T-O-N-Y! You ain’t got no alibi. YOU TORY!

It’s difficult to know anything certain about modern politics. As Adam Curtis points out in his “Oh-Dearism” documentary, there is an emerging “strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused, a ceaseless shapeshifting that is unstoppable because it’s indefinable”. It’s diaphanous, a dark attic full of spider webs, and the intention of the political elite is to make sure you don’t understand.

Every now and again, though, a little light breaks through the murk, and lets us see what the machinating cluster of arachnids are up to.

It seems rather telling that the mainstream establishment is getting all shrill and scurrilous about Jeremy Corbyn. After the poll that said Corbyn would win the Labour leadership 6 points ahead of Andy Burnham, centrists, Blairites and Blairs fell over each other to slander the man himself, as unelectable, and then to scoff at his supporters. St. Tony of Baghdad, lobbyist to the shadows, left many reeling with indignation when he spoke to the think tank Progress on Wednesday. Let us not forget that there is a wide consensus that this man should be tried for war crimes, and yet he has the gall to tell others to get “a heart transplant”?! He appeared from his coffin, looking like a wax puppet from an American remake of a Japanese horror film, and condescended to the nation with talk of winning “from the centre” and the dangers of comfort blankets. The sheep-dog yapped and the flock bolted. Margaret Beckett described herself as a “moron” for supporting Corbyn’s candidacy. Yvette Cooper said she would never serve in a shadow cabinet lead by Corbyn. John McTernan suggested that two candidates should drop out of the race to create an “anyone-but-Corbyn” campaign. The barks and bleats have become deafening.

In a leadership election that should be defined by new rules that make it more democratic, it seems ironically undemocratic that this tactic of sabotage should be used from within the party. The momentum is with Corbyn. Doesn’t it show a huge arrogance, for the other leading Labour politicians, to flagrantly disregard what the most significant faction of Labour supporters are saying? Rather than denigrating the man’s personality and dragging their heels in New Labour mud, shouldn’t they recognise that what many people want is a party of real opposition to sit next to the SNP in the house of commons? And if the left-wing are so “unelectable”, please tell me how the SNP won all those seats?

I’m not sure that this hullabaloo is at all damaging to Corbyn’s campaign though. That conversation we were all having for the previous god-knows-how-long (you know, the one about the Westminster bubble and the London elite being out of touch; the one that resulted in massive election turn outs for the SNP and UKIP), it didn’t just go away because we had a general election. Right now, the more Jeremy Corbyn is held cheap by the establishment, the more he begins to look like an intriguing outsider, relatable, and unfazed with the squabbling in the political playground.

The inverse of Nigel Farage, he appears to be a cool-headed, honest, considerate man, one of the few modern politicians who doesn’t seem to have been trained in neuro-linguistic programming, unconflicted in his political views, and abstemious in his daily life. He is one of the only politicians of note that seems to truly recognise the dire inequality that exists in this country today and actually have a problem with it. There is something inherently virtuous about him, and that is a quality that can rally the support of a lot of people, and most importantly, a lot of young people. With the big three zero on the horizon for me, I don’t know if I still count as a “young person”. What I can say is that for the first time in my adult life there is a politician from a mainstream party who shares my views and those of most people I know, and also has a chance of actually doing something to create a shift in the paradigm, from corporate puppetry to conscientious societal representation.

The hysteria that has rendered certain members of the Labour party catatonic, and has the right wing press rubbing its hands together in glee, is ultimately based on nonsense. The fact is that this election is not for the position of king of kings but for the leader of a party of equals. No matter how far left Jeremy Corbyn is, if he is voted leader he will have to represent a party that is jam packed with shy Tories and Blairites. He would be dragged towards the centre ground anyway. But he would have galvanised the support of many disparate factions of society, who didn’t vote in the general election, or who voted UKIP, or maybe even some of those who voted Tory.

