Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

My Message for We Own It Against NHS Privatisation

June 11, 2022

My last post was about the email I received earlier today about We Own It’s campaign today against the government’s intention to place private healthcare companies on the boards of the NHS. Among their activities they were asking people to write the following message on a piece of paper “Dear [*write the name of your town here*] NHS leaders, let’s rebuild our local NHS together and keep private companies out”, then take a selfie of you with the message and tweet it or, if you’re not on Twitter or in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, email it to them at nfo@weownit.org.uk .

I’ve done this, and here’s my piccie with the message below.

Yeah, I know it’s faint and hardly legible, but I hope it still makes the point.

We Own It on Their Day of Action Against NHS Privatisation Today

June 11, 2022

I got this message this morning from the pro-nationalisation, anti-NHS privatisation organisation We Own It stating that today is their day of action against the Tories’ plans to put private companies on NHS boards. Amongst the forms of protest they’re organising is a photo campaign in which people take photos of themselves with a message on a piece of paper addressed to their local NHS manager stating their opposition of this new phase of Tory privatisation. The email runs

‘Dear David,

Today is your Day of Action  – can you help ramp up the pressure on your local NHS chair to put people before profit as they prepare to reorganise the NHS in England on the 1st of July?

Even if you do just one of these three actions, you can have a HUGE impact today:

1. Send a message directly to your local NHS chair in 3 easy steps:

  1. On a plain sheet of paper, write out the message: “Dear [*write the name of your town here*] NHS leaders, let’s rebuild our local NHS together and keep private companies out”
  2. Take a selfie with your message.
  3. Click the button below to use our tool to tweet your picture (or email it to us at info@weownit.org.uk if you don’t use Twitter, or if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland!)

2. Join a local action near you today. Find out where actions are happening below.

3. Distribute leaflets by yourself or with friends and family on your local high street. This action is only for people who have received leaflet deliveries from us.

Tweet your picture

Find out if there’s a group action near you

8 local NHS chairs have now come out and pledged that they will BAN private companies on their boards.

When you started this campaign a month ago that number was a grand total of 1.

This happened because 20,500 of you emailed your ICS chairs, or boosted the numbers by sharing the action if you live outside of England. 

Your actions have an impact. By doing even just one of the actions today, you will help protect your local NHS from greedy private companies

1. Send a message directly to your local NHS chair in 3 easy steps:

  1. On a plain sheet of paper, write out the message: “Dear [*write the name of your town here*] NHS leaders, let’s rebuild our local NHS together and keep private companies out”
  2. Take a selfie with your message.
  3. Click the button below to use our tool to tweet your picture (or email it to us at info@weownit.org.uk if you don’t use Twitter, or live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – your photos will show that people across the UK oppose private companies making decisions about our healthcare!)

2. Join a local action near you today. Find out where actions are happening below.

3. Distribute leaflets by yourself or with friends and family on your local high street. This action is only for people who have received leaflet deliveries from us.

Tweet your picture

Find out if there’s a group action near you

We are working with Keep Our NHS Public and Unite Community to make sure local NHS chairs feel the heat today. 

As they prepare to reorganise local NHS’ across England on the 1st of July, you can remind them that you want the NHS to work for people not profit.

This reorganisation currently only impacts the NHS in England, but it sets a precedent that will have repercussions for the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. By taking a stand and showing resistance to private companies sitting on boards in England, you will help stop this setting a dangerous new normal for healthcare in the UK. 

NHS leaders need to know that profiteering private healthcare companies cannot be allowed to have a role in our healthcare.

Send them a simple message today by doing one of the three actions below:

1. Send a message directly to your local NHS chair in 3 easy steps:

  1. On a plain sheet of paper, write out the message: “Dear [*write the name of your town here*] NHS leaders, let’s rebuild our local NHS together and keep private companies out”
  2. Take a selfie with your message.
  3. Click the button below to use our tool to tweet your picture (or email it to us at info@weownit.org.uk if you don’t use Twitter or live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland)

2. Join a local action near you today. Find out where actions are happening below.

3. Distribute leaflets by yourself or with friends and family on your local high street. This action is only for people who have received leaflet deliveries from us.

