From Rochester to Allington lock

The alt-media gatherings have been suffering from the tyranny of the funders for more years than I care to remember. The is a big problem of the chattering classes in alt-media.


This is a DRAFT over view of the gathering from a working grassroots perspective.


Comments in italics are by me.

=== Festival ===

To help build a movement for#MediaDemocracy we're holding a big Media Democracy Festival at Goldsmiths, University of London on October 17th 2015.

9am - 10am: Arrivals/ registration - Great Hall

== Speakers ==

10am - 11.30am: Great Hall

The day will start with some great speakers setting the scene and explaining why Media Democracy is so important. Confirmed speakers include:

Setting the scene with “big” speakers and panels is a disaster that creates the very thing you should be trying to avoid.

= Aral Balkan =
A designer & social entrepreneur creating independent technologies that protect our fundamental freedoms & democracy.

Flash and fashion is what I see on his website, am shore he is a nice guy but - Have been on his site now for half and hour and I still don’t know what he is building – think this is to do with his strap line - Independence ★ Democracy ★ Design – he is building him self so he can speak at gigs more expensive than this. FAIL

= Natalie Fenton =
Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy, a founding member of the Media Reform Coalition and Board Director of Hacked Off.

Agen am sure a lovely person but not building alt-media, she is talking about alt-media in academia speech in articles that are not assessable to “grassroots people” - must admit I asleep trying to reading the PDF's and am probably in one somewhere.

= Kam Sandhu =
A journalist and co-founder of Real Media, an independent news website and aggregator that campaigns for public interest journalism and against mass media distortion. Kam has written and produced several short documentaries, and also founded RealFare, where she spent over two years reporting on the effects of austerity on welfare and inequality before Real Media.

She works hard and is doing outreach grassroots media, but, she is directly responsible for building a portal strait out of the 20th century as her tool for outreach.... if she was talking about this experience it would ad-value – but she won’t be.

= Michelle Stanistreet =

Michelle is the elected general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland). Michelle worked as a journalist for 10 years at the Sunday Express newspaper as feature writer and books editor.

Just to say I am a member of the NUJ and been to conferences, still occasionally go to branch meetings, more for the free beer and the chance that it might have changed than the union it self. The NUJ and altmedia history is interesting and would be good if she was talking about that directly.

11.30am - 12pm: Break, and the great chair re-arrange, Great Hall

== Open Space Unconference ==

12 - 6pm: Great Hall (with breakout sessions in various classrooms)

The bit that should add value! :)

The bulk of the day will be a self-organising open space unconference facilitated by Johnnie Moore. Everyone will be free to propose a session that answers our central question: How can we create media democracy?

Sessions already lined-up include:

* Drew Rose from Bristol Cable and Danielle Batist from Positive News doing a session on Media Co-ops.

Good background and positive news have done a interesting crowed funding relaunch – did it work?

* Andy Williams from Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Sam Kinch from Hastings Independent on Community Journalism.

Academics – what do they bring to building in a practical way?

* Jonathan Heawood from IMPRESS and Natalie Fenton from Hacked Off with an update on Leveson and why a recognised press regulator could be good for small publishers.

The more traditional media side of the event

* Mike Flood Page of Open Democracy's OurBeeb will be asking does public service broadcasting have a future?

The more traditional media side of the event

* Matteo Bergamini from Shout Out UK's and Susana Giner from Youth Media Agency on Changing Perceptions of the Youth in the Media.

NGO's are rarely about media, more about social work, will this be talked about?

* Open Democracy's Adam Ramsay on How Climate Change is Reported in the Media.

Traditional media agen

* Richard Hering from visionOntv on How to Build the Citizen TV Revolution.

A altmedia project that needs a re-boot to escape sliding into a NGO world, am involved in this one.

* Bectu Writers, Producers and Directors branch members Chester Yang and Marcus Relton on their plans for a progressive internet TV station in partnership with the trade unions.

The is a long abortive history to this subject – have they/will they address it?

* Gail Bradbrook from Compassionate Revolution on collective acts of civil disobedience and media reform, looking at the legal side of sabotaging the media, brainstorming cheerful subversive actions.

A local NGO'sh media project?

= Film =

Alongside the open space they'll be screenings of related documentaries including:

The Fourth Estate with a Q&A with Director Lee Salter

El Diario de Agustin (Agustin's Newspaper), with a Q&A hosted by Alborada.

