Quakers and Politics

“Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?”

Most unprogrammed Quakers are left wing, and BYM Advices and Queries 33 fits that beautifully. The desire to serve, within a reconciled, harmonious society. I am relieved at the election of Mr Biden, and on Saturday I was not in favour of reconciliation, but overcoming. Republicans are still lying, and will lie until they are driven out. For example, Rand Paul lying about masks. He tweeted,

the only published randomized clinical study of cloth masks shows 97% penetration of particles & higher infection rate than control. But never mind, it’s all about submission…

Masks are useless, he claims. The NYT article explains why this is untrue, and why the evidence he cites does not bear it out. For Paul, “the desire to serve” is submission, or servitude. His rugged individualism goes so far as to refuse the basic decency or courtesy of wearing a mask, and distorting the facts about it.

Angered about the liars lying about “the transgender agenda”, claiming trans people want to force children to hormones and surgery rather than let them grow out of their gender confusion, I was in no mood to tolerate Senator Paul. I was moved to quote 1738 Dialogue II (The Defence of Satire):

Ask you what provocation I have had?
The strong antipathy of Good to Bad.

Other people may attempt dialogue with Senator Paul and those who think like him. There is a range of opinions between his hard Right and my Left, and someone closer to him might be more able to persuade him to moderate his views. God has more hands than mine, and not all God’s work falls to me. The gay Evangelical who believes Christ calls gay men to be celibate might have a better chance of convincing an Evangelical who thinks gay men should seek a cure, and conform to masculine stereotypes, than I would. I think the celibate gay man is wrong, but he has enough common ground to gain a hearing. To quote John Major, I might “condemn a little more, and understand a little less”: I might strengthen people’s convictions against the false claims, and reassure trans people worried by the false jibes, rather than bother engaging with the right wing extremist.

Advices and Queries 33 is one of my favourites. In 2001 I wanted to transition but was terrified. I went to meeting in Chester, and a Friend read that paragraph, and when she got to “Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws” I broke down in tears. That rugged individualism, or self-reliance, can be a virtue, though can be taken too far. 17th century Quakers when travelling in the ministry took no payment for it.

Complete self-reliance is impossible. We all depend on society. And we cannot live with only a desire to serve, for we all have needs. The two virtues are interdependent. If we are to be “involved in the work of reconciliation” as enjoined by A&Q 32, we have to see the virtue in others. The peaceable kingdom will include us all, and God does not necessarily demand that others change far enough to make me feel comfortable- or that I change, or deny my discomfort.

Loving yourself

What would it mean to love yourself?

“Let your God love you,” she said. I don’t believe in God. I believe in a mystic observation, of love, light and guidance within, which human beings can access. It would be better, obviously, to have a theory including what this whateveritis actually is, to pin it down, to describe it in prose rather than that irritating poetry, but the bare observation of how people feel and what they do, and what they say about it, shows the whatsit, this “Light”, this “Spirit”

(note the anger, my loathing of my incomprehension, my frustration, my inability to use positive words unqualified, because “Light within” is a huge thing)

this Light within

No, I don’t believe in it. Such a thing could not be in me. Yet “Let your God love you,” shared in the zoom Quaker meeting as the Americans there enter their election day, hit me over the head. I may still be giddy from it.

Now, I know the poetry becomes prose, literal and merely descriptive. For example, “The disordered society is full of loyal patriots” (Tao Te Ching, 18) is merely true. What else are we to call the loyal patriots but what they call themselves? “Be broken to be whole. Twist to be straight” may eventually prove to be prose too.

I am grasping after prose. There is something I do not know.

This light within that people call God

Tomorrow I will cycle thirteen miles (I hope) and the difficulty of it will be admitting it is difficult, because it should not be difficult, it should not trouble me at all. There I was at war, between the part of me driving myself on and the part telling the driver it was too much, miserable, trying to suppress my feeling of misery below my own consciousness even though it makes me depressed and stops me doing anything. That’s the root of the depression.

