Blair McDougall – Better Together – Yes Vote Needs to be Less Than 40% in Order to Answer the Independence Question for a Generation – Well Blair It Wasn’t – And We’re Back Again

 

 

 

 

uniontwat3-460x305

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westminster’s influence over the Scots

In 1707 Scotland had more than 20% of the population of what is now the UK – In the 300 years since, Westminster’s love of the Scots included, the Highland clearances and banishment to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Americas. Scotland’s population is now less than 10% of the UK total.

Labour MP’s and their SpAd’s profess to be admirers of Keir Hardie. But one is left to ponder just what Hardie would have thought about private school educated labour MP’s telling the Scottish people they are better off being governed by a bunch of millionaire Tory toffs than a parliament with real power in Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blair McDougall’s political career 2000-2015

Blair McDougall attended the University of Glasgow, where as chair of the Labour Club he also served as chair of Scottish Labour Students 2001-2003.

2000-2006. Worked for Labour MP Jim Murphy: Became active in the Labour party, supporting Jim Murphy in his campaign for office in Eastwood. Whilst still at University assisted Murphy in the early months in his new role as an MP before taking on the post of Chair of the Scottish Labour Party Students.

2006-2007. Whilst still at University he was elected to the post of Youth Representative on the UK National Executive Committee (NEC). Members of the committee are seated alphabetically and it was no surprise when McDougall was appointed to the post of Special Adviser (SPAD) to Ian McCartney, Minister for Trade, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Fortuitous indeed.

2007-2008. Ever ambitious McDougall transferred his loyalty to James Purnell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport (including control of the BBC). He didn’t waste any time making his mark on BBC Scotland, issuing diktats ensuring the policy for Scottish broadcasting of news and current affairs would be as the Blairite government wished:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 November 2007: Blair McDougall blocks Scottish focused news on BBC

One of the key figures behind the Better Together campaign opposed the creation of a Scottish based news programme that would have brought jobs and skills to Scotland, because it had the support of the SNP Scottish Government, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Blair McDougall, Campaign Director of the cross-party pro-Union alliance, was a senior Labour Party Advisor (SpAd) when he called for a Scottish Six evening news programme to be blocked by party officials, labelling existing BBC Scotland programmes “parochial”.

In November 2007 McDougall sent an internal memo to the then Secretary of State for Scotland Des Browne warning against allowing BBC Scotland to create an evening news programme that would have presented events home and abroad from a Scottish perspective.

He wrote: “We also need to be clear about what he [Salmond] means by the ‘Scottish Six’. They [Scottish Govt] do not mean Scottish news first followed by UK news (as STV does at present). They want a totally separate programme where the world and some UK news is covered but by (sic) a Scottish perspective.

The Better Together Chief added: “The argument against it is best made by anybody who ever watches News-night Scotland – that in a TV and internet age people access news in a range of different ways and plenty of people will find what they want without having a parochial and expensive duplication of what they have already with some stories cut out.”

McDougall was also critical of the flagship radio news programme ‘Good Morning Scotland’ calling it a radio programme that “rehashed” stories initially broadcast by the Today programme.

The revelation coincides with an intervention into the independence debate of former BBC director-general John Birt, who today claimed independence would have a devastating impact on the BBC. http://newsnet.scot/?p=112335

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008-2009. Purnell transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) taking up the post of Secretary of State. McDougall went with him. In June 2009 following a disastrous European election campaign, Purnell resigned from the government and wrote to Gordon Brown advising that he also should resign as Prime Minister providing space for David Miliband to take up leadership of the party. Brown refused and Miliband was feart to make his challenge. Purnell was cast aside.

Purnell left politics at the 2010 general election and worked for a variety of pseudo political organisations until 2013 before taking up employment with the BBC as Director of Strategy. He is still employed by the BBC and undoubtedly had opportunity to bring influence to bear upon BBC Scotland at the time of the referendum. McDougall, surplus to requirements was found employment with Tony Blair.

2009–2010. Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative. Governance Adviser (Rwanda). Just what role he discharged is unclear but the Rwanda regime was corruption personified.

2010-2010. When David Miliband made his challenge for the leadership of the labour Party McDougall saw an opportunity to return to front-line politics, albeit in an unelected role of SPad. Miliband lost and left politics for a job in the USA paying a six figure salary. McDougall was without employment yet again. But not for long.

2010–2012. Ed Miliband the new Labour Party Leader was persuaded by his brother David to agree to the setting up of, “Movement for Change” a project which identified and trained potential labour candidates for office. McDougall was appointed chief executive. He lost the protection of David Miliband and support for the project waned. Time for McDougall to call in some favours.

2012–2014. Jim Murphy, his long time friend arranged his appointment as Campaign Director of Better Together Ltd. Ecstatic to be away from Westminster McDougall sold his house in London and moved back to Scotland where he fully intends to remain, perhaps in a role at Holyrood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 May 2012: Scottish Referendum – Ultra Blairite – Blair McDougall – Takes on job of running the pro-union campaign

McDougall was retained by the Labour Party taking on the role of chief executive of “Movement for Change”, an umbrella group tasked with grooming the next generation of Blairite clones in the parliamentary Labour Party. Funded by Lord Sainsbury, it is well financed having received £225,000 in it’s first year of existence in addition to funds channelled through the David Miliband leadership campaign.

McDougall had friends in high places and when the opportunity to lead the Better Together campaign arose his old mucker’s, Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling recommended the ultra-Blairite to Downing Street through the cross-party “No” umbrella group. As one Labour insider put it: “Well, they certainly cleared the “get a bloke with a Scottish name’ hurdle.” He was soon to make his all pervading presence known in Scotland.

Not long after launching the campaign in Scotland McDougall’s team boldly stated that the Yes vote would need to be pushed under 40% in order to answer the independence question for “a generation”.

The campaign would mirror that used 300 years before, (the successful 1707 strategy). It would be structured entirely on the blanket spread of disinformation through a compliant Scottish Press and UK government controlled broadcast Media. The theme was simple the operative word was “Fear”. Scotland could not survive without England, for long as an independent country. Too small, Poor, lacking a currency, pensioners would suffer great hardship and many other lies.

The Scottish press reported that “influential Better Together insiders” (referring to the negative spin being placed upon any aspect of separation) spoke with an amount of pride of their organisation being given the title “Project Fear” by management. McDougall, when questioned was unrepentant about the tactics.

During the 2012 Olympics in London, Better Together used the games as political propaganda, in particular the participation of Scottish athletes in Team GB which was taken to imply that supporters of independence weren’t interested in the Olympics.

In November 2012 Alistair Darling suggested Scottish independence would threaten the continuation of British culture in Scotland.

In September 2013 during a Labour Party Conference, the party’s Scottish Leader Johann Lamont described Scottish nationalism as “a virus.”

McDougall voiced in public, the view that Scottish people, and many thousands of Poles, Latvians, Estonians living in Scotland and presently citizens of Europe would be thrown out of the European community with no automatic right of entry.” Scotland would need to re-apply for membership and wait in the queue.

“Scotland should be aware that Westminster owns sterling and it is the sworn declaration of the Chancellor of the exchequer that an independent Scotland will not be allowed to share it. A nation without a currency cannot survive.” This wheeze was dreamt up by one of Thatcher’ inner circle Andrew Dunlop, a scot from Sussex never elected to office, but known to be the brains behind Cameron and Osborne’s dastardly deeds. This set the scene for the campaign. There would be no love for a fellow member of the EU in the hearts of the Westminster elite should Scotland elect to go it alone. This placed the “badguy-goodguy lovebombs” well into the realms of fantasy

Comment: Stuff and nonsense. Former European Commission (EC) director dismissed suggestions that Scots would be deprived of their European Union (EU) citizenship if they vote for independence from the UK. Speaking at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the UK’s membership of the EU in Edinburgh, Mr Lawrence said it is “hard to envisage” Scots’ EU citizenship being revoked.

http://order-order.com/tag/freedom-for-scotland/page/10/

 

 

 

 

 

 
20 November 2012: Scottish Affairs Committee —The Referendum on Separation for Scotland – Committee: Mr Ian Davidson (Chair) (The guy that is committed to putting any remaining SNP supporters to the Bayonet) Mike Crockart, Jim McGovern, Pamela Nash, Lindsay Roy
Discussion Point 1: Any government seen to have fixed the outcome will be punished by the electorate

Blair McDougall: I think the Scottish Government was elected on a mandate to have this referendum. They have been given the right to do that, and that is correct. With that right comes the responsibility to exercise that power fairly and to be seen to exercise that power fairly for the reasons I have given.

Lindsay Roy: So you think there are enough checks and balances in the setup that has been agreed?

Blair McDougall: That remains to be seen, if I am honest. The fact that we are having this process of scrutiny is really important. My honest sense is that we have seen a lot of media and parliamentary scrutiny of this. The thing that will keep the Scottish Government honest on this is that the Scottish people wouldn’t stomach a fix. If one side or the other was seen to be trying to fix the playing field in their favour, it would backfire on them.

Lindsay Roy: So manipulation would backfire?

Blair McDougall: I think it would.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion point 2: Use of public money in the campaigns – particularly in the Period of Purdah

Pamela Nash: I would like to discuss public funding. It is in the Scottish Government’s proposals that they would not want any public funding of the campaigns. Is that the position of the yes campaign as a whole?

Blair Jenkins: We haven’t taken a view on it. I know that is what is proposed. I understand where that is coming from. When public money is tight in a referendum where one would have to assume that both campaigns are capable of generating quite a reasonable level of revenue, a case can be made for not using public funds when there are great demands being made on them, but it is not something on which I have a strong view.

Blair McDougall: My understanding was that the Electoral Commission had backed away from public funding around referendums. I think there will be sufficient interest between our two campaigns to make sure that certainly over the long period, notwithstanding my concerns about the short period, money can be raised to save the taxpayer having to fork out for this sort of thing. My concern is about the wider use of public money within this. If there was some sort of information leaflet, it would make sense for the Electoral Commission as an independent arbiter to oversee it. For three quarters of that 16-week period, the Scottish Government will still be able to operate and make the case through public money for independence. Only in the last 28 days will they not be able to do that. There won’t be another body in Scotland that is able to balance that out, because within that 16-week period I feel that the limits have been designed to handcuff us and other groups in society from being able to make that counter-argument.

Pamela Nash: Do you think the period of purdah should be extended?

Blair McDougall: That is up to the Scottish Government to decide. Again, were the period of purdah to remain as it is and the Scottish Government were actually or were perceived to have used public money to persuade people during that period in an overt way, I think they would suffer for it.

Pamela Nash: In that case, could public funding not be used to even up the goalposts? Mr Jenkins, you said that you would want each campaign to be seen to be evenly funded and that no one should be at a disadvantage because of funding.

Blair McDougall: I don’t see the need for taxpayers’ money to be spent in any way on this campaign. There will be a sufficient level of interest that people will want to support it.

Blair Jenkins: As to people’s concern about Scottish Government announcements before we get to the 28-day control period that might be intended to have a bearing on the outcome of the referendum, I am going to hazard a wild guess here. I suspect that there might be one or two UK Government announcements before we get to the 28-day period that might be intended to have a bearing on the referendum outcome as well. It’s a long shot, I know, but I suspect there might be one or two.

Chair: So that is a yes. You expect the Scottish Government to be doing that.

Blair Jenkins: I would expect both Governments to be setting out their stalls in as attractive a way as they can for the electorate in Scotland before we get to that 28 day period, when you are not allowed to say or announce anything that has a bearing. As you know, I spent quite a lot of time in journalism and I am always willing to be surprised, but I am sure that people in Edinburgh and London will be thinking about what they can announce that would be well received by the people of Scotland.

Chair: Is that not an argument for saying that the Governments should be both extremely active in clarifying what should be done and what the results of negotiations might be and so on, but the period of purdah should be extended to stop the cynical practice that you have already admitted the Scottish Government will be prone to and to which you are expecting that the UK Government might retaliate?

Blair Jenkins: That is a very interesting interpretation of my remarks. Again, realism is always a healthy thing to have. All Governments when they get close to any electoral event try to position themselves in a good light in relation to the electorate. Will that happen this time? Well, you know, I think it might. I suspect that, even now, there are people in this city, let alone Edinburgh, thinking, “What could we say in 2013 and 2014 that might demonstrate our love to the people of Scotland?”

 

 

Comment: The period of Purdah was abused by the Better Together campaign, in particular the UK government and the three main UK political parties. The referendum should have been declared void by the electoral commission.

 

 

 

 

 
Scottish Media and BBC Bias

Chair: Addressing Blair Jenkins. Can I come to the point you are touching on about the media? How are we going to make sure that there is a media that transmits information as distinct from solely gossip and opinion? It is not so much a problem, in my view, in terms of the press, because everybody knows the press is biased, as it were, one way or the other. You go through all the papers and identify whose side they are on. It is perhaps more of a difficulty for the broadcast media where there is the appearance of impartiality but, particularly in the case of the BBC, a degree of bias. How do you think that is to be regulated and covered?

Blair Jenkins:I agree with you that the press in this country is to a very large extent unregulated. We wait to see what Lord Justice Leveson has to propose in terms of whether there should be a different system of regulation, but at the moment there is an unregulated press, which largely reports as it sees fit and without any need to demonstrate impartiality or objectivity. As someone once said, that is the sea in which we swim. That is just the landscape in which we operate.

Blair McDougall: I don’t have much more to add on top of the guy who wrote the book on this stuff. The difference between, for example, the BBC and a print journalist is that there is a rule book written somewhere to which you can hold people accountable. We have already had those meetings with management. I am sure the BBC have had them, or are about to have them, as well. They will have clear guidance on language, the balance of panels and all that sort of stuff. The confidence we take from the BBC, given that the director general resigned, is that someone will always eventually take responsibility for something within the BBC.

The flip-side of it is that, from our market research of what the Scottish people want from this debate, the importance of the BBC cannot be overstated on this; it is an incredibly trusted message carrier, and people will take their opinions from the BBC much more than they will from other sources. It is incredibly important that that process is there and there is that process of engagement. Like you, I think that most times when there is a big debate people on either side take to Twitter and call the BBC hopelessly biased one way or another, which probably means they are roughly in the right place. There needs to be that process of engagement when those mistakes happen or that guidance and policy is not picking up an important point in the debate.

Chair: Addressing Blair Jenkins. I recall an outrageously deferential interview that you had with the BBC, and then it transferred over to some poor Labour spokesman, who got a proper hammering. It was the contrast between those two that struck me at the time as being reflective of bias. Neither of the interviews could be seen in themselves to be particularly wrong; it was just the juxtaposition. There is still an issue about what is seen as bias, in particular the use of presenters who are identified publicly as partisan and yet are presented as if they were impartial experts. These are issues that both sides will probably want to pursue with the broadcasters. It distorts the position quite considerably if people are being given somebody as a talking head with the impression that they are impartial and yet they are coming from a particular background.

Blair McDougall: I suspect people in Blair’s office were watching the same interview and thinking the exact opposite.

Chair: Oh, no. It couldn’t possibly be the one I am thinking of.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmscotaf/uc139-xii/uc13901.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 January 2013: Scottish press reaction to Blair McDougall and Project Fear

Journalist Joyce McMillan wrote in the Scotsman: “The truth is that the tone of the No camp’s response to the independence debate has – in too many cases – been so reactionary, so negative, and so fundamentally disrespectful of the Scottish Parliament as an institution, that I now find it hard to think of voting with them, no matter what my views on the constitution. And this, for me, is a new experience in politics – to enter a debate with a strongish view on one side of the argument, and to find myself so repelled by the tone and attitudes of those who should be my allies that I am gradually forced into the other camp.”

An editorial column in the Sunday Mail said “The No campaign needs to start explaining why the Union can make Scotland better not why independence will be a terrible thing as Scots, mired in a swamp of endless negotiations, wander between our mud huts borrowing cups of woad. If, as their campaign claims, we will be better together, they need to start telling us why.”

