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Topics - Phil Talbot

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5
'Obama, Britain and the age of permanent war'
By John Pilger
New Statesman
26 March 2010

'In the coming election campaign in Britain, the [main party]candidates will refer to this war only to laud "our boys". The candidates are almost identical political mummies, shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite love America because America allows them to barrack and bomb the natives and call themselves "partners". We should interrupt their fun.

Full Article

General Election 2010 / Up-To-Date British Casualty Figures
« on: April 01, 2010, 05:23:33 PM »
BBC (as if obeying orders from 'on high') seems to have stopped giving casualty running totals in its TV and radio reports of British troop deaths in Afghanistan. Present figure is 275 or 276 - or even 279 - dead troops according to which source(s) you use.

BBC does have webpage listing all fatalities
Does anyone know of a better source?

Exhibit 1: Politics and the English Language by George Orwell (not his real name)

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in
a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything
about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must
inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of
language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom
cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a
natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and
economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer.
But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same
effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he
feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is
rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and
inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it
easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern
English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and
which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of
these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step
toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is
not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I
hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer.
Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually
These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad -- I could
have quoted far worse if I had chosen -- but because they illustrate various of the mental
vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly
representative examples. I number them so that I can refer back to them when necessary:
1. I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once
seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an
experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that
Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate. - Professor Harold Laski
(Essay in Freedom of Expression)
2. Above all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms which
prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic put up with for tolerate,
or put at a loss for bewilder. - Professor Lancelot Hogben (Interglossia )
3. On the one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not neurotic, for it
has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires, such as they are, are transparent, for
2005–2006 Stanford MLA Application Critical Writing Piece Page 2 of 9
they are just what institutional approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness;
another institutional pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little
in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous. But on the other side,
the social bond itself is nothing but the mutual reflection of these self-secure
integrities. Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture of a small
academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or
fraternity? - Essay on psychology in Politics (New York)
4. All the "best people" from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist
captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising
tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to
foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own
destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to
chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the
crisis. - Communist pamphlet
5. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and
contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and
galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the
soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the
British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer
Night's Dream -- as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot
continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the
effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English."
When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less
ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated,
inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens! -
Letter in Tribune
Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two
qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of
precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says
something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.
This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of
modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain
topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of
turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for
the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections
of a prefabricated henhouse. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks
by means of which the work of prose construction is habitually dodged:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual
image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron
resolution ) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used
without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of wornout
metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save
people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes
on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder
with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters,
on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed . Many of these are used
without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible
metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is
saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning
without those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is
sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now
always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always
the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to
think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.
Operators or verbal false limbs. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs
and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an
appearance of symmetry. Characteristic phrases are render inoperative, militate against,
make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the effect of, play
a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the
purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a
single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a
noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form,
play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the
active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of
by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and deformations,
and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of
the not un- formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases
as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of,
on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such
resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a
development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration,
brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth.
Pretentious diction. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective,
categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize,
eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific
impartiality to biased judgements. Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic,
unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify
the sordid process of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war
usually takes on an archaic colour, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot,
mailed fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and
expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis, status
quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung , are used to give an air of culture and elegance.
Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g. and etc., there is no real need for any of the
hundreds of foreign phrases now current in the English language. Bad writers, and
especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the
notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words
like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and
hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers. The jargon
peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry,
lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from
Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use a Latin
or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is
often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital,
non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one's
meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.
Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary
criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking
in meaning. Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural,
vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do
not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader.
When one critic writes, "The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality,"
while another writes, "The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar
deadness," the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and
white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once
that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly
abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something
not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have
each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In
the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt
to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a
country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of
regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word
if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a
consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private
definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements
like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The
Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to
deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly,
are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another
example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an
imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of
the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet
favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that
success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate
with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must
invariably be taken into account.
This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3) above, for instance, contains
several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full
translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly
closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations -- race, battle, bread -- dissolve into
the vague phrases "success or failure in competitive activities." This had to be so, because
no modern writer of the kind I am discussing -- no one capable of using phrases like
"objective considerations of contemporary phenomena" -- would ever tabulate his
thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away
from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first
contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its words are those of everyday
life. The second contains thirty-eight words of ninety syllables: eighteen of those words
are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images,
and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could be called vague. The second contains
not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a
shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the
second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to
exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur
here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on
the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my
imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes. As I have tried to show, modern
writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning
and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming
together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and
making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is
that it is easy. It is easier -- even quicker, once you have the habit -- to say In my opinion
it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made
phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to
bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged
as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry -- when you are
dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech -- it is natural to fall
into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to
bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a
sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms,
you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your
reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a
metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist
octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be
taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in
other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning
2005–2006 Stanford MLA Application Critical Writing Piece Page 6 of 9
of this essay. Professor Laski (1) uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is
superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip --
alien for akin -- making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness
which increase the general vagueness. Professor Hogben (2) plays ducks and drakes with
a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday
phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it
means; (3), if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless:
probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in
which it occurs. In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an
accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. In (5), words
and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have
a general emotional meaning -- they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with
another -- but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous
writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
1. What am I trying to say?
2. What words will express it?
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
1. Could I put it more shortly?
2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your
mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct
your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at
need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even
from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the
debasement of language becomes clear.
In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it
will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private
opinions and not a "party line." Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a
lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles,
manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from
party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid,
homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform
mechanically repeating the familiar phrases -- bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained
tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder -- one often has a curious
feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling
which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's
spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And
this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone
some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming
out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his
words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over
and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one
utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not
indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.
Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations,
the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments
which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed
aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism,
question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from
the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the
huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are
robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry:
this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for
years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic
lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is
needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider
for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He
cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good
results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the
humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain
curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of
transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called
upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the
facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy
of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared
aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a
cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics."
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred,
and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should
expect to find -- this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify -- that the
German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen
years, as a result of dictatorship.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can
spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The
debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases
like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good
purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous
temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and
for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am
protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with
conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt impelled" to write it. I open it at
random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity not
only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in
such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of
laying the foundations of a co-operative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels
impelled" to write -- feels, presumably, that he has something new to say -- and yet his
words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the
familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the
foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly
on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.
I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this
would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing
social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering
with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this
may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often
disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a
minority. Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned,
which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown
metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves
in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence,
to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign
phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness
unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defence of the English language
implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.
To begin with it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words
and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard English" which must never be
departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every
word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct
grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning
clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good
prose style." On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to
make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the
Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words
that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the
word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is
surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then,
if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until
you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are
more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to
prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense
of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as
long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and
sensations. Afterward one can choose -- not simply accept -- the phrases that will best
cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are
likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed
images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness
generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one
needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover
most cases:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to
seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of
an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude
in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep
all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I
quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.
I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an
instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and
others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used
this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what
Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such
absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected
with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by
starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst
follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make
a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language -- and
with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is
designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance
of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least
change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough,
send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting
pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin, where it

