Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hail The Whistleblower!

Mark Reed: without whistleblowers, all of us would be subject to gross corporate and governmental abuses

Price-fixing. Corruption. Abuse. Murder. Neglect. Infant Mortality. The Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment. The Iraq Report. The Enron Scandal. Deep Throat. $400 hammers. $600 toilet seats. Abu Ghraib. Swiss banks losing records of Holocaust victims. The General Belgrano.

What do all these have in common?

Without whistleblowers, none of us would know about them. They'd still be Capitalism's Dirty Secret.

In your job, you probably have a duty. You have a duty of responsibility to your employer to do the job you're meant to do. You have a duty to the people you work with to do the best you can do. And a duty to the people you serve to ensure what you and other do is done right.

If you're a janitor, your job is to minimise corporate risk. In a way : an errand boy paid to clean up the mess of others. Whistleblowing is just an act of corporate housecleaning. It may be ugly, and vicious. But it is also a necessary part of our lives if faced with it.

In fraud cases, where we have instances of people committing fraud, if you suspect fraud and do nothing about that, you are implicated. You are offering silent assent.

At work, where there are cases of malpractice, cases of ethical breach, caes of poor service or delibrate poor customer care, that is a failure to perform the job, and therefore, disciplinary procedures.

Unless you're a whistleblower. If you're a whistleblower you're often persecuted for failing to accept offensive and dangerous corporate behaviour.

Whistleblowers are those who, according to some, try to sabotage their employers for personal glory. Often, they are ruined : sacked or fired, demoted to a desk in the Lunch Room with no staff, at best. Homeless, ruined, broke, bankrupt at worst.

Whistleblowers are those who are, I suppose, what one could call corporate conscientious objectors. Those who perhaps, and probably, tried to alert authorities to malpractice and corporate failure, and found those with the power to change the situation wanting. Those who value their souls more than their security.

The world needs whistleblowers : they are our heroes. They are those who, when faced with the unacceptable, took a stand at some personal cost for the good of others.

They filmed malpractice in nursing homes and were sacked. They revealed that profit is more important than health : and were sacked. They exposed torture : and were crucified.

Every employee – unless numbed or scared – has a duty. Imagine if your employer dumped toxic waste into the river you drink from. Imagine if your neighbour knew that : and didn't do a thing about it. Imagine if cancer ate you from polluted carcinogens that a Tobacco manufacturer refused to remove as it would cost them profits link. Imagine if those carcinogens can from your mothers 60-a-day habit.

Whistleblowers work in environments where reasonable steps to alert responsible individuals – managers, directors, MP's, whomever are ignored. It serves the needs of the Grand Fromages not to expose or reveal cases of mispractice in many cases. I've worked in environments where this was the case, and I know of people who were hounded out of a job through misuse of procedure in an environment where they were whistleblowers. Those who exposed malpractice were discredited and destroyed.

I'm not the only one. There are at least fifteen countries where whistleblowers are not protected in law. Journalists found mysteriously dead. Contractors talking late at night into telephones who then slid on black ice into freezing rivers. Shot dead in the streets by security forces for exposing corruption. Dead.

Whistleblowers do so not because it was easy, but because it was right. Anyone faced with an incident where they have exposure to malpractice, and do nothing about it is failing in their duties as a human being.

The policemen who did nothing as Ian Tomlinson was beaten? The nurses who ignored the obvious pleas of suffering, starving pensioners? These were those who turned a blind eye and allowed human suffering to endure. On their conscience is human pain and sometimes, death.And, as the cliches goes, all it takes for bad people to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

No business or organisation should be afraid of whistleblowers : but cherish them.

Without whistleblowers, no one would be aware of the facts of the Jean Charles De Menzies murder. An anonymous person in an office risked their career – and they lost their career – because they saw what they could no longer abide. They witnessed malpractice, corporate and institutional abuse, and the consequences of their ethics – valuing human beings over corporate abuse – were such that they lost their jobs.

The laws should be changed to enshrine and protect the rights of whisleblowers : and not just strengthened, but made illegal, and not only that, but the employment of any whistleblower legally protected so that their employment can only be terminated by an independent commission. So that what is right triumphs over corporate abuses. Because a human being is just one person, and all it takes to endanger human beings into silence is to threaten them.

Without whistleblowers, all of us would be subject to gross corporate and governmental abuses, and most of us would not be able to do a damn thing about it. Just shut up, and silently suffer the cold hand of an unseeing and uncaring God.

I praise the whistleblower : they are the voice of the conscience this world often lacks, and they should be protected to the utmost ability of the law from unjust corporate revenge.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Panic! The Big Flu is Coming...

...and it's going to wipe us all out...

Collective panic is the one thing society can't do without. Part of the holy trilogy that also consists of collective mourning (Diana and Jade Goody to mention but two) and collective hysteria (the World Cup on the big fuckoff screen while Carlsberg-Tetleys count the cash), it comes in cycles, regular as clockwork.

We suckle on scaremongering like a baby to a teat, feeding on the notion that The Big Plague is Coming like a periodical reminder of our mortality, which is probably why disaster movies routinely top cinema charts worldwide.

So let's just hope that the current panic surrounding the swine flu is nothing more than cyclical hypochondria like it has been a dozen times before.

The term "swine flu" first cropped up in 1976 when America's top health official warned: "The indication is that we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus that is the most virulent form of flu. In 1918, half a million people died. The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans". In the end dozens did die - but it was from the vaccine campaign.

And what to make of the fear surrounding Ebola amidst the chants of "It's coming home/ it's coming home/ Ebola is coming home"?

Then there was SARS. Tipped as the one thing that was going to obliterate the world's population, it resulted in a grand total of 71 cases and zero deaths in the US and not a single one in the UK.

Nothing, however, like the Avian Flu. "The World Health Organisation has warned that bird flu could be more serious than Sars", reported the Daily Mail in 2006 after a strain was found in a few chickens in Devon. They added that "it could cause some 50,000 deaths in the UK". Not quite what happened, of course, but enough to get George W Bush to hand the pharmaceutical giants "$7.1 billion to prepare for avian flu".

In the end there were 257 deaths worldwide - which is a paltry figure when placed against the hundreds of thousands that die every year from normal flu.

But exactly like it was with the apocalyptic predictions of "the Millennium Bug", the media are on top of their game when they build up paranoia and work people up, preying on our innermost fears and knee-jerk reactions - but when it turns out that it was just a nice dollop of hypochondria it's as if nothing had ever been written. Not a line.

So who's benefiting from all this? You can bet the big fat drug corporations aren't crying. With the UK alone "commissioning 30 million doses", at emergency rates, like Simon Carr wrote in the Independent, "the profits, at least, will be apocalyptic".

Monday, April 27, 2009

From Craig Murray

"ORIGINAL DOWNING ST SMEARS VICTIM RETURNS TO HAUNT NEW LABOUR"

"In 2004, Craig Murray told us that:

- The British Government was complicit in the most vicious forms of torture
- He had been the victim of a lurid smear campaign initiated by New Labour
- The government was lying about all this

In 2004, much of the public and media was not willing to accept that the government would cooperate with torture or with false allegations against an innocent man. Many still had trust in the basic honesty and decency of government.

