Tweet in response to the Tory government’s stop the boats propaganda: “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
The BBC back down, eventually. I’m a traditionalist, an old football-watching generation. We read the newspaper from the back pages to the front. The most important thing is my team, Celtic’s results. A Scottish team, built by Brother Walfrid on the backs of the Irish Scottish who flocked to these shores at a rate of over 20 000 refugees a week, escaping from the Irish potato famine (1845-1852). We came here to work and make a new life. Our football team was and is a part of our life and culture.
Australian, Rupert Murdoch built his media empire around men and women like us, while promulgating right-wing rhetoric, such as Brexit and a disbelief in global warming. His media empire was instrumental in getting the moron’s moron Trump elected in 2016. Without Murdoch’s support and Fox News, there would have been no ‘Great Replacement’ and other neo-Nazi conspiracy theories gaining such traction and a worldwide audience. Former chief Trumpet strategist, Steve Bannon, had a term for propaganda called “flood the zone with shit”.
Gary Lineker’s tweet comparing the government’s policy on immigration to Nazi policy ‘flooded the zone with shit’, but it was the wrong kind of shit for media-friendly billionaires. We’re following the backlash. Rishi Sunak’s meeting with the French President Macron and the British Prime Minister’s agreement to pay the French billions of pounds sterling in an attempt to stop small boats crossing the Channel hardly got a look in.
I no longer need to be drunk to fall asleep watching Match of the Day. I’ve no great interest in English teams. I usually turn the sound down while the until now affable Gary Lineker runs through the matches with pundits such as Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, who also played in the number 9 shirt for England. Saturday night’s matches were a truncated 20 minutes rather than the usual hour. That suits me. But the larger message of solidarity from striking pundits is something I support. But hey, I’m Scottish and come from the Red Clydeside. No fake news here.
Setting up the straw man—knocking him down. Highly paid lawyers routinely use it in rape cases. Victims must justify themselves. The burden of proof falls on those raped and abused. Philosopher, Bertrand Russell when asked why he classified himself atheist rather than agnostic, replied, ‘Nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot in an elliptical orbit’.
Classic teapot spotting. The criminalisation of all refugees creates a Catch 22 in which there are no legal or specified conditions in which they can become legal immigrants without already being British and having citizenship. The burden of proof falls on them to convince the authorities what that they are not, rather than what they are, while also blocking access to legal representation.
Stigma heightens risk. Well-documented cases of gang members turning up outside children’s homes and taking them away is made easy by knowing the taken will not and cannot trust authorities to help them. They will not report, rape, violence, theft or indenture also called modern slavery, because they are just refugees. Not real people.
Example of teapot spotting. Lineker is a millionaire and champagne socialist. Moving the goalposts from Britain’s policy towards refugees to his lifestyle.
Example of non-elliptical orbit. BBC chairman and director general, Richard Sharp failing to disclose his £800 000 loan to the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Sharp’s donations of millions to the Conservative Party put him up there with former Russian oligarchs. Jobs for the boys.
2) Begging the question.
Lord Sugar’s, The Apprentice on BBC. His image of Jeremy Corbyn made to look like a poor man’s Hitler wasn’t begging the question as much as offering the answer to a question no one had asked. Crude propaganda of the Farage, Fox and GB News variety.
3) Arguments from a greater authority.
It’s in the Bible. I went to Eton and /or Oxbridge. Trump said it. A toxic belief is rich people are better with money because they’re moneyed. Tautologies create feedback-loops in which those in authority cite those in authority. Trump’s claim he unclassified classified documents found in his possession by thinking about them, was right up there with his directive to inject disinfectant to treat Covid. Being rich gives you superpowers.
If everyone is on the same bandwagon as the BBC, why is Lineker jumping off, and mouthing off? He doesn’t know where his bread’s buttered (being one of the people assumes a certain clichéd tone). Because he’s not one of the people. He’s not properly English like Sunak, or Home Secretaries Braverman or Patel. All of whom come from ‘shitty countries’ if we subscribe to the Trump doctrine. The moron’s moron’s father emigrated from Germany. And, unfortunately, his mum was born in a small Scottish island. Certainly, a younger Trump showed his racial precocity and refused to obey United States Federal law and rent apartments to blacks. According to Jim Crow laws adapted by the Nazi Party to discriminate against Jews, and other groups, who weren’t properly German, Lineker is English, but the wrong kind of English because he’s gone off script and therefore Communist. All would be interned in a concentration camp with Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists and others deemed life unworthy of life, based on a eugenic world view. Much like refugees washing up on our beaches and refused asylum.
5) Emotion Trumps facts.
Look how many boats are arriving on our beaches. Lineker is propagating fake news that Britain is near the bottom of the European and World league when asked to help refugees. According to the United Nations, in the summer months of 2022, around 103 million people were forcibly displaced. Nearly 70% remained in countries around war zones or countries they have been displaced from. Around 13 million Ukrainians entered Europe following the invasion of Russia in 2021. Britain offered asylum to 15 700 people in the summer of 2022 (or less than Glasgow offered in a typical week in the nineteenth century). Most asylum seekers meet the criteria to be offered asylum. The Nigel Farage Tory trick is to push them back and into oceans and seas if need be. Thus the £500 million bribe payed to Macron and the French police to detain asylum seekers, following hundreds of million paid in other bribes in previous years. Add to this, the morally reprehensible actions for a so-called Christian nation. The legally questionable practicalities of ignoring the 1949 Geneva Convention set up in the aftermath of the Holocaust. And a system of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, which grabs headlines, but costs more than processing refugees here. That great patriotic war cry of the right-wing, it’s uneconomic to the extreme (special pleading).
6) Guilt by association and special circumstances.
Remember serial liar Boris Johnson’s pledge written-large on a bus? When we leave the EU the £350 million weekly saving would be spent on the NHS. According to BBC reports taken from the Office of Budget Responsibility leaving the EU, reduces the UK exports and imports by about 15% in the longer term and reduces productivity by around 4%. Britain imported more than it exported pre-Brexit. We see that in food rises. The selling off of companies such as BP in the mid-eighties has led to bumper profits and the highest energy prices in Europe. Lose-lose for Britain’s poorest. We also know the NHS is being sold off piecemeal. How many whistle-blowers from inside the NHS and BBC were sacked for making such an allegation? Google it, you’ll find a long list that stretches back to 13 years of Tory misrule. Britain is a small island with no particular market leverage other than the money market and tax avoidance. You need economic leverage to create the conditions for special circumstances. Think America. Think China. Britain and Boris? What Great Britain has become great at is blaming these economic disasters on migrants. On refugees. Those least able to respond. Gary Lineker has called the right-wing cabal out. The proponents of free-speech call for it to be curtailed. Right on form. Free speech isn’t for all Gary, only for the selected few. I thought a pundit would know that. The BBC suspends him—right on cue. Who runs the BBC? We’re back to conspiracy theories. Back to flooding the zone with shit. Which side are you on?
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
Near the end of The Shamima Begum Story, Josh Baker asked her a question we often hear: ‘What would you tell your fifteen-year-old self?’
Shamima’s answer is as you’d expect. ‘Don’t go.’ But the honesty many of us would recognise comes with the afterthought. ‘I probably wouldn’t have listened.’
Ought never is in our fifteen-year-old lives. Not even maybe. I should do more. Be more. But I am indifferent. I am not she-made-her-bed-and-should- lie-in-it school of thought. That would be a hectoring step beyond indifference.
Rationality v Irrationality.
Allow Begum home. If she has committed crimes, she should face trial. The Nuremberg Trials, for example, were a collective response to genocide. They did not include the curious case of a teenage guard at Auschwitz, who fled to America after the war. She married a German Jew. Not surprisingly, telling him little of her past. I’m sick enough to find that quite funny. She later was tried for war crimes in Austria.
The Begum affair is, of course, follows a familiar pattern of how moral outrage becomes moral panic. Like all witch hunts her presence would rot children’s bones. Her threat is dressed in the modern clothes of an ongoing security crisis. She belonged to ISIS. She will always belong to ISIS. And is likely to commit a terrorist outrage when allowed back into England. This is the ongoing narrative used to exclude refugees. Women and children fleeing war in Ukraine, for example, were classified as a security threat. The Polish government, who took millions of refugees, urged Boris Johnston’s government to help more. Not to take as many women and children as Germany, because that wouldn’t happen, but as many as say a comparable nation, France. In the scramble to deny entry because of paperwork and apparent security issues, government ministers lied and lied again. A Ukrainian family in Paris, for example, hoping to come to London were told to contact government officials in a Paris office that didn’t exist. Passing the buck didn’t work because of media attention.
Begum, born and raised in Bethnal Green, has her right of British Citizenship revoked. An outraged reporter asked if she felt responsible for the children killed at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena. By then Begum was in a refugee camp in the Syrian desert, bordering Turkey. Her guard were Kurds. The Turkish President, Erdogan classifies Kurds as an ongoing threat to Turkish security and terrorists. Begum was no longer stalked by paparazzi and photographed in a hijab. She wore a baseball cap and white t-shirt with a hint of breast. With her long hair and full lips, she looked like a teenager that could have attended the Ariana Grande concert. But she was no longer a teenager. She was pregnant at sixteen and lost five children. Two before birth and three toddlers afterwards. Her son died of pneumonia in a Turkish hospital. She had to have special permission to take her dying child outside the camp to try and save him.
Yes or No questions are a way of shutting down debate. You’re black or white, yes or no? No blacks. No Irish. No dogs. That well-known message scrawled on rooms for rent in London suburbs in the sixties and early seventies. I qualify on the Irish side of things. Perhaps even the dog side. I didn’t get a vote on this. As a non-practicing Catholic, are you responsible for the decades of child abuse perpetuated by members of your clergy? As a Jew, are you responsible for the oppression of Palestine nationals? Do you feel responsible for children murdered in the Manchester Arena at the Ariana Grande concert?
I can answer no here. I didn’t know who the singer was before the killing of 22 people and the injury of hundreds at the Manchester Arena by a suicide bomber. I was in Scotland. Begum in Syria. With moral outrage few dare to ask questions about the government’s duty of care. Prevention being better than cure. We don’t live in America and allow children handguns.
