Daily Archives: August 28, 2015


Beware of Chilcot

I am worried that the continued delay in the publication of Chilcot’s report is giving rise to expectations that it will be forthright and damning of Blair and his supporters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though Blair plunged us into an illegal war with dreadful long-term consequences, the report has always been designed to be a typical Whitehall fudge. Mistakes made – errors of judgement – all in good faith – lessons learned. You don’t have to wait for it, that is it.

The Chilcot team was handpicked by Gordon Brown – himself up to his neck in guilt for the illegal invasion – and three of the five had been aggressive proponents of the war. The remaining two, Chilcot and Baroness Prasad, are “sound” for the Establishment. Let me remind you of my analysis of the committee members in 2009. Sir Lawrence Freedman was an active propagandist for the invasion while Sir Martin Gilbert (died while contributing to the committee) was so enamoured of the invasion he compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill. Rod Lyne was actively involved in selling the WMD lies and arguably in danger of war crime accusation himself.

None of the committee members had ever expressed the slightest doubt about the Iraq War while 60% had actively promoted it. Of Chilcot himself the eminent international lawyer Phillippe Sands noted:

“Sir John’s spoonfed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the attorney general that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.”

The point of the delay is to give the impression Chilcot has been absolutely painstaking and therefore the bucket of whitewash he will throw cannot be hiding anything.

Do not be fooled.

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Down From the Mountain

It is hard to describe why I find DTRH such an uplifting experience. To quote this year’s Herald review “you’d have to be half-mad to dream up Doune the Rabbit Hole. Since 2010, the family-friendly Stirlingshire festival has appeared to shirk any nod to corporate sponsorship or commercialism, in favour of a home-grown hillside hoopla.” The “appeared to” hides nothing – it most definitely does shirk all sponsorship and commercialism, and that is a little it of its charm. Another element is, as Festival Director Jamie Murray put it “It’s only a pop-up community, but it’s a community nonetheless.” Great way with words, that man. Wonder where he gets it from?

It really is a community, and one in which former strangers talk to each other readily and sometimes profoundly. Add to that a delight in the skills of music creation of highly eclectic kinds, and you achieve this happy mix between the cider fair in Far From the Madding Crowd, a hippy sixties commune, and a very peculiar Glasgow night club. Throw in hundreds of very happy children and beautiful tranquil countryside, and you start to get the idea. I always return envigorated and somehow washed clean of the pollution of the corrupt abuses of power I analyse in the other 51 weeks of the year. I don’t pretend this makes sense. It’s magic.

Could partly just be exhaustion of course – I put in one 20 hour shift organising and running the bar, and at one stage had 13 hours sleep in 96 hours. Many readers of this blog were there as volunteers or just soaking it in, and a special shout out to Clark, Nevermind and Bill who all put in an astonishing amount of unpaid labour. It is worth pointing out that none of the directors, organisers or volunteers is paid or remunerated. The bands are.

This nice little video from Stirling Council gives some idea of the daytime atmosphere

While there is a lovely gallery here from the same source.

I love this video, which briefly features a head shaking Nadira and gives a broader perspective:

Finally this little snippet gives an idea of the audience experience in the evening:

The challenge now is to keep its special atmosphere and amateur community nature as the festival gets bigger every year. Part of this is eschewing plastic commercial music acts. The continued involvement of the readers of this blog is another part. Planning for next year has already started. I have just about come down from the experience now, but feel buoyed amidst a sea of troubles.

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