A Peek behind the Curtains of the UK Arms Trade and Blairs Ongoing role in its activities. And He is still Pursuing Corbyn with a vengeance

 

 

 

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University College London’s Institute for Security & Resilience Studies (ISRS)

The ISRS was founded in 2008 by former “New Labour” Defence Secretary, John Reid.

Reid was a key Blair ally in the run-up to the Iraq war deployment of British forces to Afganistan and earned the reputation as Blair’s ‘enforcer’.

He was appointed Home Secretary following Robin Cook’s resignation to ensure few others would follow suit.

Reid was known in Whitehall as ‘Minister for Newsnight’ for his skill in pushing the Bush/Blair line in media appearances.

The invasion of Iraq may well be remembered as ‘Blair’s war’, and not without some justification.

But there are many people who bear a great deal of responsibility for that criminal act. John Reid is one of them.

 

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Blair, arms dealers & Britain’s universities

In November 2012, Tony Blair was the headline speaker for the inaugural conference of the (ISRS)

This was a departure from Blair’s recent public engagements, which were focused more on the religious community.

It is, however, perhaps more in tune with his employment by the government of Kazakhstan, who currently pay him £8 million a year to whitewash their human rights record.

In its corporate brochure, the ISRS presents itself more as a consultancy for hire than a serious academic endeavour.

Full of corporate jargon it offers services in “event driven scenarios” (war games) and securing an “authoritative media presence” (spin).

The ISRS sits alongside several other academic institutes and university groups up and down the country that have close links with arms companies and the military.

It reflects a trend in higher education to be active participants in legitimating imperial state power, not to mention providing subsidised research and much needed credibility for the arms industry.

One well known example of such a school is the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

Department members Michael Goodman and David Omand (1) in 2007 wrote an article for one of the CIA’s in-house journals.

In it, they noted that following the Iraq invasion the British government felt the need to promote “greater professionalism in analysis” and commissioned King’s to develop a course that would “help to generate this sense of profession, albeit a virtual one.”

Note 1: Omand, a civil servant who was security and intelligence co-ordinator from 2002 to 2005. He was key in pursuing the late David Kelly (the top weapons inspector who spoke out against Blair’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction)  for talking to the media.

Other staff in the War Studies department include former foreign policy adviser to Blair, Lawrence Freedman, recently spotted as contender for most obscene appointment to the Iraq Inquiry committee.

The Centre for Studies in Terrorism and political Violence at St Andrews holds similarly dubious connections.

The private military company Janusian Security Risk Management Ltd was one of the first outfits to provide mercenary services in Iraq following the invasion, and boasted of:

“a unique collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews, includ[ing] shared access to research, intelligence sources and databases, and the expertise of the Centre’s staff”

‘Academic expertise’ on questions of terror, war and ‘security and resilience’ is often far from an exercise in dispassionate inquiry.

As with government and the corporate world, there exists a revolving-door between the military, arms companies and certain parts of ‘respectable’ academia.

A look at the LinkedIn profiles of staff at the ISRS is revealing as to how it fits within this framework.

Before joining the ISRS as Research Manager, Mandeep Bhandal was at Lehman Brothers.

Chief Operating Officer Jas Mahrra previously co-founded consultancy Analytic Red LLP with propagandist Mils Hills.

Their clients included arms giant QinetiQ as well as various government defence agencies.

Director of Programmes Jamie MacIntosh was a research scientist for the MoD, before that serving in the Army with a final tour in Bosnia in 1993.

MacIntosh spoke representing the ISRS at the DSEi arms fair last year.

The problems are greater than a few individuals with interesting pasts.

Engineering departments around the country are quite nakedly in the business of doing basic research for weapons manufacturers.

Almost all the top UK universities take thousands of pounds from arms companies every year.

Between 2008 and 2011 of the 24 Russell Group universities just one, LSE, claimed not to receive military funding.

The rest between them received at least £83 million from arms companies and government military agencies.

Two “founding partners”helped launch the ISRS. They are Ultra Electronics and EADS. Both, as you might expect at this point, are in the defence industry.

Ultra Electronics is a big player in the drone business, specialising in the video-game like controllers that drone operators use to fly the machines.

Ultra are also working on a newer type of weapon called “loitering munitions”.

These hover above a target area for up to ten hours waiting for an enemy to wander underneath, before plummeting to the ground to incinerate whatever is below.

As with the other drone programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we are sure to be told that only “militants” are targeted or killed in these attacks.

So expect to see the definition of “terrorist activity” include ‘walking underneath loitering munitions’, should this technology see deployment.

