The Dogs in the Street…

It’s funny how Tony Blair’s Christian crusade to open up the workings of undemocratic states repeats the same errors of those states. Thus, like the Taleban, he has God on his side and a gun in his hand and invokes a devout belief in the rightness of his cause when he opts to kill.

shocking-images-iraq-war-001 3.23.13

Calling for fairly elected governments abroad didn’t lead to proportional voting or the abolition of the unelected Lords at home. Belief in ‘What’s Right’ doesn’t prevent earning millions from advising others, like Kazakhstan, producer of oil and uranium, run by an authoritanian ruler who regularly amasses 90 per cent ‘support’ in elections.

And today the Avenging Angel of Moral Superiority hovers over us flitting just out of range of justice – but not of judgement.

The tortuous, three-year-long deal concocted between Blair, Sir John Chilcot and the key individual, Sir Jeremy Heywood, head of the civil service and formerly Blair’s right hand man during the war, is designed to save what’s left of the great man’s reputation over the Iraq War.

iraq

It saves nothing of the kind of course, because the dogs in the street know that Blair gave private unconditional backing to Bush for any and all action over Saddam, ignoring advisers, commanders, Cabinet, Commons and people. The result was an ill-prepared operation without long-term objective or plan for peace, deaths in the hundreds of thousands, massive destruction, the radicalisation of young British muslims and a terror campaign at home, continuing mass suicide bombings and the wilful rejection of the authority of the United Nations and a global message of contempt for international law. It gave us rendition for torture. And of course, lies to parliament.

It was also a gravestone for the moral authority of the Labour Party. It is notable that so far there is no response from Labour to the deal done with their former leader. I find no statement from Ed Miliband or his front bench team – but I read that Peter Mandelson has advised him not to say too much for fear of hurting Labour’s reputation. It is left to the mavericks like Paul Flynn MP to say what everyone knows to be true.

Tony Blair addresses troops in Basra, Iraq, in May 2003

Blair is wriggling out serpent-like from a tight spot because, like all attempts at transparency in Britain, they are diverted and corrupted by the hidden forces of the British state. There are always ‘wider interests’ than democracy and the people’s knowledge which must be served, be it Bloody Sunday, the Franks inquiry into the Falklands, Hillsborough or Hutton and Butler into Iraq. They should never be witch hunts – no one starts out to make mistakes and many regret decisions later. But they must be truthful and honest and treat both the participants and the people with respect.

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As if…

I don’t trust any government – the temptation to use their powers to cover their tracks is too great, aided of course by the hysteria of the opposition to the slightest hint of weakness. You couldn’t have a clearer example this week from the British Treasury which trades on the solemnity and grandeur of a mighty institution but is in reality a morally bankrupt set of charlatans shuffling numbers around as Britain goes bust. When the banking crisis broke I spoke to a public figure who said his recently-graduated economist daughter had been fast-tracked into the Treasury because they had no one on the staff who knew about banking.

When the mask of integrity was torn away from them by Patrick Dunleavy of the LSE, it encapsulated everything that is wrong about the collective psyche of Britain. They have no capacity for honesty. It isn’t a club in their bag. They do and say what is necessary at the time and right now the need is to keep Scotland in the Union to benefit from its oil revenues and its export earnings, it’s markets and expertise and to avoid the humiliation of its loss – and 10 per cent of the UK economy – to British prestige. Therefore numbers can be twisted and contrived deliberately to misinform the voters, as they did over currency, defence and Europe. They can’t help it. It’s what they do.

Equally, I don’t believe the Scottish government can’t produce a figure for set-up in a new state. There must be an estimate, otherwise it is dereliction of duty. I’m just not sure why it’s so important. It will cost something – let’s take the LSE figure of quarter of a billion. Set beside likely savings after the split of £5b, it’s not a game-changer, so why the controversy? It’s like the EU advice fiasco where they got into an unnecessary mess. Why not put the case honestly and learn to rely on common sense?

One of the worst current examples of deliberate deceit is the Labour mantra that under the SNP, ‘A billion pounds of anti poverty funding has disappeared.’ You’ll hear Jackie Baillie deliver that line with mock outrage but I no longer believe anything she says and instead mentally check every word for double meaning – which is where her routine mendacity takes you.

First of all how likely is it that £1billion could disappear? On a scale of one to 10, what is the probability that could be true? Of course it hasn’t. This is what happened. The government took a series of generally anti-poverty support programmes – the Community Regeneration Fund, worth £113m; the Supporting People Fund, worth £384m; and the Fairer Scotland Fund, worth £145 and a £307m cut in the housing and regeneration budget over three years, and a £15m cut in Education Maintenance Allowance.

