Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Political ranting.

Thanks to Steve Bell - please don't sue me!
OK, so I am a political person, I am left wing and I think a society is best served through taxation and funding; so that's my manifesto out of the way up front so if you have a problem with that I suggest you stop reading now and go back to exploiting the poor and sick or whatever it is that right wing folk do in their spare time.

What I am finding so stunning about the current government is the speed with which they are ditching all their promises and pledges made prior to the election last May. Now I know that every political party betrays its promises at some stage but we usually get at least a year before they go snake eyed and shifty but this shower really take the biscuit. I mean we all knew there were economic problems; however you wish to colour it the bankers drove our country over a cliff and then asked us to pay them for the pleasure. Now the Tories amongst you will splutter in that fat-lipped dribbly way that they do and go "ah yes but Labour spent all the money so had nothing in reserve to pay us, er I mean the financial system, when it all went tits up" and I would say HAH, you are an arse!

When Labour came into power in 1997 we really were a third world country. The 18 years of Tory misrule had left our infrastructure ruined, our hospitals broken and our state education system derelict. All the money that had been earned from North Sea Oil had been spent on tax cuts that favoured the rich, our heavy industries had been destroyed along with the rich communities they had supported and we had become a nation that knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. Then came Blair.

Blair broke promises. He also illegally invaded another country. Gordon Brown was derided by the suave Blair but he, more than any other man, actually made a difference in the face of the financial tsunami that swept the West's economic system. He threw money at it; he kept people in jobs, in their houses and hopeful and we voted him out of office. Now we have The Coalition.

Like an 80s comedy double act (The Management) Cleggy and Cammy promised everything we wanted. Hell the LibDems went so far as to sign pledges that they wouldn't raise tuition fees, the Tories swore that they wouldn't axe Child Benefit or any other universal benefits and, hey, here we are less than six months after the election and these boys are bailing. Bastards.

They cheerfully sell the lie about university fees as something that makes a real difference to people's earnings citing that on average a graduate earns £100k more over their working life than a non-graduate. Hmmmm, so that works out at roughly two and a half grand a year more; but wait, if you have debts of £30k (like my daughter will have) then that reduces the figure somewhat and my son may well end up with debts of fifty or sixty grand, which seems a pretty shitty return; particularly if you add interest to this. Now if you are an average earner, like most of the population, your kids will be means tested for the loans! These are loans for fuck's sake. If you get a median salary then the chances are your kids get a reduced loan. If you are pleasantly rich this doesn't matter and if you are poor it doesn't matter but if, like the majority of us, you are neither hot nor cold Cable will spew you forth.

Now all of us middle class people don't read The Daily Mail and we don't vote Tory. Loads voted LibDem. Well that worked out for you didn't it you stupid muesli swilling morons in your open toed sandals and inane bad dancing at your suburban parties.

Now don't ever tell me that voting never changes anything because right now you're about to get your arses reamed by Toryboys with LibDem strap-ons.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Been a long time.....

Returned to the blog today to find it encrusted with dust and cobwebs. Somewhere along the line I lost the impetus to write, started thinking that I had nothing to say, sank into a grey depression, not really a depression more a long wet afternoon of the soul (Alfred Prufrock springs to mind) and finally I span off the road. Then came Cameron and Clegg and gradually my anger rose until, finally, I would appear to have rediscovered my mojo.

Musically things are looking back to move forward. It was my birthday recently and my son and my partner both gave me albums that have long been out of my collection. What is it about rediscovering music that lights you up again? The saddest thing about it though was that both albums still tower over much of the contemporary musical landscape, and I don't say this as a "in my day we made proper music" sense but more out of sadness. There is a freedom and experimentation in these records that seems to be absent today. Considering that they were both released through major labels it is scary to think that they would probably stand no chance in today's world of focus groups and decision by committee. Record labels should look to those reasons, rather than blaming kids downloading music, for their sales decline. Anyway.....

The first album was The Man Machine by Kraftwerk. First released in 1978 this work of electronic genius has yet to be surpassed. Featuring tracks like The Robots, The Man Machine and Metropolis it posits a vision of the future that is here. Its cold electronically generated sounds have an unbearably beautiful quality to them. Maybe because they were originally recorded onto analogue tape prior to digitisation but the depth of the sound, its richness of timbre if you will, is absent in so much electronic music of today. The album also contains The Model; if ever a song has been written that sonically represents the cold and soulless world of the catwalk this is it.

The second gift was Television's Marquee Moon. Released in 1977 it represents perfectly the intelligence and imagination at work in the New York punk scene, though quite how they ended up being lumped into punk still amazes me. That said, at the time we needed a short-hand to describe groups that had broken away from the confines of rock as it was, and now how it has become. These days punk seems to mean anything that sounds shouty and a bit angry, but not really that angry. Compare today's take on punk with what was available then: Talking Heads, Television, Richard Hell, Blondie and over here The Clash playing with imagery, The Buzzcocks, The Pop Group, Magazine, Siouxsie. These weren't bands who saw salvation in traditional song structure. For me Marquee Moon represents one of the greatest guitar albums ever made. The songs, with the strangled yelps of Tom Verlaine, were different beasts from what we were safe with. They offered a vision of the future, as much as Kraftwerk did with their Teutonic ice sculptures, and a different path, away from the classis 12 bar verse chorus verse chorus that modern music still clings to. I can't really begin to describe the exhilaration that I still feel as the opening notes to the title song kick in.

However I am still listening to new stuff. The Ninja Tune XX two disc compilation is a great snapshot of cutting edge urban music from one of Britain's most delicious labels. All sorts of good things are available on this huge spread. From The Bug to Roots Manuva and Toddla T to Eskmo. The label's founders Coldcut even turn up. Coldcut were responsible for one of rap's greatest moments, the remix of Eric B & Rakim's Paid In Full that introduced Ofrah Haza to a thirsty public.

This compilation is the final word in where it's at right now.

I also got sent the new Keziah Jones track, Lagos vs London, remixed by the estimable Gilles Peterson. I'm not usually much of a fan of KJ as I have found his music falls between stools but this track, and in particular the remix, shows a way forward for Jones that offers him a chance to break out of the confines of his former approach. More of this please sir.

Anyway, back to where I started. The Coalition is upon us populated by people who think £50k a year is an average salary and that the employment wastelands, where the only work on offer is call centres or lap dancing clubs, will somehow burst into bloom and flourish as they force poor people into desperation. The difference between this lot and Thatcher was that Thatcher made sure the Police got paid so when it came to breaking strikers heads they did so with enthusiasm; the C&C Shit Factory are cutting police numbers and pay, making them pay for their training and generally fucking everybody around. So when the angry poor come crashing down Whitehall who they gonna call? Murdoch?