Studies of underlying public opinion reveal a deep political
A majority of people express opinions suggesting they view the
electoral process as a ‘charade’ - played out by large contributors,
party leaders and the advertizing and public relations industries,
with crafted role-playing candidates saying almost anything to get
themselves elected.
On most issues citizens cannot identify the precise policies of
parties and candidates - as probably intended by those involved
in the ‘political spin’ processes.
Issues in which popular opinions differ from mainstream ‘power
elite’ opinion are excluded from ‘political debate’ as reported in
the mainstream media.
Voters feel themselves directed to ‘personal qualities’ of candidates
rather than ‘issues’.
A majority of people feel themselves not to be truly ‘active citizens’,
but at best ‘powerless spectators’, at worst ‘passive victims’ - and
have little sense as to how they could be ‘empowered’.
What remains of ‘electoral democracy’ seems a ‘choice’ between
very similar ‘commodities’.
Noam Chomsky, in Hegemony Or Survival [2004], suggests this is
a quite deliberately and cynically contrived set-up:
‘Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the
populations a “philosophy of futility” and “lack of purpose in life”
to “concentrate human attention on the more superficial things
that comprise much of fashionable consumption”. Deluged by such
propaganda f rom infancy, people may then accept their
meaningless and subordinated lives and forget ridiculous ideas
about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate
to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political
realm, to the self-described “intelligent minorities” who serve and
administer power. From this perspective, conventional in “elite”
opinion, the November 2000 elections did not reveal a flaw in US
democracy, but rather its triumph.’
The underlying thinking of modern ‘power elites’ is well illustrated
by some comments by Ron Suskind, an American journalist:
‘In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire
that the White House didn’t like ... I had a meeting with a senior
advizer to Bush ... he told me something that at that time I didn’t
fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart
of the Bush presidency. The aide said that guys like me were ‘in
what we call the reality-based community’, which he defined as
people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious
study of discernible reality’. I nodded and murmured something
about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off.
‘That’s not the way the world really works any more,’ he continued.
‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
And while you’re studying that reality - judiciously as you will -we’ll
act again, creating other new realities, which you can study
too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors ...
and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’
In Britain, politics is often reduced to a ‘spectator event’ centring
on the Westminster Village ‘political drama’ - mostly trivial antics
of a few ‘significant players’.
While attention is focussed on such relatively trivial gossipy issues as
whether a priviliged public schoolboy potential prime minister smoked dope two decades ago (or what his wife looked like a decade ago in short skirt)
... etc etc etc ... the somewhat more serious issue of the replacement of
Trident is barely discussed at all.
Updating the Trident nuclear mass murder system will cost British
tax payers an estimated immediate £25 billion - while the overall
costs of maintaining Trident will be an estimated £75 billion more (recent estimates suggest £100 billion (= 100, 000, ooo, ooo = 1 followded by 11 noughts ...) ... or even more ...
Life or death choices.
Would £25 billion or more be better spent on a
mass murder weapons system? or to pay for 120,000 new nurses
each year for 10 years? or to pay for 60,000 new teachers each
year for 20 years?
One Trident warhead could wipe out a city of 1 million people.
The UK has 200 Trident warheads.Trident ties UK to US foreign
and military policy - and is essentially an American mass murder
system, not an ‘independent British nuclear deterrent’.
Trident replacement would violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty - the very treaty the UK government is accusing North Korea
and Iran of ‘violating’.
Those of us trying to encourage any kind of serious debate of
this kind of serious issue often find ourselves faced by a
widespread sense of political ‘disillusionment’ and ‘disinterest’.
People seem resigned to their roles of ‘spectators or victims’ -and
the ‘power elite’ get away with scandalous abuses of power
on a huge scale - as if as a consequence ...

