Theresa May’s Terrible Instincts 341


In December 2002 I cooperated closely with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, who was paying an inspection visit to Uzbekistan. As I recorded in Murder in Samarkand “against the protocols, the Uzbek authorities refused to let him enter the SNB holding centre in Tashkent, the most notorious of all the torture sites.” I upbraided the Uzbek Foreign Minister for this.

That kind of contempt of the UN is perhaps expected of dictatorships. But consider this. The Immigration detention centre at Yarls Wood became notorious for the sexual exploitation of female detainees by staff, on a large scale. In April 2015 the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, visited the UK. The government denied her entry to Yarls Wood. In accordance with UN protocols, she went anyway, and was blocked from entering – on the direct orders of Home Secretary Theresa May

You very probably did not know that, because the great problem our society faces is an over-mighty executive government backed by corporate wealth which controls a corporate media. But it is typical of May’s instincts, and they are terrible. Her default position is retreat into secrecy and blatant abuse of power. That is precisely what we are seeing over Brexit, where there is no plan and much to hide. May’s natural instinct is to brook no opposition, debate or discussion of her actions, but to proceed on the basis of executive fiat, with as little information as possible given to parliament, devolved authorities and – Heaven forfend – the public.

Everything you do on the web is now stored for twelve months by the security services. They can hack into your laptop or phone to see what is on there without any conditions at all. Not only do they not need to convince a judge you are suspected of a crime, they do not need to even pretend to actually suspect you of anything at all. They can just decide to target you and go fishing. The UK has now zero right to online privacy and the most vicious security service powers of any democracy. Indeed when you combine powers with capability (and the security service are recruiting tens of thousands more staff to our stasi state) the UK is now the most authoritarian country in the world. The legislation. passed this week, was framed by Theresa May as Home Secretary and received no significant opposition from the UK’s complicit political class.

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This mass gathering of data is nothing to do with fighting terrorism – being lost in a massive ocean of irrelevant data is actually a major hindrance to fighting terrorism. It is about social control. I have nowhere heard this better explained than by John Kiriakou, former senior CIA agent who was jailed as part of the Obama administration’s vicious war on whistleblowers, after Kiriakou blew the whistle on CIA torture. Kiriakou’s speech on receiving the Sam Adams award in Washington is well worth hearing, and beings 1 hour and 3 minutes in here.

It was May who sent poster vans around London urging immigrants to go home, and whose anti-immigrant instincts were so strong she banned the tiny number of Afghan interpreters for UK armed forces from being given asylum in the UK. That May is intellectually out of her depth is plain even to Conservatives every Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons. Expect her to fall back more and more on those instincts for secrecy and authoritarianism – and the abuse of the massive powers of the state.

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341 thoughts on “Theresa May’s Terrible Instincts

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  • Loony

    More out of date statist clap trap.

    Who cares about the corporate media? They are so last year. Just like the fabled emperor they have been revealed as having no clothes. Check out the losses suffered by most corporate media groups. Check out the downsizing and layoffs coming. Recall the blatant lies and the abject fraud they engaged in with regard to both Brexit and Trump.

    How can May have a plan for Brexit? The game is still in play. Soon the Italians will speak and then the French. The EU is dead – only people that read the corporate media could doubt it.

    How strange that a statist would seek to conflate immigration with illegal immigration. I do so wonder what the hoped for intent of that one could be. The game has changed – people are no longer listening to sophistry and misdirection.

    Who is Theresa May? Who are any of these people? They are people trained in a Pavlovian manner to obey orders issued by the hegemonic master in Washington. Washington is about to stop issuing orders – President Trump has likely forgotten the name of Theresa May. He is much more interested in Nigel Farage – likely the only Brit he trusts

    • Shatnersrug

      President trump has just put in place business as usual global corporatist neolibrerals, business as usual national security chief, and far right anti-pro choice personal freedom conservatives. Basically meet the new boss, same as the old boss plus.

      What trump isn’t going to do is close borders, stop funding NATO, cut down on immigration, encourage local industry or make good on any of his promises.

      • Loony

        It really does not matter. Either Trump will do as he has indicated or he will be a one term POTUS. After that will be someone more radical.

        The game has changed. The US could have had President Sanders – but instead those who think they have power neutered Sanders and so you have President Trump instead. One way or another the end is nigh for US global hegemonic ambitions and that means the end is nigh for its European tools of NATO and the EU.

        Look at what Trump means rather than Trump himself.

  • Habbabkuk

    I wonder whether this outpouring of hatred for Mrs May – the Prime Minister – does not owe to the fact that she is not a “posh boy” and will therefore be even more difficult for Mr Corbyn to beat at the next election than Mr Cameron would have been?

    • J

      Yes of course, she’s a woman, that must be it. Nothing to do with having no mandate for her privatisation of the Health service for example or any of the other thousand activities she has no mandate for. All of which continue apace. Nothing to do with the fact that this government is essentially unelected. And hatred? Is that how you define criticism in your mind? Of course you do.

      Fact free. Content free. Vacuous. Empty.

      • michael norton

        Frau May
        would be better off holding another General Election, to see if the voters want her and her vision of the future, might flush some of those Nu-Labourites like Anglea the Eagle, Owen Smiff and Benn out of the woodwork, too.
        Also the SNP would have to explain about all the fiddling that’s been going on in Scotland.

        • Habbabkuk

          Are you a supporter of the idea of annual Parliaments?

          Alternatively: assuming you support the idea of general elections at fixed intervals of less than 5 years, what should that fixed interval be in your opinion?

          • michael norton

            I do not agree with “Fixed” parliaments,
            that’s been the trouble, fixing things so the elite are always the winners, your turn now Lord Kinnock, now your turn
            Lord Mandelson.
            Fancy a get out of jail free card, an interest free loan, a rent boy or another jaffer?

      • Ba'al Zevul

        As to that mandate for the privatisation of the health service, that was given long ago by Blair. It’s not just May’s, or just the Tories’ policy (blandly denied at every turn, of course). It’s the finance industry’s. This morning we were being told that there had not been enough encouragement for people to save for their own social care, as if it were possible for a small saver to realise an interest rate better than inflation, and as if we had now formally abandoned the cradle-to-grave principle of the NHS. Well, now we know.

        The fact remains, that after decades of heavy borrowing, much of it reluctantly to support the victims of our hatred of productive industry in areas outside London, as well as, willingly, sundry bankers who would in more enlightened times have been shot, we are in deep shit. I don’t believe Corbyn can resolve this, any more than May. There has to be a business plan, and there isn’t one, anywhere.

        • michael norton

          Last proper deep coal mine in the United Kingdom to close – don’t need coal these days, apparently
          last builder of helicopters in the United Kingdom to close – don’t need helicopters any more, apparently
          Last proper Landrovers stopped being built in the United Kingdom, this year – don’t need Landrovers any more, apparently

          This is the sort of shit that The Donald
          is going to put a stop to in America,
          big boost for wall builders, too.

        • Habbabkuk

          We were indeed “told” that this morning, Baal, but it would have been good if you had told us that it was not the govt which was doing the telling but Baroness Altmann, a former junior minister no longer in govt.

      • Alan

        “no mandate”

        Did you complain so loudly about “no mandate” when we had Gordon the Moron thrust upon us?

      • Habbabkuk

        J

        The emphasis of my comment was not on her gender (close reading skills required, J !) but on her unbeatability at the next general election. 🙂

        • J

          Perhaps your communication skills are the problem, or would you prefer to blame somebody else for those?

  • Habbabkuk

    “…..and the security service are recruiting tens of thousands more staff to our stasi state..”

    ____________________________

    Credible sources for that, please.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Rather than insisting on sources, wouldn’t it be more elegant to accept the statement at face value and point out that increased demand for paid snoops and snitches represents an invaluable employment opportunity? You’re slipping, Habb.

      • Habbabkuk

        Now don’t be daft, Baal.

        If someone were to write something like “the size of the armed forces will be increased by several tens of thousands within the next five years”, should one take that at face value or would it not be reasonable to ask for a credible source (eg, a govt press release, statement in the HoC, newspaper report, etc…)?

        • Ba'al Zevul

          “the size of the armed forces will be increased by several tens of thousands within the next five years”, should one take that at face value…?

          Since you ask, and based on your unquestioning faith in the government to date, I suspect that is exactly what you would do. But you are correct to imagine that I wouldn’t believe it unless it was a part of another scheme for disguising unemployment.

          • Habbabkuk

            Baal

            If your “answers” are only designed to show how cute you are, I wonder why you bother. I already know you’re cute.

