Of States and Secrets

Studying Law when weighty questions are being asked in Scotland on (mostly misunderstood) matters of equality, human rights and the uncodified UK constitution is fascinating enough. Recently, I’ve also been preparing for legal action, quoting the Vento bands, setting damages for Injury to Feelings, down the phone to the ACAS mediator as my former employer seems to be running scared of the public humiliation of yet another Employment Tribunal case, preferring to settle out of court.

Fascinating though the 15th edition of Smith & Wood’s Employment Law is (I’d read about half of its 829 pages a few days after it was posted to me) it’s Stanton & Prescott’s 3rd edition of Public Law that’s more pertinent to the recent failed attempt by Holyrood to modify legislation passed by Westminster. I’ve observed previously the difference between the gracious restraint of legal discourse and uninformed party political rants on the (il)legality of the GRR Bill.

Brain whirling, I took time off my studies to watch J. Edgar, the Warner Bros biopic of the Hoover who headed the FBI for around half of the last century (not the previous and unrelated US president associated with the New Deal). Subtly directed by Clint Eastwood, its understated masculine gaze, verging at times on film noir, was enough to have critics calling it ‘controversial’ on release in 2011.

11 years on, One Nation Under Blackmail, Whitney Webb’s damning dossier of US politics, detailing and evidencing the ‘sordid union between Intelligence and Organised Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein’, is far less coy about Hoover’s rumoured homosexuality and transvestism.

Where Eastwood hints, with scenes of the devoted son so distraught by his mother’s death that he dons her clothes in front of the mirror, and of a touching and tragically frustrated bromance between Hoover and his second in command and longtime companion, Webb (ch. 2 & 4) quotes eyewitnesses to the scandal of this infamous inquisitor and blackmailer frequenting the blue suite of New York’s Plaza Hotel, known as ‘Mary’, in wig and dress, pleasuring Tolson and having sex with ‘blond boys’ and with Senator Joe McCarthy’s righthand man in his persecution of suspected communists and homosexuals.

J. Edgar is a difficult film to watch, its portrayal of the public derring do of his ‘G Men’ busting mobsters and his private stoic restraint in matters of the heart undermined by the evidence of Hoover’s hypocrisy hiding in plain sight: that he was soft on crime and unconcerned about being seen in flagrante as he was simultaneously being blackmailed to go easy on organised crime and blackmailing anyone who could publicise his sexual predilections.

Two decades before It’s Time, the Scottish Government-sponsored Equality Network’s moving 2013 video campaign for equal marriage (featuring several of my old friends) there was a scandal involving senior members of the justiciary being blackmailed by the pimps of rent boys. With associated concern over the autonomy of their judicial deliberations.

It seems to me that a secret of a public figure, however well-known, does not help a nation. It festers and starts a canker at the heart of public life. Catalyst for either compensatory action or reaction, it can lead to extreme decision-making in a state of schizophrenic politics where the truth is shouted in silence.

At the height of the US ‘Red Scare’, reticence about disclosure of sexuality would be understandable. Now, certainly in any liberal democracy, being so candid might be uncomfortable or even embarrassing if the game of Let’s Pretend has been played for some time (Hoover never married but the convenient strategy of the homosexual ‘beard’ is well-known) however the health of the body politic may depend on it. For the sake of the people, and government policy, a responsible state official may decide that it’s time.

Rusty padlock covered in cobwebs on a wooden gate

Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Padlock into the Public Domain.

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Why I Love Whitney Webb’s Work

At the time of writing, there are 59 reviews on Amazon UK for Whitley Webb’s long-awaited dossier One Nation Under Blackmail (vol. 1) with an overall rating of 4.5 stars. Some of the comments seem to misunderstand what Whitney is trying to do: provide evidence for a thesis which is breathtaking in its implications. The subtitle lays it bare:

“The sordid union between Intelligence and Organised Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein”

It’s true that there are lot of names, dates and connections. Acronyms abound; each is explained at first but it’s a book so it’s fairly easy to flip back to the first occurrence if you get mixed up between BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commercial International, CCC (Commercial Credit Corporation) and CDC (Control Data Corporation) for example. There’s also an extensive index where they are written out in full. The obvious reason why Whitney is providing all this detailed evidence is that her meticulous and extensively referenced research cannot therefore be dismissed as mere fiction. That said, I can see lots of fiction writers rubbing their hands with glee and coming up with saucy scenes like the following:

Stubbing out his pungent Egyptian cigarette in the jadeite ashtray, Roy gave one last lascivious look at the exhausted naked young man chained to the radiator and exited the penthouse suite. Housekeeping would take care of him. Fun could wait – but Air Force One would not.

this was not written by Whitney!!!

I can see a whole new bestselling genre blending The Da Vinci Code, The Godfather, Tales of the City and 50 Shades of Grey. More seriously, Whitney’s work is a gift to investigative journalists and legal professionals wishing to focus on a particular event, person or crime out of this worldwide web. I must say that I was surprised, at first, that a book purporting to deal with a late 20th-century scandal would start its exposé in 1942. As I read on, I understood.

We react with horror at the news that our presumed democracy is under threat. We rejoice when heroes uncover the full facts of what we assume to be isolated incidents. Who doesn’t love Hoffman and Redford in All the President’s Men. What is more disturbing is to realise that Watergate, the Iran-Contra’s and the Profumo affair are not, in fact, isolated incidents. There are not even anomalous in the otherwise smooth operation of domestic and worldwide democracy. All that marks out these particular scandals is that they made the news. In other words, this is business as usual.

Why that insight is important is because there are three mechanisms preventing the public from realising the extent of the international organised crime and government intelligence network. The first is the control of the media by the kingpins. Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell feature heavily in these pages but it is a mistake to associate particular types of crimes and misdemeanours with any particular person. The point is that this kind of thing goes on, has gone on for a very long time, and will go on unchecked unless there is decisive intervention – and that the arrest or death of any particular criminal (inside or outside of any recognised mob or government agency) does not affect this network greatly. The foot soldiers of this army of saboteurs of the rule of law are sown by dragon’s teeth: where one falls, another springs up in his place.

The second mechanism is denial. Always to be relied on. The reason why Whitney provides such meticulous detail is that the de facto existence of this network can no longer be denied. While Nixon was making speeches about defending American democracy, while Reagan was supposedly warring against cancer, while the Clintons promised (with the backing of Fleetwood Mac) that yesterday’s gone, all this sordid corruption was taking place – and the evidence in this book supports the theory that they knew about it.

The last, and most insidious mechanism is that, in order to fully comprehend the state of affairs (in some cases, quite literally) that Whitney has revealed, it is necessary to undergo a painful and profound paradigm change. Most people would rather not face the fact that we do not live in a democracy. We never have. We live in a society ruled by brigands. A key difference between the modern day peasant and his mediaeval counterpart is that the latter was aware of the true nature of power. However there is another difference. This one is to our advantage. Nowadays we have a system of law which, still, supports our rights – if only we know how to use it. Yes of course there is corruption in the legal system and there is corruption in the legislatures but the one thing that the darkness fears is the light – and the best defence that we the people can employ is to expose these people and their nefarious practices in the light of day.

When I talk about the clear evidence of patent fraud, the proven scientific malpractice, the massive kickbacks,[1] methodological anomalies and widespread censorship of experts in the AIDS debate, people find it all very hard to believe. The same is true for the climate debate. Right now, in 2022, finally, there is some hope that the public have begun to see through the lucrative multinational narrative of the Covid pandemic that benefited only the pharmaceutical industry and big data. When we finally admit to ourselves that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then we will no longer be surprised by the evidence of such widespread corruption.