South Shields Polling Stations [of the X] 05.05.05   

1. 'Hey Jude ... take a sad song ... and make it better ...'
2. Trinity Walk. Portacabin.
It would appear that while christian church buildings are being used in South Shields as polling stations mosques are not. This may or may not reveal some things about 'inclusiveness' in the town.
3. Portable. Sunderland Road / Hepscott Terrace.
The 'supervizor' appears.

4. Elsewhere blue pencil 'marker' issues are raised locally with the 'supervizor'.
Meanwhile, in between lectures, even more cryptically, George makes a run for it.
5. As promised, the candidate turns up with agent to visit the residents' association. It is mentioned how rare this is these days.
A blue agent apears too, surprizingly, as an added bonus - though as with most of the campaign, the Tory candidate is conspicuous by his absence.
[There is much merit to be found in true 'one nation' Tories - and, although somewhat remote from such places by background and habit, they are, in fact, more in touch with the council estates these days than the arrogant elitists in New Labour, typified by the sitting M.P. Miliband.]
6. A special school is not hard to find because locals use their intelligence and give accurate and honest directions - which is more than New Labour and local education officials did when closing down other 'special' schools in the town.

7. Mysteriously there seem to be 13 additional voters on the register - as reported verbally - in this church polling station.

8. Portacabin beside rubble of a good school demolished by New Labour. Removing traces of the past is, of course, a typical 'Orwellian' way of rewritting history.

9. Soul-less bleak [almost nihilistic] New Labour post-modern 'panopticon'.
10. A pleasant church environment - though there are some complaints about the heating.
11. Portacabin. Portaloo tested [water-pass test passed].
Questions remain as to whether residents nearby have voted in person or have been encouraged to block-vote postally.

12. A good old modernized old school - built up as it should be by care-taking educationalists ... bit by bit ... evolutionary ...
[Not smashed to rubble then hastily prefabricated elsewhere.]

13. 'Rules is rules' she said, or words to that effect, 'so I cannot give you that information'.
Unfortunately she apparently had not been properly instructed in what the rules actually were, so denied information she could have supplied.

14. A homely, mix'n'match, 'can do', friendly, pleasant, sort of place.
15. Rather a stark seeming undecorated environment, but they are efficiently at 'action stations' here, and you know they are doing their jobs well.
16. Children's art work at this school suggests alternative party designations. Guess who are:
The Dolphin Party?
The Dodo Party?
The Rat Party?
The Koala Party?

17. Dynamic wall paintings at this youth centre - but the younger people seem to have been kept out of the place for the day, which, in a round a bout sort of way, actually tells a tale about the 'disengagement' of young people from this election.
18. The decoration of this school is an exceptionally stimulating visual feast inside - and visually impaired people are well-catered for too.
19. It does the job, but away from the polling area people who should know better are spotted not learning much in this teaching centre.

20. An illegally parked car - carrying 'suspect device' New Labour posters -is actually being investigated by police near the 'grassy knoll'.
21. It is assumed, of course, that in accordance with electoral law, the people displaying the New Labour election material on buildings near this church establishment had not been paid to do so.
22. Political fads [to say nothing of 'con tricks' like 'New Labour'] come and go, but pubs and churches tend to outlast them.

