I’M COMING towards the end of a three-week period with no gigs, unprecedented for me in recent times, but very welcome since my poor wife recently had her leg impaled on a garden fork in a freak accident and is very happy I am around at the moment.
My last batch of gigs was with my band Barnstormer in Germany and, on the ferry back, I started musing about what Brexit might mean for British musicians who regularly tour mainland Europe.
Back in the 1980s, such tours used to be a bureaucratic nightmare. I remember ridiculous green forms — “carnets” — on which every item of musical equipment, right down to the last plectrum, had to be noted.
Those forms had to be stamped at every border and we were all so happy when that nonsense ended. And, of course, I remember the customs searches. It never seemed to occur to the custodians of national borders that in order to avoid detection, sensible large-scale drug importers would dress smartly and drive expensive vehicles.
No, it was obviously the punks travelling in a dirty transit van with “Clean Me” on one side, “We Hate Palace” on the other and a large knob and testicles adorning the rear doors who had the 30 kilos of heroin under the seats. And as for the body searches...
Irony is, I’ve never taken “illegal drugs” in my life. Real ale is enough for me.
My wife Robina and I went to see I, Daniel Blake earlier this week. It is an absolute masterpiece and Toby Young can fuck right off. Ken Loach, I salute you — you harness brilliantly the power of art to inspire and spread ideas. Please go and watch it.
It inspired the following thoughts. Politicians and the media elite are always referring approvingly to “democracy,” which invariably refers to political democracy and the fact that we have the right to put a cross on a piece of paper every five years and that most of us, most of the time, can say what we want without being locked up.
The received wisdom is that as long as that is so, everything is fine and the system is good, legitimate and far better than the alternatives.
But there is another form of democracy these people never mention and that is economic democracy — the right of every citizen to have enough to eat, a roof over his or her head, decent healthcare and education, work which benefits both the individual and society, basic human needs fulfilled.
This is the primary form of democracy, and as Loach points out so brilliantly, without it political democracy has no meaning whatsoever.
For me, economic democracy comes first. Every citizen in this country has the right to the above.
That means that some heartless and merciless individuals and institutions such as four unelected press billionaires and their mouthpieces like Toby Young, right-wing think tanks, hedge-fund owners betting on economic collapse and poverty to enrich themselves, may well have to lose their economic and political democracy for that to be achieved.
So be it.
Back on the road soon and I’ll be visiting Scunthorpe for the first time in years on November 13, then a big benefit for the People’s Assembly in Manchester on the 14th followed by a rare visit to Menai Bridge on Anglesey on the 15th, Coventry 16th and Luton 17th.