Thursday, 22 December 2016

Stormy Weather

Imagine a weather forecaster called Phil foretold of stormy, windy weather ahead. . You'd have social media philled (sic) with some asking what could a Fenian from Donegal ever know about the weather, while producing their own convoluted analysis of the weather chart explaining how the dark clouds on display were just rays of sunshine photoshopped by Phil to look like clouds. Jabba would hold a press conference where he'd be seen chiding his stenographic offspring running around all unruly in their Warbutton-esque short trousers, instructing them to write that every brick holding up Ibrox has been assaulted by invisible Hibs players undetected by live CCTV. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Poppy Fascists’ Pyrrhic Victory

Growing up as a good boy scout with family members in the army and with two grandparents as WW11 veterans, (one in the Royal Navy, one with the French Resistance) the Poppy was a solemn and unifying symbol. Even my Pollokshaws grandmother - who never objected to being called a communist - respected the poppy as she’d lived through WW11 while her husband was at sea. She called herself one of the lucky ones as her husband returned. Many of his closest comrades, friends and brothers are still lying in the sea bed.

The poppy was a unifying symbol because there was nothing unique about the experience related above. In fact, it was fairly typical of British childhoods of the 1970s.  As youngsters we were unaware of the behaviour of many of “our” troops in Ireland, or other places they should never have been.

But what has changed is the atmosphere of the Poppy and of Remembrance. It is no longer a common longing for the horrors of war never to be repeated. This once unifying symbol that belonged to us all, bringing differing political views and classes together, has been press-ganged into the service of the British imperial Establishment. Ironically, by attempting to insist that we all feel the same, and indeed, be the same, those forcing the Poppy down the throats of everyone have not achieved the hegemony they sought to impose. Rather, they have succeeded in dividing society and have done so by using the stem of the Poppy to prise us apart. They have succeeded in weaponising the wooden cross above the graves of soldiers into a stake through the heart of our communities. The sacrilege is complete.

On the street today, wearing my poppy as I have done for decades, I felt conscious that I was wearing a symbol that could be misinterpreted as support for mass murder and slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria. And, of course, Ireland.

I’m sickened by commentators like Sky’s Kay Burley and others who point out someone who is not wearing the Poppy. It’s like the stupid people handing out white feathers during WW1. I thought we were passed that. In fact, I know we were passed that. But the Establishment has succeeded in rowing us all back to 1914. Once again, we are all just cannon fodder of one sort or another. We’re in the front line against both real and imaginary foes; austerity, militarism, racism and of every type of religious and ethnic phobia that our establishment conjures up.

While as a socialist I’ve been aware of these contradictions since the late 1970s, I’ve always applied the balance rule. My hatred for all imperialism and war was balanced against my love for family members who I know behaved with honour. However, the sheer scale of the Poppy Fascism we’re now subjected to by a cynical Establishment and its slavish media has made me realise that now, in 2016, for the first time in my mind, that balanced has tipped.

So, congratulations to all you Poppy Fascists. This is my last year wearing the Poppy. And I can only imagine how many more thousands of Poppies are being taken off lapels due to your attempts to wear them like medals you're awarding yourselves for wars I doubt you ever fought in. Rather than respect what brave and often terrified people thought they were dying for – freedom of choice for us all – you’ve decided to take sides with the fascist enemy.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Fantasy Theme Park of Fitba Reporting

Remarkable how the Invisible Journalist, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, is so little acknowledged by Scottish sports Media, despite his web site attracting over a million verified hits per month, making him more read, one imagines, than many sports pages.  In fact, the only time he is acknowledged, ironically, is when a SMSM-type publishes an “exclusive” story in the sports pages that was in fact broken on Phil’s site, usually a few days, if not weeks, before. Backhanded compliments are better than no compliments I suppose.

Phil is rendered Invisible (except when his stories are being . . . err . . . re-presented) because he punctured a hole in the fantasy that insists the Emperor (or, the Empire club, 1872 – 2012) really still does have some clothes (except branded jerseys of course). See, it doesn’t do for anyone to upset the applecart, or in this case, the lamb gravy train. It doesn’t do to point out that the Emperor has no clothes when almost all Scottish sports reporters are interested in doing is dressing him up. The amount of imagination that goes into creating these elaborate garments is indeed impressive. And if your living depended on dressing up a corpse in order to fool people into thinking it was still alive perhaps the temptation to ignore the stench of death would be overwhelming.

Then again, you could do what you were trained to do when you were a learning about journalism. Hold power to account and be aware that power seeks to reduce you to a mere conduit of itself rather than someone who challenges utterances that range (in the case of The Rangers Story) from the doubtful to the bizarre. And if power threatens you with “lack of access”, ask yourself, “access to what?” Bullshit? You can get that anywhere.

I understand that reporters need a readership. And if that readership doesn’t want to read the truth, then of course that represents a challenge. But, if you are a person of character, rather than a cynical exploiter of readers prejudices, then you rise to that challenge. If you are a person of character, rather than a reporter who’s own prejudice (latent or not) is in tune with the sounds emanating from the subject of the story, then you hold the subject to account.

If you have the heart for it, you might find that far from losing a readership uninterested in the truth, you might just find those among your readership interested in the truth follow you. You might find that you create an extension to your readership as it becomes joined by people who never read you before but, knowing that you are causing a stir by reporting controversial stories fearlessly, want to find out what you are saying to it all.

Sure, those without character who chose to remain as part of the fantasy theme park that Scottish football reporting is fast becoming, may look at you with resentment and indeed, call you a crank. But, when they are reduced to first ignoring you, then insulting you, then you will know you are doing the right thing. And always remember, it could be worse. These characterless, almost zombie types, could like you. Then, you’d really know you were useless. Keep challenging. It drives them cranky off the radar.

So, if you are a young journalist wondering how to investigate, to challenge, to brave out the insults of a peer group beholden to power, then I suggest you read Phil Mac Giolla Bhain and indeed vote for him in the Football Blogger here

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Not A Trot

I’m not a Trot, a Nazi Stormtrooper, an entryist or part of any rabble. I am not simple, naïve or stupid.

I’m just a human being who gets upset when I think about the 100,000s of women and children  murdered in our name in illegal war in Iraq. It was not 13 years ago for these people because they are just as human as you and me and their loved ones feel life-changing and eternal grief as much as you or me. But, unlike you and me, they cannot forget the trauma or the never-ending sense of loss just by flicking the channel button. I get upset when I see the shiny, gleaming-faced, enriched perpetrators of these crimes waltz the earth hailed as heroes leaving a trail of blood that it is considered too rude to mention.  

I continue to get upset when we are encouraged to forget about the horror of that war like it was just a bad dream, or didnt really happen, or at least didnt really happen to anyone who mattered. I remain upset when we are told that bombing anywhere will solve anything when mountains of evidence show that it solves nothing anywhere. It further upsets me that, when I mention this, I am considered an “extremist” while those screaming to drop bombs beside terrified women and children are considered “moderate”.

