Monday, 13 January 2020

It’s Not Over Until The Conference Sings

It’s Not Over Until The Conference Sings

The Board of Deputies Ten Pledges is like an ultimatum designed to ensure an exodus from the Labour Party of ordinary members who’d never vote for Jess Phillips or the other right wingers in the leadership election. The hope presumably is that you march off in a huff into the political wilderness (where new UK parties always go to die) and ensure that Real labour values are subordinated to Blairism/Centrism - and Labour becomes once again Tory-lite.

So, don’t get mad, get even. Every member who leaves Labour now only brings joy to those right wingers and the Tory-influenced Board of Deputies who can only win if you leave. Your leaving is the only conceivable way to clear the field for the Blairite recapture of The Labour Party. Rather than walk into the trap they have prepared for us, we should confound any expectation and remain in the party to fight our corner. Don’t forget, without Conference approving anything, these Ten Pledges are not rules in the Labour Party. So, by staying you are not subordinating yourself to any of these Ten Pledges or to anyone who adheres to them. The party belongs to the members, not the leadership contenders.

Most establishment religious organisations are conservative with a small “c” or indeed with a capital “C”. In that, the BoD is no different to the Church of England and others. It is undeniable that this creates a natural synergy between such organisations and the Tory establishment. The leader of the BoD for example is a self-confessed “life-long Conservative supporter” and “personal friend of Boris Johnson”.

Fighting real antisemitism is something we all do as a matter of course. My understanding has always been that if you hate a person just because they are Jewish, or if you attributes motives to someone based on their Jewishness, or if you blame the Jews en masse for anything, then you are being antisemitic. Yes, we all need educated, especially if we are not Jewish, as to what can be perceived as antisemitic. Yes, we must listen to the whole Jewish community, including – but not exclusively – the Board of Deputies. But we must also state four clear facts, not to divert or deny, but rather to maintain a sense of perspective. A real leader of the Labour Party would ensure these facts are stated fearlessly and embedded in the public narrative.

1. While antisemitism exists in Labour, it is no more prevalent in Labour than it is in the UK as a whole. Indeed, studies suggest it is slightly less.
2. Charges of antisemitism have been used to smear people.  While instances of genuine antisemitism have been thankfully called out and those responsible thankfully dealt with, there have certainly been false charges of antisemitism used to smear both ordinary members and even Jewish people. Stating that some cynical types have weaponised antisemitism as a smear against political opponents is not the same thing as denying antisemitism exists. Both can be true. Indeed, both are.
3. Many of those seeing antisemitism in Labour are turning a blind eye to obvious antisemitism elsewhere. Boris Johnson’s book, his party’s congratulating anti-Semites in Europe on election victories, unveiling statue to self-confessed antisemite Lady Astor and many other examples are ignored by many purporting to root out antisemitism. Why? While nothing would excuse not addressing antisemitism in Labour, it does make you wonder why antisemitism is less offensive to those people when it is in other political parties or from people they consider allies. Surely, if you are against antisemitism you are against it everywhere, not just in one place?  
4. The Board of Deputies does not represent all Jewish people in the UK. 1000s of Jewish people in the UK support Corbyn’s Labour party and they would not think themselves less Jewish for doing so. There are other established Jewish groups who support Corbyn specifically and Labour in general. The BoD Point eight denies them the right to be heard. That is wrong. Every Jewish voice must be heard, not just the ones the BoD agrees with.

Certainly, due to the impression apparent in the media for whatever reasons, Labour has to engage with Jewish groups. But it should do so with the four points being part of the discussion. Labour should state too that of all the parties it has the most comprehensive dedicated campaign to rid antisemitism from its ranks.  

Finally, the problem with adopting the Ten Pledges is supposing they are being proposed in good faith.  They are not. It is being done to force the implosion of the Labour Party or at least rendering its most determined opponents of the UK establishment silent. It is a bad faith ultimatum designed to disqualify dissent in the UK. It will not stop at the Ten Pledges. It will just be the start. If we stay, the expulsions will start. It will be a purge on the scale of the Foo Fighters Purge of 2016. However, we survived that due to the numbers. Another reason to stay.

What the UK establishment wants is Labour Party tamed and committed to neoliberal policies. It wants a leader like Jess Phillips or Keir Starmer. It knows it cannot get this based on the current membership make up. However, if the membership leaves on masse in reaction to leadership hopefuls adopting The Ten Pledges, then the likelihood of Phillips or Starmer winning increase.