The evidence that Craig Murray was telling the truth about torture has now become overwhelming, including from the case of Binyam Mohammed. The UK “benefited” continually from intelligence passed on from the CIA waterboarding programme and from torture in countries including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Egypt.

Craig Murray suffered the most high profile sacking of any British Ambassador for a century. But in 2005 the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee refused to hear him in evidence, despite allowing Jack Straw to appear and attack him.

Astonishingly, this is the first time Craig Murray will ever have been allowed to give formal evidence in the UK on his grave allegations, and be questioned on the truth of his testimony.

As the Scotland Yard investigation proceeds into MI5 and MI6 collusion in 16 cases of torture, Craig Murray will argue that it is not the security service operatives, but the Ministers who set the policy – and specifically Jack Straw – who should be facing criminal charges".

Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
Tuesday 28 April 1.45pm
Formal Evidence Session on UK Complicity in Torture
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
Witness: Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
(currently Rector of the University of Dundee).

Click here to read the transcript of Craig Murray's formal evidence statement.

More info at http://www.craigmurray.org.uk

Sunday, April 26, 2009

High earners, prestige projects and Simon Heffer

You've got to feel sorry for the super-rich having to pay tax: they may have to wait an extra week for their 5th Bentley.

How many people do you personally know who earn more than £150,000 a year?

Your boss, perhaps? Nobody at all? Well, that's not surprising, because the percentage of the entire UK population that can lay claim to that amount of dosh is a mere 1.5%.

That's probably why people like the Daily Mail and Tory toffs like the Telegraph's Simon Heffer are fuming. The Government, in fact, has finally subscribed to the Lib-Dems' old idea of adopting a 50p top rate, meaning that the super rich elite will have to pay a tiny bit more in tax. Heffer in the Telegraph describes it as "a savage and pointless attack on Middle England", with the added remark that "the idiocy, bigotry, tribalism and sheer class hatred of the Budget [will squeeze] the middle classes". No wonder. Senior opinion columnists like himself are rumoured to earn between £200 and £700k per year.

The joke, however, is that plonkers like Heffer truly believe that his lot are "Middle England", when even the Daily Mail reminds their readers that "[T]hose hit by the new high rate include entrepreneurs, City workers, the Royal Family, High Court judges, top managers and celebrities".

Are those Middle England? Does that involve the Prime Minister himself who, with an income of £194,250, "will see his tax bill soar by an estimated £7,957 a year"? Or Premiership footballers "likely", like the Mail says, to be hit particularly hard [with] their average basic salary of £1.2 million [meaning] a tax rise of £106,000 a year"?

Note that Daily Mail brands these people Britain's "top talent". We can only presume they're referring to the top bankers or the same 'risk-taking' entrepeneurs who took risks with other people's cash - ploughing the country into the biggest crisis in sixty years. Quite a joke when you consider the same paper was recently involved in some serious bashing against the 2% pay rise sought by nurses, teachers, binmen, police officers and other public workers.

But this is not to say that Brown and Darling have come up with a decent budget. Welcome though it may be, a 50p top tax rate alone is not going to generate enough cash. Compare the £5.2bn that it would raise with the £5bn cost of the mega-unpopular ID card scheme, the £6bn of the hideous Super Database or the staggering £70bn of the Trident nuclear weapons system, none of which were hardly brought in by popular demand.

Yet, to quote the Guardian's Simon Jenkins: "It takes guts to sink a Trident submarine or clip a hundred million off an Olympic velodrome. It upsets the people ministers meet at dinner".

Prolong a divisive debate?


Next time you get arrested, try telling the coppers that "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past". See where that takes you.

"We're all equal before the law", right? When the other day Barack Obama exposed years of dodgy CIA interrogation methods, including the White House-endorsed torturing of terror suspects, you'd have thought that prosecution would be the next step. Such interrogation techniques, "waterboarding" but one of them, have been deemed illegal (including by the US itself) since WWII.

Obama may have called it a "a dark and painful chapter in our history" and promised that America will never repeat the same mistakes, but he also pledged that no-one will be prosecuted. "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past", he said, a sentiment echoed by Alexander Chancellor in Friday's Guardian. "There are more urgent priorities", he wrote, adding that "Putting people on trial will [...] distract the Obama administration from its essential business".

Now, try and apply the same concept to all aspects of law and daily life. A burglar gets caught and then released without charges "because, there's no point in dwelling, let's just move on". Or a serial rapist. Why subject the poor victim to the stress of reliving her trauma in court? You could argue that it's "time for reflection and not retribution" and that the victim should simply get down to their daily business.

Or a fraudster. Again, a company may have been severely damaged by his or her illegal dealings, but, rather than bringing the crook to account and getting bogged down with legal quibbles, wouldn't the firm's shattered resources be better employed in dealing with their most "urgent priorities"?

So there it is. Next time you get caught, no matter which heinous crime you may have committed, just quote President Obama and tell the coppers that "they shouldn't be spending their time and energy laying blame for the past".

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bat For Lashes, Two Suns

Review by Mark Reed

In the fifties, she would iron, and clean, she would vaccum the house and darn socks, work idly round the house, gaze into the clouds and see the shape of her man. Him, stoic, hard, but soft, would fight the wars of the world outside, would drive the Buick to the office, smoke at his desk and calculate the profit gearing of the tea imports, sit and drink with the boys, play the role of the man, wishing that he was home, deep in his cocoon with her, the Juliet to his Romeo, as the world slowly killed them with dinner sets and social conventions.

This is what “Two Suns” sounds like. Two objects in orbit of each other, two massive balls of fire that can give or take life, burn or warm : two hearts, two objects of huge potential. In the rear view mirror of our lives, the two suns in the sunset – the setting white dwarf, the other the mushroom cloud of our great advances.

Two Suns”. Like the debut, it sounds like to me, the inarticulate speech of the heart, the rolling waves, the feeling beyond language, where fragments of lyric become a glimpse into another world, where percussion and punctuation thunder loving heartbeats, where souls move beyond the mundane to so much more than we ever thought.

This record elevates, transports, in the blink of an eye, a flash of the music, the whole world goes away, and you are there, dancing to a silent drum, gazing at the clouds, thinking of your loved one, the reason why we do all this, and hearing the voice of purpose in your head: This is why we do all this stuff, why we endure the indignities of work slavery and tax. Where souls meet, where lips touch, where love conquers all things. This record is not just music : the representation, the capturing in msuical form of a two hearted dream, where we, us together can conquer all.

This is the sound of being madly, passionately in love, that second where the souls entwine, and everything in the world is beautiful, and nothing is impossible.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy St George's Day?

A vintage tale of xenophobia.

She was laughing out loud. In her head, she was totally convinced she'd come up with the wittiest comment ever. That was my work colleague, a 50-year-old lady from a certain Northern town.

