Friday, August 28, 2009


The sun sets at last on the Kennedy dynasty; the most charismatic political family in American history now has only one old and frail surviving member and she was never involved in politics. The 4 brothers; Joe, JFK, Bobby and Teddy are now history and the only one that we don’t know much about was Joe the eldest who died in a war time air crash fighting against Hitler; the Nazi leader of course enjoyed the support of the father of the family old Joe senior, a man who enjoyed the reputation of never seeing a belt without hitting below it. A memorable reference is made to him by Jack Nicholson playing legendary Teamsters Union Boss Jimmy Hoffa who had many run ins with Bobby, he snarled as only Nicholson can and said of Bobby “I aint gonna be F****d around by the son of a goddam rum runner” the old crook was certainly that and much much more.

Young Joe’s early death saved him from the relentless scrutiny which his brothers were subjected to by the media of the world; a scrutiny which the Kennedy wealth and PR machine was obliged to combat 24/7/365 because these 3 guys were as ruthless and remorseless as they come and all 3 lived certainly their early lives in a way which makes our Prince Harry look like a choirboy. When the young senator JFK and his glamorous wife Jackie moved to a rich area called Virginia Washington DC he bought a big house where he was asked to sign an agreement that he would not sell the house on to a black person, he did so without demur. He showed ruthlessness in political dealings which took him over all the corpses all the way to the White House where he eventually showed signs of being a great president; he learned a lot from dealing with Castro and Kruschev, he never thanked them though.

Bobby was probably the cleverest and most vicious of all four; as a young prosecutor he showed great enthusiasm for red baiting and destroying people’s lives under the tender guidance of one Senator Joe McCarthy while both working for the un American Activities gentlemen’s club; a bigger bunch of underhand bastards never walked the earth. How remarkable therefore that he matured into a liberal reformer and champion of good causes his presidency might have been a force for good had he not shared his brother’s fate at the hands of an assassin. An anecdote from his youth helps to explain his merciless younger personality and indeed the others; the young Bobby rushed home from school to joyfully tell his dad that he had won second prize in a writing competition entered by thousands of Boston school children; old Joe’s response was devastating “you mean you lost” was the old brute’s reply.

Had Teddy been born into a normal family he would have been disowned by the time he was out of his teens, he was a complete waster as we say here and his wild and wicked ways culminated in the death of a young secretary as he crashed his car while drunk, the girl drowned and he ran off, the end of her life and his chances of ever getting to the White House. He still managed even after such a disgrace to resurrect his career and become a legendary liberal senator, oh, and he avoided jail as well.

As we grew up my brothers and I regarded the Kennedy’s as secular saints because of their Irish catholic backgrounds and their apparent left wing leanings; it was painful to learn as we became more aware that they had a whole store room of cupboards full of skeletons. They managed to display the best and worst of American society, still I would love to see the Americans reward Teddy Kennedy by accepting what he described as the great cause of his life, proper health care for all Americans from the rich who have the best to the poor who have none, that would be a life worth celebrating.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Things could hardly be more serious; international tension over the Megrahi affair has everyone worried ; newspaper headlines around the world are dominated by it and diplomatic relations between Libya and Britain have sunk to an unprecedented level.

Can it get worse? well: now a proposed visit to Libya by Prince Andrew; Duke of York is under threat of being called off; the world watches with bated breath; what can possibly happen next I hear you call, let's face it if the wrath of the Duke of York does not force Gadaffi in to line nothing will, "we're aw doomed"

Friday, August 21, 2009


The squalid circus is over; Mr. Megrahi is with his family and loved ones who will comfort him as he approaches death; and Kenny MacAskill and Salmond (the spiv) are smugly contented that they wrung every ounce of publicity that they could from the whole business; at times like this you sometimes see people at their best or at their worst; on this occasion we got the latter. The decision was the right one but anyone who thinks that it was as a result of the compassion shown by MacAskill and (the spiv) Salmond is either deluding themselves or is a knuckle dragging nationalist.