I’m just a person who thinks that free education is an essential right of all citizens and that if we have money for wildly expensive and ultimately useless nuclear bombs then we have the money to pay teachers, to built and maintain schools as fully-functioning shrines to the principles of universal learning.

I’m just a believer in the dignity  - and the relief - offered by cradle to grave care for every citizen regardless of means to pay and someone who believes that this is what can truly be called “civilisation”.

I’m just someone who thinks that the world is run by powerful cliques who are intent on reversing a century of social progress and mobility and who seek to diminish anyone who challenges their intentions, and intent on dividing us, the people, at all costs.

I’m just somebody who is uncomfortable that our media has become so comfortable with those in power that they have forgotten that their role was to, on our behalf, challenge the powerful and to treat all parties and individuals equally in the interest of objectivity, rather than to echo the baying and the snarling of the powerful elite they appear to serve rather than question.

I just want the freedom to challenge, to question, to change, to progress, to protect, to offer help, peace, love and understanding to all.

I’m just someone who believes 99% of the population want the same, and that it is our duty to remain united and to challenge the 1% who would deny us hope, peace and justice.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Blairism On The Rocks

So, was the Blairites’ whole Chicken Coup thing meant to achieve this scale of disaster, or were they really just stupid?

Labour Party “moderates” (dogmatic Blairites to you and me) are already preparing for their defeat in the leadership election they triggered. They’ve leaked to that friend of the working man, The Daily Telegraph, that they plan to construct parallel structures within the party to create an alternative to The Labour Party that elected Corbyn as leader. This new structure would then challenge through the courts for the right to be called the only Labour Party and also lobby the Speaker in Parliament to become the Official Opposition. They say it is preferable to “a party split”. Quite how splitting the party so definitively will avoid a split in the party is anyone guess.

They are not above delusion, but surely these educated people didn’t ever really think that Owen Smith would win the leadership election against Corbyn? It’s tempting not to totally discount the create chaos to create order theory given the sheer volume of Blairite duplicitousness that has already been laid bare for all to see:

The pantomime of Angela Eagle’s “candidature”,
The pretence that Owen Smith's candidature supposedly was only being considered from June when even John Mann stated he was asked to back Smith for leader back in January,
The statements of John McTernan and others (saying even before Corbyn won his first election that “if Corbyn wins the vote then he should be removed immediately”) contradicting the notion that opposition to Corbyn only started pre-May local elections or post Brexit vote, depending on which Blairite you’re speaking to.

So, regardless of the vote for leadership, which now looks like a superfluous exercise, these Blairites will retreat into a darkness of their own making from where to snipe at the Labour Party as we know it. Ostensibly this creation of a parallel party within a party is to “save Labour”. No one aside from the most swivel-eyed Blairite could argue that planning action that will administer 1000 cuts will result in anything other than death. They will be like the Japanese soldier still fighting a lost war for decades after defeat was confirmed. Quite how this strategy can ever result in any kind of sustained assault on the Tories they don’t seem keen to explain.

This recklessness with the fate of The Labour Party is not totally unplanned. The dogma of Blairism is power at all costs. Not power for the people, not even power for The Labour Party, but power for the Blairites. For them, its power or death. Existing without power they’d be like parasites without a host. If Corbyn loses the next GE, then they are powerless. If Corbyn wins the next GE, they are politically redundant, their thesis of how to gain power disproved. Which is why, despite a clear view of the rocks ahead in the course they have charted, they are motoring on regardless. What use is The Labour Party to them unless they own it?

So, it is really just personal gain or at least self-preservation that motivates this powering towards the rocks? As always with politicians there is some truth in that. But also common among politicians is their zealous belief that only they can save not just The Party, but also mankind. Only they have truly grasped the realities of the world. Blairite messianic zeal runs through them to the point of real delusion among some. This is why they have no shame is being quoted when they remark “who cares about the grassroots” (John McTernan) or “The Labour Party should be run by the 1%” (Tristram Hunt) or other pre-democracy feudalistic comments. This is an elite after all.

In addition to their own self-importance, they feel only they have been anointed by The Empire to run a loyal opposition in parliament or, preferably, a compliant government in service of The Empire. Not the British Empire, on which the sun set long ago. But the latest Empire, the American Empire.

And if anyone says, “we don’t have empires any more” ask them what they think historians will call the most powerful nation on earth during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We don’t hear the word “empire” now because it’s an unfashionable phrase and it gives the game away. Now we have the Coalition, or NATO, or whatever terms best serves any given war.

Blair believed that the Empire was ultimately benign and that, as he had a Special Relationship with it, his role was not to challenge it on wars but rather to use his specialness to encourage its inherent benigness for the greater good and for British Interests (this is still Blair’s thinking when he advises various despots around the globe – expose their better natures to a dose of wonderful Tonyness and they will do less harm than they otherwise might). Sure, it might mean involvement in the odd illegal war and the deaths of 100,000s of women and children, but hey, it was going to happen anyway, and perhaps it happened “better” with that liberal sprinkling of Tonyness, specialiness, and benigness everywhere. Some of these words of course don’t exist but they are still more real than the naïve, messianic fantasies of Bairites.

So what does geopolitics have to do with the Blairites challenge to Corbyn? Everything really. Think of the close links between Blairites and the Clintons, or Blairites and the Bush family. Think of the close cultural and exchange ties between the movers and shakers of both establishments. How many of the Blairite Progress party within a party luminaries have close affinity and links with the US power establishment?

You see, the Blairites feel they are the anointed ones, as if in ancient times anointed by Rome to administer the outer reaches of empire for the benefit of civilisation. Any personal benefits would be incidental, of course. But mostly it’s not the personal benefits that inspire Blairites. As with all zealots, it’s much worse than that. It’s the opportunity to rule that inspires them. Only they have the knowledge, the experience, the belief, the willpower, the intelligence, the education, the grasp of hard realities. That is why they were anointed by the empire, which in itself only compounds their sense of entitlement.

But the ordinary people of the Labour Party, those considered “grassroots” that no one “cares about” and part of that pesky 99%, got in the way and voted in Corbyn. How do you think that made the Blairites look to the world? Not in control. If they weren’t careful, someone else might become the anointed ones. Power co-opts power. It discards the no longer powerful. There’s no mercy.

With that in mind, and now that the Blair Mutiny has failed, Blairism has nothing to lose by trying to steer The Labour Party onto the rocks. By wrecking it they will have the opportunity to rebuild it in their own image. Jumping ship would be to leave the vessel capable of delivering everything that offends their dogma and faith. God forbid that “the rabble” take charge and chart a new direction that challenges every belief Blairism every held dear. Telling people that no one will vote for an anti-austerity, anti-war, anti-trident, anti-tuition fees party doesn’t wash any more, not since the SNP with its “unelectable policies” wiped Blairism from the face of the earth as far as Scotland was concerned.