The bungling by MI5 and MI6. When three children show up at Gatwick Airport and purchase one-way tickets to Turkey, shouldn’t someone ask questions about security, or even common decency? When three girls spend several days in a bus station in Turkey waiting to meet child smugglers, known to the Canadian secret service, and presumably, therefore, the British intelligence service, shouldn’t they have stopped him? Arrested him?
What if fifteen-year-old Shane MacGowan joined the IRA and hadn’t swapped his white England—until I die—shirt with the three lions for the green of Ireland, and instead of wailing about the New York drunk tank with national treasure Kirsty MacColl?
Every Celtic match supporters sings pro-IRA songs. Listen in. Every Rangers’ match, until they were repeatedly fined by UEFA on an escalating scale they’d be ‘Up to their knees in Fenian blood. Surrender or you die’. Historically, they favoured the die option. When I heard about the Brighton bombing, my only regret was they didn’t get Thatcher. ‘Ding-Dong the witch is dead,’ was a tweet when she died. By then I felt sorry for her, she’d Alzheimer’s disease. I could change my mind. But I was largely indifferent. The damage was done. I’d new hate figures in the Laurel and Hardy of British politics, Cameron and Osborne. The moron’s moron and 45th American President. Boris Johnston and all his lies and likes.
Shamima Begum is not allowed to change her mind, or that shows she’s lying. Even changing her clothes makes her suspect. I feel sorry for her. She wants to come back and live in Great Britain, where she was born. I’d let her, but I’m indifferent. If you want to get worked up about that I don’t really care about that either. As a rule of thumb, whatever position the moron’s moron and Nigel Farage unofficial leader of the Tory Party takes, I take the opposite view. What about you?
At 15, Shamima Begum left London to join the terror group Islamic State. It made global headlines. She and her two friends became known as the Bethnal Green Girls. Four years later, pregnant with her third child, Begum emerged from the ashes of the so-called caliphate, desperate to come home. But she showed little remorse for her time with the group. The British government decided she was a threat and took away her citizenship, leaving her in a Syrian prison camp. Her lawyers claim she is a victim of trafficking and should be allowed to return to the UK.
For the first time, she’s given her account of what happened since 2014 to investigative journalist Josh Baker. He’s been following her story since the day she left, trying to understand what really happened. For more than a year, he’s retraced her journey, piecing together where she went, who she met and what she did while she was living with IS to try and find out the truth about Shamima Begum’s story.
The Doomsday Clock sits 90 seconds to midnight. The closest the clock has been since the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists established the clock in 1947, when two superpowers first developed the means of ending civilisation and life on this planet. The USSR and USA faced off. With around 200 000 dead in the latest war in Ukraine, Putin is in the dock.
The BBC has assembled a star-spangled cast. No Putin, but a Putin representative. Putin’s ‘special military operation’ is now acknowledged formally in Russia as a war, but because Germany are finally offering tanks, it’s rebranded by Putin as another German invasion. A re-running of the second world war in which Russia lost around 20 million combatants. Later called The Great Patriotic War. The difference here, of course, is Putin is the invader. Ukrainians the patriots. But truth tends to be complex.
Boris Johnson. ‘Putin is a very difficult and calculating man. It was very, very difficult to find leverage, and to find ways of constraining him. You know, he threatened me and at one points said, you know, “Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute”’.
Boris Johnson is an equally difficult and calculating man. Let’s not forget he adopted Brexit. Three years later it has proven to be an increasingly disastrous economic and social policy based on nationalism and racism, but which got him the office he coveted as Prime Minister. The Conservative Party received donations of millions from Russian billionaires and oligarchs who had looted the former USSR and managed to escape with their wealth largely intact. Boris gave a life peerage to a former USSR spymaster and a seat in the House of Lords. Nigel Farage channelled money from the KDP, Russian security services, and into mainstream politics. Johnson was the figurehead that was going to redirect £150 million a week to the NHS. The erstwhile hero that got it done, while enriching himself and promoting brand Johnson. Here he plays Putin’s nemesis while trashing British democracy. Don’t forget, among his lesser crimes, he tried to illegally suspend British Parliament and ride roughshod over the Anglo-Irish Agreement with the EEC.
Jose Manual Barroso, President European Commission.
‘I’ve met Putin 25 times. And to me Putin is someone who knows how to manage risk. When I saw him in the days before the invasion of Ukraine, I think emotion was stronger than rational thinking. Now he’s expressing and very, very deep frustration and resentment against the West—but not only against the West, against the past, against history.’
No President Barrack Obama. His remark about Russia being ‘a regional power,’ was meant to have chaffed at Putin’s pride. Gorbachev was meant to have experienced something similar. But we don’t know because this programme is told from the side of the right and the true.
No moron’s moron and 45th American President. Trump’s election victory in 2016 was celebrated in the Russian Whitehouse. He favoured dogmatism over dialogue. In other words he lied, lied and continued lying as he faces multiple charges ranging from fraud to rape. Money was funded directly to the Trump brand via Russian players in the Great game. Facebook and Twitter aren’t Russian stooges, but Russian bot factories churning out propaganda for the Trump brand proved not too good to be true, but to be true.
Instead we have a low ranking official from Obama’s administration giving the official view, which is Putin is a dictator. We know that. Trump is a would-be-dictator.
Petro Poroshhenko, Former President of Ukraine.
‘After the election, I called the Whitehouse for congratulate Trump. And definitely, er, I tried to prepare for this, er because I doubt Ukraine was among his first priorities. My message to the Trump, was exactly this, from the very first conversation, “Don’t trust Putin”’.
Radek Sikorski, Foreign Minister, Poland.
‘Eastern Partnerships were not always attended by everyone. This time everyone came, including the Prime Minister of Britain, because we knew this would be a historic moment.’
If President [of Ukraine] Viktor Yanukovych signed, it would be his country’s biggest step towards the West since his country leaving the Soviet Union in 1991.
But after a recent trip to Moscow, rumours had started that he was feeling the heat from Vladimir Putin about joining the EEC.’
Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative.
Simon Smith, UK Ambassador to Ukraine.
‘He really had the frightners put on him.’
Dalia Grybustkaite, President of Lithuania, ‘I and Merkel, we had been speaking to him eye-to-eye, And, because we spoke Russian, he was more sincere. And he gave us some kind of understanding that he was under pressure personally, under pressure.’
Christoph Heusgan, Merkel’s Diplomatic Advisor, ‘Chancellor Markell told Yanukovych very clearly, we expect you to agree to it. We believe that also, this is what your population believes. This is what we have been striving for, for the last few years, actually. And not you are backing down. This is incomprehensible to us.’
The same incomprehension could be attributed to Boris Johnson and his decision to leave the EU.
Simon Smith UK Ambassador to Ukraine.
‘There was this expression in the Ukraine about milking two cows.’ Boris milking two [or more] cows?
Radek Sikorski, Foreign Minister, Poland.
Putin was offering cash, virtually the next day. The kind of opportunity Farage, Johnson and David Cameron have recently jumped at.
‘I was pretty clear that everything I heard from Yanukovych that he wasn’t serious about a partnership with the EU.
I spoke with President Aliyev from Azerbaijan, who I always who I always thought was quite a good reader of the situation.’
David Cameron was clearly not a good reader of the situation in Europe, Ukraine or at home in Britain. After thirteen years of taking money from the poorest in Britain and giving it to the richest, including recent Russian billionaires buying fast-streamed citizenship and property. Cameron and Osborne, the Laurel and Hardy of British politics, without due diligence, pandered to Farage and his rich-wing, Putin-backed, gang of xenophobes. Later, the former Prime Minister of Britain was caught trying to milk his former comrades and contacts for public money to enrich himself—tens of millions—and his chums, hundreds of millions sterling in dodgy deals. Here he’s shown as a great world leader, who is worth listening to. The British version of Viktor Yanukovych.
Obama. The White House, 28th February 2014.
‘Putin has now crossed a line. And there will be costs for any military intervention in the Ukraine.’
Caroline Atkinson, Obama’s Adviser for International Economics.
‘The President was very keen for action, but not military action but economic action- which can be very powerful if the US is doing it. And the natural thing was to turn to sanctions. But we also wanted to be joined together with allies in Europe.’
Kim Darroch, Cameron’s Security Adviser.
‘One country has literally seized a chunk of territory from another.’
[When was the last time Israel has done that?]
‘Number 1, if you talked about energy, a lot of European countries, particularly central European, but also Germany had quite a heavy reliance on Russian oil and gas. Some European countries, notably Germany and Italy, sold a lot of stuff to Russia.’
Francoise Hollande, President of France. ‘in the Italian political class there was a certain indulgence towards Putin.’
‘in London, a number of Russian oligarchs had been welcomed there.’
As there was towards Le Penn. Her nationalistic party and racist agenda came close to the highest office of French political power, and it was recently funded by Putin’s KDP in terms of ‘loans’. Leaving the EU is no longer part of Le Penn’s party appeal. The UK has proven a cautionary tale.
Putin’s invasion has also proven a cautionary tale. His triumphant march towards Kyiv didn’t happen, but might still. The threat of nuclear war increases. But most of his military hardware was found to be outdated and not fit for purpose. His troops unmotivated and ill-used. For very little US investment in money or manpower, the Russian army was largely taken out. Win-win for the US. Another geopolitical win in Europe’s reliance of Russian gas was overstated. Putin’s leverage slackened. Win-win for green-energy policies that took up slack. But with energy for sale at cost price, a closer alliance between Putin and President Xi brought other threats.
But in the same way that even Le Penn would no longer countenance leaving the EU, another dictator President Xi has been shown what could happen if his plans for the reunification of Taiwan with China, despite the increasingly volatile rhetoric, might well be left to wither. Another win for the US.
Dalia Grybustkaite, President of Lithuania.
‘The reaction of Europe at the time was very upsetting. The cheap energy was so comfortable. And so addictive they were not able to overstep their pragmatic policies.’
‘Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours…not out of strength, but out of weakness.’
Jose Manual Barroso, President European Commission.
