#1033: 1971, Led Zeppelin, The Battle of Evermore

by Jackie_South on July 2, 2015

Regular readers of our blog will know that we often mark the deaths of musicians by posting one of their songs. Regular readers might also have anticipated that one musical demise that we were likely to overlook was yesterday’s death of Val Doonican. Relaxed crooning, comedy songs, rocking chairs and colourful jumpers are not quite All That’s Left‘s style.

However, reading up on Doonican today, I discovered that he contributed towards the harmonies of The Battle of Evermore. This unlikely collaboration resulted from the involvement of Doonican’s and Robert Plant’s mutual friend, Sandy Denny, who duets with Plant on this track from Led Zeppelin IV.

Even if the lyrics might be overly Tolkien-influenced (sorry, George), The Battle of Evermore is a song of beauty and a distinct departure from Zeppelin‘s more typical fare, with its mandolin, acoustic guitar and its folky call-and-response between Plant and Denny. Even if Doonican’s role might be less apparent, he played his part too in this delicate piece.

Val Doonican, RIP.

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Left Wing Reasons for Leaving the EU

by Charlie_East_West on July 1, 2015

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Should Britain remain in the EU? Yes or No?

Pretty soon we will be asked that question in a referendum. As someone who feels European and is proud of the fact that we live on this wonderful continent of huge diversity and culture, my heart will always be towards as Yes vote.

Increasingly however, I have some nagging doubts on our EU membership. We should not be subjected to exclusive ownership of such doubts as expressed by the extreme right wingers in the Tory Party or UKIP – who have a series of anti-EU narratives framed by all the wrong reasons, such as the flow of migrants to the UK or British returns on EU investment. The argument against the EU should come from both sides. There is also a strong left-wing argument why Britain should leave the EU.

Left-wingers such as Reverend Giles Fraser and even the late Tony Benn and Bob Crow have expressed huge misgivings about the legitimacy and credibility of EU membership. Sadly however, very few left wingers are brave enough to raise their heads above the parapet and highlight their doubts on the EU – quite possibly because they would be seen to be in an ideological agreement with the right-wingers. If so, this is a lazy and cowardly approach to take. Being pro-EU because the likes of Nigel Farage or John Redwood are against it is inverted and narrow minded political snobbery. An open opinion on the EU should be so much bigger and bolder than this. It shouldn’t come down to deep rooted tribalism. It should come down to an individual deciding what is the correct thing to do.

Being anti-EU is not about being a xenophobic right-winger. Being anti-EU should be about a progressive campaign for democracy, accountability and freedom. It should be about highlighting when something isn’t working, and offering a better, more progressive alternative path.

There is compelling evidence to show that currently, the EU just isn’t working.
The EU is an increasingly plutocratic neoliberal network that will potentially destroy many public assets for private sector gain – such as the threat from TTIP to the NHS. The EU (as shown in their debt bullying of Greece) adopts an austerity-on-steroids approach to fiscal policy. Currently, the EU is yet another massive governmental organisation controlled by the puppeteers of big business. A slow coup towards EU corporatism and yet another plundering opportunity for multinationals has occurred. Again, TTIP gives off more than a strong whiff of this. Through the slow corporately influenced dynasty of the EU, we have all been sleepwalking towards another vehicle for corporate globalisation.

The pro-EU spin is that the EU is somehow the same thing as being European. This complete propaganda, hoodwinking and utter nonsense. The same nonsense also applies to the perceived wisdom that being anti-EU is to be “anti-European”.

There is actually a counter-argument that by opposing the EU, it makes you pro-European. If Europe is fundamentally about people, culture and the celebration of a continental diversity, then surely it would be more in keeping with this ethos that each member state becomes a proper democracy again. Better that than having a secret decision making process that is often undemocratic, unaccountable and offering up zealous neoliberal policies such as TTIP and austerity bullying on economically weaker Eurozone States such as Greece.

The EU has huge flaws which are unlikely to be resolved, or indeed successfully renegotiated by the likes of David Cameron. It is currently culpable for poor democracy, the public sector asset stripping threat from TTIP, EU helping to stir up the crisis in Ukraine, the massive fault lines in the single currency and subsequent debt repayments that have caused millions of people to suffer across Europe.

The referendum will see another version of Project Fear whipped up by big business and certain sections of the UK media. UK/EU Trade being one of them. It has long been argued by pro-EU supporters that our ability to trade would be diminished by leaving the EU. Really? Currently, 15% of our GDP is linked to exports to the EU. Even in the advent of a No vote, this trade is likely to continue, and also we will hardly lose the ability to develop stronger trading links with the rest of the world – the freedom to trade through an ever increasingly globalisation process will ensure this.

