Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Slobodan Milliband; Slobodan Cameron

What is the difference between Slobodan Milosevic’s killing of Kosovans, and Bush and Blair’s killing of Iraqis? Anyone who supports the invasion of Iraq supports the genocide of a hundred thousand Iraqis.

David Milliband says it’s “time to move on” from the invasion of Iraq. “While Iraq was a source of division in the past, it doesn’t need to be a source of division in the future.” Milliband insists on trivialising the invasion of Iraq, by treating it as a matter for disagreement between politicians, rather than a massacre of innocent Iraqis.

It is worth reading a website describing itself as the biography of Slobodan Milosevic. This presents him as a hero of Serbia, elected President of the Republic in 1990, by the first free multi-party elections since the Second World War.

March 11th 2006 Milosevic, on trial for war crimes at The Hague, died of a heart attack, before a verdict had been reached. To more or less everyone in the West he was acknowledged as a war criminal, who had committed genocide in Kosovo. To many Serbians, and, possibly, Russians, he was a hero of the Serbian people.

His death was thought to be suspicious. Some believed he had been poisoned, or had taken poison himself. Whatever the truth of this, it is accepted that he was refused permission to travel to Moscow for treatment which might well have kept him alive.

Milosevic is named a war criminal by the West for invading Kosovo and killing many innocent civilians. He would claim he did this to defend Serbia.

What is the difference between him and Messrs Bush and Blair, who also claimed they were defending their respective countries, and used this as an excuse for killing many innocent civilians during their invasion and occupation of Iraq?

David Milliband, by refusing to say the Iraq invasion was wrong, and by referring to it merely as something which caused controversy in the Labour party, trivialises what many thousands of people in the world regard as a war crime.

David Cameron on June 23rd, 2006, interviewed by Jonathan Ross, said he supported the Iraq invasion. Cameron was elected MP in 2001 as an obvious Tory high-flyer, and was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 2003 to 2005 when he was elected Tory leader.

Since the Tories supported the invasion of Iraq, Cameron, like Milliband, apparently prides himself on voting for an action which has resulted in about 100,000 people being killed.

Suppose the Muslim block of countries were as dominant in the world now as they were during the Middle Ages. Suppose the International Court of Justice was at Mecca, not The Hague. If that was the case, Bush and Blair might well have been on trial there along with Milosevic.

What possible defence is there for supporting the Iraq invasion?

Iraq “doesn’t need to be a source of division in the future” says David Milliband. It will continue to be a source of division until the British government – after all with a Deputy Prime Minister whose party opposed the invasion – repudiates wholeheartedly, with reparations, what was not only a stupid decision, but also an immoral and illegal one.

The British Government needs to perform an act of repentance


Friday, 21 May 2010

Anti-terrorist expert says British troops should leave Afghanistan

A week before the General Election a candidate’s leaflet came through my door. A certain Crispin Black MBE was offering himself as an Independent for the constituency where I live – West Wiltshire.

I checked his biography. He had been commissioned in the Welsh Guards in 1982, just in time for the Falklands War; just in time to be bombed in the Sir Galahad by the Argentine air force. Speaking with the authority of someone who’d survived battle, he was contemptuous of generals who had not been shot at.

He became an intelligence expert, and wrote a book called 7 – 7 The London Bombs – What Went Wrong. As a lieutenant-colonel, he was seconded to the Cabinet Office 1999 – 2002, and prepared intelligence briefings for the Joint Intelligence Committee and COBRA.

This is part of his manifesto:
“Sadly, British troops in Afghanistan do not make us safer from terrorism in the UK. It’s time to withdraw them. The threat is here in the homeland.”

The only reason ever given by any British politician for continuing to fight in Afghanistan is that fighting there protects us from terrorists. That always seemed extremely dubious.

Now, there is no excuse whatsoever for sending British soldiers to die, and killing thousands of innocent Afghan civilians as ‘collateral damage.’ A top British terrorism expert has said the Afghan war is a useless waste of lives and money.

Bring the troops home.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Clegg's 'Democracy'?

