Socrates and the Corinthian democracy

With his beard, unkempt hair and stern look, there is an aura of a revolutionary about Sócrates. In some ways he was the footballing equivalent of Che Guevara, with his political opinions backed by his activism.
To add weight to his mystique, Sócrates was one of the most elegant and gifted players to wear the yellow shirt of Brazil. He was also part of the 1982 and 1986 World Cup squads that played some of the most beautiful football ever seen at a major finals. With the likes of Falcão and Zico, it was a talented team that tore apart the opposition and scored spectacular goals like Sócrates’ equaliser against the Soviet Union. All that seemed to matter to that Brazil teams of 1982 and ‘86 was the joy that they brought to people. They were Garrincha, just a few years later.
Many Brazilians have fond memories of ‘The Doctor’, as he was nicknamed due to qualifying in medicine. Rumour had it that Socrates studied at University College Dublin but sadly was confirmed as an urban myth. He was seen as a leader of the people, who was kind and brought happiness with his football. Politics was also a passion of Sócrates, who had his eyes turned to the social injustices in his country.
Brazil during the 1960s and ’70s was a country ruled by a military junta following the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état, and culminated in the overthrow of the democratic João Goulart government. The previous regime was deemed to be a “socialist threat” by the military and the right-wing, who opposed policies such as the basic reform plan which was aimed at socialising the profits of large companies towards ensuring a better quality of life for Brazilians.
With the support of the US government, Goulart was usurped with Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco sworn in as the president. Initially the aim of the junta was to keep hold of power until 1967, when Goulart’s term would expire, but ultimately felt that they had to keep control to contain the “dissenters” within the country.
Protests against the junta were brutally put down with dissenters killed, tortured or having to flee the country. Repression and elimination of any political opposition of the state became the policy of the government. The current Brazil president Dilma Rousseff was one of those who was imprisoned and tortured on the instructions of this totalitarian regime.
The organisation and structure of football clubs were very much regimented, too – with little or no freedom to manoeuvre – which was in tune with the junta government. Players were expected to obey orders and were closely supervised; whether it was being told when they could eat or drink, or to having to be holed up in training camps days before matches.
Initially, Sócrates along with his team-mates went along with this structure. However, he felt suffocated – famously a man of peace and freedom – and with the dictatorship strangling the life out of democracy in Brazil, believed that it was a time for change.
Naturally, it was not something that Sócrates or his team-mates could openly discuss. Instead it had to be done subversively, behind the scenes and through the power of words. Many high-profile athletes in Brazil at the time were politically aware and felt that it was their duty to try to use sport to re-democratise Brazil and end the regime.
An agreement was reached with the new club president Waldemar Pires in the early-1980s which allowed Sócrates and his team-mates to have full control of the team and to establish a democratic running of the club. During a meeting in which everyone got an opportunity to speak freely, it was agreed that every decision would be decided by the collective. This would be when the squad would train, eat or, as Waldemar expressed in a documentary about the Corinthians team, “when they would stop on the coach for a toilet break”.
What made the Corinthians democracy even more unique was that voting wasn’t restricted to the playing and coaching staff; it was a model that involved everyone within the club. Whether it was the players, masseurs, coaches or cleaners, everybody had a say. In short it was ‘one person, one vote’ with everyone backing the majority verdict.
After agreeing the new structure it was first put to the test when Corinthians went on tour in Japan. Walter Gasagrande, who was 19 at the time, was heavily in love and wanted to fly back home to his girlfriend. A vote was called for with people speaking for and against Gasagrande being able to return to Brazil. It was decided that he would have to stay – and Gasagrande respected the decision.
