Herald in World’s Worst Photoshop

by craig on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Is this the world’s worst photoshop?

photoshop

Mr Clerkin appears to have a shrunken head. And the light cannot be shining on Mr Clerkin from top right, and on Murphy from the opposite direction.

The Herald headline is that political leaders are lining up to condemn the six anti-Labour demonstrators for being noisy. Are political leaders also lining up to condemn the total lack of journalistic ethics of the Herald?

Channel 4 News

by craig on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I phoned the Channel 4 Newsdesk to report a story. It went like this:

Male Voice: Hello Newsdesk
Me: Hello is that Channel 4 News?
Male Voice: Yes, how can I help you
Me: I want to report a story
Male Voice: Well there’s not much time left the news is about to go out
Me: It is quite a big story
Male Voice: Well run it by me
Me: It’s about a totally corrupt journalist named Alex Thomson who claimed there was a riot in Glasgow today when no such thing happened
Male Voice: Oh
Me: Are you interested?
Male Voice: Well, obviously I know who Alex Thomson is
Me: Are you interested?
Male Voice: Well I can put you through to viewer complaints….
[Click – goes to answerphone]

I phone back
Female Voice: Hello
Me: Hello. I was talking to someone about Alex Thomson invention of a completely untrue story, and I seem to have got put through to an answerphone
Female Voice: I can put you through to viewer complaints
Me: No, that’s the answerphone
Female Voice: Well, then the editor will hear what you say
Me: Really? Does the editor listen to the answerphone?
Female Voice: Yes
Me: The editor listens to every comment left on the answerphone
Female Voice: Yes
Me: So how many comments per day are left on the answerphone?
Female Voice: The editor doesn’t listen to the answerphone, they get the comments typed out
Me: So each and every message is typed out separately and the editor reads them all
Female Voice: No it’s a summary
Me: Alex Thomson was lying about events in Glasgow to try to influence an election. I want to talk to your superior.
CLICK put to answerphone

This is a picture of the actual scene, exactly as I described it earlier today. Alex Thomson should be sacked. he is a disgrace to journalism.

glasgow riot

Thanks to Wings Over Scotland for the picture.

Nationalist Terror

by craig on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Mainstream Media are anxious to invoke the “violent nationalists” meme at every opportunity. Today Jim Murphy and Eddie Izzard ran away in Glasgow because evil nationalists shouted back when he was haranguing them. That’s what they did – shouted back. Nobody punched anyone. Nobody shoved anyone. Nobody threw anything. But people had the gall not to listen in hushed silence to Murphy.

The idea is that Murphy with a massive media pack turns up and speaks in front of two dozen Labour activists, who huddle behind him with placards, and the media then show only cropped close shots which make it look like there was a crowd of pro-Labour people. The media do this obligingly several times a day for all the unionist parties, and it works well with closed halls with heavy security. But of course it doesn’t work on the streets, where evil people can have the gall to shout back instead of doffing their caps.

So then a different narrative kicks in, that of evil nationalist violent thugs. Now we have a news story about Murphy and Izzard “escaping” nationalist thugs. But look closely at the video clip in the Guardian, which has gone into unionist orgasm on the story. All the people with the multi-coloured placards are the planted Labour supporters. (Scottish Labour placards have now to be not only red, but also blue and orange, for obvious reasons). At the time Murphy “escapes”, there isn’t anybody apart from the vetted Labour posse within twenty yards of him. And the horrible people who dared to shout back don’t total more than half a dozen.

The Guardian claims there were “minor scuffles”. Watch the video at 11.42 on this Guardian feed. There are no scuffles, except for Jim pushing past people to run away and pretend he was in danger.

It is a trick they have pulled before, and doubtless will pull again.

PR Will Kill the Red Tories

by craig on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

The essence of Conservatism is that people doing quite nicely out of the current system do not want anything to change, in case the consequences are not good for them. That is why John Stuart Mill said the Conservatives would be better named “The Stupid Party”. Conservatism does not require a thought process. Generally it does require a callousness towards those not doing well out of the current system.

