Scared of my Own Thoughts 351


In Doha last week I watched on TV an utterly contemptible speech by Theresa May in which she grasped for ideas to shore up the increasingly eroded Establishment control of the political zeitgeist. Yet more pressure would be put on the social media companies to curtail the circulation of unauthorised truths as “fake news”. Disrespectful questioning of the political class will be a new crime of “intimidation of candidates”. The government would look for new ways to boost the unwanted and failing purveyors of the official line by some potential aid to newspapers and their paid liars.

In short I did not merely disagree with what she was saying, I found it an extraordinary example of Orwellian doublespeak in which she even referenced John Stuart Mill and her commitment to freedom of speech as she outlined plans to restrict it further. I found myself viewing this dull, plodding agent of repression as representing a political philosophy which is completely alien to me.

I had a similar epiphany the week before watching the gathering at Davos. I have often been sceptical of the philosophy and motivation of the neo-liberal elite, but I have never before looked at them and seen them as the enemy. Yet after the super wealthy were rewarded for the financial collapse of 2008, by the largest diversion of ordinary people’s money to the rich in human history, as bailouts and QE, the steady but unspectacular economic growth of the ensuing decade has resulted in no significant real wage increases for the working person across the entire developed world, while the wealth of the 1% has more than doubled. There has been a curious but matching phenomenon whereby even the “third sector” representatives at Davos – the heads of universities and charities or the senior presenters from the BBC, for example – are themselves on over £300,000 a year and completely divorced from the lifestyle of working people, due to the abandonment of their institutions to corporate philosophy.

In short, as with Theresa May, I found myself looking at the inhabitants of Davos with utter contempt, as people whose philosophy and lifestyle I detest.

Then a couple of days ago I watched an uncritical BBC report of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria based entirely on film provided by the White Helmets, which plainly had zero evidential value. Given that the origins and motivations of the White Helmets are today known to anyone with an internet connection, the continued retailing of this repetitive propaganda is extraordinary. I felt contempt for the BBC journalists who were retailing it. In the last 24 hours Israel has carried out large scale bombing attacks on Syria which are undeniably illegal, and for once has acknowledged them brazenly. There has been very little media reporting of this. In a two sentence report on BBC News as I type, the second sentence was that the attack followed the downing of an Israel fighter, without mentioning that plane was itself illegally attacking Syria. The Israeli statement was given verbatim and no balancing view from Syria was given.

I am not comfortable with thoughts of contempt, disgust or hatred towards anyone. I have always held the view that people are entitled to their political views, and having different views to mine in no way makes you a bad person. I have been known to suggest that anyone who has all the same views as me must be in dubious mental health. I have tried to acknowledge common ground with people where it exists – for example I have always admired David Davis’ commitment to civil liberties. It is not the case that some of my best friends are Tories, but I do have Tory friends.

I was for most of my working life a fully paid up member of the Establishment, and reasonably comfortable with that. Even bad governments do some good. I was a Liberal and fairly well on board with the prescriptions of the party in the time of Charlie Kennedy. I am, I hope, a naturally friendly person and have always considered myself gentle and kind. It is certainly true my political views are driven more by empathy with the suffering than by rigid systems of thought.

I therefore am not comfortable being so stridently opposed to everything that is happening in the UK political mainstream. I am scared by the prospect of being the extremist nutter who mutters on about a worldview entirely at odds with the accepted narrative.

Yet I look at the world with disbelief. I see an economy that gives little opportunity for secure and fulfilling lives to millions of young people. I see the obscene lifestyle of the super rich. And I perceive that, contrary to neo-liberal propaganda, that is not the natural order of things but a direct result of the operation of institutions created by government and their use to channel the flow of wealth to a tiny minority.I marvel at the continuing Ponzi scheme of the UK property market. I see Africa plundered for its commodities and deliberately kept poor.

The panic-inducing correction in the world’s stock markets this week was triggered by news that unemployment was falling rapidly in the USA. That was “bad news” for the markets because it might result in workers getting better pay. There could not be a better illustration of the madness of the system. The world is suffering from a failure of imagination. Corporate ownership structure has developed in certain ways because of social conditions prevailing in the UK and Europe from the 16th century onwards. The development consists of the overlaid accretions of accumulated accidents of history. There is nothing natural or inevitable about current stock market models. The rational alternative – worker ownership of enterprises – is, however, not on any mainstream accepted political agenda.

Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell are doing their best within the awful constraints of the Labour Party they inherited, but their economic proposals are nowhere near the radical change required. In Scotland, the SNP have put in place some commendable but very modest social democratic measures to increase taxes on the wealthy. But the SNP appears to have been seized by crippling timidity on the subject of Independence. There are worrying signs that Sturgeon’s evident lack of serious intent to push for Independence, is finally damping down grassroots activism, including on social media. Meanwhile virtually the entire political class of Europe has united behind the vicious suppression of Catalonia, with peaceful campaigners facing lengthy years as political prisoners. Those events, more than any, crystallise my understanding that a “liberal” political Establishment no longer exists.

In conclusion, either I am barking mad or the world is becoming a much darker place. As the position of the vast majority of people as helots to the super wealthy is further consolidated, the manufacturing of consent by the control of information becomes ever more crucial to the elite. I have never desired to stand outside society barking unheeded warnings. You have probably gathered that the last few months I have been inclined to succumb to the fact that my own life would be more comfortable if I stopped barking. But I shall continue – please feel free to warn me when I get over-bitter.


351 thoughts on “Scared of my Own Thoughts

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  • Republicofscotland

    Well we heard much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Tories, when Alex Salmond began hosting a chat show on RT, those pesky Russians.