A column in the Observer by Scottish Daily Mail executive editor Kevin McKenna, said: “In one respect, 18 months is a very long time for a political campaign. For surely there is a limit on how long otherwise proud Scots, night after night, can stomach [Better Together’s] own narrative: that Scotland is too wee to go it alone; that we can’t make our economy work; that we must have a babysitter sometimes; that at other times we must be back before midnight. Months of telling people that, unlike Ireland, Denmark and Luxembourg, Scotland is simply not strong enough may exact a toll on Better Together volunteers well before it takes a toll on the voters.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Together_%28campaign%29

 

 

 

 

 
7 August 2013: Blair McDougall – Scottish Steelworkers support “Better together”

Steelworkers union statement in support of rejecting independence: “We stand together in solidarity whether we are from Glasgow, Grimsby or Glamorgan working together we can achieve so much more than we could alone.”

27 October 2015: The axe falls on the steel industry in Scotland

So much for solidarity. here’s what the Convener of Shop Stewards at Ravenscraig, Tommy Brennan, said “I have worked in the steel industry all my life. We must ask ourselves Would the decline and death of such a successful industry have happened in an independent Scotland? The obvious answer must be: it would not.”

https://twitter.com/uk_together/status/365087813097627648

 

 

 

 

 

 
19 October 2013: Blair McDougall – Commenting on the SNP Conference

But the shortcoming isn’t within the hearts and minds of Scots, it is with the SNP’s independence offer. None of us feels any less proudly Scottish today just because we are part of something bigger. Our sense of being Scottish does not depend on agreeing with Salmond. Belief in Scotland does not equal political nationalism. In fact, over the course of the campaign it has become clear that those things that make Scotland special and distinctive are better nurtured as part of the UK. We can be more strongly Scottish within the Union. There are roles we play within the UK, Scottish specialisms we bring to a collective ten times our size that simply cannot be replicated if we were to go it alone.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/blair-mcdougall-snp-conference-and-independence-1-3148965

 

 

 

 

 
Comment: Not the least of these is the surreal notion that we can somehow be “more Scottish” within the union. What the hell does “more Scottish” mean? How does one measure “Scottishness”? Why would one want to? The very idea of some people being “more Scottish” necessarily implies that others are “less Scottish”. Just as Better Together’s concept of “Real Scots” necessitates the alternative category of “False Scots”. In McDougall’s warped estimation, that means anybody whose first loyalty is to Scotland and not the British state. That is not only surreal, it is perverse.

And if it seems distasteful in the context of the referendum debate, that’s undoubtedly because the British nationalist obsession with identity and ethnicity is so totally contrary to the spirit of Scotland’s civic nationalism.

Everybody who is entitled to vote in the referendum is as Scottish as they need to be. And each is every bit as Scottish as all the others. We do not need, and should not tolerate, Project Fear’s efforts to divide our people on the basis of their own spurious notions of ethnic validity.

Blair McDougall’s toxic language of discrimination between “better” and “lesser” Scots has no place in the debate on our nation’s constitutional future. It has no place in our nation.

http://www.scoop.it/t/referendum-2014/?tag=Blair+McDougall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 October 2013: Blair McDougall – Scotland leads the UK in the growth of green energy financially supported by UK taxpayers -Separation would remove this crucial source of finance

Today Scotland is leading the UK’s green-energy growth. We offer untapped renewable potential and in return the rest of the UK invests in the wind and wave projects sustaining thousands of highly skilled jobs across Scotland. The source of that investment is the energy bills of more than 20 million homes across Britain, with around a third of that British green energy investment going to Scottish projects. In the current debate on energy costs we would do well to consider the choice leaving the UK would present here: higher energy bills for Scots or fewer green energy jobs.  http://www.scotsman.com/news/blair-mcdougall-snp-conference-and-independence-1-3148965
20 October 2015: Fast Forward 2 years – Tory government withdraws financial support to renewable energy Energy bills to soar in Scotland

A prominent UN environment scientist has slammed the UK government’s “perverse” cuts to the renewable energy sector ahead of a key global climate change summit in Paris.

Jacqueline McGlade said Britain’s decision to reverse support for wind and solar power is at odds with pledges made by nearly 150 countries for the Paris summit, where they are seeking to announce a deal on climate change in December.

McGlade, a former head of the European Environment Agency and chief scientist at the UN environment program, said fossil fuels are being supported, while government actions are discouraging investment in renewable s. “What I’m seeing worldwide is a move very much towards investment in renewable energy. To counterbalance that, you see the withdrawal of subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels,”

McGlade told the BBC.  “What’s disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom that have really been in the lead in terms of getting their renewable energy up and going – we see subsidies being withdrawn and fossil fuel industry being enhanced.” https://www.rt.com/uk/319165-uk-renewables-cuts-climate/

 

 

 

 

 

 
20 October 2013: Comment: Confirmation of BBC bias so evident in the course of the referendum. (Video)

The BBC has come under fire for breaking with convention allowing Blair McDougall, a senior figure from the anti-independence campaign to attack the SNP on air in the middle of the Party’s Perth conference.  Yesterday BBC News broadcast an apparent ‘interview’ with McDougall, who is the campaign director for Better Together in which the No campaigner launched a series of unchallenged attacks on the SNP and Alex Salmond.  In the broadcast, on the BBC’s national UK wide news, the No campaigner made a series of assertions, some erroneous, regarding the Scottish Government’s post-independence stance on areas affecting welfare and businesses. http://newsnet.scot/?p=110970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 October 2013: Clyde shipbuilding exists only because of contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence

Blair McDougall: As part of the UK we continue our heritage as highly skilled engineers. Thousands of shipbuilders produce world-class vessels for the Royal Navy. Each Type 45 destroyer launched from the slipway at Glasgow represented a £650 million investment in Scottish engineering that simply couldn’t be matched by a separate navy with a total budget predicted to be £651 million.

These are investments rather than subsidies. They are a result of Scottish confidence inside the UK and of the UK’s confidence in Scotland. But they are part of a deal, a benefit of UK membership and it is dishonest to pretend they would continue after we left the club.

 

25 June 2011: Scottish firms squeezed out of defence contracts.

Comment: Less than 1% of all defence contracts are awarded to Scotland, which doesn’t take up much capacity. Skilled workers are sidelined for long periods relying on the state handouts to survive. The pitiful share of contracts is blatantly unfair. Scots pay taxes to the UK treasury but any reward is pitiful.  The Scotsman.com/news/scots-firms-squeezed-out-of-defence-cash-1-1701894?

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 October 2013: Independence Referendum campaign chiefs battle at Dundee University

Blair Jenkins: A shared currency would suit the remainder of the UK as much as Scotland, which is why it has not been ruled out by those in favour of the union.

Blair McDougall: “UK Ministers are not going to fall into the trap of acting against Scotland until Scotland decides to stay in the UK.”

 

There it is Jock vote Yes at your peril. Westminster has a long memory and they will get you.!!!

 

Comment: McDougall wrong footed by George Osborne on this one. Osborne and his supposedly impartial civil servants later pulled a policy out of the hat, “acting against Scotland” by insisting there would never be a currency share arrangement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cZlh_YRIBNw#t=1354

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/video-the-which-blair-project-independence-referendum-campaign-chiefs-battle-at-dundee-university-1.147613

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 August 2014: Better Together campaign breeches Referendum protocol

A joint declaration promising more powers for Holyrood will be issued today by the leaders of the Scottish and UK Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have added their signatures to the pledge made earlier this year by the three opposition leaders north of the border. The trio made their move on the eve of a televised referendum debate in First Minister Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, head of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, will go head-to-head.

The joint declaration is intended as a response to the independence campaign’s argument that only a Yes vote will deliver more powers for Scotland. Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “This statement of common endeavour signed by all the main UK party leaders makes clear our unshakeable commitment to building a stronger Scotland in the UK. “People can be confident that more powers are guaranteed.

 

 

vow

 

 

 
12 September 2014: Rigging the Scottish Referendum?

The Westminster-led campaign against independence described itself as Project Fear. Its “New Labour” chief strategist, Blair McDougall, admitted after the vote that it was the fear factor that led to a No.

An incident involving BBC News editor Nick Robinson illustrates why the BBC has been accused of doing the No campaign’s “dirty work.” Robinson leaked Treasury claims that RBS Bank would leave Scotland, and falsely reported that Scottish First Minster Alex Salmond refused to answer questions on the subject.

In a similar manner to pushing UKIP, the BBC has been complicit pedalling the fear agenda. A BBC overview article about the referendum stresses how independence could mean volatile oil revenues and an unstable currency – both key messages of Project Fear.

But it omits the potential alternatives offered by the Yes campaign, such as how a Yes vote could rid Scotland of nuclear weapons and engender a fairer, greener democratic nation.

http://www.occupy.com/article/has-bbc-become-corporate-news-1?qt-article_tabs=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 September 2014: Scotland’s future is hanging in the balance, as a poll shows a gap of only two percentage points­ between the Yes and No camps.

Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said the “fight for the future of Scotland” would “go right down to the wire”. He said: “The interventions of the last few days from the likes of Standard Life, Asda and Tesco Bank brought home the huge risks of separation.

There is no room for a protest vote in the referendum. The jobs and pensions of millions of Scots are at risk. The money we have to spend on our NHS is at risk, and it’s clear that prices would have to rise if we go it alone.That’s not our campaign saying these things it’s the experts and employers at some of Scotland’s biggest ­companies.”

The latest gauge of public opinion came as more business leaders and economists added their voices to a growing band of high-profile organisations opposed to independence.  http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-independence-small-no-lead-in-new-poll-1-3540534

 

 

 

 

 

 
12 September 2014: Retailers under extreme pressure from David Cameron to back no vote in Scottish referendum

The UK’s biggest retailers were ruthlessly pressurized in an early morning meeting at Downing Street by David Cameron forcing them to intervene in the Scottish referendum debate, pushing the baseless message that a, Yes” vote will result in higher prices.

He invoked Britain’s defeat of Hitler as part of a plea to around 200 business leaders aimed at preventing Scotland voting for independence. The Prime Minister said that it was as a United Kingdom that the Second World War had been fought and won, and that it was crucial that the country remained undivided.

Mr Cameron’s remarks at the private gathering represent some of his most impassioned comments so far ahead of a referendum which is more finely balanced than at any stage since campaigning got underway. “He (Cameron) emphasized the need for us to do everything we can over the next few days to keep the union together,” said one of those present. “He wants us to highlight the dangers of a Scottish exit in any way we can.”

The so called, “initiative” will take the form of a letter to be released to the UK media in the next day or so. It is being led by Sir Ian Cheshire, the Chief Executive of Kingfisher, the business behind B&Q, the DIY chain.

Other retailers understood to have agreed to back the initiative, so far include Marc Bolland, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, and Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Group. Andy Clarke, the chief executive of Asda, and John Timpson, boss of the Timpson shoe repair business, also support it.

Cheshire confirmed his involvement: “Business leaders need to speak out and get the facts in front of Scottish voters who need to make a decision. It’s not scaremongering. There are costs and consequences of separation and I think the current system works better. Independence is possible but people have to decide if it is better. There needs to be measured debate.”

So far, it is understood that Morrisons has refused to add its name and that several other leading retailers are holding back, fearing it would alienate vast numbers of Scottish shoppers. News of the move will fuel concerns in Scotland that a dirty tricks campaign is being co-ordinated through Downing Street.  https://caltonjock.com/2014/09/12/dirty-tricks-campaign-organised-co-ordinated-by-david-cameron/

 

 

 

 

 

 
 22 September 2014: Blair McDougall, head of the successful Better Together campaign

Scotland might have voted for independence in last week’s referendum if his campaign had made a positive case for the union, rather than “scaremongering” about economic risks.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sirajdatoo/better-together-campaign-chief-we-would-have-struggled-to-win

 

 

 

 

 

 
24 September 2014: The Inside Story – How Better Together nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of Victory

So how did Cameron come so close to presiding over the break-up of the United Kingdom, and to what extent was it his fault?

Cameron has always had a deep affection for Scotland — though his Scotland is one of hunting lodges and grouse moors. He knew the Scots didn’t warm to his ‘posh’ English accent and education. It was for this reason that he agreed not to play a starring role in the No campaign.

The cross-party Better Together group was formed in spring 2012. Among its members were ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling, former International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander and Cameron’s pollster, Andrew Cooper.

But there were simmering tensions from the start, which developed into constant rivalry and infighting. Nor did it help that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown — who harboured a bitter grudge against Alistair Darling — was often bad-tempered and uncooperative.

There was one particularly exasperating telephone exchange between campaign director McDougall, a Blairite Labour activist with no love for anyone on the left of the party — and Gordon Brown. While they were still speaking, McDougall scrawled the word ‘loon’ (lunatic) on a piece of paper and held it aloft for his colleagues to see. They struggled to hide their mirth.

For months, Cameron was content to leave everything to the Better Together team. But it was steeped in complacency — and, at times, could barely hold itself together, never mind protect the Union. Darling, who privately admitted that he had never run a big campaign before and didn’t know what he was doing, was persistently undermined by both Brown and an increasingly frustrated Douglas Alexander. No one seemed to have a clue what they wanted on campaign billboards. and it was evident professional marketing was required.

The first agency contracted was, London based Blue State Digital a subsidiary of WPP plc, (Wire and Plastic Products) a British multinational advertising and public relations company with its executive office in Dublin, Ireland. The world’s largest advertising company by revenues, it employed around 179,000 people.

It is reported that WPP goes to great lengths to lower its corporate tax bill, paying only 1.6% of total revenue in taxes in 2010. The Guardian also reported that between 2003 and 2009 the company paid £27m in UK corporation tax, compared to what the newspaper “might expect” based on reports of the firm making 15% of its profit in the UK, of around £126m.

Blue State Digital, (Political Director, Gregor Poynton,) was recruited to the team — but without a proper pitch or brief — The expensive contract was terminated after a series of poor leaflet and media campaigns coupled with the production and expensive write off of tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of adverts that were never used.

Poynton, a former Labour party election strategy manager and Scottish Labour party organiser is married to the MP Gemma Doyle. He hails from and has aspirations to hold political office in Falkirk.

The second company, picked primarily because it was Scottish, created an advert based on the acclaimed American TV series Breaking Bad (about a chemistry teacher who launches a new career cooking methamphetamine — the destructive drug also called crystal meth). Not only was this a copyright infringement, but it bombed with focus groups: people either didn’t get it or thought it was snide English insinuation that Scotland had a drugs problem.

Another proposed advert showed a tiny figure at the edge of a giant cliff. It was junked for being in bad taste after insiders pointed out that it looked like someone about to jump off Beachy Head.

Meanwhile, Bank of England governor Mark Carney was privately beginning to worry there would be a run on the banks if Scotland went its own way. Insiders say that, although he was careful not to show it, he was frustrated by Cameron’s low-key approach and felt he could be more proactive.

Slowly, however, the Prime Minister started waking up to the potential for catastrophe. What followed was a co-ordinated attempt by the Treasury and the Bank of England to ramp up the economic risks of an independent Scotland by ruling out a currency union. This was arguably the single biggest Westminster intervention of the whole campaign.

To Cameron’s critics, Scotland is the ultimate example of ‘essay-crisis’ leadership (like a student who leaves his work until the night before): a last-minute victory secured only when Downing Street panicked and started making desperate promises for ever more ‘devo max’ (maximum devolution of powers).

But it’s easier to accuse Cameron of complacency than to find any concrete evidence for it. ‘David was very active in ensuring that the Government side of the campaign delivered what was needed,’ says Cooper. ‘At any point where somebody asked him to put a call in to X, Y, Z, he just did it . . .‘I don’t think it’s fair to fault him, given how incredibly weak the stock of the Tories in Scotland is.

It was very disciplined of him to acknowledge that — to be willing to be guided. ‘He deferred to the advice of the Scots, he deferred to the people on the campaign and he deferred to the Labour people. He did exactly what he was advised to do when he was advised to do it.’ Blue Labour Ran the campaign.

Nevertheless, in the final three weeks of the campaign, Better Together descended into panic. Until then, Brown had been aloof — contenting himself, in the words of one insider, with ‘just throwing grenades at the campaign’. He was never seen in the Better Together offices and refused to work with Tories. ‘He’d just sit on his own and come up with his ideas without any consultation,’ one senior member of the No team recalls. ‘The man was just awful.’

In the final fortnight, however, Brown threw himself into the campaign, delivering a series of barnstorming speeches across Scotland. His final speech, the day before the vote, ‘was just the most powerful 15-minute speech I’ve ever heard in my life’, says a Tory member of the No team.

As old divisions healed, Brown even started working closely with Cameron. Indeed, after the Prime Minister’s depressing weekend at Balmoral, the two men actually spoke on the phone to each other every day.

