Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

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.

Torygraph Reports Archbishop of Canterbury Deeply Moved over Abuse of J.K. Rowling for Gender Views

December 17, 2021

This little article from the wretched Torygraph turned up on my internet news feed. According to the right-wing rag, Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was deeply moved at the abuse suffered by J.K. Rowling and others like her for her views on gender during a debate on freedom of speech in the House of Lords yesterday. During the debate, Lady Jenkin, for the Conservatives, attacked the dangers of cancel culture and the abuse of gender critical women like J.K. Rowling and Kathleen Stock. She said that it wasn’t just the abuse on social media that was wrong, but that their livelihoods were being threatened. This was deterring more people from standing up in their defence. She also said that it wasn’t a case of women versus trans people.

Okay, the Tories in their own way are also trying to shut down debate and democracy through putting increasing restrictions on the right to demonstrate and proposing legislation that would allow them to ignore the judgements of the courts. And this is before we get to Priti Patel’s fascistic desire to strip members of ethnic minorities of British citizenship if they commit a crime, which would turn them into second class citizens.

But it is good that at last someone in authority is taking notice of the abuse and worse hurled by trans rights activists at J.K. Rowling. She’s been accused of hating trans people, and wanting them all dead. None of which is remotely true. She has said simply that transwomen are not women. As did professor Kathleen Stock, who was forced out of her post due student demonstrations including threats of violence. One of the worst aspects of Rowling’s persecution is the complete silence of PEN, the organisation that defends writers worldwide from persecution. A worthy cause, but Private Eye has run several articles in its literary section reporting that PEN has said not a dickie bird against Rowling’s persecution which has included death threats. This has demonstrated the power of the trans lobby, and the fear many have that if they too speak out, they will suffer the same treatment.

Of course trans rights activists have the right to express their views, but not to hurl abuse or issue threats of violence and death. These should be unacceptable whoever makes them. J.K. Rowling and others should have their freedom of speech respected and defended by the authorities against the mob. And it is excellent that it is being done at last, even if it is by the right.

The Rolling Stones and Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robots

December 5, 2021

I’m fascinated by robots and their use in musical and artistic performances. There’s an awesome robot band, Compressorhead, created by a team of robot engineers who seem mostly to perform covers of Rock and Heavy Metal hits. In this video from Boston Dynamics, the Stoned perform their song, ‘Start Me Up’, accompanied by boogie dance moves from a group of the four-legged Spot robots produced by the company. And these do a very good job of impersonating Mick Jagger.

The Italian Futurists would have loved this, as their art was based on and celebrated the new machine age and industrial Italy that was just then emerging. One of their operas was about a love affair between a train and her driver, while other pieces had titles like ‘The Agony of the Machine’. Real science is catching up with the Futurist aesthetic while popular culture with its robots, video games and the near instantaneous communication of the internet would have amazed and delighted them. The Futurists, however, were determined that their creations were high art, while pop music and videos are seen as much less. Nevertheless, I do wonder how long it will be before the technology becomes sufficiently cheap and accessible for writers and impresarios to use them in rather more serious productions.

Where Was Starmer During the Debate over a Vote of Censure against Bozo?

December 3, 2021

You may have missed this, especially if you watch the Beeb, which didn’t cover it all. A day or so ago the SNP’s Ian Blackford called a vote to censure Boris Johnson for undermining the recommendations of the committee on standards in public life, ignoring independent advice on the breaches of international treaties and parliamentary standards by his ministers, proposing to limit the powers of the electoral commission, the granting of peerages to Tory donors and their opponent to government bodies like Ofgem, and ignoring calls for his salary to be reduced to just over £41,000. Well, Johnson definitely wouldn’t like that, as he was moaning only a few weeks ago that he couldn’t live on his salary of £81,000. He’s got six kids to send to public schools, don’t you know? The short answer is that he should make do with his salary like everyone else has to, and send his sprogs to the local comprehensive or academy where they’ll almost definitely get a broader and better education.

