Newsletter/Blog [Nov. 2017]

Posted Dec 28, 2017

Newsletter/Blog  [November 2017]

I began this Newsletter way back in the Spring. I’ve been distracted as well as lazy but I decided to continue as best I could. It also reveals my position on many of the surprises and horrors of this year as the opening paragraphs were written before many of them happened! I trust this makes sense?  Also there are a few more breaks in the writing of this Blog. Sorry.]

Today is Monday, March 27th 2017. We are at the cliff edge and within hours the PM will sign Article 50 and the UK will throw itself off that cliff. All the claims made by the ‘Brexiteers’ will be revealed, either as lies or ignorant assertions, made by the few to fool the many!  The claim by Prime Minister May that she/we can negotiate trade deals with the EU (or anyone else) might soon be revealed as nonsense. Motor manufacturers might well be forced to remove their businesses to ‘elsewhere’; international manufacturers of almost anything, could well be faced, similarly to move their businesses from the UK; the NHS will  likely be in meltdown, losing thousands of doctors and nurses. This and more, all results in the loss of thousands if not millions of jobs. Scotland  may well make the unavoidable demand for a referendum and vote “Yes” to becoming an independent nation, thus resulting in the diss-integration  of the United Kingdom or becoming the Not-United Kingdom!. What happens to us all if this is indeed the scenario that confronts, or overtakes us?

I’m afraid I must leave you hanging … because I have no idea. I only know that I fear for my grandchildren, my children and indeed my wife and myself. Val & I are in our 70’s and 80’s so we will survive for however long or short it takes but my extended family/families….? How about them?  When it comes to it I can’t believe this or is what those who voted “leave” had in mind. But I feel impotent to do anything about it. I usually claim I am optimistic ….. it’s not that I reject optimism… it’s more bewilderment. I don’t, at this moment, know what to say or do! I am what my Australian sister-in-law used to call…. “A stunned mullet!”

Into this extraordinary  mix the PM has called a snap election for June 8th!! She justifies this decision as needing a united country behind her in the process of negotiation with the 27 states of the EU. She justified ruling out a Scottish referendum on the grounds that elections should and could not take place while negotiating with the EU - it would be a distraction and ‘interfere’ with difficult EU negotiations. She says she’s seeking a unified country behind her. Unified? My arse! [as Mr Stephen Fry might say!]

This election is about the years of Tory Austerity. Austerity has been the cover/justification for relentless cutting of public services to a point where the NHS is virtually bankrupt & broken down by such cuts together with the creeping privatisation of much of the support services on which the broader structure relies. The Education system is similarly struggling to deal with cuts to its budget and the creation of Academies and ‘Free Schools’. As these new structures are established outside LEAs so budgets to Local Authorities are reduced, which weakens these local democratic institutions to supply such support for remaining schools, libraries, parks and the countless services our town halls provide. At the same time cuts to welfare provision hits the weakest, the most vulnerable, the homeless and the millions who feel abandoned.

It is now June 8th 2017 - Polling Day.

I have indeed been a stunned mullet these last weeks/months! I really couldn't write anything. BUT one good thing this election has done has been to reveal that Jeremy Corbyn is no lame duck! He has demonstrated extraordinary skill and retained his integrity while transforming the Labour Party into a fierce and vocal force in this election. At last I have a Party which is distinctly different from the Tories. A Party that, given the opportunity might actually REPRESENT me rather than MANAGE me! A man of peace in the face of ridicule and misrepresentation by not only the media but the treacherous men and women of his own Party. And traitors they are. Go and join the Tories because you have indeed been the Outriders for the Party of the privileged, the Party for the Few not the Many. The Party for Theresa May not of the Corbynistas [viz. us!]     For the first time since the last century I have my Labour Party back and in fine fettle. It’ll take time but even if the Tories win, I look forward to whatever future I have, at having a …. not New Labour Party  but a reborn Labour Party. A Party with a Leader that has virtually single handedly rekindled a SPIRIT of ’’ ’45”.

Since the election results have been revealed I’m not exactly euphoric but I am excited by the result. I’m proud of Jeremy Corbyn whose belief and commitment has been rewarded. At Last I feel we really do have back the Labour Party I grew up with. It is such a refreshing feeling. Let’s now get on with being a respected Party, not just of opposition but an alternative Govt!! 

