Russell Brand has recently been splattered all over the media. He’s advocating radical ideas by the bucket-load. Asked by “a beautiful woman” to guest-edit the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, he gave them the subject of Revolution.
He waded in with a 4,500-word article of his own. And a pile of quirky contributions were elicited from friends and others he admires.
I’ll ignore Noel Gallagher‘s stereotypical rant against stuff he doesn’t like or understand. Aside from that, there’s a surprisingly large amount of interesting and surprising material. Not least is film director David Lynch‘s article on transcendental meditation and inner revolution. Brand’s own piece is intelligently argued and full of good sense. He may be a guy addicted to seven-star hotels, but he’s still a man of the people. At least, that’s what he tells himself.
Russell Brand Speaks!
The paragraphs are longer than are normal in the Internet Age. But sometimes that’s no bad thing. Occasionally, he sounds like a 1970s-style History Man:
The model of pre-Christian man has fulfilled its simian objectives. We have survived, we have created agriculture and cities. Now this version of man must be sacrificed that we can evolve beyond the reaches of the ape. These stories contain great clues to our survival when we release ourselves from literalism and superstition. What are ideologies other than a guide for life?
Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. Supposing like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?
Russell on Revolution
(Note: I had to edit this extract slightly to make it easier to read. Don’t panic: I only change one word and added a paragraph break.)
Russell has much to say on the subject of revolution, including:
We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.
Brand’s politics are generally left-wing but he dismisses the Labour Party as irrelevant. He lumps the Milibands in with Cameron, Clegg and Boris, for instance. In an interview with BBC Newsnight‘s Jeremy Paxman, he explains his ideas to people unlikely to buy the New Statesman.
Russell Brand vs Jeremy Paxman
The interview is a staged set-piece with both actors playing their parts to perfection. Jezza spluttering with outrage like a Victorian Bill Grundy whenever Russ says anything vaguely outrageous. Russell snorts, waves his hands and leans towards Paxman like a young stag taking on the tired old codger. As a result, it makes mesmerising television. You can watch it here:
Russell Brand’s over-riding message to the young is “don’t vote”. This is a fine piece of anarchy, It is destined to be heard, approved of, and acted on by many young people. What a fantastic jape, Russell. Let’s bring down the government by not voting for it!
This could be a long-term result. But in the short- and medium-term it’s another boost to David Cameron’s chances of returning his disastrously right-wing Tory government to power at the next General Election. Although a growing number of wet teenagers are “Young Conservative and proud of it”, most youngsters see the injustices in the world and strive to eliminate them.
The best chance for this to happen is to have a Labour Government in power. But not New Labour, scared to upset the Daily Mail and willing to privatise and chop and turn a blind eye to corporate piracy and tax evasion. But a genuine Labour government dedicated to advance the interests of the people of the United Kingdom over and above those of the bankers.
Calling Young Radicals
Taking young radicals out of the equation by telling them not to vote isn’t going to help. The worst part is that the people most likely to heed the message are the ones most able to vote out the Tories and their turncoat Lib-Dem allies. As a result, it could tip the balance the wrong way.
I’d be less angry about Russell venting his views if it wasn’t for the fact that he is only in Britain to sell tickets for his forthcoming Messiah Complex Tour. His guest editorship of the New Statesman. His appearance on Newsnight. And all the other radio and television interviews are simply to promote the tour.
Russell Brand may be sincere about his views, and I have no reason to doubt him. But surely this exercise in salesmanship has to fall into the same category as those he is condemning.
Comedy is subjective. So is writing. I’ve just come across a 45-minute video I felt I had to share. It skirts around both subjects and comes up with some savoury little insights. The video will not please everybody. The comments below it are a testament to that. But anyone who shares my vague interest in the psychology of comedy and love of Stewart Lee should find it fascinating.
Like him or love him, Stewart Lee is a man who knows his allium from his Elba.
I’ll just explain that he started his comedy life in a double-act and writing partnership with Richard Herring. Although their BBC-2 TV shows that aired from 1992-2000 didn’t propel them to the heights of Morecambe and Wise (or even Fry and Laurie), they became cult favourites.
After the split, Stewart gave up performing stand-up comedy for several years, choosing to write instead. He came back with a stronger stand-up act and found himself portrayed within the business as the ‘comedian’s comedian’. Among his writing credits are several books and the controversial play, Jerry Springer The Opera.
Stewart Lee: “On Not Writing”
The talk begins slowly and in a slightly rambling, self-conscious manner. Stick with it and your patience will be rewarded. Writer, comedian and (dare I say it?) intellectual Stewart Lee gives a very interesting talk to Oxford University students about his comedy and the writing of it. It’s a reprise of a talk he gave on a writers’ day in February at the University that wasn’t recorded first time around. The recording is straightforward and low-tech, with some gooey fades.
Lee is entirely open and reveals much about his stand-up technique. There’s a fantastic sequence in which he opens up the box and explains how he puts together a stand-up show: character, mood and how the “flip” comes about at the end. I’ll never be a comedian, I’ll never be much of a writer, but I can admire the technique.
I was browsing the BBC News website this morning when I came across a piece about avoidable early deaths. In the UK a premature death is now regarded as one under the age of 75, which is nice to know – unless you happen to be 74, I suppose. Apparently, a child born in England today has a 1-in-3 chance of dying prematurely. Location has been determined as one of the most important aspects determining our fate.
In a bizarre piece of spin, the sub-heading tells us:
The local variation in early death rates revealed in a new league table for England is “shocking” and must drive action to improve health, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Nice of Mr Hunt to show concern. (This is the same Jeremy Hunt, of course, who wants to penalise high-performing Lewisham Hospital for the financial irregularities of a neighbouring health care trust. He’s also leading a program of Accident & Emergency Unit closures at a time when their ability to cope is at its lowest ebb for a generation.) But I digress…
The BBC piece was reporting a story over on Public Health England’s website that proved even more revealing. Their headline screamed: “In 2011, one in three deaths in England was under the age of 75.” If they’d been more “my cup is half full”, they’d have pushed the good news that 66.67% of people live longer than the magic age. Apparently the biggest early killers are cancer, stroke, and diseases of the heart, liver and lungs.
Maps showing areas with the most risk reminded me of another map I’d seen recently. I dug that out and put the two side by side:
The conclusions that can be drawn from studying these maps are:
Voting Labour is bad for your health.
Poor people tend to vote Labour more than rich people (“Champagne Socialists” excluded, of course).
Living in cities and urban areas makes you more likely to die early than if you live in the countryside.
People in cities are more likely to vote Labour than those in rural areas.
There are more branches of McDonald’s in cities than there are in the country (but they’re working on that).
Poverty is bad for your health.
Poor people should stop being poor as soon as possible.
This morning, the BBC Today programme highlighted a North-South Divide aspect to the story, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. The map clearly shows that most of Yorkshire is green on the “health” map and blue (Tory) on the “Parliamentary” map. The same goes for Cheshire and the majority of what we’d call northern England, excluding the built-up areas of Lancashire, Merseyside, Cumbria and the North-East. London is predominantly red on both maps.
