As the year ends, the press and media start their reviews of the year, with predictions for the year ahead. Here Tom Pride does something more modest: predicting what the Express will be like just one day in the future. The problem with this, is that he’s got the tone so right it’s barely satire. And far from being limited to tomorrow, it could be the Express on almost any and every day of next year.
Archive for December, 2014
I’m respectfully reblogging this picture, because I do feel very strongly that this is an effective artistic statement about the way IDS has destroyed the people, whose images have been used in the construction of this portrait. I realise that this could be considered insensitive. One of the commenters over on Mike’s blog certainly believes that this is so. I disagree, as the artist has made it clear that he intends it as a satirical comment and is not attempting to use it to exploit the memory of those people for mere financial gain. He also makes it very plain that publishing it was a difficult decision, and he apologises for the pain it may cause the families of the deceased.
I think that Mr Wezorek has certainly not acted inappropriately in producing the picture. Rather, he has acted as part of the great artistic tradition that uses art as a medium for social comment, and to hold up a mirror to oppression, poverty, tyranny, abuse and corrupt and arbitrary government. In 19th century Russia there were the Wanderers, a school of painters that deliberately sought to shock respectable Russian middle class and aristocratic opinion, by painting the lives of the wretched, ordinary people of the Russian Empire as they were, not as the Tsarist authorities wanted them portrayed. The result is the classic picture, ‘Barge Haulers of the Volga’, showing a line of ragged peasants, all hope beaten out of them by the sheer hardship of their lives, with the rope around them hauling a ship up the great Russian river. It is one of the grand masterpieces of Russian art, and at the same time a terrible social document and indictment of Tsarism and the social system that created and prospered from such human misery.
Similarly, in Western Europe, realist painters and writers like Zola and Courbet also attempted to show the real, hard lives of working people in France and elsewhere, not as great, Romantic supermen, but as they really were. Wezorek’s painting isn’t realist. It’s much more like that the Symbolists. Edward Lucie-Smith, the art historian, in his book, Symbolist Art, published by Phaedon, makes the point that the Symbolists were disgusted by the corruption and stagnation of the modern age. For some this led to snobbery. Others were influenced and practitioners of forms of alternative mysticism. Still others turned to socialism. Their art also deals with issues like poverty. misery, and disease. Some of these images are even now both inspiring and disturbing. I believe that the artist behind this painting has shown himself to be a proper part of this aspect of art, and I do feel that it’s an appropriate way to keep the memory of his victims alive and not let this squalid, miserable excuse for a human being crawl away from their deaths unscathed. J’accuse.
Click on image to enlarge:
With thanks – and apologies – to Joe Wezorek:
Given this image’s inflammatory nature, I posted it with a great deal of trepidation. I had a hard time deciding if it was the right thing to do and I am still not sure. No, I didn’t have the consent of the families of those pictured, and I apologize for any additional pain that this image causes them.
‘War Minister’ is meant to be a satirical…
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Press TV has reported that according to Sunday’s Daily Mail, John Mann, the campaigner demanding the prosecution of leading British politicians and lawmakers for child abuse, has been given the names of a further two MPs by an alleged former victim. According to Mann, the assaults took place in the 1980s. One of the alleged abusers is a member of the House of Lords. Mann has also said that there are a number of special branch detectives, now retired, who witnessed the abuse and whose testimony would be ‘absolutely critical’ in securing convictions. The detectives have, however, been silenced by the Official Secrets Act. Under its provisions, the detectives could face 14 years in jail and the possible loss of their pensions if they reveal sensitive information. Mann has requested Theresa May to waive the Act’s restrictions in their case to allow them to testify.
The story is 2 more UK MPs accused in sex abuse scandal , and it’s at http://presstv.com/detail/2014/12/29/392275/2-more-uk-mps-accused-in-abuse-scandal/.
Three things are apparent from this. The first is that occasionally something approaching decent journalism does get into the Daily Mail, though that hardly exonerates the newspaper for the rest of the rubbish it runs demonising the poor, the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, the working class, and just about everybody who doesn’t have an income under £50,000, and isn’t in the buy-to-let business.