            More seriously though, you’re one of the better-informed and more rational of the commenters on here; it’s a pity that you can’t do better than that.

            For the record, I would like to hear such a statement (about the example I gave) from the mouth of an identified minister or, better still, in writing rather than just believing it on the basis of something posted on here by one or the other commenter (even Craig).

            Which is not to say that I would blindly trust that whatever was formally said would actually come about, of course.

          • Habbabkuk

            Addition regarding your point on “disguising unemployment” : you could argue, couldn’t you – if you want to be cynical or flippant – that any creation of govt jobs is a matter of disguising unemployment.

            It is well known that a goodly proportion of the employment in certain areas of the UK consists of local govt and govt jobs and that, for example, the vast numbers of administrators in the NHS were also put in place to disguise unemployment. So I don’t quite understand why you should be unduly critical of the govt “disguising unemployment” through the creaton of more jobs in the armed forces or the security services if that was indeed the motive.

  • Habbabkuk

    “This mass gathering of data …is about social control.”
    ________________________

    “Social control” is a good soundbite but I wonder if anyone could explain what it actually means? In practice, in the real world?

      • Habbabkuk

        “Abstract:
        This paper uses data from eleven countries on the search volume of select keywords from before and after the surveillance revelations of June 2013, to analyze whether Google users’ search behavior changed as a result. The surveillance revelations are treated as an exogenous shock in information about how closely users’ internet searches were being monitored by the US government. Each search term was independently rated for its degree of privacy sensitivity along multiple dimensions. Using panel data, our results suggest that cross-nationally, users were less likely to search using search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the US government. In the US, this was the main subset of search terms that were affected. However, internationally there was also a drop in traffic for search terms that were rated as personally sensitive. Our results suggest that there is a chilling effect on search behavior from government surveillance on the Internet, and that government surveillance programs may damage the international competitiveness of US-based internet firms”

      • fwl

        Or in other words social control through society as a giant panopticon. The con is the thing. Edward Snowdon’s disclosure could be said to assist the operation of a social panopticon. It keeps the chickens in line, but the monkeys still need some other sort of undisclosed surveillance.

      • Habbabkuk

        Fear of what?

        I have visited several websites for various purposes over the past day or so and don’t have a sense of fear that the internet provider might have a record of those visits.

        One of the problems in this discussion is this continual assertion that “the data might be misused”. In a sense, that is correct – as is the assertion that since driving is a dangerous activity I might be involved in a traffic accident tomorrow.

        Much of this comes down to subjective belief and political outlook, doesn’t it. If you are – as many of the handful of regulars on here are – of the opinion that the UK state is an oppressive, quasi-fascist entity dedicated to grinding the faces of the poor and suppressing/persecuting all contrary opinion then you will see these sorts of surveillance possibilities as confirmation of your basic philosophy. If, on the other hand, you are not of that opinion (and the majority of the population in the real world is not) then you will be more zen about the matter.

        Two other comments while I’m at it:

        1/. While not automatically subscribing to the vox populi vox dei notion, I do note that the population at large does not seem to be fussed; the fuss comes mainly from the sort of person commenting on blogs of this kind and from the talking heads of the media, who have to find something to write about (and the more fleshcreeping the better). Of course, the Herbies of this world will say that is because the peeps and the sheeple are too dumb to understand what’s going on; I on the other hand would see it as a manifestation of common sense;

        2/. Let us apply an empirical test: most commenters on here use a handle but are nevertheless known or can easily be identified if not; others post under their real names. Has anyone posting on here – of either of those two categories – ever been disadvantaged/discriminated against/lost their job/been otherwise persecuted/been blackmailed/suffered physical attack…etc.. as a result of their activities on herepr elsewhere on the internet? If so, I – and probably other readers – should be interested to hear of it. But I suspect no-one has.

        • Herbie

          The peeps are waking up.

          That’s obvious to everyone but you, it seems.

          It’s also why the bubble-dwellers like yourself are shocked at every overturning of old certainties.

          • Habbabkuk

            Your repeated use – contemptuously, I imagine – of the word “peeps” reveals your essentially elitist outlook. Or perhaps just that you have an unjustifiably high opinion of yourself. 🙂

          • fwl

            I wouldn’t really agree that they are waking up, or if they are it is just to wake to such confusion that they will soon
            desire to sleep again albeit to s new lullaby (one without a welfare state and modern freedoms).

          • Herbie

            I think it’s obvious there’s an awakening to politics, and particularly amongst young people.

            You have to ask yourself if the measures you’ve mentioned are sustainable.

            Unless the UK feels itself unable to compete and they go for the Spanish option, then I’d be expecting more rather than less freedom.

            Of course there’ll be short term problems to deal with and the May govt doesn’t seem very clear on its direction.

        • fwl

          We know now about how security services kept tabs on lefties etc at the Beeb and held back their promotion and prospects. People will assume things may not have changed just that the criteria will have changed.

          Its not so much common sense as a survival / herding instinct to avoid taboos. When a taboo is lifted the hitherto silent majority will be heard saying “thank goodness, I never did believe that etc” . This works equally for liberals and (um) others. The hitherto silent liberal finds himself / herself endorsing the previously demonised group / view. The hitherto other finds is to be found demonising the hitherto protected group / view. Just like polls it is very difficult to ascertain the true opinions, but we probably all have experience of a friend’s discomfort if we explore taboo views. Therefore, although I appreciate your argument I think the panoptican works. People know not to backstroke the cat.

          • fwl

            Not sure about my metaphor, which is poorly expressed, but by backstroke the cat I mean from tail to head.

  • Hieroglyph

    Politics is timing. And it can’t be a coincidence that this was passed just prior to an incoming new President. We are, after all, entirely run by US spies (or ‘Atlantacists’, in the accepted lingua franca). However, it was generally assumed that Clinton would take the throne, so evidently we prostrated ourselves prior to the ascension, as any good lickspittle would, but chose the wrong King. With any luck, Trump won’t give a fuck about the special relationship, and will treat the UK as he would any other small country, albeit we do share the same language, have a seat on the security council, and beat the Nazi’s; so not quite like any other small country, but a small country nonetheless.

    Well, that’s one theory. Really, I have no idea why our leaders do anything. They speak in code, which is well understood by insiders, but not so well by outsiders. They invite us, suggest to us, but their true intentions are usually heavily disguised. Most of them are thoroughly bad people, whilst even the good ones get corrupted. There is quite clearly no requirement for such a draconian police state bill – and it is a police state, by definition – and there can’t be many votes in it, so we are left puzzling over scraps of information, as though we have all become citizen detectives, in a criminal state. Reading the newspapers is a total waste of time, as most sentient people know by now. I’ve noticed another thing about the online MSM newspapers: I actually struggle with the articles. I can read, my language skills are acceptable, but I have something like a strange allergic reaction to a great deal of the articles in the written press; kind of like the reaction I used to have when Blair was on the radio, and more recently when Clinton was speechifying – a vague disquiet, and confusion, hard to explain. But, I suspect it’s just a bullshit detector, working at peak capacity.

    Speaking of which, I see Blair is making a comeback. The exact nature of his personality disorder I am not qualified to know, but there is evidently something awry in the world of Tony Blair. That he both wishes to make a comeback, and will be welcomed by his brainwashed acolytes, is chilling. Personally I think Blair should be a test case for a new regime of psychological profiling for politicians. Anyone with an identifiable disorder gets excluded from public office – and this includes the borderline cases, on the grounds that the smaller unfairness is mitigated by the greater gain. If Mr Blair passes with flying colours, good luck to him in hew new career in the Lords …

    • Kief

      “Politics is timing.”

      No it isn’t. Politics is the art/science of controlling your environment.

      “Really, I have no idea why our leaders do anything”

      Back on the rails again.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      It would not take an intelligent sociopath long to work out how to mimic empathy well enough to pass psychological profiling, in my opinion. Also, how long do you think it would take the establishment to determine that Jeremy Corbyn, for example, was not suitable Prime Ministerial material, if psychological profiling were permitted to exclude people from public office?

      I think a robust system of democratic recall from public office would be a better idea, personally.

      I also think if Tony Blair thinks he is still an electable politician, he is delusional. I look forward to him losing his deposit in a by-election.

      • michael norton

        Nicola Sturgeon
        any chance of her passing any psychological profiling, which would deem her rational enough for high office?

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Re psychological profiling for politicians, it needn’t be more than a yes/no: “Do you want to be a successful politician?”… “Yes” disqualifies the applicant instantly. It’ll be interesting to see if Blair, having wound up his dodgy business schemes (he won’t, of course. He’ll just camouflage them) and no longer having to declare his interests to qualify, does wind up in the Lords in the next couple of years. But as his ambition is to receive the recognition he deserves for his wonderful achievements, the Lords probably isn’t enough for him, so he’ll just keep on banging on until they make him Pope.

