Tagged: Britain

The Men Who Really Run The Country

It doesn’t matter who becomes the next British Prime Minister. These are the men who really govern.

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The Shame Of Britain

News today of an incident at Calais that rightfully shames the current despicable government running this country.

150 Ukrainian refugees escaped from their war-torn country. They spent days heading West, crossing through Poland and Germany into France. Their aim was to seek refuge with members of their families who were already legally resident in Britain.

But the UK Border Force post at Calais refused them entry. They were told to travel to Paris, 300 miles away, and apply for a temporary visa at the British Embassy there.

Heartless, bureaucratic, shameful in the extreme.

Poland has welcomed over 500,000 refugees.
Hungary has welcomed over 140,000 refugees.
Moldova has welcomed 98,000 refugees.
Slovakia has welcomed 73,000 refugees.
Romania has welcomed 52,000 refugees.

Even Russia has allowed in 48,000 refugees to flee the war it started.

And noble Great Britain, that renowned Monarchy and self-professed seat of Democracy will not allow in 150 people who already have somewhere to go when they get here.

How can anyone claim to be ‘Proud to be British’, faced with this international shame?

Iran, Britain, And The Scandal Of The Tank Deal

In the late 1970s, the British Government sold a number of tanks to Iran, at the cost of £400,000,000. The former Shah of Iran paid in advance, and awaited delivery of the tanks. But then he was overthrown by the ayatollahs, and Britain decided not to send the tanks after all. To rub salt in the wound, they sold the tanks to Iraq instead, getting paid twice for the same weapons.

The question of Britain returning the money to Iran has often been raised, but consistently ignored by every British government since 1979.

In 2016, a woman named Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran, and accused of spying for the Bitish government. She was there visiting her parents, taking along her baby daughter for them to see for the first time. Despite her being a writer, married to a British man, and holding dual nationality, the Iranian court convicted her, and sentenced her to five years in prison. Since then, a vigorous campaign has been going on to try to get her released.

In March this year, her sentence finished. She was then re-arrested on charges of ‘Spreading propaganda’. Today, she was sentenced to a further year in prison.

This is all a game of course. Nazanin was arrested as little more that a ‘hostage’, in the hope of securing payment of that old £400 million debt. The British government could have easily secured her release in 2016, by acknowledging the debt to Iran, and arranging to pay it. But they chose not to. Last month, they coud have stopped her being arrested again, simply by paying the outstanding debt from 1979. They chose not to.

Government ministers think it is acceptable for this young woman to spend six years in prison in a foreign country, and for her baby daughter to grow up without seeing her mother, just to save them the embarrassment of admitting the debt, and actually paying it.

Shame on them.

On The British Monarchy

An intelligent and interesting appraisal of the British Royal family and their possible future. From an American who knows a lot of stuff!

toritto

As a Brooklyn born kid who grew up in Coney Island I know little about royalty other than what I read in the papers.  Class differences are so important that no one is really permitted to talk about them freely.

In my corporate career I have never met royalty, but I have met nobles.

When I was about 30 years old I was part of a small team examining the books of the Rothschild Intercontinental Bank in London, which my employer (Don’t leave home without it!)  was considering, and eventually did purchase.  The portfolio consisted of a smattering of sovereign credits which is what one would expect of a Rothschild bank.

It was headed up at the time by one Ralph Thomas George Stonor Lord Camoys,  just a few years older than I, who later served as Lord Chamberlain of Great Britain from 1998 – 2000.  The Lord Camoys traced…

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‘Stepping Back’: Nice work if you can get it

You can’t have failed to notice that there has been some big news surrounding some of our Royal parasites today.

Prince Harry and his American wife, collectively known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have announced their intention to ‘step back’ from royal duties. They intend to split their time between a new life in North America, and some time back in the UK. (Presumably when the weather is nice.)

Speculation has been rife. Meghan has been upset by newspapers making unkind remarks about her clothing, apparently. Harry is only sixth in line to the throne, so pending an unprecedented royal disaster, he will never live to be a king. Harry has a rift with his brother William, about royal ‘directions’ he should be taking. There are lots of quotes from the couple of course, all intended to back up their reasons for leaving this country.

Meghan, 38, said she was told “you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life”.

In an ITV documentary, she admitted motherhood was a “struggle” due to intense interest from newspapers.

Prince Harry also responded to reports of a rift between him and his brother William, Duke of Cambridge, by saying they were on “different paths”.

The duke, 35, said he and Prince William have “good days” and “bad days”.

He added: “We are brothers. We will always be brothers.

“We are certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me.

They are set to launch a new charity, apparently, and there are more rumours that Meghan intends to return to a career in acting.

“This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.” (Harry)

The prince intends to give up the portion of his income provided by the UK taxpayers, but seems happy enough to continue to receive the annual small fortune bestowed on him by his father, drawn from revenues on the Duchy of Cornwall. (So, still ‘our’ money then.)

The couple has been quoted as saying that they feel more welcome in North America, as in the US, and Canada, than they do in Britain.