Tweet your picture

Find out if there’s a group action near you

his campaign is already getting results because people like you are standing up and taking action. Thank you so much for all you do to protect our NHS. 

Cat, Alice, Jack, Matthew, Kate, Johnbosco – the We Own It team’

I realise that this is very last minute, but I’ve put it up here for those who want to be involved.

There are protests right across England, but the one in Bristol is run by Bristol Protest our NHS at 60 High Street, Hanham, BS15 3DR, and its running from 3-4 this afternoon..

Faye Hallam Plays Dave Allan Theme at Jazz Club – Nice!

April 27, 2022

Here’s a bit of fun for a Wednesday morning. I’m a great fan of the late Irish comedian Dave Allan. He is, to me, one of the very greatest of the television funny men. His style was that of a bar room philosopher, sat on a bar stool taking the occasional sip of whisky, cigarette smoking quietly away in an ashtray, while he made his wry observations on the absurdities of human nature and the world. Mixed with this on his series on the Beeb were sketches, some of which were just jokes, such as the tourist who brings down Stonehenge like a string of dominoes simply by leaning on one of the trilithons. Others were a kind of morality play, like the one about a man who spots a tenner trapped under a car wheel. He goes into a cafe to wait until the car moves off and he can grab the money, only to find that everyone else in the cafe was had the same idea. Religion was a frequent target of his humour. He hated the Roman Catholic church in particular because of the brutal discipline at his old Catholic school, a situation which I know has resulted in many Catholics lapsing. He was also no admirer of Ian Paisley at the time, for keeping the murderous sectarian bigotry in Ulster alive from the Protestant side. This was decades before the Good Friday agreement and the warm friendship between Paisley and Gerry Adams, which resulted in the two getting the nickname, the Chuckle Brothers. Some of his jokes and sketches were based around sex, and got very ‘near the knuckle’, as the saying goes. But mostly it was good humoured and simply fun. Allan died a few years ago, but there are a selection of his sketches and monologues on DVD, and, of course, on YouTube. He’s much missed by his legions of fans. The show’s theme was written by Alan Hawkshaw, who also wrote, among other TV themes, that for Grandstand. There are videos of him playing this and his other compositions also on YouTube.

Now Brent Wants to Change Name of Place Called after Gladstone

April 19, 2022

This story has been exercising GB News and History Debunked’s Simon Webb. According to the Torygraph, the leader of Brent council, Mohammed Butt, wishes to rename Gladstone Park in his borough. Apparently the sprogs in the local schools were given a talk on racial inequality and the murder of George Floyd by a ‘racial expert’, before being asked for their views on the park’s name and what they thought should replace it. Suggestions included ‘Rainbow Park’, ‘Diversity Park’, ‘BAME Park’ – which is clearly racist as it very definitely excludes Whites – and ‘Diane Abbott Park’. The move follows similar attempts to rename places named after Gladstone and remove monuments commemorating him elsewhere in Britain, ‘cos his father, Ewart Gladstone, was connected to the slave trade. It’s also part of a general move by Sadiq Khan to rename places in London so that they reflect the capital’s multicultural population.

GB News’ Mercy Muroki, who’s black, was not impressed. She objected to children being used to support what was clearly a decision made by Butt and his cronies. She took as an example of the way young children think her own seven year old. She stated that the child was bright and imaginative, but that you wouldn’t ask him questions like that because he wouldn’t know anything about it, nor who Gladstone was. As for Diane Abbott, she stated that she had many excellent qualities. She had risen from her working class origins to become Britain’s first Black woman MP. Quite. Abbott’s certainly not thick, despite what the Tories say about her, although some of her comments on race certainly have me grinding my teeth. She’s a good role model for Black women and girls looking for a career in politics. But she isn’t in the same league as someone who was four times British Prime Minister.

And this is one of the problems. It’s been claimed by the right that the ‘woke’ left have no awareness nor interest in anything but very recent history. This would seem to bear that out. I dare say that to many modern Brits Gladstone is just a name with no relevance to the present day. But this is a mistake. Gladstone, and his opposite number in the Tories, Disraeli, are two of the 19th century political titans that have shaped modern Britain and the British empire. And Gladstone was hardly any kind of Fascist monster. Rather, it’s been said that he became ‘the voice of the Nonconformist conscience’. I firmly believe that if he had succeeded in granting Ireland home rule, the modern history of Ireland would have been far less bloody.