    However, it has come to light that the Tories have accepted a £30,000 pounds donation from one of Putin’s cronies, to dine with the Defence Secretary.

    Of course it’s all good and proper when it benefits the Tory party.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Zarkwan/status/962973693424099328

    • fred

      Do you have any evidence Lubov Chernukhin is one of Putin’s cronies? As I understood it he was sacked by Putin in 2004 since when they have not been on friendly terms, Word on the street is that Putin is definitely not on Lubov Chernukhin’s Christmas card list.

      I believe Lubov Chernukhin has been a British citizen and resident for a number of years now.

      • Republicofscotland

        Oh not to worry Baal, if SIU can be allowed to receive dozens of donation (over £7,500 legal limit to be declared)from foreign millionaires, Tory businessmen and celebrities south of the border, and not have to answer to the Electoral Commission, who shrugged their collective shoulders and said oh we’re sure it wasn’t intentional.

        Then I’m pretty sure the SNP can call on whoever in the future to fund them.

        Attempts to name the very wealthy donors of SIU, (leaked documents) has been met with a barrage of top London lawyers letters preventing (so far) the naming of them.

        You won’t find that in the die-hard unionist Herald.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          One pound under the legal limit, even according to Bella Caledonia. Tricky, yes, but not criminal. I agree with you. The funding of all parties should be subject to the most rigorous scrutiny to remove even the suspicion of buying influence. The process should be subject to criminal law, and exposed in open court. Which, following the East Coast line debacle (90% Stagecoach, former SNP funder to the tune of £2M) might just conceivably be an option.

          • SA

            Ba’al
            You suggest something very subversive here.

            “I agree with you. The funding of all parties should be subject to the most rigorous scrutiny to remove even the suspicion of buying influence. “

            But isn’t that the very basis of our current revolving door way by which neoliberalism operates?

  • reel guid

    Ruth Davidson’s last five tweets have been on sporting themes. Nothing at all about the Tory Government’s Brexit impact assessment. She aspires to be the next First Minister of Scotland – although given Tory plans she probably wants to be the final First Minister of Scotland – and she cannot face the public to comment on a report by her own party that admits Scotland’s economy will lose billions a year.

    Davidson’s party called the EU referendum. Davidson’s party denied Scotland a veto. Is forcing Scotland out the EU. Her party is going for a hard brexit. It’s the biggest disaster to Scotland since the Clearances. Yet she can’t even say anything about it to the people of Scotland and wants to pretend it doesn’t require comment. But she still wants your vote. Sociopathic shyster.

    • Republicofscotland

      Yes reel guid, the Tories have gone to ground in Scotland over the disaster that is Brexit. Also there’s very little possibility of the media, holding them to account over Brexit either.

      Meanwhile Peter Brady (The Invisible man), aka Fluffy Mundell is in Asia, allegedly drumming up business for Scotland. Though if I recall his last sortie of a similar nature, he was advising potential investors not to choose Scotland, over the rUK.

  • reel guid

    James Dornan MSP, the first to declare his candidacy for the SNP depute leader contest, has said Scotland should get ready for an independence referendum next year. That rather disproves Craig’s notion that the SNP have become timid about independence.

  • Vronsky

    “Sturgeon’s evident lack of serious intent to push for Independence”

    Nicola wants to be standing on six feet of concrete when she announces the referendum. That means waiting for hard information on the disastrous consequences of a no-deal Brexit, so she can deflect the usual moronic right-wing accusations of fooling around with the constitution instead of ‘doing the day job’.

    It can’t be later than 2011, but the later the better. It’s a horribly sadistic game. Wait till it *really* starts to hurt voters, then ask these voters if they’d like to stop the pain.

    I could be wrong, of course, which wouldn’t be a new thing.

    • fred

      Stop the pain caused by leaving a union by leaving a union with someone you do four times as much trade with as well?

      You don’t think anyone will fall for that one do you?

      • Republicofscotland

        Oh that’s right leaving the union means no one will trade with us from the union, what nonsense.

        Ireland is a EU member, and one of its biggest markets is the UK. It too will still trade with the rUK after Brexit.

        However after the Tories drag us out of the EU, Theresa May seems to think that the US under Trump, will give her a sweet deal. Trump is a US protectionist, any reasonable deal will include the UK being swamped with cheap nasty US goods and foods.

        Foods such as chlorinated chicken, antibiotics pumped up beef etc. Our own farmers will need to debase their local natural products just to compete with cheap nasty imports.

        Deals with China and India, will see our own products outpriced, but the quality won’t in most cases be as good.

        • fred

          Do you drink milk? They sterilize the milking equipment with chlorine. Ever been to the swimming baths? They pump gallons of chlorine into them. Ever drunk water? They put chlorine into the water from our taps.

          If chlorine harmed you we’d all be dead, it is one of the reasons there isn’t much cholera about these days.

          • Republicofscotland

            US chlorinated chicken is banned in the EU.

            There are no laws in the US, as in the EU, that stop US poultry farmers keeping chickens jam packed together.

            Disease in US poultry is rife because of this, strong chlorination is required to cleanse the poultry. However the EU has banned US poultry since 1997, due to the poultry still being contaminated even after a potent chlorination wash.

            I’m sure you’ll enjoy US chicken and other poultry. I’d imagine it will be cheaper, to undercut home grown poultry.

          • SA

            Fred
            To be fair, these are various processes that use chlorine in different ways and concentrations, otherwise why fret about the alleged use of chlorine in Syria?
            Seriously though, it is not just about chlorinated chicken but also battery produced, hormone and antibiotic treated beef, GM foods and getting US health firms to run our NHS.