Cameron’s final speech was even sent to Brown for approval. According to a No 10 insider, the Prime Minister had to bite his tongue as his predecessor lectured him on how he should have run the campaign. ‘Gordon Brown couldn’t resist saying: “I’m the saviour of the world, and you take my advice,” ’ the source revealed.

Cameron’s view, he says, was indulgent. ‘That’s Gordon,’ said the Prime Minister, wisely refusing to rise to the bait.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3246796/Dave-frosty-breakfast-Queen-Balmoral-showdown-Scottish-crisis-left-PM-terrified-humbled.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 September 2014: Better Together accused of breaking electoral laws

Scottish police are looking into allegations that pro-union campaigners broke electoral law by looking at postal ballot results to see how well the No campaign was doing before the main independence poll had taken place. They apparently arose from comments made by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader and a prominent supporter of the No camp. She said that Better Together campaigners had been “taking tallies” at sample postal ballot openings in the weeks before to the closely-fought referendum. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/scotland/referendum/article4217728.ece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 October 2014: McDougall knew the outcome of the referendum before the result was announced

Not long after the polls closed at 10pm Blair McDougall relaxed with his team. He and his inner-circle at the Better Together campaign had known for some time that Scotland would reject independence, but there was still a sense of impotence as Scots cast their votes. He said “I knew we had won before ballot boxes started to be opened.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/13/blair-mcdougall-scottish-independence_n_5978006.html

 

Comment. So the postal vote had been compromised by the “spooks” after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 December 2015: McDougall – Finding fault where it doesn’t exist – an indication of madness

Blair McDougall misrepresented the OECD report on education by cherry-picking every criticism but omitting every accolade. This type of knuckle-dragging politics has been the hallmark of Labour for years and epitomised their indyref campaign yet they’ve learned nothing.

McDougall’s only approach was to whip in the Union support and frighten waverers. It was never to appeal to the Nationalist-minded to win them over. That would require strategy and nuance – with something clever and optimistic.

He is a one-trick pony able to make a dog whistle appeal to the already committed yet unaware of how to reach out beyond a shrinking base to recover the voters Labour need. Why, after he came close to losing the referendum, is he still in place? http://derekbateman.co.uk/category/uncategorized/

 

 

 

 

 
Other relevant posts

https://caltonjock.com/tag/media/

https://caltonjock.com/2014/08/31/yes-campaign-faced-the-might-of-the-abbotsford-team-actively-backed-by-the-entire-uk-political-system-the-civil-service-media-barons-commercial-and-financial-institutions-the-city-of/

https://caltonjock.com/category/scottish-referendum/page/10/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trident Submarine Fleet – No Longer A Viable Deterrent – Drone Technology Can Detect and Destroy Submarines Hidden Undersea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Cloak of Invisibility for the Successor Nuclear Submarines

The credibility and justification of the British “Successor” Trident missile submarine fleet is entirely dependent upon the “submarine at sea” being able to avoid detection so that it cannot be taken out by the enemy before it delivers it’s payload.

But oceanic sub-sea battle space is much reduced in size over the past twenty years and military chiefs are concerned that the new “Successor” submarines are unable to evade tracking and detection from increasingly sophisticated Russian anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

It is fact that Russian submarines lie in wait, in the Atlantic, off the North East coast of Ireland, for British Trident submarines exiting Faslane. The submarine is then tracked throughout their tour of duty. the deterrent therefore is useless.

http://www.genevainternational.org/navigate.php?kind=1&id=2089&lang=fr&last=99&lastsub=132

http://archive.is/f4SGX      think-tank says Britain’s nuclear deterrent could be worthless before it is even launched   The Independent   28 February 2016

 

 

 
The Trident Nuclear Weapons System

Trident is a submarine-launched inter-continental ballistic nuclear weapons system, which is currently carried by four Royal Navy Vanguard-class submarines. Trident is a US nuclear system. The US provides assistance to Britain with its nuclear programme under the 1958 US – UK Mutual Defence Agreement.

The UK has access to 58 missiles from the US pool of Trident II D5 missiles. British Trident Submarines collect the missiles from the US Trident base at Kings Bay, Georgia in the South-East of the United States. While the submarines are in the United States, they will usually test fire one or two missiles at the US Eastern Test Range, off the coast of Florida, where the US test fires its Trident missiles. The Trident missiles are maintained and serviced in the United States.

http://actionawe.org/the-trident-system/

 

 
Trident Replacement

Trident is expected to remain operational until 2028. In March 2007 MPs voted to replace it in order to continue the UK’s nuclear capacity into the 2060s.

The ‘Initial Gate’ decision to begin procuring parts for the new submarines was made in May 2011. However, the ‘Main Gate’ decision – whether to proceed with a Trident replacement – will be made in 2016, after the 2015 general election.

Despite a decision not supposedly having yet been made on replacing Trident a £1.1bn contract to produce new reactor cores for the next generation of the UK’s nuclear-armed submarines has already been awarded to Rolls-Royce.

http://actionawe.org/the-trident-system/

 

 
12 November 2015: Nuclear spat: Osborne doesn’t trust M.o.D to deliver Trident replacement on time

Chancellor George Osborne wants to take responsibility for Trident renewal away from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and delegate it to a new body that reports directly to the Treasury amid concerns the nuclear weapons project could be delayed.

Osborne has sent an ultimatum to Prime Minister David Cameron, saying he will only earmark £40 billion (US$60.8 billion) to pay for the next generation of submarines to carry Trident nuclear missiles if the project is taken away from the MoD.

The chancellor is concerned the MoD, which has a poor procurement track record, will not have the Trident submarines ready by 2028, the year when the existing Vanguard submarines must be decommissioned.

The Treasury’s latest stance is a signal of Osborne’s increasing power within Whitehall, as he seeks to take more control away from government departments.

The government is expected to officially announce a new body to oversee the replacement of Trident submarines later this month. It will be modelled on the organizations that delivered the Olympics and Crossrail projects in London.

Osborne wants B.A.E. Systems and Rolls-Royce – two British arms companies involved in building the new generation of submarines – to stick to a 10-year timetable of delivering the submarines by 2028.

Treasury officials are understood to have little faith in the MoD sticking to the schedule, given the department’s notorious record of delayed projects and overspending.

https://www.rt.com/uk/321698-trident-osborne-nuclear-submarines/

 

 

 

 

 

23 November 2015: Cameron admits renewing Trident nukes will cost extra £6bn

The cost of renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons program has jumped by 20 percent, according to the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (S.D.S.R.). Replacing Britain’s nuclear missiles system was estimated to cost £25 billion nine years ago, but that figure has been revised up to £31 billion, plus a £10 billion contingency. The new figure is likely to add fuel to arguments against replacing the nuclear missiles, with critics arguing it was too expensive even before the price hike.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (C.N.D.) general secretary Kate Hudson said the total cost of maintaining Britain’s nuclear weapons system could now rise to a total £183 billion. She said “This is outrageous – the government has completely lost control of the budget. With the cost of new submarines rising by 60 percent to £41 billion – and in addition to the £142 billion in-service costs reported by Crispin Blunt MP last month – Trident replacement could now rise to a staggering £183 billion. In its determination to replace this Cold War relic, the government is prepared to keep on spending, even if it’s to the detriment of conventional forces and tackling the real security threats we face, such as terrorism, cyber warfare and climate change.”

Commander Robert Green, (retired) former commander of British nuclear weapons said “nuclear weapons are militarily irrational and not credible.”

https://www.rt.com/uk/321698-trident-osborne-nuclear-submarines/

 

 

 

14 December 2015: Rolls-Royce’s submarine business might need to be nationalised to keep Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent out of foreign hands

Whitehall officials are making plans to take over the submarine section of Rolls Royce after it’s shares tanked by nearly 20 per cent after the defence giant issued its fourth profit warning this year and its fifth since February 2014. There are fears the company, which makes large parts of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, could be subject to a hostile takeover from a foreign bidder.

Philip Dunne, defence procurement minister said “I am concerned that Rolls-Royce performs and is capable of performing its nuclear obligations. We would definitely take a view in the event there was corporate activity.”

A Rolls Royce spokesman added “We are in contact with government as a matter of routine and regularly keep them updated on our performance and progress.” Options for the Government include:

* Managing the nuclear submarine department itself.

* Merging parts of Roll-Royce with British defence giant B.A.E . Systems. New legislation would be needed for the deal to go through.

* Merging the submarine department with an as yet unidentified major investor. Britain would need to seek permission from America, which supplies the ballistic missiles, because a 1958 treaty insists they are told about changes of ownership of the Trident manufacturer.

Since Warren East was installed as Rolls’ chief executive, California-based activist investor Value – Act has strengthened its hold on the group, increasing its stake to more than 10%. Value – Act is pushing for a seat on the Rolls board.

Rolls-Royce was privatised by the Tory government in 1987 and is Britain’s biggest aerospace employer and one of the country’s key exporters.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3359066/Rolls-Royce-s-submarine-business-nationalised-Britain-s-Trident-nuclear-deterrent-contract-foreign-hands.html

 

 

 

 

Comment: The Tory government is proceeding with their plans, replacing nuclear power plants throughout the UK, awarding contracts to Chinese and French nationalised companies. All risks in the build and operation of the nuclear power stations will be borne by the UK taxpayer. An examination of the contracts revealed that the most economical option would be to re-nationalise the nuclear power industry then build and operate the new nuclear power stations. Cost savings are projected to be between £6-10Billion. Dogma prevailed however and the better option was not even considered. It is of concern therefore that there is talk of a government takeover of part of Rolls Royce and funding of the “Successor” submarines.

 


25 October 2015: The cost of replacing Trident is really £167bn, new figures suggest

The overall cost of replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system would be £167bn, double previous credible estimates, according to new calculations based on official figures. The revised figure is nearly double the proportion the defence budget as its predecessor.

The figures, released by the Ministry of Defence following parliamentary questions by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, show ministers believe the cost of four new submarines would be £25bn.

Mr Blunt said “The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defence budget of its predecessor. The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible.”

But the Government also says maintenance of the system over its lifetime would cost six per cent of the annual defence budget – which ministers have pledged to hold at two per cent of GDP. According to IMF GDP growth forecasts for the UK, the total figure would therefore be £167bn. Previous estimates of the cost of the system have been significantly lower.

The Royal United Services Institute estimated in 2013 that a new system would cost between £70bn and £80bn for its lifetime. Ministers have previously suggested the cost could be as low as £20bn, but this calculation is widely believed to exclude various other factors.

The independent Trident Commission said in 2014 that the cost of replacement would be around £100bn. The new figures relate to the lifetime cost of the system between 2028 and 2060. A final decision on whether to replace the system is due next year.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cost-of-replacing-trident-is-167bn-double-previous-estimates-calculations-suggest-a6708126.html

 

 

 

Turkey – Army & Air force in coup against President Erdogan – my December 2015 report gave early warning – Worth a read if you wish to know the background

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t look good for Turkey

 

 
13 February 2013: Turkey and Membership of the European Union (EU)

Turkey’s relations with the European Economic Community (EEC) date back to 1959. But it took forty years, until the Helsinki European Council of December 1999, for the country to obtain the status of a candidate country for EU membership.

The EU opened accession talks with Turkey in October 2005, but a number of stumbling blocks are holding up Ankara’s progress, in particular concerning Turkey’s relations with Cyprus, human and minority rights and freedom of expression.

Out of 35 negotiation chapters, so far only one chapter (science and research) has been provisionally closed. Thirteen chapters are open, but the EU has suspended the opening of eight chapters over Turkey’s failure to implement the Ankara Protocol, which states that access should be granted and ports opened to products coming from the Republic of Cyprus.

 

President Erdogan

 

 

 

 

13 February 2013: It’s Not Our Fault – States President Erdogan

Prime Minister Erdoğan has criticised the European Union for treating candidate countries differently, while applying double standards to Turkey by blocking multiple chapters for political reasons. In 2013, Erdogan noted that the 2004 accession of Cyprus could have detrimental consequences for the EU-Turkish relationship and the future of enlargement. He also said that the Turkish delay in EU accession process was “unforgivable”.

Turkey’s European Union Minister criticised the EU for blocking most of Turkey’s accession talks, adding “On the one hand they tell us to work on legal system and freedom of the press, but on the other hand they do not let us carry on with our membership talks. They want us to do our homework without actually telling us what our homework is. Turkey has waited 45 years just to become a candidate”.

 

Turkey goes cool on EU membership. Prefers Islamist Agenda

 

 
16 December 2014: The European Union (EU) General Affairs Council Has a Fresh Look at the EU’s deteriorating relationship with Turkey.

It is at this time of year that the Council re-assesses the enlargement policy of the Union. The Council’s deliberations bear upon what are dubbed, somewhat euphemistically, ‘Progress Reports’ from the Commission which is responsible for conducting accession negotiations on behalf of the member states.

The current assessment will be the first since Jean-Claude Juncker, the new Commission President, declared that there will be no new state joining the EU during his five year mandate. This leaves only Turkey’s bid for membership remaining on the discussion agenda. The problem is that after having been granted accession country status in 2005 progress has been imperceptible.

 

Turkey Likes to Play Games With the West

 

 

 

 

16 December 2014: President Erdogan’s Turkey will not join the European Union

The largest delegation of the (EU) External Accession Service sits in Ankara, waiting the day when both parties in the relationship will decide that they really want to live together. But that day is not foreseeable. Even at a technical level, Turkey does not apply all the rules of its customs union with the EU (notably on public procurement), and there is next to no chance that Turkey will be included in the TTIP negotiations.

Liberalisation of visas and implementation of the readmission agreement for irregular migrants remain agonisingly slow. Obdurate Turkey refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Many of the accession chapters are blocked because one or other EU state opposes Turkish membership on grounds which are highly political and sometimes prejudicial.

Only one country, the United Kingdom, still makes friendly noises about Turkey’s eventual membership – but that very same country is itself thinking of leaving the EU. In any case, British support for Turkey provokes real suspicion in other capitals that its true motive in widening the Union to include Turkey is to weaken European integration. The real problem, however, rests with Turkey itself.

In the early years, the Kemalists who ran Turkey wanted to join the EU as an insurance policy against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and as an economic adjunct of NATO to which military alliance the Turks are still at least formally committed, as well as a way of wreaking revenge on Greece for its historic insults.

When the Islamists took over in 2002, the EU was seen as an important guarantor of the human rights whose abuse at the hands of the Kemalists had caused many Islamic brethren, (including Erdogan) to be imprisoned.

The prospect of EU accession also played well with the rapidly expanding industrial middle class of Anatolia, who supported the AKP, (Turkey’s UKIP Party) the new ruling party, in very large numbers.

Gradually AKP’s commitment to Europe has declined. After years of tinkering with the Turkish constitution there have been minor improvements but not the radical overhaul it needs to meet EU norms. Torture is proscribed, but the administration of justice remains slow, poor and unfair.

A number of the AKP elite have never been willing to sacrifice Turkish sovereignty in order to join the Western liberal community which if not Christian is godless. The goal of AKP is for Turkey to lead a neo-Ottoman revival across the Middle East and North Africa.

 

 

 
16 December 2014: President Erdogan Flays His Enemies

Erdogan himself knows very little about the EU. On his rare visits to Brussels he tends to shout loudly and act prickly. At home, he flays first one supposed enemy then another. The armed forces, the bankers, the students, gay rights activists, the Americans – not forgetting the Europeans have all been traduced. Then he turned ferociously against his former ally Fethullah Gulen when the Imam had the temerity to criticise the AKP government, quite justifiably, for large-scale corruption.

In power now for too long, Erdogan is corrupted. Not only has he lost the once-beguiling charm of the moderniser, but he has adopted the mantle of the ultra-nationalists. He speaks of Turkish North Cyprus in the same tones as Putin speaks of Crimea, sacred duty and all.

His earlier efforts to recognise the Kurdish problem, including his careful talks with the rebellious Kurds, have soured with his refusal to help the Kurds against the Sunni fundamentalists in Iraq and Syria.

Indeed, some in Western intelligence suspect Erdogan gives tacit support for ISIS. It is clear at the very least that EU/NATO is not successful in aligning Turkish foreign and security policy with that of the West.

Erdogan knows how to be elected democratically but not to govern so. The opposition parties are insulted. Religious and cultural minorities, notably the Alevis, are discriminated against.

