A march – 999 Call for the NHS

Reposted and lightly amended with permission from Barkingside21.

People's March for the NHSStarting off from Jarrow early today, a group of local mums from Darlington known as the #Darlomums are beginning the 999 March for the NHS. They’ll make their way 300 miles to London entirely on foot.

They’re trying to draw attention to the critical condition of the NHS as it is gradually eroded by privatisation. Following the route of the Jarrow hunger march, they’ll pass through 23 towns and cities over 21 days. On each stretch they’ll be joined by NHS workers, NHS users, and other supporters of all stripes. It looks like it’s going to be big and bold. After all, there’s so much at stake.

They’ll be in this neck of the woods on Saturday 6th September leaving Edmonton at 10am and arriving in Westminster at 3pm for a rally which is likely to be a landmark event in the campaign to keep the NHS public.

They want us to join them. Here is a day-by-day route and a place to let them know you’re coming. Being volunteers with a lot to organise, they need funds too – you can help by buying a T-Shirt and/or donating. If you use Twitter, big up @999CallforNHS with the hashtag #march4nhs . If you use Facebook, they’re here.

Here is why:

If you’d voted UKIP in Redbridge

Today UKIP made contact through the letterbox. Nobody is expecting a major swing to them in Redbridge so I don’t really need to write this. Maybe somebody living in a south-east coastal town or up north will read it. Pledge by pledge, this is their leaflet.

Early reference to ‘tired old parties’.

Political parties don’t get tired because they’ve been around a long time. And anyway, UKIP is famously old, backed by old and supported by old. And anyway, what’s so wrong with old? In fact, what is ‘old’?

Deduct half a point for making cheap statements and half a point for negativity.

UKIP Councillors would have the right to vote in the best interests of the people that they represent, rather than following a predetermined party line.

The strapline of the entire leaflet, which blatantly contradicts the statement above, is ‘Vote UKIP Get UKIP’. Both statements can’t be true.

The thing about party lines is that aren’t all about bossy people at the top pushing their agenda on the little guy. Party lines are chosen by candidates, not the other way round – otherwise the candidate would presumably be standing as an independent. The major party themes are also developed by consensus, rather than on one person’s whim.

Another important point about party lines is that they broadly let voters know what they’re getting when they vote for a candidate – if UKIP Councillors don’t have a party line on anything, then a vote for UKIP is like voting for an independent candidate. The reason few independent candidates succeed is that, without the benefit of a selection process within their party, most of them give the impression of being superficial, inexperienced, ill-disciplined people of uncertain principles, pursuing vanity projects or narrow single issues. Those who don’t mainly fail to convince voters that they will be able to sufficiently inform themselves to properly think through every decision – this constant need for reliable intelligence is where a political party comes in very handy. If you want an independent candidate, then don’t vote UKIP – vote for the kindest, most generous, most hard-working, most intelligent candidate.

Deduct 2 points for incoherence.

UKIP Councillors would work to provide much-needed permanent leisure facilities around the borough.

I thought this could only mean a permanent swimming pool – a Labour pledge after the Conservatives were criticised for proposing to waste a lot of money on a temporary pool. But UKIP don’t mention a pool, which indicates that they are reluctant to pledge a pool. So they aren’t pledging a pool. What exactly are they pledging?

Deduct 1 point for vagueness and coyness.

UKIP Councillors would work to keep control of council tax, ensuring a fairer Redbridge for all residents.

What do they mean, ‘keep control of’? Where does council tax threaten to wander off to? Is somebody trying to snatch  it? To the best of my knowledge, this statement is meaningless.

Deduct 5 points for misleading scaremongering. Add 2 points for striving to seem less racist by mentioning ‘all residents’.

UKIP Councillors would work to ensure that housing policy will reflect the needs of all residents.

This is not distinctive – every single candidate will pledge to do this in their own way – because it is absolutely core to a councillor’s job. The question is, according to what principles would they balance the needs of all residents? And what about those who seek to become residents? Again, there is no UKIP line to which we can refer here.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text and 3 points for taking voters for fools (making confident pledges without declaring any principles).

