British disabled punk rocker Penny Pepper interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

Morning Stories | Penny Pepper On The Problem With ‘Sensible’ Shoes

24 August 2015

Penny Pepper, a disabled writer, talks about rebelling against the “what’s best” rhetoric when it comes to fashion.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

‘The world was a liar and I had too much to say to listen to its prejudice’

Thursday 23rd November 2017

Self-confessed saucepot PENNY PEPPER talks to Felicity Collier about the life experiences informing her recently published memoir

JUST before she starts her reading in a Camden Town pub from her memoirs First in the World Somewhere, Penny Pepper is abuzz with anecdotes from her punk youth, be they striking up a rapport with Morrissey or performing gigs in front of Diane Abbott.

A writer and disabled-rights activist, she instigated change in the 1980s by firing off a letter to music magazine Jamming! calling for equal access to gig venues.

The reaction she stirred led to her meeting her first love, forming a band, and recognition that, if punk is about “breaking down barriers,” that must include disability rights.

Her memoirs follow Penny’s childhood and adolescence in the Chilterns where she was keen to escape her lot with an abusive stepfather and a home life she describes as “a prison, hell.”

She savoured times when there was enough money for batteries to power her radio so she could listen to John Peel (“an absolute saviour”) and, when she first heard The Smiths, she immediately bought “everything they had breathed on.”

Feeling represented by Morrissey’s outsider lyrics, Penny wrote to him “endlessly” and was rewarded with a vinyl copy of Barbarism Begins at Home.

Another pivotal moment was watching Siouxsie Sioux and the Sex Pistols on TV setting the tone for a new youth movement.

Rejecting “the designated life of the cripple,” and the restrictive attitudes from health professionals, she was determined not to live a life ruled by Still’s disease, the arthritic condition which affects her joints and requires her to use a wheelchair

Her dream of living an independent life in London was granted when Ken Livingstone, then Greater London Council leader, acted on a letter she wrote. “Letter writing was my escape, my way of fighting back in the world,” she tells me. “The power of my words took me somewhere.”

Cue letters to the Greenham Common women, membership of CND and Rock against Racism, all provoked by “hating Thatcher and everything she stood for.”

She moved in with her partner-in-crime Tamsin — also disabled — and the pair studied, partied and made music together.

“We didn’t think we shouldn’t do what other people do in their twenties,” she says, recalling how at that time disabled people lived with their parents or in a care home. She was intent on avoiding “incarceration” and the sense that her destiny was set in stone was vehemently rejected when she decided to write.

But it took a long time for her to realise that she had “as much right as anyone else” to tell her story. As with writing, so it was with having a sexual identity as a disabled person. She published a pamphlet on the subject and wrote erotic fiction and her candid and vivid memoirs are excellent testament to her tackling ignorance and discrimination.

As a musician, record company executives “leered” over her breasts, she recalls, but took umbrage at her wheelchair. It was an awakening — being made to feel like she could not belong or be sexy because she used a wheelchair and had arthritis. “I decided the world was a liar and I had far too much to say to listen to its prejudice.”

Outrageously funny and brilliantly defiant, Penny is now in her fifties and she has an enduring identification with anarchism, defining it as mutual aid that involves people who are “programmed to help each other to survive rather than the survival of the fittest that capitalism thrives on.”

Yet she’s been a socialist all her life and has a lot of hope for Jeremy Corbyn. Penny encountered Corbyn in the summer while fundraising and he has supported her disability campaign group Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

“He’s definitely captured the imagination of people — he’s made politics fresh. You can’t undo the passion he’s stirred. For the many, not the few!” she chortles.

Penny and her partner were among the first to have a home help in their own flat. She refused to be placed in a care home in an impersonal system, instead demanding independence in her youth.

But there was a battle to have disabled access fitted to the front door when she was forced to move house and the couple encountered fierce opposition from neighbours.

