Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Best Geography Teachers ... in the World

Whereas most of the Wikileaks revelations produce anguish and despair at the duplicity of our leaders, there are odd moments of levity. 
Prince Andrew. 
What a bloke.
 Or, to quote comedian Jeremy Hardy, "the idiot spawn of incestuous German robber barons".
Revelations from the US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.
“The US ambassador, a veteran career diplomat who speaks six languages, did not appear to have great regard for Andrew's intellect.”
 "He reacted with almost neuralgic patriotism whenever any comparison between the US and UK came up. For example, one British businessman noted that despite the 'overwhelming might of the American economy compared to ours' the amount of American and British investment in Kyrgyzstan was similar. Snapped the duke: 'No surprise there. The Americans don't understand geography. Never have. In the UK, we have the best geography teachers in the world.” (my emphasis)
Having recovered from this pat on the back from a royal lightweight, it was a little disturbing to read about his views on the Al Yamama arms deal - one of the most corrupt deals in the history of the UK. 
“[Andrew] turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anticorruption investigators, who had had the 'idiocy' of almost scuttling the al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia."
The prince, she explained, "was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, (my emphasis) into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces".
The dispatch continued: "His mother's subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to 'these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National [sic] Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere' and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business. The crowd practically clapped." Guardian online
‘Subsequently closed’ = shut down by Tony Blair at the behest of the Saudi’s, unhappy at their dirty washing (free private jet and a billion in cash) being opened up to public scrutiny. What a hypocritical little shit that ‘christian’ is. 
And what a plonker Andrew is for defending BAE and their criminal activities. 
It is good to know that the Guardian employ journalists who ruffle royal feathers.

Monday, 29 November 2010

FIFA and the R Slickers

When you sup with the devil, be sure to use a long spoon,” is a sage piece of advice from way back which our PM would do well to heed this week. He is tearing himself away from domestic turmoil to visit the septic pustule that is FIFA. He along with Mr R. Slicker and his team of soul-sellers, will attempt to persuade that most corrupt of bodies to grant England the 2018 World Cup. Fat chance.

What happened to standards? What happened to decency? Rather than prostrating themselves before these slime-balls, the same energy and drive should be put into a move to clean up the whole rotten shebang.

The revelations of further corruption on Panorama are not shocking to those of us who have followed the disgraceful doings of FIFA for many years. They have proved over and over again that they are incapable of cleaning up their act. An independent commission with powers to go through all their books would be a start.
Failing that, is it not possible for a rival breakaway football organisation to be set up to which all decent people and Football associations can subscribe?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Peaceful protest and the Met

This is a quite incredible picture. Having seen footage of the van surrounded by young aggressive males rocking it and bashing the windscreen with a brick, it is testimony to the bottle, intelligence and persuasive powers of this group of girls. They appear to be from the same school. The body language is an odd mixture of defiance and humility allied to more than a bit of fear. 

Whenever people talk about what is or isn’t ‘cool’ think of this photo. These girls are cool in every sense of the word.

The picture is an antidote to the bile pouring forth from the Metropolitan Police. Having been embarrassed by their incapacity to protect Tory HQ a fortnight ago they reverted to their usual OTT tactics and alienating arrogance. Is Theresa May content to see young people ‘Kettled’ for over 6 hours in very cold conditions? Is Nick Clegg sanguine about the use of mounted police to charge into a trapped crowd of young people? What an indictment of our leaders and our government. 
“The schoolgirls who brought attacks on the police vehicle to an end by standing around it with linked hands in flower-power poses understood the power of images better than their elders.
For this picture tells a lot, very quickly. It tells us the menace of violence is real as anger grows among groups directly afflicted by the coalition's cuts. Yet it also reveals that most protesters are peaceful, idealistic, with a sense of history and of the gravity of their actions. Most of all it tells us how amazingly young many of them are.
Future historians may well write that the Conservative-Liberal coalition was doomed the day schoolchildren took to the streets to assert their right to a university education.”  Jonathon Jones, The Guardian
Controlling demonstrations is frequently uneventful and very peaceful because that is what the great majority of them are, peaceful and uneventful. Forces across the country handle them reasonably and calmly. Not the Met. The Met seem to regard themselves as above the law. The Met appear to regard any form of protest as an insult to their machismo. They are confrontational, aggressive and currently unfit for purpose. As the capital’s police force they are going to encounter more demonstrations and protests than any other force. They should train their officers and more particularly their commanders, to use minimum force, maximum civility and never ever forget that protest and demonstration are crucial planks in our democracy. And they should sack the many thugs masquerading as police officers who enjoy cracking skulls and intimidating people.
The reaction is gathering momentum. The following is a letter sent to The Guardian.
“As parents of sixth-form school students we are concerned at the tactics adopted by the police at the demonstration in London on Wednesday (School's out, 25 November). We support the right of our young people to protest peacefully about cuts to state support for higher education and, while recognising the challenges, have been dismayed to hear stories of police violence and the use of kettling to detain young people until well into the evening in freezing conditions. While the girls were eventually allowed to go home, many of the young men were detained until close to 10pm. No wonder fires were lit. Our sons and daughters have described individual protesters being floored by batons and beaten by police for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We are disappointed that the improvements in policing since Ian Tomlinson's death appear to have been abruptly reversed as a response to the misjudgment last time round. Our young people recognise that some police were friendly and helpful. That other members of our police force should be free to exercise what looks like random violence is shameful to us all. Students are debating among themselves about how they can best be heard. When the next demonstration comes around, we will be there protesting alongside our young people. We hope the police will have reconsidered their tactics by then.
Ginny Clee, Graeme Cookson, Ross Cooper, Ros Davies, Simon Edwards, Phil Grey, Janette Keller, Sarah Saunders
And so it grows!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Onanistic Bankers and Osborne