“They wouldn’t do that!” is the pious thought of every subservient citizen unwilling to face the criminal corruption of their own government. In One Nation Under Blackmail, Whitney Webb has shown conclusively that they would do that, that they have been doing that, and that they will go doing the same.

Unless we stop them.

Front cover of One Nation Under Blackmail Vol. 1 showing three besuited White men and dark clouds over the US Capitol

[1] Detailed in Chicago Tribune writer John Crewdson’s (2003) Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-up and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo.

A Season in Hell

I don’t blame you for booing and applauding the various actors in the Parliamentary panto currently being staged in the UK. I’ve blogged about the deadly consequences of distraction and missing the point already, and the leader of the Freedom Alliance party has reiterated that point: which particular World Economic Forum puppet is in power doesn’t matter—it’s the same hands pulling the strings.

In that Freedom Alliance video, Jonathan Tilt speaks out against the criminal WEF agenda of digital slavery and for the FA manifesto of peace, freedom and the rule of law. The vision he shares is one of small, decentralised, government with minimal interference in the lives of individuals and the democratic decisions of local communities. He also strongly upholds equality and inclusion—well aware that these buzzwords have been misused.

Pantomimes follow a script and, although some ad-libs are expected, they’re very formulaic. There’s the man playing the Dame, the couple of clowns playing the Dafties, the young woman playing the Principle Boy singing duets with the young woman playing the Principle Girl, the older man as the Villain, and of course there’s everybody else playing the Villagers.

The scenes are also generic. Most pantos include some version of the following: Happy Village Life; Mysterious Stranger with an Offer; Kidnapped; Finding Courage; Journey to the Villain’s Lair; Slapstick…and right before the Finale there’s Community Singing.

This scene is usually performed in front of the closed curtains to give the stage crew time to set the stage for the Finale and for some principles to change costume. It involves the actors splitting themselves and the audience into two factions for a sing-off. In any good panto, the actors will start singing merrily, then halt, then complain to the audience that they’re not joining in. This unfair complaint will hopefully prompt some child to shout back that they don’t know the words. (If this doesn’t happen the adults, in the know after years of panto-going, will do this and if the audience is too posh to shout things out then the Prompt will.) At this point, the actors will stand amazed at this lack of provision by the theatre company (that they’re part of) and start to stir up the audience by getting them to repeatedly shout BRING OUT THE WORDS!!!

To the children in the audience, this seems like the pantomime characters solving a problem—especially as the words are then trundled out or lowered onstage. However all this is part of the cheerful fakery of the performance. In pantomime that’s fine. It’s all good fun and nobody gets hurt. If you know what’s going on, you pretend you don’t. The kids love it, and so do the adults. I go every year, whether I’m onstage or not.

Political pantomime has all of these characteristics: it’s distracting, it’s entertaining and it’s fake. However it’s not played out in a theatre. When it’s performed in Parliament or on TV it’s bad enough but the real danger is when it takes the form of promenade theatre—in other words it hits the streets. With massive audience participation.

Stop and think: did the doors open political pantomime of the invasion of the Capitol building in Washington DC on 6th January last year further in any way the aims of the protestors? The media may have focussed on the magnificent manly torso and horned helmet of one of the participants but people died in that incident and the outcome was to discredit the protest—despite the clear evidence that it was a set up.

Now in the UK, a Twitter account only set up in January 2022 named @PoIitics4You is demanding a mass protest in front of Parliament on 5th November:

Poster: Remember the 5th of November. Demand a General Election Now, etc.

At the bottom of the poster are these words:

Vote and be heard – MET Police are notified

So an anonymous citizen sets up an account in January of this year, and waits till July to start expressing opinions (before that it’s only public information and retweets of news stories) which are pro-Covid narrative, anti-Brexit, anti-Tory, pro-Monarchy and, from September, calling for a General Election. In October the account starts tagging the Met Police. At the moment the account has 5K followers.

Here’s my question: why does an account apparently set up by a rather obsessive and opinionated individual wait 6 months before expressing those opinions then, having claimed a vaguely crowd-pleasing identity, wait a further 3 months to call for a mass protest—encouraging others to keep notifying the police?

The 6th January protest at the US Capitol was clearly staged and was subsequently used to justify repression of anti-lockdown protest and social media dissent. This proposed protest is attempting to exploit the sympathy in the freedom movement for the repressed citizens portrayed in the film V for Vendetta yet the organiser is unknown, the pattern of posting odd and the immediate involvement of the police suspect.

For all the reasons that Jonathan Tilt has explained, in consideration of the repression after the protest at the Capitol and of the general Problem-Reaction-Solution dynamic that Spiro Skouras often warns us of, I advise anyone truly committed to freedom to stay indoors on Guy Fawkes’ Night and soothe their pets—there are already too many firecrackers going off on the 5th November—otherwise this political theatre vendetta will only result in a season in Hell.

“V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes mask in monochrome on black background

Thanks to Piotr Siedlecki for releasing his image Guy Fawkes mask into the Public Domain.

Blue Murder

There’s a word used in Brazil to describe the convenient chaos that thieves and muggers create to distract their victims: confusão. Right now in the UK—distracted by the scuffles, reshuffles and broadcast outrage emanating from the ‘mother of Parliaments’ (a phrase only lacking in colonial hubris in the American street sense)—who is paying attention to the blue NHS envelopes sliding through letterboxes in households where every adult is glued to their phone, computer or TV?

Are you?

Inside, the anonymous and impersonal sender invites the unsuspecting citizen to receive “a winter flu and Covid vaccination”—in full knowledge that Pfizer have recently (at last) acknowledged that there is no evidence supporting the claim that their particular pharmaceutical venom reduces transmission.

Readers of this blog may know that I started questioning the official Covid narrative back in March 2020, based on the investigations of the late and dearly missed David Crowe. Since then, we’ve had all the evils of disaster capitalism: the crony contracts, the suppression of civil liberties, the sabotage of small and medium businesses, the planned demolition of the economy. And we’ve had the deaths.

I won’t keep you long from the updates. Everyone wants to know which new World Economic Forum agent will be in 10 Downing Street next week. Even though it will make no difference.

Meanwhile, if you are able, gently but firmly share your knowledge of the widespread harms occasioned by those foolish enough to trust in the professional responsibility of an industry dedicated only to profit, not people.

I won’t tell you to stop watching the Parliamentary pantomime. I will ask you to stop the blue murder.

Blue NHS envelope

The Spy Who Doxxed Me

Crack open a beer and start popping the corn. This is a saga.

In December 2019, I sent an email to a woman I shall call M who in the tedious and inexact language of modern bureaucracy (language from the factory floor inapplicable to education) is the line manager of my line managers. It contained four bullet points:

Following the lack of success in gaining an interview (for the position of Lecturer in […]) I’m concerned about the possibility of bias in HR recruitment for the following reasons:

  • I fulfil all essential and desirable criteria and exceed some (e.g. a doctorate is not essential)
  • I am disabled which, given the above, should grant me an interview
  • Gender equity can be a factor as that would work in my favour not against me—as I am a man and about 70/115 of School of […] Research & Teaching staff are women
  • On my Twitter account (personal but my posts are public and I use my full name) I am vocal about the legal rights of free association, freedom of expression and the need for EIAs. In universities across the UK those rights have been challenged and staff being sacked for proclaiming them

In this instance, I would be glad to know that there are simply a large number of highly qualified and experienced candidates and that I just didn’t make the shortlist. What concerns me is that HR staff may be filtering candidates in regard to an ideology (which we have discussed) which has not been officially adopted by the University executive or academic community.