A few people from the Labour party, but not many, made it into the chamber to vote, but Starmer was conspicuous by his absence. Mike says that it’s possible he had paired off with a Tory colleague to do important parliamentary work elsewhere. Well, he could have done it. But nothing Starmer does gives me confidence that this was not an attempt by the purported leader of the Labour party to support Johnson. Starmer, the party bureaucracy and much of the parliamentary Labour party are Labour in name only. They’re Tory infiltrators, clinging desperately to failed and failing Tory zombie economics and far more interested in fighting and purging the traditional Labour party members and supporters than bringing down Johnson. Remember the way the bureaucracy actively campaigned to stop Corbyn winning the election in 2017? The way party apparatchiks were members of Tory social media groups, including one particular individual who was so venomously against his party’s left that the real Tories wondered why he wasn’t one of them? How the nominally Labour leaders of various constituency parties appealed to Conservatives and Lib Dems to join them in order to prevent them from being taken over by horrible Commie/ Stalinist/ Trotskyite/ any other smear we can think of/ members of Momentum?

In fact, some of the charges raised by Blackford read very much like what was done by Starmer’s precious Tony Blair. New Labour was thoroughly corporatist and massively corrupt, getting donations from big business, especially the big supermarkets, and then putting their leading executives and officers in charge of public departments and regulatory bodies. Representatives of private healthcare companies lobbying for the further privatisation of the NHS were given important posts in the Department of Health. Blair chummed up with big businessmen like Beardie Branson, who also wanted to get his Virgin Healthcare into the NHS.

And his disappearance from view also reminds me of the way Ed Miliband, when faced with votes that could cost Labour all those precious Tory voters he wanted his party to appeal to, would tell his MPs to abstain instead of voting against. As when the Tories were making further cuts to welfare benefits. It looks to me that Starmer didn’t want to bring down Bozo, but didn’t want to appear to be supporting him either. So he made a classic New Labour fudge and ran away.

Starmer’s record on tackling Johnson has been absolutely abysmal, especially compared to the sheer fanaticism in which he has set about bolstering the Blairite grip on the party and smearing and purging decent people on the left, especially Jewish critics of Israel. I don’t think Starmer really has any policies that are really different from those of the Tories. New Labour didn’t. Blair’s stance simply seemed to be ‘vote for me, because I’m not the Tories. But I’ll pick up their old, discarded policies and do them better’. In many ways Blair was more extreme than the Tories, especially in the privatisation of the NHS and the transformation of the schools into academies. Thatcher had tried it, seen it fail, and abandoned it. Blair picked it up out of the dustbin and made it official Labour policy. With catastrophic results. And this is, I’m afraid, what we can expect if Starmer gets into power.

Starmer’s a Tory who supports Tories and clearly wants to keep Johnson in as long as possible. He should in no way be leader of the Labour party, just as Johnson should be running the country. Get them both out!

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There Are Big Unanswered Questions about Alex Belfield, His Court Cases and the Donations from His Supporters

November 30, 2021

Okay, I admit it: I’ve put up any number of posts about mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield. So many, in fact, that one of the great commenters here described him as ‘my favourite right-winger’. Well, something like that. Belfield is interesting in that he says openly what the Tories think in private but deny in public. He’d like the NHS privatised, because somehow handing it over to private healthcare companies will reverse the lethal chaos and deprivation that four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and three decades of Tory cuts have done. Much of his views are bog-standard Daily Mail bigotry. He rants about the Channel Migrants – ‘the dinghy divers’ – as he calls them – landing here and being put in 5 star hotels. But I’m pretty sure the migrants and asylum seekers aren’t getting five star service. They’re there because there seems to be nowhere else to house them. And while I’ve no doubt some of them are economic migrants, others are equally doubtless genuine asylum-seekers fleeting some horrific regimes. He also hates British benefit recipients. There was a story in the mainstream news a few months ago that there were a couple of million jobs going unfilled. So Belfield put up a video about that, demanding all benefits be stopped so that people should be forced to apply for them. Never mind the fact that a large proportion of the benefits being claimed are by people in work, who can’t support themselves on the paltry wages the Tories and British capitalism have decided are enough to keep them alive.