“We are all in this together” chant our millionaire leaders. Most of the analysis to date suggests that women and the poor will suffer the most. So what happened to all the pre-election promises about tackling the greedy bankers? Today’s Guardian editorial tells it straight.
“Here is what a climbdown looks like. Just over a year ago George Osborne went on GMTV and pre-emptively slammed banks that planned to pay "inexcusable" bonuses. "Let's end the big cash bonuses," he said. "If there's spare cash at the bank it should be lent out to small businesses, medium businesses, to help people keep their jobs."
Scroll forward to this week and the former shadow chancellor is now in No 11, with the power to put his promises into his action. So what does he do? Backtrack. This week it was revealed that Mr Osborne is writing to his counterparts across Europe in an attempt to win support for a common set of rules on bank bonuses. Struggling ministers often opt to kick troublesome policy issues into Brussels' patch, where the grass can grow very long indeed; and it is a fair bet that there will be no action on bonuses before this year's handouts are made in the City – or, for that matter, before next April, when Mr Osborne begins his programme of the sharpest public spending cuts in postwar history. So much for all being in it together.”
“….In many industries, bonuses are a matter of a few hundred quid at the end of a year for a job well done. Not in finance. In July the Financial Services Authority revealed that at least 2,800 bankers in the UK received total remuneration of over £1m in 2009, from a sample of just 13 institutions. Around 1,200 of those were employed by UK banks.”
For how much longer will Vince Cable bite his tongue, swallow his principles and continue to mouth phrases which must taste like the bottom of a budgies cage? At some point, whether it be tuition fees,benefits or Bankers bonuses, the Lib Dems will have to assert themselves. Otherwise they are doomed. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Camden School for Girls Letter to staff

More than 200 sixth-formers from Camden School for Girls who went on the protest march today explained their reasons in a letter to their teachers.

"We are writing to explain why we are walking out of school today.
Firstly, we would like to stress that our action is not a negative reflection on the education we receive here at Camden School for Girls. We appreciate the high quality of teaching and provision, which is a reflection of the effort put in by all members of the school community.
We are doing this not to skip lessons, but as a demonstration of our solidarity in the face of the harsh and unrealistic cuts proposed by the government, and indeed as an expression of just how much our education is valued through this sacrifice. This solidarity can be seen in the numbers who have walked out today, including the entirety of the senior prefect team. We regret the loss of valuable contact time that will occur as a result of our walkout, and we hope that teachers will use it to the best of their ability for other duties.
Walking out of school is by no means an easy decision, and we have not taken it lightly. Sometimes, it can be effective to protest by less radical means, such as through mass letter-writing campaigns and out-of-hours pickets. But the nature of the government's harsh ideological attack on students and the poor is such that we do not believe there is any other option open to us in getting our voices heard.
So today we join thousands of students up and down the country in saying no to the government's proposed legislation on university funding.
As proud products of state education, we know how important it is that education remains equally accessible to all, and does not descend into a free market where one's chances of getting into a good university are based not on ability, but on ability to pay. We feel we must defend this principle in the name of our founder, Frances Mary Buss, who recognised the unfairness for girls in a system where secondary education was only an option for those who could afford it.
Many of us have had second thoughts in the past about whether to attend university due to the prospect of debts incurred as a result of tuition fees. Now it is likely that such fees will be tripled in many cases, transforming such qualms into an incredibly serious factor in taking the decision on whether to apply. Some of us are unlikely to apply at all if the government go ahead with raising the cap to £9,000.
We know how much the teaching body too values our education and our hopes to do the best we can in life. But now both of these principles are under threat from the government. We hope you understand our belief that if we do not act now, and act decisively, our futures, and those of all future Camdeners, could be under threat.
Above all, we urge you to contact the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to express your concern that the government has driven us to this last-resort form of protest."
Thanks to the Guardian online 
Are you listening Gove, Cameron and especially you Clegg?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Poor Teachers