23. In an area filled with greater artists' names, there were accusations -that could be neither proven nor disproven - that much lesser artists had lived down to their lowly reputations and had sketching out murky seeming marker tricks with coloured pencils.
24. Another splendidly decorated internally 'visual feast' school environment.
[Were Miliband to educate his child in 'our' town - as he almost certainly will not - there are actually many excellent schools here - the construction of which predated his parachuted arrival here. Unfortunately, he and his New Labour cohort have destroyed a lot of good schools - and the 'panopticon' replacements seem dreadfully out of place to many in 'our' town.]

25. It might only be mis-matching by chance, but there does seem to be New Labour 'stooging' going on in this portable arrangement.

27. Making poverty history is an ongoing task for good faithed people of all faiths.

26. Old community educational acquaintances are not forgotten.
[Statitistics suggest that maths, pastly and presently, is unfortunately not one of the better learned subjects in South Shields educational environments. Written evidence suggests this was Poll Orientation Station 27, and previous 26. Such details do matter, as vote counters and 'weapons of mass destruction' inspectors will attest.]

28. 'Disabled' people's access to this church hall is well-marked, but when tested the access door seemed to be locked.
[Equal Inclusive open access is not equal inclusive open access if you have to ask for the key.]

29. An extra member of staff lightens the work load - but adds to the electoral cost - in the not in fact overflowing methodical polling station.

30. 'Belly of the Beast' to some. 'Poll Tax House' to others. Just another council building to most. Sun is out and atmsophere is in fact very pleasant, surprizingly so to 'sceptics'.
31. Early evening. Sun is out.
Some real voter enthusiasm was found at this school near a park [perhaps because - perhaps for the first time in too long time - some people had taken the trouble to involve people in the surrounding area as 'active citizens' - rather than mere 'lumpen' voters whose indifferent 'support' could be taken for granted].

32. One popular mission group meets another, and although we do not perhaps quite see eye-to-eye we seem to recognize each other as people of essentially good faith.

33. Sea breeze breaths of fresh air flow through this community centre - not quite strong winds of change, perhaps, but potentially indicative of better possibilities to come.

34. Births. Marriages. Deaths. Votes. The bare registry office details scantly account for the complex inter-connecting endlessly varying small-town human realities.
[No New Labour I.D. card scheme could adequately capture those human realities either - and like all New Labour schemes would surely enough be tarnished by 'fakery' one way or another.]

35. A bit on the side at the town hall.
Good work being well done there.
[Mean-times, the main town hall clock - stopped in the morning - was working by this late stage in the day.]

36. Poor Robinson Crusoe lived in miserably unsplendid 'Thatcherite' isolation - there being 'no such thing as society, only individuals' in the Thatcherite world view.
But at this sort of island drop-in place there were sure enough and trustworthy signs of community regeneration going on - almost inspite of New Labour's continuation of the Thatcherite dogma.

37. Jolly sounding chatter - and other more silently noted matters - at this portable.

38. A rather special infants' school, well worth going round-and-about and down-hill and up-hill to search out and visit.

39. An excellent modest small children's play centre on the edge of an estate - almost hidden away, as if deliberately it seemed. [Local reports had it that the centre was scandalously neglected and under-valued by those more interested in more eye-catching costly and grandiose projects].

40. An unexpected beacon of enlightened common sense and dignified civic virtue appears at a portable place.
[Needless to say, this is not a description of a chance meeting with David Miliband.]

41. It looked like a pub, but was in fact fully and properly instituted as an efficient and warmly welcoming polling station.

42. 'You cannot go in there,' she said and threatened to set 'security' on us. But she was out of order to speak to us like that, and - mistakenly or deliberately - she was taking liberties from/with honest citizens, as officials later confirmed.

43. I thought I saw a 'Nicky-5-Live-Campbell-Woz-Here' piece of graffiti on the wall - but Watchdog said it was only a reconstructed studio scam.
These idle seeming radio and tv imaginations put aside, polling at this place was briskly done and efficiently handled.

44 ... [without properly kept records memories of matters of fact become blurred]

45 ... [without properly kept records memories of matters of fact become blarred]

46 ... [without properly kept records memories of matters of fact become Blaired]

47 ... [without properly kept records people like Mr Blair and Mr Miliband can get away with misleading people on matters of fact - including about deadly important matters in fact]

48. Were they jokingly misleading us or seriously mistaken in this 'cave' when they said that electoral rules stipulated that rosettes were not allowed items of dress in polling stations?!

49. Friendly greetings were taken to and from this last visited community centre polling station.
Regrets and apologies were issued indirectly to the half-dozen other polling stations we did not have time to visit ...
[Candidate's and agent's own poor time-management on election day meant we were not able to visit all polling stations as we had hoped to do.]

50. We all make mistakes, and margins of human error are allowed for. So when Nader later announced in his speech to the count that he had visited 50 polling stations that day, he was not telling the exact truth - he actually accidentally misled the voters, having been accidentally mislead himself by a careless counting error made by his agent Philip!