Proud owner of a second home in Provence, she was moaning about the fact that -when in France- her husband tends to attract people asking for directions. "They always mistake him for a local and ask him where places are", she added.

And then this: "So you know what I'm gonna get him for St George's Day? A t-shirt carrying a massive sign that says I'm fookin English, I don't speak fookin French, so stop asking me for directions!!!

Then another guffaw followed. And another. And then I left the room.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Crisis: forgotten victims

Temping workers and victims of repossessions. Who's talking about them?

Amongst the forgotten victims of The Crisis, as we already pointed out in February, there are agency or casual workers, i.e. the millions of people left with no protection whatsoever in the midst of the country's worst downturn in sixty years. This is the legacy of the most business-friendly set-up since the 19th century.

Yet, the bosses and their political mouthpieces are growling that the the labour market should be made even more flexible and that the minimum wage should be freezed or even reduced.

While the bailing out of banks is still regarded as a given across the political spectrum, the fact that hordes of people (don't forget that Britain features about half of all temping/agency workers in the EU) lost their jobs without any notice or redundancy money has hardly made the front-page news. When the word 'flexibility' became one of the staples at the political table in the 1990s, it was dressed up as a stepping stone towards a shiny permanent career.

For masses of workers, however, the only permanent thing they got to know was a non-stop "temping" condition in unprotected, dead-end, low-paid jobs. In the words of TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, "Too many employers are using agencies to replace secure jobs with reasonable terms and conditions with badly paid, insecure agency staff. Far from providing a bridge to permanent work, this runs the risk of creating an underclass of workers who cannot get permanent work, who have no loyalty to employers, and who have to move from part-time job to part-time job. "

Most importantly- and you won't hear any politician talking about this - this same temping army have spent years in the labour market without any chance of signing up to a pension scheme. If you consider Britain's post-WWII history, this is unprecedented, especially on such a large scale. The risk is that when this generation reaches pensionable age, millions of extra people will be left the wrong side of the poverty line.

Also, the victims of repossessions are hardly hitting the news. You don't have to be a left-wing liberal to realise that losing your home must be one of the worst experiences imaginable. And this is happening to 75,000 families this year on top of the 45,000 in 2008. Think of the amount of documentaries or investigative reports that could be made on the subject.

And yet you'll find that "Smeargate" and the naval-gazing and toss-arguing about Labour's weakness and inability to connect with people (this one by John Harris is a classic example), are receving a hundred times more attention. Stuff that, to most, sound incomprehensible at best and irrelevant at worst.

Millions of people are gagging to know: which political group is ready to offer immediate and factual help to the forgotten victims of the crisis?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Recession

"A tough time for the very wealthy", says the Wall St Journal. "They may not be able to have a new yacht the very second they want it", explains Mark Reed.

When is a recession truly a recession?

Is it when I hear about 1,125 billionaires becoming merely 793 billionaires? Or Forbes reporting their total net worth plummeting to $2.4tn from $4.4tn?

Is that poverty? Only the poverty of ideas, where all you seem to have as a goal is to make and keep money. Having £1,000,000,000 in assets is not a recession: it's the type of immense luxury that ensures you need not do anything you don't want to ever again. Apart from die. Not even money can conquer mortality. Yet.

If you're a billionaire, and you have, say £1,000,000,000 in assets, well, you're probably worth more than the total earnings – before tax – of around 50,000 people on the national average wage. Or, the lifetime earnings of a village of 800 people.

If you're a billionaire, you are 'worth' more than the whole of most corporations pay a year to all their employees.

If you're a billionaire, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You may not be able to have a new yacht the very second you want it, but if that's the biggest of your worries, well, you haven't got any worries at all.

If you're a billionaire, and you've invested your money poorly, and your 1,000,000,000 is not liquid, then you're not a billionaire. After all, if I look at the value of the assets I have, I'm worth an awful lot more than my bank balance tells me. If you were a billioanire and held onto now useless shares and assets instead of selling them when the market peaked ('the bigger fool theory'), then frankly, your greed is your undoing, not a recession.

Money is no good unless you can access it. It's not about what you are worth – an imaginary figure you could possibly achieve if you sold everything – but about what you can get.

If a billionaire isn't a billionaire anymore, well, I have no sympathy. A billionaire is already worth 50,000 years what someone on the average wage earns. A billionaire, or a millionaire for that matter, may have some money worries: but not like most people do. Not eating, sleeping in the streets, not earning a penny: these are our worries. Not if I'm not worth £1,000,000,000 anymore.

Of course, billionaires, millionaires, gazillionaires all get rich through one of two ways: either they were born into luxury and they are (mostly) utterly useless, or they make their money by taking risks and staking money in order to make money through business of some form or other. The problem with the latter way of thinking is that ultimately, you get rich by gambling.

And the house always wins.

And so the billionaires, who gamble their money, they've always won, they think they'll keep winning. That whilst they may be on a losing streak – they've won before – and the tide will turn. They'll win again.

This is how billionaires feel a recession. A stream of losses, but not actually losing what is important.

But a recession is rather more vicious than that.

We don't just wear clothes we've worn before to social engagements. We buy often and small, because the fridge isn't that big. We cut the frays off our jeans because we can't always get the sizes we want in the sales. We live with wives or husbands we have grown to hate because we cannot afford to live on our own.

It might be "a tough time for the very wealthy", according to the Wall Street Journal. But that definition of a “tough time” is the definition of luxury to almost everyone else on the planet.

A tough time for me, and many of us, is juggling overdrafts and credit cards and debts so we can still buy food. A tough time is making sandwiches and eating them at your desk at work, and going to an all-you-can-buffet and eating once a day. A tough time is hoping your shoes don't get holes in when it rains.

A tough time is going to the supermarket at the hour they discount the stock and playing Russian Roulette with food.

A tough time is having two separate bank accounts with two banks so that your overdraft cannot eat your salary in 'offset'.

A tough time is hoping to God you don't get the invite into the Director's Office at 4.00pm on a Friday afternoon after a long line of heartbroken and unemployed workers have been before.

A tough time is living in fear of the telephone and the scream from your Mother as you Dad tries to invent another way to avoid repossession and / or bankruptcy.

A tough time is a pay off at 53 and knowing that you may never work again.

Billionaires do not face the problems the rest of us have. The very wealthy's problems are insignificant to all but them: they have homes, and food, and futures. They may have to give up the yacht and forego the unearned cruise, but they will be able to buy new clothes and food. The very wealthy may have to forego living in a 6 bedroom mansion in SW1, but they at least have the option of selling up, moving out, living quietly in a suburb and not working again if that is what they absolutely want to do and can look beyond such imaginary vestiges of 'status'.

They need not fear the knock at 11.00am, or cutting the edge off mouldy bread and toasting it in the hope that they can not taste the bacteria anymore.

They need not face the age of 65 without a pension. They need not work behind the counter of McDonalds at 70. They need not rent from abusive landlords and hope they die before they need to go to a retirement home, because they have properties to sell to fund a retirement home, and many of us lost these homes, and we will simply curl away, a burden and dying before we should in an act of invisible, corporate murder.

