Showing posts from March, 2011


Of all the recent amazing events in the Arab world amongst the best of all for me have been the recent events in Syria, one of the most sophisticated and cultured countries in the Arab region, potentially as cosmopolitan and vibrant as any in the world, suffocated under a cotton wool blanket of Chloroform held over the country by the Baath party since 1963. I think few things have humbled me and made me so proud of being a member of the human race than the sight of men women and children in the Syrian city of Deraa chanting “fear no more,” in the face of bullets and the omnipresent security police thugs. This protest was sparked by the imprisonment of 15 children arrested for writing freedom slogans on walls, disappearing into the vaults of the Syrian secret police for over 20 days. On the BBC World service a Syrian human rights activist described this as a common practice in Syria, including the execution of children, reaching a peak in the 1980’s.

This regime currently under Assad ju…


I am a Russophile, I caught the contagion when I was sixteen when I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and there is no cure. Slowly I worked through the canon of 19th century Russian literature, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Lermontov, Gogol, Chekhov, I was gorging on one of the richest seams of literature in world and I fell in love with the idea of Russia.

Almost twenty years later I landed in Moscow just four weeks after the coup attempt against Gorbarchov and just in time to watch the Soviet Union collapse. I travelled around Russia particularly spending time in St Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev, then in the process of cutting the umbilical cord with Moscow, Irkusk and Ekriantburg, newly renamed. To live through history is a privilege accorded to us all should we pay sufficient attention, to stand on the ground on which it is made is an extraordinary experience. Though for me I experienced both the experience of the present, watching statues being dismantled and the Russia of my love affair, wal…


I watched a little of the recent debate on Libya in the House of Commons. It was for the most part a somewhat lacklustre affair. As an ex-activist in the Labour Party I felt a growing sense of weary disgust that all the most conservative and reactionary arguments came from the Labour ‘left,’ whilst some of the most articulate and passionate came from the Conservative benches. None of the speeches took a jingoistic or gung ho tone; indeed one of the most sensitive speech came from a Tory ex-army officer appalled at the revolting jingoistic tone of some of the tabloid press; the tiny minority that voted against intervention included the ever predictable usual suspects Jeremy Corbyn, Dennis Skinner, Caroline Lucas et al, with the likes of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Tony Benn cheering from the wings.

There is however a ghost hanging over the non-interventionists, one to which they themselves feel cannot be avoided, it is the ghost of Spain 1936. If you visit the …


There comes a point when polemic starts to feel redundant, irony superfluous, when people condemn themselves from their own mouths. I suspect we have reached that point already respecting the situation in Libya and the range of usual suspects opposed to any form of intervention.

George Galloway has long passed the point at which he has become a parody of himself. Some have accused him of being two faced; this does Mr Galloway a disservice, Mr Galloway is multi faceted, able to adopt both face and tone to whatever audience he is speaking, thus when addressing autocratic gangsters in the arab world both face and tone are both deferential and obsequious, in the US he adopts his ‘more in sorrow than anger’ tone, whilst addressing a so called ‘left’ audience in the UK he becomes Daniel defying Goliath, all the time slipping the wad of notes supplied by the Iranian propaganda service of Press TV deftly into his back pocket. A man so corrupt that he cannot pass a flooding gutter without res…


Prince Andrew, Gaddafi, Mandelson and the Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Sometime recently after he launched one of his dribbling diatribes a reporter compared Muammar Gaddafi to King Lear. This felt extremely inappropriate, indeed positively offensive, dignifying this disgusting man with the tragedy of Lear. No for me the real comparison should have been with another play, with Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.’ Ui, the gangster thug who fights his way to power through the mechanism of the protection racket, blackmail and the use of extreme violence.

This view was confirmed for me whilst watching the television interview of the ‘heir apparent,’ Saif Gaddafi, the seemingly urbane, western educated, laid back son of the dictator. Listening to his chilling threats, mixed with that odd cocktail of self pity and persecution mania that seems to be the mental condition of all autocratic gangsters, one knew that here was the face of the true Ui archetype, he knows where yo…


From the so called ‘Stop the War Coalition’ website:-

‘We can best discharge [our responsibility] it by demanding that the government at long last takes its hands off the Middle East and its people, leaving them to settle accounts with their own rulers’

Well I rather think at present we are watching the government of Libya settle accounts with the unhappy Libyan people and unless there is serious external support Gaddafi will triumph.
Now if you visit, holding your nose, the website of this unholy ‘coalition’, you can read more of this piffle, coached so shamefully in a language that speaks of ‘solidarity,’ which I imagine they think confirms their left wing credentials. Of course solidarity of this variety is about as plentiful as Monopoly money and just about as valuable.


I have suffered hearing loss all my life; it is now getting worse for the condition is a deteriorating one. I have never felt that I suffered overly as a result of this condition, though at times I have experienced a feeling of being cut off from others as a consequence and this invariably led to a variety of compensating techniques. I have no wish to make a claim for victim status. It has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, the background noise of my life not its central feature. I dislike writing about my self and am often left feeling uncomfortable after I do however there are some experiences, issues that I can no longer duck addressing, they have become my elephant in the room and it starts to feel like dishonesty not to address them.
There are several features about hearing loss that impose themselves upon you regularly, these are:-

1) Deafness is equated with stupidity, this features regularly in sitcoms and TV drama and on a personal level I have experienced the feeling of having…


We watch our government stand by and watch the continuing atrocities committed against the Libyan people by the hideous thugs of the Gaddafi crime family and talk earnestly about the need for a UN resolution, in effect giving a veto on any action to the Chinese, the most reactionary, venal and mendacious member of a club not short of such members. This disgusting spectacle turns the stomach.

There are in fact very easy steps to take which do not require a UN resolution, firstly recognise the opposition in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya this would open the way to providing them with arms, including surface to air missiles as a defence against Gaddafi’s air force. However should the Arab League request a ‘no fly zone’ this should be enough to provide NATO with the legitimacy to act.
Will these things happen, sadly I doubt it, there will I suspect be more hand wringing and pious claptrap. Though I do note that the CIA hold that Gaddafi will stay in power. Given the track …

For Muammar Gaddafi.

‘The Ogre does what ogres can,

Deeds quite impossible for Man,

But one prize is beyond his reach,

The Ogre cannot master Speech:

About a subjugated plain,

Among its desperate and slain,

The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,

While drivel gushes from his lips.’

August 1968
W. H. Auden