Wednesday 16 November 2016

The US Election outcome is not so bad Part 2: Ukraine and the Baltic States

Made me laugh...

In my last post, I commented on how the situation in Syria had inflamed tensions between the US and Russia, and how Trump's election should calm things down a bit.

However, it should hopefully also help calm things down between Russia and NATO - and for that we shall look at the Ukraine.

As we can see, the former Soviet Republic is located right on Russia's south-western European border.  Now, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the various republics went their respective ways.  Ukraine, which had long had a nationalist independence movement, was for the most part very happy to go off on its own.

However, as always, things were not quite so clear cut.  You see, the eastern part of Ukraine has a population that is largely ethnically Russian, speaks Russian, and wishes to maintain ties with Moscow.  The western part of the country speaks Ukrainian, and wants an independent Ukraine with close ties to the West and the EU.  Roughly, the country breaks down in this wise (based on the census of 2001):

See that red blobby bit on the bottom?  That's the Crimea.
Things kicked off in 2013 when the then president, Viktor Yanukovich, bucked the trend of previous governments throughout the 2000s and rejected closer ties to the European Union by refusing to sign an association agreement with the EU at the last minute, sparking peaceful protest.  During these protests, Yanukovich signed a treaty with Russia instead, and took a multi-billion dollar loan from her.  Things got rather warm at that point, and on 18th February 2014, violent clashes took place in Kiev, leaving 82 people dead.  Long story short, by the 22nd February, the protesters were in control of Kiev and the parliament scheduled a new presidential election - Yanukovich having fled to Russia.  American Senators and EU suits lined up to congratulate the protesters. Freedom and Democracy were alive and kicking, was the message.

Russia, having long dabbled in Ukrainian affairs, voted in the Duma to deploy troops to Ukraine on 1st March 2014.  Within a day, Russian troops had complete control of the Crimean peninsula.  Of course, the world and his wife lined up to brand Putin a madman, a tyrannical megalomaniac with imperial ambitions.

Of course, the Russophile east of the country was not quite so happy with the outcome of matters, and from March 2014 there was war in the Donbas region, with ethnic Russians opposing the new government - and supported by a number of Russian citizens.

So the Russians are the baddies, right?  Well....yes, they are.  But again, things are never quite so simple.

See, the Crimea had been part of Russia for a very great many years before the Soviet era. In point of fact, the Crimea was only transferred to the administration of Ukraine in the 1950s, as an administrative convenience.  The Black Sea Fleet belonging to Russia was based there following the breakup of the USSR, although there was a bit of a tug-of-war going on over the fleet and the bases between Russia and Ukraine.  So Russia understandably got a bit twitchy when things kicked off in Ukraine.

Consider also, that the removal of Yanukovich was in fact a coup d'etat - Petro Poroshenko, Yanukovich's successor has said as much and even asked the supreme court of the country to declare it a coup.  Furthermore, the main movers behind the revolution was the far-right Svoboda party.  What the west had supported was, in fact, the overthrow of a democratically elected government by a fascist putsch.  Whoops.  Not so squeaky clean, are we?

As a result of the annexation of the Crimea, sanctions have been imposed on Russia, which has had serious effects on the Russian economy.  In response, Russia has banned western food imports, which has had the unfortunate (but predictable) effect of driving up food prices in Russia, hurting the man in the street as much as the sanctions do.

Now, both NATO and the EU have played their parts in this pantomime.  NATO, doubtless with much prompting from the USA, has sought to strengthen itself by recruiting a number of former Soviet republics.  The EU has also sought more members, expanding from 16 member states to 28 (and back to 27 soon enough, if the anti-democratic elements within our own parliament are kept at bay) since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 turned the EEC into the EU.  Both organisations have been fishing in what has long been Russia's pond, and Russia is none too happy about seeing its sphere of influence thus eroded.  The USA would not tolerate it, but expects Russia to accept it without complaint.

Now, think on this:  if the EU, through bungling managerialism and a lack of nous when it comes to realpolitik, had had an army to send out into the world, just how much of a mess would it have made of the Ukrainian crisis?  Yet its own army is just what the EU is pushing for.

This brings us to the Baltic states, and Poland.