Radicalism is more diffuse. Its essence can be a cold certainty of the rationalist ability to calculate risk and consequence. Or it can spring from romanticism, the gambler’s instinct, or plain having nothing to lose. (In my case, all of the above).

The First Past the Post electoral system is a historic relic not fitted to a modern society. But by definition elected politicians have done rather well out of it, so have no incentive to change. With the neo-conservative consensus embracing all the main Westminster parties, it doesn’t make any difference who governs us apart from the question of which particular snouts are in the trough, which is no help to the man in the street.

Then along we come in the SNP and challenge some of the pillars of neo-conservatism, like the possession of vast hordes of nuclear warheads, the utility of ever increasing wealth inequality, a pre-Keynesian, Thatcherite attitude to public finance, and trying to get our way in the world by bombing poorer peoples. The SNP has managed to gather enough support for a radical agenda to pass the FPTP tipping point and for the system to work massively in our favour in Scotland. Cue massed panic in the Westminster establishment, including the corporate media. For the first time in a generation, people have appeared on a main television channel arguing that possession of weapons of mass destruction by the UK is not a good thing.

Whole sections of the Establishment have therefore woken up, for all the wrong reasons, to the fact that FPTP is a bad system. Yet neither the Blue nor the Red Tories are likely to embrace proportional representation.

The Blue Tories will not embrace PR because they are the Stupid Party. There is a right wing majority in England. If you separate Scotland, then UKIP and the Conservatives have about 48% of the vote in England compared to about 42% for Labour plus the Greens. I have left the Lib Dems out, though post Clegg they might fairly be added to the conservative total. Because of this right wing majority outside Scotland, PR would keep the Tories in government almost all of the time, though generally in coalition.

By contrast the Red Tories would be stuffed by PR. There just is not enough support for them, even after five years of a very unpopular coalition government. The reason there is not enough support for them is that they do not offer any kind of real alternative in policy. More austerity, more nukes, just fronted by an even less appealing set of neo-con “personalities” than the Conservatives in Miliband, Balls, Cooper, Murphy and Alexander.

What the SNP have shown is that there is a real public hunger for a more radical politics. PR would be the death of the Labour Party because the large majority of its voters lend the party their support purely to keep the Tories out, not because they are enthused by the policies or the line-up. PR would give the chance for a genuinely radical alternative to grow. There are legions of Labour supporters who would love to vote Green but fear it would let the Tory in. Under PR, other left alternatives besides the Greens would soon blossom. The Red Tories don’t actually have a unique offering to the public. There is not really a market niche for another set of Tories. They are maintained entirely by the inertia of the FPTP system. And they know it.

Expect a lot of angst about FPTP following major SNP gains. But do not expect the Establishment to do anything about it – the status quo suits them fine.

Imported Electoral Practices

by craig on May 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Every single accusation against the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, I witnessed being done by Lord Patel’s enforcers on behalf of Labour in Blackburn. My thoughts are today with those, particularly women and young people, in the Islamic community there who are now under terrible pressure. They are obliged to show their completed postal ballots before sealing to community elders, often themselves Labour councillors. They are not allowed to vote other than by post. The heads of household who have to enforce discipline on their families are themselves sometimes not happy, but tied in to mostly Gujerati tribal structures of subservience. That this still happens in the United Kingdom in 2015 is disgusting. What is worse is that it happens with the knowing connivance of Labour Party officials and of Blackburn Council.

Remind me again. What precisely qualified Patel to become a member of the House of Lords?

Baby Born Purring

by craig on May 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Were the Union to last long enough, doubtless they would send this girl too to join the Unionist classes at Murrayfield, dressed in tartan as a kind of insurance policy against our ditching the firstborn. Fortunately neither the union nor the monarchy in Scotland will last long enough.

Royal Baby? Fuck Off

by craig on May 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Another over-privileged right wing little tosspot is born to live off our taxes. I wish harm to no baby. But every one of the babies the UK killed in bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya was worth just as much as this one. If the murder of one of those babies by the British state had received a ten thousandth of the attention of the birth of this baby to live high on the British state, the world would be a slightly fairer place.