And there are other events and figures from further back in our history that also deserve to be remembered, but may also be lost if the attitude persists that the only people worth remembering are those of the near present. Magna Carta is celebrated as the first check on royal power and the beginning of English liberty. An Anglo-Norman phrase from about the time declared that the country was ‘the commune of England, where each man had his view’. But there’s also the British Civil War, which commenced a long process of political speculation as writers and politicians attempted to formulate ideas about the ideal state, correct forms of government, the rights of the individual and political and religious tolerance. Carl Benjamin of the Lotus Eaters harks back to John Locke, who laid the foundations for liberal, democratic government, but there were many others. Socialists and the Labour party have looked to the Levellers and Diggers, and their plans for an expansion of the franchise, the creation of state education, hospitals and almshouses for the elderly and in the case of the Diggers the establishment of a Christian communist utopia. The Glorious Revolution finally established the supremacy of parliament over the crown, and the Bill of Rights that followed is another key document in the development of British political liberty. Then in the 18th century there’s Edmund Burke and his classic foundational text of modern Conservatism, Reflections on the Revolution in France and Thomas Paine’s defence of the American and French Revolutions, Common Sense and The Rights of Man. And this is before you get to the bitter political struggles and leading politicians of the 19th century. Now no-one is suggesting that these figures and events should somehow be erased from commemoration or official British history. The commemoration of the Glorious Revolution and the accession of William of Orange to the throne was played down, however, particularly in Northern Ireland in the 1980s because of fears that it would spark further sectarian violence. But I am afraid that the mentality that demands that Gladstone be cancelled because of his personal family history may expand to demand the removal of other important British political figures, merely because someone feels they don’t properly represent the values of modern Britain.

I am also afraid Khan’s decision to have places renamed according to the area’s modern ethnic composition will also prove divisive. There’s been a movement of Whites away from inner city areas, which have become increasingly dominated by Blacks and Asians, dubbed ‘White flight’. Many of these area’s Black and Asian inhabitants are genuinely upset by this. A BBC documentary discussing this a few years ago in the case of the dwindling White population of the East End featured an imam, who said he regretted that his son would never meet a White person from the area. Part of the reason for this exodus is that many Whites no longer feel a proper part of those areas. They feel outsiders, and so move away to areas with a higher proportion of Whites. Predictably, those Whites who’ve said that they feel like foreigners in these areas because of their colour have been attacked as racist, but they’re simply expressing the same kind of sentiments many Blacks have when moving into a majority White area.

A few years ago there was a similar bit of controversy when the Heil ran a story about the Bangladeshi part of the Smoke renaming itself ‘Banglatown’ and having the street names written in both the Latin and Indian scripts. I think part of the idea was to raise the area’s profile by making it into a piece of local colour that would make it stand out. ‘Banglatown’ was a nickname given to the area by the storm troopers of the NF/ BNP, and its adoption as an official name may have been an attempt to reclaim it as source of pride by the Bangladeshi community, in the same way that some Blacks have tried reclaiming the ‘N’ word and some gays ‘Fag’. This move predated Khan’s tenure of the elected mayoralty by some years. However, it cause outrage because it was felt, understandably, that Bangladeshi identity was being privileged and British culture erased. And this latest move by Khan and Butt may be set to be similarly controversial and divisive.

Not to mention that it’s a gift to the Tories, who are trying to make the most of the culture war because of the increasingly grotty state of Britain after over a decade of Tory misrule makes it difficult for them to claim that Brits are materially better off.