The only real source of power within the party these wreckers have left are the 172 MPs. Correction, they have less than 172 MPs now that many of them have seen their gambit for what it was. Of that 172, various estimates have approx. 50 of them “thinking again”. With the mutiny a failure, the Blairite patronage is non-existent. With their CLPs asking them what the hell they were doing, many are chastened. With only bullying and threatening methods left in their armoury the Blairites are becoming heartily resented by many of those 172 MPS. Many agreed Corbyn was not a perfect leader. Some believed that he might even lead them to defeat. But some of these MPs have calculated now that the biggest danger affecting Labour in the polls is not Corbyn but the continuing Blairite assault. Although repelled, it still manages to look ugly. Even pathetic. The laughable attempt by Seema Malhotra to accuse Corbyn’s team of dirty tricks re Breakingate (coming so soon after Smashed-Windowgate and others) only succeeded in highlighting that even the viewing and reading public have got Smear-Fatigue. Greater minds than these two MPs of course are behind the constant search for more of these “half-chances”, as football commentators might call them.

So, just when we thought Ballotgate was the last hurdle for democracy to face, now we have Parallel-Structuresgate, demonstrating that this debacle has never been about democracy, defeating the Tories, or even offering credible opposition to them. It’s always been about ensuring no Labour Party apart from a Blairite, establishment-compliant Labour Party shall exist. They have learned nothing from the Iraq War, from their electoral obliteration in Scotland, from Chilcot, from Greece, from Spain. They are not the face of Labour for the future if Labour wants to win elections, a la the SNP. They are not even a poor man’s elite. They are history.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Unelectable Mr Corbyn

Some Blairites, after Corbyn was allowed on the ballot for leadership election after the NEC decision last night, are saying that the Labour Party is dead. It's not dead. It's just shed some dead skin. Blairism died, so, in fairness, the Labour Party the Blairites imagined is dead.

An early symptom of its terminal illness was apparent when the Blairite Labour government ignored two million people marching to protest against the Iraq War. Thousands of active supporters gave up at that point. A rot set in. Blair once said of Labour activists and voters more progressive than his ilk that they 'have nowhere to go', meaning it was more appropriate for Labour to chase the centrist political constituency rather than focus on the progressive element of the electorate for whom Labour was the only choice. There’s a cynical logic to that. But they did have somewhere to go - home. They stayed home rather than campaign unpaid in the rain for leaders they considered not only unrepresentative but morally bankrupt. Others stayed home rather than vote for a party that had blood on its hands.

In Scotland they had 'somewhere to go' - the left of centre Social Democratic-lite SNP, which has now supplanted what was a New Labour Scottish civic establishment with something competent and popular. How progressive it really is is a valid question. However, in reply the SNP can reply 'No to Tuition Fees', 'No To Trident', 'No to austerity', 'No to War in Iraq', 'Yes to Chilcot'. That's more progressive than Blairism. But it is traditional Labour clothes, attire that was cast aside as 'unelectable', that is worn. This discarded political clobber was picked up by the SNP who have now been in power for 9 years, whose party membership has trebled, and whose leader is the political Queen of Scotland, more popular even than her predecessor. And her popularity, like that of her party, is still rising.

Labour's attempts at opposition in Scotland have been crushed ever since they'd stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, not just during the Indy Ref, but also on tuition fees, Trident, austerity, etc etc. Labour under Blairism became a national embarrassment, an unelectable one. Blairism’s main Scottish achievement is that it has managed to become even more toxic than the hated Thatcher’s Tories. And Blairism claims Corbyn is 'unelectable'?

Aside from Iraq there xwas also the gradual realisation that, beyond the smiley façade of beaming Blair, there was little 'new' about New Labour. In fact it looked more and more like Old Tory, pre-Thatcher Tory. In other words, New Labour, or Blairism, stood for managing the neo-liberal policies of the Tories marginally more humanely rather than offering a real alternative. Blairism, over generously, conceded the argument regarding any possible alternatives on behalf of the whole Labour movement. This was grudgingly tolerated while elections were being won. There was always hope that a few progressive titbits might be offered, as sops to real progressives. But anything offered after 2003 was offered by a party with blood on its hands and many refused to feel grateful while taking gifts from hands that dirty. I was ashamed of being a Labour supporter. I didn’t vote for them from Iraq until now. And I’d actually bought into Blairism. What the hell. It was a new way. I’d been in management and liked the talk. I thought I’d been an old hand stuck in old ways and this new guy was sweeping all before him. But niggling doubts became disagreements and eventually, with Iraq, utter disgust. We’d been conned. There was nothing new here at all. If Blair was doing Bush’s bidding on the global stage, whose bidding was he doing at home? It sure as hell wasn’t mine. Or the millions who shared my disgust. I became one of these people who had nowhere to go, joining a lost generation of progressives who, if we opened our mouths, were considered blasphemers, out of date and unrealistic, politically unwanted and untouchable, disenfranchised and disengaged. After all, Blairism was more interested in circumventing ordinary people on its journey to continued power by getting into bed with the media moguls, the billionaires, the powerful. We were bypassed.

Blairism had political capital. Some of it was created by itself. Praise where praise is due. Undoubtedly, Blairism charmed the media and Labour as a result got a fairer hearing than for years. But this was only in part due to Blairite charisma. The easy ride the media gave Blairism (and still does) was in part also due to the knowledge that this was no radical group intent on challenging power, far less intent on redistributing it. The moguls and the establishment were safe. They knew that after 18 years of Tory rule the people were tired. So a change of the most cosmetic type was inevitable, if only to maintain the illusion of democratic choice.

Blairism offered minimal hope to an electorate intent on change regardless and yet offered maximum hope to the powers-that-be that nothing would change. This isn’t just an example of a narrow consensus naturally coalescing across the political landscape. It’s more than that. It’s a consolidation of the seismic Thatcherite-inspired shift of the political consensus to the right. Thatcher once famously stated that her ambition was not just for the government to never be socialist, but for the opposition to never be socialist. Once again, Blairism delivered. A socialist free opposition whose job was not only to maintain the new Neo-liberal “consensus” but also to act to ensure no alternative to this “consensus” appeared to threaten this “stability”. Hence the purges of socialists from Labour in the late 1990s. Hence New Labour joined in the demonization of anyone questioning the existing order, calling them “unelectable” and “unrealistic” if they suggested alternatives to New Labour’s course.

New Labour had the political capital (Massive House Of Commons majority, friendly media) to ride this out. It had enough capital even to ignore 2 million protestors on the streets of the UK in 2003. And ignore them they did. Their political capital was seeping away though. Firstly through the loss of activists, and then, as a natural consequence of that, through a loss of voters. Blairism ignores the link between activists and voters. Yes, we get it. We understand that voters are not as committed as activists. Yes, we understand that they listen more to other arguments. But the purpose of a party of vision is to lead the political argument, not follow it. If you just follow the voters and the media “opinion formers” because you are too scared to challenge misconceptions or misrepresentations then you risk following them to Brexit or worse. However, if you have principles you believe in and wish to persuade other people of them you must challenge people’s existing views. Not aggressively, but an alternative view must be fought for nonetheless.

