The Canary is excited to share the third edition of our members’ letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news, politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. However, this is a members-only benefit! If you’d like to subscribe monthly to the Canary – starting from just £1 – and get a letter published, then you can do that here:
This week’s letters
This week we’ve a short essay about a personal battle with political skepticism, discussion around rug policy, another response to a member’s letter on Scottish independence, thoughts on protest in Catalonia, and a look at just who the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) legal team is. Don’t forget, as a member you can respond to any of these letters! Email us via membership(at)thecanary.co
Hope becoming despair
We live in a culture where rich people talk to each other, then pronounce from their well-funded platforms what ‘the country’ thinks. They patronise ordinary people – and if they’ve rehearsed their regional accents like Kevin Maguire, all the better. I remember how the media liked to present Brexit as a revolution by flat-cap racists and scum in tracksuits from the provinces standing around outside Greggs, with greasy hair and spots, clutching their sausage rolls in the drizzle.
So, I really do appreciate what the Canary is trying to do. I would donate, and hope to in the future, but unfortunately, since I, along with most of the night team, walked out on the BP/M&S where I worked over the treatment of a new, young member of staff, Umar, by the management – I have been unemployed.
I haven’t been reading your newsletter regularly because, for my mental health, I have been taking a Daoist approach to politics in this country. We live in a managed democracy where consent is manufactured. Politics is a theatre for the ruling class, legitimised by dupes who feel empowered by their non-speaking roles in the performance like starstruck extras.
The period between 2015 and 2018, fading sadly in 2019, offered real hope to me of a democracy that might actually be responsive to ordinary people, where government might actually function for the public good rather than the hubris of careerists and the vested interests of the morbidly rich who pay them. That hope has become despair. Labour wasn’t defeated by Johnson’s Tories. They were transparently a clown-car show of corrupt and incompetent grotesques. Labour was defeated by its own party, powerful people influential in the party, their so-called allies in the ‘liberal’ media, etc.
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It’s amazing to me that the likes of James O’Brien and the debutante’s ball at the Guardian could ever be described as ‘progressive’ – whatever that truly means. They were all in when it came to defending their class privilege and fulfilling their function as the release valve when the pressure builds. 150,000 dead from austerity, yet now they call it ‘cost of living crisis’ like it’s something new. But it’s okay because twerps like John Harris in an anorak looking like he’s got lost on his way to a Happy Mondays concert will wander through litter strewn provincial marketplaces talking to the plebs for the amusement of Guardian readers.
Meanwhile any chance of economic fairness or environmental responsibility gets dumped, along with the young and marginalised people, as Keir Starmer dances around a union flag-adorned May Pole, Rachel Reeves prepares public floggings of the poor and the oleaginous Wes Streeting prepares the piecemeal sell-off of our NHS. We’ll be told that housing plans will be passed on the 12th of Never while the politicians build housing portfolios, and striking workers will be arrested and prosecuted – while the media will still bemoan they’re too woke. TV stations will once again chime with the dulcet tones of the likes of Peter Mandelson, presumably beaming in his pronouncements from some discreetly tucked away Caribbean Island, that every servile Emily Maitlis or Robert Peston will feign not to notice while consuming his utterances with the relish of one that finds the taste of his ejaculate to be like manna from heaven.
My apologies, this was spleen venting but you did ask, and I do feel slightly better. Back now to my practice of wu wei.
Ross Patrick, via email – follow him on Twitter @rosspatrick_
In parts of the Western world (at least) overdoses (OD) have been on the increase for decades. We are fast approaching a million deaths: completely avoidable and preventable deaths. I will get to that later, though I am sure Canary folk know how some of these deaths are prevented. Or could be.
It seems 100% obvious to me that this is happening at a time of increased societal collapse, though proving direct correlation is difficult. But we do know that the vast majority of people seeking solace from drugs do so in stressful times related to economic and social deprivation, and insecurity. Societal collapse due to the climate emergency is already happening, it seems. Tipping points are upon us, but depending on who’s work you want to believe, what we are seeing is not only to do with the climate emergency.
Increasing numbers of our fellow citizens are getting cancers, taking their own lives or killing themselves with drugs (legal or not). Others are sacrificing their liberty to wake us the f*ck up to all the above. And now the cost of living crisis. Friends of mine are injecting Naloxone [aka Prenoxad or Nyxoid, ed.] into people and saving their lives. It is an opiate overdose reversal medicine. And it works. It has saved many thousands around the world
The Sackler family, who run the big pharma Purdue drug company, were fined huge amounts for lying about the impact of drugs to cause addiction.