As a result of both the drives by NATO and the EU to recruit these states, and the ramping up of tensions with Russia over Syria, NATO troops, tanks and missiles have been massed on Russia's borders in the Baltic states and Poland, heightening tensions still further.  With Trump in the White House, it is likely that we shall see much of this pressure lifted, which we can hope will result in tensions deflating.

So again, Trump's wish to improve relations with Russia mean that war with Russia is looking increasingly less likely than it did with the prospect of a Clinton administration.

So that's good.

The US Election Outcome is not so bad Part 1: Syria

Well, it's been a while since last I blogged.  Not that anyone will have noticed, mind you.  I let Brexit pass without comment (others did it far better than I could), news items have come and gone, but given the current meltdown now underway about the result of the US Presidential Election, I felt that I had to comment.

So now - Donald Trump is the President Elect.  This is not necessarily as bad as it seems - not least because Hillary Clinton is not fit to run a whelk stall, let alone the world's only superpower.

So why do I say that?

Well, there are a number of reasons.  This will be a long post but I'll try to keep it interesting, and I will have to commit the sin of simplification to a degree.  For the most part, what it boils down to is war.  First and foremost, we have avoided the likelihood of war with Russia.  Which is not as crazy as it sounds.

This is...complicated, so I shall break it down a bit.


Take a look at the situation in Syria.  It's a total mess, and most of us have wondered why, and just what the hell the West (especially the US) is up to.  ISIS seem to have no trouble laying hands on arms and equipment supplied by the US, the Kurds are not supported, Russia's help seems to be resented, and there seems to be a narrative that Assad is somehow worse than ISIS.  Just how has never been explained.

Well, as ever, it comes down to oil.  And gas, of course.

See, Europe is largely dependent on Russian oil and gas.  Needless to say, the various European countries and the EU are none too keen on this.  Neither are the Americans, on account that they would rather Europe was dependent on Saudi and Qatari oil, as those countries are US allies in the Middle East.

To break this near monopoly, a pipeline has been proposed, to run from either Qatar - a US ally:

or Iran, which is allied to Russia:

Either way, the pipeline will have to run through Syria, which has its own oilfields as well.  With Assad in charge, chances are any such pipeline would be primarily supplied by Iranian oil; Russia would still have quite some sway over Europe's supply.  And Russia is not afraid of cutting off the supply to countries during conflicts in its own form of modern-day hydraulic despotism.

So, the US favours the Qatari pipeline - and needs Assad out of the way for that to happen.  They also could not afford to upset Turkey - which is why the West is failing to help the Kurds (who have long fought Turkey to establish their own homeland in Kurdistan) and Turkey is being considered for EU membership, and why Erdogan's maniacal despotism is given a free pass.

As a side note, you will notice that the Iranian pipeline will also have to pass through Turkey, albeit only slightly.  Which goes some way to explaining why Russia did nothing when Turkey shot down a Russian jet last year - that, and Turkey being a member of NATO.  Putin is far too smart to provoke a war with the NATO countries over a single fighter jet.

Anyway - for Western ambitions to succeed, Assad must fall.  ISIS, whatever their ambitions, are not a serious threat to the West and never have been; in point of fact, their geographical area of influence has shrunk considerably over the past year:

So the West is happy to let ISIS run about committing atrocity after atrocity, as every day weakens Bashar Al Assad ever further.  What the West is not happy about is Russia intervening to help Assad out.

So, in an attempt to have things their own way, the US have tried a number of things.  A ceasefire, for example, that ended in a shambles because it was not binding on some of the rebel groups, who carried on fighting - causing Putin and Assad to respond in kind.

So Hillary Clinton wanted to impose a No Fly Zone in Syria; naturally, Russia would not accept America unilaterally imposing such zones, and trouble was predicted by a great many people.  Let's face it, Hillary is not exactly Carl von Clausewitz when it comes to military strategy as the debacle in Libya will attest.  And she is not afraid of war, either; she voted for the war in Iraq, she is in favour of air strikes on Iran should that country not kowtow to US demands, she played a key role in the US strikes on Libya, and so on.