‘He said that Russia was a regional power and this is not helpful, because it feeds on resentment. And for me, Putin is essentially a product of resentment because of the decline and also humiliation of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.’
What is to be done? As Lenin asked in 1901-02.
‘This first episode tells the story of how, when Putin first attacked Ukraine in 2014, Europe’s leaders clashed over how to stop him. Amidst massive demonstrations demanding closer ties with the EU in Kyiv, Ukraine’s president flees to Russia. Putin exploits the power vacuum to make the most audacious move of his presidency to date: sending troops into Crimea.
We go behind the scenes for the critical summits and fraught phone calls as the west tries to find a way to push back. The crisis heightens as the fighting spreads to Donbas in Eastern Ukraine and Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is shot down. Key players including David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Jose Manuel Barroso and Ukraine’s then-president Petro Poroshenko relive the EU’s indecision and the all-night negotiations with the warring parties: a ceasefire is signed in Minsk, but Russian forces remain in Donbas.
Putin, meanwhile, appears more confident than ever. The lesson is clear, says French president Francois Hollande: ‘When we do not punish at first, we are forced to punish more severely later
Putin turns to the Middle East. After Gaddafi’s overthrow in Libya, Putin shows just how far he’s willing to go to keep his ally, President Assad of Syria, in power.
Leaders including Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and Volodymyr Zelensky discuss how they confronted Putin and manoeuvred to try and prevent his invasion of Ukraine.’
There’s a contradiction Fergal Keane suffers from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) but he’s in Ukraine. He’s on the frontline. He’s been there before. Cutting his teeth in the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. He’s been in South Africa and Rwanda.
The British journalist, Linda Melvern (2000) A People Betrayed, outlines the role of the West, NATO, and the international community, which stepped aside in 1994 and Rwanda’s genocide with over a million dead. She outlines here reports of victims from a peace-keeping mission:
‘They left the Bangladeshi crew with the Armoured Personnel Carrier, and walked into the church gardens. It was there they found the bodies. Whole families had been killed with their children, hacked by machetes. There were terrible wounds to the genitalia. Some people were not dead. There was a three-month-old baby, the mother raped and the baby killed with a terrible wound. There were children, some with their legs and feet cut off, and their throats cut. Most of the victims bled to death.’
Keane witnessed this genocide. We saw footage of children in the back of a truck fleeing and being stopped at checkpoints by murderers with machetes. They were waved on. The cameras and Keane’s presence probably saved them. He sought a reunion with a child refugee from that convey in London. He should have perhaps asked her what she thinks of Boris Johnson’s latest publicity stunt—away from Ukrainian war washing of his reputation—of sending refugees to Rwanda.
Keane admits booze helped him over the next hill and the hill after that. He had nightmares of being trapped under bodies. His body too was shot with anxiety; yet, the next high of war work was addictive as any drug. That was his job. That was who he was. Working for the BBC was a blessing and a curse. He was suicidal, but he was treated with dignity and courtesy. All of the middle-class job virtues we wish poor people were allowed. He met with his therapist in The Priory. Her treatment was unconventional and involved mimicking deep-sleep patterns by rubbing and tapping his hand. But then too so was Rivers in Pat Barker’s first-world-war trilogy (The Ghost Road). His therapist’s treatment worked for Keane, but he could never be cured, and only hope was to stay sober and grounded.
There was an interesting aside about stress patterns being inherited, from generation to generation. His grandmother taking to the bed as the Black and Tans committed murder in the name of preserving law and order. Fergal Keane as a special correspondent was there when duty called. He’s put himself back in the line. For many others with PTSD the choices are narrower. And there are no easy answers that don’t involve investing more money in health care.
Jon Ronson has the kind of job I’d like. He meets interesting people and writes books that are worth reading. Here over eight episodes and around four hours he investigates the culture wars in American where he lives. They’re happening here in Britain too, with the little Trumpet Boris Johnson lying about Brexit to get elected and pretty much lying about everything else. But this is America, where the lies are bigger and more stupid. What strikes you when listening is the power of the Christian Evangelic movement. And how such nasty fuck-ups have come to represent the life-affirming words of Jesus Christ, taken off the cross and his face rubbed in shite. No vision of a risen man, but attempts to keep others down where they belong with the other wretched strangers, carrying no luggage, the fathers of the nation in exile. About suffering, Christ was never wrong. William Blake, the strangest of men, but in his poem suggested Every Thing That Lives is Holy, but that was written before the father of lies was born, Donald J. Trump and elected President. Politics is one of the oldest tricks in the black books of history. But there is bitter black hope. Tammy Faye Bakker did perform a minor miracle. Jon Robson reported he received his greatest feedback after that Podcast. My notes are below. Don’t bother reading. Listen to the broadcast. But I know from experience those that listen to the broadcast are those that don’t need to listen to the broadcast. I’m tired of that wretchedness and repetition. Things fall apart.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) The Second Coming.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosened and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction; while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi.
[Spiritus Mundi>World Spirit]
Cultural Wars: everything people yell at each other.
Buffalo, New York.
1960-70s. Switzerland. Fundamentalist commune Frank Schaeffer. Francis (father). Shelter. How Christians should engage with modern art. Eric Clapton. Billy Zeoli, Christian channels. Evangelical. Directed niche documentary. How Should We Then Live?
Satre’s relativism: help an old woman across the street or run her down (slippery slope argument)
Human fetus, unborn baby. Roe v Wade 1973, unborn child considered not to be a person. Ear shift. Christian evangelic not-yet-in the field of abortion.
Make last two episodes about abortion. Me and Jeannie were teenagers. We’re having the baby. We love her.
Showed to audiences of 15-20 000 eg Madison Square Garden.
Mass audio-cassette machines. Francis Schaeffer sensation in evangelic word. My da’s book selling 5-1 of contemporary fiction.
Frank take what the evangelics didn’t want to think about. Give me a piece of family business.
Second series, all about abortion. Ghost children. 1000 dolls anti-abortionist doctor standing in the Dead Sea. Slaughter of the innocents.
Dad’s last books sold a million.
Second tour, no one came. Launched a crusade. Out of ego and belief. Trying to get abortion on the agenda. Editorial board of Christian magazine. We’re not pro-life.
New York Post. Strange avante-garde film. Picketed by anti-feminist movement. Turned up and picketed by evangelical women, not because they were pro-choice, but because they other. Local news also turned up.
East Coast snobs. Us v Them.
Muscling in on their issue.
Pickets and protests became enormous. Abortion clinics bombed. Shot. Kopp.
The man who killed my uncle, Barnett (Bart) Slepian, was Kopp.
Part of the job. I know we’re not taking care of children we do have. They stopped doing it. No way is a bunch of idiots bullying me out of my job.
They followed his kids to school. Amanda, October 8th 1998.
All of them began with Scaefer documentaries. Jim Kopp, supposed to be a doctor. Schizophrenic by 17, became religious. Couldn’t become doctor.
Fan, Kopp travelled to Switzerland. Francis Christian manifesto. If you’re a Christian, act like it.
Oct 1998. Travelled to Buffallo New York. Went to Synagogue. There was this ping. I think I’ve been shot. Bullets. Children between ages of 7 and 15.
Frank long gone from the movement. Jerry Falwell. The Moral Majority. I’d just take them out the back and shoot them. (Homosexuals).
So uncool and so ugly.
Cut 20 minutes, show-reel. Agent, off and running. 1982-1986 directed 4 films.
Ripples, Last 30 years trying to undo the damage.
Publishing memoir, Crazy for God.
My father and I have blood in our hands. I have no words…I am ardently pro-choice.
Rev Rusty Thomson. Operation Save America. We go to exposed areas where child sacrifice and
I believe it is more of a man’s issue, to protect, guide and care for children.
All that changed with Donald Trump’s election 2016.
Installed 3 judges to Supreme Court.
Activists joined ‘Stop the Steal,’
Some of our leaders were there. A great opportunity. Set up a powerful sound system.
Abortion. Culture wars. Ambitious kid wanted to make it in Hollywood.
Sept 2021. Texas allowed to cut off abortions after six weeks. Schaffer ripples.
2) Dirty Books.
A writer living in America.
Origin stories. Pebbles causing ripples.
Complicted interesting people stripped of nuance and weaponised
US, Spring 1968.
Martin Luther King protesting racism and Vietnam war. Rejected conformity of 1950s.
Alice Moore moved with 5 children to West Virginia, St Albans, most churched place in US. Pastor husband. School having sex-education programme. Cut-away of woman and man. Complained to Superintendent of Schools. Nothing you can do about it. We’ll see about that. They needed something in the inside. Signed up for school board. Focussed from the start.
June 1974. New school textbooks. None of us had read and reviewed them. Had 325 delivered to my house and started reading them.
Christian Evangelics tended to live separate lives. 2000 came to the meeting. Their children were being taught angels didn’t exist.
Everything about war was negative.
Contextual ethics. That’s there’s no answer. Jim a pastor. She took over. It was all black and white. God said it> I read it.
Suspicions. Why did publishers introduce them in Virginia? Conspiracy theory.
She was invited on local tv.
Poem about making love on a bus. Roger McGough. Moral sentiment, you can’t just give way to your feelings. BBC colleague.
Special thanks to Roger McGough. For her ambiguity, nuance, didn’t matter.
That’s what really woke things up. Alice’s following grew. Boycott of schools. Picketed businesses.
Textbooks removed. They won.
Jim Lewis, Pro-text-book pastor.
Eldridge Cleaver. Black Panther movement, who has been convicted of rape.
But he was featured in one book. His misdeeds didn’t explain why other black author’s books were rejected. Langston Hughes.
Ron English asked to represent black authors.
Her support came mainly from poor white communities. The Hollers. What you heard rather than what you heard.
Twitter prompt, read an article before sharing.
Not being heard. Respected. It could have built common ground.
Why would some
Dick Gregory. Was committed to non-violence. Former comic. Flatfoot. Sit down. Sensation. Appeared on Tonight Show 1960s. Full time activist. Not OK for him to be OK sitting in a hotel room and simply sending a cheque. Struggling with how white his world had become. Sat down and told us the family came second to the movement. You’re taking me off the front line.