(I suspect I’m being over optimistic.)

It is now June 19th 2017 - the day the Brexit negotiations with the EU begin.

I learned today that both Germany & France have made clear the UK might still withdraw from negotiations and rescind Article 50 and the desire to leave the EU. If we fail to get the decision we like, we can, indeed, remain. No decision, no Brexit! So, for the UK we really do have the power to approve or disapprove  of our future. At least 48% of those who voted in that referendum will be delighted [I suspect/hope more?] 

I wonder……?

What I don’t wonder about is the horror of the attacks on us in Manchester or London, people going about their daily lives who are attacked, wounded or killed by someone who seeks only to destroy**. Or the truly horrific fire at the Grenfell Tower. The news coverage of the latter was enough to have me in tears. To lose anyone in a house fire is too dreadful but to lose one’s whole family is beyond imagination. The Royal Borough Council and the Government should not wait for the publication of formal investigations, the evidence of desolation is there for all to see. Act on that and show some sympathy towards the survivors of the fire. These same people, of the Local Authority and the Government, are not the survivors of the destruction of their homes, the loss of their families, neighbours, loved ones and friends. They are stumbling around seeking love and support NOW.  Prime Minister Theresa May has been revealed as a women who, unfortunately, lacks any sense of empathy with the folk she certainly doesn’t represent and whom she equally fails to manage! 

And today, the 19th June yet another attack, this time by driving a lorry into a crowd of Muslims leaving their church. As far as I understand at the moment there is at least one death and a number of wounded. We must ask questions as to why these attacks are happening here in England, France and elsewhere in Europe, at this time? Our response looks to many people as being simply this or that atrocity is a crime, so punishment. This is certainly an important response but the question has to be “under what conditions does such behaviour occur” what are those conditions currently and from where might such behaviour arise?   

[Sorry, another break in the narrative!]

I’m afraid it’s fast forward to November 2017. [Where did the summer go!?] I must stop this staggering from month to month or paragraph to paragraph. I am wholly dissatisfied with this attempt at a Newsletter/Blog, I must simply  send it hoping you’ll understand my dilemma!? 

One closing comment if you’ll indulge me…. Well I am 82 you know!! Just put it down to the ravings of an old man!!

I’m becoming more convinced, possibly and wholly mistakenly, that the PM’s unwillingness to confront the right wing of the Tory Party, may well result in “No Deal!” We will crash out of Europe and the likelihood of subsequent World Trade Deals will see the decline of the UK economy. Everyone knows we are punching above our weight in the world. We sit at, or close to the Top Table right now but we have been in decline for some time and while the idea of being ‘free’ from the European Union is, to some (possibly the majority?) seductive, the World Trading Agreements are designed as between the powerful western economies and the weaker underdeveloped economies. Indeed, underdevelopment is, in part constructed by such trading agreements.

Capitalist development is, of its very nature, exploitative. Capital is invested in labour and results, if it is successful in providing a return on that capital. It is from the wealth, or Value so generated that after paying all the necessary ‘bills’ (viz. of labour and of capital) it creates enough value to offer a return to those investors whose capital it was/is. This money, this value is called surplus value. It exists only after all costs of production are met. In the case of a capitalist economy when the owner of the capital is not of the nation in which the enterprise exists, this surplus value (profit) is appropriated not by the country where the enterprise exists but by another country and is, therefore, not available to the ‘home’ country for further investment. This relationship has been called as between a Metropolis and a Satellite.

Being equal members of a regional Metropolis (the EU) there is of an increasing spread of European ownership of the UK’s utilities and other areas of the UK economy. Outside the EU, the UK potentially becomes part of the Satellite economies.  The profits (or Surplus Value) of these  institutions become the ‘property’ of the ‘owners’, the investors of capital, namely, the Metropolis. This results in the underdevelopment of the Satellite economy, in this case the UK economy, The Surplus Value (or profits) appropriated by the owners of such institutions is/are no longer available to the UK economy. The process is slow but is likely to speed up as it progresses. 

Underdevelopment doesn’t mean no development so the inequality within the UK economy may well serve the indigenous powerful but it will most certainly impoverish the indigenous powerless, the weakest. To coin a phrase, it will serve the interests of the few at the expense of the many! Indeed, the recent advice of the Tory MP, John Redwood for the wealthy to move their wealth (their Capital) out of the home economy into overseas institutions, suggests this likely decline is understood by some.