Furthermore, Hillary firmly believes that Russia and China were behind various cyberattacks on the US, including hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Congress - even though John MacAfee, who despite his being somewhat unhinged, I would be inclined to believe in this sort of thing - denies that Russia had anything to do with it.  Hillary, however, advocates a military response against Russia.

So, had Hillary been in a position to impose her no-fly zone, there is a good chance that Russian jets would be shot down as a matter of policy.  And you can guess where that would lead.

So make no mistake regarding the conflict in Syria - humanitarian factors are at the bottom of everyone's list.  This is simply a new round of The Great Game; a proxy war between America and Russia to control the supply of oil to the whole of Europe.  And that is something that both sides would be prepared to go to war over.

However, Donald Trump has made it clear from the outset that it is his intention to improve US / Russia relations, and is prepared to work with Putin on a number of matters including Syria.  Needless to say, neither NATO nor various European leaders are keen on this - although quite what the European leaders think would be the result of allowing things to continue as they are is not overly clear.

What is looking good, though, is that had Hillary Clinton been elected, we would have been looking at a very good chance of a Third World War.  That seems, at least for the present, to have been averted - certainly to those with half a brain.  Quite where the 'liberal' (was ever a philosophy so mis-named?) idea that Trump's election would be the start of WW3 comes from is anyone's guess.

Saturday 28 June 2014

The Centenary of the Great War - Part I

On this day in 1914, at 11:00 am or thereabouts (10:00 am British Summer Time, 09:00 GMT), a young Serb named Gavrilo Princip stepped out in front of a car carrying the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophia, and fired two shots from an FN model 1910 Browning pistol.  The first hit Franz in the neck, the second hit Sophia in the abdomen.  By 11:30, both were dead.

It's well known that this event was the spark that ignited the powder keg of the First World War.  But how did the powder keg come to be there?  Why did Princip take the action he did?

Needless to say, the events that led to the war were many and varied, and played out over a long time.  I present here a simplified account - a detailed account would be, and is, the subject of a great many books.

Setting the Scene

Europe at the time was the home of several large empires, referred to as the Great Powers.  These were:

Great Britain and The British Empire 
Comprising 25% of the earth's land surface and 25% of its population, the British Empire was at the time the most powerful nation on the planet.  Ruled by King Edward VII until his death in 1910, when his son George V became King.

France, and her Empire
A long-time rival and enemy of the British Empire, the two were now in an uneasy alliance, with little to gain from conflict with one another.

The German Empire
Formerly a sprawling mass of principalities, kingdoms and republics, had been welded into the German Empire in 1870 by Otto von Bismark.  The ruler at the time we are looking at was Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire
Bear with me here, because this one is not simple. The legacy of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria-Hungary (cobbled together from a large and diverse number of nations with fifteen official languages) was the constitutional union of the Empire of Austria and the Apostolic Kingdom of Hungary, and for this reason was also known as the Dual Monarchy.  Hungary had only relatively recently been granted equal status to Austria within the Empire, but had always had its own parliament and laws.  Croatia-Solvenia was an autonomous country under the Hungarian crown, and Bosnia-Herzegovina was under Austro-Hungarian military and civil rule from 1878 until 1908, when it was annexed and became part of the Empire.  At the time we are concerned with, Franz Josef I was emperor, with his nephew Franz Ferdinand as Heir.

The Russian Empire
Existing as a state since 1721, the Russian Empire spanned Europe and Asia from the White Sea to the Pacific, and also included Alaska. Tsar Nicholas II was ruler at the time.

The Italian Empire
Existing as a unified state only since 1861, Italy's empire was a result of its participation in the scramble for Africa. 

The Ottoman Empire of Turkey
Powerful throughout the Nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was in decline by the beginning of the Twentieth.  Several of its European territories had declared independence from the empire, which Istanbul seemed powerless to prevent.

As you would expect, the Great Powers did not operate in complete isolation from one another.  Germany,   fearing that if the Russian Empire were to ally with France, had in the 1870s and 80s  formed a triple alliance of Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary, hoping that the Russians would not guess their intentions.  They did, and on Bismark's exit from power in 1890, Russia left the triple alliance and formed her own alliance with France in 1894.  Germany and Austria-Hungary remained in an alliance more out of political inertia, although the shared Russian enemy was also a factor.  Italy was nominally brought into the alliance in 1882, although she had designs on Trieste and the South Tirol, so Austria-Hungary (in whose territory those provinces lay) didn't consider the Italians a reliable ally.