      • Habbabkuk

        Baal’s post is interesting and should be of even greater interest to those on here who call for the abolition of the monarchy and the introduction of a Presidential system (a President as Head of State).

        If the UK were a republic, can anyone doubt that – let us say at the time he stood down as PM and before the Chilcott enquiry – that the UK might have ended up with a President Blair as Head of State?

        Kurt Waldheim and various other Presidents refer.

        • Herbie

          That’s what all the monarchists say.

          But.

          How many countries elect as President a retiring PM.

          Would it be none?

          One?

          Two?

          What?

          Maybe it’s not quite as scary as the monarchists claim.

          • Habbabkuk

            Sorry but…what is it that all the monarchists say?

            That Tony Blair might have become President of a UK republic after leaving the PMship?

            I mean, I said it on here earlier on.

            But I haven’t heard that from other monarchists I know.

            So it might be wiser not to generalise, Herbie.

            That’s for the peeps.

            Anyway.

            Look up the lists of the former and current Presidents of most of the European republics and you’ll be surprised by how many of them are/were former politicians.

            And even former Prime Ministers at national or state level.

            Start with Italy and Germany and then work your way on.

            Report back with an apology if you feel so inclined.

            The peeps need to see the bigger picture.

            Nothing scary about that at all.

          • Herbie

            It’s traditional, habby.

            The monarchists all say, when presented with argument for a republic, that you’ll get as president whoever the horriblest politician of the moment is.

            I’m sure anyone who’s been watching British politics over the years will attest to that.

            You suggested we’d get Blair, and just after him stepping down as PM.

            Don’t think so.

  • Habbabkuk

    I imagine that I’m the only commenter on here who has actually experienced the German “Democratic”Republic at first hand.

    That entitles me to say that those who compare the United Kingdom(cries of Stasi!) with that benighted entity are either malevolent or exceptionally stupid.

    • Laguerre

      “I imagine that I’m the only commenter on here who has actually experienced the German “Democratic”Republic at first hand.”

      You flatter yourself.

      • Habbabkuk

        I take that to mean that you have that personal experience? Is that why you do not appear (yet) to have compared the UK unfavorably to the German “Democratic” Republic iro surveillance.

        • Kief

          That’s quite a nuanced and studied comment for the garden variety Habbab. How many entities do you entertain? Just thought I would interject some inane perspective. (hoping and preying for enlightenment)

    • bevin

      “That entitles me to say that those who compare the United Kingdom(cries of Stasi!) with that benighted entity are either malevolent or exceptionally stupid…”
      Explain why. It is not at all evident that it entitles you to do anything more than express your opinion.

      Most people who comment here have had dealings with governments and many with foreign governments. Even more claim to have done so. You provide no evidence that you know anything more about the former GDR than anyone else does. Judging by your contributions you are unusually ignorant of politics, particularly of political ideas critical of the Capitalism to which you tell us there is no alternative.

      • Resident Dissident

        I wouldn’t say they were no alternatives to Capitalism – and indeed there are many variants of capitalism and combinations of capitalism with other economic systems. But perhaps you might wish to tell us what you actually favour and in particular what role if any you see for any form of market system – which at least give some signals from consumers as to what they might want?

        “Even more claim to have done so.”

        A polite way of saying people are lying

      • Habbabkuk

        Bevs

        Expressing my opinion was exactly what I was doing.

        Just three other comments to counter your usual ad hominems:

        1/. “Most people who comment here have had dealings with governments and many with foreign governments”

        I very much doubt that. But if it is so, met them declare it here.

        2/. “You provide no evidence that you know anything more about the former GDR than anyone else does.”

        Since I only suspect – but do not and indeed cannot know in view of their silence – that most others have no experience of the GDR I do not see how I can provide that evidence. But feel free to suggest a modus operandi.

        3/.”… the Capitalism to which you tell us there is no alternative.3

        Have I told you that? Citations?

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      What is he nature of your experience.
      I, at the tender age of 17, hitch hiked round europe in the summer 1968. That was in the days of East and West Berlin, and East and West Germany.I dod not hitch hike in east Germany-basically pointless so got a train to West Berlin. From west Berlin it was possible to take an underground train to East Berlin, after having obtained the entrance documents( I seem to remember a very short, two day visa or something, for which had a fee had to be paid, and a minimum amount of East German currency. This in itself was odd, as had pretty much free wheeled around Europe with remarkable freedom on what was then called a British visitors passport.i.e. not even a full passport
      Summer of 1968,and the invasion, came after the Dubcek liberalisation.In West germany-somewhere near Hamburg. i went out to hitch hike and there was a feverish and frantic deployment of huge numbers of military vehicles, the prelude or perhaps consequence of the Russian invasion. i got a lift from a West German air force serviceman, who told me that there had been an overnight mobilisation of all armed services people.He had been on leave and was rushing to his base.
      East Berlin contrasted rather remarkably with West German cities , which was notably mostly modern and orderly. East Berlin was essentially much the same as it had been during the war(or at least what i imagined it would have been). The buildings were extremely dilapidated and there was an immediate impression of lassitude and unkemptness, both of the physical spaces and of the people.It reminded me of bits of Britain-the industrial parts. Rifle carrying soldiers were very visible, and patrolled places like the station platforms or were stationed at /guarding ‘significant’ buildings. Their presence was much mre obtrusive than anything i had experienced.
      At that age, on an excursion for a very short time, I did not have time any real interactions but there was an impression that any interactions other than the most rudimentary transactions were not likely. This was rather different to the atmosphere in West Germany where there were constant interactions with German (students and others) and the conversations immediately took on a political tone, on topics such as the Berlin wall-which at that time was a major source of concern german people. Certan;y there was not sense of being constrained.
      Finally i tried to spend my East German money and realised there was really not anything worth having.I think I bought some coffee and cigarettes. I realised that essentially the monetary exchange was just another way of extracting some money and I actually just handed it in at the border on the return as it was forbidden to take currency out of the country.
      My memory may be faulty but I seem to remember there was some kind of accounting process on the return journey.
      One of the impressions I has was that East Berlin was rather more like the UK in terms of the modernity of the physical spaces. i.e, scruffy unkempt and poor.Much of europe especially the northern parts-Denmark West Germany, Sweden, Netherlands and Belgium were rather attractive, with combinations of modernity and apparently well restored antiquity. Further south was much less obviously thriving and affluent.
      I was shocked by how poor the UK seemed in comparison to the prosperity and smartness of these northern countries.In fact I would say it was a revelation.
      On return to the UK I remember excitedly talking to family and friends about the sensational and dramatic events associated with the Prague spring and the Russian invasion. The response was remarkable.It was something like -Eh, what ‘s that? Oh yeh! i think I heard something. (End of subject). Actually there was no awareness of the tension and real fear that was very obvious in Northern Europe at that moment.
      As an aside, when i went to denmark almost immediately after the invasion there was a political scandal and national uproar. The Danish army had been mobilised to face the possibility of Soviet aggression but the civil service controllers of the arms depots had perceived a golden opportunity and gone on strike.

      • michael norton

        Deepgreenpuddock
        thank you for telling a story from your youth, well done, you’d get money for that in the Guardian.

      • Habbabkuk

        Deepgreenpuddock

        That was an interesting read, thank you. Various elements correspond although I should say my experience of the GDR was not as a student and the dates were different.

        I take it you went into East Berlin with the U- Bahn at Friedrichstrasse – did you do so for the local “colour”? I ask because as a UK national you could have crossed in greater comfort overland, eg at Checkpoint Charlie. And I am curious to know which was the “documentation” you used to enter (if memory serves, a British Visitor’s passport was not recognised as a valid document by the GDR).