([…] ellipsis mine)

Of course I was reassured that it was nothing of the sort. Nothing else happened in connection with this, till the next year. But that year was 2020. When the world went mad. In September 2020, I had occasion to complain to 3 sectors of the University where I worked that their recently-published disabled access policy was incompatible with that in the HR modules which all staff had to do every year or so (based on the Equality Act 2010 and Data Protection Act 2018). Their policy was also incompatible with the Coronavirus Act 2020. I’ve explained why this is so in a previous post about shopping in Scotland but it’s applicable to disabled access across the whole of the UK.

I won’t quote all the email ping-pong but 2 of the 3 sectors accepted what I said, changed their policy, thanked me—and one apologised and reassured me explicitly that anyone who entered campus without a mask would be assumed to be exempt and would not be interrogated but allowed to access the goods and services of the University without let or hindrance. (I paraphrase.)

The exception was M. Her reaction contained none of the above and instead berated me for causing distress to colleagues and attempted to carpet me. I resisted and persisted. Thus began a campaign of victimisation that has lasted over two years. Note that by this protected disclosure (unrecognised as such by HR) I was not only acting in the public interest, which is the definition of whistleblowing, but I was also warning my colleagues of their possible liability for legal action should they do any of the things recommended by senior management which included emotional blackmail of unmasked students, including many young international students; coercion of students to do the job of cleaners, unpaid and uninsured; and reporting anyone who complained to an anti-terrorist organisation. (I’m not making this up, you know.)

But that’s not the story. That’s just 2020. You know. You remember.

In April of that year, I had emailed M again and my two doctoral supervisors, both professors of the University. At this point I still had confidence in M. I certainly had confidence in them and I still do, they were quite simply a delight to work with—a combination of erudition, charm and the very rare ability to ask the right questions. That email was simply giving them a friendly heads up because I had responded to a university consultation on the pandemic response. Unsurprisingly, my questions were never put to the panel. But I was contacting them in case they were, and someone contacted them, asking about me. I explained that I’d been writing about the incoherence of the pandemic narrative and give them the link to my blog.

That’s not the story either.

In August of 2021, a tedious correspondence started after I was invited to speak that June at the Holyrood Faith Debates as part of a panel of RE teachers discussing LGBT issues – during which I mentioned the Maya Forstater judgment. Apparently I wasn’t PC enough for one of the participants because they tried to doxx me. The colleague who emailed me about this, whom I’ve known for decades, was wise enough to desist when I pointed out that intrusive surveillance of my social media posts by my employer was not provided for in law.

There followed more tedious correspondence about the honorarium (which I still don’t know if they’ve paid me) which M inserted herself into, in order to accuse me of bullying the person holding the purse strings (PS?) because I’d advised her not to write emails as if from the DVLA (underlined and bold) and not to violate the provisions of GDPR by attempting to coerce staff into providing necessary personal information. She (PS) apologised and I thanked her and explained that I was under great stress. Admittedly I didn’t apologise to her for pointing out robustly that she (PS) was not doing her job and breaking the law – a fact that M gleefully seized on months afterwards. To establish ‘a pattern of hostile and aggressive communication’. Like ‘obey the law’ and ‘leave me alone!’

There followed a pile-on from HR and senior staff. I have RSI in my hands and wrists. It’s a condition I manage and every University email has that information as part of my signature. So it was literally torture for me to have to answer this relentless flood of emails, especially as I no-longer had access to the voice recognition software I’d used for over a decade so all that human-machine mutual learning had gone and I was trying (and failing) to use a crappy Microsoft version that was clearly not designed for anyone with a manual disability—and shoved in punctuation and all caps according to the stress patterns in my voice.

Here’s the story:

On Saturday 26th March 2022, [let’s call her PG] (a middle-aged lecturer from Crewe and former BBC journo) was quoted in The Times newspaper. That article is behind a paywall but The Scottish Sun (26th March 2022, updated 28th March 2022) reported her libellous words as follows:

Dr McManus, an associate tutor in the School of […], is reportedly under investigation by the uni for spreading conspiracy theories about coronavirus and Ukraine, according to The Times.
[PG], a political communication lecturer, has called for McManus to be sacked.
She told The Times she believes the university should “no longer employ” him.
[PG, spelled wrongly] told the paper she would “would personally be quite concerned about someone who expresses those kind of views, conspiracy theories, and apparent indifference to the suffering of Ukrainians, holding a teaching role”.
The lecturer went on to say she feels McManus’ views do not reflect the values of [the University].

Please note “apparent indifference”. Mind-reading. Note also that there is no mention that the source of this misreading is from an article published on 14th March 2022 in The Ferret (an online Scottish magazine) by one Jasmine Andersson, a young woman from Hull, based in London, who usually writes for Vice, described on trendhunter.com in these terms:

VICE Magazine has developed an impressive penchant for its following of censored subject matter. Transsexual lifestyle, drug-abusing models, and just about anything sexually suggestive has been favored by the VICE team. What’s more is that the media conglomerate does not attempt to sugar coat their controversial slant. The images selected for the spreads are straight forward (sic.), and are often the only references needed to comprehend the message of the editorials.

My point is that a middle-aged native speaker of English and former BBC journalist now a lecturer in Political Communication should know better. If she wanted to know my thoughts on the suffering of Ukrainians (or of the forgotten Yemeni or the kids mining for mobile phone conflict minerals in the DRC) she doesn’t have to presume, she could be polite and professional enough to ask me. She knows my name, she can easily find my email address and the articles she is quoted in (with her permission) give my social media handle.

In all there were 8 smear articles, the source of each is in brackets: Ferret (Vice), Ferret (Vice), Times (Ferret), Times (Times), National (Ferret), National (National), Scottish Sun (whatever x2). The one I quoted goes on:

A University of […] spokesperson said: “The matter is now under investigation by the University. We can’t comment further at this time.”

The source of that last quote is from an unknown member of staff tweeting as @Uof[…]. I have several times asked the identity of that person and I have been stonewalled. The tweet, which breaks GDPR and is libellous (therefore not only against University policy but actionable) has since been deleted, as has a tweet from @[P_G] where she states that, as I am an Associate Tutor, I will have a rolling contract so that should simply not be renewed (I paraphrase from memory).

At the time that [PG] directed hate towards me, I was a standing candidate in a Scottish election. The period known as Purdah starts from the date of publication of notice of the election (14th March 2022) and runs till the day of election (5th May 2022). Harassing candidates at this time is a police matter. This is because the murder of Jo Cox (RIP) highlighted how few women were standing, out of fear. It does not matter that I am male. All candidates should be safe, by law. This applies especially to anyone from a Public Body. All these articles quoting her referenced her academic position and institution, as did her twitter account at that time (my social media accounts do not, as I write as a private citizen). The University of […] is considered a Public Body as it is “a formally established organisation that is, at least in part, publicly funded to deliver a public or government service, though not as a ministerial department.” (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/public-bodies-reform, accessed 15/09/22)

Therefore [PG] violated Purdah, endangered my reputation, my employment, my person and also the mental and physical health of my elderly mother—as I am her chief carer after her cancer operation and I was forced to publish my address as I acted as my own agent. This reckless endangerment, which could have easily resulted in some flag-wearing crazy throwing a brick through my window and causing my mother to have heart failure, based on the spicy speculation of gutter-press journalism, has led to almost 6 months of inquisitorial investigation by senior staff of the University of […]. I cannot believe that a person of her experience would not have foreseen this and I find this public abuse of a colleague (apparently for self-promotion aided by her media savvy) not only distasteful but contrary to the core values of the University and of the kind of democracy for which we pride ourselves in Scotland. It is also contrary to my inalienable rights, recognised in the ECHR and by both the UK and the Scottish Parliament: Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion and Belief.