Nothing was off-limits at discussions with it being agreed that a psychiatrist was to be hired in order to help the team. Sócrates and his colleagues had an open mind and invited people who interested them outside of football. Prominent artists, singers, and filmmakers were invited to speak on various topics.
Corinthians slowly embodied the dream of the ordinary Brazilian in removing the dictatorship, to be replaced with universal suffrage. This was markedly expressed on the back of the club shirt which had ‘Corinthians Democracy’ printed with splashes of mock red blood similar to the Coca-Cola logo.
It was a move that upset the prominent right-wing, many of whom had branded the Corinthians’ Democracy movement as “anarchists” and “bearded communists”. However, with football coming to represent the very essence of Brazil even the junta government knew that they had to tread carefully. Nonetheless, the government still warned them about interfering in politics.
Indeed, they had used the success of the 1970 World Cup for their own devices, so much so that Sócrates stated: “Our players of the 1960s and 1970s were romantic with the ball at their feet, but away from the field absolutely silent. Imagine if at the time of the political coup in Brazil a single player like Pele had spoken out against all the excesses.”
Sócrates and his team-mates were prepared to bring in a silent revolution by using football to speak out against the military junta. The first multiparty elections since 1964 were set for the May provincial elections in 1982. Despite this, the majority of Brazilians were scared of voting. Some didn’t even know whether the army would allow them to vote, while others thought it safer not to vote at all.
With the May provincial elections set for the 15, the Corinthians team decided to up the ante and to chip away at the dictatorship. They agreed that they would have ‘on the 15th, vote’ on the back of their shirts to encourage people to head to the polls.
It was a quiet voice of dissent but as a smiling Sócrates advises in an interview years later, the military junta could hardly object as the team was not backing any particular party, merely encouraging people to vote.
Corinthians’ mood was quickly picked up by Brazilians, with the military government taking a battering in the provincial elections. It now appeared that the regime was losing its grip on power. Sócrates later said: “[It was the] greatest team I ever played in because it was more than sport. My political victories are more important than my victories as a professional player. A match finishes in 90 minutes, but life goes on.”
With the thirst for democracy at its peak, Corinthians now pushed for presidential elections. The team now took to the field with ‘win or lose, always with democracy’ emblazoned on their jersey this time. It was a mood that was quickly engulfing the ordinary Brazilian, who sensed that they could push for democracy.
During this period the Timão won the 1982 and 1983 São Paulo Championship. Unsurprisingly, considering his talent, Sócrates was highly sought after by top European clubs. In 1984, he proclaimed at a large rally that if congress passed through the amendment for free presidential elections then he would stay in Brazil. A huge cheer went up but sadly the amendment fell and Sócrates moved to Fiorentina.
Brazilians, in the words of Sócrates, were beginning to realise that political change was possible. It was something that the military government couldn’t stop, and so it was in 1985 that they were defeated in the presidential elections. Finally, Corinthians had achieved their objective of returning democracy back to Brazil.
It was a dream that Sócrates and the club were proud of bringing to the fore. By using football, they had managed to get their message across and helped bring about the change that people wanted. In many ways, it is quite fitting that since football is in the bloodline of Brazil, it was the Sócrates and the Corinthians Democracy that was part of the movement that helped rid the nation of the military government.
A first class player and man, there are few footballers with the same skill and integrity of the great Doctor Sócrates. It is why, after passing away in 2011, that he was revered with a fitting tribute by Corinthians players and supporters who held their fist out in memory of their legendary brother.