In the USA, Senator Bernie Sanders is currently running his presidential campaign for 2016. He is a firebrand, a self proclaimed democratic socialist, and support for him is snow-balling. He’s a straight talking realist who is committed to outing the perversions of the system and seems to be unafraid of standing up for the rights of individuals against those of corporations. At the official opening of his campaign in Vermont in May, he had one clear message to anyone who doubted his ability to win: “Don’t underestimate me.” It seems that it wasn’t until Jeremy Corbyn took the lead in the polls that the rest of the Labour party worked out not to underestimate him. It just might be that he is the right person to clean out the cobwebs and fix those attic lights.

T-O-N-Y! You ain’t got no alibi. YOU TORY!

Playing Bigot Whac-A-Mole

Voice of an angel, mouth of a __________ (insert your own faecally related insult here). Voice of an angel, brain of a ___________ (enter whatever imaginative metaphor you like; my favourite was “sponge” because, really, it’s a compliment). Voice of an angel, vagina of a / face of a / liver of a / intelligence of a… and so it goes on and on.

The I’m-alright-Jack right-wing are hilariously bad at coming back. I had never seen it so blatantly until I was castigated  for making a case against the government’s policy of austerity at the weekend. You’d be hard pushed to find a single Tory/Ukip zealot on social media who’s willing to put forward any valid argument to counter my opinion. Instead I’m called “a moron”, “a hypocrite”, “a cunt”, “a fat cunt, good tits though”, “a hard faced bitch”, SHOCK-HORROR “a potty-mouth”, CRIPES “a chav”, SAVAGERY “a silly cow”; It goes on and on and on.

I could keep myself awake at night, Arya Stark-ing it (“Katie Hopkins, Andrew RT Davies, Louise Mensch, Paul Staines, The Hound…”), but actually there’s some comfort to find in being the target of so much toothless abuse. It means I’m NOT useless. It means I have a purpose. I am a litmus test for bigotry. I’ll bring ‘em all out of their dank little caves. You may not like me, and that is entirely your prerogative. I’m far too long in the fang to worry about popularity; I’ve been doing this for ages now. But to detest me to such an extent that you would waste your time broadcasting said loathing means a) you have far too much time on your hands, haven’t you got candy to steal from babies, and b) I’ve got right up your goat.

So the standard laughing-tory response to any criticism by the left is “yeah, but, you’re stupid so…” Apparently a good argument for austerity is calling those who oppose it “illiterate”. One of the best logic-when-it-suits-you arguments I regularly have filling my twitter feed is some tripe about Labour being responsible for the GLOBAL financial crisis; like the uncontrollably capitalist Tories wouldn’t have deregulated the financial sector as well; like New Labour didn’t learn it all from Thatcher in the first place; like the Tories wouldn’t have made even more of a Jackson Pollock of it. I find this argument directed at me baffling frankly, as never have I come out in support of the Labour party. I voted for them in the general election, sure, because the Tories hold a marginal seat in the constituency I live in. I will never vote tactically again. It didn’t work and I wasted a vote that could have gone to the Greens or Plaid. I might consider supporting Labour in the future, maybe if they vote Jeremy Corbyn leader. Right now I’m sticking firmly unaligned. But of course anyone who doesn’t agree with the Express is a labourite, and is therefore directly responsible for the crash. It’s so bloody boring saying it again, but the banking crisis was caused by unregulated bankers. It was greed manifest. And punishing benefit claimants for the wealthy’s meltdown, whilst defunding legal aid to make it virtually impossible to appeal against the effects of this pitiless “belt-tightening”, is quite simply corrupt.

