Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Best Wishes and Commiserations to the Enland Team for their Great Performance

July 12, 2021

I know I’m late publishing this, but I wanted to express my admiration for the great performance of the England players during the FA cup. They really took it all the way to the top, and football nearly came home. I didn’t watch it, due to simple superstition. I had the irrational feeling that if I watched it, they’d fail for sure. But I understand they lost on penalties. Still, very, very well done. We almost got there.

Unfortunately, the excellent sportsmanship of both teams has been marred by the violence in London between the rival England and Italy fans. Like everyone else with half a brain, I’m sickened by such hooliganism and wish it were kicked out the game along with racism. It’s revolting that the superb achievement of the England team in getting so far is being brought down by this idiocy.

Captain’s Log, Supplemental, as Captain James Tiberius Kirk used to say.

Since I put this up, Sargon of Gasbag’s bunch, the Lotus Eaters, have put up a nasty little video blaming ‘wokism’ for Britain’s defeat. Apparently it was a few of the Black players who missed the vital penalty shots, and the racists have come out of the woodwork to abuse them. Thus the Lotus Eaters have put up a piece entitled ‘Wokism Is Not Our Strength’ with the subtitle, ‘The England Team Lost’ and a thumbnail of a White player grabbing one of the Blacks from behind. Now I honesty can’t say that diversity is our strength. It’s made British society different, less homogenous, but this has also brought strains and tension as well as more positive benefits, like the skills, hard work and enterprise of many immigrants and people of immigrant descent. But there’s a nasty streak of racism in all this, which has been condemned by people right across the political spectrum, including Boris Johnson. I think the England did excellently to get so far, and defeat so many nations, and to lose the cup by penalties. I’ve seen similar performances from England teams with a far smaller proportion of Black players. This is sheer Daily Mail anti-immigrant ranting. Literally. Way back in the 1990s Paul Dacre or one of the wretched rag’s other columnists wrote a piece predicting that we would lose the world cup in 2020 because the England team were mostly Black. It was attacked for its bigotry at the time. As it stands, that prediction has come true, I admit. But I don’t believe we lost because we had Black players, who in any case did superbly well along with their White team mates. I speak as someone who, like Arthur Dent, was always bad at sport.

I’m not going to link to the wretched video. I haven’t watched it, but it simply appears to be nasty and racist. So let’s celebrate our team’s impressive achievement, and kick racism out of football.

We Own It’s Campaign to Get MPs to Oppose the Tories’ Privatisation of the NHS

July 10, 2021

Mike this morning has put up an excellent piece pointing out that the latest proposed legislation from Boris Johnson and his cronies, that will allow private healthcare companies onto NHS boards and run NHS services, will not end the privatisation of the NHS but simply open it up further. We Own It are an organisation that firmly opposes the privatisation of this vital British institution, and have launched a campaign to get people to write to their MPs to get them to oppose the bill when it is discussed on Wednesday. I got this email from them on Thursday.

‘The NHS Corporate Takeover Bill is here, and on Wednesday 14 July MPs will vote on whether to take the bill forward.

If we can get all opposition MPs and even a few Conservative MPs to oppose the bill, it will scare the government into taking a good look at this bill. Please write to your MP now.

Write to your MP now: pledge opposition to this Bill

You may have written to your MP about concerns before, and maybe the outcome wasn’t what you hoped for.

But the reality is all MPs listen to the local mood and to what lots of their constituents are writing to them about, even Conservative MPs. They may not appear to feel the pressure but they do.

We’ve adapted our draft letter to MPs based on what they’re likely to be concerned about in this bill.

And there is a lot to be worried about. 

Our NHS will have private companies making decisions about our care if this goes ahead. 

Our NHS will be under tight financial controls and more contracts could be given to the likes of Serco without any process if this goes ahead.

And they will deregulate NHS professions so you won’t necessarily be seen by a doctor or nurse anymore.

Your email will get MPs to stand up and listen, and we hear widespread opposition is possible.

So your email could tip them over the edge.

No matter where you live in the UK, your MP speaking out against this legislation and for our NHS is further proof that this is of huge concern. Can you email your MP now?