For all of you who are concerned about the future of our country please watch this. 
It is a link to an inspirational thinker, educator and genuine force of nature. It is provocative, it is very funny and it is an antidote to the bean counters who have held sway over far too many deeply thick, self-serving Education Ministers. It is rallying call to all who value free thinking and the real purpose of eduction. 
Sample: a teacher approaches a small child in a primary school drawing a picture. "What are you drawing" the child is asked. "I am drawing a picture of God," replies the child. "But no-one knows what God looks like" says the teacher. "They will in a minute" says the child.
Warning to square peg people - you may not like it. 
A system that reduces a bright engaged 7 year old to tears because he is taking his SATs and doesn't want to let anyone down is a shitty system. A system that encourages primary schools to devote 75% of their time to practicing exam technique is an abomination. A system that reduces teacher creativity to figuring out how to swing the figures to climb the league table is barking daft. A system that actively undermines our future potential is economic suicide.
And then Ofsted came down from their mountain top today to declare too many lessons dull. What a surprise! Fancy that! Place teachers in a straightjacket and then complain that they struggle. But whose fault is it? 
In a teaching career lasting 36 years there were 19 Education Ministers. Each wanting to make their mark. Desperate to 'innovate.' The worst by some considerable distance was the slug-like smug bastard Baker who brought us the 1988 Act (which then had to be massively amended by Dearing  because it was so ill-thought out). Each 'Initiative' takes no account of what has gone before - what worked, what didn't, what just needed a tweak and what needed binning. 
Do they get Ofstedded? Do they hell. 
They are on the stepping stone to political power and god help anyone in their path…..or not, in some notable cases, who fell by the wayside.
Remember Ken Robinson - think about his ideas - it does not have to be so bloody awful. 

Monday, 22 November 2010

Referees Strike in Scotland

Referees Strike in Scotland

Just heard a one-sided discussion on Radio 5 about the proposed strike coming up next weekend from so-called experts which was quite disgraceful. The fact that 30+ top referees in Scotland should meet and feel angry and unsupported enough to take this step should give pause for thought. Death threats? Always been there. Abuse? Goes with the territory. Managers claiming you are a disgrace? Blaming you for their teams poor performance? Its the way of the world.

No it damn well isn't. It is the way of Big Football which cannot see further than the next massive payout. Supine FA's failing to support their referees over many years and copious incidents escalating to ref's families getting death threats or their employers getting abusive calls. It is serious. Very serious. It would really bring it home to football authorities if all referees were to support this strike - at every level of the game. 

Why anyone should ever want to be a referee in the current climate is beyond belief. At all levels of football there are plenty of supremely stupid numpties who make refereeing a very difficult job. And that includes Alan 'Gobby' Green. Every time he and his short-sighted colleagues rip into a referee, they do not appreciate the corrosive effect their caustic comments have on the wider game. The diminishing Saturday leagues, the declining Sunday leagues and struggling junior leagues. All having difficulty getting referees. 

Anyone who has watched local football over the years will be familiar with the farcical situation arising when a referee does not show up. One of the non-players usually has a go by standing in the centre-circle (or even off the pitch) and sooner rather than later,  mayhem breaks out.

So Five lIve Sport. Get it into your incredibly one-dimensional heads - no referee = no game. 

It doe not have to be like this. Look to Rugby Union for a solution before it is too late. 

This is a copy of an email sent to 'fivelivesport get in touch'

Sunday, 21 November 2010

House of Frauds ride again

When in a hole - stop digging. A basic rule for most people - but not governments.
The House of Lords avoided the close scrutiny which MPs went through (thanks to a determined journalist, and no thanks to the MPs themselves) but every so often there emerges a whiff of corruption. 
Recently Baroness Udin and two colleagues were suspended for serious expenses frauds. Not kicked out - merely suspended. Not jailed - suspended. The coalition government go on about reform quite a lot. However their announcement of 54 new peers does little to reassure that they mean what they say.
As the Guardian online reported, "By what logic does a government which is cutting the size of the House of Commons do what this one did this week? Under the parliamentary voting system and constituencies bill, the number of MPs in the elected house will be reduced by 50, from 650 to 600. Yet this same government yesterday increased the number of members of the unelected House of Lords by 54 to nearly 750. " 
"More importantly, the new appointments, many of them involving rich donors to all three parties, give a sugar rush to the old politics that the coalition says it wishes to destroy. "
Note that last bit ,'many of them involving rich donors to all three parties.' So no change there then. 'Cash for Lordships' is alive and well. Inspector Knacker could not find sufficient evidence to prosecute the Blair team. Fancy that! A bunch of characters slipperier than a bag of eels writhing in WD40 could not be nailed down. So it must be legal. Stinks to high heaven - but it is legal.
Tweaking the size of constituencies and reducing the number of MPs has some merit. However it is pissing in the wind when the scale of real reform is considered. 
A second chamber made up of wealthy donors buying status, party hacks, ageing celebs and a handful of the great and the good is not fit for purpose. Adding more of the same is no answer.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Just so you know. The following comes from Liberty's website.

"The Guardian newspaper revealed on 6 December and 12 September 2005 that airports in Biggin Hill, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brize Norton, Farnborough, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, RAF Mildenhall, Northolt, and Stansted have allowed CIA or CIA-chartered jets to land temporarily. These aircraft had flown into the UK approximately 210 times since 2001.

· Liberty alerted the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in November 2005 to its fears that the UK is in breach of domestic and international law by allowing CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights to land and re-fuel in Britain.