The most frustrating aspect of rightwing response to what the left have to say is that it’s flagrantly obvious that they haven’t been paying a blind bit of attention to the content. Anti-Islam campaigner, Douglas Murray perfectly illustrated this in a blog post he wrote in The Spectator on Monday. Rather than saying anything constructive at all, he condescends (whilst claiming that he isn’t doing so), calling my speech “fascinatingly over-written” and mocking my use of the phrase “neo-liberal vernacular”. Coz i iz #2stoopid. He derided me for stumbling over some of my sentences. I’m not a very competent public speaker and I’m fairly new to it in all honesty, but I do wonder when it was that Mr. Murray last spoke in front of a quarter of a million people, and whether he was nervous.

One point I made did get past the blinkers. It was that when the NHS was formed in 1948, the deficit to GDP ratio was significantly greater than it is now. He addressed me directly with a number of astonishingly patronising questions. Firstly, “Does Ms Church know why Britain was so in debt in 1948?” Yes Douglas, I do know. Then “Does she think that any of the debt accumulated in recent years has anything much to show by way of comparison?” Arguably you could say that the context is very different from the post-WW2 economy (although we have just spent the last 15 years fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which the Royal United Services Institute says cost us over £30billion), however the forming of the NHS gave the UK economy something to work with, much like FDR’s New Deal. Shouldn’t we be doing the same with green energy? The New Scientist says that if we cut carbon emissions as we said we would, 60% of 1990 levels by 2030, “the average household would be £565 better off.” Low-cost fuel, 190,000 jobs, and you get to save the planet. Telegraph journalist, Geoffrey Lean says that David Cameron’s government have “heavily cut back on energy efficiency measures, promoted a virtual free-for all for development in the countryside, resisted measures to combat deadly air pollution, initially cut spending on flood defences and promised to “go all out for shale” while declaring apparent war on onshore wind farms – and the Prime Minister himself has reportedly sworn to cut the “green crap”.”

The last question I was asked was: have I ever been to Greece? Yes I have. I’m going to work out with my lumbering concrete lefty brain that the tree you’re barking up is the Greek economy, which bears such little resemblence to our own as to make the comparison utterly bizarre. Considering that he just knocked me for putting forward an argument out of context he should maybe think about checking his work before he posts it.

There’s just a couple of other things I really feel I need to address here, and they are all to do with defamation. Guido Fawkes has revealed my deepest hypocrisy: I have an accountant. This is duplicity of the highest order; how can I possibly say that I’d pay 70% tax (when asked by a journalist, by the way, not something I wanted to become the story of that press conference) when I use an accountant; an accountant who says “Lowering and deferring tax is, of course, a key aim” on his website. Shame on me! Although, to be fair, this is not what I employ him for.

I’ve been invited to interview Pussy Riot at Glastonbury this weekend, and I’ll be partaking in a debate at the Leftfield stage with Shami Chakrabarti and Ken Livingstone. DISGRACE! £225 a ticket, oh yes, that’s very rich coming from a self-proclaimed prossecco socialist. “Why doesn’t she give all her money away if she cares so much?” “So I assume Charlotte Church has got a new record she wants to plug.” “Like she gives a fuck about Austerity” “Charlotte Church can fuck off and die!” “Just dip her tampons in petrol and set them alight…when inserted.” It goes on and on and on and on and…

Playing Bigot Whac-A-Mole

Anti-Austerity Rally Speech

It’s so heartening to see so many people here. I’m not going to take up much of your time. But I do want to talk to two specific groups today. The first is those economists, academics, journalists, lawyers, public figures, celebrities, artists, who consider themselves progressive. We need to stop genre defining our politics, and harking back to old ideologies, and start talking about the future of government, the future of democracy, our children’s future; how we can be innovative in our thinking, how we can captivate the attention of the disengaged demographics, and how we can re-engage those at the most disaffected desperate fringes of society who were convinced to vote for a new-age fascist party by “Chicken Licken” trickery from an ale-swilling, pinstripe, Enoch Powell.

