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Soul Survivors – The Return of Fold

October 15, 2021

The Voice Of Unreason

It isn’t impossible to describe how much harder being in the music industry has got since the pandemic began, but by any measure the scale of the damage to careers and livelihoods has been disastrous. With laughable streaming payments already underlining Silicon Valley’s greed well before 2020, one prominent artist told me that the subsequent ban on live performances had reduced their income by 90% – and they were one of the lucky ones.

For the less well known a monthly cheque from Spotify for a few pence hardly constituted a living wage, but for Leeds based musical collective Fold, quitting was never an option. A socially conscious band in socially incomprehensible times, for spokesperson Seth Mowshowitz their role was clear, one of being a tool in the battle against a Western neo-liberalism that threatens the existence of the planet and everyone on it. It’s a mission he admits that…

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Letter to Glenda Jackson MP urging her to push David Cameron to accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change

May 10, 2011

Dear Glenda Jackson,
Please can you write to the Prime Minister and tell him he must accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change? It would be totally unacceptable to reject his own experts’ advice. It would be a huge setback to the fight against climate change and undermine our ability to show global leadership. It would also be a spectacular broken promise.

In addition I believe it is important to emphasise that a commitment to reducing carbon emissions is also a commitment to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
Given the steadily escalating demand for energy and rapidly decreasing availability of cheap hydrocarbon energy (currently our primary source of energy) within the next 20 years I believe that this is essential to our long term survival both here in the UK and globally as a civilisation.

Given the timeframe of these proposed targets and the projected figures of the most recent World Energy Outlook reports it is difficult to see how our energy supplies will be managed even if we do reach the most extreme targets. It is therefore absolutely crucial that we stick as rigidly as we can to them.I understand the decision is imminent, so please write to him urgently. I would appreciate it if you could also tell me what you think personally?

Seth Mowshowitz

Response from Glenda Jackson MP re: NHS reforms

April 11, 2011

07 April 2011

Dear Mr Mowshowitz

Thank you for contacting me regarding the NHS reforms. I could not agree more with your concerns, and wholeheartedly support the 38 degrees campaign which so many of my constituents have participated in.

I spoke in the debate on Monday, accusing Mr Lansley of stubbornly pushing his reforms forward despite repeated warnings, “The Secretary of State listed in his statement concerns to which he intends to listen, but every single one of them has been raised with him before, going back to the time of the publication of his White Paper. As he did not listen to those concerns then, why should any of us believe his positive commitment to them now?” (Hansard, 4th April Column 772).

David Cameron and Andrew Lansley have now announced that they are taking a two month break to ‘listen to the people’ when in fact they have been forced to halt their plans for reform because of the overwhelming criticism expressed by the British Medical Association and a group of Lib Dem MPs and the overwhelming lack of confidence displayed by the thousands of constituents who have been writing and emailing in continually on the issue.

I await the results of this ‘natural pause’ but remain extremely concerned. You may be assured that I will continue to make this point to the minister whenever possible.

Yours sincerely

Glenda Jackson MP

Letter to Glenda Jackson MP calling for an urgent review of Andrew Lansley’s plans for the NHS

April 1, 2011

Dear Glenda Jackson,

[this next bit was the standard pre-written letter]

I’m contacting you today regarding Andrew Lansley’s plans for the NHS. I am very concerned that these plans could ruin our health service.

[my additions…]

My wife has been a nurse in the NHS for over 10 years first in paediatric intensive care units and later as a paediatric research nurse. Her years of experience have taught her that the largest portion of the ongoing difficulties with running the NHS stem from the fact that each new government takes such short term views on solutions that more often than not they only get partially implemented and become another unnecessary layer of complexity. To make matters worse these layers then get undone or simply layered on top of by successive governments.

The amount of bureaucracy and middle management that has evolved is ludicrous and crippling. The front line (nurses in particular) is the crucial backbone of the NHS and they get shafted at every available opportunity to the point that nurses move abroad for a better quality of life. These are the issues that need addressing with the long term survival of the NHS at the center of concern – not governmental self preservation or payouts from private companies.

[…and the rest of the pre-written bit]

I see that The Times is reporting that Nick Clegg and David Cameron will be reviewing the plans “in the next week or two”. Please could you pass on my concerns and tell them it’s time to drop these plans and think again?

