We had a couple of days of sunshine up here – which was strange as it was July, school holidays and up here, is North Wales where things don’t tend to get sunny.

What was even stranger was that the sunshine co-incided with me having a few hours off work – so, I decided to play Crown Green Bowls at the municipal Crown Green Bowling Green near to the laundrette and gents hairdressers by Rhosmedri.

When I arrived, I wasn’t surprised to see Klara and Johanna Soderberg out of First Aid Kit – they often like to play a jack or two down Wrexham when they’re touring these parts.

‘Alright,’ I said. But it was instantly clear that the Swedish sisters had no intention in engaging in pleasantries or our usual banter about Scandinavian cake – ‘what the fuck has happened to Allthatsleft?’ said Klara holding her Memphis rhinestone cowboy hat in one hand and her 2lb 2oz wood in the other.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, slightly intimidated by the ferocity of the exchange, after all, I’ll never forget that night down the Connah’s Quay British Legion, when an innocuous argument about whether Johnny Cash sold out his Country roots, ended up in a rather nasty incident with the girls fighting back to back against half a dozen locals.

‘You know what we mean,’ replied Johanna, ‘you haven’t posted a song in weeks.’

I mumbled an excuse, proffered a weasly explanation about work and how we’re all thoroughly depressed by the state of the world, but I could tell they weren’t interested.

‘Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros,’ said Klara and she walked off, scowling at a couple of the lads from the over 70s league as she walked across their game.

I looked it up.

It’s a belter.

{ 1 comment }

Jeremy Corbyn and the Cult of Personality

by George_East on July 25, 2016

imagesBattle is joined. After Angela Eagle had the balls to step up and challenge Corbyn for the Labour leadership and then nobly stood aside for Owen Smith so there was a unity challenger, we now have maybe the last chance to save the Labour Party as a coherent political force. Something that after Brexit and the change of Prime Minister, the country desperately needs.

The huge surge in registered supporters last week – over 180,000 applying in the 48 hour window, shows how much it is recognised that this contest matters. To give you a sense of scale and despite the 8-fold increase in cost, compare this figure to the fact that the number of £3 registered supporters in the Labour election last year was more like 100,000 (and that was seen as wholly unprecedented).

But the fact that there is even a leadership election is still in this most extraordinary of political years, itself extraordinary. There is simply no precedent for a party leader to lose the confidence of over 80% of his own parliamentary party and simply ignore it and carry on (Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister in 1990 after losing the support of 40% of the parliamentary Conservative Party). Equally, there is no precedent for a situation in which a major party leader is incapable of even filling the necessary shadow ministerial positions to function as a parliamentary opposition. Corbyn’s leadership of Labour as a parliamentary party is dead – whatever happens in the leadership election. His re-election will result either in a split or, more likely, the continuation of the recent farce, of effectively an opposition within the opposition (it may result in a bit of both – with some MPs figuring that there is no point continuing to pretend and defecting or setting up their own parliamentary party, given they are going to face re-selections anyway under a re-elected Corbyn).  However you look at it, this will be a disaster for the forces of political progress in this country.

Yet, this political reality seems to make no impact whatever on Corbyn’s supporters within the Labour Party. The PLP is now, like the Tories, the enemy. In fact they are, in the eyes of Corbynistas, even more the enemy – the language is of ‘Blairite scum’, ‘traitors’, or in the eyes of the more swivel eyed (including Len McCluskey) infiltrators sent by MI5 to undermine the Great Leader.   The fact that history has taught time and time again in British politics, that a divided party is a recipe for  electoral defeat, is not only not heeded but not relevant.   As Momentum head honcho and leading Corbynista, Jon Lansmann revealed recently this is not about winning elections but building a ‘social movement’.   In this light, the PLP are, by definition irrelevant, decadent even, as the politics that matters takes place on the streets not in the House of Commons.   Of course, this kind of politics can only actually effect change (rather than make a noise about it) either by being in a position to pass laws through Parliament which does require winning elections or by revolution. Students of history will know that revolutions are not exactly 10 a penny in this country and you are likely to have a mighty long wait if that is what you are aiming for.