One of the main reasons so many young people are turning towards the agendas of consumerist capitalism, is that it’s advocates have embraced the language of positivity even whilst championing the most radical deconstruction of society. David Cameron’s neoliberal vernacular is aspirational, it rewards entrepreneurship, there’s a romanticism about it. When I was a kid that romance was always a lefty thing. This model of capitalism is built on aspiration and driven by innovation. But my God, is it destructive. On the flip side of laissez-faire economics is the big lie, that this country needs tough management, harsh decision making, austerity. What this country needs is economic stimulation, most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping, and that cannot be achieved by stringing tourniquets around the limbs of social welfare. If a mother cannot afford to feed both her children does she choose one to feed and leave the other to starve? Of course she doesn’t. She will go without until those children are able to feed themselves. That is civilised, and moral. The fact remains that whilst those whose lives depend on the benefits they receive, those less fortunate people, that the Daily Mail would call scroungers, whilst they have their welfare severed, the government will sell off it’s stake, our stake in Royal Bank of Scotland at a scandalous rate so that their buddies in big business can turn over millions in profit from it within a matter of hours. They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. And once it’s done it will be very difficult to reverse.

One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package. I’m proud to be British because of our National Health Service, the welfare system, and David Bowie, not cos of the Union Jack! Nationalism has worked wonders for the Scots because it’s galvanised them against the Westminster elite. But rarely does pure nationalism have a positive effect, and more often than not it serves to veil racism. I’m not saying don’t be proud, I’m saying be proud for the right reasons.

We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from decades of Yuppie rule. And the way we do that is with fresh ideas, positive messages, new theories, engaging art, and more public figures sticking their heads above the parapet.

The second group I want to talk to today – is those who will be effected by austerity; austerity, that Cameron says should be a “permanent” aspect of British economics. Every single person in the country will be effected by austerity. Public services are needed by everybody. We all contribute, whether we can monetarily or not. Because contribution is not solely a fiscal matter, it is cultural, community based, academic, it is friendship, it is love. If you are a disabled person, unable to work, whose benefits are in danger of being cut, don’t you dare think that you don’t contribute. You’re existence brightens the lives of other people every single day, and that is worth so much more than the ability to pay tax. If you feel ashamed that you have to use a food bank because this government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall, you have the moral high ground.  There is only one way to fight the onslaught of crusading austerity, and that is to come together in unity. I want to urge everyone: go out into your communities and meet your neighbours. Find out what they think and try to see things from their point of view. If you can afford to offer help to those in society who need it, just do it. Don’t unfriend all those on Facebook who post things that you disagree with; challenge them, engage them in debate, but kindly and with reason on your side. You never know, you might just change someone’s opinion. And more than anything we need to keep on pressuring the establishment into hearing our voice. Today has been fantastic but it is only the beginning.

Ultimately the government’s endgame isn’t cutbacks to pay off debt. What they want to do is completely restructure our economy, shrivelling the public sector and selling our democracy to private companies, in the form of TTIP, academies, G4S controlled prisons. It is an idealogical plan that is irreversible. Let us remember that the NHS was born at a time when the national debt to GDP ratio was significantly larger than what it is now. Let’s show the government that we are not afraid of national debt and we will not allow our public services to be attacked. Because everybody needs them, whether you are black, asian, white, homosexual , bisexual, transgender, questioning, disabled, able-bodied, autistic, well-educated, a drop-out, muslim, sikh, hindu, christian, jewish, buddhist, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, an immigrant, a small business owner, a single mother, a single father, a childless couple, a child without parents, a nuclear family, a police officer, a politician, a journalist, a C.E.O, unemployed, a teacher, a nurse, a brain surgeon, a student, a convict, a pensioner, an under-18, whether you claim benefits, whether you pay taxes, we all need a strong public sector. And if we keep on keeping on they will not be able to ignore us. We will not be silenced.

Anti-Austerity Rally Speech

More of a prosecco girl, myself

On Saturday I was one of 250 citizens who met at the Queens Street statue of Aneurin Bevan, to protest the Tories’ austerity measures, with the Cardiff People’s Assembly. Thankfully, it’s my democratic right to do so.