Maybe a diet of e-numbers, factory-farmed chicken and horse-burgers makes you more likely to vote left-of-centre, which seems unlikely. As a healthy-living pescetarian, I can be smug in the knowledge that I’m voting Labour out of conscience rather than from any chemical impulse.
When you dig deeper, you see that the worst place for liver disease is Blackpool, and the best is Wiltshire. Blackpool also scores scores highest when it comes to lung disease (so much for bracing sea air!), and Bromley on the south-eastern edge of London has England’s lowest rate. For heart disease and stroke, the inhabitants of Manchester come out worst and they should definitely consider a move to Wokingham in Berkshire, which has around a third of the Manc’s early death rate. Manchester also fares worst for cancer; this time Harrow comes out on top (well, bottom, if you see what I mean).
Overall the best places to live were Wokingham, Richmond upon Thames, Dorset, Surrey, South Gloucestershire, Rutland, Harrow, Bromley Kensington & Chelsea and Hampshire. All of them had rates of between 200-214 of premature deaths per 100,000 of their population. The bottom ten (with their premature death rates) are:
Manchester | 455
Blackpool | 432.4
Liverpool | 389
Salford | 382
Kingston upon Hull, City of | 375.3
Middlesbrough | 370.9
Knowsley | 359.6
Blackburn with Darwen | 354.4
Tameside | 351.7
Nottingham | 351.4
Here’s the official video from Public Health England. Funny he doesn’t mention anything about not voting Labour or visiting Blackpool for your health:
Here’s a conspiracy theory for all you New World Order conspiracy nuts. Type the word “Bilderberg” into Google search and see what you get.
Although the Bilderberg Group is one of the world’s most reviled organisations, when I did the search, all the results on page one were supportive, informative. Or, at the most, mildly questioning.
You really have to dig deep to unearth any real vitriol. But what has this to do with the attendance at 2013’s meeting of businessman, Eric Schmidt? Herr Schmidt is Google’s executive chairman.
Who’s in the New World Order?
The weekend conference is strictly by invite-only. A diverse bunch of 145 businessmen and politicians joined Eric this year. These include Amazon founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos. President of the European Commission, José M. Durão Barroso. Former prime ministers François Fillon (France) and Mario Monti (Italy). And the current leaders of the UK (David Cameron) and the Netherlands (Mark Rutte). In addition, David Cameron brought along his pal George Osborne. Or, maybe it was the other way round? Who knows?
Nevertheless, there was a surprising number of Polish, Scandinavian, and Turkish delegates. Are these areas going to be the rising stars of the New World Order?
People you might not expect to see on the list include:
António José Seguro, leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party.
Lib-Dem peer Dame Shirley Williams.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Peter Mandelson, billed as “Chairman, Global Counsel, Chairman, Lazard International”.
Please note, David Icke: that is not “Lizard International”.
The Boys Club
They invite only a handful of women. Like Conspiracy Theories in general, it’s mostly for men. Indeed, the four founders of Bilderberg are male to a man.
Surprisingly perhaps, one of these founding fathers was the then fast-rising Labour politician, Denis Healey. You’ll remember that he went on to become one of Britain’s most memorable Chancellors. That’s despite his annoying habit of doing whatever the International Monetary Fund demanded of him, no matter how damaging it was for the country.
On the other hand, Healey has always supported his co-creation and denied that it harbours any sinister motives. The recently-ennobled Lord Healey told BBC News in 2005 that such allegations were “total crap”. He continued: “There’s absolutely nothing in it. We never sought to reach a consensus on the big issues at Bilderberg. It’s simply a place for discussion.” Yeah, right. So, 150 of the richest, most powerful people in the world give up a weekend for a friendly discussion. Absolutely no possibility of gain. And no one mentions the new world order, I suppose? Totally believable.
At the time of writing, Healey’s Wikipedia entry covers his involvement with Bilderberg in just ten words: “Denis Healey is a founder member of the Bilderberg Group”.
Most Famous Dutch Hotel
Bilderberg is the name of the Dutch hotel that hosted the first meeting in 1954. At first, the mainstream media ignored the Group. Its very existence was denied by those who may (or may not) have been attending.
This year, for whatever reason, things are less secretive. The Group has engaged a PR company for the first time and published a list of attendees. Very few people are expecting this to be a 100% complete list. But from little acorns. On the first day, several official VIP cars arrived with the occupants’ identity obscured by copies of British right-wing tabloid “newspaper”, The Daily Mail (see photograph, right).
Jon Ronson and Bilderberg
Jon Ronson is an investigative journalist who plays it for laughs. Our paths crossed several times and he is currently one of my higher profile Facebook “friends”.
We first met when he was a student putting on bands at Central London Polytechnic and I was a booking agent. I’m not sure we got on very well. He certainly never booked any bands from me.
After that, he became the keyboard player in the Frank Sidebottom O’Blimey Big Band. I used to put them on at The Cricketers at Kennington Oval and book them out from time to time. We still didn’t get on very well. Eventually, I lost the job of booking the band out. He took over.
Then, in 1990 I got a freelance job at Time Out magazine in London. Jon took over from Victor Lewis Smith, writing the regular weekly ‘humour’ columnist and married the assistant TV Editor, Elaine Paterson. We still weren’t the best of friends.
The Rising Ronson
But Jon’s star was already in ascent. He went off to make documentaries for Channel 4 TV and BBC Radio. He wrote columns for The Guardian newspaper and recently moved to New York, where I believe he’s working on movie projects.
Back in 1999, an ultra-right-wing conspiracy investigator and sports journalist called Big Jim Tucker took Ronson to a Bilderberg Group meeting in Portugal. After being chased by scary-looking security staff in shades, Ronson panics. He ends up trying to get the British Embassy to save him from the Lizard Men. “I am essentially a humorous journalist,” he tells them. “I am a humorous journalist out of my depth.”
To be honest, I know Jon well enough to know that this was almost certainly deliberately set up. He likes to make sure of his humorous copy. That’s how he rolls.
Conspiracy Theory #97
According to the official website, “Bilderberg Meetings” are “an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America”. In 2013 the event takes place at the unlikely location of Watford, in the north London suburbs. In addition, there is absolutely no mention of the phrase New World Order anywhere on their website. The official take on proceedings is this:
Every year, between 120-150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference. About two-thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America. One third from politics and government and the rest from other fields. The conference is a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about megatrends and the major issues facing the world. Thanks to the private nature of the conference, the participants are not bound by the conventions of office or by pre-agreed positions. As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights. There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.
The likes of journalist Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, Britain’s own David Icke and Tony Gosling, and Texan Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones take a different view. They contend that the world is really organised and run by the Bilderberg Group. In other words, they say, the New World Order. The shadowy, evil power working behind the scenes of world politics.
What do Thatcher and Blair have in common?
