Category Archives: UK

The Political Assassination of Dr. David Kelly: The Post Mortem Reports


Tony_Blair_Licence_to_Kill

Andrew Watt ended his article with the post-mortem examination being carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt on the evening the body was found 18 July 2003.

It was the penetrating smell of Lysol, lights and stainless steel in the mortuary of the John Radcliffe Infirmary Oxford, as well as the remains of a fit husband and father.   Nine police officers were in attendance, the most senior being Detective Chief Inspector Alan Young who was in charge of the investigation.  He was at the scene on Harrowdown Hill where the unidentified body was found by Louise Holmes.  In spite of his lead position in the inquiry into a missing person, and then a suspicious death, he was neither called to the Hutton Inquiry which started sitting 13 days later, nor did he submit a statement to it (1).

There is no obvious explanation for the presence of nine police officers at this very morbid autopsy given that the police had sprayed the word ‘suicide’ about earlier that day.  The size of the squad would surely have fitted better if murder was foremost in the minds of the investigating authorities.

The examination finished just after midnight.  Dr Hunt wrote up his report of his findings at the scene and of his post mortem examination the next day, the 19th of July.  He would have come to preliminary conclusions as to the cause of death and been helped in that by the early findings of Dr Allan the toxicologist.

That first report has never been published; it was not referred to by Dr Hunt when he gave evidence at the Hutton Inquiry (2)  The only report, and that is entitled Final Post Mortem Report – 25th July 2003, was published in October 2010, by the Ministry of Justice.  The only original copy of this in existence is a very poor ‘scan’.  An OCR and tidied version of this is here (3).  That the findings in the first report have never been made public was one among three  important concerns brought by this author to the General Medical Council in 2011, established by the Medical Act of 1858. (4)  This will be discussed later but suffice to say they were dismissed.

Dr Nicholas Gardiner, HM Coroner for Oxfordshire, opened an inquest as the law demands for all violent, unnatural or unexplained deaths on the 21st July.  It is surprising that transcripts of coronial hearings are seldom made.  The hearing would have been attended by Dr Hunt, the coroner’s officer and the police.  It would have been adjourned until more evidence had flowed in.  However, it can be inferred that the cause of death had been given by Dr Hunt. (5 )

Whilst this mouse of an inquest moved ever so quietly, an elephant had been trampling the undergrowth for the three previous days, starting at Harrowdown Hill.  Within three hours of the body being found, my Lord Hutton had been engaged to chair an ad hoc inquiry, by my Lord Falconer as Dr Watt has already described.

Miles Goslett recently reported in the Mail that Hutton had confirmed in a letter to Norman Baker MP that he had been asked to meet Lord Chancellor Falconer in his Lord’s office around noon of the 18th July and that he agreed to serve.(6)  At that point the subject, David Christopher Kelly CMG DSc had not been identified and no cause of death had been established.  This fixer was a friend of Blair’s when they were in chambers studying law!  He had assisted his friend the PM in bolstering the claim that there was a legal basis for a massive bombardment and invasion of Iraq rather than it being a supreme war crime as defined at Nuremberg.

It is salutary to consider that it took six and half years for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq ‘War’ to be set up in which over one million Iraqi humans died, at least two million were maimed by customary calculation and four million were made refugees in Syria and Jordan.  It took the New Labour high command, the sofa cabinet, just three hours after the death of just one man to set up Hutton with the clear intention of containing the inquiry and ensuring safe conclusions.  The instruction given to Hutton was to ‘…urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances

surrounding the death of Dr Kelly’.

‘Urgently’ can be interpreted as ‘nail this promptly’, ‘consider’ as ‘without especial accuracy’ and ‘circumstances’ as equalling the ‘media furore’ which obviously drove Kelly to an inevitable suicide.  It was not who the deceased was, and how, when and where he died which are the plain duties of a coroner.  It was the ‘circumstances’; and if anything showed the mind and the motives of this most evil cabal, that word is the nub.

The words of the two conversations (6) between Falconer in Westminster and his pal Blair on wing to Tokyo in the hour after noon that day have not, of course, been revealed.  That it was to do with an awkward corpse in a wood it is fair to assume.  After all, it was a central topic at the press conference in Tokyo where blood, or other medium, drained from Blair’s face with ‘Have you got blood on your hands Mr Blair’ from a Daily Mail journalist.  The obvious answer was that he had the blood of thousands upon thousands of people on his hands whereas the European only had one white man in mind at that moment.