On the other hand, if your principle is nothing more than wanting to be in power you’ll be found wanting when it comes to inspiring voters with integrity. Then of course cosying up to power is your only option and your only argument to the world is that being so close to power will enable you to “do some good things”. This is a delusion. If you are cosying up to power you are not its challenger. You are its pet. Now, show me a pet that’s changed the world.

Corbyn offered all those in the wilderness a voice, There were a lot of us. Some objective political scientist might have identified us as a “large constituency” worthy of re-engagement with the political system. But Blairites described us as “dogs” “rabble” “mob”, ironically while complaining about political abuse. History has a different word for us. That word is “People”.

When Corbyn apologised for the Iraq war it brought back none of the dead, cured none of the injuries, soothed none of the life-lasting grief that thousands in this county, and that millions in the Middle East, have suffered.

But, it turned a page. Here is a man fearlessly taking on power - and they say he’s not a leader? By this very act, he’s demonstrated more leadership than any of his critics. Apologising for the war crimes (and history will show that’s what they were) cures no one. No memories of horror or of loss will subside due to those words. But, with Corbyn at the helm, Labour will NEVER again be co-opted into Neo-Liberal wars abroad. Nor will any Corbyn-led Labour Party impose Neo-liberal austerity and disenfranchising thousands of people.  

As for being unelectable, the very fact that every weapon in the cynical, dark-art armoury was employed to keep Corbyn off a ballot that even his worst enemies conceded he'd win in a landslide tells you that these enemies do not believe Corbyn is unelectable. It tells you they fear his very electability. Why? Well, maybe, just maybe, when Corbyn wins the next General Election, the Blairites will have nowhere else to go. 

Yes, part of Labour definitely died. But it died years ago. The squeals and yelps we hear from Blairites now is the sound of Blairism facing its death.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Blairism's Greatest Fear Is That Corbyn Wins A General Election.

Which Blairite trait will we marvel at first?

The cowardice (too scared to take on Corbyn in an election)?
The dishonesty (claiming Corbyn is unelectable while knowing he’d beat them)?
The miscalculation (thinking 250,000 party members would roll over)?
The elitism (saying the political class of MPs should overrule the ordinary party members)?
The contempt (ignoring the democratically expressed will of the Labour Party)?
The self-delusion (imagining that they could have improved on Corbyn’s poll performance so far?)
The brutality (threatening to run the party into the dirt with the promise to destroy it rather than accept they are no longer in control)?

We are spoilt for choice.                                       

Blairism claims its fear is that an unelectable Corbyn leads them to a defeat from which they won’t recover. But, actually, losing the election isn’t their greatest fear. Their greatest fear is that Corbyn wins a general election. This will kill their project stone dead, their project being to render the Labour Party nothing more exciting than Tory-lite, thereby creating a base for their inherent and moderately progressive version of Toryism.

See, there was really nothing new about New Labour at all. It was simply Old Toryism. Blairites are simply Tories who didn’t fancy their career chances in a Tory party already crowded by their pals from uni. Too much competition. So, as per the beliefs of the likes of Tristram Hunt (who stated that Labour should be led by the 1%), Blairism’s project was to take over the Labour Party and turn it into a Tory Party-lite. Then they could display pantomime anger at The Tories as they competed to see who were the most efficient Tories, as if it was all a public school sport. Labour has had to counter this entryism since its inception. The ironically named New Labourites were simply the next wave of soft Tories who wanted to tame Labour to make it “electable”, i.e., to render this vehicle for change incapable it.

Now we're are watching the horror of the Blairite zombies trying to devour the newly nursed-back-to-democratic-health Labour Party with its most emphatically elected leader in its history. But Blairism doesn’t know it is dead. It died before a shot was fired in the illegal Iraq war. (Yes, its still The Iraq War, Stupid). It died when two million (mostly Labour-leaning) people felt “engaged” enough to march in the streets against it, but who were then ignored. They then disengaged as did the next generation who’d witnessed that humiliation and political impotency.  

Then the same politicians who brazened out that people’s revolt complained indignantly about the public disengaging. That indignation was feigned though. The last thing elitist Blairism ever wanted was the engagement of the bloody people, other than people who owned newspapers of course, or other opinion formers. The people whose opinions were to be formed, or even farmed, were simply voting cattle. And if the cattle didn’t vote? Even better. Blame their lumpen disengagement.  That was good political husbandry.

Blairism circumvented the people so that some members of the elite could chat with other members of the elite. They understood each other. They talked the same language. They were educated you see. From Blair to Murdoch, from Mandelson to the gossipers posing as objective journalists, from Treasurer ministers to money men in the city and Whitehall. The last thing the political class wanted was the bloody people getting in the way. The poor fools didn’t know what was best for them.

Saying that out loud while you still had some clout was not wise. Your clout? It was what was left of the Labour Party. And, as always, the ordinary folk rushed to its rescue to pull the ravaged carcass of Labour from the clutches of the zombies. They breathed new life into it with a historic engagement which spanned generations, sexes and nationalities and class. This mass is what we call The People. Labour looked like the People’s Party for the first time in decades. I hope we can ensure it still looks like that tomorrow. Power To the People!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

What The Hell Were We Bombing?

So, here we are, six months after “war hero” Hilary Benn encouraged the UK ‘Opposition’ not to oppose Tory Cameron’s vote to bomb Syria in order to ‘stop ISIS’.

Some, foaming at the mouth to bomb Syria, disingenuously said that unless I shared their desire to risk 1000s of innocent lives in order to “get ISIS” then I must be soft on ISIS. Bombing ISIS was the only way to stop ISIS, they said.

“So, you want to just do nothing then?” they shouted, looking at me like I was some kind of traitor, or ISIS Fifth columnist, or some naïve Hippy Peacenik without their grasp of the reality of what must be done.

Well, no, I didn’t want to do nothing. Actually, I had rather a long list of things I’d like to do.

I wanted to ensure ISIS supply lines are cut at source (Turkey and Saudi Arabia being the sources). The Warmongers don’t seem to consider this pertinent at all.

I wanted my elected government to put financial and political pressure on our NATO ally Turkey and our Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to stop providing ISIS with Intelligence, training, materials, rat runs for ISIS fighters. The bombing enthusiasts didn’t seem to have the patience for this ‘soft measure’, as if bombing 1000s of innocent civilians and the resulting rise of a generation of embittered and grief-ridden revengists would somehow nullify the ISIS threat quicker.   

I wanted to ensure their fighters were not treated in Turkish or Israeli hospitals to be repaired and sent back to fight some more. This only further legitimised the ISIS “struggle” in the mind of these murderous fascists.  The pro-war “humanitarians” and 'moderates' seemed not to wish to discuss this at all.

I wanted to ensure that the efforts of people really fighting ISIS, i.e. fighting for their lives against ISIS and actually doing them serious damage on the ground (Kurds in Kobane and others) were supported by the supposed enemies of ISIS.

I wanted the training of car-bombers by Western intelligence operatives and their subsequent sending into civilian areas to cause no-warning terror blasts among women and children to cease immediately.