Advertisements

Theresa May – Another omnishambles

Sometimes art really does imitate life.  Watching Theresa May literally choke on stage as the words of ‘building a country that works for everyone,’ fall apart you did at one point wonder if this was an episode of ‘the thick of it,’ starring Theresa May as Nicola Murray.

Everything about Theresa May since the ill-fated general election has been a omnishambles.  From her poor interviews and interactions with the public that had to be stage-managed purely for damage limitation.  It didn’t help that May kept parroting slogans in the hope of hypnotizing the public but just led to her being mocked when she was far from ‘strong and stable.’

Yesterday in Manchester was meant to be a ‘re-branding.’  of Theresa May taking responsibility for the mess of an election but being more stronger and listening to the electorate’s needs.  Indeed policies such as the energy price cap look putting politely very similar to Ed Miliband’s  2015 Labour manifesto.

Instead it literally fell apart metaphorically and physically.  Right at the start it didn’t bode well when a comedian broke forward to hand Theresa May a P45 before being bundled out.  There was brief bit of composure as she cracked a joke about it being Corbyn who ought to be given his P45 before her voice decided to give up on her.

A small cough quickly made Theresa May sound like the Fast show’s Bob Fleming as she resorted to making another lame joke at the Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s expense.  Even the sip of water in an attempt to kill the cough didn’t work as Theresa May started to choke.

It didn’t get any better as Theresa May seemed to be openly drowning on stage.  At one point Amber Rudd led the cabinet to applaud their leader to give her time not just to recover but to reassure May.  However Boris Johnson looked like a bemused relative who doesn’t know when to stand up in Church as Amber Rudd motioned him to follow her lead.

Not that it really helped as Theresa May started to look like Roy Hodgson watching his team being completely outplayed and not knowing what to do.  She really was one step away from rubbing her face in frustration hoping that it was all a nightmare.

At one point you did wonder if someone from the Tory faithful was going to throw the towel in.  To stop what was now painful but absorbing viewing for all the wrong reasons.  Then the words started to fall and it seemed to sum May’s shambolic career as Prime Minister.  Indeed the jokes flew that if the Tories could hardly build a decent prop then how could they build a country that works for everyone?

Eventually May somehow staggered towards the finishing line like an amateur injured marathon runner who finishes hours after everyone else.  The traumatic smile and pointing to her throat were all mannerisms associated with the hapless ‘thick of it,’ Nicola Murray.   Malcolm Tucker declared ‘her a omnishambles,’ and it would be fair to say so was Theresa May.

This speech was meant to be a new start.  A more personal Theresa May far removed from the aloof portrayal that she gave during the election.  It was meant to focus on her own thanks for the NHS who have helped with her diabetes, her humble family origins from her Grandmother being a domestic servant to May being Prime Minister.

That new start lay in pieces pretty much like the words that had fallen off the Conservative slogan behind her.  Rather than talking about a new start and May reasserting herself as a leader the talk was of how shambolic the speech had been.  That’s also not mentioning the reason why Theresa May decided to wear a bracelet with the image of Frida Kahlo whose views in sharp contrast to May’s

It has to be said Theresa May looks like a middle manager way out of her depth who finds herself as Chief Executive of a leading firm.  She also looks like a troubled football manager who has run out of ideas and is just counting down to the inevitable of being shown the door.

That’s not to say that will happen just yet.  Catastrophic as yesterday’s performance was it makes no sense for the Conservatives to ditch their leader whilst in the throes of Brexit.  Theresa May is pretty much toxic so might as well take the fall for Brexit when it no doubt doesn’t go as planned.

 

Boris Johnson a complete disgrace

The disgusting comments from the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about the possibility of the Libyan city Sirte being the new Dubai ‘after they have cleared away the dead bodies,’ should have led to him being sacked.

It was a crude, disgraceful comment that showed a lack of regard for ordinary people killed in Libyan civil war.  A lack of respect and insensitivity that these dead bodies are just an inconvenience so that rich businessmen can build a rich beach resort.

More class and dignity should be expected of a foreign secretary which Boris Johnson clearly hasn’t got.  The remarks at the very least should have been under more media scrutiny because that statement is clearly unacceptable and in any other walk of life would lead to dismissal.

Keep the guards on the train

Of course it is going to be an inconvenience when Merseyrail goes on strike. It will mean being on the 80 or 80a (so-called because it takes eighty days to get to the city centre) rather than the twenty minutes it takes to get to work on the train. However I don’t blame the striking guards for but the bosses that are intent at putting safety and jobs at risk.

In Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray there is a famous quote on how some people ‘know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.’ This can be said about the train bosses whose decision to axe the guards is purely driven by maximizing profits. Don’t let anyone say that it is anything different.

The literature promoting the new state of the art trains racing towards an exciting future. Guards it states are no longer needed on these modern trains and the sell is that it is all part of progress.

Merseyrail state that they will find other jobs for the guards but what is omitted is the extra money that the accountants perceive that they will make from the wages saved. That this is a reasonable compromise for progress.