          • fred

            If America banned import of our products because they were too clean and hygienic we’d be calling it protectionism.

        • fred

          Vronsky has made it clear the Nationalist are hoping Britain, all of us, including Scotland, gets the worst possible deal from Brexit. It is obvious the Nationalists will do their utmost to sabotage any favourable options.

          So yes, Theresa May would do well to take control of our destiny and not trust the Nationalists with any sensitive information at all, then we can work towards getting the best possible deal for all of us.

          • Republicofscotland

            From nationalist to another (Britnat), Theresa May hasn’t got much choice on what kind of Brexit we get, the hardliners appear to be in control. Infact every single scenario surrounding a Brexit exit of the EU is economic sabotage.

            Leaving the EU soft or hard is a lose lose scenario, and the Scottish government are well aware of that fact.

          • fred

            Kind of makes you wonder why so many Nationalists were pro Brexit before the referendum doesn’t it?

          • JOML

            Fred, you mentioned “favourable options”. Can you expand on this as I thought there were none in comparison to the current arrangement with the EU?

          • JOML

            Fred, I was thinking about the leaked document from our Westminster government. So I assume you don’t know of any “favourable options” and so default to your normal stance – absolutely believable! 😂

          • fred

            So you used a study which didn’t consider all the options, not even the most favoured options, to deduce there are no favourable options.

            You do believe your own propaganda.

          • JOML

            Fred, you have moved on from “favourable” to “favoured” option. Obviously there will be a “favoured” option but I was interested in the “favourable” option you mentioned. No worries if you can’t produce a “favourable” option, as Mr Davis can’t either.

  • john young

    Israeli “attack” on Syria was apparently a total failure,they in other words got their arses kicked and not for the first time,they run scared of Hezbollah desperately urging the idiot Yanks to do their dirty work,they won,t face down Hezbollah no way.

      • john young

        “Well they would say that wouldn,t they”You just do not know who to believe Alex,I would rather believe anyone other than the Israelis/Yanks/Europeans.

          • Stop lying

            “Israel has a free press”

            No it doesn’t.
            One hears pro-zio asshats say this all the time, yet, like almost everything these people say, it is a complete bald-faced lie. Nothing could be further from the truth.

            All of Israel’s press is subject to military censorship – all of it.
            No media organistaion in Israel is free from censorship, both the official military kind and the unofficial self-censorship that inevitably develops as a result of the mere existence of official censorship.

            And remember – Israels censorship structure is Military, not Civil, so it is far worse there than just about anywhere else on the planet. Anything considered by the military to be a threat is officially censored

          • Republicofscotland

            I wonder just how free or critical the Israeli press would be if the entire western world imposed sanctions on it. Or attempted to regime change in it, or aimed its nuclear weapons at it from neighbouring countries.

            Just a thought.

          • Stop Lying

            Republicofscotland
            February 12, 2018 at 17:44
            I wonder just how free or critical the Israeli press would be if the entire western world imposed sanctions on it. Or attempted to regime change in it, or aimed its nuclear weapons at it from neighbouring countries.

            The UK doesn’t have any of those problems you mentioned (but it does cause them for others) yet the BBC (British state-financed propaganda company) is possibly THE worst media company in the world for promoting lies and blatant propaganada as anyone who studied its output during the war in the North of Ireland can easily attest.

            One only needs to mention things like “D-Notices” and “Super injunctions”, to see quite clearly that the UK press is more censored than almost anywhere else.

            You’d have to be a blind fool to think otherwise.

          • Stop Lying

            Kempe
            February 12, 2018 at 20:39
            Latest RSF index on press censorship places the UK at No.40 and Israel at 91.

            Russia is right down at 140.

            https://rsf.org/en/russia
            _____________________

            RSF – reporters without borders? who they?

            Oh wait – you mean the US Gov/CIA financed “Reporters Without Borders”, right?
            https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Reporters_Without_Borders

            Funding Sources
            Robert Menard, the Secretary General of RSF, was forced to confess that RSF’s budget was primarily provided by “US organizations strictly linked with US foreign policy” (Thibodeau, La Presse).

            NED (US$39,900 paid 14 Jan 2005)
            Center for a Free Cuba (USAID and NED funded) $50,000 per year NED grant. Contract was signed by Otto Reich
            European Union (1.2m Euro) — currently contested in EU parliament
            Rights & Democracy in 2004 supported Reporters Without Borders-Canada [1]
            “Grants from private foundations (Open Society Foundation, Center for a Free Cuba, Fondation de France, National Endowment for Democracy) were slightly up, due to the Africa project funded by the NED and payment by Center for a Free Cuba for a reprint of the banned magazine De Cuba.” [2]

            Knowing its funding sources, only a fool would try to pretend that the RSF is anything other than a propaganda arm of US and NATO foreign policy
            LOL

            Yeah, as someone already stated “Well they would say that, wouldn’t they! … [given who finances them . . . ] ”

            Propaganda for a Price: The NED, Reporters Without Borders and the 2016 Press Freedom Index
            “Free Journalism” in the Service of US Foreign Policy

          • Stop Lying

            Funny thing is: even RSF list both the UK and Israel at 40 and 91 respectively

            which hardly supports the nonsense we have been hearing that both have a “Free Press”

            When even an [alleged] NGO (It’s the “N” I have a problem with) as clearly financially-tainted as RSF is, doesn’t back up your nonsensical claims of high standards of press freedom in the UK and Israel, then your whole counter-argument is kinda busted, ain’t it?

          • Stop Lying

            1) https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com
            Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’
            Analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.