I’ll email my MP on the pledge to protect our NHS

Although this Bill currently affects England, they do set a worrying precedent of privatisation that could have repercussions in the devolved nations. We know that (many) opposition MPs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are opposed to the corporate takeover bill, and their pressure can have a real impact in influencing the govt’s decision. So please email them to get them to pledge their opposition!
As Nye Bevan said, ‘the NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it’, and you writing to your MP is part of a long term plan to build a movement for our NHS.
We are building our power bit by bit, and we must keep going if we’re going to stop the privatisation of our beloved NHS.
Thank you for all you do. 
In solidarity,
Cat, Zana, Johnbosco, Chris, Alice and Pascale – the We Own It team 

If you follow the links, you come to a form letter that they’ve already prepared. All you need do is add your name and address. I’ve had absolutely no hesitation in using it and I hope you will too.

The NHS and people’s lives and health are too precious to become simply a source of profit for Boris and his profiteers.

Novara Media on the Sacking of Jewish Journalist for Calling Out Media Bias for Israel and against Palestinians

June 28, 2021

I haven’t seen all of this video, but I wanted to repost it here because it shows exactly the disgusting right-wing, and general media bias in support of Israel. And because it also shows the particular venom Israel’s supporters have towards Jews who oppose their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The victim of the Zionist right’s Ire this time was Emily Wilder, a Jewish journalist with AP press. The video was posted a month ago, on 28th May, when the Israeli cleansing of an Arab district in east Jerusalem for Jewish settlers and the conflict this had provoked with the Palestinians was still very much a live issue. The video briefly describes the circumstances of Wilder’s sacking before moving to a discussion between Michael Walker and Novara’s main woman, Ash Sarkar.

Walker begins by stating that the media is largely silent about crimes committed by Israel, presenting shootings and atrocities carried out by the IDF in the passive voice. It should have been a game changer, then, when the IDF bombed AP’s offices in Gaza. But it wasn’t. Instead the press agency sacked Wilder, who had only been with the company for 16 days after joining on 3rd of May, for supposedly anti-Israel bias in on social media. Her crime was posting three tweets clearly and intelligently demonstrating the media’s bias, including a retweet from Leila al-Arian, a producer with al-Jazeera. Al-Arian said that simply reporting the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians like the back and forth between players in a ping-pong match without giving any context and background information was bad journalism and doing their viewers a disservice. The video puts up these tweets, quoted in the report in the Washington Post about this shameful affair, from which they draw for the video’s contents. Walker says that they look all very harmless. And they are – perfectly anodyne, and fair comment. Except to the fanatical pro-Israeli Republicans.

Wilder was targeted by a number of right-wing organisations because when she was a student at Stanford College, she was a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and another organisation campaigning for justice for the Palestinians. Stanford College Republicans dug out and posted an old tweet in which she called the late Las Vegas businessman and staunch supporter of Israel an ‘naked mole-rat looking old billionaire’. Which I have to say, he did. Adelson was vile piece of work. He made his money from casinos, which are responsible for spreading gambling addiction throughout American and British society. He was also the kind of Jew, which it is anti-Semitic to talk about according to the IHRA. Unlike the millions of Jewish Americans, who see themselves primarily and happily as Jewish Americans, or Brits, French, Germans, Poles and other nations, for example, Adelson explicitly stated that his first loyalty was to Israel. Joining the attack on Wilder was The Federalist, Washington Free Beacon and, inevitably, the website of Faux News.

This story bears out what the Jewish British journo, Miri Bar Hillel, has said: that there is a particular campaign against Jews and Jewish journos over this issue, and that many Jews are living in fear. I’m surprised they didn’t go all the way and accuse Wilder of being self-hating and anti-Semitic. And by Republican standards, she’s also ‘unamerican’ because ‘Israel’s values are our values’ as one Neocon put it.

And it also demonstrates once again the correctness of Tony Greenstein’s diagnosis of Zionism as Jewish anti-Semitism. Because it is based on the anti-Semitic premise that Jews and non-Jews can never live together in peace, friendship and harmony. I’m very much aware that anti-Semitism is still around, but as Tony’s also shown, the vast majority of severely normal Brits either have a positive view of their Jewish compatriots, or simply think they’re no better nor no worse than anyone else. Only 7 per cent of the British public have negative views about Jews.

The sacking of Wilder for making entirely fair and justified comments about media bias for Israel is despicable. I hope she gets a better job elsewhere.