Tories Back Jim Murphy

by craig on May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

During the course of this campaign, a quarter of Tories in East Renfrewshire have switched to voting Labour to back Jim Murphy against the SNP.

Polls by Ashcroft of the constituency at the beginning and end of April shows the Tory vote dropping by 25 to 20%, and the Murphy vote increasing from 31 to 36% – a direct transfer of Tory tactical votes to Labour.

The Tories willingness to back the leader of the Scottish Labour accounting unit is the starkest possible illustration of the collusion of Red Tories and Blue Tories. It comes on top of Miliband’s preference for a Tory government rather than a deal with the SNP. As I have been saying for almost a year, I view a Tory-Labour “grand coalition” as perfectly possible.

Victorian Study Fires

by craig on May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

Just been working on this section of Sikunder Burnes:

The only evidence for Pottinger’s heroics was allegedly in his journals, which were the basis of the account of “The Hero of Herat” by the doyen of British Indian historians Sir John Kaye. But this evidence disappeared in one of those infamous Victorian study fires, in which papers potentially embarrassing to the Imperial narrative were apt to vanish.1 It seems likely that this fire is where Alexander Burnes’ private diaries disappeared too, with their evidence of religious scepticism (and perhaps sexual adventure). Kaye published that “the journals and correspondence of Sir Alexander Burnes were given to me by his brother, the late Dr James Burnes”2, but there, to my extreme frustration, the trail ends. The same conflagration took private papers of those martyr icons of Victorian India, Henry Lawrence and John Nicholson. This almost certainly destroyed evidence of homosexual relationships among some members of the circle including those two and Herbert Edwardes, known as “Henry Lawrence’s young men”, and paedophile relationships with the young boys in their charge.3

It was a continual process. I just came across this, written with apparent naivety in John Lawrence’s 1990 biography of his ancestor, Henry:

“The papers collected by Herbert Edwardes came to my grandfather and were passed down to my father… Unfortunately some of them were lost in a fire while they were with Macleaod Innes, who had known Henry in his youth.”

“Known Henry in his youth.” I bet he did. The most tragic of the study fires was of course Isobel Burton’s destruction of Richard’s papers, though that was rare in being avowed. I was wondering if there is not an interesting little book in Victorian study fires and the bowdlerisation of history.

This great British tradition continues of course with the loss of paedophilia dossiers in the Home Office…

For the footnotes you’ll have to buy the book!

Witkiewicz’ Suicide

by craig on May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

Can anybody find me a text of Jan Prosper Witkiewicz’ suicide note in the original language? I assume it was Russian, not Polish.

Miliband Macho

by craig on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Given that the absolute maximum share of the UK vote Labour might conceivably get is 36%, it is extraordinarily arrogant for Miliband to insist on the right to impose his full manifesto. Tactically, of course, he is trying to panic Scottish voters into supporting Labour lest they lose the chance to have him as PM. I can see no reason why this would suddenly become more successful than it has been so far.

Unionists have plainly twigged that next time we have a referendum, they will lose, even if it was next week. The near hysterical focus of unionists on not allowing another referendum, almost to the exclusion of all other argument, is very heartening. Independence is not only inevitable, it will be with us even sooner than the unionists fear.

Dire Straits

by craig on April 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Vessels have the right of freedom of navigation through straits, on “innocent passage” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As it sounds, that amounts to a right to pass straight through on normal business. Territorial waters do not affect innocent passage. The coastal state has the right to establish sea lanes for maritime safety purposes.

So whether the Marshall Islands flagged Maersk Tigris was in Iranian territorial waters is not relevant to its right to pass through. If, as Iranian sources have indicated, it really was impounded for commercial debt, then that would have to be in territorial waters. But for that the crew could not be detained, and the debt would have to be immediately stated and the ship released if paid. Iran is not acting as though this really is for debt.

