Posted in Politics, Social and political rants

How did Politics become so left and right, (and red and blue)

Do you know the origin of the term Left and Right in Politics? Well you’ll be delighted to know that it originally started as insults. ( I know I was)

Although the distribution of Left and Right in the seating of a parliament or congress is generally agreed to date from the french revolution (1789), when the new congress met to hammer out a constitution. Those who wanted to limit or do away with a monarchy sat on the Left (against the status quo) and those who wanted things to remain as close to what they had (monarchy or limited monarchy) sat to the Right. But the first recorded linkage of a horizontal left-right continuum actually started in England in 1679 when the English were trying to decide on who to succeed James the I.

Originally “Whig” and “Tory” were terms of abuse introduced in 1679 during the heated struggle over the bill to exclude James, duke of York (afterward James II), from the succession. Whig—whatever its origin in Scottish Gaelic—was a term applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians; it connoted nonconformity and rebellion and was applied to those who claimed the power of excluding the heir from the throne. Tory was an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw and was applied to those who supported the hereditary right of James despite his Roman Catholic faith.”

So the idea was that those who wanted change or non conformity were Whigs, and those who favoured keeping things as they are became Tories.

The Parties as such did not exist, they were more like loose affiliations of like minded individuals, and they boundaries were very much a movable feast. But the concept seemed fairly wide spread and accepted. Joseph Addison’s essay on Party Patches, published in The Spectator, No. 81, on June 2, 1711, made note of women who had their patches placed on the left and right sides of their faces, and seemed to be mortal enemies of each other. There were also those who wore their patches where ever, and only wanted to hear the opera. Its also reasonable to expect that Men, who also wore powder and patch during this period, were using the same conventions.

The emergence of a political parties in close to the format we know now happened in 1784

“After 1784 William Pitt the Younger emerged as the leader of a new Tory Party, which broadly represented the interests of the country gentry, the merchant classes, and official ad-ministerial groups. In opposition, a revived Whig Party, led by Charles James Fox, came to represent the interests of religious dissenters, industrialists, and others who sought electoral, parliamentary, and philanthropic reforms.”

After the French Revolution in 1789, with its Reign of Terror, so abhorrent to the ruling classes of England (who after all could be next), there was a shake up of the More progressive side and a general renaming as Liberal and Conservative. (Although Whig fell out of use, the Tory epithet is still attached to the conservative party because – well they don’t do change well.)

The association of Blue to the right and Red to the left have had a few ups and downs. Charles Fox’s left leaning Whigs, originally wore blue and buff as their adopted colours But after the formation of the official parties, blue appeared to be the settled colour for Conservative and right leaning parties. (the infamous Men in Blue ties of the NLP as Mentioned by Julia Gillard in 2013). However, the USA, as always, likes to do this differently. With Conservatives being RED. Really the Red and the Blue only settled in 2000 when the Democratic party adopted an unofficial Blue Logo for their 2000 campaigns which seems to solidify the issue.

This is a little ironic given that Red is predominantly linked to Left leaning parties. This is after the designation of RED as the colour of communism and Socialism. I well remember dissertations on the Red peril in my catholic primary school in the still traumatised post McCarthy era. It was a little complicated by the extra Yellow Peril, paused to crush us from above via the added complication of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Someone coined the term of a sort of Orange Peril ready to swoop down from above us on the map and change our Aussie way of life for good. (To which I am thankful for the wave of Asian cuisine that made us the great Food channel nation that we are.)

And this is where things start to demonise the Left. In the 1930’s and 40’s England, and to some extent Australia, had strong Socialist Parties, which lead in a round about way to our Current Liberal/Labour two party system. But then the Second world war and Russia and Italy initially siding with the Nazi’s, and then the rise of communism the Iron curtain and the Asian wars, positioned communism as the enemy. Mixed up with racism and a general weariness over continual threats (especially as the post WWII prosperity and golden age was eroded by the unrest and ideological wars of the 60’s) saw a real fear of the Left emerge. The Left strove to be more centrist and even cleaved to (imaginary) Class lines of Squatocracy and the working man. The Labour party sought to distance itself from the whole concept of Socialism. Even now calling a progressive a socialist, sparks a whole world of frothing and abusive debate on social media.