Because her treatment has shown just how biased, cowardly and complicit the western media are in their covering up of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

History Debunked Asks if Black lives Matter to Black People

June 28, 2021

It’s a provocative, controversial question to be sure, but it does need to be asked. In this video History Debunked’s Simon Webb raises it in connection with the shooting of Black activist Sasha Johnson. Johnson was shot a month ago by a Black gang while dancing the night away at a party in Peckham. According to the police officer in charge of the investigation, none of the thirty people, who were present at the shooting have offered any evidence. It seems that Black lives only matter when the killer is White. When this occurs, the slogan ‘White silence is violence’ is trotted out to castigate any White that doesn’t condemn the killing or offer evidence. But when it comes to Black on Black violence, Blacks cover it up. Hence the various claims made after the shooting that a White supremacist was responsible as demonstrated in Diane Abbott’s noxious tweet about it. But the four men accused of the shooting – Prince Dickson, Cameron Derigg, Troy Reed and Demontay Brown, are all Black. There’s a certain irony that they were caught because of Stop and Search, which Sasha Johnson condemned as racist against young Black men. The cops stopped one during such a search, he ran away, was arrested, and so led them to the others. But the thirty people at the party aren’t giving evidence because of a belief in the Black community that it’s wrong to cooperate with the police. Any Black person who does is a Judas. But more Black lives are lost to Black gangs than to White racists, and if Blacks really want to stop Black people being killed, then they should tell their boyfriends and sons not to stab and shoot other Black men. As for the 30 people at the party, their silence really is violence. By not coming forward to give evidence against Johnson’s shooters, they are all complicit in her shooting.

A few years ago, Black on Black violence really was an issue that was being discussed in the mainstream media. This was in the 1990s or early 2000s. There was even an edition of the Ali G show in which Sasha Baron Cohen’s wigger alter ego did a mock interview with the senior police officer supposedly about Black on Black violence. G was particularly interested in the weapons that ‘brothers were using against brothers’. The police chief had brought along a selection of knives, swords and other weapons that had been taken from Black gang members. Then Cohen decided to turn the interview into farce, and started drooling over how cool these weapons were, to the obvious horror of the policeman. The fact that even Ali G was discussing the subject showed very clearly that it was definitely not a taboo subject. But now it’s vanished. The Black Lives Matter movement is only concerned with Black lives if their taken by Whites. And its fair to say that many Black are very unhappy about this.

One Black Conservative American youtuber last year put up a long video about why many Black Americans hated Black Lives Matter. This consisted of clips of Black people, including business people as well as ordinary peeps, stating very clearly that in their experience, all the abuse and violence had come from other Blacks, not Whites. This included a man, who’d been physically threatened as well as people, who’d seen their shops and businesses trashed by the rioters.

There is indeed a widespread, deep distrust of the police amongst the Black community in both America and Britain. It’s doubtless due to the real racism Blacks have experienced at the hands of White cops. Since the race riots in Britain of 1981/2 there have been efforts to recruit more Black and ethnic minority officer into the police as a way of countering this. Cressida Dick, the Met’s police chief, has announced that she wishes to recruit a further 20,000 police officer. To Alex Belfield’s horror, she is also trying to change the law to give preference to Black applicants. She’s almost certainly doing this, or wants to do it, because of the long-standing campaign to get more Blacks into the rozzers as a way of gaining the community’s trust.

As for the reluctance of the people at the party to give evidence against the shooters, my guess is that there are other factors at work quite apart from simple racial solidarity. It’s been suggested that it was a gang shooting, and they accused were really trying to kill Johnson’s partner. Johnson was simply unlucky enough to get in the way. In this case, the silence of the other partygoers probably is due to fear for their lives. A Black resident of Bristol’s St. Paul’s area said much the same after the riots of 1981/2. She was on the side of the police against the rioters, as she wrote in an article in the Bristol Evening Post that the area was being terrorised by criminal gangs, and people were afraid of speaking out against them.

But there’s also a marked hostility amongst Black anti-racist activists to media reporting of Black on Black violence. Remember the murder of Demilola Taylor? He was a 12 year old Black lad, who was stabbed by a gang on his way home from school, finally bleeding to death in the stairwell of the block of flats where he lived. A vile, horrific murder that shocked the nation and was extensively reported in the press. I’ve mentioned before the many vile attitudes held by the Black and Asian Studies Association that thoroughly disgusted me when I read their wretched newsletter. One of the worst was their accusation that the Beeb was being ‘racist’ for reporting it. In issue 32/33 of their newsletter they complained about its reporting and stated that the media should instead have carried stories about all the Blacks murdered by Whites. They were showing their prejudices here. They’d obviously concluded that Taylor was murdered by a Black gang, but their ethnicity hadn’t been mentioned on the national news and it was later revealed that it was made up of people of different races. It’s an attitude based, no doubt, on the extensive reporting of Black criminality by the right-wing press, which certainly was racially biased. I’ve no doubt that the Black activists, who oppose the reporting of Black on Black assault and murder do so from a genuine belief that this somehow supports anti-Black racism and ‘negative stereotypes’ of Black people.

