The Nightmare of Government

by craig on February 13, 2012 9:33 am in Uncategorized

I am wasting enormous energy lately in an absolute nightmare of visa applications. The insolence of office is to be seen in its most extreme forms, everywhere around the world, in those connected with the organised atavism of immigration control. I was chatting with a charming young lady, one of those wealthy young women who pass a brief season as interns and personal assistants before marriage to some dull heavy jowled banker. She was on her seventh visit to the Indian High Commission visa office, each time being sent back for reams more documents, which are nowhere asked for in the official guidance and checklists.

The British are even worse. The very experienced chief engineer on the electricity project I work on in Ghana, a man with engineering degrees from the UK and US and substantial international experience, was refused a visa to visit the Siemens factory in Lincoln from which we have bought over £13 million of British engineering exports so far. I genuinely have no idea why this baffling decision was made.

The British and Indians have one thing in common – they have both privatised their visa handling process out to profit making companies who employ cheap and unqualified labout to accept, sift and pass on the applications. The lady who had been sent back six times had got nowhere near an immigration officer. Experienced immigration officers still exist, locked away in back offices being fed trays full of less straightforward decisions, made a great deal harder to cope with as they have never set eyes on the applicant. I have line managed one of the biggest British immigration offices in the world, before the processing was privatised, and the best immigration officers never forget you are not granting entry to a pile of documents, but to a human being. The look in the eye is worth a thousand sheets of A4.

We have of course a similar experience to look forward to in the NHS, as the government decides that the profit motive rather than the desire to heal and to relieve pain is the best way to motivate a health service. This will, inevitably, result in de facto triage by sixteen year olds with no fixed contract and paid on various government job subsidy schemes, while the Tories will get a whole new raft of billionaire donors from our taxes, and private health insurance booms among the middle classes. This is the inevitable and highly predictable result of the government’s current NHS plans, and if the process is not stopped will be the situation come 2017.

To return to visas, added to the apparatus designed to reinforce fear at the airports, just moving around our world has changed from a great pleasure to a total misery. Within my lifetime, we have allowed state control over the individual – as a worldwide phenomenon – to intrude to the point where people have little more free will than farmed animals. The quality of life for the majority of people has declined, is declining and appears set to continue to decline. Meanwhile an elite super rich get richer and are free from any kind of restraint at all. The control of a stupefied population appears not in the least difficult.

Sometimes I despair.

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60 Comments

  1. Debbie(aussie)

    13 Feb, 2012 - 10:04 am

    Makes me sort of glad I can’t afford to go anywhere :)

  2. I am very sorry that you are suffering for it is the pain of abusive government which had some 31 years ago tortured me as a younger man struggling as a musician in Europe when I attempted to travel to the UK, that was often without reason obstructed by “British immigration which was then privatized under the obscene rule of the rusted Iron Lady of 10 Downing Street though:
    1. As an American I was never required by the British Government to obtain a visa as the US had some sort of special status.
    2. Though my profession as a musician was also considered preferentially.
    3. I was an entrepreneur as a musician.
    4. Lastly in that on one occasion they obstructed me while I carried a consular letter asking that my entry be facilitated in return to the US by a scheduled flight from the
    UK to the US.

    That and the present state of air travel which has turned the world into the worldwide segregated ghettos of one big concentration camp internationally that I am sorry to inform you began then some thirty-one years ago. If only the world was aware of the these selective policies they would not have dared to do what they do today.

    Awaiting the last days of empire.
    ~A~ Andrew Stergiou

  3. Craig, you say – “Within my lifetime, we have allowed state control over the individual – as a worldwide phenomenon – to intrude to the point where people have little more free will than farmed animals.”

    But surely in the situation you describe, and certainly wrt the NHS predicament as well, what we are seeing is the politicisation of corporate imperatives. The profit-seeking, loss-externalising mechanisms of the corporate machine are being shoe-horned into the spaces formerly occupied by public services whose core functions are supposed to be serving the needs of the public (although, yes, I know that bureaucracies age, and self-serving procedures can interfere).

    Aghast as I am at these ongoing and overt plans to obliterate the postwar structures of social democracy, I take the view that their overreach is almost a justification for progressives to push back when – if – they can get hold of the levers of power.