Another of Ultra’s flagship products is the ‘HyperSpike’, and is a competitor to the better known ‘LRAD’.

In a promotional video it is marketed as a “mass notification device”.

Another use to the “everyday warfighter” is as a mass torture device.

The HyperSpike is a sonic weapon capable of blasting high-pitched noises over long distances, causing extreme pain and potentially lasting damage to those in its path.

Sonic weapons like this are increasingly deployed by US police forces to attack demonstrators. Ultra are also active in cyber warfare equipment and services.

EADS is the other founding partner. EADS is a partner in the Eurofighter programme, helped produce nuclear weapons for the French government, and through a partnership with BAE Systems and Finmeccanica, developed the ‘Storm Shadow’ cruise missiles used to bomb Iraq in 2003.

More recently, EADS (though subsidiary GPT) has been accused of paying bribes of £14.5 million to dignitaries in Saudi Arabia between 2007 and 2010, in order to secure lucrative arms deals there.

The payments were made to two companies registered in the Cayman Islands, Simec International and Duranton International.

According to Exaro News, the three executives at GPT who signed off on the bribes are Malcolm Peto, Jeff Cook and Laurence Bryant.

Cook previously worked for the Ministry of Defence. Along with Peto he authorised cheques to pay for luxury cars for two Saudi commanders, Mohammed bin Khalid al-Nahed — head of the signal corps of the Saudi national guard — and his deputy, Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah al-Ayaddi.  Two civilian advisers also received new cars.

In a development that will shock no one, officials at the MoD are said to have known about the offshore payments, but have done nothing.

Simec is named in a recently leaked MoD memo from 1976 discussing “agency fees” paid to secure Saudi deals.

It would thus appear that Saudi officials have been receiving payments through the same company — one based in British territory — for a staggering 36 straight years.

The other mysterious Cayman company, Duranton, was recently reported by the Telegraph as intending to sue GPT for breach of contract, after GPT terminated their agreement. Some world we live in if you can sue for failure to pay bribes.

The Serious Fraud Office is now supposedly investigating GPT over the payments.

The last time the SFO investigated an arms company over bribery in Saudi Arabia was when BAE Systems were accused (amongst other misdeeds) of paying Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes.

The Right Honourable Tony Blair forced the SFO investigation to be dropped so as not to embarrass the House of Saud, or as he would put it ‘endanger Britain’s national security’. Small wonder then that he topped the bill for the symposium.

Those speaking alongside include Blair include John Browne (of tuition fee trebling fame), Michael Gove (“one of the Cabinet’s most original thinkers”) and, um, Ross Kemp.

It is a disgrace that Blair should show his face anywhere in public, least of all in a place of learning.

The damage this conference will do, indeed has already done, to the reputation of higher education only compounds that of the gross involvement of the arms industry. (Stop the War Coalition)

 

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Gordon Brown and New Labour – MOD Purchasing Policy and the Corrupt Practice of State Capture – For the Reader who Prefers to know the background

 

 

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet after the 1997 election. Front Row from left to right: Secretary of State for Scotland, Donald Dewar; President of the Board of Trade, Margaret Beckett; Home Secretary, Jack Straw; Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Robin Cook; Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott; Prime Minister, Tony Blair; Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown; Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine; Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett; Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Jack Cunningham; Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson.
Back row from left to right: Chief Whip, Nick Brown; Chief Secretary, Alastair Darling; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Clark; Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam; Secretary of State for National Heritage, Chris Smith; Secretary of State for Health, Frank Dobson; President of the Council, Ann Taylor; Secretary of State for Social Security, Harriet Harman; Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies; Lord Privy Seal, Lord Richard; Minister of Transport, Gavin Strang; Secretary of the Cabinet, Sir Robin Butler.

Blairs first Cabinet 1997

 

 

 

What is State Capture?

Transparency International, the anti-corruption watchdog, defines it as “a situation where powerful individuals, institutions, companies or groups within or outside a country use corruption to shape a nation’s policies, legal environment and economy to benefit their own private interests”.

Comment: An online search of ex-New Labour ministers career choices after moving on from government reveals a disturbing pattern. Many have taken up positions with major weaponry manufacturers.

 

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Political influence

Former Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook said of his time in office that he:

“came to learn that the chairman of BAE appeared to have the key to the garden door to number 10.  Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision which would be incommoding to BAE.”

As well as employing in-house lobbyists, BAE Systems also employs a lobbying agency called Portland PR.

Many of Portland PR’s staff have worked at the upper echelons of both Labour and Conservative governments.