Plus:

10 minute summary presentations running on a loop from Centre for Investigative Journalism:

The Centre for Investigative Journalism – An introduction to the organisation

Data Stories - Using data to find, write and explain news stories, from Excel to SQL

Interactive Storytelling - The cutting edge of innovation in digital narrative methods

Advanced Online Research - Tips and tricks for getting the most out of the internet

The FOIA: Problems and pitfalls - Getting the most out of your requests.

Information Security – Keeping your communication secure

Company Accounts – ‘Follow The Money’ investigations into illicit finance

= Workshops =

Half hour taster sessions run by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

15:00-15:30

Data Stories - Using data to find, write and explain news stories, from Excel to SQL, led by Juliet Ferguson.

Might be interesting, but about producing media.

15:30-16:00

The FOIA: Problems and pitfalls - Getting the most out of your requests, led by Sid Ryan.

Useful basic stuff – but with out working alt-media what good is content?

16:00-16:30

Interactive Storytelling - The cutting edge of innovation in digital narrative methods, led by Marina Calland.

The problem is in the basics – not the cutting edge...

16:30-17:00

Information Security – Keeping your communication secure, led by Tom Sanderson.

This is a subject that needs a open descusern – were this will likely be a closed presentation?

== Party (and live crowdfunding) ==

6pm - late.

Live crowdfunding of media projects, spoken word, live music, and DJs. In the evening we're partnering with Filanthropy to organise a party from 6pm - late in the Student Union. This will include the opportunity for 3 projects to pitch to the room and invite pledges of financial and other support from the crowd (who will be able to decide which projects get £5 of their ticket money, plus anything else they feel inspired to contribute).

If you've got a media project that could really do with £500-1000 to help get you started then APPLY NOW http://s.coop/mediaform for your chance to pitch to the room!

= LIVE BAND: United Vibrations =
We're very pleased that incredible local band and festival favourites United Vibrations will be joining us for the party.

= SPOKEN WORD: Anthony Anaxagorou, Deanna Rodger and Potent Whisper =
These amazing wordsmiths will be kicking the party off with their inspirational lyrics and wordplay.

== Who's coming to the Media Democracy Festival? ==

We've already got loads of great projects and groups signed up to participate, including:

Real Media - an aggregator of independent news

Good project but needs to move out of 20th century thinking, think they might manage this and could become a core of a rejuvenated alt-media.

Hacked Off - the campaign for a free and accountable press

Trying to save the mainstream media needs to be done but its a loseing battle – and a distraction if this is the main option.

Consented - "a multi-media platform for those who aren’t accurately represented by the mainstream"

its another wordpress blog I have not heard or seen – could be useful as a part of a wider network but vanishing pointless isolated.

Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom - for a more accountable, freer and diverse media.

Trying to save the mainstream media needs to be done but its a loseing battle – and a distraction if this is the main option.

Positive News - the world’s first publication dedicated to reporting positive developments, recently transformed into the first a global media co-op.

Interested to find out what they have been upto.

Bristol Cable - a media co-operative – created and owned by people in Bristol who run free events, a multimedia website and a free quarterly print newspaper.

A local media portal - could be useful as a part of a wider network but vanishing pointless isolated.

The Centre for Investigative Journalism - Investigative journalism, critical inquiry, and in-depth reporting and research.

Takes up a lot of NGO'ish funding to help prop up the falling moral standards of traditional media – some one has to do it. But with out an alternative....

The IMPRESS Project - for independent self-regulation of the press - and looking set to become the first recognised press regulator under the Royal Charter that came out of the Leveson inquiry

Some one has to do it but were is the alt?

People's Assembly Against Austerity - bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice.

A functionally closed silo group filled with bureaucratic infighting and power politics – more part of the problem than part of the solution

Permaculture Magazine - an independent reader supported magazine all about practical solutions for self-reliance.

Posh people doing things posh people do – nice if you can afford the lifestyle. Could be a “healthy part” of an alt – if the was one.  

visionOntv - who aim for the widest possible distribution of video for social change.

Has some interesting offshoots and what’s left of its video embeds are an actual functioning alt-media even if most of the tech is half broken. Am involve in this one http://openworlds.info/

Hastings Independent - the local non-profit community newspaper for Hastings & St Leonards on Sea

Could be part of a alt-media network if the was one.