Surprisingly perhaps, many future political leaders attend Bilderberg shortly before they suddenly rise to power. Their elevation can be totally unexpected. Four fairly recent examples of this were Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. The unexpected and rapid demise of Thatcher was a direct result of her declared intention not to take Britain into the Euro Zone. At least, that’s what detractors say. The Bilderberg Group are very pro-European Union, at least according to their largely anti-European opposition.
When confronted with the allegation that the Group are “kingmakers in secret”, former Bilderberg chairman Viscount Davignon said that his steering committee was just great at talent-spotting. Furthermore, it “does its best assessment of who are the bright new boys or girls in the beginning phase of their career who would like to get known.” At least, that’s what he told the BBC News Website back in 2005. Let’s hope this isn’t the case with Messrs Osborne, Balls or, God forbid, Lord Peter Mandelson.
Furthermore, a current member of the steering committee is veteran UK Conservative grandee Kenneth Clarke. Aside from his work as an MP, he is a paid spokesman for several businesses, including tobacco, drinks, and munitions companies.
Jon Ronson and Bilderberg
Jon Ronson is an investigative journalist who largely plays it for laughs. Our paths crossed several times over the years and he is currently one of my higher profile Facebook “friends”.
We first met when he was a student putting on bands at Central London Polytechnic and I was a booking agent. I’m not sure we got on very well. He certainly never booked any bands from me.
After that, he became the keyboard player in the Frank Sidebottom O’Blimey Big Band. I used to put them on at The Cricketers at Kennington Oval and book them out from time to time. We still didn’t get on very well. Eventually, he relieved me of the task of booking the band out.
Then, in 1990 I got a freelance job at Time Out magazine in London. Jon took over from Victor Lewis Smith, writing the regular weekly ‘humour’ columnist and married the assistant TV Editor, Elaine Paterson. We still weren’t the best of friends.
The Rising Ronson
But Jon’s star was in the ascent. He went off to make documentaries for Channel 4 TV and BBC Radio. He wrote columns for The Guardian newspaper and recently moved to New York, where I believe he’s working on movie projects.
But back in 1999, an ultra-right-wing conspiracy investigator and sports journalist called Big Jim Tucker took Ronson to the Bilderberg Group meeting in Portugal. Scary-looking security staff in shades chased them around the grounds. Ronson panicked. After that, the TV footage shows him trying to get the British Embassy to save him from the Lizard Men. “I am essentially a humorous journalist,” he tells them. “I am a humorous journalist out of my depth.”
To be perfectly honest, I know Jon well enough to know that this was almost certainly deliberately set up in order to get humorous copy. That’s very much how he rolls.
War Cabinet for the New World Order?
Critics also claim that Bilderberg initiates wars and invasions. Or, at the very least, sanctions them. It’s part of Bilderberg’s role in the New World Order, presumably.
Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have all been cited. It also took a sanction from Bilderberg to allow the former Yugoslavia to fall into war and division.
The attendance of key figures in these conflicts at conveniently-timed Bilderberg meetings is either another coincidence or else confirmation that they’re very good at “aggressor-spotting”. Good luck to the people of Syria…
Most conspiracy theorists and others who look at Bilderberg and don’t like what they see, agree that the make-up of the guest-list points to a largely financial agenda. Sanctions are never imposed when the banks over-extend, crash and have to be bailed out. They never have to replace the money they are given, does indicate that something very fishy is going on. That this happens on a global level simply adds to that suspicion.
It’s interesting that this year’s meeting is a little less secretive than in the past. We’ve gone from flat denial to a jokey piece on BBC-1’s early evening mainstream magazine, The One Show. No one’s telling us what they’re talking about or even given us a good reason why they’re even talking. But, from 2013 onwards, Bilderberg is bringing in spin-doctors. Should we be relieved? Or even more worried?
Telly Tubbies (Videos)
I end with three very interesting videos. The first is an interview with former BBC journalist Tony Gosling. He is one of the most vocal opponents of Bilderberg and puts the “case against” in a clear and non-sensational manner:
Secondly, here’s an attempted travelogue about the (very plush) Grove Hotel/golfing resort, which is hosting the 2013 Bilderberg Meeting. The Guardian‘s Charlie Skelton discovered that a high level security operation has been on-going for 18 months. It’s being funded by merchant bankers Goldman Sachs, via the Bilderberg Group’s own legally registered charity. More here. The local BBC website for “Beds, Herts & Bucks” takes a slightly different view.
Three-and-a-bit weeks before the delegates arrived, the following video was shot. Check out the interaction with the plainclothes policeman dressed in Rider Cup golfing fleece around a third of the way in. Despite this, “Sam” continues his walk, shadowed by a police helicopter. Then a police car arrives containing two armed officers. You really couldn’t make it up…
I used to close with a YouTube video of Alex Jones, mad/ manic (you take your pick) being interviewed on the BBC. But the video has been taken down and the account closed. (Alex also turns up in Idiot Watch.) Instead, here’s a Huff Post video of him speaking outside the 2013 Bilderberg meeting:
Obama, Guantánamo and torture. Three words guaranteed to start an argument when used individually… together they’re like a 50-megaton nuclear warhead. On January 22, 2009 President Obama vowed to close Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp “within the year”. As of May 2013, “Gitmo” is still operational, with 166 men still detained without charge or trial. Most of them have been there for over ten years.
Ironically, the sign on the gate concludes with the motto of the Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO), which is: “Honor Bound To Defend Freedom”.
Those who defend the camp say that supporters of al-Qaeda and the Taliban do not warrant the “civilised” treatment afforded to prisoners of war by the Geneva Convention. The guards and torturers at Hitler’s concentration camps were given this protection, as were the Serbians who killed and raped in the name of ethnic cleansing.
This unique US Naval base on the edge of Castro’s Cuba became a caged prison camp for suspected terrorists because President George W Bush believed it was beyond Federal Law. This meant inmates could be tortured and interrogated without interference. Several judicial battles since have concluded that he was wrong and Gitmo does indeed lie within the jurisdiction of the United States Judicial system. This was before the more right-wing (and government appointed) Supreme Court stepped in with decisions blocking releases and imposing restrictions on what evidence could be presented.
The existence of the camps at Guantánamo Bay is a travesty of everything civilised people hold dear. Every John Wayne movie and classic American adventure features strong men fighting for a “decent society”. Surely the essence of this is somewhere where human beings cannot be imprisoned without charge or trial. And certainly not tortured, sexually and religiously humiliated or force-fed.
No one is suggesting that convicted terrorists should be allowed to wander free. They should be treated like every other major criminal, and dealt with by just, lawful means. Even the most heinous murderer and terrorist remains a human being who should be treated as such. President Obama said over four years ago:
Instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantánamo became a symbol that helped al-Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantánamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
There is little doubt inmates have been tortured at Guantánamo. After all, wasn’t that the original reason for its location on foreign soil? Numerous accounts exist of beatings, water-boarding and intimidation by dogs; sleep deprivation; men being forced to soil themselves, being smeared with fake menstrual blood and sexually taunted.