The Maersk Tigris is however a good example of why the shipping industry is an absolute disgrace. It is flagged in a country with which neither the vessel nor its owners have any connection. It is owned by Maersk, leased to a renting company in Berlin, and then rented back by Maersk. The purpose of the flagging arrangements is to avoid proper safety, crew qualification, wage and trade union regulations which go with a genuine state flag. The leasing is an international tax fiddle. For reasons nothing to do with Iran or the US, I have no sympathy with the owners or insurers.

I rather expect the Iranians are lying about the commercial debt. Iran and the US are playing a pointless, massively expensive hawkish game in the Gulf. At least the Iranians have the excuse that they live there.

Just as Iran should not have stopped the passage of the Maersk Tigris, so the US Navy had no right at all recently to threaten Iranian cargo ships which may or may not have been on the way to Yemen. Even if those ships had entered Yemeni waters, the US would only have had the right to intervene if asked to do so by the government of Yemen. While that government is a Saudi and US puppet, they are not keen for all their people to know that. Giving permission for invisible blasts from the sky is much more deniable than for huge warships.

I was sorry for the two American hostages who were killdied in a drone strike, but sickened that given all the hundreds of innocent women and children he has murdered in drone strikes, Obama finally got all sackcloth and ashes over two American men.

BBC Mock Balance

by craig on April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

A classic example of BBC mock balance on the news tonight as James Cook devoted apparently equal time to Douglas Alexander and Mhairi Black in Renfrewshire East.

Of Mhairi we were told by Cook that her opponents say that her youth shows, and that she carries fighting talk too far. Well, of Douglas his opponents say that he is a war criminal, and that he stabbed his sister in the back. That was not mentioned.

Whereas the “equal time” allowed the SNP candidate included BBC commentary giving direct personal criticism of her, there was no critical note in the Alexander side of the coverage. An interesting example of how the state propaganda system works.

Clegg Hoist With Own Petard

by craig on April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Students of irony may enjoy this one.

The only time in the entire last parliament where the Lib Dems actually stood up to the Tories and whipped their MPs to vote in the opposite direction, was not to protect the poor and needy from vicious cuts. It was to protect their own jobs. They voted down the Boundary Commission proposals to amend constituency boundaries to account for population shifts and make them more equal sized, and to cut Westminster from 650 troughing MPs to 600.

A general cut of 8.5% in the number of MPs was not the only problem for the gravy train Lib Dems, who were particularly concerned that they could suffer a net extra loss of half a dozen seats from boundary changes in rural constituencies with small populations. There was no hint of principle in their decision, merely a desire to keep their snouts in the trough.

The wonderful irony is, their arses will now very possibly be booted from their ministerial limousines by their own actions. Because the large majority of over-small population constituencies are in the centre of declining post-industrial cities, the beneficiaries of the Lib Dems action will be mostly the Labour Party and secondly the SNP.

Indeed if the total number of votes cast in the UK for Tories plus Lib Dems is equal to the total number of votes cast in the UK for Labour plus Scot Nats (which is more or less what the polls are showing), then Labour plus the Scot Nats will win approximately 35 more seats than the rival bloc for the same total votes, entirely because of the Lib Dem veto on the Boundary Commission proposals.

It’s convoluted, but delicious irony once you get your head round it. What an arse Clegg is.

The Gordon and Dougie Show

by craig on April 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Gordon Brown and wee Dougie Alexander once bestrode the world, bombing much of it. Now these mighty egos are confined within Elderslie Village Hall.

elderslie

The problem is, the average member of the population does not have a high opinion of the dynamic duo. So it is essential that they are kept away from average people, and instead paraded only before vetted audiences of Labour activists. There are not very many of those; so the venues are tiny, with a small number of carefully bunched people holding silly placards, photographed by a compliant media only from carefully prepared angles.

