Over the last week I’ve been “contributing” to Guardian articles in the comments area, but all it does is perturb me – utterly inane discussions about education cuts, immigration and the like, and the impression that the thirties are slowly but surely coming around again…

On the issue of education – when I went to Poly/University there was still a general understanding that access to education was for everyone who had the ability to complete the course, but that access would be affordable. The ideal behind it, of course, was that education should be free, entirely funded by taxes.

This view slowly changed as I started and Thatcher began cutting into the welfare state, but it was twenty years later under a Labour government, that substantial fees were introduced, and they began to wonder why working-class participation in education began to plummet. Now the middle-class are up in arms with talk about at least doubling fees, with a minimum (sorry, maximum) of 21000 pounds for a BA/BSC degree. Workers comment that this is a good thing since they are no longer prepared to fund degrees from which they don’t benefit, as if they were personally responsible for allocating their taxes. Everyone thinks of education as personal gain, ignoring any benefit education brings to society as a whole. But the idea of “free” education has flown the coop – depressing. But Britain does get to keep Trident – very useful.

Immigration – almost too sickening to write about. An Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, was smothered to death during deportation by his private guards. What was perturbing was the general view of other commentators that this was sad, but that was the price we had to pay for dealing with immigration. Except that we didn’t pay for it, Jimmy Mubenga paid for it with his life. As I said, perturbing.

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Little Girl Lost

Have I really been away that long? It seems like years to me, and I feel guilty that I didn’t sign off or say that I’ll be away, but I didn’t know it would go on this long…

I have been in a turmoil about how to carry on with my blog – apparently if I put stuff up it’s no longer eligible for submission in a lot of magazines, which is fair enough considering they only want to show things which haven’t been seen before. But then I found I lost my motivation to keep writing in the blog, and even worse, found I was writing less as I looked into that black hole waiting for people to answer – it takes months. I can even understand this, as magazines and competitions are deluged with submissions, but I am an impatient person and waiting hurts almost as much as rejection.

And then two things happened –
1. I thought fuck it! which is always a good sign, and decided to do what I want, which isn’t always so good, but so what, so I’ll just be a bit more selective about what I put up in the blog – i.e. not the stuff I’ll be submitting, which means it’s not the best stuff, but at least it’s something.
2. but this is really weird – I had a dream! That’s a good thing too, because it shows that I’m sleeping, but I dreamt that the fascists were marching through Germany and all my friends were yelling at me to publish this on my blog and this is the real reason why I’m blogging today, to make sure that my dream doesn’t come true (fat chance of that).
Now if people think I’m being alarmist, just look across the way to France and what’s happening to the Roma, or here in Germany, with all the talk of integrating foreigners, and whatever that might bring with it (questionnaires, language tests, deportation because you squashed an umlaut) and maybe you’ll see things differently.
It’s funny – only three months ago the banks were still the guilty party, but strangely they have faded into the background and calls for bonus taxes or regulation are as ever met with threats that the banks will move away. So, instead of calling this fairly obvious bluff governments are turning their attention to that age-old cause of all woes – the foreigner! So I might have been away a long time, but things haven’t really changed that much…

But this particular foreigner is determined to make a good time of it, and has been sashaying across the Mediterranean in a beautiful pea green boat – okay, a week in Majorca with a couple of days sailing – but it was great, and a stormy sea helped me write this sad little ditty: Little Girl Lost

So now the wrangling begins. But what did anyone really expect from a set of parties short on ideas (what we used to call policies) and big on bluster? Hell, you know that Clegg can work better with Cameron than with Brown because he looks the better of the two, and is maybe a bit nicer, but in terms of ideas, let’s face it, there is nothing to pick and choose between the two. I would even go so far as to say a Tory – Labour – LibDem coalition still wouldn’t make a difference as to what’s going to happen. We could call it the bcc coalition.

So what’s on the agenda then? You only have to look across the waters to Greece to see what’s on the cards – a slide in Britain’s credit rate, market turmoil, pale faces and accusations followed by cuts, big style. And where? Well, who always pays when the going gets tough? That’s right – the poor ones – the pensioners, the unemployed, the students, the sick on the one hand, and the people who service them on the other, nurses, civil servants, teachers etc.