Then there’s the “inner light Which Is god”

scare quotes again

which could be the primary feeling which I fear and seek to suppress, because I should not find any difficulty. That protean, mercurial, changeable, reactive thing within me, could it be the Light? And the problem with it is all those unpleasant feelings, the fact that when there is something I cannot allow myself to admit I find difficult it feels the difficulty.

And it seems so completely in the moment in the worst possible way, in that it seeks short term comfort. Be comfortable for a minute because I won’t be, within an hour.

For twenty years I’ve been on this

“Spiritual Journey”

and the point of it, I realised early, was not to feel angry and scared any more, and I realised that was what I wanted from it, and I realised that was full of shit even as I admitted it was what I wanted and I still wanted it. And I still want it. To stop feeling angry and afraid. To stop the world going on at its dizzying pace (here the world is, waiting for the result of the US elections, a lot of people feeling angry and afraid right now, loyal patriots terrified of each other)

I am on a spiritual journey

And then at worship someone shares a poem by Edwina Gateley finishing with the line “Let your God love you”. And I want that in prose. There’s the emotional being, within, feeling angry and hurt or frightened

when it is appropriate to feel angry, hurt, or frightened

and beneath it, perhaps, there is God, an inner light which I have never met, the bit I am supposed to have been seeking for nineteen years in various Quaker meetings, I may have been both wasting my time and disrupting every one else who has this Light, active and accessible.

God loves the emotional being. God, within me, loves the slave-driving part of me that cannot admit anything is difficult, because it is scared, and the resisting bit which is also scared and cannot bear the slave-drivinng bit. But both are complete shit, utterly worthless and bad, because they are scared. Who could love that but God?

“Hell is rejecting the love of God,” says prosaic Christian apology. That must be in CS Lewis somewhere.

How could I possibly? “Let your God love you.” Is there a God in me which loves all of me?

Just be, permit, and be loved, for c’est son metier. And then go out, not knowing who will be President (depending when you’re reading this) or cycling and being at war within, doing what you have to do.

There is a light within which loves me and loves the World and everyone in it. It is an emotional being looking at all of life and eternity. It is the Light of humanity.

Let your God love you.

Yeah.

Vote Labour for a better life

My best guess for what a social conservative gains from voting for Right-wing parties is that they feel they are part of a more cohesive society. So Boris Johnson or Donald Trump say that immigrants are bad, we’ll stop them coming and make a hostile environment for those who are here, and they feel part of something greater than themselves, a society which thinks like they do.

Few people who voted for Brexit will gain from it. Mr Mogg will increase his hedge fund, but others only gain a symbol. We voted for it so it’s undemocratic to oppose it, they say. Or they say you should work and support yourself and stand on your own two feet, having lost hope that they could get benefits and clinging to the illusion that they can have a decent life.

The Right gives symbols instead of reality. It never happens that you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. But the Right is spreading the same myth in Britain because Labour wants to decriminalise abortion. And people who imagine they are good Christians vote to protect innocent babies from a non-existent threat, and incidentally for tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor.

The campaign against trans women is a perfect symbol in this way. The Right can get feminists worked up and get feminist campaigning energy diverted from goals that will improve women’s lives, such as equal pay, or even more women on public company boards of directors, and against innocent trans women. Men may pretend to be women to get into women’s private space! say the fearmongers.

Before radicalisation a woman might see me in a loo, think, oh, a trans woman, and forget me in a couple of hours. After radicalisation she sees me as a man, wants me expelled, and is affronted that her rights are “erased” by “redefining what it means to be a woman”. So queers are more uncomfortable, people who hate queers are encouraged, and feminists are suddenly working for the Right rather than the Left, however hard they deny it. Being gender variant is difficult, and it should be supported I any way people have of expressing it, as the Left traditionally has. The Right wants to decrease gender variant behaviour, harming feminism, and increasing that social conservative feeling of being part of a regulated, homogeneous society.