        • Deepgreenpuddock

          Indeed it was the U-bahn at friedrichstrasse. That sounds a bell although it is now nearly 50 years ago. I remember the armed guards on the platform and the sudden change from a modern station to something from a previous era.
          I m absolutely certain I had a visitors passport.i am sure there was a process of acquiring some kind of documentation and paying (probably through the nose) for it and yes it was an irresistible and possibly juvenile desire for an experience of the local colour. Curiosity?For sure.
          I was with a companion and am not certain of the process as he dis much of the document acvquisition. My reflection on the process was that the East germans simply perceived visitors as a source of foreign currency to be milked as much as possible
          I was well aware of the of the general situation in terms of the East west divide and the cold war.At the time West Germany/West Germans were very animated and agitated by the Berlin wall. Coming from the UK I was somewhat phlegmatic re the wall and it seemed quite distant news. The wall went up in ’62 I think so it was ‘years’/i.e. a long time later to my juvenile sensibilities but very much a talking point to German people. But then it wasn’t my relatives that were being held apart.
          I think many young people then were flirting with or very interested in the idea of the communist system and there was a powerful impression of the soviets being rather ‘progressive’and technically very advanced and socially very advanced-an impression possibly attributable to such factors as the prodigious performance of the athletes in the Eastern European soviet bloc, but the admittedly superficial evidence of East Berlin and its shabbiness was distinctly at variance to that impression.To be fair however it weas little different to much of poorer parts of glasgow/manchester/newcastle etc and i have learned subsequently ( a different story altogether) that rather surprisingly, the standard of living was not much different for working people in the west at that time , to that experienced by the majority of soviet citizens

          • Habbabkuk

            Thanks for that, again.

            Re your last two lines: not sure what you’re comparing with what (eg, by “soviet” do you mean USSR or GDR?…) but I’m rather surprised at the drift of what you say. Are you sure you haven’t been reading dubious sources? 🙂

            (Cue the West-haters, so I shan’t expand on that!)

          • Deepgreenpuddock

            Well the meaning of that last bit was based on living with a russian woman from St.Pete.
            i was basing it on her impressions and stories and making comparisons with my working class childhood. Admittedly she was probably more of the professional class-her father was an academic, so comparison may not be fully equivalent, but in case you have no experience of working class in UK then, i can tell you it was pretty grim , and I must say I am still, despite the passage of time, pretty angry about it-as it was entirely related to various avoidable political actions.
            It’s late so will get off to bed but maybe expand on this later if you are at all interested. BTW I am well aware of an unmerited sympathy in some people commenting here, for things ‘soviet’ or perhaps Russian, but I am also aware of many deficiencies in the western world and the strong impression that our attitudes and values have been shaped by a complex mixture of factors, no doubt , but that includes many forms of propaganda and opinion shaping by relatively underhand ways , so not exactly sympathetic or a great defender of western ways.

    • mochyn69

      Oh Habb, you’re far from the only one to have experienced the GDR in the flesh, as it were!

      • nevermind

        But Hab has not claimed any such thing Mocheyn, he is merely cheer leading Deepgreenpuddocks excellent description of his trip during his youth, thank you btw.,
        The later speculative digging/inquiries into DGP’s past by Hab as to whether he had special dispensation and whether it was issued by the UK or US sector, it feels like the Berlin Wall has never fallen.
        Today, Berlin is a City that is open for 25 hrs./day, a City with excellence in bio research, IT innovation, the birthplace of techno, a City that has its own pulse. Properties in the ex GDR are in hot demand as all the Wessi residences are long taken up.
        But there might just be a few cheap properties for nationalistically challenged Brits, in Spandau.
        Just as with other large Cities around the world, Berlin is full of itself. Hamburg and Berlin’s relationship is a little like Liverpool and Manchester, friendly rivalry that used to be fought out in the boxing ring. Both Cities were known to have flourishing boxing clubs during the early 20th. century.
        In Berlin there is a saying that goes as follows ‘ Janz Berlin war ene Wolke, nur noch icke war zu sehen’.

        meaning ‘All of Berlin was under a cloud, only I was visible.’ That full of themselves.

        • Habbabkuk

          “The later speculative digging/inquiries into DGP’s past by Hab as to whether he had special dispensation and whether it was issued by the UK or US sector,..”
          _______________________

          Oh, sorry, was I digging?

          My apologies to Deepgreenpuddock if he feels I was digging, and if he doesn’t, a sincere “fuck off” to he of No Mind at all.

          🙂

          • Deepgreenpuddock

            No need for any digging and I didn’t get that impression.
            I think you(HABB) are right about the British Visitors passport which If I remember was confined to places one might go on holiday in Europe.
            I may have had a real passport by that time or replaced the BVP at some point on my travels with a proper passport due to the restrictions on the BVP.
            Memories are fading a bit.
            My experience of GDR was fleeting and only reliable in a very limited sense. I didn’t have a clue about the STASI or anything similar, although I expect we were monitored somehow. It was definitely a notable experience.however we were not alone.There were quite a few other casual observers/tourists with a sense of adventure. As HABB says it was a little bit of local colour and youthful bravado, in the sense that virtually no-one from the UK went to East Germany at that time.Indeed foreign travel then was pretty much France,Spain and Portugal.and maybe Greece for the more adventurous.
            There was a strong sense of the tension due to the presence of various soldiery on both sides of the divide, in the militarised areas.
            There were also considerable possibilities for travel to Eastern Europe for some people who were members of the communist party. A boy, whose dad worked in the Railways and I was at school with had frequent excursions to Eastern Europe and Russia, sponsored through the trade union (ASLEF in this case) and/ or the Communist Party of GB. He and his family had free holiday travel and had access to Russian resorts and cultural visit possibilities and so on. All very exotic and unusual and i remember being a little envious of such opportunities. He came back from visits speaking some Russian, which I remember being rather impressed by.
            The information about ‘standards of living’/ life in Russia is based on my acquaintance with a number of Russian people.
            Of course it is difficult to make direct comparisons but my impression is that the ‘basic needs of most Russian people were as good or possibly rather better catered for than the poorer working classes in this country. Food was not as bad as is often made out. My impression is that diet was reasonably good. Living conditions were quite cramped but this is common in many cities, although the culture of communal apartment living was possibly rather different.
            What seems to have been different was access to what might be deemed to be ‘luxury’ or high end goods/clothes. Clothes were available but the snag was they had to be immediately re-made/sewn properly before they fell apart and they were all the same. The department stores would have rack after rack of winter coats all the same colour and in limited sizes. Apparently such items would arrive suddenly and there would be a great rush to buy things when they were available and then there was a great competition, especially among young people, to individualise clothes by various additions and modifications.
            My impression is that the great flaw in the Soviet system was not exactly productivity or even the undoubted degree of intrusive state paranoia.
            This applied for some people but the reality was that most people had defined roles as teachers doctors or whatever and were not exactly dissident but were perhaps mildly(verbally) subversive or grumbling, without actually doing anything other than a bit of black market trading , the same as most people in this country will do.
            The great problem was Quality Assurance. The centralised system made strategic decisions but the large scale of production with the pragmatic ‘efficiencies of scale’, denied people opportunity for individual expression, and suppressed complaints about goods and products, and therefore delegitimised perfectly genuine grievances about (say) clothes quality, since it was a complaint directed at some ‘state enterprise’ and presumably at some level, a party official. I am sure al this has been endlessly analysed by people in a much better position to do so than me but I also have an impressio that while the Russian /soviet system were propagandising the population- it was quite badly done, and most people had become inured to the falsehoods of the system-certainly by the eighties. One can pick up on this in the artistic output of the time. State organs and official information were held in derision by artists and intelligent people and they found coded ways of expressing this.
            However what became clear to me is that ‘propaganda’ or culturally biased and selective information was as prevalent at this time here, as it was in the Soviet empire.I think there are some quite disturbing parallels of current ‘western developments’ with the prelude to the collapse of that empire. i.e. the lmid to late eighties and early nineties.
            One senses that the internal contradictions inherent in the ‘west’ are finally coming home to roost in the form of the dilemma related to the definitions we use for economic development and the degradation of the environment, and the expansionary and exploitative nature of a system of production based on very narrow overarching values such as market’ and ‘profit’. What is clear is that that way of thinking is failing more and more people and will eventually become unsupportable morally and intellectually. At some point we will have to redefine and re-discopver ‘collective’ interests and accept some degree of personal discipline and inconvenience and merge this with the values and rights and responsibilities that come with pluralism and self-expression . I sense that this is an enormous challenge. I also think that somewhere within this conundrum of the collective and the personal, is the possibility of an optimum which is compatible with a humane and constructive life for most people.

  • lysias

    It was my unhappy duty when I was stationed in Berlin to read the East German party organ “Neues Deutschland” every day. I regret to have to say that the Western corporate press is now equally mendacious. I now read every day the “Washington Post” for much the same reasons that I once read “Neues Deutschland”. It tells us what the powers that be in the U.S. want us to think.

      • michael norton

        Rob, your post are vanishing, yet they were relevant?
        It’s like Harry Potter and the Death Eaters
        Sarky has been knocked out

        • michael norton

          Theresa May’s Terrible Instincts

          signing up for the French Hinkley Point C, Somersetshire

          not needed by anyone, other than those who will make money out of it.