  4. deepgreenpuddock

    13 Feb, 2012 - 10:27 am

    I will avoid the issue of visas, but privatisation is well described here. One of the great achievements of the right has been to insert the virus of greed and social darwinism into common perception, that the only motivation in a human activity is one that can be defined by profit and financial advantages and that we will act only in a narrowly defined self interest, yet for the majority of people I grew up with that was not the case, as people were organised in ways and had rich social attachments that were often made impossible by intervention pf the single-dimensionalism of money worship.
    It was readily accepted that there were many dimensions to a rich and rewarding life,and money was as much a hindrance to those other components as it was a means to improvement. In simple terms, financial improvement was a collective process
    It is astonishing to think that such a volte-face of perception has been achieved in such a short time-thirry years or so,
    So the issue here is really the NHS, not visas, irritating though they may be, and the rhetoric deployed by certain elements of the political class.
    George Monbiot has a series of interesting tweets about the NHS and the perception that has been rhetorically engineered by certain political elements-mainly Tories of course, but also notably Margaret Hodge, prime example of that deleterious, political mutation, nulabour, that the NHS had declining ‘value for money’ based upon a study by the ONS. Like in all things, the devil, is in the detail, and the detail suggests no such decline and indeed there are many counter interpretations that suggest quite the opposite.

    Of course such issues are complex but one has to really question what is going on with people like Margaret Hodge who a serial hand in many a destructive act or utterances, or at least, acts that are damaging to the very cause she proclaims. It is far from the first time she has been implicated in regressive policy change.

  5. PS Best wishes:
    If I could be of assistance I would like to know but unfortunately I think the world has come to care very compassionately as as it gets more and more empathetic in many ways some of which were outlined by Lady Susan Greenfield whom I think has done a marvelous job on questions related to the detrimental effects of the internet on one’s pathology I believe.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL996B0E5BE8FEC041

  6. I am glad there are others who can see what is happening around us, and despair at the prospects of human battery farming that is passed as our way of life.
    ,
    The creeping legalisation by the various legislature has been in the direction of limiting the masses in their choice of location, habitat, jobs, food, and potential for progress. All the while “protecting” the individual from the “dangers” lurking around the corner, from the; regimes, terrorists, health and safety shortcomings, et.
    ,
    The rich get to have no laws, while we the poor get to enjoy all the laws, now how is that for a bargain?
    ,
    PS Spaniards have a saying; laws are good for your enemy. Just about sums up the situation, so far as the Malthusian misanthropes in charge are concerned.

  7. eveningperson

    13 Feb, 2012 - 11:46 am

    Andrew Stergiou: Susan Greeenfield is making a big name for herself on the detrimental effects of the internet, without the bother of producing the slightest evidence that what she claims is true. She has published no research on the subject.

  8. On the one hand governments preach greater security, tighter controls; on the other they farm out the visa processing to underpaid folks working for private internationals such as VFSGlobal. http://www.vfsglobal.com/

    How secure are your documents passing through these anonymous offices? Can’t be that hard to bribe and infiltrate.

    When the UK still had a visa processing consulate in the Netherlands (they’ve farmed this out to Germany and France) the way the applicants were treated was downright disgusting. You could not take in a bag or mobile, so you needed a friend to stand outside. Except the friend would be forced to stand away from the building and not in front of it! Interviews were held within earshot of other applicants and there was never a please or thank you said.

    As a UK citizen I stood outside waiting as failed applicant after applicant trotted out. I spoke with a few including an Afghan who’d lived 10 years in Holland and could travel throughout Europe (except for UK since it isn’t Schengen!), had a job and home in Holland and could not even speak English. He only wanted to visit his aunt who was dying of cancer in UK. Refused.

    The patience of these people and their refusal to direct any anger towards a Brit was saintly. I have to think of Gandhi and his response to the question: What do you think of Western civilization?
    “I think it would be a good idea.”

  9. I see this as a more general trend, not confined to government or visas or the UK NHS. It’s the rise of bureaucracy in general, and to an extent it’s to do with computerisation. At least on a paper form the assistant could write a note. These days, the “form” – which is now a page on a screen – won’t be accepted by the software unless the right boxes and fields are filled in. When the complexity of reality exceeds the versatility of the “form”, there is simply no way forward. Pretend to conform or get lost.
    .
    The general problem is the replacement of personal judgment with a “tick all the right boxes” approach. The employees daren’t challenge the utility of the software with their bosses, who are doing far more important things than actually dealing with the public. Like working out how to replace relatively expensive employees with yet more software.
    .
    This leads to frustration and anger. But the Security State comes to the “rescue”. We now have specialists in throwing the public out of offices, which all employ private security. Such strong-arm support encourages arrogance in the staff, who can stonewall the public with impunity but have no influence on the power structure above them.
    .
    I could list dozens of examples from my own experience. “Nightmare” is indeed the right word.

  10. The systematic dehumanisation of bureaucracy is designed to transfer accountability onto a set of ‘rules’ developed by an analyst, rather than relying on the individual judgement of people working at the coalface. In doing so it also discards the implicit wisdom accrued from years of personal experience. Rules will never compensate for expert human judgement in complex human situations.
    .
    Susan Greenfield is quite enlightened on such issues. It’s true that her research background is in neurophysiology, but her popular writing is essentially philosophy inspired by neuroscience. In that respect, she is pushing the boundaries into interesting new areas, which I think is to be lauded. She’s quite visionary in some respects, although I think she could benefit from more rigorous and self-critical analysis. She does acknowledge (at least in private) that she’s laying the groundwork for research hypotheses, not actually confirming them herself. Many philosophers and psychologists are essentially engaged in similar pursuits, without conducting the laborious and expensive experiments themselves. I think Greenfield’s theorising serves a useful function – inspiring research – but shouldn’t (yet) be regarded as fact.

