Brexit Titanic Now Boarding

This is a response to the article published in the Telegraph on 24 February 2016 by Gerard Lyons, economic advisor of Boris Johnson, entitled “The EU is like the Titanic, and we need to jump off before it sinks“. The extracts of the text of Dr Lyons are in italics.

The European Union is like the Titanic. Imagine being in Southampton harbour the day the Titanic set sail. Its size gave the impression of invincibility: safe and secure. It wasn’t. Despite receiving warnings of impending danger it didn’t change course, hit trouble and sank.

Because it is huge, some in the UK feel we would be safer and economically stronger in the EU. This is wrong. We now have the opportunity to jump ship to safety. An opportunity we are never likely to have again. Not a leap into the dark, but for those able to look ahead, a move to safety.

It is true that the EU is complex and needs deep reforms for it to be more democratic and effective, but let us ask ourselves this question: who are about to board on a very proud and apparently seaworthy vessel, full of enthusiasm and self-belief, in search for better seas away from the European mainland? The Brexiters.

I love metaphors, but only when they are used with care and wisdom. The Titanic was a British RMS ship.

In so far as the substance of these claims by Lyons, I would say that the EU is home to countries like Germany or Finland where the standards of living are higher than in the UK and whose enterprises in a number of key sectors are better equipped, technologically and financially, than their UK’s counterparts. They have to work under the same EU regulations than us, but they know how to deal with them.

These include returning sovereignty and having a meaningful immigration target that can be met.

On EU matters, sovereignty is shared. By being part of the EU we extend our sovereign powers to the rest of the Union. It is called influence and co-responsibility. EU Treaties are approved by national governments and parliaments, including ours. There is not a single piece of legislation in the EU that does not stem, originally, from a British-backed rule.

Immigration is the result from British firms not being able to find sufficient workers to fill in positions. Immigration is fuelled by the stupidity of our establishment, the functioning of the markets and the inability of successive UK Governments to get things right on a number of policy areas. Here are three sectors, not the only ones, where immigration is a necessity for the UK:

1) Health: The lack of Government investment in training doctors and nurses is the direct result of Britain being a “low tax” country for invisible entities of all types.

2) Services: The wages of UK working classes in relation to the cost of living are very low. A waitressing job in London is only suitable for people who don´t have a family to look after and are “happy” to survive in shared low quality accommodation.

3) Education: The stress of school teachers, widely reported by Unions, and the failure of our system, is motivated by a managerial approach to Education, by an excessive workload and by a plethora of rules and protocols that do not allow the professionals to get on with the jobs of educating young people. These rules do not come from the EU, but from the department that Mr Gove, another Brexiter, was running until not so long, and from previous governments, to be fair on him. Regulatory diarrhea (from the Spanish “diarrea legislativa”, used by the Spanish liberals to mock over-regulation) is also a UK home grown disease.  Teachers from abroad are in high demand as UK teachers are increasingly dismayed and not many young people pursue a career in education.

So, will there be an army of UK public servants telling UK employers how many people from abroad they can hire in each case, in each type of business, in each city? Is this the idea of a free-enterprise Britain? How many regulations, quotas and forms will this generate? Will they be second class workers, with less rights for similar positions?

We can focus attention on what is needed for small firms and for ordinary workers across the whole country. Outside the EU we can position the UK to be outward looking.

No way. You cannot trust the Tories on this. Ordinary workers in the Northern and Central countries in the EU are better off than their UK counterparts. If it was not for the European regulations, UK workers would be even worse than now in terms of social rights.

Leaving the EU will come with transition costs. While the UK public may want quick wins, the most important thing will be stability, a road map for the future and a clear strategic vision. Just as a new government may require one or two full terms to implement its manifesto […]

Brexit will be an economic shock. We encounter such events throughout our own lives, when we move house or change jobs. Unless planned for they can be disruptive. That doesn’t mean growth will contract or jobs will be lost, but investment plans may temporarily be put on hold.

Well, at least the author of the article is honest on this, but does he have a figure for the transaction costs? Are we going to pay it pro-rata, or would there be job losses resulting from these costs? Is he offering himself to give up his job as economic advisor of Boris Johnson so that we can cover them?