Correspondence by Ms Albon of Falconer’s other office (he was also the Secretary of State in the Department of Constitutional Affairs – Mikado style) with the Oxfordshire coroner has a dictatorial ring to it.  It was recognised he had to reconvene his inquest in law but this mouse then had to be silent until the elephant had trumpeted the findings.  All this was engineered by the mechanism of Section 17a of the 1988 Coroner’s Act.  It had been applied for multiple deaths of common cause – Shipman, the Ladbroke rail crash and the sinking of the trawler Gaul.

It had at its root – efficiency in investigation, thoughtfulness towards loved ones and verdict as to the common cause.  There was no justification for invocation of Section 17a on top of this ad hoc inquiry other than to shackle the coroner and thus to subvert due process.  With a few ‘phone calls Falconer had made certain with this ad hoc ‘judicial’ inquiry that there would be no evidence under oath, no ability to subpoena  witnesses, no cross examination and no ability to call a jury.  The last thing he wanted was twelve good women/men and true.

The coup de grace for the mouse was this Section 17a.  There was a further hearing on the 14th of August at which an extraordinary death certificate was conjured up and registered four days later. The hearing was not publicised and again there was no transcript or reportage.  This officer of the Crown whose authority and duties stretched back to the 13th Century had been made into a small creature by power and cunning.   “The use of these powers to oustthe Coroner’s jurisdiction …” is how Frances Swaine of Leigh Day & Co put it an excellent memorandum to the Attorney General in October 2010. (7)  (Leigh Day were initially instructed by Dr Frost; they did a large amount of excellent work without charge.)

A letter that Mr Gardiner wrote 6th of August to Ms Albon includes “The preliminary cause of death given at the opening of the inquest no longer represents the view of the Pathologist and evidence from him would need to be given to correct and update the evidence already received.”

(5 – section ONE).  This was brushed aside in a letter from lawyers acting for Dr Hunt who were reacting to this long letter from the author to the GMC listing his concerns about Dr Hunt’s performance.(5)  Whether his opinion had been changed or not, there was an absolute professional and legal requirement on him to reveal his initial report with its conclusions and his train of thought.

This principle has been tested in the case of Dr Kenneth Shorrock who is currently suspended for unknown reason from the Home Office list of forensic pathologists which was last updated 15th May 2013.   This extract from (5 – section ONE) –  “He was charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council on eight counts I believe.  He had produced a second post-mortem report on a hospital patient which was indicative of negligence by the surgeon without any reference to his first report which had exonerated the surgeon.’

The surgeon was charged with manslaughter but was cleared.  He complained to the Home Office whose Scientific Standards Committee of the Policy Advisory Board opined that he had not ‘maintained the standards required’ and simply issued advice, its interest ending in July 2004.  The surgeon then complained to the General Medical Council.  Mr Vernon Coaker, Minister of State at the Home Office, said in a letter to the author 22 November 2008 “The GMC had been considering the complaint for, I believe, many months (prior to July 2005) and had, similarly, taken no steps to restrict Dr Shorrock’s practice.”

Of the greatest importance is the fact that he was called from Sheffield to examine the remains of Jean Charles de Menezes who had been shot with six hollow point bullets in the head as he sat in a ‘tube’ carriage 22nd July 2005.  Sheffield is 150 miles from London which has at least 8 forensic pathologists available.  The call to attend a headless Jean Charles was in spite of the fact that a charge of serious professional misconduct was hanging over him; the first hearing by the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel was only six weeks after the killing of Jean Charles.  There had been several adjournments of the GMC hearings of this charge which was first heard 5th of September 2005.  The nine page summary of the final hearing 19 February 2007 found him guilty of serious professional misconduct. (8 -HALPIN website)

This author wrote to five relevant authorities before the 22nd September 2008 inquest at the Oval, Kennington about this most improper instruction given to Dr Shorrock to take this case in the summer of 2005. There were no replies from any one of the five; this included the Public Solicitor to the inquiry and Justice4Jean.  Dr Shorrock’s evidence would be central at this inquest and would include the position and identity of each bullet prior to ballistic studies, and would thus indicate which weapon and which agent had injured Jean Charles beyond recognition IF the evidence had not been contaminated.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission does not have a reputation for being just but it did not take possession of the scene until 48 hours had elapsed.