The liberal media, NGOs and universities are assailed. The reform of mainstream state education is neglected in favour of Islamic hatipschools. Secular liberal Turkey is challenged by the rise of conservative Islamic family policy. In short, Turkey is becoming less and less European.

The charade of an ‘accession process’ with Turkey should be abandoned. Instead, a deep and honest reflection is needed about what kind of durable, strategic partnership between Ankara and Brussels is in our best long-term mutual interest.

Andrew Duff is a European policy expert: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/europes-east/turkeys-eu-accession-negotiations-should-now-be-suspended-310855

 

Secular liberal Turkey!!!!!

 

 

 

 

2 September 2015: The Islamization of Turkey: President Erdoğan’s (Muslim) Education Reforms

The growing efforts at Islamization of Turkish society have largely gone unnoticed. For many years, Islamization was the dog that did not bark: in spite of dire predictions by secularists, the AKP (Turkish UKIP) did not introduce conspicuous efforts to Islamize Turkey. But since 2011, this has changed. The main exhibit is the education sector, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has remodelled to instil considerably more Islamic content, in line with his stated purpose to raise “pious generations”. Ultimately, the Islamic overhaul of the education system is bound to have implications for Turkey’s civilizational identity, and on the choices it will make on where it belongs politically. Let NATO beware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACKGROUND: In February 2012, then Prime Minister Erdoğan raised eyebrows when he said his government was aiming at “raising pious generations”.

 

Beginning that month, his government embarked on a wholesale reform designed to Islamize Turkey’s education system. The timing of Erdoğan’s reforms was not coincidental. They came fifteen years after the February 1997 military intervention, which had decreed comprehensive changes to Turkey’s education system.

Prior to 1997, compulsory schooling in Turkey was only five years; after primary school, parents were free to enroll their children in traditional secondary schools, or vocational schools, including the imam-hatip schools that had originally been designed to provide training for imams and preachers in Turkey’s mosques.

In addition to the regular curriculum, these schools provide 13 hours per week of Islamic instruction to students. These schools had grown exponentially since 1973, when Necmettin Erbakan’s Islamist National Salvation Party (MSP) used its position in a government coalition to put them on par with secular schools.

By 1997, they enrolled one in every ten middle and high school students. Moreover, close to half of the enrollees were girls, who could neither become imams nor hatips. The imam-hatip schools were a deliberate effort to increase the Islamic consciousness of the young generation, having become a parallel system of education that provided a voting base and manpower for Turkey’s Islamist movement.

When the Turkish military intervened with what has been called a post-modern coup on February 28, 1997, one of the key reforms was to increase the length of compulsory schooling to eight years – thus preventing children from being enrolled in religious schools until the age of 14.

The university entrance examination system was also reformed to make it difficult for imam-hatip graduates to gain acceptance to non-theology undergraduate degree programs. The reforms worked: imam-hatip enrollment declined from 11 percent to 2 percent of relevant age students, and the rate of graduates entering higher education dropped from 75 to 25 percent.

In February 2012, the AKP launched a reform program termed 4+4+4. On the surface, the law extended compulsory schooling by four years, making school compulsory for a full 12 years. But in fact, the reforms did exactly the opposite. Vocational schools are once again permitted from fifth grade – including imam-hatip schools.

The law also allows parents to home-school children after fourth grade, which is expected to lead to a reduction of formal schooling, especially for girls in rural areas.

As columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz has observed, the reforms turned “religious schools from a selective option to a central institution in the education system.”  This is the case because the reforms introduced entrance examinations for all high schools except the imam-hatip schools. Thus, all students who do not qualify for other schools would have no choice but to enrol in religious schools.

In August 2013, over 1,112,000 students took the placement test for 363,000 slots in regular, academic high schools. Those that did not make the cut had to choose between secular vocational schools, imam-hatip schools, and a variety called “multi-program high schools”. But the latter are only available in remote areas, and do not even exist in the entire province of Istanbul. In other words, parents and students were forced to choose between vocational schools and religious schools.

As a result, 40,000 students were automatically enrolled in imam-hatip schools against their will, including numerous Alevi and several Armenian students, neither of whom are Sunni Muslims.

 

Women from Turkey’s Shia minority observe a religious procession

 

 

 

 

 
IMPLICATIONS: When the AKP was first elected in 2002, 65,000 students studied in imam-hatip schools. That number grew to 658,000 in 2013.

In May 2015, Bilal Erdoğan, the President’s son, who is (informally) in charge of the Türgev foundation that is spearheading the expansion of imam-hatip schools, announced that the number of students had reached one million.

Imam-hatip schools are only one side of the story. The AKP’s reforms have also greatly expanded the religious content of regular academic high schools. In so doing, Turkey is in direct breach of a 2007 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which held that Turkey’s compulsory classes in religious education violated the religious rights of minorities, since the classes featured only education in the tenets of Sunni Islam.

The government renamed the class to “Religious Culture and Moral Values”, to make it appear broader in scope, but in practice nothing changed. Students are required to memorize a long list of Quranic verses and prayers, but no texts from any other religion. Moreover, Christian and Jewish students continue to be exempt from the class – implying that the government itself views it as an education in Sunni Islam for Muslims.

The reforms, far from removing the compulsory classes, extended them from one to two hours per week. Also, the reforms enabled the roll-out of elective courses in “the life of Prophet Muhammad”, and “the Quran”. That way, students could receive up to six hours of religious education per week. Meanwhile, the number of total hours of school per week was shortened; and thus, several other classes were either merged or abolished, such as that on “human rights, citizenship and democracy.”

In theory, these classes are elective; in practice, they may not be. School administrators decide what elective classes are to be offered. And amendments to the law in 2014 strengthened the government’s control over the appointment of school principals, who have the decisive influence on what courses schools offer.

At least ten students are required to open an elective class, and thus, students may be forced to choose among the religious classes even if they do not want to. In a well-publicized case, the daughter of a protestant pastor in Diyarbakır was exempted from the compulsory class on religion and culture. She was forced, instead, to choose between elective classes on the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet.

Community pressure invariably provides considerable incentives to follow the conservative majority’s behaviour. As Newsweek recently reported, when a student in a largely secular area of Istanbul was exempted from a supposedly elective class on the life of the Prophet to which she had automatically been assigned, she was bullied for being an atheist.

If this can happen in secular districts of Istanbul, the very thought of asking for an exemption would not occur to parents in towns and rural areas across the country. It is not a coincidence that the class on the life of the prophet was the most popular elective course in the first year it was being offered.

In March 2014, new legislation was adopted that provided the government with a mandate to overhaul the entire structure of the ministry of education, including terminating thousands of high-ranking officials, who could then be replaced by political appointees.

Furthermore, reforms in 2010 made it possible to transform regular high schools into imam-hatip schools; in 2012, this was made possible for middle schools as well. The government claims that such processes only take place as a result of popular demand, but the record proves otherwise. In fact, government plans to turn secular schools into imam-hatip schools have led to street protests in a number of places.

On top of the changes to the educational system, the 2012 education reform made considerable changes to the Qur’an courses offered by the state directorate of religious affairs, the Diyanet. The Qur’an courses, particularly summer courses for children, operated by the directorate, used to be co-managed with the Ministry of Education; the directorate now manages them alone.

More importantly, the 12 year minimum age to attend Qur’an courses was abolished. Theoretically, kindergarteners can now be sent to Qur’an courses. In 2013, indeed, a special project was launched for the provision of “Qur’an courses for preschoolers.”

The reform also relaxed regulations on the physical nature of appropriate buildings and requirements for eligible teachers. This is a boon for religious brotherhoods that can now essentially run their own Qur’an schools with their own teachers.

Finally, Quran schools are now allowed to be boarding schools and to have dormitories – an important change, since it enables the full immersion of young children in a religious lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS: Since 2012, the AKP has embarked on a systematic, multi-pronged effort to Islamize Turkey’s education system. These changes are likely to be lasting, as the AKP is retaining its grip on power.

In any coalition government in which it is the senior partner, the AKP is certain to jealously protect the education reform it has embarked on. On top of that, President Erdoğan’s parallel administration — as well as Türgev, the private foundation run by his extended family that is spearheading the expansion of imam-hatip schools — will continue to have a strong informal but direct influence on the education bureaucracy.

The consequences of these reforms will be visible only in time. It is not unlikely, however, that they are going to encourage a Sunni Islamic radicalization among sections of the population.

Social harmony between Sunnis and non-Sunnis could be endangered as a result. Ultimately, the Islamic overhaul of the education system is bound to have implications for Turkey’s civilizational identity, and on the choices it will make on where it belongs politically.

By Svante E. Cornell: Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Publisher of the Turkey Analyst. http://www.turkeyanalyst.org/publications/turkey-analyst-articles/item/437-the-islamization-of-turkey-erdo%C4%9Fan%E2%80%99s-education-reforms.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 December 2015: The Money-men are Backing President Erdogan’s Muslimist Agenda

History teaches that the establishment of a one party rule and ideological homogenization requires the securing of the full support of the financial money-men.  At the recent meeting of the Association of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists (TÜSİAD) their representatives listened to the speech of the prime minister standing. That shows that we should not expect that big business is going to oppose the ideological uniformity that the one party regime is introducing.

Make no mistake; they will acquiesce to ideological homogenization in the name of the “stability” that they like so much. The problems in society, in the east, in the west and with the outside world are not going to end, but never mind that; homogenization is good for the protection of profits in troubled tomes; one nation, one party – that’s a good deal for profit…

 

 

Turkish Army is the best equipped and trained in the Middle East

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 November 2015: President Erdogan’s Alliance With the Military (TSK) Means the Kurds Will Get Nothing From Him

HDP (Turkey’s Labour Party and supporters of Kurdish autonomy) representatives were hoping that President Erdoğan would resume the peace process with the PPK and that he would make concessions to the Kurds if they backed the presidential system he insists on introducing.

But is Erdoğan going to bargain with HDP in the parliament while he is fighting the PKK ( ferociously on the ground? It’s less likely for the time being. At most, they might consider making minimal concessions to HDP that don’t threaten the unitary state, when they think that they are close to “finishing off the matter.” And this is because of the alliance between Erdoğan/AKP and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

The greatest ally of the AKP in the country is the TSK. One reason why Erdoğan is able to pursue his authoritarianism so brazenly is the “alliance” he has entered into with TSK. They have reached an agreement with TSK on the war against PKK, on the unitary integrity etc. Erdoğan cannot step outside these limits, until a new situation. That means it’s probably not on the agenda to seek endorsement from HDP in order to get an amended constitution accepted in parliament.

 

 

Kurdish Women fight along side their menfolk on equal terms

 

 

 

 
The Turkey–PKK conflict – 1978-2015

This is an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups, which have demanded separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan, or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds inside the Republic of Turkey.

The main rebel group is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. Although insurgents have carried out attacks in many regions of Turkey, the insurgency is mainly in south eastern Turkey.

The PKK’s military presence in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, from which it also launches attacks on Turkey, has resulted in the Turkish military carrying out frequent ground incursions and air and artillery strikes in the region, despite the fact that the United States and Iraq have warned Turkey.

The conflict has particularly affected Turkey’s tourism industry and has cost the Economy of Turkey an estimated 300 to 450 billion dollars, mostly military costs.

Since the PKK was founded on 27 November 1978 it has been involved in armed clashes with Turkish security forces. The full-scale insurgency, however, did not begin until 15 August 1984, when the PKK announced a Kurdish uprising. The first insurgency lasted until 1 September 1999, when the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire.

The armed conflict was later resumed on 1 June 2004, when the PKK declared an end to its cease-fire.

Since summer 2011, the conflict has become increasingly violent with resumption of large-scale hostilities. In 2013 the Turkish Government and the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan started a new process regarding the Kurdish question.

On 21 March 2013, Öcalan announced the end of armed struggle and a ceasefire with peace talks.

On July 25, 2015, The PKK finally cancelled their 2013 ceasefire after a year of tension due to various events when the Turks illegally bombed their positions in Iraq, in the midst of their defence against ISIS.

The Turks are a treacherous nation and should not be trusted by the West.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey%E2%80%93PKK_conflict

 

 

The Kurds are more than a match for ISIS. They need heavy weapons which the USA will not supply preferring to allow Turkey to  support the Kurds.

 

 

 

The Kurds are a wonderful nation (very similar to the Scots) and are naturally allied to the West. The British government denying them their country at the time the Ottoman Empire was split up was a major blunder. and should be rectified as soon as ISIS is defeated

 

 

 

Comment:

* The formal position is that Turkey is supposed to be a secular state but that is no longer the case. Now an Islamist nation it is simply a matter of time before becomes radicalised and anti-western. NATO will have a deal of hard thinking and restructuring over the next decade. Turkey will probably withdraw from the Western Alliance (NATO) taking up a neutral stance.

* Turkey has a pressing need to secure access to a guaranteed supply of oil and gas.

* It is expected that the Kurds in Northern Iraq and along a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey will be afforded full statehood or autonomy within Turkey or Iraq, with the support of a Western alliance led by the US.

* President Assad and the Russians will be allowed to bring stability to Syria, (less the newly created Kurdish buffer state along the border with Turkey). Matters pertaining to the rule of President Assad will be referred to the UN, (in time) by the Russians.

 

 

 

AFP Photo/Ozan Kose

 

 

The Middle East – A Century of Strife Created by Britain and France – Part 1 – A History of Avarice

 

Today’s Map of the Middle east

 

 

 

 

The Middle East – What Does the Future Hold?

It is as yet unclear where the Arab Spring will take the world and what will ultimately become of the Middle East. Apocalyptic scenarios are just as speculative as the hope that the region will find its way to new and more stable borders and improved political structures. But where does this lack of legitimacy and absence of trust which poisons the Middle East come from?

 

 

 

 

The Middle East Crisis and How it Evolved

Essentially, the Middle East finds itself today in the same situation as Europe did following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles: standing before a map that disregards the region’s ethnic and confessional realities.

The Middle East states that were founded in the region after 1914, and the borders that were drawn then, are still seen as illegitimate by many of their own citizens and by their neighbors. The legitimacy of states in the region, comes either from tradition, from the power and roots of its founder or it doesn’t come at all.

Only two countries, Egypt and Iran possess such a long and uninterrupted history that their state integrity can hardly be shaken, even by a difficult crisis. Two others continue to stand on the foundation erected by their founders: The Turkish Republic of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, finally united by Abd al-Asis Ibn Saud in 1932.

These four countries surround the core of the Middle East, which is fully formed by a non-state made up of six countries titled by some historians as the state of the “children of England and France:” Namely: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Palestine.

No group of countries, particularly given their small sizes, has seen so many wars, civil wars, overthrows and terrorist attacks in recent decades. To understand how this historical anomaly came to pass, several factors must be considered:

* The wanton resolution by Britain and France, that ordered this part of the world to be governed in accordance with their needs and not those of the native population

* The continual intervention thereafter by the superpowers.

* The role of political Islam.

* The discovery of oil.

* The founding of Israel.

* The Cold War.

 

 

 

 

 

A Look Back in History

Istanbul, the summer of 1914: The capital of the Ottoman Empire seems half a world away from the sunny parlor in the Imperial Villa in Ischl where Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I signed his manifesto “To My People” on July 28 and unleashed the world war by declaring war on Serbia.

For centuries, the Ottoman Empire had controlled the southern and eastern Mediterranean. But Algeria and Tunisia fell to the French while the British nabbed Egypt; in 1911, the Italians established a bridgehead in Libya. By the eve of the Great War, the empire had shrunk to include, aside from today’s Turkey, only the Middle East, present-day Iraq and a strip of land on the Arabian Peninsula stretching down to Yemen.

It is these regions, south of present-day Turkey, that became the focus of the Middle Eastern battles in World War I. For 400 years, the area had wallowed deep in history’s shadow. But in the early 20th century, it rapidly transformed into the arc of crisis we know today — a place whose cities have become shorthand for generations of suffering: Basra, Baghdad, Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut, Gaza and Suez.

The protagonists of World War I were not fully aware yet that the Ottoman Empire’s backyard was sitting atop the largest oil reserves in the world. Had they known, the fighting in the Middle East would likely have been even more violent and brutal than it was. At the time, however, the war aims of the two sides were determined by a world order that would dissolve within the next four years: Great Britain wanted to open a shipping route to its ally Russia and to secure its connection to India via the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf. The German Empire wanted to prevent exactly that.