Of course nobody is against development.  Nothing stands still, but the dispute  is not only about jobs but protecting passenger safety. To state as Merseyrail have that the train driver will  be able to look out for passengers  is ludicrous.  The drivers prime responsibility is about getting the train safely to a to b without worrying about what is happening in the carriages.

There is a lot more to the guards job than opening and closing doors whilst making sure passengers get on and off safely.  For example they can act as a deterrent to any anti-social behaviour  or can contact for assistance if the situation demands it.  This stops matters escalating and provides support for passengers affected by this.

Other times they have provided help when a passenger has taken ill. Guards have also helped people who have got lost and advised them which stop to get off and what train they needed to get back on track.

Another matter that is omitted by Merseyrail is that Guards are also there to assist passengers in case of a serious emergency.  They will make sure that they evacuate the train safely as well as keep them updated rather than passengers having no support at all.

This of course is just a few examples and I am sure that there are numerous other examples of other tasks that Guards have done to assist to passengers.

The ironic thing is that being a customer driven business you would think that Mersey and Northern rail would be savvy enough to realise the importance of having a public presence.  That people appreciate having an actual person to speak to and that things are getting too impersonal for some passengers.

What gives me a wry smile is when one of the guards makes a funny comments such as ‘change at Liverpool central for Wirral services if you need to go over the dark side.’  Another casually tells passengers that they are ‘currently ‘five feet up and travelling at thirty miles an hour so.’

Some passengers comment on twitter and other social media services about how amusing they found the guard and how it brightened up their day.  Merseyrail take advantage of the positive feedback by retweeting and thanking them for their comments.  Ironically it is the same company that wants shot of them whilst at the same time acknowledging the positive feedback that Merseyrail have got due to that interaction with the guard.

An argument can be made to protect jobs for the future.  After all we have to ensure that there is work for people.  This strike though is also about safety for passengers and not cutting corners for the sake of making extra money.  Guards provide a fundamental job and provide a public face which passengers want.  That’s why come the 3rd and 5th October I will be whole heartedly supporting the guards and hope that Mersey and Northern rail come to their senses and realise that guards are a necessity.

 

Teresa May the real life ‘Nicola Murray’

After having to deal with another calamitous mistake by Nicola Murray ‘the thick of it,’  Malcolm Tucker tells her ‘You’re a fucking omnishambles, that’s what you are. You’re like that coffee machine, you know: from bean to cup, you fuck up.’ After the complete mess that Theresa May has made of the 2017 election there are probably many Tories who share the same view of their hapless Prime Minister.

When Theresa May declared an election it was according to her to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations and to give her the mandate to ensure it was carried through.  It was also a chance to increase the Conservative majority and to take advantage of what they perceived was a Labour party in turmoil.

However rather than leading to a landslide it was to be a disastrous campaign that far from being a ‘strong and stable government,’ led to a hung parliament and to a weak and unstable minority government. Rather than Jeremy Corbyn looking out of his depth it is Theresa May drowning in a pool of her own incompetence.

The Labour party ran a first class campaign and although they didn’t win enough seats to form a government they did enough to make a lot of ground from the last election.  It would have been one almighty swing to Labour if they had romped home but it is progress especially as the Conservatives now rely on the DUP to form a government.

Although there was still a lot of media bias against Corbyn he was still shown to be able to connect with the public.  To paraphrase the West wing it was best to let ‘Jeremy to be Jeremy.’  He connected with the electorate, was pleasant, personable, and was seen to be comfortable answering questions from the media and the public.

This was in complete contrast Theresa May who looked shifty, uncomfortable, and only seemed to speak in soundbites.  Everything was stage-managed from the public events that she attended to the questions being vetted.  At one news conference a journalist in Cornwall was shown the door for daring to ask a third question.

Theresa May has consistently performed poorly at PMQ’s but she was to take this to a new level.  Meeting the electorate seemed to be an inconvenience and there seemed to be an arrogance that the public would accept anything.  The so-called ‘dementia tax,’ policy backfired spectacularly when the Conservative manifesto made plans to make people pay more of their own social care.  The policy caused anger because payments after death could eat into the inheritance of offspring whose parents were unlucky enough to suffer from a condition – like dementia – in which reliance on social care is inevitable.

