Spring Newsletter/Blog

Posted Apr 07, 2015

Newsletter/Blog     -     Spring 2015

The General Election. Our one opportunity to engage in the democratic process, Yes, we have a ‘gagging’ law that inhibits our opportunities to challenge power. Those organisations that have helped to engage us during the previous 5 years are now severely inhibited in their ability to continue with this. We’re more or less on our own. Unless we’re active within a Union where our efforts might help in determining where our Union stands on issues and which Party best represents us!

My interest is not simply in the price of petrol; the price of a pint; a High Speed Train; what is a ‘living wage’; too many or too few immigrants even our membership of the EU? All of these are, no doubt, important and we can and will argue about them and more. What is lacking for me is a DREAM. The ‘WHY’ these and a multitude of other issues are, or are not, important. For me, the Labour Party, at present lacks a Dream. The very word Socialist seems to have been deleted from Labour Party language!? What kind of Society do we want to live in? In brief, we can construct a framework where the best structure for, say, an organisation, in terms of it’s goals or in my case a Society, that then becomes the tool whereby we can determine where a given institution or society stands in comparison to that ‘ideal type.’ In short the ideal type exists nowhere, it is a kind of Utopia. We all need a dream …. don’t we?

If we don’t have a dream

What do we live for?

If we don’t have a dream

What did James Connelly die for?

(1st verse of ‘Bread and Roses’ by Martin Whelan)

on ‘Celebrating Subversion’ – CD from Anti Capitalist Roadshow 

For the poorest, there is a real difference between Cameron and Miliband, between Tory and Labour.  I understand Miliband has to engage in the politics of today. He has to translate the ideal into real policies not simply espouse the language and ideology of Socialism.  However, we need a dream, a dream that tells us what kind of society we have the capacity to become and that implies the means by which we achieve that goal. The policies are then experienced, not on issue by issue basis but as ‘stepping stones’ on the way to becoming the Dream to which we aspire. We can argue as to whether that can ever be achieved but such arguments are within a shared aspiration and these arguments and discussions are far more rewarding and productive than arguments with those of wholly different aspirations. The Party can be more courageous in policy because it can explain and justify decisions in terms of that dream. What is essential is the Labour Party must reveal it’s Dream.  This enables people to understand and assess the direction the Party is taking us. This shouldn’t be revealed at an election time but months, years before, while in opposition. It takes time for this Dream to become part of our Collective Conscience. 

Is this too stupid of me? Am I, perhaps, losing my marbles?  There are many who might be nodding in agreement with such criticism but I’m stuck with the political ideals I grew up forming.

 My Socialist ‘Dream’ is the result of a myriad experiences including and since, my teenage years. From Family and friends of my youth – friends from England, Iraq and Siam (now Thailand).  I learned from foreign students while studying for my GCE ‘A’ Levels. Such friendships I’m convinced, helped me many years later, to resist the demonising of Arabs, of people from Asia and from these to understanding Islam as another religion which, like all religions I think, has as a central tenet, the moral command to ‘…treat others as you would have them treat you….’ I should have written as an Atheist perhaps? But then I might imply a rejection of the moral statement that followed and that I don’t wish to do.  Later in my life the friends I met during my National Service, young men from all walks of life from ‘posh boys’ to the likes of me!  Within the RAF we had long discussions as we approached the war with Egypt in 1956. I was approaching the end of my service, which was quite lucky for I left just as one of ‘my’ squadrons was posted to Cyprus to engage in that war! From then on I met and mixed with both academics and artists. The language with my professional colleagues, on the whole was politically left wing. Sometimes, quite extremely so. My language with my fellow folkies was not dissimilar, however, I was labelled a ‘political singer’. Like Billy Bragg, I don’t mind being regarded as a political singer, I do resent and resist being dismissed as one!

Consider this: (i) “10% of those at the bottom of the income scale have seen their income fall in the last 4 years while the 10% at the top of the income scale have seen their income steadily rise over the same period!” (Guardian - 15th - December 2014). This should shock us all, even if we already knew it! (ii) The NHS is creaking for lack of funding, while we spend billions on useless Trident submarines with nuclear weapons we could never use, even updating these monsters to the tune of 100s of billions of pounds. This is nonsense! (iii) War wounded soldiers are now refused Disability Living Allowance, (DLA). Whatever the argument about the wars they were committed to, they went, they served their country and now their government treats them this way. It is scandalous! It is also scandalous (iv) that this latter policy has had little written of it in the popular press, thus it is barely in the public consciousness! 