 

 

 

 

 
World War 1 – The Ottoman Empire Sides With Austria & Germany and British Disaster in the Dardanelles

Shortly after the start of WW1 Istanbul joined Berlin and Vienna. On August 2, the Germans and the Ottomans signed a secret pact; a short time later, two German warships — the SMS Goeben and the SMS Breslau — began steaming from the western Mediterranean toward Constantinople. Once they arrived, they were handed over to the — officially still neutral — Ottoman navy and renamed Yavuz and Midilli; the German crews remained, but donned the fez.

With the arrival of the two battleships in the Golden Horn and the subsequent mining of the Dardanelles, the casus belli had been established: The Ottomans and the Germans had blocked the connection between Russia and its allies, the French and the British. Shortly thereafter, the Goeben, flying the Ottoman flag, bombarded Russian ports on the Black Sea. At the beginning of November, Russia, Great Britain and France declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

In London, strategists began considering an attempt to break the Dardanelles blockade and take Constantinople. The result was the arrival of a British-French fleet at the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula three months later. The attack, which began with a naval bombardment but soon included an all-out ground-troop invasion, failed dramatically.

The Ottoman victory led to the resignation of Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill and provided the foundation for the rise of the man who would later found modern Turkey: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The bloody battle also became a national trauma for Australia and New Zealand, thousands of whose soldiers lost their lives at Gallipoli.

The Allies’ defeat at Gallipoli marked a strategic turning point in the war in the Middle East. Because their plan to strike at the heart of the Ottoman Empire failed, the Allies began focusing on its periphery — targeting the comparatively weakly defended Arab provinces. It was a plan which corresponded with the Arab desire to throw off the yoke of Ottoman rule.

 

 

 
Britain and France Betray the Arabs

In July 1915, Sir Henry McMahon, the High Commissioner of Egypt, began secret correspondence with Hussein Bin Ali, the Sharif of Hejaz and of the holy city of Mecca. He and his sons, Ali, Faisal and Abdullah — together with the Damascus elite — dreamed of founding an Arab nation state stretching from the Taurus Mountains in southeastern Turkey to the Red Sea and from the Mediterranean to the Iranian border.

In October 1915, McMahon wrote Hussein a letter in which he declared Great Britain’s willingness — bar a few vague reservations — “to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca.”

The Arabs fulfilled their part of the agreement. In June 1916, they began their insurgency against the Ottomans — a decisive aid to the British advance from Sinai to Damascus via Jerusalem. Their revolt was energized by the British archeologist and secret agent Thomas Edward Lawrence, who would go down in history as “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Britain, though, did not fully live up to its part of the deal. In a dispatch sent in early 1916, Lawrence wrote that the Arab revolt would be useful to the British Empire because, “it marches with our immediate aims, the break-up of the Islamic ‘bloc’ and the defeat and disruption of the Ottoman Empire.” But in no way were the British thinking of the kind of united Arab state that Hussein and his sons dreamed of. “The states the Sharifs would set up to succeed the Turks would be … harmless to ourselves…. The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities incapable of cohesion.”

 

T E Lawrence

 

 

Far more important to the British than their Arab comrades in arms were the French, with whom their troops were fighting and dying in untold numbers on the Western Front. “The friendship with France,” British Prime Minister David Lloyd George later told his French counterpart Georges Clemenceau, “is worth ten Syrias.” France was a colonial power that had long laid claim to the Christian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain would have preferred to control the region alone, but with their common enemy Germany bearing down, London was prepared to divide the expected spoils.

Even as McMahon was corresponding with Sharif Hussein, British parliamentarian Sir Mark Sykes was negotiating a contradictory deal with the French diplomat François Georges-Picot. It foresaw the division of the Arab provinces which still belonged to the Ottomans in such a way that France would get the areas to the north and the British those to the south. “I should like to draw a line from the ‘e’ in Acre to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk,” Sykes said as he briefed Downing Street on the deal at the end of 1916.

The so-called Sykes-Picot Agreement ( https://youtu.be/eIfQ4GfSz3U?t=10) was an unabashedly imperialistic document. It took no account of the wishes of the peoples affected, ignored the ethnic and confessional boundaries existing in the Arab and Kurdish world and thus provoked the conflicts which continue to plague the region 100 years later. “Even by the standards of the time,” writes James Barr, “it was a shamelessly self-interested pact.”

 

 

 

 

 

The USA and Britain Create a Jewish Homeland in Palestine (the Balfour Declaration) – USA enters the War On the Side of Britain and France

The Balfour Declaration document initially remained secret. And by the time the Bolsheviks completed their revolution in Moscow in 1917 and made the Sykes-Picot Agreement public, the British had already signed another secret deal — one which neither the Arabs nor the French knew about.

On Nov. 2, 1917, Foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour promised the Zionist Federation of Great Britain “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” There were several factors motivating the British to grant the oppressed Jews the right to self-determination and to give them a piece of the Ottoman Empire for that purpose.

One of the most important was the accusations of imperialism against London that had grown louder as the war progressed. Not that the imperialists in the British cabinet shared such concerns. But it bothered them, particularly because one of the critics, Woodrow Wilson, had just been re-elected as US president.

“Every people should be left free to determine its own polity, its own way of development, unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid,” Wilson intoned in January of 1917 on the eve of America’s entry into the war.

 

 

 

At the time, Wilson was unaware of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, but the British suspected that they would ultimately have to come clean with their new ally. As such, the Balfour Declaration can be seen as an effort to guard against the expected US reaction to Britain’s arbitrary redesign of the Middle East.

In the meantime, the British — with the help of the Arabs — were establishing military facts on the ground. Against stiff Ottoman and German resistance, they advanced across the Sinai and Palestine to Damascus.

At the same time, they progressed up the Euphrates to Baghdad and occupied Iraq. Between 1915 and 1918, there were more than 1.5 million soldiers fighting in the Middle East, with several hundred thousand casualties — not including the around one million Armenians who were killed or starved to death in the Ottoman Empire.

In October of 1918, World War I came to an end in the region with the Armistice of Mudros. The Ottoman Empire had been defeated and, with the exception of Anatolia, was divided among the victors and their allies. The “peace to end all peace” was forced upon the Middle East — for an entire century.

When US President Wilson arrived in Paris in early 1919 for peace negotiations with British premier Lloyd George and French leader Clemenceau, he became witness to what for him was an unexpected show. The heads of the two victorious powers were deeply divided and engaged in a biting oratorical duel.

The French insisted that they be given the mandate for present-day Lebanon and for the region stretching to the Tigris, including what is now Syria. The Sykes-Picot Agreement, after all, guaranteed them control over the area.

 

 

 

 

Lost Opportunities of the King-Crane Report

The British, who were mindful of their own mandate in Palestine and who had just received more exact information regarding the immense oil riches to be had in Mesopotamia, were opposed. Granting France the mandate over Syria, after all, was in contradiction to the promises they had made to the Arabs at the beginning of the war.

Furthermore, the British had fought the war in the Middle East essentially on their own, with almost one million soldiers and 125,000 killed and injured. “There would have been no question of Syria but for England,” Lloyd George said.

Woodrow-Wilson proposed a solution. The only way to find out if the residents of Syria would accept a French mandate and those of Palestine and Mesopotamia would accept British rule, the US president said, was to find out what people in those regions wanted.

It was a simple and self-evident idea. For two months, the Chicago businessman Charles Crane and the American theologian Henry King travelled through the Middle East and interviewed hundreds of Arab notables. Although the British and the French did all they could to influence the outcome of the mission, their findings were clear.

 

 

 

 

Locals in Syria did not want to be part of a French mandate and those in Palestine were uninterested in being included in a British mandate. London had been successful in preventing the Americans from conducting a survey in Mesopotamia.

In August, King and Crane presented their report. They recommended a single mandate covering a unified Syria and Palestine that was to be granted to neutral America instead of to the European colonial powers. Hussein’s son Faisal, who they describe as being “tolerant and wise,” should become the head of this Arab state.

Today, only Middle East specialists know of the King-Crane Report, but in hindsight it represents one of the biggest lost opportunities in the recent history of the Middle East. Under pressure from the British and the French, but also because of the serious illness which befell Wilson in September of 1919, the report was hidden away in the archives and only publicly released three years later.

By then, Paris and London had agreed on a new map for the Middle East, which diametrically opposed the recommendations made by King and Crane. France divided its mandate area into the states of Lebanon and Syria.

Great Britain took on the mandate for Mesopotamia, which it later named Iraq — but not before swallowing up the oil-rich province of Mosul. Between Syria, Iraq and their mandate area of Palestine, they established a buffer state called Transjordan.

Instead of the Arab nation-state that the British had promised Sharif Hussein, the victorious powers divided the Middle East into a number of countries which, because of their geographical divisions and their ethnic and confessional structures are still among the most difficult countries in the world to govern today.

 

King and Crane – Visionaries

 

 

 
Fatal and Long-Term Consequences

And they knew what they were doing. Just before the treaties were signed, the question arose as to where exactly the northern border of Palestine — and thus, later, that of Israel — was to run. An advisor in London wrote to the British Prime Minister Lloyd George: “The truth is that any division of the Arab country between Aleppo and Mecca is unnatural.

Therefore, whatever division is made should be decided by practical requirements. Strategy forms the best guide.” In the end, the final decision was made by a British general assisted by a director from the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

Three factors in the Middle East led to fatal and long-term consequences:

First: World War I yanked Arabs out of their historical reverie. The Ottomans took a relatively hands-off approach to governing their Middle Eastern provinces, but they also did little to introduce any kind of political structure to the region or to promote the development of an intellectual or economic elite. On the contrary, at the first sign of a progressing national identity, the Ottoman rulers would banish or execute the movement’s leaders. This heritage weighed on the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th century, and the region’s pre-modern conflation of state and religion further hampered its political growth.

Second: The capriciousness with which France and Great Britain redrew the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire’s former Arab provinces left behind the feeling that a conspiracy was afoot — a feeling which grew into an obsession in the ensuing decades.

Thirdly: The tension left behind by the untenable peace in the Arab world was not released in a single, violent eruption. During World War II, the region was not a primary theater of war. But the unresolved conflicts left behind by World War I, combined with the spill-over effects from the catastrophic World War II in Europe — the founding of Israel, the Cold War and the race for Persian Gulf resources — added up to a historical burden for the Middle East. And they have resulted in an unending conflict — a conflict that has yet to come to an end even today, almost 100 years after that fateful summer in 1914.

Author – Bernhard Zand – Der Spiegel   http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/world-war-i-led-to-a-century-of-violence-in-the-middle-east-a-946052-2.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broadcast Media In Scotland – Time for change – The Scots are getting done Dom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westminster withdraws funding from Alba.

The Tory government has withdrawn £1M funding from Alba leaving the BBC and/or the Scottish government or some other entity to pick up the tab which is around 5% of the present annual financial outlay (20 minutes daily) or reduce programming.

Control of the content of the jointly owned company is apparently retained by the UK government. This aspect of broadcasting needs to be given up by Westminster since it is evidently no longer interested in supporting the channel.

Broadcasting at present for only 7 hours daily there is opportunity to expand output beyond Gaelic to include Scots. Use of subtitles and multi-band audio could be enhanced making the channel better accepted by most Scots. The 20 minutes of new daily programming could be used to provide a truly Scottish daily news/current affairs.

The £1M required should be transferred to Alba by the BBC relieving the organisation of a need to provide a News at 6 slot on BBC1. Programme Content could be sourced from the BBC and/or other media outlets/ broadcasters who would be invited to contribute to the programming content. eg.  The owners of The National and Sunday Herald,  RT,  Polsat etc.

 

 

 

 

 

27 November 2015: End of BBC Alba –  funding condemned as “cultural and community vandalism”

The UK goverment’s department for media, culture and sport plans to scrap its entire budget for BBC Alba Gaelic television in Scotland. The funding cut was announced in the small print of the Autumn Statement spending review released by Tory chancellor George Osborne earlier this week. Cuts to the £1m of funding from the UK Government will mean BBC Alba will become entirely reliant on its two other sources of financial support: the BBC and Scottish Government.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, reacting to the 100 per cent cut, stated: “The decision to remove all UK Government funding for Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland will come as a major blow to BBC Alba and is yet another sign that Scotland is under-served by the public service broadcasting status quo.

“BBC Alba serves an audience of 700,000 people across the country – far outstripping the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland. It is no surprise so many people are watching when they are producing quality dramas like Bannan – the first Gaelic drama made by the BBC for decades – and are providing coverage of Scottish rugby.

“While the BBC is a world-renowned broadcaster, it is currently under-serving Scotland. TV licence payers in Scotland pay in £335 million ever year – but just £35 million is spent on Scottish TV production.

“People will rightly ask why the UK Government is cutting funding for a successful public sector broadcaster in the midst of the BBC Charter Review. They should abandon these misguided plans, which will be detrimental to the development of the language and the Scottish creative sector.”

BBC Alba, fully established as a channel in 2008, has four studios located in Stornoway, Glasgow, Inverness and Portree. Its output includes a wide mixture of news, current affairs, sport, drama, entertainment and children’s programming.

 

 

 

 

The station receives a small amount of funding compared to other BBC services, including £8m from the BBC and £13.8m from the Scottish Government.

MSP for Falkirk East and convener of Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group on Gaelic, Angus MacDonald has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament calling for the decision to be reversed.

Mike Russell described the move as “cultural and community vandalism”.

Daily Record Westminster political editor Torcuil Critchon said the cut would mean the UK Government losing influence at BBC Alba.

The cut, as part of a wider austerity agenda, coincides with the BBC charter renewal process to set out the future of the BBC.

Following accusations of London-centric reporting during the independence referendum, the National Union of Journalists in Scotland and the Scottish Government have called for a reform of broadcasting and greater investment in BBC Scotland.

https://commonspace.scot/articles/3011/uk-government-cuts-100-of-its-funding-for-gaelic-television-in-scotland

 

 

George (Zebedee) Foulkes to serve in Scotland’s upper chamber – If he gets his amendment through – persish the thought

 

George Foulkes and Jack McConnell in pyjamas

George and Jack McConnell attending Holyrood

 

 

 

A wee bit about George Foulkes

George Foulkes, a career politician cut his political teeth while a student at Edinburgh University where he was President of the Students Representative Council. From there he went on to become full-time president of the Scottish Union of Students and later worked for Age Concern Scotland before winning a seat in Parliament.

He won Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, in 1979. He remained in parliament until 2005 then stood down taking a seat in the house of Lords. He was elected to the Scottish parliament  2007 -2011 and attended both establishments until 2011 when he stood down from his seat at Holyrood preferring his other persona as Baron Foulkes.

He is also a member of the GMB Union, Co-operative Party and the Fabian Society. He lists his interests as watching Ayr United and Hearts football clubs and boating.

The present leader of the Labour Party in Scotland Kezia Dugdale was his protegee,. having worked for him at the start of her political career. Her personal character and approach to politics largely mirrors that of George and that does not endear her to the Scottish electorate, including those who might prefer to vote labour.  Her father, who is an SNP supporter has urged her to moderate her behaviour but she chose publically to ignore him.

 

Kezia Dugdale Wins Backing From More Than Half Of Her Scottish Labour ...

Kezia Dugale and a colleague whose name escapes me

 

 

 

4 December 2015: Baron George Foulkes of Cumnock is tabling an amendment to the Scotland Bill to create an elected upper chamber for Holyrood – a Scottish Senate.

The Scotland Bill is currently in committee stage in the House of Lords. Coming in the wake of last year’s referendum, the Bill is intended to provide Scotland with a robust set of devolved powers within the United Kingdom. To this end it includes greater fiscal powers, including borrowing and income tax variation, as well as greater discretion over spending.

These powers are welcome, and highlight the historic opportunity for reform which the Scotland Bill represents. It is important that we recognise the rarity of this opportunity, and be as bold as possible with the reforms we propose.

The area I think is in critical need of addressing is Holyrood itself. As it stands, Scotland’s unicameral constitutional set up is inadequate.

Having only a single chamber drastically reduces the checks and balances needed in a mature democracy. It makes the likelihood of flawed legislation being passed much greater, because it does not provide a restraint on a majority government.