          • michael norton

            Hinkley Point C will not cost taxpayers any extra, says Électricité de France

            Vincent de Rivaz tells Lords committee that taxpayers would ‘categorically not’ have to pay for unforeseen rises in cost of building nuclear power plant.

            Excellant, we will hold France to account.
            France owns 80% of EDF
            France owns 80% of AREVA ( they are broke, they make the EPR, which is what will power Hinkley Point C)
            France is making EDF buy AREVA with French money?

          • michael norton

            What is the con?
            Much of French Infrastructure is owned ( in essence) by the State of France, they are held by nominally comercial corporations but they are underpinned by French State money, back ( without their expressed agreement by the French tax-payers)
            AREVA is BUST.
            Among other things they build Reactor Pressure Vessels, they build the Nuclear Plants.
            EDF run the Nuclear plants and flog the electricity but EDF are also, MOSTLY owned by the French State,
            the French State ordered EDF to buy AREVA
            EDF did not want to buy AREVA because AREVA is bust.
            The French State gave French money to EDF to buy AREVA.

            Is any of this beginning to sound circular.

            It is like one big ponzi scam.

            Yet Theresa May is buying into the “DREAM/NIGHTMARE”

        • RobG

          Michael, I was about to answer one of your posts, with regard to what’s happening in France.

          My post seems to have disapeared (my fault).

          Don’t believe what they tell you. There’s a revolution going on in France at the moment (for worker’s rights).

          It’s all being totally censored. Forget left wing and right wing. It’s all just a game they play with you.

          The elections in France next Spring will be a crucial moment.

    • Habbabkuk

      Lysias

      We’re having such an interesting conversation about the GDR ,and East Berlin in particular.

      Please do feel free to join in as an old Berlin hand!

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I just try and do my best. I also try and do what my wife does best…

    We All just want her Back Home

    We all just Love Her so Much..

    She got run over by a car last Tuesday night.

    We want her back home ASAP

    We all Love Her.

    I thought I had lost the Love of My Life last Tuesday Night

    But Our British National Health Service – Saved Her Life.

    Thank You all so Much.

    Tony xx

      • Sharp Ears

        Best wishes for your wife Tony. She is in good hands.

        AA Gill gives it an endorsement. He should really tell the Tories. They are the ones dismantling it.

        NHS humanity beats Harley Street, says AA Gill as he tells of his cancer
        November 21 2016

        AA Gill with his partner Nicola Formby. Gill has chosen to undergo chemotherapy at Charing Cross Hospital

        AA Gill, the Sunday Times columnist and restaurant critic, who is in the advanced stages of cancer, has chosen to leave private medical care and have treatment with the NHS because he does not want to die in “a trench in Harley Street”.

        Gill, 62, said he wanted the “human connection” of the health service and has chosen to undergo chemotherapy at Charing Cross Hospital.

        He was given a diagnosis of lung cancer after his summer holiday, with other tumours having been found elsewhere. He described it as the “Full English” and added: “There’s barely a morsel of offal that is not included.”

        Having visited his doctor privately and paid for his x-rays, he said he was determined to go back to the NHS. “What…
        http://www.thetimes.co.uk/_TP_/edition/news/nhs-humanity-beats-harley-street-says-aa-gill-as-he-tells-of-his-cancer-p26vw2sgw?

        PS His ex wife is Amber Rudd.

        • Sharp Ears

          The Tories running the NHS down love their acronynms.

          STP Sustainability and Transformation Plan is a new one. Most people do not even know what a CCG is = Clinical Commissioning Group. They decide where and how the local money is being spent and vet GPs’ referrals.

          ‘Tory neglect is killing the NHS as the £22billion black hole in funding is revealed
          Serious doses of honesty and cash are needed if we are to save our hospitals from what smacks of a Tory plot to allow the NHS to perish
          21st November 2016

          The terrifying depth of the National Health Service crisis is laid bare today. The staggering £22billion black hole requires a huge political and financial commitment to save our most cherished public resource.

          The mundanely titled Sustainability and Transformation Plans smack of a Secret Tory Plot to allow the NHS to perish from neglect.

          Conservative ministers repeatedly refuse to admit the scale of the challenges or are ignorant of the deteriorating state of medical care.

          /..
          http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-neglect-killing-nhs-22billion-9299870

          and

          NHS transformation plans may be used as cover for cuts, says BMA
          Doctors’ union says 44 regional initiatives amount to £22bn in cuts by 2020-21, with potential to severely affect patient care
          Guardian today.

          Two useless aircraft carriers (HMS Prince Charles and HMS Queen Elizabeth are to go into service at a cost of £6 billion each. Planes for them? From the US* of course. Cameron signed off an order for 138 F35B Lightning IIs. Cost? A snip at £70m each.

          * Lockheed Martin, who also operate the UK Census. YCNMIU.

          • J

            A friend interjected that we should all have our TLA’s in order as a matter of priority during yet another interminable meeting somewhere in the software industry. Nobody asked until afterwards. He said, “…Three Letter Acronyms.”

        • Geoffrey

          He was at one stage involved in dodgy stock market deals with hi ex. as I am sure you were aware. See latest Private Eye and ad nauseam.

    • nevermind

      Tony, chin up she’ll be with you again, soon. Things might have to change slightly in both your life’s, but what the heck, you got each other,
      No doubt all of us here wish her health and more happiness to come, so please give her a box of chocs on our behalf
      I found it helps to have a T shirt of my missis to hand, smells are far more important than we’ve ever realised. She had an acute period in Addenbrookes over xmas some 20 years ago, I was all over the place them.

      If you do not like the smell of a person you will never be partners/lovers, fact.
      chocs away Tony and head up.

  • bevin

    “Bevin… perhaps you should have mentioned that the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (aka Snooper’s Charter) just codifies the totally illegal activities that the UK security services have been carrying out over the last two decades (it goes back much longer than that; this Act just deals with modern communications)…”

    Perhaps I should have. I’m glad that you did. There is no doubt that the compulsion of the British state to pry, provoke, ‘stitch up’, frame and misrepresent goes back a long way.
    What is new is that now it is technically possible to do things that nobody in the psst ever dreamed could be done. And the new law, which effectively cancels out all previous Bills of Rights, the Magna Carta and a tradition of civil liberties which though more often honoured, by the goverrnment, in the breach is now defunct.
    The first ten amendments of the US Constitution were all intended to codify rights held to be established in Common Law- how many of those amendments are not now, effectively, dead letters? Maybe Lysias could tell us, then Habbakkuk could make a facetious comment on it. And the grown ups among us could think about the implications of living in a society in which we are passing down to our children only a small fraction of the inheritance which we allowed to be taken from us and our posterity.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Ironically, perhaps, for this discussion, I was in the GDR in…1984. I particularly remember buying ‘Mondos Gold’ condoms from a vending machine and discovering they were lubricated with French chalk, like a bicycle inner tube. I remember too being so waggish as to declare them on the Customs declaration form at Checkpoint Charlie at ten minutes to midnight. The border guard read the form with a stony face, looked up at the group of sniggering drunken students and said, ‘Wait here!’ He went into his office to make a phone call. If we were still there past the midnight deadline we would have been guilty of an offence. We started to sweat. At one minute to midnight he came out, handed us our passports and said we could go.

    Ther UK in 1984 was, of course, nothing like Nineteen Eighty-four, but it is now and comparisons with the STASI are not remotely fanciful. We even had lollypop ladies with cameras on their sticks for a while, and of course, like in the GDR teachers are required to report children to the authorities for being potential enemies of the people.

    • Resident Dissident

      “and of course, like in the GDR teachers are required to report children to the authorities for being potential enemies of the people.”

      Evidence

      • fwl

        And schoolchildren are required to report whether teachers are conforming to British Values?

        Anyone remember the Blue Books, which sought to eradicate Welsh values from Victorian Wales.

      • KingofWelshNoir

        Headline: Nursery ‘raised fears of radicalisation over boy’s cucumber drawing’

        Staff at a nursery school threatened to refer a four-year-old boy to a de-radicalisation programme after he drew pictures which they thought showed his father making a “cooker bomb”, according to the child’s mother.

        The child’s drawing actually depicted his father cutting a cucumber…

        A spokesperson for the nursery, an independent one, said that no referral to Channel was made, adding: “Under statutory guidance, as reflected by our own safeguarding policies, early years providers are required to record – and if necessary, report – any incidents that they feel may warrant further attention or discussion.

        https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/11/nursery-radicalisation-fears-boys-cucumber-drawing-cooker-bomb

        • Habbabkuk

          What that example demonstrates, KOWN, is not the silliness of the legislation but the silliness of some individuals charged with applying it, surely? But I note that common sense prevailed. It would be good if the same common sense prevailed among the commentariat when it discusses and evaluates surveillance powers.