The final hearing of five altogether took place on the 5th of February 2007.  The  GMC panel found him guilty of the charge of serious professional misconduct.  It found his actions “unprofessional, inconsistent, unreasonable, not based upon the medical and pathological information and likely to bring the medical profession into disrepute”.

Two professors of forensic pathology advised the panel:-

Vanezis – ‘He further stated that if a pathologist had reason to change his conclusions or opinion, an explanation should be given as to why he has deemed this necessary.’

Pounder – ‘Dr Shorrock had a duty to make reference to the existence of the first report. In addition, the second report should have given the reasons for his change of view.

Many had written in support of Dr Kenneth Shorrock.  He was simply issued with a reprimand.

The reader has two forensic pathologists in examine.

One was lecturing at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, Hampshire when he was called to a corpse on Harrowdown Hill which was all about a supreme war crime.

The other was called from Sheffield to a most high profile unlawful killing at Southwell Tube Station, London.

Should the second have been on gardening leave until the GMC had considered the serious charge against him?  Or did Jean Charles not deserve the best within our law?

Should the first not have fully revealed the first post mortem report he wrote up on Dr Kelly on the 19th of July?  It is certain there was a FIRST report and Lord Hutton referred to it in his introduction.  Were the opinions as to the causes of death different in important ways between the 19th of July and the FINAL Post Mortem Report of the 25th of July.  It is clear the Coroner thought so.  That this gross defect slipped through is typical of much that happened at Hutton.  His professional and legal duty was made completely clear later in the case of Dr Shorrock.

We move on next to the Hutton Inquiry and its many defects.

Notes

1. http://chilcotscheatingus.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/death-of-david-kelly-operation-mason.html

2. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090128221550/http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans33.htm

3.http://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:David_Kelly_Post-Mortem_Report

4.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Medical_Council

5.     http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/144-letter-to-ms-c-f-floyd-investigation-officer-general-medical-council

6. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362659/Revealed-How-Blair-fixer-picked-judge-David-Kelly-Inquiry-just-hours-weapons-inspectors-suicide.html

7. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337661/David-Kelly-report.html

8. http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/

via The Political Assassination of Dr. David Kelly: The Post Mortem Reports | Global Research.

The ‘Unnatural’ Death of Dr Kelly: The Forensic Pathology – The Subversion of Due Process Continues


images (2)

Andrew Watt ended his article with the post-mortem examination being carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt on the evening the body was found 18 July 2003.  It was the penetrating smell of Lysol, lights and stainless steel in the mortuary of the John Radcliffe Infirmary Oxford, as well as the remains of a fit husband and father.   Nine police officers were in attendance, the most senior being Detective Chief Inspector Alan Young who was in charge of the investigation.  He was at the scene on Harrowdown Hill where the unidentified body was found by Louise Holmes.  In spite of his lead position in the inquiry into a missing person, and then a suspicious death, he was neither called to the Hutton Inquiry which started sitting 13 days later, nor did he submit a statement to it (1).  There is no obvious explanation for the presence of nine police officers at this very morbid autopsy given that the police had sprayed the word ‘suicide’ about earlier that day.  The size of the squad would surely have fitted better if murder was foremost in the minds of the investigating authorities.

The examination finished just after midnight.  Dr Hunt wrote up his report of his findings at the scene and of his post mortem examination the next day, the 19th of July.  He would have come to preliminary conclusions as to the cause of death and been helped in that by the early findings of Dr Allan the toxicologist.  That first report has never been published; it was not referred to by Dr Hunt when he gave evidence at the Hutton Inquiry (2)  The only report, and that is entitled Final Post Mortem Report – 25th July 2003, was published in October 2010, by the Ministry of Justice.  The only original copy of this in existence is a very poor ‘scan’.  An OCR and tidied version of this is here (3).  That the findings in the first report have never been made public was one among three  important concerns brought by this author to the General Medical Council in 2011, established by the Medical Act of 1858. (4)  This will be discussed later but suffice to say they were dismissed.