It lead to a u-turn by Theresa May who scaled back proposals but considering that she was meant to be a decisive leader who wouldn’t stand any nonsense in brexit talks, made May look as though she would buckle under the slightest pressure.

The campaign by May led to personal insults against Corbyn and negativity throughout.  It seemed that so long as May got in her buzz words of ‘strong and stable government,’ that people would believe that she was the only one that could deliver this. However it just seemed stale and clichéd as Theresa May stood there nervously.  When forced to take questions May would take a sip of water to quench the nerves of being out of her comfort zone.  Again a trait that hardly inspires confidence.

In many respects Theresa May is one of those company middle-managers who are promoted way above their ability.  As a result they cause mayhem and damage before being quietly moved on.

By now it seemed to be as though the Conservatives were seeing Theresa May as a liability due to her consistent poor performances in public.  The decision to duck the leadership debate was poor judgement.  After all if you couldn’t comfortably argue your case and take questions how could you be deemed fit to negotiate in Brexit talks?  Inadvertently May raised Amber Rudd’s chances of taking her job by allowing her to take her place and performing well.

Of course the election was more than Brexit it was about the cuts in social service, education, the NHS and how austerity is affecting the ordinary person.   Labour’s manifesto seemed to an attractive and fair solution to bring about a fairer society.

As election day drew near it was the hope that people would allow the sound bites and uncertainty thrown about Corbyn to stick with May.  Indeed many thought the Conservatives would still win comfortably despite the poor performances of May.  They were to be shocked when the final poll at 10pm on the 8th June 2017 rightly declared it be a hung parliament.

Labour may not have won enough to govern but they had made progress whereas Theresa May had spectacularly shot herself in the foot.  She had called an election believing it to be a formality and a chance to increase the Conservative majority in parliament.  Instead they lost seats and rather than bringing ‘strong and stable,’ May now presides over a minority government with less MPs.  Now they have to rely on the DUP which will bring about other issues.  Furthermore due to the lack of a majority May will have to deal with factions within her own party.  Rather than talking about moving forward it is now about uncertainty and when another election will be called.

Even as the ceiling has come crashing down and with bits of plaster in her hair, May still acted as though she had won a massive majority.  Despite the clichéd key words that had fallen as flat as a fart at a funeral, May still couldn’t help herself declaring the coalition with the DUP as bringing a ‘government of certainty.’  It was as though May was hoping to hoodwink the public that everything was fine rather than being an almighty mess through her own making.

This didn’t go down with the party faithful especially the candidates who had lost seats.  To not even acknowledge that this was a massive set back was another poor error of judgement.  However Theresa May calamitous flounders around like Nicola Murray that it can’t be long before she declares a policy for ‘every day bat people.’

Prior to this election many felt that it would be the end of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party.  Many were probably already writing his obituary.  Instead it is a dazed, incompetent, and weak Theresa May who staggers on after losing all credibility.

After this poor performance and weak leadership it surely can’t be long before Theresa May steps aside.  Whether she makes that decision or is forced out will be played out in the coming months. There really is no way that May can continue as Prime Minister.  She looks weak and above all has been shown to be incompetent that another election probably seems certain by the end of the year.

 

 

 

Why Labour’s right are equally in denial as the left

Nick Cohen wrote an expletitive plea or should it be a rant telling Corbynista’s ‘to stop being a fucking fool by changing your fucking mind.’  In many respects it was akin to a spoilt child screaming ‘I’ll scream and scream, until I’ll make myself sick!’  By accusing Corbyn supporters of being in denial and that the party is in danger of going into meltdown unless they appoint their special one they too are very much in denial.  

To automatically assume that someone like Yvette Cooper or Chuka Umunna have not just got the personality but the ability to turn around the fortunes of the Labour Party is arrogant to say the least.  After all an illegal war in Iraq, presiding over one of the biggest financial crisis in recent years, and ignoring your grass root support on the assumption that the plebs will vote for ever is wearing the red rosette is one of the many reasons why Labour is in the mess it finds itself in now.