I make the above points because the whole grubby charade was not necessary; IMO the Scottish Govt. are guilty of either criminal incompetence or devious scheming and manipulation to profit themselves. They have known for some time that this man was seriously ill and he was diagnosed as terminally ill a year ago; it’s not rocket science even for someone like MacAskill. A year ago this high profile prisoner had 20 years to serve and the authorities were told he has a year to live; that is when this whole issue should have been sorted out and everything prepared for when his death was imminent; Macaskill’s failure to do this is either gross neglect or sinister political manoeuvring, is Salmond (the spiv) capable of such a thing? make up your own minds; I’m sure you know my answer.

Another high profile prisoner emerged in all of this when none other than President Obama made a wretched appearance to say that he had contacted the Scottish Govt. to ask that the prisoner die in jail he described the decision to release him as a mistake; he was being mendacious as was Hillary Clinton; as was President Clinton years ago when he ordered the execution of a man with a mental age of 12 years to show his toughness to the American people. All 3 are prisoners of the American right wing media and all 3 are afraid to tell the truth, I believe that all 3 would privately agree with Megrahi’s release but the febrile nature of American politics prevents them.

The reactions of the American media and the relatives of the victims was completely predictable; these people would gladly join the firing squad; pull the electric chair switch; administer the fatal drug or assist the hangman to tighten his noose on the Libyan bomber; all 4 of which incidentally can be done in America today. They are bereft and they live in a country where revenge is a big deal; in some societies God represents mercy in theirs he represents wrath.

Not only did MacAskill manipulate the situation to blame Westminster; wasn’t that a shock? but he put on a counterfeit exhibition of pious insincerity which was cringe worthy. He said that “humanity is the defining characteristic of the Scottish people” absolute guff; humanity is world wide with no-one having a monopoly; he also said it was “viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people” more guff, he also made a rather grotesque reference to God by saying that Megrahi would answer to “a higher power” a wholly predictable exhibition in SNP deceit, showing us yet again that there are no depths to which they will not sink.

One of the best comments I’ve heard on this was from an article from a paper which I can’t remember the name of and it was quite simple it said; “if MacAskill had genuine confidence in his actions he would not have found it necessary to go on for 20 minutes explaining it” why not just say “there is provision in Scots Law to release a prisoner on compassionate grounds if the prisoner is terminally ill and likely to die within 3 months and that is what I am going to do” as I’ve said repeatedly the whole bogus farce was not necessary, once again they bring shame on all of us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Once again we see the truth of the above quote as America displays its stupid gullible side to the world over health reforms; the stories being peddled and the down right lies being told by information providers in America about our NHS could only be put about by those who have nothing but contempt for the American people. If you watch American TV you can only conclude that in many cases the right wing reactionary news companies like Fox know their target audience very well as we watch in amazement while crowds of baying fools, parade with signs depicting President Obama as Hitler and placards which say that his plan to provide health care for everyone including the poor is ‘evil’ and is the ‘road to communism’ It beggars belief that any sane person would give such garbage the time of day but; in the USA it is being gobbled up by millions of the idiots. Perhaps we should remember that they elected Ford, Reagan and G.W.Bush as well as supporting the candidacy of Sarah Palin for Vice President . She has described the proposed reforms as introducing “Obama Death Panels” to decide who should live or die. She wasn’t an elaborate joke; had McCain won the election she would have been a heartbeat away from the big job with access to the nuclear codes. Millions of Americans voted for her while the world watched with its collective jaw on the ground so; perhaps we shouldn’t be so amazed at the behaviour of the ‘herd’ when the vested interests use their money to con the public.