They then handed the programmes over to local government to administer in their areas. In other words, instead of centralizing the decision-making on how the money should be spent, they let councils do it for themselves where their local knowledge can be used and needs would be best served – exactly what Labour has been calling for when they complain about centralisation. Johann Lamont made a speech calling for powers to go to councils. Yet when the government does exactly that, Labour objects…

No wonder one side tries to hide facts from the other…no matter what you do, you lose. The money is there in council accounts and by my count, more councils are Labour controlled today than SNP ones so if it isn’t being spent properly who’s really to blame?

Even the cut to the housing budget is another example because it is made as a result of budgets being cut by Westminster. Labour doesn’t object to London controlling and setting the Scottish budget but talks about the SNP ‘ making the tough choices’. Yet when the SNP does exactly that, they’re pilloried.

The same happened with colleges. The Scottish budget gets cut so the response is to reduce the costs by merging institutions. This has been successfully achieved. Labour has not supported those measures to streamline and save as they can’t allow for any SNP success. Part of the saving was in the number of short-term courses like day release which have been reduced. This is a shame for all those who benefited from them, many of them needy people and a high proportion of women. But the result is that colleges concentrate their resources on full-time qualification-based courses with a proven record in access to work. It means that the college money goes to helping students get employment after qualification. That is the main aim of the colleges at a time when the economy and incomes need to be revived. It is a tough decision. Labour spins it as denying education to those who no longer get short-term courses, so what’s their answer?

Perhaps it’s charging fees. Would they like to tell us?

Student maintenance has been cut also as a result of falling budgets but that too is a trade off. Scottish students pay no tuition fees so get a massive advantage therefore isn’t it reasonable to ask them to get by on less state support? Tough choices…

I think the public understand those choices when they are explained to them and are sick of the politicos claiming to be all right while the others are all wrong. That world exists, but only in nursery school.

And would they like to tell us now what Blair DID say to Bush and stop treating us like fools because it makes not just the individuals look untrustworthy but the entire system of government. We have no guarantees of redemption after independence but we have a chance. That’s what people are realizing – Britain can’t and won’t change because it’s incapable of doing so – but a new and democratic Scotland just might.

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34 thoughts on “The Dogs in the Street…

  1. Andrew Sinclair

    Once again you hit the nail squarely on the head. The Treasury has been shown to be the Wizard of Oz – without his “magic” cloak. They’re certainly somewhere over the rainbow if they think they have a shred of credibility anymore. The squalid deals to prevent the full publication of the Blair- Bush communications is another nail. The state is closing ranks to pretect one of it’s own at the cost of the hundreds of thousands of lives and endless misery it has caused in Iraq. Shameful doesn’t even come close.

    Are blogs such as yours creating a “Scottish Spring” ? It certainly seems so and I fervently hope so.

  2. Heartfelt Derek. So so so sick of being lied to and treated to such blatant hypocracy by UK governments.

  3. Absolutely spot on Derek. Another great post which brings the real issues into focus.

    Share this with everyone you meet people!

  4. Spot-on again Derek. Is it too much to wildly dream of a Scottish Parliament where ALL members work constructively for Scotland. Where senseless inane bickering and table thumping is tossed out as beneath the dignity of that place. The Scottish Parliament is the people of Scotland – insult it and you insult us all.

    The one fly in the ointment is the distraction of Westminster meddling and restricting Scotland’s development – be rid of this and see Scotland take-off!

  5. As of today Derek we are looking at what should have been a train wreck of a week for both BT and the Westminster establishment. The CBI being caught in yet more Electoral Commission trauma. Vote No Borders ads being removed from cinema screens due to their misrepresentation of NHS facts, near open racism and involving the name of GOSH in their misrepresentation, and of course finally the treasury being caught red handed misleading the public by misrepresenting the work of the LSE.

    By any sane standard and at any other political campaign than this, careers should have come to an end. There should have been days of media coverage and outrage. There should have been ‘questions asked in the commons’ and BTs campaign should have been near terminally wounded before today’s kick off.

    Other than the FT and the Independent, the silence over all of these things has been near deafening. Buried in other news, mentioned in the passing, or forgotten as one day wonders.

    In terms of this referendum it doesn’t get more serious than the government being caught faddling the figures and misrepresenting academic work to mislead the public. Yet they appear on the face of it to have been let off lightly by our media.

    This is not better together. This is manipulation of the public of the worst kind.