Of course, many Labour members see this for what it is, a move to reduce the number of radical members. So we will stay. We still have the numbers. Come Conference, these numbers will count in our favour. But only if we stay. And fight to keep our party.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Four Headlines of the Apocalypse

Six years ago this month, the author, editor and publisher of the now iconic Downfall – How Rangers FC Self-Destructed, were putting together the finishing touches for the book before it went to print. Downfall – How Rangers FC Self-Destructed, is once again being reprinted this month. As with The Squad, Phil’s recent novel, we will be offering signed copies exclusively from our Frontline Noir Online Store .

Downfall is timeless in that while it describes the lead up to an event of 6 years ago, the liquidation of Rangers FC, it also describes the collusion between media and subject to deny facts, spin untruths, and generally breath life into the sense of entitlement that the Establishment Club had into its successor, the new Rangers. Once again the bulk of Scottish Sports media is missing in action, just as they were in years leading up to 2012.

I’d contacted Phil in June 2012 for the first time to discuss a different project entirely. I’d been put in touch by a News International employee who’d recommended Phil. Ironically, the same organisation would deny knowing much about Phil as they threw him under a bus when they cancelled the serialisation of Downfall, a serialisation that News International had specifically requested. I had, in fact, approached them to serialise a different book. It was then that News International suggested, off their own bat, that they serialise Downfall. We agreed, none of us anticipating the hysterical reaction ahead which would result in News International cancelling the second instalment of the Downfall serialisation.

At that time, very few people, whether journalists or punters, were denying the fact that Rangers FC had been liquidated. In fact, the front pages of the most widely-read newspapers had banner headlines to that effect.

This was an outbreak of accurate reporting, which was soon contained though, due to the inability of many to accept the truth. Such was the forceful reaction of an extreme element within the Rangers support, often referred to by detractors as ‘The Klan’, that none of the newspapers above would ever dream of printing these front pages today. Not only would they never print them again, but they’d never refer to these pages, not even in the context of saying, “Look, we were wrong, Rangers didn’t die. They are still alive. These front pages should never have been printed as they were inaccurate.” The term Social Amnesia can be used to describe a repression of memory by a group of people. This accurately describes the current repression of The Four Headlines of the Apocalypse.

Downfall, then, can not only apply to the downfall of Rangers FC, but also to the downfall of Scottish Sports Media as an independent, objective, fearless collective. As an entity, Scottish Sports Journalism became a circus, reducing itself to performing gravity-defying acts of intellectual contortion as it simply sought to transcribe the New Story without ever calling it the New Story as that would necessitate reference to the Old Story, which in turn would undermine the New Story. The theory, of course, was that if the New Story was repeated again and again then the punters would forget the Old Story, the one on the front pages above.  Even on sports radio shows in Scotland, no one, not the journalists or the phone-in callers, are allowed to mention Newco, Sevco, The New Rangers, The Old Rangers. The few who have done so have been pilloried and, in the main, undefended publicly by their peers. When The Mob, or The Klan (call that unscrupulous element of the Rangers support what you will), get their metaphorical boots into “errant” journalists who committed the transgression, deliberately or inadvertently, of referencing the facts that dare not speak their name, look how few of their fellows, their comrades, came out fighting and publicly challenged the lynchers. 

How many said #WeAreAllAngelaHaggerty, #WeAreAllJimSpence #WeAreAllGrahamSpiers and others? They were few and far between. Perhaps they were outraged privately and got their tuppence worth in behind closed doors.  Fair enough. But that’s hardly confronting a mob to the point it is called out and embarrassed, is it?

Of course, suggesting every Scottish sports journalist failed in his/her duty to report the truth would be an error. Of course, there were several journalists who came out this whole Orwellian period with their integrity intact, their courage all the more demanding of respect because they were the exceptions.  But the vacuum left by the absence of real journalism in the wake (in every sense) of The Rangers Story played a big part in propelling Social Media and while some in corporate media look down their noses at “citizen journalism”, often citing “grammar and spelling”, they would do well to remember, had it not been for journalism failing at a critical juncture in Scottish sporting and social history, then punters like me would have been happy to remain “mere consumers of news”. But, when you smell a rat and see that the rat-catcher is fast asleep in a succulent lamb-induced food coma - or at least pretending to be - it’s natural to stop consuming and try to find out independently what is going on. You don’t need to be a vegetarian like me to not like this brand of lamb. You just need taste.

With notable exceptions, Downfall was not reviewed in the corporate media. One journalist I spoke to, and who I knew to be a decent, sane guy, said, “Why invite a barrage of vile abuse, and get stalked by mental cases.” Several journalists refused to even read it while at the same time criticising it, another unseemly intellectual contortion, rendering their views on the book about as pertinent as the those of the Psychic Reviewers, Klanites who’d reviewed the book maliciously on Amazon before the book was even finished, never mind released. Noo, that was clever.