Those of you who don’t pay much attention to news from America might find some of the following hard to believe but it’s what is being put out by the right wing propagandists financed by; private hospitals, Insurance companies and drug companies. They say the following :-
-- In the UK if the cost of treatment goes over £14,000 you are on your own – over 60’s do not get heart operations – had the great physicist Steven Hawking not been famous he would not have received treatment -- Senator Ted Kennedy would not have been treated for his brain tumour if he had lived in Britain because the NHS would not regard someone aged 77 as worth treating – The UK practices compulsory euthanasia – Heart treatment is not available in the UK if you are over 59 – this underhand attack on the NHS and a whole lot more is being fed to the American public by the super rich. Among all this filth and lies the prize winner has to be the odious Fox News; I watched the other night as their presenters put forward the proposition that the British NHS is a well known recruiting ground and hiding place for Muslim Terrorists based on the Glasgow Airport incident, that is how low they are prepared to stoop, not for the first time the American loony right are dragging the name of America through the mud.

This is the horrible uncaring and brutal side of America where tens of thousands of houses are lost and bankruptcies are caused by too little health insurance; the loudest critics of our system are fond of shouting that America has the best health care in the world and in one sense they are right but they lie by omission when they say this. The truth which they will not admit is that they have the best health care in the world “for those who can afford it” and that excludes the 47M with no insurance and the estimated 25M with inadequate insurance; they can go hang; shucks it’s the American way and it’s a hideous philosophy, please god we never copy them and that the “poor huddled masses” will win this one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MacAskill & Alex (the spiv) The Merciless SNP Jailers.

The SNP can always be relied on to periodically show their incompetence and arrogance; in the case of the Libyan Abdelbaset al Megrahi they are now demonstrating a callousness and opportunism which is nauseating. If as the medical experts tell us he has been terminally ill for 2 years and his deterioration has been closely monitored all this time then there can be no reason for the sickening game of cat and mouse being played out by Kenny MacAskall Alex (the spiv) Salmond and the SNP Government.

At the time of his diagnosis he still had approx. 20 years to serve yet here we are 2 years on apparently still unable to take action when he is nearing death; quite frankly Alex (the spiv) this is a sick cynical stunt too far; we have watched over the years as you shamelessly stitched yourself to the Dunblane massacre; the drowned fishermen; the dead Scottish soldiers and their families. Even stitching yourself to an annual charitable donation from your other unearned wage using your late mother’s name, it would appear that no one is sacred to you are they? Or maybe people in your constituency didn’t make the link between you and the name Salmond on the charity, as Billy Connolly once said about another charitable fellow; " he gave money away as quietly as a waiter falling down stairs with a large tray of drinks" What’s the point of donating to charity if people don’t know you are doing it right?

We have had more than enough time to work out what should happen to Mr. Megrahi without this grubby 3 ring circus designed to keep you; MacAskill and the SNP in the world news. There is no excuse for your actions and you are bringing shame on all of us. The question of Megrahi’s guilt or innocence is no longer an issue here; precedent has it that a prisoner who is terminally ill and has in the opinion of doctors less than 3 months to live should be released on compassionate grounds, Megrahi ticks all the boxes; this should have been prepared long ago; he should have been released by now, you have no excuse for perpetuating this cruel charade; no matter how much Salmond (the spiv) MacAskill and the SNP enjoy the feeling of importance which comes with world wide publicity, the stain on their characters and on the character of Scotland will haunt everyone of us for a long long time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I recently posted on how I felt about Americans and how I was often misunderstood when I spoke about them; my point was that I regarded America as a beacon of hope and their people as having great potential for progress; well they are testing my patience big time again. President Obama was recently elected by Americans and one of the reasons for this was his promise to reform health care in such a way that the 47 Million Americans without health insurance would be included. To most of us here in the UK this seems a ‘no brainer’ should all citizens have access to health care when needed without having to pay? It seems like a simple civilised way for any society to behave but; not in America it would seem. All hell has broken loose with right wing republican groups protesting against the reforms, the protests are angry, violent and; sinisterly they are clearly orchestrated.