One way to picture this growth is the letter “V”, or better still, a tick – a short fall in growth followed by a much larger rise. Pre- and post-referendum would resemble the downward stroke of the V. A rebound would follow later.

A Churchillian slip there with the “V”. Perhaps it is a V of another kind what we would get. This is all speculation. Hot wheels on thin ice.

The first stage will be an agreement on our terms of exit. We could invoke Article 50 that triggers a two-year process. Or, depending upon the politics, engage in a major renegotiation. As we are the EU’s biggest export market, economic incentives suggest they will negotiate sensibly and agree a deal on goods and new guidelines on movement of people. However, the EU has not acted sensibly in recent years and they might not do so in any exit negotiations. This fear of a tough negotiation should not be a reason to vote to remain in the EU, but highlights the difficult near-term path ahead. But many countries outside the EU trade with it, we would be another, and one with a very competitive service sector. This renegotiation period also allows time to put in place other necessary Brexit measures. One is a timetable to repatriate powers.

Well, on paper it looks great. It is like one of these rehearsed moves in football. Or like the famous run of the minies out of the Italian vaults with the gold, with the “self-preservation society” song in the background”. Now, the politics of these negotiations are not so cinematographic. This article by Dr Lyons in the Telegraph is being read by thousands of people abroad, including negotiators from other EU countries, so this is no slick cunning secret plan any more, I am afraid.

Also, after so much disrespect shown to EU governments, after so much British supremacist claims about democracy and self-reliance from people like Janet Daley, or so many unfortunate statements like the one by Boris Johnson, who said in his Brexit article of 22 February in the Telegraph that “We have spent 500 years trying to stop continental European powers uniting against us”, does anyone think we can have a normal friendly negotiation on Brexit? It will be harsh. The outrage in the continent about the arrogance of Brexiters is growing. Try to see it from their point of view: Cameron goes to Brussels to meet 27 heads of government. He shows a half-baked shopping list of reforms aimed at appeasing the right-wing media, rather than improving the working of the Union. His vision of the EU membership is purely economicist. He insists on slashing workers rights. Then, on his return to London, half of the country, full of pride, wants to leave, ignoring what the EU means in terms of cooperation, inter-cultural understanding, solidarity and friendship and belittling the efforts that those other governments of those countries have made to allow the UK to get some of its demands, in the way of a especial status, in a complex scenario.

Between 2013-14, Whitehall produced 32 detailed reports on the competences that the UK has transferred to Brussels in different areas. This provides a basis from which to work.

Whitehall? They love regulations as much as the EU Commission. 32 reports! The transferral of powers will be simply a change on the header of the documents from the EU. Rules are necessary, unfortunately. Any exports to the EU, even if we are totally out of the EU, will have to comply with the consumer protection standards and safety rules of the EU. Repatriation of powers is a copy and paste job of EU law.

Another is to how better spend our EU contribution. This should go towards funding our public services properly. We also need to identify areas where EU funding may be withdrawn, such as scientific research, on students and the arts, and ensure this is covered fully with some of our previous EU contribution earmarked for these.

One of the beauties of the EU research funding schemes for universities is that they emphasise cross-border collaboration between different institutions. That type of research is highly valuable because a diverse pool of expertise can be shared at European level. Synergies. Economies of scale. By having UK only research funding, we would be killing another hen of golden eggs. We would end up cooking ourselves in our gravy, freshly prepared in the kitchens of the Titanic, of course (we shall have no stock cubes).

We have a great opportunity to make trade deals that boost exports, but first we would need to rebuild the skill set to do so. Inside the EU our demands are only one of 28 when it comes to trade. Outside, we would have to replicate existing deals, and learn from the likes of South Korea and Singapore, and make trade deals that play to our strengths, that are iterative and are with the fast-growing regions of the world.

Again, this is hot air. It sounds very good, but we have to understand that the success of any trade deals between the UK and other countries is also determined by the deals that those countries have already with our competitors. Brexit means that the list of our rivals will include the EU itself, and everyone else, for that matter. What we need is more influence in the EU to ensure our interests are respected there. But for that to happen, we need to be a serious partner.