  11. It’s Terry Gilliam’s Brazil made real. Minions work in “Records”, a lowly, hard working department where you have no status and low pay. To be “someone” in society, you need to get into “Information Retrieval”, the euphemism for the Department of Torture.

  12. Computers are just a tool that we may or may not choose to use or abuse. Possibly it is more a reflection of the trend away from actually learning something useful such as medicine, therapy, a trade, science, engineering, or working your way up from shop floor/junior level, toward people just wanting to be “managers” direct from uni. That is no learning about actually what they are managing.
    So society finds a place for these smooth talking empty shells and they read reports, set targets, meet targets, rig targets, write reports, etc. Anything other than deal with the real job at hand which is getting off your rear and going to the clients or the shop floor or equivalent.
    If they did then the likes of immigration control would want to meet every visa applicant and well if they look like they might be useful would do anything to entice them to stay and help the UK economy … I mean that’s just good business sense!
    Say what you like about the USA but they gave my wife a 10 year visa the instance they saw PhD … the Brits gave her 6mths and she’s even married to one. She had to miss a conference in the UK because the visa waiting list was 6 weeks and there were no exceptions.

  13. Ideally in my opinion regulation of all forms of social interaction by codes, rules, policy statements and abstract values, the so called contractual regulation framework of law, policy and surveillance should give way to cultural or moral regulation by peer pressure and institutions set up to provide an alternate environment that is morally and practically robust.
    .
    As an example, a nursery introduced a fine to parents turning up late to collect their children. Even when the fine was dropped the problem of late collection increased. One can understand that paying the ‘cost’ of punctuality subverted the respect and sense of belonging and approval among the parent group. A much better result could be acheived by mild disapproval by other parents and staff in an interactive, cohesive, communicative and morally accountable group of parents.
    .
    Craig tells us our Coalition government decides that ‘profit motive rather than the desire to heal and relieve pain is the best way to motivate a health service.’ In other words our society is, despite a ‘Big Society’ banner, run on the economic model, a homogeneous medium for exchanges of markets and market like organisations. Everything from schools, universities and hospitals to village halls and allotment associations are to be run as if they were businesses, with business objectives, strategies and roles.
    .
    Incentives and contracts are all part of the ‘City of London’ philosophy and a lack of ethical globalisation peppered with an ‘apparatus designed to reinforce fear’ are part of the neo-Con principles contracted to provide optimum welfare for all, under the aegis of the omniscient banks, financial authorities, government ‘think tanks’ contracted enforcers and secret services that classify, codify, monitor, incentivise and target set in every conceivable sphere of human interaction.

  14. I’m both retired and disabled, as is my missus. Talking with a large group of like people recently, we all had tales to tell of reduced income, failing health and all the usual minutae of advancing age. We didn’t exactly put it to a vote, but it was clear that a major problem for most of us these days wasn’t any of the above.
    .
    Far and away the largest complaint was of the cancerous effect on our lives of jobsworths and the near-impossibility of ever actually getting anything positive or useful from of the nation of petty bureaucrats that seem to populate almost every public office these days. Even (in fact increasingly) those styling themselves as caring services.
    .
    No-one takes responsibility for anything. No-one, apparently, has the authority to exercise even the slightest discretion in the exercise of the ‘rules’. Ask a question of most government or local government agencies and you’d best start a new folder of correspondence and documents. Certainly do not hold your breath.
    .
    Is it getting worse, or are we just getting old? I’m sorry, but it’s the former – on a daily basis I see the arrogance of petty authority growing as fast as pride in service vanishes. And it’s not coincidence. When trusted and valued care-givers disappear as a legion of managers, coordinators and other excuse-generators move in, then surely it’s policy.
    .
    I’m actually glad I’m old. I reckon my immediately postwar generation had the best of it. The UK has become a land of jobsworths with no self-respect or personal honour – where no-one gives a tinkers damn about anything as long as they have iphones and reality TV. If I’m relieved I won’t be part of it for much longer, it’s increasingly apparent I can rely on the system to hurry me along.

  15. Wayfarer: I’ve a lot of sympathy with what you wrote. The question is: what can we do about it? It seems to me that the transformation of society will take the colective effect of many acts by individuals, of wisdom and kindness, despite the constraints. I’m not saying that such things are a substitute for political activism of various kinds, but I think that they may be an important part of the solution.