He also hates the BBC, left-wing media and students and universities. He has a feud going with the Beeb. He claims he was forced out of a career in local radio because of jealousy from the other broadcasters. He, a working class lad from a pit village, who had never gone to uni, had more viewers than they, who were ‘Guardian-reading, middle-class, champagne-sipping, oyster-eating Naga Manchushy – for some reason he has an especial hatred of Naga Manchetty – twirlies. He’s been the subject of a series of raids and prosecutions, including a court action involving Jeremy Vine. He’s appealed and received donations from his viewers to help him fight these cases, all the while protesting his innocence and claiming that the courts have found him innocent, at least in the specific cases he’s put up videos about. However, the truth seems to be rather different and somewhat murkier. Jim Round, one of the great commenters on this blog, has pointed out that Belfield has not disclosed what he’s done with the money. Which contrasts very strongly with his loud denunciation of the BBC for allegedly spending half of the donations to Children In Need on the charity’s directors and staff and refusing to reveal what it has done with the donated money. Last Friday Jim made this comment about Belfield’s court cases.

‘As pointed out previously, Belfield is the defendant in all of the cases, the main one now a six week jury trial at crown court next July, something he fails to mention to is supporters.
The other is the now public Jeremy Vine defamation case. A video he posted shows Belfield waving only the letterhead of an FOI request (again, freely available) to his followers (who uncannily like Farage followers, never research anything he tells them)
There is a lot more to it if you are prepared to waste an hour of your life searching Twitter.
He has now deleted the above video, something he does regularly if his followers pass negative comments or he gets a bit to close to the line.
On a side note, the Liverpool taxi driver has been quoted as saying that the bomber asked specifically for the hospital, and the mosque story seems to come from a Daily Mail “source” make of that what you will.’

And today Jim posted this comment and link to a Twitter post about the Belfield vs. Vine case.

‘Some light reading for you, have a look at the link in this tweet (apologies for it being Twitter)
https://mobile.twitter.com/The_Mumpsimus/status/1464564826731122689?cxt=HHwWgsC4_ej8ltMoAAAA
I am (not) surprised your comments on those YouTube videos get deleted, shocking behaviour from so called bastions of free speech isn’t it?’

If you follow the link, you get to a Tweet from ‘Outing the Snallygasters’, who says of the Vine case:

‘FACT CHECK: 5th Oct’21 the High Court defamation case, brought against Alex Belfield @celebrityradio, commenced. His defence was poor & the Judge made him pay the claimants costs (£25k). He posted a number of deflection tweets/video. Here’s the truth

⬇️

https://bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2021/3068.html’

The email address is that of the official court records. The Tweet’s also worth looking at for the three pictures of the thumbnails from Belfield’s videos with ‘False’ stamped across them.

The statement that the judge ordered Belfield to pay Vine’s costs appears to contradict Belfield’s own statements that he’s a pure as the driven snow and the court hasn’t been able to find anything against him.

Belfield is doing well at the moment. He says he has over 300,000 supporters, which is quite possible. It’s a respectable number, but I get the impression that it’s dwarfed by the really popular YouTube creators, like Zoella and the beauty vloggers.

But apart from his appalling right-wing views, there are serious questions to be asked about his own conduct and what he has done with the money given to him through the kindness of his own supporters.