Nick Clegg has just announced a programme of political reform ‘greater than anything since the Reform Bill of 1832,’

Many commentators have already questioned his claim. 1832 widened the suffrage only to 18% of adult males in England and Wales. Working class males did not get the vote until nearer the end of the century, and women were only given the same voting rights as men in 1928, living memory to those aged 82 and over.

Was the 1832 Reform Bill such a huge reform of poltics? How do the proposed Clegg reforms stand in relation to other extensions of franchise to ordinary British citizens?

Nick Clegg offers us, the citizens of Britain, the right to object to laws we don’t like.

Well, do you believe this? I'm afraid I don’t.

Here are some decisions on which I should like to vote. They all require straightforward yes/no answers. They all involve questions of money.

Should British taxpayers fund the replacement for Trident, which may cost about £100 billion?

Should cannabis be legalized? Subsidiary question: should it be sold over the counter like cigarettes and taxed similarly?

Should all drugs – even heroin - be legalized? Subsidiary question: should it be sold over the counter like cigarettes and taxed similarly?

Should British soldiers be withdrawn from Afghanistan?

Should wars only be undertaken if the decision to go to war is confirmed by referendum?

In my capacity as an ordinary British citizen, I do not claim the right to decide complicated problems in the NHS, or Education, nor do I have the solution for controlling bankers. (Nor do the politicians, but that’s another issue.)

The five questions noted above could all be put to the citizen body. They are all important. They all involve cost. They all impinge on our lives. If Britain was a democracy, as opposed to being governed by representative oligarchy, we would all have a right to take part in these decisions.

Politicians who say it would be wrong to put these questions to the citizen body, should also acknowledge that they do not believe we should be a democracy.

Then of course the next question rears its head:

Should Britain continue to be governed by representative oligarchy, or should it take the first steps towards becoming a democracy?


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lib-Dems betrayed

Make no mistake: the coalition between Clegg and Cameron has meant the abandonment of one of the most important promises in the Lib-Dem manifesto, the promise not to pay for the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system.

The Scottish Nationalists oppose spending money on the Trident replacement.Plaid Cymru at least calls for money to be spent on pensioners rather than on replacing Trident. But this hardly creates a powerful Opposition. Now the few MPs who oppose the replacement of Trident are likely to be shouted down. It is up to the unrepresented people of Britain, and those who voted Lib-Dem and now feel betrayed to form an Opposition of petition-signers.

Trident is indeed a symbol. With it, British ministers can edge their way into councils of ‘Great Powers.’

Are we prepared to allow these puffed up nonentities – for that is what they are – to spend over £100 billion of our money on this symbol?

One Vanguard submarine, fully armed, carries “more destructiver power than was unleashed in the entire campaign of World War II.”

If a British Commander-in-Chief was to order one Vanguard submarine to fire its missiles, this would create a nuclear winter to devastate most of Planet Earth.

I find it difficult to feel anything other than contempt for the current collection of mediocrities who call themselves our leaders. But I do think we are mercifully unlikely to have a genocidal, gaiacidal, lunatic in 10 Downing Street.

Which are the European countries least likely to be targeted by nuclear missiles? Sweden and Switzerland.

Let us, the citizens of Britain, follow the sensible lead of the Scots Nationalists, and protest at being asked to spend over £100 billion – which we most certainly cannot afford – on a piece of unnecessary equipment which does not protect us, and might in certain situations endanger us.

No to the replacement of Trident. We cannot afford it.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Real Change? Don't make me vomit!

"We stand for Real Change." What a lie! What thumping great lie!

The Lib-Dems’ manifesto for the 2010 General Election announced that, if elected, they would not pay the cost of replacing the Trident nuclear deterrent.

May 12th, 2010. The Lib-Dem Party has joined the Conservatives in a coalition. One of the conditions imposed by the Conservatives, and agreed by the Lib-Dems, was that they would support the replacement of Trident, now estimated at costing £100 billion.

Please note the previous post.

A nuclear deterrent does not mean nuclear deterrence. What are the countries least likely to be attacked by nuclear weapons? Sweden and Switzerland, who possess no nuclear weapons and who have been neutral for over two hundred years.