I wanted the Turkish Special Forces training of ISIS cells to cease.

I wanted Saudi and Qatari funding and supply of arms and men to cease

I wanted to STOP giving ISIS what it wants, i.e. us to bomb their reluctant civilian population to the point that the populace thinks of us as just as bad, thus increasing their passive support for ISIS.

Are you seriously telling me that if all the above had happened that ISIS wouldn’t have immediately struggled to survive? Are you seriously contending that decapitating and burning alive innocent women and children (because, guess what, that’s what bombs actually do) made civilians living under ISIS support us, the killers of their families?

And when the bombing came, we somehow missed all the supply lines - and the bad guys. So, what the hell were we bombing? Clearly Cameron brought the Commons vote to the House of Commons for a reason, other than simply the cosmetics of "appearing" to bomb (thus pleasing our imperial betters, the US). It would appear that our strategy was to impede the progress of the recovering Syrian Army, and wherever possible to promote the interest of NATO's "pet Syrians". It certainly wasn’t to bring ISIS to their knees.

That was left to the Russians. With incredible hypocrisy, NATO mouthpieces like Cameron suddenly discovered humanitarianism and common sense in equal measure, pointing out that Russian bombs were hurting civilians and creating Jihadists, as if our bombs simply had only tickled people gently rather than obliterated babies. The Russians of course had acquired their own expertise in massacring civilians when they slaughtered Chechnya in 1999 and 2000.

So the poor Syrians were trapped amidst a hell of triangular fire as NATO and Russia dropped death on wherever they felt their geopolitical best interest lay; NATO trying to oust Assad, Russia trying to remind The West that they can only carve up Syria if Russia gets a slice, and ISIS trying to spread their fascist insanity to all. Going by the murderous reaction of Western pro-bombing ‘moderates’, ISIS were succeeding in this task beyond their wildest fantasies.

The war of course continues, something that seems to suit the interests of all - all except the civilians of Syria.

The question the pro-bombers need to ask is, did you really want to stop ISIS or did you just want to get your rocks off.   

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Newspaper Report on Killing For Britain

Last weekend a newspaper reported the death of an alleged UVF member and further alleged that he was the author of Killing For Britain, by John Black. We will never betray the identity of any source under any circumstances.

The newspaper article contained many errors. It states that Killing For Britain was published “15 years ago”. It was published in 2008.

Also, the article refers to the FRU (Force Research Unit) as being active in 1975. However, the FRU was only formed in 1979. Certainly, it was a later incarnation of what had started as the MRF (Military Reaction Force) formed in late 1971. But, is was not, as has been contended, simply the same organisation under a different badge. The structure of the FRU was different to the MRF and it was more acknowledged within the Army.

It surely performed many of the same types of operations (selecting targets for assassination, assisting Loyalist paramilitaries to execute actions the British Army did not want to be intimately associated with). It also had a similar raison d'etre, namely to discourage the Irish Nationalist community from either supporting or tolerating Irish Republican paramilitaries. FRU contacts however claimed that the FRU did so by targeting known Republican activists as opposed to simply any Catholics. The selection of Catholics for assassination by British Army intelligence and MRF in the early 1970s was mostly random, or if based on “intelligence”, it was based on deeply-flawed “intelligence”. Some MRF operatives, like John Black, believed most of the time the targets of their actions were either IRA men or close supporters and enablers. However, the truth was darker.

Those directing the MRF and other “secret squirrel” operations were using a millennium old strategy; hurt your enemy at home and he can’t come to war. Hitting ordinary uninvolved Catholics in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s was simply the continuation of counter-insurgency techniques used since Roman times, if not before. The intended effect was to put so much pressure on the civilian population that they “gave up” the gunmen or at least stopped “providing succour”. Stating such obvious truths was considered giving voice to republican propaganda – until very recently, when the reality of Collusion became impossible to deny without looking silly.

The FRU’s activities in the mid to late 1980s were described to me by an intelligence officer of the time as “Nearest and Dearest”. By this he meant that they aimed for the “terrorists” but if they were not “at home” then they’d hit the nearest target “by accident” which in turn would put pressure on said “terrorists” to desist for fear of what other “accidents” might befall their family. This was, without any hint of irony, considered by this contact “a refinement” of the early 1970s random target selection.

It should also be noted that many of the targets for assassination were provided by Brian Nelson, a former British soldier who was head of the Loyalist UDA/UFF intelligence and, at the same time, of course, a proven paid British agent handled and directed by the British Amy’s FRU.

When you consider all the above, it puts John Black’s claims (once considered outlandish, but not now) into some sort of logical frame.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


There's nothing new or unusual about Mainstream Media either undervaluing or even ignoring stories of gigantic interest to the public. Often, incessant pressure from social media has the opposite effect logic might expect it to. For instance, social media is still seen as 'uppity' and too 'unqualified' to comment on issues. And so, the more the clamour for discussion from 'ordinary' people, the more resistant the 'paid' (some might replace 'paid' with 'bought') opinion formers are to 'stoop' to acknowledge.

So, what results is a stand off between the great unqualified and the superannuated. Social media is competition and its competition that often has its finger on the pulse more than MSM does. For MSM  to pick up a major story it previously ignored is seen by MSM as a climb down, an acknowledgment that it was off the pace, behind the pack.

The examples are legion. My lifelong observation is that the media in our supposed democracy, far from being impartial and fearless is riven with self-interest and timidity. There are exceptions of course. But why are they only exceptions? What retards the natural impulse of journalists to forage for stories?

My interest in media coverage of Northern Ireland was inspired by being there for the equivent of three months a year for over 15 years and seeing the biggest story of the Troubles, that of institutionalised Collusion, being ignored by all but a few courageous journalists. The notion that it existed was the preserve of 'extremists', 'IRA propagandists' and the like. Because people on the ground experienced it, and saw it being ignored, this created a disconnect between many people and the media - and the state that the media proported to report on. Such alienation 'inspired' a generation of conflict. Collusion is now universally accepted by all apart from some flatearthers, but so what? The secret of its existence survived long enough for Collusion to serve its purpose. 

Of course, Collusion survives in other theatres; Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya (there are UK boots on the ground there. MSM might tell you that in like ten years). And of course, there's the gigantic Collusion between Turkey, Saudi and ISIS. Just as in Northern Ireland, those of us who can see clearly the patterns are decried as 'extremists' 'conspiracy theorists' etc etc. But, just in Northern Ireland, our 'extremist' narrative will become the universally accepted one - only after though the Collusion had served its purpose. In this instance, the purpose is regime change in Syria. That will happen under a different guise (the canonisation of Syria into NATO friendly areas, and others, thus threatening the viability of the state).

The question is though, why are the big stories (NATO via Turkey Colluding with ISIS whom we are in theory 'fighting') ignored by the vested-interest ridden MSM? That's answering my own question. Why are gigantic stories left to social media guys, both 'qualified' and 'unqualified' non-beholden types. Answering myself again there.