      • Phil Ex Frog

        Talk to a teacher. Sometime in the past couple of years they will have been forced to attend a lecture. The one I attended we were specifically told there was to be no discussion about what is meant buy “British values”. We are just to keep an eye open for kids not adequately embracing them. Box ticking nonsense.

        I am pretty sure every school was meant to do this. Most schools, embarrassed but obliged, will have wrapped it up in a protection blanket and possibly muttered “British values” under a cough. Any other school workers here get this talk?

          • Phil Ex Frog

            It was shut down as a subject before it was mentioned. I’m pretty certain because no one had an answer. They were only doing it because they had to.

          • Herbie

            OK.

            It’s a horrifyingly Kafkaesque thing isn’t it.

            Asking teachers to identify traits that are at odds with an undefined and therefore nebulous concept of “British values”.

            Why would they do that.

            Unless to achieve precisely the sense of fear and foreboding that Kafka identified in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

  • Andrew Nichols

    The boiled frog effect is very real. One tiny bit at a time democracy and freedom chipped away.

  • Bert.

    What do you expect; Theresa May is female; another fascist authoritarian just like Margaret Thatcher.

    In recent years I have come to notice that females seem to have a rather extreme and somewhat unexpected authoritarian streak. (You may think this is sexist but it is not. You may even strike this comment; but it is still not sexist. I will not accept that telling the truth is sexist any more than truthfully condemning the unnecessary slaughter of Palestinians by Israeli military is anti-Semitic.) So to proceed.

    It took some while to realise why this might be the case… and, as is so often the case, it is all in the brain differences. I won’t detail the issues and evidences here since it would make this comment intolerably long; but a) the authoritarian streak is quite readily observable; and b) there are some technical references to back it up.

    A nice example of the absurd blindness of feminism (blindness to the consequences of one’s own actions is typical of the authoritarian) is given by a comment a while ago from Harriet Harman. She made it clear that the banking crisis would not have happened if women had been running the banks. This left me utterly gob-smacked. Was it not a female: Thatcher, who introduced the first tranche of banking deregulation; was it not a female: Thatcher, who introduced the second tranche of banking deregulation; and was it not a female: Thatcher, who began the negotiations for the instatement, and UK membership of, the World Trade Organisation, which forced upon the Blair government a third tranche of banking deregulation? But Harman can completely blind herself to the simple and – so far as I am aware – irrefutable fact that it was a female who set us up for this fall.

    In fact, the feminist experiment of the last fifty years has shown, with some good evidence, that it is simply not a good idea to have a female prime minister or females in other position of leadership.

    Bert.

  • Ruth

    ‘Expect her to fall back more and more on those instincts for secrecy and authoritarianism – and the abuse of the massive powers of the state.’
    This is what she’s told to do; it’s nothing to do with her instincts. It’s time people realised that the government is a stooge of the Establishment or state within the state

    • michael norton

      Yes, King of WelshNoir, frightening how a woman is hoodwinking the Scottish people, just like North Korea, marching Forwards/Backwards
      Left is Right, Up is Down, right is Wrong
      doublespeak/gobbledegook.

  • Ruth

    Worse than this is the statutory duty put on teachers to implement British Values and Prevent. Teachers niow have to get to know their students and continuously update the students’ profile to include personal matters. This is basically an extension of surveillance and no doubt schools, colleges, universities will be required to pass this information onto the government. Little different from the programme of informants cultivated in Nazi Germany.

    • michael norton

      When my child was at school, every d to do political correctness training.
      It did not matter if the parents complaine, it was part of the curiculum, this went on for the whole of the time at all schools.
      It takes the child’s ability to think things out for themselves, away.
      Leads to zombieizimizm

    • D_Majestic

      Indeed this culture of informancy, hitherto confined to what might be termed “Stasi-States”, is with us, and has expanded over the past fifteen years. In tandem with the clever removal of teachers/lecturers who have the ability to think for themselves and form their own opinions.

  • michael norton

    EUROPE TREMBLES: Brussels in crisis as Le Pen storms into shock poll lead over rivals
    Sarky-OUT
    BRUSSELS/FRANCE was facing a growing political crisis today as polls showed French extreme-far-right leader Marine Le Pen has stormed into a shock lead over her presidential rivals.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/734497/Marine-le-pen-france-election-sarkozy-national-front
    A series of bombshell surveys suggested that the Front National chief will wallop all of the conservative candidates in the first round of the race to become the next leader of France.

    Eurosceptic Ms Le Pen, who has vowed to lead the country out of the hated E.U.
    scored between four and nine per cent higher than either of the two centre-right politicians she is expected to battle for the keys to the Elysee Palace.

    Well, what do the European Union Elites expect?
    They disdain democracy, they try and make it as hard as possible for any nation state to function as a nation.
    If, in response, they engender nationalizim, what did they think would happen, all roll over?
    They have brought it upon their own heads.
    They are filth

    • Loony

      Only someone totally unacquainted with the English language or someone who is totally detached from reality could describe the popularity of Marine Le Pen as a “shock”

      After the “shock” defeat of Hillary Clinton, Marine Le Pen will provide a near term opportunity to counter the misogynistic culture that pervades the west. No doubt militant feminist groups are preparing to campaign on her behalf and assist her in shattering the glass ceiling by propelling her to the Presidency of France.

      • Habbabkuk

        Mme Le Pen is not going to be the next President of the French Republic.

        Remember – you read it here first!

          • Habbabkuk

            £ 100, Herbie, against your £100.

            I suggest we both deposit this amount with Craig.

            If you’re worried about revealing your identity, I suggest we both send Craig (we have his address) our £100 by post. Registered post if you prefer.

            Craig will keep the money and then whoever wins (next year) will get in touch with him and arrange receopt of the readies.

            Are you game, Herbie?

          • Herbie

            Hmmm

            You’re only offering evens?

            That would indicate you believe LePen has a 50% chance of winning.

            And yet you definitively said that “Le Pen is not going to be the next President of the French Republic”

            That’s a 0% chance of winning.

            Let’s say 1% chance of winning for old times sake.

            That’s 99/1

            That’s the bet I’m taking.

            I’ll certainly have £100 on that.

            Or £1000, if you like.

            Anyway.

            Seems your understanding of math is as poor as your understanding of politics.

        • Loony

          Mme Le Pen is a woman – and everyone from the NYT to the BBC insist that we need more women in power so as to enhance equal rights. The election of Mme Le Pen is arguably even more important given the recent plebiscite in the US which revealed the US to be a nation of misogynistic sexists.

          Do you have something against equal rights?

      • lysias

        If I had a nickel for every assertion that was made that Donald Trump could not possibly become president of the United States, I would be a rich man.

    • Laguerre

      “EUROPE TREMBLES: Brussels in crisis as Le Pen storms into shock poll lead over rivals”

      I note that the Express doesn’t actually tell us which polls. The Express is hardly impartial. I’ve been able to find one small one from last week which gives Le Pen a small lead of four points over any other individual candidate. And it’s for the first time. We’re still a long way from the final election.

      I’m more impressed by the idea that we’ll end up with a Theresa May-type situation, whereby Fillon creeps through the undergrowth, and then finally launches a successful candidacy. Fillon seemed to me sensible, when he was prime minister. My French friends may disagree; I have yet to find out what they think.

  • Ben

    I’ll never forget her pinning a border force problem on her Sir Humphrey a year or two in as home Secretary. Big no no and a measure of the woman.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Re. discussions of the UK’s new powers w.r.t. the Stasi, it may be of interest to note (a) that the UK retention period (twelve months) is double that of Russia’s similar legislation, passed earlier this year in the teeth of similarly ineffective opposition, and (b) that it is probably unimplementable in practice.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/snoopers-charter-theresa-may-online-privacy-investigatory-powers-act-a7426461.html

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/07/russia-asks-impossible-its-new-surveillance-laws

    In Russia, the government knows that the law cannot be implemented, but it can still be enforced against service providers failing to deliver an impossible requirement. This gives the government a means of coercion – toe the line or we’ll prosecute you for not fulfilling an impossible legal requirement. This might also be behind the UK legislation.

    • Phil Ex Frog

      Not sure about this idea. I have seen very little (ie zero) evidence that ISPs have any desire to except comply with every state demand.

      I wonder why you say it cannot be implemented (didn’t see that in the indy link). Surely, it’s just another database. Technically trivial. Do you mean the cost would be prohibitive? Cause I am not even sure about that. Server space is so cheap.