Dr Nicholas Gardiner, HM Coroner for Oxfordshire, opened an inquest as the law demands for all violent, unnatural or unexplained deaths on the 21st July.  It is surprising that transcripts of coronial hearings are seldom made.  The hearing would have been attended by Dr Hunt, the coroner’s officer and the police.  It would have been adjourned until more evidence had flowed in.  However, it can be inferred that the cause of death had been given by Dr Hunt. (5 )

Whilst this mouse of an inquest moved ever so quietly, an elephant had been trampling the undergrowth for the three previous days, starting at Harrowdown Hill.  Within three hours of the body being found, my Lord Hutton had been engaged to chair an ad hoc inquiry, by my Lord Falconer as Dr Watt has already described.  Miles Goslett recently reported in the Mail that Hutton had confirmed in a letter to Norman Baker MP that he had been asked to meet Lord Chancellor Falconer in his Lord’s office around noon of the 18th July and that he agreed to serve.(6)  At that point the subject, David Christopher Kelly CMG DSc had not been identified and no cause of death had been established.  This fixer was a friend of Blair’s when they were in chambers studying law!  He had assisted his friend the PM in bolstering the claim that there was a legal basis for a massive bombardment and invasion of Iraq rather than it being a supreme war crime as defined at Nuremberg.

It is salutary to consider that it took six and half years for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq ‘War’ to be set up in which over one million Iraqi humans died, at least two million were maimed by customary calculation and four million were made refugees in Syria and Jordan.  It took the New Labour high command, the sofa cabinet, just three hours after the death of just one man to set up Hutton with the clear intention of containing the inquiry and ensuring safe conclusions.  The instruction given to Hutton was to ‘…urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly’.  ‘Urgently’ can be interpreted as ‘nail this promptly’, ‘consider’ as ‘without especial accuracy’ and ‘circumstances’ as equalling the ‘media furore’ which obviously drove Kelly to an inevitable suicide.  It was not who the deceased was, and how, when and where he died which are the plain duties of a coroner.  It was the ‘circumstances’; and if anything showed the mind and the motives of this most evil cabal, that word is the nub.

The words of the two conversations (6) between Falconer in Westminster and his pal Blair on wing to Tokyo in the hour after noon that day have not, of course, been revealed.  That it was to do with an awkward corpse in a wood it is fair to assume.  After all, it was a central topic at the press conference in Tokyo where blood, or other medium, drained from Blair’s face with ‘Have you got blood on your hands Mr Blair’ from a Daily Mail journalist.  The obvious answer was that he had the blood of thousands upon thousands of people on his hands whereas the European only had one white man in mind at that moment.

Correspondence by Ms Albon of Falconer’s other office (he was also the Secretary of State in the Department of Constitutional Affairs – Mikado style) with the Oxfordshire coroner has a dictatorial ring to it.  It was recognised he had to reconvene his inquest in law but this mouse then had to be silent until the elephant had trumpeted the findings.  All this was engineered by the mechanism of Section 17a of the 1988 Coroner’s Act.  It had been applied for multiple deaths of common cause – Shipman, the Ladbroke rail crash and the sinking of the trawler Gaul.  It had at its root – efficiency in investigation, thoughtfulness towards loved ones and verdict as to the common cause.  There was no justification for invocation of Section 17a on top of this ad hoc inquiry other than to shackle the coroner and thus to subvert due process.  With a few ‘phone calls Falconer had made certain with this ad hoc ‘judicial’ inquiry that there would be no evidence under oath, no ability to subpoena  witnesses, no cross examination and no ability to call a jury.  The last thing he wanted was twelve good women/men and true.

The coup de grace for the mouse was this Section 17a.  There was a further hearing on the 14th of August at which an extraordinary death certificate was conjured up and registered four days later. The hearing was not publicised and again there was no transcript or reportage.  This officer of the Crown whose authority and duties stretched back to the 13th Century had been made into a small creature by power and cunning.   “The use of these powers to oust the Coroner’s jurisdiction …” is how Frances Swaine of Leigh Day & Co put it an excellent memorandum to the Attorney General in October 2010. (7)  (Leigh Day were initially instructed by Dr Frost; they did a large amount of excellent work without charge.)

A letter that Mr Gardiner wrote 6th of August to Ms Albon includes “The preliminary cause of death given at the opening of the inquest no longer represents the view of the Pathologist and evidence from him would need to be given to correct and update the evidence already received.”

(5 – section ONE).  This was brushed aside in a letter from lawyers acting for Dr Hunt who were reacting to this long letter from the author to the GMC listing his concerns about Dr Hunt’s performance.(5)  Whether his opinion had been changed or not, there was an absolute professional and legal requirement on him to reveal his initial report with its conclusions and his train of thought.