I could forgive such behaviour from an inexperienced young student, but this mature professional woman obviously knows full well what that libel would do. Indeed not only did these articles lose my campaign support (former supporters told me this) but her actual words regarding my precarious employment have been repeated by a senior member of staff in an ongoing abusive HR process started by further malicious accusations—which (at one point) also included those of this self-promoting lecturer.

Democracy must be protected and Purdah is in place to do just that and it is a legal wrongdoing to break it. The University of […] should not be sheltering someone guilty of such an affront to Scottish democracy. This libellous lecturer is not fit for post.

  • The University has refused to reveal the identity of the staff member who tweeted about me as @Uof[…], revealing personal information and bringing the University into disrepute.
  • Neither the University nor [PG] have publicly, or even privately, apologised to me using the same media by which I was slandered by the University—which is vicariously liable.
  • I have demanded that [PG] (who is teaching Political Communication to students) be sacked. Given the effect on my campaign, my mental health, and the potential life-threatening risk to my extremely vulnerable mother, I think it fitting that both I and my party receive a public apology from both members of staff and the University and that we are recompensed for their complicity (and vicariously that of the University of […]) with slander and reckless endangerment.

PG, ‘an old Antonian’, who was in her youth quite pretty, has odd gaps in her online CV and ever since she graduated with a First in Modern Languages has been the recipient of various grants and fellowships. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation of the location of her first job—2004 to 2011 on the CV—(Senior Monitoring Journalist, BBC) as: “Moscow (Russia) / Caversham (UK)”. Let’s not jump to conclusions. It’s true that Caversham, near Reading, is the location of BBC Monitoring:

For nearly 75 years BBC staff at a sprawling stately home on the outskirts of Reading have been listening in to some of the world’s most seismic events, from Nazi Germany’s occupation of Europe to the death of Stalin and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since 1943 Caversham Park has been the home of BBC Monitoring, whose offices still summarise news from 150 countries in 100 different languages for the BBC.

Caversham Park: End of an era for BBC listening station
Published 7th July 2016

It’s true that St Anthony’s College, Oxford, where PG went next, is informally known as ‘spy school’ but not everyone was involved, as another alumna points out:

I myself was not a spy, even though the place I was doing my Soviet history doctorate, St Antony’s in Oxford, was notorious in both the British and Soviet press as a “spy college”, having been founded after the war by ex-intelligence people.

It’s also true that PG, from criticising Ukrainian state crackdowns on journalism (by beating up journalists) in 2014 changed her tune when the 8-year conflict started to be reported by the BBC, claiming that most people there understood why the media and the opposition parties has been repressed.

Caversham also has a rather nice golf club. And there were plenty of other Oxford language and politics graduates involved in espionage who attended other colleges. Finally, the person posting as Zanon, in the 22nd comment on the Moon of Alabama 2018 article “British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns” who lists her name next to that of Ian Bond, is probably just making it up.

So, a middle-aged Englishwoman, lecturing in Political Communication at one of Scotland’s Russell Group universities—who moved from Crewe to Caversham and Moscow, with a Modern Language degree then a Master’s in Russian & East European Studies at a notorious Oxford college—despite her doctorate in Politics and a respectable body of academic work (such as the Bad News series from the Glasgow University Media Group) on critical engagement with propaganda, disrespected democracy by using her public platform to uncritically push UK Government policy and to take great virtue-signalling umbrage at my suggestion that the current stage-managed theatre of war in the media is a pantomime of politics.

As “monitoring” seems to signify espionage, my question is: what critical distance from her assigned teaching subject of the political communication in general and in particular of various governments, including that of the UK, Russia and the Ukraine, can PG claim to employ as a lecturer…if she is, or was, a spy?

A once-beautiful bejewelled hard-faced woman has window blind shadow across her face with a mystery man, drinking with his shirt unbuttoned in the background of a darkened room.

Thanks to Hal Harrison for releasing his image Film Noir into the public domain.

Sexism at Scottish Universities?

Anecdotal evidence led me to suspect gender bias in hiring practice at a Scottish university – and I wondered if that was:

  1. a suspicion supported by statistical evidence
  2. a finding generalisable to other Scottish universities

Let me immediately say that I wasn’t great at Maths in School and I’m honest with my doctoral and master’s students that stats isn’t my strong point – but I did do the required Ph.D. courses in both qualitative and quantitative data analysis and (to my surprise) I really enjoyed both.

METHODOLOGY

Remembering my lecturer’s admonition to “keep a moral distance from the data”, I determined to stick to what seemed to be a fair methodology first, before peeking at the results. In other words, I wanted to avoid the kind of cherry-picking that goes on with article after article bangs on about fewer women than men in (some) Science Technology Engineering Maths courses and totally ignores Education or Nursing (and just about everything else) where they dominate.

So I decided to use 1 website only: www.jobs.ac.uk and only to focus on Scotland’s 2 Russell Group universities: Edinburgh & Glasgow, simply as a convenient and fair way to work with a smaller number. Incidentally missing out my alma mater. Furthermore (a favourite word for international students) I would limit the results by only analysing data from academic jobs advertised as “Lecturer” (not “Tutor”, “Professor”, “Chair”, “Head”, “Associate”, “Reader”, “Technician”, etc.) and only those on the website on 8th August 2022. If I found over 30 of these, for each university, I would exclude all adverts dated before 1st August 2022.

So much for search criteria. What about evidence? What’s my definition of sexism in this situation? Simple: I would note all adverts in this selection which included a phrase identical or similar to “women/ men/ female candidates/ male candidates are especially encouraged to apply” and cross-reference that to the ratio of male/ female academic staff in the department – as shown by the official website of that university on 8th August 2022.

(If you suspect me of manically doing this every day until I got the desired result, try it for yourself!)

RESULTS

Edinburgh

First I put “Lecturer” in the Search field and “Edinburgh, UK” in Location and limited results to “within 10 miles”. 27 jobs were returned, 7 of them at institutions other than the University of Edinburgh. I entered the dates and job titles of the other 20:

Date postedUniversity of Edinburgh
2nd AugLecturer/Senior Lecturer in Accounting
2nd AugLecturer in Romanticism
27th JulyLecturer in Dyslexia
28th JulyLecturer in Epidemiology
27th JulyLecturer/Senior Lecturer in Sign Language Linguistics
25th JulyLecturer in Environmental History
25th JulyLecturer in Environmental History
13th JulyLecturer in Landscape and Wellbeing
26th JulyLecturer in Graphic Design
18th JulyLecturer in Clinical Psychology
19th JulyLecturer in Clinical Psychology
15th JulyLecturer/Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery
14th JulySenior Lecturer in Neurology/Neurosurgery
25th JulyLecturer in Financial Law and Regulation
20th JulyLecturer in South Asian Art History
27th JulyLecturer in Soft Robotics / Physical Computing
12th JulyLecturer in Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design
26th JulyLecturer in Small Animal Surgery (Orthopaedics and Soft Tissue, with Orthopaedic bias)
25th JulyTeaching Fellow in Iron Age and Theoretical Archaeology*
27th JulyLectureship/Readership in Technology Enhanced Mathematics Education
20 Lecturer job titles at University of Edinburgh & dates posted

*”Lecturer” in job description

Of these, only 3 had any mention that could be construed as encouraging a particular gender to apply:

Date postedUniversity of EdinburghGender encouraged to apply
25th JulyLecturer in Environmental HistoryAs an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applicants from all sections of the community, regardless of age, gender, race and ethnicity, disability, nationality and citizenship status, religion, sexual orientation or transgender status.  Our School is committed to Athena SWAN principles. All appointments will be made on merit.
25th JulyLecturer in Financial Law and RegulationThe School of Law strives to be a diverse and inclusive community.  We particularly welcome applications from candidates belonging to groups that have been traditionally under-represented in the subject.
12th JulyLecturer in Interior, Architectural and Spatial DesignThe University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education.
3 jobs advert dates & titles at University of Edinburgh with mention of encouragement to apply (emphasis mine)

“Athena SWAN” refers to the Scientific Women’s Academic Network.