Now I plunge happily into politically incorrect ground. As normal people have abandoned it and Labour has come down to the core of its core support, it is truly striking how remarkably ugly its hardcore activists are. I don’t mean that in any metaphorical sense. I mean that they are an aesthetic disaster. It is not a product of poverty, as the core support are all well employed as research assistants or doing pretendy youth work jobs for Labour councils. Other parties do not have such challenging physiognomy. It is very seldom you can look at a room and say Gordon Brown is one of the best looking people there. Perhaps Blair’s crimes have been written on the faces of all the complicit.

Douglas Alexander not only facilitated the use of Diego Garcia for torture and extraordinary rendition, in an act of extreme hypocrisy the evil little shit also declared a “marine conservation area” around it. In the 1960’s Britain forcibly deported the entire population of the islands to make way for the US Air Base. Faced with a continual political and legal fight for them to return, Alexander sought to make it impossible with his “marine conservation area”. There is nobody who better represents Scottish Labour’s loss of its soul than Alexander. If Mhairi beats him I shall be extremely happy.

Miliband Goes the Full Henry Jackson

by craig on April 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Full on neo-con philosophy underpinned Miliband’s “speech” to the Royal Institute of International Affairs yesterday. Miliband acknowledged that our bombing of Libya back to the stone age was the root cause of the boat people crisis.

Sirte-destroyed-1

Sirte-destroyed-2

But Miliband was not admitting that the Guernica style massacre was wrong – he voted for it. No, he was going the full Henry Jackson and arguing that what had been needed was neo-colonial occupation of Libya in order to reform its institutions – precisely as had been done in Iraq. And we all know how that went.

This is a blow to those who believed that Miliband was different from Blair, Brown, Murphy and his brother. In fact, the entire “speech” could have been written by the Henry Jackson Society. It bemoans the decline of the authority of international institutions like the UN and International Court of Justice, but states that this is because they had failed – and failed in particular to back western military intervention everywhere. Miliband argues that the solution is for individual states to take unilateral armed action abroad, but bemoans that this is more difficult because of cuts in western defence budgets. He wants increased defence spending to fund increased military intervention abroad. He does not acknowledge that it is precisely unilateral western military action in attacking other states which has destroyed the authority of the UN in the first place.

The “speech” is in fact a series of slogans, loosely connected. Both the content and the style say a huge amount about the depths to which our civic society has sunk. The prospect of this intellectual midget and neo-con lickspittle becoming Prime Minister is frankly appalling.

The RIIA, better known as Chatham House, does not normally hear lectures written by somebody incapable of constructing a paragraph of more than ten words. It would give me great pleasure if you would be so kind just to glance at the lecture I gave to Chatham House eleven years ago. Of course it is on a much more specific subject than Miliband’s neo-con declaration of faith, but I still feel I come rather well out of the contrast.

Rather like those Soviet parade photos where the nomenklatura got airbrushed out after execution, all trace of my lecture has disappeared from the Chatham House website.

A Horror We Made

by craig on April 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

We are directly responsible for the disasters in the Mediterranean. The bombing of Libya into failed state status is now coming back to haunt us. The ludicrous idea, propounded by Blair, Robert Cooper and the Henry Jackson Society, that you could improve dictatorial states by massive bombing campaigns that targeted their basic infrastructure, is now a total bust. Sadly so are Iraq and Libya, to the permanent detriment of many millions of people. We caused both the Islamic State and the Mediterranean boat disasters, and we caused them with bombs.

But the lack of any effective policing is only part of the problem. What makes people so desperate that they are prepared to give all of the small amount they own, to ruthless gangs, in exchange for a dreadful sea crossing with a one in ten chance of drowning? Most of the refugees are sub-Saharan African. We only see the European end of the saga, not the terrible conditions on the cross Saharan journeys that they start with.

There will be no security anywhere if the world does not address the terrible scourge of African poverty and under-development. That is a huge subject on which I have written extensively and worked much of my life, and I do not wish to open it here. But what it does show is the utter stupidity – inhumanity yes, but also stupidity – of UKIP in thinking that cutting development aid will increase the economic security of the UK.