Portland Communications Ltd is a political consultancy and public relations agency set up in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair and Director of Communications at BSkyB.

Portland provides communications and public affairs advice to brands and high-profile individuals.

Portland’s website states that “Our team is recruited from the highest levels of the media, politics and government.”

In 2016, political blog The Canary alleged that Portland staff were behind the orchestration of a “coup” against, Jeremy Corbyn, after a wave of mass resignations from his front bench.

Len McCluskey of British and Irish trade union Unite told Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning programme that:

“I’m amazed that some of the MPs have fallen into a trap.”

Referring to Portland Communications as a “sinister force”, McCluskey said:

“This is a PR company with strong links to Tony Blair and right-wing Labour MPs who’ve been involved in this orchestrated coup, and the coup has failed”.

 

 

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Gordon Brown and new Labour Embraced the Practice

During his 10 years as Chancellor of the Exchequer and then as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, Gordon Brown cultivated a carefully crafted reputation as a prudent politician and trustworthy custodian of the public purse.

Indeed, such was his penchant for using the word ‘prudence’ that political journalists took to playing a fun game of counting the number of times it was mentioned in his budget speeches, and then comparing it with appearances in previous deliveries at the despatch box – to gauge his commitment to balancing the books.

Some even jokingly suggested that Prudence was the name of his girlfriend, who had been kept out of the public eye.

Either way, managing the nation’s finances is no joke and Brown’s record in office, as a fiscally prudent politician, does not tally with the evidence.

In his autobiography My Life, Our Times, Brown discusses among other things the financial crises, his economic record and that fateful promise made by Tony Blair.

Not surprisingly, there is no mention of one of most disgraceful actions of his government.

It concerns state-sponsored protectionism, blatant favouritism and failure to install genuinely independent regulators.

This shameful episode, which marred Brown’s time in office, relates to the procurement of military equipment.

 

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New Labour Government Procurement Policy in Practice

What has been clear for many years is that, public subsidies handed out to defence equipment manufacturers over several decades, is the reason why they have failed so miserably, to deliver equipment to the Armed Forces which is fit for purpose, adequately sustained in-service and constitutes value for money through-life.

In the UK, as in many western countries, the means of defence production, distribution and exchange is exclusively in the hands of private interests, that is to say, the State is entirely dependent on for-profit organisations for the design, development, manufacture and delivery of new military equipment to the Armed Forces.

Consequently, the government has no choice but to rely on the Private Sector for all its military equipment needs, including its subsequent upkeep when in-service with the user.

The harsh reality is that, no department of state in Whitehall is as dependent on the Private Sector, as is the Ministry of Defence – putting it at serious risk of capture by private interests (if it hasn’t already been) which allows them to bend policy to their will, as it relates to the expenditure of public funds.

Equally, these private interests are entirely dependent upon a steady flow of taxpayer funds for their very survival – no least, because they have not bothered to diversify at all.

It may be that senior executives seconded from the defence industry and embedded within the Ministry of Defence, who remain in the pay of their employers, may have something to do with this skewing of spending decisions, to favour their narrow commercial interests – at the expense of taxpayers and the national interest.

 

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Secret Deals

Consider the case of the Terms of Business Agreement on naval shipbuilding, signed by the Brown government with BAE Systems during the dying days of the 2005-10 Parliament, which left the incoming administration no room for manoeuvre at all, as it set about undertaking a comprehensive Strategic Defence & Security Review – for the first time in 12 years.

In fact, this agreement was signed in secret, in 2009, precisely because it locked the government into an appallingly poor 15-year contract laced with a punitive get-out clause which, if made public at the time, would have attracted criticism and negative publicity in the press and media during the run-up to the 2010 general election, potentially swinging the result in favour of the other party.

The existence of the TOBA was only revealed to Parliament in 2011 by the Cameron-led coalition government, when it was confronted with the undeniable truth that MoD finances were in pretty bad shape and needed to be declared publicly, to garner public support for deep cuts in the defence budget that ensued.

 

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Lack of Fiscal Prudence

It is an open secret that the even the most fiscally prudent people in government are prone to softening their hard-line stance just before a general election, when they are up for re-election, which makes them more likely to open-up the public purse.

Equally, defence contractors are aware of this weakness in top politicians and will take full advantage, by surreptitiously intensifying their lobbying efforts in cahoots with labour trade unions, to apply political pressure spliced with threats of massive lay-offs, timed to coincide with the electoral cycle, to relieve politicians of taxpayers’ money and maximise their take – which is exactly what happened with this TOBA.