These days, she works with DPAC in its campaigns against the government’s dismantling of social care, including the fight to preserve the Independent Living Fund that enables disabled people to live independently in their own homes, with visiting personal assistants.

But she is not, she says, “vulnerable” and it’s a word she hates. “It’s really abused. I’m no more vulnerable than anyone else, unless my social care is threatened.”

Of government cuts, she says: “We’re talking about basic equalities — being able to sleep and not in your own pee.” It’s a shocking testament to today’s government because, as she points out, Thatcher ignored disabled people, “but she gave us benefits.”

First in the World Somewhere is available from Unbound, unbound.com. Penny is appearing in Brighton tonight at New Writing South, 9 Jew Street. British Sign Language-interpreted.

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British Theresa May stabbed in back by her own Conservatives


This is a music video of British punk rock band The Damned playing their song Stab your back.

Talking of backstabbing – British Conservative politicians are doing that right now to their own Prime Minister Theresa May.

Today, the (pro-Conservative, Rupert Murdoch-owned) Sunday Times writes that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is facing pressure from her fellow Tory MPs, 40 of which it says have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence if she fails to settle the Brexit divorce bill. Eight more no confidence Conservative MPs would, according to party rules, make enough to force Ms May to have a new party leader election.

The Daily Telegraph (nicknamed ‘The Daily Torygraph’) headlines on its front page today: Harness Thatcher to beat Corbyn, Tories told. That would be a bit difficult, as Baroness Thatcher died in 2013. And she was cremated, not buried, so the Conservative party cannot even dig up a rotting corpse to ‘harness’.

The Daily Torygraph Telegraph does not say whether the Conservatives, in their desperation, might consider ‘harnessing’ their supporter, old Margaret Thatcher mate and serial child abuser Sir Jimmy Savile. Contrary to Thatcher, in Savile‘s case it would at least be possible to dig up a rotten corpse. Kind of fitting now with one Tory sex scandal after another.

BORIS JOHNSON finally said sorry yesterday as pressure mounted on him to resign after making a colossal blunder that could see a British mum spend an extra five years in an Iranian jail: here.

British folk-punk Lily Gaskell on music and politics


This music video from England is called Lily Gaskell entertaining guests at Hannah & Rob Blake’s Wedding Party. Brooklands Museum, Saturday 1st August, 2015.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

In tune with the times

Tuesday 10th October 2017

Folk-punk artist LILY GASKELL talks to Felicity Collier about how the changing political landscape impacts on her work

FROM early on in her career, when she played Rock against Racism nights, folk-punk artist Lily Gaskell’s work has been infused with a socialist attitude to music-making.

Along with like-minded people who shared her views to this and other local issues, she developed “a sense of responsibility to stand up for people and share their message,” she tells me.

Lily hails from Thatcher‘s hometown of Stamford and, if further proof were needed that the latter was responsible for millions of children’s misery, the singer tells me that aged 13 she had to clean cobwebs off the iron lady‘s clothes during her work experience at the town’s museum.

“There’s no cleaning that amount of mess off though,” she quips.

When she’s not rollerskating, the professionally trained musician tours around co-operatively run venues such as Bradford’s 1 in 12 club and Sumac in Nottingham.

She performs covers in pubs as a means of income but says that she has had to turn venues down in the past “if their political values are way off mine.”

Music is in Lily’s blood. She grew up in a musical house and both her parents — who still play — were in a band together.

“My dad got me my first electric guitar when I was 11,” she recalls.

“I couldn’t play a single chord until I started going to an after-school group and it quickly became all-consuming.

“I was gigging regularly from the age of 12, playing bass in a few bands. But I didn’t start writing or singing until I was around 14 and became more confident in myself.”

Hugely inspired by songwriter Jeff Buckley, she tried to mimic his intricacy and style. Pearl Jam, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins have all been influences, along with The Clash, Rancid, Black Flag, Bad Religion and Misfits.

Currently, she draws inspiration from promoters like Loud Women, who encourage all-female line-ups at their gigs.