Radical Film Network - a network for which those involved in radical film culture to work together and support its development, growth and sustainability.

Nice people doing nice things, but with the closeting of alts its rearguard and academic.

Shout Out UK - an independent news network that, via journalism, film and events, aims to show young people that politics has a direct impact on everything you do in life.

A 20 century portal I have not heard or seen, could become part of an alt.

Youth Media Agency - the National home for UK Youth Media: raising the profile of, and supporting, over 300 exciting media platforms.

Its NGO with not much going for it as far as my glance at their site sees.

Through the Cracks - a news website devoted to coverage of reporting, storytelling and news startups made possible with the use of crowdfunding.

Its a dotcom silo that will fad into irrelevance.

Alborada - a UK based magazine, events and documentary producer covering Latin America

Could be part of building an alt?

London Socialist Film Co-op - arranges screenings where people can see films and take part in a panel discussion.

I like their side bar link, but have never been to one of their screenings.

Inform My Opinion - a podcast series on various social, political, economic, environmental subjects and activism (mainly in London), featuring voices of people who are well-informed and those who want to speak.

Small, they have a RSS feed so could be part of an alt.

Let Me Look TV - broadcasting videos they like or have produced (mostly activism stuff), and helping others broadcast their material too.

Can only find social media...

Stop the War Coaltion - Stop the War was founded in September 2001 in the weeks following 9/11, when George W. Bush announced the "war on terror". Stop the War has since been dedicated to preventing and ending the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere.

Mouldy chestnuts come to mind, closed and bureaucratic.

Goldsmiths Deptartment of Media and Communications

Goldsmiths Student Union

== Media Democracy Meetups ==

In the run up to the Festival we've been hosting a monthly Media Democracy Meetup in London

If you think Media Moguls and Press Barons have too much power and influence in our society, want to protect and democratise the BBC, would love to see media co-ops in every community or just work as an independent journalist, photographer or film maker, then this Meetup is for you.

We want all the various threads/ groups working on some part of Media Democracy to talk to each other more and hopefully become a rich tapestry and the beginnings of a power movement for Media Democracy in the UK.

Come along to meet more Media Activists, help organise the Festival and feed into our forthcoming Media Activism Toolkit. See also our related Media Democracy Facebook group.

down the big river

An open, if rather personal, letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz


You don't know me, but I see you alone in your beige and featureless office, and listen to you struggling to form sentences without having the courage to actually say anything, and I know you're not a happy person. And I think you need somebody. And if you want to call it a friend, you can call it a friend. You and I may be very different politically, for I am supporting your rival Mr Corbyn, but I strongly believe that what unites us as human beings is much stronger than what divides us. When I saw that shot pull out to reveal no personal effects whatsoever to leaven the drabness, only a similarly beige map of the UK, I knew this was a cry for help. And if I can help, I will.


Yours kindly


Richard​

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My second open letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz

I'm sorry to write to you again so soon, but I watched your video another time, and it struck me that we may share something. That at a deep level those words you are tapping into your product-placement computer all mean nothing to you, as they do to me, and to so many of the unkind commenters on the film. I seriously advise you to get away from your keyboard in that depressing room. I know it's hard to face up to the fact that you won less than one in twenty CLPs, and I'd like to share that I also know how hard it is to be ignored. Often I write on facebook expecting likes and shares, but am only met with silence. Maybe we should both just stop doing it. There's a big world out there, Liz, where you wouldn't have to try so hard not to talk about policies. If I see you in another of these desultory promos, without even a radio for company, I'll know you haven't taken my advice, but please give it some thought.

Very best wishes

Richard

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My third open letter to Liz Kendall:

Dear Liz

I hope you'll forgive me for yet another letter, but I wanted to temper the negativity of some of my earlier comments. Although we are poles apart politically, as I support the front-runner for Labour Party leader Mr Corbyn, I wanted to say that I find you a lot more honourable than your rival Mr Burnham, for instance over the Tories' Welfare bill. He said he opposed it, but nevertheless abstained, which seems to me dishonest, whereas I know that you do not oppose welfare cuts for the poorest at all, and would vote with the Tories if you were allowed. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to guess that you see yourself as doing for the Labour Party what Margaret Thatcher did for the Tories. But I think we all know that's not going to happen, and I think you should therefore leave that computer alone and get out a bit more. You could try going to one of Mr Corbyn's rallies, and get energised by the young people clambering up the windows to catch him speak. But that may be a bit close to the bone. How about a salsa class (a lot more lively than that sub-Philip Glass music on your video), or a friend of mine swears by tantric yoga? Another lonely friend joined a skiffle band, and has never looked back. You wouldn't need to know how to play anything exotic like the washtub bass or the cigar-box fiddle - a normal guitar would be fine.