Then there’s the suspected existence of Camp No – or Camp Seven, as it’s also called – a secret detention and interrogation facility at which (according to testimony from former Marine guards), the three men who supposedly “committed suicide” in 2006, actually met their end. Suicide bombings aside, it is highly unlikely that devout Moslems would take their own lives, even when treated in such abominable ways. “And do not kill yourselves, surely God is most Merciful to you.” – Qur’an, Sura 4(An-Nisa), ayat 29
In 2006, British judge Mr Justice Collins declared during a court hearing over the refusal by Tony Blair’s UK government to request the release of three British residents held at Guantánamo Bay:
“America’s idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations.”
Of the remaining 166 detainees still held as of the end of March 2013, 86 have been cleared for release, but will not be for set free for the foreseeable future. One of the men still detained is Shawali Khan, an uneducated Afghan farmer. According to an article by Chicago human rights lawyer Len Goodman on the closeguantanamo.org website, in 2002 Khan was forced to move to Kandahar after a severe drought ruined his crops. He set up as a shopkeeper. Then came 9/11:
In November of 2002, Khan was captured by Afghan warlords and sold to the Americans. At this time, the Americans were paying bounties of about $10,000 to Afghans who turned in al-Qaeda fighters. No actual evidence or corroboration was required.
Khan was subsequently sent to Gitmo based on the word of a single informant that he was an al-Qaeda fighter. The fact that Kandahar in 2002 was considered “Taliban Central” and had no known al-Qaeda presence was overlooked or ignored by American intelligence officials who were eager to fill empty cages at Gitmo.
Khan was finally granted a habeas corpus hearing in the spring of 2010, his eighth year of captivity. The government called no witnesses but merely introduced “intelligence reports” which indicated that an unidentified Afghan informant had told an unidentified American intelligence officer that Khan was an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent.
The federal appellate courts have ruled in the Gitmo cases that the government’s evidence must be presumed accurate. To try and refute this evidence, my co-counsel and I demanded the informant’s file to determine how much cash he was paid and what kind of track record and reputation he had for truth telling. Government counsel declared that the file was “not reasonably available.” We then asked for the name of the informant so that we could conduct our own investigation. But the government refused to declassify the informant’s name, thus prohibiting us from speaking it to our Afghan investigator, who was then in Kandahar interviewing Khan’s family and neighbors, or even to our client.
There is also no doubt that many of the detained men were innocent. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as an aide to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, made an affidavit for a 2010 US court case, in which he stated that US leaders, including President George W Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, had been aware that the majority of the detainees initially sent to Guantánamo were innocent. Despite this knowledge, the men had been detained because of “political expedience”.
President Obama And Guantánamo Bay Detention Camps
So why hasn’t Obama closed the facility as he has promised on several occasions? In 2008, remember, he called Guantánamo a “sad chapter in American history”. As you might expect, it’s complicated. Several obstacles have been placed in his way by those within his Administration and beyond. A fuller list of events can be found at the Wikipedia Guantanamo Bay page.
The first main obstacle to closure back in 2009 appears to have been the legal problem that ongoing human rights abuse legal actions that were still pending. Then, when that was partly resolved, several potential alternate sites were nixed by their respective State and county officials. Under the US political climate, Obama seems keener on transferring prisoners to other facilities in the USA than implementing a closure and blanket release.
Then more bizarre elements prevented the shutting down of Gitmo. When Obama was finally able to sign off a move to a new site in Illinois, for example, the lawyer for a group of Yemeni detainees objected because the area was “too bleak”. This type of to-ing and fro-ing continued until November 2012, when the United States Senate voted 54–41 to stop detainees being transferred to facilities in the United States.
According to Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno, the US Congress is the main obstacle to closing Guantánamo Bay prison camp. A significant factor appears to be the misinformed and yet rabid anti-Islamic stance of much of the American media.
On the closeguantanamo.org website, author and campaigner Andy Worthington lists other problems that need to be overcome:
Even though 86 of the 166 men still held were cleared for release by an inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by President Obama in 2009, the U.S. government has turned its back on them. Although two-thirds of the cleared prisoners are Yemenis, President Obama issued a blanket ban on releasing any Yemenis after the failed underwear bomb plot on Christmas Day 2009 (perpetrated by a Nigerian man recruited in Yemen).
On May 1st, 2013, it was reported that at least 130 of the 166 remaining Guantánamo inmates are refusing to eat and that medical personnel had been dispatched to the base to force feed them. Here (from the UK Guardian newspaper website) is a video about this:
The American Constitution clearly states that no one should be imprisoned without charge or trial or be tortured. Whether this applies to citizens of foreign countries who are kidnapped on the word of an unknown informer appears open to debate.
UKIP, or the United Kingdom Independence Party as they’re known to their friends and carers, is currently the hottest political topic in the United Kingdom. Well, probably just in England, but let’s not split hairs.
UKIP’s leader is a likeable, middle-aged, middle-class gent called Nigel Farage, often pictured with a beer, occasionally sporting a cigarillo. He’s not a professional politician like the others, more an ordinary chap like you and me. He began as an ardent Conservative in his youth and a big fan of Margaret Thatcher. When the wretches in the Tory party booted her out in 1990, it angered him. He was clearly still hurting in 2010 when he told the Daily Telegraph:
The way those gutless, spineless people got rid of the woman they owed everything to made me so angry. I was a monster fan of Mrs Thatcher. Monster. Hers was the age of aspiration, it wasn’t about class.
Significantly, Farage’s last straw with the Tories came when Prime Minister John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. A year later Nigel founded UKIP and became its leader.
Looking something like a thoroughly-decent chap on the sidelines of a PG Wodehouse novel, Nigel Farage has become hugely popular with almost everyone not called Cameron or Clegg. He received the ultimate right-wing bloke’s accolade earlier this year when Boris Johnson described him as “a rather engaging geezer”.
As leader of his party, Nigel has a huge approval rating. Something like Nick Clegg’s before the last general election. This rather suggests that to be popular, it helps if people don’t know what you stand for – or what you don’t stand for.
If you ask anyone in Britain what UKIP’s policies are, they’ll know. At least the headlines. “Get us out of Europe!” would be the cry, perhaps with the addendum, “and put a stop to all these foreign scroungers coming over here and *nicking our jobs/ *living on benefits” (delete as applicable).
All people seem to know about UKIP has to do with getting out of Europe and banning immigration. What else do they propose to do when they assume power, as they surely must now that media giant Des Lynam is backing them?
What We Want To Know About UKIP
Based on what’s being searched for on Google.co.uk (see screenshot above), these are the 10 burning questions the British public want answered about Britain’s most popular fringe party (well, England’s… but let’s not split hairs):
Is UKIP racist? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a racist is a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another”. Their website may state: “UKIP is a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first” but as the British are not a race, it would clearly be libellous to accuse UKIP of racism. Their policies on immigration and Europe may attract some “clowns and nutters” with racist opinions, but that’s clearly not UKIP’s fault, just as you can’t blame armaments manufacturers if their products are used to bash people over the head.