The importance of this restraint has been illustrated clearly during the past weeks in Westminster over the issue of tax credits, where the House of Lords challenged the government’s planned cuts. This was bad legislation, forced through the Commons by a Tory majority, and the Lords fulfilled their constitutional duty by forcing the Chancellor to reconsider and eventually scrap his plans.

It is this sort of check which Scotland badly needs, or else it is vulnerable to similar legislation.

That is why I am tabling an amendment to the Scotland Bill which will provide for the creation of an upper chamber at Holyrood, a Scottish Senate. This Senate will be empowered to function much as the House of Lords does in Westminster:

* to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny;
* to consider and propose amendments to legislation agreed by the Scottish Parliament for future consideration by the Scottish Parliament before it is able to receive Royal Assent;
* to debate and make resolutions on devolved matters;
* to set up committees with the power to call or require Scottish Ministers to give evidence on any devolved matter.

Crucially though, a Scottish Senate will be elected. The House of Lords does great work, but its present system of selecting peers is undemocratic and anachronistic. A Scottish Senate, comprising of 46 Senators elected from across the regions of Scotland, will provide a democratic, legitimate and effective guarantor of good government in Scotland.

For some time now, Holyrood has suffered from an increasing lack of accountability, stemming from a lack of checks and balances built into the system, and made worse by one-party rule. The Scotland Bill represents an opportunity to insert sensible structures which will guarantee Scots a legislature which not only represents them, but also protects them from misgovernment. http://labourhame.com/time-for-a-scottish-senate/

 

Lord George

 

 

 
20 July 1993: Labour MP George Foulkes arrested by police

Scottish Labour MP George Foulkes was arrested near the Palace of Westminster last night for allegedly assaulting a police officer and being drunk and disorderly.

He was taken to Charing Cross police station. Mr Foulkes later left the police station at 1.50am in the back of a Ford Granada. Two men in the car had arrived at the station 20 minutes earlier. Scotland Yard said that Mr Foulkes had been released without charge on police bail, pending further inquiries.

A police spokesman said earlier a 51-year-old man was arrested at 9.20pm at Millbank after an alleged assault on a police officer and for allegedly being drunk and disorderly.

Mr Foulkes, 51, the MP for Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley in Ayrshire, is an Opposition Front Bench spokesman on defence.

Millbank runs beside the Houses of Parliament, and it is believed Mr Foulkes was taken into custody after a scuffle outside Chancellor’s Gate near the House of Lords.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12727401.Foulkes_arrested_by_police/

 

George and friends

 

 

13 August 1993: George Foulkes charged with police assault

Labour MP George Foulkes was yesterday charged with assaulting a police officer and being drunk and disorderly after an incident last month outside the House of Commons. The issue could threaten his future on the Front Bench. Mr Foulkes, 51, was bailed by police to appear before Bow Street magistrates on September 9.

The MP for Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley arrived at Charing Cross police station on the back of a motor cycle.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the MP was charged with being drunk and disorderly, contrary to the Criminal Justice Act, and with assaulting Mr John Williams, a constable in the Metropolitan Police, in the execution of his duty, contrary to the Police Act of 1951.

Mr Foulkes could not be reached for comment yesterday. A woman answering the telephone at his home in Ayr said: ”I’m afraid there is no comment on that.” He is married with two sons and a daughter.

He was arrested on July 21 after attending a Westminster reception held by the Scotch Whisky Association. He was returning on foot to the Commons with other MPs when the incident occurred. An elderly woman involved in the incident was taken to hospital.

The day after his arrest, Mr Foulkes, a member of Labour’s Front Bench defence team, was missing from defence questions in the House, There has been speculation that the issue could jeopardise Mr Foulkes’s chances of promotion to the Shadow Cabinet. Any MP convicted of an offence may be expelled from the Commons if the House so decides. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12725149.Foulkes_charged_with_police_assault/

 

 

 

 

 
3 September 2000: The son of Foreign Office minister George Foulkes convicted of being a football hooligan

Hearts supporter Alex Foulkes, 25, almost triggered a riot when he hurled sectarian abuse at Celtic fans during a match at Parkhead. The arrogant lout, who tutted his way through a court appearance, told officers who arrested him: “You will be in trouble – my father is an MP and my mother is on the police board.”

Foulkes, a former official of the Scottish Executive’s rural affairs department, was fined £450 at Glasgow Sheriff Court. He initially denied shouting, swearing and taunting rival fans with sectarian abuse. But he changed his plea after his younger brother Dominic, who was at the game with him, testified that he had swore at the Celtic support.

Police on duty at the game last August described how they watched Foulkes flicking V-signs and screaming vile insults at the home fans. He ignored several warnings about his behaviour and was eventually arrested after police feared an angry reaction from the Celtic fans. Sheriff Samuel Cathcart heard that when Foulkes was taken to the detention area at Parkhead he threatened officers that they could be “in trouble” because his mother was on the Strathclyde Police Board and his father was an MP.

Last night, dad George, Labour MP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said: “I have no comment to make, and neither does my son. “You decide what you want to print, I have nothing to say.” Foulkes’ embarrassed mum Elizabeth, Provost of South Ayrshire Council but never a member of the Police Board, also made no comment about her son’s disgrace.

During an earlier court appearance last month Foulkes, sat in the dock and loudly tutted when told there wasn’t enough time to deal with the case and it would have to be adjourned. At one stage, he refused to stand up for Sheriff Charles MacFarlane QC, who was outraged at his arrogant behaviour. The Clerk of Court was forced to remind Foulkes that failing to show respect could end up with him facing a contempt charge. The politician’s son then huffed and puffed and swore under his breath, before turning to reporters and declaring: “Is this how justice in this country works?”

After last week’s hearing, a court insider said: “We get nicer drug addicts, thieves and neds in here. The man had the manners of an arrogant toddler.” Foulkes is believed to work for a hi-tech internet company. He took up the post after leaving his previous position as a junior official in the rural affairs department of the Scottish Executive last year.

He was suspended after using the Scottish Government e-mail system to invite people to an event organised by a Labour youth organisation. He was rumbled when his ‘scotland.gov.uk’ address was noticed when an invitation went to Alex Fergusson, a Tory MSP, to attend a debate on fox hunting. Foulkes later worked briefly as a Scottish Labour Party activist, campaigning for senior Scottish MPs such as government whip Anne McGuire.

His conviction is the latest in a long line of incidents involving the Foulkes family. In 1993 his dad George resigned from his post as opposition junior defence spokesman after he was fined for a drunken assault on a policeman. Foulkes had just left a party hosted by the Scotch Whisky Association, and ended up trying to whack a police officer shortly after inviting two women to dance in the street. The MP was hit with a £1550 fine after he admitted assault and being drunk and disorderly. But minutes after leaving court in London, Foulkes, also an avid Hearts supporter, was on a plane with son Alex, jetting off to watch the club play a cup-tie in Spain.

Alex first hit the headlines in October 1998 when he was thrown out of a students’ bar in Edinburgh after a rowdy argument. He was told to sort his act out or face an expulsion. He said at the time: “It’s unfair to say I’m a chip off the old block. “It’s not very nice for my father to be dragged into all this.”

George’s outspoken comments have often embarrassed the Labour Party hierarchy. He famously described former US president Ronald Reagan as “increasingly senile and dangerous.”

In 1983, while Shadow spokesman on South America, he was given a hostile reception in the Falkland Islands after seeming to speak out in favour of Argentina. He was greeted by a group of islanders who had written a message advising him, none too politely, to go back home.

The following year he received an equally frosty welcome in Argentina when he was part of the first group of politicians to visit the country since the war. He was pelted with eggs and forced to retreat from a press conference by angry protesters.

Foulkes also became persona non grata in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man after he fiercely attacked them for their tax-haven status.

He famously once admitted that he was not scared to court controversy, by saying: “There will always be a danger that I’ll end up with my foot in my mouth, but it’s a risk well worth taking.”

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/MP’S+SON+IS+SOCCER+HOOLIGAN%3b+Yob+claimed+minister+dad+would+’trouble’…-a064963554

 

 

 

 
18 April 2007: Campaign woes for Foulkes jnr Again

Even on the other side of the world, Labour is embroiled in election controversy. Alex Foulkes, the academic son of Scots Labour stalwart Lord George Foulkes, is reported to be involved in a row that is rocking the New Zealand Labour Party.

According to a local paper, Foulkes jnr has been accused of “drinking and aggression towards branch members and harassing people with early-morning phone calls” during a campaign to be elected chairman of the party’s branch in Princes Street, Auckland. As result, he has been suspended from the party’s e-mail list, denied access to the branch membership to campaign, and – worst of all – barred from the Auckland University pub.

Young Alex vehemently protests his innocence and, according to the newspaper, even claims his home is being watched by agents from the New Zealand intelligence agencies. In that regard, at least, his father may be able to help. Lord Foulkes is a member of parliament’s intelligence and security committee and has privileged access to all sorts of sensitive secrets. http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/campaign-woes-for-foulkes-jnr-1-743551

 

Another George. How could he say that?

 

 
16 September 2007: Wendy Alexander’s first test as Foulkes brands her spin doctor an ‘idiot’

Wendy’s honeymoon as Scottish Labour leader ended abruptly after one of her senior MSPs described her new spin doctor as an “idiot”. Lord Foulkes, a Labour member for Lothians, has made a complaint about the party’s head of communications, Brian Lironi, for allegedly briefing against him.

http://georgefoulkes.blogspot.co.uk/2007/09/alexanders-first-test-as-foulkes-brands.html

 

Ex-Labour MSP Wendy Alexander left politics to spend more time with ...

Wendy’s reaction to the statement from george

 

 

 
16 September 2007: Foulkes snubs McLeish’s call to apologise for SNP ‘racism’ claim

Labour MSP George Foulkes last night refused to apologise for remarks linking the Scottish National Party to anti-English racism despite a call to do so from a former first minister.

Lord Foulkes, the former UK minister who is now an MSP, sparked a heated row after he warned the Nationalists over their disparaging talk of “London Labour”. He claimed the SNP encouraged people “on the extreme outskirts of nationalism to think it is OK to do things that could be very harmful to English people”.

However, Henry McLeish, the former Labour First Minister, launched a stinging attack on his party colleague over the remarks. Mr McLeish said he was “very disappointed and saddened” by Lord Foulkes’ comments. “I think in Scotland at the present time there is no need for that type of vitriol for the SNP,” he said.

A spokesman for the Labour party said neither Lord Foulkes nor Wendy Alexander, the party’s leader-elect, would be apologising. The two spoke by phone yesterday but no details of their conversation were released. Lord Foulkes was unavailable for comment and Labour issued a one line statement in response to the continuing controversy. The party spokesman said: “George Foulkes has made it clear that he is not accusing the SNP of racism”.

According to Labour, the MSP had said: “I’m not suggesting for a second that the SNP are racist, or indeed, anti-English. “What I am saying however is that Alex Salmond needs to be very careful when he makes snide remarks about ‘London’ Labour and the ‘London’ Government, that he’s not fanning the flames of any existing anti-English sentiment. t would be deeply irresponsible”.

A source close to Alex Salmond, the First Minister, said: “We would associate ourselves with the sensible, dignified remarks of Henry McLeish. “It’s a shame the Labour Party don’t have the grace to apologise and draw a line under George Foulkes’s antics. “He has only succeeded in making himself look silly and his party look shabby.”

http://georgefoulkes.blogspot.co.uk/2007/09/foulkes-snubs-mcleishs-call-to.html

 

Henry finger in the pie Mcleish

 

 

 

28 April 2008: George Foulkes – A buffoon

The drunken Lord Foulkes is in the news again for two reasons. He’s been rumbled for a huge expenses claim for travel between Edinburgh and London to do his second job. He’s also been heavily criticised for talking utter pish in the Scottish Parliament.

Since he was given his own column in the Edinburgh Evening News, George Foulkes, the drunken Baron of Cumnock, has provided an almost constant source of entertainment. Anyone remember when he got pished, fell over, got arrested then claimed he’d been mugged before finally being charged with assault and drunken buffoonery – I don’t think that was the exact legal term but he got a hefty fine and booted out of his comfy job on the front bench.

Or what about the time he tried to claim £45,000 for expenses on a flat he himself owned? As I say, a thin grasp on reality. Anyone remember the next time he got “mugged” on a trip to Europe with the Jambos? Pished again, unsurprisingly. http://www.easterroad.com/george-foulkes-buffoonery-2/

 

 

 

 

 
22 December 2008: George Foulkes costs £90,000 for asking questions

Labour MSP George Foulkes was accused of wasting public money yesterday after his bill for asking Holyrood questions topped £90,000. The Lothians MSP has tabled 927 written questions since his election to Holyrood in May last year, at a cost to the taxpayer of £98.51 each. Foulkes is not the only big questioner at Holyrood but SNP members claim some of his queries are “ludicrous and utterly irrelevant”.

SNP deputy whip Bill Kidd said: “Many of Foulkes’s questions are simply jokes at the taxpayer’s expense. “At a time when how taxpayers’ money is spent is under greater scrutiny than ever, Lord Foulkes should stick to the serious subjects and stop wasting public cash in this way.”

The cost of answering questions from Foulkes has reached £91,318. This year, he has asked how many times First Minister Alex Salmond has met singer Sandi Thom, and when cabinet ministers can claim expenses for dry cleaning. But he said: “I make no apologies for asking these questions and will continue to do so. “For every one that appears trivial, there are a dozen about serious issues. Some have been really effective. They have exposed the kind of thing Salmond gets up to at Bute House.”

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/george-foulkes-costs-90000-for-asking-1002706

 

 

 

 

27 December 2008: Lord Foulkes caught in £54,000 expenses row

He earns £52,000 a year in his ‘day’ job as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. But the demands of Holyrood haven’t stopped George Foulkes claiming a further £54,527 in expenses over the past year as a member of the House of Lords.

As Lord Foulkes, he attended the upper chamber 94 times over the past financial year, charging taxpayers an average of £580 for each day of parliamentary business there. Foulkes, the only member of the Scottish Parliament who also sits in the Lords, last night faced demands from his political opponents to stand down from one of the positions. But Foulkes said he was capable of doing both jobs well, insisted all his expenses claims were legitimate and pointed out that as a peer he was helping oversee the work of MI5 and MI6 as a member of the Intelligence and Security Services Committee at Westminster.

Statistics released at Westminster revealed that Foulkes, a Labour list MSP for Lothian, claimed £21,014 for overnight stays in London, which he used to finance his flat in the city. A further £7,626 was claimed for meals and incidental travel not covered by his £16,327 travel allowance for journeys by car, train and aeroplane. Office costs amounted to £9,474, according to the figures – covering the year from April 2007 to the end of March 2008.

Mike Rumbles, the Lib Dem MSP, said: “I’m astonished that he feels he can do these two jobs in two different places at once. It is quite remarkable. As MSPs, we have enough to do, and our jobs should be focused on serving our constituents in Scotland and Edinburgh, whether or not you are a list or a constituency MSP. “Lord Foulkes really should be concentrating on his work in Scotland or his work in the Lords. I don’t think there should be any dual-mandate MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.”

The only other MSP with a seat at Westminster is Alex Salmond, MP for Banff and Buchan and MSP for Gordon. As an MP, Salmond receives an annual salary of 60,675, but takes only a third of his MSP’s salary – this 17,697 a year is put into a trust fund to finance charity contributions in his constituency. Salmond also receives 70,000 as First Minister.

The figures also revealed that Lord Watson of Invergowrie, the former Labour minister who was convicted of fire-raising, claimed 42,805 for attending on 129 days.

Pete Wishart MP, the SNP’s constitutional affairs spokesman, said: “It is scandalous that Lord Watson is allowed to continue grandstanding at the public expense in the Lords. It is time for the House of Lords reforms, banning anyone with a criminal conviction from sitting in the Lords, to be brought back.”

http://www.scotsman.com/news/lord-foulkes-caught-in-163-54-000-expenses-row-1-1302626

 

Another George

 

 

 

2 April 2009: Foolish Foulkes?

A great many political watchers would answer the above question in the affirmative without further ado. But even the few who support the more offbeat statements made by Lord Foulkes must be cringing at the MSP’s latest outburst – his claim that Alex Salmond was “playing politics” with the North Sea helicopter tragedy by suggesting that the business of the Scottish Parliament be suspended as a mark of respect.

Lord Foulkes has also accused the first minister of behaving as a “quasi-head of state” and The Times quotes him as saying:

“Alex Salmond is trying to carve out a role for himself as father of the nation and is trying to use this for political purposes. It is unbelievable and outrageous.”