Right-Winger Belfield Takes Corbyn’s Side against Tory Councillor’s Libel

November 25, 2021

Here’s a turn-up for the books – mad right-wing internet radio Alex Belfield has posted this video taking Jeremy Corbyn’s side against the Tory councillor who libelled him. The Tory had posted a meme showing Corbyn about to lay a wreath on the burning car left by the vile suicide bomber when he tried to blow himself up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital. It was a truly despicable act, although the Syrian immigrant who did so had planned on detonating it in Liverpool Cathedral during the Remembrance Day Service. He had gained the trust of the local Anglican clergy and community through feigning conversion to Christianity, but had been noticed attending mosque during Ramadan. And he had clearly not been short of cash, as he was somehow able to rent a second house which he used as his wretched bomb factory. Fortunately, this vile scumbag succeeded in only destroying himself. The detonator exploded, but not main explosives, and the taxi driver was able to escape with only a burst eardrum.

Despite the vile smears of the media, Corbyn has never, ever been a supporter of terrorism. Far from it. He stood for the British government talking to the Republicans in Northern Ireland, but was also respected by the Loyalists for his even-handedness. And at the same Thatcher and the Tories were loudly denouncing the Labour party for advocating talks with Sinn Fein, she herself was doing exactly the same. But quietly, of course, in case it might damage her image as the patriotic Iron Lady refusing to surrender to the IRA.

But such lies and fake history don’t mean anything to the right-wing establishment, and so this Tory councillor published his libellous meme. Corbyn consulted m’learned friends, and the councillor has now settled out of court. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind, as Sergeant Major Windsor Davies used to say. What is astonishing is that someone as right-wing as Belfield has taken the side of the man demonised by the right as a communist, anti-Semite and supporter of terrorism.

It’s because Belfield himself feels, or alleges, that he’s also been libelled. He has claimed that he is the victim of false accusations, vexatious prosecutions and malicious investigations by his former colleagues at the Beeb and Nottinghamshire police, and has fought to defend himself in the courts. Hence he states in the video that he still stands up for free speech, but you still have to be careful what you say. Just because he’s standing talking doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening on his behalf. He clearly draws a comparison between his own treatment and that of the former Labour leader. And that’s what’s behind his surprising show of support for Corbyn.

This is quite amusing, as it’s caused the heads of some of his supporters to explode. The comments section for that video are full of people moaning about how Corbyn is still evil, not a true man of the people and so on, and that the meme was still true. Or couldn’t be libellous, because it was a meme. Which shows the mentality of some of his supporters. And some of the great commenters on this site have suggested that Belfield himself has a few questions to answer, like what, pray, has he done with all the donations people have sent him? Belfield has been able to fight his court cases through appealing to his viewers for donations. However, it’s unclear what he’s done with them. It’s quite an issue, as Belfield has also loudly denounced the Beeb and other charities for squandering their donors’ money on high salaries for their directors and staff, particularly in the case of Children in Need.

But in the meantime, I’m just enjoying the spectacle of a right-wing Tory like Belfield taking the side of Jeremy Corbyn.

Bozo Waffles About Peppa Pig While Looking For His Speech to the CBI

November 22, 2021

More evidence that sections of the Tory party are turning against our noxious, buffoonish excuse of a PM. I caught on the internet news feed today a headline quote Dominic Cummings as saying that Starmer’s a dud, and Boris won’t be around much longer. The Scum has put up a video of Johnson making car noises, raving about Peppa Pig and looking for his speech. And mad right-wing internet radio host Alex Belfield has put up this video of the overprivileged, overpaid and overpromoted mendacious clown waffling on about Peppa Pig while riffling through the papers for his speech. His title is ‘Speech: Boris Loves Peppa Pig Best Idea in Decades (Cuckoo/Lost Marbles)’.

Boris got where he is partly through a carefully crafted image as a lovable clown. It didn’t matter what stunt he pulled, how stupid he looked, he seemed to take it all with good humour at his own expense. And all the time the loyal Tory press were trying to present him as the greatest Tory politician since Edmund Burke, Robert Peel, Churchill and Thatcher. Now it seems their patience is really wearing thin, and like the rest of us they’re sick of his idleness and gross ineptitude. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be sick of his viciousness towards the poor, the sick, the unemployed and disabled, his determination to sell off the NHS and his continued support for the decaying wreck of Thatcherite zombie economics. Attitudes which Johnson and the Tories also share with Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer.