· On 30 November 2005, Liberty called on the Police Chief Constables of Bedfordshire, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, the Metropolitan Police, the Ministry of Defence Police, Suffolk, Sussex, Thames Valley, and West Midlands to conduct an investigation into whether the airports in their regions were being used to transport suspects to countries known to practice torture. In response to Liberty’s request to the police, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Michael Todd confirmed on 19 December 2005 that he would look into “extraordinary rendition” flights on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO.)

· On 26 May 2006, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that the Government was not doing enough to investigate whether UK airports are being used by secret CIA flights involved in the practice of extraordinary rendition.

· On 7 June 2006 the Council of Europe released preliminary findings concluding that CIA flights carrying terror suspects likely to face torture have been given access to UK airspace and airports.

On 21 February 2008, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted that two US extraordinary rendition flights refuelled on Diego Garcia in 2002."

So that leaves 208 Rendition flights unaccounted for then?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Intelligence and democracy

We are in a mess. The acceptance in Parliament that the Government will pay several millions to claimants saying they were tortured with the connivance and collusion of the UK is very worrying. Labour cannot say a word as all this happened on their watch. Several ex-Ministers will be really pleased as the cloak of secrecy descends on the whole affair. The Libdems are tied into the coalition and are minding their p's and q's. As for the Tories? Mention 'National Security' and the majority of them roll over and wait to have their tummies tickled. It leaves one of the most shaming incidents in a legal limbo. We are relying on those MPs described as 'the usual suspects' to stick up for decency and transparency.
 Ken Clarke said, "We want to draw a line and move on." There was also much guff from all sides about the Inquiry (lead by a Security insider) and a lot of talk about 'National Security." It suits the political classes of all parties to 'move on.' They talk of realpolitik and necessary judgements. There is little or no talk of values, rights or justice.
Thankfully not everyone buys this consensus among our rulers. The Independent leader on Wednesday raised some serious concerns.
"There is a questionable relationship between the intelligence services and elected politicians too. The previous Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, under advice from the intelligence services, led an unsuccessful attempt to block the courts' release of evidence relating to Mr Mohamed's mistreatment. Mr Miliband argued that the information would harm national security and damage our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States. Yet when the evidence was made public by the Court of Appeal, it was immediately clear that it contained nothing that justified Mr Miliband's attempt at suppression. This setback has been casually brushed off by the intelligence services. They are now lobbying the present administration to retain control orders for terror suspects, despite a Coalition pledge to review their use.
This all adds up to a malign pattern of behaviour. The intelligence services have grown over-mighty. They do a valuable and often dangerous job in safeguarding the public. But they need to be subject to democratic authority and judicial oversight. In short, they need to learn their proper place." Independent 17/10/2010
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Who watches the watchmen? Certainly not the present supine self-interested smug bunch occupying valuable space in Westminster.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Royal Marriage

Pass the 10 gallon sick bucket. The media (and that means ALL of the media) are obsequiously tugging their collective forelocks and being ever so grateful for a 'good news story.' Delighted subjects chant how happy they are for the pair. Sloane Rangers line up to add their twoguineasworth. 'Call me Dave' milks it for all he is worth. A Government heading for distinctly rocky waters finds a lifebelt. A whole industry springs into life giving 'colour' to the story. Anyone with even the faintest connection to the two millionaires are rubbing their hands and ringing the cash tills. The Glenda Slags, Phil Spaces and the Sylvie Krins hug themselves with glee. Miles and miles of column inches given over to tosh, guff and grovelling.

The coverage so far has been appalling. 

When will we grow up?

And all this on a day when it became clear that the government acting in our name has all but confirmed its involvement in torture. BBC Newsnight devoted barely thirty seconds to the torture story - and over 20 minutes to Right Royal Drivel. 

Should you feel the same then please access the Beebs complaints procedure via its online website. Then just maybe there could be a bit more matter-of-fact approach to the whole thing rather than this vast outpouring of dog vomit across the airwaves.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Are you listening Miliband? Are you listening Straw?

You are a pair of lying bastards. Time after time you declared that the UK was above reproach in the matter of colluding with torture. Time after time you fought tooth and nail through the courts to prevent information emerging. And all of that time you knew. You knew that the UK co-operated with flights to so-called 'black prisons' in Morocco, Poland, Diego Garcia and Iraq. You knew that British subjects had been tortured by foreign agencies. You knew that British agents helped provide questions. 
The argument that you did not know does not hold water. As Foreign Secretary you would have to be told. The only plausible alternative would be that you were both complete gullible fools who did not ask any questions of security staff when these issues kept appearing in the media. 
Todays developments continue the establishment's desperate attempt to suppress the truth. Ministers appear to have decided on the advice of the security services that they could not afford to risk the exposure of thousands of documents in open court on how Britain co-operated with the US on the so-called extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. 
Still they try to cover up their crimes. Yet again 'National Security' is used to justify the unjustifiable. The latest wheeze involves using millions of taxpayers cash to buy silence. The judge appointed to hold the Inquiry into the whole affair is already complicit with the security services. So no surprise there. We are also waiting for the Police to complete their enquiries into two cases, "which could go on for several months." So why the rush to conclude these matters? 
Perhaps the money used to buy silence could come from the reprehensible Tony Blair? He has a bit to spare - although he would be well advised to put some on one side for the day he eventually appears in court.
Ken Clarke gave the game away in his statement to the House today. "We want to draw a line and move on." You bet they do. Straw and Miliband welcomed the decision to pay millions so long as confidentiality was maintained. No surprise there either.
Whichever way you look at it  - it stinks. 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wormtongues suck up to Mr Sleaze