So, instead of exposing defence equipment manufacturers to the full rigours of the free market, that is, not shielding them from “feeling the heat” of competitive market forces, the Brown government chose to engage in protectionism and favouritism by handing out uncontested, long-term shipbuilding contracts worth billions of pounds – with virtually no checks and controls, or even guarantees.

 

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Summary and the Way Ahead

People at the Ministry of Defence are, without exception, favourably disposed towards the defence industry because they are completely dependent upon it for their subsequent career choices (via the revolving door), when their time in public service comes to an end, or their employment contract is terminated abruptly by political edict.

Indeed, it is very hard to find anyone at MoD who will aggressively defend taxpayers’ interests once they have enjoyed a cosy relationship with contractors. It is fair to say that they certainly know which side their ‘bread is buttered’!

It is precisely to overcome this disastrous state of affairs that the government should set the objective of pulling back from the defence equipment market and allow the Private Sector to take-over, so that it can make the necessary capital allocation decisions for itself, as it relates to the development of its own products – instead of continually looking to intervene in the market with public funds which, as history has shown, will always be squandered.

An innovative proposal on how to go about eliciting Private Sector investment capital in defence procurement programmes is set out in a written submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, which reported on its inquiry into Industrial Strategy in the last Parliament.

It introduces a modern Defence Industrial Strategy that puts financial security and the national interest first, not military equipment manufacturers’ commercial interests.

Composed by Jag Patel

The pdf copy of the paper can be downloaded from here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/business-innovation-and-skills-committee/industrial-strategy/written/36606.pdf

 

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And the Arms dealers have wormed their way into UK Schools and Colleges

By allowing the arms trade into schools and colleges we are teaching children that innovation for the sake of destruction is acceptable

 

Private arms companies and government-owned military organisations have wormed their way into the British education system. Global arms companies have links with many UK Universities; investing in research programmes, poaching recent graduates and funding new buildings.

 

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But these links stretch further than this into our education system, as weapons manufacturers also invest their time and money into schools across the country. Raytheon, an American weapons and cyber security company with multiple UK sites, holds an annual “Quadcopter Callenge” in which children are encouraged to design the best drone they can.

Billed as a means for the company to ‘invest in its future workforce’ by promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, this programme reached over 1,000 14-15 year-olds nationwide in 2018 and has the full backing of the Westminster government.

Pushing STEM subjects is common amongst private arms manufacturers and government-funded military organisations; QinetiQ and BAE Systems each boast various outreach programmes.

In 2017, BAE partnered up with the Royal Navy and the RAF to visit 420 schools with a workshop designed to encourage the uptake of science and maths amongst 10-13 year olds.

That year, BAE Systems also joined forces with the Royal Navy, QinetiQ and the University of Portsmouth to open a college.

Portsmouth’s University Technical College (UTC) allows students to complete GCSEs and further educational qualifications in STEM subjects, whilst giving them ‘regular engagement’ with ‘employers and partners’.

These partners include the likes of Airbus, who build the fighter jets used by Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen; and BAE Systems, who produced the missiles used by the UK in its bombing of Syria.

In addition to encouraging young children and teenagers to take up sciences, dozens of universities from Southampton to Sheffield are making millions of pounds from arms industry investment.

The University of Cambridge, for example, received £13.7m from private arms companies between 2008 and 2011.

The University of Sheffield was also funded £13.7m during this period, along with Imperial College London, which was granted over £16m between 2008 and 2017.

BAE Systems in particular has a vested interest in British higher education. Southampton, Strathclyde, Manchester, Cranfield and Birmingham are five “strategic partner universities”, which have all signed long-term partnership deals with BAE to be ‘mutually productive’.

Recently, the company handed out awards to PhD students from each of these institutions for various research projects.

The overall winner was a project from the University of Strathclyde that developed new technology for detecting far away targets.

The company responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Yemenis through the selling of arms to the Saudi-led Coalition, is being facilitated by universities and students across the country.

BAE aims to take on 700 apprentices in 2019 and boasts that it is ‘one of the biggest UK supporters of education’ that has links to ‘approximately 100 universities’ worldwide.

It remains unclear if this commitment to education extends to the two million Yemeni children who can’t go to school because of the war BAE Systems is helping wage.

These companies gloat that by promoting STEM subjects they are pioneering a better, safer future. The arms industry puts on a front of humanity and tells us that the good work it does in this country outweighs the destruction it unleashes overseas.  This is simply not the case.