Yours ever

Richard

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Open Letter No. 4 to Liz Kendall

Dear Liz

I'm writing to you again because a couple of things have been troubling me, and as ever I have some suggestions I hope you may find helpful. Firstly, I do wish the dinosaurs from Old New Labour such as Messrs Blair, Straw and Campbell would actively distance themselves from your campaign. It can't help for you to be associated with these yesterday's men, especially as many people think they are war criminals who should be arraigned at the Hague. I feel that if they want to campaign for the leadership, they should run themselves, rather than tarnishing your campaign.
Secondly, I hope you don't mind me asking, but I have a friend who is a big fan of the great stage and screen actress Felicity Kendall, and we wondered if you two were in any way related. Who can forget the delightful comedy "The Good Life"? In any case, I'm upset to hear that the opinion polls don't look very good for you, so I wondered if you'd considered leaving politics like Mr David Miliband did when he lost to his brother Ed. If so, with your origins in the great town of Watford, a career in suburban situation comedy might be ideal.

Best wishes in these difficult times

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 5:

Dear Liz

Let's forget about this terrible video for a moment, with its complete absence of policy. I prefer to blame your communications team rather than you personally. For I know you do have quite specific policies, even extending as far as foreign affairs. I have to say, though, that your desire to remove Parliament's ratification of statehood for the Palestinian people I found really shocking. Again, Mr Corbyn has a distinct, even unfair, advantage here, as he has many Israeli and Palestinian friends. I can only think that you've never been to Gaza. I have, and I can tell you it is an unforgettably tragic experience, which I'm sure would cause you to revise your current policy if you witnessed it. I know you're very right-wing, Liz, but surely that's not the same as being cruel to these suffering people. Or is it? Please please reassure me on this matter.

Yours anxiously

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 6:

Dear Liz

I can no longer forbear to comment in detail on the video attached, which completely fails to promote you as potential Labour leader. I am a film maker myself, so offer my skills to suggest improvements. In the strangely inert dialogue scene between you and your computer (strange, that is, after the film "Her"), a great opportunity was missed. Why oh why did we not see some moving images on the screen for you to relate to? Maybe a jolly montage of white working class people NOT on benefits, such as plumbers or taxi drivers, but definitely not electricians, who tend to be committed trade unionists. Or you could have gone the full "Tessa Jowell", with her vision of "One London", everyone from mansion dwellers in Kensington to flat dwellers in Newham (as long as none of them claim benefits). Technically you would have to exclude bankers from this sequence, as they are the largest recipients of state aid, but I leave that as your call. I'm sorry that now we need a bit of film theory. If this is too high-falutin, please pass it directly to your comms team. The crucial concept is Lacanian suture, whereby viewers are "stitched" into your story and ideas by editing, by the juxtaposition of images. Here there was a golden opportunity to achieve suture in a single image, such as Professor Slavoj Zizek finds in the work of Polish master Kieslowski. You could have been reflected in the screen, as a ghostly presence in the lives of all your subjects. Thus as viewers we would have been stitched into your fantasy of power at any cost, and you could have won by a landslide. As it is, all we remember from the sequence is that infernal Apple logo, which makes you appear to be merely a servant of big Capital. Please tell me that isn't so. And Liz, change your comms team!

Best wishes as ever

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 7:

Dear Liz

I wanted to clarify something in my last letter, as I fear you haven't replied yet to any of my letters because I've inadvertently offended you. When I referred to your "fantasy of power at any cost", I did not mean this in the popular sense of that word. I did not mean that in your wish to be Labour leader you were what people call a "fantasist", rather I meant it in the Freudian sense where fantasies are positive. As Dr Freud himself said, we "cannot subsist on the scanty satisfaction which (we) can extort from reality." He added that the energetic person is "one who succeeds by their efforts in turning their wishful phantasies into reality." Whether that will prove to be the case for you in the coming election is, I regret to say, rather doubtful. I only wish that you had appeared more "energetic" in that awful video, instead of looking like a late-night internet surfer, which always has a rather depressive air. I'm sure I too would be a more productive person if I didn't find myself writing to you in the early hours of the morning. I'm sure we can stop doing this if we try a bit harder, Liz. We could make a pact.