With Brexit we have the opportunity to safeguard workers’ rights, ultimately determined by Parliament and by UK voters, not bureaucrats in Brussels. It is not possible to protect workers’ rights with mass migration.

This is the most cynical claim one can imagine. The tendency of the UK Governments since the 1980 has been to stop employment laws from the EU, depriving British workers of rights. Blaming mass migration for the lack of willingness by UK Governments to protect UK workers’ rights is tantamount to racism. It is like saying, “we would give you better rights if we did not have to give those same rights to the foreigner workers in the UK too”.

But low migration does not mean no migration. An excellent Civitas report last December by Cambridge Professor Bob Rowthorn showed mass migration suppresses low-skilled workers’ wages, and adds to pressure on housing and public services. The gains go to the migrants and to the employers. We need to control the scale and ensure we let in only the skilled migrants we need.

As I said before, workers with all types of skill-sets come here insofar as they are actually needed. If there were no jobs, they would not come. Are you going to force employers not to take the best person for the job?

We should not kid ourselves that the City of London is somehow safe in the EU when we did not achieve a veto to protect it from greater control by the eurozone and from decisions of the European Court of Justice. Leaving creates initial challenges over passporting of financial services, and possible loss of euro clearing, but I am optimistic. London is so much more competitive than any other financial centre in Europe, with its concentration of skills, knowledge and expertise. Also, more regulation is being set at an international level, which is important as London’s competition is global.

Well, parts of the City are starting to brexit Brexit. The London Stock Exchange (LSE) is again negotiating a merge with the main German Stock exchange to become one single entity. With the Germanisation of the LSE, as the German partner would have 52% of the shares of the new company, an important British institution will protect itself from Brexit. They are clever. I am sure they have great economic advisors. Will there be other companies, or institutions or people allowed to opt-out Brexit without having to physically leave? I don’t think so.

The vision is to be a globally competitive economy, based on low taxes for firms to succeed, leveraging off our universities and talent, and founded on rising productivity through increased investment, infrastructure and innovation.

Low taxes? For whom? I can see no chance for working people to prosper in a low-tax Brexit. How will investment in education, in infrastructure or in research and innovation be paid for? Those are essential ingredients for increased productivity. Ask the Germans.

Brexit is a neo-victorian, romantic, unrealistic, ill-informed, overconfident outburst of the wrong type of patriotism that has been brewed for a number of years by irresponsible media. Call it off. Let us concentrate our energy and our patriotism in building together a better Britain as part of a better Europe where working people do not see themselves forced to migrate or rely on tax credits to meet ends, a Europe with fruitful and responsible trade focused on innovation, sustainability and quality of life, more democratic European institutions accountable to the European people. This would deliver long-term stability for Britain and the continent. I would be happy to join that romantic, yet safe enterprise. No life jackets required.

Boris’ Brexit

Boris Johnson joins Brexit. Most commentators attribute his decision to the need to assert himself in the race for the leadership of the Tory party against the Chancellor George Osborne, but nobody has reflected yet upon the true economic and political significance of Boris Johnson’s move. As the major of the city that harbours the biggest financial centre in the world, and a declared supporter of its financial industry, it would be have been inconceivable for him, and irresponsible, not to have, at least, gauged the mood amongst the leaders of the City’s institutions before making his mind up. Can anybody imagine a conservative major of London standing against the City of London?

In my view, Johnson’s support for Brexit needs to be interpreted in the light of one of the deals achieved last weekend by David Cameron in Brussels: The British Government will be able to object, and delay, the implementation of measures by Eurozone Governments on Monetary Union matters that affect the rest of members of the Union, but will have no right to veto them.

