Sunday, 27 June 2010


What a double-gigantic bucket of poo that turned out to be! Overpaid, over-rated and overwhelmed. There should be a public enquiry into such an abject display from so-called superstars. There won't be, because this is the UK where we now tolerate greed and incompetence with a well practiced shoulderly shrug.

For 'Bankers' read 'Premiership' with similar symptoms. Short -term gains - no thought to the future: tick. Mediocrity super-abundantly rewarded: tick. Claims that this is the global going-rate:tick. Build everything on debt:tick. And not just titchy witchy debt. Oh no! Lets have a debt which would bankrupt a small nation state. Tie in the media and advertising campaigns so that false claims become an acceptable norm:tick. Remove these quite ordinary human beings from everyday reality and treat them like gods:tick. Employ vast armies of hangers-on and 'advisors' as mobile ego massage parlours:tick.

Mr Crapello is paid £5million a year. The majority of the coaches in the world earn a hundred times less and produce far better teams with the emphasis on 'teams'. Four matches: four poor performances. 

Nothing will change unless and until the vast majority of Premiership supporters wake up to the decline in the national game; recognise the greed at the heart of the Premiership which perpetuates it and accept that the answer is in their own hands. Don't go. Have a season or two off. Let the sheikhs and oligarchs have their plaything all to themselves. 

Empty grounds - no TV interest - no sponsors - no corporate hospitality. Sounds good already. Go and watch local football where values still count. Bring about a reality check on wages, agents, foreign journeyman imports, academies, and grassroots football (currently withering for lack of participants) and burst the greedy balloon that is the Premiership once and for all. Look at the Bundesliga and learn. Do not rely on the FA to do anything. Weak, divided and archaic, they sold their souls to the devil several years ago and would not recognise a moral compass if it hit them in the teeth.

Doing nothing will continue the decline.

One delight among the gloom - all those adverts, all that crappy merchandise, all the supermarkets turned over to 'England this, England that and England the other', all the hyperbolic coverage from every media outlet - all blown away in 90 minutes. Lots of chucky egg on lots of faces. Good.

This is the time for every fan who is a genuine lover of football to get off their backsides and campaign for change.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Where's the F in PFI?

Watch this space. PFI (Private Finance Initiative - alias 'Mother and Father of all gravy trains') continues to be an elusive presence in the bright new coalition. Loads of public money earmarked for paying back over the odds debts, run up in the name of prudence, for many years to come.

So what will happen when the 25% cuts take effect? You thought the expenses scandal was bad - just wait till this little doozy roars into daylight. Why pay once for a new hospital when you can pay three and four times over? And a new school? A college? Just sign here squire. All the interest payments are locked in - for years to come - to firms who did their civic duty and payrolled political parties - to bring about a new Jerusalem. 

All this talk about safeguarding the NHS is so much twaddle. The interest payments already committed to PFI repayments mean health authorities are saddled with a massive chunk of their funding spoken for every financial year so there are going to be cuts anyway. 

"We're all in this together!"  Bollocks.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wax the Tankers

Listened to the Budget speech. Impressed by clarity but not the, "We're all in this together, " call. Oh yeah. Says who? 

A quick analysis reveals the Bankers walking off with a £2billion tax. Not even petty cash to those onanists. Throw in a less than tricky Capital Gains and extra help for business and lo! Yet again middle and lower income UK will suffer a burden hardly noticed by the wealthy greedy. 

20% VAT agreed by the LibDems (after campaigning against it) makes for choppy waters ahead. 

Friday, 18 June 2010

Breakfast for dogs anyone?

How has it come to this? We have the most incoherent, uneven, dysfunctional and downright unfair education system in the developed world. Proposals issued today by Education Squit Gove will make this situation even more chaotic. When it comes to education, the term 'United Kingdom' is a complete misnomer. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems. And then there is England…

There are 2500 Independent Schools catering for just over 7% of the school population. This operates outside the state sector, enjoys charitable status and ensures its alumni are well-connected. A glance at the current cabinet shows the network at work.