But most of the Black people stabbed and shot are attacked by other Blacks. And I’ve no doubt that there are many British Blacks, like those in America, who would like this to become an issue. They want their neighbourhoods to be safe, and to be able to raise families and run businesses without fear of being robbed, looted or murdered by anyone, whether White supremacists or Black criminals.

It’s just Black Lives Matter and similar organisations, like the Black and Asian Studies Association, who want to silence any discussion of Black on Black violence.

And their determination to silence its reporting is both an indictment and makes them complicit in the killings they ignore.

A French Historian’s Examination of Medieval Slavery

June 27, 2021

Pierre Dockes, Medieval Slavery and Liberation, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (London: Methuen 1982).

I got this book through the post yesterday from the secondhand book company, World of Books. I ordered it because it seems to me that there is too little awareness of the existence of indigenous White European slavery and serfdom. It very much seems that anti-racist and Black activists are presenting a false view of slavery as something that only White Europeans and Americans did to Black Africans. Its existence in ancient and medieval Europe, as well as in Africa and Islam, is deliberately ignored or downplayed. At the same time, the Tories are also intent on presenting their terribly simplified view of British history as a kind of ‘merrie England’ when everyone was free and prosperous, and the peasants lived happily under the benign rule of the aristocracy and factory masters. Dockes, the author of the above book, was professor of political economy at the university of Lyons. He’s described as a member of the Annales school of French historians. I was taught in the historiography part of the MA history course at UWE that the Annales school is, roughly, the French equivalent of History Today. In other words, mainstream academic history. He seems to be approaching the subject from a left-wing direction, as several sections concentrate on the role of class conflict and warfare.

The blurb for the book runs:

How and why did ancient slavery come to an end in the Middle Ages? In this study, Pierre Dockes, a controversial figure in the younger generation of Annales historians, approaches the question not only from the historian’s legitimate concern to understand the transformations of ancient societies but also out of the belief that slavery is more than merely a simple moment in the past. It is rather the primary relationship of exploitation, from which serfdom and wage-labour have stemmed.

Dockes criticises the deterministic accounts of ancient slavery and medieval liberation put forward by both bourgeois and Marxist scholars. He describes the organisation of the Roman villa and its place in the slaveholding society and in the formation of the imperial state, and goes on to show how it was ultimately slave revolts that erased this form of exploitation. Imperial society was reduced to two antagonistic classes and, the author argues, it was slaveholding which undermined the social base upon which Caesar’s and Augustus’s state was constructed.

The end of slaveholding took centuries to accomplish. Each resurgence of the power of the state meant the resurgence of slavery, which did not end until the late ninth century when slave revolts contributed to the breakdown of the Carolingian political order. Dockes concludes that imperialism and slavery are inextricably intertwined, and that even today, ‘after centuries of struggle, exploitation does indeed continue to exist. Only the form has changed.’

The book contains the following chapters and constituent sections.

Introduction

Definition of slavery

The Role of the Class Struggle

The Class Struggle and the State

Appendix: Note on the Determinism of the Productive Forces in History.

  1. The Villa, Society and the State

Genesis of the Villa Slave System

“Ends” of Slavery

Forms of Exploitation in the Early Middle Ages and Challenges to Them

The Elaboration of a “New” Feudal Mode of Production

Outline of the Following Chapters

2. Questions to Historians about Economism

The Question of the Rationality of the Great Slaveholding Landowner

The Question of Productivity

The Question of the Profitability of Slavery

Reproduction of the Work Force: Razzia and Breeding

Marc Bloch’s “Economic Conditions”

The Moral and Religious Factor

3. Productive Forces and Feudal Relations

The Collapse of the Slave Empire, or the Struggle of the Lower Classes

“Build the Material Foundations of Feudalism First”

“Large” Water Mills: Where Does Technological Progress Come From?

Appendix: The Banal Mill – Advantageous to the Peasant or Not?