Suddenly and without any apparent preparation large mobile groups of foaming Republicans are everywhere accusing Obama and the Democrats of being Nazis and leading the country to communism; you might conclude rightly that Americans are not big on history. They stress that this will lead to appalling standards in health care and atrociously bad practice, the evidence for this outrageous assertion is; believe it or not provided according to them by the British NHS.

If you look at American TV news and current affairs you will witness people making the most astonishing accusations about our NHS; so completely erroneous and false that you could be forgiven for thinking that Monty Python had reformed but; even their bizarre sense of humour would not fit the bill. The big problem which seems implausible to us and the thing that Obama has to counter is that Americans in their millions buy this garbage; they elected Ford, Reagan and GW Bush right? 65% of 18 to 24 year olds can’t find Britain on a map right? 70 % looking at a photo of Margaret Thatcher a couple of years ago confidently identified her as the queen right?

Sarah Palin who is incredibly enough still listened to by Republicans said “ America is not the kind of place where my elderly parents or my Down’s syndrome child will have to stand in front of Obama’s death panel to be judged worthy or unworthy of health care” nice eh? They have also ran TV adverts claiming that Britain’s NHS doesn’t do heart ops. on over 60’s and dentists advise the elderly to repair their dentures with super glue, they claim that stroke victim Senator Edward Kennedy 77 would not get treatment if he lived in the UK, this and a whole lot more, go find.

It is common knowledge that the money for these scurrilous campaigns is coming from vested interests in health care, that is private hospitals and doctors, drug companies and health insurance companies. This is the deeply ugly face of America which is truly despicable; providing health care for Americans who are unable to afford it is branded as communism so that those who are milking the system can continue to do so; these people are in my opinion ‘Un American’ this is the America that I rage against. When opinion polls are showing 62% still in favour of Obama’s health reforms why are American TV screens and news papers full of the anti reform protestors? money that’s why; nothing to do with what’s best for Americans it’s what’s best for share prices.

I don’t think I’m in any way unique when I say that our NHS is one of Britain’s greatest achievements, an example to the world of how a civilised country should provide for it’s citizens; all of them that is not just those with money, I would urge everyone to follow what is going on and the things that are being said about our NHS by the American money grabbers.
I hope that we will always have a system where we are treated by a service which is there because it wants to help us rather than one which wants to make as much money out of us as it can, I hope that the good American people; that 62% I mentioned earlier will prevail.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Jack Straw the ex Home Secretary is a self serving coward, and simply one of a long line of failures to hold that office, all of whom suffered a failure of nerve and resorted to self preservation when the chips were down. When high profile and controversial cases are presented to the home / Justice secretary his position and the position of far too many of his predecessors is that he and they knew what the right and decent thing to do was/is. That consideration however comes second to what will public opinion be? Or put another way ‘how will it play with Rupert Murdoch’ that is what concerns Straw and that is what makes him unfit for office.

‘Janus faced Jack’ has ‘previous’ his ambition first came to my attention when he very publicly reported his own son to the police for smoking cannabis. Most parents would have dished out a rollicking and a lecture but Jack saw an opportunity to curry favour with the reactionary press. Had this been a genuine matter of conscience he could have done this with no publicity but it was of course an opportunity to portray himself as an honest; tough but fair politician, so somehow the press found out about it; quite devious and disturbing actually. Not unlike ex President Clinton interrupting his campaign to fly back to Kansas surrounded by massive publicity to sign a death warrant for a man with a mental age of 12 nobody was going to be allowed to call Clinton soft on crime right?

Jack then progressed upward and later he set free the beast Pinochet; not on compassionate grounds as he claimed but because he feared the war criminal Thatcher’s clout with the gutter press and on he sailed. Just recently Ronnie Biggs was judged by him too dangerous to release; again his fear of Rupert. But then he realised that the man he described as too dangerous was indeed about to die in prison and that would make his description of him look stupid and false so he’s now out , right decision wrong reason, more deceit from Jack.

