conservative? I guess that the leadership does see through the global economy as an illusory belief system which, while powerfully mobilising human resource, is also inherently unstable as well as being unfair, cruel and discriminatory. But I can see that it is frightening to challenge the faith. Even when escaping from the mountain balanced on its tip, one rides an imaginary dragon. Don’t stop believing: it’s a long way down to crash.