Dues of the Banal Mill

The Time “Wasted” in Milling by Hand

Estimation of the Average Costs

A Calculation at the Margin

4. Class Struggles in Europe (Third to Ninth Centuries)

Slaves and the Struggles of Others

Slave Struggles and the State

5. Epilogue: By Way of Conclusion.

I’m sure that in the nearly forty years since its publication parts of the book have become dated. For example, Dockes states that slavery continued in England until the 13th century, while more recent books state that slavery had died out by the end of the twelfth century as serfdom became the predominant form of unfree labour. Nevertheless, I think it’s an extremely useful examination of medieval European slavery and the role of class warfare and struggle in its removal and transformation.

We Own It’s Public Zoom Meeting Monday Against NHS Privatisation

June 25, 2021

We Own It is an organisation campaigning for the renationalisation of public industries. It is particularly against the Tories’ ongoing privatisation of the NHS. I got this email from them yesterday about a public zoom meeting they’re organising on Monday against the Tories’ decision to hand over a number of doctor’s surgeries to Centene, a private healthcare company. This is going to be the thin end of the wedge, leading to further GP’s surgeries being privatised unless stopped. The email runs

“Our NHS turns 73 this year. 

As part of this year’s NHS birthday, a coalition of NHS campaign groups – including We Own It – is organising a public meeting on stopping the private takeover of NHS GP surgeries. 

Can you join the online (ZOOM) public meeting at 6pm on Monday, 28th June?

Sign up to attend the public meeting

You may know, David, that Centene, an American healthcare corporation, recently took over 49 NHS GP surgeries. 

This kind of takeover of our NHS GP surgeries shows that the government is intent on putting our NHS into the hands of profiteers. 

This would explain their lack of action to get Centene out.

At the public meeting you will learn more about the danger these takeovers pose to our NHS and also how you can be part of the fightback.

Please join the public meeting whether you are in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

At the meeting you will hear from:

  • Jeremy Corbyn – MP for Islington North (his constituency has a Centene surgery)
  • Dr. Louise Irvine – Keep Our NHS Public
  • Richard Buckwell – Chair Nottingham & Notts Keep Our NHS Public
  • Cllr. Rabina Khan – Tower Hamlets Councillor (Liberal Democrats)

There will also be a speaker from Spain to speak about the effects of Centene in their country.

I want to attend the public meeting
Our NHS was founded on the principle of equality: equal access to healthcare for everyone – from the rich to the poor. 
That is why the NHS was established as a public healthcare system, free at the point of use and funded through general taxation.
Our local GP surgeries are the first point of contact with the NHS for over 80% of us.
But with companies like Centene now getting their hands on our NHS GP surgeries, many of them risk being closed if they are not profitable.
Centene has already closed surgeries in Harlow (Essex), Leicester and Camden for not being profitable. 
And by doing so, they are depriving the communities access to readily available care.
It is so important that we continue to fight back and stop these takeovers.
Sign up to attend the public meeting

As we celebrate the 73rd anniversary of our NHS, your involvement in events like this, David, is so valued. The truth is that without the fight that you have put on over the years, there may no longer be an NHS.

Please sign up to attend the public meeting to stop Centene’s takeover of NHS GP surgeries.

Thank you so much for the incredible work you’ve been doing to protect our NHS.

Cat, Alice, Pascale, Chris, Zana, Johnbosco – the We Own It team

PS: You still have an opportunity to fund action and campaigning against the government’s plan to allow private companies, like Virgin, to sit on ICS boards. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) boards will make decisions about how NHS budgets are spent in our local areas. Sign up to donate £5 a month or whatever you can afford. Every penny helps in the fight to stop this privatisation of our NHS.

Of the speakers, Jeremy Corbyn needs no introduction as the former, and vilely maligned leader of the Labour party, but it will be interesting to hear from a medical doctor, Louise Irvine, and the Spanish speaker about how Centene is wrecking their country’s healthcare system, all in the name of profit.

I haven’t donated to the organisation, but I do intend to go to the Virtual meeting. I think the time is 6.00 – 7.30 pm on Monday, 28th June 2021. If you feel the same, you may also want to do the same to protect this most vital of British institutions.

Email from We Own It for Writing Campaign against Private Healthcare Companies on NHS Boards

June 18, 2021

I had another email on Wednesday from the anti-privatisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It about their efforts to block the further privatisation of the NHS. They’d sent me an email previously explaining that our criminally useless health secretary, Matt Hancock, wants to put private healthcare companies in charge of NHS boards and official bodies. This has already been done in the NHS organisation(s) in charge of Bath and North East Somerset and Swindon and Wiltshire.