Glasgow Council Report Criticises Statues of Livingstone, Peel and Gladstone for Slavery Links

April 5, 2022

GB News and the Heil carried reports a few days ago attacking Glasgow council for a report compiled by a highly respected Scottish historian about the city’s historic involvement in the slave trade and its statues commemorating figures connected with it. The council felt that, unlike Liverpool and Bristol, and the city had not faced up to its history as one of the other major British centres of the slave trade. It compiled a list of seven statues that were particularly questionable because of their subjects’ links to the trade. These included the missionary and abolitionist, David Livingstone, Robert Peel and William Ewart Gladstone. The reports concentrated on the criticism of Livingstone, as the man was a fervent abolitionist and it demonstrates how ridiculousness the iconoclasm by the anti-slavery activists is. According to reports by GB News, the Heil and the Glasgow Herald, it’s partly because Livingstone started work at age 10 in factory weaving and processing slave-produced cotton from the West Indies. They make the point that as a child worker, Livingstone had absolutely no control over what the factory did. I doubt very much that he had much control, as someone who could be called a ‘factory slave’, over his choice of employment either. Later videos from GB News and further down in the articles from the Herald and the Heil is the statement that he also defend the cotton masters, believing that they were paternalistic. He may well have done so, but this hardly discredits him because of his life’s work in Africa.

Livingstone had a genuine, deep hatred, as many British Christians had at the time, of slavery. He travelled to Africa to spread Christianity and to combat slavery as its sources. He was also a doctor, and had worked hard after work to educate himself. One of the guests on the GB News debate about it was a right-wing historian of Africa. He pointed out that Livingstone is still very much loved in Africa, and there are plaques to him in Malawi, Zambia, Tanganyika and three other African countries. I have no doubt this is absolutely true. A few years ago I took out of Bristol’s central library a history of Malawi. The book was even-handed and objective. It did not play down massacres by the British army committed when we annexed the area during fighting with the slaving tribes. It described how, under imperialism, White Malawians tended to look down on the indigenous peoples and the dissatisfaction with imperial rule that resulted from the use of forced labour. But neither did it omit or play down the enslavement of indigenous Africans by the other native peoples. These included the Yao, Marganja, Swahili and Arabs, who preyed on the other tribes for the Arab slave trade, sending their captives to Zanziba, Kilwa and across the Indian ocean. To gain their victims’ trust, they’d settle down with them for a year, working alongside them as friends before finally turning on them. They also set up a series of forts to defend the slave routes. One of these, set up by Zarafi, one of the most infamous slavers, had a palisade on which were impaled 100 severed heads. As for the akapolo slaves used in the local economy, they were made very much aware of their status. They had to work with broken tools, and eat their meals off the floor. The chiefs, meanwhile, seemed to have spent much of their time relaxing and having their hair done.

Livingstone, whatever his faults, hated all this and his settlement became a refuge for runaway slaves. As did many of the other settlements he or his followers founded for this purpose. These settlements have since expanded to form some of Malawi’s towns.

William Ewart Gladstone was the leader of Britain’s Liberal party, serving as prime minister, in the latter half of the 19th century. The scandal here is that Gladstone’s family got its money from slave estates in the West Indies. I know Conservatives who genuine hate slavery, who despise Gladstone because of this. So it isn’t just ‘leftists’ that have issues with the Grand Old Man, as Gladstone’s supporters dubbed him. But Gladstone is immensely important because of the social legislation he enacted. He was an Anglican, who, in the words of one historian, ‘became the voice of the Nonconformist conscience’. He wanted the disestablishment of the Anglican church at a time when Christian Nonconformists were still required to pay it tithes and other duties that left them disadvantaged. He also wanted to give Ireland home rule. Of course this faced immense opposition, and I think it was one reason why he failed to win elections as the century wore on. But it seems to me that if he had been able to enact this policy, then perhaps Ireland’s subsequent history may not have been quite so bloody. One of the surprising facts about Irish history is that there was in the 18th century an alliance between Roman Catholics and Protestant Nonconformists. This was before Roman Catholic emancipation, which legalised it and granted Roman Catholics civil rights. At the same time Protestant Nonconformists were tolerated, but still suffered deep political disabilities. As a result, one of Ulster’s historic Roman Catholic churches was build with donations and subscriptions from Ulster nonconformist Protestants. This surprising fact was included in a BBC Radio 4 series, Mapping the Town, which traced the history of British and UK towns through their maps.

