Freedom MLK

Generally when I sit down to write an article I’m pretty clear what I want to write about and very clear on the positive note I’m going to end on. But, this week I have been filled with a growing sense of despondency.

A despondency which turned to anger as it began to dawn on me just how selfish and short sighted many of my fellow citizens can be. This week over 100 of my fellow citizens here in the U.K. died from Covid related causes. Over 32,000 new cases every day, and yet what was trending on Twitter #CovidIsOver.

Now I can understand how people are really fed up with the absolute inconvenience of having to wear a 2 inch piece of cloth on their face, but New Zealand which has had a grand total of 26 deaths since the pandemic began is considering making mask wearing compulsory when they have not had a single case of Covid since February.

Freedom Day

Britain is sliding into a very dark period in our history and it is easy to think that the majority of Britons support the authoritarian, yet libertarian direction we are currently taking. Interestingly, though, support for so-called restrictions has had overwhelming support since day one. In January the Evening Standard reported that 79% supported a new lockdown.  Of course, at this time the Government were about to announce a lockdown so the media were, naturally, supporting them. That support though was limited to an acceptance that things would get considerably worse without a lockdown. But as soon as Johnson announced that all restrictions would be lifted on June 21st, amended of course to July 19th, the tabloids have gone into a frenzy over so-called Freedom Day. Surprisingly, none of the major polling companies offer any assessment as to how this is being viewed by the public.

Listen, people who read me regularly, are intelligent, you don’t need me to tell you that the Government have abandoned any pretence that they are following the science. Or that they are gambling, dangerously, with other people’s lives. But this was not the only thing giving me a feeling of despondency this week.

I’m English. It’s an accident of birth and it wasn’t my choice. I’m also a football fan and have been since I was around 9 years old. My Father, who died 18 months ago disagreed with almost everything I stood for politically. But, as he succumbed to dementia in his final years, and as he lost the memory of me and my siblings the one thing we would still be able to chat about was Tottenham Hotspur. No doubt my Dad would not have supported footballers taking the knee because he was a racist to his dying day, but as an English football fan I find myself unable to enjoy the success of the national team because I can’t bring myself to make common cause with people who boo the national anthems of other countries and boo their own team for making a show of solidarity with the likes of Raheem Sterling (their best player this tournament incidentally), Marcus Rashford, and all the other black players who are simply saying that their lives, and those of their fans with black or brown skin, actually matter as much as white people. 

Racist football fans

An Ipsos-MORI poll, taken just before the tournament began, found that less than half of fans supported the players, with 42% suggesting that it was because “the Black Lives Matter movement represents a political ideology that I oppose”. Whilst Ipsos-MORI put a positive spin on the results with a headline that read ‘Almost half of football fans in England support the England team taking the knee at Euro 2020’, the fact that 30% of football fans supported the booing of their own team shows that the fight against racism in England has a long way to go. 

When people say that they oppose the political ideology that BLM supports they are simply repeating the line taken by the racist tabloid press who, accuse BLM of being a Marxist organisation, an appellation the majority of football fans could barely spell, let alone hope to critique. The reality is that a significant number of England football fans are racist and what I find as appalling as that is that the pundits keep telling us that imitating a Nuremberg Rally is what we deserve for 16 months of suffering, as if the pandemic has affected only England. And, you can’t say we want to stamp out racism on the one hand, whilst on the other, completely ignoring overt racism when it is occurring right in front of you.

Whether England win or lose a football match is not really very important. My shame at my country is not related to its highly paid, pampered football stars ability to win a series of matches where they alone were allowed to play nearly every match on home soil. My shame, and what should shame us all, is a growing intolerance, supported and nurtured by our political elite toward foreigners. This week Priti Patel quietly introduced into the Commons the U.K. Borders Bill which when (I no longer assume bad legislation will not make it to the statute books) passed will make “knowingly” arriving in Britain without permission a crime punishable by up to four years in prison. As Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action said, the legislation was “built on a deep lack of understanding of the reality of refugee migration.  Indeed. But what he is not saying is that the legislation is founded on a deep hatred, by the daughter of a Ugandan immigrant, of foreigners. In short, Priti Patel is a racist.

Draconian legislation

We are witnessing a slide into authoritarianism fuelled by some of the most draconian legislation anywhere in Europe. On the one hand the lying, thieving, corrupt Tories play the so-called ‘freedom’ card in order to abrogate any responsibility for the health of the ordinary people who are too busy celebrating to notice, whilst on the other they are pushing legislation such as the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill through Parliament to ensure that those same ordinary people cannot legally take to the streets to protest as the economy tanks.

The U.K. economy is on the edge of a recession even more severe than the one in 2008, yet all we hear in the press is ‘Freedom Day’, English football, which Minister has been caught shagging his aide and, of course, Diana. We don’t hear about Gaza, Yemen, the mess that is social care, Julian Assange, the selling off, salami style, of the NHS, or the fact that the poor are being robbed by the rich and driven into ever deeper cycles of despair. But I digress. The economy.

It is important to recognise that the economy of the U.K. is not solely in the control of the government but is connected to the World economy. However, whilst most countries, with the possible exception of China, are heading into recession, the U.K. is being doubly affected. Whilst the pandemic is being blamed for the global recession, and it has clearly had a profound effect, the reality is that the recession was being forecast before the pandemic hit. In December 2019 Rabobank’s quarterly forecast was predicting: “In the next two years, we expect the global economy to show the slowest rate of growth since the global financial crisis.