This follow-up letter explains the issues, and takes matter further. There are links which take you to a page where you can add your name and create a form letter to be sent to the NHS organisations, who have appointed Virgin to their board, protesting against it. This is in addition to the tug of wars We Own It hoped to organise up and down the country in Friday also as a symbolic protest against this privatisation. They were to feature people pulling against private healthcare companies on the other side. I haven’t seen anything about such protests in the news, so I guess there weren’t many of them. Or perhaps the lamestream media have blocked the coverage. That’s happened with protests before, so I really wouldn’t put it past them. Here’s the email, plus links.

“Virgin Care Ltd has been given a seat on the TOP NHS decision-making body in the region covering Bath and NE Somerset, Swindon AND Wiltshire.

This means it will make decisions about what NHS care is provided locally (and what ISN’T provided). 

If this is allowed in that region, it endangers all of us and sets a precedent for other regional NHS boards – we can’t let this go ahead. WHEREVER you are, email the top local boards now to get Virgin kicked OUT of decisions on your NHS.

Write to demand Virgin are kicked out of our NHS

Matt Hancock’s legislation plans to let private companies on to decision-making boards and we’re seeing this creep in already.

If this is allowed to go ahead in Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, it’s a really worrying precedent for the new set up of our NHS.

Stop this now by writing to both the new ‘partnership’ board and the old CCG board – the two most important local NHS bodies – to say NO – now.

To say that you don’t want Virgin making decisions about our health service.

That your NHS was founded based on solidarity and a shared want for universal care at the point of need. 

Virgin Care Ltd want profit. Can you join the call that they are kicked off this top regional board, to stop these private companies taking hold of our NHS nationally?

I believe in an NHS run for people not profit

What about the rest of the UK? This decision only affects this region, and this bill will mean disintegration of our NHS in England. Luckily the rest of the UK is not going ahead with these plans YET.

But it is not a good sign for the direction of our NHS. So please write to demand Virgin are kicked off this key regional body in the Bath and North East Somerset area.

Your voice is crucial to winning this fight against privatisation. Thank you.

In solidarity,

Cat, Zana, Johnbosco, Chris, Alice and Pascale – the We Own It team”

I’ve joined their campaign and sent a letter of protest against the inclusion of Virgin Care in NHS decision-making in those areas. It is a form letter, and the process is very simple. It really is just a case of following the link and adding your name and email address, etc. But I hope it has some effect and demonstrates to the authorities that we really don’t want beardie Branson and his ilk destroying the NHS and our health for their profit.

Please feel free to do the same if you feel the same way too. 

My Video on Gerard Winstanley’s ‘The Diggers’ Song of 1649

June 8, 2021

The Diggers were a radical 17th century Protestant sect during the time of the British Civil War. They believed that all land should be held in common, all men being created equal by the Almighty, and were firmly against both the Cavaliers, the gentry and the priesthood. They tried to set up a colony in St. George’s Hill, a piece of common land near Weybridge in Surrey, but their homes were pulled down and the movement squashed. One of their leaders, Gerard Winstanley, who advocated their political and theological doctrines in his A New Yeeres Gift, also wrote this song about them.

In this video I explain that before the rise of modern newspapers, people got their news through broadside ballads, popular songs written about the issues and news of the day. I got this from Roy Palmer’s excellent A Ballad History of England (London: B.T. Batsford 1979), which collects various ballads from 1588 to the late 20th century. Ballads were still being written in the 20th century, though the medium had changed to recordings rather sheet music. One of the last was about a dispute at British Steel in 1975.

I recite the lyrics and then play the tune given in the book. I regret I can’t sing and play the keyboard at once.

The lyrics are

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,

You noble Diggers all, stand up now,

The wast land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name

Your digging does maintain, and persons all defame,

Stand up now, stand up now.

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,

Your houses they pull down, stand up now.

Your houses they pull down to fright your men in town,

But the gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now, stand up now,

With spades and hoes and plowes stand up now,

Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold

To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold,

Stand up now, Diggers all.

Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now, stand up now,

Theire self-will is their law, stand up now.

Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin

To make a gaole a gin, to sterve poor men therein.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentrye are all round, stand up now, stand up now,

The gentrye are all round, stand up now.

The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,

Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground.

Stand up now, stand up now.

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,

The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now,

To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,

The devill in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes,

Stand up now, stand up now.

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,

The clergy they come in, stand up now.

The clergy they come in, and say it is a sin

That we should now begin, our freedom for to win.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The tithe they yet will have, stand up now, stand up now,

The tithes they yet will have stand up now.