The real concept that we need here, is that the idea of a truly progressive party aligns itself neither right or left. In fact seeking, as do all Political parties we hope, a genuine improvement of the society they live in, progressive parties may even veer to the right or stay centrist.

The issue they face is being seen as a viable alternative. This is where the name calling is effectively used to denigrate and block their ideas from the public. If people want to see Greens policies, platforms or hear them on question time, they have to go looking for it, like their Facebook posts, and follow them on twitter. The interesting paradox of having to be aware of what you want to seek, to seek it, is what prevents so many from even exploring these innovative and often really well crafted solutions to problems that the two majors just cant even start on. Being mired in their own Bell Jars and echo chambers of vested interests, donors and lobbyists. The main stream media, even the good old ABC who still cleave to the idea of showing both sides of an argument, can’t find a mechanism that allows for a third voice or idea.

The Greens struggle with this, doing all that they can to get their minimal air time or place in the debate. (not just restricted to the Greens I remember Andrew Bartlett, the then Leader of the Australian Democrats bungee jumping in 2017 just to get on the telly) This is not helped by the extreme “Loony” Right and one issue parties who seem to say, “See there is only extremism outside the main paradigm”.

The savior has been to an extent, social media, which flawed though it is, allows for publication and exposure outside of the Mainstream and often hostile controlled Media. Facebook Live and excerpts of Fiery Greens MP’s and Senators, giving the government a serve in question time or senate estimates, have been great to watch. They have been effective in gaining real change. (Go the Royal commissions into Banking, Aged Care and Disability and the NDIS – not to mention the Robo-debt repeal. Go you good things.) The really galling thing is they never seem to get the credit for this and that is possibly the most unfair part of it all.

Disclaimer: I am a long time Lefty and current member of the Greens.

Posted in Social and political rants, Uncategorized

What could we have done?

There is one thing above all else that we as a nation expect our elected leaders to do, is lead.

Sounds pretty obvious right? And yet when faced with a Fire emergency of previously unheard of proportions our Leaders were too busy being politicians to act. I’ll leave the opt ed about what they did wrong and what their choices were. But I can right of the bat come up with a few things they need to think about next time round.

One: it becomes painfully obvious there is no national disaster response plan. None. Even if its dusty and sitting at the bottom of a filing cabinet surely good governance would see this revisited once in a blue moon so that people know there is one. Chain of Command, pathways for logistic, communication, coordination and potential actions should be laid out clearly. Even if its an info graphic like you get on the back of doors in Hotels in Thailand, “In case of tsunami, run like hell and get to higher ground (arrow points to nearest safe zone)”

It’s all very well to say, “but its a state responsibility”. But sometimes it can affect all states, the whole country, federally in fact, so wouldn’t we expect the federal government with its federal dollars, and ability to coordinate across states, step in and provide whatever support the states need? I would have thought so. But apparently the only coherent response is: if the going gets tough, the tough go to Hawaii. So once the ash settles, I would expect a real brainstorming session of the COAG (update: or the national cabinet) to set this up for future, if god forbid we need such a coordinated response. The recently commissioned and resourced National Bush Fire Recovery Unit is a good start but for the future here are some ideas I gift to you ScoMo, as you seem to be in need of some.

1: Set up a national emergency response and coordination organisation. Their remit is to coordinate logistics, communicate options and help ensure that resources are directed as needed upon liaison with the states and their own Emergency response efforts.

2. Resource them properly, including freedom from political appointees to head them. (The Arabian Horse Breeder who G W Bush set up as head of FEMA did not do well when Katrina struck. Under Trump, no one even knows what FEMA are doing except tying up respirator supplies in the case of COVID-19)

3. Ensure the ADF is part of this response and deployed as soon as practical. they and the A-Res train for these sorts of things, especially the quartermaster and engineering arms.

4. Pay attention to some of the modelling and science about challenges we may be facing, and have a risk mitigation strategy and response plan.

5. Central fundraising coordination. Initially, hundreds of little efforts popped up, some less than legit, as no one knew where to donate to except for the NSW Bush Fire something… I don’t watch much TV so I don’t know if there was national advertising about where to donate, but I had to wait until an Australian Actor living in Byron Bay (whose name rhymes with Lemsworth), put up a page with a link to all the states Volunteer bush fire donation points, the red cross, and various animal charities as a vetted and legit list. That way your preferred option of getting someone else to pay for things, instead of it coming off the budget surplus, can be maintained but you look good doing it.