So things ticked along in the usual grumbling European manner, with the Great Powers eyeing one another suspiciously and carrying out their usual intrigues.

The Bosnian Crisis of 1908 and the Balkan Wars

It was Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 that really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Bosnia-Herzegovina had been a province of the Ottoman Empire, although under Austro-Hungarian rule for some time (19th Century European politics were anything but straightforward); however, Austria-Hungary wished to ensure that the Turks would not try to re-establish their grip on the region, and so brought Bosnia into the empire.  Many of the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina were happy enough about this, gaining full and equal citizenship as they did, although most of the Great Powers were not so pleased, as they saw it as a violation of the Treaty of Berlin of 1878 (which we won't go into here); the simultaneous declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire by Bulgaria was viewed in much the same manner.

The neighbouring nations of Serbia and Montenegro were also deeply unhappy about it; 40% of the Bosnian population were ethnic Serbs, and doubtless both they and Serbia would have preferred Bosnia to come under Belgrade's influence.  So great was Serbia's pique that it ordered a general mobilisation, and demanded that either the annexation was reversed, or that Serbia should receive compensation in the form of territory.  A strip of land was handed over and the Serbians backed down.  Russia was similarly annoyed, but with the threat of Germany backing Austria-Hungary and the careful leaking of documents in which Russia had secretly agreed the Austria-Hungary could do as it pleased with Bosnia, Russia backed down but was not at all happy.

Things rumbled on for a time; Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece had gained independence form the Ottoman Empire by the early 20th century, but large ethnic populations remained under Turk rule.  In 1912, these four nations set up the Balkan League, partly in response the the Ottoman Empires lack of ability to govern itself and also in response to the failure of the other Great Powers to ensure that Turkey would carry out the needed reforms. Confident that they could defeat the Turks, the Balkan League took up arms and the First Balkan War began, ending the same year with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the drafting of the Treaty of London. This ended five centuries of Turkish rule in the Balkans.

Bulgaria was unhappy about the division of the spoils of the war, however, particularly with regard to a secret agreement between Serbia and Greece with regard to Macedonia.  Accordingly, it attacked them, and the Second Balkan War began in June 1913.  Romania and the Ottoman Empire also joined in, attacking Bulgaria.  The war ended with the Treaty of Bucharest, under which Bulgaria lost most of the territory it had gained in the first war.

So what had all this to do with anything?

Well, for one thing, it annoyed the Serbs.  The annexation of Bosnia in 1908 led them to set up the Narodna Odbrana (National Defence) and its more radical spin-off, Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death), known as the Black Hand.  Both organisations were well known to Belgrade - in fact, the Head of Serbian Military Intelligence, col. Dragutin Dimitrijevitch, was the head of the Black Hand.  And it was with these organisations, with their help and blessing, that Gavrilo Princip and his fellow conspirators were affiliated.

The Balkan Wars had shown the Serbs that they were strong, and Austria-Hungary's refusal to involve itself in the wars had convinced the Serbs that the Dual Monarchy was weak.  Ironically, it was Franz Ferdinand who had been a major influence in preventing Austria-Hungary's involvement in the wars, with the support of Count Stefan Tisza, the minister-president of Hungary.

Secondly, it annoyed the Russians.  Forced to back down over the Balkan Crisis of 1908, Russia was smarting where Austria-Hungary was concerned, and felt a strong affiliation with the Serbs, their fellow orthodox Slavs.

Russia had other, pressing concerns.  The Russo-Japanese war and the subsequent rebellion within Russia in 1905 had highlighted to the Russians just how precarious their domestic situation was.  Agricultural reforms were needed, and mechanisation required.  A programme of improvement had been embarked upon, with Russia trading grain for machinery; the problem was that the Black Sea ports were the only ports Russia had on its western end that could remain open all year round. The Turks had briefly closed the Ottoman Straits (the Bosphorus, Sea of Mamara and the Dardanelles) in the First Balkan War in 1912, during which time Russia's Black Sea exports dropped by a third and their heavy industry in Ukraine all but ground to a halt.  When the Russians learned that a German general had been placed in charge of the Ottoman troops defending the straits, the Russians really began to worry.