By allowing the arms trade into schools, colleges and universities, we are teaching children that innovation for the sake of destruction is acceptable and desirable. There is only a small leap between teaching schoolchildren to make toy drones and getting graduates to build real ones. (Stop the War coalition)

 

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Should Gordon Brown Surface in Scotland and Offer His Opinion to the Public – Remember the Total Cost of His Mishandling of the Economy Was £3 TRILLION (or £3,000,000,000,000)

 

 

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The terrible truth about Gordon Brown’s criminal miscalculations – A devastating indictment of his time as Chancellor and Prime Minister.

Now available, figures of the “New labour” Government spending before and during the recession, and Government losses since the recession began expose the total cost of Gordon Brown’s mishandling of the economy topped an eye-watering £3 trillion.

 

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The shocking truth about Brown’s overspending since 1997, shows that:

  • Since 1997 around £1.5 trillion of taxpayers’ money was squandered on an acceleration in profligate government spending fuelled by an unsustainable economic boom; and around another £1.5 trillion simply evaporated in the inevitable bust
  • Government spending more than doubled in real terms since 1997 to the extent that even if a future government tried to trim spending by 5 or 10%, it will take many years, probably even decades, to bring the economy back under control, and this could cost upwards of a further £1 trillion 
  • Gordon Brown took public spending to a level similar to that of the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan – when the country went bankrupt  after Callaghan increased spending as a percentage of GDP to almost 50% forcing Britain to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout, which was granted on condition that the then Labour government would make significant reductions in public spending.
  • Brown’s failure (as both PM and Chancellor) to tackle the public-sector pensions time-bomb means that the projected future costs of public-sector pensions  will rise from around £360 billion in 1997 to around £1.2 trillion.

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Westminster Governance of the economy is corrupt

Dumping the electorate in the deepest recession in Britain since the Great Depression, the horrifying mistakes, jaw-dropping incompetence and widespread greed and malpractice in Whitehall and the City of London cost British taxpayers over £3 trillion –A pile of banknotes higher than the House of Commons.

Extracted from “Fleeced!” co-authored by Matthew Elliott, CEO of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and David Craig, author and management consultant

 

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Statement by:

Matthew Elliott, Founder and Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:

‘It would be easy to dismiss the figure of £3 trillion as being too big to contemplate or unreasonably high, but to do so would be to ignore the sheer scale of the financial disaster that twelve years of Gordon Brown’s tax-a-lot and spend-more policies have done to the British economy.

‘In the light of our analysis, £3 trillion is actually a best possible scenario. We hope that Fleeced! finally ends Gordon Brown’s oft repeated and frankly slanderous claim that Britain’s credit crunch began in the United States.

Had this Government not spent at levels far beyond our means while the economy was booming, the UK would have been in a much better condition to withstand the collapse in the US markets.’

 

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Reverend Stuart Campbell V Dugdale – Was the Ruling by the Judge Flawed or did the Reverend really win the case? The Answer is Clear and unambiguous

 

 

 

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The Reverend v Ms Dugdale

Extracts from the judgement are entered below together with comments as necessary setting out the judgement was in favour of The Reverend.

Sheriff Ross

Ms Dugdale denied that she intended to go beyond criticising the tweet itself. She said she did not intend to label the author.

Her intentions, however, do not resolve matters.

The test is not what the writer intended, but what the reasonable reader would think, and is an objective question of law.

In my view the reasonable reader would inevitably conclude that the meaning of the article, as a reasonable, natural or necessary interpretation of its terms, was that Mr Campbell, and not just his tweet, was homophobic.

That is unavoidable because of the language used, including:

“a pro-independence blogger’s homophobic tweets”;

“twitter tirade against David Mundell”;

“face abuse because of their sexuality”;

“such comments are, of course, not unique to the man who tweets as Wings over Scotland”

“someone who spouts hatred and homophobia towards others”.

The “man” is clearly identifiable as Mr Campbell, and the reference is to more than one tweet, and to an apparent practice of spouting hatred and homophobia. It is not possible fairly to read this as referring only to a single tweet, restricted to a jibe about fatherhood.

In sporting terms Ms Dugdale, whether intentionally or not, played the player, not just the ball. During her evidence she appeared eventually to accept that was so.

Comment: A soccer player tackling an opponent “studs up” would be red carded immediately.

The article did bear a defamatory meaning.

 

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Sheriff Ross

No doubt Ms Dugdale does not like Mr Campbell and what he does, but I accept her evidence that the article was motivated by genuine dismay at what she understood the tweet to mean and not by malice.