The news that the England World Cup bid team have written a two-page hand-wringing letter to the loathsome FIFA does not surprise. FIFA make most Bond villains look incredibly tame in comparison. Have the bid people not an ounce of self-respect? Is big money involved? Are bears Catholic? 

"We are ever so sorry, dear nice Mr Blatter, but we are unfortunate enough to live in a free country where we have no control over our media, unlike your wonderful organisation. Please don't hold it against us. We have done everything you have asked for. (And a lot more …) We made the strongest representations to the Sunday Times about their despicable way of exposing a couple of your committee. Please forgive us. Please do not judge us on the basis of investigative journalism. Please, please, please do not watch 'Panorama' (assuming the Beeb have the balls to broadcast it) and please give us the World Cup so we can all make shed loads of cash - I mean, have a wonderful competition." 

They know who and what they are dealing with. FIFA are a deeply corrupt organisation. Big Football is rotten through and through. Check www.transparencyinsport.org for further details. Andrew Jennings has exposed the way FIFA does business and is  barred from FIFA press conferences. To suggest that there are one or two rotten apples when the whole orchard is crawling with maggots gives a new meaning to 'rose-tinted.'  

Every time you think big football cannot get any worse along comes another pair of slimy self-serving toadying toe-rags to prove you wrong. 

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Among the chatterati there seems to be agreement that the taking of Millbank detracted from the aims of the demonstration. In the crowd at Millbank was a Guardian worker who said he witnessed students calming down their more fiery colleagues - basically telling them 'not to be a knobhead.' Their response to the dropped fire extinguisher was to chorus, "Don't throw shit." And they are angry at the unfairness of it all. Among the demonstration were many FE students who really have been clobbered. 

John Harris wrote in the Guardian, "While the coalition comes over all Churchillian, endlessly talking about the "national interest" and the spurious idea that we are "all in this together", there is also a low hubbub of noise about their shortage of a mandate. On Wednesday, the ire of the marchers was focused on all those Lib Dems who blithely signed the NUS's anti-fees pledge ("I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative" – yesterday, Nick Clegg limply said that he "should have been more careful" than to put his name to it). But there are also serious questions about the Tories – not just that they are pushing what Cameron recently called a "revolution" with the support of around one in five of the electorate, but also when it comes to the pronouncements they made during the election campaign."
"Consider, for example, a now-infamous quote from the PM, issued on the Andrew Marr show on 2 May: "What I can tell you is any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: 'Here are my plans' and they involve frontline reductions – they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again." And really: they wonder why some people are increasingly angry."
Harris ends his article by bringing it back to the root cause of all our problems; outrageous greed.
"..on 3 November, a Treasury minister named Lord Sassoon served notice that the coalition's work on City bonuses was done: "The government has taken action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the banking sector," he said, and that seemed to be that. Six days later, Barclays announced that its latest bonus pot would total £1.6bn – which is about a third of what the government currently spends each year on university teaching. The annual season of big executive payouts is about to commence once again; at this rate, do not be surprised if the seditious spirit of Millbank spreads – and fast." Guardian 12/11/2010
One final thought. Apparently the Tory party rent Millbank from an offshore company.........

Friday, 12 November 2010

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg
"Two months before the general election, Nick Clegg warned there would be "riots" on the streets if the Conservatives introduced extreme cuts. Now they have begun – and Clegg himself is the chief cutter.
There was a whiplash moment this Wednesday. Inside the House of Commons, a pale-faced and barely coherent Clegg was championing the trebling of tuition fees at Prime Minister’s Question Time, despite the fact he promised before the election to “implacably oppose” this move because it would be “a disaster”. Then, in a low rumble, the chants of the 50,000 betrayed students massed outside began to echo into the chamber. He began to stumble: “We have stuck to our ambition? our wider ambition?” (Laughter, jeers). “Our policy is more progressive?” (Hoots from all sides, including his own.) “The truth is before the election we didn’t know...” The chants got louder, and the excuses got more contorted.
Clegg is one of the great mysteries of British politics. Before the election, he told us “there isn't a serious economist in the world who agrees with the Conservatives... [that] we should pull the rug out from under the economy with immediate spending cuts.” Now he is one of the leading champions of doing exactly that. In just a few days after the election, he cleared a space in his swanky new ministerial offices and staged a bonfire of his principles." Johann Hari The Independent
Watching clips on 'This Week' last night, Clegg looked dreadful in the Commons. What this decision to collude with the Tory cuts is doing to his soul is the stuff of Faustian drama. How did he feel when most of the Tory benches cheered and roared their approval of Osborne's cuts speech? How does he look his party activists in the face back in his Hallam constituency?
"Whatever you think of these policies, how can anybody defend gathering the votes of millions of people on a clear mandate of opposing these Tory proposals, and then – as soon as the door of his ministerial limo swings open – championing each one of them? Remember: David Cameron got 36 percent of the vote in Britain, and even that was on a promise that “we’re not talking about swingeing cuts.” Some 60 percent of us voted for parties to his left. We could see the Britain he wanted to build – just this week, Great Ormond Street Hospital discovered it is facing a 20 percent cut in its budget – and we rejected it decisively. You can agree or disagree with the swinging of this scythe, but nobody can claim it is democratic." ibid.
To add weight to that argument. 35% of the electorate did not vote. Between them, the Conservatives and Liberals were supported by 38% of the electorate. Not such a mandate then.
And as for the students? The only question really is why it has taken them so long to get off their backsides and campaign against these iniquitous policies?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Actions not words