In the recent past England had a simple tripartite state system (Grammar, Secondary Modern, Secondary Technical) which was mainly, but significantly not completely, replaced by comprehensive schools in the 1970's. It is a little known fact that the education minister responsible for creating the most comprehensive schools was Margaret Thatcher. Whether it her sense of betrayal to the Tory cause or whether it was right-wing dogma is open to question but it was her government which introduced City Technology Colleges and the 1988 Education Act which introduced the National Curriculum for the hoi-polloi but not the wealthy. 

Since then the almost annual turnover of Education Ministers has produced even more variety. How about this for a State system?
  • We currently have 164 state run grammar schools - along with the necessary Secondary Moderns to accommodate the less capable in those areas. 
  • We have 34 state Boarding Schools. 
  • We have umpteen 'Specialist Schools' aka Comps with delusions of grandeur and these cover the following specialisms: Technology; Arts; Sport; Business and Enterprise; Languages; Maths; Engineering; Science; Humanities; Music. In theory children with extra ability in one of those areas should benefit from the extra attention. In reality it depends where you live. Crucially it was a means of getting extra government funding. 
  • We have comps who still manage to select a small proportion of their intake  and we have 64% who do not.
  • We still have City Technology colleges although most have converted to the latest wheeze ….
  • Academies! The big thing for failing schools in inner cities has a chequered reputation. However anyone trying to find out exactly how well these schools perform will have difficulty, as their results are not public knowledge. Shocking but true. Funding was also supposed to be based on a partnership with local businesses and charities. As Private Eye revealed however, Ed Balls, when Education Minister wrote off £20 million of unpaid debts from these organisations. Mind you the organisations concerned did keep their name on their Academy. As yet we have not got the 'Madrasa Academy for Waging Jihad on the Infidel' but we do have fundamentalist Christian schools who believe the world was created in six days. Enlightenment thinkers would be appalled.

So what does Squit do when faced with this mishmash of a state system? He wants to add even more chaos. What a merry jester. 'Free Schools' anyone? Set up your own little centre of learning and have a lovely time for Johnny and Gemima. Where the money comes from is another matter. Will good old 'Bog Standard comp' yet again subsidise the whims of the nearly wealthy, the pushy and the ambitious?

What a bloody shambles. If it wasn't so tragic it would be funny. 

Breweries  - parties  - insobriety (re-arrange to form a well-known saying).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Happy Days are Here Again

From this mornings Guardian: "Annual bonuses for FTSE 100 executives, which had fallen 30% a year ago, have bounced back 22.5% in the second half of 2009 IDS research found. The average bonus returned above the half-million mark to £558,918. An average basic salary pay rise of 7% for FTSE 100 executives was highlighted by IDS as latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, released today , showed private sector basic pay rose by just 1.2% for the three months to April to £419 a week.
Steve Tatton, editor of the IDS's Executive Compensation Review 2010, said: "It appears that all the signs are that after a period of relative austerity the good times have returned to UK boardrooms."
Well fancy that! Just as the hoi-polloi are being cajoled into servile acquiescence over the need for swingeing cuts out pops this little rabbit from the hat. Note, these are average bonus payments of over half a million pounds
During the early days of the Second World War there was a propaganda disaster when an announcement was made on the following lines, "Your sacrifice, your effort and your suffering will help us win the war." Cameron and his wealthy mates had better beware they do not fall into the same presentational trap. 
Rich greedy businessmen doing extremely well when most citizens are struggling is not conducive to the public good and is a recipe for civil unrest.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Widgery Bloody Widgery

Having finally had the totally damning verdict on Bloody Sunday, one key element remains. Who put Lord Widgery up to producing a whitewash? One of the worst establishment exercises in hiding away the truth and blaming innocent people for the actions of the parachute regiment in recent British history did not happen by chance. Several once powerful elder members of the civil service political class will be harrumphing to themselves tonight.

Documents from the era should be opened to scrutiny as a matter of urgency. Widgery, Heath and Hailsham are long dead but the events they conspired to cover up are very much alive. 