1964 wrote memoir. Contentious language. ‘Nigger’. Memoir, 10 years later on her list.
I can’t remember specifics. Where the BPanthers were talking about killing the pigs
1974, KKK, Rev Marvin Horn, on steps with them.
I never saw a Klan member.
Alice getting death threats.
Shot fired. Bill fired a weapon. Who survived.
Oct 18th, 5 shots fired at school bus. No children aboard. Bombed school.
Midway Elementary School. Dynamite before sunrise.
Levity in Alice’s voice. Skip first shot by pro-text book advocate.
Martin Horn jailed for 3 years. School returned textbooks.
I had to remove books and they were all burned up in basement. Unused. You have to get rid of them.
27% take the bible as the word of god.
One book on banned list still causes turmoil. ‘Nigger’, Dick Gregory. These were from my own collection and she was fired.
Textbook wars. Causes more uproar.
Just like Alice wasn’t interest in intention, but impact. To dominate social justice.
3) A Miracle.
Watershed and harmony in brutal cultural war.
20th Century, Evangelics kept away from mainstream society. 1970s Francis Shaffer and Jerry Falwell. Satellite TV Old time gospel hour. Vast audience. Jimmy Swaggart.
They didn’t try to entertain. Until one did. Pzzas. Tammy Faye Bakker. Steve Peters.
Odd and awkward and surprising.
Tammy Faye Bakker. Poor. No movies. Son James. Met Jim at Bible college. Eloped and preached. Children’s puppets. Fans of modern trends. PTL. Jim and Tammy show. Only network.
Jerry Falwell wanted to rule the world.
They were on all the time. Mum 10 broadcasts. Dad 6 broadcasts. TV pledge drives. Heritage USA. Theme Parks. Christian Walt Disney. Passion Play every night.
Evanagelists appalled. Telly Tubbies supported gay agenda because Tinky Winky’s antennae was like a gay pride symbol.
Tammy anxious and upset. Feeling of not being enough. Overdose on medication. Jay was 11 then. He knew what to do. He rebuked her hallucinations. ‘I rebuke you in the name of God’.
Brooklin schoolteacher died of unknown disease. Rare form of ‘cancer’ AIDs. End of 1981 131 died. End of 1982 12000.
Aids and herpes, Jerry Falwell. Reagan silent to please his political action group. The Moral Majority.
Mum did interview with somebody that had aids. Sept 15th 1985. Steve Peters.
What a brave thing. Now you’re going to show you’re an openly gay pastor with AIDs. Given Rev Steve Peters, still alive 2021.
What brought him? Christian pastor’s worst were Jerry Fallwell and Jimmy Swaggart. They’d talk as if homosexuals were paedophiles. They’d come and take your children.
1982. All manner of disease. 1984 full-blown AIDs Near Death Experience. They revived me. 2 weeks before Tammy Faye interview.
Try to reach an audience more of us LGBT couldn’t reach.
‘Tammy is sick and is cancelling the show’. I later learned that was a lie. Camera crews fears. Satellite hook-up. Both ear-pieces keep popping out.
Have you ever had a sexual experience with a woman?
I’ve necked. But my orientation was towards men.
When she started in with haven’t you given women a chance?
When you found out you’ve had AIDs. I’ve experienced remission.
Did you feel lonely? Everybody so deadly frightened. Same air.
Asked not to use toilet. Served on paper plates. Steam-cleaning cups I’ve used.
I remember after the interview was done. I hadn’t done very well. I thought nothing would come of it.
I knew she was doing something radical. (her son)
Steve got home and forgot about the interview. Troy Perry. 1000 people stood up and cheered. Steve heard from Tammy’s people too. Apparently, people phoned up and said she had a son that she thought was going to hell, but now she knew he was going to heaven.
She sent me this song. Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle. Don’t give up. Remember you’re not alone.
I’d sing along and got my miracle. I was blind and now I see.
I dunno, I know a lot more faith than me, that didn’t survive. One in a million chance, why not believe and act accordingly. I set out and did all the right things. Laughter therapy, diet, etc.
I am one in a million.
Two years and the Tammy empire crumbled. Jim jailed for financial theft.
She took Jay, her son, to hospices and to gay parades. Extraordinarily helpful. Same-sex marriage.
Emily Johnson, aural history, it had a huge impact. A more accepting world.
Tammy showed you could be gay and Christian.
Tammy died 2007. I knew she was getting an eviction notice from her body, because I’d been there. How ironic she’s the one to die first.
Steve heard the enemy talk in a calm cultured environment.
4 Believe the Children.
We can lose all reason.
What happened to turn so many Americans so irrational during the 1980 and 1990. There is a cultural war for the soul of America.
Anathemas of Pat Buchanan, Republican Party.
The idea that gay men and women can have the same rights…
Discrimiation against religious schools. We must take back our culture and our country.
Bob Erdogan The left had won. And taken over the media.
Cultural running away from them.
Bob Larson. Arizona. Death Metal bands, blood lust and…
Culture war and liberals they should be left alone.
Is there some diabolical scheme, plotted in hell himself. Radio show from listeners. Killing babies. Eating human flesh. Secret cabals abusing children. Dead cats nailed to pulpits.
I saw myself as a reporter. Bob wanted to spread the warning and novel ‘Dead Air’.
You had intergenerational occult. Passing a woman or child through a dead horse and takes away from…
QAnon, derived from same spring.
Bob Larson. Numbers of people telling me the same story. You can’t go to a ceremony. They’d do things so bizarre. You’d not been
John Trott critic v Bob Larson on Larry King show. If it’s true. Where’s the evidence. 90% US population, Christian.
Ramarez, report on Satanism. Highest ever ratings.
Police: we have kids being killed, cattle mutilated. Child abduction.
Kelly Michaels live in Pennsylvania. 1985.
Just out of college. Artistic bent. Lived 20 minutes from New York.
Where you aware of Satanic panic?
I was aware of some case in California. McMartin case were satanic case where children claimed underground tunnels and…
Daycare centre. Took the job. Stepping stone for life. WeCare DayCare. Accountants. Lawyers> Moderately affluent.
Better paid, and different job in another daycare centre.
3 detective. Investigating child abuse in WeCareDayCare.
Complaint about mother, doctor’s office. That what happened at school. But not with thermometers. Good cop. Bad cop.
We can take care of this if you admit it. They seemed satisfied and drove me home. I thought it was wrong. A reasonable if bizarre event.
One child told them about making poo-poo and pee-pee cakes and then they were all at it.
Six-year old taken from school.
Frequent talk of abduction and satanic rings.
Mothers that used to stay at home and now at work.
They said I’d played the piano naked and making them drink urine off the school floor for 150 days. It took two years. It took that time to convince parents that this could have happened. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Guilt about abandonment to centre and guilt involved. Horrified about lack of awareness. 245 accounts of abuse against over thirty children.
All over America this happened to different carers.
‘We Believe the Children’ movement.
Children very calmly answering questions. Absence of trauma, meant more trauma.
August 1998. First charge. Taking temperature rectum. Thrown out. Then the guilties began. Sentence 47 years in prison. Aged 27.
I was taken to punishment wing. I couldn’t process of crimes that no only I didn’t do, but didn’t happen.
2 years later. Harper’s Journal. Kelly Michael innocent.
Journalists who prided himself
Case overturned. Ambiguously
Parents faded back into life. No apologies to Kelly.
Bob Larson, I didn’t have an axe to grind.
The world’s most foremost expert in the occult. I do exorcism.
I survived this..I was accused of abusing children. It’s so injust, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m this nice little church lady. And they can’t believe it.
Professional people, but under certain conditions, they can succumb to moral panics (more easily). And the media. I was shocked. Surely The New York Times will say something.
Social Media shaming. When something terrible happens. Steamroll reality and facts.
We’re all primitives.
Escalators of cultural wars, Christian right. With the internet it moved online.
5 A Scottish Jewish Joke.
A war who the internet belong to?
1980s before the World Wide Web. Brad Templeton. Epiphany, use computer to talk to other people. Usenet.
Central square. Your computer calls other computers.
Brad Software company. He was in his 20s. Audience, more elite (needed to access through colleges).
Brad, 1982, Full stops in email address. That shows how it begun.
Set up own message board.
Rec.Humour. Funny. 24 K subscribers. Jokes. One a day.
Automated programmes. Approved joke. Pick one at random and send it out. First person to be publicly shame because of something he did online
Kristlnacht. Night of Broken Glass.
Scotsman and Jew having dinner. And the Scotsman pays for it. The next day, headlines, Scottish ventriloquist found strangled?
Jonathan < shared flat with Amir. He clearly was affected by. Something important about the date. But the date was set at random.
LookingGlass Software. But running my own software company.
Next turned to the Usenet Community. But almost nobody took his side.
Amir my parents emigrated from the UK.
If something like that was left unchecked…
We hatched a plan. Hit the University of Waterloo through bad press.
Lousie…I thought this was a very important story. I read these jokes and I heard my stomach turning. In traditional media you can go to someone.
The way I described that joke…University of Waterloo system used to send racial jokes.
1980s, Italian and Jewish and in a struggle to be taken seriously. Made me feel marginalised and denigrated.
Brad: An actual Nazi contacted me.
University suspended Brad Templeton account.
Brian Reid. What a fool, they think they can ban? It was uncensorable. Built into design. Brad’s page, up right away.
Campus in 80s. Progressive. Conservative. Eric Charles. Conservative. I don’t understand why anyone would join the military. And I was in the military.
Are you a conservative that wants your voice heard?
Peter, quiet (cold and calculating). Lamenting political correctness.
Do you believe in freedom of speech of not.
Jean Genus? Scottish Jewish joke. I thought it was funny. Then the whole hoo-ha. John Sack. Director of Stanford Data Centre.
How Stanford respond? Ban the joke or let it stand?
Town and gown. Birth of Silicon Valley. Navigation of shoals of how much to do for people. Engineers of the internet. Steering the ship?
Brad’s page, banned. Rationale. Stanford’s freedom of expression…
John McCarthy. Founder of Artificial Intelligence.
What kind of man was he, I’m not going to answer that. He attacked my mother. Eugenics. Personal. Speech codes online
Gathered 100 000 signatures online.