            2) https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2017-03-08/is-the-bbc-still-lying-over-syria-footage/
            The Panorama programme was one important piece of evidence advanced for such intervention. The footage it included was broadcast in several different formats, and purported to show the victims of a chemical weapon, or possibly incendiary, attack by the Syrian military on a school. The BBC reporter for Panorama was Ian Pannell.

            From the outset, there were concerns about the authenticity of the footage, as I noted in a piece on my own blog in October 2013.

            But Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.

            Rather than confront these concerns and dispel them, the BBC and Pannell have tried a mixture of going to ground, stonewalling and misdirection. That has included trying to remove the footage from social media sites where it had been available.

            Even by the BBC’s current dismal standards, its behaviour has been, on the best view, outrageously arrogant. Remember that the BBC is a publicly funded broadcaster. And yet the corporation appears to think it is not even minimally accountable to the British taxpayers who fund it.

            In a fascinating new development, a leading freelance TV and radio producer Victor Lewis Smith – and one with a rare conscience and backbone – has intervened after viewing the footage.

            He raised troubling questions with the BBC about the Panorama programme and threatened to tear up his contract for a forthcoming radio comedy pilot unless the corporation provided satisfactory answers.

            For the first time, the state broadcaster was flushed out of its hiding hole. First, it tried more misdirection, telling him that Ofcom had reviewed the programme and sided with the BBC. But the Ofcom decision was about an RT investigation into the Panorama programme – note that Ofcom has hardly been impartial in its treatment of RT – and not a ruling on the veracity of the BBC footage, which Ofcom admitted it was not in a position to assess.

            When Lewis Smith didn’t roll over, as the BBC clearly expected, the corporation offered up Panorama’s editor, Rachel Jupp. She would talk to Lewis Smith to placate him. But she had second thoughts and cried off. Lewis Smith then upped the stakes by asking for Panorama’s rushes and again threatened to terminate his contract.

            Finally Jupp issued a feeble statement that did nothing to address the concerns Stuart and others have raised.

            The BBC has made clear it isn’t willing to be transparent, open or accountable. British taxpayers wondering whether their money was used by the BBC to support a deception – one designed to bolster the case for a decisive political intervention in an extremely volatile conflict – still have no answers.

            Lewis Smith has torn up his contract and announced his intention to make a crowd-funded feature documentary investigating the Panorama programme. Let’s hope he does so. This could prove to be a vital case study to help the British public and others judge whether the BBC is really there to serve them or to serve the British political elite.”

            3) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/rt-breached-broadcasting-rules-over-claims-bbc-faked-pictures-of-syrian-chemical-attack-says-ofcom-10511515.html

            RT breached broadcasting rules over claims BBC faked pictures of Syrian chemical attack, says Ofcom
            The media regulator instructed RT to broadcast two on-air statements after finding its reporting of the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine was not impartial

            _______________

            “Free Press, me arse!” as we say in Dublin 😉

          • Kempe

            If you can’t go for the ball go for man eh?

            The difference between Haaretz, the British media and outlets like RT and Press TV is that Haaretz occasionally publishes articles critical of their government, the British media publish nothing but criticism of our rulers and RT and Press TV etc would never dare do anything of the sort.

          • Stop Lying

            If you can’t go for the ball go for man eh?

            LOL
            I’m pretty certain I took out both the man and the ball.

          • john young

            Alex I don,t know of any “free” press anywhere,the information that I had garnered was from Veterans Today now I don,t know the “truth” does anyone? it is such a mishmash of deceit/dis-honesty,such a horrible world.I do know that I would trust Putin way before Trump or any American politician/businessman.

          • nevermind

            There is no free speaking press, there are the occasional journalists who speak up over issues. For example, look what happened to Nafeez Ahmed, an excellent researcher and writer, once employed by the Guardian.

            He choose to talk about the gas reserves off the Gaza Coast, one of the reasons why fishermen and children are shot at. This field could provide the Gaza concentration camp with 50 years of energy. Nafeez spoke of the foreign investors aligning themselves to exploit the field for Israel. He also spoke of the gas resources further north, straddling the Border with Lebanon, again Israel is claiming these reserves, and defend them by force, rather than share.

            Speaking out cost him his awful job. The only people reporting from Syria who can be trusted not to carry much of an agenda, are Ms. Bartlett and Beeley, providing excellent reporting and busting the myth of the white Helmets, promoted by the Guardian, BBC,CBS etc.etc.
            Despite being exposed by these two plucky ladies, the BBC and the greater western media meme still proffers this dead parrot.

            Why has Netanyahu not been indicted for his financial affairs, his off shoring? were all the donations he received and banked taxed monies, or did they float from one offshore account into his secret domicile?

  • reel guid

    The Scottish based fishing industry campaign group Fishing For Leave, that advocates leaving the EU has questioned the right of SNP politician Christian Allard to criticise brexit. Allard had posted a pro-remain but wholly inoffensive tweet. Fishing For Leave replied with a tweet saying that an SNP supporting Frenchman had no right to have a say.

    Christian Allard, who has lived in Scotland for decades, served as a member of the Scottish Parliament for three years and is an SNP councillor on Aberdeen City Council. Yet Fishing For Leave show their true xenophobic ultra-British nationalist colours by trying to discourage his democratic say.

    Monsieur Allard from Dijon certainly cuts the mustard as a new Scot. Fishing For Leave’s loyalty to the new Scotland is highly questionable. In fact Wings Over Scotland highlighted the prolific racist tweeting of one of their founder members a while back.

