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Guitar in the garden

Trevor Jones, classical guitarist, teacher and ex-rock singer – part 2

In this second article Trevor tells HOT’s Chandra Masoliver what he thinks about life in lockdown, the present political state, and where we are heading.

CM: So how has lockdown affected you?

TJ: As I’ve said before, I’m old, born at the end of World War II. The pace of change (progress?) has been phenomenal in my lifetime. For me, the worst inventions have been the car, the aeroplane and the computer. Ok, I see all the buzzes, quick travel and opportunities to do stuff all the time, but in nature nothing comes for nothing, nature will wreak its revenge.

I have enjoyed lockdown, except that I haven’t been well for some of the time, so have missed the opportunity to cycle on virtually traffic-free roads (it would have been like the old days). Also my long time partner, Rosi, lives in Brighton, which is a different world in lockdown terms.

I appreciated not having to think about lessons and fitting pupils’ appointments in. It gave me time to enjoy my garden, which I have rescued from its parlous state. It’s even got vegetables and flowers now. Ore is a good place to live for me. My daughter and granddaughter live nearby and when I am well Romney Marshes are within my cycling range; I love it over there.

The local greengrocer has been very helpful and delivered each week (and more if needed), he even collected a prescription for me when I was unwell. I hope local shops continue to benefit long term from this pandemic. Farm shops have been doing extremely well, and the retail expansion that farmers have made may come to be much needed after Brexit.

Modern technology has really helped during lockdown so I will have to delete it now from my worst inventions list. The car remains number one. It was so good hearing bird song all day without it having to compete with traffic noise. Why are cars so loud? They must be very inefficient.

CM: Starting from Brexit, what do you think of the political situation in Britain today?

TJ: Brexit has been the worst divisive act in this country since the seventeenth century Civil War. We have thirteen tax havens, and in 2012 the EU said they would end this loophole by 2020. Meetings happened between the far right USA groups and ambitious right wing members of the Tory Party. The British press barons joined in, and Brexit was dreamt up. Boris Johnson used his Telegraph column to make up hundreds of lies about the EU, and Farage was already in Brussels as an MEP to make mischief. By 2016 their anti EU propaganda had worked sufficiently to get a small majority in the referendum.

As well as the very rich, the press barons also use tax havens, so they were against Corbyn, who was going to stop the havens. He didn’t stand a chance, they did a character assassination on him and the public were made to perceive him as unelectable. He should have stood down at the last election – if he couldn’t win in 2016 against May, when the Tories were so weak, he had no chance against Cummings. Cummings was very clever, he said all we need to say is “Get Brexit done”. They persuaded people that their government would be a saviour.

Deep down it was about immigration. By and large we are a xenophobic island race and we’ve voted for a very archaic kind of government. In the past we encouraged immigration – firstly people from the West Indies, because we were desperately short of labour, and they kept transport and the hospitals going. Many Asians had British passports and they revitalised the corner shops and set up takeaway businesses. Then East Europeans came as a form of cheap labour, they revolutionised the hospitality service and the hotel industry – it was like Basil Faulty before that, pub food was inedible!

With Thatcher and neoliberalism we started to buy from wherever was cheapest without caring where it came from, hence the demise of the coal and steel industry, which also led to the diminishing power of the trade unions. Now it’s America and China that dominate, and we’ve voted to become on the receiving end of this domination.

Just before the referendum a senior teacher at the school where I was teaching was unsure of how to vote, he said to me “In one sentence say why I should vote to remain in the EU.” I replied “Russia”.

Four years on, we now know Cummings worked in Russia. He became leader of the Leave campaign. The Report into Russian interference in the Referendum and in the General Election was suppressed until recently. The Chief Adviser on National Security, Sir Mark Sedwell, has been sacked. The Russian ambassador from 2011 to 2018, Alexander Yakovenko, has been commended by Putin. In his acceptance speech Yakovenko stated “The UK has been dealt a mighty blow that it will not recover from. We do not need to worry about the UK for a very long time.”

If these circumstances had occurred when a Labour or Lib Dem party was in power can you imagine the furore in the tabloid press?

Well, Rees Mogg has said it will ‘only’ take fifty years for the UK economy to surpass the level it was at in 2016 – so not that long, eh?

By (allegedly) helping the Brexit campaign Russia weakened both the UK and the EU economies. We were the fourth richest economy in the world in 2016, now we are sixth and slipping fast. EU sanctions against Russia had been very effective when Russia threatened to take back the former Soviet states. So: a sweet revenge for them.