  16. Sorry about your experience here in 1981 Andrew Stergiou. The gangsters–in-charge have now morphed into fascist gangsters-in=charge so things here are a great deal worse as Craig outlines. They have no soul and know no beauty or art.

  17. Wayfarer – you may find that many of these jobsworths aren’t public employees but low-wage employees of a company now acting in place of a formerly state-run facility.

  18. Nico, you are right of course, software is just a means unto an end. But to get appropriate software, the relevant department has to have it written or modified for the individual task at hand. I.E., these departments should hire programmers when they need improvements to their software.
    .
    Unfortunately for the public, but very conveniently for the proprietary software vendors, the dominant model for obtaining software makes this impossible. Proprietary software is not susceptible to modification. The bit that programmers need, the “Source Code”, is a trade secret. The terms of the software license generally also makes modification illegal.
    .
    So departments mostly buy software, and programming, a high-value form of employment, is made less available in the job market.
    .
    Issues about the freedom to create and modify software can be found here:
    .
    http://www.fsf.org/

  19. I am a naturalized British of Sudanese origin. My mother owns two flats in expensive areas in West London. She had visitors visas for the last 15 years. She always refused to apply for indefinite leave and become a British. However, she used to spend whole lot of time in London, mostly for health reasons and she constantly attends private doctors. She has never applied for public funding from the British government. She recently had a kidney removal operation and was asked to attend medical checks regularly. On one occasion her health deteriorated and was under medical control for couple of weeks. As a result she missed the deadline to leave the UK for 5 days. Now she is being refused to receive a visa at British consulate in Sudan. We have all the documents to prove that her late leave from the UK was due to medical reasons and she needs to attend next appointments related to her kidney condition. She has been refused three times now and we paid over 1000 usd for application process. Each time they ask us to bring different document. Absolutely rip off service and no use of the consulate officials. I am asking my mother to find other doctors from Germany, yet she is on principle and angry because of her more than mln pound worth investments in London property market.

  20. [..] yards of detail of funding from the profiteers.

    This is not the first time that Lansley has found himself in controversial waters, he has previously been exposed as accepting a £22,000 donation to his constituency office from the Tory donor and hedge fund director John Nash, who is also chairman of Care UK, another private health care company which stands to make millions from lucrative NHS contracts under the new reforms. John Nash and his wife have also donated £100,000 to the Tory party coffers.
    .
    Andrew Lansley’s wife Sally runs a public affairs business which boasts about advising drug and food companies. Sally Low, the managing director of Low Associates, denied being a lobbyist, saying she provided clients with “strategic policy” advice. At a business conference less than two years ago, however, Miss Low gave a lecture on improving lobbying skills, where she advised people to “establish positive relationships with decision-makers before you need their help”.

    “Pursue your lobbying internally until you hit a wall,” she added.
    .
    Declaring these “activities” in the members register does exonerate them from being a conflict of interests, which there clearly is with this health secretary. David Cameron said he was going to clean up politics, in fact he has turned the water from being slightly muddy to outright murky. This government is looking more corrupt with each passing day.
    .
    http://cameron-cloggysmoralcompass.blogspot.com/2012/01/truth-about-andrew-lansley-lobbyist-and.html

  21. I’ve seen this debate form both sides. Working as a systems analyst, it is very often the case that human judgement is sloppy, fudged, biased, and corruptible. I’ve virtually had to pin people down to try to make systematic sense of the way they did things, so i can abstract the design principles, and it’s often been a painful process. But I think in all cases, all stakeholders agreed the resultant automation was a significant improvement over the previous poorly defined system. (I guess that’s partly because I build in flexibility for exceptions in special cases.)

    Clark, I recently authored an original software application for a major corporation – under temporary contract as an ad hoc programmer – because there were no off-the-shelf solutions. My system had featured several innovations and embellishments, including customisable graphs and an internal post-it messaging system. They didn’t pay for all my development time – I did a lot of additional work on it that was never invoiced. I left them with the source code, because I believed was moving on to a different sector (academia) anyway. I’ve recently heard that they are now trying to upscale it to play a central IT role at the heart of their operations – and they have assigned one of their staff to the task (good luck to him making sense of my code!). If I had kept the source code, they’d have to give the job to me (which I would welcome). Business advisers told me I did the wrong thing by not protecting the code or slapping a licence on it. I’m not sure, though – for the reasons you mention.

  22. O/T but of interest, from the Guardian:
    .
    “Israel’s prime minister has accused Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of responsibility for two car bombs targeting Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia”
    .
    What this hypocrite means is that it is okay for Israel to bomb scientists in Iran, but not for anyone else to do similar. Absolutely breathtaking.
    .
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/13/binyamin-netanyahu-accuses-iran-bombs

  23. Flying abroad has indeed become an amazing experience of finding yourself in an environment where one basically renounce all your rights. I think that the only limits to the discretionary power of Customs is that they cannot actually shoot people without provocation of torture them; but they can detain them arbitrarily, can deny entry on a whim, can condition entry upon answering personal and intimate questions of no connections to security issues, can copy electronic data, and can submit people to a range of invasive searches without rational (anal search being an amazing form of legal rape).