  • Herbie

    This bloke, Stephen Bannon, that Trump’s appointed as his brain, has been accused of having terrible instincts.

    By mainsteam media.

    According to them he’s anti-semitic, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-everything, that good, honest, wholesome and decent Americans hold in high regard.

    Turns out he’s simply against the nest of incestuous elites in Washington, Rep and Dem, who’ve ensured capitalism benefits them and them alone.

    Sound familiar. It should do.

    Same old tricks every time.

    How could media have got him all so wrong:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMZFfxFl53k

    • Ba'al Zevul

      I think Trump and his motley crew aren’t so much threatening the established order as planning to take it over and divert the benefits their way. There will now be a four-year interval in order to revisit the 19th. century.

      • Herbie

        “I think Trump and his motley crew aren’t so much threatening the established order as planning to take it over and divert the benefits their way.”

        Nah. That’s for sure what won’t happen.

        The particular benefits we’re talking about are a product of the financial economy.

        Since it’s that scam that’s coming to an end they can hardly do much with it now.

        They’ll simply have to make their way as old-fashioned capitalists.

        The best you could argue is that they’ll have made a virtue out of a necessity.

        “There will now be a four-year interval in order to revisit the 19th. century.”

        And that’s what needs to be done.

        In economic terms.

        Or a return to the post-war consensus.

        You need an old left and an old right, focussed on economic issues, and much much less of the very divisive identity politics that have been put in their place.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          Even old-fashioned capitalism cannot function without the moneylenders, Herbie. And if you try to restrain their power, they will respond by restraining yours. That’s the evil bind we’re in, which leads us to vote for solutions which are no solutions – like Trump. All the Trumpoids are doing is bait-and-switch. They may not even know they’re doing it. Same as the old boss, with a fright wig.

          • Herbie

            “Even old-fashioned capitalism cannot function without the moneylenders, Herbie.”

            That was the old way, when we had really competitive capitalism, and really competitive nations.

            We’re no longer in that position.

            We don’t need moneylenders at all these days, and certainly not private moneylenders.

            “And if you try to restrain their power, they will respond by restraining yours.”

            That has been the threat.

            But, now that the US has a determination to take them on, and many other powerful countries are onside with that, these moneylenders will no longer be able to play one off against the other, which has been how they’ve worked for quite some time.

            A new Bretton Woods will sort them out.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            I wasn’t making any distinction between Goldman Sachs and your private moneylenders, Herbie. The profession has grown and globalised, but its function is exactly the same: usury. And no transaction in the current system is possible – NO transaction, even in cash – without contributing to the profits of a usurer. If a usurer doesn’t like something, he can shut it down at any point in its supply chain or indeed its output. (as, notably, in the recent case of RBS asset-stripping perfectly healthy debtors) Sure, it’s all wrong and deeply unjust and all that, but “this animal is dangerous. If attacked it will defend itself”. Very effectively

            And actually, for a good part of C19, the UK was operating a global empire no less exploitative than the current system, albeit as profitably for as few beneficiaries. I see little cause for nostalgia there.

            Trump needs the usurers as much as they need him. And the deals are already being made. Trust me, and don’t waste your trust on that chancer.

          • Herbie

            “Sure, it’s all wrong and deeply unjust and all that, but “this animal is dangerous. If attacked it will defend itself”. Very effectively”

            My point was that there’s not much they can do to defend themselves when the most important countries are aligned against them.

            They can only defend themselves by playing one country off against another.

            You’ll remember that that’s how they grew in the first place, and into the modern era.

            “And actually, for a good part of C19, the UK was operating a global empire no less exploitative than the current system, albeit as profitably for as few beneficiaries. I see little cause for nostalgia there.”

            It’s not about nostalgia for that.

            It’s about understanding the competition that divided nations and empires, division and competition that was exploited by the moneylenders.

            We no longer live in that world. At least conceptually.

            “Trump needs the usurers as much as they need him.”

            They need him a lot more at this point in time.

            Their hope will be that they can palm him off with something he can tout as a win to his supporters, whilst maintaining their usual role.

            We simply don’t need private moneylenders to manage the global financial system.

            It’s that simple.

            The will is certainly there to challenge them, and with the important countries of the world on board, there’s not much the moneylenders can do.

            The rest of the world needs a US and Europe that is free of debt, so I’m sure there’ll be a consensus towards that end.

    • Loony

      Ah yes Stephen Bannon the well known anti semite.

      This would be the same Stephen Bannon that worked at Goldman Sachs for 14 years. Oh how I wonder whether the Goldman diversity policy sets out a requirement to hire, retain, and promote a minimum number of anti semites.

      The constant spewing of implausible lies by the mainstream media is the exact reason why no-one trusts them, why they are losing money and why soon they will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        I’m sure he encourages the antisemitic association, and it’s not as if there isn’t a hard core of older palaeo-Republicans from Southern states who do not retain affectionate memories of when it was possible to call a (redacted)-boy a (redacted)-boy in public along with objecting to black people using the same buses as whites. However, his credibility as an antisemite – and his appeal to the PC-sickened , tax-deploring masses – might be enhanced if he were to support a reduction in the $3Bn annually donated by the US taxpayer to Israel. Unlikely, since Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism, and the orange one has promised increased aid to Israel, but hey…

        • Loony

          It is pretty implausible to suppose that someone interested in cultivating an antisemitic association would have spent so long at Goldman.

        • Anon1

          “It’s not as if there isn’t a hard core of older palaeo-Republicans from Southern states who do not retain affectionate memories of when it was possible to call a (redacted)-boy a (redacted)-boy in public”

          You wish you still could, Baal. Or (redacted)-girl.

          Your obsession with the Juice is legendary. Hence you were so keen to bring it to our attention here that one of Trump’s offspring is Chewish.

          You must have been one of the very first people to search for “Trump joooz” (after Mary).

  • Sharp Ears

    In today’s Times. The report is called ‘Proving Torture’ link below.

    Doctors furious at rejection of torture evidence
    Sean O’Neill, Chief Reporter
    November 21 2016, 12:01am,

    Caseworkers are overriding reports prepared by specialist doctors to reject asylum claims, according to a study photo
    hikrcn/Getty Images

    Doctors are angry that unqualified Home Office immigration staff have been dismissing expert evidence on the suffering endured by torture victims in order to reject asylum claims.

    Caseworkers with no clinical experience are overriding reports prepared by specialist doctors and putting vulnerable people at risk of return to the countries where they were tortured, according to a report published today by Freedom From Torture.

    The charity, which the Home Office recognises for its “expertise in the assessment of the physical, psychological, psychiatric and social effects of torture”, accused Amber Rudd’s department of failing to implement policies and training programmes for handling evidence of torture drawn up when Theresa May was home secretary. (Paywall)

    Freedom from Torture.
    Proving Torture.
    Demanding the impossible

    Home Office mistreatment of expert medical evidence of torture

    Our new ‘Proving Torture’ report reveals how Home Office asylum caseworkers disregard or mistreat expert medical evidence of torture and make clinical judgements about survivors’ injuries that they are not qualified to make.

    This goes against a clear Home Office policy and leaves exceptionally vulnerable people terrified of being returned to face further torture.

    Read on to find out more and take action to support our Proving Torture campaign
    https://www.freedomfromtorture.org/content/9288

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Richard Hoggart saw it coming in the UK in his Uses of Literacy, and now we have the anarchy worldwide he anticipated.

    Most os just didn’t see the dangers of massive pop culture with the coming of the tabloids, Hollywood films, home videos, the internet, cellphones, etc.

    They became the instruments of homemade totalitarianism.

    • Republicofscotland

      “Most os just didn’t see the dangers of massive pop culture with the coming of the tabloids, Hollywood films, home videos, the internet, cellphones, etc.”

      ________

      Ironically, the term “Broadcasting” was first used in a agricultural sense, it mean’t to scatter seeds far and wide.

      The media have scattered their seeds far and wide and alas, they have germinated, in our children’s minds in the form of rubbish and clickbait media sensationalism. In an attempt to distract them and us from truths, they and the establishment do not want us to see, or heaven forbid act upon.

      Like the moth to the lightbulb, our children and some adults, dance around inane tv shows or puerile reality tv shows, that enchant us and draw our attention away from the darkness, that’s just beyond the light bulbs glow.

  • Republicofscotland

    If the somewhat surrealism, that has surrounded world politics, recently such as Trump’s victory and May and her Brexit means Brexit diktat, aren’t enough to rock you back on your heels, then things are about to get a bit more outre.