This is how the recession kills us: not with a weapon, but with a consequence, often many decades away.

This the recession, and it is brutal, and ugly. And if a billionaire is now only a merely millionaire, he is still richer than 99.9% of the rest of the planet will ever be. And in that way, the only poverty they will ever know is that of ideas. There is more to life than money. But when money is the one thing you don't have, it is the one thing you need.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Internal bleeding

What excuse now for the police?

"He had a heart attack and the only contact he had with the police was when officers went to his rescue as he collapsed to the floor". Remember that?

Imagine if that New York fund manager had not come forward with his video evidence. That hasty, sweeping initial statement from the police would have remained unquestioned, a bit a-la David Kelly.

For his "incontrovertible" evidence forced the authorities to order a second post-mortem examination. It is now clear that Tomlinson did not suffer a heart attack. He died of "an internal bleeding in the adbdomen", a potential consequence of the police baton charging him and shoving him to the ground.

According to the Independent: "Tomlinson pathologist's decisions questioned", with the added info that "Dr Patel, who is on a Home Office register of accredited forensic pathologists, has had his handling of suspicious deaths questioned twice."

Even the Daily Mail joins the ranks: "G20 officer could face a charge of killing as post-mortem shows protester did NOT suffer a heart attack". Dacre's paper runs a special feature: "Day by day how the police version was contradicted" - though wouldn't it be great if the Mail also had another one about how their own version too keeps changing by the minute?

***UPDATE 19/4/09
"Channel 4 News has learned that the IPCC asked to be present during the first post mortem examination carried out on Ian Tomlinson but the coroner refused"

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Kettle Tactic

Mark Reed: "The official version is that every thing that is done is done to keep us safe. Not to control."

The smiley face, the blood stain, the badge. It was everywhere. “Who watches the Watchmen?”

And even though the film came out, and the comic has been legend since the summer of “Meat is Murder”, it has never been more pertinent.

Even now, eight years after September 11th – possibly the defining incident of our generation – our media, the obselete print network, and an antiquated government that has introduced over 1,000 new laws since 1997, has been obsessed. Obsessed with terrorists, an invisible enemy, and obsessed with ensuring that all of us are monitored and treated as if we are all guilty to be proven innocent.

I understand. So it may never happen again. By any means necessary. Or, as Nixon put it - “It's not illegal if the President does it”.

We live in an age where the average Londoner has a new security camera trained on him about 300 times a day. Security cameras in your trains, our buses, our workplaces, our streets. There is no way we live our lives in privacy anymore.

Not that I've ever seen the benefit in any great way in security cameras. Cameras just watch. I've never seen a hit squad of coppers intervene because they saw a fight on CCTV. Cameras watch silently our lives and our deaths, impassive glass eyes.

Because if The Establishment – a phrase coined by noted historian A J P Taylor, by the way – can watch us, it's for our own good. We don't know what's best for us, and we're too stupid to know any better.

History is written by the victors, and the official version is that every thing that is done is done to keep us safe. Not to control. Our emails are kept for a year, no matter what they are. (with 2 million emails sent a second in the world, that's a shitload of spam and love notes).

But if we want to watch The Establishment, every image we take could be of use to terrorists. And therefore, it is illegal. All a policeman has to do is say that we could be taking photographs of policemen so we could murder them, and then it is illegal to take pictures of policemen.

It's illegal to photograph a policemen with removed ID flashes, breaking the law, hitting a woman with a baton several times.

It's illegal to video a policeman hiding behind a riot shield, smashing a man to the floor just for walking near him. It's illegal to record these things. Lock up these terrorists!

But it's legal for a policeman to remove his ID, and assault the general public. It's legal because none of the officers around him stopped him: they saw a crime being perpetrated, and they did nothing. And the police, the Government, all forget the central tenement of everything they do. It is with our consent.

But We do not consent.

We do not consent to 'The Kettle Tactic' of illegal imprisonment of thousands of people in confined spaces without sanitation and food.

We do not consent to being bullied and assualted by anonymous liars who only tell the most spartan of facts when they realise that they were being filmed and cannot sustain a barefaced lie.

We do not consent to anti-terror legislation being perverted to allow councils to look in your bins and aim CCTV at your rubbish to see if you put a plastic bottle in the wrong box.

What do we want?

We don't want inquests. We want prosecutions. We want the lens of scrutiny to be held up to the executors of our laws and for them also to be subject to the same rule as the rest of us. We want justice.

And when we say justice, we mean: equality, fairness. Those who uphold the law to be answerable to the laws.

We want the men who hide behind uniforms who strike men and women with batons and imprison thousands in 'The Kettle' prosecuted. We want the people who were guilty of gross incompetence at Hillsborough to be held to account. We are sick and tired of 'inquests'. Sick and tired of whitewashes, and investigations made by internal parties, fuelled by people with one eye on their careers and appeasing distant powers that be.

We don't want an inquest to be held behind closed doors. We want inquests about corporate malfeasance and malpractice, about police abuse, about David Kelly and the G20 deaths and assualts to be held by open, independent investigators.

All of us know the phrase 'Judge, jury, and Executioner'. We all know that at the moment the inquests that happen do so where people and civil servants are accountable to themselves, not others, and cannot be judged impartially by their peers.



It is time the Government established a Public Investigation Office: a Department that exists solely to hold the Civil Servants, the Police, the Military to account within the full force of the law. For if they want us to obey their laws, they have to obey the laws themselves.

David Kelly warned of “many dark actors playing games": these dark actors have many faces, and one of which is the inevitable corruption that arises when one is only accountable to oneself – there is no restraint when you have no accountability.

We consent to the civil servants of this country being held accountable to the laws that govern the rest of us. No one is above the law.

We want the police to do their job: "If anyone wants to come to London to engage in crime or disorder, they will be met with a swift and efficient policing response" said Commander Simon O'Brien of The Metropolitan Police.

And we don't want the Police to be liars. After all, Perjury - the deliberate act of deception and lying - is still a crime. And no one should ever be above the law.

See also: Police delete London tourists' photos.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Mail, Tomlinson and the Countryside Alliance

The messed up world of Dacre & co: now they accuse "the left" of not supporting the Countryside Alliance against the police five years ago!

Not a good month for the Daily Mail. And to think it all looked so easy at first.

The G20 demo looked like the perfect opportunity to unleash middle class fears about anarchists descending on London to set fire to the readers' 4x4s, or to conjure up pathetic headlines such as "anarchists using Google Streetview to target the City", a genius concoction of "anarchists" and that evil unknown gizmo known as the "cybernet".

When April 1 and the clashes arrived, of course the Mail knew all about it. They proudly announced that they'd even "infiltrated the group at the heart of the violence", with plenty of stuff added about leftists pelting the police while being generally crusty and obnoxious. Then the news of Ian Tomlinson's death came in. The Mail accepted without questioning the initial police statements that they had nothing to do with the man.