Farewell GTC

So Farewell Then GTC
Keith's mum said you were
And she should know - she's a headteacher.
(Apologies to E.J.Thribb)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Bhopal and BP

As the Guardian rightly put it in a recent leader article there is much to ponder about the attitude of the US towards BP.

"What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico today is an example of Newton's third law of motion: for every action by BP there is an equal and opposite reaction by the federal government in Washington. The result is that BP is, rightly, being held to account for cleaning up the biggest oil pollution in US history. But just imagine if the blowout on the drilling rig had caused not 11 but up to 25,000 US deaths; that the compensation Washington finally accepted fell far short of that required even to cover the medical bills of the survivors; that 26 years on , BP had still to clean up the site of the accident which was poisoning the local water supply; and that Britain refused to extradite to a US court the main BP executives responsible. 

"Unthinkable? Well, that is how the US multinational Union Carbide Corporation, now owned by Dow Chemical, has behaved since it created the world's worst industrial disaster at Bhopal in central India. The difference between BP and Union Carbide is not just a matter of the location of the disaster, although it is plainly that too. It is also down to the fact that successive national and state governments in India have rolled over time and time again to the realpolitik of dealing with Dow Chemical's other investments in India."

The devastating piece on the Today programme by an Indian journalist reduced it to a devastatingly simple equation. An 86 year old woman who had lost 16 members of her family in the incident, lost her eyesight and had her own health adversely affected will receive the equivalent of 3 pence compensation after 26 years. 
That is correct - 3 pence! It is not a misprint. 

It is a disgrace.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Not me Guv.

"Nah. I know nothing. What? Iraqi prisoners beaten to death? Nah - know nothing about that. Beaten to death - by members of the army? And all on video? Nah - never saw that. First I've heard about it. You sure it's not a fake? All over the media you say - well I'm blowed. Never saw it. Never heard about it. Know nothing. What do you mean I should have? I'll have you know I was very, very busy at that time building up my property empire. I was doing two jobs you know. I can't be blamed for things I know nothing about. 

And stop calling me 'Buff'. The name's Hoon. Geoff Hoon."

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Scumbag Capitalism

Is this right? BP has to pay shareholders massive dividends in order to reassure the city that it is in good health. This at a time when BP is struggling to appear moderately competent as it battles with the Gulf oil leak and is facing umpteen legal challenges. 

Therefore BP has to do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons at the wrong time to satisfy the city. Hmmm.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Plucky little Israel or swaggering bully?

One of several concerns about Israel is the way the western media runs scared of criticising Israeli actions. The media know that to do so bring gallons of bile and opprobrium pouring onto their heads. The Israeli's and their supporters around the world are an extremely effective and influential pressure group. One word out of place and thousands of emails, phone-calls and letters hit HQ. In the US it can cost Senate and Representative seats - hence the mealy-mouthed statements from the States and general communal hand-wringing. 
It is possible to read alternative views. The first is by Avi Shlaim who is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford. In an article written after the onslaught on Gaza last year he concluded, " This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones."
For a current view, you can do a lot worse than Robert Fisk writing in the Independent:
"At least the Israelis have not demanded ransom. They just want to get journalists to win the propaganda war for them. Scarcely had the week begun when Israel's warrior "commandos" stormed a Turkish boat bringing aid to Gaza and shot nine of the passengers dead. Yet by week's end, the protesters had become "armed peace activists", vicious anti-Semites "professing pacifism, seething with hate, pounding away at another human being with a metal pole". I liked the last bit. The fact that the person being beaten was apparently shooting another human being with a rifle didn't quite get into this weird version of reality.
The amazing thing in all this is that so many Western journalists – and I'm including the BBC's pusillanimous coverage of the Gaza aid ships – are writing like Israeli journalists, while many Israeli journalists are writing about the killings with the courage that Western journalists should demonstrate. And about the Israeli army itself. Take Amos Harel's devastating report in Haaretz which analyses the make-up of the Israeli army's officer corps. In the past, many of them came from the leftist kibbutzim tradition, from greater Tel Aviv or from the coastal plain of Sharon. In 1990, only 2 per cent of army cadets were religious Orthodox Jews. Today the figure is 30 per cent. Six of the seven lieutenant-colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious. More than 50 per cent of local commanders are "national" religious in some infantry brigades.
There's nothing wrong with being religious. But – although Harel does not make this point quite so strongly – many of the Orthodox are supporters of the colonisation of the West Bank and thus oppose a Palestinian state."
Now that is good journalism. No fence-sitting. No hand-wringing. It looks beyond the norm and gives the reader a  new slant on familiar territory. No doubt the head office of the Independent is  under siege at this moment. 