Russia had had to make plans, therefore; in the event of a European war, one of her first acts would be to attack the Ottoman Empire and seize Constantinople and the Straits, in an attempt to keep trade flowing.  In an effort to check Germany, Russia had developed strong ties with France, with much in the way of trade and joint defence treaties between the two nations.

And Britain too had allegiance with France, with much of the naval strategy of the two Empires being interdependent.

And so a group of young, idealistic Serbs hatched a plan to strike at the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and attack the heir as he toured the recently annexed province of Bosnia - a province that the Serbs felt should belong to them.  And on the 28th of January, on the last day of Franz and Sophia's tour, they struck.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Because I like it, and because it's true...

In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, children's school copybook used to have little sayings and phrases in the headers of each page.  So here is a poem Kipling wrote about them.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

All we demand is your silent, obedient consent

A few years ago, the idea of gay marriage was a bit strange to most people. Unorthodox. Now, not only is it legal in many places in the western world, but has become something of a new orthodoxy. Far too quickly, as Brendan O'Neill puts it very well.

Meet Doll, Kitten and Brynn Young, three women from Massachusetts who have recently married each other as a threesome. God help them - one wife was more than enough for me.  But I'm a cynical bastard.

I notice that their outfits are traditional, at least...

Never mind that polygamous marriages have been forbidden the rest of us for centuries (barring certain communities and cultures). That's not what concerns me here. Neither am I particularly worried about gay marriage either. I do not care who wishes to marry whom. People can have relationships with whoever they choose as far as I'm concerned - as long as all are consenting adults, it's all gravy. The mystery to me is why gay people have wanted government approval for their choice of partner, but each to their own.  And I am certainly not going to pretend that this tripartite tying of the knot (what if one of them wants out - how will the divorce work then?  A Gordian knot is what it'll be) is the herald of a wave of such marriages, because I very much doubt that it is.

What does interest - and concern - me is the reaction to this, and what it portends. Not the false moral panic that the tabloids pedal, but rather the new moral orthodoxy by which any question or hint of criticism of a three-way lesbian marriage will be met with a barrage of fury, accusation or mockery.

You see, ten years ago, gay marriage was the pipe-dream of a very small minority.  The idea of two men or two women marrying each other was...well, slightly preposterous.  Now, of course - in the last year or so - any hint of criticism of the idea is met with the kind of reaction hitherto reserved for the holocaust denier.  And in the YouTube video linked to, we see TJ, 'the Amazing Atheist', rip into those who have a hard time getting to grips with a gay marriage involving not two, but three women.  As though such unions were commonplace and long-established.

And it is this that I take issue with.

You see, changes in societal attitudes happen gradually, over extended periods.  What was unthinkable becomes shocking, then forbidden, then merely outré, then uncommon, then relatively common, get the picture.  This takes time, understandably.  People have to get used to an idea, and have to be able to question it, pull it about a bit, examine it from all sides so that they can decide where to put it, how to fit it into their worldview.  If you are asking people to accept and live with something, you really ought to let them figure out how.  Be patient.  It'll come.

We are, however, seeing an increasing tendency towards social engineering.  The forcing-through of societal 'reform' in a manner that is decidedly out of tune with the usual organic mode of change; the refusal to allow people to question and idea, or offer criticism, or even think about it.  No, unquestioning acceptance is required, immediately.  And if the majority of the population don't like it - well, tough.  You are all bigots and evil; see how we select some of you for public shaming - now get in line, prole scum.

You see, essential to any society is a shared set of values and a commonly acknowledged set of institutions.  If there are no shared values, no agreed institutions, then there is no society.  At all.  There is just a lot of individuals living in physical propinquity to one another, but with nothing else in common.  If the existing values and institutions are destroyed - or at least, changed radically to the point that they no longer resemble their former selves, and so quickly that the populace cannot keep pace with the change (which would effectively their destruction and replacement with something else) - then the society that once upheld those values and institutions no longer exists.

