Posted Jan 25, 2015

Winter has settled in around us (me anyway!) and the days are short and a bit wet. It’s not too cold, although the wind does get a shiver or two. The Solstice passed and suddenly it snowed – missed the day but it looked good. Well, it did. It then froze and was a bit dodgy under wheel but very difficult underfoot. However, so far so good.

The coldest wind comes from the Tory-Lib/Dem Coalition. The latest bit of the Austerity Policy is the cutting of the Local Authorities budgets.  How much more evidence do we need before we conclude there is an assault on all public institutions: Welfare, Education, NHS and Local Authorities. Each of these institutions is being stripped of any power to do anything other than what the govt want and allow. There is less and less support for those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed, disabled, mentally ill, homeless, pensioners and others.

Education is being increasingly privatised. By-passing the Education Depts of Local Authorities, [Academies and Free Schools.] This results in cuts in their budgets and renders them impotent. They will eventually be without purpose. The NHS is quietly being privatised (Oh yes it is, of course it is!) Many of the supply and distribution side supports services are already in private ownership. What do we think the uproar regarding Steven Dorrells working for KPMG a company yet remaining a public employee, is about!? This company is seeking to obtain contracts worth millions of pounds from the Government. Dorrells at the same time refuses to resign from his seat as an MP! 

There are to be more cuts in the welfare budget that will effect those who, already, simply cannot cope with the bewildering array of forms, conditions and hoops they must negotiate in order to receive any benefit that will almost simultaneously, label them ‘scroungers’ ‘work shy’ ‘fraudsters’ etc. Just a few days ago, the Tories and Lib/Dems managed to vote to keep the insidious ‘Bedroom Tax’. It doesn’t matter what Lib Dems say to justify this or that issue, it’s what they do, that matters!

The New Year is going to be somewhat turbulent, I fear. In these conditions and with these policies, this Tory government should be ‘on its knees’ and staring defeat in the face. Instead, the possible alternative government in the form of the Labour Party, looks hopelessly tied to the Tory led policies. Whoever ill-advised Miliband to attack the Scottish National Party (SNP) should be removed. For example: Scotland could not expect a Scottish, independent country to have the Bank of England as its Central Bank. Scotland could not use the pound sterling as its currency. Miliband is now stranded and has rendered the Labour Party impotent to attack the Tories without being labelled turncoats. Labour supported the Tory led Coalition in the attack on the SNP; whose democratic referendum, especially when it looked liked the Yes Vote was going to win, was presented with a promise signed by all three Parties. This has now been turned on Labour with the Oh so reasonable sounding move ‘English Laws should be voted for by English voters’. Labour voters in Scotland are now turning on the Labour Party and voting for the SNP. Such a move was obvious, [[Newsletter, September 2014.]

Ah well, maybe as I suggested, this Labour Party might throw off the remnants of Blair and New Labour and become again the real party of labour in this country! I know it’s a long shot but what else is likely? UKIP is the extreme right of the Tory Party.  Nationalism is at the core of UKIP’s policies. It seems to me that the electorate is moving towards a Nationalist/Tory Government. A hundred or so years ago, many Socialists turned to the Nationalist theme and so the National Socialist Party, was born: The Nazi Party. I desperately want that not to happen but then I remember, in France the National Front is becoming ever stronger and as I understand it, intends to challenge for the French Presidency in a few years time!! I fear for the future, for my children and my grandchildren.

I am, however, confident that the fight for justice, freedom and peace will continue. As Tony Benn used to say: every generation has to fight for these rights and principles. There are two flames burning in each generation, the flame of opposition to injustice and the flame of hope that we can do better to achieve the goals of equality, peace and internationalism. A Local Councillor here in Sheffield, many years ago, said to me “We need more Socialists in the Labour Party and we need more Christians in the church!” Personally, I don’t care very much about the latter but I certainly agree with the former!

As Martin Whelan wrote:

Look up the sky is burning/With blood the workers shed/We’ll carry on the battle for/Roses and Bread.

Bread and Roses/Roses and Bread/We’ll carry on the battle/For Roses and Bread…………… 

So the year has ended and our thoughts turn to the struggles of 2015. For me, an important one is to remove the Tories and Lib-Dems from power. The Autumn Statement has outlined a devastating assault on State services. The already weakest, and vulnerable, are to have their support services ‘reformed’, this is a euphemism for CUT! Austerity hasn’t worked. The falling unemployment figures are a lie. The “employed” are now in freelance work and/or zero hours ‘work’ – neither has the security of what I have grown up with as work. The stats look good but they hide the reality of the structure of “employment”.

In this respect, this coming election is very important. I can only do what I’ve been doing most of my adult life, through my teaching and my singing. It’s not much but …. there it is. What can I say…..?.

I hope to record some new songs early in 2015, including songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and more. I’ll do my best to let you know when this happens!  The tracks will be available on iTunes and Spotify.  Almost all my catalogue of albums, CDs and some additional tracks are already there. I soon hope to have everything I’ve ever recorded on-line, including, Rhythm and Reds with the Band of Hope. Some old albums e.g. “Love Loneliness and Laundry” [with Leon Rosselson] and “That’s Not The Way It’s Got To Be” [with Leon] and “If I Knew Who The enemy Was” [also with Leon] are more difficult but I’ll try. I’m delighted with the really well received EP entitled “Stories”. It’s odd, this online business. I don’t really know how to ‘market’ my stuff. It’s just there. I hope you and others know about it or perhaps discover it.

So how to end this personal rant? I suspect many of you don’t really want to read some, maybe much of what I write but that’s who I am. Nevertheless, so many of you come to my concerts when you can that I know you enjoy the songs I sing and I’m grateful for that.


So, here is one of those songs….


I thought I had no Voice

Scott Murray

We’ve had good times together

We’ve shared a song or two

In warmer days of summer

And winter’s days of snow

We know that life’s not easy

The road is hard and long

But music aye can cheer us

We’re  better for a song 


I thought I had no voice

Now listen to my song

The fellowship of music

A place where I belong 

We raise our voice in song

In every verse and chorus

Many songs behind us now

There’s many waiting for us

 Our time is nearly over

These days are nearly done

The tunes we will remember

The songs will still be sung

I hope the sun shines for you

and that we’ll meet again

for there’s a bond between us

A bond that has no end 

Chorus: I thought I had no voice…… etc

A Happy New Year

 Take care and love


Sheffield - January 2015