    You have to thrive to look as bland and uninteresting as possible in the hope of not catching an eye. Answering all questions politely is not enough to please the officers. As a boringly law-abiding person, I never had such a strong feeling of law enforcement being directed at me, rather than at the petty criminals who annoy the likes of me. You’d refrain even thinking unorthodoxly for fear of begin singled out.

    I highly recommend the experience. It gives a sense of proportions of what immigrants go through.

  24. Earl Howe, Health Minister, has been attempting to answer questions in the House of Lords on the extent of payments to international management consultants McKinsey, as outlined in this Daily Mail article, and whether McKinseys have discussed the outcome of their conversations with HMG with their clients in the private health ‘industry’ as it is called.

    .
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099940/NHS-health-reforms-Extent-McKinsey–Companys-role-Andrew-Lansleys-proposals.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  25. Wayfarer, I thoroughly agree. My comments about software cut both ways. Jobsworth managers will choose unalterable, proprietary software just as they will hire jobsworth-minded staff, sending them on jobsworth training schemes where they are taught how to use the jobsworth software as an effective excuse to deflect any reasonable request that the department wishes to avoid.

  26. The answer to unalterable proprietary software is open source (or free and open source – FOSS) software. More and more natioanl governments, not to mention municipalities, states, and other public entities are deliberately moving to FOSS. This is less on the grounds of cost savings then because, just as the deliberations of parliament, etc. should be open to public scrutiny, so should the software that implements its decisions.

  27. What an exact commentary upon the state of affairs extant between citizenry and the state machine. Thank you Mr murray.

    The amorality of our age surrounds us. Consider: The political class that have corporatised and betrayed us in such wholesale fashion are protected from us by a coporate (private) Police Service. The police service that protects our enemies (government) is manned by us and paid for by us. This is possible as a result of the Gov protection rackets known collectively as Taxation.

    Answer is to deny funding to Gov. Rebellion. It is about time.

    Life is a Journey. Government, the Road Block…David Stanley

  28. Thanks to wayfarer and Sudanes for giving real examples of the state of affairs, I myself have given up asking for anything. Firstly, unless I get a meanigfull job abroad, I do not need a visa, nor have I bother with my passport lately, but then my situation is far more reasdonable as an EU citizen.

    Rigmarole is a emans of stiffling business and people, especially if theyr are ‘engaging’ in democratic discourse and are questioning the workings of the FCO.

  29. I am married to an Iranian woman and we have two daughters. We wish to visit my wife’s family in Tehran during the Persian new year at the end of March. Now that the UK and Iran have stopped consular relations, we are forced to apply for visas to the Iranian consulate in another European country. We’ve chosen Dublin, and have to send our documents there by post. Before doing this, we had to obtain a “telex authorisation number” from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via an online agency, for £99. The three visas (for myself and our two daughters) cost Euros 450. That’s nearly £500 in visa-related fees alone. For its part, the UK government forced Iranians seeking British visas to apply in person at British consulates in Dubai or Abu Dhabi long before the latest spat, making travel to Britain inaccessible to most. The UK has also seriously hiked its visa fees,as well as outsourcing visa processing to a profit-making entity, VFS Global.

    The bureaucrats will soon discover, as in Greece, that if you tax people to death, you will bring economic activity to a halt.

  30. O/T Pillay.
    13 December 2011
    .
    Syria should be referred to ICC, UN’s Navi Pillay
    Navi Pillay on Syria crackdown: “Five-thousand killed, including 300 children.”
    .
    The top United Nations human rights official has told the Security Council that Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court over its crackdown on anti-government protests.
    .
    Navi Pillay said she felt widespread killings and torture in the country “constituted crimes against humanity”.
    .
    Ms Pillay put the number of those killed by security forces in the nine-month uprising at more than 5,000.
    /..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16151424

    She should try getting Bush, Blair, Powell, Campbell, Rice, Straw, Cheney, Rumsfeld et alia there first.

  31. Hi wayfarer,
    .
    Sadly interesting post. Are you new here? Can’t remember a previous post, but you’ve very quickly got the hang of the paragraphing thing. Dot. Dot dot dot.

  32. Jon – I agree breathtaking – What about America and Britain supporting al-Qaeda in Syria?
    .
    TO THE RIGHT DISHONOURABLE WILLIAM HAGUE MP – CHILD DEATHS IN SYRIA BY FOREIGN FIGHTERS:
    .