Friday, 4 June 2010

Torture? Rendition? Cover-up? Leadership bid?

Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband has let it be known that he would magnanimously offer his support to a lesser rival struggling to get across the 33 nomination threshold. What a gent! What a bastion of democracy! Makes your heart warm to know that he was holding the reins on our behalf. 

But is that the real Miliband Senior? He claims to want a wide-ranging discussion in the party. Just how wide-ranging does he want? Will he discuss his role in colluding with the US and other regimes to facilitate the rendition and torture of British citizens? Will he explain why he used every trick in the legal repertoire to prevent details from being published? Will he be prepared to testify on oath exactly what he knew and when he knew it? Or will he attempt to re-write history using the much tested, 'I didna ken' defence? 

Having tried several times to raise the matter with him via letter and email it is sad to report that to date there has not been a response. Not one.

It is time for m'learned friends to have a go.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Duplicitous, deceitful and definitely dishonourable

Ex-Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram admitted to an enquiry that he had lied to the Commons and blamed his department! What a slimy piece of excrement. 

The facts are these. Information from BBC online.

'The inquiry is investigating claims UK soldiers beat to death Iraqi Baha Mousa, 26, in Basra in September 2003. Mr Mousa was found dead with 93 separate injuries after being held in the custody of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
The inquiry has heard that the troops used "conditioning" methods on Iraqi prisoners, such as hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions with their knees bent and hands outstretched.
The techniques were banned by the government in 1972 following an investigation into interrogation in Northern Ireland.
The inquiry is currently examining who within the chain of command told British soldiers serving in Iraq in 2003 they were permitted to use these banned methods.In a Parliamentary answer he denied UK forces used hooding as an interrogation technique despite having seen papers to the contrary, a public inquiry heard.
Mr Ingram was copied in on a memo that revealed Mr Mousa was hooded for nearly 24 of 36 hours in custody before dying. He also received another document stating Mr Mousa, a hotel receptionist, and his colleagues were hooded on the advice of an interrogation expert.

Mr Ingram had assured the then head of the Parliamentary joint committee on human rights, Jean Corston, that hooding was only used while detainees were being transported. In a letter dated nine months after Mr Mousa's death, he wrote: "I should make absolutely clear that hooding was only used during the transit of prisoners. It was not used as an interrogation technique."

"It would appear that the hooding of the suspects took place on the advice of one of the staff sergeants."
Mr Ingram said: "In hindsight it would have been better if the department had reminded me of all the documentation." BBC Online News 02/062010

A defence taken straight from the handbook of blame shifting by Michael 'It wasnae me' Martin , the odious ex Speaker, now Lord Pomp of Circumstance. And just as effective!

Unfortunately for Ingram, as today's Guardian reveals, he was warned following Mousa's death by, a senior official: "This could be very messy." The official noted that Ingram would be the minister responsible for dealing with the repercussions.
'Ingram was asked about a parliamentary answer he gave to Kevin McNamara, a Labour backbencher, on 15 June 2004 about hooding.
Ingram said he was "not aware of any incidents in which UK interrogators are alleged to have used hooding as an interrogation technique".' Guardian 3/6/2010
How many more truths will have to be dragged, inch by inch, syllable by syllable, from these Labour Honourable Members who appear to have colluded willingly and cheerfully with the excesses demanded by our liaison with the US? How many poor souls have been tortured on our watch? How many more have been 'rendered' through our airspace? 

And how many uncivil servants went along with all of this with nary a qualm?