    • George Elliott

      Macart763
      I couldn’t agree more! If you don’t mind I have copied your comments to place on FB for my ‘No’ friends who cannot see past the MSM and BBC……it makes you so angry that they just don’t see the manipulation, probably too big a word for them! 😉

    • James Coleman

      It was a train wreck of a week for them, And they DID receive a good kicking from a number of sources not least from Alex Salmond on the BBC and Donleavy on BBC radio.

      • From what I’ve seen Alex, the trend on most indy sites is a healthy outrage. If its done that to us, the least I’m hoping for from the more undecided is a stop and think moment and at most a few minds getting firmly made up.

        • “These people are slavering arseholes”
          ~ a no voter. for the moment.

          Genuine words from someone who was firmly in the No campaign until maybe a month ago. She’s either not voting now, or will vote Yes.

          The Better Together campaign simply cannot communicate with people. They are too political and obsessed with winning the war in the media whilst not realising that the media are detested and not trusted either.

  6. Aye, fine a usual. Not too sure about the touch choices automatically translates as cuts logic though. Tough Choices and Honesty about tax revenues and what a renewed and decent public sphere looks like would be more apposite, no? Believe me, unfree tuition is a surefire means of class splits and more neoliberalism down the line.

  7. Great article Derek. I’ve long thought that this question about how much independence would cost is very imprecise. In first year? First 5 years? First 20 years? Then again, shouldn’t we be talking about NET costs. An independent Scotland would certainly need, for example, a Ministry of Defence. But we already pay for 9% of the costs of the hugely bloated UK MoD which is almost certainly more than a nation of 5 million people would need. You could do this with virtually all the new govt departments we would need.

  8. I was thinking that the SNP vagueness on start up costs was a tactic to keep the UK Treasury fiddled figures on the agenda. As long as start up costs are discussed, then the fiddled LSE/Treasury figures are brought into the equation and I know what is more damaging.

    I think they will move quickly on from mentioning start up costs LOL.

  9. Cag-does-thinking

    One point Derek. AS did say that the set up costs estimate was in the region of £250 million. I saw that on the news BEFORE Prof Dunleavy came up with a pretty similar number to rebutt the Treasury estimate misrepresentation. That gives the SNP government more credibility to me as at least that’s in line with independent experts and not one of those mental “pick a figure out of the air” figures for projects such as the trams or the parliament building. And credibility is definately what is at stake.

    If the Treasury, the people who decide what money belongs to Scotland at the moment, can lie so casually about their expert advice, how can people trust any figures and cost allocations they have given us in the past and more importantly would continue to give us if we stay in the UK?

    What chance of any fair attibution of assets if they can’t tell the truth? It’s a big worry whatever way the vote goes. These people are in charge of the money and they don’t tell the truth. In times of accountability heads would roll for that.

  10. Thank you Derek.

    When the time comes, will you please stand for President?

  11. Excellent article, as usual Derek, however, you mislead your readers with reference to day release. Day release, by employers, of employees to attend college classes,allows them to advance their qualifications and hence their performance and job opportunities. Traditionally these courses led to HNC qualifications (equivalent to the first year of a degree course) but now enlightens employers allow employees to obtain degree qualifications through day release courses. Sorry for the pendantry but those advising youngsters need to understand that aprentiships can lead to degrees and you have a good salary at the same time.

  12. What an odd State we live in.

    A bloke pushing a bike through a gate is subjected to minuscule public oversight whereas a PM that took us to war on an invalid basis is not.

  13. Remember too that Scottish students did have to pay tuition fees as well as living costs under the last Labour administration and so many people are still carrying student debt. Something that Jackie Baillie and Co need to factor into their calculations. Far from being £1,400 better off in the Union, many former students unlucky enough to go to University and College during the Labour administration are £25,000 worse off.

  14. Oh dear JoLa in the papers with Tory Knight of the realm in charge of B&Q scaremongering the Scots over not investing in Scotland if a YES vote.

    Lamont is a disgusting and vile woman conniving with Tory elites and big business seeking to influence our democratic referendum.

    How low can SLab go!

  15. Brilliant piece, Derek. Great to see all the strands pulled together.

    Blair has proved to be a most despicable politician. His right-hand man A. Campbell, who oiled the wheels for him, is another totally without scruples……..and Brown, he must have known what was going on. What really bothers me is the fact that I didn’t see through them until their alarming manoeuvres preceding the Iraq War. I hate to think I was so easily fooled. But, thanks to the internet, never again!

  16. Well said Derek, every day we get another fairy tale from the English government at Wastmonster. It’s English and not UK anymore, waging a propaganda war, conducted against a friendly nation in peace time, on one part of the so called union. Better off, not together, I’m voting YES.

  17. James Coleman

    Tthe amount for start up costs was quoted by AS as £250 m in his BBC interview and backed up by Donleavy in a number of different TV and radio interviews as being reasonable.

