Sunday, 20 June 2021

Add an L to Dido


"Baroness Harding of Winscombe has vowed to end England’s reliance on foreign doctors and nurses if she becomes the next head of the NHS." (The Times) . I have had two major operations in recent years and three hospital stays. The first to drain blood from my brain. The second to install a new heart valve. Then after a stroke, many weeks in hospital. The first surgeon was Nigerian, the second surgeon was Egyptian and the nursing staff were from the UK, many EU countries and beyond. I have become a lifelong friend of a wonderful nurse from the Philippines. Thanks to all of them I'm still alive and well enough to shout out my anger. Baroness Dido Hardly Human can go f..k herself with her own name with added "L"

Friday, 18 June 2021

Keeping track of galloping corruption




“The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python” EX-PM John Major

What is the connection between these two photos? The first one was taken yesterday at Ascot where 12,000 unmasked guests, looking like a scene from “My Fair Lady”, met for the five day races. Meanwhile funerals are restricted to thirty attendees.

The second photo is of former jockey, and Jockey Club board member, Baroness Dido Harding, who is responsible for several major horse-racing events including the well-attended Cheltenham Festival in March and Ascot today.

She has just applied for the job of Chief Executive of NHS England. She was appointed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to head Test and Trace Health, ostensibly established to track and help prevent the spread of Covid-19. In August 2020 Harding was appointed interim chief executive of the National Institute for Health Protection, later renamed the UK Health Security Agency.

The Baroness is a Tory Peer and married to Tory MP, John Penrose who has, wait for it, government responsibilities for anti-corruption.

Back on the race track, what are the odds on her husband instituting an enquiry into the £27 billion test and trace / PPE monies not properaly accounted for? And anyone want to lay odds on how much longer we will put up with this galloping corruption? Isn't it time for a steward's Enquiry?

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

State corruption on a grand scale



The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health,” The British Medical Journal


Richard Burgon MP tweeted this today - “Serco says it expects profits to be up by millions more than expected – to £200 MILLION. Serco says it’s due to growing demand for Test and Trace. These private companies are treating this pandemic as a get-rich-quick scheme. They should all be booted out of Test and Trace.”

We’re still waiting for the BBC to ask what happened to the £37 billion handed out in test and trace and PPE contracts.

I have written about this many times and here’s what I wrote eight months ago about Serco’s profiteering.

Not so much booted out, but criminally prosecuted

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Left Field after five years


My memoir Left Field was published in 2016 and, published by Unbound and distributed bt Penquin, is still available in shops, as an e-book and in Audible .

The intervening years have been ones of personal and political hope and of personal and political despair. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary.


Not surprisingly for someone in my seventh decade, these have been years when close friends have left this planet while I remain clinging to its edges, aware of Leonard Cohen’s words to Marianne Ihlen that, “I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

The subdural haematoma operation I wrote about in Left Field was followed two years later by a heart valve operation, then a stroke caused by infection of my new valve. I used my hospital stays to campaign for an NHS that had now saved my life three times.


I am proud that the unfairly much-vilified Jeremy Corbyn visited me when I was in St Barts Hospital. The worst insult he has had to endure has been ‘anti-semitism’ accusations about a man who has been at the forefront of anti-racism struggles all his life.


To that end, I helped organise a letter in his support signed by Ken Loach, Brian Eno, Grime4Corbyn, Nigel Kennedy, Alexei Sayle and thousands of others, I consider Corbyn to be our El Pepe. 


His visit to me was organised by Alice Kilroy whose recent death has left my grip on the planet edges more enfeebled. She was a wonderful friend and visited me in hospital more times  than anyone outside my immediate family. I miss her. Here she is with the banner she made for my 70th birthday.



Before she died in February 2020, Alice asked me to take over her work as one of the contributors to People's Campaign for Corbyn Facebook.  You can view all these blogs on my website at

Plenty to keep me busy and angry in support of Jeremy, but am also finding time to write a new book, about food and memory. Because of my age and medical history I am under virtual house arrest with Covid-19 so I have plenty of time.

These years have been ones when my eldest son lost and won back his disablity benefits. Many haven’t and many have lost their lives in the process.

These have also been years of loss for me, not of the dead, but of a living son who has ghosted me. I wrote about this under a pseudonym for Stand Alone, a charity set up by a friend of mine for people estranged from their families. 



My past as co-founder of the charity War Child still haunts me and hope it haunts those I write critically about here. I recently learned that the present War Child CEO receives an annual salary of £108,000.


My critique of aid charities continued after two visits to the Calais ‘jungle’ refugee ‘camps’. 


Perhaps we have to become more French because La Lutte must continue against a system that rewards rogues, steals votes, and is run by Boris Johnson, a PM who hides in fridges.