My comment:

But the judge misjudged Dugdale’s intent. At the time she wrote the article for her column in the Daily Record she was working to a contract as a political correspondent committing her to submitting up to six briefs for political discussion. Her written attack on the Reverend reveals malice aforethought revealed by her own words given in her defence to the Judge.

Ms Dugdale

“The purpose in writing the article, and in subsequently raising the issue in the Scottish Parliament, was to discuss the damage done by such material, that it is poisonous to political debate, and that the SNP should not encourage it.”

My comment: So it wasn’t about the reverend after all. It was a thinly veiled attack on the SNP!!!!!!

 

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Sheriff Ross  – Amount of damages, had they been awarded

In my view, Mr Campbell cannot be described as someone who has lost all value in his public reputation. There is no evidential basis to conclude that, in the two years since the article, he has lost any influence, reputation or credibility as either a social media commentator or as a campaigner for equal rights.

There was no evidence of loss of followers, loss of opportunity, diminished influence or of outrage amongst the public (other than the customary exchange of robust views on his twitter feed).

There is no proven loss of reputation of any type. There is therefore no basis for an award for anything other than wounded feelings.

When it comes to valuation of Mr Campbell’s distress, I do not accept that he can hold others to a higher standard of respect than he is willing himself to adopt.

He has chosen insult and condemnation as his style. He has received these in return.

To use defence counsel’s analogy, having entered the political arena with a quiver of poisoned arrows, to receive an arrow in return might be seen as no more than collateral damage, not an unjust wound.

I do not accept that he can dismiss the feelings or reputations of his opponents cheaply, but receive a high valuation of his own.

Had I been awarding damages, those damages would have been assessed at £100

My comment: So there you have it. The Reverend won.

 

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Scottish Old Age Pensioners – Detested by the Tory’s – A Bane to the BBC – So many with the power to do so much but who achieve so little

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The  Tory Government the BBC and the Pensioners

The BBC licence fee was frozen throughout the period of austerity following the worldwide financial meltdown.

In 2015, the Corporation claimed to be in deep financial trouble and pleaded to be allowed to increase the licence fee for all subscribers.

The corporation, in 2015, negotiated a deal, with the Tory government permitting increases to the annual compulsory subscription charge to the UK taxpayers.

The revised contract between government and the BBC contained a rider that the corporation would absorb the cost of free licence provision for pensioners over the age of 75, until after the General Election, (June 2020).

The cost of providing free licence fees for pensioners over the age of 75 was previously charged to “Welfare” expenditure and Chancellor Osborne had imposed a £12 billion expenditure ceiling on the department.

The BBC agreed to contain the (time limited) estimated £700 million annual cost, anticipating in return, it would be given free rein over setting the level of the annual licence fee.

Their projection was that a fee of around £200 per annum would need to be charged to the taxpayers (after June 2020) offsetting the cost of maintaining free licences for pensioners over the age of 75.

 

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Noteworthy is the introduction of the 2011, 5 year fixed term Parliament Act, retaining the Tory Party, in government, from 2015 until until May 2020, thereby setting the date of any change to June 2020.

Cameron and Osborne screwed the deal by resigning in 2016, handing the reins of power to Theresa May who called for a snap General Election in that same year. The Tory Party was returned to power, with the dubious support of the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party.

The next General Election is scheduled for May 2022 and it was proposed that the concluding the commitment the Tory Government and the BBC entered into in 2015, should be deferred until after May 2022.

But Jeremy Wright, the current Tory Party, Culture Secretary refused to become involved stating: “The decision is not for the government to make any longer. It is for the BBC to make”.

 

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The fiasco has been a well planned orchestration of events by the Tory Party, transferring the momentum of change away from government to the taxpayers, who will need to decide if they are content to subsidize, (through their annual subscription), the continuance of free licences to pensioners over the age of 75. Likely annual fee in excess of £200.

Meantime BBC management are beavering away preparing the Corporation for a backlash from the taxpayers, who, it is expected will demand a major restructuring of the Corporation meeting the challenges of Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.

 

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See my other recent posts:

https://caltonjock.com/2019/03/02/my-attempt-to-unravel-just-a-little-bit-of-the-tangled-web-of-deceit-spun-by-the-bbc-300m-plus-scottish-licence-fee-money-routinely-handed-over-to-commercial-concerns-controlled-by-tax-avoiding-bermuda-based-conglomerates/

https://caltonjock.com/2019/03/01/media-provision-through-the-eyes-of-the-welsh-devolution-has-demonstrated-just-how-british-the-bbc-is-and-it-is-probably-unreasonable-to-expect-that-it-can-evolve-into-an-organisation-that-can-truly-service-the-nations-of-the-UK.