CM: What do you think about the ways the government is lifting lockdown, and how much are you now going to change your own lockdown?

TJ: We are one of the most consumer-led societies in the world. We are a rich society because of the City, and the City makes money from our debts. The first businesses to open out of lockdown were car showrooms and estate agents – both created to spend money that people haven’t got. Last year I went to my grandson’s school in my twenty-year-old Nissan Micra. I said to my daughter that I felt like the odd one out, all the other cars were Audi, BMW and Mercedes. She replied “Yes, you were the odd one out, you are the only one who actually owns their car.” So! Save the economy, go into debt and do your bit!

Lockdown is being eased purely to lift the economy prior to the big crash being created for January 1st. Disaster capitalism will benefit more if the pound reaches as high a level as possible before it plunges.

At the end of the year, remind yourself of what I’m saying, Johnson and Cummings are just there as a front in order to get a No Deal Brexit. Johnson would not have been allowed to let Cummings resign. Trillions of dollars have been invested in a No Deal outcome, and Cummings will ensure that Johnson delivers it, and they will blame Europe. The pound will crash, and the big investors have money lined up to profit from that. Then the American conglomerates will move in to bail us out, and they will set up industries with minimum wages and zero-hour contracts. It’s all planned, that’s why Johnson was so adamant to be out of Europe by the end of last year, and to have everything agreed – or not – with the EU by this December 31st. It will make Europe poorer, and Europe is a financial rival to the USA. Also, Russia will then become less constrained.

I don’t think easing of lockdown will affect me a great deal. I shall continue to be pretty reclusive, and will avoid crowded places.

CM: You mention Cummings often, as if he is dictating the Conservative government’s policies, yet he has not been democratically elected. How did this come about? What are his policies, and who is behind him?

TJ: Cummings worked with Gove in the Education Ministry. They launched the Academy system to reduce the powers of the local authorities (we don’t want liberal-minded people influencing our schools, do we?). He was the leader of the Leave campaign, and along with Aaron Banks he was instrumental in the Referendum victory.

Cummings was described by a former minister as ‘a career psychopath’. He is a monetary fundamentalist, his idol is the market – he aims to create a US-style free deregulated market controlled by global multi-billionaires who have no nationalist boundaries, just a shared belief in power and control. This benefits large-scale global concerns which can often obliterate any serious competition by aggressive takeovers and price controls.

We will probably never know who is directing the Downing Street Cabinet, but it’s definitely not the Tory Party. Don’t tell the blue rinse brigade though, they think the Tory government is in control. A dangerous misconception.

Next year we will feel the effects of the ultra neo liberalist policies of Cummings and his selected band in the Cabinet. The Agricultural Bill will destroy some of our agricultural industry, and we will see the demise of many farmers.

One silver lining of Covid 19 is the way a large number of farmers have rethought their rental policy, and have been selling retail direct. The Farming Today programme on Radio 4 is a most enlightening broadcast. It is heartening to hear so many enthusiastic creative young farmers planning how to survive the Agricultural Bill and Brexit. They are finding ways to supply a market that is reluctant to buy American or Australian GM crops, hormone fed beef and battery caged poultry.

The Planning Laws are now Cummings’ target: plenty of farmland will be available after 2024, when farm subsidies cease. The large property developers will be licking their lips at this availability, with no planning restrictions. Also, that will mean there will be plenty of empty shops available, which can be turned into low-grade housing.

Over the next few years we will become more reliant on the USA. The worst aspects of US economic strategy will probably become commonplace here too. Certain UK businesses will do well, they won’t have to comply with EU labour laws, and they will be able to make their own export arrangements. It will be crippling for fishing and farming though, because we export mainly to Europe, and the tariffs will be huge. The NHS will be sold off piece by piece to the USA. There will always be an NHS, but it will become a tiny part of a private health system – just for the very poor.

I think small local groups and communities will find a way to flourish, but people in large urban area are going to find life hard. A multitude of people will be looking to move out of cities, having got used to working from home. Expect large housing projects in rural areas (no planning restrictions remember), and much poverty in areas with the converted shops accommodation.

CM: Would it make any difference if Trump is not re-elected?