  • Sarah Parker

    No I don’t think you are barking mad, unfortunately you are right that the world is becoming a darker place in all the ways you listed here and the already near catastrophic damage to the biosphere – again led by the relatively small number of ultra-rich and ultra-greedy who so often block attempts to reduce consumerism or introduce more renewable energy systems. Am sure there are many people out there who think roughly like you but of course one of the main functions of the right-wing mainstream media is to airbrush out not only alternative views but the idea that not everybody accepts the prescriptions of the ruling rich. Keep writing! We can only do our best!

  • reel guid

    The Daily Record reports that Tory MSP Miles Briggs appeared last week in a picture on Facebook campaigning with a former Tory council candidate George McIntyre. McIntyre was due to stand for the party in Midlothian in the council elections last year. But was thrown out for posting messages online, including one that he was “sick to the back teeth” of Muslims.

    Briggs has now been campaigning with McIntyre for the Tories in a Midlothian Council by-election.

    There’s so much of this with that party. How racist, sectarian and extreme the Scots Tories have become on Ruth Davidson’s watch. Free pass though from the BBC.

  • Carmel Townsend

    I cannot believe how much of this article could be written by myself. Agree with every word. Sometimes the feeling of helplessness and desperation about where we are headed as a nation, is truly terrifying. Keep up the good work, Craig.

  • reel guid

    Mundell has scarpered to Hong Kong to avoid being questioned about the brexit report. Hong Kong. He’s probably getting info on how the old colonial governorship worked. Seeing as that’s what he’s being lined up for back home.

    Has anyone seen him in the company of Chris Patten lately? Treating him to lunch and picking his brains.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I think you’re merely articulating (rather well) a growing perception that to reboot society is (a) overdue and (b) impossible. This afflicts the disempowered both on the traditional Left and the traditional Right. Your (doubleplusgood)Nationalists and my (doubleplusungood thoughtcriminal) brexiteers.

    About all anyone can do is bark from the sidelines, but it’s fatal to stop barking. Because then the biting starts. And we know who has the sharpest teeth.

      • Republicofscotland

        Not lizards indeed, Komodo Dragon’s are toxic, or at least their saliva is. Speaking of the cold blooded, the Boa Constrictor is the only living animal that’s common name, is exactly the same as its scientific name.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          We actually have poison glands. Recently-discovered fact. But we don’t bark.

          …the dragon’s venom rapidly decreases blood pressure, expedites blood loss, and sends a victim into shock, rendering it too weak to fight.

          In the venom, some compounds that reduce blood pressure are as potent as those found in the word’s most venomous snake, western Australia’s inland Taipan.
          https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090518-komodo-dragon-venom.html

          Oh, and they’re pretty sharp, too.

  • reel guid

    Corbyn was in Selkirk today and tweeted that he met Leonard and Lesley Laird “to discuss how Labour can win back Scotland.”

    Win back! Jeez. Not win over. He thinks Scotland is a prize that rightly belongs to his party. How’s that for objectification on a grand scale?

    He autocratically denies Scotland the right to an indyref and also wants to impose not just brexit on Scotland but a hard brexit.

    Jeremy’s coming to win back Scotland! LOL.

    • Republicofscotland

      reel guid, you are spot on there, I doubt Corbyn gives a monkey’s about the Scots, he’s far more interested in winning MP’s seats.

      I don’t know why he even bothers to come up north, his branch office up here is a laughing stock among the people. It’s completely devoid of talent, with the likes of Leonard, Dugdale, Baillie and Kelly constantly carping from the sidelines. Corbyn would do better if he shut the branch office down and reopened it as a comedy night club.

      • reel guid

        Aye Ros. An old fashioned comedy night club. They’ve got plenty of guys in Scot Lab – mostly Corbyn supporters it seems – who can do stand up routines with “Paki”, “Chinky” or “bender” jokes.

        “And tonight ladies and gentlemen, a special treat, all the way from Sheffield with his quips about ‘slags’, give a big welcome to Jared O’Mara”.

      • Squeeth (formerly K. Crosby)

        Really? Without MPs from North Britain, the fascist electoral system is even more weighted against the workers.

        • Republicofscotland

          Not really, the Scottish GE votes of yesteryear, very seldom swayed the outcome south of the border.

          Indeed it’s the otherway around, not many voted Tory in Scotland, but Scotland got the Tories.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Sharp Ears,

    In the report I read last week, The CPS Lawyer was named. However, I can’t remember his name, nor where I read it. I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised, but think there is very much more to the Assange and Snowden story, than has yet been revealed. On the face of it, the behaviour of The British Government, on what we know to be true, has been appalling. There may however, be another side to this story, that we can only speculate about

    I hope that the story nearly everyone believes is true, and that Julian Assange is free and safe to go tomorrow. I seem to recall that Bradley (Chelsea) Manning is now in effect a celebrity, and free to mix / pose with whoever he/she chooses. I see no reason that Assange shouldn’t have the same freedom, regardless of who if anyone he is working for. There is no evidence that he has done anything immoral or broken any laws.

    Tony

  • Tony_0pmoc

    You should never be afraid of your own thoughts, provided they are honest and true, otherwise you may have gone a little paranoid. It once happenned to me, but only lasted 3 days. I hadn’t done anything wrong, it was just working under tremendous stress, working silly hours,and then they promoted me, cos my boss had gone mad, and been sent home. So I got the same treatment. There is only so much stress anyone can take.

    I wasn’t a whistelblower, or anything connected with politics, the police, security services or anything. I was working in computing for a large private British company. They let me back eventually…and I got my job back. Both my former boss and his boss left.