The Tories or Republicans will give nothing to anyone but the ultra wealthy. They promise illusions, and even the feelings of self righteous anger they arouse harm their supporters.

Look at Labour’s record in government, of children’s centres and social care, of economic good management.

Labour will attack the growth of inequality which makes everyone more stressed with fair taxation and decent public services. Labour’s record on economic growth and reducing debt is better than the Tories’. Everyone should vote Labour for a better life.

Listening and speaking

Lunch out with a woman I like and admire a lot, and a man who talked all the time. I asked her what she did at uni and she answered with an apologetic air, as if it was clichéd for someone like her, rather than his boundless self-confidence. She talked of living abroad, at one time she could get a word in edgeways, and I hardly remember a thing he said.

Similar unjustified self-confidence can be seen in this Tory leaflet:

There’s Spaffer Johnson, his tie neatly knotted, and Mr Corbyn in- a t-shirt! Shock, horror! They accuse Labour of “wrecking the economy” though under Labour, the debt generally goes down and economic growth is higher than under the Tories. The Tories claim they will “deliver Brexit”, though through incompetence, infighting and an inability to get a good withdrawal agreement they have delayed it eight months already. It’s lies and bluster. I take some hope from their negative, fear-mongering leaflet: it shows they do not believe they have anything positive to offer. They fearmonger against Mr Corbyn because they are running scared.

Here, by contrast, is Labour.

It begins, I believe that we can make real changes when people come together. So do I. This is the message of hope, the promise of working together for the common good, that makes politics worthwhile.

I went leafleting on Friday for 2 1/2 hours, and on Sunday morning I was still stiff. I went leafleting again, and now my ankle feels weak. I will have to wear a support. I had hoped to leaflet on Saturday morning but the depression stopped me. I don’t know it will until it does. I imagine I will be able to get up and do what I (think I) want to do, and then I don’t.

When my ankle went weak, though, I asked for a lift home. I did not push myself beyond what I could manage.

Caroline asked me what instruments I played, and then if I wanted to join a band. I felt anxiety. I am glad of being aware of it. No, I do not want to join a band. I have a synth and an amp, and have no wish to play with others. Possibly if I built some self-confidence. But I would not have known.

So, I improve at listening to myself, noticing and valuing myself.

The Tories are happy to waste public money, if they can increase hate and misery. 89% of people informing on ESA and PIP claimants to the Department for Withdrawing Payment are making baseless allegations. Yet the Tories spend, and the DWP investigates all allegations.

I love this paragraph of the Labour manifesto:

We will improve the safety of the
family court system for domestic
violence victims and prohibit their
cross-examination by their abuser.
We will introduce protections for victims of so-called revenge porn. Labour will introduce a no-fault divorce procedure. We will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions.

But nutcase Christians have gone apeshit. The Labour Party have pledged to introduce abortion, on-demand, for any reason, up to birth, lies one site. Abortion should be no concern of the criminal law. It shoulfl be between a woman and her medical advisers. No doctor will do an unnecessary abortion. Any abortion after 24 weeks will be traumatic for the woman. No one does these lightly. Doctors’ organisations will enforce ethical rules.

Corbyn in Corby

Beth Miller, I hope our next MP, introduced Jeremy Corbyn with her highlights from the manifesto: a green revolution. A living wage of £10 an hour so working people would o longer rely on food banks. A thousand new Sure start centres, which were modelled on Pen Green in Corby. Counsellors in schools to address the growing mental health problems.

She said we need members involved, to stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets and knock on doors. There are pledge forms to promisw help. We don’t have Tory money, but we have Labour people.

Jeremy Corbyn said people from all over country came to Corby, but lost jobs in the continuing deindustrialisation. In the debate last night, we got a voice to say what we want to say.