The second, and much more important point, is how the Official Secrets Act has been used to suppress the news of these horrific crimes and preserve the careers of these extremely well-placed perpetrators. It adds further support for the claim of the Surrey newspaper that when they wanted to run a story on the establishment paedophile ring, they were told not to by the MOD, who slapped a ‘D’ notice on them.
The third is that this story is being run by Press TV, the official news agency of Iran. The Islamic Republic is very far from anyone’s idea of democracy. It’s corrupt and oppressive. Nevertheless, it is providing news that we should also be getting from our own establishment news organisations, like the BBC. This has just confirmed my opinion that the BBC’s boast that it provides censored news stories to countries around the world, where the media is strictly controlled and politically awkward stories suppressed, has now been reversed. Under the Tories, the BBC is now censoring domestic news, and British citizens are having to turn to foreign news agencies, such as Press TV and Russia Today, for British news that the domestic establishment is trying to suppress.
I can also remember being told by Iranian friends in the 1990s, when stories of child abuse by Christian clergy emerged, that they considered Iran to be better than Britain in this respect. One of the mullahs – the Muslim clergy in Iran – had been executed after being convicted of child abuse. The Iranian theocracy is still extremely corrupt, but these allegations show that they have no monopoly on corruption, and at least in that case were capable of prosecuting and punishing highly placed perpetrators.
Mike over at Vox Political has a piece on the departure of the Lib Dem minister, Norman Baker, from the Home Office. Baker threw in his job the department because he believed that it was blocking a genuinely reasonable and effective policy to combat drug addiction. The article’s title is Tories turned down ‘reasonable and practical’ drugs policy proposals – Baker, and it’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/27/tories-turned-down-reasonable-and-practical-drugs-policy-proposals-baker/. It begins
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat who quit his Home Office job earlier this year claiming it was “like walking through mud”, has released details of proposed drugs policy reforms that he says Home Secretary Theresa May suppressed.
When he left, he said the will “to take forward rational evidence-based policy” had been in “short supply”, referring in particular to a Home Office report published in October, which found “no obvious” link between tough penalties and levels of illegal drug use.
He has now outlined his backing for three suggestions which he said the Home Office had drawn up:
◾Treating addicts with prescribed heroin under clinical supervision
◾A “Portuguese model” in which those who commit minor drug offences are offered treatment rather than facing criminal charges
◾Medicinal use of cannabis for certain conditions.
This isn’t the first time the Lib Dems have criticised the government for its policy on drugs. There is a section of the Lib Dems that periodically calls for the legalisation of cannabis. This has been debated on and off since I was at school. It even had some support from senior police officers. I can remember when this was debated back in 1983 or so when Thatcher was the elected dictator a chief constable saying he didn’t object to its legalisation. He tried it, and all it made him do was giggle.
Dangers of Cannabis Use
Cannabis does have its dangers, just like nearly every other kind of drug. Unlike heroin, it is not physically addictive. Excessive use may cause ‘cannabis psychosis’, where the user is tipped over into a form of insanity, though I know some mental health workers, who dispute this. It can also cause sterility in boys, who smoke it before puberty.
Medical Benefits of Cannabis
It’s significant here that Baker has not called for its blanket legalisation, only for its medical use to be legalised. This is perfectly reasonable, as cannabis has been known to be an effective treatment for the pain from MS, certain forms of arthritis and some people have found that it helps reduce the nausea from chemotherapy for cancer. There is therefore quite a strong case for its use as a medical drug, under strict supervision.