It emerged in the Guardian this week that secret tapes of people being waterboarded by the US have been wiped. And guess what? The CIA agents who did the wiping have been exonerated of any wrongdoing. So that is alright then.
This from the country who bang on about democracy and the rule of law until 'National Security' is mentioned. Then its throw away the rule book.
There is now a mound several metres high in Washington. 
It is made up of discarded rule books.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Frocking Hell

What have we here? A handful of men in frocks, unhappy that women will soon be wearing similar frocks are going to join another frock-wearing fraternity. And this fraternity has decreed that to be a female frock-wearer in their community is on a par with child abuse. And they should know. For their fraternity has committed, covered up and colluded with systematic child abuse for generations. 

Frocking lunacy.

Friday, 5 November 2010

David Cameron - a PR disaster

The news that Cameron has engaged his own personal photographer and cameraman on short-term contracts (to avoid the usual appointments procedure) says a great deal about 'Call me Dave.'

At a time when thousands of citizens face losing their jobs without much chance of getting another for some considerable time, it is a spectacular own goal for a so-called PR maestro. Or is it? Maybe he doesn't give a damn. 

As shallow as the scum on a stagnant pond.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Airport Security disgrace

Further to yesterdays posting about airport security. Dominic Lawson went into more personal reasons for concern in his Independent article.
"If we are to continue with the present arrangements and ignore the pleas of BA's chairman, however, then at least we have a right to demand this: that the whole rigmarole is carried out pleasantly and in a civilised fashion."
"This is by no means always the case, as illustrated by last week's story of how the X Factor contestants known as Jedward were regularly mocked by staff at Heathrow Airport (which they use three times a week to fly home to Dublin). The twins complained that they were continually pulled up for extra screening, for the amusement of the security officials; they finally made a formal complaint when a member of Heathrow's staff tried to force one of the twins to remove his trousers and the leg brace he wears to protect a broken ankle."
"BAA has now emailed an apology to the twins, admitting that "nothing excuses the behaviour". One would very much like to have the official responsible named and identified, but that will never happen, a fact which became apparent to me after my father had a similarly unpleasant experience at Gatwick last year. He has a lot of trouble with his legs (which has involved surgery) and so complained that he could not take off his shoes, as demanded at the security check, unless a chair were provided. This was eventually done with such spectacular gracelessness that my father told the security officer, after all the scanning was completed, that his attitude was disgraceful. At this point a uniformed, more senior, officer emerged, demanded my father hand over his passport and, when he refused, rang ahead to the easyJet flight and told them not to allow my father on the plane, lying that he had "not passed through security".
Eventually my father managed to get on a later flight to his destination. When he wrote to BAA to complain about its staff's behaviour, he was immediately reimbursed his extra fare – an admission of improper behaviour, one would have thought – but then the company's response to his request to know the identity of the security officer, and whether or not the man had been reprimanded, was to say that this was not possible "because of the Data Protection Act". Isn't it priceless that people who act with such contempt for the freedoms of others can be so quick to hide behind civil liberties legislation in order to evade proper exposure?" Independent 2/11/10
What a litany of abuse is taking place in the name of 'security.' A passenger travelling from Glasgow to Islay by plane had an even more alarming incident. As she waited in the Departure Lounge she asked a female official if there was a place to buy a bottle of water. The official was very offhand and dismissive. So much so that the passenger asked for her name. At this, the official turned her name badge over so her name could not be read and stonked off. End of story? No way. What followed illustrates perfectly what happens when nameless officials are given powers beyond their wildest imaginings.
The passenger boarded the small plane. After settling in she was approached by another official and asked to leave the plane. As she got off she was met by two armed policemen who said she was being questioned under anti-terror legislation. She was escorted away in full view of the remaining passengers. 
What happened next on the plane was astonishing. The Stewardess asked all the passengers to check that every item of luggage was theirs and could be accounted for. The seat where the removed passenger had sat was then systematically stripped of all its foam padding, right down to the bare metal frame. While this was going on her bag had been removed from the cargo hold, loaded onto a trolley and carried away to remote part of the airfield. By this time several passengers had become very alarmed at what was happening. The flight had also been seriously delayed while all this went on. 
The passenger was interviewed by the police who explained that she had been reported for taking pictures with her mobile phone in the Departure Lounge. She told the officers that she had a new mobile phone and was using the waiting time to get acquainted with its applications. She also told them about her run in with the official. The officers apparently realised they were involved in something innocent and became very helpful. They reunited her with her bag and also helped her get somewhere to stay.
As a frequent user of the Glasgow Airport the passenger found the experience very scary and intimidating. To her massive credit she took action and complained to the Airport Authorities. One of whom apologised but the airline did not. And there it stands. What happened to the malicious official? 
Just how many of these 'revenge' accusations are taking place? How many malicious searches happen on a daily basis? How many good looking young women get called over for extra attention? And what right of redress has someone with the bottle to challenge these bastards got? 
It takes a lot of nerve to take on 'authority' in all its pomp and especially over so-called 'security' issues. Our supine Parliamentarians can harrumph all they like but the balance between the state and the individual needs redressing urgently.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Dominic Lawson