    The unholy tripartite of Tony Blair, Jim Murphy and possibly George Osborne, are to set up office in London (not in Westminster) early next year to counter Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

    Blair is said to be giving Jim Murphy a salary of £200, 000 PA. Blair also denies that he called Jeremy Corbyn “a nutter” or that he said of Theresa May that, she is “a total lightweight.”

    Blair, who obviously doesn’t possess a conscience, as the Chilcot report, virtually condemned his actions regarding the war on Iraq, and the countless deaths of civilians that the war entailed. Probably by saying sorry publicly Blair feels his crimes have been atoned, though no proper person (McTernan aside) could claim Blair has repented, in a sackcloth and ashes fashion.

    All three men, are said to be trying to re-enter British politics, and see Brexit as their best chance, of obtaining that special place on the gravy train.

    Blair has recently denied (hawking himself) meeting with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in New York, with the intent of gaining a post within Trump’s administration.

  • bevin

    “”Resident Dissident November 21, 2016 at 07:07
    “and of course, like in the GDR teachers are required to report children to the authorities for being potential enemies of the people.”

    Evidence..”

    Do you still need evidence Resident Apologist? Or will the above suffice?

  • Republicofscotland

    Meanwhile French (president) hopeful, and onetime business acquaintance of Colonel Gaddafi (allegedly) Nicolas Sarkozy, has failed in his attempt to make the second round of the Republican party primary.

    However France’s strongest ally in the EU Germany, and its current Chancellor Angela Merkel, she has announced that she’ll seek a fourth term in office.

    If Merekel wins, (and nearly 60% of German’s said they want her to run again) she’ll match the post-war record, of 16 years in office, held by her one-time mentor, and former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

    • Herbie

      She’s running in hope of using her fame to attract votes to the CDU.

      Must have done the numbers.

      Having done that, someone else will be elected Chancellor by the Bundestag.

      • Habbabkuk

        Are you willing to accept a bet on that, Herbie?

        Just for fun, so to speak.

        And a kind of putting your money where your mouth is.

        I guess not.

        But come this time next year, I’lll remind you of what you said.

        Count on it, Professor.

          • Habbabkuk

            Same as above, Herbie.

            We both deposit £100 with Craig.

            If Mrs Merkel wins and is still Chancellor 6 months after the CDU victory, I get your £100.

            If Mrs Merkel wins and is replaced as Chancellor within 6 months after the CDU victory, you get my £100.

            What say you?

  • lysias

    Speaking of Britain becoming a police state, there’s this news on the Zero Hedge site: British Government’s “Counter-Extremist” Unit Shuts Down Milo Yiannopoulos Speech:

    The British Government has shut down a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos after putting pressure on the school hosting it to call it off.

    Anti-Extremism officials leaned on faculty at the school in Kent, England, where Yiannopoulos was due to speak, resulting in the event being scrapped.

    . . .

    The event had attracted national attention and, according to the local press, attention from the UK Government’s Department for Education, which intervened.

        • Sharp Ears

          It’s no good rubbishing the messenger. Whatever your opinion of Ms Penny, if you read her piece, you see that she has closely observed the Trump followers and it’s a scary picture.

          • Herbie

            Eh?

            Her piece is her opinion, is it not.

            She’s not a messenger.

            She’s telling us what she thinks.

            And I haven’t yet found her thinking anything much beyond identity politics.

            And it’s identity politics that holds us back from discussing real economic issues.

            She’s a member of the media elite and what really scares her is the redundancy of those like her who spout gibberish.

            There’s little difference in effect between her and those Blairites who used identity politics to undermine Corbyn.

          • Herbie

            Not quite.

            She supported Corbyn.

            But the identity politics which she promotes was also used against Corbyn.

            And so it is with her views on the US election.

            It’s a barrier to moving forward.

          • bevin

            Laurie Penny is particularly bad, a renegade Cliffite, isn’t she the buried Lenin’s girlfriend?

          • Herbie

            Didn’t know that, but Medialensers detected what they viewed as a change in the quality of his work a few years ago.

            He’s got better again since.

          • bevin

            This is probably as close as we will get to the argument in favour of May’s new law:

            “What that example demonstrates, KOWN, is not the silliness of the legislation but the silliness of some individuals charged with applying it, surely? But I note that common sense prevailed. It would be good if the same common sense prevailed among the commentariat when it discusses and evaluates surveillance powers.”

            Thus Habba who is saying that we ought to trust the government. He makes the same point earlier where he
            compares the probability of the state misusing its powers with the likelihood of being involved in a motor accident.
            And this in light of what we actually know about the state which recently-in the person of Cameron- justified a war against Syria as being one in which the UK would be allied with 70,000 secular democrats, who have since dissolved into the ether from which he conjured them; then there was the Iraq war in which the government entertained us with a long list of lies and misrepresentations in order to enrol us into the murder of a million civilians and the creation of five million refugees, in between there was Libya where, we were informed, Ghadaffi was bent on reducing Benghazi to rubble and decimating its population.

            All rational observers are aware that the abuse of power is not anomalous but regular practise in government.

            Now they have the power, without fear of legal sanction, it is just a matter of time before it is used.

            We know, from the use of provocateurs, in the persons of undercover cops, in environmental groups; and from the use of blacklists to keep Trade Unionists out of jobs, in factories and construction; and from the stench of the Police actions at Hillsborough and Orgreave; and from the estimated likelihood that more than half the killings in Northern Ireland were carried out with security forces complicity, that there is a present and very real danger that the newly acquired secret police powers will be used in the Class war being waged against the poor.
            To argue otherwise is nothing more than an attempt to ingratiate one’s self with the secret police- to earn a gold star for the personal dossier.

          • Herbie

            What I learnt is that Laurie is so far up her Id/Pol that she hasn’t a fuckin clue what’s going on.

            Not a clue.

            She thinks that political analysis is about saying who you like and who you don’t like.

            That’s identity politics for you. It’s no more sophisticated than that.

            It’s a childishness.

            We’re witnessing a revolution in the major economies of the western world. In the political parties of the western world.

            And the poor young thing misses it completely.

            And that’s Penny’s problem.

            She can’t see beyond her prejudices.

            What’s going on in the Republican party is very similar to what has been going on in the UK Labour party, and for similar reasons.

            So, the US Dems will now need to change as well to something like what Sanders was proposing.

            And in the UK and further afield we’ll see similar realignments.

            The UK Tories, for example, would do well to get back to old Conservatism as quickly as possible. I thought they were trying to do that.

            That’s the shift.

    • Herbie

      Oh dear.

      Clueless dopes.

      Haven’t heard of the Streisand Effect, have they.

      Milo is a bit of a hero to the yoofs.

      Having seen him banned in the UK, they’ll likely think to themselves that there’s something the May regime have to hide.

      He’s all over youtube and media.

      Sensible and charming.

      Election now, please.

  • Sharp Ears

    Best news today. Sarkozy’s pulling out of politics. Hope those who gave him financial support don’t mind.

    And Hillary Benn will probably be deselected.

    • bevin

      Ghadaffi who financed his last election campaign- 450 million in cash by one account- is past minding. I imagine that the others have already ‘moved on’ to a more promising candidate.
      As to Benn it would be a travesty if he were re-selected. I wonder whether the Lib Dems will offer him the chance to cause even more damage to the Labour Party- after all Colonel Wedgwood MP left the Liberals to join the PLP.

    • Laguerre

      Back on France and Marine Le Pen. Somebody pointed out the other day, I forget where, that even if she is elected president, she will be powerless. The FN has one député in the Assemblée Nationale out of 577, and two senators out of 348. Pretty much the scale of UKIP. No doubt that will increase in the next parliamentary elections, but there’s a long way to go.

      Personally, I think Marine Le Pen is a sensible woman, though I wouldn’t vote for her, much different from her father, or her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who are both nutters.

  • michael norton

    Oh my golly gosh
    UKIP is collapsing

    Former UKIP leader Diane James has resigned from the party, saying it is “time to move on”.

    The MEP said her relationship with UKIP had become “increasingly difficult” and that she had been offered no support by the executive during her leadership.

    Ms James stood down as leader last month after just 18 days in charge.

    Her predecessor, Nigel Farage, is now back in charge on an interim basis with UKIP currently engaged in another leadership contest.

    BBC

    • michael norton

      What with aeroplane incidents (Farage), mysogonists (Godfrey Bloom), transgender (Nikki Sinclaire), homosexuals (David Coburn), punch-ups (Woolfe/Mike Hookem), suspensions (Suzanne Evans),
      it is just like every other proper party, they’ve made it to the main-stream!!!

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