Glasgow

The same search, but with “Glasgow, UK” in Location, yielded 29 results. Of these, 10 were excluded as relating to institutions other than the University of Glasgow. I entered the dates and job titles of the other 19 – all of which contained wording that could be construed as encouraging a particular sex to apply:

Date postedUniversity of GlasgowGender encouraged to apply
5th AugLecturer – School of Computing ScienceWe strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equity.*
26th JulyLecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader in Statistics and Data AnalyticsWe offer an inclusive environment that particularly encourages applications from those within under-represented groups in our discipline […]   (ATHENA SWAN)
25th JulySenior Lecturer/Lecturer in Marketing (Research & Teaching Track)The Adam Smith Business School is triple accredited and is a research-informed and professionally-focused business school. The School has achieved the Athena SWAN Bronze award and actively encourages an inclusive culture promoting gender equality and welcomes applications from underrepresented groups.   (ATHENA SWAN)
13th JulyLecturer in Race and Education(ATHENA SWAN)
13th JulyLecturer in Curriculum and Assessment(ATHENA SWAN)
27th JulySenior Lecturer/Lecturer in Human Resource Management (Research & Teaching Track)The Adam Smith Business School is triple accredited and is a research-informed and professionally-focused business school. The School has achieved the Athena SWAN Bronze award and actively encourages an inclusive culture promoting gender equality and welcomes applications from underrepresented groups.   (ATHENA SWAN)
5th AugLecturer (LTS) in Medieval History(ATHENA SWAN)
5th AugLecturer (LTS) in Medieval History(ATHENA SWAN)
29th JulyLecturer (Research & Teaching Track)(ATHENA SWAN)
29th JulyLecturer in Early Medieval History(ATHENA SWAN)
22nd JulyLecturer in Music [LTS Track]We also strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation to promoting [inclusion, diversity and] gender equity. Applications are particularly welcome from women, ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups.
27th JulyLecturer (Learning, Teaching & Scholarship)(ATHENA SWAN)
2nd AugLecturer in International Relations (LTS Track)We value diversity and especially encourage applications from women, disabled and ethnic minority candidates.   (ATHENA SWAN)
26th JulyLecturer (Small Animal Hospital Rotations)(ATHENA SWAN)
8th JulyLecturer in Contemporary Economic History (LTS)We value diversity and especially encourage applications from women, disabled and ethnic minority candidates.   (ATHENA SWAN)
2nd AugMultiple Lecturer Positions in Statistics & Data AnalyticsWe offer an inclusive environment that particularly encourages applications from those within under-represented groups in our discipline […]   (ATHENA SWAN)** (ATHENA SWAN)
2nd AugLecturer (LTS Track) in Screen Production & PracticeWe also strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation to promoting [inclusion, diversity and] gender equity. Applications are particularly welcome from women, ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups.
13th JulyLecturer in Teacher Education (Primary with specialism focus in Technologies(ATHENA SWAN)
19 job advert dates & titles at University of Glasgow with mention of encouragement to apply (emphasis mine, link original)

The ambiguity about the effect of Athena SWAN charter, articulated HERE by Dr Suzanne Madgwick, Research Fellow at Newcastle University, is felt even by those whom it benefits:

Yes, there is evidence to suggest that women are sometimes a little more risk averse, less likely to put themselves forward for promotion, but this is by no means exclusive. If we have a mechanism in place to champion and support the different needs of all people, each and every time they need it, is this not equality without the need to keep using the word “women”? I can’t help thinking that there is a good dose of hypocrisy in all the ‘positive actions’ and events which are seen to be just for women. In the short term it’s generating friction and in the long term it certainly doesn’t seem like the best strategy when preaching fair play.

Not Athena SWAN again! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (2015)

Perhaps because of this perception, the Charter is now not supposed to have women as its only focus:

The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research. Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the Charter is now being used across the globe to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Athena Swan Charter (2020)

Given that supposed change, let’s ignore for now all the (slightly) ambiguous encouragement of women to apply for academic jobs in Russel Group universities in Scotland (3/20 or 15% in the University of Edinburgh selection of job adverts and 19/19 or 100% in those of the University of Glasgow) and focus only on the 4, all from the University of Glasgow, out of the 39 selections from both institutions (just over 10%) that explicitly do this:

Date postedUniversity of GlasgowGender encouraged to apply
22nd JulyLecturer in Music [LTS Track]Applications are particularly welcome from women, ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups.
2nd AugLecturer in International Relations (LTS Track)We value diversity and especially encourage applications from women, disabled and ethnic minority candidates.
8th JulyLecturer in Contemporary Economic History (LTS)We value diversity and especially encourage applications from women, disabled and ethnic minority candidates.
2nd AugLecturer (LTS Track) in Screen Production & PracticeApplications are particularly welcome from women, ethnic minorities and other under-represented groups.
4 job advert dates & titles at University of Glasgow with mention of encouragement to women to apply (emphasis in bold/italics mine)

Let’s look at the ratio of male/ female academic staff in the relevant department. The first has this information:

For further information on the College of Arts, School of Culture and Creative Arts please visit https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/cca/

With a link to “Music” and “Staff A-Z” where there are 14 names under Research and Teaching (the other category is Professional, Administrative and Support). Of the 4 Professors, 3 names are male and 1 female; of the 10 Doctors, 8 are male and 2 female. So with a M:F ratio of 11:3 (just over 21% are female) there is justification to describe women as under-represented in this department.

The second advert has this:

For further information on the College of Social Sciences, School of Social & Political Sciences, please visit https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/

With a link to “Politics and International Relations” and “Staff A-Z” where there are 60 names under Research and Teaching. Of the 11 Professors, 5 names I recognised as male and 4 female with 2 I couldn’t identify by name but with female photographs (on this website or another linking her to this position). So that’s 5 male and 6 female professors. Of the 45 Doctors, 30 I recognised as male, with 2 I couldn’t identify by name but with male photographs (on this website or another linking him to this position). So that’s 32 male and 13 female doctors. Of the other 4 staff in this category, 1 is Mr, 2 Ms and 1 Miss. So that’s 1 male and 3 female staff members without academic titles. Overall, that makes 38 male and 22 female staff so, as 22/60 (just under 37%) are female, there is justification to describe women as under-represented in this department.

The third advert has the same link as the second but the link to follow this time is Economic and Social History. There isn’t a link to staff so I had to go back and search for this subject and ended up on the departmental staff page:

https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/staff/?filter=economicsocialhistory

There are 23 staff names listed under Research and Teaching. Of the 6 Professors, all have male names. Out of the 14 Doctors, I recognised 6 as male and another 1 was identified as male on another website linking him to this position. So that’s 7 male and 7 female doctors out of 14. Other staff are 2 Misters and 1 Miss. Overall that’s 15 male and 8 female staff under this category, which makes 8/23 (just under 35%) female staff in this department – therefore it is justified to describe women as under-represented here.