All the very best

Richard​

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Open Letter No. 8

Dear Liz

I apologize for returning to the subject of that misguided video, and I promise I won't mention it again. One of the most disturbing aspects of it, though, is how the producers have no idea how to make you shine when moving. Instead you lurk in the shadows, behind the door, facing away from us. It reminds me of the grainy photos of the murder in Antonioni's 60s masterpiece "Blow-Up", but unfortunately I'm not sure whether you're the killer or the corpse. Killer, I hope, because although, as you know, I want Mr Corbyn to win, rather like the 35 MPs who originally nominated him, I'd like there to be a contest. Do you have the instinct, Liz? Aspiration may not be enough, as suggested by this scurrilous satirical site.

If I were directing you in a video, Liz, I would try a much more dynamic scenario. You can't beat the cinematic masters of the 70s, so maybe we could get you out of that computer chair and give you a (female?) friend, walking down the street, with you talking fervently, like in early Woody Allen. Something like this:

LIZ: (gesticulating madly) I mean, he's antIE-nooclear, he's so 80s my mother gets her shoulder pads out of the trunk when he's on TV. ETC
(Can you do a decent Brooklyn accent?).

These ideas are just early drafts, Liz, and we're only brain-storming here. But I'm sure I can do better for you than your current comms team. I would even offer my services for free.

Yours hopefully

Richard​

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Open Letter No. 9:

Dear Liz

In my last letter I suggested a video campaign where you walk down the street dynamically like Woody Allen, putting the world to rights, with a girlfriend at your side. I just found out that you and Ms Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, are drinking pals, even "bezzies". I read this in a newspaper, so it must be true. I was thinking she might be ideal to be your foil in these scenes. She could be your "Annie Hall", if you like. I am a bit concerned, though, that her tilt-headed, slacker hipster style might put you in the shade. We may have to dress her down a bit, though probably not as far as Mr Corbyn. On the other hand, to quote my friend Barry Watt, "Has anyone ever mastered the art of the empty platitude better than Stella?" Come on, Liz, you're not going to take that lying down, are you?

As ever, working to lift your campaign

Richard

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Open Letter No. 10:

Dear Liz

I have to confess I'm having second thoughts about the "street-talking" scenario, with or without your charming hipster friend Ms Creasey. It's time we admitted it. We have a major image problem. I don't mean you, perish the thought, any more than the rest of your New Labour comrades. I just mean that Mr Corbyn is quite brilliant at images which resonate with the public. How can any of you compete with that speech he made atop a fire engine in Camden. It said "open air", "spontaneous", "unguarded", "on the level", and "too popular for a mere hall". It also associated him with one of the strongest trade unions, the FBU. Perfect! So let's forget trying to make you into a motor-mouthed nebbish. That was silly. What resonant image could you have, which would work for your voters? How about Queen Boudica, repelling the migrant hordes? I like the idea of you as Labour's warrior queen. The problem which is always at our backs, however, is that Mr Corbyn does all of this without spin doctors or image consultants like me. So we need to do something "authentic". You'll need to cast off everything you've learnt of the dark arts of Mr Campbell, who has schooled young MPs such as you and Stella in the art of caution, vapidity and the infamous "triangulation". And I need to learn how to write "authentic" without inverted commas. Stella and her infernal "irony" can't help us now. Over to you, Liz. Give us the real you. I mean, nothing too scarey for either middle England or for the core voters. Something we could "focus-group". Omg, I'M doing it now. I'll just shut up for a while.