John Sacks> John McCarthy’s argument (break things and move) we’re reaching the limits of free speech, lets run into it and test it.
2012 Free Speech wing of the Free Speech party (i.e. Twitter).
Brad, because of this kerfuffle. One of the mostly widely read on the internet.
Peter> went off to Wall Street. Thiel. Started PayPal.
Dave Ruben report. Peter Thiel.
Louise De Amato. White lives matter? March? Torn apart on Twitter. What happened to him, happened to me.
John Sack, who tried to get Brad’s jokes banned, thinks he was hemmed in by binary thinking.
6 Many Different Lives.
She asked if I was a woman? And I said, yeh. And she said Michigan is for women born women only. And you have to leave.
Nobody in this story intended for these things to lead to hatred.
Rebecca. Mixed race babies, unfamiliar. Race of familiar black. Race white. Mother black. wrote The Colour Purple (Alice Walker).
Alice and Melvin’s goal to embody ideas. Vagaries of marriage. She moved to San Francisco and two years in Washington. My mum partnered with afroAmerican. Father, Jewish woman.
Wizard of Oz, auditioned and was given the part of the wicked witch of the North. I fancied a white boy. Brian North.
Back in black life. More accepting on the whole. Black relatives call me a ‘cracker’. Demonic, based on their horrendous treatment of black people. Part of whiteness. Moving from world to world like different planets.
Gloria Steinem was her godmother. New wave of feminism. 2nd phase of feminism. Betty Friedman’s book. 1963. Women had been struggling alone. Protesting for change. Equal rights. To have a job. To have respect. Won Roe v Wade 1973.
I had grown up in very feminist community. Propaganda against feminism incredibly strong. Called lesbians. Wouldn’t shave their legs. Whether lesbians should be included etc. Extremist movements. Post-feminism.
UCLA, intersectional feminists.
How can we re-define what the movement is? I am not a post-feminist. I’m third generation feminism. Third wave.
They accused us of matricide. As if we had been replaced (murdered). We’ve been talking about this forever. This is not new.
One is not born a woman. One becomes one. Simone de Beauvoir.
Isn’t tied to societal facts, but women’s movement should open up these categories.
Mitch fest? Michigan fest. 1981 Overwhelming impression was breasts. Women removed their tops and shirts.
Lying on small bamboo mat. And smiling
Campsite for and built be women. Some partying. Some overthrowing patriarchy.
Nance Barcholder? Mitchfest 1991.
I’d been cross-dressing over the years, but I knew I wasn’t gay. I went to see a therapist. I want to be a girl. Gender reassignment 1983.
I wasn’t go to come right out as trans. Went next year. Nancy’s friend, went away. A couple of women came up and they said we need to talk to you. This festival is for women only. Are you a women?
I said yes.
She asked, if I was transsexual. And I said, it was none of her business. I had a driving licence. I had a work record. And here I was being rejected.
Laura comes back and we drive away. We fly back to New Hampshire Bay Window, Boston magazine.
Acknowledged there were other transsexuals. But they didn’t ask gender.
Janice conducted survey. 75% felt they would have been very happy to be there. Following year, where we set up camp, across the road. Went back next year. Camp Trans. Hundreds of people came out.
Most festive goers are open-minded. Atmosphere of love and joy will bring us together.1995 Camp Trans escorted onto the land.
Camp trans and Mitch Fest under own group.
Pre-op, shouldn’t they be allowed into Mitchfest, because they couldn’t afford it? Point of division.
Mitch Blyh? Angry emails about Mitch fest no allowing trans into their festival. They wanted a name. Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminist.
How TRANS people should be recognised. Self identify. Not having the medical establishment in Britain for example have you live as a woman for two years before gender reassignment surgery.
Mitchfest shut down. 1992. Became associated with exclusion. Third wave become fourth wave.
Rebecca? All experiments need to be rigorously accessed.
Tone set by both sides, Alienation?
7 A Secret Behind a Fake Wall.
Edges of Hollywood. Isaac Kappy.
Filled with people imagined they’d been abandoned. Takes us
Wendy Kappy, mother born New Mexico.
Best friend ross. Hung out. Get on our bikes, cruise around. Monster Pools. Champagne Bikeride. Picked up.
Breaking Bad. Thor. Paid pet-store clerk.
He wanted to be a star and famous. Saw himself that way. Looked like could happen. 2011, Albuquerque industry died. Left and went to LA. Competing with 100 times number of people.
Issac struggled to find work. New best friends. Paris, Michael Jackson’s daughter. MacAulay Caulkin. He’d been a conspiracy theorist. About 9/11 being an inside job.
2016, during primaries.
He was a Bernie Sander’s supporter. They did all they could to stifle him. Felled by conspiracy. Took steps down rabbit hole.
Pizza Gate, secretly sex headquarters delivered children for sex and to eat.
Alex Jones, Pizza Gate is real.
December 4th 2016, family Pizza joint and opened fire. Admitted there were no dungeons. Intel. Not 100%
Then something happened.
Ross: I don’t know if I got the whole story. It’s a little uncomfortable, to talk about that. The incident. Tallies with March 2017. Confided with them, that certain people in Hollywood part of world-wide conspiracy. They told him he was right. And if he wanted to become a famous man. He had to come and rape the child behind a fake wall.
I got asked to join the Illuminati.
During the weeks that followed. Hollywood friends disturbed him further. He truly believed they had a child in a dungeon.
Came to Albuquerque. Stayed for a month. Breakdown.
After sitting on his secret for 8 months. On Alex Jones. Names his well-known friends. After that experience I tried to black it out. This is not a media stunt. I believe it.
When you go on Alex Jones and even he debunks your information.
Started posting periscopes online. Life links. QAnon. Trump had a masterplan to eliminate the Illuminati and Satanist child abusers. Narcissists.
Diagnosed with being a narcissist. Posted online. Paranoia. In LA asked a group of police officers to arrest him for his own safety.
Naming with no evidence, continuing names of Hollywood stars, with zero evidence. Went online. QAnon started re-posting his videos.
Ross: He got worried and stopped going out.
Answering questions from QAnon fans. Once I found out about PizzaGate…Maybe I’ll be back later.
Set off to visit his parents. He went over a bridge and died. Flagstaff, Arizona. Two men tried to save him. Fell backwards.
Ross talked to him last time. He apologised for things he’d done.
Incident happened around 7.30am. We were informed about 4.30pm.
Lowest things, people obtained pictures of his corpse and posted them online. YouTube refused to remove them.
May 13th 2019.
But this isn’t where his story ends.
Lin Wood said he’d been murdered. John Ziegler writing about him for decades.
Been deformation Covington Kentucky, as if they were taunting native American, wearing Trump hats. Racists. Outrage.
Other videos questioning narrative. Lin Wood got settlement for kids.
They were out there going after those young boys. Cause celebrity among Trump world.
I though he was fantastic. Very logical. But in 2020, after Trump went overboard. Avalanche of insanity.
Bush, Clinton, Obama involved in child sex abuse and murder.
Kappy was about to heroically deliver the tape to Trump before he was murdered.
He’d been working to try and get the election changed.
Trump’s official lawyers told zero chance of getting elected.
Outside lawyers. Came in. Insane solutions. Lin Wood. Online elements. Read the same stuff online. Information silos.
Jonathan’s story inside Trump’s head.
Sidney Powell, information conspiracy. Trump puts her on mute. Then unmutes and asks her what are we going to do? Sometimes we need a little crazy. So what are we going to do?
Insurrectionists, support Stop the Steal.
Lin Wood any attempts to connect them to insurrection are nonsense.
It’s good v evil.
Trump allowed this destabilising farce because sometimes you need a little crazy.
8 A Mock Slave Auction.
How the school text book wars have become so pervasive we can’t escape them. So You’ve Been Publically Shamed, Jon Ronson.
Traverse City, Michigan.
Naeve Walston? aged 16. Last April 2021. Hey, Snapchat? my friends trying this group. Late at night. texted. This is really bad. You were in it. You were sold?
Invite only. SnapChat.
92% Travis City White.
Auctioned for $100 but went for $3.
Some of the stuff being said. Good for cotton. Cherry picking. All blacks should die. Eugh and gross.
1.2million slaves sold 1760 -1860.
I’ve lived a sheltered existence. Kinda tension when slavery was mentioned. Never experienced racism in LA. Wow, this town isn’t a friendly as I thought.
Scheduled school board meeting. Just regular meeting. 7 school board meeting sit in circle. 3 minutes questioned by public.
Not an isolated incident. Paul Sinclair, educator. Mr Sinclair, but as soon as I walk out the door, black man. Stopped 13 times in a month by police.
2 page draft resolution. Immediate opportunities to learn about racism. Anti-hate learning.
School board meetings no longer modestly attended.
Identical scenes across America but fundamental change.
‘God loves you, but I’m not judging you’ (but I am).
Let’s look under the hood…CRT (Critical Race Theory) shorthand for all racist ideas. Tucker Carlson. Robin DiAngelo White Fragility.
John McWhirter. Nobody
Robin DiAngelo white role in systemic racism. Death threats. Single mum. Living in car. Feed of clothes of house us. Mom became sick. Cancer. Don’t tell anyone. She died when I was 11.
Went to college when she was 28. Career centre. Divesity training. Go out into field. Typically, 100% white. Meanness. Any suggesting racism was systemic.
Origin moment. Essay. Then book.
Fragility how little it takes to cause offence.
2018. Black Lives Matter. Books sold in droves. New York Times bestseller. George Floyd’s murder. That’s the narrative. But it had already been in the top 10.
I signed up for one of Robin’s workshops. Bowled over for couple of hours. Seas of white faces. Statistics. 93% white what shows we see. 82% school teachers.
Unsure, living in car. I knew it was better being white. How can you measure that? White priviledge. Eg Opiod addiction
Robin. How are we going to help people with opioids? How are we going to criminalise these (black) crack addicts?
If you are white your opinons are going to be superficial and ill-informed. Devote years to study and practice. Everyone’s opinion aren’t equal.
Dick Gregory ‘Nigger’.
Dean fired/suspended. Student pushing for dismissal. All that mattered was the impact.