[Footnote that is more than a frivolous footnote:
Mr Miliband never had the decency to acknowledge that he misled the people of South Shields when he told us there was 'overwhelming evidence' that Iraq possessed 'weapons of mass destruction'. There was no such evidence.
The stacked up ballot papers of electoral evidence might record this as a minority view, but in my view he did not deserve the vote of confidence/trust given to him by those voters who re-elected him.]

2005 campaign points

* Act Locally, Think Globally. Another World Is
Possible and can be put together by combinations of
many small acts by ordinary people working in good
faith on local human levels.

* Strive for a World Without War. War wastes human
lives and natural resources. A World Without War is
possible and can be created by ordinary people working
to resolve conflicts on small and wider scales.

* Recognize that when 'terrorism' is the question,
'war' is not the answer. The 'war on terror' is making
the global terror problem worse.

* Understand that Real Democracy involves a true
Competition of Ideas between Free-Thinking and
Open-Minded People.
Importance of:
Free Speech;
Mutual Respect;
Public Arenas - in which differences can be expressed
without violence.

* Work to develop a new mature politics based on
openness, trust and free debate. Politicians and other
authority figures do not have all the answers.
Free-thinking citizens can take more control of their
own lives.

* Refresh politics with imagination and DIY
creativity. Try out different alternatives. Reject
bland main party politics that has become reduced to
corporate managerial dullness and empty sound-bite
fake debate.

* Critically review all of Britain's international
alliances and commitments - including: G8; European
Union; NATO. Question to be asked is: is involvement
in this grouping really in the best interests of
British people and wider humanity? Support the broad
principles of the United Nations and the ideal of a
true friendly Cosmopolitan Common-Wealth of Nations.

* Stop the continuing creeping privatization of
British public services. The privatization process has
in fact quickened since the election of the New Labour
government in 1997 - betraying the hopes of many who
voted for that party believing it would put a stop to
the Thatcherite madness.

* Reinvigorate the British manufacturing economy by
diverting it from deadly and wasteful war-based
systems of production to revitalizing and more
economical peace-based systems.

* Work to develop a trading environment based on open
fair-dealing and trust - rather than closed
sharp-practices and dishonesty. Trade is actually more
efficient when there is trust between people and faith
in fair dealing. Sharp practices and greedy
profiteering corrupt trading systems and undermine
faith in humanity and human values.

* Work to reconstruct fragmented social structures.
Reject Thatcherite myth that 'there is no such thing
as society, only individuals and families'.

* Work to create a social welfare system based on some version of a
'Social Wage' concept paid to all adults - directly or as tax
credits - with individual incomes above social wage
levels based on personal initiatives, talents, and
efforts, etc.

* Work for full social inclusion of marginalized
people and the protection of isolated or otherwise
vulnerable citizens who cannot look after themselves.
No person is an island.

* Protect Civil Liberties, recognizing that the best
defence states have against terror groups is to show
faith in core democratic values - and not to behave
like terrorists themselves.

* Reject them/us 'scape-goating' politics - prevent
power elites dividing people by whipping up tribalism
and scape-goating of minorities. The real 'moral
majority' is common humanity.

* Promote creative innovation through experimental
small business ventures. The personal profit motive is
not the only motive for economic activity. Social
motives, including altruism, have become under-valued.
Give individuals and small groups freedom to
experiment with fresh ways of making and trading -
without risk of huge personal losses.

* Build true community-based law and order structures.
Lawlessness is linked to social exclusion and
intolerance. Inclusive tolerant local communities set
their own limits of acceptable and unacceptable
behaviour - and to a large extent police themselves.
Rebuild trust and mutual respect between people and
sense of shared common humanity.

* Freedom - within mutually agreed acceptable limits -
is something to be celebrated.

* Friendship is one of the great social binding agents
- personal friends reach agreements while accepting
differences between individuals, and the same can be
true of arrangements between friendly nations.

* Recognize that governments set the tone of wider
society ['Know what we mean Tone?!'].  When
governments act illegally and dishonestly - as in the
illegal attack on Iraq; as in the phoney w.m.d. claims
- citizens tend follow the example. Citizens can,
however, lead governments by showing better examples

* Recognize that organized trade unionism is the best
protection of workers' interests against global
corporate power.

* Work to make Humanity more in tune with Nature.
Encourage full environmental 'stock take' - using
internet and other new technology to draw together all
information sources. For the first time in history it
is possible for every global citizen to have access to
the entire human knowledge base past and present. What
a wonderful world we could put together between us.

* Develop truly mind-opening life-long learning
education systems. Recognize hidden knowledge base in
common culture. Regard both teachers and students are
'learners' - in interactive mutually beneficial
education process.

* Foster true democratic internationalism - not
globalized corporate consumer capitalism.