The polls that have been taken so far in the leadership contest suggest that Corbyn will, despite this, win handily. The polls also suggest that even Labour voters prefer Theresa May to Jeremy Corbyn as  Prime Minister, and give Corbyn the worst approval ratings of any opposition leader in history.   The division is now between Corbyn and the membership on the one hand and the PLP and Labour voters on the other. On the one side a few hundred thousand, on the other (based on 2015 figures) 9.3 million. The maths should make the whole thing a no brainer.

Instead the reports are of huge numbers of fervent pro-Corbyn supporters at rallies across the land. Those seeking to suggest that a more electorally palatable option might be in the interests of those who Labour purports to represent are met with dark talk of conspiracy.  Those who oppose Corbyn for whatever reason (even his former supporters within the PLP) are abused, and violence and threats of violence abound.     When Angela Eagle’s office had a brick through the window combined with abusive calls to her staff, Corbyn’s supporters were quick to point out that the smashed window was actually on a communal stairwell (Eagle’s offices being in a shared building) as if the likely explanation was random vandalism, despite the coincidence with the abusive calls.  This intimidatory thuggery has more in common with the the modus operandi of fascist movements of the 1930s than a progressive political force of the centre left.

Indeed the inability of Corbyn’s supporters to see any flaws whatever in the man and to excuse anything that is done in his name or by his supporters, suggests not so much a political movement, as a form of religious cult. Of course the two things are not wholly exclusive –  there are more similarities between the Corbyn phenomenon and the Donald Trump phenomenon in the US than the former’s supporters would ever be prepared to admit. Everything is the fault of the mass media and conspirators in his own party against him. The man himself is a saint like figure speaking the truth to power.

Seamus Milne, Corbyn’s advisor has a history of praising Stalin, Diane Abbott, one of the MPs closest to Corbyn, has praised Mao as a net good. The cult of personality has always had its place on the (anti-democratic) left (on a more mundane level, look at all those Che Guevara tee-shirts and posters that lefty students have sported over the years).   It’s reemergence now in the form that it has though has every chance of being the final death of the Labour Party.  That is something that all who care about progressive politics in this country can only view with utter horror.

{ 1 comment }

Cine-East Film Club Presents #69: 1971, Wake In Fright (Ted Kotcheff)

July 23, 2016

John Grant: ‘What do you do?’ Doc Tydon: ‘I drink’ The title is misleading. This is not a horror movie. Well  maybe it is in a way, but it is certainly not a horror movie in a traditional sense. There isn’t actually a bad character in it, let alone an evil one. Pretty much every […]

Read the full article →

#1082: 1977, Suicide, Ghost Rider

July 23, 2016

Last week saw the sad death of Alan Vega, the lead singer of New York electronic punk act, Suicide, who have so far never had a song in Songs To Learn and Sing. With their minimalistic electronic sounds and repetitive drum machine backing, Suicide were in their way almost as influential as Kraftwerk. Famous for […]

Read the full article →

Euro 2016: Well done Wales and why England are so woeful….

July 18, 2016

Let’s take some brief morsel of respite from our increasingly bizarre world and consider the recent European Football Championships. I predicted before the competition that the last four would comprise of Poland, Italy, Germany and France – I got two right, but the Poles and Italians, who both looked good in the group stage, perished […]

Read the full article →

Will You Be My Running Mate?

July 14, 2016

To take my mind off the car crash that is British politics, and the Labour Party in particular, I am having a look at the key decision that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be taking over the next eight days on the eve of the two parties’ conventions: who will stand to be […]

Read the full article →

Does Jeremy Corbyn Need the Support of 51 MPs to be on the Leadership Ballot?

July 11, 2016

By the end of Wednesday we will have a new Prime Minister, as Theresa May succeeds David Cameron, without challenge. The Tories will to power is once again triumphant – they made the mistake once in 2001, choosing IDS over Ken Clarke – we know now that they won’t make it again. Andrea Leadsom will […]

Read the full article →

I was wrong about Jeremy….