Immigration presented similar challenges to many people; a steady but measured stream of immigrants is something that a people can deal with.  They get to know new people who have arrive from far-flung shores, and understand them.  Acceptance follows understanding - we have seen this with those immigrants who arrived here on the Windrush and in the years that followed.  Acceptance was slow in coming, but it did come.  And once the British population had accepted those immigrants, so it became easier for them to accept other people arriving from India, Pakistan, and many other countries.

However, the progressive left mistook this for, at best an enthusiasm for immigrant communities or, at worst an indifference, which would allow for very large numbers of new people to enter the country in a very short time.  When Labour actively encouraged more then three million people to join the population during their last tenure, they utterly failed to keep in mind that people need to be able to adjust to new circumstances.

Here lies the rub.  We find ourselves in a situation wherein a lot has changed, and very quickly.  Gender (and, if the example set by the three women above does become more common, number of spouses) is no longer relevant in marriage; the demography of the country has changed drastically and rapidly and the arrivals have brought with them their own values and institutions.  Many people have found the communities that they have lived in their entire lives altered almost beyond recognition; political correctness has curtailed drastically how they can express themselves. They are not even allowed to ask questions.

You see, a society is supported by its institutions.  Institutions like marriage, like community values, like language and culture - all of those things.  The institutions might change over time, or be replaced, but it is an organic process that, given time, can happen quite naturally.  The trouble comes when you knock those institutions away, rapidly, forcibly and without offering anything in their stead; when you try to switch common culture for multiculturalism in a very short space of time.  The pillars supporting the society have been knocked away, and the whole thing starts to crumble.  Predictable, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong; I have no wish to sound like some Colonel Blimp bemoaning the loss of Victorian values.  But I do not wish to see the society I live in become morally and intellectually bankrupt.  And that seems to be the way we are going.  And God help anyone who tries to point it out.

Earthquakes, Local and Continental...

So, UKIP did better than the media luvvies would have liked in the elections last week.  They did well despite a concerted slur campaign conducted by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.  They did well despite the misinformation spread by the gutter press - which nowadays includes the broadsheets.  They did well despite the right-on metro twitterati tweeting furiously about how racist they all are.

Of course, in reality, they didn't do all that well.  They captured 17% of the vote - which is to say, 17% of the 35% of the electorate that bothered to vote, bothered to vote for UKIP.  Claims of an earthquake have been rather over-stated.

Amusing to me has been the reaction to UKIP's gains, though.  The horror and outrage, the illiberal desires expressed that anyone who votes for any party other than those approved of by the chattering classes ought not to be allowed to vote.  Democracy, it seems, is like free speech - it is precious.  So precious that it should be rationed.

Anyway, I am not here to fly the flag for UKIP, or anyone else.  I am here to express my amusement and bemusement.

You see, there can be no denying that the parties of left and right have become very similar over the last couple of decades.  They are converging in their policies and outlook, as is bound to happen in a democracy, especially one with a 'first past the post' voting system. If the electorate are so short-sighted as to vote only for what will benefit them personally (rather than what is good for society as a whole), then the parties running in the elections will seek to offer them such sweeteners as will induce the public to vote for each party.  And so they converge, bribing the voters with the voters' own money.

This has happened in the UK.  The politicos inhabiting the Westminster bubble have long since stopped listening to the likes of you and I, and instead listen only to the lobbyists, the corporate sponsors and the single-issue campaigners.  They listen to the eurocrats, most of all.  And while they hand more and more of the executive and legislative powers to Brussels, they then seek more power to control what we eat and drink, how much we exercise, what we say, what we think and what we smoke.

This is not good.  Whichever way you slice it, such control over our everyday lives can only ever have negative effects and is not desirable in any way, shape or form.

The government are supposedly the servants of the public, but they have long since forgotten this and have become our masters.  Should any member of the public dare to give voice to what concerns them, they will be branded as bigoted.

So, surely it is time to shake things up a bit?  Wouldn't it be good to make the bastards realise that we, the electorate, wish to be heard?  That we are sick of being lied to?  Why, yes, yes it would.