General Election 2010 / Archive 2005
« on: March 09, 2010, 03:49:04 PM »
Context of our election efforts this year will include Nader's campaign in 2005. Below are some items from that:

Nader's Opening Press Release

South Shields trader Nader Naderi is standing as an independent local candidate to be the town's M.P. in the coming election.

Nader, 48, who is part of the Aquila Computers family business in Laygate, said: 'I am fighting to win - which is to get the best possible result for the people of South Shields. It seems as if many people in this town have ceased to believe in their own capabilities. We have to regain that belief - and turn people who feel like losers into winners.'

Nader believes the main parties now act in their own interests, not in the interests of the people.

He said: 'People don't need professional politicians to lead them, they can take control of their own lives. Locally, no one can do this better than we who live here and have invested our precious lives in this town.'

Iranian-born Nader has lived and worked in South Shields for more than two decades. He married locally and has a wife and son. He is highly qualified as a computer scientist as well as being a practical trader in information technology equipment.

His election agent Philip Talbot, 41, of St Cuthbert's Avenue, South Shields, said: 'I was born and bred in this town and recognize Nader as the best possible genuine local candidate for the town in 2005.

'Nader cares about South Shields and will stand up for its interests - unlike the sitting M.P. David Miliband, who seems to represent the interests of Westminister in South Shields, rather than the interests of South Shields in Westminster.

'I have voted Labour all my life, and gave Mr Miliband the benefit of the doubt when he was parachuted into South Shields from London just before the last general election. I believe he has betrayed my trust in him over the last four years and has betrayed the town he claims to represent. I could not vote for him or his party this time.

'I also note that the candidates for the two other main parties do not live or work here either.'

Nader has been active in politics for many years, and has stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate.
But he is disillusioned with what he sees as the dishonesties of the political process and feels he can no longer support any of the main parties.

He is concerned that more and more people are not voting, but believes this cannot be written off as 'voter apathy' - he thinks people are making a statement by not voting. By standing himself he hopes to give disillusioned voters a real alternative to vote for.

Nader believes it is important for citizens to remain active even when they are disillusioned.

As one of the founders of the South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition, he has been working locally and nationally over the past few years as part of the developing global anti-war movement.

He is angry that sitting M.P. David Miliband falsely told the people of South Shields there was 'overwhelming evidence' Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and nerve gas, before the war began.

[Source: Shields Gazette, 15 March 2003.]

'There is overwhelming evidence that that claim was just a lie by Mr Miliband, intended to trick the people of South Shields into going along with the war plans,' Nader said.

Nader is appalled by the way hate and fear are now being used in the 'war on terror' to divide people - in order to prop up in power political leaders whom he sees as bankrupt of ideas and morals, and shielded from reality in a make believe world.

He says: 'I don't claim to have all the answers, but I am damned if I am going to sit back, do nothing, and not look for better answers. I cannot do this alone, and I know that there are a lot of other people who find themselves in my position and without any voice - we are the majority, yet fail to get proper representation.'

Nader thinks that to refresh politics there has to be a real competition of ideas - rather than the pretty vacant sound-bite and photo opportunity charade that now passes for political debate.

As a computer scientist and I.T. businessman, one of Nader's major concerns is the way modern communications systems, which could be used to liberate people, are instead being used to imprison people.

He says: 'People are being reduced to brainwashed consumers of throwaway products made elsewhere - instead of being expanded into truly empowered cosmopolitan citizens, making things and trading things, and taking responsibility for their own lives and their own futures.

'With innovative new technologies, we-the-people need to approach governance with innovative new methods. We are already creating our own organizations, our own media, and our own communities. We are acting locally but thinking globally.'

Nader is also very concerned about the way the climate of fear and increase in state power in the so-called 'war on terror' is making people more suspicious of unfamiliar people - in ways that are breaking up normal human relations.

'It is as if an English person's home is becoming a prison,' he said.

As a businessman is he also concerned about the effects the 'war on terror' is having on trade - which relies on trust and a stable trading environment.

He said: 'There is no doubt that the world is a less stable place because of the 'war on terror'. Peace and stability is the best way to create a stong economy. War is only a destructive waste of humanity, resources and money.'

Despite all the New Labour claims of 'improvements' since they came to power, Nader sees around him evidence of decay, degradation and depression - and general uncertainty and lack of direction.

This negative atmosphere aids the continuation of the same old deadly politics, he said.

He believes the gulf between the spin version of New Labour Britain and the reality of many people's lives in modern Britain increases cynicism.

In a traditional Labour seat like South Shields, he thinks people are right to feel their loyalty to that party has been taken for granted and betrayed.

'If they are betraying loyal voters who supported them during all those long years of opposition, then something is rotten in the state of New Labour Britain,' he said.