When videos lined with the word 'bollocks' began to pile up, the tabloid's tack changed. They referred to Tomlinson as "the homeless alcoholic", a "drifter and alcoholic" who "was uncooperative or said something offensive, at a time when police nerves were frayed by the G20 riots."

But that didn't quite work either. The fact that Tomlinson may have liked a drink puts him perfectly in line with large chunks of the British population and, anyway, it still doesn't give the rozzas any right to shove you to the ground. With plenty of people thinking that "it could have been myself there", the Mail handed Stephen Glover the noble task of writing that "Too few of us now spring to the defence of the police". Except that the point wasn't so much that some police officers lost the plot, but rather that the police lied. Again.

Two weeks on, practically everybody -even on the right- agree that, at the G20, the police fucked it up more or less big time, that new guidelines are needed and that the whole culture of policing demonstrations is in need of a review.

With nothing else left to clutch at, today's "Mail comment" (would you believe it) travels back in time. "Double standards", they write, as they now accuse the left of having a "muted response to the heavy-handed policing of the [pro foxhunting] countryside march five years ago". Five bleeding years ago, as opposed to "the howls of outrage from the liberal media over the assaults on Miss Fisher and Mr Tomlinson".

To beef it up, Robert Hardman argues that whereas "the April 1 riot had no real focus or purpose beyond smashing a few City windows, the 2004 [Countryside Alliance] demonstration was about preserving a way of life". "Where [were] the cries of 'Shame!' and 'Injustice!' from The Guardian or the usual gang of maverick Labour backbenchers?", the Hardman adds.

So, with your average Daily Mail reader unable to remember past the last time they filled up their 4x4 with petrol, here's a quick reminder of what happened five years ago.

The pro-foxhunting Countryside Alliance demo outside Westminster consisted of thousands of people pushing past the police to get into the House of Commons. A few succeeded in invading the Parliament, including Bryan Ferry's son Otis and a couple of Prince Harry's mates. Understandably that posed serious issues of security. "What if Al-Quaeda do that next time?" many asked.

Back then the Daily Mail dubbed it "the most dramatic security breach in living memory", reporting Tory MP Liam Fox calling for "additional security". On Sep 16, 2004 the Mail quoted the police saying that "there was clearly an attempt to break through the cordon. [The Countryside Alliance] were throwing placards and other missiles and picking up barriers and throwing them. Demonstrators were using violent tactics".

Evidently, for the Mail, Tomlinson stumbling away from the police with his hands in his pockets and demonstrators storming the Parliament deserve both the same treatment.

So go on Daily Mail, make up your mind: are the police justified in being heavy-handed, yes or no?

Also on the subject: the excellent 'Daily Quail'.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hillsborough and the Sun

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy and the most vulgar moment in the Sun's (in)glorious history.

If you bought the Sun today with the sole purpose of giving your right hand some inspiration, then you may want -just this once- to trade it with the Daily Star. Here's why.

This morning the Sun asked the whole nation to remember the 96 victims of Hillsborough on the 20th anniversary of the doomed FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

What the best-selling red top doesn't mention, however, is that Britain's worst football-related memory also coincided with the paper's most vulgar moment - and that's after considering the industrial amounts of trash the country's favourite tabloid cooks up every day.

You may already be aware that the Sun don't shy away from milking a story or even making one up altogether. It's happened plenty of times. Anything to make some extra cash, and who gives a flying one if lives are destroyed or reputations mangled.

But that the Sun could do that on the back of the worst tragedy in contemporary British history was a shock for everybody, including the most cynical amongst ourselves. In case you were too young to remember, editor-in-chief Kelvin MacKenzie masterminded a front page headline "THE TRUTH", along with claims that that some Scouse fans picked the pockets of crushed victims and urinated on members of the rescue services as they tried to help.

Within days it became clear that the 'outrageous' story had been totally fabricated. The police said it was bull and so did the thousands of witnesses. Harry Arnold, the reporter who wrote the story, later made it clear that Kelvin Mackenzie was fully aware that the Sun's allegations were impossible to substantiate.

Still, as recently as two years ago, on the BBC's Question Time, MacKenzie (still at the Sun) said, "I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now" for the paper's coverage. What an arse.

The hundreds of newsagents in Liverpool who are still refusing to stock the Sun haven't forgotten.

Sisters Of Mercy, London Forum, 9 Apr 09


Mark Reed on the return on stage of Andrew Eldritch and friends.

To say you've seen The Sisters Of Mercy is an untruth: you don't see The Sisters, you experience them. They create a space of smoke and shilouettes, of gonzo amphetamine lighting, strobe lights and create a space where you can lose - or more likely find - yourself.

Soundtracked to this is a darkly humourous parody of a rock band, where sturm-und-drang guitars cut through the senses like cheesewire, and Andrew Eldritch's vocals - the sole original member of the group - are a baritone parody, a cross between Bowie and Leonard Cohen with a line in hyperliterate layering.

I love The Sisters: a space where you can remove yourself, forget the world as it is, and get lost in the roar of a machine, the rhythm of the moment, and build a new world. They exist only in front of your eyes, whispering in your ear, disappearing as if they were never there the moment they fade from the stage, and when they are on stage, The Sisters are hyperactive shadows in an apocalypse of lights, smoke, and fog. Nobody else does it like this, and nobody ever will. They have good days, and bad days: on their bad days, it's like watching a car crash in slow motion for 80 minutes - on good days God shows you the tricks of his box of creation. With guitars.

So what are The Sisters? First and foremost, they are intellectual love gods and a finely tuned rock machine. Their unique sound - buzzsaw guitars and a mechanised rhythm section that ensures a tight but loose, locked but fluid groove. The songs roar and hum. (But the sound system isn't loud enough and the vocals submerged under guitars). The Sisters Of Mercy exist, that's true. Albeit, as an abstract concept, an entity which hovers into view most years for a few nights across the world before disappearing again in the blink of an eye.

And The Sisters have existed at this level for a decade and a half now; no longer a recording entity, with an evolving line-up, alienated from a music industry that sees them as troublesome (when, in all honesty, The Sisters are just a lot more contractually aware than most musicians), and instead determined to continue as a stubborn artistic identity. They always followed their own path, reinventing their feel with each release - moving from the drug-fuelled adrenaline rush of the early singles to the more intricate middle years, before becoming a darkly bombastic apocalyptic soundtrack.

Final album, released a staggering 19 years ago, was the proto-metal edged Vision Thing that was cruelly under-rated at the time and saw the band painting themselves into a sort of corner. I miss their albums. There are probably a lot of them on hard drives somewhere in Leeds and Germany. Some bands release too many albums; some release too few.

And where do you go after the end of the world? Well.. you just kept going. The Sisters rotated members, and forged a new sound that was both old and new: a mechanised groove machine that uses the limitations of the static rhythms to create a rigid template, within which The Sisters still work. Since it's been two decades since the last album, they have a surfeit of new stuff - as good as the old canon, but tempered by unfamiliarity: after all, no matter how good a song is, if you only hear it twice a decade, it is difficult to work out the true depth of meaning and power of the song.