Your retiring helper

Richard

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Open Letter No. 11:

Dear Liz

I'm not just shocked, I'm angry. First of all, they spread a rumour about you, that you were having a relationship with a recently divorced fellow MP Mr John Woodcock. My reaction was incendiary:
1. Who cares?
2. Why is it appropriate for a female candidate such as yourself to suffer this tittle-tattle?
Was this coming from the campaign team of Ms Yvette "I'm a Mum, so I understand your problems" Cooper (barf), trying to take you out of the running because you are single? They deny it, but it must have come from somewhere. We know it didn't come from Mr Corbyn's campaign, because he famously "doesn't do personal". It reeks of the rancid legacy of New Labour, where Blair's people would brief against other ministers, and Brown and Blair would brief against each other. Liz, I only ask, is this what happens when politics is replaced by politicking? I'm so sorry that you should have been similarly traduced.

But even worse was the reaction of Mr. Woodcock himself. He replied that such claims were "not true, have never been true and WOULD NEVER BE TRUE”. Never say never, John. What can you mean? I'm sorry, Liz, I know I'm rather old-fashioned, but I think he's a cad, and in a bygone century I would have challenged him to a duel.

In your defence

Richard

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Open Letter No. 12:

Dear Liz

OK, we've got a problem. I wouldn't be a friend if I didn't tell you that your BBC interview today was a car-crash. I'm sorry, but saying that "we must support the disabled, but we must support ordinary people as well" has wound up a lot of folk. People with disabilities have responded "How dare she say I'm not ordinary!" and the able-bodied have responded "How dare she call me ordinary!". Oh dear. If you'll allow me, I think I've got a solution. It's no good sitting on it, hoping it'll go away. We need to respond now, so I've written you a small, concise retraction (sometimes we just have to do that).
"I realize I could have been misunderstood when I spoke about the disabled today on BBC News. I did not mean to imply that there was any conflict between the interests of people with disabilities and those of the rest of the population. I do not for a moment accept this false argument used to divide people by the Tories. I have always supported disabled rights both in my constituency and in the wider society."
How about it. Liz? Press release it now, and we will have achieved the desired "damage limitation". I know you will say that arguing that to give equal opportunities to the disabled requires state aid makes you sound a fulminating Marxist extremist like Mr Corbyn. But I think we need to recognize that the whole discourse has moved left because of his campaign, and there just aren't enough die-hard Blairites remaining for you to win like that. Disabled people and the unemployed can't easily be blamed for the deficit any more. Get the statement out, Liz, or the kind of picture you see here will continue to shoot around social media:

Yours urgently

Richard

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Open Letter No. 13:

Dear Liz

I'm obviously upset that you didn't take my advice to clear up the matter of you seeming to discriminate against people with disabilities and thinking that everyone else is "ordinary". You actually did the next best thing by appearing on the World At One, which under the stewardship of the redoutably reactionary Martha Kearney, is one of the safest media ports for right-wing views to go unchallenged. So let's move on.


We need to think of other ways of bolstering your flagging image. In fact, I'm sorry to say, we need to talk about clothes. This may sound a bit rich coming from a guy who has dressed for years like a slightly sinister 1940s detective. But the point is that here again Mr Corbyn is trouncing his opponents with his now famous "Oxfam-chic", which plays very well with the growing constituency of artists in my part of East London. And, you know, by his not giving a f***. There was a time when a workerist cap indicated a Trotskyite "Dave Spart" you wouldn't want to get caught in a lift with, but now it's just so hip. And his beard will attract all the hipsters in my area, because for them, you know, that is SO political. Anyway, the fact is that the New Labour merchant banker suit just won't cut it any more. It provokes reactions of distrust, disgust, and "What the f*** did you do with my pension?" Your rival Ms Cooper has bagged the "mumsy" look, which is rumoured to be a kind of kid-scoring competition with you (Cooper 3 Kendall 0). Outrageous! Mr Burnham is always well turned-out, but when he opens his mouth you realize he's that Liverpudlian estate agent you met, a bit out of his depth, and battling to keep his job. How would you break away from the Blairite sharp-practice suit, Liz?

Sartorially yours

Richard

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 14:

Dear Liz

I hope you don't think I'm being presumptuous, but I do wish you'd take my advice occasionally. I warned you about that dreadful sequence in your Open Letter to the Labour Party, the one where you smile at the computer screen, and the screen doesn't smile back. Well, now you've only become a twitter meme! #WhatisLizLookingAt

And I told you to apologize about the disabled vs ordinary people cock-up when you had the chance, and now you've provoked an e-petition. So it's no longer just me asking you to retract, at the last count it's 1,828 people.

I have to confess, Liz, I got sucked into signing it myself.