Is UKIP Fascist? Again we must turn to the OED, which tells us:
“Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach”.
Nothing like UKUP, right? Right.
Is UKIP Libertarian?OED to the rescue again. It tells us that libertarianism is defined as:
An extreme laissez-faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens. The adherents of libertarianism believe that private morality is not the state’s affair and that therefore activities such as drug use and prostitution, which arguably harm no one but the participants, should not be illegal. Libertarianism shares elements with anarchism, although it is generally associated more with the political right, chiefly in the US.
I am also a libertarian. I think prostitution, for instance, should be decriminalised and regulated. I feel that about drugs, too. I don’t do them myself but I think the war on drugs does more harm than the drugs themselves. I am opposed to the hunting ban and the smoking ban, too. What have they got to do with government?
Is UKIP far right? Not as far right as some of its more ardent supporters would like it to be.
Is UKIP a party of bigots? Obviously not. That’s like saying the Conservative Party is full of toffs and Labour stuffed with wishy-washy liberals (with a small “L”).
Is UKIP right wing? See above.
Is UKIP BNP? Clearly not. BNP stands for the British National Party, which is an extremist right-wing party strongly opposed to immigration and membership of the European Union.
Is UKIP racist yahoo? Isn’t that just the same question as #1 with a yahoo on the end?
Is UKIP on the rise? Definitely. In the 2013 local government elections they polled 23% of the popular vote (plus 96% of the unpopular vote).
Is UKIP Liberal? Not very.
The Other UKIP Policies…
I checked out the official UKIP website to see what policies they hold on less important topics, such as the economy, defence and health. Here are the “Lucky 7” best UKIP policies I found:
“Double prison places to enforce zero tolerance on crime”. Lots of jobs going for G4S prison guards at minimum wage. A good way to kickstart the economy once we lose our trade links with Europe.
“End the ban on smoking in allocated rooms in public houses, clubs and hotels”. That should get the vote of every smoker in the nation. It’s a pity UKIP’s immigration policies will exclude East Europeans, many of whom have been known to enjoy a crafty smoke with their vodkas and tonic. If only stalwart British actor Alfie Bass were alive to front the campaign…
“We must leave the electorate with more of their own money. Government is only a facilitator for growth. Low tax, few regulations and small government are the recipe for a successful economy. ” A personal allowance of £13,000, a flat rate of tax at 25%, abolishing VAT and National Insurance and (presumably) cutting services drastically to pay for it all. Sound very fair – especially for those who are earning lots of money. Yahoo!
“Hold country wide referenda on the hunting ban”. Yes, that should be a definite priority. Why should those pesky foxes – many of whom I suspect arrived in this country illegally – get away with lounging around all day doing nothing? A bit of exercise will do them the world of good.
“Global warming is not proven – wind power is futile. Scrap all green taxes, wind turbine subsidies and adopt nuclear power to free us from dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil and gas.” It’ll come as a relief to many of us affected by the recent long winters, wet summers and flooding that it’s all in our imagination and nothing to do with so-called “Global Warming” after all. Thanks to the learned scientists at UKIP for that welcome news. And how typical of the BBC to try and keep it quiet.
“UKIP would like to offer people a choice of how they wish their health care to be delivered. Patient choice in a monolithic government funded system is one of the greatest challenges now facing the NHS and we believe that other models are worth considering to see whether lessons can be learned from abroad.” Er, does that sound a little like privatising the National Health Service? More work for G4S (Health Services) me thinks…
“As the UK regains its place as an independent global trading nation, we will need to ensure that we can defend our trade, and our independence… UKIP would re-establish the UK’s defence capabilities at viable levels.” Quick, put everything you’ve got into British Gun Boats PLC!
So there we are: UKIP in a nutshell. Who in their right nicotine-stimulated mind wouldn’t want to return to a time when the United Kingdom was truly great, before those pesky Europeans pushed their human rights and employment regulation nonsense onto us and spoilt everything?
Hang on… it’s just occurred to me… Maybe I misunderstood the question. The answer to “What does UKIP stand for?” might just be “United Kingdom Independence Party”. Sorry, Little Britain… er, England (but let’s not split hairs).
Today (March 3rd, 2013), the Sunday Telegraph newspaper quotes Conservative Justice Minister, Chris Grayling as saying that a future Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act. Is this intended to cheer up the Tory right after a series of recent “set-backs”? Nigel Farage’s rightwing, anti-EU UKIP pushed them into third place in a recent by-election.
I ‘m uneasy that Mr Grayling is the first Lord Chancellor since 1558 to have no legal training whatsoever.
The Conservative rightwing has rubbished the Human Rights Act since it was first proposed by the Labour government in 1998. At the centre of the row is their assertion that it makes the European Convention on Human Rights UK law.
Gipsies, Terrorists, Criminals and Conservative MPs
Opposition to the legislation stems from the way the act gives rights to people the right does not approve of. Including gipsies, terrorists, criminals and the poor. How dare they claim that they are actually human beings with families and needs?
As a result, the gutter press, most particularly the Daily Mail and The Sun, have been bombarding its readers with examples of political correctness ‘gorn mad‘. Usually, the examples they cite are spurious or, at best, tell only half the story.
Michael Howard vs Human Rights Act
During the 2005 Election the then Conservative leader, Michael Howard, got in on the act (ahem), citing his own examples. Wikipedia quotes him (taken from the Daily Telegraph of August 10, 2005) as showcasing these examples:
“The schoolboy arsonist allowed back into the classroom because enforcing discipline apparently denied his right to education; the convicted rapist given £4,000 compensation because his second appeal was delayed; the burglar given taxpayers’ money to sue the man whose house he broke into; travellers who thumb their nose at the law allowed to stay on green belt sites they have occupied in defiance of planning laws…”
In the cases he quoted, the schoolboy was suing not to be allowed back into the classroom (he was already a university student by the time case came to court) but for compensation. In fact, he lost his case in court. Similarly, the “convicted rapist” was not “given” £4,000. This was the amount of his recovered legal fees.
Legal Aid & Human Rights
The Act came into force in the year 2000 and greatly changed the balance of power from “Big Brother” to the individual via the Courts. It is now possible for the UK legal system to challenge unjust laws passed by Parliament. And it has.
Establishing a new act in Common Law always involves a series of messy legal cases. In this case, many of them involving terrorist suspects. And the last thirteen years have helped build a workable definition of an individual’s Human Rights.
Thanks to the Act, it became harder to evict or sack someone without showing good cause, and the freedom of the media to report on matters of public interest has its basis in human rights law. The Editor in Chief of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre does not share this view. In a 2008 speech to the Society of Editors, he lambasts what he calls the “wretched Human Rights Act”. This is perhaps the most telling paragraph:
“…if mass-circulation newspapers, which also devote considerable space to reporting and analysis of public affairs, don’t have the freedom to write about scandal, I doubt whether they will retain their mass circulations with the obvious worrying implications for the democratic process.”
“Protect the Press from the Process of Law!”