As a political cynic I do think that sometimes these occasions are exploited by self-righteous politicians for their own ends, and of course those who take a slightly different view on the scheduling of political business are effectively browbeaten into compliance on grounds of sensitivity.

http://planet-politics.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/foolish-foulkes.html

 

George gets his team organised. Note he is fingering John Reid out as the culprit

 

 

 

 

14 July 2009: George Foulkes, Labour Lord and MSP – waste of public money and oxygen.

It is that time of year again, time for George Foulkes to cause trouble. This time the noble Lord latest venture in stirring shit is a complaint to the Westminister sleaze Watchdog against First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond.

Foulkes has a history of wasting public money by asking a large number of parliamentary questions, the more meaningless the better. Nothing is too stupid for Foulkes to ask the Scottish Government. From Space hoppers to hairstylists, Foulkes wants to know the cost. Alex Salmond use of taxpayers’ money in a bid to force Tony Blair from office over Iraq. Some might say that he was doing his duty holding the UK Government to account.

Last night, Foulkes was quick to crow Mr Lyon was to look into his complaint, which was limited to the First Minister “in the first instance”. In other words, this is a party political complaint against Alex Salmond, could it be something to do with the fact there is a by-election in Glasgow North East?

The SNP response to what Foulkes is up to is that the Nationalist parties had been “absolutely” right in their bid to hold Mr Blair to account for the war. That war was illegal, achieved nothing and destroyed an entire country which caused lasting damage to the West. Foulkes is one of the most expensive clowns in public life.

http://glasgowunihumanrights.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/george-foukles-labour-mp-waste-of.html

 

Alex Foulkes son of

 

 

 
23 July 2009 Baron Foulkes Gets himself involved in too few helicopters in Afghanistan row

As Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, former Labour MP George Foulkes sports a title as florid as his ample cheeks. His opinions are equally colourful and frequently targeted at anyone who has the temerity to question Government policies or the activities of his friends. His name is a byword in Westminster for unthinking tribalism and shameless sycophancy. One writer once complained: ‘His toadying is becoming embarrassing even by Westminster standards.’

But his accomplishments in the military arena are rather less striking. As one MP put it yesterday: ‘The only fighting George has ever been interested in is fighting his way to the bar.’ Indeed it was his taste for drink which summarily ended his only experience of the Armed Forces.

He was Labour’s defence spokesman in opposition between 1992 and 1993 but was forced to resign after he admitted assault and being drunk and disorderly following a reception hosted by the Scotch Whisky Association. He spent a night in police custody and was fined £1,050.

Lord Foulkes – whose Gordon Highlander grandfather won the military medal in the First World War – became an MP in 1979 after a career in student politics and local government. When Labour won power in 1997 he was Clare Short’s deputy at the Department for International Development. After a couple of other jobs he got a peerage in 2005.

In recent months he repeatedly leapt to the defence of fellow Scot Michael Martin during the MPs’ expenses scandal. Lord Foulkes was still arguing that Mr Martin was the right man for the job just hours before he became the first Speaker forced from office in 300 years. Lord Foulkes’s own expenses included claims of £45,000 over two years for overnight subsistence to stay in a flat he had inherited. He also acquired a reputation as one of Westminster’s leading junketeers, going on record numbers of foreign freebies.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201267/Brown-forces-minister-retract-parting-shot-need-helicopters-Afghanistan.html

 

General Dannatt

 

 

 

 

21 August 2009: Labour MSP, George Foulkes is a national disgrace to Scotland

Where would we all be if clowns hadn’t been invented? The world would be a lesser place indeed. Enter George Foulkes, Lord and MSP, his parlour trick is the Freedom of Information Request.

Foulkes has perfected the art of using the law of freedom of information for his own stupid ends. The boy loves it! Now Foulkes has taken time off from annoying the SNP Government to attempt to smear a high ranking General, Sir Richard Dannett. Foulkes campaign against General Sir Richard Dannatt involves demanding information on his use of chauffeur-driven cars and military helicopters. This isn’t the first time that Foulkes has attacked the head of the Army for his criticism the Government over Afghanistan equipment shortages. The smear campaign by Foulkes is calculated to embarrass him and stop dissent.

Opposition MPs have said the smear campaign against Dannett was ‘nauseating’ but it goes further than that, Foulkes is a national embarrassment who is attempting to undermine the armed forces. So, not having any evidence of wrong doing Foulkes sets off to smear by asking about ‘accommodation and chauffeur-driven cars, his use of military helicopters and entertaining costs at the general’s official London residence.

Tory, Liam Fox said; “The systematic undermining of opponents has been a trademark of New Labour”. And when your tactics get exposed in politics the wise thing to do is change them but not Foulkes; he doesn’t care he is a laughing stock.

Foulkes said; “If the information is embarrassing, it will embarrass him,” He further added; “if it’s not, it won’t.” In other words, it is a fishing expedition. Truly Foulkes is a pathetic character.

http://glasgowunihumanrights.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/labour-msp-george-foulkes-is-national.html

 

Him again

 

 

 

3 December 2009: Labour politician Lord Foulkes comes under fire for comment from the SNP after comparing Alex Salmond to Mussolini.

Lord Foulkes referred to the First Minister as “Il Duce” – the title Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini took after becoming dictator. The Lothians MSP said later that his remark “must have been a slip of the tongue”. But itprovoked an angry response from the Nationalists.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani – who is of Italian origin – branded the comment “a disgrace” and demanded an apology from Labour. Ms Fabiani, who has previously been honoured by the Italian government for her work promoting Italy overseas, said: “Lord Foulkes may be a figure of fun who regularly embarrasses the Labour Party, but he has overstepped the line with this very silly and tasteless remark. “As someone of Italian origin, I am appalled that a member of Scotland’s Parliament thinks that is an acceptable way to behave.”

Lord Foulkes made the remark at Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee as he questioned representatives from Audit Scotland on whether or not a delegation from Scotland would be heading to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He asked: “Have we any indication as to whether there are plans to send a delegation to the 2010 Games?” Lord Foulkes then added: “No doubt Il Duce, sorry the First Minister, will be going as well.”

https://scottishindependence.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

15 January 2011: Presiding Officer shows Labour MSP George Foulkes ‘who’s the daddy’ by publicly slapping down him in Holyrood Chamber

He is the master of the inane Freedom of Information Request. But talentless Labour MSP George Foulkes has a big mouth as well. Blowhard is an expression best summing him up. He is the bam’s bam!

Yesterday saw George Foulkes threatened with expulsion from the Holyrood Chamber as he was reprimanded by Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson for earlier shouting the word “charlatan.” He has been a “charlatan” for years but hasn’t seen fit to broadcast that fact. When ‘Lord’ Foulkes opened his gub because his bottom wasn’t available by way of being tightly pressed into a seat, he reminds us that anyone can be a politician.

The Lothians MSP claimed he did not consider the word to be disrespectful, but the presiding officer Alex Fergusson told him that it was the manner of his intervention which had been discourteous. With Holyrood Elections looming and panic setting in among MSPs don’t be surprised at more eruptions as party politicking like a leaky dam will burst. George Foulkes is retiring and won’t be missed, but who in the Labour Group will take up the mantle of the village idiot?

After retirement expect to see ‘Lord’ Foulkes heading south to the London Trough & Care Home for retired Labour placemen and women. The House of Lords! What is the betting he will cause trouble there?

http://glasgowunihumanrights.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/presiding-officer-alex-fergusson-shows.html

 

 

 

 

 

25 May 2012: Doing it deliberately – Is George Foulkes trying to be Kelvin Mackenzie?

His latest attack on the SNP has backfired spectacularly straight back to the previous Labour and Liberal Democrat administration. I previously suggested here that Kelvin Mackenzie’s ongoing diatribe against Scotland is such a vote winner for Scottish independence that he may be a fifth column nationalist. I now suspect that Labour’s own Baron Foulkes of Cumnock may also be a fifth columinist. What else could possibly explain his latest gaffe?

Fifth columnist in action. Lord Foulkes asked parliamentary questions to ‘expose’ the SNP Government’s waste and mismanagment. In the event he only exposed the last administration’s incompetence and huge expenses.

Among the details uncovered were:-

* The SNP is spending around 40 % less than the previous Labour and Liberal Democrat on PR costs and communication officer costs. The famous Labour spin never comes cheap.

* Advisors to Alex Salmond have claimed 1/6 of the expenses claimed by the former administration’s advisors.

* The number of comparable ministerial car journeys has decreased by 500 by the new SNP government.

* Three times as many people watch Alex Salmond’s online broadcasts compared to the previous First Minister, Jack McConnell.

His latest blunder was a free gift to the SNP. One of the youngest members of the parliament, Jamie Hepburn could not resist:”I would like to thank Lord George Foulkes for going to such lengths to expose the efficiency and effectiveness of the SNP Government in contrast to the waste and excess of the Labour and Lib Dem administration.

“His fishing attempts demonstrate that the SNP have delivered far more effective, efficient and leaner government than the previous Labour/LibDem Executive – which was clearly all expensive spin and no policy substance. “The SNP government has done more in the last year than the Labour/LibDem coalition did in 8 years, which is one reason why we are at record levels in the opinion polls.”

Ah yes. The SNP Government. How does George think they are doing? Rewind to the 25th February, on the BBC Scotland at Ten programme;  George is discussing the months since Scotland elected the SNP Government and began to implement their policies:-

“The SNP are on a very dangerous tack. What they are doing is trying to build up a situation in Scotland where the services are manifestly better than south of the border in a number of areas.”

Interviewer Colin Mackay:”Is that a bad thing?”

Lord George Foulkes: “No, but they are doing it deliberately.”!!

Henry McLeish, the ex-Labour First Minister mentioned here, once responded to Lord Foulkes’ comments insinuating that the SNP were xenophobic, clearly worried about the Lord’s habit of self-destructing the Labour Party: “I think in Scotland at the present time there is no need for that type of vitriol for the SNP.” “This is about Lord Foulkes and I think Lord Foulkes has to realise that every time he makes such comments he damages the Labour Party.

He damages the prospect of winning more votes”. Scottish Labour may wish that Lord Foulkes be quiet, for the sake of the party, worried about the SNP’s record opinion poll ratings. Yet he continues to gaff, as thousands of once-Labour voters switch allegiance to the SNP. There is only one reason. He is doing it deliberately!

https://northbritain.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/doing-it-deliberately/

 

One of George’s questions to the Lords

 

 
5 February 2013: Lord Foulkes accuses Alex Salmond of ‘lying to parliament’

Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond was accused in the Lords today of “lying to parliament and other transgressions”. Labour former Scottish minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock drew gasps of surprise from peers when he levelled the charge at question time. But when pressed over what the “transgressions” might be said only: “I’ll tell you later.”

His intervention came during a question on the application of the ministerial code at Westminster. Lord Foulkes said: “The ministerial code in Scotland is so narrow and so lax that the first minister gets away regularly with lying to Parliament and other transgressions…” As peers pressed him on what this might be, he said, to laughter from all sides: “I’ll tell you later,” but added: “Seriously, do we have any reserve powers to look at the ministerial code in Scotland and tighten it up?”

Cabinet Office spokesman Lord Wallace of Saltaire said he was not “sighted” on this particular question. He added: “But I look forward to the enjoyable evening in which you tell me about some of the transgressions that you feel have happened in the Scottish Executive.”

An SNP spokesman said later: “It reflects extremely badly on the Westminster system that an unelected Labour peer should allow his obsession with opposing independence to degenerate into saying things in the House of Lords that are utterly untrue and without foundation.

“Perhaps Lord Foulkes had too long a lunch. “On six occasions Mr Salmond has referred complaints by opposition politicians to independent scrutiny under the ministerial code – and on all six occasions he has been entirely vindicated.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13091037.Lord_Foulkes_accuses_Alex_Salmond_of__lying_to_parliament_/

 

A George for the ladies

 

 

 
31 March 2013: Shame on Lord George Foulkes

In desperation, and in my opinion, for the want of any decent argument that really addresses why we might be better together, there are some silly and sad accusations being made by unionist parties. But all’s fair in love and war… and … independence debates, and I’m certain that there are some on the independence side who blether though a hole in their backsides.

It’s to be expected, and best largely forgotten. But some things are so low and despicable that they just cannot be ignored. It probably no great surprise to anyone that George Foulkes managed to be responsible for at least one of these things. It isn’t to me anyway, because I’ve never heard him say one sensible thing yet. But this tweet takes the biscuit.

“Horsemeat in school dinners, 14 year old raped in City bus & Orkney firm in administration yet all we hear from SNP Govt. is more on Indyref!”

He has reduced the argument to trading on children being raped. Well done Foulkes. If you were on the Yes side of the argument I’d be hoping that you would leave the country for an expended holiday of say 2 years in Antarctica. It was not only despicable though; it was also very stupid.

http://munguinsrepublic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/shame-on-lord-george-foulkes.html

 

 

 

 

12 May 2013: Had to  post a reminder of his drunken escapades in London

George Foulkes (aka Ffoulkes or other variations) has had a chequered career – sometimes coming into conflict with officers wearing a checkered cap band, but always ensuring that he received a sufficient supply of cheques.

At a party held by the Scotch Whisky Association, the defence spokesman at the time, also a magistrate, drank adequately from the fountain of the water of life. One witness described Foulkes’s subsequent behaviour as “like Zebedee on acid”. The MP trundled back to the Commons for a crunch vote.

Unfortunately, the pavements of Westminster dipped and rose like the deck of a clipper on a choppy sea, tossing him into the arms of pedestrians. An attempt to dance with a 70-year-old lady resulted in them both hugging the asphalt. Foulkes biffed one persistently helpful constable on the chin.

He was arrested and invited to spend the night enjoying Her Majesty’s hospitality. He pleaded guilty to assault and being drunk and disorderly, and was fined £1,050. He vowed not to drink whisky again.

http://www.bbc.scotlandshire.co.uk/index.php/people/379-scottish-political-movers-and-shakers-no-6-george-foulkes.html

 

 

BBC Presenter Kirsty Wark is Still around – BBC 2016 Election Coverage to be Impartial – Don’t count on it – Their Record is Appalling

 

Kirsty Wark: Biography and Images

Impartial Kirsty Wark

 

12 February 2006: Wark kept on BBC probation over bias fears

Leading TV presenter Kirsty Wark was placed on probation by worried BBC chiefs a year ago as a direct result of her controversial holiday with Jack McConnell and will continue to be closely monitored.

Concerned corporation governors put Wark under “review” amid fears that her relationship with the First Minister, together with her closeness to former Labour leader Donald Dewar and her role in the Holyrood parliament building, could be damaging to the image of the BBC as an impartial broadcaster.

A close watch was placed on the Newsnight presenter’s performance last year after Scotland on Sunday published a picture of McConnell, Wark and their families during a New Year break at her Spanish villa.

Wark was subjected to long-term behind-the-scenes scrutiny by her own managers, a team of broadcast executives, who checked out her performance on air for anything which might give rise to accusations of bias.

 

Jack McConnell says that Scottish Labour MPs should stay out of ...

Impartial Jack McConnell

 

 

A hitherto confidential document, obtained by Scotland on Sunday under freedom of information laws, details exchanges among the BBC board of governors over the affair. It lays bare their fury over the embarrassing row, which was communicated to director general Mark Thompson.

At their first meeting after the pictures of Wark on holiday with the McConnells were published in January 2005, the minutes said: “The Board recognised that Kirsty Wark was highly talented and widely respected. Her integrity was not in question but her actions had put the BBC in a difficult position.”

The account continued: “The issue for the BBC was one of perception of impartiality both among the public and politicians. Governors discussed management’s handling of the matter and were assured that management would assess her interviewing and presenting roles on a case-by-case basis to address the issue of perceptions of impartiality.”

In a further signal of the widespread concern over the issue, the minutes added that: “The Board asked management to ensure this process remained rigorous.”

Yesterday, a statement issued by the BBC said: “Kirsty Wark is a journalist of the utmost experience and integrity and we continue to have every confidence in her ability.

“In the context of past events we still continue to review the position regarding interviewees and any issues regarding impartiality as would be the case with all our presenters.”

A BBC spokeswoman later added: “We want to make clear that Kirsty Wark has our full support.”