The Remarkably Unobservant Baron Carlile

by craig on April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Lord Carlile is amazingly unobservant. An excellent article in today’s Observer by Jay Rayner gives details of the establishment cover-up of Janner’s long continued child rapes. The silence of the Vaz draws most attention. But let us think about Alex Carlile.

Rayner states “The establishment, in the shape of his fellow MPs, men such as Labour’s Keith Vaz, Tory David Ashby and the then Lib Dem MP now Lord Carlile, closed ranks.” In the 1991 House of Commons debate deploring accusations against Janner, Carlile played a prominent part, describing Janner as a man of “integrity” and “determination”. Carlile should have known Janner fairly well. They were both MPs, both QCs, both members of Friends of Israel, both patrons of UK lawyers for Israel. The appear still to both be patrons of the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation. They were regulars on the same parliamentary committees dealing with legal affairs. They were both to leave the Commons at the same time and both to join the Lords only slightly apart.

Still, Carlile’s stalwart defence of his friend is understandable. You can’t expect him to have picked up on Janner’s secret life. Nor that of Cyril Smith. Carlile shared a small Commons office with Cyril Smith for many years. Oh dear. He really isn’t good at noticing things, is he?

Carlile’s mistress and eventual wife was a senior legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Cosy world, Westminster, it it not?

Carlile went on to be a stunningly illiberal “Independent” Reviewer of anti-terror legislation, where he demonstrated his independence by agreeing to absolutely everything the security services told him. 42 day detention with no charge? No problem. In fact there was no period of detention without charge posited so extreme that Carlile did not support it. Secret courts hearing intelligence evidence the defence were not allowed to see? Fine by Carlile. Control orders? Great. He is a fantastic bastion, protecting the public, is Carlile.

Even better, of course, at protecting his associates.

The Independence Vote

by craig on April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Nicola Sturgeon is to be congratulated for refusing to back off from the goal of independence, and the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, under pressure from Andrew Marr today.

The truth is that the SNP’s potential for a stunning electoral result in Scotland is based on our success in holding together the Yes coalition under the SNP umbrella. All of the recent Scottish opinion polls put the SNP vote in precisely the same range as recent opinion polls on Scottish independence, up from September 2014. Given the very low polling for other pro-independence parties, it is beyond any doubt a myth that there is a significant vote for the SNP which does not want independence but is voting SNP to ensure Devo-Max. There is simply no evidence of that. The opinion polls show the opposite, and anecdotal evidence from canvassers shows the SNP vote overwhelmingly an independence vote.

In fact, I suspect that the SNP will get less unionist votes in this election than ever before. In Dundee East, which I know extremely well, there is no point denying that historically the SNP benefited from Tory tactical voters wanting to keep Labour out. That is no longer happening, due to the polarising effect of the referendum. Dundee East SNP voters are now all committed nationalists.

In fact what we are now seeing, quite openly, is the Unionist parties advocating tactical voting between Red, Orange and Blue Tories against the SNP throughout Scotland and even Labour Party activists in places canvassing for the Tories. This is of a piece with the Labour tactic of pitching its austerity policies to southern English Tory voters: Miliband’s message today is that he will be the Tories’ champion.

All the SNP have to do is continue to hold together the overwhelming bulk of the Yes coalition and, due to FPTP, we can sweep much of Scotland. That is why Nicola’s stance today was not only right in principle, but wise in preventing seepage to the Scottish Greens. That does not make FPTP a better system. And we should not allow the media to build up expectations of the SNP taking every seat, so they can claim Murphy has triumphed if he hangs on to a dozen.

But one thing we should say, loud and clear. An SNP vote is always a vote for independence, and it is absolutely a myth that there is now any significant swathe of unionist SNP voters out there.

The SNP vote is an independence vote, end of.

Labour Equals UKIP Lite

by craig on April 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Miliband promises tougher immigration controls than Tories, after his promise of triple lock guaranteed austerity. How much more right wing can Labour get? Having alienated the Scottish people, are Labour now trying to alienate everybody outside London and Surrey? It seems Labour policy is made by a focus group of hedge fund managers infiltrated by Farage.

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