The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,

And this is they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

‘Gainst lawyers and gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now,

‘Gainst lawyers and gainst priests stand up now.

For tyrants they are both even flatt against their oath,

To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,

The club is all their law, stand up now.

The club is all their law to keep men in awe,

Buth they no vision saw to maintain such a law.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,

The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now;

The Cavaleers are foes, themselves they do disclose

By verses not in prose to please the singing boyes.

Stand up now, Diggers all.

To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now,

To conquer them by love, come in now;

To conquer them by love, as itt does you behove,

For hee is King above, now power is like to love,

Glory heere, Diggers all.

Similar to the Diggers were the Levellers, another radical Protestant sect which was extremely strong in the army. They believe in the extension of the franchise to the male heads of households, which was dangerously democratic for the 17th century, as well as state provided schools, hospitals and care homes for the elderly. They still exert a powerful influence in the Labour party.

Here’s the video.

Two Fairy Sightings from 20th Century Britain

June 7, 2021

My last blog post was about a video I found on YouTube from Irish television in 1966. They were covering the attempt by an Irish docker, Tim Hayes, to spend 101 hours buried underground near a fairy fort in order to disprove the existence of the ‘Gentlemen’ or ‘Good People’. The film included a brief interview with a local man, who said he would definitely not want to interfere with the fairy fort, and would be extremely upset if anyone else were to do so or interfere with the field in which it lay. The film testifies to the continuing power of real belief in the fairies, despite the onward march of rationalism.

But it isn’t only in Ireland or the Celtic countries that belief in the fairies still persists. People are also still seeing them in England too. I found these two accounts from the 20th century in Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, (London: Reader’s Digest 1973), p. 121.

All dressed in green

‘… When we were on holiday in Cornwall, my daughter and I came down a winding lane, and all of a sudden there was a small green man – all in green with a pointed hood and ears. We both saw him … we were cold with terror and ran for the ferry below.’ A 20th century description by a man from Shropshire.

A fairy guide

‘… It was on the Berkshire Downs, and we’d lost our way, and didn’t know what track to take. When I looked round, there was small man in green standing at my elbow. “You’ll be all right,” he said, “You take that one; you’ll be all right.” Then he didn’t disappear, but he just wasn’t there any more’. Described in 1962 by a Somerset farmer’s wife.

And sightings continue to the present day. I went to a folklore/ paranormal conference a few years ago here in Bristol on the fairies, which included people who very firmly believed in them. And when I was studying for my archaeology Ph.D. at Bristol university, I went to a seminar on fairies presented by the epic Ron Hutton. Hutton opened by singing the theme to the Southern vampire TV series, Tru Blood, before describing a sighting of a fairy one evening by a young man and a women in Glastonbury. Well, where else? The couple saw this strange light bouncing along the ground. One of them asked the other what on earth it could be, and got the reply ‘It’s a fairy. What else could it be?’

Having said that, you have to be careful of jokers. My mother had an old friend from college down in Cornwall. She went down there one year to visit her. They were out on a trip somewhere, and she, the friend, my father and the friend’s mother went on to wherever they were going, leaving the friend’s father behind to have a sit down and rest. When they returned they found that he’d been talking to an American woman. This was at a time when there was a spate of fairy sightings. The American had asked the old fellow if he’d seen any. Oh yes, he replied, he certainly had. They were at the bottom of his garden. That wasn’t remotely true, and when they challenged him on it, he replied, ‘Well, it’s what she wanted to hear.’ Sometimes that smiling old rustic telling you of his supernatural encounters may not be the naive, horny-handed son of toil in touch with the supernatural you believe him to be.

But in the spirit of this post, here’s another video I found on YouTube. It’s the folk-rock band Steeleye Span playing ‘Wee Wee Man’ about a fairy from the 1970s.

Simon Webb Claims that Reni Eddo-Lodge and David Olusoga Stirred Up Racial Hatred with Fake History of Liverpool Lynching

May 31, 2021

I’ve posted up a number of videos from Simon Webb’s History Debunked channel on YouTube. Webb’s a Torygraph-reading right-winger, and his channel largely attacks what he considers to be the fake history pushed by Black activists, anti-racist academics and researchers and the BBC. He’s the author of a series of history books himself, and frequently cites his sources. Some of his claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as in one video I put up he stated that the British government had not invited the Windrush immigrants to come to Britain. Several of the great commenters on this blog have contradicted this, stating that they remember organisations like Birmingham council advertising in the Caribbean for bus drivers. Two of the commenters, Gillyflowerblog and Brian Burden, are alarmed at my paying attention to people like him, and fear that it will turn me Tory. They have recommended instead that I watch David Olasuga’s history of Black Britain.