Whilst I was aware that my presence at the rally could attract the media, I’m sure that you’ll be shocked to hear that I didn’t do it for some self-aggrandising purpose. As I’ve stated in my previous piece, I have no wish to be trolled and abused. It would be much easier for me not to engage. I’m not promoting a record or a tv show. My only motivation for attending was to try to make a difference; to further political discourse in my community; to draw attention to a cause that is more than valid, it is vital.

Many people I know (myself included) received the news that the Tories had won a majority (and that UKIP got so many votes!) with bewilderment. It wasn’t at all what was expected, especially considering that the political conversation, that we’d seen on social media for the past 6 months, had been overwhelmingly in support of the left-wing parties. There can only be one conclusion: we’ve been preaching to the converted.

It’s all very well for me to sit in my cosy leftie bubble with my baja-sporting friends, spending our free time attending vegan popup barbecues and meeting in art centres to have a bit of a moan about UKIP; we missed the changing climate of British politics. We dismissed the growing support for the rightwing as just a few comedy racists, underestimated the momentum they were gaining, and thought that by retweeting the latest Owen Jones article, we were doing our bit. Wrong!

We need to take the action we should’ve taken before, now! Just because the piratical Conservative party now have a majority doesn’t mean that we’ve lost. On the contrary, it mean we’ve got to fight harder. Personally, I feel I haven’t done enough, and I’m going to change that.

For Andrew R.T Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, to describe my exercising of democratic freedom, as “unbecoming”, really says more than I ever could. Perhaps Andrew thinks I should get back to the ironing and stop babbling on about air-headed notions such as protecting the NHS (a system that Mr. Davies himself has been most mobile in attacking), fighting for a fairer society (a concept that entirely eludes his party), and championing the plight of those in society who are less privileged than me. Perhaps he wants to quiet me because I threaten his status as a wealthy, privately educated, white male.

As for him, and others, denigrating me as a “champagne socialist”, I have to say I’m more of a Prosecco girl, myself. I was born in a working-class family who have for generations been active in political protest. I was 9 years old when I was first taken to a demonstration by my mother, who at the time was working as a housing officer for Cardiff council. That was three years before my career as a singer began. I have earned a lot of money from creating music, but I’ve stayed in Cardiff, where my family are, where the people I grew up with are, where my roots are. I could have sacked them all off and moved to LA. I could have made a lot more money by investing in arms and oil, rather than ethically. I could have voted Tory.

Christopher Hart for the Daily Mail decried protestors as “enemies of democracy”. Democracy doesn’t just end because we’ve had an election. Trying to silence the dissenting voice is far more anti-democratic. Mr. Davies sees me carrying a placard as an insult to the electorate, “who have just spoken”. But while he spends his time criticising me, he ignores the fact that there are serious legitimacy issues with David Cameron’s government. Only 24% of those eligible to vote, voted Tory. That’s staggeringly low. And in my opinion it is completely unacceptable. I am no fan of UKIP, but if I had voted for them I’d be seriously pissed off.

The situation, though, is far from hopeless. If you feel at all like me, I beg you to get involved. Find out when a rally is happening in your area. Turn up. As it happens those who set up these marches are, in my experience, lovely people, who care about their communities; not hooligan, memorial desecrating, chodes. If we pull together then we can’t be ignored. We need to be organised, but most of all we need numbers.

There’s a march in London on 20th June outside the Bank of England. Here’s the link: http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/calendar

Hope to see you there.

Love and cyber-hugs,

Charlotte xxx

More of a prosecco girl, myself

Democracy in traction

Dear fellow voters,

Tomorrow we will decide on who will govern us for the next five years, and it will be the first general election that I actively participate in. In previous elections I felt that by voting I was condoning a broken system, the illusion of democracy, and I didn’t want any part of the whole sordid affair. What’s the bloody point? They’re all the same aren’t they?