Then look at the people who swallow the MSM narrative and respond with anything between hysteria and disdain to claims that they are not bring told the whole story and that their innate decency is being played by cynical forces. This is the very essence of unconscious Collusion.

Let's hope that Social Media continues to be a conscience for both MSM journalists and those of wider public who sense something is not adding up here. Don't be afraid to smeared as 'extreme'. 20 years later, they'll be calling you 'right'.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Scottish Media's Hokey Cokey

Anyone else puzzled why SMSM enjoys a weird Hokey Cokey? You put an old club in, you pull a new club out...

Whether you believe Rangers are a new club or not, or whether you care or not, one glaring anomaly stares out at you from this story. How come the Scottish mainstream media uniformly reported in June 2012 that Rangers had died and yet, at some point since, have reversed that view without saying why?

I don’t actually care if Rangers are considered old or new, although the Zombie banter can be hilarious in the right hands. My main interest is in media. This football story is an illustrative microcosm of the challenges media face in reporting controversial stories honestly. What I find fascinating in this story is the media coverage of the insolvency event, the non-coverage prior to the event and the Orwellian exercise of trying to rewrite the front pages since the event.

Now, we all “get” that the papers needed to sell papers. That’s their job. Reporting “the death of the club” and the “end of 140 years of history” sold papers (see references at end of this blog). People wanted to know what was going on, especially the then long-suffering Rangers fans. Pity the papers hadn’t comprehensively reported what was going in the run up to "the ending of 140 years of history".

That was left to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, the freelance journalist, whose blog achieved literally millions of verified hits as even people who didn’t support his views wanted to find out what was going on. After all, Phil's had been the sole voice predicting correctly what was likely to happen to (oldco) Rangers. What was effectively a near news black-out on the pertinent points of the developing story back in 2011 created a news vacuum which “Internet Bampots” filled. "Internet Bampots" of course was the derisory term coined by mainstream media types, pure affronted that less worthy souls than themselves attempted to tell a story they had decided not to tell. Perhaps that was due to fear of becoming the shot messenger bearing unwelcome news.

That fear turned out to be well-founded as Mac Giolla Bhain received, upon serialisation in The Sun of his book, Downfall - How Rangers FC Self-destructedvile hate mail, toxic abuse, disgraceful smears - and death threats. Mac Giolla Bhain has been criticised by some fellow NUJ members within the Scottish media for not congratulating them on their efforts to firstly ignore the story and then subsequently rewrite it as if it hadnt happened at all. It’s been claimed a reason some in SMSM took issue with Mac Giolla Bhain was that he “did down” fellow union members. Such a touching allusion to union solidarity seems odd however when one considered how few of these “done down” types came to the aid of fellow NUJ member Mac Giolla Bhain when he was receiving death threats.

Radio phone-ins are notoriously reluctant to even air the notion that Rangers are a new club. Along with the many elements of press they seem determined to omit any reference to the consequences of liquidation of Oldco Rangers. Sure, we understand the fear of losing listeners and readers. But that can’t be the full explanation because debate and controversy sell papers, don’t they? Perhaps they don’t want to tarnish the product they are reporting. Only they can say what the reason for avoiding the debate is, and why the old newspaper front pages from June 2012 are being unwritten.

In summary, I think it would be healthier if the debate (whether Rangers are a new club or not – there are decent arguments on both sides) was allowed to be had, rather than the mere mention of it resulting in hysteria and censorship, two elements which rarely illiminate anything.

The Telegraph
“Rangers in crisis: the final whistle sounds on Rangers’ 140 years of history”  12/06/12

The Herald
Air of unreality as 140 years of history is formally ended in less than nine minutes”  15/06/12

The Daily Record
“Rangers FC as we know them are dead. It’s all over. They are about to shut down for ever…They’ll slip into liquidation within the next couple of weeks with a new company emerging but 140 years of history, triumph and tears, will have ended… No matter how Charles Green attempts to dress it up, a newco equals a new club. When the CVA was thrown out Rangers as we know them died.” 13/06/12

New stock of Downfall - How Rangers FC Self Destructed paperback being delivered to Amazon on Tuesday coming after existing stock sold out again.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Hippy Hippy Shake-Down

Few things gall me more than the kidnap of words, especially precious words. Words like, “humanitarian” “decency” “values” “moderate” “caring” “society” “stability” “peace” “democracy” “freedom” “The People” etc etc.

These are words treasured by real people, people who naturally feel an empathy for other human beings. This isn’t naive hippy time, by the way. It’s clear that the vast majority of human beings possess an empathetic capacity that would surprise the Psychopaths. 

My contention that this is the natural norm of the human condition, not the exception. The problem isn’t the 99%. It’s the 1%, who have either subordinated their empathy to ambition, or who simply never possessed it to begin with. Unfortunately, these are the people who run our “democracies” and look after our “freedom” with their “humanitarian” interventions that slaughter 1000s of innocent children all over the world.

Because it is our kidnapped words they have forced into their service, they commit these horrors in our name, or they supply the means, motive and opportunity for others to commit these crimes in our name. If we “The People” oppose them, we are called “extremists”.

I was called an “extreme pacifist” because I didn’t want my government to bomb innocent babies in Syria or to supply moral camouflage (and weaponry) to the likes of the killer regime in Saudi Arabia. When I raise the issue in comfortable company I’m told I’m “harping on” about it. And that’s the most horrifying element of this.

See, I expect our rulers, whose mission is to protect the wealth of the 1%, to behave as psychopaths. If you believe otherwise then I’m sorry, but you are naïve hippy, not me. Psychopaths behaving like psychopaths is not the true horror. The true horror is that they create conditions whereby resisting their never-ending theft and slaughter, even verbally, is met with anger, irritation or, even worse, a yawn. See, it’s only a short step from kidnapping our most sacred words, language and therefore our voice, to stealing our souls.

And if you are one of these people who wake up wishing people like me would just shut up and care more about a new washing machine, or house prices, or the reg of your car more than about the value of human life in The Yemen (for instance) then, if it’s not too late, check your back pocket just to check if your soul is still there. 

 Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires by Will Black @WillBlackWriter

Monday, 28 March 2016

COLLUSION - Northern Ireland’s own Stay Behind Armies and Strategy of Tension

When “Collusion” between loyalist paramilitaries and the British Army was first suggested it was dismissed as republican propaganda or weird conspiracy material. Indeed, to ask serious questions about it meant that, if you were any kind of investigator or researcher, you could be easily ridiculed and therefore ignored if you had suggested Collusion was real. I remember trying to interest some journalists about this in the early 1990s when I was first in Northern Ireland with a view to doing a book on the subject. I was struck by how determined some were to dismiss the notion. One did suggest that his career would certainly be hurt if he was seen to be pursuing it even if he did believe it was real. As it happened he didn’t believe it was anything other than “rotten apples.” So the subject remained at best on the periphery of mainstream reporting, despite massing evidence that Collusion was not only taking place but had to have some kind of structure and official support.

