Lewes 312

I was about to go into my box at the Lyceum Theatre last night when I received a text that there was a pro-independence demo on at Holyrood. So I abandoned my hosts (I did not feel quite as bad about this as I had stood for pre-theatre supper), fled the theatre and positively jogged down to parliament. I passed most of the demonstrators leaving on their way home, saltires draped over shoulders and Guido masks on top of heads. But there were still a few hundred there when I arrived, listening to unpractised speakers telling their very real stories: the independence cause continues to be a genuinely popular movement. One young demonstrator told me how proud they had been as they marched down the Royal Mile, with pedestrians homeward bound after a day’s work spontaneously stepping off the pavement to join the march, and the bars emptying. I then watched the fireworks bursting over Edinburgh.

I said a while back that if we won independence, I would move back to Scotland. Well, independence is now so inevitable I am indeed moving back, and have been flat-hunting. This is now an Edinburgh blog, and I hope from this weekend will have its Edinburgh home.

Lewes has been much in the news lately. Yesterday they were going to burn an effigy of Alex Salmond, and then didn’t. It is a conundrum why a town which genuinely retains the most radical popular political traditions in England, also is the most fervent place of practice of the reactionary art of catholic effigy burning. They vary this now by burning protestants, too. Cameron and Clegg have been done. I think my fellow Scottish Nationalists who got very upset about the potential Salmond burning were perhaps overreacting. The mistake of the members of the Lewes Waterloo Society was to fail to realise that Salmond is not merely another self-serving member of the political class; the selection was not based on race.

The tradition of burning Guy Fawkes reflects the undeniable fact that there used to be a genuine popular enthusiasm for parliament, which was seen as a bastion against Papal despotism, even long before the large majority of the population had a vote. Nowadays Parliament has become a very different kind of symbol. It symbolises an highly oppressive, authoritarian, narrow political class which shamelessly makes money at our expense, while furthering the interests of vast corporations which enforce the low wage economy and astonishing, ever growing, wealth gap.

The natural instincts of most people today lie with the man who tried to blow up parliament.

It is truly remarkable that, while the BBC and rest of the mainstream media gave hour by hour coverage of the democracy movement protests in Hong Kong, there was virtually no coverage of the violent and brutal treatment, over days, of the Occupy Democracy protest in Parliament Square in London. Nor any mention that there was far less democracy in Hong Kong under British rule than Chinese.

In Lewes, I once spoke to a flourishing political society which claims a direct descent from one founded by Thomas Paine himself- a vivid reminder to us in Scotland that there is a native radical tradition in Southern England, deep underground and waiting to be rediscovered. Lewes also has as its MP Norman Baker, one of the most decent men in politics, who recently resigned as a junior minister over the government’s entirely illogical “war on drugs” – illogical not least because of the drug habits of so many MPs. My current host, Hugh Kerr, when an MEP once made a speech in the European Parliament where he pointed out that many members were voting against drug liberalisation with whom he had personally participated in drug taking. An example of the excessive honesty that led to Hugh being forced out of the Labour Party.

Norman Baker was the subject of many vicious pieces in the mainstream media following his resignation. The crime of daring to think outside the box on drugs, and even worse crime of disagreeing with right wing nutjob and media darling Theresa May, meant that Baker had to be thoroughly monstored. But the most disgraceful and cowardly of all these attacks came from the Guardian of state stooge Alan Rusbridger. This is simply an appalling piece of journalism.

I have met Norman Baker a couple of times, and had a very entertaining conversation with him about Murder in Samarkand on Lewes railway station. The subject of UFO’s never came up. Indeed, if you google “Norman Baker, UFO” you get hundreds of media stories, all of them put out following Baker’s resignation and very evidently put about by Theresa May, for whom the Guardian is but a sounding board. In fact Norman Baker did once suggest in parliament that UFO cases deserved proper official investigation, which seems a perfectly rational view – and as the British government has, over decades, amassed thousands of files on UFO sightings, a view clearly widely held.

Baker’s other great sin is to believe David Kelly was murdered. Well, I think it is very probable indeed that David Kelly was murdered, and so, I suspect, do a very large percentage of the population. If the establishment is truly so confident that David Kelly was not murdered, it is remarkable that they refuse to have an inquest and allow a jury to decide the question in the normal way.

Norman Baker’s true crime was not to be a fully paid up member of the political class. He had never been a special adviser or political assistant. he had some hinterland, other interests, and did not confine his thinking within the tiny sphere of neo-con orthodoxy beyond which the corporate media will declare you a nutter. Politicians must all look the same, and Theresa May and Nigel Farage are now the only acceptable templates.

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312 thoughts on “Lewes

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  • John Goss

    “there is nothing to report…”

    And there was nothing to report before the Iraq war when the “allied” forces were maintaining a no-fly zone and killing many, many civilians and maiming even more. It was planned a long time before the main action. I hope Chilcot does provide enough evidence to try Tony Blair for war crimes and for authorising the death of Dr David Kelly. Unlike the US the UK is signatory to the ICC.

  • Silvio

    Why oh why can’t Hungarian politicians be more like German politicians?

    The bullying of Hungary – the country that dared to disobey the US and EU

    25 years ago, Hungary was being toasted in the West for opening its border with Austria to East Germans, in a move which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now the Western elites are not happy with Budapest which they consider far too independent.