July 11, 2016

This time last year, I embarked upon a short-lived and rather embarrassing Summer romance. I was tired with my relationship, bored with doing the usual things and listening to the same old stories; I wanted something new and exciting, I wanted something different. I wanted that button popping passion that comes an illicit and dangerous […]

Read the full article →

Labour’s Catch 22

July 10, 2016

Given that there is now going to be a leadership challenge to Jeremy Corbyn, as he refuses to stand down despite losing the confidence of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the position seems to be: (i) Labour’s NEC implementing the Rules keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot (as he will not be able to get the […]

Read the full article →

Some Initial Thoughts On Chilcot and the Legailty of the Iraq War

July 7, 2016

As if we haven’t had enough to be thinking about in the last couple of weeks, Sir John Chilcot chose this week of all the weeks in the seven years he has been writing his report on the Iraq war to release his report.  The media has focused heavily on the report’s criticisms of Tony […]

Read the full article →

#1081: 1957, Elvis Presley, Jailhouse Rock

July 7, 2016

A couple of reasons for my pick today.  Firstly I went to see Elvis & Nixon with Jackie South last Sunday.  A small but entertaining enough film (with a superb performance by Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon) about the bizarre true story of the King of Rock N Roll turning up announced at the White […]

Read the full article →

Britain. Stop it now. Go home. You’re drunk.

July 6, 2016

Britain. Stop it now. Go home. You’re drunk. Success lies in the choices. And when you are drunk, you tend to make some pretty stupid choices. Our choice on June 23rd was a spectacularly stupid choice. Voting to leave the EU is a bit like what happens when you try and fix a faulty watch […]

Read the full article →

What, in the name of God, is going on?

June 30, 2016

Right, so let’s get this right…. The Tories don’t like Europe, but some Tories dislike it an awful lot more than others. So, David Cameron, to try to unite his party and take the steam out of UKIP (and for that matter the more pro-European Labour and Lib-Dems), declares that he will hold a referendum […]

Read the full article →

#1080: 2016, Meilyr Jones, Refugees

June 23, 2016

Our ‘europop’ theme on Songs To Learn And Sing has faltered and lacking inspiration for it myself I’ve decided to post this instead – a beautiful, touching song from my current favourite album, 2013. In some uncertain indirect way it feels appropriate on this big political day with so much at stake. PS Bear with […]

Read the full article →

Why I’ll Be Voting Remain

June 21, 2016

We are now only 40 hours or so from polls opening on the most momentous vote the British public has been asked to take since, well since last time we were asked to vote on this very same issue in 1975. The difference is, of course, this time it looks very close indeed. Given the […]

Read the full article →

The EU isn’t perfect, but it is so much better than the alternative

June 20, 2016

Of the All That’s Left gang, I was the one who hadn’t made my mind up on the day the EU Referendum was called. After all, the criticism that the EU is not that democratic and instead is a club where deals get made behind the scenes is a fair one. What is worse, it […]

Read the full article →

Week 24: Villain – Donald Trump

June 19, 2016

Last Week’s Villain of the Week was Donald Trump This is an Award we can be pretty sure that Donald Trump is going to win a lot between now and the General Election on the first Tuesday of November. He is the most egotistical, most bigoted and least suited candidate to have won the candidacy […]

Read the full article →

Villain: Week 23 – Tyson Fury

June 19, 2016

Villain of the Week for 2 weeks ago was Tyson Fury Tyson Fury is obviously a very talented boxer. But sadly he is also a bigot. He has in the past made a series of anti-semitic, misogynistic and homophobic comments.   Sadly, despite the controversy around his nomination for BBC Sports Personality of the Year for […]

Read the full article →

Week 22: Villain – Alexander Gauman

June 19, 2016

Week 22’s Villain of the Week Award went to Alexander Gauland, the Deputy leader of the AfD We are a few Villain of the Week Awards behind. This is wholly down to me and a crazy month. But in an attempt to catch up and rather pertinently given both the nasty racist rhetoric of a […]