We shouldn’t complain. All this furore helped make Downfall a bestseller in Scotland. Book stores sold it very well despite some having to sell it under the counter due to fear of staff being harassed by less than well-wishers who’d intermittently berate staff for stocking the book. Both of these facts became added to the list of Facts Which Dare Not Speak Their Name.

The bottom line is that you have to ask why Downfall is still the only book on the demise of Old Rangers. It was one of the biggest sporting stories in Scotland’s history. And yet the silence on the event is deafening, even in 2018. We will continue to reprint Downfall, if only to enable the echo of history to break through that wilful silence.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Squad by Phil eBook now on Kindle.

We’re delighted to announce that The Squad by @Pmacgiollabhain is now available on Kindle for the first time. We were blown away by demand for the paperback edition of this title, which was printed in June and sold out within 4 weeks. We still have signed copies though in our website store.

As always with Phil’s books, publication of The Squad was immediately accompanied by comments from The Psychic Reviewers. Trouble was of course they were more careless than before in that the first of their malicious reviews appeared the day the books were posted out, meaning that unless their posties could time travel, they could not have possibly read the book. They even got the amount of pages in the book wrong, something someone with an actual copy couldn’t have done. Very amusing.
More importantly has been the tremendously strong positive feedback from readers. Don’t be surprised if there’s a sequel to The Squad. I’m sure The Psychic Reviewers have their reviews already written 😊

Pleased that both Waterstones and WHS (Book of the Month) have supported and done well with the paperback edition of The Squad, as you can see from their photos.

I hope you enjoy the Kindle edition of this title which can be bought here, as can Downfall eBook on kindle too.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Vampire States

Perhaps Trump telling the NATO countries to ‘stump up’ is him paying back some donors and also making a pitch for Clinton/Bush donors and their bought politicians in Congress. Even psychopaths like Trump can be pragmatic and he’s learned the internal power dynamics of Congress and the lobbies. 

‘Operation Stump Up’ is about transferring hard-earned European tax Euros and pounds into the dollar accounts of arms companies and their shareholders and their political protectors. It’s ‘protection’ money in many senses. This is gangsterism. But, Trump didn’t invent this. He’s just the messenger here. 

The US, like all empires, has evolved into a Vampire State, run by corporate vampires for corporate vampires. Unable to sustain itself with its own resources it is ever more ‘taxing’ its vassal states. The US didn’t invent this. History shows this is what empires do, especially when coming to the end of their lives. 

Anyone with experience in management knows that the more control you have, the less control you need to exercise. The naked use of power is the last resort of decaying Power.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Return of The Psychic Reviewers

The phenomenon of Psychic Reviewers appears again on Amazon. These guys are clever. So clever that they have the ability to review a book that, not only have they not read, but hadn’t even been released to the public. We started posting books out on the 21st June.  It’s only in the coming week that the book will be available from Amazon, Waterstones, WHS etc, , or indeed anywhere else apart from our web site, where was exclusively available until week commencing 25th June. So, reviews dated 22nd, positive or negative, cannot be based on a solid reading of the book. Reviews dated 23rd, must include speed readers. However, based on the hysterical (in every sense), malicious reviews placed that day one doubts that basic reading, far less speed reading, was within the grasp of those posting rather silly comments. Some, sadly, see the Amazon review facility as an opportunity to promote petty personal vendettas rather than to actually read the book.

It’s all very reminiscent of reaction to Phil’s Downfall book, which was the focus of a very determined campaign to not only badly review the book but to actually threaten retailers who stocked it and a newspaper which serialised it. Happily, the result was to provoke an amazing amount of support for the book and the author. To say the campaign to discredit the book backfired is an understatement. The malicious campaign propelled the book to number 8 in Amazon’s  main book chart. And they’ve started again. Don’t they ever learn? Hopefully not:)

Reviews, good or bad, are facts of life. No one should publish if they can’t handle reviews. But you have to wonder at the motivations of those who feverishly post a review on a book that they clearly have not read.

Fortunately, all the Psychic Reviewers achieve is to help folk who already hate an author hate him/her a bit more, and those who love an author love him/her a little more. As with Phil’s Downfall book,  these chaps actually help sales. They’re a marketing man’s dream.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Trigger Happy Sheriffs and Their Posse of Commentariat

There is just now a very worrying McCarthyesque campaign to discredit democratic dissent in the UK. In a democracy people should appreciate the value of democratic debate at times of crisis as a means of determining the correct course of action after taking all points of view on board. Establishing the truth in conflict situations is extremely difficult. Hence, the value of thoroughly investigating an alleged war crime to (a) confirm it has taken place and (b) establish who committed it.  

