Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

The Magic Money Tree Exists for Private Healthcare But Not the NHS

January 18, 2022

A number of the great peeps who comment on my blog have said that the current fuss over Johnson and his wretched parties is a distraction, and I completely agree. His partying the nights away in 10 Downing Street while the rest of the nation had to obey the lockdown is insulting and shows a deep hypocrisy and disregard for the problems and situation of ordinary people. Especially those folks who were cruelly kept away from being with their loved ones, their relatives and friends, in their final moments. But there are far worse things being done by Johnson and his wretched cronies. Mike put up a list of them a few days, courtesy of one of the left-wing peeps on Twitter. One of them is the continuing privatisation of the NHS. A few days ago the government passed some measure to give private healthcare firms something like £127 million of public money to treat Covid. They will keep this regardless of whether they treat anyone or not.

Now contrast it with the state of the NHS, which is in crisis because of persistent government cuts and soaring bureaucracy and administration costs thanks to its piecemeal privatisation. The Tories have cut and kept cutting it for decades, all the while smarmily lying to the public that they’re just cutting unnecessary waste and making it more efficient. Or fiddling the statistics to try and show that they’re putting more money into it than the last Labour government. Or just simply lying, as Johnson did when he told the British nation that they were going to build 40 new hospitals. In fact the real numbers six, and those are only being refurbished. In fact an official report in 1979 said clearly that rising costs in the NHS could easily be met through taxation. And whatever else you can say about Blair, the lair and war criminal did keep the health service properly funded. And his government did have some success tackling poverty.

When it comes to funding public services and the welfare state, the Tories have this refrain ‘There’s no magic money tree’. Except there is, when it’s private enterprise or otherwise affects the superrich. Then suddenly millions can be found. It’s the same here. Money which should be spent on the NHS is given to private healthcare firms. If the same amount was given to the NHS under the same condition, the Tories would be choking with outrage and howling about how nationalisation causes waste and inefficiency and rants about the need to cut government expenditure. No doubt there would be gibe about ‘high spending Labour’. In fact the NHS even a few years ago gave excellent value for service. Government expenditure on it is actually lower than that of other nation’s healthcare systems, such as America’s, and the results were comparable or better. Which is why the Tories want to destroy it.

Private healthcare, compared to state provision, simply isn’t competitive. The point is made very well in Ray Tallis’ and Jacky Davis’ NHS – SOS. Private hospitals are smaller than NHS hospitals, the administrative costs are actually higher and to remain profitable they have to concentrate on treating people who are largely fit and well, which means ignoring the disabled or long-term sick. And it’s because they’re uncompetitive that the private healthcare firms like BUPA etc want a piece of that juicy NHS action, as well as funding from the government.

And that’s the real reason Johnson has given the money, with apparently no strings attached, to the private healthcare sector. It’s part of the Tories general plan to privatise the NHS completely and transform it into an American-style system funded by private health insurance. Oh yes, and something like a hundred Tory MPs also have connections to private healthcare companies, so there’s more than a little personal interest in it.

Johnson’s parties are a massive insult to the country, but the real injury is what they’re doing to the NHS and the welfare state. And it’s because of that Johnson and his wretch gang of profiteers should go.

Guardian Video of Anti-Lockdown Protesters in Boris Masks Partying Outside No. 10

January 15, 2022

I know many of the commenters on this blog are heartily sick of hearing about how Johnson broke the lockdown rules to hold his own parties. The number has gone up to 13 so far, which makes him a serial offender. But as Brian Burden and Trev have pointed out, this is a distraction. Johnson should really be on the ropes because of the way his policies have ruined the lives, health and wealth of the people of Britain. Like the way he held off bringing in the lockdown as long as possible, muttering eugenicist rubbish about herd immunity, so more people died unnecessarily. Like the way ten years and more of Tory cuts have left the NHS struggling and unable to cope, so that there’s a huge backlog of untreated patients. Six million so far! And the NHS’ piecemeal privatisation. Like the way he and they have cut benefits, so that even more people are struggling to pay their bills and feed their children at the same time. Like the ruthless expansion of benefit sanctions, the fitness of work tests against the disabled, the attacks on the right to protest, the demonisation of the channel migrants, Priti Patel’s wretched nationality bill. The expansion of job insecurity and gig economy. And the lies the Tories tell, just one lie after another, with no qualm or conscience.