But, we need to flesh out all the arguments with due diligence and an open mind on this huge issue. Right-wingers should not be allowed to exclusively own this space with their own worst arguments on why we should leave the EU. Their arguments are actually counter intuitive reasons why we should stay in the EU. The progressive anti-EU arguments that really need to fleshed out are the ones that most left-wingers are still not elaborating upon. Whisper it, there is a progressive case for leaving the EU – based on open-minded left-wing concerns rather than just insular right-wing concerns.

The EU does however have many benefits – in terms of freedom of migrant movement, security, human rights and funding mechanisms for poorer regions. These are a fantastic set of values that reflect favourably on the EU. It is these values that I cling to when I think of the EU and if I were voting on the in/out EU referendum today, I would hold my nose and vote Yes….just.

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#1032: 2003, The Handsome Family, Far From Any Road

June 30, 2015

I suppose you get to a certain age, and you take your new music whenever and wherever you can get it – long gone, alas, are the days, when I would crave new band and new sounds and try to impress my mates with some great new sound that I had discovered (to be honest, […]

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Allthatsleft Book Club #12 – Tibur Vermes, Look Who’s Back

June 30, 2015

This is a really, really troubling book – as hilarious as it is edgy and dangerous, as clever as it is crass and worrying. The premise is this: Adolf Hitler hasn’t actually died he’s been asleep, in a field in Berlin, and one day, in 2012, he wakes up. And, having been asleep for nigh […]

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Week 26: Hero – Supreme Court of the United States (or at least the majorities)

June 29, 2015

Last Week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to the supreme judicial body of the United States for two important decisions There have been so many dark moments for the Supreme Court of the United States in the last decade and a half.  Ever since the disgraceful decision in Bush v Gore which saw 5 […]

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Week 26: Global Terrorists

June 28, 2015

This week’s villain of the week award goes to the terrorists who conducted a series of terrorist attacks in Kuwait City, Lyons and on a beach in a resort in Tunisia. Bastards. The lot of them. Whether on a Tunisian beach packed full of summer season tourists, at prayer in Kuwait, or in the daily […]

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Michael Gove Puts On His Wig

June 28, 2015

This week Michael Gove announced his plans for the Legal Justice System – there will be no more cuts to Legal Aid, he said, which has been applauded by most Legal Aid lawyers, but in reality is pretty meaningless, the cuts have already been made and they’re savage. He went on to say that he […]

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Week 26: Prat – Senator Ted Cruz

June 28, 2015

This week, the junior senator from Texas wins our apparently much coveted prize for being the biggest prat of the last seven days “Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history” Is this statement Ted Cruz, Texan senator and Republican presidential candidate hopeful, uttered on Friday on rightwinger Sean Hannity’s radio programme […]

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#1031: 1990, Ride, Seagull

June 25, 2015

So three weekends back was the annual allthatsleft trip to Field Day in Victoria Park – the boutique festival that has now evolved into a Saturday of new acts and a Sunday focused around headline performances from some great more established artists.  Well, when I say it was an allthatsleft trip I really mean that […]

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A New Model of Austerity: How to Eliminate the Deficit and Remove the Debt

June 25, 2015

Austerity isn’t working. Since the Tories came into power in 2010, the national debt has almost doubled to a staggering £1.5 trillion. The Tories have created more debt in five years than the entire period of the 1997-2010 Labour government. In fact, the Tories have created more debt than all Labour governments combined. – The […]

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Week 25: Hero – Jon Stewart

June 22, 2015

This Week’s Hero is the comedian and presenter of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart. Another day, another horrible massacre involving a young American sociopathic gun-totting racist, killing a clutch of innocent people. This time it was in Charleston, South Carolina (a place I’ve visited actually, and liked a lot), and the gun-totting lunatic was the […]

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#1030: 2000, The Be Good Tanyas, The Littlest Birds

June 22, 2015

This is my first song choice since a recent wedding anniversary, so this one is for Ms West. Pretty sure this is one of her favourites.

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Week 25: Prat – National Rifle Association

June 21, 2015

The National Rifle Association (NRA) of the USA wins our award this week for being the biggest prats of the last seven days It perhaps is no great surprise that the NRA’s response to the horrific murder of nine churchgoers at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was as asinine as it was offensive. The […]

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Week 25: Villain – The Eurozone & IMF

June 21, 2015

Greece says it will run out of money at the end of the month if a deal with its creditors the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cannot be reached. So, this week’s villain of the week award goes to the Eurozone and IMF for their constant infantilisation […]

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Labour’s Leadership Blues

June 19, 2015

I know that my mate Charlie has already posted about the Labour Leadership election today, but I wanted to add my twopennyeth as well. You see, the health of the Labour party is a massively important matter for all of us, even those like me, who didn’t actually put their cross in the People’s Party’s […]

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Labour Leadership: The Zero Sum Game of Liz Kendall