The problem with Labour is that it’s support is completely fractured.  In Scotland they have practically become an endangered species whilst in certain heartlands they feel the party no longer represents them with some even attracted to UKIP.  Added to which is the difficulty in appealing to the marginal seats to cross the line to form a majority government.  Ed Milliband and Gordon Brown in the last two elections were unable to convince the electorate and here lies the problem.  

Like everything in life nothing stands still especially as we react to the world around us.  That’s why it is always important to continually evolve and ensure that the party is not just in tune with its members but its electorate.  This is easier said than done but to not realise that New Labour is part of the problem of the party and not the remedy is a problem for the right of the party.

In some respects there is that smugness that only they know what is best and those that disagree about the direction of the party are fools especially if its a left slant.  Ever since Corbyn has been elected as leader he has been constantly undermined by  not just the PLP but the media such as the Guardian who in the past have supported the Labour Party.

Members voted for Jeremy Corbyn because they wanted what they perceived to be real change and what they feel the Labour Party should stand for.  Rather than showing support and working as best they can they have throw a tantrum akin to a spoilt toddler at a birthday party.  

New Labour was part of the problem as to why they lost the 2010 and 2015 election.  To persist that the third way still works and that the electorate will somehow be convinced by someone speaking in cliches and slogans is to continually row around in circles.  

It could be said that Gordon Brown allowed this void to happen where there was no one to step up to the plate that could lead and appeal to the electorate.  Obsessed with keeping power with power battles between Tony Blair anybody afterwards was always going to be tainted with either side.  This is certainly true of Ed Milliband and the other candidates such as Yvette Cooper for the 2015 Labour leadership election.

Nobody at present has the charisma or clout that would appeal to all voters.  Furthermore any of Cohen or the Labour right’s preferred choices would do any better than Corbyn.  At least he wants to offer an alternative.  Yes it can be argued that Corbyn seems to be out of his depth and the shadow chancellor John McDonnell certainly is but a tilt to the right isn’t going to balance the ship.  

The Labour Party is in a mess and needs to find a fresh approach that appeals to all.  Furthermore there is hard work in attempting to get a foothold into Scotland as well as appealing to the marginals that would swing an election.  

New Labour has become old Labour with the public just as distrustful of the old guard or anyone associated with the third way.   To move forward is to work together and slowly build up bit by bit.  They do say that loss (which is the case of the right losing control of Labour) brings denial, anger, and acceptance so maybe Cohen, Toynbee, and the others on the Labour right are now on the second stage before realising the reality they now face.  

That is a party that needs re-building with fresh ideas, working together rather than fighting, and not looking back to the past.

The Downton Abbey effect on history

Nostalgia,” as George Ball the American diplomat once said “is a seductive liar.”  This is certainly the case with dramas such as Downton Abbey, Victoria, and the Crown.  They paint a different world that indicates a gentler more British way of life than today.  However the reality is different to the world that it portrays which is why it needs to be challenged lest the voices of those who really helped shaped our world are forgotten.

Downton Abbey in many respects is guilty of this and portrays for some nostalgists how they like to think Britain once was and still should be.  In that world the Lord of the manor smiles benevolently whilst those down under not only know their place but are happy with their lot.  If there are any problems  then the Lord of the manor will sort it out.

Looking at the period that Downton Abbey covers from the beginning of the twentieth century is a world away from what it was really like to work as a servant in those times.  For starters the servants world would consist of virtually working from the crack of dawn right through to the late hours of the evening.  There would hardly be any time to call your own and you certainly were not expected to be seen never mind tell their betters what problems you had.

Therefore it was not a surprise that the majority of servants were recruited from orphanages  from the other side of the country so that they had nowhere to run back to.  They were seen as chattel who were there to serve and certainly not to fraternize to the extent that the chauffeur marries the Earl’s daughter and is welcomed into the bosom of the family.

Robert Crawley would be more likely to say to his butler ‘As you know Carson, one likes to run a progressive household but damn it I wouldn’t be able to show my face at one’s club if the Chauffeur was my son-in-law.  So show the bolshy sort the door forthwith Carson my good man.’