I don’t know much about Robert Peel, except that he introduced free trade as a policy for the Conservatives, or a section of the Conservatives. But what he is primarily known for is founding the metropolitan police force. I’ve got a feeling he might also have been responsible for reducing the 100-odd crimes that carried the death penalty to three. These included murder and treason. It might be because of Peel that we’re no longer hanging people for stealing a loaf of bread or impersonating a Chelsea pensioner. But long before Glasgow council decided he was problematic, there was also a demonstration by masked protesters in London demanding that his statue should be removed. And last year the right were also getting in a tizzy because one of Liverpool’s universities was removing him as the name of one of their halls. The student union replaced him with a Black woman, who was a Communist and teacher. She is, no doubt, perfectly worthy of commemoration, but hardly in Gladstone’s league.

Part of the problem is that iconoclasts want to judge everything by a very strict, modern morality. Slavery and the slave trade was an abomination and was rightly abolished. Good people have been continuing the struggle against global slavery since then. But not everybody, who was connected to the trade, is such a monster that they should be blotted out of history in the same way Stalin’s historians removed all mention of his opponents.

One of the things you are taught, or at least were taught, in history at university level is not to play ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ with historical figures. There is no set outcome to the historical process. If events had been different in the past, then modern society would also be different. If, horribly, Wilberforce and the abolitionists had lost, then slavery would still be unchallenged today. At the same time, you need to use the historical imagination to understand why people in the past behaved as they did, and why good people by the standard of their times were capable of attitudes that are deeply morally repugnant to us.

The great British philosopher, Sir Isaiah Berlin, was an admirer of the 17th-18th century Italian historian Vico. Vico believed, as Berlin later did, that there were no objective moral values. He noted how they changed over time, and that to properly understand a past epoch, you needed to understand also its art and culture. I don’t think he was a cultural relativist, however. Berlin certainly wasn’t – he believed that while there were no objective moral values, there were certainly those which acted as if they were. He was fiercely anti-Communist, partly because his family were Lithuanian Jews, who had seen their logging business seized by the Bolsheviks and had fled the Russian Revolution. He was a major figure during the Cold War in establishing western contacts with Soviet dissidents like Nadezhda Mandelstam, who wrote moving accounts of her experience of the gulags under Stalin.

I don’t share Berlin’s Conservatism and strongly believe in the existence of objective moral values. But I strongly recommend Berlin’s books. He wrote a series of potted intellectual biographies, including on the early Russian revolutionaries like the 19th century anarchist, Bakunin. Even though he hated what they stood for, his books are notable for his attempts to see things from his subjects’ point of view. So much so that some people, according to Berlin, though he was pro-Communist. They’re fascinating and highly readable, even if you don’t agree that someone like the French utopian socialist Saint-Simon was ‘an enemy of freedom’.

There are statues of slavers and the people connected with the trade that deserve to be torn down. There had been calls for Colston’s statue to be removed since the 1980s. It was highly controversial all those decades ago, though many Bristolians would have defended it because he gave away most of his money to charity. But other historical figures deserve to be still commemorated despite their connections to the ‘abominable trade’ because of their immense work that has benefited both Britain and nations like Malawi. And I believe that some of those, who find figures like Gladstone objectionable, could also benefit from reading Vico and Berlin. In the meantime, it should be noted that Glasgow council has no plans to tear any statues down.

Slavery is a great moral evil. But historic slavery should not considered so grave and unforgivable, that it is used to blot out the memory of figures like Livingstone, Gladstone and Peel, whose work has so helped shape modern Britain for the better.

Angela Rayner Has Forgotten the Shooting of Charles Menezes

February 21, 2022

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, managed to kick up a storm of protest last week. I haven’t read any more than the headlines, but I gather she said that when it came to terrorists, the police should shoot first and ask questions second. I have absolutely no sympathy for any terrorists, regardless of their colour, religion or political cause. But this is an extremely dangerous attitude as it has already resulted in the death of a completely innocent man in the turmoil following 9/11 and 7/7.

Charles Menezes was a Brazilian student studying over here in London. His only crime was that he lived in the same block of flats as a suspected Islamist terrorist. The house was being watched by an armed police team. Unfortunately, only one of them knew what the real terrorist suspect looked like, and he’d gone off to relieve himself. The others saw Menezes leave the house and, thinking he might be the suspect, shouted to him to stop. I think there was some kind of issue with their uniform, as it appears that Menezes didn’t recognise that they were police. In Brazil apparently one of the tactics used by armed robbers is to disguise themselves as policemen, and it may have been that Menezes thought that something like that was happening to him. He ran away and the police gave chase. Reaching the railway station, he jumped over the barriers and got on the train. So did the coppers, who then shot him in the head.