Abdelbaset Mohmed al Megrahi now haunts Straw; the Libyan remains in prison despite being terminally ill; is he a danger to Britain? The question is rhetorical, a new born child would be more of a danger. The question now for Straw is not what is the right thing to do, the decent compassionate thing to do; it’s what is the best solution for Jack Straw. Rupert and his press army are salivating, the reactionary followers of Rupert’s papers are waiting to pounce. He knows what the right thing to do is, so would all the other Home Secretaries; they also knew what was the right thing to do in the Myra Hindley case but not one of them had the courage to release her and she died in jail. Just like tough guy Clinton (another President like Bush who managed to dodge Vietnam) who was not prepared to risk damaging his career by being labelled soft on crime. He can display what would be in my opinion courage and compassion worthy of his office and release him or; he can play the tough guy for the sake of the mob being orchestrated by Rupert, what do you think? As I’ve said before he’s got form and he’s a coward, my money’s on the latter.

In a similar way the proposals from the Scottish Govt. to reduce prison sentences and increase community punishments is the right one; it’s another right decision for the wrong reason. McCaskill and the SNP couldn’t care less about prison reform they simply want to save money but the opposition main parties are wrong to oppose it; I don’t know anyone in the Labour Party for instance who does not support an increase in community service and a reduction in prison sentences, that’s why their protestations are feeble sounding. Proper prison reform takes courage and long term planning; we simply haven’t yet found a Home Secretary with the bravery to do it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Real Politics kicked in for me in the active sense in the sixties; Civil rights, Apartheid; CND and of course Vietnam. Politics always played a part in the lives of me and my brothers and our friends but it was usually talk and opinion and debate to the background of protest song and folk music. When you left school and went to work you joined the union and you started to learn about active politics. We were going to change the world and the enemy was America, Marches, Protests and Boycotts etc. were constantly on our minds and the villain always seemed to be the biggest; richest capitalist country in history the USA. "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive," wrote Wordsworth about the French Revolution; and that’s how that generation felt, America and capitalism needed tobering and we were just the kids to do it; it was a long time ago right.

The antagonism to America still exists but it seems to be less ferocious, certainly in terms of the American people and that goes for me also, I still see America as the cause of most of the worlds problems but it is not fair to blame individual Americans who are just the same as us, some good some bad. Some people who read this site will be surprised at this because I am usually regarded as against all things American and I admit that I can be very antagonistic toward them, I have always struggled to explain the difference between my feelings for their people and my hostility to the elite corporate crooks who dominate their society.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself sitting on the deck of the MV Emerald in the harbour of a Greek Island called Patmos; the weather was glorious the beer was cold and I was in heaven because my wife had found a newspaper called The Athens News which was in English. I was having withdrawal symptoms after a week without a newspaper; what has this got to do with this article? I hear you ask, well here is an excerpt from the paper, A great man was being honoured for his contribution to liberty and human rights at Deree College of the American College of Greece, he said the following.

“I thank you warmly; firstly for your efforts in serving the students in their educational, learning and cultural needs in Greece; secondly you represent a great people; the American people have given new momentum to the patriotic, political, scientific and cultural elements that comprise civilisation internationally; to such an extent that freshness and renewed vigour has been lent to humanity’s struggle for prosperity; education and human rights. I know that I am often considered anti American, in reality it is the opposite, my admiration for this country and it’s people is so great that I suffer and protest every time that someone or some group of people acts in such a way that I consider to be anti American . Because I consider America to mean freedom; progress, good intentions, peace, educational solidarity, the cultivation of science and culture”

The fact that the speaker was also a hero of my youth and a great socialist was also a help, he put my feelings about America far better than I ever could, I agree with the sentiments expressed by him, he is Mikis Theodorakis the great Greek musician, composer and freedom warrior, a man who faced the Greek Colonels and went to prison and was expelled from his country, socialism never had a greater fighter and he declares his love for the USA. Most people of my generation will remember one of the all time great film scores for a movie called Zorba the Greek starring Anthony Quinn, the theme tune is one of the most popular tunes ever written by his pen and is impossible to ignore when it is played, everyone reacts, whether it’s by foot tapping or shoulder swaying or when the night gets late and drink has been taken as the say in Ireland; the stage/floor becomes the beach where the scene is set for lots of drunk; mainly men to display their version of “Zorba’s dance”