    And £250 m is more or less £15m times 15 which is the number of major departments Scotland would likely need together with Donleavy’s calculated figure of £15 m to set up a new UK major department for a population of 60m. Ireland has 16 and Denmark 17 major departments. And as AS and Donleavy both stated Scotland has the makings of most of the new departments already in place. So it could be a lot less. It is certainly not something to twist knickers over.

  18. Brilliant piece Derek.

    I wish i could write like that . You seem to read things and write about them the way many see . Not for the first time you are spot on.thanks.

    Oh and watched you on pictishbeasties site . First time i have saw you speak. A joy to watch , any more ??

    Roll on the 19th and when we get our “house in order” lets get rid of the Jolo’s and Baillie’s . Detestable women

  19. “The result was an ill-prepared operation without long-term objective or plan for peace”

    It was a meticulous and long-prepared plan for the acquisition of Iraqi oil and the insertion of US military bases into the region. Peace wasn’t in the brief. Mission accomplished.

    http://www.alexcox.com/ed_current.htm
    (scroll down to PERMANENT US BASES IN IRAQ)

    “They have no capacity for honesty. It isn’t a club in their bag. They do and say what is necessary at the time”

    Absolutely so. If you told the average WM politician that he was telling the truth he would be no less shaken than if you had called him a liar. PR positioning is all that matters: truth is a quaint abstraction, a concern for lesser mortals.

  20. I had some hope for the Iraq inquiry when it was reported last week that Chilcot was holding out for full disclosure of the correspondence between Blair and Bush. Now it seems he has meekly given in to the establishment, so his report will be another whitewash, and the criminals who have caused the deaths of millions of people will go unpunished. And some people still want to be governed byy this mob. Unbelieveable.

  21. Looks like BBC Better Together’s new weekday flagship replacement for Newsnicht is toast already, according to The Herald.

    BBC Better Together, funder of the CBI has been found out I think!

  22. Gavin C Barrie

    Following independence a Scottish government would have right of access to pre- independence UK government papers surely? And including the UK’s peace envoy, Mr Blair. Atonement,join RC church, appointment as peace envoy? Something stinks.

  23. I am one of the ones with the remotes that switched to Scotland Tonight when Sarah Smith came on.I tried but the new strategy by BBC seems to be avoid talking about the referendum altogether.It just passed me by and I went back to STV.Incidently more proof of unionist propaganda through my door.Stirling summer guide emblazoned with union flag armed forces day.Inside brief mention of 700th anniversary of Bannockburn but no saltires.Just a shared page about armed forces day with union flags.Well we know that labour tried to take the satire down from the council office.My question to them is.Am I not allowed to be Scottish in Scotland?Are the Brits so insecure they can’t even have a Saltire in Bannockburn.I am not going to the event as I feel it has been hijacked by the Brits and will be all pomp and ceremony.Shame on you Stirling council.

  24. The BBC in Scotland is full of very creative people.

    Or so I’ve read.

    However when BBC Scotland applies this creativity to being wholly destructive

    as in its treatment of the Independence Referendum

    then the outcome surely is that BBC Scotland

    will destroy itself.

    And the sooner the better.

    Ken McQuarrie and John Boothroyd – their days are numbered.

    They can’t possibly survive either way in a post referendum Scotland

  25. A LONG JOURNEY IN SHORT: I stopped attending Labour Party meetings in 1989, disappointed at the dilution of progressive policies and disgusted at the discarding of the unilateralist stance. Limp-wristed opposition to the Poll Tax and reluctance to develop any fair system of taxation to fund local government finally pushed me to let my membership lapse in 1990. Voted for them in 1992, only because I thought it might help get the hated Tories out.

    Labour sold its soul in 1994; the price was the removal of Clause 4 demanded by one Tony Blair. I have never voted Labour again. Thereafter it became a different wing of the Tory Party – neoliberalist and imperialist, its paranoia and corruption a purgative against any residual, or nascent, integrity.

    If we win independence we should certainly try to gain access to the relevant papers being withheld from Chilcot, but I don’t beliee we should expend much political capital on pursuing it. Blair is a self-deluded hawk and will enjoy the full protection of the rUK and the US till the day he dies, and beyond. The point is this: Never – NEVER – allow ourselves to be under the control of him and his ilk ever again.

    Yes does not guarantee that – far from it – but it would massively reduce the chances of it happening again in our lifetimes – and act as a final repudiation of the rotten husk of the British State and all it stands for in the modern world.

  26. I had to try Derek Bateman direct to get this through. Site still having difficulty.

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