And what exactly will they be paying for? The massive hole in the world economy left by the banking fiasco at the end of this decade which Western governments were forced to shore up because they were too afraid to take on the banking community and reform their inherently corrupt systems.

And meanwhile, the banks are making money again…

So I’ll leave you all with a post election question – just exactly who will the future bcc coalition actually represent? Of one thing you can be sure of, it won’t be me.

An Old Man and his Balcony

I’ve been following developments in the British election over the last few weeks, the most radical event being the introduction of American style television debate among the party leaders – and that’s it. The best they could come up with? A facile copy of a debatable electionary tool, and such is the sheepish nature of the electorate, it really looks as if the whole election has actually turned around this puerile event – Nick Clegg redeeming himself to become a front runner, and let’s be honest, looking at the younger candidates, old Brown is just too old, too jaded, too stuffy to win this game. And did they have coherent, workable answers to the questions being put – of course not, not one of them, but that’s not the point, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that they look as if they had the answers.

Take a little step back and what do you see – three besuited middle aged men puffed up discreetly with makeup, gestures buffed up with training sessions in how to emphasise this, to undermine that, repeating scripted phrases in an absurd simulation of authenticity, each one trying desperately to convince us that their act is more real than the next.

So what does it mean when one of them comes out on top. It means that either a Nick, or a David, or a Mr. Brown, okay, definitely not Mr. Brown, is the best actor of the lot, the most convincing in his chosen role. The substance, what they stand for, is by and large immaterial.

These are stylised politicians, politicians trying to be actors pretending to be politicians, and when we actually try and find the difference between them we are left with a tiny set of nuances, he’s a bit older, he’s a bit fresher, he’s a bit sharper, but in reality they’re all the same, constructed in the slickened image of a presidential politician devised by the various media experts floating nervously in the background. And when a bit of reality enters the scuffle, it’s a disaster – we’re all shocked, flabbergasted and outraged at the two-faced bigot who snubs his electorate – and an off the cuff remark, a plainly stupid aside given the electoral recording machine, becomes a downfall – never mind whether he was right or not.

Far worse, of course, than the candidates medial homogeneity, is the absence of any substantial difference in policy. Whatever happens, whoever gets in, by focusing on style what one ensures, what a ruling elite can ensure, is that the status quo remains the same.

Another very disturbing piece of news this week is that they’re planning to shut down Middlesex University’s renowned Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, where I studied many years ago. Closing it itself is a scandal given its world class research record and it’s not inconsiderable contribution to the University’s name and revenues. But it also seems to be a part of a wave of closures in Philosophy departments in Britain which, given the popularity of Philosophy among students, looks more and more like an attack on critical thought itself, fuelled by vacuous arguments that Philosophy is superfluous because it doesn’t help you get a job – as if learning and thinking is simply about getting a job, or as if Philosophy does not provide its students with a powerful set of analytical tools which are useful in any field. Best not to think about it, really.

If you want to support the department please sign this petition: save Middlesex Philosophy petition.

And that’s about all from me this week – all I’ve been doing is staring out of the window at the man across the way. Then I wrote a poem about it. You can read it here.

Cleaning

Yesterday was cleaning day, and, like the good houseman I am, that’s just what I did, the whole flat, from top to bottom, dusted, polished, scrubbed and shined, behind the pots and underneath the beds. Did I ever tell you I have a dust allergy….?

Anyway, I promised you all a poem about cleaning some weeks back, so I put my pen to paper, and tried putting myself in the position of a mother of two who has to do this everyday. See what you think here.

Depressing news – America sees the light and takes a big swing to the left, so what does Europe do? Swings to the right of course. Is this some kind of reactionary relationship between the electorates or are they actually planning to meet in the middle? Not that the middle ground is particularly appealing, but moderation does seem to be the message of the day.

Everyone over here keeps asking who’s going to pay for the deficit caused by banking crash, but no-one’s seriously thought about asking the banks for our money back, now they’re making a profit…