I am one of the 250,000 who have signed the 38 Degrees petition against the NHS plans. A huge range of other organisations have also warned that these plans are dangerous. Why would the government rush through such drastic untested plans, while ignoring the opinions of experts?

Thank you very much – I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Seth Mowshowitz

This Coalition Government Sucks Ass

January 10, 2011

I haven’t posted on this blog in 6 months. My last post was a letter to my new Labour representative Glenda Jackson who, unlike my previous Lib Dem rep Sarah Teather who replied to every single one of my letters, never even acknowledged my letter. I haven’t written to her since.

That letter was an urgent request to take action to save Refugee and Migrant Justice – the only source of free legal aid to refugees and asylum seekers who couldn’t otherwise afford it. There were some 10,000 cases left hanging in the balance – 900 involving children. I donated to a last minute drive to come up with the funding shortfall as did many thousands of others. None of these actions were enough. My letter fell on deaf ears and the whole Refugee and Migrant Justice service vanished in a puff of smoke. This heavy handed removal of support for our most vulnerable members of society set the stage for what has so far arguably been the most sociopathic administration since Margaret Thatcher.

Here are some articles that helpfully illustrate losses to society since the coalition government began their session in parliament:

The list goes on and on, these are just some highlights.

The real slap in the face is that apart from now having to pay less tax corporations are also finding it even easier to avoid tax payments in the billions under this administration. Bank bonuses continue. The rich get even richer while we tighten our belts even more.

I say: fuck you coalition government and fuck you tax avoiding, price hiking corporations.

I say: join the Coalition of Resistance.

Dear Glenda Jackson: please help save Refugee and Migrant Justice

June 22, 2010

Following the recent election my new MP is Labour’s Glenda Jackson. She used to be my MP when I lived up the road in of the crustier parts of West Hampstead. Below is my first letter to her, freshly sent a moment ago.

Dear Glenda Jackson,

I would like to draw your immediate attention to the government’s recent move to shut down Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ). There is now an urgent appeal to save RMJ.

A consortium of charitable trusts and city law firms, supported by Simon Hughes MP, are putting together a proposal to Government to save Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ). The proposal asks the Government to at least pay the money that it would have to pay anyway on insolvency on the understanding that this will be matched with up to £1,000,000 by way of grants, secured loans and donations to meet cash needs to finance work in progress.

We need concrete commitments for these funds today or as early as possible tomorrow – actual cash can come a bit later.

Read the full statement about the appeal to save RMJ.

My friend has been a lawyer working at RMJ here in London for the last 4 and a half years. He is in a state of shock. He cannot fulfil his legal and moral obligation to his clients – the most vulnerable members of society including 900 unaccompanied children.

By shutting RMJ down the government is positioning itself loudly and clearly on the side of the wealthy and the secure while creating a hell for the poor and the persecuted. Of all the cuts to make to aid the budget deficit this is surely one of the most inhumane and unethical, particularly given the lack of any planned transition to other legal representation.

As a concerned constituent I urge you to take a stand and show your support however you can in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Seth Mowshowitz

The gulf oil leak is the writing on the wall but the lettering has never been this large

May 30, 2010

After three weeks BP has yet failed to stop the constant leaking of untold barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Their behaviour up until now has been precisely that which the corporate mandate determines it to be. They have looked for the most cost effective solution to their problems: international pressure from governments that could lead to unfavourable operational conditions and the potential cost to BP’s brand in the eyes of the public.

Actually fixing the leak is the means to the end I’ve just described. They would have first considered whether they could get away with not fixing the leak. Once absolutely certain that not fixing the leak was no longer an option they would have considered the least expensive ways to do it and would try each of the cheapest methods in succession until one works.

In the meantime the cost to the biosphere is as yet incalculable but is ever increasing and is already thought to be the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Many people are once again shocked by this situation. I am not. I am feeling distressed, furious and powerless but if by now you don’t know what behaviour to expect from a corporation then you haven’t been paying much attention. The corporation is legally bound to put profit above all other considerations. The result is an entity that behaves like an utter sociopath because even human and animal life itself is of little or no importance. BP’s apparent concern with the environment is little more than our perception of its very skillfully delivered brand identity. It has jumped on the environmental band wagon because it reasoned that the net increase in profits as a result of a brand popularity boost outweighs the token gestures it allegedly adheres to in these matters.