The last advert has the same link as the first but the link to follow then, this time, isn’t clear as the job refers to the College rather than a specific Department. However the contact person is listed as Theatre, Film and Television Studies – which comprises two different links:

https://www.gla.ac.uk/subjects/theatre/

https://www.gla.ac.uk/subjects/filmtelevision/

Clicking on Our Staff in the first department, I see 5 Professors, out of which 2 have male names and 3 female. Out of the 7 Doctors, it’s 4 male and 3 female, and there’s no-one else so overall that’s 6/12 female staff which is 50%. Women are not under-represented here.

In the second department, out of the 6 Professors, 3 are male and 3 female; out of the 11 Doctors, 5 appear to be male (by names of photographs on the website) and 6 female. Overall that’s 9/17 (just under 53%) female staff in this category. So women are not under-represented here either.

Lumping these two creative departments together, as the job advert does, that’s 6+8=14 male; 6+9=15 female, so that’s 15/29 (just under 52%) female staff.

As a final computation of all 4 jobs that explicitly mention women being encouraged to apply, the academic staff ratios for these University for Glasgow Departments are:

Dept.MaleFemaleStaffFemale percentage
Music11314just over 21%
Politics & Int. Rels382260just under 37%
Econ. & Soc. Hist.15823just under 35%
Theatre, Film & TV141529just under 52%
4 University of Glasgow Departments with male/ female ratios

FINDINGS

One possible finding of this hasty survey is that out of 39 selections of academic job adverts only 1 of them could be said to show explicit sexism (under my stated criteria) by encouraging the numerically – and academically – dominant gender to apply for a position. That must be qualified by the fact that the dominance is only 2% and, if it’s a woman who’s creating the vacancy, then another woman would simply keep the status quo.

Another possible finding is that 4 out of the 39 adverts explicitly encourage women to apply, and 22/ 39 (just over 56%) if we include the implicit encouragement, remembering that most of those are from one institution.

As I only looked at the explicit adverts’ staff ratios, it’s not clear whether the overall figure of around 56% (or 100% for the University of Glasgow) female-specific encouragement is justified. Just as a random outlier, let’s look at a department that we may expect to be female dominated (but maybe not as much as English Lit. or Nursing) – Education:

https://www.gla.ac.uk/subjects/education/staff/

Applying the same criteria, we have 26 Professors, 12 are male and 14 female; of the 74 Doctors, 23 are male and 51 female; of the other academic staff there are 16 Misters, 13 Ms, 9 Mrs, 3 Miss, 1 Fr, so 17 male and 25 female. Overall that makes 52 male and 90 female academic staff members. That makes 90/142 = just over 63% female.

There are 3 jobs currently being advertised for the School of Education of the University of Glasgow. All of them have the same Athena SWAN script. Not one of them, in this clearly female-dominated Department, encourages men to apply.

Looking back at the two points I began with, I haven’t provided any statistical evidence for gender bias in hiring practice at Scottish universities – but I have done (to a limited extent) for such bias in advertising academic jobs. I haven’t checked if all 19 degree providers in Scotland have endorsed this formerly gender-specific Charter but I strongly suspect that they have.

As a man, I rejoice in the equality of my female colleagues but – if we are to truly move past institutionalised sexism – we have to realise that simply swapping the slogan “jobs for the boys” for “jobs for the girls” isn’t going to change the dynamic of dominance rather than co-operation. With masculinity conveniently demonised as toxic (forever forgetting the wisdom of feminists such as Dorothy Dinnerstein) and confused wee boys being explicitly told that they can avoid becoming a man, then it’s time to take stock of the current situation.

Despite media portrayals, we’re not all mad, bad or sad. If we really believe in ending “the war of the sexes” then we have to be honest about recruitment.

Cartoon image of White man with black hair, white top and black trousers sitting on a black chair with his head on a black laptop resting on a mauve table with a white cup on top; teal background.

Thanks to Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan for releasing his image Exhausted Employee into the Public Domain.

It’s a Fake

They get the music right, and there is some big hair, cardies and drainpipe trousers—though none of the boys have Wham! style haircuts. Russel T. Davies continues with his self-hatred: the positive portrayal of older White men is limited to those who support the pharmaceutical narrative and whose sexual desire is (presumably) domesticated by having a partner. Older Black men lose points if religious, as that is shown as at least comic if not sinister.

Women gain points for being secular, metropolitan and preferably ethnic as well as for dedicating their lives to the service of (young) gay men. Mothers are mostly monsters but redeemed if fat, disabled or married to ethnic males. Davies gives himself the opportunity to address female self-sacrifice but basically gets a monster mother to blame a young woman for being a fag hag—without the show narrative taking responsibility for that accusation or showing the least interest in her personal life—and leaves it at that.

Brian Mullin, writing for the Los Angeles Times, finds that It’s a Sin doesn’t even advance the portrayal of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. I used to believe in that pharmaceutical narrative (I don’t now) but I take his point. Davies is very good at only one thing: the portrayal of young gay male jouissance. In this series he simply makes the equation that joy = death.

Davis also airbrushes drag queens, and their internecine war with m-f transsexuals, out of the 80s gay scene in which they literally played a starring role. Instead he’s opted for vaguely sketched cardboard cutouts of “trans” characters, dotted about the set, never centred and never defined. Lesbians are limited to sitting around tables agreeing with gay men and the main character (effeminate and never shown in the least attracted to women) is shown as ridiculous in pondering bisexuality—the only mention of that sexuality at the time of its major struggle for recognition in the lesbian & gay community.

The most grave sins of the series are those committed against Africans portrayed as backwards (with zero recognition of indigenous efforts to resist or even debate the social and biological harms done by corporate pharmaceutical interests from the global north) and, ironically, against young gay men.

This series continues the profitable trend of pushing drugs. Like all the other AIDS stories, It’s a Sin dismisses the proven connection of poppers (ubiquitous in gay discos then and widely used in gay sex) with Kaposi’s sarcoma and ignores the fact that 47 gay men didn’t just turn up coincidentally at a New York hospital all with the same cancer, Michael Gottlieb was studying low T-cell counts in two cities and actively recruited patients. All of whom were long term massive drug users.

The HIV/AIDS hypothesis (at least the Gallo version, there are others) has been the blueprint for all subsequent viral drug and test advertising campaigns—most successfully with “Covid”—and will be used again if the public are stupid and uninformed enough to swallow “Monkeypox”. Predictably, this latest series, like all the others, is being used to push for more public money for the pharmaceutical industry. So it can kill even more people. That’s not an act of charity. It’s a sin.

Cartoon graphic of two dark-haired men staring at an image of a pill bottle on a wall

Thanks to Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan for releasing his image Medical Insurance into the Public Domain.

Backstage at the Panto

Backstage, during a pantomime, is an odd place. Actors rush up and down stairs, still putting on their costumes, and communicate with each other and with the stage crew in frantic gestures. No-one speaks. Everyone’s listening. Props and scenery are being whisked on and off, during blackout, and the Stage Manager’s word (or signal) is LAW! No-one questions her authority. There’s no time to renegotiate your entrance or your already-blocked moves. The Director isn’t even there. He’s up the back of the hall with Sound and Lighting. Worrying. You live for the applause, or the boos. They’re really the same thing. It’s the strength of the reaction that shows if the audience are enjoying the show. When I was playing the Baddie in Aladdin, a couple of years ago, at the end of Act 1 a wee boy in Row 2 audibly called me “a jobby”. I strutted back into the dressing-room exultant! Take that Olivier! I thought. High praise!