6. Pay the poor buggers. Not every time, but in these sorts of extended situations. Have a clear framework and have it kick in automatically.

7. And make disaster relief cash easier to get. Go to centrelink you said:

Centrelink: What’s your new address

Victim: XYZ town

Centrelink: I’m sorry that is not on the list of towns affected

Victim: I know that you Cockwomble, My house and everything burnt down so I have to live with my Granny.

Conversation degenerates past this point.

8. Provide logistical support for food, shelter and clothing, evacuation centres, and coordinate people offering free accommodation with people looking. There was a private initiative set up (in one instance) for people to register both and it was very useful too. I know the government prefers to outsource that sort of thing, but if you had outsourced it already, then the chances of poor buggers being taken for a ride would be less. Or you could have reached out to the owners of the Air BnB website to ask them for help. so many ways this could have been done… except it wasn’t.

9. Have in place a plan to mobilse the ordinary citizenry, busing them from the unaffected areas and getting them to help with containment lines, or sandwich making, or even acting as runners. Fuel for farmers who bring their tractors and front end loaders to help bulldoze tracks. They don’t have to be put into harms way, but having them do drone stuff, means the more experienced guys can be deployed elsewhere.

10. learn from this and do better. Remember, Prior preparation and practice prevents piss poor performance.

Posted in Arts and crafts, Philosophy

Tis the Season

The enduring Art of Unfortunate knitting

It’s winter. There are many hazards that the cold weather brings to the fore: Colds, Chill blains, ice frosted car windows, people who can’t drive in the rain and farewell nostalgia tours by has been rock bands. None instils the sort of terror into relative hearts, than the manifestation of the dreaded “Unfortunate Knitting”.
Now is the time that people who should know better get out the needles and attempt to knit things (or worse crochet them. That way it has all the draw backs of Unfortunate Knitting but with holes that allow the arctic wind to blow through into your very soul).
Initially it’s a scarf. These shouldn’t be a cause of fear and dismay but you’re wrong. Either they are yards and yards of lumpy uneven rows, curling at the edges because they’ve forgotten to do a nice rib (see intractable blue curling neck warmer example below)

blog ukn1
Note Unfortunate scarves knitted by author. The pink/red one was rescued from a young relative who started the scarf and went from 20 stitches to 40 in the space of a few rows creating a sort of semi pocket. This had to be matched on the other side. Worse part was the compliments on the “interesting” pattern.

or it’s a professional and workman like piece made with $2 shop wool which feels like recycled baling twine and barbed wire against the skin and most likely some bilious colour that would make a punk rocker blanch and even hippies think twice.

It seems a sad indictment on their lack of faith in their ability to finish anything or produce anything of any standard that “Unfortunate” crafters never spend the money on really good soft wool. Even when by a fluke, they produce something of merit it’s so ugly to look at or wear that no one ever uses it.

Once the scarf is finished the temptation to do a matching beanie comes into play. DON’T GIVE INTO IT. Nothing good will come of it. I assure you (see self-explanatory example lying beneath)

bog uk2

There are many competent and crafty artistic knitters out there. This is not about them. But for the dilettante like me, nothing beats the expression on the younger relative’s faces when provided with a sample of your labour of love. It’s the dismay on their little faces that I Love. Maybe next week I can start on a knitted toy, but whether I can achieve anything like the main picture-left: (found in an op shop many years ago and promptly “lost” by my enterprising younger relatives as soon as my back was turned) will remain to be seen. “Wanna come with me to the $2 shop? I hear they are having a yarn sale. “

Posted in Uncategorized

The Journey Begins

So its finally happened the first draft of my website is up and running and just needs to be tweaked.  I hope you enjoy the blog posts to come where I discuss the nature of reality, how to knit ,and measure myself and my experience against yours in a chance to survive a zombie apocalypse. Good Luck!

Just a small town girl/Living in a lonely world/She took the midnight train to anywhere-  Journey.

Hobart mt wellington. cold and snowing