    The truth is out? Not really we have known pre-destruction of the twin towers that this global terror organisation is franchised by Anglo-American intelligence and exists to create sectarian violence among Muslims; exactly the modus operandi in Syria where regime change to a puppet that serves the West, the dismantling of Hezbollah and severing unity with Iran is Britain’s sortie undeterred by blood-shed, butchery, carnage and the murder of hundreds of children
    .
    http://www.unicef.org/media/media_61584.html
    .

  33. In a supermarket cafe today, I read a report about this Black and White Ball, a fund rasiser for the Tory boys and girls. The sums bid in an auction for shooting, dinner with Johnson, dinner with Osborne, etc etc were phenomenal. The word ‘austerity’ does not feature in their vocabularies.

    Cameroon and SamCam were there of course.
    .
    In the Register of Members’ Interests you can often see mention of donations of tickets to this ball. £1,000 a pop or £10,000 per table.
    .
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fury-over-tory-party-fundraising-107529

  34. boniface goncourt

    13 Feb, 2012 - 7:50 pm

    Immigration would not be a ‘problem’ if there were no immigration controls! A hundred years ago, you could move freely around the world, without passports, and population found its own level. Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ and Orwell’s ’1984′ are the modern world. Dostoevsky called it ‘administrative
    ecstasy’. Unfortunately, the sheeple conspire in their own oppression. They do not want to be free, they want to be safe.

  35. You’ve just had a question asked about you on University Challenge by Paxman. Congratulations!

    Back to visas. I live in Bangkok, but as I am a Brit I have had to fly to London to go to the Indian visa processing, what a pain!

  36. Anon the one and only

    13 Feb, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    This is nothing to do with privatisation – the process for obtaining UK visas has been a nightmare for a long long time. I speak from long bitter experience – even when under FCO control the who process was often in the hand of none to intelligent officials who liked to operate in an arbitrary and often racist manner – while the high flyers at the FCO (such as Craig) just didn’t give a damn and would happily bend the rules for their friends.

  37. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    13 Feb, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    “You’ve just had a question asked about you on University Challenge by Paxman. Congratulations!”

    Yeah, but nobody knew the answer. :P

  38. The bastards have been deregulating (pissing away the laws and repealing them) at the top for so long that these days, bankers can do no wrong, and regardless of their fuck ups they still get their cut, plus bonuses, the top earners all of these somehow related/friends/cronies have no regulations on their activities/jobs/clubs.
    ,
    I the poor, along with the rest of you commenting here, have been legislated for so much that, these days working to earn a living has been made illegal, and any initiative for any kind of business activity needs umpteen permits, permissions, and training courses. The only viable business option remains in setting up new hurdles for earning a living and setting exams for the punters to sit and pass, as well as printing 80 page application forms, that ask what did your eight times removed great grand father did for a living, and if he had hearing troubles?
    ,
    The whole stinking affair has got out of hand, the fraudsters presiding as the legislature in trying to cover their own arse, have gone wild and legislated enough laws that makes each and everyone of us on this board and elsewhere, guilty of some kind of crime, without even having tried or being in cognisance of it.
    ,
    The most annoying part of it all is, we the destitute people get blamed for our own demise, it is akin to blaming the victim of rape for getting raped. There are no jobs, and the laws are designed; to stop anyone from earning a living, those with the audacity then punished for their efforts.
    ,
    ,
    PS. Anyone watched the panorama about the poor in US? Did you notice the heritage foundation rep? The fat wanker in the best traditions of conservatism was disputing the existence of hungry people in US!

  39. In 1982, I met a Libyan postgrad at University. We lived to gather for ten years before marriage. We could not afford to marry. How well I recall trips to the British office in Liverpool. My chap asked me to sit quietly and watch. he wanted me to see how rude they were. They were indeed rude. My chap just ignored it all.
    But the worst were the Libyans. Trips to London could cost £100, even in those days. We lived in the north-west, you see. The Libyans would send him back and forth half a dozen times. Chaos reigned supreme. It was kafkaesque (if there is such a word).
    The only light-hearted moment was when he once got his passport stolen. He never found out where it went. But every official we met laughed to hear that. After all – who’d want a Libyan passport in the aftermath of the Yvonne Fletcher affair. What use could it be?

  40. Wayfarer was dead right about “the arrogance of petty jobsworths”. That’s what we all face when dealing with the public face of government and commercial departments providing services to the public (when one has navigated the triage trial by opaque number options on automatic answering machines.

    .
    However, the root cause is lack of leadership of those who get paid increasingly large salaries for “managing” large numbers of under-trained and underpaid
    employees. If you get bad service from HMRC the fault lies with George Osborne and his ministers and senior civil servants. If the organization for which you are responsible fails to treat people with respect, the blame should fall on you.