June 19, 2015

The battle for the Labour leadership is a dispiriting affair. The campaign is too long (allowing the Tories to ratchet up their own nasty set of early parliamentary policies with little opposition) and the campaign offers not much in the way of big ideas and long term vision on how to make Labour a political […]

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#1029: 1984, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Two Tribes

June 16, 2015

It is 1984. Frankie Goes To Hollywood have just had a humongous hit with Relax. I am 10 years old. My entire school is singing the lyrics from Relax, blissfully unaware of their meaning. For a few months, they are the biggest pop band in the world. So what do they do? They follow it […]

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Week 24: Prat – Sir Tim Hunt

June 15, 2015

This Week’s Prat of the Week is the Nobel Bio-Chemist Sir Tim Hunt This is by no means a scientific hypothesis, you know, I’m prepared to argue the toss about it – but, it appears to me that if you have the surname Hunt, you are statistically more likely to win our Prat of the […]

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Nailing the Lie – Seriously Good From Paul Krugman

June 15, 2015

Just read this (particularly if you are a candidate for the Labour leadership) and link to it.  That’s all.

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #65: 1958, Dracula (Terence Fisher)

June 14, 2015

Count Dracula: ‘Sleep well, Mr Harker’ Christopher Lee was the Count Dracula I first knew and the one I grew up with. In fact so far as I was concerned as a kid he was Count Dracula. His portrayal of Bram Stoker’s blood-sucking creature of the night is still the one that I judge others […]

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#1028: 2014, Sleaford Mods, Tiswas

June 14, 2015

I’m not suite sure whether “Party Leadership Contender” week on Songs to Learn and Sing is over (I thought there was another song to come), but Ray thinks it is and that’s good enough for me. Given I thought the next song was mine, I had lined up “Burn ‘Em All” (Burn ‘Em = Burnham, gettit?) […]

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Week 24: Hero – Hillary Clinton

June 14, 2015

This Week’s Hero of the Week is Democratic Party Presidential Nomination Contender, Hillary Clinton on the occasion of the formal launch of her bid for the Presidency Among the rather depressing spectacle of the candidates for the leadership of the Labour Party falling over themselves to embrace big business and Tory economic policy in order […]

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Week 24: Villain – The IPCC

June 14, 2015

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) wins our weekly award for the greatest villains of the last seven days My gran, as many grans do, had fairly socially conservative ideas, even if she did always voted Labour. Among those views was that you should always trust a policeman. That all changed on 18 June 1984. […]

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#1027: 1987, The Wedding Present, Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft

June 10, 2015

Well, I started the STLAS theme week, with a classic Undertones song dedicated to Norman Lamb, and now I’m going to finish off with a classic Wedding Present song, dedicated to three Labour MPs who are, in one way or another concerned with the current contests for Labour leader and deputy. First, bless him, Ed […]

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Trainspotting Guide to the Tories

June 9, 2015

Since the Tories won the election, I have felt angry, saddened and disheartened by the consistently bad choices that voters (predominantly in the South of England) make. I have come to the conclusion that the South of England is locked into the mindset of perpetual right-wing ideology and brainwashed by a cabal of political elite, […]

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Week 23: Prat – Sepp Blatter

June 8, 2015

This week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to winner of the FIFA Presidential Election – Sepp Blatter Sepp, Sepp, Sepp – what were you playing at? For years, the allegations have been rumbling, the fingers have been pointing, the assertions have been made. You have ignored them all. You have chosen to brazenly cling […]

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Week 23: Villain – Senator Ted Cruz

June 8, 2015

This Week’s Villain of the Week is Senator Ted Cruz for his ‘joke’ at the expense of a mourning Vice President Joe Biden  Two Saturdays ago Beau Biden, military veteran and former Attorney General of Delaware and Vice President Joe Biden’s son lost his battle with brain cancer and died. President Obama had this to […]

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Week 23: Hero – Charlotte Church

June 7, 2015

Our hero of the week award goes to Charlotte Church for saying that she would pay 70% income tax if it meant protecting public services. Charlotte Church has become the leader of the opposition. While Labour continue to lick their wounds and hunt for a political compass after a catastrophic election defeat, Charlotte Church has […]

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#1026: 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Proud Mary

June 3, 2015

Despite how the media has it, it’s not just Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper you know.  Old beardy bicycling leftie, Jeremy Corbyn announced his Labour leadership bid today and then there is Mary Creagh.  Exactly.  I consider myself someone who follows politics reasonably closely (when I can bear to look) and I’d barely […]

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Tendering and the Death of the High Street Solicitor

June 3, 2015

At the moment Solicitors up and down the Country are waiting to hear if they’ve been successful in the tendering process to obtain a Legal Aid Franchise. This might seem like a fairly dull topic for a Wednesday afternoon blog, but, it’s a subject close to my heart and it should be close to yours […]

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