Which country is by far the most powerful in Europe? Germany. Germany has no nuclear weapons.

The 2010 General Election poured verbal effluent into our ears. The most offensive word-splurge which I heard was the slogan repeated ad retch-the-guts-up nauseam: “we stand for Real Change.” Why do they bother to spew such lies?

Now, the Tories and Lib-Dems have signed up to more of the ‘Real Change’ politics in the old mould. This election offered a chance, a tiny loophole of a chance, that the British people might so vote that change (and I mean ‘change’ as understood by normal people speaking English, not politicians mouthing meaninglessness) might be forced on the mentally retarded mediocrities who preen themselves as our leaders.

Just suppose the Lib-Dems had acquired enough clout to insist that Britain did not replace Trident. Well then this would mean the British Prime Minister would no longer be able to strut about as a ‘world leader.’

We, the British, would have to adjust to belonging to a medium-sized country on the edge of Europe, a country whose industries had been destroyed by the stupidity of Conservative and Labour governments over the last thirty years, a country dependent on the wit and enterprise of its scientists and artists, as it had to do during the reign of Elizabeth the First, the last period when Britain had no overseas possessions, and no claim to be a world power.

After the Second World War, the Germans turned and renounced the trappings of dominance, and got down to the business of making things other people would buy.

This is what the British should have done two generations ago.



Cruise Missile Obliterates Stockholm!

At 3.0 am this morning, a cruise missile with a nuclear warhead landed in the centre of Stockholm. The city is now flattened, and there is at the moment no report of any survivors .

At 10.0 am the Chinese broadcast an ultimatum to the Swedish Government: if they did not hand over IKEA, its entire stock, its financial assets in totality, China was declaring war on Sweden. Commentators hastened to condemn the oriental perfidy which attacks first, and then declares war after the pre-emptive strike.


Absurd of course.

Sweden is almost certain never to be invaded, because it has given up invading other countries. The last significant war fought by Sweden was two hundred years ago, the Russian-Swedish war of 1808 – 1809. (There was then a minor war in 1814, when Sweden invaded Norway; it did not last long, or cause many casualties)

Dare we say the Swedish people have sensibly realised there is nothing to be gained by fighting wars?

We can find a long list of Swiss wars … in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, centuries.. But the only war in the last two hundred years was the Sonderbund War, a civil war fought between the League of Catholic cantons and the Swiss Federation. It lasted from November 3rd to November 26th, 1847. There were less than a hundred casualties. Immediately the Federal army had won, they started ministering to the wounded, an action which led to the founding of the Red Cross.

I think we might certainly say the Swiss have sensibly realised there is nothing to be gained by fighting wars.

What is the role of Government?

The role of Government is to defend the lives of its citizens, and to maintain the currency.

Which Government has defended the lives of its citizens more successfully, that of the United Kingdom or that of Sweden?

Let us imagine the answer to that question given by a British mother who has received the body of her son blown to unrecognisable bits by an Iraqi or Afghan bomb.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

“Minority Government is weak government.” Nonsense!

“Minority Government is weak government.” Nonsense! Nonsense! Nonsense! Dangerous nonsense!

Every government since 1979 – and probably earlier, but I haven’t bothered to check – every government we British citizens have had to endure has been a Minority Government.

Minority Government during the last 30 years may have been BAD GOVERNMENT, and very often was. The trouble has been that it wasn’t weak enough.

Mrs Thatcher was able to destroy British industries like swatting flies, while squandering Britain’s temporary oil wealth to fund the international casino of the City of London. Mr Blair, continuing to squander oil wealth while funding the City of London casino, also led Britain into illegal, immoral, and misguided, wars.

For the last thirty years, and probably more, we have had to endure Minority Governments.

In 1979, the so-called Tory landslide victory, the Tories secured 43% of the votes. Labour and the Liberals secured 50.7%.
In 1983, the Tories secured 42.3% of the votes. Labour and the Lib-SDP alliance secured 53%. In 1987, the Tories secured 42.2% of the votes. Labour and the Lib-SDP alliance secured 53.4. In 1992, the Tories secured 41.9% of the votes. Labour and the Lib-Dems secured 52.2.