Robin: I think intentions irrelevant? What we’ve got to focus on impact.
We emailed her, the gist of what I offered that student.
Dick Gregory, where the willing to engage in academic discourse?
I tell Robin about Traversee sister.
‘Yes, our ancestors made mistakes…’
Let’s move on.
Robin, oops. I made a mistake…
Being silenced. I’m going to go the biggest elephant in the room. People with investment in the status quo.
Anger, in Traverse City, people being told they need to be good in a different way.
Isn’t Robin’s fault. 1300 CRT mentioned on Fox News.
Trump mentions it again and again. Something to rally against.
Naeve. We acknowledge racism and we’re going to do everything we can. No teaching of CRT.
Fudge. Appease divided community. Many echoes of past repetitions pulling more and more things into its orbits.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?
How we should be more empathetic. Fleeting mentions of bestiality and porn-shoot. As with Roger McGough, an optional book.
Two teachers suspended for putting the book on the reading list.
Biggest ambition, culture wars not becoming culture wars. After Tammy’s episode, so many messages of support.
I was hoping Joe Hart would have a halo effect on our defence. We’ve been here before, of course, with Shane Duffy. The Irishman came in and scored a goal on his debut and we thought, great—we’re sorted. Hart conceded two goals and made a couple of bog-standard saves. John Hartson, on Sportscene, got agitated at the goals we conceded here. ‘Sunday League defending,’ he called it.
In a game we dominated and scored four goals, which could have been quite easily six or eight—I should be happy. We seemed destined to play AZ Alkmaar in the play-off round of the Europa league. But if we fail to beat the Dutch we drop into the Conference league. I’m not sure what that is or means, but we’ll stick with what we know. I hope I don’t have to find out, but kinda thing I will.
Kyogo Furuhashi’s movement looks good. He looks to get in behind the defence. His link up play is excellent, best of all he looks a finisher. He scored the second of Celtic’s goals tonight after taking a pass from Bitton and dinking it over the keeper. Edouard did not start. That’s a bonus. The sooner the French man is away, the better.
I’ve been critical of Liel Abada’s inability to dribble past players. But his goal to game and shoot on sight ratio is brilliant. He netted our first. Greg Taylor whipped a ball. The Israeli drifting in from the wing, and in behind Furuhashi. He hit it first time. The keeper palmed it up and back out to him and he scored on the second attempt.
Five minutes later, Furuhashi hits a second.
Two minutes later, it’s 2—1. Dreadful defending. Looped ball over the top and Vaclav Pilar ran through a static central defence before firing past Joe Hart.
It remains 2—1 in the first-half. Turnbull had another shot, which he put wide.
Jablonec had a ten minute spell in which they dominated possession, without creating much. Nir Bitton with slack passing lost the ball and Vojtech Kubista with a chance, hooked it well over the bar.
Abada, in a breakaway, carried the ball forward and cut in to the edge of the penalty box. His shot was saved, but James Forrest followed up to finish.
Less than twenty minutes to go, and Ange brought on fresh legs and made three substitutions. Tom Rogic, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard. Furuhashi, Turnbull and, man-of-the-match Abada go off.
But with Celtic comfortable in possession and with a few minutes remaining they do that shoot themselves in the foot thing they’ve become so adept at. With any kind of ball into the box with this backline it’s going to be dangerous. Tomas Malinsky turns Carl Starfelt inside out with a dummy, before dinking a ball over Joe Hart and in off the post and into the net. Hart got a finger to it, should he have saved it? Emmmmmmm? Here we go again. Let’s be positive and say he made a save at the end of extra time.
Ryan Christie, just before the end of the match, put a sheen back on the score line. He ghosted in front of the defender and scored with a header from a Forrest cross. Christie, unlike Edouard, can rightly feel hard done to. He’s been one of our best players in every game he started. Ironically, it’s Abada—who is doing a Christie of two seasons ago—and scoring and creating chances that’s keeping him out of the team. But if Turnbull doesn’t turn up soon, it’s his place he’ll be taking. James McCarthy can take Soro’s shirt and place in the team. But to be fair to Soro, he was pretty good tonight. The whole team played slick, attractive football. The downside remains a defence that there is no defence for. Better teams will tear us to shred. With little evidence, I think Starfelt can get better. I’ve seen enough of Bitton to know he won’t. Let’s hope Hart brings out the best in our team.
Darren McGarvey from Pollock admits he’s lucky, incredibly lucky. And he’s right to do so. He’s on a roll after Poverty Safari. The go-to man when the BBC, or any other media organisation, wants to signal that they’re doing the right thing. Giving the working class a voice. The equivalent of a black woman in the moron moron’s cabinet of his 45th American Presidency debacle. The alternative view. The Fool in Shakespearian plays, such as King Lear, who is allowed to speak truth to power. Invisible, but a place holder. Greta Thunberg addressing delegates at the United Nations, patted on the head, before they get back down to adult business of maintaining the status quo. Class War?
Not in my lifetime. Capitulation would be a better word. All the post-war gains since the second world war taken away. Marxism, is like liberalism or capitalism, difficult to summarise, but Marx argued that the point wasn’t to philosophise or interpret the world, ‘but to change it’.
The crudest formulations of class are clichéd. If I working class man throw dice and keep throwing double sixes. Then the dice are taken to be loaded. The system flawed. He’s regarded as a crook. But if an upper class man throws six after six after six. Dice aren’t taken to be loaded. The capitalist system not flawed. When actors such as Darren pop-up they are pointed at as the exception to the rule-rule. They show how fair the system can be. The end of history. The end of theory. The triumph of capitalism.
But clichés are also reservoirs of meaning. Darren flings out a few ideas and asks various characters—one of whom looks out of his face—what their thinking is on particular topics. ‘Buckfast’, for example, brought a satisfying chortle. Lower class, of course. But hey, it used to be a tonic wine, for middle-class folk.
I like the parody of class that features in The Frost Report: John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
The first thing to be noted is height. The upper class with better diet and access to proteins lived longer. Literally, walk taller. Those that own the land, own the people on the land. Windfall profits of billons for our monarch who also owns large tranches of our offshore sea, where windfarms will be situated. If you need to work for money, you’re in the wrong game. Money for the richest one-percent makes money by investing capital. After reaching a certain mass it’s a no-lose gain. It’s in all of Belzac’s books. And try a bit of Jane Austen. I’m a fan of Emile Zola, although he has a tendency to assume the working class get more sex and are sexually active earlier. Maybe they are. I must have missed that bit.
Darren gets pulled up about his posture. Watch any programme about long-lost families. You’ll find those that went abroad, including those transported to Australia, are taller, more muscular. Fish and cheap cuts of meat for the less well off at home. Starvation is back in fashion in Old Blighty. Food banks as a solution to hunger. In Shakespeare’s day people that got to around thirty-eight were the equivalent of our old age pensioners. Thirty-nine was ancient. Gladstonian liberals allowed for a pension for those aged over 65 in 1909. Less than a fraction of one-percent of the population was expected to live that long to collect it. We know now that is no longer the case and pension age has risen to over sixty-eight. But for the first time since records began the average age of British citizens has stopped increasing annually. It’s a class thing. A working class thing. Our babies die first and in greater numbers than their middle-class or upper class cohorts. A negative impact that carries on throughout life. Like those infected with Covid-19 we’re dying off quicker and pulling down the average age of our general population.
The second thing to be noted is dress. Darren plays that dressing up game too. All of our characters wear hats. The upper class character wears a bowler. A marker of rank. Bowler hats were a useful tool in preventing directors, such as Stevens of Steven’s shipyard, knocking his head. His father would have worn a top hat. Workers in the yards didn’t wear hats. Their heads were thicker. They wore overalls.
Winston Churchill wore a top hat to his public school. Accent speaks of breading. Churchill was regarded as a bit of a thicko. But he had the right kind of accent, Received Pronunciation. He famously barked at an opposition Labour MP to take his hands out of his pockets. And as a reflex action to the upper-class demands the MP complied. Here a butler is brought in to give Darren the once over when he’s dressed as a toff. The butler demands he take his hands out of his pockets and pull his socks up. Ho-hum, bit of playing to the camera.
Then we have the big reveal. The butler reveals he’s one of us. He’s working class. But he worked harder than everybody else at learning to be a butler. He got up to bed earlier. Went to bed later. He’s using Thatcheristic language reiterated by George Osborne in his debate about ‘strivers versus shirkers’. The universality of a Dickensian appeal to an imagined past that never existed. One hand destroying the welfare state, and the other clapping NHS workers, before crashing the economy into Brexitland and calling it a triumph.
Darren does cricket. I’m working-class enough to hate it. Just a little reminder here, wasn’t that the Malcolm Rifkind that was caught selling access to our British Parliament for ready cash? Cash for questions? Like the whisky priest in Father Ted I can’t help jumping out my chair and shouting ‘Tory Scum’, and for good reason. In a propaganda war they set out to destroy us, and largely succeeded.
Darren touches on it with the seeming contradiction of the ever-shrinking working class. Two-thirds of the population at the end of the nineteen century to around a third today. A mix and matching of definitions of what is meant by the working class relating to income. Weberian definitions as opposed to Marxist definitions where those that need to sell their labour are authentic working class. The proletariat. Academics toyed with these ideas in the sixties, the embourgeoisement thesis. Luton car workers because they were so well-off were the new middle class. Yet, when interviewed they claimed still to be working class despite having enough money to be considered bourgeoisie. Ronnie Corbett instead of wearing a bunnet would wear a flat cap and vote Tory. Corbett’s working class character, ‘I know my place’. You hear that kinda crap all the time, rich folk have money and they must know how to manage it. The answer is simple. By claiming working class origins, the middle (or indeed, upper) class gain greater kudos for achieving what they have achieved. They’ve rolled more sixes in life because of their skill. Look how far I’ve come, narrative.
Funny, until you consider 170 million Americans voted for the moron’s moron, and ‘red wall’ constituencies in deindustrialised areas such as Yorkshire voted for the equivalent here and for Boris Johnson and Brexit. Racist, dog-whistle politics, triumph. Eugenics is back with a bang, but dressed up in the clothes of morality.