This morning he was at a warehouse in Sheffield. There was a line of white vans and people queuing up for zero hours jobs like dock workers fifty years ago. Zero hours contracts give all the power to the employer. Workers on zero hours hope for a call or text from their employer offering a few hours.They don’t know if they can afford their rent or feed their family. Level of stress is wholly unnecessary and wrong. Bezos is multi-billionaire.

We will introduce corporation tax rules so that mumultinationals pay on what they do and earn in this country.  They are short changing our public services. Everyone should pay into thesystem to be part of society from which everyone benefits.

Labour will end zero hours contracts immediately. Workers will have full rights at work from day one. There will be a Dept of Employment rights to enforce rights, giving Employment law real force.

Yesterday the media was full of our manifesto. Will we crash the economy? Corporation tax and highest rate Income tax will go up, to level of public expenditures of middle European economies.

We should be proud of the manifesto. It is shocking that in the world’s fifth richest country, the UN rapporteur on poverty concluded that the social contract of 1940s was replaced by cold and uncaring ethos where some people lose out totally.

To homeless, children and old people we are determined to give security so children can develop. This manifesto has many things in it.

The poor are paying the price of austerity.The Tory budget cut expenditure and benefits, and froze public sector wages. With council grant cuts, working class communities have 25% less spending power. Parents must get into debt to support kids through uni.

Social care was not unaffordable ten years ago. We will take the debt burden off the next generation and the sick. There will be social care for people who need it.

The Tories want this to be a Brexit election People voted leave for anger or hope. Other people up against it in housing and other ways. Under a Tory no deal, there would be tariffs on all goods. The Trump trade deal is now being negotiated: we have documents through FoI. They don’t tell us any of discussions, which are all redacted. US published their aims, that the deal must include access to public services including our health care “market”. US companies would run our NHS and make money.

Under Labour, within three months we would negotiate a trade arrangement with the EU to protect jobs and the Good Friday agreement. We would be honest brokers in a further referendum, in which Mr Corbyn would not take a side. That would be end of matter. Then we would transform the country for the majority of the people. We would bring people together. Appeal to leave and remain.

Our campaign all over country. Huge spike in registration to vote, above 2017. Three million new voters.

We have to persuade voters on the doorstep. We will invest for the future, in Cradle to grave education, a National investment bank, Broadband free for the whole country. When this was announced, within ten minutes the Media called this communism. Then they found it was popular. Most people pay about £30 a month for web access. It is essential to all business, so businesses don’t go where broadband is poor. The investment will be over ten years.

On the climate crisis, Labour’s Motion in parliament declared an emergency. Tories abstained. The Paris accord of 2015 is not enough. We need to achieve net zero well before 2050 by investment, in Home insulation, and 300 000 jobs in green energy sector. He is inspired by climate protesters.

It’s no good if we export pollution to others by Importing goods which pollute elsewhere. That merely moves the problem.

He would be so proud to host the Climate conference here next year. It is a Class issue: the poorest around world breathe the worst air. Floods in Yorkshire show we are suffering unusual weather events. Labour will Invest in river management. The Market will not, so water companies must be brought into public ownership to stop their asset stripping.

The campaign is exciting. We knock on doors. Imagine Tories in government on Dec13?  Who would be cheering? The billionaires. There would be no end to the Misery and suicide on UC. Head teachers would still have to scrimp. When Labour wins nurses students and workers win. Our Manifesto was written by people all over country.

We must put in an unbelievable effort. There is far more interest than the media thought. This is an election about our future. We can make a Country proud of environment, spreading our peace values round world, defeating poverty. When we win everybody wins. Let’s work flat out.

My thumbs are not fast enough to transcribe, but that’s the gist.

Vote Labour for Trans Rights

The Labour party support trans rights. Here’s Dawn Butler, the shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, visiting Equity Partnership in Bradford. They were a community support organisation but have had to protect people from the media and organised hate groups, because the hate has become so intense. The Labour council has supported them with funding.