What seems like a life-time ago, I read the work of Andre Gunder Frank, ‘Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. Historical Studies of Chile & Brazil.’ I must say it doesn’t seem likely right now but I did read the argument put by Frank and I was struck by his thesis. It just made sense to me. However, true to my natural intellectual laziness and disinclination to  follow up this work, I also retired from my primarily intellectual career. I just let it lie there, somewhere within my ‘subconscience,’ only to surface when considering the consequences of the referendum to leave the European Union. It seems likely that Gunder Frank’s thesis has relevance to the current state of affairs known as Brexit. 

Much that happens in life, it seems to me, is the result of unintended consequences. For example, when we want to sell our house say, we want to receive the best price we can get. But, the act of adding our house to the total number of houses available for purchase, the price, the  economist tells us will tend to fall due to the laws of supply and demand! Other things being equal. A favoured expression of caution suggested by economists!  So the unintended consequence of putting our house into the supply side of the market can result in the tendency to suppress the price/value of houses on the market (other things being equal,) the unintended consequence of our initial intentions.

The slow but possible consequences of Brexit, unintended by any one or many intended actions, could lead to the relative decline of the UK economy. Such a result being the unintended consequence of the intended actions of those who voted to leave and indeed the result of the perfectly reasonable expectations of those who fervently argue the need to honour and respect the democratic voice of the electorate, namely for the UK to leave membership of the EU (a Regional Metropolis). The potential and I suggest, likely result will be to place the UK into a relationship that will become a satellite of the economies of the western world. A satellite to the Metropolis which is the western world economic order and underdevelopment the fate of the UK economy. The UK economy without the protection of EU (a regional Metropolis) will, I suggest, duly decline. 

So, think on Prime Minister & Messrs Gove, Johnson, Duncan Smith, the ever smiling David Davis and the rest of the Brexiteers, within both the Conservative and the Labour Parties and listen to your ‘youngers’ and betters. Persons like Owen Jones and indeed, the younger generation who voted overwhelmingly to remain! Whatever you think is wrong with the Regional Metropolis, the EU, it might well have provided us with the security we need in a world economic order that is fiercely competitive and unforgiving in the process. In all competitive enterprises there necessarily, will be ‘winners & losers.’ As within a hierarchy there will, of necessity, be a top and a bottom. The Regional Metropolis, the EU, serves as a collective protection for each of its members.  We should think very carefully before, on the basis of a referendum whose electorate was presented with half truths and misinformation, (e.g.. £350 million a week for the NHS,) we write into law a fixed and binding date for us to leave it’s shelter!! 

WOW! How did I get here?

I can only offer my apologies for a somewhat jumble of events that constitutes my disjointed Newsletter/Blog. In the words of my ex school teachers, I must try to do better next time!


Finally, to return to Folk Music & Song. I am grateful to the organisers of Folk Clubs and Folk Festivals who continue to trust me and invite me to sing and hopefully, entertain their respective audiences, up and down the country. To see who these fine people are, go check my Web page,  and hit ‘Live Dates’.  

2018 is looking just fine and as long as I'm standing (perhaps that should be sitting?) and able to hit the right notes, with the help and support of Marc Block, my friend & driver, I’ll keep on keeping on!

I hope to see you somewhere along the road ….. ? 

I wish you all a very merry Mid-Winter Solstice (or Christmas if you prefer) with your family and friends and a peaceful [Trump willing?] happy, healthy and successful New Year!!

With Love

Roy Bailey

Sheffield     18th November 2017

 PS I hope this arrives to your inboxes - I’m using a system entitled ‘Pages’ and although I’ve tried to export this Blog as a PDF …….. who knows what happens in the ether?? Fingers crossed! x 

PPS I’ve also decided to place this nonsense on my web page, in part because I’m not confident this appalling effort at writing something that might interest you, will find its way to you via my Mailing List!?

**I'm not at all confident of this assertion. I'm sure the motivation of such events is, for the perpetrators, more than just destruction. I suspect it is seen by them as justfied reactions and indeed, resistance to oppression and domination. I'm sure we need to understnd this in order, effectively, to oppose it.