The ability to block Eurozone integration is something that the financial industry had defended for years and the British Government has tried its best to achieve. The Eurozone, as it has become evident following the Great Recession, requires a revamping of its institutional architecture and a more effective, and far more democratic, governance. There are a number of ideas, more or less developed as specific proposals, that could help the Eurozone to address the political and functional shortcomings of the Monetary Union, bringing prosperity and jobs to the Euro countries and, by extension, to the EU as a whole, including Britain. However, some of these ideas might reduce the ability of many London financial institutions to continue working in the way they have done since the European Monetary Union started. Additionally, the City could be affected by any agreement within the Eurozone that touches, directly or indirectly, upon the question of debt (our public and private debt, which is immense. Remember that in our new world order, money is just debt and debt is a powerful political tool. If you need proof of it, watch 4 Horsemen, Boom, Bust, Boom or read the latest work of any alternative economist).

So, in what way could many operators of the City of London benefit from Brexit? Britain’s departure would make the European Union far more unstable and force everybody to rethink their priorities; the question of regulating the activities of the institutions who brought about financial chaos in 2008 will be left in the back burner. Brexit would certainly bring monetary instability for the euro, and the pound, that many will be already betting for and benefiting from. The turmoil caused by the shock of a victory of the No Campaign would prevent the still immature Monetary Union to advance in the direction it needs.

One may argue that Brexit may be detrimental for the city (no capital) of London, but that would not be so much the case for its financial operators. Severing the links with the EU will no doubt force London-based institutions to redeploy parts of their operations in the continent before Brexit is consummated legally, but with state of art technology and the best paid lawyers, it would be easy to minimise the cost of any relocation. At the end of the day, money, as opposed to people, does not have any national feelings.

Meanwhile, it appears that the big industrial corporations of the U.K. are showing their desire for Britain to remain in the EU. Up to 80 of the FTSE100 companies are reported to support Britain’s membership of the EU. For them, the benefits of sharing a common market and being part of a greater economic entity in today’s world are indisputable. For them, migration has brought about the labour they needed to and migrants are seen as an asset, as they are net contributors to the economy who generate more taxation and more consumption. For them, there is no evidence whatsoever that Brexit would generate more investment and more trade to the country. It is a big gamble. The EU “regulations” that so many people complain about would have to be complied with anyway if these corporations want to continue selling good and services to the continent. And, personally, I think Britain, as much as I love it, is one of the most regulating societies in the world. Leaving the EU would not liberate us from suffocating rules, nor make the rules better, believe me. Look at any other aspect of our life and society (Education is a good example) and tell me hand in heart if we don’t have too many rules, protocols, reports, procedures and measurements of our own creation that have nothing to do with the EU.

I am sure plenty of noble ideological and political reasons will be provided by Johnson justifying his stance in no time (today at 10.00 am in the Telegraph, apparently). Well-known anti-EU conservative discourse is widely available in the shelves of Tesco and other major suppliers in all colours and sizes. It is not that Boris does not have the capacity to elaborate his own narrative, but why bothering reinventing the wheel if the pre-packed patriotic democratic neo-romantic stuff is as good as any? Besides, loads of effort has been put in producing the arguments for Brexit by many politicians and commentators, including himself, over the years. Embracing the collective work, using the words and emotions that best resound in our hearts would bring Boris closer to the common man and woman and facilitate his harmonious contribution to the campaign.

However, no matter how appealing his arguments may appear to be, the decision of Boris Johnson to support Brexit reveals the widening gap between the real economy, the one that produces goods and services, which supports overwhelmingly EU membership, and the financial elites, who have decided to rock the boat, using the British people and sectors of the media as a proxy, in order to maintain and improve their position of dominance over States, industries and people across Europe.

Brexit: La división de la derecha

Hoy se ha anunciado la fecha del referéndum en el que los británicos deben decidir si Gran Bretaña abandona la UE o si permanece en ella, bajo las nuevas condiciones que el Primer Ministro conservador David Cameron ha conseguido extraerles al resto de Estados miembros. Será el 23 de junio de 2016.

Destacados miembros del Partido Conservador se han alineado en las dos campañas antagonistas, la del Sí y la del No, las cuales están a su vez divididas en diversas facciones.