This principle has been tested in the case of Dr Kenneth Shorrock who is currently suspended for unknown reason from the Home Office list of forensic pathologists which was last updated 15th May 2013.   This extract from (5 – section ONE) –  “He was charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council on eight counts I believe.  He had produced a second post-mortem report on a hospital patient which was indicative of negligence by the surgeon without any reference to his first report which had exonerated the surgeon.’

The surgeon was charged with manslaughter but was cleared.  He complained to the Home Office whose Scientific Standards Committee of the Policy Advisory Board opined that he had not ‘maintained the standards required’ and simply issued advice, its interest ending in July 2004.  The surgeon then complained to the General Medical Council.  Mr Vernon Coaker, Minister of State at the Home Office, said in a letter to the author 22 November 2008 “The GMC had been considering the complaint for, I believe, many months (prior to July 2005) and had, similarly, taken no steps to restrict Dr Shorrock’s practice.”

Of the greatest importance is the fact that he was called from Sheffield to examine the remains of Jean Charles de Menezes who had been shot with six hollow point bullets in the head as he sat in a ‘tube’ carriage 22nd July 2005.  Sheffield is 150 miles from London which has at least 8 forensic pathologists available.  The call to attend a headless Jean Charles was in spite of the fact that a charge of serious professional misconduct was hanging over him; the first hearing by the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel was only six weeks after the killing of Jean Charles.  There had been several adjournments of the GMC hearings of this charge which was first heard 5th of September 2005.  The nine page summary of the final hearing 19 February 2007 found him guilty of serious professional misconduct. (8 -HALPIN website)

This author wrote to five relevant authorities before the 22nd September 2008 inquest at the Oval, Kennington about this most improper instruction given to Dr Shorrock to take this case in the summer of 2005. There were no replies from any one of the five; this included the Public Solicitor to the inquiry and Justice4Jean.  Dr Shorrock’s evidence would be central at this inquest and would include the position and identity of each bullet prior to ballistic studies, and would thus indicate which weapon and which agent had injured Jean Charles beyond recognition IF the evidence had not been contaminated.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission does not have a reputation for being just but it did not take possession of the scene until 48 hours had elapsed.

The final hearing of five altogether took place on the 5th of February 2007.  The  GMC panel found him guilty of the charge of serious professional misconduct.  It found his actions “unprofessional, inconsistent, unreasonable, not based upon the medical and pathological information and likely to bring the medical profession into disrepute”.

Two professors of forensic pathology advised the panel:-

Vanezis – ‘He further stated that if a pathologist had reason to change his conclusions or opinion, an explanation should be given as to why he has deemed this necessary.’

Pounder – ‘ Dr Shorrock had a duty to make reference to the existence of the first report. In addition, the second report should have given the reasons for his change of view.

Many had written in support of Dr Kenneth Shorrock.  He was simply issued with a reprimand.

The reader has two forensic pathologists in examine.

One was lecturing at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, Hampshire when he was called to a corpse on Harrowdown Hill which was all about a supreme war crime.

The other was called from Sheffield to a most high profile unlawful killing at Southwell Tube Station, London.

Should the second have been on gardening leave until the GMC had considered the serious charge against him?  Or did Jean Charles not deserve the best within our law?

Should the first not have fully revealed the first post mortem report he wrote up on Dr Kelly on the 19th of July?  It is certain there was a FIRST report and Lord Hutton referred to it in his introduction.  Were the opinions as to the causes of death different in important ways between the 19th of July and the FINAL Post Mortem Report of the 25th of July.  It is clear the Coroner thought so.  That this gross defect slipped through is typical of much that happened at Hutton.  His professional and legal duty was made completely clear later in the case of Dr Shorrock.

We move on next to the Hutton Inquiry and its many defects.

Notes

http://chilcotscheatingus.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/death-of-david-kelly-operation-mason.html

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090128221550/, http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans33.htm

http://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:David_Kelly_Post-Mortem_Report

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Medical_Council

http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/144-letter-to-ms-c-f-floyd-investigation-officer-general-medical-council

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362659/Revealed-How-Blair-fixer-picked-judge-David-Kelly-Inquiry-just-hours-weapons-inspectors-suicide.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337661/David-Kelly-report.html

http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/146-s

via The ‘Unnatural’ Death of Dr Kelly: The Forensic Pathology – The Subversion of Due Process Continues | Global Research.

UK – Cameron porn block plans in disarray as 100% of homes ‘opt-in’


Everyone has said they would like access to online pornography, scuppering David Cameron’s plans to make such content available only to people who say they want it.