There’s only one solution: end Thatcherism. Get the Tories out of government, and Starmer out of the Labour Party.

Satanic Murderer Linked to Neo-Nazi Order of the Nine Angles

October 29, 2021

This is interesting. According to an article in today’s Evening Standard, Danyal Hussein, the murderer of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, was on an internet group run by a Nazi Satanist connected to the Order of the Nine Angles. The article, entitled ‘Danyal Hussein: Calls to ban Nazi-occultist group after Satanist murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman’ runs

‘Campaigners have renewed a call to ban a UK-based Nazi-occultist group following the Satanist murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Killer Danyal Hussein, 19, was jailed for life on Thursday for the murder of the sisters as part of a twisted demonic pact to win the lottery.

Hussein is believed to have been influenced by a black magic practitioner called EA Koetting, who promotes his work to more than 80,000 followers on YouTube.

Since his Old Bailey trial, it has emerged that Hussein was an active member of online forum Becoming A Living God, set up by Koetting.

The American author has associated himself with a group called Order of Nine Angles (O9A) and its US branch, Tempel ov Blood, which has been linked to a string of recent terrorism cases in Britain.

As Hussein was jailed for life for the sisters’ murders, Nick Lowles, chief executive of anti-fascism campaign group Hope Not Hate, said: “Danyal Hussein was influenced by a man associated with the Order of Nine Angles before he launched his attack.

“This is yet another reason why the Government must move to ban this Nazi-occultist group.

“Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman had their lives stolen by this murderer, and the ideology which propelled him. Their families’ lives have been devastated.

“The Order of Nines Angles’ appearance in the story of these horrendous murders is shocking but shouldn’t be surprising.

“We have been warning of their promotion of terrorism and sexual violence, and called on ministers to act by banning the group.

“The Order of Nine Angles is determined to promote and inspire terrorism. They must be banned.”

Last week, Facebook announced that it had removed Koetting’s page and Instagram account for violating its Dangerous Individuals and Organisations policies, and YouTube said a review is under way. The PA news agency has previously contacted Koetting for a response.’

A few months ago when Danyal Hussein was arrested and charged with the murder, History Debunked put up a video suggesting that it was caused by Hussein’s own belief, as a Muslim, in the djinn. He stated that in his experience, it was very common amongst British Muslims and he had overheard Muslim students in his class discussing how one of their female relatives was being tormented by one of these spirits. That is why a murder, like something from the Middle Ages when people believed witches like Faust sold their souls to the Devil, and practiced human sacrifice, had returned to Britain.

Hussein did believe in the djinn, but it’s a bizarre twist that he was in fact motivated in this horrific act by a neo-Nazi. This might explain why the murder victims were two Black women, however. The Order of the Nine Angles is mentioned in Nicolas Goodrick-Clarkes book on contemporary Nazi occultism, The Black Sun. They sound absolutely bonkers, as if someone combined Norse mythology with a bit of crude Jungian theorising after reading the 2000 AD strip, Nemesis the Warlock, and thought that Torquemada was a good role model. The nine angles supposedly refer to the nine levels of Yggdrasil, the world-tree connecting the nine world in Viking myth. These are inhabited by acausal beings. The Order rejects the Theory of Relativity for the same reason the original Nazis did: Einstein was Jewish. After conquering the world and subjugating the non-White races, they aim to develop interstellar space travel and are eagerly awaiting the emergence of the future galactic emperor, Vindictus. Or something like that. The Nemesis the Warlock strip was set in a far future galaxy in which humans lived underground in a totalitarian hell. Earth was renamed Termight, and ruled over by Torquemada, grandmaster of the Terminators, a military order dedicated to exterminating all intelligent alien life. Creators Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill based it on the cruelty and corruption they had experienced in their communities growing up as Roman Catholics, though bigotry, hypocrisy and intolerance certainly aren’t confined to any one religion. They’re found right across all human ideologies and religions as part of the human condition. Mills and O’Neill were making metaphorical statements about racism in wider British society and particularly at the National Front, which was then on the rise. The strip was launched after a series of racist murders and the rise of anti-racist youth groups to oppose it like Rock Against Racism. But the Order of the Nine Angles with its cult of Vindictus does sound like its creators read ‘Nemesis’ and thought Termight was cool, as against the real fans of the strip, who knew it lampooned such Nazi prats. I have to say, though, that I don’t think anyone in the Order of the Nine Angles has read the strip or been influenced by it. It just seems to me that Mills’ and O’Neill’s creation, which still retains a cult following amongst comics fans, was all too accurate in its depiction of the mentality of these psychopathic nutters.