  41. I just have two words on this…

    “Common Purpose”

  42. Craig

    Don’t despair, you’re now involved in a process that can throw the whole Westmonster establishment into disaray, An independent Scotland will change England, and for the better.

    Cheer your self up read the speech Alex Salmond made in Liverpool tonight

    http://www.snp.org/blog/post/2012/feb/fm-returns-liverpool-make-independence-case

    Eck (Scottish Slang For Alex) said he would
    “back the English masses over Westminster classes”.

    Arra Best

    Clydebuilt

  43. boniface goncourt

    13 Feb, 2012 - 11:51 pm

    Just seen the Girlyman’s condemnatory editorial on the horrific regime in Uzbekistan [good for them], yet without a mention of Craig. Of course, along with Chomsky, Pilger, Finkelstein, Atzmon etc, he is an unperson in zionist Girlymanland.

  44. As things continue to degrade, a greater priority will be placed on trapping people who sincerely with to leave a country. (Not pointing any elbows, USA…)

  45. Klaus Korbitt

    14 Feb, 2012 - 2:55 am

    Don’t worry — virtual travel will soon obviate the need to physically travel to another part of the planet. Your hologram self will be able to “visit” anywhere on the planet, without the need for your physical being to be there. So don’t sweat the bureaucratic nimrods. They will soon be irrelevant.

  46. The one thing that i remember the most clearly over the past 39-40 years of my school days at Brandeis University in1970′s are my student adviser’s words that when he was growing up that his grand parents and parents used the term “‘goyishe kup,’” meaning that the “Non-Jews are Stupid”

    Later in life I learned that the exact translation of “GOYISHE KUP” means that the “Cattle are STUPID”..

    I remember him recalling whatt his father told him when he was growing up in Eastern Europe. One of them being that when his father was in high school he and a group of friends would skip school early on Fridays and go over to his friend’s father’s butcher shop. That they would buy at cost any cows , that had not been butchered by the end of the day on Friday before the begining of shabat . They would take the cow home and wash it and then the boys would procede to “beat the udders of the cows so that they would swell up and turn pink” so as to sell them to the “GOYISHE KUP” as milk producing cows.

    The part that I remember him asking me if the East Europeans are so naive, so gullible and so stupid to buy old “non milk producing cows” from a bunch of young Jewish Boys.

    So thinking of it now I agree with the Jewish saying that the “GOYISHE KUP” are indeed” Stupid” as they believe that a Bunch of Arab Muslim Kids who were not able to Fly a Cessna Airplane took it upon themselves to FLY a Boing Jumbo Jet outwitting the US Military and Civilian authorities. The “Jewish Lightning Insurance Scam” of the 1960′s is still alive and well has been put to good use by Larry Silverstein with the help of his sayanim jews made a financial killing in imploding wtc by putting 15 million down and comming out with 7 billion dollars for buidings that no one wanted to buy because it would have cost a billion dollars to remove the asbestos from. Then on top of that the people in America actually believe that they actually decide who is elected President or for that that actual VOTE is really counted and makes a difference in deciding who represents them in the White House and congress. http://www.bollyn.com/index.php
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVTXbARGXso http://www.911missinglinks.com/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxnpujfanUM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeggPSL3gQs

    http://www.revisionisthistory.org

    Yeh I agree that the AmericanNon-Jews are indeed American “GOYISHE KUP” or “STUPID CATTLE”!

    The Israeli Defense Firm That Tallies The Iowa Caucus
    By Christopher Bollyn
    1-1-8

    The Iowa caucus is only a few days away and the nation’s attention will be directed to the results, which signify the beginning of the U.S. presidential race. But does anyone watch who tallies the results of the Iowa caucus?

    The Iowa caucus results were tallied in 2004 by a company that is headed by a man whose company was bought by Elron Electronics, the Israeli defense firm. I suspect that it will be the same this year. Don’t expect to see any grassroots political activists doing the tally in Iowa. The Israeli defense establishment takes care of that part of the American “democratic” election process.

    VOXEO

    In the summer of 2004, I first learned that a foreign and out-of-state company using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology tallied the Iowa caucus results.

    The system used to tally the 2004 Iowa caucus results was provided by a company called Voxeo, which was apparently based in Orlando, Florida. (Yellow flag goes up in the mind of those familiar with Orlando and electronic vote fraud history

  47. Michael MacDatho

    14 Feb, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Craig, do not despair about the apparatus of fear at the airports, for it does not have to be that way.

    I recently came back home to the UK and was utterly appalled at the circus of international students, families,and elderly travellers milling around to get through the non-EU immigration at LHR.

    I’ve long since sold my soul to the devil and am quite happy to use IRIS to return to the UK, nothing could be simpler, and it’s reportedly much better than Clear in the US.

    But for the unfortunate non-EU arrivals, what a disgraceful, degrading cattle-processing experience awaits them. Welcome to the UK – not!