In the meantime, they open with an underwhelming Crash and Burn, which, being a newie, manages to expel the enthusiasm of 2,000 people with a question. And this one of the issues of the show : pacing in a concert is important, knowing when and how to manage the expectations of the show and the audience. Certain songs always seem to raise the audience response, and why The Sisters don't exploit this with a selection of well known big hitters early on - such as Dominion, Lucretia, Alice, Anaconda, Ribbons and Train/Detonation Boulevard for an opening salvo - instead the band open to a tepid response that slowly builds steam.

The new material played - the aforementioned Crash And Burn, the atmospheric We Are The Same Suzanne (which is frankly, eight bars too long tonight), and the brand spanking new Arms, match the same high quality of the known works, but suffer only from a lack of familiarity. Despite entering a state of radio silence, the Sisters are still producing new material. One person says to me he doesn't like the new stuff - but then again, if you only heard "Dominion" once and live every three years, you may not like it too much either.

However, for anyone expecting a history lesson, they'll be severly disappointed: whilst many of the bands canon of big hits is all present and correct, there are notable omissions: any singles from Vision Thing or First And Last And Always, nor the stonking live frenzy of Body Electric. The new guitarists are Ben Christo (who seems to take the role as lead widdler) and Chris Catalyst - neither have played on a Sisters record (and they're not likely to, either).

Both acquit themselves admirably, reflecting a middle ground between Panzer guitar riffarama and the more streamlined, understated work of Floodland. And given that I've seen The Sisters many times over the past two decades, and many different lineups, it is my considered opinion that Chris Catalyst is the best guitarist they have ever had - he plays with a fluency and passion as if he wrote the songs himself.

The band then acquit themseves with passion battling a rough sound mix, and hit a fierce groove during the encores as Lucretia uncoils and elevates, as Top Nite Out skids across the ears of London, and the quarter century old Temple Of Love - an over-rated song and live staple since the dawn of time - bring the evening to a thundering close.

The Sisters of Mercy may not be a recording entity, but they still live and breathe. This is not their best show as they battle illness, a poor sound mix, and occasionally disappearing vocals, but they gamely and passionately battle through the murk for the message to be heard. Ultimately, it's the willing suspension of belief that makes The Sisters such an attractive proposition: yes, rock and roll may be a juvenile and stupid thing, but it is a glorious stupidity that is beautiful in its absurdity.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Sex with big, brawny, hairy, PROPER men"

This quality piece by Tanya Gold in the Daily Mail was a top way of rounding off the Easter break.

It's called 'Goodbye skinny metrosexuals, the beefcake is back' and it contains a number of absolute gems such as:

"Do you remember the Blitz? (note that Tanya Gold was born in 1973- ed) Everyone had great sex in the Blitz, even my Auntie Marie, who hated men. And who do you have sex with? Big, brawny, hairy men, proper men, that's who".

"In this sexless world of money and style, beefcake was nowhere. Because you don't need a beefcake if you live in a penthouse with blinds that go up and down at the touch of a button. Better to have a girl-man who looks like Keira Knightley and can discuss all your consumerist junk with you".

"But things have changed. Our economy is splintering, our seas are rising and house prices are falling. [...] So what do we do? We should choose beefcake. Fashion has decreed it. In times of hardship and uncertainty, what sane woman wants to cuddle up to a man she knows she could beat in a fight?"

Monday, April 13, 2009

French lessons


"I'll kidnap the gaffer on my way to the dole office"

Last Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to join the debate. He asked a rhetorical question: "What's this new thing of abducting people now?", and then warned: "I won't let such things happen".

Sarkozy was talking about a new type of protest kickstarted by certain workers facing redundancy: "boss-napping", the abduction of company managers as a way of exerting pressure when there's nothing else left.

It all kicked off in March, when a group of workers from a Sony plant in Pontonx-sur-Adour held their human resources manager captive until he agreed to restart talks on their severance packages. "We've got nothing to lose: we've already lost our job", the workers justified themselves. The boss made it home safe and sound but, since then, the trend has caught on fast.

The unemployment rate in France is currently standing at 8%, but the number of companies laying off staff or closing down altogether is increasing non-stop.

Two weeks ago, outraged at the mass redundancy of 110 workers while huge bonuses were being handed out to executives, the staff at the American company 3M in Pithievers abducted their manager while another executive was forced to join the workers' demonstration.

The most blatant case was when some workers from the Caterpillar plant in Grenoble abducted four managers for a whole day with the aim of ending a standstill in the negotiations affecting the future of 733 workers. The fact that Sarkozy himself got involved in the search for a compromise was enough to persuade the strikers to free the executives. "We're only human", said one of the protesters, while another added: "We don't want to abduct the bosses. We just want to save our jobs and that's all".

But as the number of abducted executives grows, more politicians are having their say but remarkably no-one appears to be seen siding with the bosses. Last Sunday, former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal stated: "It's illegal to deprive people of their own freedom of movement, however the workers are looking for ways to stop injustice". Martine Aubry, general secretary of the French Socialist Party, added: "No violence against a person's freedom can be justified, but the brutal social violence that is unravelling in front of us may explain the cases we are seeing".

Last Tuesday workers at British adhesives firm Scapa in Ballegarde-sur Valserine held hostage four of their executives, three Brits and a Frenchman, asking them to renegotiate redundancies. They kept them overnight until, the bosses accepted to talk over a meeting at the local Town Hall.

Some French sociologists, like Denis Muzet, believe that the recent abductions are a symptom of "the increasing discrepancy between people and the elites". A recent poll showed that 64 percent of respondents predicted that the French would "revolt" against the crisis with more violent incidents with little sympathy being expressed towards banks as well as political and business leaders. The French equivalent of the CBI have expressed their preoccupation: "No matter who is affected by the crisis, the law cannot be breached".

So far though, none of the abducted managers or executives have been injured and their ordeals are yet to be reported to the police.

The Ford Visteon occupation

Companies going bust say they can't afford redundancy pay. But guess who are still pocketing their bonuses...?

Imagine you've worked thirty years. Thirty years, every day, honest and punctual, with an eye on the fact that, at the end of all that work, your reward would come in the form of a pension - just enough to retire comfortably.

Then one day they tell you that you're sacked. Just like that, off you go, like it's happening to thousands of agency workers up and down the country. Except that you thought you had a permanent contract with terms and conditions that include pension entitlements.

No, your bosses tell you that you've got an hour to get your coat and go and "we're sorry but haven't you heard about the crisis, we're going bust too, and you can forget about redundancy pay and even the pension you've accrued". The odds are that you'd feel a cross between furious, depressed and scared.

Also, imagine you find out that last year your boss from the same company that is going bust managed to rustle up some spare change for himself for a total of $1,341,667 as well as a staggering $8,393,607 with shares and bonuses - and that your chief executive too found enough dough to take home: $1.48 million in cash and bonuses.