Not a favourite columnist (and a loathsome Chancellor) but his thoughts in the Independent this week about the latest security incident are well worth reading.
"A novelist would regard it as too crudely ironic, yet these are the facts: the very day after the chairman of BA broke cover to denounce the "completely redundant" security checks to which his passengers are subjected, the security services discover ink cartridges rigged with explosives on board a cargo plane at East Midlands airport, en route to the US from Yemen."

"Despite the fact that the booby-trapped cartridges were addressed to two synagogues in Chicago, David Cameron declared that the intention was for the explosive devices to be set off while in mid-air, allowing the more excitable newspapers to declare that this would have been "another Lockerbie". In such an atmosphere of fear, the BA chairman's demand that we stop "kowtowing to America" in imposing "redundant" security checks (such as those involving the scrutiny of passengers' footwear) seems doomed to be dismissed, even though it is objectively as reasonable a remark now as when he uttered it. I wouldn't dream of suggesting that the people denounced yesterday by Ryanair's Michael O'Leary as "the securocracy" are actually pleased by this development; no, the happier crew will be the bomb-makers themselves, because the disruption of Western lives and businesses through the implementation of ferocious security measures is a principal objective, which means that the mere discovery of a device with potential to kill is a strike in their favour: even their failures can be judged a success, as long as we in the West react disproportionately or, better still, hysterically."

"The Prime Minister told the News of The World at the weekend that we "must not compromise with security". But we do, of course, and must. The only mass-murder successfully achieved by Islamist terrorists in the UK occurred not on an aeroplane but on the London Underground. Are we checked by scanners as we enter the Tube? Are even those wearing rucksacks required to show anyone their contents? No, and no. Why is this not done? Principally because if it became intolerably oppressive and time-consuming to negotiate the Underground network, London would be gridlocked and the economy of the region would experience something akin to a stroke. So, of course, a compromise is made with security."
"There is a second reason why the security services are relatively relaxed about the fact that checks are not made on the Underground: they know that in reality such procedures are not the way in which devices – let alone plots – are detected. The discovery of the allegedly explosive ink cartridges was typical in that it was the result of prior work by an intelligence service, in this case the Saudi Arabian one, which tipped off the British and American authorities. So far as I am aware, there have been no al-Qa'ida explosive devices unearthed as a result of airport scanning checks: the "airline bomb" plot of August 2006 was absolutely characteristic in being uncovered at an earlier stage by the intelligence services."
"The chances of detecting devices by random checks on the day of delivery are far lower than the long-suffering public may think. The US Transportation Security Administration each year runs dummy tests in the nation's biggest airports to measure the success of its scanners and security staff in detecting deliberately planted "devices". In its most recent report, it revealed that roughly 75 per cent of the fake bombs or component parts were not detected by any of the screening processes."
So the vast panoply of people, scanners, sniffer dogs and surveillance only works a quarter of the time. A fact the securocracy would prefer to keep hidden.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Oh dear! Just a couple of days after airline bigwigs talked sense about the ridiculously OTT airport security along comes manna from heaven for the security industry. Two ink refills were found with explosives in them. What an opportunity for the doom-mongers and vested interests to get their twopennorth into the supine media. First out of the blocks was notorious bully and former Home Secretary John Reid. He used the incident to pooh-pooh the airline chiefs. Well he would wouldn't he, he works for the security industry. 

As Julian Glover reported in yesterdays Guardian, "Jack Straw has given the game away. In the Observer on Sunday, he let slip the secret of the war on terror. "Never, ever, downplay the possible consequences." Ghouls under the bed, germs in the kitchen and al-Qaida's out to get us all: this is alarmist, and the coalition shouldn't fall for it. The telling word in Straw's statement is "possible". 

Any quote from the egregious Straw should be treated with extreme caution. He too is involved in the arms trade.