TJ: If Trump doesn’t get elected the right-wing people who control the money in the USA will find a way, and our monetary fundamentalists will continue to be in line with them. It would then be interesting to see what Biden would say about the US/UK deal. He was against Brexit and sees a UK/US free-trade deal as not beneficial to the US, compared to the present deal which provides US access to the EU. Have to wait and see on this one.

Grim, isn’t it. But it’s nice living near the sea.

.

Posted 09:27 Wednesday, Jul 29, 2020 In: Hastings People

3 Comments

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  1. Francis Sheppard

    I have been predicting this happening for some time now not as eloquently as the two previous contributors but as plain as needs be. The majority of people don’t even have control of their own household never mind the country. There is a new world order determined to regain control of the whole world rather than be at the mercy of multi groups of countries like the EU who are at least trying to deliver a level playing field. The idea that this pandemic is man made has more credibility when you read and study the attached that MM posted.HOT is becoming an oasis of the great and the good and well informed sharing what is really happening in today’s world long May it continue.

    Comment by Francis Sheppard — Thursday, Jul 30, 2020 @ 16:15

  2. DAR

    A lot of perceptive analysis here, but I take issue with “..in the past we encouraged immigration”. But “we” doesn’t refer to the British population; it refers to politicians in the Atlee government who initiated the British Nationality Act in 1948. This Act was passed as a way to help rebuild the country, it’s true, but it was seen as a temporary measure – not something that would be relevant for decade upon decade afterwards. And there’s the 1951 Convention which was a response to the post WW2 refugee crisis – another supposedly temporary measure – that has led to constant abuse, over decades, of the political asylum system here in Britain.
    Then there was Tony Blair in 2004, refusing to put a “brake” on what most people with common sense could see would be a great wave of immigration from Eastern European countries because of their newly-found freedom to travel anywhere within the EU coupled with gross economic disparity between East European countries like Romania, and West European nations like Britain. Do I blame these immigrants? No, of course not. Who wouldn’t want “a better life”.
    All this has been done with the backdrop of an exploding population on a geographically very small piece of land in world terms: England (not the UK – which is usually quoted) has one of the densest populations on the planet which means we should be very careful with our natural resources AND we should (seriously) be aiming for zero net migration, not the annual quarter of a million plus surplus we’ve had for decades now. Frankly, I don’t understand the view of many Greens and others on the left of centre (some sort of liberal guilt?) who still advocate open borders (i.e. a continuation of horrendous net migration figures) yet whine about the loss of green spaces, the housing crisis (the problem is DEMAND, not SUPPLY), roadbuilding which devastates ancient woodlands, intensive farming, likely water shortages, energy security etc. etc. [Comment cut after 350 words]

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Jul 30, 2020 @ 14:46

  3. Michael Madden

    A GREAT interview Chandra – all 100% true.
    As Trevor Jones so rightly says, Johnson and Cummings are “just there as a front in order to get a No Deal Brexit”. We don’t have a government, more like an anti-government, run by an elite of Eton boys who are using the political system to perform a soft coup. They’re not politicians, nor do they have our interests at heart and we don’t have a “Free Press” either, because mega-wealthy Press barons are in the same club – they live in tax havens and tare out for themselves, but Brexiters are too puffed up to see that they’ll never be allowed into that club.
    As the brilliant writer Robert Winder (author of ‘Bloody Foreigers’ and ‘The Last Wolf’) wrote, Brexit should have been called Exit, because the British didn’t vote for it – just an older generation of insular English Saint-George-Cross flag-wavers who don’t like anything ‘foreign’, even though (as Bloody Foreigners showed) foreigners made Britain what it is – or was. But they don’t even think it’s their responsibilty to do research before they vote, and they don’t read history so they think England can be great again because the Daily Mail or Express or Times or Telegraph say so.
    The trouble is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences of their elligerent blindness. Yes, the Blind Brexiters will blame Europe, even though they should be able to remember when, before we joined Europe, Britain was known as ‘The Sick Man of Europe’.
    Soon, we’ll be a forgotten and despised country full of very poor, embittered people. But they’ll never admit they were wrong even when they are back under a system where they have to serve their new masters ‘in service’ (like the good old days). They’ll moan but blame someone else.
    The worst culprits are the old turkeys who voted for Christmas; yes – the “blue-rinse brigade”, not the younger generation. Old English xenophobes voted for the biggest act of self-harm his country could ever inflict on itself.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Wednesday, Jul 29, 2020 @ 16:06

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