In short, follow the money and the stories of machismo. Boris Johnson shouting through a microphone about returning £165 million a week to the NHS, while pedalling the same old bullshit as the moron’s moron, the other side of the Atlantic, about making America great again.
Marxism follows the evidence. Going against the grain. Prejudices are so engrained they need to step back and look at them.
Gramsci’s view of popular culture. Class is ideology in action. Pattern recognition of narrative the stories we’ve been told again and again until they have substance. Truth is relative.
Cul-de-sac of boring, often impenetrable theory to develop ideas of what is meant be class. Premises, methodology, perception. Examining the ideas behind our assumptions. We better be quick talking about class before we all become middle class tomorrow.
Darren examines the idea of marrying outside our class. It happens less often. Money becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands Remember 7:84, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil? The history of Scotland in Brechtian theatre. How our sovereign wealth went to pay for Unemployment Benefit in Thatcher’s Britain in the mid-80s. Eighty-four percent of the land owned by seven percent of the population. We’d expect that figure to be a lot higher, now. And with green energy relying on having access to land, we can also expect those that hold the people to ransom, the capitalist and rentier class to become even richer. Thomas Piketty Capital in theTwenty-First Century documents this process. To be working class is to be powerless and treated as expendable scum. I’m not sure I learned anything here. But it’s a reminder of how far we’ve fallen. More of a hotchpot rant than a review. But this class stuff gets in my wick.
River of Fire is a book about before and after The Clydebank Blitz. Those who died in the aftermath of Luftwaffe bombing of Clydebank on Thursday 13th March 1941 and the following night. Those who survived the bombing and fled the town. Those who stayed. Others that came through a sense of duty and solidarity to help the victims of the bombing. John MacLeod looks at the aftermath, the thousands, who did not return to Clydebank after March 1941.
The facts are listed, the dead and injured, but juxtaposed with the way they were framed at the time.
When 528 were (with some revision) listed as dead over the two nights of bombing. The first wave of German bombers, largely unchecked, converging over Clydeside around 9pm and following Luftwaffe radio transmission beams. Around 236 Junkers 88 and Heinkel 111s that came from bases in northern France, Holland and Germany, and hugged the coast. Saturation bombing took place in a British city. Explosions could be heard at Bride of Allan in Stirlingshire.
Such was the ferocity of bombing that one worker who had been there and experienced the bombing, when told over 500 died, remarked, ‘What street?’
The town of around 42 000 people was levelled. From one geographically small community 528 people were dead; 617 seriously injured. Hundreds—perhaps thousands—more were superficially hurt and cut. Of some 12000 dwellings—including tenement blocks as well as villas and semi-detached homes—only 7 were left entirely undamaged. Four thousand homes were completely destroyed: 4500 would be uninhabitable for months.
Those that died in the Clydebank Blitz on March 1941 are listed in the back of the book alphabetically, street by street, but in a changing burgh and districts are knocked together. Further complications are that many did not die in their homes. The Rocks’ family are listed as having lived at 78 Jellicoe Street.
Ann Rocks, Age 1, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.
Annie Rocks, Age 54, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.
Elizabeth Rocks, Age 28, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.
Francis Rocks, Age 21, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.
James Rocks, Age 4, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1941.
James Rocks, Age 32, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
John Rocks, Aged 19, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Joseph Rocks, Age 17, At 72 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Margaret Rocks, Age 2, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Patrick Rocks, Age 6, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Patrick Rocks, Age 28, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Theresa Rocks, Age 25, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Thomas Rocks, Age 13, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Thomas Rocks, Age 5 months, At 78 Jellicoe Street, 13 March 1942.
Many of us are will be familiar with the story of Patrick Rocks, who swapped shifts with his son at Beardmore’s. MacLeod uses fiction to dramatize his homecoming.
‘It was still not dawn when the planes retreated and bombers faded away, he picked his way to Jellicoe Street thorough what was left of Dalmuir. Wedged between the blazes at Singers and Old Kilpatrick, this sturdy community had been pummelled through the night… Rocks meandered through wreckage with mounting alarm. When he rounded the corner, his heart lifted to see the light through the window of his flat. Then, a few steps on, he realised it was but the moon, and the glow of flame, through one tottering gable.’
This would be a thin volume charting the rise and decline of shipbuilding on the Clyde, with some questionable assumptions, you’d expect from the son of the manse, such as Thatcherism being a necessary corrective to the British and Scottish economy. (Here’s a hint, we didn’t vote for Thatcher or Johnson and we didn’t vote Brexit. We didn’t vote Scottish Independence either – not yet).
MacLeod also seems to be conducting a vendetta against a left-wing shop steward in the Daily Mail, a newspaper where he was once a reporter. (Nobody much in Scotland read the Daily Mail, not then, not now, not ever).
MacLeod is also quick to correct what he believes are the failings in Meg Henderson’s book about a fictional family set during the era of the Clydebank Blitz, The Holy City. (I just thought Henderson’s book about a matriarchal and feisty working-class family was pretty crap, whereas Henderson’s Finding Peggy was a Scottish masterpiece. I guess this is a matter of taste and I’ll tackle TheHoly City again.)
MacLeod also seems to have a bugbear against nuclear disarmament.
His chapter, The Bombing of Ethics (which is a convoluted way of saying the ethics of bombing) looks at the German experience of being firebombed. Hamburg and Dresden.
In Hamburg, for example, MacLeod quotes:
‘freak air currents spread a storm of fire across a four-square mile radius. People on the streets flashed into flames, while those huddled in shelters died asleep as the fresh air was replaced by lethal gases and smoke. Others were transformed into fine ash. By the time air raids ceased, 45 000 had been killed and a further 37 000 injured. 900 000 had lost their homes- up to two-thirds of the population of Hamburg fled the city.
Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, begins with the narrator explaining, ‘all this happened, more or less’.
MacLeod’s account of the bombing of Dresden 13 February 1945 is more of a turkey shoot, Lancaster bombers stacked on top of one another dropping 4000 pound and 8000 pound bombs. In comparison, no bomb bigger than 1000 pounds fell on Clydebank. And they dropped only four of that weight.
Air-Marshall ‘Bomber’ Harris wanted 5000 strategic bombers. 244 Lancasters flew over Dresden. They created a firestorm.
Temperatures rose to 1000 degrees Centigrade, jets of flame fifty-feet high hissed across streets…Dresden burned so bright, night became day.
Reap what you sow is MacLeod’s argument. There was a qualitative difference between what the Allies were trying to achieve by firebombing than the Nazis. What we did was right. What they did was ideologically and morally wrong. Them and us.
A quip (and perhaps apocryphal story) from Bomber Harris sums it up. Stopped in his car one night for speeding, the policeman warns the Air Marshal, he might kill someone with his driving.
‘Young man, I kill thousands of people every night.’
Perhaps it’s more instructive to look at the grandiose behaviour of General MacArthur in the Far East in 1945.
‘No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin’ was a New York Times, front page, report. Most of the world remained ignorant of what radioactivity was.
The diminutive Australian reporter, Wilfred Burchett, armed with a typewriter, travelled by train through Japan after their surrender to witness what had happened after the A-bomb, Enola Gay. He called out President Truman and General MacArthur.
The Atomic Plague was his report.
‘I became very conscious of what would happen in the event of a new world war. From that moment on, I became active on the question of nuclear disarmament…It was not possible to stand by.’
Burchett was on the winning side. He was on the side of right. Them and Us. What he was saying is there is no them and us. Just common humanity. We sometimes lose that in the small print. Mass murder is mass murder. And nuclear weapons will tip the planet into permanent winter. Lest we forget in the scramble to claim the moral high ground. .
Before Covid-19, the coronavirus, Salisbury was briefly in lockdown in the winter of 2018 after two Russian agents poisoned former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal (Wayne Swann) who worked for MI6 (allegedly) and his daughter, Yulia Skripal (Jill Winternitz) with polonium, a highly toxic and deadly nerve agent. This might have been a hard sell.
Now we’re au fait with the whole situation. As soon as Sergi and Yulia start spewing up, and people crowd around them, you’re shouting that the telly, get away from them, ya numpty. Don’t you know anything about the R number?
Then DS Nick Bailey (Rafe Spall) who’s leading the investigation wades right into the infection zone and, when he starts sweating and mopping his brow, you just know he’s got it. He goes to the hospital for a check-up. They send him home, as hospitals sent tens of thousands of elderly folks into care homes, to empty acute-care beds for sick people, malingerers, with a bit of flu, without testing them for Covid-19. We knew the DS would be back and it would be intensive care. We’re up to date with all that stuff.
You’d be sneering, when rooking police turn up at Sergei Skripal’s home and a neighbour with a spare set of keys offers to let him inside. Lucky for them, DS Nick Bailey tells them to stand down, ‘Do not go in that house!’ No personal protective equipment, we’re saying. What kind of bungling amateurs employed by Boris Johnson are we dealing with?
The hero, Tracy Daszkiewicz (Anne-Marie Duff) a civilian, director of public health and safety, needs to take charge. Which is quite a mouthful. She’s got to give the police, council and traders the bad news. We’re shutting you down. She’ll also need to employ trace and track. Salisbury city centre and the places were the Russian dissidents had visited would need to be locked down. All of this is so familiar; we wonder why anybody bothers arguing with her.
Of course, there are the couple that got away. Dawn Sturgess (Myanna Buring) and Charlie Rowley (Johnny Harris). They’ve also been poisoned, but they’re invisible to the public eye, portrayed as alkies, so they don’t notice, while flinging back the booze. It’s not as if they’re real people. I’m sure Tracy Daszkiewicz will find them, but won’t be able to save them.
We’re ahead of the curve here too. Not everybody is saved. It’s not all happy endings. But this is worth watching. Now we’re all experts, it’s easier. We’re more informed and that’s not a good thing. The price has been too high. I wonder who’ll play the weasly windbag Boris Johnson in the Covid-19, mini-series.