It was a horrific killing of an entirely innocent chap through massive police incompetence and a ‘shoot first’ policy. The government and police were worried that if terrorists were given any warning by the cops, they’d set off their suicide belts. And so it was official policy to shoot first and ask questions later. In the inquiry that followed,, this policy was abandoned. But Rayner’s statement suggests she would drag us back to it, and so cause potentially cause more innocent people to be shot by mistake.

And possibly not just by mistake. Way back in the 1980s there was scandal of the shooting of an IRA terrorist group in Gibraltar. As revealed in the World In Action documentary, ‘Death on the Rock’, the terrorists were needlessly killed. They had been tracked by the British army all the way down through Spain and could have been rounded up without bloodshed at any time. But it looks like the British government wanted to send a message to the IRA and so set up what was, in effect, a death squad to exterminate them. The programme caused such a scandal and enraged Thatcher to such an extent that she withdrew London Weekend Television’s broadcasting licence, and gave it instead to Carlton. This wasn’t the only instance of lawlessness by the British army in Northern Ireland. Rory Cormac has a number of other examples in his book, Disrupt and Deny, about the underhand, covert operations and real conspiracies by the British state. Some of these were so controversial and repugnant that many Conservatives were also opposed to them.

I’m very much aware that the terrorist threat is very real. But we need sensible policies regarding the armed response to it in order to prevent the deaths of innocents, like Mr Menezes, and our government and security forces behaving like Fascist death squads.

But Rayner, it seems, forgot all that in an attempt to appear tough and ruthless to appeal to all those Thatcherite Tories Starmer thinks will flood into Labour now that he’s ditched that awkward thing, socialism.

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.

Study Finds Gaelic-Speaking Ulster Protestant Soldiers in First World War

January 7, 2022

After the fuss over Colston’s statue, with the right claiming the acquittal of the four chiefly responsible is a terrible travesty of justice that threatens British history, here’s a story about Ulster history which I hope is far more positive. A few weeks ago one of the left-wing papers – I think it may have been the Independent – reported that researchers had gone through the records of soldiers from Protestant west Belfast, who had volunteered for service before the First World War. They found that 70+ of the men were Gaelgheoir, Gaelic-speaking. The claim was made by Turas, a group set up to encourage Protestants to learn the Erse language.

This is truly amazing, if true. Irish Gaelic is a beautiful language with a long and great literature. This includes the great myths and legends of the Irish Gaels, like the Lebor Gabala, the ‘Book of Conquests’ and its stories about the ancient Celtic gods, the Tuatha de Danaan, or tribes of the earth goddess Danu. This was one of the sources 2000AD writer and creator Pat Mills drew on when for the Celtic warrior strip, ‘Slaine’, he created with his then-wife Angela, now Angela Kincaid, a successful children’s illustrator. But because of its association with Irish nationalism, there’s considerable hostility to it amongst the Ulster loyalist community. There was bitter opposition a few years ago amongst Loyalist politicos to a move by Sinn Fein to have Gaelic taught in Ulster schools. Long before that, at the time of the nationalist agitation before World War I, speaking Gaelic to a policeman could get you arrested. This opposition also led to hilarious mistakes. A little while ago Private Eye reported some Ulster politicos raised a furore against the slogan on a bus. This was in Gaelic, they claimed, as so was part of some nationalist attack on Protestant Ulster identity. In fact it was a tourist bus and the language was French.

The British did try to ban the Gaelic language along with the rest of the Gaelic culture in Ireland in the 16th and 17th century onwards as part of the long-running centuries of conflict between the Anglo-Normans and Irish. But I was taught when studying the history of European contacts with the outside world, that there was a period in the 16th and 17th century when Britain was careful not include religion as a uniform cause for hostility to the Gaels because some of the clans were Protestant. I’d be very interested indeed if any examples of Protestant literature in Gaelic has survived.