“It’s very necessary and totally awesome,” she says. “In our patriarchal society women need to reclaim space and feel safe doing so.

“While it’s great to have all-female line-ups, it’s just as much about the people who attend the gigs. The atmosphere and safe space these events create makes it more accessible and in turn will get more women involved in music. Girls to the front!”

And she’s inspired by the changing political landscape. The Tories —“every one of their sentences crawls with lies” — are on their way out, “no doubt,” and she found the June election empowering but emotionally draining.

“It woke up the youth and showed they can make a difference. We showed everyone that the Labour Party is a viable alternative and it was the start of something really significant.

This Lily Gaskell music video says about itself:

18 September 2015

A song for Jeremy Corbyn; adapted from a poem by Ian Everett.

The article continues:

“I helped my parents’ campaign in Skegness, where my dad ran as the Labour Party candidate.

“We drove around in his bright red ‘Corbyn Camper,’ with my Mum doing hilarious Thatcher impressions through a megaphone down Skeggy high street.”

No doubt Lily will make a similarly storming appearance at the London fundraiser for the Morning Star on Saturday. Don’t miss!

Lily Gaskell and rap/spoken-word artist Potent Whisper are appearing at the Constitution pub, 42 St Pancras Way, London NW1 on Saturday October 14. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from maryado2000@yahoo.co.uk, eventbrite.co.uk or on the door.

British army recruits child soldiers


This 1978 punk rock music video from England is called FAREWELL TO THE ROXY: The Tickets: [Join The Army,] Get Yourself Killed.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

British Army targets working-class schoolchildren for recruitment

7 August 2017

The British Army recently launched a recruitment campaign that specifically targets working-class youth. Blandly named “This is belonging,” the campaign identifies its main audience as economically deprived young people, including adolescents only 16 years of age.

A briefing document section titled “Target audience” spells out that the army is primarily aiming to recruit 16-24 year olds in the C2DE sociological category. The C2DE category refers to the lowest three economic groupings, which range from skilled manual workers through to unskilled labour and the unemployed. The document specifies that it is chiefly targeting those who come from families with an annual household income of less than £10,000 ($US 13,100), meaning that many of the children targeted live below the poverty line.

Although the campaign is UK-wide, the army document indicates that there are “up-weights” to cities in the North of England and in the West Midlands, such as Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Urban centres such as these tend to have high rates of youth unemployment, at 22.8, 19.4 and 22.5 percent respectively, compared to a UK average of 14.4 percent (figures from August 2016).

Speaking to the World Socialist Web Site, Rachel Taylor, director of programmes at Child Soldiers International, condemned the army’s recruitment drive for targeting “the youngest and most vulnerable people for its most dangerous roles. Many children in these towns and cities have grown-up in communities with little economic capital or career opportunities and are easy targets for Army recruiters who are desperate to fill recruitment shortfalls.”

The fact that the armed forces are “preying on communities where unemployment and social deprivation is high … is a brazen, calculated policy to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds who have few options in life for dangerous infantry jobs that others do not want.”

The “This is belonging” campaign uses a series of short video clips showing staged scenes of young soldiers undergoing training or participating in mock combat situations, attempting to present the armed forces as a supportive, family environment. These videos were shown on social media, on television and in cinemas.

The army describes “This is belonging” as “a new inspirational and motivating creative campaign” to convey the message that recruits would be joining “a brotherhood and sisterhood formed of unbreakable bonds which … will accept you for you.”

Labelling these videos as “cleverly engineered propaganda which glamorises army life,” Taylor insisted that “the reality could not be more different.”

“Morale among the armed forces is plummeting. Forty percent of recruits are actively looking for other employment, while issues of bullying and abuse are commonplace, especially for the 24 percent of recruits who sign up under the age of 18.”