In 1997, Labour secured 43.2% of the votes. Conservatives and Lib-Dems secured 47.5 %. In 2001, Labour secured 40.7% of the votes. Conservatives and Lib-Dems secured 50%. In 2005, Labour secured 35.3% of the votes. Conservatives and Lib-Dems secured 54.4 %.

In last week’s election Conservatives secured 36.1%. Labour and Lib-Dems secured 52%.

On Tuesday May 11th, the BBC Today Programme interviewed various senior politicians – David Blunkett, George Osborne, Paddy Ashdown – to publicise their responses to the discussions between the Lib-Dems and Tories on the one hand, and Lib-Dems and Labour on the other.

George Osborne attempted to devote his time on air to repeating a refrain directed against the possibility of a Labour & Lib-Dem coalition. “Minority Government is weak government” he reiterated ad nauseam. Paddy Ashdown was able to point out that Labour and Lib-Dems secured 51% of the votes (one percentage point less than is given in Wikipedia.)

Osborne has not had time to read much. Minority governments were frequent in Britain before the Second World War, and work well in many countries, such as Scotland, Canada, New Zealand.

We must scotch this ‘minority’ argument fiercely and finally. The politicians, snuggling into their comfortable seats insulated from contact with the world outside, talk of majorities and minorities. But their definition of majorities and minorities is meaningless, depending on the random relationship of votes cast to seats allocated in Parliament. The next time a politician talks about minority government he/she should be shouted down, or, better still, left to talk in his/her own self-padded cell.


Monday, 10 May 2010

Ban All Political Parties

Ban All Political Parties

I popped in to my local filling station for a carton of milk, and asked the man at the cash desk whether he was ready to form a government. Without hesitation, he said “Obvious what we need: fixed term parliament for two years, and the best minds from all three parties working together to get us out of the mess.”

I haven’t had deep conversations with him; he is no “homespun philosopher.” I guess he would be perfectly happy to describe himself as an ordinary working man.

How infinitely preferable it would be to have him organising the political system rather than the puffed-up nonentities who claim leadership over us.

This is the point. Anyone and everyone can see how to approach the problem: we have all got to do without a bit of what we’ve taken for granted over the last thirty years when we lived beyond our means. But that means all of us, not just nurses, teachers, and postmen; it means seriously taxing all incomes over £100,000. It means ordering the bankers to repay the money they have robbed from us under licence, and to surrender their passports so they are confined to this country for the next five years. It means the armed forces coming home from Afghanistan; it means Britain not buying a replacement for Trident; it means politicians not strutting around as if they were leaders of a “Great Nation”, for we are no longer a “Great Nation.” It means members of Parliament willingly and eagerly taking a salary exactly the same as a teacher’s.

There is, of course, one more thing. For the next two years all political parties must be dissolved; all party funds must be frozen; all party offices must be turned into temporary residences for the homeless. Members of Parliament must sit at random in the House of Commons. All ministerial offices will be held jointly by two, three, or four, people acting in concert.

Then there is a chance that the good old spirit of the good old British working man and working woman will rise to the occasion, and the jokes will be cracked, and the trousers patched, and once again the folk, the ordinary folk, will pull victory out of the defeat into which our self-serving, conceited, and supremely incompetent, leaders have led us.


Can a politician ever put country before party? No

Sir John Major came on the BBC Today Programme this morning May 10th, to appeal for politicians to put the interests of the country before those of the party. This statement by Sir John Major, ex-Tory Prime Minister, translates as follows:

“Liberal-Democrats, agree to vote for David Cameron as Prime Minister without insisting on reform of the electoral system.”

No politician will ever put the interests of the country before that of the party. His/her raison d’être is to secure the re-election of his/her party at the next election.

To ask a politician to put the interests of the country before that of the party is like asking a fish to run around on land like a horse.

Messrs Cameron and Clegg are having meetings. We know more or less what they are saying to each other. Although most recent governments have only secured a minority of the votes cast, Mr Clegg has, rashly, turned first to the Conservatives since they received the most votes.