Full public enquiry - now  - on oath - with charges to follow if necessary.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Brutal buffoons

According to Patrick Coburn, writing in today's Independent, there is a culture of denial in Israel. He blames too good PR which paints disasters as victories and lets stupid Israeli leaders off the hook. Recently there has been the appalling military action in Gaza with its 'proportional' death rate of one Israeli for every 100 Palestinians. This followed a less than successful incursion into Lebanon. The UK became involved when British passports were used by mossad agents in a targeted assassination.
'An old Israeli saying describing various less-than-esteemed military leaders says: "He was so stupid that even the other generals noticed." The same derisive remark could be applied almost without exception to the present generation of Israeli politicians.'  

'Even more ludicrous is the Israeli explanation that their élite and heavily armed soldiers were at risk of their lives because they had to use thick gloves to protect their hands when sliding down cables from a helicopter and therefore could not use their weapons.'
He goes on to conclude, 'The Israeli propaganda machine, official and private, has been running full throttle in the last few days justifying the assault on the aid convoy to Gaza. Probably spokesmen feel they are performing well given the weakness of their case. In fact, they do nothing but harm to Israel. The greater their success in denying gross and culpable mistakes, the more likely it is that the perpetrators will hold their jobs – and the more likely it is that the mistakes will be endlessly repeated.'
It is to be hoped that Obama and other leaders will finally realise what brutal idiots they are dealing with and leave the kid gloves at home. Softly softly has done nothing for the Middle East and little for world peace. Israel needs sorting. Israel has nuclear weapons in the hands of these selfsame belligerent buffoons.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Israel – pirate, pariah or both?

Any feelings of outrage at what happened yesterday should not just be directed at the Israeli government although it is deeply culpable. Look at the mealy-mouthed response from the US and UN; search in vain for leadership from our gutless bunch. So much hand-wringing. So little pressure applied to rein Israel in. So little action to end the shame that is Gaza.
Veteran middle-east correspondent Robert Fisk puts it admirably in today’s Independent.

‘It was people – ordinary people, Europeans, Americans, Holocaust survivors – yes, for heaven's sake, survivors of the Nazis – who took the decision to go to Gaza because their politicians and their statesmen had failed them.’
‘Where were our politicians yesterday? Well, we had the ridiculous Ban Ki-moon, the White House's pathetic statement, and dear Mr Blair's expression of "deep regret and shock at the tragic loss of life". Where was Mr Cameron? Where was Mr Clegg?’
‘It is a fact that it is ordinary people, activists, call them what you will, who now take decisions to change events. Our politicians are too spineless, too cowardly, to take decisions to save lives. Why is this? Why didn't we hear courageous words from Messrs Cameron and Clegg yesterday?’
‘For it is a fact, is it not, that had Europeans (and yes, the Turks are Europeans, are they not?) been gunned down by any other Middle Eastern army (which the Israeli army is, is it not?) there would have been waves of outrage.’
‘And what does this say about Israel? Isn't Turkey a close ally of Israel? Is this what the Turks can expect? Now Israel's only ally in the Muslim world is saying this is a massacre – and Israel doesn't seem to care.’

‘But then Israel didn't care when London and Canberra expelled Israeli diplomats after British and Australian passports were forged and then provided to the assassins of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. It didn't care when it announced new Jewish settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem while Joe Biden, the Vice-President of its erstwhile ally, the United States, was in town. Why should Israel care now?’

‘How did we get to this point? Maybe because we all grew used to seeing the Israelis kill Arabs, maybe the Israelis grew used to killing Arabs. Now they kill Turks. Or Europeans. Something has changed in the Middle East these past 24 hours – and the Israelis (given their extraordinarily stupid political response to the slaughter) don't seem to have grasped what has happened. The world is tired of these outrages. Only the politicians are silent.’

We find out today that the news blackout imposed by Israel continues and about 40 (yes 40) UK citizens (along with their European colleagues) are either in jail or in hospital in Israel being ‘processed.’ Again, a deafening silence from our government. Perhaps Mr Hague is too busy attending to one or other of his outside interests.