 

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An Update – Austerity – An unnecessary Hardship Imposed on Scotland By Westminster’s Nefarious Spivs

 

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2003: International Monetary Fund Call for Chancellor Brown Not to abandon “Prudence” Policies

Gordon Brown was warned by the International Monetary Fund that his borrowing and spending gamble on public services may be going to waste.

In a damaging blow to his recently announced Chancellor’s tax-and-spend strategy,  the IMF said he was being too confident that a rebound in tax revenues will allow him to steer the nation’s finances back into the black.

Mr Brown also unveiled plans last week to borrow an extra £34 billion over five years to keep his spending plans intact.

But the IMF called on him to make early cuts in his plans to put the nation’s finances on a surer footing. It said that the sharp increases in spending on the NHS and teaching carried the “risk of inefficiencies.”

Brown ignored the warning and forged ahead believing he knew better.

The Health Service did indeed gain the benefit of loadsamoney but this was  not properly invested due to the poor negotiating skills of the Health Secretary, John Reid who squandered the bulk of the new money through massive salary increases (while largely maintaining existing terms and conditions of service) in medical staff and other management fields.

New Labour, under Brown’s financial stewardship appeared to be atop the “crest of the financial wave.”

Brown’s strategy needed the economy and tax receipts to remain buoyant,  they didn’t and borrowing increased further between 2003-2007 placing the UK economy at greater risk of a financial downturn for which the country’s finances were ill prepared.

 

 

 

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Austerity-An unnecessary Hardship Imposed on Scotland By Westminster nefarious Spivs

In 2008, Northern Rock, RBS, HBOS and other UK banking institutions seemed destined to fail, largely due to criminal behavior.

80% of losses were attributed to their London and foreign based businesses.

The Westminster government intervened and bailed out the banks.

But in doing so Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown lumbered Scots with repayment of massive debt, added to with extortionate interest charges.

The UK government’s bail out had also lead to the reclassification of  banks as  “public sector assets.”

In consequence public sector liabilities increased from 126% of GDP to 335% of GDP  between 2007 and 2009.  Over 200% !!!!!!!!!!

 

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The UK National Debt

The UK national debt is the total quantity of money borrowed by the Government of the United Kingdom through the issue of securities by the British Treasury and other government agencies.

At the beginning of 2018 UK debt amounted to £1.78 trillion, or 86.58% of total GDP, at which time the annual cost of servicing (paying the interest) amounted to around £48 billion (roughly 4% of GDP or 8% of UK government tax income).

Approximately a third of this debt is owned by the British government due to the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme.

The debt equates to approximately £40,000 per employed person.

The knock on effect is that each household in Britain pays an average of around £2,000 per year in taxes to just to finance the interest payments.

At the start of 2018  an assessment of the UK’s assets and liabilities indicated that the UK public finances to be among the weakest in the world. Just behind Gambia, Uganda and Kenya.

It was also revealed that around £1 trillion had been wiped off the wealth of the UK’s public sector since the financial crisis, putting it in the second weakest position of the 31 nations assessed. Only Portugal’s public finances were in a worse state.

National debt increased significantly (2010-2015) under the Tory/LibDem coalition government .

The present Tory government has not reversed the trend.  The national debt increased (by £46 billion in 2017) and the chancellor gave up the ghost of forecasting a time when structural debt would be eliminated.

Scots might be lumbered with it forever or until independence is gained

 

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Quantitative Easing (QE)

The start point was with the Bank of England Governor who, (acting on instructions from the Chancellor Alistair Darling),  by sleight of hand created £435bn digital new money.

This, “funny money” finance was then used by the bank to compulsory purchase bonds from controlled resources within the UK.

The real money gilts purchased were then used to bail out the banking sector preventing the failure of the banking sector.

Pension funds were subject to the asset stripping and they want their money back!!!!. but their is no indication of this from the government.

 

 

 

 

Drawbacks of Quantative Easing (QE)

The practice was first implemented, in 2008, in an attempt by the Bank of England to  buy time so that new financial strategies could be put in place.

But the crisis was created through the public taking up offers of low interest payments and easy credit and excessive borrowing for mortgages.

Nothing much has changed in the banking sector since 2008 and in consequence the practice of QE  may need to be retained which brings negative consequences for Scots.

The UK economy is headed for another financial crisis.

 

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What about criminality? 