UKIP Councillors would work to improve street cleansing across the whole of the borough.

Again, this is not distinctive – all candidates pledge this.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text.

UKIP Councillors would work to improve law and order in the borough.

See above.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text.

UKIP Councillors would work to improve facilities for the elderly and vulnerable.

Again, this is something that all councillors have to do, irrespective of their political persuasion. It isn’t optional at all. But by going out of their way to mention older people while omitting younger people who have had their services cut and thin job prospects, UKIP again demonstrate a failure to understand intergenerational tensions and inequality.

See above – deduct 1 point for wasting text, and 2 points for poor selectivity.

UKIP Councillors would work to provide priority in adult social care for local residents.

I don’t understand what this means – are there non-local residents who are demanding adult social care? I don’t think you can apply for social care unless you are a local resident. Given UKIP’s reputation for stoking fears of foreigners, I detect some nasty insinuations in this pledge.

Deduct 5 points for groundlessly planting suspicion that social care is being poached by non-residents.

I’m missing anything on local jobs, healthcare or schools. Deduct 5 points for each of these important omissions.

Help us to make a difference in Redbridge on May 22nd 2014

Change for the worse, I’m certain.

Turning over, we get the smiling face of James Kellman – I think this is a lightly customised national leaflet, since our UKIP Action Team seems to be just one gent.

We learn he is a long-term local man. He is happily married. Turkish wife. Why would he mention the nationality of his wife? Because UKIP is characterised for the attraction it exerts on racists and xenophobes. He worked for Transport for London for 20 years and is now self-employed with more time. Former Conservative, disenchanted with the main parties on the EU.

He has one specific desire: transparency in Council matters. He doesn’t say what this means, or where they fall short now (the meetings are already public and well-documented, for example).

“You will no doubt have several candidates from different parties doorstepping you – it is felt better to leave you in peace”.

UKIP have not attracted enough volunteers to knock on our doors and talk with us about our local concerns, so this is really making a virtue of necessity. On the ‘leaving in peace’ part, what James hopes to distract us from is that canvassing is an important part of democracy. Working street by street, sitting councillors, candidates and party volunteers gain a deep familiarity with their constituency and those who campaign throughout the year can grasp changes for the worse or better. They report fly-tipping and anything else that needs fixing as they encounter it, and they have a chance to start illuminating conversations with residents who would otherwise be unlikely to make a first approach to a politician. This is another benefit of being in an organised, disciplined party rather than a loose collection of Europhobes with barely anything to unite them.

I think it comes to minus 33.

I’d score the other parties in the minus, but that would be the lowest out of Greens, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem. And although I am extremely appalled with politics, I believe that in a democracy we get the political leaders that the middle classes deserve. I am middle class, and so I have shared responsibility to strive for a better politics. A protest vote for the shambles that is UKIP has no part in that.

Puffballs and parasols

If I don’t show at work tomorrow it’s because I’ve made myself ill with ‘wild food’ from Hainault Forest. And if I die I’d like teachers to use my story as a cautionary tale in local schools.

Puffball mushrooms from Hainault Forest

These look alright, don’t they? Cooked them and what I’m pretty sure were shaggy parasols up in a bit of olive oil and ate them on their own – delicious.

Another day in paradise

That’s Barkingside and Ilford.

Got up with the larks and cleaned the house extremely thoroughly – under the bed, each venetian blind, the little wells on the hob, under the sofa pads – everything, because I want to return to a clean house at the end of next week. Did a couple of washes (and a clean bed). Coughed my guts up continually. Collected my boot from the cobblers – the glue job went well – the man is clearly passionate about patching up old footwear so I plan to drop in my 50yo knee-highs next week – and clipframe which turned out to be plastic – grr – teach me to buy unseen, and swapped some music at the library for walking to drown out the sound of Brian and Matt prattling about clothes, makeup, depillation and all that boy stuff.