Johnson should be massively unpopular and his party facing electoral wipe-out because of all of this. But he’s not. He’s unpopular because of his hypocrisy for this one issue. Thanks to it, Keir Starmer’s Labour is in a ten-point lead. But that’s nothing to do with Starmer, who has almost constantly been extremely weak, even supportive of Johnson’s leadership. It’s purely Johnson’s fault, and so could easily be reversed if the Tories get rid of him and replace him with someone far more competent.

But the attacks on Johnson are inventive and funny. The Groan posted this video on YouTube of people in Boris Johnson masks having an anti-lockdown party outside No. 10, bobbing away to a rave track with the lyric, ‘My name is Boris’. Other, similar videos have been put up by the Scum and the Heil, but I’m not reposting them. I got some standards, after all!

Iran Releases Mock Video of Drone Strike Against Donald Trump

January 14, 2022

This video comes from WION, which I think is an Indian news network. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has released a mock video on his website of Donald Trump being assassinated by a drone while playing golf. The video was produced as part of a competition to mark the American drone assassination of General Soleimani, and the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi has pledged to avenge his death. The Americans have responded with a statement that Iran will face dire reprisals for any attack on an American national.

This comes a few days after Iran issued a demand for Trump to be prosecuted and killed, while over the Christmas period the regime’s armed forces simulated an attack on an Israeli nuclear installation.

Readers of my blog will know what I think of Iran’s government: I despise them as ruthless, theocratic dictators. But I can’t condemn them for producing the video or calling for Trump’s prosecution. Trump was responsible for the killing of Soleimani by drone, and while I don’t think Soleimani was in any way an angel, the Americans don’t really have a counterargument if other countries use the same methods against them. As Kant said, ‘When you legislate for one, you legislate for all’. Which is why we have international law.

As for the simulated attack on an Israeli nuclear plant, again it’s immensely hypocritical for America or the Israelis to condemn it. Israeli has nuclear weapons, which is against international law but no-one seems to condemn them for it. They have launched attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities, though I think they’ve so far been with viruses rather than drones. Even so one of these attacks left a number of Iranian nuclear scientists dead. Benjamin Netanyahu and the rest have been trying to tell the world that Iran’s trying to develop nuclear weapons and we should all be very worried. The Iranians have said that, on the contrary, they’re developing it for their power industry. This is actually quite likely. Iran’s economy depends on its oil exports, and if they want to increase that then one way to do it is cut down on domestic oil consumption. Nuclear power would be a way of doing so, with the oil saved sold for export.

But I also wouldn’t blame the Iranians for developing nuclear weapons either. They’re on the list of the seven countries, whose regimes the Neo-Cons want overthrown. The same people behind the Iraq invasion and their theft of its oil and state industries are no doubt also keen to do the same to Iran. The reason America had Mossadeq, the last democratically elected prime minister of Iran overthrown in a CIA sponsored coup, was because he had nationalised the Iranian oil industry. Previously it had been owned and controlled by foreigners, principally Britain. And there is a very good reason why Iran would want to acquire nuclear capability simply for domestic safety. Bush and Blair both claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but only invaded when Saddam Hussein assured them he didn’t have nuclear weapons. This teaches any country at the receiving end of western imperialism that the only way they can protect themselves is through acquiring nuclear weapons. The Iraq invasion has encouraged nuclear proliferation, not discouraged it, and has made the world less safe.

I don’t want Trump killed in a drone strike, nor do I want him executed, although I do accept that there is a case for prosecuting him for the drone strike that killed Soleimani. Not that I don’t think that Soleimani wasn’t a butcher himself. I also don’t believe that Iran has the capability to launch any kind of drone attack against anyone in America. If they had, they wouldn’t bother putting up fake videos about it.

My guess is that Trump is perfectly safe from Iranian drone strikes. I don’t want one to happen, but I don’t blame the Iranians for dreaming about it either.

History Debunked Questions Johnson’s Britishness

January 12, 2022

Oh ho! This is very amusing. The Tory party has always positioned itself, at least since the 19th century, as the party of Britishness. If you listen to its supporters and propaganda, it’s the party of the British constitution and the union, protecting our ancient liberties and defending our great nation from plots and attacks by evil foreigners. Historically this largely meant the French, but today means the EU and Scots Nationalists. Under Maggie Thatcher this nationalism became particularly shrill. The 1987 Tory election broadcast showed Spitfires zooming about the sky while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’ and ended with ‘It’s great, to be great again!’ Political theorists who’ve read, or at least heard of Rousseau could correct the first statement. At the beginning of his book, The Social Contract, which became one of the founding texts of the French Revolution, Rousseau said: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Which is probably not something Thatcher wanted said about her government. As for being ‘great again’, this was the period when Thatcher was selling our state industries off to foreign investors, destroying trade unions, cutting unemployment and other welfare benefits and trying to find ways to get people to take out private medical insurance instead of relying on the NHS. She would have liked to have privatised that, but was prevented by a massive cabinet rebellion. At the same time she was using her ‘strong state’ against striking miners and anyone else she thought was an evil Commie subversive while at the same time propping up truly evil Fascist dictators abroad. Like the brute General Pinochet, responsible for the murder and torture of 30,000 people in his native Chile. The country’s present grinding poverty and crumbling infrastructure are all a result of her policies. The identification of the Conservative party with Britishness was so loud and crass that, reviewing the election broadcast on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, the late, much-missed humourist Alan Coren referred to the planes as ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. I also remember one of the Observer’s columnists referring to the Tories as ‘the patriotic party’.

But now aspersions have been cast on the Britishness of the Tories’ leader and current head of the country, Boris Johnson. Simon Webb of the History Debunked YouTube channel put up a piece yesterday asking ‘How British Is Boris Johnson?’ This speculated that Johnson carries on the way does because, quite simply, he isn’t really British. He was born in New York, and is of mixed Turkish and American ancestry. He is also part Jewish, which is one reason why I’m not going to put the video up here. One of the elements of the genuine anti-Semitic conspiracies is the allegation that Jews aren’t really patriotic citizens because of their international connections and foreign ancestry and relatives. They have frequently been accused of being ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ with no real connection or loyalty to the gentile peoples among which they settle. It’s a poisonous allegation that has resulted in the murder of countless innocents and encouraged the formation and growth of Fascist organisations and parties like the Nazis. The vast majority of British Jews are as British as everyone else. And before the Second World War, the vast majority of Jews wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as patriotic fellow citizens by their gentile countrymen. It’s why the leaders of the British Jewish community during the First World War actually opposed the Balfour Declaration. They did not want the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine nor anywhere else, as it could lead to the accusation that their loyalties were divided. And they weren’t. They were, and wanted to be seen as, patriotic Brits.

But there is a kind of irony in Boris Johnson, a pukka old Etonian, and true-blue Tory being accused of not being British enough.

And I think Webb has a point, though not in the sense he means. At the heart of the right-wing ranting and suspicion about the ‘globalists’, supposedly plotting to create an evil, Satanic one-world Communist state, there’s an element of truth. Regardless of their nationality or ancestry, it appears to me that the global superrich really are forming a separate international class whose loyalty is primarily to themselves and not to the people below them, even if these people are of the same nationality. You can see that in the way the Tory grandees and those like them move their capital around the world, investing in countries on the other side of the world while making pay and conditions worse over here and cutting benefits. As far as I know, Jacob Rees-Mogg is thoroughly British in his ancestry. He also projects a caricatured, right-wing image of Britishness very much like his nickname of ‘Lord Snooty’. He also backed Brexit, which was supposed to be another patriotic gesture in which Britain took back her sovereignty.

In fact Brexit has wreaked massive harm to our economy, disastrously cutting British firms off from continental markets and suppliers. The deals we’ve made, or are trying to make, with the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders are to our disadvantage, whatever the Tory mouthpieces say to the contrary. And the response of Rees-Mogg and the superrich like him amply demonstrate where their loyalties lie. Even before Brexit, Mogg had invested in companies in the far east. And when he was urging everyone to vote to leave the EU, he was moving his own financial interests to Eire. This was to pick up on all the EU business he would otherwise have lost if they’d remained centred in Britain. Which is, to me, another example of Tory hypocrisy.

Back in the 19th century Disraeli declared in his books Coningsby and Sybil that Britain was divided into two nations, the rich and poor, who had no knowledge or connection with each other, and demanded that this should be remedied. They’ve been talking about ‘One Nation’ Toryism every since. This is done by leaders like John Major, Michael Howard, David Cameron and so on, and is supposed to show that they are from that branch of the party that still has some paternalistic regard for those below them. The same people talk, or used to talk, about ‘caring Conservativism’. This is all the while doing what Tories always do – cut benefits, wages, and employment conditions and make it easier to sack people. All while manipulating the stats to persuade people that this is actually working and that they’re somehow better off.

Tony Benn in one of his books said something about the British ruling class regarding the lower orders as indeed like a foreign nation. Thinking about the Britannia Unchained mob, he had a point. This was the book written by a group of Tory MPs, including the smirking insult to decency, Priti Patel, that said that for Britain to compete in the global market, British workers must endure the same terrible conditions and wages as those elsewhere in the world, like India. A similar view was put forward by a former Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane in Somerset. I’ve forgotten who he was, but I do remember his appearance on the local news. Introducing him, the interviewer stated that he came from a family of colonial administrators and governors. This strongly suggests to me that, deep down, he regarded British people of all colours in the same way his family had regarded the Africans and other indigenous peoples they governed.

And going back back to the 1920s, George Bernard Shaw attacked the Tory claim that they and the rich represented Britain and her interests in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism by pointing out that the rich spent much of their time and money abroad, and preferred to invest in firms in the colonies using cheap indigenous labour. And this still remains absolutely true. One of the problems with Britain’s banking system is that its investment banks are geared to putting money into commonwealth rather than domestic industries.

At a fundamental level, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Tory elite really don’t have any connection to the Brits below them. It’s not because of their ancestry. In my view, they’re the same whether they’re completely British by descent. It’s because they are part, and see themselves as part of an international industrial and political class, who move their businesses and investments from one country to another without concern for how this affects their fellow countrymen. All the while trying to deceive the rest of us by yelling about their Britishness and British values.

Johnson and the Tories aren’t British patriots, except at the crude level of repeating nationalist slogan and anti-immigrant attitudes. Ordinary Brits are foreigners to them, like the low-waged workers in other countries they also seek to exploit.

Video on Five Times Bozo Has Lied

January 10, 2022

This should be ‘at least’, as Johnson lies so frequently that I think he’s constitutionally unable to tell the truth. I think Mike’s already put this video up, but it’s worth doing so again just remind everyone just what a flagrant liar he is. There’s also an irony in that this video was posted up by mad right-winger Alex Belfield. One of the lies Johnson gets caught out on is his claim that he isn’t going to privatise the NHS. The video shows Corbyn accusing him of this, and waving around the very documents that Johnson signed to hand parts of it to the Americans. It’s a bit ironic that Belfield should repost the video, as he seems to believe very much that privatising the NHS will solve its problems.

Here are the lies in the video.

  1. An angry father in a hospital rails against him for destroying the NHS and then appearing there for a press opportunity. Johnson denies the press are present despite the fact they are. The father points them out.
  2. TV interview in which he is asked about being sacked when he was part of Michael Howard’s team, the former head of the Tories at the time. Johnson was having an affair, and denied it.
  3. A clip from Gogglebox, in which the viewers see a piece from the leader debates or a similar television confrontation. Jeremy Corbyn has caught Johnson promising in a secret document to open up the NHS to American private medical companies as part of the trade negotiations for a post-Brexit deal. Johnson lies that he has not done this. The Goggleboxers wonder if they’re being lied to, and what the document is, if it isn’t the secret deal.
  4. GP registrar Sonia Adesara tears apart Johnson’s claim that he’s building 40 new hospitals. He isn’t. He was only refurbishing six, not building any new.
  5. A piece from Sky News, in which they catch him lying about his statement that money was being ‘spaffed’ up the wall on historic sexual abuse claims. Johnson definitely said it, but when questioned by Sky News’ journo, went and denied it. There then follows a clip from LBC showing Johnson actually saying it.

The video ends with Johnson being questioned about whether he lies. True to form, he denies it, and says merely that he may have got things wrong.

Well yes, he did get things wrong. Deliberately. He’s a liar, who cannot be trusted. He is destroying the NHS. He did agree to open parts of it up to purchase by American healthcare companies. He most definitely hasn’t built anywhere near 40 new hospitals. And while he might think they’re a waste of police time and money, the victims of historic sexual abuse still deserve and demand these cases to be investigated and be given justice.

Unfortunately, the rest of his party are exactly like him, judging from the hundreds of lies or so one fact checking organisation found in their election statements. He’s a liar, who is head of a party of liars.

And if he goes, can we expect just another Tory liar?

Victim Ruzwana Bashir on Confronting Abuse in the Asian Community

January 10, 2022

It isn’t just White women and girls, who were at risk from predators within the British Asian community. Women and girls from within the community were also preyed upon and abused, but a powerful culture of shame meant that it was underreported and its victims deterred from coming forward to confront their abusers. In this video from 2014, Channel 4 News’ John Snow talks to Ruzwana Bashir, a successful British Asian businesswoman, who has set up her own travel business in America. However, she was abused at the age of 10 in her own family, and the community’s shame culture prevented her parents from speaking about it or prosecuting the abuser. Once away from the community in her twenties she was able to face the past and, with another victim of the same abuser, prosecuted her abuser and had them jailed.

I am not suggesting for a single moment that Asians, and particularly Muslims and Pakistanis, are more likely to commit crimes against children than any other ethnic group.

Perverts are to be found in all communities, regardless of colour, ethnicity or religion. But they will do everything they can to hide their crimes and escape prosecution. The well-connected use the links they have with the powerful to silence the victims and stop investigations. And in the case of the White victims of the grooming gangs, the abusers hid behind their colour and the authorities feared accusations of racism and racial violence. In the case of Ruzwana Bashir, her abuser, and abusers like them, exploit the Asian community’s shame culture and relative lack of education. I hope that Bashir’s appearance on Channel 4 News encouraged more victims of abuse, regardless of colour, to break the silence imposed by shame and demand justice.

We need to make sure that every woman and girl in Britain, whether White, Asian, Black or whatever is protected against sexual abuse, regardless of their race and that of their attackers.

Local Bristol MP Karen Smyth’s Reply to Concerns about Privatisation of Channel 4

January 10, 2022

Just before Christmas there was the news that the Conservatives, as part of their war on state broadcasting and any network that didn’t follow their line and serve as their propaganda outlets, were going to privatise Channel 4. I wrote to my local MP for south Bristol, Karen Smyth, and received the following kind reply.

‘Thank you for contacting me about proposals to change the ownership model of Channel 4.

I am also concerned about this proposal, and have written a joint letter to the Secretary of State, along with the three other Bristol Labour MPs, to ask that the Government urgently reconsider these proposals. Great British TV belongs in the UK, and I do not wish to see Channel 4 lost to the highest bidder.

For nearly four decades, Channel 4 has created an endless list of brilliant, progressive and world-leading programmes. I believe it is a British success story which was established to provide distinctive output and to drive forward growth in the independent TV production sector, and it has far exceeded these goals. In addition, its sharp, challenging, diverse and entertaining programming does very well in appealing to a wider and younger audience.

The Government has said that now is the time to strengthen public service broadcasters, and that the consultation is to ensure that Channel 4 has a viable and sustainable future. It argues that changes in advertising will put its funding under pressure, as Channel 4 is paid for by advertising, and that it needs to adapt because of competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

I believe that this misses the point, as Channel 4 was created to be different, diverse and daring, and to champion the under-represented voices of this country. It does not need to spend millions of pounds to compete, it needs to do what it does best and create fundamentally British content that speaks to and represents British audiences.

In my view, these proposals would also be catastrophic for the creative industry, particularly here in Bristol, because of Channel 4’s investment in the sector and in regional television and production. The investment in regional creative industries – which Bristol fought hard to secure – is supporting local businesses and independent production companies and must not be jeopardised by an ill-considered change of ownership or model.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I can assure you I will continue to call for Channel 4 to be protected. 

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South’

I am very glad indeed that she shares my concerns and wishes to oppose the privatisation. I think she’ll do it, as she does come across as a woman of principle and integrity, even if she is on the Labour right. But I don’t trust the bureaucracy or the inept, vindictive, factionalist leadership of Keef Stalin to do the same, however.

Teachers Scrabble for Cash as Entertainment During American Football Game

January 9, 2022

Yeah, I know, I said I really shouldn’t be platforming mad right-winger Alex Belfield. But this is another genuinely interesting and concerning video he’s put up. It seems a group of teachers demeaned themselves as half-time entertainment in America during a game of American football. An insurance company donated a pile of cash and during the interval a group of teachers came on to scrabble physically for it, stuffing it down their shirt and jumper fronts, in order to get $10,000 each for their school to buy equipment. As you can see from the comments on his site, people compared it to the Hunger Games and the way the poor was forced to compete in that for food.

It’s a bit like Bumfights, a series of videos that came out over a decade ago, but with middle class educators rather than tramps and hoboes. Bumfights were made by a group of rich kids, and featured the homeless fighting each other or doing something equally demeaning in order to get a burger from the people videoing them. It was exploitation of the poorest and desperate. Someone has said since that the homeless people that appeared on these videos were actually paid much more than a simple burger, but this was left out of the cut. Well, perhaps. But it was still immensely tasteless and demeaning, nonetheless. And so is this.

I go the impression that the state schools in America are in crisis, just as they are over here. Various American governments have been trying to close down ordinary public schools and transform them into charter schools. These are, I believe, the American equivalent of our academies. This is often against the wishes of the local community, including parents, teachers and local clergy. Who are naturally ignored. One of those pushing ahead with this policy was Barack Obama, who has described himself as a moderate Republican rather than a Democrat. There’s also the right-wing push for home schooling to protect children against extreme left-wing indoctrination in schools with Queer and Critical Race Theory. Some of the poverty also comes from the peculiar way American public schools are funded. It comes out of local taxes. If the area’s affluent, then so are the schools. If it’s poor, then the local schools are too, and more likely to be poorly maintained and lacking needed equipment and teaching materials. It isn’t like that over here, but government funding to state schools has been increasingly cut so that it’s far less than many need, while governments from Blair onwards have given massive funding to the academies.

I dare say that the insurance company, who donated the money, and the organisers of this competition thought they were doing something noble. After all, game shows have featured people scrabbling for prizes ever since they were invented. But in their case, this is genuinely for entertainment. There isn’t an economic need motivating them, or not usually. And in the quizzes in which celebrities compete to win money for charity, dignity is preserved. You don’t see the celebs on the Chase physically scrabble for the cash on their hands and knees. But I’m afraid this nasty little piece of squalid entertainment could start a trend, and might come over here.

This is just exploiting people’s poverty. Schools everywhere should be properly funded so that they can afford to give their pupils the best education possible with the equipment and learning materials they need. And teachers should be properly paid as respectable professionals responsible for educating and inspiring the kids in their charge.

Virtual Walmart – The Future of Asda

January 9, 2022

Here’s a video which shows how Walmart, who used to own Asda and may well still do so, see the future of the shopping. It’s a Virtual trip through one of their stores, in which the shopper clicks on the products they wish to purchase to put them on a Virtual shopping. A Virtual shop assistant guides them through their purchases. If they’re buying alcohol, the store automatically connects with another system to confirm that they’re old enough. If they’re buying something they have already, the shop assistant tells them they’ve communicated with their fridge, which tells them that they already have in this case a bottle of milk. Do they want to put it back? And so on.

Mad right-wing Alex Belfield put part of the video up on his YouTube channel yesterday as he was heading off on his hols. He’s another one I really shouldn’t platform, but occasionally he says something sensible. In this instance he was warning that it could be the future of Asda. This video comes from the Sync Media Network.

Now I admit I’ve been shopping online at Asda because of Covid and the extra health risks due to my myeloma. It’s compromised my immune system and many of the drugs I’m on are to prevent me catching anything. it is easy and convenient, as is shopping online generally. Hence the success of Amazon. But it does present a real danger to our bricks and mortar stores. There is the danger that real stores can’t compete, and are closing down leaving row after row of empty shops on the High Street further damaging town centres. It hasn’t quite happened like that, as I understand that people are returning to real, solid shops now that some of the Covid restrictions have been eased. But it’s still a strong possibility.

Belfield and other peeps have also criticised the stores’ increased mechanisation and the removal of real sales assistants from stores in favour of self-service. When the automatic checkouts were introduced, I remember one of the writers in the Heil denouncing them as ‘Dalek’ machines that he had no intention of using. He wanted to give his money and work to a real person instead. And the wretched paper was right. These machines are threatening to make people unemployed. Belfield has repeated criticised them on these grounds, and also for the perfectly good reason that for many people, shopping is a social experience. For many of the elderly and disabled it’s the only time they may get out of the house and see people, and the gradual removal of real shop assistants and their replacement with machines may deprive them of a vital piece of real human contact. This process is going even further in some experimental stores, where tills and self-service counters have also been replaced. The shopper simply goes in armed with their credit or debit card, which is scanned by a machine. Cameras automatically follow the shopper around the store noting what they take off the shelves. This is automatically deducted from their card. They then leave the store without physically queuing up at a counter and paying. Of course, you can see all manner of problems with that, apart from the lack of human contact. I can see mistakes in software and camera tracking leading to innocent people being accused of shoplifting, while the real shoplifters will find some way to subvert it all and get away with it.

I dare say these new shopping methods may be efficient, but they threaten to put real humans out of work. And just as important they would leave our society even more atomised and people more socially isolated than ever.

Nigel Farage Interviews Iraq War Army Officer about Blair’s War Crimes

January 8, 2022

Oh Heaven help me! I’ve just agreed with something arch-Brexiteer, former Kipperfuhrer and founder of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage, has said on right-wing satellite/cable broadcaster GB News. The Fuhrage was criticising the recent award of a knighthood to Tony Blair. Blair has not been forgiven by very many ordinary Brits, both on the right and left, for taking this country into an illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Three quarters of a million people, according to Farage, have now signed a petition against the honour. Farage points out that every prime minister automatically becomes a member of the Order of the Garter with which comes either a knighthood or an earldom. In this video from his show on GB News, posted on the 5th of January, not only does Farage himself criticise its award to Blair, asking if he is a fit and proper person to receive it, but he talks over the phone to one of the veterans who served in the war. This is Colonel Tim Collins, OBE, who led the Royal Irish Regiment.

Farage begins with the news that one of Blair’s former cabinet ministers, Jeff Hoon, is writing a book that claims that Blair’s chief of staff, Tony Powell, burnt a document of legal advice concerning legality of gong to war provided by the Attorney General Lord Geoffrey Goldsmith. The newspapers report that the story came out in 2015, but Farage states that he has never, ever seen it before to his recollection. He states that Blair had the backing of parliament to go to war, and asks Col. Collins if there are really legitimate reasons for refusing him the Order of the Garter. Collins replies by going even further, contradicting the story that it was Blair who was responsible for the peace settlement in Northern Ireland. Not so. According to Collins, it was largely the work of John Major and the Irish government. Blair took over the process, but added celebrity spin, which had the effect of watering the agreement down, hence producing the conditions for the mess Ulster is in now. The colonel then goes on to remind the viewers that Blair took us into the war on the dodgy dossier. We acted as bit-part players, not pulling our weight and giving the coalition good advice. He recalls that the crucial piece of advice he saw when he was a member of Special Forces at their HQ before he joined the RIR was that we needed to retain the Iraqi army to hold Iraq together until a democratic replacement for Saddam Hussein could be found. The disbandment of the Iraqi army unleashed a form of terror that cost many lives, both Iraqi and British. Farage responds by stating that down the centuries British prime ministers in crisis have made both good and bad decisions. This decision was very bad, but should it disqualify Blair from getting the accolade all other prime minsters have received? Collins response to this question is to point out that it’s ironic that the honour is in the gift of the monarch, whom Blair did so much to undermine. He describes how she was used as a prop for Blair, Cherie and New Labour at the millennium celebrations. He now has to come cap in hand to Her Maj and say ‘You are right.’ And Farage fully agrees.

Farage goes on to ask the colonel, as a veteran of the Iraq war, whether he and his colleagues feel bitter about being sold that war on a falsehood. Collins replies that he feels sorry for the people of Iraq, who have been pushed into their unfriendly neighbours, Iran. He believes they will rise again, but it will take a long time. There are thousands of people dead, who didn’t need to die, including our own people. Farage then asks him if he’s saying that Tony Blair shouldn’t get the knighthood. Collins replies that he should got to the Queen and tell her that he cannot accept it, because he is not a fit and proper person to receive it from the monarchy he has done so much to demean.

I think the colonel is rather more concerned about Blair’s undermining of the monarchy as much as, if not more, than British troops being sent into Iraq to fight and lose life and limb, and destroy an entire country on the basis of a lie. Blair did indeed appear to use to Queen as a prop for his own self-promotion during his tenure of 10 Downing Street. He was widely criticised by the right-wing press for his ‘presidential’ party political election film. He’s not the only one, however. Thatcher seemed to being her best on many occasions to upstage Her Maj while at the same time trying to bathe in the monarchy’s reflected glory.

The colonel’s statement about the Northern Ireland peace process being largely the work of Major and the Irish government is subject to doubt, but I can well believe it. Thatcher had begun secret talks with Sinn Fein and the IRA years before, while at the same time showing her massive hypocrisy by loudly denouncing the Labour party as traitors and supporters of terrorism for openly saying that it was precisely what we should do. Going further back to the beginning of the Troubles in the ’70s, Ted Heath had also opened talks with them, only to have them collapse because of the intransigence of the Loyalists.

The colonel also has a good point when he states that they shouldn’t have disbanded the Iraqi army. Bush and Blair had no real idea what to do after they’d won. Bush was taken in by the lies of Ahmed Chalabi, a fantasist who claimed to be the massively popular hero of resistance movement. He would take over the government of the country, and the coalition forces would be met as liberators by a grateful Iraqi people. None of which was true. What is also true is that Iranian influence has expanded into Iraq despite the hostilities of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Iran is a Shia country, and there is a sizable Shia minority in Iraq for whom Iran is, no doubt, a liberator and protector.

What the Colonel and Farage don’t mention is the real, geopolitical and economic reasons we invaded Iraq. The American-Saudi oil companies wanted to get their hands on Iraq’s state oil industry and its reserves, American multinationals wanted to acquire the country’s other state enterprises. And the Neo-Cons had the fantasy of turning the country into some kind of free trade, free market utopia, with disastrous consequences for the country’s economy.

Native Iraqi firms couldn’t compete with the goods dumped on them by foreign countries. Businesses went bankrupt, unemployment soared to 60 per cent. The country’s relatively progressive, secular government and welfare state collapsed. Sectarian violence erupted between Sunni and Shia, complete with death squads under the command of senior coalition officers. Women lost their ability to find careers outside the home. And the mercenaries hired to keep the peace ran prostitution rings, sold drugs and shot ordinary Iraqis for sport.

This is what you’re not being told on the mainstream news. The people reporting it are journalists like former Guardian hack Greg Palast in his book Armed Madhouse and alternative media outlets like Democracy Now! and The Empire Files on TeleSur. And there is plenty of evidence that Blair is a war criminal because of the war.

I’m well aware that some of the great commenters on this blog will object to my giving a platform to Farage and GB News. But I do feel that Farage is actually performing a valid service here questioning a senior army officer and veteran of the war about the issue of Blair’s knighthood. Even if his criticisms come from him as a man of the right.

There has been controversy about the New Years Honours system for a long time because so many have been awarded to very questionable people. Especially as the Tories have used it as a way of rewarding their donors.

But the destruction of an entire nation and the killing and displacement of millions of citizens for a lie made on behalf of further enriching the multinational elite is surely excellent reason for denying any honour to Blair.