20 Jan 2020 – USA has first confirmed imported case – From China.
20 Jan 2020 – COVID-19 included in Statutory Report of Class B Infectious Diseases and Border Health Quarantine Infectious Diseases in China – Measures to Curtail: Temperature Checks, Health Care Declarations, Quarantines – Instituted at Transportation Depots – Laws of China – Wildlife Markets Closed – Captive-Breeding Facilities Cordoned Off.
22/23 Jan 2020 – WHO decides not to yet declare the outbreak a PHEIC.
23 Jan 2020 – China observes Strict Travel Restrictions.
24 Jan 2020 – First Report of case in Europe – France.
30 Jan 2020 – WHO declares 2019 nCov (former name of COVID-19) outbreak a PHEIC – under International Health Regulations (2005).
11 Feb 2020 – The Virus and the Disease it causes officially named – The Novel Coronavirus named ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)’; The Disease it Causes named ‘COVID-19’.
27 Feb 2020 – WHO updates case definitions for COVID-19 for Suspected, Probable, Confirmed – Worldwide Surveillance Continues.
28 Feb 2020 – Nigeria reports first case of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa.
11 March 2020 – WHO upgrades the COVID-19 outbreak to a Pandemic.
A mother in a Lorrie Moore short story People Like That Are the Only People Here, jokes, ‘Healthy? I just want the kid to be rich’. We know what happens next.
Writers are readers. If they’re no readers they’re not writers. Here’s the story: We’re all in it together. In Burlington Care Home in Glasgow, thirteen elderly residents died in a week. Two of the staff test positive for Covid-19. All over the world Covid-19 has been behaving in the classic hockey-stick manner of epidemics plotted on a graph. We sit on the side-lines and clap our team, the NHS, care staff, all those on the front line. There’s good reason for this. Wearing gloves and a face mask doesn’t mean you won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks, but it does make it five times more unlikely.
With no football on, we’ve all become expert analysists, pitting our team against other countries. We know from the SARs 2003-4 in South Korea, most of the cases were in health workers. The pattern is repeated with Covid-19. Those who spend more time treating victims are more likely to become victims, especially if they don’t have proper protective equipment.
Other armchair experts claim it’s no big deal, no worse than seasonal flu. Herd immunity sounded feasible. This was the positon the moron’s moron President Trump took. Now he’s saying 200 000 American deaths would be a good score. The side of the Atlantic, Boris Johnson took the same position as his senior partner in the Oval Office. Johnson is now settling for 20 000 British deaths after the first wave of the Covid-19 has passed.
Do the math. If borne out by further testing, this could mean that current estimates of a roughly 1% fatality rate are accurate. This would make Covid-19 about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year worldwide. The population of America is around 250 million so if Covid-19 hockeystick trajectory continued as epidemiologist modelled with over 80% of the population becoming infected over 2 million Americans would die. In Britain that would be around 600 000 deaths.
As we’ve seen, even with these lower numbers our health services are working beyond full capacity with apparently mild cases overlooked and hockey-stick numbers growing exponentially. This is important because as Chinese scientist have confirmed these cases DO contribute to transmission and need to be socially isolated. Health Care workers such as those in Burlington Care Home did go into work. Tens of thousands of Care workers face that same dilemma.
Employers, until now, have created even more ways of punishing and sacking low-paid workers and depriving them of their rights. Care staff as disposable as bed-pans. Classed as self-employed. No holiday pay. No pension. Zero-hour contracts. Minimum wage is the maximum wage and ways such as not paying for travelling costs being used to deprive them of even that. Classified as agency staff and their minimum wage reduced by a third by paying their employers for employing them. Take it or leave it.
The future looks like the past. Imagine the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla residents of Burlington Care Home. We’re all in it together. Under new NHS guidelines in England (this is Scotland you might argue) rationing or triage needs to take place. The Queen because of her age would not qualify for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or qualify for a ventilator. Charles might get into ICU but because of a shortage of ventilators doesn’t receive incubation. Camilla qualifies for both. Are we really all in it together?
Let’s look at the league tables and cheer. Singapore is top of the table. China has flat- lined, it no longer has hockey-stick growth in numbers. Italy is doing most testing, but has the highest fatality rate. Spain is catching up with Italy in terms of casualties and testing. Germanic efficiency, doing everything by the book. It has been doing widespread testing of suspects with symptoms and contact tracing in the WHO-recommended fashion from the beginning of the epidemic. We’re at different stages of the epidemic. The UK death toll is currently higher than Italy’s at the same stage, reinforced by another showing that by this stage of the outbreak. Italy had begun to flatten its curve while in Britain the line keeps rising, the number of deaths doubling every three days. We’re not even looking at Third World Countries. Trump boasts he’s testing more than Britain, more than China. Those without healthcare or the capacity to treat victims know what to expect. We’ve all seen it before. More of the same.
When it ends, when it really ends, we’ll be back at the beginning, waiting for the second wave of the Covid-19. The golden bullet of vaccines, optimistically, look about a year away. Only about five major drug companies have the resources to manufacture the golden bullet if it was found today. Scaling takes time. First world countries would be first. Even the moron’s moron in the US has woken up to the need to test – and is telling companies that export, America must come first. Trump tried to buy a German company bio-tech company. Third world countries third, because you can’t go any lower. But here you create a reservoir population, ready to infect the rest of the world. Using an economic axiom, ceteris paribus: Changing the number of people tested, or who is being offered tests, will also affect the number of reported cases.
Moving forward to when, or if, we flatten the hockey-shaped curve, people need to return to work in stages. In Britain one effect of government rhetoric is the NHS is safe, even under the Tories that have been selling it off piecemeal, and depriving it of funds. Any hint of depriving the NHS of much-needed resources would be political suicide, but this is short-term.
Cast your mind back to 2010 to the unfunny Laurel and Hardy of Cameron/Osborne government, before their slapstick act of economic stupidity and self-mutilation called Brexit. Note the four doctors to have died so far are BAME doctors. Britain had to pay higher than other EEC countries for ventilators, for example, because they’re no longer part of the EEC and the pound is plummeting. Fifty percent of our food comes from imports. Crops will rot in the fields without immigrant workers. We import more than we export. Quite literally, we can’t go it alone. Our government knows this. But the then outgoing Labour Chief Secretary of the Treasury Liam Byrne left a jokey written message to his incoming colleague, the Liberal Democrat (remember them) David Laws: ‘there’s no money left’.
We all know what happened next. A detailed assessment showed that public spending was to increase in five Whitehall departments and to be cut in seventeen, beginning with welfare. What we used to call social security was gone. As over 1 000 000 people newly registered for Universal Credit have found out. Living on less than £100 per week is the new norm. While the British economy was flatlining in 2010, in the way we hope the Covid-19 will in 2020 the Tory government pursued a policy of taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. Tax cut. Tax cut. Tax cut. Privatise and cherry pick our NHS, stealth by the back door such as Virgin Health running mental health services. Yes, the same Richard Branson asking for a bailout for his airline. Private profit and dividend and tax cuts, whilst domiciled elsewhere. How does that add up with we’re all in it together? Those were also the words used by George Osborne and leave a familiar taste in the mouth.
Austerity was imposed on the poor in 2010, but not on the rich. They bounced back very quickly to 2007-2008 levels of capital wealth and an increased share of the GDP. The gap between rich and poor matched that of the Great Depression. Wages never recovered. Those in work and claiming benefits grew and grew. The working poor, those that work in, for example, care homes as carers were mocked as the scum of the earth. Junior doctors were labelled greedy. Nurses were chastised for demanding a pay rise. Loans instead of grants were the new norms for nurses training and numbers dropped.
Austerity in the twenty-first century. Covid-19 is a dress rehearsal for climate change, but one is now, the other deferred. In the same way, the $2tn US coronavirus relief package is doling out $60bn to struggling airlines and offering low-interest loans that are available to fossil fuel. Britain has in the words of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively nationalised the economy. 10% of Britain’s GDP of debt and growing, £435 billion in Quantitive Easing (printing money) £200 billion up front to keep the economy temporarily afloat.
Writing in the Guardian, the economist David Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College in the US and a member of the Bank’s interest rate-setting monetary policy committee during the 2008 financial crisis, said unemployment was rising at the fastest rate in living memory. UK unemployment could rapidly rise to more than 6 million people, around 21% of the entire workforce, based on analysis of US job market figures that suggest unemployment across the Atlantic could reach 52.8 million, around 32% of the workforce.
“There has never been such a concentrated business collapse. The government has tried to respond but it has no idea of the scale of the problem it is going to have to deal with. We make some back-of-the-envelope calculations and they are scary,” he said.
Unemployment looked to be at least 10 times faster than in the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.
The Great Depression of the hungry thirties was ended not by fiscal stimulus, although that helped, but by the second world war. During the Depression years rich monopolists chaffed at government intervention in the economy and called for a return to lassez-faire economics. Sounds familiar. Listen to Thatcher’s ‘let poppies grow tall speech’. Reaganomics was just Thatcherism wrapped in a different flag. We’ve seen the same effect under Osborne/ Cameron. At some point in the aftermath of the pandemic hard choices will need to be made. Simple choices if you’re a Tory, you take money from the poor and give it to the rich. After all under Thatcher dogma, ostensibly, they are the creators of wealth. The keepers of our economic good health, but just don’t ask them to share. Trillions can be wiped from stock market shares, ten, twenty, fifty, seventy percent, yet a tax increase of 1% is met as if Armageddon has occurred. Then it did begin to unfold.
Ironically, the moron’s moron may well win an election not for anything he did or said, but because he’s a leader on TV screens and his popularity remains high especially among white, male, Republican supporters. Those most likely to die from the Covid-19 virus. Here Johnson is in social isolation. He has the virus. He is a viral infection. But he’s never been more popular. As an old Etonian when it comes to making hard choices of who gets what and why, well, that is easy, Thatcherism. Survival of the fittest. Tall poppies, like Branson. Survival of the richest. Poor people are there to be applauded, every Thursday, but not helped. There to be used and discarded. The backlash is coming and it’s coming soon. Expect no mercy from Tory scum. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. If you think we’re all in it together you’ve been living on the moon and probably would vote Trump if you lived in America. People Like That Are the Only People Here. A choice between being rich, or being healthy, few of us get to choose. I choose life, but not stupidity.