Went to Ilford on the 169 – sat with P for a bit and we talked about the cowboys who threatened to take A’s roof tiles off if he didn’t pay them some extra money they weren’t entitled to. Shopped for underwear, cord for hanging pictures, ribbon for tying bags made of Matt’s old shirts round around old lavender (last Sunday one of my friends, a recent parent, accused me of having too much time on my hands – she should see how much I blog these days! To be fair, I used to fill my spare time with friends but they’ve dispersed with their babies to 3-bed semis in the home counties and I’ve little choice but to sit here talking to myself. Well, I could work on my career… Anyway:) and rucksack liners. Came home with additional fake meat by Redwood (it’s filthy but I love it) and fake fabric birkenstocks by Millets for £3.49 – should fit in at the youth hostels. On the way back I took my voucher to Hi-Juice and had a Brain Food. The little girls who work there are delightful. Then went to Army & Navy for a second rucksack liner and got an earful from the guv for crossing his threshold with a Millets bag. I wanted a 25-45l rucksack liner but he only had one size – up to 75l. On inspection it turned out to be an orange rubble sack pretty much so I said I’d leave it. On the way out (he needed to go to the bank) he asked me what I’d bought from Millets. When I told him a rucksack liner he asked the price, hooted when I told him £6.99 but laughed when I told him it was a proper one, not just an orange binbag. In all the times I’ve been in there I’ve never bought a thing, but I feel bad about the Millets bag and I’ll make Army & Navy my first port of call in future.

Fleshisgrass. Keeping it real on the high street 😉

Hi Juice on the High Street

A new juice shop has opened on the High Street. Nobody in there but the owner says things are going very well without any promotion so far, and they’re opening a new one in Ilford Exchange in the New Year. Two nice girls are being trained in there. The decor’s snazzy and modern. I asked the owner what he thought about the Costcutter and the Polish deli – he says the Costcutter didn’t do their research properly, but the deli will do well. Smoothie was good – no cheapskate ice needed because they start off with frozen lumps of fruit.

When I got my scissors from Costcutter today I had to get them from the walled-off part of the shop. He’s not lighting it, even though all the frozen stuff is there. Nice man – he offered me some tape for the passport envelope.

Eastern Europe on the High Street

A new establishment has opened on Barkingside High Street – a grocery and the nearest thing we have to a delicatessen. It sells only Eastern European food, most strikingly, dried meat on platters. There’s no English on any of the packets, so I guess they know who they’re catering for.

Many Eastern European voices on the Central Line East.

As of time of writing, Barkingside High Street boasts 2 kosher bakeries, a clairvoyant and vendor of tarot cards, crystals, &tc, a cheesecake shop, several cheap boutiques, a few pricey boutiques, a tanning shop, a bike shop, a butcher’s, a kosher supermarket, many pound shops, an army surplus, a DIY / ironmongery, many charity shops, many estate agents, many banks, many shoe shops, many hairdressers, a Next rejects place, Woolworths, a lingerie place with sex shop at the back, a stationer’s, Boots, McDonalds, the Met station, a cafe, a few Indians, a few Chineses, a few kebaberies, a few burger joints, a KFC, an eel and pie shop, a greasy spoon, a branch of Wanstead Appliances, a pet shop, Costcutters, at least one nail bar, a few newsagents, Clintons Cards, Smoker’s Paradise, a couple of opticians, Superdrug, Somerfields, Sainsbury’s, post office, library, swimming pool, Pizza Hut take-out, McDonalds, Iceland, a Next reject outlet, the Chequers (local frequented by Barkingside’s grimmest residents, which looks like it would have a “No dogs, blacks or Irish” sign) and an oak tree.

In Tooting at the weekend we signed a petition calling on the govt to invest more in threatened local hospitals. Dully surprised to notice in the small print that the origins of this petition were the Conservative Party. I asked the youth peddling it whether he was a member of the Conservative Party – he was. A turnip.