    They didn’t let this bloke back. I had never heard of him before today. He was a very Senior Police Officer, working for The Metropolitan Police, and he simply told the truth, to his very Senior Management. He was providing all the evidence about the most outrageous criminality…

    You should see this interview, to see what happenned to him next. John Wedger seems an honest Copper to me. He just told the Truth.

    “Insight Vox: Brian Gerrish speaks to police child abuse whistleblower John Wedger”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsy194wX04c

    UK Column
    Published on Jan 31, 2018

    Tony

  • knuckles

    My worthless prediction for UK politics in 2018.

    May will be ousted in the next few months, probably summer months. She will be replaced by another prominent halfwit who is a staunch hard Brexit type. It will be argued said halfwit has no mandate or authority to govern and the will of the people will have to be secured to proceed. Another general election will be called before the end of the year. Conservatives will campaign with a hard brexit, hard austerity position. Corbyn’s Labour will campaign to remain. They will also campaign for an end to Tory austerity. This will secure them support both in their leave voting Labour heartlands and the remain voting regions (London, Scotland etc). The ramifications to the LD, SNP and Scottish Indyref 2.0 are obvious.

    This is also why Sturgeon and the SNP will not/should not continue to bang on about Indyref 2.0 or commit to a date/timeline for said vote. They would leave themselves extremely exposed to having the rug pulled beneath them if they did. They need to wait until the future political landscape is much more predictable. Brexit cancelled. Austerity cancelled. And the Scottish people never wanting to be left in such an uncontrollable position again will have that indy2.0 a couple of years after. Independence secured by 2020/21

    I told you; worthless.

    • knuckles

      Should have began with – Great piece Mr Murray. I was just about to give up on this blog. Well played.

  • David Otness

    Simply beautifully stated, that which so many of us are feeling. I too have been having break-out moments in realising the rift is real and ever-further drifting apart. No more illusions, what few remaining there were.
    Salud.

  • Brian Fujisan

    Well Said Craig

    Emotional thought is becoming ever more Vital, yet fragile…and rare..
    Are the bbc and cohorts winning.. Did they win Long ago..So it would Seem…..

    Thank the cosmos for the winter Games.. But how I felt Like Screaming when you see an Evil person , pretend to the Goody…Boris Fucking J.. ” Rohingya suffering “… Yep.. Iraq.. Infanticide, Twice.. Syria.. Can Boris now Go help Libyians fleeing from Brittish war crimes.. Can Boris go to the Gazan Hospitals ..Forced By the U.K../ U.S. ( …Israel is the same thing..Happy Genocidal Sociopaths ) to turn off Baby Incubaters…. MMMM Heard that Crime before.. Can B J Bonkers Stop the Yemen Genocide… Can the U.N. Shirts and Ties Halt the evil Lies.Or Cower to The wee Chairs they hold..Paid for by the Devils Gold.

  • David Venables

    Welcome back Craig. Always enjoy your views and the commentary of others on this blog where I never cease to learn something new on every visit.

    Once Scotland gains its independence I have been researching the possible location for a new English parliament and believe I have found the perfect spot. Just to the east of the river Trent in North East Lincolnshire. There’s a forest in which we could house the main building. There are no bridges across the Trent to the west in both directions for about 10-15 miles. As and when the people we have elected to power have removed the surveillance state and corpratocracy we currently have in place we could relocate them to the west of the river to better represent the people.

    I specifically chose north Lincolnshire since it desperately needs inward investment and increased employment opportunities.

    I would be interested to participate in the creation of a manifesto for a new political party in the UK/England to radically reform the economy and political landscape as I believe the current options have exceeded their life expectancy and should be rendered null and void.

    We’re all barking mad for our views on a variety of topics but that’s what makes this blog so interesting. Keep up your efforts to provide us with radical, innovative thinking. Whilst I don’t yet think things are quite as bad as some would have us believe on this blog I do believe there’s always significant room for improvement.

    • nevermind

      Thanks for that David, but should we really try and re invent the wheel?.

      Every party is peddling ‘room for significant improvement’, they fall over themselves to show that these political parties ‘can deliver’.
      What they never deliver is a fair and proportional electoral system, an Electoral Commission with teeth that actually can ban candidates who cheated and that can disqualify candidates who have fiddled expenses and or have been recalled by a significant number of voters in their constituents.
      Why create a party and a rigid structure when you want to change the equilibrium? Post modernism has to become a sustainable policy landscape, taxpayers can’t afford waste due to lack of expertise or unwillingness to learn from one’s mistakes. We can’t accept massive overspends and that has to be made clear to contractors.
      The tax law needs simplifying to include all fly by night multinationals. ‘You want to seel goods or services here, you pay taxes here, not in some tax haven were you opened up a computer terminal in an office with hundreds of other offshore companies.
      PFI’s, especially those that are health related should be rescinded for ‘humanitarian reasons’ and banks who want to take the taxpayer to court should be excluded from serving us. There are always others who want to pay taxes and lend money for profits.
      To chaieve that you need a ten point policy program every candidate signs up to, but essentially they would not need to form a party at all, but fight as Independents.

      That the BBC would blank them and try their best to promote the status quo is a given, they can’t help themselves more to our money, should they decide to fair, principled coverage during election time, hence their ignorance is a given, whether you are a party or a group of like minded Independents.

      • Shatnersrug

        There is one hope to rid of us of Tories and that is to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, if we have any hope of restoring democracy in this country.

        I suggest any politically minded people that lean towards the side of social justice and fairness should join their local CLP and work to remove Blairites and lobbyists.

        Everything has gone too far now, there will be no second indie ref before another general election.

        If Scotland can wait two weeks to be free of Britain then it can wait a few more years. But Britain can no longer wait to be free of the Conservative party and the interests they serve.