This is what's happening at Visteon UK, a car component company that was outsourced by Ford in 2000 with all the assurances that the workers' terms and conditions would not suffer. More than 600 jobs are affected at the Belfast, Enfield and Basildon plants, and that is why workers have occupied the factories in protest for two weeks, earning some serious local support, until a court order forced them to end the action without a deal in sight.

Gordon Brown, in the meantime, the man who found the time to express his thoughts over Jade Goody as well as the trillions to bail out the banks, has not said a word.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Smeargate": a distraction from real problems


Why self-referential poison is bad for all political blogging.

My old friend Adam was right. I think of all the conversations we had when he told me he's not interested in politics because "it's boring and full of dirty tricks", while I was trying to persuade him that that bit is just a smokescreen to keep people nicely tame and apathetic.

And so when you look at the latest scandal (oh-my-god) concerning a couple of Labour Party spin doctors who were trying to smear some Tories and were caught red-handed by someone who smears politicians for a living and now is acting all prim and prissy, the surprise is not that there was a scandal.

The surprise, instead, consists in the tons of undeserved attention being given to this perfect example of the cannibalistic hoity-toity back-stabbing feast that is exactly what puts people off politics.

Ask most people outside the inner circle and the perception is that politics remains a self-perpetuating exercise for the very few, which has absolutely FA to do with the daily issues affecting workers, the increasing ranks of non-workers and their families.

'Blogging' was routinely hailed as a new tool to bypass the machinations of professional 'spin doctors', an alternative to the tired favour-trading world of conventional journalism.

For the last twenty-four hours, however, while people in Britain have been losing jobs at a rate of 138,000 a month and the crisis is being used to stage an unprecedented attack on workers' pay and conditions, the greatest majority of UK blogs, left right and centre, have been gawping at this latest, completely futile backroom-gossip centred around a handful of self-important rumour merchants gagging for increased website traffic.

So how to best sum up this 'circle of smear'?...Gutter politics? Middle class problems? Irrelevant back-stabbing? The 'discovery of hot water', like my dad would call it?

No, perhaps, more to the point, just boring crap.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CCTV on the police

After being caught lying one too many times, the police in Britain cannot be trusted.

Marina Hyde in today's Guardian calls for "inverse surveillance" of the police as the only means of holding them accountable. As allegations of brutality at the G20 demo continue to pile up, even the most "serially deferential" are now waking up to the fact that "1,000 death in police custody in the previous 30 years, without a single conviction" isn't really the track record a democratic country would want to boast.

The British public, from your average Daily Mail reader to the fiercest Guardianista, like to routinely boast that the UK has never fallen pray to the horrors of fascism.

We may, however, want to watch out for complacency. Because the British state may not be a fascist one, but the complete unaccountability of our men in uniform, caught telling porky pies one too many times, is starting to look more like 1970s' Argentina than any self-congratulatory idea of 'Cradle of Democracy'.

Like former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick writes in today's Independent, "the Tomlinson case and those of Jean Charles de Menezes and Mark Saunders, raise the spectre that the bad old days of British policing may be returning, of 'canteen culture', the use of excessive force and of a police service that appears to be unaccountable – the officer concerned in the case of Mr Tomlinson apparently being allowed to cover his face and numerals".

And perhaps we could do with taking a leaf out of Catalonia (Spain) where, since hidden CCTVs were installed in all police stations in 2007, people's reports of beatings and mistreatment while in police custody have gone down by 42%.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Birmingham Library unveiled

The idea is to build a monumental landmark but is it right to get the taxpayer to fork out £200m in the midst of the biggest recession in sixty years?

Plans for the new Birmingham library were finally unveiled last week. Though finished products never look like those glossy designer sketches, I will admit at this stage that it does look quite impressive. Tucked between the REP theatre and Baskerville House, its six glass blocks sitting on top of each other have the potential to turn it into a truly iconic building.

However, objections are being raised on three grounds and the New Library Zealots will have to do better than repeating like a broken record that "no one else is doing anything like this" alongside the hollow ring of words like "hub", "inspirational" and "21st century".

First off, spending £200 million on any building during such a massive recession shows that Birmingham City Council may be having a problem or two with grasping priorities. It may have made sense during the credit-binge years but, with 34,000 people in the West Midlands joining the dole queue in the last quarter alone (with the total standing at more than 200,000), wouldn't the money be better spent elsewhere? Are the masses on the dole and their families going to be cheered up by a "21st century hub"?

To hear, in the current climate, the Council leader and his friends repeat that the new Library will be the most monumental ever ("Britain's biggest ever public library") and that it'll have the world's top architects flocking to Birmingham smacks a bit of Weimar-style delusion of grandeur.

Two. As a Birmingham Post reader points out, monumental library projects don't take into account the digital revolution of the last decade. Once issues of storing original material are dealt with, are we sure we're still going to require hugely expensive spaces in the future? Incidentally, restoring the current library would only cost a fraction of the £200 million needed for the new project - with estimates ranging between £30m and £100m.

Three. The issue of space. The project is most certainly ambitious, but wouldn't Centenary Square end up looking a little cramped? Don't forget that the new library would not only tower over the REP, but it will also squeeze past the 1930s grade II listed Baskerville House, with the risk of turning the most spacious Birmingham square into your nan's cluttered attic.

More on the tormented history of Brum's libraries here.

More on the new "Library of Birmingham" plan here.

Click here to read about why the current library should be kept instead.

*****
UPDATE, 12/04/2009
The new library pockets the unexpected support of top blogger and Labour Councillor for Sandwell Bob Piper. "The New Library doesn't impress me, but I'm slightly biased", he told Hagley Road to Ladywood, citing his past opposition to the "brutalist bloody mess" that replaced the old library in the early 70s. "Whilst I may not be in love with the latest design", he said, "I think the demolition of the existing library and the revolting mall and tacky hotels, does provide an opportunity to open up the City and make a pleasant walkway from Chamberlain Square through to Centenary Square".

On the point of funding lavish projects during a crisis Councillor Bob Piper said: "I must admit to thinking the same about the ICC/NIA project when it was first mooted, but I was wrong. Sometimes iconic buildings can stimulate economic regeneration that will outlast the short term recession - the US did the same, spending their way out of the depression with big infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam".

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Homeless alcoholic"

The Daily Mail on the G20 tragedy



As new damning video evidence of police officers assaulting Ian Tomlinson emerged yesterday, the Daily Mail finds nothing better to do than calling the victim a "homeless alcoholic" (quote: "[the new video] appears to back up earlier film taken by a City fund manager and released on Tuesday night, which showed an officer striking the homeless alcoholic with a baton and then shoving him to the ground").

Because, of course, in the Mail's warped little world, that alleged piece of information is intended to water down the officers' contempt for the law.

Would the Daily Mail write "an officer striking the maisonette-owning pipe-chomper" if Tomlinson had been known as a pipe-collecting proud owner of a maisonette? Would they call him a "Porsche-driving champagne conoisseur" if that had been the case?