If you were to believe the historical depiction of the Edwardian period in Downton Abbey it was a relatively peaceful one.  The British Empire was at its peak and although everything might not be perfect everybody seemed to be getting along. For sure the rich and the upper classes were enjoying the prosperity of the Edwardian golden age but life for the ordinary person was one of poverty, poor living and working conditions.  Just look at any pictures from that period.  The children are mainly bare-footed and dressed in tatty clothes.  The adults fare no better with most looking small and even malnourished.  The houses were slums and were unfit to live in that the life expectancy for working class people was low.

2591

Consequently it was not surprising that workers demanded improvements as they wanted fair pay, better living conditions, housing, education, to name but a few issues that anyone today would feel is a basic right.  The ordinary person era of that era had to fight for it that it was a turbulent period that frightened the political elite.

Now in the world of Downton Abbey there are no talks of soldiers being sent to Llanelli during the first national railway strike of 1911 who shot dead two strikers.  Nor of Churchill sending gunboats up the Mersey during the Liverpool 1911 Transport strike.  This was in response to riots that broke out after mounted Police had charged a 80,000 crowd at St. George’s hall who were there to listen to the Trade Unionist Tom Mann.  Thousands were injured with the Liverpool Echo at the time likening the scenes to revolutionary Paris of 1789.

GT striike

More strikes and unrest during that period between 1910-14 broke out across the country in places such as Hull and Belfast.  The period was one of uncertainty with workers fighting for a better more equal world.  For instance just look at the 80,000 crowd at St. George’s hall, Liverpool that it looks very similar to the Arab spring a few years back.  Yet this is never widely mentioned in history never mind someone making a drama of it.

Liverpool_transport_strike-1911

Recently there has been a spate of what can only be described as PR films for the Royal family such as Victoria, and the Crown.  These are lavish biscuit tin productions that belong in a Disney fairy story.

The stories are sold as young Queen’s who at times reluctantly have to make the tough decisions that they may not like to bring stability to the country.  Again it depicts that only the nobility have the grace, wisdom, and benevolence to rule the country.  There is nothing about the poverty and the wrongs of the British Empire.  Instead the ordinary people are there as a background as they sit back and listen to their betters.

Both ignore about whether having a Monarchy is actually democratic but instead portray the Monarchy as a positive good.  The aristocracy are born to rule whilst its subjects are there to serve.   It is an inconvenient truth that the upper classes did not want the working class to be educated nor did they feel that they were entitled to free health treatment.

All of this as well as better living conditions were fought for by workers and were given to appease the working classes lest they went one step further and overthrew them.

It is important that this is re-addressed otherwise history will be distorted from a view that the establishment want the world to be seen as.  Furthermore the real life stories such as the 1911 Transport strike is more dramatic and real than the lavish period dramas of Victoria biting her lip as she has to make a tough decision.

A drama like this would be more realistic of a Britain whose inhabitants were in poverty and fought for their basic rights.  The likes of Downton Abbey, Victoria, and the Crown are more about portraying the aristocracy in a better light and only shining a light on history that is more pertinent to them or simply cannot be ignored.

Maybe just maybe someone will make a drama of the ordinary, brave people who fought and helped to establish the NHS, education, and better living conditions that we are used to today.  After all the ‘Great unrest,’ from 1910-14 appears to be now a forgotten period of history when it’s stories deserves to be as much celebrated as well as giving an understanding of the world that we are in now.

In the thick of it for real

Capaldi-Addison

As Angela Eagle is about to launch her Labour leadership challenge you can picture Ollie Reeder of the Thick it racing frantically through the corridors like the Keystone cops trying to tell Eagle that a much bigger news story has broken as Andrea Leadsom calls a last minute news conference to declare she is no longer standing to be the Conservative leader.

Its too late though as Ollie crashes through the door only to see a awkward, gurning Angela Eagle calling out journalists who have long scarpered to a much bigger news story as with no challengers, Teresa May will not only be the new Tory leader but the new Prime Minister.