We know precisely what Mr Cameron is thinking. His plan is plain for us all to see. If he can persuade Clegg to support him in some quickly devised plan to cover up the deficit in enough to persuade the British people something is being done to reduce it, while promising Clegg he will consider electoral reform “as soon as possible”, then he has won. The “as soon as possible” will be a rhetorical – and meaningless – refrain. After all “as soon as possible” in geological time could mean within ten thousand years. After a month or two, the Lib-Dems will realise they have been tricked, and rise in fury against Clegg. Then the Liberal revival will be smashed for another generation, and Cameron will be hailed as the saviour of the Tory Party.


Monday, 3 May 2010

Tony Benn & Rory Bremner

On March 30th, 2010, Tony Benn appeared on stage in Sheffield City Hall, for the second half of a programme whose first act was Rory Bremner
doing his comedy impersonations.

I can imagine the sneering reaction of pompous politicians to the idea of Benn appearing on stage with a comedian.

On October 4th 2007. BBC News contained an item about Tony Benn offering himself for re-selection as an MP for Kensington. But nothing more has been heard of Benn returning to the House of Commons. I wonder what the Kensington selection committee would think of him working alongside Rory Bremner.

On February 28th, 2009, Rory Bremner gave a speech about how our liberty as citizens is in danger. Bremner, Bird and Fortune, the Channel 4 satire show used laughter to illuminate politics. Bremner, Bird and Fortune: the Last Show before the Recovery was a three-part series on Channel 4 in 2009, which gave the bankers a bit of the lambasting they deserved.

Between Iraq and a Hard Place was a Channel 4 Bremer, Bird & Fortune show at the time of the Iraq invasion. Apart from making me laugh, I found it offered the clearest commentary on what was happening in the run-up to that illegal invasion. It was much more informative than the ordinary news.

I’ve written in many other places about how Aristophanes is a hero of mine. A poet, a master of silly farce, he was also passionate about politics, and devoted much of his huge energy to creating laughter in the cause of peace. Now, in the 21st century AD, as well as laughing with Aristophanes at the stupidity of the 5th century BC Athenian politicians and generals, we can also see the ordinary Athenians of the time brought to life by Aristophanes’ documentaries. How he would laugh at our scholars: but the fact is he now provides very important historical source material, and illuminates our understanding of the politics then. It is pitiful to see the destructive idiocy of Aristophanes' contemporaries. It is even more pitiful to see how our contemporaries repeat the idiocy even more destructively.

If important politicians and political commentators have, by some strange chance, happened upon this blog, they will no doubt have been appalled already by my ventures into fantasy and farce. But our situation is so appalling, we can only grasp how appalling it is through farce and fantasy.

On March 17th, 2005 The Guardian contained an article by Tony Benn titled Not apathy, but anger.

“My own experience,” he wrote “four years after leaving parliament to devote more time to politics, has convinced me that, far from being apathetic, most people are angry that no one seems to be listening to them; nor do they believe what they are told. Anger and mistrust are highly political responses and in no sense can they be described as apathy.”

As Tony Benn wrote in 2005, we are indeed very angry. But we are also flabbergasted at the insanity displayed by politicians.

Often the only sensible reaction to contemporary politics is to assume there is a kind of Gadarene swine mentality which has taken possession of them, and they are just about to hurl themselves at speed down the steep slope into the lake and drown.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

Michael Foot and City Bankers

Michael Foot, who died on March 3rd, 2010, was led the Labour Party in the 1983 election to Labour’s worst defeat since 1918. His election manifesto was held to have made Labour unelectable. But this manifesto contained a promise to control the banks.

On March 3rd, 2010, Michael Foot died, aged 96. Shambling about in a donkey jacket, he was mocked as the Labour leader who made the Labour Party unelectable. In the 1983 election, eight and a half million people voted Labour, and over thirteen million voted Conservative, the Tories securing 397 seats in the House of Commons, as against Labour’s 209. It was Labour’s worst performance since 1918.

Michael Foot, then leading the Labour party, was blamed for the defeat, and resigned as leader soon after the election.

Labour’s manifesto, which was judged to have made the party unelectable, contained a promise to control the banks.