ForcesWatch, a non-profit organisation that scrutinises military recruitment practices, also criticised the army for targeting young people and for “appealing to the adolescent child’s need to belong.” The organisation argued that the army “have latched onto a very popular recruitment tool, powerful in particular among those who feel isolated or marginalised, or who have a sense of non-belonging and potentially low self-esteem.”

The UK is the only country in Europe, and one of only a handful in the world, that allows the recruitment of minors. The enlistment process into the armed forces can begin at 15 years and seven months, although training does not start until the child has reached 16 and these recruits cannot be deployed into active service until they reach 18 years.

According to a report by Medact, a non-profit organisation of health professionals, there are serious long-term consequences of child recruitment by the army. The study showed that these young recruits are more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol abuse and self-harm after leaving the army. Male under-20 recruits have a 64 percent higher risk of suicide than their adult civilian peers and have a higher chance of being wounded or killed during their career in the armed forces.

The report concluded that military recruitment techniques “[take] advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychological vulnerabilities” and that current child recruitment practices “do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent.”

The UK government has actively promoted army recruitment within schools, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announcing the creation of 150 new cadet units in schools last October. There are now more than 300 cadet units across UK schools, in which children as young as 12 are taught battle planning, weapon use and military discipline.

According to ForcesWatch, the military make thousands of visits to UK schools and colleges each year and even to primary schools and nurseries. These visits include recruitment stalls at careers fairs, curriculum and career-related activities, sessions with staff members and interviews for pre-recruitment courses at army bases, among other things.

Some schools are either sponsored by or have partnerships with the armed forces or arms industry.

ForcesWatch coordinator Emma Sangster rejected the Ministry of Defence claim that the army does not directly recruit within schools. She told the Guardian: “Recruitment is a process, it’s not a single event.” During visits to school, armed forces recruiters, “drip feed things of interest to children of school age. They sanitise what conflict involves, and also glamorise it. They focus on adventure, which young people are desperate for.”

The British state is attempting to indoctrinate and prepare the next generation of working-class youth to be cannon fodder in their imperialist wars abroad. This is confirmed by the analysis of Veterans for Peace (VFP). In its report, “The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment,” VFP asserts that British Army policy is to “channel the youngest recruits and those from poorer backgrounds into the infantry, which uses the most coercive training methods … [and] carries the greatest risks in war…

“To ensure that recruits will follow all orders and kill their opponents in war, army training indoctrinates unconditional obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination.”

The VFP report notes that recruitment policy is rooted in class divisions, with army recruiters “creaming off” high-achieving adults from English universities to become future officers, while “dredging” poorer areas to fill the lower ranks with working-class youth whose lives are seen by the ruling elite as more dispensable.

This recruitment drive and the militarisation of education comes in the context of the escalation of British and NATO operations in the Middle East and on Russia’s borders, with the British Army currently deployed in some capacity in over 80 countries across the world.

It is not just within Britain that the militarisation of social life is taking place. In 2011, the German Bundeswehr began recruiting in schools and universities as part of a broader drive by the Defence Ministry to recruit thousands of new soldiers. Last year, the Swedish Parliament voted to bring back conscription and French President Emmanuel Macron … included the return of the draft as an electoral promise.

More than 75 years after the outbreak of World War II, ruling elites across the world are again seeking to create powerful armies able to enforce their geostrategic and economic interests through war. A century after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the international working class is once again confronted with the necessity of building a revolutionary socialist and internationalist movement in order to prevent the descent into a catastrophic world war.

Pro-Greenpeace music videos


This music video is Greenpeace, by Dutch band Teach-In.

This year the Eurovision Song Contest was a pretext for a British Conservative politician for anti-Irish racism.

In 1975, Teach-In won the Eurovision Song Contest. Since then, there have not been any Dutch winners of the contest.

In 1979, they made this song about Greenpeace. The song mentions the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior; in 1985 blown up in a murderous attack by the French secret police because of opposition to French nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific.

This music video by English punk rock band Sham 69 is their song Rainbow Warrior; on the Greenpeace ship.