Or could it just be that, with the police's behaviour appearing increasingly indefensible by the minute, the tabloid's strategy is now to focus on discrediting the victim every way they can?

I smell...I smell...bullshit

Emiliano on the politics of fear, the police and the BBC.

Watching the BBC news last night, you'd be forgiven for thinking that an attack had happened the scale of September 11. In a very urgent and dramatic fashion, BBC news informed us of this great swoop in the northwest where 12 suspects were arrested on suspicion of terrorism. We had footage from the place, photographs, live reports, the lot.

However, one must question the timing of the raid. This came shortly after "Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer" exposed to the lens of the media a document with apparently sensitive content. Bob Quick, we were told, was quick to apologise to the public and his colleagues for his mistake. The subsequent raid and arrest of 12 people, mostly Pakistani students, did not save Quick's skin, as his superiors were not impressed by his blunder and the subsequent raid executed in order to appease them.

That the raid came right after this exposure, but also after the events in London during the G20 summit which saw police basically cause the death of an innocent man, demonstrates the depth at which government and police are attempting to mislead the public and divert attention from key issues. Terrorism is a popular fear-creating tool, used time and again at times when things in the interior are not exactly peachy. The BBC functions as the government's own fear spreader, being all dramatic and sensationalist. I am sure that Sky News are not far behind, although I must admit I don't watch that rubbish.

So once again the public has woken up with fear. Fear caused by its own media and government who deliberately exaggerate stories such as the raid for maximum effect. The terrorised public therefore will not think about a) the death of an innocent man in London, b) the state's incompetence at handling sensitive data or c) the ever-increasing surveillance against us imposed by the state. The state terrorises its own subjects to achieve its own, dark aims. Terrorises....terrorises...terrorises...TERRORISM!

Terrorism: the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

Perhaps the police and the state should not be looking here, there and everywhere for the 'evil terrorists'. They are closer to home than they think. All they need to do is look in the mirror...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fatcat Parasites Loafing At Your Expense

Direct your anger elsewhere. The economic rape of this world is not the fault of the Public Sector, says Mark Reed.

Do you work in the Public Sector? Do you EVER take holiday? EVER get ill? Do you EVER do anything that isn't directly public facing?

Then be ashamed of yourself – you are a lazy, unemployable workshy overpaid parasite getting fat at the expense of the hard working families of this country.

Camilla Cavendish in the Times comes back with yet another load of repugnant and ignorant crap about the Public Sector. Say what you mean, Camilla : unless you can see them on your streets, or serving you in hospitals, the country don't need them.

Sack 'em all. Burn every non-frontline public sector employee. All we need are nurses, coppers, and soldiers. We don't need any of the rest. The public sector bodies don't need brains, hearts, livers, HR people, procurement people, policy makers, finance, social workers : all it needs is people helping the worthy.

The worthy? Well, you spongers, you dole scum, you single mothers, you ill, the fat : you're the unworthy, and this country doesn't need you. Everyone who isn't a private sector employee spunking their bonus on overpriced houses or in shops to keep the broken economy afloat is a useless eater who contributes nothing to society. A parasite. That goes for you too.

And again, the useless assertation, caused largely by some sense of ignorant envy, that all Public Sector workers do nothing all day long. That's right. Every Public Sector Worker – apart from our brave angels The Nurses, the brave heroes Our Boys In The Desert, and our courageous anti-terrorist freedom fighters The Boys In Blue Who Hit Random Powerless Strangers With Billyclubs As They Walk Past On Their Way Home – are all loafing, useless, unemployable scum. Every goddamn one of them is a parasite grown fat on the taxes stolen from the hard working families of middle Britain.

Except, finanically, it's impossible to maintain a large and bloated public sector with solely the taxes of the Hard Working Private Sector Workers. And guess what?

These useless, lazy, workshy Public Sector Workers you talk of? They pay tax too. As much as anyone else. And, unlike every single capitalist organisation – the Precious and Beautiful Private Sector – that exists solely to make profit whilst chirping on about Customer Service (and why do they do that? Because a business without customers isn't profitable), the Public Sector organisations exists not to make profit, but to serve the public. If the world were unregulated, and the public sector didn't exist, we'd live in the kind of bitter and vicious economic slums of South America, where most of the population live in shanty towns and ghettos and the privileged few laugh.



Remember that old quote. “The homeless? They're just the bums you step over as you leave the theatre.” (I know, it's a Pet Shop Boys lyric...but originally was spake by a Tory in the late Eighties).

They're people. And they have feelings as important, and beautiful, and valid as the rich.

Civil Servants serve the civilians. The answer is in the question.

And, according to the comments, The Public Sector is full of bloated idiots who enjoy time at home at 'our expense'. What does this actually mean? That the public sector aren't entitled to holidays anymore? Hell, let's cancel holidays for everyone. Even the Private Sector fatcats, who enjoy holidays at our expense. Every time we buy anything in a shop, there's an extra 10% we pay just to ensure that the employees of MegaglobalCorp who manufactures your milk can have holidays (after all, 250 working days a year, 25 days holiday = 10%). Fuck 'em all. They have holidays at our expense. Let's be enraged.

Cancel holidays for everyone. That would sort out the economy. And whilst we're at it, sack everyone but The Nurses (who will work for free, because there's no payroll function anymore), Our Boys In Iraq (who will have to buy their own equipment and take out loans for their boots and their tanks before defaulting on the loans and causing the collapse of our banking system), and The Boys In Blue Who Hit Random Powerless Strangers With Billyclubs As They Walk Past On Their Way Home (who will have to patrol with begging bowls because there's no one to pay them).

Direct your anger elsewhere. The economic rape of this world is not the fault of the Public Sector. The Public Sector exists to serve the public. It's not just the nurses who are essential to running the NHS, but everyone behind it, who puts the scalpels in surgeons hands, who works to obtain the endoscope that diagnoses your lung cancer, who ensures the nurses are fed, the ward matrons are paid. You'll change your mind when cancer eats your breasts and shrivels your body. Maybe you'll be wise – like a dying aethist with a deathbed conversion to Jesus – just as the last yellowed heartbeat crawls around your parchment body and you notice, You Can't Take Your Bonus To Heaven.

Because I know, that to many Public Sector Workers – the mission is important. Leaving work every day (loafing at your expense!) we know the work we did made a difference: it changed and helped the world in some way. If we must spend a third of our waking life working, I – and millions of the rest of the Public Sector – know that our efforts did not just go into making profit so a shareholder can buy a new car or extend the swimming pool, but the work we did helped in some small way the poor, the weak, the needy, the hungry, the homeless, the ill, and enriched the life in some small way of others. Maybe that parasite nurse detected the cancer that the surgeon removed that helped you watch your grandchildren grow up.

Or then again, they're all just fatcats who loaf around at the expense of the poor Private Sector worker. Sack 'em all.

Let's hope you don't lose your job. After all, all the Job Centres will be closed. And then you'll have to beg and go homeless. After all, Capitalism will provide everything. EVERYTHING!

For a price. If you're rich enough.