Rotten Apples
Those involved in creating modern Collusion in Ireland were very careful to cover their tracks. They had experience of doing this all over the world over decades. So, they knew what they were doing. In fact, in this context, you can see that had Collusion NOT occurred in Ireland then that would make Ireland the exception when one looks at Malaya, Kenya, Aden and other theatres.

Should any part of the trail became exposed to public view due to some operational carelessness or some investigative journalist taking his/her role seriously, then the first “explanation” was the Rotten Apples theory, as in, “Yes, there was some co-operation between rogue RUC (or Army) personnel and we’re dealing with that.” Then the inevitable excuses for these rogues’ motivation would be trotted out. “You’ve got to understand that these people have seen their community hurt by terrorists. So, naturally, a rotten apple might let emotion guide him.”

The second line of defence was “Ok, perhaps it was more than one rotten apple in that area. Maybe a few of them there took the law into their own hands.” And there were other lines of defence grudgingly offered but usually only years after any potentially illuminating event. So context would be lost and we’d be left looking at, ostensibly, a series of unconnected events performed by a rogue and/or rogues. But the truth was much darker, much more obscene and, much more horrifying.  One day, it will be commonly accepted Collusion was official military policy.

Strategy Of Tension and Stay Behinds
It is worth reading books like Killing for Britain by UVF man John Black in the context of not only Ireland but also of Western Europe in the post-war Cold War.

Every major NATO country had a contingency plan catering for a successful Soviet Russian invasion of Western Europe, perfectly natural given there was a real fear in the minds of NATO planners that the Communist hordes were intent in invading the West. After all, Russian land forces were the largest on the contentment and had not long defeated the mighty German Wehrmacht. They were literally on the border of Western Europe. And, given the tension between the two power blocks of East and West, it was not inconceivable that one of these blocks might give into itchy trigger syndrome in panic, thus starting a war.

Should that result in Russia overrunning Western Europe, the NATO planners devised what became known as NATO Stay Behind Armies, roughly based on the concept so well executed by the French Resistance and elements of British special forces during the brief Nazi reign of Europe from 1940-45. 

In the ideological context of the time, NATO planners looked specifically for committed pro-state and anti-communist sorts to become operatives in their secret army. All this might still be secret were it not for the statement of Italian Prime Minister GiulioAndreotti revealing it to the Chamber of Deputies on October 24, 1990 which sparked a flurry of investigations which detailed the Italian Operation Gladio.  However, Gulf War One soon blew the story off the world’s media headlines - that and NATO covering the tracks.

This meant NATO getting into bed effectively with many right wing elements, including pro-Nazis who now saw NATO as the best guarantor against the feared Russian invasion. As well as many Nazi scientists and intelligence agents going on to form the nucleus of NATOs nuclear and European intelligence agencies, many more became senior figures in the formation of the Stay Behind Armies whose role would be to become the anti-Soviet resistance in any territories the Soviet armies conquered.

However, in an effort to forestall either a Soviet advance, or the development of sympathy for communism in Western Europe, the NATO Stay Behind Armies often played covert roles in subverting democratic votes in especially Italy and France as well as other countries where Communists had strong democratic mandates.

One key method of reducing public sympathy for Leftist politics was to discredit Communist or socialist groups. This could be by humiliating some leaders with scandals and such like. But a much more horrific modes operandi was to perpetrate no warning terrorist outrages resulting in civilian deaths and then blaming these on leftist groups. The NATO countries intelligence agencies could either tap into the genuine terrorist instincts of some leftist groups, or it could infiltrate these groups and guide them to terrorist actions, or they could simply use their own Stay Behind operatives to place bombs in public places and massacre civilians. This would create fear and panic in the populace and result in people insisting their government implement extreme security measures, thus allowing even easier monitoring of the leftist groups that “threatened” to undermine the state in the hope of gaining power themselves or of instigating a Soviet invasion. The placing of these bombs, which killed scores of civilians in Italy, created a climate of near paralysis. This was a result of the implemented Strategy Of Tension.

Consider then what preparations would the NATO planners of the Stay Behind Armies in continental Europe have made in Northern Ireland – unless you think it too far-fetched for these meticulous chaps to have noticed that Northern Ireland was a potential trouble spot and a security Achilles Heel with its anti-state insurgency potential.

Going by the form established in Germany, Italy, Belgium and others, the NATO planners would have ensured the selection of appropriately pro-state types in Northern Ireland and who could be relied upon to co-operate with covert state forces in order to protect the state and challenge any insurgency.

Killing For Britain by John Black in this context does not seem quite so far-fetched as some would have liked to suggest when it was first published in 2008, especially in the light of the subsequent finding of Mike Norman, thought to be the pivotal “Mike” in John Black’s account of his time as a UVF member working with British Military Intelligence in Belfast in the early 1970s.

Several British Military and Intelligence contacts, who kindly assisted me when writing The Hunger Strikes and when researching other books including SAS Warlord and John Black’s Killing For Britain, emphasised the importance of the Cold War in their thinking regarding “Ulster”. One of these contacts was a senior Military Intelligence operative with strong SIS links. He insisted the Cold War aspect is always underrated as a key factor in British State thinking on Northern Ireland. 

But, when one considers this, and considers NATO Stay Behind Armies - and further considers the whole concept of Collusion between pro-state terrorists and state forces in Northern Ireland and Western Europe - then one can clearly see an important pattern. When studied in this context, it would be remarkable if Northern Ireland was the one potential conflict zone in Western Europe where such collusion was NOT a reality. In fact, any contention that Collusion in Northern Ireland did not take place or that it was not sanctioned at official levels is simply unrealistic. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

"A legalised Death Squad" - Killing For Britain, 2016 edition

Another of our authors, an ex-SAS soldier who was in the MRF in Belfast in 1972, actually said to me, "we were a legalised Death Squad." 

(Killing For Britain 2016 edition is published 12th March on Kindle for the first time)

Killing For Britain 2016 on Kindle

John Black was a former UVF member from Belfast. I interviewed him dozens of times over a two-year period in preparation for publishing Killing For Britain, his own account of his time in Belfast in the early 1970s.  

Black lived quite close to me around 2006 and I got to know him very well. It was hard to believe that the frail man approaching old age could have been involved in an organisation that committed terrible crimes in early 1970s Belfast. The UVF were by no means alone in committing terrible crimes against civilians. The IRA, the UDA and others were responsible for the deaths of civilians as they prosecuted their wars. The responsibility for the creation of these wars will provide debate from now to eternity. But that civilians, as always, bore the brunt is indisputable. And, what is becoming clear as research into Collusion (between British Army and Loyalist killers) continues decades later, is that the British Army not only killed civilians "by accident" but actually planned the killing of civilians as a tactic. This is why, according to John Black, the army's secretive MRF (Military Reaction Force) used loyalists to target Catholics in Belfast in the 1970s.  