    The refusal of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party to join the new US and EU Cold War against Russia, which has seen the Hungarian parliament approving a law to build the South Stream gas pipeline without the approval of the European Union, in addition to the populist economic policies Fidesz has adopted against the largely foreign owned banks and energy companies, has been met with an angry response from Washington and Brussels.

    Hungarian officials have been banned from entering the US, while the European Commission has demanded that the Hungarians explain their decision to go ahead with South Stream. That’s on top of the European Commission launching legal action against the Hungarian government for its law restricting the rights of foreigners to buy agricultural land.


  • John Goss

    “The bullying of Hungary – the country that dared to disobey the US and EU”

    Silvio, before the trolls get in there, Hungary also dared to disobey the USSR (1956). But thank you for that.

  • ben madigan

    to get back to the distaste many posters felt about the Lewes burnings and processions including melissa who linked it the type of thing the orange order might do –

    please have a look at http://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/no-to-burning-effigies/

    it shows the origin of the tradition and illustrates that there are alternatives to burning effigies – alternatives that create jobs and foster tourism. And to prove melissa’s point -there are links to the Loyalist tradition

  • Brendan

    The mockery of Norman Baker was vaguely Pravda-esque. I’ve never heard Baker say anything about UFO’s, but as soon as he resigned his statement on UFO’s was all over the place. It was a pretty blatant piece of chicanery, doubtless emanating from Tory HQ. This is how they operate: like 14 year olds. It’s vaguely pathetic, but it seems to work.

    Slightly off topic. Knives out for Ed. I’ve said it before, the Nu Lab faction would rather lose an election than have a PM who is not ‘one of them’. I’m surprised Ed has lasted this long, and I expect him to be gone before the end of the year. He’s not even that left wing, but these Nu Lab types think he’s somehow Michael Foot. It’s kinda sad that it isn’t even Murdoch who is trying to destroy Milliband, it’s the Blair-ite duffers who are lucky they aren’t in jail. MInd they could be on the Murdoch payroll, with nice promises of interviews and columns and such like; that’s how it works, I suspect.

  • Mary

    Sunday papers all going on Miliband attack.

    Observer report 20 shadow ministers want him to go.

  • John Goss

    Silvio, that’s a very good link and thank you for sharing it. Orban is of the same mould as Ron Paul. This sentence made me laugh.

    “Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland, the US’s most obedient lapdog in Eastern Europe, called Orban’s comments “unfortunate and disturbing” as if it was anything to do with him or his country.”

    The success of his government’s policies in the face of what the Yanks want is astounding. And the people quite clearly love him because he is providing what is wanted. My fear is that success stories which go against the US pursuit of global hegemony usually end up in some kind of regime change. That’s what happened to Ceausescu. Frankly I fear for him the assassin’s modus operandi.

    No wonder many ordinary Hungarians look back to the Communist days when everyone had work, wages and food on the table. Compare that to a report I saw yesterday where the US police arrested a 90 year old man for trying to give food to the poor and homeless.


    Can you believe this?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mr Goss

    “My fear is that success stories which go against the US pursuit of global hegemony usually end up in some kind of regime change. That’s what happened to Ceausescu.”

    Ceausescu was a success story? For whom – the Romanian people?

  • BrianFujisan

    Ben Madigan

    Great Post, cheers

    Suggestion: Maybe the Bonfire Societies of Lewes, East Sussex and the Loyalists of Ulster could pick up a few tips from Viareggio?

  • Kempe

    ” success stories which go against the US pursuit of global hegemony usually end up in some kind of regime change. That’s what happened to Ceausescu. ”

    “After a brief period of relatively moderate rule, Ceaușescu’s regime became increasingly brutal and repressive. By some accounts, his rule was the most rigidly Stalinist in the Soviet bloc. He maintained controls over speech and the media that were very strict even by Soviet-bloc standards, and internal dissent was not tolerated. His secret police, the Securitate, was one of the most ubiquitous and brutal secret police forces in the world. In 1982, with the goal of paying off Romania’s large foreign debt, Ceaușescu ordered the export of much of the country’s agricultural and industrial production. The resulting extreme shortages of food, fuel, energy, medicines, and other basic necessities drastically lowered living standards and intensified unrest. Ceaușescu’s regime was also marked by an extensive and ubiquitous cult of personality, nationalism, a continuing deterioration in foreign relations even with the Soviet Union, and nepotism.”

    It must’ve been a laugh a minute.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    @ Fred

    I said: “I have to go out (partying, yeah!) now so before I do, I’ll do my best to account for your motives in not answering my very simple question.

    You used affordable housing as an example of why your MP is worth voting for. Plainly, unarguably, the SNP has been far more effective on that issue than the LibDems. You knew that if you answered my question honestly, I would say “Then you should vote SNP,” and you would have no logical reply to that, so you chose to evade the question.”

    You replied: “You make the most of it while you can. Those MSPs in the Central Belt where they have no shortage of public transport don’t much want the rest of us enjoying ourselves.”

    I can interpret your answer in no other way than that you agree with my main point but can’t bring yourself to say so. This is the nearest you have ever come to agreeing with me. I don’t suppose it will ever happen again. I won’t check this thread again in case you belatedly contradict this assessment and thus destroy the warm glow I am presently feeling.

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