It is one thing to defend Assad but, it is quite another to request that, before we bomb Syria, we ask questions that anyone who wants to find out what happened in Douma would ask. So, the branding people who ask such questions an “Assad apologist” raises its own questions.

What would those who wanted to bomb Syria have lost had they allowed an investigation - which was due to start on Saturday, the day after the bombs fell – to take place? The element of surprise? Bearing in mind Trump had tweeted the world that missiles were acomin’ that’s not credible. Fear of another imminent CW attack? With the rest of the world’s eyes on Douma and the actions of Assad’s army that isn’t credible either. So why the rush?

A cynic might suggest that US/UK feared any investigation might show there was either no CW attack or that Assad was not responsible for any CW attack, thus invalidating the ‘humanitarian intervention’ legal defence that US/UK intended to employ in their self-appointed role of World Policeman. Either way, perhaps the last thing the world needs is trigger happy sheriff. Hence the need for the rule of law to be respected. And if the sheriff’s suspect is convicted then punishment can be meted out. But surely not before an investigation, never mind before a trial.

So, anyone with respect for the rule of law, for justice and a determination to uncover the truth would welcome challenging questions, wouldn’t they? Apparently not. Not only is there a near-uniform across the media retort of “Assad apologist” directed to anyone asking these questions, there is now a determination among some that such questions should not be asked at all.

Take this example from Sky News yesterday involving The Henry Jackson Society’s Dr Alan Mendoza on the pro-bombing before investigation side and Prof Piers Robinson on the pro-investigation first side.

Mendoza started by reiterating the pro-bombing before investigation side’s mantra of “Assad has form” argument. Robinson countered by saying some sources (such as the Red Cross) stated there was no proof on the ground in this instance and followed up, logically, that a “proper investigation” should take place to avoid repeating “past mistakes”.

Mendoza replied that three countries (US/UK/France) have evidence, a contention he tries to back up with such expressions as these countries “clearly believe” and “It appears they have evidence”, rather than “have demonstrably proven” or “definitely have proof”.  

Given that the pro-bombing before investigation argument was pushed forward with such equivocal phraseology it answered none of Robinson’s concerns. So, Robinson, without ever expressing any comment on Assad, far less anything sympathetic, merely suggests that “it's reasonable to keep an open mind” and we should “allow a proper investigation to find out who is responsible” and that “history gives pause for thought.”

Mendoza, in an apparently agitated state, says. “So, was it your mother who did this -seriously - this chemical weapons attack?” Robinson ignores the provocation and steadfastly reiterates pleas for “reason, “thought”, “investigation”, “objectivity.”

Obviously, such notions are not reasonable to some in The Henry Jackson Society, seeing them as obstacles to the march of their special brand of imperialism. Opponents are not there to be argued with. They are there to be crushed.  Mendoza finally – and memorably – runs out of patience, ranting that its “absolutely appalling” that “national television” allowed someone with Robinson’s views to “defend a dictator”. Of course, run through the tape and you’ll find not even a slight defence of Assad. Mendoza either misunderstood the conversation or made that up. It was a crude attempt to delegitimise “reason, “thought”, “investigation”, “objectivity”.

The Sky anchor then reasonably suggests – more to defend Sky than Robinson, but commendably nonetheless - that it’s fair to ask questions like, “what might happen after Assad” without being called “an apologist for Assad”. But Mendoza is having none of that. His mission appears to have been to appear on our screens solely to spread this smear as far and as wide as he can in the time allowed. “No, I think you are very much being an apologist for what Assad has done”.

Exchanges like this tell us that legitimate dissent and argument is under attack.  Mendoza’s momentary lapse of reason illustrated the desire among his ilk to intimidate the likes of Sky News out of (a) ever inviting dissenting voices into our screens and (b) ever daring to ask challenging questions themselves.

This isn’t idle conjecture. The organisation he is a member of, the super-connected Henry Jackson Society, is a Neocon outfit who see it as their mission to influence discourse and therefore opinion and indeed task some members with campaigning against dissenters from the Neocon narrative, such as Chomsky and others. See here this copy of the minutes of its Post London Launch Meeting, attended by, among others, one Dr Alan Mendoza, cited therein as its Executive Director.

Dr Mendoza and his sort are perfectly entitled to campaign for their views. But I’m not sure they believe we all are.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Death To The Calm Heads

Teresa May stated in the House of Commons that it is “highly likely” the military-grade weather returning to the UK this weekend is coming from Russia

Ministers on the national security council were told that the chemical agent used was from a family of substances known as “Snow”. “Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, we surmise that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so".

Opposition leader, the traitor Jeremy Corbyn, was sentenced to death by many in his own party when he claimed that Snow may not be manufactured exclusively in Russia.