He is still alive and campaigning and I thank him for the music and his inspiration; not least for helping me to better understand my feelings toward my American comrades.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


It’s another one of those time marches on moments; football matches today started with a minutes applause; this was introduced to prevent fans from spoiling the traditional minutes silence by breaking the silence and behaving badly; today they needn’t have worried; from the UK to Holland; France; Spain; Germany and anywhere else the beautiful game is played and loved any mark of respect would have been scrupulously observed. Bobby Robson a man who represented everything that is good not only in sport but in life was paid tribute to after losing his 5 year battle with cancer.

I am old enough to remember him as a mid fielder with England or right half as it then was; he was the engine of a team which boasted Greaves; Haynes: Charlton etc. he scored against Scotland in the 9-3 disaster and was one of the first truly modern players. A fine talent in his own right his job was to do the donkey work for the sublime skills of those mentioned above and before them players like Tom Finney as well. He typically recalled his first international as a nervous debutant when the Great Finney spoke to him thus before kick off, “try not to be nervous son and if you get tired give the ball to me and I’ll keep it until you get your breath back” Finney by the way was not boasting as many ex international full backs would tell you.

He brought success to unfashionable Ipswich and won them trophies as well as European success; went on to manage in Europe including the mighty Barcelona as well as England. He appears to have done all this without making any lasting enemies which speaks volumes for the kind of man he was particularly in the highly competitive world of football. Behind the slightly unworldly persona and a certain awkwardness with the media lurked a football mind which was equal to any he jousted with and matched the best in the world, a true football man and a great loss.

I never met him but thought somehow I knew him and I would have trusted him implicitly and I don’t think that makes me in any way unique. listening to ex players and managers talk about him gives an indication of the affection in which he was held; one of the things which endeared him to everyone was his sense of humour and his apparent confusion which I’m sure he put on a bit like he was always doing two or three things at once and it would all come back to him eventually.

On exiting a lift at the team hotel and bumping into team Captain Bryan Robson he said “Hi Bobby” to which the team captain replied “I’m Bryan Gaffer your Bobby” while discussing world cup winning full back George Cohen’s erratic distribution he once said “ George has hit more photographers than Frank Sinatra” He used to tell the following story about himself; organising sprint training at Ipswich a lone spectator was watching as he lined up the first players with the stop watch and said “ready steady” and “go” shouted the bloke watching, Robson called them back and said to the guy “OK very funny let’s get on with it; ready steady” “go” he shouted again; some of the Players were having a laugh at this much to his annoyance, he threatened them and called into question their professionalism while trying not to join in what was now unstoppable infectious laughter; the more he threatened the worse they got and some players were now rolling about while the villain looked on unblinking. He abandoned the session and stormed back to the changing rooms where one of the players on entering the showers later than the rest told them to be quite and they all listened to the uncontrollable laughter coming from the manager’s room; the guy was identified by the police as a local worthy known to everyone in Ipswich.

Like most others I will always have fond memories of Bobby Robson, his interviews were hilarious and reminded me of an entertainer of the time whose stage name was Professor Stanley Unwin those who remember him will know what I mean.

On an even more somber note I watched an interview last night which made me want to put my foot through the TV. Some enterprising young female TV journalist had managed to track down Paul Gascoigne and persuaded him to do an interview; he was clearly the worse for drink and he was distraught at Robson’s death calling him his second dad and how he was like Robson’s son. Gascoigne was in a terrible state and sobbing uncontrollably; this was car crash television but like the modern journalist that she obviously is this vicious cow went for him unmercifully with highly charged and highly emotional questions, it was pitiful and cruel; she will go far.