Benefits of Heroin vs. Methadone for Addicts
As for treating heroin addicts with that drug, again under medical supervision, this sounds shocking but is actually also entirely reasonable. Years ago I attended a computer course at one of Bristol’s FE colleges. One week it was running a drugs education campaign, in which members of one of the anti-drugs organisations wandered around attempting to persuade the students not to get involved in it. I think they were former addicts. Certainly the one I spoke to was. He told me that he believed that the current treatment of heroin addiction with methadone should be discontinued, and replaced with heroin as methadone was more harmful and more addictive than the drug it was intended to treat. It takes longer to come off methadone than it does heroin. Methadone does more damage to the system than heroin, and actually makes the user feel physically sicker than heroin. So while the use of heroin instead of methadone to treat heroin addiction seems simply wrong, even, perhaps, something of a reward for getting on the drug in the first place, like the use of marijuana for medical purposes there is actually good evidence to support it.
Matthew Parris’ Criticism of Tory Drugs Policy
There is little doubt that the current drugs policy is a shambles. Surprisingly, there’s a large section of the Tory party that actually knows this and agrees. One of them is Margaret Thatcher’s former Personal Private Secretary, Matthew Parris. Parris had got the sack from that post, after he replied to a letter addressed by an elderly lady to the Leaderene. The letter writer had complained about the poverty she was experiencing due to Maggie’s policies. Parris responded by telling her to shut up and stop complaining. The news of this got to the Mirror, and Parris got the sack. He later appeared on Radio 4 saying that his dismissal wasn’t quite like it was reported in the press, as the lady’s letter was a general rant about a number of topics, including being disturbed, so he claimed, by the noise from the local Asian children.
Parris was, however, an opponent of the government’s attempts to stamp out drug use hard through tough legal penalties. He didn’t believe it worked, and wrote an article in the arch-Tory magazine, The Spectator, explaining why. The article appeared over a decade ago now. It’s immediate cause was unilateral declaration by Anne Widdecombe that if the Tories entered government, they would come down even harder on drug use. This alarmed many others in her party, who didn’t share her opinions. There was, no doubt, a utilitarian aspect to this, as some of them may have been alarmed at the prospect of losing support from the Libertarians, who generally support drug liberalisation. Several very senior Tories came out to criticise the woman, who’s been dubbed ‘Doris Karloff’. A number even said that they’d tried cannabis themselves, and it had done them no harm. One had even smoked it in his pipe at Uni. This last revelation shocked Parris, who said that he couldn’t care less what the Conservative gentleman smoked – it could have been cowpats for all he cared. What he found shocking was that the man had smoked a pipe.
Treat Addiction as Disease, not Crime
The furore coincided with a general debate on the government’s drugs policy. It’s interesting that Baker points to the Portuguese system as a successful model for treating drug addiction. At that time in the early Noughties, the country that was held up as a suitable model for a successful drugs policy was either Switzerland or Austria. The approach, however, appears similar in that drug use and addiction is treated as a medical problem, rather than a crime. The result has been that those countries that have taken such an approach have a much lower incidence of drug addiction than Britain. Parris’ article pointed this out, and explained the reason for it. Basically, it’s the old one that if you make something a crime, then it becomes glamorous and seductive. It becomes ‘forbidden fruit’, and so some at least are drawn to it, simply because it is forbidden. If you make it a disease, which needs treatment on the other hand, it becomes much less attractive. No-one really likes being sick.
This approach was not, however, pioneered in Portugal, Austria or Switzerland. What is not mentioned in these reports, but was in Parris’ article, is that it was the system used in Britain under Ted Heath and Jim Callaghan. And according to Parris, it was beginning to pay off, with the number of addicts falling. In fact, according to Parris, the government may even have felt that they had beaten the drugs problem.
Then Maggie came along, and reversed it.
Reagan and the War on Drugs
According to Parris, Thatcher was forced to due to pressure from the Americans. Reagan had just entered the White House, and launched his ‘War on Drugs’. This was the renewed offensive against drugs, which domestically saw children encouraged to inform on their parents for smoking the weed. Internationally, it saw American troops launched into Latin American countries, like Colombia, to destroy the drug trade and the international gangs that deal in it at source. The result has been a bitter devastating war that has cost tens of thousands of lives in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and which shows no signs of stopping. The drug gangs in those countries are deeply unpleasant and responsible for truly horrific crimes and atrocities. They need and deserve to be stamped out. Military force, however, is not sufficient for this. A new approach is needed, which acts against the trade and the gangs that support it by reducing consumption in the affluent global north and west. One way of doing this is simply by reducing its attractiveness.