Hopefully this discovery may bring Protestants and Roman Catholics, Loyalists and Nationalists to an understanding that Irish identity and history is far more complex than generally realised. Historians and archaeologists of medieval Ireland have pointed out that Gaelic speech could extend far into the territories of the English Pale. Anglo-Norman lords often spoke Gaelic themselves, and one Gaelic bard spoke openly about is own mercenary attitude to the two ethnicities. He stated quite clearly he played and composed poems for both Gaels and Normans so long as they paid him. If he was performing for a Gaelic chieftain, he’d sing about how the Irish would ultimately be victorious and push the Anglo-Norman foreigner back into the sea. If he was performing for a Norman lord, he’d sing about how the Anglo-Normans would ultimately sweep the Gaels into the sea.

I hope this discovery will bring the people of Northern Ireland closer together, create greater respect between the two communities and show that Ulster can also be a multilingual community, speaking both English and Erse, regardless of religious affiliation.

For further information on medieval Ireland and English colonisation in the Middle Ages, see the chapters on Ireland in Medieval Frontier Societies, edited by Robert Bartlett and Angus Mackay (Oxford: Clarendon 1989).

Mrmenno Videos Parodying Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and Tweezer

December 3, 2021

Mrmenno is a gay Youtuber who specialises in producing musical parodies of great songs to satirise the government and various political and social movements he considers are harming the good people of this country. He’s gender critical and a fierce and commitment opponent of the trans ideology. Many of his videos are therefore directed against that. I’m not going to post them, because I’m aware that some of the great commenters on this blog are pro-Trans. I’ve made it very clear that I oppose the trans ideology, but not transpeople and have posted videos from others laying out the reasons for doing so. However, I think posting his videos about the issue would simply cause unnecessary offence.

But here’s a selection of his videos that I think all the great readers and commenters on this blog can get behind. In these he attacks Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock for their refusal to act swiftly to impose the lockdown, leaving thousands to die of Covid; He skewers Dominic Cummings for breaking the lockdown rules and driving up to Barnard Castle; and lampoons Tweezer for shafting the people of Northern Ireland with Brexit and the nonsense about the Irish backstop.

The Chicago video called the ‘Corona Clown Tango’ and based on that musical’s ‘Cell Block Tango’, satirising Johnson comes, says Mrmenno, from a place of anger and rage at the buffoon’s initial refusal to impose a lockdown. It contains clips of Johnson saying that we should let the disease pass through the population infecting people and that ‘people should take it on the chin’. He would, he states, go on greeting people as usual. He did, and duly came down with it. As did Matt Hancock. He, however, was not infected because he was one of the front-line staff who risked and lost their lives caring for the disease’s victims.

The next video attacks Dominic Cumming’s trip to Barnard Castle when he had the disease. It’s too the tune of Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ song, and has Mrmenno wearing a cardboard cut-out on his head to make it more like Cumming’s weird bonce. At one point he begins to shake and a female voice asks him what’s wrong. He replies that he thinks there’s something wrong with his eyesight, so he’ll have to drive to Barnard Castle. The video ends with him looking at green gunge on his hand. ‘What’s wrong, Mr Cummings?’ the female voice asks again. ‘Gonarrhea’, replies Cummings, ‘Ill have to go dogging.’ Intercut with all this jollity is clips of people protesting against Cummings in real life and on social media, complaining it’s one rule for the elite and another for us plebs.

And in this video, Mrmenno dresses up as Tweezer to attack for her for the Irish backstop Brexit nonsense that has cause such harm to Northern Ireland and has threatened to plunge Ulster once more into paramilitary violence. He makes the point that Tweezer, despite her claims to the contrary, really had no ‘Plan B’. He’s frightening convincing as Tweezer, so viewers, rest assured. It’s only makeup. Don’t have nightmares.

*****

I’ve also written the following books, which are available from Lulu.

The Global Campaign, Volume 1

Price: £12.00

Available at The Global Campaign Volume 1 (lulu.com)

The Global Campaign Volume 2

Price: £12.00

Available at Global Campaign Vol 2 (lulu.com)

For a Worker’s Chamber

Price: £4.50

Available at For A Worker’s Chamber (lulu.com)

Privatisation: Killing the NHS

Price: £5.25

Available at Privatisation: Killing the NHS (lulu.com)

Crimes of Empire

Price: £10.00

Available at Crimes of Empire (lulu.com)

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.