The corporate model is the most powerfully ubiquitous business model in the world. If you understand the motivation behind such an organization would you still love, trust, respect or ultimately purchase any of its products and services?

BP is just one organization among many that behave in this way. Fully realizing this paints a very clear picture of the world. There is a profit paradigm behind virtually everything in our world and this is not sustainable in any sense. There is a war brewing between those serving and perpetuating this paradigm and those seeking to make a transition away from it. That war is today evident in the exchange between President Obama and BP.

Letter to Lord Hunt, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, concerning peak oil

April 26, 2010

Dear Lord Hunt of Kings Heath,

I received a stock correspondence from your department not long ago concerning the government’s position on Peak Oil. As far as your pre-WEO2009 outlook was concerned Peak Oil was not considered to be a major issue. I had received the same stock letter a number of times from your department as did others asking similar questions.

Since that correspondence I submitted two Freedom of Information requests to find out what was being done to prepare for potential fuel shortages, in particular to find out more about the NEP-F.

I learned that in essence the NEP-F is in place to deal with emergency fuel shortages in the short term and The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan is in place to deal with society’s long term transition away from fossil fuels. What concerns me about the latter is the time frame. You are no doubt aware of the United States Department of Energy’s report issued following AEO2009. I refer you to the following document:
(page 8)

The United States military’s Joint Forces Command concurs with this information. This report and a wealth of other independent research has indicated for a long time that Peak Oil is not only very real but that it has already begun. According to the EIA demand will begin to outstrip supply in 2012 and within 20 years conventional oil will have all but disappeared with nothing to replace it.

I have written many times to my MP and other officials concerning these facts and the government has continually denied their validity citing outdated information that has since been contradicted by its own sources (primarily the WEO2009). There is little available evidence to refute these realities today and I for one am not prepared to wait any longer for you to start preparing. I urge you and your department to come forward and state to the public what you know about the true state of liquid fuels and to start putting forward policies that can genuinely accommodate our transition away from oil dependency. This is beyond urgent.

Yours sincerely,
Seth Mowshowitz

Claude Moraes MEP’s response to my letter concerning peak oil preparations

February 2, 2010

22 January 2010

Dear Mr Mowshowitz,

As a Labour MEP, all the issues surrounding European energy policy are very important to me, including climate change, economic prosperity, heating and maintaining homes and intra-European transport. On this basis, both the European Parliament and the European Commission are aware that some scientists assert oil production has peaked, or will peak in the next decade. At this stage, it is the case that these concerns constitute a theory. Other scenarios include the potential enhanced recovery of oil through new technology, and the further development of renewable energy sources. The European Commission is constatnly updated on developments in both peak oil theory and the debate surrounding it.

The European Commission is also following all developments affecting energy supply. In fact, the energy industry is also questioning whether supply can continue to keep up with increases in demand over short, medium and long term.

In addition, given the challenges and draw backs of using oil as an energy source, and regardless of peak oil theory, it is obvious that Europe needs a re-invigorated, common energy policy to cope with all the challenges facing energy use. The European Commission is thus currently building policy frameworks which should lead to a sustainable and highly efficient long-term energy profile within the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Claude Moraes MEP
Labour Member of the European Parliament for London

Oil companies continue to spend more on buying back their own stock than on new exploration

January 27, 2010

Historically oil prices have always behaved cyclically. Whenever demand outstrips production levels for whatever reason, the price of oil goes up along with the value of oil company shares. Oil companies then have the financial incentive to fund more expensive exploration projects that were previously unaffordable. Eventually new sources of oil begin to enter the market and the prices are driven back down.

In recent years the oil companies have started behaving somewhat differently. A report published by in October 2007 stated the following…

Theres a steady liquidation of the world oil industry. […] Exxon is buying back about $30 billion of its shares each year. If that continues, Exxon will have repurchased all its stock by about 2024.

It has continued. In October 2008 CNN issued this report…

Exxon said it spent $6.9 billion on oil exploration in the third quarter, a jump of 26% from the same period last year. […] Exxon also has an aggressive program for buying back stock, with 109 million of its shares repurchased during the third quarter, at a cost of $8.7 billion.

This behavior is not unique to Exxon – the ‘big 5’ (Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips) are all frequently spending more on buying their own stock back than they are on new exploration.