Conclusion: Make Drugs Less Attractive by Showing Them as Disease
Instead of looking at drugs as part of a rock ‘n ‘roll lifestyle, where young, hip rebels live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse, the view should be that the reality is that drugs will leave you poor, sick and dead. And due to the ravages of the chemical disease, you definitely won’t be beautiful.
From what I understand, the approach Norman Baker recommended isn’t a case of being ‘soft’ on drugs. In Portugal, Switzerland and the other countries that have adopted it, drugs are still illegal and their medical use tightly controlled. It really is a case of simply moving from treating it as a crime to a disease, which needs to be cured. This was, after all, the British policy, before Reagan decided that the troops needed to be sent in, and Maggie obediently complied.
More evidence of Daily Mail bigotry and incompetence. The Daily Mail should learn an important lesson from this: there are people out there on the web, who are brighter and better informed than they are. And they’re all reading and sending up Paul Dacre’s mighty organ.
(not satire – it’s the Mail!)
Ted Thornhill – the hopelessly incompetent Mail Online senior reporter who was hoaxed by the false story about a non-existent ISIS fighter – has been desperately asking around social media in a vain attempt to try to save face:
Of course if Ted had done even a bit of research, he would have realised that the story about a supposedly white ISIS fighter joining ISIS because he missed the UCAS deadline for entry into university was a hoax.
Not least because the UCAS deadline closes on the 15th of January.
Related articles by Tom Pride:
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It’s satire now, but a few hundred years ago, when people believed in the Great Chain of Being, it would have been taken extremely seriously. Disruptions in the human, political realm, like challenges to lawful authority by usurpers and tyrants resulted in the disruption of the natural world. The result was storms, tempests, plagues and omens, like strange births, talking statues, animals behaving weirdly. Given how weird and offensive Farage and his party actually are, I think we should expect UFO visitations, frog falls and the giant spectres of Elvis and Liberace at the very least.
Snow storms have caused travel chaos across the country leaving many people stranded after The Times newspaper announced it was awarding UKIP leader Nigel Farage its prestigious annual ‘Briton of the Year’ award today.
The Met Office also issued a severe weather warning for ice across the whole of the UK as it warned temperatures are set to plunge as a result of the distinguished Rupert Murdoch newspaper praising the UKIP leader as the “man of the moment” in its editorial.
And there were reports of motorists having to abandon their vehicles overnight as temperatures dropped as low as -10C just hours after The Times declared that no other person had done more to shape British politics in 2014 than Mr Farage.
The bad weather comes exactly a year after weather experts say The Times was responsible for triggering severe flooding and power cuts across many parts of the UK by making the chancellor George Osborne its 2013 ‘Briton of…
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This is extremely interesting and very, very important. I didn’t know that 80 per cent of people in rural Britain were against fox hunting. The fact simply wasn’t reported. On the other hand, there was a lot of publicity given to spokesmen of the NUF and Countryside Alliance about the so-called ‘democracy of the hunt’, how it was a deeply rooted rural tradition and the impression given that the people of the British countryside solidly supported it.
I’ve no doubt, however, that this finding is absolutely correct. One of my friends grew up on a farm, and he told me that the local hunt was roundly despised by many of the other farmers in the area. The people, who liked and followed the hounds were indeed the rich gentlemen farmers. One of the reasons they were hated, apart from the cruelty of hunting itself, was the simply fact that they believed they had an absolute right to charge through others’ property regardless of the rights and wishes of that landowner. When I was at College over twenty years ago, one of the other lads came from Exeter in Devon. He was very left-wing, with a deep hatred of the local hunt. One of the things they had done, which had caused shock and very deep resentment, was to pursue their quarry into a primary school playground, and then torn the animal’s head off in front of the terrified children. It became a scandal throughout the south-west.