Caught up in the performance, with the doomed romance of the pretty Hapless Heroine (who probably does kickboxing) and the Handsome Prince (who’s a boyish girl), with the slapstick antics of the fools, all meticulously rehearsed, the exaggerated dramas of the Dame (who’s a man) and the carefully choreographed cries and dance routines of the Chorus, the audience forgets – or never realises – that backstage at the panto we’re all friends. Everyone’s working together. The Hapless Heroine helps me on with my heavy robe – before I go onstage and capture her. The main Fool (the Daftie in Scotland) has a degree in astrophysics and is best mates with his rival – who’s just about to plaster his face with a custard pie. The Chorus aren’t really shocked by my latest Evil Deed. They knew it was coming. They just want to do their number so they can troop downstairs (Shhhhh! says the Stage Manager) and grab a Coke and a KitKat before they’re back on for Act 3.

The conflict in Ukraine is a panto because everything in the Theatre of War is a performance. Right now, a young woman who’s recently been…

  • a beauty blogger
  • pregnant
  • bombed
  • twice
  • dead
  • queuing up for bread
  • a refugee
  • captured
  • freed
  • all of the above, simultaneously

…is now apparently safe and sound in Russia and confusing everyone on Twitter. Don’t ask me what the truth is. I don’t know. I do know that this is political theatre. It’s a panto.

Unlike a friendly neighbourhood panto, in the Theatre of War the participants risk more than a stubbed toe falling over a stage weight supporting the flats. Participation is usually not voluntary and even when there is an actual Baddie, the Goodies aren’t that good. Ask any older Russian what they think about the Yalta Agreement. Or ask an old German about carpet bombing. Ask yourself why you’re surprised that in WW1 the British Army shot shell-shocked soldiers in a pretty little Belgian town called Poperinge, surrounded by Flanders fields. And we all know about Abu Ghraib. No? Look it up. If you have the stomach for it. I’m not providing a link.

The fact that some Ukrainian battalions apparently have links to Neo-Nazi groups, that the persecution of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine has been going on for 8 years and that NATO is using this fake war to play checkers with China doesn’t mean that there aren’t real people caught up in it. I don’t know who those people are, clingfilmed to Ukrainian lampposts, beaten, stripped, raped and doused with water, left to freeze to death. I know that people have been reporting Russian deadly homophobia for years so before you jump to that conclusion – no, I’m not a fan of Putin!

There are wheels within wheels at play here. Suddenly all the slebs are focussing solely on this drama, ignoring the release of Pfizer data on adverse reactions and the conviction of smiling Ghislaine Maxwell – and all the political blackmail that went on with everyone on the guest list at Jeffrey Epstein’s island – as well as the long list of other countries in conflict: #Yemen #SaudiArabia #Palestine #Israel #DRCongo #Syria #Afghanistan #Ethiopia #Eritrea #Colombia #Myanmar #Algeria #BurkinaFaso #Cameroon #Libya #Mali #Mozambique #Niger #Nigeria #SouthSudan #Tanzania #Tunisia #Chile #Venezuela #Iraq.

Backstage at the panto, everyone is cooperating. They’re read the script and they’ve rehearsed the moves. Someone might muff their lines or dry up but that’s no problem. There are plenty more to take their place. People get cut all the time in this production. It’s not only the jokes that die onstage. There are trap doors and not everyone gets the heads up.

The Stage Manager is in charge. In agreement with the Director. No, I don’t know who they are either. But I know that they’re there. And I know that all they want is for you to sit back – and enjoy the show.

Just watch out for the forced Audience Participation. At the Finale.

Scary Clown Faces

Thanks to Circe Denyer for releasing her image Halloween Whispering Clowns into the Public Domain.

What’s Wrong with the Resistance?

I’ve just left a chat group on Telegram because I couldn’t stand it any longer. Like many, I don’t have much free time — and an unrelenting flood of repetitious, unevidenced, incoherent and hysterical posts about “the Cabal” does nothing to inform and persuade people to resist the developing technocracy and everything to reassure them that its resisters are all crazy.

Left-leaning friends (current and former) may be relieved to hear this. Typically unable to distinguish between pointing out the historical roots of Big Pharma in poison gas manufacturers, such as I.G. Farben, and denial of the Shoah, they’re unable to reason clearly because they confuse categories.

For example: if I say it’s a Tuesday and the calendar says it’s a Tuesday and Adolf Hilter says it’s Dienstag, does that make me (or the calendar) a Nazi?

A real example: Alison McDowell, excellent on the links and repercussions of the 4th Industrial Revolution, blocked me on Twitter when I pointed out her (obvious) ignorance of the Catholic Church. Among other instances was her oohing and ahhhing over a post about “Masonic crosses” which even the original poster eventually conceded were simply a variety of crosses illustrated in a Masonic book. (Still not got it? The category “Masonic” applied to the book, it could not be assumed to apply to every illustration of traditional Christianity referenced in those pages. Especially as Masonry isn’t Christian.)

In fairness, Alison is quite candid about the fact that she couldn’t tell a Maltese Cross from The Maltese Falcon. She just didn’t like me pointing it out. I point things out. It’s why I lose friends. And save lives. Also, her Da Vinci Code style amateur exploits in the wonderland of Roman Catholicism (as I say, she’s amazing on Geo-Political Economics) are small potatoes compared to the Frito-Lay-factory-short-of-a-fish-supper crazy going on online right now about “the Cabal”.

Let me try to summarise (no, I haven’t read it up in depth and I don’t intend to):

The Cabal is a sinister leftist right wing communist elitist Black Jewish Catholic Alien reptilian, em, cabal, of gay trans paedophile vampire vegans funded, em, by themselves, who came from Outer Space to this Flat Earth and tried to convince us it was spherical by founding The Catholic Church and Black Judaism to really worship Satan, who is, em, them, by means of The Pyramids, The Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. Oh, and, y’know, religion, Netflix, NASA, and stuff. Antarctica is a Circular Ice Wall beyond which (it is known because no-one can get there) there is All Sorts of Alien Tech. Like they can blow this shit right up! They govern us by means of Mind Control and drink kids’ blood. The Moon Landings were faked cos there’s no Outer Space. We’re not gonna believe what those Aliens say!

Source? All over the Internet. Apparent source? Every Tom, Dick and Harriet with a 2-dimensional account with 15 identical followers that opened sometime in 2020/21. And all those influenced by them, including some vulnerable people with shaky mental health.

There are also celebrity influencers and though David Icke of course springs to mind, he appears to be speaking (of the struggle between the limbic and mammalian brains and the frontal cortex) metaphorically and may be simply a rather dramatic New Ager who believes in Universal Consciousness and Higher Things. He also, very clearly and very sanely, preaches specific resistance to the ongoing violations of human rights and civil liberties.

My concern is both with the ones who don’t (such as trust-the-plan Simon Parkes) and the ones who urge people to take part in illegal actions that are as unlikely to succeed as they are likely to alienate the general public.

Because it is no secret (they state it openly) that intelligence services are targeting resistance groups in person and online. What better way to derail the train bound for freedom than to send its drivers conflicting signals, place as many obstacles on the track as possible and, easiest of all, convince the passengers not to get onboard but to stay, patiently, listening for further announcements in the waiting room…in the deferential and ever-deferred hope of a celebrity saviour.

If religious education were actually taught in schools and church history in universities (based on historical fact rather than endless emoting and opining over present-day imaginary identities) then more people might know that the blood-drinking hypothesis was a 1st C. Roman imperial slur against the newly-formed Christian community and one that was diverted from their spiritual descendants to be used against Jews in most centuries since, including this one.