However, they do intend to keep hold of the free house they were given, Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Park Estate of the Queen. Considering the UK taxpayer forked out £2.5 million to ‘refurbish the cottage to their taste’ just last year, that’s very kind of them, I am sure you will agree. Nice to have somewhere to pop back to, when Harry fancies a trip home.

I hope they leave soon, and never come back. Let’s see how well they do earning a living when they are not being paid by the state. Oh, I forgot, Prince Charles will still be handing over wads of cash to make sure they can buy groceries.

And my message to the couple is simple. Take the rest of them with you when you go.
Build a Royal Theme Park in America, and walk around waving at the crowds.
You have had enough practice.

Backlash Politics

So the Conservatives win again, with a bigger majority.

This despite having a leader who almost nobody likes, and policies that nobody really wants.
Unless they are very rich of course.

And despite promises by the opposition to make the NHS secure, nationalise transport and utilities, and give out free broadband.

All too easy to blame it all on Jeremy Corbyn. Supposedly, the public just don’t like him, and his leadership cost Labour the election, as well as losing many historically-held seats.
That’s not really the case though, we all know that.

The election was only ever about one thing, and that was Britain leaving the EU.

Since the summer of 2016, Leave voters have been derided for being racist, stupid, uninformed, misinformed, duped, and many other things, including apparently all being overweight. Not one of them was ever given the credit for understanding what they were voting for, because they were considered to be unintelligent, incapable of reason, and unable to comprehend anything. The Labour Party was taken over by people insisting on remaining in the EU, as was the Liberal Democrat Party. During the recent campaign, many Labour candidates (including the one where I live) openly stated that they would fight to cancel Article 50, and stay in Europe as a member of the EU.

The Liberal Democrat leader made staying in Europe the main feature of her party’s policies and platform. She lost her seat, and has resigned as leader.

In former Labour strongholds that had voted to leave the EU, Labour was defeated by a swing to the Right that was unprecedented in those communities.

This is the backlash. The revenge of those people deprived of democracy after voting Leave in the referendum in 2016, and winning that vote. Ever since, they have had to sit and watch as politicians and organisations attempted to overturn that vote, and unravel the whole democratic process we thought we lived by.

So now we have this government. One run by the rich, for the rich, and nobody knows how bad it will get over the next five years. This country may well have a increasingly right-wing Conservative government for the rest of my life.

Is anyone surprised? I’m not.

Gunboat Diplomacy

The BBC has just reported the arrival of a British warship in Ukraine. A government defence minister has been shown driving a Ukrainian navy patrol boat, and speaking to relatives of the sailors recently detained by the Russian navy. He has said that the presence of our warship is to send a ‘message’ to the Russian government, and to show British support for the Ukrainian position in this dispute. My response is simple. Why?

The turbulent history of this now-sovereign nation is the subject of record. Part of Russia until the 1917 revolution, they attempted to create an independent country outside of the control of the Soviet Union, and failed. It was broken up, with parts under the control of Poland, The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. After the German invasion in WW2, many Ukrainians welcomed the occupying Nazis. They fought alongside them, acted as guards in concentration camps, and carried out recorded massacres of civilians, including the deaths of 100,000 Poles in Volhynia. Following the defeat of the Germans, some supporters remained active as ‘partisans’ until as late as 1950.

Eventually, Ukraine was granted the right to be a self-governing part of the Soviet Union, retaining its language, and becoming represented in the United nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine sought complete independence, which it achieved in 1991. Since 2000, politics in that country have become more focused on being part of Europe, and also featured a right-wing bias, with some people openly supporting and espousing ‘Nazi-style’ ideas and policies. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, supposedly due to the overwhelming support of the people in that region. This created an international incident that continues to this day, with both sides at loggerheads over historical claims to Crimea. There has been open warfare in the Donbass region, and ongoing incidents between the two countries, with the most recent being the seizure of two Ukrainian navy vessels by the Russians.

This is all very involved, and no doubt tragic for those involved. But it is not our business. It is not up to us to support a country with a dubious government, and a recent history of supporting Extreme Right ideals. No more is it our business to issue warnings or ‘messages’ to Russia, especially when we are in no position to ever back up those feeble threats. There was a time when the appearance of a British Gunboat on a foreign shore would signal an intent. That intent, rightly or wrongly, would have been backed up by the biggest navy in the world at the time, and a huge colonial war machine that was feared by every nation on Earth. But that time has gone, and has not existed since the 1950s. And if such things have to be used at all, there are many other places where it might have more effect, or be of more use. This cynical support of Ukraine is packed with ulterior motives, none of which are remotely to do with any real concern over the fate of some sailors, or the future of Crimea.

It is high time that Britain realised that the sun has long set on our former Empire. We have enough problems to deal with at home, instead of sabre-rattling to show support of a country that may not even deserve it. As a country, we need to get over ourselves, and face facts. It isn’t 1910 anymore, and someone in the Ministry of Defence needs to check the date on a calendar.

Brexit: The new Civil War

It seems my country is being consumed by the debate over the referendum result. Friends are falling out, families are divided, and the polarisation of opinion has rarely been seen in my lifetime. This is more than falling out over a vote. Much more than ‘agreeing to disagree’ about a point of view. There is a bitterness behind it all; a burning resentment, often bordering on hatred.