Read the full article →

By-Election Special: Tooting

June 15, 2016

Today sees the by-election in Tooting following the resignation of Sadiq Khan as he takes on the Mayoralty of London Much of the talk about today’s Tooting by-election has been about the tightness of the result last year. Without the advantage of Sadiq Khan’s 11 years’ incumbency, is Labour in trouble in this part of south […]

Read the full article →

Week 24: Prat – Sarah Wollaston MP

June 15, 2016

This week, Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston wins our regular award for prattish behaviour It is, of course, entirely acceptable for politicians to change their mind. That is particularly true of course if they change their mind to agree with me, for example deciding to vote Remain rather than Leave in next week’s EU referendum. It […]

Read the full article →

Week 24: Hero – Welsh Football Fans

June 15, 2016

Last week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to the 50,000 Welsh football fans who gathered in France to celebrate their nation’s first appearance at a major football tournament for 58 years. I hope that this award doesn’t signal the kiss of death for the Welsh fans, because, thus far, they’ve been amazing, a source […]

Read the full article →

#1079: 2005, Tiësto, Adagio for Strings

June 10, 2016

Welcome to the second song in our Euro 2016 / EU Referendum Europop theme week. Adagio for Strings by Dutch DJ Tiësto was released in January 2005. The song is a cover of the original composition by classical composer Samuel Barber. It was voted by Mixmag readers as the second greatest dance record of all […]

Read the full article →

Back Of The Net Special with Ray North: The Euros

June 10, 2016

It finally happened. Last night, whilst watching a documentary on S4C about the, sadly forgotten and neglected 1976 Wales European Championship team (Toshack, Leighton James, Brian Flynn etc), I got my first Euros tingle. I’m hoping that it will now work like a party which you haven’t really wanted to go to, but turns out […]

Read the full article →

#1078: 1993, Haddaway, What is Love?

June 9, 2016

Oh yes! C’est Oui! Ja Ja! Siiii! (er I’m struggling now) It’s a uniquely Eurotastic time for all of us! Tomorrow the European Championships start (I’m actually struggling to get enthused about them), and next week is the Euro Referendum (I’m starting to worry about my will to live on that score as well). So […]

Read the full article →

Week 23: Hero – Mohammed Ali

June 9, 2016

Last week’s Hero without doubt, former Heavy Weight Champion of the World, Mohammed Ali. Mohammed Ali died last week. A man who has been a hero in three decades of illness as he was in the previous three decades of near physical perfection. Mohammed Ali is one of those few sportsmen who managed to transcend […]

Read the full article →

Bernie: It’s Time To Back Hillary

June 6, 2016

Tomorrow’s batch of primaries will see Hillary Clinton secure the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency. I’ll explain that in a bit more detail below, and why that is the right result. The bigger story though will be how the supporters of Bernie Sanders react. * * * * * But first, a quotation from […]

Read the full article →

Week 23: Prat – David Cameron

June 6, 2016

This week’s prat award once again goes to David Cameron for his half-arsed attempts to convince British voters to stay in the EU. After watching David Cameron get grilled by a selected studio audience on why Britain should stay in the EU, I was left with the impression that he simply cannot deal with any […]

Read the full article →

How I’ll be voting in the EU referendum: Ray North

June 4, 2016

I’ve always had my reservations about the EU. Not because I have a problem about Poles, Portuguese or Albanians coming to live in my town – far from it, I was brought up to have no fear of other cultures and so I fight the instinct to wrap myself up in the familiarity of my […]

Read the full article →

Week 22: Hero – Barack Obama

June 3, 2016

This week, the US president wins our regular award for heroism We will miss Barry O when his term of office ends in less than eight months time. Whilst he has occasionally stumbled, by and large he has been a class act. Last week was another demonstration of that: during his tour of Japan and Vietnam, he […]

Read the full article →