Economic recession

Meanwhile, the British shot themselves in the foot by withdrawing from Europe. In November 2019 the Bank of England noted: “Brexit will fundamentally change the nature of the UK’s relationship with its largest trading partner. The wide range of potential outcomes appears to have both increased uncertainty and made people more pessimistic about the economic outlook. Those effects, which are difficult to separate, are already influencing the UK economy. They have lowered business investment in particular, and may have weighed on productivity and consumption.”

You probably don’t need me to tell you that an economic recession is a bad thing. Business website Oberlo provides a list of what happens in a recession: “ Business profits take a hit and many go bankrupt. People lose their jobs. It becomes difficult to find work and make ends meet. In particular, young people entering the job market find it difficult to secure a job. Wages go down. People reduce their spending, invoking a paradox of thrift. This typically leads to reduction in aggregate demand and, consequently, economic growth  People struggle to pay their debts, which damages their credit scores. This makes it more difficult for many to borrow money in the future – which in turn contributes to more economic stagnation. People default on their debts and families lose their homes, cars, lands, and other assets. Interest rates go down as federal governments attempt to simulate growth.  Most people have to reign in their lifestyle expenses. This means fewer leisure activities, vacations, dining out, etc.”

This has already started, but as we know recessions don’t hit everybody equally. This week the Government of the U.K. decided not to retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift and will remove it from October. As The Morning Star reported benefits charity Turn2Us said the government must keep the uplift or risk facing a “tsunami of poverty, hunger and ultimately destitution.” The charity’s director of impact and innovation Jo Kerr said: “Over the course of the last decade, we have seen our social security system cut, capped and frozen beyond repair. What is left is a threadbare security net.

Fighting back

As Charlotte Hughes wrote in her blog: “The announcement to end the uplift payments was made after ignoring the advice of six former Conservative work and pension secretaries whom have requested that the Chancellor make the £20 uplift permanent. They warned that if they failed to extend the uplift it would cause immense damage to living standards, health and the opportunity to improve their lives.” As Charlotte well knows improving the lives of poor people has never been a priority for the Conservatives. As the Government continue to line their own, their families and their friends pockets from the public purse the poorest and most vulnerable are thrown under the proverbial bus cheered, or perhaps more accurately jeered, by a baying mob intent only on their own narrow, egotistical pursuits.

In a recession it is difficult to fight back. When you cannot afford to feed your family, when homelessness is not just a distant threat but a lived reality, when all around you is devastation, the last thing on your mind is attending a meeting of the local socialist party. Moreover, when businesses are facing multiple challenges just to stay afloat the last thing on their mind is maintaining the planet. Climate catastrophe, even if only 20 or 30 years away is still not today’s priority. The lesson today is: survival. The fact that the means of your survival in the here and now mean that somebody else’s survival in the future is compromised is, well, a problem for the future.

The pandemic, which incidentally came with a warning some 30 years before it happened, has put climate change on the back burner. Unfortunately, nobody has explained this to the ozone layer or greenhouse gases that continue to erode it. The future looks bleak. Is there any cause for optimism? George Orwell used the novel 1984 to remind us “all hope lies with the proles”. In other words hope does not lay with governments nor leaders nor well intentioned philanthropists, but with people like you and I who have most to lose. But for that hope to turn to reality people who can must act. Which is particularly difficult for those of us in a country which scientists writing in The Lancet described as “embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment..

Raping the planet

Many more U.K. citizens will die needlessly through allowing Covid to treat England as a Petri dish, many more will die from stress and starvation caused by the latest, but surely not the last, blitz on benefits. Many more will die needlessly because we (by which I mean the ruling elite) have failed to take the responsibility they wanted seriously and have continued to, in the words of my Socialist Hour guest Azzy Aslam, “rape the planet”. If there is hope – there surely must be hope – then it lies in those like Extinction Rebellion who are prepared to act. It lies with those trying to defend our NHS which at the point it is most badly needed faces it’s gravest threat. It lies with those who take to the streets to declare “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. It lies with every worker who opposes the imposition of worse conditions. It lies with people like you who sign petitions, demonstrate, take to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, give up their time to attend meetings, and do all you can to offset and eradicate the dire consequences of our social system.

If there is hope it does not lie with leaders (no matter how much you may like them), neither with parties regardless of their policies and supposed principles, nor with elections (with their false promises of change), nor with attempts to ameliorate the problems with reforms. We are beyond this. Hope lies, as it always has, in socialism. But not a socialism that tells you how to live your life and demands allegiance to the leader or the party, but rather a socialism that frees the creativity and imagination of ordinary people. A socialism predicated on a society of equals acting together to provide a present for everybody free from poverty and degradation and one in which future generations can take the baton and create a World without profit, but founded on principles of comradeship. A World where everybody was truly free. Now, that would be a freedom day worth celebrating.

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

Another great site by the Dangerous Globe

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Dave Middleton
I'm Dave Middleton. I am a member of the Labour Party (until they catch up with me) and like to think of myself as left-wing. My Twitter account is @DavMidd Please do feel free to email me about this blog at
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Robert DiBlasio
2 years ago

Love the optimism Dave, with so much negativity in todays society your piece was a breathe of fresh air.