The sitting M.P. David Miliband is in Nader's view a prime example of the dishonest trickery of New Labour spin.

He sees Mr Miliband as a mediocre man dressed up by image makers  into a 'bright spark' of modern politics and a 'potential future prime minister'.

Nader says: 'If a limited man like Mr Miliband is seriously touted as a future prime minister, then what kind of limited future does this suggest for us all?'


Miliband: Iraq war won Britain 'respect'
Tue, 09 Mar 2010 07:10:33 GMT
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has claimed that UK's involvement in the Iraq war has earned it respect in the Middle East.

Giving evidence to the public inquiry into Britain's role in the war on Monday, Miliband insisted that many Arab countries now respected Britain more for following through on threats of military force in Iraq.

"Even those who disagree with it (the war) would say to me, 'you've sent a message that when you say something you actually mean it. And if you say something's a last chance it really is a last chance'."

Miliband also claimed that the UK is now in a "stronger position," believing that UK decisions on Iraq have not "undermined our relationships or our ability to do business" in the region.

The top official meanwhile alleged that "many Iraqis" view Britain as having been instrumental in "freeing the country from a tyranny that is bitterly remembered."

This is while according to polls conducted by The Arab American Institute and the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2007 and 2006, the majority of people in the Middle East and Europe viewed the war negatively and believed that the world was safer before the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Miliband, who was a junior education minister in Tony Blair's government at the time of the 2003 invasion, was not directly involved in the events leading up to the occupation.

But the foreign secretary — seen as a potential successor to Gordon Brown as leader of the Labor party — has repeatedly backed Britain's decision to invade Iraq.

He claims that the war was necessary because the United Nations' efforts had been "feeble" in trying to disarm Saddam.

He also urged the government to not be afraid of similar actions in the future stressing that Britain must remain a major player in international affairs.

Miliband was the last senior politician to appear at Sir John Chilcot's inquiry before the election, which is expected on May 6.

The five-person panel, which was set up to learn the lessons of the conflict, has so far heard testimonies from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former prime minister Tony Blair, former foreign secretary Jack Straw, current MI6 intelligence agency chief John Sawers, head of Britain's military Jock Stirrup and a host of ministers and government officials.

According to data compiled by the London-based Opinion Research Business and its research partner in Iraq, the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies, the Iraq war has left more than one million Iraqis dead.

Moreover, a fifth of Iraqi households have lost at least one family member due to the conflict.

The United Nations estimates that the number of displaced persons in Iraq stands at more than four million.


Despite the best efforts of the government and media, the war in Afghanistan is deeply unpopular. Last week's BBC poll showed that 63% of the British public want the troops home by Christmas (SEE ).

Yet all 3 leading parties - 'New' Labour, 'New' Tory and Liberal-Democrat - support the Afghanistan military 'adventure' - and so give the British people no choice of a real change in military policies.

This begs the question: 'Who should people who want British troops withdrawn from the unwinnable war in Afghanistan vote for in the coming general election?'

General Election 2010 / CND online anti-Trident lobby
« on: February 28, 2010, 02:20:02 PM »
CND has set up an on-line anti-Trident lobbying system for the election - details below. Do we went to get our preferred anti-war candidates listed on it? (It might be a way of directing potential supporters our ways)

The following candidates plan to stand in South Shields:

No response has yet been received from Karen Allen of the Conservative Party

No response has yet been received from David Miliband of the Labour Party

Send us missing info

Even if they have already responded to the survey please now lobby your candidates. Messages will be sent to those that are ticked:

 Karen Allen of the Conservative Party 
 David Miliband of the Labour Party 

Your name: 
Address 2: 
Your email: 

With many parties going into the election talking about public spending cuts, we believe there is one very positive cutback any new government could make - scrapping the £76bn replacement of Trident.

Feel free to modify the letter to give it any local context you feel appropriate, but please leave the questions as presented - this will allow us to better collate all responses received.

I am writing to you, in your capacity as a prospective parliamentary candidate, to ascertain your views on nuclear weapons.

I am particularly concerned about the cost of Trident and its replacement at a time of national and global financial crisis. Many cutbacks are being proposed across the public sector, yet the replacement of Trident is expected to cost in excess of £76bn. In a situation where Britain's security needs are very different from those of past decades, with no state threatening the UK, the onus is on those who prioritise money for nuclear weapons above other commitments to make the case for such huge levels of spending. Spending money on nuclear weapons means we cannot use it for other more socially useful spending, or on helping to solve the problems of poverty and climate change.

I am also concerned about Britain's security. I believe that retaining nuclear weapons will make us less safe. Many of the threats we face as a country, from terrorism to climate change cannot be tackled by nuclear weapons, but their retention has the potential to make us less safe. The more that countries such as Britain justify their possession of nuclear weapons on the grounds of an uncertain future, the more likely it is that non-nuclear states will seek to use the same rationale to justify developing their own weapons systems. For this reason, there is increasing international demand for the global abolition of nuclear weapons as the best way to secure our safety. In fact, a majority of UN member states, including China, India and Pakistan, already back a Nuclear Weapons Convention, which would ban these weapons in the way that chemical and biological weapons are outlawed.