        I recommend folks put aside their loyalties and egos and get with the ship that has least chance sinking. We’ve managed to force a crack in the Corporate Labour Party and pry it into a large shift, please get on board. Because if the conservatives win again we will become all that Craig fears.

      • David Venables

        Hi Nevermind

        Whilst I could agree with most of your suggestions for improvement in the systems of government I have to confess that my new party proposal was somewhat tongue in cheek. I doubt we could ever get the contributors of this blog to agree on ten manifesto pledges unless they were tempered to be not so radical.

        Both current major parties are as divided on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum was and I’m sure they’re equally divided on many other issues. I am not now and never have been politically active more just an armchair spectator probably as disillussioned with politics and politicians as most constituents. However, I do believe that without radical reforms of the UK political and economic landscape the future looks very bleak for our children and grandchildren (with or without Brexit).

  • Tony_0pmoc

    The joint steering committee on US/UK Human (War) Rights are due to meet at 9:00am in Westminster today I predict that No one turns up until 11:30 am…and then

    Lord Beelzebub as Chairman starts the meeting..

    Are the minutes of our last meeting Correct?? Thank You Lord Buttercup for attention to duty and stenography…and that was a very nice speech you gave at Chatham House..Well Done.

    Is there any other Business?

    No 1 Sir – There is this little matter of Julian Assange…

    The Lords look around in dismay and say “Are all Agreed..??? Lets move on to item 2 It’s Pancake Tuesday, and The Ballet at The South Bank later. Lord Fortescue pipes up “The South Bank???? It’s a Concrete Jungle Do we Really Have to go there?”

    “Yes – let the Australian go, he’s more trouble than he’s worth and he will soon be forgotten.”

    Meanwhile lots of totally innocent people were being Assassinated on these Lord’s Command

    She was a Real Princess and turned up with her kids when we did with ours at the Southbank. We thought nothing of it. She used to go to the gym right opposite to where I worked. She was just a girl, no big deal – pretty much like the rest of us. I was gutted when she died,

    “The English National Ballet – Concert for Diana (2007)”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0gzsK_RF20

    She was one of us, and you bastards killed her.

    Tony

  • Karl Kolchak

    As an American, I’ve felt this way ever since 2004, when George Bush was reelected after having perpetrated the massive Iraq War crime. Great Britain may have been lagging a bit behind the USA, where every major institution has been utterly corrupted for at least a decade. Nowadays, that corruption is so thorough it is rearing its ugly head even in such unlikely places as the USOC, which allowed young teenage gymnasts to be horribly abused for more than a decade–deliberately ignoring those who sought to complain–in the name of winning more medals.

    Those of us who are true leftists need to start viewing neoliberalism and all of ills as a truly evil philosophy that is a dire threat to very survival of humanity itself (as global warming begins to accelerate to a runaway pace). At this point, those in power are so firmly entrenched and the majority of the population so totally blinded, that I doubt they can be effectively countered, but at least always thinking of them as the enemy helps keep their murderous policies in the proper perspective.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,
    As you said:-
    “…the manufacturing of consent by the control of information becomes ever more crucial to the elite”
    Which is why I write and think… read on …chuckle a bit ….but please do continue thinking and questioning and even join my Church if you will:-
    Hear ye.

    Hear ye.

    Hear ye.

    To the new attendees – welcome.

    To the old flock – welcome back.

    Today the ‘Church of the Almighty mind’ seeks as it always does to inform, enlighten and stimulate. Another way of saying this is to say that this Church shares knowledge – it encourages questioning and understanding – and it also encourages the acquisition of wisdom.

    So – again – welcome.

    Today’s sermon concerns the topics of Robert Mugabe and Donald Trump and the burgeoning American deficit.

    In the 1970s and into the 1980s I was aware of then Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). By chance at a slightly later period in time and early in my legal career the appointed Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands was a Judge named John Charles Fieldsend, who also had been the dissenting Judge on the Rhodesian Court of Appeal Bench who told Ian Smith that his declaration was unconstitutional and illegal; while the other two Judges simply went along with Ian Smith. Fieldsend had committed career suicide inside then Rhodesia but his courageous and thorough and rigorous Judgment is famed amongst Constitutional cases in the Commonwealth. And guess what – Robert Mugabe made him the first Chief Justice of newly independent Zimbabwe. Which now brings me full circle back to the first stopping point on the Church’s journey this day.

    Mugabe’s Finance Minister had some issues to face so contacted me and I gave him the best advice I could; which he accepted. I told him that it would be wise to come to an accord with the white commercial farmers and keep their large holdings in tact and ensure through intelligently applied but a fair taxation system that those farmers had incentive to produce and the country ultimately benefit from the taxes that the farmers would be obliged to pay.

    Then Robert Mugabe contacted me and he had his own special beef with the British. Following on from the Lancaster House accord it was decided and promised that for 10 years of non-interference with the white farmers’ lands and holdings the British Government would thereafter provide payments to compensate upon said deal. Well, perfidious albion double-crossed and the deal all fell apart. Mugabe was bitter and the war veterans wanted land. I told Mugabe that while I agreed with him that the British should have honoured the deal it was more Zimbabwe’s economy that was at stake; which brought me full circle back to my advice to the Finance Minister. Mugabe would have none of it and was more intent on the politics than the long-term economics of the situation. So, between farm land going to political cronies and the party faithful he also fragmented the land and small holdings were to replace large arable land which had made the country the bread-basket of Southern Africa by way of large scale commercial farming. Blame the British to the extent that they were blameworthy, but while Robert was listening neither was he hearing nor understanding me. Then, when foreign exchange earnings declined and there was pressure on the country’s currency my advice was still not heeded. I told him that it was not an answer to simply print money which was not backed by either gold or tangible value. He replied that the US was always printing fiat money – so why not Zimbabwe, he asked. Not the point Bob, I told him. For the US has the world’s reserve currency and Zimbabwe does not. But, I conceded that even the US had its limits too but Zimbabwe had just no range to proceed in that way. He didn’t listen. Then I had to cut the meeting short because other world leaders were clambering to have counsel with me. As events turned out there was hyperinflation in Zimbabwe and then he linked the currency to the US dollar. So there – which now brings me to Trump and the US deficit.