And if we’re looking at it as rural vs town issue, we can actually now reverse the argument and turn it on the fox hunters themselves. During the 19th century many fox hunts were subscription hunts, that it is, you paid your money to join. And not all of their members came from the countryside, by any means. Many of them were respectable middle class types from the new, emerging towns, like Birmingham. So the question becomes whether we are looking at a genuinely authentic piece of rural England, or whether it’s a bit of the countryside falsely presented as such mostly as a piece of heritage tourism for well-heeled townies.
And no matter how you look at it, Oscar Wilde is still right: they are the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.
We’re constantly told the debate about hunting is a matter of rural opinion vs urban opinion.
Well not according to this opinion poll by IPSOS MORI.
According to their survey, exactly the same percentage of rural inhabitants – 80% – are against fox hunting as urban inhabitants – also 80%.
And even more surprisingly, slightly more people who live in the country (89% and 94%) are against hare coursing and badger baiting than townies (87% and 92%).
The truth is that the Countryside Alliance and the National Farmers Union are NOT representative of rural opinion.
In fact the NFU is not even representative of farmers – they only represent a mere 18% of them, mostly the richest landowners:
But the question is, if the public in both rural and urban areas is so solidly against fox hunting, why…
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Jon Moulton, the modern Ebenezer Scrooge, stands condemned from his own mouth with these very telling, and disgusting quotations. This is the real face of the City and UKIP, despite the spin and waffle of the Tories and Farage.
(not satire – it’s the UK today)
Over a hundred and seventy years after Dickens published a Christmas Carol, meet Ebenezer Scrooge 2014:
You can read all about how Moulton sacked his staff and couldn’t even be bothered to tell them here:
But Moulton is not just a fabulously wealthy fat city cat who doesn’t give a sh*t about British workers. He’s a prominent UKIP supporter too. And a good example of just how nasty some of the people behind UKIP are.
Here are some quotes:
Moulton on making people redundant: “You can never fire anyone too soon”
Moulton’s description of the people he has fired: “cutting away unnecessaries”
Moulton on why there should be even more austerity: “It’s the moral thing to do and it’s the right thing to do.”
Moulton on why…
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Mike over at Vox Political reports the BBC’s finding that the chairman of UKIP’s Thanet South branch, Martyn Heale, was formerly a member of the National Front. The article states that Heale has said that ‘he deeply regrets’ his past in the Nazi organisation. Mike’s article is UKIP’s Thanet South chairman regrets National Front past – BBC News, and is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/26/ukips-thanet-south-chairman-regrets-national-front-past-bbc-news/. Farage has insisted repeatedly that his party is non-racist and non-sectarian, and there is a ban on former members of the Fascist Right joining the party. Despite this ban, prominent members of Farage’s party keep turning out to have pasts in or links to the stormtroopers of the BNP, NF and similar Nazi groups.
Despite Jaynel and her friend and collaborator, Debbie Sayers, feeling they have hit a wall with their campaign to get IDS and the DWP to release the figures of how many people have died after being signed off welfare benefits, their campaign continues to be significant. As long as there are people like Jaynel and Sayers pressing for this information, the government cannot claim that the British public are apathetic, or that there is somehow unanimous agreement that they are correct. Moreover, every lie, half-truth and evasion by Iain Duncan Smith and his minions reveals just how duplicitous and profoundly treacherous the government is. The pressure on the government and it’ consequent embarrassment continues.
In this my last post before the festivities kick in I want to take a look at a quick overview of the Truth Campaign and our reasons for pursuing it.
It all began on April 14 2013, when Debbie Sayers and I wrote an open letter, to Esther McVey regarding her persistent misuse of facts and statistics, we sent this with over 800 signatures, including 4 MPs, a month later. On the back of this, we started our first petition (27/5/13) to the Work & Pensions Committee demanding they :Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics.
We eventually received a response from the DWP correspondence team to our letter, which failed to even acknowledge the questions we had asked, but she did reply to Michael Meacher and Tim Loughton MPs, who had supported our letter with the same reply.
By June 12 our first petition had hit the magic 100,000 signatures…
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