That’s a great argument. We have to get rid of an Act of Parliament that protects the human rights of a nation’s citizens because, if we do not, newspapers will not be able to delve into scandal and so their circulations might fall! No doubt Rupert Murdoch shares similar sentiments.
So why do the Tory Right want to scrap the Act? Hard to say. Maybe it’s because it comes from Europe. Probably because it puts the European Court of Human Rights above our piss-poor selection of rulers? Maybe they resent not being able to impinge the Human Rights of the electors?
Perhaps the law is preventing them from tabling draconian but vote-winning legislation against immigrants or gipsies? Who knows?
With the European Football championships diverting attention from racism at home to racism in eastern Europe, it’s time to look again at racism. It might not be as easy to stop racism as we thought.
In January 2012, a little-reported but important Scientific study found distinct links between low intelligence and racial prejudice. The research team was led by Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. The main conclusions were published in January 2012 in the journal Psychological Science.
“Racism is generally highest among the least-educated.”
As most of us might expect, the least-educated are most likely to be the most racist. Stereotypical racists include the British council housing estate skinhead and the American redneck. As someone smarter than me once said: a cliché only becomes a cliché because it’s probably true. But if only it were always so straightforward.
Where does intelligence fit into this? Professor Hodson decided to find out.
He and his researchers looked at two previous British studies. One followed a group born in 1958. The other at babies born in 1970. Both sets of children had their intelligence assessed when they were 11 years old. Nineteen years later, the same people had their levels of racism and social conservatism assessed.
One big problem for me is that researchers asked the respondents what their views were. It would have been better to somehow assess their unconscious behaviour without allowing them to filter their replies.
Researches asked the subjects whether they agreed with vaguely right-wing statements such as:
“Schools should teach children to obey authority”
“Family life suffers if mum is working full-time.”
Their attitudes toward other races was dealt with by reactions to statements such as:
“I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.”
Is it Possible to Stop Racism?
In nearly all cases, low intelligence in childhood matched up with racism in later life. Surprise, surprise!
The most interesting finding was the link with politics. People who vote for parties on the right are more likely to be racist than those leaning to the left.
That’s something I’ve known since I was knee-high to a Klansman. But I’m grateful that someone has finally found scientific backing for my gut feeling. It’s probably more scientific than sitting in an Essex pub near closing time.
The dilemma of well-educated racists such as Sir Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell, and David Irving is an entirely different matter. It’s barely possible that Powell was unaware he was being racist when he made his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech.
His defenders will say he wasn’t saying people who aren’t white are in any way inferior, just that the races don’t mix easily. But that is in itself inherently racist. It’s putting forward the theory that skin colour somehow determines someone’s character, which is absurd. Even to the most poorly-educated skinhead.
Are UKIP Racist?
Many followers of Nigel Farage’s UKIP, put great store in localism. To them, people born on this side of the English Channel are somehow good. By extension, anyone coming from anywhere that’s not here is bad, unwanted, a danger.
Despite being able to roll out examples of Black and Asian people who back their policies, many UKIP followers still believe that ‘true’ British people are White. At best, those who are Black and Mixed Race are ‘guests in our country’. These ‘guests’ must always speak English and do things ‘the British way’ or else suffer the consequences.
In my experience, most people who think this way are poorly-educated and generally in demeaning, repetitive jobs. Quite a few are unemployed, which is generally something they take delight in blaming on “all these bloody foreigners”.
There’s an old saying, “Tuppence ha’penny looking down on tuppence.” In Britain’s pre-decimal days, tuppence ha’penny (2.5d) was shorthand for “not much”. Roughly translated, it means that someone who has very little going for them wants to think there’s someone lower on the social scale than they are.
I’d really like to stop racism. But it seems it’s a lot easier said than done.
Top conspiracy theories? How a run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory gets the “top” tag is interesting enough in itself. But what makes one conspiracy theory better than all rest?
Can it be because it is true (surely some of them must be, just according to the law of averages?), or maybe because it is totally outrageous. Along the lines of the Queen is a lizard, 9-11 was an inside job engineered by US government agencies, and Jimmy Savile was a paedophile?
Being totally bizarre and true would seem to be a desirable double whammy and there are plenty of people who say that all those examples are 100% correct. That’s why I’ve included two of them in my list of Top Conspiracy Theories.
Jimmy Savile: “Just a Friendly Guy?”
Thanks to the ‘Newsnight Conspiracy’, the Jimmy Savile allegations became a candidate for Top Conspiracy Theories. The BBC current affairs show Newsnight was all set to go on a well-researched and ready-to-air piece about how British DJ Jimmy Savile had molested schoolgirls at a school at which he had volunteered to do “charity work” in the 1970s. But a very senior BBC executive pulled the piece at the last minute.
This was in mid-December 2011. On Boxing Day (26th December), BBC-1 aired a fawning tribute featuring Shane Ritchie. It is more than a mere rumour that Savile used his charity and volunteer work as a cover for more illicit activities. These included necrophilia, underage sex, and procuring male children for former British Prime Minister Ted Heath to “play with” on his yacht, Morning Cloud. At least, those are the allegations rife on the Internet.
I don’t know the truth of any of these specific allegations, but I once spoke to a woman who said she’d had “semi-consensual” sex with Savile when she was fifteen, and that the police have investigated similar claims on at least two publicly-documented occasions.
Savile’s supporters deny any wrong-doing on the part of the tracksuit-wearing DJ (“Now then, now then…”), admitting that he was a bit of an oddball but adding that he did raise a lot of money for charity.If you want to find out more about the Anti-Sir Jimmy Savile point of view – bearing in mind that he is in no position to answer back – then you can check out David Icke’s forum (which is dedicated to “free speech”), and perhaps take a peek at this extract from an ITV documentary on the Nolan Sisters made in 2009: Top Conspiracy Theories – click here to view.
Top Conspiracy Theories:
=1: The Queen (and Most Other World Rulers) are Lizards
When it comes to Top Conspiracy Theories, this one is a “humdinger” and potentially the biggest of them all. The writer and former BBC football reporter and Green Party spokesman, David Icke, has devoted his life since 1991 to telling us about an ancient race from the Middle East – via Outer Space – that now runs the world. Icke refers to them as the “Babylonian Brotherhood.”
Key Brotherhood bloodlines include the British Royal Family (The House of Windsor) and the allied Royal families of Europe, the Rockerfellers, the Rothschilds, and the establishment families of the USA, including the Kennedy clan and the Bush family. Among the organizations and bodies the Brotherhood created and now control are the Illuminati, Round Table, the Bilderberg Group, Chatham House, the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the United Nations, and the Internet. The members of the Brotherhood are descended from reptile-like creatures who arrived from Outer Space a few thousand years ago, hence “The Queen Is A Lizard” jibe.
David Icke: “You can call me mad…”
The basis of Icke’s theories is that the “few” have created a series of secret societies that rule the world and control the “many”. The Brotherhood is dedicated to their “Great Work of Ages” of world domination and the eventual goal of a population that is micro-chipped in order to control us. Icke has been almost universally ridiculed for his theories, but individual research by the likes of British journalist Jon Ronson show that certain aspects of his claims do have substance. I find it impossible to take on board most of David Icke’s ideas, but I find aspects of them get less bizarre with every passing year. Who knows, maybe the Queen is a lizard?