Yours apologetically

Richard​

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Open Letter to Liz Kendall No. 15:

Dear Liz

I'm glad to hear that you're proud to join "The Resistance", led by those fearless guerrilla fighters Mr Chuka Umunna and Mr Tristram Hunt. I know you will lead a courageous rearguard action if Mr Corbyn wins, as bookmaker Paddy Power is certain he will. You know I liked the idea of you as Labour's warrior queen, but if my man Mr Corbyn wins, it will no longer be possible for you to wield your battle-axe in public on the fields of middle England. You will have to go underground, with only the mewlings of the conservative and liberal press, and old-fashioned, non-social-media broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky, to support you. By the way, I don't think Mr Umunna's earlier withdrawal from the leadership contest, which some people saw as cowardly, should count against him. Then he was facing only the British press, whereas now he fights for the soul of the Blue Labour Party itself. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

But once again, I offer some advice. Is "The Resistance" really the ideal name for your group? OK, it's better than the earlier attempt, "Labour for the Common Good", which sounds like a particularly uninteresting meeting of the Cooperative Society. But the problem with "The Resistance" is that it evokes the fight of the French resistance in World War Two, and however much Mr Corbyn is attacked across the media, no one has yet suggested he's a Nazi (I am treating Cathy Newman's attempt for C4 to frame him as a supporter of holocaust deniers as, erm, exceptional journalism. Yes, that's the word - exceptional).

So, given that Mr Corbyn is closer to being a communist than a fascist, shouldn't you be called "Samizdat" or "The Dissidents" or something? The "Alexander Solzhenitsyn Appreciation Society" is too long, but you know what I mean.

Ever yours

Richard

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Open Letter No.16:

Dear Liz

I'm in a bit of a panic, actually, and I wonder if you could help me. I know that normally I'm trying to assist you, but this is an emergency.
Many many friends have been excluded from voting in the leadership ballot, and they all seem to have one thing in common. They all wanted to vote for Mr Corbyn. People included in the ‪#‎Labourpurge‬ include longterm full party members and ex-local councillors, in other words people with much better qualifications than me. So let me make my case to you. Labour is the only political party I have ever belonged to. I left in 1994 when Mr Blair became leader, but I found his government a mixture of the good (the minimum wage, tax credits) and the awful (PFI and the invasion of Iraq). I never rejoined until now, but that was partly because I couldn't afford the suit. I've always voted Labour. And I've never been a stand-up comedian, because they seem to be the most suspect. But there seems be a kind of Blairite Stasi, sorry "rigorous checking regime", excluding people for dissident facebook posts and tweets. It all sounds a bit like China in the 50s, when Mao Zedong announced "Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom" to encourage critical thought, then purged and arrested anyone who came forward. My fevered brain is now imagining that Mr Corbyn may in fact be a stalking horse to root out all the remaining socialists in the party.

So I'm announcing a change of heart. I've decided that I've so enjoyed our conversations, albeit they've been rather one-sided, I'm going to vote for YOU. I've decided the party needs modernising to attract aspirers who live in your home town of Watford, people who like their local Indian restaurant, but for whom that's quite enough, thankyou very much. Furthermore, I really hate the films of notorious Trotskyite Ken Loach, and would much rather watch Downton Abbey. Liz, if I have any trouble with my vote, could you possibly put in a good word for me?

By the way, just checking, this ballot is SECRET, right?

Yours paranoically

Richard

------------

Open Letter No. 17


Dear Liz


I hope you're holding up as we reach the fag-end of this tiring campaign. I know it must be hard. In the Sky debate, Mr Corbyn gained over 80% in their viewers' poll, so that must seem like a nadir. But I want to bolster your spirits a bit. You came second! Let's ignore the fact that you only got 9.1%. You were twice as popular as Mr Burnham, and now the attention of all three of you must be focussed on what happens after the leadership election. It's a shaky launching pad, Liz, but like other viewers, I thought you came over as more honest and straight-talking than either of your Blairite rivals. Let's move on, as Mr Blair himself said about the Iraq war.