Before Michael Foot died, aged 96, he had witnessed the financial disaster caused by the uncontrolled banks gambling beyond their mean, and he should have been able to console himself with the thought he was right in 1983.

Michael Foot did the worst thing a politician can possibly do: Michael Foot was right.

Nothing can excuse a politician for being right.


Hang the Bankers

Fred Goodwin, bankrupter of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has been given a knighthood for services to banking by Gordon Brown's government, and, when finally forced to resign, has secured a modest financial package which will probably mean that by the time he dies he has looted under licence about nineteen million pounds.

At noon on Midsummer Day, 2010, city workers noticed a man standing on the steps of the Bank of England. He erected a speaker system, and shouted into the microphone “I am Fred Goodwin, and I repent.”

Slowly he stripped off the jacket of his extremely expensive suit; he stooped and undid the laces of his black Oxford shoes, and took them off. He then undid his tie, and laid it on the ground. First the right foot, then the left: he carefully removed his socks. Then he quickly unzipped his trousers and let them fall. Off came the shirt, and he stood before the gathering crowd naked except for a pair of lime green silk boxer shorts. “I have sinned and I repent” he yelled into the microphone.

Unnoticed before, a man in dirty jeans and filthy wellies had been standing in the shadow with a wheelbarrow which he now pushed before Goodwin. The wheelbarrow was full of horse manure. Goodwin plunged his hands into the manure and started rubbing it over his face and body. More or less completely covered in dung — except for his silk underpants — Goodwin dropped to his knees and crawled up the steps, moaning and groaning that he was a sinner, but was repenting. When he reached the top pf the steps, another man appeared from the shadows and held up a placard, a six foot by four foot cheque like those given to lottery winners. The writing indicated that Fred Goodwin was paying nineteen million pounds to the British Treasury.

Goodwin stood up, took the vast cheque, and handed it to a smart dark-suited woman who emerged from inside the Bank.

“I have sinned” moaned Goodwin. “I repent. Here I return the money I robbed from the British people.”

At that moment, there was a flash of lightning, which struck Goodwin precisely on his forehead. He collapsed writhing. The sky opened to reveal a figure dressed mainly in sunshine, and wearing a halo. “I am the angel of Heaven’s gate” he said. “Fred, you have repented; you may enter heaven.”

Goodwin leapt up, and seemed to be floating a few feet off the ground. He stretched his arms in the air as if grasping for something to lever him up into the sky. The crowd had been mumbling and muttering mockery and contempt of Goodwin for the last half hour. Their anger grew louder and more violent. The angel’s words were too much; the crowd rushed at Goodwin, dragged him down to the ground again, and pulled off his legs, arms, and finally head.

“That’s not fair” shouted Goodwin’s head, “I repented.” “Sure you did” said the angel. “And if your repentance is genuine, you will go to heaven.” The angel looked down and grinned. “But think of the people you ruined by your stupid greed” he went on, “those lads pulling you to pieces – they’re making a metaphor of what you did when you pulled your bank to pieces. They’re doing a better job than you ever did.”

The concern of Christian morality is with the individual’s innocence and guilt. “I did not know” can often be a plea of innocence. But in matters of public safety or state governance, “I did not know” is never an excuse. We are, rightly, not concerned whether the Captain of the Titanic is innocent or guilty, merely with whether he is competent to steer through icebergs or not. In the same way we are not concerned whether Captain Gordon Brown is an innocent victim of the bankers’ dishonesty.

Innocence is no excuse. One of the things for which we pay him is taking care of the nation‘s wealth. He was a security guard who fell asleep when the robbers broke in.

He is a sentry who fell asleep while on duty, and sentries who fall asleep, however innocent, are shot.

The Prime Miinister says he did not see the bank disaster coming, so he is a sentry who fell asleep. The Leader of the Opposition also says he did not see the bank disaster coming, so he, under orders to take the next shift as sentry, is found asleep too.

What are we to do, confronted by such shameless captains of the ship of state, strutting the bridge in their finery and bawling messages of platitudinous assurance, while driving us on to icebergs at full speed?