The Prime Minister is expected to outline plans today for online pornography to be made available only in homes that ‘opt-in’ to such content, seemingly unaware that everyone has already done so.

Internet user Simon Williams told us, “The moment I hear there was a plan for opt-in, I put my hand in the air.  Not that one, that one was busy.”

“If the government is somehow under the impression that this nation’s secret perverts will too ashamed to opt-in to get access to their porn fix, then they are sorely mistaken.”

“If I could double opt-in to get access to the really good stuff, I would.”

Porn filter opt-in

The government has spoken of its disappointment at the 100% opt-in rate, explaining they thought there might be one or two homes that chose not to.

A spokesperson explained, “The mistake we have made is underestimating how thoroughly depraved the general public is, and how tedious masturbation can actually be without access to a myriad of online filth.”

Online decency campaigner Sheila Matthews said, “This new government plan is important because it will keep the minds of our young people pure, and we need to protect the most vulnerable in society from materials that could corrupt their young minds.”

Yes, my husband has already opted in, but that’s not the point.”

via Cameron porn block plans in disarray as 100% of homes ‘opt-in’.

Who are the real criminals?


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Desperate poverty drives some people to desperate acts. The Hull Daily Mail reports that 40% more people seem to be stealing food for personal consumption in Hull than last year.

The police believe this is directly linked to the fact that more and more people cannot afford to pay for life’s essentials. As the bedroom tax, council and benefit cuts bite, more and more will be pushed towards tough decisions – “Do I pay my rent and bills or feed my family”?

The article says austerity is the cause of increased food shoplifting but sees the main victims of crime as the small businesses being robbed. In a time of austerity most small shopkeepers are squeezed by the giant corporations who can afford to undercut them and by sections of the working class who cannot afford to use their shops.

Austerity hits sections of the middle class badly – see how many independent shops have gone broke. Local butchers, bakers and greengrocers went bust and were replaced on the high street by pawnshops and payday loan sharks.

A determined working class fightback against austerity would draw in support from large layers of the middle class including small shopkeepers.

Tory media cry crocodile tears for the poor. The Hull Daily Mail’s scandalous ‘solution’ was to name and shame six local offenders caught stealing food. We do not support theft as an answer to poverty. But who are the real criminals here?

Is it the mother who has just had her benefit cut through bedroom tax who steals baked beans worth a few pence to feed her children. Or fat cat businessmen who legally rob millions of pounds a year through exploiting tax loopholes?

The real criminals are the ruling class who run a capitalist system which robs the poor to give to the rich. Join the Socialist Party and fight for a socialist society.

 

The “Unnatural Death” of Dr. David Kelly


A bearded man of avuncular appearance had started early in replying to e-mails on the 17th July 2003.  He was in the office of his pretty cottage, with the scent of roses telling of an English summer.  The little village of Southmoor was stirring. He was to send over 80 via one of five hard drives and mostly in reply.  Some would be encrypted because he was writing to friends and colleagues who like him shared secrets in the  field of “WMDs”.  And some would be human and ordinary as from a father of three daughters.  He had delighted in seeing a new born foal and arranged to take his daughter Rachel down the village that Thursday evening to see young life together.

Many of the e-mails in his inbox were from friends expressing sympathy for his having been put through the mangle of the state machine; his responses were hopeful.  In one he spoke of arrangements having been made for his return to Iraq in 8 days; he was looking forward to that.  This man from the Welsh Valleys graduated with his DSc in microbiology from Linacre College, Oxford in 1971.  He joined the Civil Service in 1984 and was acting head of the Porton Down ‘Defence’ Microbiology Division for 10 years.  These functions on Salisbury Plain widened (1)

In 1989, he was involved in investigations into the Soviet violations of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and was a key member of the inspection team visiting the former USSR  between 1991 and 1994.  He was much valued as an interrogator and sought after round the world for his deep knowledge and sharp intelligence.

He was a member of the UNSCOM team finding and disabling germ and chemical weapons in Iraq.  He would have seen the irony that almost all of these had been supplied to Iraq by western nations, including an anthrax strain that was originally cultured from a cow in Oxfordshire before WW2 (2).   He visited 37 times between 1991 and 1998, when the team was pulled out before the bombing campaign of Operation Desert Fox. (3)  He must have known that UNSCOM was also a cover for spying; the coordinates of defence systems and much else were being recorded for the later destruction of Babylon.