The sides have been chosen, the lines drawn in so many sands, and nobody will be shaken from their beliefs. Not since 1642 has this country felt such division, though this time the weapons are words, rather than swords and guns. There was a vote, and 48% of those who voted did not get the result they wanted, or perhaps more accurately, expected. Ever since, through the mainstream media, in parliament, on blogs, and in any way that they can, that 48% (and those who didn’t even bother to vote) have been trying to overturn the referendum. Meanwhile, they have stalled it, protested against it in the streets, and campaigned against it in every single way possible.
That is their right of course, in a democratic society that provided the referendum they lost.

But what if it had gone the other way, the way they wanted? Would these Remain advocates have tolerated such vociferous opposition from those who had voted to Leave, but lost? I suggest not.

Leave voters like myself are made to feel as if we are simply stupid, or much worse. Insults flow thick and fast.
We are racist.
We are xenophobes,
We are uneducated.
We are not politically aware.
We are not ‘travellers’.
We are overweight. (Yes, one study looked at average weight)
We live in places where foreigners are hated.
We are not urbane.
We have no sophistication.
We have no world view.
We are all Right-Wing supporters, little better than Nazis.
We yearn for Empire, so are imperialists at heart.

Even those who don’t insult us directly do so by default.
We were duped.
We were fooled.
We are mere pawns of big business.
We are sheep for the use of capitalists.
We didn’t understand the implications.
We couldn’t comprehend those big words.
It was our poor education that made us vote the ‘wrong way’.
We took too much notice of propaganda.
We believed everything we were told.
We couldn’t be expected to be bright enough to have made up our own minds.

The latest cry is that ‘Its not too late”. Well, for those of us who voted to Leave, it is too late. We voted to Leave, and that’s what we should be doing. If the referendum is overturned, it will be too late for the democratic process we supposedly live by, that’s for sure.

Of course, the Remain voters contained a higher percentage of university graduates. They were all free-thinkers, many of them urbane city-dwellers with the ‘correct attitude’. They are mulitculturalists at heart; well read, well travelled, and up to date on world events. They are the intelligentsia of this nation, the keepers of morals, and the libertarian ideals. The best of the best, undoubtedly.

But it is unlikely that 48% of the population here fit those criteria. Any more than the other 52% are what they are constantly accused of being. They lost that vote, and it is unlikely that they will ever forgive the people who voted the other way. The bitterness is tangible now, and set to last for a generation, or longer.

This new civil war is not over. It has a long way to go yet.

Mosul: Behind the headlines

When you look at news reports of the fighting in Mosul, it is easy to overlook some of the basic facts about this huge city. Until recently, it had a population of almost 1.9 million people, and is the second largest city in Iraq after Baghdad. This makes it almost twice the size of Birmingham, England’s second largest city, and more than three times larger than Boston, in the USA.

Just imagine if those well-known cities were under occupation by a well-organised army of religious fundamentalists, and being attacked by forces from their own country helped by the US or a foreign power, as well as being bombed by British and American aircraft. Think how difficult it would be to deal with the potential for causing civilian casualties, or choosing which of the people you encounter is friend or foe. The maze of streets, the apartment blocks, rooftops, factories, industrial areas, and large airports. A major river, numerous bridges, shopping areas, markets, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, and administrative offices. Every wall or fence a potential hiding place. Every rooftop or balcony a spot for a sniper, and the ability for the enemy to hide in plain sight among crowds of distressed non-combatants.

For almost three years, this city has been a battleground between warring factions; international interventionists, and government troops. If you live in a city, or have ever lived in one, then you can only try to imagine what this must be like, as I do. Even allowing for the large numbers who have fled Mosul, it is estimated that more than 750,000 civilians remain there, possibly 1 million. That is still much larger than the population of Boston, and countless other western cities. By comparison, the largest city close to where I live is Norwich. This is the biggest city in the whole county, and covers a substantial area, including many suburbs, and an international airport. I cannot imagine fighting on the same scale happening there, yet the population is only 133,000.

Another fact overlooked, is that many of the residents remaining in Mosul actually welcomed the forces of Islamic State as liberators. They had previously suffered religious persecution from Iraqi government troops and sectarian militias, and were happy to have the intervention by the fundamentalists. Many joined them willingly, and some still fight alongside them to this day. Of course for many others, living under IS was unacceptable, as they were cruelly treated for many reasons, including religious ones. But as parts of the city are recaptured by the Iraqi army, their foreign allies, the police units, and the ‘Golden Brigade’, many civilians have been arrested, detained without trial as suspected members of IS. Many others now live in fear of reprisals by the army and militia units, as the old enmities between Sunni and Shia Muslims resurface in the ‘liberated’ areas of the city.

Naturally, I am no supporter of Islamic State. This horrible organisation has no place in the modern world. But we need to look behind the news reports, the five-minutes of combat footage, and the talking heads interviews, and to be aware that replacing one form of terror with another might well be what we are helping to achieve. Not only in Iraq, but in Syria too.