=1: Top Of All Top Conspiracy Theories: 9-11 Was An Inside Job
Maybe not as implausible as I first thought. After checking out a few of the “facts” and a few of the conspiracy theory websites, the official version – that Osama Bin Laden orchestrated this from a cave in Afghanistan – sounds less likely than many of the versions peddled online. The general consensus among conspirators is that 9-11 was orchestrated by the US Government, or possibly the Babylonian Brotherhood, as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. They say that only the CIA and other US government agencies had the facilities and expertise to pull off such a major coup.
“It’s collapsing all wrong…”
Much is made of the New York firefighter’s reaction to the way the Twin Towers collapsed and various architects have said that the buildings would not have reacted as they appeared to as the result of a fire after being hit by a plane. Many experts and people who should know have said that the collapses had more of the look a controlled demolition rather than of a structural failure after being engulfed by fire.
Here’s a film made in 2006 by “MI5 whistle-blower” (as he seems destined to forever be called) David Shayler, that covers much of this, with an emphasis on Britain’s involvement and its own terrorist attacks on the 7/7 London Bombings:
[NOTE: this video seems to have been removed from the internet, together with all traces of it! – June 8, 2013]
It seems to me that the official version is even more far-fetched than the conspiracy theory. This is what we are expected to believe: 20 Arabs decide to hijack a bunch of planes and crash them into prominent US buildings, but one hijacker gets arrested before he is able to start his job. The FBI seizes his laptop but decide not to do anything with it until their superiors give them permission. In the meantime, the remaining nineteen terrorists are allowed to board four planes, despite the fact that several of them were under FBI surveillance and on “no fly” lists.
After managing to get on board the aircraft, the unarmed terrorists were then able to over-power ex-military pilots as well as an Israeli anti hijacking agent (who just happened to be on board one of the planes), and seize control of all four.
They then were able to fly them off course for long periods of times, seemingly unnoticed by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), even though one of the planes managed to get out a call saying that the plane had been hijacked and that a passenger had been shot. Then these guys, who it was “revealed” had been given barely enough flying lessons to take off and land, had flown those planes into buildings at high speeds and after performing several difficult turns, dives and other manoeuvres. This then caused robustly-built steel-framed buildings to collapse after being set on fire many floors above the ground.
Sounds to me like something only the descendent of reptiles from Outer Space could dream up. Top Conspiracy Theories?
I would stress that I do not share the sentiments of the headline. It comes from an online forum dedicated to exposing the BBC’s “left-wing bias”. Because of my own left-wing bias, I won’t be naming it or providing a link. Their other suggestions for what BBC stands for include “Big Brother Coverage” and “Blatantly Biased Corruption”.
The moderator, Teddy Bear, and his rabid chums cite examples of how the BBC is mounting a virtual Communist attack on Good Old Blighty, financed by the unwitting licence-payer. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most quoted sources of “evidence” are The Sun, Mail On Sunday and Daily Telegraph‘.
These part-time Beeb-bashers – as opposed to full-time Beeb-bashers like Rupert Murdoch and the owners of the Mail group of “newspapers” – see the BBC as an ultra radical organisation that’s on the side of the extreme left, Islamic militants, the European Union, and on a crusade to replace experienced broadcasters with unkempt yoof.
Examples include how back in the 1980s, Dr Who was nothing more than a thinly disguised attack on the Thatcher government (proof: “a spin-off Doctor Who children’s novel called Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma, which was published under licence by the BBC in 1987, featured a despotic villain called Rehctaht – Thatcher spelt backwards”); that the Archers is a hotbed of radicalism (“During the first Countryside March, the Archers managed not to mention it at all, but mentioned the Gay Pride March instead”); that only pro-EU propaganda makes BBC news; and getting rid of jazz programmes on Radio 2 in favour of “soft rock”: “Only a few days since a Newsnight editor attacks the BBC for their ageist and youth obsessed policies – a Radio 2 presenter has quit and done the same.”
Most sinister of all is their belief that the BBC is pro-Islamic and anti-Christian. A whole thread on this theme is illustrated by a BBC logo in which the “C” becomes an Islamic crescent. Here are a couple of examples:
“How is it The Telegraph with resources far less than the BBC is able to cover this story from Bangladesh (“Rape victim receives 101 lashes for becoming pregnant”), yet no mention of it on the BBC site? Can it be that the BBC prefers to hide stories that show the real depraved mentality of these extremist Sharia law Muslim states? Of course it is! Same as it has done with the numerous other similar type stories mentioned on this forum, and the many many more covered by Jihad Watch or Religion of Peace.
“Is there really any doubt about the insidious immoral nature of the BBC?”
“Why is it that whenever a Palestinian is supposedly shot or killed by Israeli troops, and certainly when by an Israeli civilian, it receives instant headline status on the BBC website, but when, as in this case, a Christian is murdered in Pakistan by Muslims for refusing to convert, there’s not even a mention of it?
“This is not a rhetorical question – How do YOU explain it?
“If you really want a glimpse of how many atrocities are committed globally by extremist or fundamental Islamics without any mention on the BBC website, check out this site. See if after you have any doubt about the bias of the BBC in this domain.”
You’d think that Teddy Bear and his crew could be dismissed as part of a lunatic fringe, but it seems that a significant number of Brits feel the same way. Newspapers bash on about it endlessly and there are dozens of similar websites. A quick Google search for “BBC bias” came up with 1,500,000 hits.
Through reading their comments, you can build up a profile of who these people are. Almost without exception they are white, middle-class, middle-aged – or older – Tory Christians. (A significant number appear to like Trad Jazz and warm light ale, and fancy Joan Bakewell). What their house newspaper (The Daily Mail) likes to call The Silent Majority.
Although members of the Silent Majority tend to do very-nicely-thank you, they and their mouth-pieces like to paint themselves as victims. Victims of the loony left local councils who won’t let them call rubbish sacks “black bags” any more, and who have seemingly turned “man-hole covers” into “person-hole covers”. These are people who actually say “It’s political correctness gone mad!” with no sense of irony.
They see themselves as victims of a mass immigration that’s threatening to overwhelm their tiny homeland and change our way of life forever. Of “bogus asylum-seekers” (sic) who are either taking our British jobs or else scrounging off the dole… depending on what the angle is.
Most of all, they are victims of a left-wing BBC who continually pumps Socialist propaganda into all our homes. “And what I object to most of all,” foams one correspondent, “is that I’m paying for it through stealth lefty tax”. Or what sane people call the BBC Licence Fee.
I can’t help but be amazed that these people really do think that those in charge of the BBC (the “commissars”, as they are often termed!), really do have a secret agenda. That they meet in their marbled halls to scheme new ways to corrupt our naturally-Thatcherite white-skinned nation with their honey-coloured, left-wing filth.