Now I’ve watched and enjoyed some of Olasuga’s documentaries, such as a House Through Time. But in this video Webb lays out the case against one of the claims of lynching made by Olasuga and Reni Eddo-Lodge, which were repeated by the Guardian and the Beeb. This is that Charles Wootton, a Black sailor, was lynched in Liverpool docks in 1919 as a kind of British counterpart to the lynchings in America. The BBC had made a short film in which young Black Brits spoke about their anger at this having happened, as well they should if the event happened as Eddo-Lodge and Olasuga claim. Olasuga claimed in a feature in the Groan and in his children’s book, Black and British, that Wootton, a Black sailor, had been chased to the docks by an angry White mob, where he either fell in or was pushed. Olasuga calls it a ‘lynching’, as does Eddo-Lodge in her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. But the truth seems to be that Wootton was a thug involved in attacks on Scandinavian sailors, who was chased to the docks because he had already shot two policemen.

Webb claims he knows something about the events because of his 2016 book, 1919 – Britain’s Year of Revolution. He says that there were frequently riots and disorders at ports between Brits and foreign sailors because of competition for jobs, exacerbated because foreign sailors would work for less. In Liverpool there was tension between Swedish, Danish, Russian and Black sailors. The violence started on June 4th of that year, when a Danish sailor in a pub asked a Black matelot for a light. He was refused, and attacked the Black guy. The next night, the Black sailor’s friends ambushed a group of Scandinavians, attacking them with knives and cut-throat razors. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that a cop tried to put an end to it, and in his turn was badly slashed about the face and back in an attempt to cut his throat. The Blacks then moved on to the Scandinavian men’s lodgings and attacked the first man they saw. Police reinforcements were called, and the Blacks retreated to their own lodgings followed by a crowd of Scandinavians, Irish and Russians. According to the Liverpool Watch Committee, the organisation responsible for the police, the crowd was starting to drift away when instructed to by the rozzers. When the police banged on the door, a Black man leaned out of the upstairs window and began shooting. Two cops were hit. Charles Wootton, who was suspected of being the perp, then tried escaping out the back. He made for the docks, followed by an angry crowd, where he either fell in or was pushed. 13 Blacks were later charged with attempted murder.

Webb states that Olasuga and Eddo-Lodge were aware of these details, but have deliberately edited them out in order to misrepresent Wootton’s death as a lynching. He also states that over the year as a whole, more Whites than Blacks were killed, and describes the riots in Cardiff which ended in the deaths of 2 Blacks and 2 Whites from the racial violence.

Now I share Brian’s and Gillyflower’s concerns about Tory bias. But here Webb cites his sources and urges people to look at them, rather than take his word for it. And if he’s right, this is a serious charge, because Webb claims that by doing so Eddo-Lodge and Olasuga are deliberately stoking up racial tension. Now Olasuga has suffered racial abuse himself. There was an interview with him in the Radio Times where he talked about having suffered racist bullying as a child. I wonder if the story about Wootton’s lynching is just a cherished Black myth, which is now so ingrained that it can’t be contradicted without provoking outrage from a Black community which believes in it wholeheartedly. Rather like the myth down here in Bristol that the local council has been covering up Bristol’s involvement in the slave trade. I also wonder if Eddo-Lodge and Olasuga edited out the details of Black violence because they were convinced that this was just the invention of biased White journalists. If Webb is correct, then it should cast real doubt over anything Eddo-Lodge and Olasuga have to say about race.

Now I’m very much aware that the Tories are trying to gain White working class support by turning them against Blacks. But the Black Lives Matter movement and Black historians and activists are making grotesque, racist claims about White history, identity and Whiteness. Peter Church, one of the critics of the idea of White fragility, in an interview with the American academic Benjamin Boyce, said he was concerned that the next step would be to move from attacking Whiteness to attacking Whites.

Apart from this, there is the general principle that history is important and you need to get the facts absolutely right, even if they run against received myths and ideas. The Black community in Britain does suffer from marginalisation, poor educational performance and job opportunities. But if the situation is ever to be corrected, it needs to be done with a respect for historical accuracy.

Even when, instead of a cosy narrative of Black victimhood, the reality is a more complex one of Black thuggery and violence.