And then the Tories got in.

I have to say I was reticent to speak up at all. I don’t seek to be the target of trolls and my objective isn’t to upset anyone. My opinions are no more valid than anyone elses, but I have a platform that most don’t, and I ‘m regularly told that I should use it. I should be clear that I am not a Labour party member, and I find it easier to get behind the full-blooded policies of the more progressive fringe parties (among which UKIP are certainly not counted).

However, the first past the post system leaves me with little choice. In the constituency I live the Tories have held a marginal seat since 2010. The potential damage that another 5 years of Tory rule would do to our public services, the structure of our economy, our relationships with other countries around the world, and most importantly to the general wellbeing of the British people, is utterly intolerable.

I would like to vote Plaid or Green. But no matter how much I’ve been told not to vote tactically, these other parties simply have no chance of winning this seat. Additionally I feel that if I do vote Plaid or Green, and the Tories hold the seat, then I will have been instrumental in securing it for them.

What if the Tories get in? What if they get in a coalition with UKIP and the DUP? Jesus! UKIP say they want to close down our borders to immigrants. The rhetoric I’ve heard in my community by those who are planning to vote UKIP is “I wan’em all out”.  Who are exactly are “they all”? Is it black people, is it muslims, eastern europeans, Is it the Spanish, is it the LGBT community, is this about gender, is it about being able bodied? Where do they draw the line? The end point of their way of thinking is terrifying.

Nigel Farage has got a romanticised view of the past, that he wants to turn our future into: some Postman Pat paradise, where you know the name of the milkman; where you HAVE a milkman! It’s 2015, Nige! Trying to turn back time is as futile as trying to get an energy company to lower its prices.

This country needs change. We need to sort out our house. The people are being ripped off and exploited by multinational companies, by the media, by our own elected officials, and all of this has got to stop.

Whether Ed Miliband and the Labour party are the right people to sort it all out is a moot point. David Cameron has presided over the most capricious, shambolic government that there has been in my lifetime. They are scandalous, and they cannot be the right people for the job.

So much of the electioneering that those on the right have done has been based upon fear. Fear of immigration, fear of economic instability, fear of welfare claimants and the unemployed. The politics of fear is the politics of control. If we allow ourselves to be scared of the bogeyman we will find ourselves isolated internationally, without a welfare system, and with an even more pronounced poverty gap than we already have. If the economic definitions of Left and Right are that the Left want to increase taxes and spend on public services, and the Right want to lower taxes and reduce spending on public services, then never has it been more glaringly obvious that the Rightwing getting their own way. Multi-national companies are paying less tax than ever before, whilst the NHS has already been carved up and is primed to be sold off. The trickle-down economics that we have unwillingly propped up since the 60s is so far from functioning as to make it farcical.

This election is important. Mostly it’s important in that it can get lots of people engaging with politics. But it’s also a massive distraction from the issues that really matter. With our short-termist outlook, how are we going to prepare ourselves for the oncoming challenges: climate change, future economic crashes that will be deeper and more painful than this last one, the way we help to sort out instability in foreign regions, the way we deal with foreign aggressors, global overpopulation, sustainability, and how we take to task those who have ripped us off financially for decades, those who have pilfered public money, those who have consistently failed to contribute (despite being the highest earners in society), those who run media monopolies and dictate government policy through the intimidating power of their influence, and those who’ve ve protected them all. What we all need to do is start engaging in serious discourse about these matters, before we really do go to hell in a hand-basket.

Mr. Miliband, incremental changes in tax policy are not going to change anything. If you are the right man for the job then when you get into Downing Street you should show the world that the United Kingdom can be a trailblazer in progressive politics, by implementing systemic reformand by fighting the excessive power of capitalism and putting that power back where it rightly belongs, in the hands of the people.

You can vote or not vote, that is your right. But please for the good of us all, engage.

Love to you all,

Charlotte Church

Democracy in traction