Normalising this as we continue to resist tyrannical corporatisation is a profound tragedy.
Thank you Canary for banging the drums of social and economic justice.
Andria Mordaunt MSc
London, via email
Catalonia: Spain has echoes of Tory UK?
On 6 December, Day of the Spanish Constitution, a massive demonstration was held in Barcelona to reject the future reform of the penal code. The Spanish state has an improper crime in Europe: the crime of sedition, with which the politicians who organized, in 2017, the Catalan independence referendum were convicted.
This crime, created in 1822, condemns with very high penalties mass demonstrations that prevent the enforcement of laws even if no violence is used. In Europe it would be considered an anti-democratic law because it can impede the right to demonstrate. That is why the justice systems in Belgium, Germany, and Italy, not observing violence in the investigated facts, rejected the delivery to Spain of the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont for sedition.
For all this, and by request of the Council of Europe, Spain was forced to eliminate this crime, but wants to replace it with a new crime of “aggravated disorder”. This aims, according to the members of the Spanish Government, to be able to continue condemning any type of large non-violent demonstration made by the Catalan independence movement.
Apparently the maximum penalties for this new crime would be lower than the previous one, but ultimately the same sentences could be reached for the organizers of the 2017 referendum (from nine to 13 years in prison). Moreover, in this new interpretation, a mass demonstration would be a crime if it is considered to “obstruct the public road”, to “intimidate” (a very ambiguous term), to “occupy a building or facility” without violence, or if “a crowd suitable to seriously affect public order” (very ambiguous) is summoned or attended. To make matters worse, the minimum sentence for this crime (which could involve participating in a non-violent demonstration) is increased to three years in prison.
Also, the Spanish government have justified this new crime because it will allow them to extradite from Belgium the president Puigdemont – as if they had written this law ad hoc to lock up in prison the “number one enemy” of Spain.
The pro-independence movement rejects this change of one crime for another, because a crime that had its days numbered is repealed, but is replaced by another crime that is designed to prevent the Catalan pro-independence project, without caring about violating fundamental rights. And all this for the simple fact that the ultra-nationalist Spain, which emerged from the Franco dictatorship, does not accept what this legitimate political movement proposes, and thinks that anything goes in order to maintain the unity of Spain. But that is not so: democracy and the right of the self-determination of peoples are superior values that must be respected.
Anonymous, via email
Another response to a member’s letter on Scottish independence – you can read the original here
The abject failure of this English-elected government since the Nick Clegg-led Liberals guaranteed David Cameron would be PM by forming a coalition is not only a crime, it is malevolent.
The attacks on UK citizens have been relentless since day one. Austerity was to end after five years, yet it’s still with us after 12-plus years. Carrying on, we have their privatisation of the NHS and all other parts of the health service. The insidious attack on the most vulnerable has not ceased since the criminal chancellor uttered the infamous ‘hard-working tax payers’, implying they were paying to keep the ‘work-shy, elderly and disabled’. This hate-filled rhetoric did the trick. The public took it hook, line, and Tory sinker. Now they are setting up plans for the subjugation of the working person’s right to strike, and taking away the rights of trade unions to represent us – just as Margaret Thatcher did.
For 12 years plus, this incompetent, self-destructive Tory Party have forced unneeded austerity on us, have decimated the welfare state, have been in the process of destroying then privatising the entire health service, and murdered hundreds of thousands whilst making their cronies even richer than they dreamed – through corrupt health/pandemic contracts.
YOU ENGLISH KEEP THEM IN POWER.
P.J. McQueenie, via email
DWP: department of wicked people
I have been reading your articles on the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), or as I call them ‘department of wicked people’.
It is my experience that one of the main reasons that the DWP keep breaching benefit claimants’ rights is deliberate, due to one factor – the DWP legal team. It is my evaluation that they instruct – or fail to tell – the DWP to comply with claimants’ human rights, because it means that they will get many legal claims against the DWP, and that means they get paid – especially going to court. Though when this is done at the expenses of the public purse, then it’s pure abuse of money.
So who are the DWP Legal Team?
Well, first they are not regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). I don’t think the SRA has any idea who they are – individuals or a firm of solicitors/barristers, hired by the DWP. So, the DWP legal team are unregulated.
We cannot have an unregulated/unknown legal bunch running around making thousands, if not millions, of pounds off the public for just using the court system as an excuse for their wages.
Anonymous, via email
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