Por un lado, dos pesos pesados del Partido Conservador, Michael Gove e Ian Duncan Smith, están desde ayer galvanizando a los numerosísimos militantes y cargos conservadores que reclaman la Brexit (Salida de Gran Bretaña de la UE). El poderoso grupo mediático de Rupert Murdoch y periódicos como el Daily Telegraph no sólo apoyan la Brexit, sino que han contribuido durante años a crear y difundir toda suerte de mitos sobre la UE que han calado profundamente en una gran parte de la sociedad. Los rebeldes conservadores compartirán campaña con el otro partido de la derecha, UKIP, que fue creado precisamente como respuesta anti-europea y anti-inmigración a la tibieza de los conservadores euro-pragmáticos.

Mientras tanto, David Cameron y su Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, defienden el Sí huyendo instintivamente de aventuras geopolíticas arriesgadas. Recuérdese que hasta Obama va a apoyar la permanencia del país en la UE y que una parte importante de las grandes empresas británicas, hasta un 80% según el Financial Times, va a hacer lo mismo.

El alcalde de Londres, el conservador Boris Johnson, se ha decantado públicamente esta tarde por la Brexit. Su decisión es tremendamente importante no sólo por el gran respeto del que goza en todo su partido y entre parte del público. El pronunciamiento de Johnson nos da una idea de la brecha abierta en la clase empresarial británica en torno a la cuestión europea. Como alcalde de la City of London, mayor centro financiero del mundo, es indudable que Johnson cuenta con el visto bueno de las “instituciones financieras” privadas. La escisión de la clase financiera con respecto a la élite industrial se hace cada vez más patente.

¿Y por qué a los poderes financieros les interesa apoyar la Brexit en estos momentos? David Cameron no ha conseguido en sus negociaciones del fin de semana pasado el derecho a veto de los países de fuera de la Eurozona a las decisiones que se tomen en el núcleo duro de la Unión Monetaria. Eso tiene implicaciones para el sector financiero británico. Tarde o temprano el Euro necesitará una arquitectura política e institucional más firme. Inevitablemente se ejercerán competencias en materias que afectarán a la primacía de Londres como centro financiero en la UE (y que le darían a Frankfurt, su rival continental, el señoreaje que demanda). Además, los intereses de los operadores londinenses, que en realidad carecen de nacionalidad, estarían también en juego si hubiera algún tipo de acuerdo en torno a la deuda entre los países de la Eurozona, lo cual sería posible también sin contar con Gran Bretaña. Por eso, una parte de la City of London, después de muchos años de ambigüedad silente, confirma ahora su órdago secesionista. La reformulación de la gobernanza del Euro aún no ha madurado, la salida de Gran Bretaña provocaría un gran choque que paralizaría la Unión y generaría incertidumbre en torno al euro y a la libra. Debilitar a los Estados es la estrategia de una deudocracia cuyos intereses se alejan cada vez más de los de la economía real.

La única conclusión esperanzadora de todo esto es la constatación, una vez más, de que el “Establishment” o clase dominante de un país no es un bloque homogéneo que actúa siempre con un propósito común. La izquierda en Europa debe aprender a entender y usar estas divisiones.

Paradise

I

El paraíso vacío
Is a colourful white universe
Covered in woods
Where rectangular leaves
Of softly creased textures
Secretly stem
From online branches
Of centenary trees.

Limited liability
Unlimited luck.

El paraíso vacío
Is a room-not-to-be Where
One cannot linger
For they will charge you to do so.
No souls live there.
Just cows
And riffles
And chocolates
And briefcases.

Limited liability
For a haven
Of unlimited crime.

II

El purgatorio repleto
Is certainly hot and busy.

Red shores drawn up
By tides of barren magma.

Sexy dudes and babes
With little or no clothes,
Tight cheeks,
Perky noses,
Dark blue eyes,
(Or light hazelnut with sunflower sparks)
Whisper in the toilets
In a cool code
And pass urine,
That goes down a pipe
For it to be mixed
With footballers’ sweat,
Bottled in small vials
And sold in airport lounges,
Shopping brothels
And malls.

image

III

El infierno amorfo
Is not a trendy place at all.

It stinks badly of burnt
old
angels’ hair.

It’s inhabited by the classic baddies,
you know,
Paedophiles,
Murderers,
Corporate hawks and their like
Alongside the dull,
The uncommitted
And a bunch of bought-again Christians,
But you can’t see
Any meaningful faces
Cause they are melted.