Dawn asks is GRA reform just pigeonholing people? I would like discrimination on the ground of gender expression made unlawful. That would protect everyone, and make gender expression more free and lively, increasing freedom for all.

The haters are not in control yet.

I want this video in the main Labour you tube channel. I hope they know opposing prejudice is important for everyone, and needs proudly emphasised.

Meanwhile the Green Party want to reform the GRA and end the spousal veto. They want to increase funding for gender clinics and stop bigoted parents withdrawing their children from LGBT+ education. We need a proportional voting system.

Tories? 44% think Islam is a threat to the British way of life. That’s all you need to know. They rejoice in their hate.

The Labour manifesto launches tomorrow.

That election

As soon as the election was announced, I joined the Labour party and volunteered to take part in campaigning. I felt the Tory’s 2400 majority was assailable, so I had to campaign tactically: if we had fair voting, I would have stayed Green. I liked the members, but was not impressed.

I started on the tail end of the County Council elections. I leafleted Eagle’s Nest for our candidate, and stood outside the polling station on the day, taking polling numbers and chatting to the Tory teller, David. He is on the parish council with Caroline, and they get on, seeking what is good for the town. We talked of the local churches- he is Anglican- and the waste ground, now with permission for building. First there needed to be a check for anthrax. This shocked me, but as there used to be a shoe factory there, there was a risk of it, and if there had been a tannery it would have been a likelihood. There was often anthrax in the cattle. One voter seemed hostile to him- “I’m voting for [name]!” she said. That was the Independent.

At one time, Conservatives did not stand against Independents, I said. He explained she had been Tory until very recently, then declared herself independent, so they had to stand against her. “That could be good for my lot,” I said. He grunted. Yet the Tory vote was barely dented, and the Independent took half the former Labour vote.

Still. I leafleted Eagle’s Nest for the Parliamentary candidate, and that evening there was to be canvassing. They had planned to go round Pinetrees, but as the candidate was coming Ed decided to go for Eagle’s Nest, as people are friendlier here. When I canvassed for the Tories in the 1990s, I went out by myself, but Ed had a file with the addresses and names, and we went down a street in a gang. He would send each of us to different addresses, and we would report back to him. I only knocked on about five doors, which seemed a waste.

Ed would tell people the candidate is with us, “That young girl over there”. I objected, and so did all women I have told. I approached him circumspectly: “Some feminists might object to you calling her a ‘young girl’.” “It’s an age thing,” he said. He did not like calling her a woman for some reason. Just possibly I can imagine “that woman” might seem disrespectful, and “lady” is clearly out, but “Young girl”? I suggested he just used pronouns. “Our candidate, Beth Miller, is over there.” He assented.

I did not really discuss politics with her. I said I wanted rid of Trident. “I’m Multilateralist,” she said. After, I thought I could have asked her how she imagined that being successful, but I did not, supporting the British Bomb is mainstream Labour and anyone would be better than the Tory. Beth chatted to a few people on the doorstep.

The monstering of Mr Corbyn is taking its toll. I asked a woman if she would vote Labour, and she said she always had, but- I think she saw my face fall, and said she would, probably. On the street, there was a man whose black t-shirt had white capitals reading “Still hate Thatcher”. Even he was unsure about Mr Corbyn. I have my talking points- the strong principles and bravery of the man being arrested at an anti-Apartheid demonstration- but he is unconvinced.

I have done hours of leafleting, and not as much as others, but on Saturday 27th we had a street stall. The best pitch is by the public toilets, between the car park and Tesco Express, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses have bagged that. (The slogan on their poster said “Your family can be happy”, brilliant if you believe it. Two Hovahs hovered nearby, not approaching us as we went to the cars.) We were outside the vet’s. It’s further along, and there is less foot traffic. The man who was MP from 2012 to 2015 turned up. He recognised me, and I told him the Greens’ progressive alliance was a missed opportunity. He said he is completely out of that now.

