'Not the Nine O'clock News' and Climate Change

'Not the Nine O'clock News' was a satirical programme broadcast between 1979 and 1982, some 43 years ago.

One of the features of the programme was to parody contemporary music like Punk Rock and Two Tone Ska Reggae. These parodies were then used as vehicles to attack political figures, usually government ministers and politicians.

When the dictator, Josip Tito died in 1980 his funeral was attended by most leaders of the world. His funeral drew political leaders together in one space from countries who were armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. Based on the number of attending politicians and state delegations, it was the largest state funeral in history. It took place at a time of global tensions surrounding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The gathering of so many world leaders in one place was a target for the satirists. No more so than 'Not the Nine O'clock News'.

The programme's contributors had noticed that the funeral had drawn together most of the world's genocidal maniacs in one place who would have had no compulsion to fire off nuclear weapons and destroy all known living things on the planet.

In response, 'Not the Nine O'clock News' performed a song of rage: "All Out Superpower Confrontation" over images of world leaders attending Tito's funeral and clips of the nuclear arsenal they had at their disposal. The singer fantasised about taking out all the assembled world leaders with a nuclear striker.

No one could get away with a piece of satire like that today. Accusations of "celebrating terrorism" would be thrown at the programme and its presenters. It would have been subject to stern leader writers in the DAILY MAIL and DAILY TELEGRAPH when it became known that one of the 'world leaders' targeted by Mel Smith's song was the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The song is hard to find on YOU TUBE. It can be found, though, through searching Google and clicking on Sparrowmaiden's post. Give it a try while the post lasts.

Given the current authoritarian political climate, Mel Smith, if he were alive would be packed off to a Prevent meeting to be to be shown how to think the way our leaders want us to think. 'British values' indeed! The only value the British ruling class understands is profit witnessed by the MPs who had their snouts in the lobbying trough and giving advice to corrupt governments in tax havens.

To get passed by today's censors the song's satire would be softened through the use of qualifying clauses like John Betjeman's "Come gentle bombs on Slough". He was answered in the 1980s by Attila the Stockbroker with "Come gentle bombs of John Betjeman". These two poets would not be considered "terrorists". Mel Smith singing "Come gentle Bomb's on world leaders" at COP26 still would do as satire although not as biting as in the original song.

The point is, we do not need world leaders. World leaders prepared to use nuclear weapons in a mass genocide of human beings are also prepared to let the Planet burn in order to protect the national interest or the business interests of the fossil fuel industry. At COP26 no one in the hall or the demonstrators outside questioned why world leaders had travelled in their jets from around the world. Would they have been missed? The science is known. So is the problem. What was not discussed was the socialist solution.

At COP26 world leaders were all wind and rhetoric. Full of "verbal diarrhoea" as Mel Smith put it. Some world leader's had difficulty keeping awake although Johnson's excuse was apparently a very good lunch.

No wonder the environmental activist Greta Thunberg described the climate summit a "failure" and a "PR exercise". She also described the words of world leaders as decades of "Blah blah blah!" which nicely sum up Boris Johnson's contribution to the debate.

At a protest meeting in Glasgow, Thunberg said that the solution to the climate emergency "has nothing to with me". This is correct.

In fact the solution to global warming has nothing to do with "world leaders". World leaders are part of the problem not the solution.

Instead the solution is to be found with the world's working class who form a majority in society. Workers have to come to the realisation that they are a powerful political and social force for revolutionary change. As socialists, and only as socialists, can workers resolve the problem of global warming and poverty can be tackled and abolished. It demands system change not reforms. It means abolishing the profit system and replacing capitalism with the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. This can only be achieved democratically and politically by a socialist majority.

It did not take long for the pledges of COP26 to unravel.

What of US and the fossil fuel industry? Even as Biden pledged clean energy, he seeks more oil production. The need to be seen to say the right thing grates with the need to support US commercial interests and low petrol prices. As one newspaper noted:

"With gasoline prices rising above $3.30 a gallon nationwide, Mr. Biden over the weekend urged major energy producing countries with spare capacity to boost production, part of a larger effort to pressure OPEC countries and Russia to increase the supply of oil. He was joined by Emmanuel Macron of France, whose country hosted the 2015 meeting in Paris where 200 countries agreed to collectively tackle global warming" (NEW YORK TIMES 4 November 2021).

Socialists are not surprised COP26 changed nothing. And given the rapid collapse of the Democrats in the US, Biden did not say what will happen if Trump is re-elected President of the US in 2024 and the cavalier and destructive use of fossil fuels and his oil and coal billionaire backers come back on the political agenda.

Here is Shell. Shell wants to develop new oilfields including Cambo in the North Sea which it hopes will produce 170 million barrels of oil. It plans to spend four times as much on oil and gas development as on renewables next year (Global Climate Insights).

And here is Indonesia who said that the COP26 zero-deforestation pledge by 2030 was "inappropriate and unfair". Siti Baker, the environment minister for the south-east Asian archipelago said Indonesia could not "promise" something it could not deliver. Forests will still needed to be cut to build new roads and some forests will need to be cut down for the cultivation of food crops (GUARDIAN November 5 2021).

Socialists do not advise dropping bombs on world leaders. What we advise the working class is to have nothing to do with leaders. Do not vote for capitalist politicians. Think and act for yourself. If only the tens of thousands of protestors in Glasgow had became socialists instead of placing their face in political leaders we would not be in this environmental mess in the first place.

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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.