Glover went on, "There is another danger we need to be aware of too: the symmetry of self-interest between the would-be bombers and the security services assembled to stop them. Both have a tendency to magnify serious but isolated incidents into one great interconnected global battle. The American military likes to describe the arc of terror that supposedly runs from Afghanistan through Pakistan into Yemen and down through Somalia. The British security services warn us, as Sir John Sawers did in a generally wise speech last week, about "the plotting of terrorists who are bent on maiming and murdering people in this country".
These people aren't making it up. But they are part of a mentality that encourages us to believe there really is a clash of civilisations under way and that if we don't give them the tools to destroy the other side first, they will destroy us."
Years ago, a retiring President Eisenhower warned that the greatest danger facing the world was the arms-industrial complex. And so it came to pass in the Cold War. 
How convenient for the Soviet Bloc to be replaced by terrorism.
Jobsworths and pompous little prats at airports and in local authorities across the country have relished (and abused) the authority given to them by Parliament. MPs alarmed by the consequences of their disastrous Iraq War vote reacted to the warnings of the security services with alacrity. The self-same security services who assured us and them that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction…..
Many MPs were incapable of comprehending that to bring in all these security measures reinforced the terrorists and accorded them a power they do not merit. Handing over long-held freedoms is not the way to win the absurd 'war on terror.' Last week it was reported that the Police used anti-terror laws to stop and search over a thousand black and asian men without there being one follow up charge.  
The LibDems and the Tories said they would repeal and revoke the many anti-civil liberty orders pushed through by the last government and declared as such in their Coalition Agreement document.   Andrew Rawnsley said in his article in the Observer that the siren songs of the security services were weaving their spell over the Coalition. He concluded, "if they cannot hold true to their pledges on such fundamentals as justice and human rights, it will be hard to resist the conclusion that they can’t be trusted with anything".

Monday, 1 November 2010

Deeply deeply shaming

"Two passengers who attempted to voice their concern as a man was "violently" deported aboard a flight from Heathrow say they were thrown off the aircraft and quizzed by armed police.
The pair, both students, claim the man screamed as he was restrained by three guards from private security firm G4S, who were pinning him in his seat.
"He was handcuffed, clearly in pain and being violently restrained," said Matt Taylor, 29, an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
There has been concern about the treatment of deportees since the death earlier this month of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan failed asylum seeker who collapsed as he was being heavily restrained by G4S guards on a British Airways plane at Heathrow. After his death, fellow passengers who heard his cries for help said they regretted not having intervened.
"The passengers around me looked at each other in disbelief as they were confronted by the scene of this restrained man calling out for help," said Taylor. "Clearly the man was in considerable distress and pain."
He said the man screamed for several minutes as more passengers boarded the plane. "He was asking for his medication, with a minder telling him, 'You'll get your medication in Nairobi.' The man called out 'Help, help' repeatedly and shouted that he would kill himself in Kenya [if the deportation went ahead]."
Taylor said one of the G4S guards then leant over and pinned the man in his seat as other passengers became increasingly upset. Taylor went to approach the flight attendants but a guard told him to go back to his seat.
"I was immediately pushed in my back by one of the men that had been violently restraining the African man; he told me to sit down, keep quiet and that the African man was being deported, that these men were his escort or minders."
As the deportee continued to scream, Taylor decided he had to do something. "I was sitting there and decided I had to stand up for my values. I did not want to sit there for the next eight or nine hours feeling like I had sold out, like I had let this man down."
The pair demanded to see the captain but the request was initially refused. After the plane began to taxi the captain appeared and Taylor raised his concerns, but says they were dismissed.
"I was told by the cabin crew I could sit at the front of the plane so that I would not hear the man screaming. Which misses the point really."
The pair continued to voice their concerns before the captain ordered the plane to return to the terminal, where armed police were waiting for Taylor and Bowman.
"They were crowding around the exit and gave me the 'option' of leaving the plane – which I did. I had every privacy of mine invaded by the police, who analysed my passport, inquiring why I had visited countries such as Sri Lanka and UAE."
Taylor said he was questioned under anti-terrorism powers (my emphasis) for several hours before the pair were escorted to the underground station at Heathrow, where "it was suggested" he get on a train to London.
Taylor said: "Witnessing the extreme distress of that man being violently restrained against his will and being detained myself was extremely distressing. Perhaps this shows what happens when passengers do voice concern over the treatment of a deportee, but I would do it again because what we went through is nothing compared to the trauma that poor man had to endure."
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: "The safety and security of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance."
She added: "The Home Office makes the flight and security arrangements for all deportee passengers. It is not for the airline to refuse to carry a deportee passenger on the grounds of their immigration case as the airline has no knowledge of individual cases." Guardian Online 31/10/2010
Voicing concerns over the treatment of a fellow human being is now deemed to be within the remit of the anti-terror laws? What a disgraceful use of police powers, what an indictment of the last government and its attitude to civil liberties and what a legacy of thirteen years of NewLabour strutting its macho stuff on the world stage. And what does it say about our society and our attitude to illegal immigrants? Is this the best we can do?
Deeply shaming.