As for Hussein, it’s ironic that a man of colour was influenced by a Nazi, who would no doubt have looked down on him personally because of his race. And it shows that the motives behind his murder is much more complex than simple explanations that it was all down to Islamic superstition and immigration.

Belfield Attacks Gemma Collins for Guzzling £700 Gold-Wrapped Steak

September 29, 2021

I’ve put up several pieces on this blog commenting on, and occasionally reblogging, videos from mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield. I don’t share his right-wing political opinions, but he’s interesting for what he says about the attitudes of a certain type of working class Conservative. And occasionally he does say something worthwhile that people across the political spectrum can agree on. This morning he put up a video attacking Gemma Collins for eating a £700 steak in a very expensive London restaurant. Belfield states that the steak itself couldn’t have cost more than £50, and quotes the prices of steak available from your average supermarket that are much, much lower at about a tenth of that. He finds this kind of very ostentatious, massively expensive consumption on overpriced luxuries obscene when large numbers of Brits can only get their meals at food banks and those that aren’t are worried about how they’re going to pay for their next meal.

He also describes another similar obscene display of wealth when a group of Japanese businessmen came in to a restaurant and ordered £1,000 bottles of wine. Of which they only drank one glass before leaving. The restauranteur was not impressed by what Belfield describes, rather vulgarly, as ‘willy-waggling’ and so gathered he staff and treated them to the expensive steaks and wine the Japanese had left behind untouched.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m particularly surprised by these crass, offensive displays of wealth. I read a book on Japan years ago by a former Times journalist, who remarked that as many Japanese had become millionaires, they’d overtaken the Americans for vulgar displays of wealth. One example of this is a Japanese department store which served, for the equivalent of $100, tea containing gold flakes. This could be drunk in a special room set aside where the drinker could contemplate a print of Van Gogh’s ‘The Sunflowers.’ Then there’s the brand of Swizz vodka, Goldberg, which also contains gold flakes. In the case of the Japanese tea, I suspect there’s an influence there from Chinese alchemy. This differed from the western type in being focused on the quest for immortality. Chinese alchemists believed that this could be achieved by replacing the perishables materials of the human body with imperishable matter, and so slowly poisoned their clients by getting them to eat gold, pearls and so on. On the other hand, it could just be a display of tasteless vulgarity.

Of course, there are other ways in which the people Private Eye once described as the ‘futile rich’ flaunt their wealth in front of the poor. Grossly overpriced clothes has always been one favourite, like the £7,000 leather trousers Tweezer sported when she had her rear end in 10 Downing Street. And modern celebrity culture, unfortunately, is characterised by a very materialist attitude in which actors, sportsmen and pop stars frequently engage in tasteless demonstrations of their wealth. You think of all the jewellery sported by a certain type of pop star with the dollar sign, for example.

