Apathy & cynicism are already failed strategies. I’m trying activism & optimism for a while. #EndAusterityNow #JuneDemo


End Austerity Now National Demonstration 20th June 2015

I’ve never been to a public demo before, at least nothing of any size, and to my shame I didn’t join the protests against the Iraq War in 2003. I doubt that my additional, lone presence would have made much difference, but maybe if those of us who were apathetic had bothered, together we might have made a difference.

To ameliorate my guilt, I have decided to get off my arse and go to join the big, anti-austerity protest in London. Like many, I believe the so-called “austerity” policies of the current government to be a con, and I will be there to tell them so. I am also a member of Stop The War Coalition and will attempt to meet up with them.

I will be documenting much of it on video, and it will be interesting to compare what I witness with what is reported by my duet of bêtes noire, BBC News and Channel 4 News.


Pictured here is my general-purpose travel survival kit, everything I think I might need for a bit of non-violent civil protest in any location away from my home town of Sheffield.

In the days when I had hair, I could feel fairly comfortable in most circumstances if my hair had been washed, my teeth brushed and my fingernails clipped. They were things that These days I only need the toothbrush and nail clippers. A recent new addition to my travel kit is the anti-bacterial handwash, in case I have to shake hands with any Conservative MPs. Unlikely I know, but it is always best to be prepared.

I normally carry a cork screw but I might leave this at home in case it could be creatively misinterpreted as a weapon. This was an essential on a recent trip to Paris but I doubt we will be celebrating the overthrow of the government and the installation of a utopian socialist collective on our return journey. However, if that happens we’ll just drink Champagne!

The medication is paracetamol (which I never take) and antacid tablets (which I do take). The padlock is for my sac, rather than the doors of the Bank of England, to deter and opportunistic pilfering. For documentation, I will have my iPhone 5s with clip-on fish-eye lens, a GoPro Hero, which I shall attempt to wear as a bodycam, RODE SmartLav+ lapel mics which I might use if there is any opprtunity for interviews or voxpops, and a 12,000 mAh NiMH battery for recharging the cameras. I might also take an SLR.

Not pictured here is food and clothing, but I am going to try to be mostly self-sufficient as M&S Food will probably have a rush on.

As an admirer of Gandhi, I will not be throwing molotov cocktails, setting fire to police vehicles or defiling monuments. I will be employing far more scary tactics, made famous by Monty Python and the notorious Piranha Brothers; and they are sarcasm, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.

Screen shot 2015-06-18 at 13.18.09Having never been part of a major demo before I am a bit unsure about placard-etiquette. It would be embarrassing to turn up with placards that are not a-la-mode and I am torn between going for the Chanel of protest banners, little-black capitals on a white background, or for more of a LaCroix day-glo. Above is one of my favourites, so far.

Not voting is already a failed strategy and it’s my fault #VoteForSomeone #GE2015

Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 17.12.51

It’s my fault. Well, not mine alone, but for some years I have been a non-voter due to the usual list of of reasons: apathy, cynicism and laziness.

It is said that we get the government we deserve, but what kind of karmic felony did I commit to give us a government that is more greedy, spiteful and corrupt than even Margaret Thatcher’s notorious cabal of mis-educated thugs and sociopathic toffs from the 1980s and 1990s? I voted in 1997 and was genuinely elated with the Labour landslide.

Oh dear.

The Labour Party has a long way to go to regain the trust of the British people after the grotesque betrayal of Tony Blair and New Labour, but I agree with Owen Jones when he says that he would rather fight the Labour Party than the Conservative Party, and this is the crux of it. Labour activists and socialists know that they have a mountain to climb in order to restore faith in British socialist politics, but my number one priority is to remove the Nasty Party (their phrase, not mine) from government.

I joined the Green Party in order to express some support to their much more radical, left-wing policies, but I will be voting Labour in Heeley, Sheffield, because it is a safe Labour seat and I want it to remain safe. At least from the Conservatives and UKIP.

The attribution is disputed, but I like to quote Edmund Burke, who said “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

The shortening of disadvantaged people’s lives by denying them readily available funds is evil. The proliferation of war for profit is evil. The theft of public assets is evil, and the incitement of hate against people of different colour, creed or religion is evil.

All these thing have been made flesh by the UK Conservative Party via benefit sanctions, via complicity with the United States’ foreign policy, via the fall-guy trickery perpetrated against local authorities and the right-wing seeded anti-immigration rhetoric we hear all around us.

I know it might have been repeated a little too often, but I also remember what Aneurin Bevan, Labour Minister for Health (1945 – 1951), who oversaw the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS), said:

“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.”

I will be voting tactically and I hope you will do the same.

Please vote. Please vote them out.

Austerity for Dummies Part 5 – The difference between the deficit and debt – FYI @George_Osborne @David_Cameron #LongTermEconomicPlan

Osborne deficit

This is a rewrite of an explanation I read on the “Another Angry Voice” blog, although I don’t like the driving analogy used. I prefer to explain it in more traditional terms.

Imagine you are running a business that has a gross turnover of £100,000 and your entire costs, including wages and tax, are equal to £100,000, this would leave you with a net profit of zero but no deficit and no surplus.

If your turnover remains the same, but your total costs are £90,000, then you will be making a profit and, hence, a surplus.

If your total costs are £110,000, then you have a deficit. For your business to keep running  you might need to borrow money, and this accumulates as a debt. Not the same thing as a deficit.

If that deficit is the cost of buying new equipment as an investment (as a temporary debt), it does not mean that your business is not viable, even if it is running a deficit in the short term. Once the equipment is paid for, and starts to earn money from additional business, it is hoped that the increased income will pay off the debt out of your income surplus.

Conversely, if your business sells an asset, this might produce a short term surplus, but that does not mean that the surplus will continue, or that the business is viable.

The operating deficit of a business is not necessarily related to its debts, although it can be, but one thing is certain, the two things are not the same.