I hope I will be able to visit my eldest son Ben in Cornwall soon. The last time we met was when Dubioza Kolektiv were gigging in London. I will then take the longer journey to Mostar to stay with my Bosnian family who I wrote about in Left Field. Dubioza's  drummer, Senad Suta, gave me his drumsticks after that gig. The less said about their rakija the better.


Here in London I have been trying to play guitar again. My left hand was weakened by the stroke. My music friends are at Camden Guitars and the owner, Deicola Neves, tells me off when I complain. "Didn't you know that Django Reinhardt only had three fingers? 

Here is my friend playing great jazz on bass guitar.

And here is a Dubioza  track about borders that kill. I dedicate this entry to the memory of Alice Kilroy and all those who have kept me connected to music and therefore to life.




You can read All of Left Field here.


Thursday, 10 June 2021

G7 - A Tale of Two Duchies


As Royal Navy Culdrose sees helicopters unloaded from giant transporters, cruise ships anchor off Falmouth to house the 5,000 police and as Boris Johnson flies in from his 300 mile journey from distant London, locals have the chance to contemplate the £70 million cost for all this.


This is a truncated version of Tanya Gold’s excellent, “The Prostitution of Cornwall”



"The Carbis Bay Hotel at St Ives, which is hosting the G7 summit this week, contains a parade of ugly beachside villas that rent for thousands a week They exists for people who travel here with their own fantasies, which rarely involve Cornish reality.


There was Daphne Du Maurier and Manderley now it’s Boris Johnson, the G7 and Carbis Bay


It’s an old story: rich and poor competing for the same space.


There is only one road into Carbis Bay and on it a sign: “St Ives Foodbank Welcomes You”.


Living costs are high, but wages are low; work is often seasonal, zero hours and without benefits. If the average Cornish salary is less than the national average, housing costs are explosive. The average house now costs eight times the average salary: and prices are still rising. You buy a house, rent it out (but not to locals, that is unprofitable), and either enjoy the income or sell it on. The old cottages by the sea are rentals or second homes.


It is normal to be evicted for the summer: people camp in fields or squat in campervans. One third of children under five live in insecure and privately rented accommodation, which is some of the worst maintained in Britain. 36% of children in St Ives live in poverty. That isn’t on the postcards.


Cornish people are up the hill on the Penbeagle Estate, a pale and uniform collection of houses, from which they contemplate their own town from a distance. 


Carbis Bay Hotel has destroyed a portion of woodland to build meeting rooms for the summit, despite planning permission being denied for the same site in 2018, and yet still calling itself an “Eco hotel”.


The “global elite”, have had footpaths closed and taken hotel rooms from vulnerable homeless people. Cornwall is two duchies now, and the G7 is happening in one of them.


A resident at the Treneere estate in Penzance says the housing shortage is so acute adult children are living in parents’ garden sheds. People are inhabiting cottages with water running down the walls; or they are evicted so the home can be an Airbnb. “We might as well go back to days of the poorhouse. It feels like that. What about lovely, ordinary people?” They have been obscured, I think, by lovely, extraordinary landscape, and the desire of others to possess it. "

Friday, 4 June 2021

Get Beckett


BBC Newsnight wore their knuckle dusters last night to get Howard Beckett, the leading left-wing candidate for General Secretary of the UNITE union. We were told that “Keir Starmer has had an epic battle to bring different factions of the Labour Party together” and "launch a new era with a leader pledged to restore unity.”

Newsnight went on to tell their viewers that, “We’ve seen emails sent to one of the top candidates to take over the UNITE union showing the depth of planning to challenge established Labour figures.” 


Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Howard Beckett put up a strong defence in the face of this assault, but the programme's sympathies for them were little more than allowing air time for BBC 'balance'. 

First up on camera was Tom ‘let’s bomb Syria’ Watson whose contribution to unity was summed up in this comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership: “The Stalinist cabal has a lot of responsibility for creating internal political tensions.” Newsnight billed him as former deputy leader of the Labour Party, but failed to mention that he is now an adviser to Paddy Power, Betfair and SkyBet on a salary in the region of £100,000. He told Newsnight that, “While UNITE carries on with its internal politics and plays these hard left games, that plays very badly with mainstream voters on the doorstep … I have no doubt that Keir Starmer can face these people down.”

Next up was Margaret Hodge whose contribution to party unity can be found in her comment to Jeremy Corbyn, “You are a fucking antisemite and racist.” She told Newsnight that, “It is outrageous that at a time when all our focus should have been on defeating the Conservative government, UNITE was having discussions on how to undermine sitting MPs and get rid of the Labour Party General Secretary, (Iain McNicol).”

After their efforts at “unity” which ensured the return of a Tory government, they have all been well rewarded. Watson with his lucrative betting job, McNicol with his ‘elevation’ to the House of Lords and Margaret Beckett as new Chair of the Labour Party NEC.