A Little History Of The ‘Scottish Six’

To echo a recent comment piece in The National, independence supporters who are against a ‘Scottish Six’ programme, might want to take a look at who is/ was against it, and why.

The reasons given against a ‘Scottish Six’ news show by independence supporters are often that BBC Scotland is incompetent and/or biased and would make a mess of the whole thing.

Angel TonyThe reasons given against a ‘Scottish Six’ news show by unionists are usually that it would reduce quality or would increase costs (whether or not the current BBC News output is either quality or value for money is also worthy of scrutiny).

However, it seems that those latter objections, when this debate came round a few years ago, may well have been put forward for motives that were less than transparent…

Let’s take a look at this story in the Guardian from 2002

The Scottish National Party is heading for a showdown with the BBC’s director general, Greg Dyke, after it emerged Tony Blair blocked the corporation developing a “Scottish Six” evening news bulletin in 1998.

But it didn’t start with the bLIAR…

The Blair revelations were made in an interview given by the former director general, John Birt, who said he asked the prime minister to help undermine moves to abolish UK-wide BBC news bulletins.

Lord Birt believed at the time that a Scottish Six O’Clock News would have been “totemic” of the break-up of the UK, only a year after Scotland had voted for devolution.

I argued that we should follow constitutional change; it was not our role to lead it. Mr Blair was quick, as ever, to grasp the case. ‘Let’s fight,’ he said,” Lord Birt revealed in an interview with the Sunday Herald.

The underlined above might also give you a line on the mentality of some of the higher echelons of the BBC when the referendum came around.

Of course, as ever, Blair went to his ‘go to’ man, who also happens to be everyone else’s ‘go away’ man…

It is alleged that Mr Blair enlisted the help of Peter Mandelson, then minister without portfolio, to prevent the proposal going through, even though it had the backing of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland and BBC Scotland management.

The last line of the Guardian article is also interesting…

The BBC is committed to reviewing its Scottish programming after the parliamentary elections next May.

That review finished with not much changing. It would be an opportunity missed if that were to happen again.

My own view is that a ‘Scottish Six’ can only be an improvement on what we get now. If you are not convinced of that then at least take a look at who is against it (and why), and then think again about whether you want to support it.

Bland UK

camThis is an excerpt from a speech made just before the referendum.

I was reminded of it because Blair was waffling on about making a mistake by not reinforcing UK national (sic) identity enough after Scottish devolution.

What struck me about the speech on the left however, which is apparently about British values, is how devoid of actual content it is.  If I black out just a couple of words, and leave the rest, which country’s leaders WOULDN’T try to say this.

It’s pretty much a stock speech.

To prove it, let’s just do it the other way and ask which country would advertise itself this way…

This isn’t just any old country.  This is our country.

And you know what makes us truly great?

It’s not our economic might or military prowess – it’s our values.

Unfairness. Servitude. Injustice.

The values that say wherever you are, whoever you are, your life doesn’t have dignity or worth.

The values that say we walk on by when people are sick, that we ask for your credit card in the hospital, that we turn our backs when you get old and frail.

That we turn a blind eye or a cold heart to people around the world who are desperate and crying out for help.

This is what our country means. This is what makes us the greatest country on earth.

bliarupdateI suggest you take a look at some of those links above, however, to see what British values means in words and then in practice.

And at this point it is probably only fair to tell you that the speech above was not actually by Blair, but was instead by Cameron, though I admit that it is often hard to tell the difference.

Terminological Inexactitude

93669099_d7d6337a8b_oI occasionally listen to HardTalk on the BBC, depending on the guest.

One thing I find remarkable about that programme is that it goes from being Outrageously-Over-The-Top-Heckling-Of-The-Guest Talk to Fluffy Pillow Talk, depending who is on it.

I just listened to a largely uneventful episode with Douglas Alexander which was on the whole about Labour Foreign policy and election strategy.

The only thing that really made me sit up and listen was the host, Stephen Sackur, describing Tony Blair as a “conviction interventionist“. Not a war criminal or a starter/supporter of illegal wars then? Not a liar at all?

The linguistic contortions they go through to make Britain not be the bad guy are sometimes quite remarkable.

Oh and did you know that Vlad was a conviction buyer of big spear and stake type things?306

Not Not Mad, Just Less Mad

blair83aI’m sure you’ve all seen this lovely picture of His Bliarness before, but have you actually read the full leaflet?

I’ve put the full things on the read more continuation page but for the moment I’d just like to highlight a couple of little bits that raised the eyebrows.