I have included two specific questions below to which I would appreciate yes/no answers. Your answers are likely to affect how I vote in the forthcoming election.

My questions are:

If elected, would you vote for or against the replacement of Trident?

If elected, would you back UK support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, banning all nuclear weapons internationally?

I look forward to your response.

By submitting this form, I agree to allow you to forward the above message to my candidates after reviewing the content for abuse. I understand my data may be retained for monitoring purposes.
 I agree to you contacting me in the future using the information I have submitted. Privacy Policy

© Campaign

South Tyneside Stop the War / Beyond Imagination? or In Denial?
« on: January 19, 2010, 04:57:01 PM »
I was struck by something PM Gordon Brown said the other day as regards the Haiti Earthquake: he said it was a 'tragedy beyond imagination'.
Did this comment indicate limitations in Mr Brown's 'imagination'? and/or ... that he had not read, for example, reports of the effects of bombs and other weapons on human beings ... in illegal invasions such as that on Iraq, which he fully supported - and helped to 'bank-roll' - in which hundreds of thousands or people were also killed, injuried, made homeless, and otherwise traumatized? ...

It occurs to me that there's probably better 'understanding' of the present situation in (the mainstream media's favourite 'new enemy'/'bogey state') Yemen to be found within the South Shields 'minority' Yemen-origined community than in the British Establishment ... but, for the record, and for what it's worth, this is a summary of recent Chatham House / 'MI6' (take your pick!) 'intelligence' that is 'informing' present British foreign policy there ...

'Yemen: Fear of Failure'
Chatham House, Briefing Paper by Ginny Hill (Ms Hill, who the BBC, etc, have decided is a leading British 'expert' on Yemen, affects to be an 'independent' analyst, but, since she British state establishment sponsored, some might doubt that), first published November 2008 - and so suggesting long-term planning of present 'developments' : ...
'Yemen presents a potent combination of problems for policy-makers confronting the prospect of state failure in this strategically important Red Sea country. It is the poorest state in the Arab world, with high levels of unemployment, rapid population growth and dwindling water resources.
President Saleh faces an intermittent civil war in the north, a southern separatist movement and resurgent terrorist groups. Yemen's jihadi networks appear to be growing as operating conditions in Iraq and Saudi Arabia become more difficult.
The underlying drivers for future instability are economic. The state budget is heavily dependent on revenue from dwindling oil supplies. Yemen's window of opportunity to shape its own future and create a post-oil economy is narrowing.
Western governments need to work towards an effective regional approach with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in particular Saudi Arabia.
Future instability in Yemen could expand a lawless zone stretching from northern Kenya, through Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, to Saudi Arabia. Piracy, organized crime and violent jihad would escalate, with implications for the security of shipping routes, the transit of oil through the Suez Canal and the internal security of Yemen's neighbours.'


... oddly, perhaps, Ms Hill's 'indeprednet' analysis omits all mention of  Saudi military 'adventures' in Yemen ... and ... etc ...

In Glasgow on 15 February 2003 (when the anti-war march was taking place in London)
Tony Blair was distorting reality with characteristic
kinds of word-twisting. This is what he actually said:
‘The moral case against war has a moral answer: it is the moral case
for removing Saddam. It is not the reason we act. That must be
according to the UN mandate on weapons of mass destruction. But
it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act we should do so with
a clear conscience.’
This was a deliberately unclear and issue obscuring statement by
Blair. With hindsight it can be understood more clearly.
As we now know, he did not have that United Nations mandate, and
he did not have real evidence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’, but
he was determined to back the American President George Bush in
the attack on Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
It is important for the anti-war movement to repeat as often as possible
that by any standard convention of international law it was illegal
for the American-British led forces to invade Iraq without a UN mandate
and to topple Saddam by force - however obnoxious he might
have been. This act broke standard conventions of international law
that exist to protect the integrity of nation states. It set a very danger
ous precedent. In future other powers are likely to attempt to justify
invasions of other nations and topplings of foreign governments of
which they do not approve by back-reference to the U.S.-U.K.-led
attack on Iraq in 2003.
And Blair must have known that what he and Bush were planning to
do was illegal - which was why he put out the smokescreen over
‘weapons of mass destruction’, and which is why, with that
smokescreen now blown away, he attempts to justify the war in terms
of the removal of the tyrant Saddam.
Saddam was a tyrant, yes, but it was illegal for the USA and UK
governments to topple him as they did. You do not fight tyranny
effectively by debasing the rule of law and acting like violent tyrants

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