 

Impartial Kirsty Wark

 

 

Corporation insiders said that the step of subjecting any one presenter to such a long period of scrutiny, together with the unusual step of allowing a statement to be issued on the subject, was a sign that management were “exceptionally sensitive” about Wark and allegations of bias.

Scotland on Sunday understands that managers within BBC News had been “very annoyed” about the revelations and had devised “a kind of quarantine and rehabilitation period” which saw her taken out of the front line of the news operation for several weeks and then eased back in.

But one BBC insider said last night: “The BBC hates giving the impression that it is being told what to do and that it is bowing to pressure.

 

Impartial Evan Davies British American Project insider Presents Newsnight

 

“In all such cases the BBC will publicly dismiss the outside world’s criticisms but then say, ‘Don’t you ever do anything so stupid again!’ to the broadcaster in question.

“While keeping someone under observation is common in such cases, it can be a precursor to ditching someone from a programme because it allows them to build a case to defend themselves in case of a comeback.”

Another insider said: “Look, it’s all about the viewers’ perception. If people think that she is not impartial then she can’t do it.”

Nationalist MSP Alex Neil, who was critical of both Wark and McConnell during the ‘Villagate’ saga, said the BBC’s actions would help to clear up any doubts over the corporation’s stance. He said: “The BBC have got to be tough on making sure that their political interviewers are both impartial and seen to be impartial.

 

BBC News' Nick Robinson outside 10 Downing Street

Impartial Nick Robinson

 

 

“Luckily for Kirsty, she was taken off the main part of the election coverage and she doesn’t do many political interviews up here any more. But it would be inconceivable, if someone had to interview Jack on Newsnight, for her to do it.”

Details of the trip sparked an intense “cronyism” row at Holyrood and within the BBC, taking in complaints about politicians’ declarations of gifts and over Wark’s impartiality. The Tories led the charge, questioning whether it was “appropriate for a prominent BBC political journalist to be so closely associated with one party”.

The Villagate row erupted after Wark invited McConnell and his wife, Bridget, to spend Hogmanay with her and her partner Alan Clements at their 150,000 house in Alaro, Majorca. The families also holidayed together at the villa in December 2002.

It subsequently emerged that Wark and her family had twice been overnight guests at Bute House, McConnell’s official residence in Edinburgh.

IWC Media, the company which was owned at the time by Wark and Clements, a long-term friend of McConnell’s, earned 664,130 from 22 executive and quango contracts in the past five years, including 186,000 to produce The Gathering Place, a documentary about the Holyrood parliament, and 72,000 for a history video.

Yesterday, when asked if she felt she was under any kind of probation by the BBC, Wark said: “That’s not my view.”

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/wark-kept-on-bbc-probation-over-bias-fears-1-1409211

 

Bbc News News 24 Breakfast Jane Hill Kamel Pictures, Images & Photos ...

Impartial Jane Hill (British American Project) and BBC News presenter

 

 

Just a year down the road and free of her probation Kirsty strikes

 

Prince Charles and Camilla turn weather presenters - BBC News

Impartial Prince Charles

 

7 June 2007: Kirsty Wark interviews Alex Salmond – Labour Unionist till the bitter end.

Kirsty Wark’s persona now begins to slip towards the Labour hackery she has long managed to keep reasonably well hidden. Jack McConnell’s favourite holiday villa companion looks a right twit in this Newsnight “interview” (more like an inquisition) with First Minister.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnQPptuG8uM

 

Cartoon: Tories to Exterminate the BBC (medium) by barker tagged david ...

 

 

 

8 June 2007: Official response from the BBC: Peter Barron BBC Editor: The Salmond Interview: The BBC response to numerous complaints of blatant bias.

We’ve had a lot of complaints about Kirsty’s interview last night with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

Some questioned the premise of the interview – that the new SNP government appeared to be picking a fight with London – others thought that Kirsty’s line of questioning was too aggressive and therefore discourteous. But all agreed that the way the interview ended was, to say the very least, unfortunate.

The encounter was indeed intense and at times tetchy – Mr Salmond is always a robust and challenging interviewee – but for most of the interview I don’t think we strayed outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable in a Newsnight interview.

In the last minute, however, that changed. As the programme producer tried to wind up the interview because of time pressure we cut off Mr Salmond in a way that came across as rude and dismissive. We have apologised to Mr Salmond for that.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/06/that_salmond_interview.html

 

Your opinion is important to us and we want to give you the best ...

 
Viewers Responses: Many hundreds of viewers were so appalled by the behaviour of Ms Wark that they felt compelled to write letters of complaint to the BBC:

I watched the interview and have read the comments on this and other blogs. The interview was far from impartial; Ms. Wark was more interested in exonerating Mr. Blair than in trying to get to the truth of the matter.

The facts seem to be (judging by the revelations over the weekend) was that Mr. Blair in his eagerness to do a deal with the Colonel viewed the separate jurisdiction of Scotland as a minor impediment that could be easily swept aside, at best Mr. Blair and those who advised him have been foolish and at worst have shown a flagrant disregard for both the Act Of Union (which clearly states that the Scottish legal establishment is separate and independent of England’s) and the Scotland Act which makes equally clear that matters not reserved (including matters legal) are de facto (and in this case de jure) devolved.

The greater issue here is simply that a British Prime Minister has arguably broken the very laws that define the Union as it now stands.

Mr. Salmond may well be spoiling for a fight but in this case Mr. Blair is at fault, he has handed the nationalists an easy target.

There also remains the issue of Ms. Wark, she was a poor choice, even if she were impartial, her close personal links to the leader of the opposition in Scotland should have instantly disqualified her from an interview on so contentious an issue.

The BBC prides itself on impartiality, in this instance it has at best failed the Caesar’s wife test of being seen as pure as well as actually being pure and at worst allowed itself (consciously or otherwise) to be a tool of Labour.

 

Virgin Media Complaints Number | 0843 515 8680

It could be you!!

 

Ms. Wark’s apology be e-mail, seems to me to be as insincere as it is cowardly and a curiously fitting poor end to this issue.

For the record I am no nationalist, but feel that political discourse has been ill served by the BBC and Ms. Wark and the reputation of the BBC has been tarnished, if it really is going to be an effective reporter of Scottish affairs, it should do so with reporters untainted by political links as blatant as Ms. Wark’s.
No, the “encounter” was’nt “tetchy”; Ms Wark was. You should apologise not only to Mr salmond but to viewers for the unprofessional rudeness she displayed during the whole of the interview.
We lodged a complaint immediately after the broadcast about the interview. Kirsty Wark appeared to be more interested in aggressively attacking the messenger rather than pursuing the truth about the message. We think that it would be appropriate that Newsnight tonight, and Ms Wark in particular apologises to Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister live on air, at the start of the programme.

 

Mystery surrounds 'horse-boy' on Google Street View - BBC News

A man called hoss
As someone who voted SNP at the recent election I wouldn’t want to get too carried away with criticising the way Newsnight handled the Alex Salmond interview last night. However, I’m pleased to hear that an apology has been made for the way it was terminated rather abruptly. What is of more importance is the substance of the discussion and it is important not to lose sight of that. What is clear is that there is only 1 Libyan in a Scottish prison, therefore reference in the Memorandum of Understanding to seeking agreement from all 3 UK jurisdictions does seem to imply the possibility of a deal on Al Megrahi. Not to have raised this possibility with the SNP administration, either before signing the MoU or shortly afterwards does look like a significant error by the UK Govt.
I have nothing against a robust interviewing technique but on this occasion, Ms Wark took a dismissive tone from the start of this interview. She was interviewing Scotland’s elected First Minister yet gave the impression she was contemptious of every word he uttered. I had the feeling that she allowed a personal distaste for Alex Salmond to affect how she conducted the interview. Not good.

 

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Impartial Sarah Smith
I have a lot of time for Kirsty Wark, and I believe she’s done a lot of good work. Last night, however, was awful. I cringed watching it. It was not professional television journalism.

I presume that Mr Salmond and Ms Wark are not friends. However, Alex Salmond appeared to rise above that and Ms Wark didn’t.
Most people who watch Newsnight, I guess, by the very nature of the programme, ,have little objection when interviewers adopt an assertive or aggressive approach in the face of evasion, confusion, an apparent intention to mislead or a lack of evidence. However, Alex Salmon made his points in a perfectly comprehensible and supported way. Kirsty Wark behaved as if she was determined to adopt a combative approach regardless of any response she received.
AM2 – I waiting with bated breath to hear in what way the premise of the interview was “spot on”. It seems perfectly legitimate for Mr Salmond to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament as the issue pertains to powers devolved to it. Given that there is only the one Libyan prisoner in a Scottish prison and given that the MoU refers to seeking the agreement of all 3 UK jurisdictions then it seems reasonable to infer that the signatories to the MoU had al Magrahi in mind. This interpretation has been further strengthened by Jack McConnell’s interview from earlier today saying that when he was FM he had resisted earlier suggestions that al Magrahi been transferred to Libya. The issue is clearly a sensitive one and the UK Govt as a matter of courtesy, at least, should have advised the Scottish administration of this either before or shortly after signing the MoU.

 

File:Young tony blair.jpg - Nonciclopedia

Whilst he was at Fettes
I must express my disappointment at Kirsty Wark’s lack of professionalism and sheer bad manners. this certainly falls way below the standards of journalism by which the BBC have formerly purported to set and hold as an example to others. This contained evident bias, continually cut across the Mr Salmond and was thus uninformative
To be honest, I’m actually more concerned about the interview than the cutting off. Having people cut off like that has to happen every now and then and whilst it came across as dismissive I know it has to happen. What I didn’t like about it was the patronising way Kirsty Wark said ‘exactly’ as she turned away from him. However, most concerning was the interview where she seemed to keep pressing the same point getting what seemed to be a fair answer from Salmond. Having said that, I don’t really understand the particulars of this story so perhaps that’s my fault – maybe he was dodging the question.
I don’t agree that the interview stayed within acceptable boundaries. Ms Wark is NOT a democratically elected representative of anyone. She is paid by our licence fees to do a professional job as a reporter and interviewer. Much as she obviously loathes Mr Salmond – he is the First Minister of Scotland and is entitled to basic respect and courtesy. Ms Wark showed herself up very badly and made it quite plain that she has completely lost her objectivity (and her cool) where Mr Salmond and the ‘New Politics’ in Scotland are concerned. Fortunately for all of us our elected politicians are, so far, all behaving much better and are swallowing their pride and getting on with the business.

 

Brian Taylor

Impartial Brian Taylor
The interview was so bad i actually went out of my way to find this page and complain. The interviwer was totally disrespectful to the First Minister of Scotland. Who does she think she is? She was interviewing the most powerful man in Scottish politics and treated him like a nobody. It was poor journalism. Wark did not even listen to the answers given by Mr Salmond.
The Newsnight Scotland presenter was a joke too with her line about him “never phones, never writes” comment. Who told her to say that? Mr Salmond was quite right to not enter into further discussion which such an obviously biased programme. I didn’t vote SNP by the way…
Had the interview been with our previous First minister i am sure it would have been much more of a love in. Surely Miss Warks conflict of interest continues when Mr. McConnel is in opposition. And I would have loved to have seen how this whole story would have panned out it Jack had still been in charge.

 

Gordon Brown's battle for Britain: 'You have to think about 100 years ...

Gordon Brown
I saw the interview and frankly had Ms Wark conducted an interview of, say, Tony Blair, in that manner, I suspect she’d ahve been out of a job within hours. Alex Salmond was trying to answer her hectoring questions, but she rudely interrupted him and basically lost her rag. Perhaps she is too close to Jack McConnell..
Kirsty Wark is a good friend of the former first minister of Scotland (and Alex Salmond’s opponent) Jack McConnell. Well, friendy enough to take holidays with him.

 

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond before the interview with Kirsty Wark
I can only imagine the furore if John Humphries of the Today programme took holidays with one of Westminster’s political leaders. How could he be seen to be impartial afterwards?
I think Kirsty Warks political affiliations are too obvious and are hindering her ability to carry out impartial and unbiased interviews – on Scottish matters in particular.
Clearly this is unnacceptable and the BBC must take action to ensure if they task Kirsty Wark with political interviewing, she at least complies with appropriate standards of impartiality that we expect of the BBC. This interview falls way short.

 

Alex Salmond ties to Murdoch revealed | Politics | theguardian.

Alex Salmond after the interview with Kirsty Wark

 
Not good enough. Dont blame running out of time either. That was the least of it. Poor, poor show people. Wark was totally unprofessional (intense and tetchy dont even come close) Her objectivity has been completely compromised. Not fit for the Newsnight chair. As far as Newsnicht Scotland is concerned…pathetic
Having watched the “interview”, I too was appalled at Ms. Wark’s ill-mannered hectoring.
As has been commented above, I am far from wanting to see politicians given an easy ride (as is far too often the case), but Ms. Wark’s attitude did no credit to herself, nor the BBC. She opened and closed the interview in a very impolite and unprofessional manner, and the less said about the content the better.
I’m no particular supporter of Alex Salmond, but in this case he made reasonable points, and well put – the tone was entirely unwarranted.
To think the BBC pay her for that level of performance. Come to think of it, no, I pay her – she should refund my license fee.
Isn’t Kirsty Wark a close friend of Jack McConnell – the man Mr. Salmond took his new job off of? Now I’m not suggesting there is a connection….but…

 

TLIAD: Crossing the Tiber - Page 2 - Alternate History Discussion ...

Donald Dewar – so little time
.

Your summary is very wrong. “not straying outside the boundaries of what viewers expect or find acceptable”. I found it very offensive and for the first time ever have made a formal complaint to the BBC.

I was appalled by the behaviour of Kirsty Wark in her interview with Alex Salmond. The venom and spitefulness in her questioning of Scotland’s First Minister was outrageous. She clearly lost all objectivity in her task which I can only put down to the fact that she has a dispute running with Salmond with her company and the proposed film on Hollyrood and the fact that her personal friend the ex- First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell lost the election to Salmond.

This interview was so unprofessional that Kirsty Wark embarrased herself and that it is clear to me that she cannot disguise her personal views which I have noticed on other occassions. To rudely cut off Salmond at the end when she had no time pressures forcing the termination is all the evidence you need.

It’s time to take her off the air and not pretend any longer that she is a competent journalist. I am surprised that the producers of Newsnight allowed her to do the interview knowing of her personal dislike for Salmond.

 

James Naughtie is leaving the BBC show in January.

Impartial  James Naughtie

 

For your information, I am not a supporter of the SNP and live in Buckinghamshire. I am a supporter of Newsnight, certainly up to now and of good journalism.

I thought people on here were exaggerating until I saw it for myself. I do not believe that the apology given is enough. KW behaved in a dreadful manner – she was angry and nippy and downright rude. And for Peter Barron to say “the interview” was at times “tetchy” followed by this (by way of explanation)”Mr Salmond is a … challenging interviewee” is just not good enough.

He was calm, not tetchy in the slightest. He listened, he spoke in a measured way and wasn’t the slightest bit challenging. God knows what was wrong with Kirsty Wark but she should apologise or go and present gardening programmes.
You need to remember Ms. Wark’s chumminess with what was the Labour establishment in Scotland. Close pals with both Dewar and McConnell. I would however have expected a more professional approach from her and Newsnight.

 

Henry McLeish, former Labour First Minister

Henry Mcleish
In the latter part of the interview, Wark seemed to concentrate on making assertions to the exclusion of actually asking questions. Maybe that’s a legitimate technique but surely you then have to give the interviewee an opportunity to refute those assertions.
Given the previous controversy over Wark’s political links this interview has to raise questions about her ability to be impartial.
“As a former First Minister, I would have expected and demanded no less than prior consultation on such a memorandum. If the Scottish Executive—the new Scottish Government—was not consulted or informed in advance, that is certainly regrettable. I have not seen the letter that the First Minister has sent to the Prime Minister, but I am happy to support the First Minister’s representations in general. I hope that the United Kingdom Government listens carefully to what he has said.”

When Jack McConnell, the Tories, the Lib Dems, Tam Dalyell, the Lord Advocate, the Scottish legal profession, Brian Taylor and BBC Scotland’s own lawyer are on the same side of something, it’s hard to spin it as an SNP stunt!

Many more comments contained in the reference. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/06/that_salmond_interview.html

 

Kirsty Wark Interview (Cherwell 2013) | Sophie Hall-Luke

Impartial Kirsty Wark