The banking system including, hedge fund investors, staff and management were not subjected to any formal police or public enquiry with result that it continued operating almost completely unaffected.

No UK banker ever faced criminal behaviour charges.

Bonus schemes were retained and in many cases expanded and London’s financial hub has enjoyed many years of good living at the expense of the Scottish taxpayer.

Adding insult to injury not long after the financial crisis, the UK loaned Ireland £20 billion, (at a knock-down rate of interest) proving that bailing out banks–like reinsurance–is a risk which is global in nature and shared between countries.

In a statement, seeking understanding of his decision to, “prop up” the Irish economy George Osborne, UK Chancellor said, “Ireland is our very closest economic neighbour and we must assist.”

 

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In the aftermath of the crisis, Bank of England officials claimed the UK Chancellor had botched the banking bailout and the Bank would never be able to recover all of the loans let alone match the performance of the US Federal Reserve which reported a $billions profit (out of the crisis). No austerity for the American public.

Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, said: “The sad truth is, in 2008, the idea of focusing efforts on recapitalizing the banking system was a UK idea. We got there first but, like many UK ideas, the Americans developed it much faster and much better.”

The US forced all major banks to take Federal Reserve money, purchasing substantial stakes at around “half their book value.”

The Bank of England, directed by Brown and Darling, acting against the bank governor’s advice, purchased similar financial stakes, but at “full book value.”

A Treasury source later said: “The Government judged that without a taxpayer injection the banks would have collapsed, with consequences for financial stability and people’s money, and it judged that was an unacceptable risk to take.”

 

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But the Westminster government had bailed out banks with global operations and the former chairman of RBS, Sir Philip Hampton,(retd) in November 2012, in his evidence to the House of Lords reminded was very clear that bankers:

Had used many countries central banks as lenders of last resort for many operations in jurisdictions in which they operate.

This is a key part of what central banks do in the jurisdictions that they control.

Just because there might be an independent Scottish Government did not mean that all lender of last resort facilities would disappear. They would be continued.

This also works when a country has a banking and a fiscal union, as in the UK.

The Bank of England would provide “bank of last resort” support to Scotland, if needed.

But should difficulties arise with the foregoing arrangements the final fall-back position (assuming Scotland retained membership of the EU) would be for Scotland to seek assistance from their EU partners.

Requests simply require a majority vote in favour, but the decision is binding on all EU members.

Provision of financial support would not be breaking new ground since this is exactly what happened when Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece were extended “bank of last resort” backing from the EU and the Bank of England donated its £20 billion share.

In the last “face to face” with Alex Salmond, in the 2014 Independence Referendum campaign, Alistair Darling, accepted Scotland had every right to use sterling and this would not need the authority of the Bank of England.

The mendacious “mantra of fear” propaganda of “Better Together” that the Bank of England, would not provide a “lender of last resort” facility to Scotland was scurrilous myth.

 

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Gordon Brown Duped His Mugs-R- US Party and Conned Scots For Years – Ignore His Unimpressive Rhetoric

 

 

 

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Gordon Brown Duped His Mugs-R- US Party and Conned Scots For Years

Scots would be well advised to remember the 2014 Independence Referendum and Brown’s heavily promoted (by the BBC, who also provided him a prime time 2 hour slot) address to a group of pensioners just before their weekly bingo session during which he took the level of Better Together’s negativity and scaremongering to a new level.

Repetitive and lacking in credibility he trotted out unsubstantiated scare story’s, previously voiced by Ruth Davidson, about pensions.

It was surprising that Brown chose to speak about pensions, given his appalling record first as Chancellor then as Prime Minister.

Setting the record straight, it was the 1979 Tory Government that systematically reduced the long term value of the state pension by abolishing the link between the state pension and earnings.

New Labour had the chance to reverse the punitive strike against the poorest pensioners in Europe. But failed to do so.

Instead, rubbing salt to the wounds Brown introduced the notorious “pension stealth tax” further reducing the value of pensioners retirement funds by at least £100 billion.

Mocking the electorate in 2000, he then had the temerity to announce that “New Labour” would be be assisting the “poorest” pensioners increasing the state pension by a massive 75p (before tax).

Scots should ignore lying economists. In an independent Scotland pensions will be paid in full and on time, just as they are now.

Scotland is also much better placed to afford pension plan costs than the UK as a whole.

This is evidenced by the fact that expenditure on social protection, which includes pensions, was lower in Scotland than the UK over the last decade.

In all 42% of Scottish tax revenues are spent on social protection in comparison with 43% for the UK.  And 1% is a whole lot of money.

 

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