Consider this: (a) Scrapping Trident would release enough money to resolve the crisis and fund the NHS. I’m sick of Prime Ministers or Secretaries of  State for Health, telling me how much money they have invested in our Health Service. IT ISN’T ENOUGH! (b) scrapping Trident would pay off the deficit and (c) scrapping Trident would give every wounded and disabled soldier the full life-long DLA.  We could also scrap the High Speed Train, many more billions would be available for eliminating child poverty once and for all! Can we really believe that cutting 20 or 30 minutes off the rail journey, London to Manchester is the difference between economic growth and economic decline!?  Let them fly, why not? I can’t help thinking there’s an awful lot of bullshit talked about both Trident and HST 1 and 2…!

What would scrapping Trident do to our ability to defend ourselves? We will still have enough in the way of nuclear weaponry to destroy most countries in the world, killing millions!  Just a few nuclear war-heads should see us through! We’ll probably have to accept that a couple or three nuclear hits on us, would mean there’ll be no ‘us’ any more!  Putting that aside and before those nuclear hits (!?!?) …., we will still have an army, a navy and an airforce, each with extraordinarily sophisticated weapons. We are continually told that we have ‘the finest soldiers, sailers, airmen and airwomen in the world.’  Well, we’ll still have all this, won’t we!? The reasons for maintaining and developing Trident are less military and more political. It’s more to do with our subservience to the political and military demands of the USA and, critically, our governments’ (of all colours, blue or red,) acceptance of this so-called special US/UK relationship!    But then….. what do I know? What do any of us know…!?

[11pm Sunday 5th April:  I’m going to take a rest now as my blood pressure must be going through the roof!]

 [11am Monday 6th April: Good Morning everyone!]

 I haven’t done much in the way of singing this year, although the few things I have  done, I’ve really enjoyed. In January I managed a couple of concerts – The first was Saturday, January 10th at a really interesting club in Wath-upon-Dearne. This is near Sheffield so no long distance driving. The interesting thing about this club, the Raising the Roof Folk Club is that all proceeds are given to the charity suggested by the guest! No fees are given, no cost asked for the church hall and all money received from the raffle goes in the pot with the ticket take!  My concert managed to raise over £500 for a charity that helps young homeless people in Sheffield and beyond - “Roundabout”. I’d urge all my friends to support this club. It’s a great idea. Not an occasional charity evening but a charity concert every week! Congratulations to all the organisers!

The other January concert was also a charity event, this time for the ‘Alzheimers Society’ and ‘Parkinsons UK.’  With a cast of thousands, including Dave Burland, Kirsty Bromley Band, Dave & Josie Deighton, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, me  and many more. It was a great evening of music  and I understand we raised well over £4000!! I suspect I’m being too conservative with this figure.  Congratulations to those involved in organising the evening.  March saw me do a couple of concerts involving a bit of travelling, to London and to Cheltenham. I think both were a success, I certainly enjoyed myself. Anyone can see what’s coming up in April and onwards – go to the Web site - www.roybailey.net.  The summer is turning out quite well, I can’t do more (at my age!!) and I’ve got to remain fit for my 80th birthday concert on Tuesday the 20th October, here in Sheffield organised by the Bright Phoebus Collective at the Greystones pub. The 20th October! That is my Birthday!  Watch the web site for other gigs which might get into the diary – click on ‘Live Dates.’ …. See you there?

            Finally, I’ve managed to get "Rhythm & Reds" the Band of Hope CD on to iTunes (and more). I really enjoyed this band, .... well, who wouldn’t with a line up of Martin Carthy (guitar); Dave Swarbrick (fiddle); John Kirkpatrick (Diatonic Accordion); Steafan Hannigan (Bodhran and Uilleann Pipes.) and me! It was both a privilege and an honour to sing with them.  

Virtually all my recordings are now available online. Maybe the kids who like my children’s CDs will grow up to like the ‘grown-up’ stuff as well!?  All new recordings, there are some (an EP ‘Stories’) and there will be more, will now be online in/on(?) iTunes and Spotify etc so please watch those spaces!

 I’m sure there’s other stuff I should be telling you. When I send this I’ll remember things that I really should have included. It’ll be too late then and I’ll try to include that stuff in my next Newsletter/Blog. I’ll try …. but I am (almost) 80 years old. [Have I told you that already?] The nice thing about this age is that the clothes I buy now won’t wear out!

 Take care. Have a great Spring and Summer [for those in Australia and South Africa – Autumn and Winter]

Peace and Love

 Roy  x  

 Sheffield    April 6th 2015