The idea was to put pressure on Nationalist communities to stop them either supporting or tolerating the IRA. The logic was that if Nationalist suffered enough bereavement and grief as a community then they'd insist the IRA ceasefire. This is not a uniquely barbarous method of madness. This is a common military tactic when armies seek advantage over enemies, not that this fact is ever used in recruitment ads. War is brutal so no one should be surprised by its brutality.

This was the context for British Miltary Intelligence to approach loyalist paramilitaries like John Black and convince them that they were aiding the British army by carrying out "dirty actions" in the dirty war. As I said on George Galloway's Press TV show some years ago, if it wasn’t John Black, it would have been John Brown, or Fred Brown, or whoever. The actions would have been performed regardless because they were planned.

Collusion was a dirty word when the first edition of Killing For Britain was published in 2008. In my own research I came across former members of the MRF from that period. One of them described the unit he worked in then as a "legalised death squad".

There was a Panorama documentary on the Military Reaction Force a few years later and one of the participants was one of the MRF members I'd discussed the period with. So, there is no doubt that the unit existed and targeted various people for extra judicial executions. It’s hard to write off these claims off as "Republican Propaganda" when terms like "legalised Death Squad" was the description of the MRF by one of its own members.

British Military intelligence utilised the MRF and other strands of activity relating to putting pressure on the IRA and Nationalist communities. It is our contention that the term MRF was used by John Black's military contact ("Mike") as a handy tag to pin on their activities, like a brand name almost for much of the "secret squirrel" activities which ran concurrent to the MRF activities in the Panorama documentary.

John Black's claims benefited from our research finding the "Mike" character in the book - at least, that is our certain belief. See the extract from the book below this blogpost.

Killing for Britain is a harrowing account of murderous times and none of the participants, Loyalists, Republicans, or the British Army, can claim to have clean hands.  The author was traumatised by the events, although not as traumatised as innocent victims of the period, a fact he readily agreed with. While the author will always be a committed loyalist, his hope was that the awful events and attitudes highlighted in the book would make anyone thinking of following in his footsteps think again. 

Extract from 2016 edition of Killing For Britain, by John Black

"Initially, the author's claim having been taken out in uniform by the British Army on Bloody Sunday was considered doubtful but, on consideration, it had to be either the truth, or a downright lie – there was no in-between regarding this claim. The author would therefore benefit from receiving some corroboration. As well as the author himself, the other main personality in the book is the author's British army contact, "Mike". Post-publication of the first edition of this book we made attempts to locate the now infamous "Mike".


British army sources had, upon reading the manuscript, suggested a likely profile of “Mike”: a senior NCO, late 20s, early 30s, certainly with specialist weapons training, and probable Special Forces involvement.

The author had described “Mike” as being around 6ft with "a decent head of hair", capable of affecting an “Ulster” accent, one from "out in the country somewhere”, rather than from Belfast. “Mike”, according to the author, had claimed to be Irish originally and had moved to England as a child and grown up in the North East of England before joining the army there. British army sources further suggested that “Mike” was unlikely to have been officially connected to the MRF but was in fact more likely to have been involved in some concurrent operation, one that felt it convenient to use the tag, or catch all “brand name”, of the MRF. Sources further suggested that “Mike” may have been what they called a “secret squirrel”. (Admittedly, other sources though, who were in the MRF in Belfast at that time, deny ever knowing a character such as “Mike”. However, they didn’t have an overview of all Military Intelligence options in play at the time). The shots allegedly fired by "Mike" in the book are clearly those of an uncommonly skilled marksman.

The book was published before we had found “Mike” but with having a firm belief he existed. We believed most of the other claims (apart from the Bloody Sunday ones) could be stood up. Concerns regarding the sheer scale of the amount of so-called OOBs (Out Of Bounds orders) were put to British army sources who responded that if “Mike” existed, there was nothing to stop him claiming to the author that OOBs were in place when none actually were. It was suggested that “Mike’s” job may have been to convince people like the author that their activities were approved of, and supported by, official security forces. In other words, “normal”. This is not unusual where a colonial power has co-opted and encouraged the murderous impulses of “reliable natives”, many of whom develop feelings of doubt, then guilt and then become “unreliable”. Reinforcing their belief that they were in some way, however abstract, part of the army’s efforts stemmed guilt and doubt. It also reinforced their belief that they deserved to be the dominant community. The author’s claims of an OOB being in place are based simply on “Mike” telling him they were. Sources suggested the term OOB might have been a corruption of various terms. It was also suggested that “Mike” could have called them anything he wanted. As far as the author was concerned “Mike” was the army. It must also be said that some sources indulged in something like a campaign of misinformation when responding to our queries.

In the text the author describes being briefed at Palace Barracks. He mistakenly IDs an officer’s rank, misreading his “pips”. The author’s lack of knowledge of the ranking system or emblems does not mean his claims are not real. It just means he never studied rank.

The author claims the Palace Barracks compound was walled by a “wooden fence”. It was in fact walled mainly by corrugated iron fencing. Post publication of the first edition we put this to him. He replied that his memory struggled here but he was certain that it was at least some combination of both. Subsequently, we were shown photos from the period by an army source, who was there at the time, showing the wall to be indeed corrugated iron but with some wooden supports at points.

Post publication we believe we found “Mike”.

Warrant Officer Michael Norman was a sniper of exceptionally high skill to the point that he ended up a sniper instructor at Warminster. He had served in Ireland during the period covered in the book. He was 62 years old in 2005, making him late 20s early 30s in the early 1970s. From North East England, he’d spent time in Ireland as a child where his family had land in Roscommon (according to his ex-wife). He’d joined the Coldstream Guards, as other Geordies had done. Michael Norman was an anonymous witness called by the Bloody Sunday Enquiry, surely only because he was there on that fateful day.

Michael Norman had in his possession photographs relating to the Springhill Massacre when he was found shot dead in his car not far from a police station in Hounslow in April 2005, around 6-8 months after he’d met the author in Ayr, Scotland, in an effort to dissuade him from writing his book. Detectives initially suspected foul play (a so-called IRA “revenge squad” being suspected). Scotland Yard took over the investigation, reportedly “due to the sensitive nature” of Mike Norman’s “work in Ireland”. His death was eventually ruled suicide.

Initial reports stated that a 9mm pistol was found in the car when the body was discovered. However, a police source told us in 2010 that the weapon was actually a shotgun which had been registered to Mike Norman and that he’d shot himself in the stomach. The same source stated that there had been NO photos of the Springhill Massacre in the car at the time, contrary to initial reports on the public record. The source added that Norman had become a quite unstable in later life. It seemed this source might be trying to discredit Norman.

1. Why would a renowned weapons expert decide to maximise his suffering by shooting himself in the stomach, and with a shotgun at that?
2. Was Mike driving to a police station?  If so, why do that with a shotgun, or, for that matter, a 9mm?
3. Why was the weapon changed from a 9mm to a shotgun in different reports? It’s not like they are similar.
4. Why was the presence of photographs from the Springhill Massacre initially claimed at all if they had not been there. As one police source said, “it’s a strange thing to report in the first place if it wasn’t true.”
5. Why was Michael Norman called to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday Enquiry?"