I do not deny the depravity of some human beings but the lesson of the Holocaust is not that Germans are especially sadistic but that good people can be gradually coerced into evil fairly easily, until it becomes banal.

That’s what we need to resist. Anti-Semitism, recklessness, agents provocateurs, clashes of celebrity egos, ignorance and stupidity will only get in the way of the diffusion of sane, sympathetic, balanced and well-researched investigations such as that of Cory Morningstar on The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. (Cory doesn’t deny the ecological problems of the planet but simply shows how big businesses is exploiting them, and young activists, in order to open new markets.) Or basically anything written by the amazing, and always responsible independent journalist Whitney Webb. (Whitney is always careful to state exactly what she can evidence and her analysis of political blackmail and international information technology is based on painstaking research.)

For resistance to be effective, the messages broadcast need to be sane, focussed and supportive of human rights and civil liberties. That means the administrator “owners” of groups and channels need to reduce repetition, weed out the crazies and ban prejudice. Otherwise all they will do is encourage either inaction or unsympathetic and possibly life-threatening confrontation with the authorities and the general public. What we need to be doing is appealing to hearts and minds. Warmly and wisely.

Thanks to Circe Denyer for releasing her image Halloween Whispering Clowns into the Public Domain.

Death and the Dursleys

I’m rereading and rewatching the Harry Potter series of books and films, in German, and now that the first book has finally turned up (6 weeks late and reordered after a protracted argument with Brightnerd) I can do that in sequence.

Life isn’t too short to learn German. I’m the proof that anyone can learn another language, provided they learn in a way that suits them. I was crap at Spanish at school, so I thought, and so the teacher thought, but when I stopped bamboozling myself with boring verb tables and unconnected vocabulary lists, I learned that I’ve got a good ear. My Spanish got so good I was interpreting simultaneously for politicians and international NGO speakers at the conferences of the European & Mediterranean Social Forum.

I’ve known and loved that series ever since I read the first book to me wee nephew (who now towers above me). That familiarity and emotional connection makes it easier for me to understand it in other languages. We find meaning in things because our brains recognise patterns. It’s an evolutionary shortcut and it often helps. Not always. (I’ll come back to that.)

From the first words of book one, “HP and the Philosopher’s Stone” (the US “Sorcerer’s Stone” version presumes that kids can’t look up alchemical terms), the Dursleys are presented as archetypical White English suburban middle-class: snobbish, anxious, boring and living in the “Home Counties”. Mr D literally bores for a living (he runs a company that makes drills) and Mrs D spends her time fretting about their home and garden filled with status anxiety. Dudley D, even as a baby, is a brat.

The Dursleys hate anything they can’t control. Their pet hate, and secret terror, is magic. The first unforgivable social faux pas committed by Mrs D’s sister (Harry’s mum) is to have been associated with something so unfettered and unpredictable. The second is to have died.

This last needs some explanation. Surely everyone dies! How on earth could a whole demographic be against it? How illogical! Not really. There are 9 distinct sub-classes in the White English social system but let’s just focus on the three major groups: upper, middle & lower.

Firstly, why am I mentioning ethnicity? Because the dismissal of death is a peculiarly White middle-class mindset (or mental illness) as other ethnicities have not bleached it out of the fabric of their culture so scrupulously.

As for class, the upper echelons are obsessed with death. Because death means death duties and inheritance of estates and titles. At the other end of the ladder there is a pragmatic (and often religious) acceptance that everything, including life, is limited.

Not so for the middle-class for whom everything is about control. Lacking the grand narratives of those they are sandwiched between, there is simply no tidy place for human death (apart from that of the disabled, the very old, the other classes, and foreigners) and animal death is either ignored or arranged as discreetly as possible.

The White English middle class may attend church and nod along brightly to rationalist sermonising but basically it’s a social club (with just a smidgeon of welfare) and it’s not considered good form to either believe in that kind of thing or act as if one does.

In that class, death hasn’t really been in fashion since the First World War. Caught between the let’s-rub-along-together-for-tomorrow-we-die of the plebeian squaddies and the aloof incompetence of the patrician officers, the Second World War only made things worse. Apart from in prison camps. That class make very good collaborators as they easily make the self-advantageous switch from the mercantile to the mercenary – and they do love order.

AIDS was a huge crisis in middle England because death of the young became so public. And so shameful. The aristocracy has never cared who gets off with who, as long as the line of inheritance is secure, and the working class (despite stereotypes) has a culture of merciful martyrdom whereby social sinners earn their forgiveness by suffering.

The (luncheon) meat in the sandwich has neither attitude. Not ostentatiously thriving and boosting the social capital of ones progeny is a capital sin in that class. Succumbing to a disease that targets those who ignore Government Health Warnings that appear with regularity on BBC 1 is especially reprehensible. The only salvation was for affected families and affected celebrities to throw themselves into charity work. This then became a channel, if not of peace (to misquote Maggie Thatcher misquoting St Francis of Assisi), then at least of relief of the anxiety over navigating the twin perils of contagion of such social sloppiness and not being seen to be taking action.

For a while, once it was clear that White, English middle class heterosexuals would probably not be at risk from what was still considered the property (and the problem) of those gays, it was quite fashionable to champion one, or even two. Provided they could be relied on to show due gratitude for the magnanimous gesture of anyone in that class giving a damn about anyone else.

Fast forward to last year when, after several attempts, the greater portion of the population of the globe was panicked into imagining that various loosely related flu symptoms, an ever-changing (but always racist) origin story and completely arbitrary domestic surveillance, restriction of movement, speech and association, all made one coherent whole, it became apparent that, this time, death was not going to be restricted to Them. Death was coming for Us.

Because the first thing that JK Rowling tells us about the Dursleys is that they consider themselves normal. In fact, the Dursleys and their ilk consider themselves normative. There is simply no consideration that they could be “the other”. And as premature death (with above-noted exceptions) is only supposed to happen to others, when it happens to the White English middle-class, their very identity is under threat.

This is the reason why that class is so onboard with the government restrictions and surveillance. They’re angry. This should not be happening. To them. The class that glories in bureaucracy (the one above works through privilege and the one below through people) keeps to the rules simply because they’re there. Conformity and obedience mark them off from those above and below who break rules for very different reasons (transcending regulations loftily and slipping under them). Determinedly positivist, though most wouldn’t know how to explain that, they have no other ethical code.

At the moment, before the transhumanist (eugenicist) agenda behind this farce becomes abundantly clear, we’re in Book/ Film 5. The wilfully ignorant mismanaging old Fudges and the sadistic controlling social engineer in fluffy pink Umbridges are in charge. With the quick quotes quill of the mainstream and social media (now identical) feeding constant drivel to the masses. Plausible deniability are the watchwords: if the forces of fascism (if you think that’s hyperbole, you haven’t been paying attention) don’t succeed, they were only following orders; if they do, they’re well-placed for promotion.

By Film 6 (perhaps also in the book but I haven’t reread that far) Fudge has resigned and Umbridge stands beside the new Minister for Magic, openly supporting the new regime.

We haven’t got that far yet. But if the White English middle class, and their American, Canadian and Australian diaspora, don’t stop assuaging their status anxiety by this angry conformist denial of death, that’s exactly where we’re going to end up.

As the Tale of the Three Brothers illustrates graphically, death comes to all: Us as well as Them.

Death with scythe lithograph

Thanks to Piotr Siedlecki who has released his image Death With Scythe into the Public Domain.