The last few months in politics seems to be a drama that would rival Kevin Spacey’s House of cards with the farce of the thick of it thrown in for good measure.  If anything Angela Eagle’s pitch to challenge Jeremy Corbyn has so far summed up the PLP’s attempted coup.  A half arsed attempt that has so far swerved from one calamity to the next.  So much so that the shadow chancellor John McDonnell joked at a pro Corbyn rally “that the only good thing about it, was that as plotters, they were fucking useless.”

Malcolm Tucker would have blown up by now at the inadequacy of the Labour rebels and the way the ‘rise of the nutters,’ as he would no doubt see the Corbynistas have ran rings around them.

With regards to the Labour rebels and the way they have acted there are so many faults that it’s hard where to start.  From the deluded arrogance of not understanding the mood of their own membership to their inability to pick an appropiate time and more importantly a candidate who could offer a realistic chance of challenging the Tories.

Like Boris Johnson the Labour rebels were probably hoping for a close vote to remain in the EU so that they could get the best of both worlds to get rid of Corbyn.  No doubt they would have cited the reason that they gave when the leave vote won that Jeremy Corbyn had not done enough.

There was no doubt that it all seemed pre-planned.  The “it’s with a heavy heart…” delete whatever job you currently held template that was sent en masse smacked of the attempt to pressurise Corbyn to step down as losing the support of his MPs.

Unfortunately there was a slight flaw in that plan in the sense that Corbyn knew that he didn’t have the full support of his MPs.  It wasn’t as if they had kept it a secret with the constant attempts at undermining him through the media that Corbyn and his supporters knew that an attempt would be made at his leadership.

So when the first bullets of “it’s with a heavy heart…” started to fly followed by attempts to strong-arm Corbyn in stepping down it was never going to happen.  Yes he might not have the support of most of his MPs but he had the support of the membership after his outright victory almost a year ago.

This was something that the Labour rebels seemed to have realised as they looked at ways at ensuring that Corbyn had to have enough nominations from Labour MPs to re-stand.  After much deliberating the NEC stated that Corbyn could be stand but then ruled that unless members had paid the full membership of £25 within the past six months rather than the £3 would not be eligible to vote.  Critics accused the NEC of social exclusion and attempting to restrict voting in an attempt to get the result that they wished.

All that has happened so far is a widening rift between the PLP and its members.  There are some who see their MPs as London-centric, careerists who are not in tune with their constituents.  The Guardian’s John Harris whilst conducting a survey regarding the EU vote summed up the mood the divide that seems to have engulfed the UK with a quote from a Manchester voter.   “If you’ve got money you vote in.  If you haven’t got money you vote out.”

Corbyn at the very least offers a different alternative from the austerity lite that his “it’s with a heavy heart…” opponents seem to prefer.  There is with Corbyn a voice that speaks for them but that’s not to say that there are those that are equally as cynical with Corbyn with concerns over immigration and the decline of their areas.

The rebel Labour MPs have never been seen to give Corbyn a chance.  Instead they have acted like spoilt kids when the trophy goes outside of their own little clique.  After all Corbyn was seen as the ‘token leftie,’ whilst they had to suffer the inconvenience of members deciding which of their faction should lead the Labour party.  Inevitably it came as an almighty shock that Corbyn not only won the vote but raced away with it.

Even then they couldn’t be seen to give Corbyn a chance and offer their full support and seemed only active in opposing Corbyn rather than the Conservative government.  This tawdry episode has done nothing to impress voters who watch such petulant antics and feel ever more alienated from the Westminster bubble.

The rebels are right in the sense that Corbyn won’t win Labour the next general election but equally neither will Angela Eagle or Owen Smith.  Neither as Toast of London would say has the “charisma,”or the appeal of offering not only something new but hope and the opportunity for a better country.  Instead of just offering their support and biding their time whilst they wait for the right candidate.  Even if Corbyn had led them to an election which he still might and doesn’t win they can then say that they gave it a chance and it was time for a new alternative.

Now after all the mutterings and sneakiness they have taken the first shot at Corbyn without any real thought.  They now face the prospect of Corbyn not only winning again but the threat of deselection at the next election.  In the words of Omar from the wire “If you come at the King, you best not miss.”