And this is why UKIP's gains have, for me at least, been a cause for celebration.  UKIP haven't gained any real power and they certainly will not win the next general election, but they have managed to rattle the Westminster crowd out of their complacency somewhat.

And surely, whoever you vote for, this can only be a good thing.

Wednesday 4 December 2013


There are some things that you simply cannot let pass.

A story very recently in the news is that of a woman, and Italian national resident in Italy who came to England on a training course organised by her employer.

The lady suffers from bipolar disorder, and had neglected to take her medication for a few days. Whilst in her hotel room, she became distressed when she couldn't find her children's passports . She had a panic attack during which she called the police and then her mother.

She was on the telephone to her mother when the police arrived at her room; she handed the telephone to them and her mother told the police about her illness and her medication. The police told her mother that they were taking her to the hospital to make sure that the unborn baby was in good health.

The foetus was not their concern however; when they arrived at the hospital she found herself in a psychiatric unit. When she asked to return to her hotel she was told that she could not; when she tried to leave she was strapped to the gurney and sedated. She was then sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Two weeks later, still in the psychiatric unit, she was denied breakfast without explanation. Again she was sedated, and awoke to find herself in hospital, having been given a cesarean without her knowledge or consent.

It transpired that Essex Social Services had obtained a High Court order from Sir Justice Mostyn for the c-section.  The lawyers appointed to her by Essex County Council failed to represent her, and the court was a Protection Court, whose proceedings are closed to the public.

Denied access to her child, she was subsequently put on a flight back to Italy. When her family, and her ex-husband (now living in the US) requested that the child be given to them, social services refused. At a hearing in the UK, the lady was told that although she was back on her medication and seemed much better and well-adjusted, the judge did not feel confident that she would not neglect her medication again and so would not allow her to have the child.

The child, now fifteen months old, is to be put up for adoption in the UK.

This is monstrous.

That any public body should be granted the authority to behave in this manner is unforgivable. That there are closed, secret courts that can and will consent to - and actively encourage - this signals only that the rule of law is utterly corrupt.

That an organisation - a public body no less! - purportedly mandated to protect people should cut the child from a woman's belly that they might take it from her is befitting only of the atrocious excesses of Nazi Germany.

Bad enough were they to take someone's child in this manner - and they frequently do so, whilst at the same time utterly failing to protect children who genuinely are in danger - but first to cut it from her very womb! 

'High-handed' does not even begin to describe the attitude and behaviour of Essex County Council, Essex Social Services or Sir Justice (and how hollow that title sounds) Mostyn.

A precedent has been set. Draw the lesson from this.

Your organs belong to the state when you die; in July of this year I posted on this blog that it would be a short step to the state helping themselves to your organs whilst you are still alive. It had already come to pass.

You no longer have autonomy over your own flesh. The state will, with the full consent of the law, cut into you to take what it wants. There are judges sufficiently corrupt and surgeons sufficiently psychopathic that there will be no obstacle to their achieving this aim.

The law does not embody nor ensure justice; it belongs entirely to the state and exists only to enable those in authority to do as they wish. It is merely the tool by which they give spurious justification to even the most egregious of their actions.

You are not free. You are a slave of the state and will be used as such. You are disposable. 

The United Kingdom Bill of Rights of 1789, long ignored, has been consigned to history. As far as those in power are concerned, it no longer applies.

The United Kingdom is no longer a constitutional monarchy, and a parliamentary democracy only in that an election will substitute one cage of posturing apes for another. Those with the real power are answerable to no electorate, to no vote, and the courts are their poodle. 

To the people of Britain I say this: you have too long allowed your politicians to bribe you with your own money. You have too long ignored the batteries of new legislation to pass unremarked and unexamined. You have too long allowed demagogues to spread fear among you, and take from you your liberty in exchange for the promise of security. You have too long allowed your masters to tell you that you fight external enemies, as you have been your masters' enemy all along. You have too long sold your souls in a thousand petty shares; mortgaged your freedom and your integrity for a thousand worthless promises.

You have embraced leviathan. You have fed it and succoured it and watched it grow. 

And now, unthinking, it shall devour you.