‘The same mission folders that UNSCOM put together to inspect specific buildings and offices in its search for concealed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) became the basis for the targeting folders that missile launchers and pilots used in December (Desert Fox).‘  William Arkin (4)

Was he aware too during those years of the terrible suffering and the death toll of children arising from ‘sanctions’ due to foul drinking water, lack of food and medicines?  This most keen observer and family man would surely have got to know.

He had the highest level of security clearance from the SIS of the US and the UK but he was not on the payroll of MI6, it is said.  He was attached to the Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat of the Ministry of Defence whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid him.  His base remained the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.  He translated ‘intelligence’ into the language of science and was required to explain scientific matters within his ambit for the media when asked.

He was an important part of the complex and clandestine mechanism which was lighting slow fuses for the demolition of Iraq and for the prime benefit of an entity just two borders away.  The hunt for “WMDs” in the land of the two rivers had a hollow ring given the three nearest countries – ‘Israel’, Pakistan and India have not had their nuclear weapons inspected by the IAEA.  As for germ weapons (5), of the 16 non-signatory states ‘Israel’ is one and ‘No action is expected in near future.’

US, UK and UN hypocrisies flourished in the sun.  UNSCOM begat UNMOVIC and UNMOVIC begat IRG.  How was it this sober scientist was involved with this sham?  Saddam’s Iraq had been supported in its war with Iran and April Glaspie the US Ambassador to Iraq had later passed him the green light to invade Kuwait.  The litany of black lies was long and blood soaked.  The ‘turkey shoot’ as Iraqi soldiers and civilians streamed back from Kuwait under white flags ended with live burial for hundreds by US army bulldozers(6). In Baghdad, the charred remains of over 400 women and children in the Amiriya bomb shelter were testament to Allied and UN evil.(7&8)  And were not the two laser guided bombs WMDs?

The context in which Dr Kelly did his duty for the UN and the UK has been outlined.  The intelligence for targeting, bridgeheads etc was in place.  The paramount war criminal and psychopath, Anthony Blair, conspired with Bush in April 2002 at Crawford over blood oozing steaks to tear into Iraq.  The black propaganda machine changed gear.  A succession of signatories of The Project for the New American Century began appearing nightly, courtesy of the State Broadcaster, the BBC.  We could soon tell Wolfowitz from Bolton, and Perle from Bolton.  Mangold tried to scare the pants off vulnerable members of the UK public in September 2002 with sarin in the Tokyo tube and with all the focus on the rogue regime.   The Sun carried the headline “Brits 45mins from doom” to its 6 million readers.  The prescription of Oded Yinon from the ‘Israeli’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs was being followed to the letter (9).  “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria.”

And so it was, that against majority opinion in the UK and the truth, a massive invasion and bombardment started 22nd March 2003.  It had been planned since 1988. (10)  A sceptical British public became more certain that the hell had been conjured up and brought to earth.  On May 29 the author heard Andrew Gilligan at 6.20 am on the premier propaganda programme, the BBC’s Today, say that a source had told him the ‘September’ dossier had been enhanced.  (There was probably no mention of the ‘Iraq Dossier’ of 3rd February which within 3 days was shown by Rangwala to be fake throughout. (11) )  The hunt started slowly, but soon the ‘government’ hounds were in full cry.  Hoon and Campbell were out in front.  Journalists were encouraged to call the MoD and to state the name of a suspect.  Given that experts in the field were few, David Kelly’s identity as a possible source soon emerged.  This act of treachery was wrong on two counts.  Firstly the confidentiality of the names of public servants in charges of this sort is usually maintained.  Secondly, anybody with his ‘security’ attachments should have had his identity concealed both for his sake and for the operational integrity of the establishments.  The furore flowing from the ‘outing’ was fierce.  The quarry felt the heat of slavering hounds about his neck.

He was called, improperly given his post, before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on the 15th, two days before he ‘walked’.  The BBC film of an anxious man wheeling quickly into the elaborate building with his minders was played numerous times and perhaps to reinforce a picture of a man at the end of his tether.  Later, at the Hutton Inquiry, it was reported this committee had concluded he was not Gilligan’s source.  He was interrogated by the Intelligence and Security Committee the next day.  The transcript (12) conveys a picture of a composed and honest man.  There is evidence of self-delusion however:-

Howarth  How did you arrive at your figure of 30% probability?  It is appears to have a kind of exactitude, or is it meant to be merely illustrative?