Gemma Collins and a number of other celebs is a frequent target of Belfield’s, along with Carol Vorderman, Katie Price and Marcus Rashford, amongst others. Some of these attacks seem based on little more than personal dislike. Others, such as his attacks on Diane Abbott, seem rather more for political reasons. But there’s a serious point behind his video on Collins and the gold-wrapped steak. Such displays of very conspicuous wealth are obscene and offensive when people are poor and starving, and always have been. It’s how revolutions start. The guzzling of such food and drink recalls Marie Antoinette’s inflammatory comment during the French Revolution. When told the starving masses had no bread, she supposedly said, ‘Let them eat cake’. The result of this contempt for the poor was the overthrow of the monarchy and the massacre of the aristocracy as enemies of the people.

Despite the right’s attempt to monopolise politics and discredit the left, some writers and academics are very much afraid that the increasing gulf between rich and poor will provoke an uprising. Watch out! When people are starving and desperate, eating £700 steaks is the kind of behaviour that will have the peasants picking up their pitchforks and the tumbrils once again rolling down the streets on the way to the guillotine.

NHS Privatisation: Do You Want to Pay the Equivalent of $200 to See a Doctor?

September 20, 2021

This comes from a video on YouTube I was watching the other day. It wasn’t about health services except that at one point the person talking mentioned that where she was – America – you have to pay $200 simply to see a doctor. And that’s before he treats you or gives you medicine.

At a very rough estimate, that’s about £130 or so. Very roughly, and I might be wrong.

But it used to be like that over here as well before the establishment of the NHS by the 1945 Labour government. And people suffered and died because they couldn’t afford to pay for it. I’ve been watching Ken Loach’s excellent film on the establishment of the British welfare state, The Spirit of ’45. This is another flick I fully intend to blog about in due course and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the origins not just of the welfare state, but of the mixed economy that gave us jobs and prosperity for thirty years before the election of Thatcher. And it clearly shows as well how and why capitalism is failing but still being pushed, and why we must never allow the NHS to be privatised. It mixes archive footage from the period, including speeches by Clement Atlee, Nye Bevan, George Lansbury and others with filmed interviews with politicians, activists, writers, union representatives and ordinary working men and women. These include not only the awesome Tony Benn, but also Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist who co-edited NHS: SOS against the privatisation of the NHS with Ray Tallis. Doctors appearing in the film explain that before the NHS was established, you had to pay half a crown simply to see the doctor. Very poorly paid workers, like agricultural labourers, could be paid five shillings a week. If they fell ill, one of those shillings would be taken in doctor’s fees. And doctors employed debt collectors to get money owing from patients, who’d paid on credit.

This is what is going to happen if Johnson and his jackals privatise the NHS.

I mention this because there was a news report last week that more people are taking out private health care. This is not by accident. It is a deliberate Tory policy. Thatcher would have liked to have privatised the NHS, but she was prevented by a cabinet revolt. Patrick Jenkin, her private secretary, had visited America and was shocked by the American private healthcare system. Unable to get her way, Thatcher instead aimed to get a certain percentage of the British public to take out private health insurance.

As Mike has pointed out again and again, the way the right prepares industries for privatisation is by starving them of funding until they are near collapse and then claiming that privatisation will provide more investment and improve services.

And this is what the Tories have been doing since they got into power eleven or so years ago. The NHS is in crisis with cancelled operations and treatment due to priority being given to combating the Coronavirus. But the Tories never waste a crisis, and they are using it to demand further privatisation. The mad internet radio host, Alex Belfield, released a video last week yet again demanding the privatisation of the NHS because of the crisis and the suffering it was causing his listeners, some of whom had relatives die as a result.

I have every sympathy for them. But the truth is that people are suffering and dying not because of any inherent fault of the NHS but because it is deliberately being run down so the Tories can privatise it.

Boris and his cronies would like to take us to a completely private healthcare system, financed through private health insurance. And if that happens, people will once again have to pay money simply to see a doctor.

And so we come back to the question: do you have the equivalent of $200 to see a doctor? Because this is what it’s going to cost you if Johnson and the private American healthcare companies that want a bit of NHS action get their way.