First MC NxtGen’s Andrew Lansley Rap, and now this – the oncoming carve-up of the NHS is certainly pulling the British protest song out of its ghetto. Talk about rude health…
Everyone in Britain needs healthcare, but who is healthcare for? Is it for the people who need it in order to stay alive, mobile or relatively sane on a day to day basis? Or is it for private concerns who use it as an avenue for extending business plans and for pulling in another income stream – and who are now circling the choice plum of public healthcare? Keith Lindsay-Cameron (a.k.a. “Keith Ordinary Guy”, retired youth worker turned protest-letter writer) has needed healthcare more than most. By his own admission, Keith has had a long-term struggle with mental health issues. His are of that particular kind which leave you eminently sane, but also painfully shorn of the thicker skin required to make headway in an increasingly brutal and predatory society.
This sensitivity might have driven the superbly dignified orator’s vitriol of Keith’s “A Letter a Day to Number 10” campaign (a one-sided public correspondence with David Cameron, holding him and his government to account for the increasing wreck of social support). It’s also left him profoundly grateful to a National Health Service for keeping him intact when his own problems were just too much. While few of us in Britain actively share Keith’s dogged social commitment and sharp sense of a general justice – and fewer still either share or are brave enough to admit to sharing his medical difficulties), most of us have various reason to thank the NHS (regardless of snarl-ups and corner-cutting) in its rickety benevolence. Certainly few issues seem as good for pulling us together and waking us up a little.
Hence Atona, a rapid coalescing of musicians, poets and general protesters around Keith’s ire-tipped missives. Disabling The NHS is their first salvo, a blend of tried-and-tested agit-prop methods slung out into the world for free. There’s a list of government ministers recited over a Gothic toll; a stolen-and-pasted-in sample of one of Cameron’s egregious, deceptive pronouncements on the NHS; a drive into plank-battering punk accusations and warnings – and at the heart of it, Keith himself reading his own cool and scathing denunciations (a stern people’s judge with a soft West Country accent).
With its gruff bang-and-shout, the anvil drumbeat, the framings of text and the clear love of plunderphonic razzing, this is all very much in the spirit of Crass, albeit pulled into the gentler, politer mainstream. Not a bad thing at all. After all, Keith doesn’t just channel crusty old memories of affronted people writing to the Times. He also channels those of seventeenth-century pamphleteers, who (much as Crass did) strived to nail down moral and workable verities for the future while the world turned upside-down around them. In any age, some people have got to work to keep the rest of us awake, and to keep twitching the clothes away from the naked emperors and pirates.
Atona: ‘Disabling The NHS’
Released: 1st October 2012
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Free download from Soundcloud.