The squeaky voice in the loudspeakers
Advertising junk food
And plastic toys
And useless utensils
Cannot fill the air
As there isn’t any left.

When the hour strikes
The flight attendants read out
News and safety instructions
Which eventually drown
In the background noise
Of well oiled machinery.

IV

El paraíso pleno
It’s a place of Love and Action Where
everything matters,
Everyone cares,
But nothing counts.
A place Where
Everyday,
Before dawn,
Wide open full coffins
Are ritually laid
In the gardens
Of pubs
For pagan nuns
Who fought in the War
To break clouds
Of red skies
With yellow songs
Of hope and sarcasm
As the laughter of the people
Raise the purple from their night.

V

Listen to the birds
As they tweet
Come down the tower
Touch
Sing

image

Copyright © 2014. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Paintings by Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516)

 

 

 

Another Europe is Possible

I enjoyed yesterday our Left Unity meeting in York with Sam Fowles, from Another Europe is Possible, a new movement supporting Britain’s membership of the EU. I would like to express my enthusiasm for this initiative and share my most immediate reflections on the question of the forthcoming EU referendum in Britain:

Britain Stronger in Europe, the main pro-EU lobbying group, has designed an excellent product of political marketing that will convince many of the most conservative voters that Britain’s membership of the EU is a good thing. It touches upon 4 very relevant selling points for those voters in a very effective way.

However, despite the current advantage of the Yes in the surveys, their success is far from guaranteed. The Yes campaign may be persuasive but I think it is not motivating a sufficient number of people to actually set foot in the polling station. The emotional appeal of the different camps of the Yes campaign is not strong enough yet. There is not a brighter future to conquer by voting Yes, because we have been there already for four decades. There are no negative representations of Brexit as a looming reality for which we are utterly unprepared. No references to members of the establishment who would benefit from it. No antagonism. No enemy of the Nation. No anger. The passion, the dreams and the flags are still in the No side.

This lack of fire in the belly may be even worse amongst left-wing voters as they realise they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Their options are

a) To vote No, leave the EU and embark upon a very dodgy geopolitical adventure with Captain Murdoch, and Liu-Tenants Duncan Smith and Farage.

b) To vote Yes (boosting Cameron’s reputation as a State man) and endorse constitutionally an allegedly reformed EU that marginalises migrant workers and does not deal with the inherent democratic and social deficit of the EU and its members States. The outcome of an affirmative vote would be given some kind of “constitutional” value in the UK, as one-in-a-life time decision, preempting Britain’s involvement in any of the deep changes that the EU really needs.

c) To stay at home.

So how should the British Left go about supporting Britain’s membership and getting voters to actually turn up to the polling stations?

The British Left should defend UK membership as a crucial opportunity to contribute to the construction of a Europe of the People, as opposed to a Europe of the Corporations. Most of the economic, environmental, democratic and social challenges that we face in Britain cannot be tackled in isolation. They require, at least, European solutions because we live in a common physical space in which money, businesses, air and clouds will move with relative ease, whether we are part of the EU or not. No matter the colour of its Government, Britain would struggle outside the European Union to guarantee a prosperous future for its people because we would be set against the rest of Europe geopolitically and economically.

Additionally, the British Left has to engage far more actively and visibly at home and abroad with the political movements that demand, heroically, the democratisation of the EU and our economies, notably the anti-austerity movement and the pan-European radical democracy movement “Plan B for Europe”:

In relation to the latter, attention has to be paid to the specificity of Britain:

  1. The continental demands for a substantially more democratic Europe has a strong focus on the institutional architecture of the Single Currency, which we are not part of. The Plan B has its own dynamics, timing and agendas, as well as a combination of different national flavours and contexts.
  2. Britain will have a referendum soon and the Plan B discourse, highly critical with the EU institutions, may well backfire and detract support for the Yes vote amongst all types of voters.

Therefore any collaboration with the Plan B before the referendum must be carefully planned for it to be effective. The emphasis, in my view, has to be on radical democracy, generous activism, international unity, and our history of pan-European resistance to oppression and totalitarianism.

