Toiling away on my PhD (and indeed simply toiling) does not leave much time for blogging. One thing I am going to do therefore, to keep this blog functionning and to reward regular visitors interest, is try to post something each Sunday, even if it is merely an overview of recent articles or books which have inspired, interested or enraged me.
The Sunday Summary will therefore appear on this blog each Sunday - all being well - and I shall do something similar, but seperate, on the 9/11 Cultwatch blog.
A Strange Kind of Glory? The Life and Death of Duncan Robertson
Last weekend the UK's leading parapolitical magazine, Notes From the Borderland revealed that the recently deceased fascist Duncan Robertson had in fact been a mole working for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.
In recent years the Guardian newspaper, and Paul Lewis in particular have run detailed examinations of the Metropolitan Police's Special Demonstration Squad, and its long term infiltration of green, animal rights, anti-racist and far left organisations. What seems to be missing is any indication of similar operations inside Islamist groups, past infiltrations of Irish organisations in England, or those of the far-right. They have, presumably, happened.
As Larry O'Hara has been suggesting for some years, one source of such information for the state within the far-right is the ostensibly anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, whose infiltrators in fascist groups - Ray Hill, Tim Hepple, Matthew Collins and Darren Wells all seem to have supplied information to the police and/or security services. In the cases of Hill and Hepple, their work also involved crossing from the right into left and green organisations. O'Hara's preliminary analysis of Duncan Robertson, and the questions he raises about his death are therefore important, and worthy of further reading. It should be noted that Searchlight themselves have now followed NFB in reporting on Robertson's work, describing him as a valued intelligence officer. There is plenty more to come on this story.
Tax and Debt Relief in Pakistan
One person who is currently in the market for a new job is Ali Arshad Hakeem, who for a little while was the man responsible for collecting income tax in Pakistan. As the always interesting Rob Crilley points out, some 0.75% of Pakistanis pay income tax, something Mr Hakeem was beginning to address, until he was forced out of his job, for it seems being a little bit too efficient.
Whilst the anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist movements have been adept at pointing out the failure of Western multi-nationals to pay tax and conduct themselves ethically in the developing world, they have been a little less keen to discuss the failure of the elite in these countries to do much the same. Instead the shortfall has all to often been met by you and me - UK taxpayers have given Pakistan £1.4 billion over the past five years. And yes, Pakistan is a nuclear power, and its intelligence agency sponsors terrorism in Kashmir, India and Afghanistan. Run that Foreign Office opposition to Iran by me again?
On Twitter last week I had an interesting exchange with the Jubilee Debt Campaign, who along with Islamic Relief, are campaigning for the cancellation of the debt Pakistan owes to the International Monetary Fund. My argument was that after three years of Pakistan's elite paying tax, the West could then perhaps look at the issue of cancelling Pakistan's debts. The Jubilee Debt Campaign did not seem that keen on my proposal, presumably because such organisations are predicated on making moral arguments either to the UK taxpayer or to Western institutions, rather than asking serious questions of people in the developing world. Such thinking all seems a little bit too colonial for my liking.....
Scotland, UKIP, Galloway and the Nats
On 16 May the UKIP leader Nigel Farage was 'no-platformed' in Edinburgh, by activists from the section of the revolutionary left that, north of the border, overlaps with Scottish nationalism. I rather admire Farage, and found it curious to see activists accusing him of being racist - he certainly seemed happy to shake hands with my wife and children when we went to see him during his visit to Northamptonshire a couple of months ago. The 'independence in Europe' argument of Scottish nationalists is a curious one: what price 'independence' if a legislative body in an independent Scotland is beneath that of Brussels. One wonders if it was the man or his message the Nationalists had a problem with?
Of all the nationalisms in the British Isles, Scottish nationalism is perhaps the most absurd. The Scots are not an oppressed people - every economic analysis suggests that the rest of Britain puts in more economically to Scotland than it takes out - imperialism of course requires the exact opposite. Nor are the Scots oppressed politically. Devolution was delivered to Scotland, despite the detail that could have sunk it - Tam Dalyell's West Lothian question - not being addressed in the new political set up - Scottish politicians may still comment on matters in England, at Westminster, in a way which English MPs cannot about Scotland.
More generally, Scottish politicians can and do move to England and enjoy high level political careers that would be impossible to imagine for Englishmen and women moving north - think of Scots like Tony Blair, George Galloway, Jim Fitzpatrick or Michael Gove all representing English constituencies in recent years. How many could make the opposite journey? Nor are Scots under represented in British politics - Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, Malcolm Rifkind, Norman Lamont and John Reid are just five who held the highest offices. There will continue to be many more.
The reception afforded to Farage, and the cries of 'get back to England' provoked exiled Scot George Galloway to put pen to paper. Galloway's current wife, Gayatari, runs the Red Molucca blog with him, and his article 'Scotland, Farage and Me' is a controlled demolition of Scottish seperatism. I commend it to you.
When I was interviewed by Galloway in 2011 to discuss 9/11 conspiracy theories, it became clear to me just how much of a personal nuisance he had found 9/11 'truth' activists, who never missed an opportunity to push to him, in person, by phone-in or email, their theories. These activists genuinely expected him to take their views on board and to readily accept them, perhaps seeing GG as 'one of them' because of his declared opposition to the old neo-Conservative project. When he did not buy what they had on sale, some activists cut up nasty, declaring him to be a stooge of the Neo-Cons. A rather similar process seems to be underway with the Scottish left nationalists, who realising George Galloway does not buy their vision of independence, are cutting up rough, and giving him dogs abuse on Twitter. In Galloway, the cyber-Nats know they have a formidable opponent.
That's it for this this week. Do check back to this blog, but especially on Sunday's, when I will try and do something similar each week. As ever - your comments are welcome.