Of course, the reality is that the BBC is run by predominantly middle-class, middle-aged white people. The staff and freelance payrolls are made up of thousands of individuals: Labour-voters, Lib-Dems, Greens, SWP, UKIPs – maybe even a few Tories. I’ll bet that a few of them don’t possess strong political views at all.
The BBC Licence Fee is a bargain. For £139 a year (a smidgeon over £2.67 a week), I get access to six television channels and a mass of radio stations. When compared to what Sky satellite TV costs or the daily cost of “The Mail”, it’s a double-bargain. Don’t tell anybody, but I’d gladly pay £2.67 a week just for BBC Radio 4, BBC 4 TV and BBC 6 Music alone.
I don’t listen to Radio One very often, if at all. The same goes for BBC3, Eastenders, National Lottery Live, Strictly Come Dancing, Women’s Hour, Moneybox Live, The Eurovision Song Contest, BBC Radio London, The Organist Entertains, BBC 5 Live, and a whole load more. But do I think they should be banned and taken off the air? Do I heckers like.
The Silent Majority, on the other hand, only considers the negative. To them, it’s all about what they don’t like. How terrible that their licence fee goes to fund the lifestyle of some lefty comedian or long-haired radio DJ. The SMs insist that everything should be how they want it. Anything that’s not to their taste must be eradicated. The scary thing is, politicians of all persuasions now feel that they have to cosy up to them. Even the BBC concedes more and more to their demands.
The Jonathan Ross/ Russell Brand “debacle” is a case in point. People who listened to the programme as it went out didn’t think to object to what they heard, but once the Mail On Sunday had highlighted the issue, a week later, hundreds of thousands of people who wouldn’t know Russell Brand from Russell Grant, suddenly decided that he and Jonathan Ross should lose their jobs. Now they’ve both gone, and the BBC is poorer as a result.
Anyone with half a brain can see that the BBC isn’t overtly left-wing or pro-Islamic Fundamentalist. I don’t remember a BBC announcer ever suggesting we assassinate a Tory MP, or Eastenders hatching a storyline involved with bringing down the financial establishment. Very few sitcoms centre around the desire for Sharia Law and you’ll hear more about “saving our bangers” and how crazy the EU is than how we must join the Euro-Zone.
Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, often cited by ‘The Silent Majority’ as a hotbed of socialism, spends a good quarter of its air-time on Business News. This involves financial moguls and City barrow-boys celebrating capitalism and denouncing the likes of the Minimum Wage, paid maternity leave and the prospect of tax rises. My leftwing perspective is that the rest of the programme seems to consist of interviewers sneering at the naivety of Labour politicians and not interrupting Tory toffs half as much as they deserve.
But that’s just my view. I don’t advocate sacking John Humphrys or Evan Davies or dismantling the BBC. I might shoot off an email giving my views, but my ultimate sanction is the “off” button. I’ll just stop listening.
I wish the Silent Majority would shut the fcuk up.
I hate censors. Especially the self-appointed rag-bag of philistine dim-wits who constantly picket the broadcasting authorities, complaining about stuff they’d be better off not watching. My message to them is “Switch off!”
In a civilised society that would be the end of it, but these people are working on an agenda and they are backed by sections of the media who would love to see the BBC toppled. Although the talents of these complainers are distinctly limited, and their collective artistry woeful, they set themselves up as judges and arbiters of what the rest of us can see and hear. These morons would feel no embarrassment in asking Michaelangelo to cover up David’s genitals, Botticelli to banish his bottoms or Chaucer to omit the sauciness from the Canterbury Tales.
The lead letter in our “local” newspaper, the scarily-rightwing News Shopper (you can certainly shop around and get better local news), is a rant from one Miranda Suit (“Address supplied”) headlined “Take bad language off our TV screens”. It speaks of the “controversy surrounding the obscene telephone messages made to Andrew Sachs by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross” and goes on to urge that we sign a petition to the Prime Minister, “an opportunity for everyone to make a real difference and benefit society.”
This same Miranda Suit turns out to be a leading light in Media March, a Christian protest group with links to mediawatch-uk, the successor to Mary Whitehouse’s Viewers & Listeners’ Association. In 2004 Ms Suit was quoted on the BBC website as saying: “We do need swear words, they are a useful expression of anger, but they need to be used sparingly. The only real swear word there is now is the c-word, and we don’t want that to become normalised. If people have no swear words left, who knows – they might not be able to express their anger and might end up hitting someone.”
She seems to have changed her views since then. Perhaps God told her she was being too liberal; who knows. The Media March website features a letter currently being sent by supporters to the BBC Chairman, which includes the chilling line: “However, while there is much to be justly proud of, the BBC is still not listening to me in a number of important areas.”
I’ve got news for you, Miranda… they’re not listening to me, either.
The letter goes on: “I strongly object to my licence fee being used to fund the following” and lists many of the usual suspects, including “vulgar ‘celebrity’ presenters, obsessed with sex, bad language and insulting behaviour, who are paid millions of pounds in salaries” and “Sleazy, violent soap storylines”, plus:
Expansion of digital channels and services
Programmes that can be downloaded from the internet by non-licence fee payers for free
Continued depictions of violence, sex, bad language, drug taking, etc. which can in no way be described as appropriate for a public service broadcaster
If put into practice, this last objection would mean an end to dramas such as Casualty, which is fuelled by violence and drug-taking. Is Ms Suit and her followers suggesting that violence, bad language and drug taking are not features of life in Britain today? If that’s the case, she should go out more.
The main worry here is that the BBC is on the defensive. Its capitulation in the face of a few thousand people who protested at the Brand/ Ross affair was pathetic. Claims that 40,000 protested is rubbish: this includes thousands and thousands of people like me who voiced support for Brand and Ross and whose contribution was treated as if we had been on the reverse of the argument. Even if you count the entire 40,000 as being against the foul-mouthed duo, it’s not even 0.07% of the UK population of 60,943,912.
And yet things have changed. Even minor swearwords are banned on the BBC and anything regarded as vaguely offensive is now strictlyÂ verboeten. Although I don’t advocate the use of the “C” and “F” words on CBBC, there is such a thing as a 9pm watershed and after that it should be purely a matter of artistic control.
I do not have huge confidence that BBC Director General Mark Thompson is the man suited to be the final arbiter in such matters. He was educated by Jesuits and, according to Wikipedia, worships at a Catholic church near Oxford, which hardly makes him impartial deciding events that may send his soul to eternal damnation! Plus, his background in TV is purely factual – Watchdog, Breakfast Time, Panorama, Newsnight – and so he may not always be on the side of art… especially with Old Nick prodding him in the arse with a toasting fork.
Why can’t dominating idiots like Miranda Suit stick to watching the Disney Channel and leave the rest of us to watch what we want– be it Storyville on BBC 4 or Celebrity Arse-Wiggling on Bravo? I may not personally choose to watch Celebrity Arse-Wiggling on Bravo but I’ll defend your right to watch it – provided it’s on after the watershed, of course.