Rivers of Blood

We are all provisional in this world,
And in these islands.

Even those who still live
In their very delivery room
Attached to the stirrups of the bed
onto which they were expelled
from their mothers’ womb.
Those who still haven’t mopped up their amniotic fluid.

We are all provisional in this world,
And in these islands.

Even those who behave
Like if it was their own merit
To have been born
In a certain spot,
Like a (sweet) potato who takes credit
For the choice of the plot where she was planted.

We are all provisional in this world,
And in these islands.

Even those who planned very carefully
Where precisely to move
Using a spreadsheet to calculate
The lowest income tax
And the highest wage for their trade.

Even those
Who simply ended up
Overstaying in a green and kind place
Where they arrived by pure accident
(Which is actually what happened to me).

Even those who saw themselves
Forced to flee their place of birth,
Sieged by the chaos brought about
By hunger, war and capitalism,
Those who hide from misery or death.

Even those who simply dream with new faces,
New horizons, new air.

We are all provisional in these islands,
And in this world.

Because we are the Rivers of Blood
Feeding the Oceans of Hope.

Copyright © 2016. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.
First published in Contra. Poesía ante la Represión. Coordinadora Anti-Represión Región de Murcia. 2016. Murcia

Checkmate

 

In the night,

in the solace of her workshop,

the insurgent artisan prepares

for a final game of chess,

as she whittles away chips

of cherry tree wood

giving unpredictable shapes

to a new set of pawns

 

who will liberate horses,

draft their knights in,

occupy towers,

mate with kings, bishops and queens,

until they all put behind,

overwhelmed by sacred orgasms,

the rules for their calculated movements

the protocols for their predatory aims.

 

This is a literary translation by the author of his poem “Jaque mate”, featured in the book Los viajes de Diosa (The Travels of Goddess)

Copyright © 2015. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Happy Xmas from Goddess

When the poor shepherds realised that the skies actually harboured at least one star for each one of them and for all their descendants for eons and eons, they made peace with each other as love flooded their hearts. As it was cold, they fed the embers with some old self-righteous books. From that day, they stopped looking for me. (Goddess 3 12)

Unresponsive

Nothing happens on the screen of my laptop.
It has turned unresponsive.
My memory of the sounds of my tapping of the keys
Suddenly acquires
A muffled texture of emptiness,
A sour timbre of impotence.
But I keep typing
Our revolutionary manifesto,
Because I am convinced
That I am still alive
Thanks to the pulse of my fingers,
Because I firmly believe
That the words of my letters
Must be going somewhere high
To be received by the Guardians of the Truth,
Who will certify the quality
Of each single sentence,
For them to be fed
To our masses
Who starve in heaven.

Hallowed be their reign.

Copyright © 2015. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

Our man

He is an alcoholic
Who never pays for his drinks.

A workaholic whose job
Is to gamble with our money.

He once was a kind guy,
But now,
Roughed up by his profession,
(I don’t believe that bullshit about his dad)
His manners have gone down the hill,

(Well, listen,

Actually,

He is a psychopath,

Addicted to violence,

Aggressive…)

Watch out!!

He will hit you and make you bleed,
Or kill you!

Oops!

That was him!

Bloody hell!

That was fast!

If you are not careful
He will run you over
With his dangerous driving,
Typically in a busy town centre,
Preferably abroad,
Destroying as well the stalls of humble traders,
With expensive cars paid with our money,
Or stolen.

His list of contacts is endless,
Mostly dodgy,
Or even toxic,
But no private life,
And certainly no friends,
Apart from the Big One,
The only person he respects,
Even though they are not allowed to see each other.

Plenty of casual sex,
But we never know
How good it is, really,
Or what diseases he may have caught
And passed.

And despite all that,
Our security is in his hands,
And we have to trust him,
Blindly,
Forcefully,
And love him,
Because at the end of the day
He is one of us.

I’ll tell you what:

I think he is a wanker!

I know he is ready to die,

But he is still a wanker,

Yes!

Mr Bond is a criminal wanker,

And nobody cares!

Copyright © 2015. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.