I think you should continue to emphasise the gulf between you and Mr Corbyn, as Mr Burnham's attempt to face both ways seems to be so much spin he must be dizzy. One of the most crucial fora for political debate these days is that focus for middle-class anxiety and prudent shopping, Mumsnet. They asked you all for your favourite book, and Mr Corbyn gave a most un-focus-grouped answer, James Joyce's “Ulysses”. This will be because, once again, he doesn't give a f*** what people think, and just answers honestly. For the rest of us, though, “Ulysses” is one of the those books that most of us pretend we've read, like Woody Allen's Zelig. (If you remember, Zelig's clinical need to conform starts with him pretending to have read “Moby Dick”.) Your rivals' choices were incredibly dull: Ms Cooper's “Middlemarch” is middle-brow for middle England, and Mr Burnham completely copped out with the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Nothing can be made out of nothing, Andy. But Liz, I have to say I found your choice of Hemingway's “The Old Man and the Sea” a bit disappointing. I hope you don't mind me asking, but was this an O-level set text for you at school, as it was for me? Anyway, it's just a bit too literary to contrast enough with Mr Corbyn's Joycean modernism. I'd suggest something much more popular. “50 Shades of Grey” is probably a bit risqué, and for the uninitiated might sound like a book about the Parliamentary Labour Party. Jeffrey Archer is possibly too Tory even for you, and frankly is just too awful. Bridget Jones I always found a bit wet, but what about something of that ilk? Sophie Kinsella's “Confessions of a Shopaholic” would have a positive underlying economic message. Or how about going further down that line with some proper “shopping and f**king”. Julie Burchill's “Ambition” would show that you were a lot more than merely damp New Labour aspirational. And Liz, I've got a lot more sub-literary suggestions. Just let me know if you need any more help.

With my Booker Prize specs on.

Richard

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Open Letter No. 18

Dear Liz

I enjoyed your final speech today, where you did the superb "triangulation" of arguing for party unity while at the same time trying to kick Mr Corbyn in the teeth. He seems to be quite a stoical type, so I don't think you should stress about any real harm done. There was a nice hint of self-criticism too, where you wondered if you'd been too harsh on Labour Party members who think the party is here to represent the poor. As you know, I'm rarely shy to offer my advice, so I do question if your emphasis on foreign policy was really necessary. You have views for instance on the Middle East which would make a number of Tories blanch, but above all, you know, I don't think the voters care very much.

When we sum up the campaign, it's probably best if we put the politics and those dull debates to one side. Instead, let's look at the positive. We can see that both you and Mr Corbyn have been much hipper and more street-wise than the rather strait-laced Ms Cooper and Mr Burnham.
What do I mean? Well, Mr Corbyn has his own Latin following here in London, and here he is playing the congas, seemingly not as a photo-opportunity, but just because he enjoys it:

And the latest version of your letter-writing video is so much better than the first, now you've re-worked it with one of your favourite rappers:
 

Liz, we can finally put that ill-fated letter to bed with the words of the great Eminem: "It was probably a problem in the Post Office or something."

Signing off, I can only adapt his words a bit: "I got a room full of Jez's posters and his pictures, man, but I'm your greatest fan. Anyways, I hope you get this, ma'am. Hit me back, just to chat, only yours, your biggest fan. But the problem is, Liz, #JezWeCan."

Richard

 

A world to win

 

The possibility of building a better more just world is far away.

 

We have no alternatives to offer to the hegemonic neo-liberalisam.

 

Over the last 20 years we have a decay of left thinking and action.

 

From the 20th century hierarchical “stop the war”

 

To the 21st century anarchy of “climate camp”

 

The open internet which gave birth to the World Wide Web has fallen into the dotcom silos and locked in app echo systems of Apple and Failbook.

 

Our political institutions have been captured by corporations (Monbiot)

 

The left is little but shadow puppets playing on a cardboard stage, while Climate Change in hand with rampant neo liberal inequality are burning all that we ones held dear.

 

A world to win?

 

The are many of overlapping tributary’s to the wide river of sustainability and justice, the river is there for us to see.

 

The open internet is still their for a while longer and we have the tools to use it, just not the wile and co-operation to move anywhere.

 

Our “democraticish” political institutions are still in place (though leaning with decay)

 

Climate change is going to wash around the world, initially we in the rich west will be less affected than the rest of the world, this gives us a privileged place to affect the outcome of this wave of disruption and devastation. We will have power to challenge the outcome.

 

Moving to decentralised renewable power is inevitable (no matter what the neo-liberal fools do) this will mediate the eco-transformation climatechange brings.

 

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