So many people shake their heads, not even wanting a leaflet. Ed remarks it’s the stupid-looking ones who refuse a leaflet, who don’t know what damage the Tories will do to them. They can point out the benefit claimant up the street who they think is working the system, but if you ask about the bankers they don’t know about banks. I end up talking to David, an ex-teacher who tells me he has a Dementia diagnosis before his friend warns me about it. Apart from the ex-MP, his daughter, and Beth I am the youngest. We end up talking amongst ourselves.

We drove off together to Raunds for campaigning. We walked along the street from the Co-op to the library. I carried an A2 plastic sign saying Beth Miller. We chatted to a few residents, then had chips and went to the coffee shop. Ed took photos. Beth chatted to one or two voters on the streets, and we handed out a few leaflets, but mostly we seemed to be talking to ourselves, rather than engaging with voters. We have photographs, and can say Beth campaigned in Raunds. She told me she was eating a lot of chips as campaign headquarters is next door to a chip shop. I am not photobombing the pictures, exactly. I feel Beth is almost certainly the most glamorous person in them- but I look the most glamorous.

Vote Labour

or whoever in your constituency has the best chance to beat the Tories.

Like most people, I have a few fbfnds who don’t share my political views, but the algiarithm rarely shows me their posts. The things they see and share are frightening. After the London Bridge terrorist attack, one wrote, “Arrest or deport all potential Islamist extremists on the watch list. Make it illigal to preach hate. Demolish all known mosques related to radicals.”

There is an atmosphere of fear, hatred and authoritarianism stoked by the right wing press. Seven years of austerity are excused by the idea that this is the only way to reduce the deficit, and we have to pay our debts off- though our debts are half the proportion of GDP they were in 1930. Then they pretend that the Tories are the workers’ friends, though they conspire to make strikes illegal and workers’ rights unenforceable. So Mick imagined Labour supporters:

What do we want?
-Free stuff!
Who is gonna give it to us?
-Jeremy Corbyn!
What don’t we understand?
-Economics!

It is he who does not understand economics, politics, or international affairs. Labour wants those who have had the greatest increase of wealth to pay more in tax, while the rest of us have had static or shrinking incomes.

Stoking despair, the Tories have nothing to offer except hatred. That leads to C’s authoritarian demands. Perhaps he means “preach hate” on a narrow and literalist interpretation, ie preaching from a pulpit rather than on facebook. Before, he posted a video calling for deportations of “anyone with links in any way shape or form with these kinds of actions”- not just terrorist attacks, but suspicion. “Why was he in the country?” asked the hate-monger. Well, because he had a record of petty crime but not been flagged for radical views. He had been reported by community leaders and family members, who would be less likely to co-operate if they thought their mosque might be demolished.

The terrorist attacks are used by the right wing. Would Mr Corbyn, who wanted to talk to the IRA, be sufficiently hard on terrorists? Well, Mr Major talked to the IRA and Mr Blair made the Good Friday Agreement, bringing peace, but Corbyn is vilified. I blame Mrs May, Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016. She is the one selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

“This man refuses to sing the National anthem” says one, as if that mattered. Honestly. That was September 2015. It claims, falsely, he would not swear allegiance to the Queen.

Then there was B, aged 76. Is she worried about the Tories ending the current system of increasing state pensions? No, she is worried by lies, when Mr Corbyn’s actively seeking peace is twisted to “Share if you will never vote for the Labour party led by this anti-British traitor”.

Ordinary people are seeing and sharing these lies. The NHS and the education system are in peril- my local school will lose £460,000, the equivalent of twelve teachers, under Tory plans, and schools across the country are similarly threatened. Manipulated by lies, we are sleepwalking towards Tory authoritarianism, the Tory Brexit for Billionaires, and the Tory destruction of the State. Get rid of them, for all our sakes.

Here are the Tory cuts: