Posts Tagged ‘Daily Mail’

38 Degrees Petition against Truss and Coffee’s Running-Down of the NHS

September 23, 2022

I just go this email message from internet petitioning service 38 Degrees. Their disgusted at the government’s latest ‘reforms’ to the NHS, which in fact consist of telling doctors to try harder. They make the point that it doesn’t do anything to cut waiting lists nor counter the increasing rates of burn-out suffered by doctors because of overwork. They have therefore launched this petition against it, along with a wider campaign to spread the word about the government’s dreadful NHS policies using an ambulance.

‘Dear David,

Yesterday, our fourth Health Secretary since last year, Thérèse Coffey, revealed the Government’s “Plan For Patients”. [1] It turns out, the plan is nothing more than telling GPs to try harder and giving them a new target. [2] Health groups have said it will “make no tangible difference” and have “minimal impact on the care patients receive.” [3]

This is not acceptable. New PM Liz Truss says the NHS is one of her top three priorities. [4] Yet more than six million of us are languishing on waiting lists. More than two million of us are waiting to see GPs. And there are more than 60,000 NHS vacancies across the UK, with doctors at breaking point, suffering burnout. [5]

We needed something big. This wasn’t it.

We should all be furious about this. There is no point giving GPs new targets if there aren’t enough GPs to meet them. How is a new “cloud-based” phone system supposed to put an end to thousands scrambling for appointments first thing in the morning when there aren’t enough appointments to go around?

David, 38 Degrees supporters like you have been campaigning for a better NHS as long as we’ve been around. We can’t let the Government get away with this new lacklustre plan. Will you sign the petition demanding better – then share it with your friends and family so we, the British public, can make clear that we won’t accept anything less than a properly funded NHS?

YES, I’LL SIGN

NO, I DISAGREE

Over the summer, we fought hard to show that the NHS is on a knife edge. That’s why we bought an ambulance, turned it into a mobile advert, and drove it to leadership campaign events across the country. [6] We know Liz Truss heard us, because she said on the steps of Downing Street when she became PM that making sure “people can get doctors’ appointments” was one of her early priorities. [7]

Yet this first step is embarrassingly inadequate compared to the scale of the problem. And while it can feel hopeless at times seeing what’s happening to our beloved NHS, we know we can change things if we work together. That’s why last year we fought hard for NHS staff to get the pay rise they deserve, and after initially offering a 1% pay rise, the Government increased their offer after hundreds of thousands of us spoke out. [8]

The NHS is one of the most important issues to the 38 Degrees community. We’re not prepared to stand by and let this government underfund and understaff it. Millions of people depend on the services it provides, and thousands more will suffer if we don’t speak out.

Will you sign the petition, and get your friends and family to do the same? It only takes a few seconds to add your name, and a few seconds more to ask others to do the same.

YES, I’LL SIGN

NO, I DISAGREE

Thank you for your continued support,

Jonathan, Veronica, Megan, Tash and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES
[1] PoliticsHome: Therese Coffey Sets Out “Expectation” That GPs Will See Patients Within Two Weeks
[2] See note [1]
[3] Royal College of GPs: More expectations without addressing GP workforce shortage not best way forward, says RCGP
British Medical Association: Health Secretary’s new plan brings us closer to the demise of general practice, says BMA
[4] Sky News: The economy, the energy crisis and the NHS – Liz Truss sets out three key priorities in her first speech as PM
[5] Daily Mail: NHS waiting list shoots to ANOTHER record high of 6.8million
Evening Chronicle: ‘Bad health has doubled’ in the last decade across North East – and almost half of people report struggling to get GP appointments
BBC News: NHS in England facing worst staffing crisis in history, MPs warn
The New Statesman: “This is just not safe for anyone”: the NHS doctors at breaking point
[6] Express & Star: Ambulance protest greets Tory Party members at hustings
BirminghamLive: Protestors voice anger at NHS delays and costs crisis outside Truss v Sunak hustings at NEC
[7] 10 Downing Street: Prime Minister Liz Truss’s statement: 6 September 2022
[8] 38 Degrees: NHS Staff Pay Rise Campaign

I’ve had absolutely no problems signing it. If you feel the same way about this latest assault on the NHS, please feel free to do so as well.

Simon Webb Asks ‘What’s Wrong with Fascism?’

September 16, 2022

Well, it looks like Simon Webb of History Debunked has finally gone full Mosley. And you never go full Mosley. He’s put up a piece today asking, ‘what’s wrong with fascism?’ He argues that fascism is viewed negatively because it’s confusion with Nazism. But socialism has also committed horrible atrocities and run death camps. In contrast to this, he points to the Portugal of the dictator Salazar in the 1960s, which was prosperous and had kept out of the Second World War. And fascism, he explains, is neither communist nor capitalist.

No, I’m not going to put the video up here. Because he’s arguing for fascism after all. Now he’s got a point in that some political scientists and historians do make a distinction between Nazism and Fascism. Nazism is at its heart a form of biological racism and has its own origins unique to Germany, while Italian Fascism was a form of militaristic nationalism which included elements of both socialism and capitalism. However, Italian Fascism was also imperialistic, calling Italy a ‘proletarian nation’ that had been unjustly deprived of colonies by the great powers of Britain and France. It invaded Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, as well as Tripolitania in north Africa and Ethiopia. In nearly all these countries the Fascists committed horrendous atrocities. They also developed racial policies similar, but not as harsh as the Nazis, defining Italians as Aryans as contrasted with the Jews, who were expelled from various professions. Both Nazism and Fascism supported and protected private industry, but the economy was centrally planned by the state. Germany was a complete dictatorship under Hitler, in which the Reichstag was only called once a year to sign the act stating that Germany was still in a state of emergency and so Hitler’s dictatorship could legally continue, In Italy Mussolini let the Italian parliament continue for a few years until he replaced it with a chamber of Fasces and corporations. A corporation in this case was an industrial organisation, one for each industry, that contained both management and the unions. By the 1930s there were 27 of these. They were supposed to run the various industries, but in practice they served just to rubber stamp the decisions Mussolini had already taken.

I’ve read some of the comments that have been left on the video. Some of them are rants against Tony Blair’s period in office and complaints that it was supported by a biased media. Well, one paper stood against him – the Daily Heil. And you can wonder who had the real power in Blair’s relationship with the media, as he was always worrying whether his policies would meet the approval of one Rupert Murdoch. And Blair was a Tory in all but name. Thatcher, remember, regarded him as her greatest achievement. I’ve also notice that several of the commenters can’t spell Nazism. They’ve spelled it ‘Natzim’.

Of course, it hasn’t just been the association with the Nazis that has tarnished Italian Fascism. It’s also the various brutal dictatorships that have appeared across the world that committed horrendous atrocities, like the various military dictatorships in Latin America, the most famous of which is General Pinochet’s in Chile, as well as Greece under the Colonels. You can also attack his argument by pointing out he deliberately confuses socialism with communism. Communism is a form of socialism, but it is not the definitive form. For most British Labour supporters and politicians before Blair and his stupid, Thatcherite ‘Third Way’, socialism meant democratic socialism, which supported and included parliamentary democracy, and a mixed economy. This was the type of socialism practised by the reformist socialist parties of western Europe, like the German Social Democrats. And this form of socialism was keen to support human rights and democracy to a greater or lesser extent, as shown in the various people who joined anti-apartheid and anti-racism movement and gave Khrushchev a hard time when he visited the country about the imprisonment of socialist dissidents in the USSR.

I’ve left this comment on Webb’s video. I wonder if anyone will reply.

‘Salazar is probably best viewed as a reactionary Catholic like General Franco, rather than a pure Fascist. His books apparently are pretty much about Roman Catholic dogma, rather the secular ideas which informed Italian Fascism. And Fascism wasn’t just nationalism or dictatorship. Would your readers want definitive features of fascism like a state-directed economy, even if it is done through private industry and the corporate state, in which parliament is replaced by a chamber representing industries, each corporation including management and unions, which is charged with running the economy?’

Internet Site Votes Alex Belfield 85 Per Cent Gay

September 15, 2022

The collapse of Alex Belfield continues. I don’t mean this to sound homophobic, but I do find it funny considering the innuendo and sneers Belfield makes about various camp TV presenters and celebs. He describes them as being ‘light on their feet’, and the various remarks about his off-camera assistant, Tarquin. It seems to be based on some of the camp humour of the 1970s, and particularly Larry Grayson’s, and his jokes about Everard and Slack Alice and his punchline ‘seems like a nice boy’. There’s a big difference between him and Grayson though, quite apart from the fact that the humour itself is 40 or so years out of date. It’s that Grayson was genuinely funny and seemed to be a genuinely nice person. He never stalked or harassed anyone, did not con people out of money by claiming that he was going to sue the BBC or police, or that he needed it to pay a barrister and then defended himself. He was a gentlemanly host on the Generation Game, and my parents preferred him to his predecessor on the game show, Bruce Forsythe. And when Grayson made those camp jokes, it was genuinely meant in fun. Looking at Belfield’s sneers, it seems like a touch of real homophobia combined with jealousy that they have jobs with the Beeb and he doesn’t.

This is why this little snippet of news is quite ironic.

There is, apparently, a site on the net called ‘Gay or Straight’, where people go to vote about the sexuality of particular celebs. According to the utterly scurrilous Sir Jimmy Savile channel on YouTube, 77 people went on there to vote on the issue of Belfield’s sexual orientation. And they voted that Belfield, who will be sentenced tomorrow for his crimes, was 85 per cent gay. As the average percentage for people voted gay seems to be 69 per cent, this means that, by the standards of the site, he is very gay indeed.

And this is about a man who constantly criticised Pride parades and other gay stories, largely taken from the Daily Heil.

Well, as the genuinely nice and great Larry Grayson would say, ‘seems like a nice boy.’

But Belfield only seemed to be.

Tories Losing Support Through Lack of Action on Immigration and Wokeness

September 4, 2022

This is very interesting. One of the great commenters on this blog remarked a few days ago that he doubted the Tories would honour their pledge to cut immigration, and that the Labour party had a better policy towards it. I agree. From what I remember, Labour’s policy would remove the barriers that encourage aspiring migrants to cross the channel in flimsy inflatables and put them in with the rest of the asylum-seekers. They would also negotiate and try to find solutions to the problem of migration with the countries of origin. This is undoubtedly much more sensible and humane, in that it makes the crossing safer for the migrants and seeks to end some of the push factors that force them to risk their lives coming to Europe and Britain in the first place. But it’s not as exciting as having illegal immigrants exiled to Rwanda.

I have real doubts that the Tories have the will or the wish to find proper solutions to the migrant crisis. The Rwanda policy looks very much as if Johnson and Patel cooked it up just to take the pressure of Johnson, partygate and his general massive ineptitude. I also wonder if the Tories actually want to keep channel migration going, as it whips up nationalistic anger against immigration, anger that they exploit with promises that they and only they will tackle it while making sure that they don’t, or just tinker with it through malicious policies like Patel’s. The Tories used fears over immigration to boost support by Brexit by deliberately giving the impression that Black and Asian immigration was being assisted by the EU constitution. It wasn’t. In fact EU law stated that migrants, once in Europe, should remain in the countries in which they landed. And the Schengen agreement, which the Tories also claimed were enabling non-White immigration through the EU, actually only affected those countries which signed up to it. And we weren’t one of them. In fact the real legislation enabling asylum seekers to reach this country was the 1950s UN agreement on the rights of the refugee. Mike pointed this out on one of his articles. But the Tories kept very quiet about that, is their lies about immigration and Europe were too useful for pushing Brexit.

And now we’ve got Brexit, and illegal immigration hasn’t stopped. Indeed, it is claimed that there have been 100,000 such migrants this past year. There are signs that parts of the right are talking about scrapping the 1950s UN agreement, and that part of the hard-right Tory base are ready to desert the party over its inaction on immigration. Yesterday I caught the thumbnail for a video by the Lotus Eaters, which castigated the Tories for the lack of will to tackle immigration. I can’t remember the title’s wording, but the thumbnail featured a photo of one of the prominent Tory politicos with a speech bubble saying that the issue would wait until after the election.

This morning there’s been a video from the New Culture Forum featuring its main man, Peter Whittle, stating that the Tories have to act against the wokeness destroying British society. Critical Race and Queer Theory should be banned in schools, and woke quangos should be cut. This was the subject of a previous video from them, entitled ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’. And I’ve seen the odd video from Farage on GB News stating that it is now the time to act on the UN agreement on refugees.

But I wonder how far the Tories can tackle immigration. Britain needs a certain amount of immigration to get technicians, medical staff and skilled workers. The Tories are also keen to give British citizenship to rich foreigners. But I also wonder if there are diplomatic constraints. For example, the Indian prime minister Modi gave a speech the other year stating that Indian would still provide science graduates to other countries. When Boris announced that he was going to cut immigration from the sub-continent, he got a sharp rebuke from India’s premier. I’ve got the distinct impression that there’s a lack of domestic jobs in India, and so the country and its economy depends to a certain extent on exporting workers, who then send their remittances home. I have absolutely no doubt that other developing countries are in the same boat. I did see somewhere that the country most dependent on remittances is Somalia, where they’re more or less keeping the economy afloat. All this makes the pledge to cut down on non-White immigration – which is essentially what is being meant here – extremely difficult. It isn’t just going to be opposed by domestic anti-racism protesters, but also by the non-White commonwealth countries. I can remember a period a few years ago where tensions between Britain and these nations were so great that some of the newspapers speculated about Britain being thrown out of the Commonwealth as Pakistan and South Africa had been previously. No government would want such a diplomatic catastrophe.

Although, I don’t know though. The Tory right are pushing the idea of an Anglosphere, essentially an international federation of White majority, English-speaking countries – Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Would the fanatics desiring such as union as a bulwark against Black and Asian immigration go so far as to see the Commonwealth destroyed to set it up? Well, the fanatics of the Tory Brexiteers have shown themselves more than willing to sacrifice the Union just to leave the EU, all the while blaming Nicola Sturgeon and the Scots Nats.

I can therefore quite see various papers like the Heil and Depress pushing for an end Britain’s membership of the Commonwealth, if they thought they could spin it that it’s the Commonwealth’s fault and it would stop non-White immigration.

Grotty Daily Mail Shills for People to Abandon NHS and Go Private

August 26, 2022

I’ve just been to the barbers for a haircut, and while waiting I leafed through some of the papers left out. One was the Heil, so I looked through that. Okay, I’m not proud of it, but it was something to read while waiting. Needless to say, it was as it usually is. There’s a story about the cost of housing asylum seekers and the channel migrants. But what really disgusted me was an opinion piece. This was by a supposed NHS consultant urging patients to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ to go private.

This is essentially the Tory strategy for running down the NHS, ever since Maggie Thatcher. She wanted the health service privatised and replaced by an American-style healthcare system funded by private health insurance. She was only stopped by a cabinet revolt and the finding of her personal secretary, Patrick Jenkin. Jenkin had been to America and knew exactly how poor in comparison the American system was. So Thatcher had to content herself with aiming to get 10 per cent of the population to take out private health insurance.

She also began process of piecemeal privatisation, selling off or opening up the ancillary services to private competition. This process was carried on by John Major’s administration and then by Tony Blair, who was ostensibly Labour. And Cameron, Tweezer and Bozo have in turn continued the wretched process. Private healthcare firms are allowed to compete with the NHS itself for contracts for medical services. Thanks to this privatisation, administration costs in the NHS have sky-rocketed where they approaching the levels -25 per cent or so – which the American private health system spends on administration. Privatisation does not bring savings. Quite the opposite. At the same time, the Tories have cut spending on the NHS, and grotty Tories like Truss and Mogg are saying they’ll cut more NHS ‘waste’. Meaning, presumably, more expensive privatisation and cuts.

The only way to cut waste is to renationalise the NHS.

But the article shows the direction of travel British healthcare is taking under the Tories: a two-tier system, with poor NHS services for the people at the bottom, and expensive private healthcare for those who can afford it. And the Tories stand to profit from it personally. Under Cameron, 100 MPs had personally connections to private healthcare firms.

If you really want to ensure that you and the rest of this great nation has the healthcare it needs and deserve, then kick the Tories and the other privatisers out, and demand the renationalisation of the NHS!

Alex Belfield’s Viewing Figures Show Secret VOR Channel Is Imploding

August 20, 2022

More on the continuing collapse of Alex Belfield’s popularity, courtesy of the YouTube channel,
‘Latest News on Alex Belfield Stalking Court Case’. And the latest news on Alex Belfield is not good, well, not from his point of view, but from the perspective of everyone who feels ripped off and insulted by him, it’s brilliant. After problems with YouTube over his content, Belfield announced he was off to Ustreme to host a secret VOR – Voice of Reason – club there. Of course, Alex Belfield as the voice of reason is, to use Spock’s description of Klingon justice, ‘a unique perspective’. Mostly it was just sub-Daily Mail rants against the channel migrants, immigration in general, the NHS, the BBC, diversity quotas, the trans cult, Guardian-reading, champagne-sipping Naga Manchushi types and people ‘who are light on their feet’. So, just a bit of homophobia then. Mixed in with this were jabs at Carol Vorderman, who he sent up as ‘Carol Vordernorks’, and Diane Abbott. This was all delivered with very ’70s jokes about ‘jellywobblers’. I do wonder what he had against Manchetti and Vorderman. Some of this was undoubtedly general Tory hatred. They started going after her because she did an advert in contravention of BBC rules. But I think the real reason was that Manchetti had been too good at humiliating Tories with awkward question during interviews. But the from the way Belfield carried on, you would think it, and whatever animus he had against Vorderman, was personal. Did they turn him down for a date?

Belfield was charging his viewers a pound a month or something to watch his Ustreme channel. This has irked an awful lot of his critics and detractors. Former fans of his have stopped watching, and are now posting YouTube videos instead stating very clearly why they no longer support him. One man explained that he doesn’t like the way Belfield insults and sneers at the viewers to his show, nor the way he’s constantly begging for money while boasting about his luxury holidays to places like Vegas. He pointed out that many of Belfield’s viewers are genuinely poor, and so Belfield was exploiting them to make himself richer. As for the humour, it got old. He originally liked it, but now has got sick and tired of it. And I think this fellow’s complaints are the same as many of Belfield’s former viewers.

The video below states that the viewing figures for Belfield’s Secret Vor Club were leaked. He only has 320 viewers, and some of them have cancelled watching him after his conviction for stalking. He suggests that the mad right-winger may go back to YouTube to post there in the time he has left before the Beak sentences him. Others have started speculating whether he’ll be allowed to do the voice of reason from his jail cell.

Whatever happens, Belfield’s popularity is collapsing. And there’s nothing he can do about it.

New Advert for British Rail Nationalisation Shows Europeans Laughing at Britain for Allowing Them to Buy It Up

August 19, 2022

The Mirror has published a very incisive piece about an advert calling for the renationalisation of the railways, in which Europeans laughs at us for allowing their state owned railways to buy up ours. The article by Mike Boyd, ‘Europe mercilessly mocks UK government for allowing British rail to fund their rail systems’ begins

‘The British rail system has been mocked by Europeans appearing in an advert pushing for the network to be made public.

In the viral video produced by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) – whose members are striking across the UK today – the franchised structure of the UK’s rail network is mercilessly ridiculed.

In the clip representatives of “the people” of France, Netherlands and Germany “thank the British people” allowing their “publicly owned rail networks” to “buy up your rail network”.

In one brutal moment the cast explain: “So when you buy a ticket on Thameslink, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Chiltern Railways, Merseyside Rail, Scotrail, Greater Anglia, London Midland, DLR, Northern Rail, London Overground, Cross Country, Southern and South Eastern, the profits go to making our railways cheaper.”

They add: “In 2012 we got £3million just from Greater Anglia. Not only that, the British taxpayers pay our franchises massive subsidies, without which we could never make a profit.

“So even if you never catch a train, you’re still sending us money. But before you say, ‘ah, we’ve left the EU’, that doesn’t make a difference.

“In fact, the Tory government want to privatise even more, which means we can take over even more.

“So to the British people we want to say, thank you.”‘

The advert, the article says, was first made in 2017, and has resurfaced as the rail workers launch industrial action.

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/europe-mercilessly-mocks-uk-government-for-allowing-british-rail-to-fund-their-rail-systems/ar-AA10Nk81?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=9fa61476fe6f474a9295c590d336f5f1

This is precisely correct, and there was criticism a few years ago of the Dutch railway company’s management of one of the rail franchises a few years ago, though the company responded with a statement that they were actually investing millions into it. But this problem isn’t just confined to the railway networks – it’s also in the electricity and water companies. I’ve got a feeling that the local water company for Bristol is owned by the Indonesians, and at least one of the electricity companies owned by the French. This is all a product of Thatcher’s privatisation. These companies have no interest in giving the privatised utilities the investment they need, only in using the profits to give dividends to their shareholders and bonuses to their chief executives. There are state owned electricity companies in the US, and I understand that those that aren’t owned by the state are protected by law from foreign companies owning a controlling stake in them. The same is true of the press, which is why Dirty Rupe Murdoch abandoned Australia to become an American citizen.

The railways, electricity and water need to be renationalised now. However much the Heil, Torygraph, Financial Times and GB News may scream against it.

Katie Hopkins Talks Sense! Wants Us All to Unite Against Fuel Poverty and Threat of Suicide

August 18, 2022

Heaven help me, I’ve agreed with ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins! You remember her, the supercapitalist, racist snob who came runner-up on The Apprenticeship and became a right-wing media pundit until her views were too toxic even for the Heil to keep her on. Since then she’s been knocking around with convicted stalker Alex Belfield, now looking at the possibility of going to the slammer. But in the video below she actually says something that I hope we can all get behind.

She criticises the way 45 million people by her estimation will be in fuel poverty this winter. This means that more than ten per cent of their income will be spent on heating. This is unsustainable. And she’s afraid that something like one million people will decide they can no longer face life in this country. She goes on to state that in her view, the energy crisis has been brought on by successive governments going green and shutting down the coal-fired power stations with nothing to replace them, at a time when India and China are building new ones. And our government has also thrown away concerns about this country’s fuel security. But, she says, even if you disagree with her views and are a complete ‘greenie’, can we all agree to unite against fuel poverty and the possibility that a million people may decide that life in this country is not worth living. And so she urges people not to pay their exorbitant energy bills.

I fully support people from both left and right coming to together against fuel poverty and put pressure on the various politicos and companies that are responsible for the present crisis. Tory icon Maggie Thatcher has had a large part in it, because the Tories closed down the British coal mines except for a very few in the ’90s or so. The argument for this was that it was supposedly cheaper to import South American coal. An additional, if not the real reason, was that she wished to break the miners’ union, the NUM, because of the way they’d defeated the Tories under Ted Heath.

But energy policy has been a mess. Cameron’s lot got the French nuclear power engineers in to build various nuclear power stations despite problems building them and the sustainability of this strategy as well. And this is apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg showing us all where his sympathies lie last week when the Beeb interviewed him on Radio 4. Instead of sympathising that the price rises were wrong when these companies were making massive profits, the Minister for the 18th Century and Bringing Back Child Chimney-Sweeps declared that those companies had only been able to pay their shareholders dividends of a few pence, and that they needed to do so as a reward on investment. Somehow I don’t think the shareholders only got a few pence as dividends. The companies’ directors certainly didn’t: they’ve pocket bonuses and salaries worth hundreds of thousands, if not a few cool millions.

I don’t really agree with people refusing to pay their energy bills, as I can see people being prosecuted as a result and going to prison, whereas it should be the energy companies and their bosses up before the beak.

Incidentally, it shows where the sympathies of the Heil are that they published an article about how the ‘don’t pay’ campaign was organised by middle-class ‘Corbynistas’. Oh those poor mega-millionaires, being persecuted by the evil middle class commie followers of the despised Trotskyite running dog Corbyn!

But even so, I agree with her that left and right need to stand together against this poverty and profiteering and look after those who may otherwise think that life is not worth living. Always assuming that she means suicide, and not people trying to flee abroad to live and so help to precipitate a demographic crisis.

Mad Right-Wing YouTuber Alex Belfield Found Guilty of Stalking

August 6, 2022

Oh ho,, here’s a turn up for the books! Hat tip to Gillyflowerblog, one of the great commenters here, for this interesting snippet from BBC News. For a few weeks now, internet radio host, YouTuber, and friend of right-wing celeb and former Apprentice contestant ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins, has been on trial on a charge of stalking. Some of this harassment goes back decades to when Belfield was taken on at Radio Leeds in the 1980s, but didn’t have his contract renewed after a year. He then went on a campaign of abuse and intimidation against his former colleagues and bosses.

Not that you would think this by the way Belfield, who calls his wretched programme ‘The Voice of Reason’, spins it. As one of this many critics on YouTube put it one video, Belfield has presented the trial as he was taking his former colleagues and victims to court, rather than the other way round. In fact Belfield has consistently presented himself as the working class underdog in his bizarre dispute with the Beeb. If you listen to him, he’s just an ordinary, working class lad from a pit estate, who was sneered at discriminated against by ‘Guardian-reading, oyster-eating, champagne-guzzling Naga Manchushi types’, who are naturally university-educated, as well ‘Celia Imrie-type BBC diversity managers with clipboards’. HIs channel’s content is the usual right-wing targets – channel migrants, whom he dubs ‘dinghy divers’, immigration, welfare scroungers, the trans craze and various gay or sexually ambiguous celebs he describes as ‘swishies’ and ‘a bit light on their feet’. Oh yes, and he’s also frequently demanded the privatisation of the NHS to improve services, despite the fact that it’s privatisation that is killing the health service, and that privatisation will result in the creation of a for-profit health service which many of his listeners will be unable to afford. Precious little of what he says is original. If you have the feeling you’ve seen it before, you probably have. Most of it seems to be drawn from the pages of that day’s Heil, or whatever has been going around YouTube at the time. Just as much of Simon Webb’s stories seem to be drawn from whatever is in that day’s Telegraph.

The BBC report on the verdict begins

A former BBC radio presenter has been found guilty of stalking four people including broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

However, Alex Belfield was found not guilty of stalking four other people he was accused of targeting.

Belfield, who now runs a YouTube channel called The Voice of Reason, told jurors he had legitimate reasons for his online communications.

The 42-year-old, from Nottingham, is due to be sentenced on 16 September and has been warned he could be jailed.

Belfield was not accused of physically stalking the complainants, who were mostly current or former BBC staff.

Instead, he made YouTube videos about them, posted messages on social media, and sent emails either to them or about them.

In his closing speech to jurors at Nottingham Crown Court, Belfield said he had a right to freedom of speech, and some of the communications were in his role as a journalist, holding the BBC to account.

The full wording of the charges stated that he “pursued a course of conduct that amounted to harassment” of the complainants, which “amounted to stalking” and caused them “serious alarm or distress”.

He was found guilty of this offence in relation to only two of the complainants – BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Spedding, who is known as Bernie Keith, and videographer Ben Hewis.

In relation to Jeremy Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany, he was found guilty of two lesser offences of “simple” stalking, which does not require serious alarm or distress to be proved.

The verdicts in relation to each complainant were:

  1. Rozina Breen – not guilty
  2. Liz Green – not guilty
  3. Helen Thomas – not guilty
  4. Stephanie Hirst – not guilty
  5. Bernard Spedding – guilty (majority verdict)
  6. Ben Hewis – guilty (unanimous verdict)
  7. Philip Dehany – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (majority verdict)
  8. Jeremy Vine – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (unanimous verdict)’

The report concludes that there is a chance Belfield will get a custodial sentence.

See: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-62393949

If Belfield is going to head off to chokey, it’s going to mess up some of the events he’s advertised on his channel. He’s been appearing as a kind of double act in theatres across Britain with Katie Hopkins. He obviously won’t be able to do this if he’s jailed. Nor will able be able to use the money he’s been given from his followers’ donations to go on expensive holidays to places like Vegas, from which he then posts his YouTube videos saying how much he’s enjoying his break. This has also annoyed some of Belfield’s detractors, who rightly point out that many of Belfield’s viewers are probably on much lower incomes. They’ve given him their hard-earned money in the expectation that Belfield himself is hard-up, and needs the cash to continue broadcasting. But Belfield appears to live in a very grand house, complete with baby grand piano. His videos about his wonderful holidays seem designed to alienate people by rubbing their noses in how well Belfield is doing living off their money. It looks like a massive grift.

As for what Belfield will do now, I expect he may well appeal. And I don’t doubt that we’ll get a lot of complaining about how the trial was biased and he is being persecuted by them because he’s telling the truth. In other words, the same spiel the notorious islamophobe Tommy Robinson spins whenever he lands up in jail.

Saudi Arabia Plans 500 Metre Tall, 170 Km Long Mega-Skyscraper. Where’s Judge Dredd

July 27, 2022

Here’s a bit of light relief. Just this evening the internet news page put up a piece from Sky News, reporting that the Saudis are planning a massive megastructure called the Line. It’s going to be 170 km long by 1/2 km tall, for 9 million residents, all occupying separate communities. And their needs will be catered to by autonomous services, run by AI. The article begins

‘Revolution in civilisation’: Saudi Arabia previews 170km mirrored skyscraper offering ‘autonomous’ services

If it was the opening sequence of a science fiction movie, few would be surprised.

In a glossy video narrated by an American voiceover artist, Saudi Arabia has previewed The Line, a 170km long skyscraper standing 500m tall – higher than New York’s Empire State Building.

It is designed for nine million residents living in a “series of unique communities”.

Residents will have access to “all their daily needs” in “five-minute walk neighbourhoods”.

“Autonomous” services are being promised through the use of artificial intelligence, in what is being described as a “revolution in civilisation”.

The 200m wide linear structure, to be clad in mirrored glass, is the desert kingdom’s attempt to create a “healthier, more sustainable quality of life” with communities “organised in three dimensions” – as opposed to traditional cities which it says are “dysfunctional and polluted” and “ignore nature”.

Another video shows the resident of a grey urban jungle escaping to The Line, which is portrayed as an oasis.

To be built in the country’s northwest, it is planned to cover 34 square kilometres and travel from end to end is expected to take just 20 minutes.

There will be “no need for cars” and carbon emissions will be zero, the country said.

Energy and water supplies are described as “100% renewable”.

Inside, there will be a “year-round temperate micro climate with natural ventilation”.

The futuristic project is part of NEOM, a $500bn economic zone expected to be partly financed through a flotation expected in 2024.

NEOM was announced in 2017 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan which is intended to help diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil.’

See the article by Andy Hayes athttps://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/revolution-in-civilisation-saudi-arabia-previews-170km-mirrored-skyscraper-offering-autonomous-services/ar-AAZZFXB?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=b5213d7d2e414ce0b7e4564c3eadcbb4

Okay, we’ve heard this stuff before Way back in the ’50s or 60s there were plans to construct a similar habitat, 50 miles or so long, stretching across America. There were also plans to enclose New York, or at least Manhattan beneath a giant geodesic dome. There have also been plans by the Japanese to build similar megastructures right out in Tokyo bay. These would also be ultra-high tech, and be built by robots, as shown in documentary about it on Channel 4 some time either in the ’90s or the early part of this century. And there were even plans to create an enclosed city in the Canadian arctic. This would shelter from the elements under a protective dome, in which its citizens would enjoy a mild climate despite the snow and ice floes outside. It would even have a moving artificial sun to give the illusion of daylight at temperate latitudes during the long, arctic winter.

The Lower Manhattan Expressway Project: a predecessor to Saudi Arabia’s the Line? From Reyner Banham, Megastructures: Urban Futures of the Recent Past (New York: Monacelli Press 2020) 19.

None of this was every built. They were far too ambitious, both financially and technologically. And I foresee that this will go the same way.

Which may not be a bad thing, as it really does remind me of various pieces of SF literature: Judge Dredd and J.G. Ballard’s dystopias, particularly High Rise.

In the long running 2000AD strip, Dredd is a member of the autocratic police force, the judges, trying to enforce law and order in Mega City 1. This is a gigantic city of massive tower blocks stretching across the entire east coast of America from the Canadian border down to Florida. On the other side of the continent is Mega City 2, while down south is Texas City. This hasn’t quite reached mega city status as it doesn’t have a billion inhabitants. Between them are the Cursed Earth, a radiation desert full of lawlessness, inhabited by mutants, created by the nuclear that destroyed America and democracy and which led to the rise of the judges. The city has a 95 per cent plus unemployment rate caused by massive automation. Crime is rampant with the judges trying to keep a lid on things.