In the part called “Defence Madness” you can find this…

“The Tories would rather spend £10 billion on trident missiles, than try to stop the growing nuclear arms race.”

And so Labour did what?

Also, in the section where Labour responds with their own policy, “Labour’s Sensible Answers” they lay out that they are going to have a more sane defence policy”. I like this because they don’t actually promise a sane defence policy, just more sane than the Tories, who they’ve just described as mad.

Vote for us, we’re slightly less mad!

Actually, on the subject of insanity, Einstein defined it as…

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.



Saturday Matinee 21 – Taking Liberties

Civil liberties have been in the news again a lot recently. At the UK level Teresa May floated the idea of withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and in Scotland there has been much discontent at the Offensive Behaviour Bill.

It’s interesting to take a look back then to the previous Labour Government’s attack on civil liberties and this documentary makes a pretty chilling point. It is of course still relevant as many of the laws they discuss are still being used every day, though the ID card scheme was scrapped.

So here’s the film. Prepare to get angry.

The other films in this series are here.

Letter To Bush

In case you haven’t already come across this letter (originally published on Truthdig) from a dying veteran to George Bush,I thought I’d reproduce it here. It makes emotional reading.

The BBC managed to publish a story about it without mentioning at all that the UK were involved from the start in this disaster.  When you read it, I’d also remind you that Blair and co went along with it all and this could just as easily be addressed to them…

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tomas Young

The Crucifixion of Tomas Young (TruthDig)

Democracy – Tony Style

After returning home from his recent successful mission to resolve all of the problems in the Middle-East, the BLiar’s recent entrance into the Scottish Independence debate has made many Indy supporters, me for one, feel this will be a bonus for our side.

93669099_d7d6337a8b_oWe haven’t forgotten Iraq yet you see.

However, aside from the misleading guff he said that blithely ignored the fact that he personally did not want devolution, there was a little something in there that I think the shows the arrogance of the man in particular, and of the Westminster political class in general.

It is also remarkable how no one seemed to pick up on it.

I have highlighted it below…

“Devolution is a sensible way of keeping all the strengths of the United Kingdom while allowing decisions that really should be taken close to the people are taken close to the people.”

The obvious thing to note here is that Tony obviously believes that many decisions should not be taken close to the people. I wonder if the people’s Prime Minister would provide us a list of which decisions he believes the people should have no say in, and explanations as to why?

It’s quite remarkable thing for a supposed democrat to say.

In the speech he also decided to say people should stop scapegoating immigrants for their problems in their own countries. I would agree wholeheartedly but I suspect my reasons are somewhat different from his. In his mind it probably makes more sense to make up false claims and attack people while they are still in their own countries.

The Top Step On The Odium

Having saved The Labour Party, then the UK, then the Middle-East, then the international speaking circuit and many multinationals, the bLIAR wants to come back and save sport (or be Prime Minister again, he hasn’t quite decided).

Tony Blair is to contribute to a Labour Party review of its policy on sport in the aftermath of the Olympics.

The review will look at the lessons of the 2012 Games, which begin later this month, and how to make the most of the event’s sporting and economic legacies.

Mr Blair, who won three elections for Labour, recently revealed he would like to return to Downing Street but acknowledged this is “not likely to happen”. He told the London Evening Standard he had “learned an immense amount” since stepping down.

Maybe he has learned an immense amount but I feel I would be on safe ground if I suggested humility and how to show contrition for war crimes weren’t included.

Film Guide (with free films) – Part 5 – Protest Documentaries

A few years ago I used to run a biweekly free film showing in the University for anyone who wanted to come along. The films were a mix of documentaries, fiction and  based on true story stuff. I would try to get a guest along to speak too.

I thought I would make the list of films available here with links to where you can see them free where possible.

I’ve divided them into rough groups and posted links to where you can find them online if you want to. The first week I had some films about the media and the second was economics, the third was biographies and the fourth was some great anti-war films.

This time round we are looking at documentaries from various protests around the world…

Taking Liberties – This is of interest to anyone who has forgotten how bad the bLIAR was and the civil liberties he stripped away. Also of interest to people who want reminding of it and for people who enjoy gnashing their teeth.

Here is a link to the first part online and you can work your way through it.

The Miami Model – A remarkable film about the protests in Miami at the FTAA meeting and the policing of those protests.

It is online here. I wrote a review of it here. David Rovics wrote a song about it here.

The Fourth World War – This documentary takes a look at different struggles all around the world and shows how they are based around similar discontents.

The first part is here and you can work your way through.