    What – you may ask – how does Zimbabwe’s economic mismanagement and Trump’s US deficit link in any way? The laws of economics also apply to the US but the range is longer – nevertheless the consequences will ultimately be the same. Declining value of the currency and a steady loss of global confidence in the US dollar as currency of last resort is a process it is not an instant event. Why do I say this? With a trillion dollar deficit and the debt ceiling continually being raised ( to get back to the Zimbabwe example) there is a limit and the default increasingly shifts from a potential distant reality to a rapidly approaching economic nightmare. If that default is not within the life-time of the current adult generation then their children and grandchildren have a potentially insurmountable economic problem on their hands which will not go away with the printing of more money ( recall what I told the Zimbabwe Finance Minister and President Robert Mugabe).

    There you have it brothers and sisters – a mounting US debt crisis; an economic gorilla in the room. And what does Washington do? They understand the problem – which is that when a country exceeds in spending its revenue base – then a deficit occurs. That can be ameliorated but ultimately cannot be ignored. I argue that the US is able though the IMF and global currency controls, to in effect export the inevitable inflationary pressures of printing more money not backed by adequate actual value. Yet over time the global dynamics change. China, Russia – the BRICS – gold backed currencies – switches from the US dollar to other currencies ( Iraq destroyed and Libya reduced to rubble to prevent such currency switches are two recent US military reactions to attempts at monetary and financial change – bomb the shit out of them to maintain the status quo and tell the world that you did it to rid the world of a couple dictators – indeed embrace the backwardness of Saudi Arabia and recycle pertro-dollars to keep the process going). But, consider seriously – the Treasury Bonds and other US designated instruments will not – and more importantly – cannot be honoured and repaid and then the economic fallout spells catastrophe for the US and the world economy.

    But – who am I to warn? Oh – all the brilliant economists on the supply side thought Reagan’s approach as with Trump’s mirrored policies or the not seen 2008 crash were just parts of the natural economic cycles. Not so – there is a far bigger underlying problem which these professional economists are either not seeing; not admitting exists; or just plain choose to ignore while the problem mounts.

    To sum it all up – President Trump’s tax plan inherently carries within it a concession to collect over a trillion dollars less revenue while spending in substantially increased sums. The Democrats get their welfare increases and the Republicans get their war chest full. So social security and medicare or Obamacare are the bogeymen for Trump and he wants to cut benefits and increase tax cuts which he did and will continue to do throughout his presidency. To my mind – a recipe for economic disaster – even if a deferred disaster.

    And there endeth my sermon for the day.

    AMEN!

    P.S. My economic professors are turning in their graves.

    • Brian Fujisan

      Hope your Friends Mun is ok Tony..

      my Laday Friend has a Brother Desperately try to get out of South Africa..Things are getting bad there.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Tony,
      There is no contest with me on what your friend said. I shall two points with you.

      1. I have an Australian friend married to a South African and have known them for over 30 – near 40 year. Both now my friends – the wife speaks openly and honestly about what is/has occurring/ occurred.

      2. Last December I took my daughter to Cuba with me where I do my annual medical ( then 6 years overdue). Anyway, while there I was in the business centre of the hotel getting my emails out for the day. Three young men were talking and I picked the accents up as being South Africans. At time I can be quite chatty ( as you may have guessed from my posts here). I can also be provocative when I set my mind to it. It was the latter in full force that day. I called the ANC significantly corrupt and Zuma an embarrassment to black people. Well – fire draws fire and was I the man for the kitchen that day. I told them of my student London and my long established friendships with Africans who were honest, principled and dedicated to the liberation struggle that had led to them being bright, chosen ones to be medical students in Cuba. To sum it all up – made my point – they were apologists and I switched to ensure good will before we parted.

      So there mate – not me to cosset bullshit – be it white or black bullshit and/or corruption.

  • Veronica Guy

    Oh Craig. You make me want to cry. I left Scotland last year because I couldn’t bear what was happening in rUK. I love Scotland and its socially responsible government – insofar as it is able given the reductions in the block Grant.
    I cannae see a way out of this utter mess that seems virtually inevitable to me.
    I read everything you write. You seem to be becoming as depressed as I feel.
    I have never seen such right wing madness in the developed world as there is now. It’s no different here in Australia. But my assets are safer. And my children and grandchildren are here.
    Please never stop writing. I would rather be depressed beside you than without you.

  • Monteverdi

    https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/free_ahed/

    The Slap that Resonated around the World.
    Today February 13th Ahed Tamimi a 17 year old Palestinian girl will stand trial before an Israeli Military Court charged with slapping an Israeli soldier illegally occupying her country. She could face up to 10 years in jail.
    1.7 MILLION plus people from all over the world have signed this simple statement:

    ” We demand that Ahed and all Palestinian children are released from Israeli prisons now. The international community must put an end to the ill treatment of Palestinian children. Enough is enough. To Ahed and all the children in Israeli jails we stand by your side, and are holding you in our hearts. We will not give up until you are free. You are not alone.”

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