It’s grim vision of the future but one with a sharp, satirical sense of humour. One of the strip’s writers and creators described Mega City One as a gigantic black comedy. Which it is, as the strip sent up contemporary pop music with inane rock bands like New Juves on the Block (a slight resemblance to New Kids on the Block, an ’80s band?), weird fashions, and totally bonkers game shows. In one of the very early Dredd strips, contestants were literally betting their lives. It’s satire, but the Russians nearly got there for real. After Communism fell, one of the Russian TV stations ran a game show in which contestants had to steal a car. For real. There were real cops chasing them. If the contestant escaped, the car was his. if they caught him, he really did go to the slammer. In another Dredd strip, they sent up World of Sport on ITV and some of the adverts then running on British television. The good lawman had landed on a planet inhabited by 12 different alien races, all of whom were at war, which was broadcast on their television as a form of entertainment. Among the adverts spoofed was one for the chocolate bar, Bounty. The real advert featured a group of young people running on to a desert isle while the voiceover announced ‘They came in search of paradise’. The parody advert had the same scene, but with aliens, followed by the line ‘they found – landmines’, accompanied by explosions and the slogan ‘protect your waterhole with Brax. Brax wipes them out – dead’. It was this sharp, satirical edge that has made Dredd and 2000AD one of the great British comics for nearly the last 50 years.

And added to all this mayhem and criminality, the occupants of the various mega blocks would develop block mania, a fanatical devotion to their own block, and start a war with the neighbouring blocks. Saudi Arabia’s the Line sounds like something of a trial run for all that craziness.

The future of urban civilisation? Dredd out looking for perps and muties from the cover of 2000AD Prog 409.

It also reminds me more than a little of Ballard’s works. Ballard was a member of Michael Moorcock’s team on the British SF magazine, New Worlds. This deliberately set out to break the established conventions of science fiction at the time. It was highly controversial, spurring a debate about its obscenity or otherwise in parliament in the 1970s. And Ballard was one of the writers shocking and provoking. His novellas were published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, but Weidenfeld didn’t read them and so had no idea of just what kind of a literary monster he was publishing. That is, he didn’t, until one day he was in New York and went browsing on one of the news stands. Flicking through one of the magazines he found a piece by Ballard entitled ‘I Want To F**k Ronald Reagan’. This was in the 60s, nearly two decades before the former actor became president. A shocked Weidenfeld then sent a telegram to his secretary and staff in London saying ‘Do not publish!’

Ballard was also responsible for the novel Crash, about a secret society of perverts who get their jollies from car accidents. This was filmed in the ’90s by the Canadian film director, David Cronenberg, to the massive outrage of the Heil, which immediately started a campaign to have it banned. In the end it flopped, but nevertheless did get critical acclaim from some parts of the SF community.

Much of Ballard’s fiction takes place in enclosed, ultra-modern communities. There, life has become so anodyne and boring that the corporate powers running these communities deliberately stage murders, violent crime and rape in order to stimulate their bored drones and give them something to live for. One of these dystopian novellas was High Rise, about a cutting edge skyscraper. In it, the rich lived at the top, and the poor lower down at the bottom. However, civilisation begins to break down so that society in the tower block takes on the class antagonism of outside society. This leads to real, physical class conflict and violence. It was filmed a few years ago, but I’m not sure how many people saw it.

Trailer for the film High Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston with Jeremy Irons and based on the novel by J.G. Ballard. From the StudioCanal channel on YouTube.

In real life, Ballard was boringly normal. He stayed at home, writing and caring for his wife, while taking his children to school. Despite his grim fiction, he was horrified by the war in Bosnia and the dangerous way the conflict promoted psychopathic violence as people struggled to survive. Visitors were often surprised by the fact that he wasn’t what Private Eye used to call ‘a wild-eyed dement’ straight from one of his novels.

Ballard, unfortunately, is no longer with us, having passed away a few years ago. He gained critical acclaim for his novel Empire of the Sun, based on his experiences as a child growing up in a Japanese POW camp following their capture of Shanghai. It was filmed by Steven Spielberg. and garnered a number of Oscars, just as the previous film adaptation of his work, Crash, didn’t.

But I’ve got a feeling that if the Line is ever built, it’s going to be far more like Mega City 1 and High Rise than any other SF utopia.

And the desert in which the Line is set even looks a bit like Dredd’s Cursed Earth.

So, can we expect crime, violence, mutants, block wars and perps getting thirty years in an iso-cube? And will Saudi Arabia suffer the attentions of the Dark Judges – Fear, Fire, Death and Mortis – come to kill everyone on Earth. Because all crime is committed by the living.