    And what a contrast to my return to the People’s Republic of China, where the immigration process and staff at the airports could not be more efficient, courteous, and just downright pleasant.

  48. I’m reading two interesting books at the moment – All The King’s Men by Robert Marshall, and Colonel Z, the biography of Claude Dansey – the SIS/MI6 deputy head who deliberately betrayed SOE’s Prosper network, led by the immensely brave Francis Suttill, during WW11. Which is treason.

    Your post reminded me of the fact that it was SIS that created the network of Passport Control Officers at British embassies as cover for its spies.

  49. Radio 4 Today were naturally making the most of the Abu Qatada story this morning and giving it full welly. I switched off when the second of these segments came on finding Quilliam and Neville Jones too much of an emetic at that time of day.
    .
    Most of this bureaucracy being experienced by travellers has flowed from Bliar’s war on terrrrr and from a false flag event that occurred in NY just over ten years ago whose name cannot be mentioned on this blog.
    .
    0712
    Abu Qatada, accused of being one of the UK’s most dangerous extremist preachers has been released from a top-security jail following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Peter Neumann, professor of Security Studies at Kings College London, reflects on what this means for his ability to influence people.
    0749
    As extremist muslim preacher, Abu Qatada, is released from prison under strict bail conditions, how should the government proceed now. Maajid Nawaz, chairman of the anti-extremist organisation Quilliam and Baroness Neville Jones former Security Minister and current adviser to the government on cyber security discuss how much of a threat he now is.
    .
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/listen_again/default.stm
    The links are not live yet
    .
    PS Does anyone know the actual dangers of the scatterback X ray machines that air passengers are subjected to?

  50. http://shatasm.blogspot.com/2010/09/chapter-1-letter-from-anglesey.html

    This goes into liquid bombs and much more, well worth a read.

  51. It’s worth reading the Salmond speech linked to by Clydebuilt. It’s quite clear that on this site there is (a) high anxiety at the state of the nation and (b) no idea what to do about it. I have in the past suggested that one of the reasons for the success of a relatively progressive party in Scotland is local identity. I suggested that the same dynamic could be applied in England, presenting not independent candidates but candidates from an organised political party with a strictly local base and local agenda: Yorkshire, Cornwall, whatever. The three ruling conservative parties are ill-equipped to deal with a well-organised local movement – attacks on it run a high risk of being counter productive. As the local party gains support establishment opposition to it becomes ever more splenetic and self-damaging – in the week that Cameron made his first contribution to the independence debate in Scotland SNP membership surged, taking new members at the rate of one every seven minutes.

    When I first suggested this here the idea was met with some ridicule but I’d respectfully point out that thus far nobody has come up with a better idea. Interestingly a Cornish party does/did exist but was quickly hijacked by the political right, perhaps an indication of establishment fear of such an initiative. As the Greens say, think globally, act locally.

  52. Michael Stephenson

    14 Feb, 2012 - 10:49 am

    What was the question on UC?

  53. Maybe these bureaucrats expected a bribe. Privatization is a way of avoiding democracy.

  54. I think many of the “jobsworths” mentioned above working at the coal face are as bored with the whole process as are the “customers”. Of course having the right paperwork helps alot as does a sense of humour and patience with the process. Mass immigration became a hot-topic thanks to new labour policy and now that tougher selection is in place the decisions made may look arbitrary and discriminatory.

  55. Mary, stop listening to the Today programme. In fact stop with Radio 4, and the BBC altogether.

    I’ve been BBC-free since early September last year, and can assure you that there is life after you kick the habit.

    I came across this excellent article about Abu Qatada which I feel is worth sharing.

    http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-work/opinion-editorial/item/3475-from-bethlehem-to-belmarsh-abu-qatada’s-ordeal-in-britain

  56. How much did this nonsense, introduced in 2005 and now being abandoned, cost?

    Eye scanners at England airports turned off
    The UK Border agency is reviewing its use of airport scanners Continue reading the main story
    .
    Hi-tech eye scanners have been switched off at two out of four English airports where they were operating.
    .
    The scanners, which were introduced in 2005, have been mothballed at Manchester and Birmingham airports.
    .
    They will continue working at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports until after the 2012 Olympics.

    A UK Border Agency spokeswoman said the government was reviewing the use of the scanners in the light of new technology
    .
    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17058448

  57. Rhisiart Gwilym

    19 Feb, 2012 - 8:08 am

    Don’t despair, Craig. Just wait whilst the Limits To Growth de-complexify our insanely over-officious society.

    At the same time that they’re doing that, the Limits will be removing hyper-prosperity just about completely from the swollen middle-classes of the over-rich countries, thus awakening them (us) from our decades-long lotus-eater trance. Then we too shall become as unmanageable as Greeks. Can’t happen too soon.

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