Kelly  Its illustrative, as an estimate

Howarth  Illustrating a lot,a little?

Kelly  Its verging to a little rather than to a lot

Mates  Two to one against!

Laughter…….

Dr Kelly had defined earlier in the hearing that he believed there was a 30% chance of ANY weapon containing biological or chemical agents.  He does not appear to have revised his assessment when no such weapons were used by the Iraqi forces even though they were faced with total defeat.

Reference was made at this hearing to a letter from Hoon, the Minister of War .  “…..in that normally it was Secretaries of State and heads of sections that came to give evidence and that it should not be taken as a precedent for calling in any junior official within that department.”  Efforts were made to demean Dr Kelly but the evidence suggests he remained robust even though he was not used to such treatment in his very senior position.

David Kelly completed his correspondence on this the 17th of July, which included a report to the FCO, and changed from track suit into jeans and a shirt ready for a customary walk.  He was described later by his wife Janice as being exhausted and shrunken within himself.  She suffered from arthritis and had gone up stairs to rest on the bed. She heard him take a telephone call at about 3 pm (from Wing Commander Clarke at the MoD) and he then left for a walk. The W/Co ‘phoned again at 3.20 pm but he was away by then so Mrs Kelly answered.  The W/Co ‘phoned every 15 minutes because Dr Kelly always had his cell phone with him and was always easy to contact.  An ‘electronic’ voice said ‘the number you have rung is not reacting’, which is the normal one that one would expect if the telephone itself had been switched off.  The number when dialled before 6 by James Harrison of the same office rang but there was no answer.

When he did not return the family were alerted.  According to reports in the Guardian and Scotsman a lay search party was formed later that day, but no member was called to the inquiry (13&14).  A Mrs Susan Melling was quoted.  In these reports, a farmer Weaver (sic) – in fact Weaving, hailed Dr Kelly who was reported to be dressed in jeans and a shirt.  Weaving might have been the last person to see Dr Kelly alive.(15)  The importance of that in an inquiry into an unnatural death is obvious but he was not called either.

The family informed the police at 23.40 hours that he was missing, about 9 hours after he had left the house, and this in spite of the maelstrom swirling around the man and the very secret nature of his morbid work.  The roses freshened in the night air and down the road the foal was nuzzling the mare.

David Halpin is a retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon.  He vehemently opposed the destruction of a sovereign Iraq and its people.  The manner in which the investigation of this unnatural death was done and the principles of those who conducted it, will be examined in articles written by several authors which will appear twice per week in Global Research.  Thus people will read what we perceive to be the truth and it will be a permanent record.  We contend, on very good evidence, that due process has been subverted.  We have been pleading for an inquest for 10 years and we will continue to do so as informed citizens who believe our law should rule supreme.  ‘ Where ever the law ends, tyranny begins.’  John Locke 1675.

Notes

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dstl

(2) http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/7-articles/political/104-blairs-journey-questions-before-charge

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Iraq_(December_1998)#cite_note-14

(4) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/iraq/analysis.htm

(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_the_Biological_Weapons_ConventionA

(6) http://www.countercurrents.org/lagauche280210.htm

(7) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlcH_1y8pSo

(8) http://www.uruknet.de/?p=m30603&hd=&size=1&l=e

(9) http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0005345.html

(10) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-on-iraq-five-us-presidents-five-british-prime-ministers-thirty-years-of-duplicity-and-counting/20510

(11) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Dossier#cite_note-Rush2003-4

(12) http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090128221550/http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/isc/isc_1_0003to0035.pdf

(13) http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/jul/19/uk.iraq4      Guardian   19 July 2003

(14) http://news.scotsman.com/huttoninquiry/Kelly-told-wife-this-wasnt.2445113.jp Scotsman  19 July 2003

(15)  http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/143-clothes-worn-by-dr-kelly-before-death-search-party

via Political Assassination and the Crimes of War: The “Unnatural Death” of Dr. David Kelly | Global Research.

Syria’s proxy war


What began in Syria as another civil uprising of the Arab spring against an established government has grown into a multi-dimensional war, drawing in first the region, then the world.

A few days after the Syrian army took Qusayr, in early June, the influential Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi described his grim vision of a Muslim world dominated by “Persians and Shia”: “The guide of the Revolution … Ayatollah Khamenei will fulfil his dream of delivering a sermon from the pulpit of the Umayyad Mosque [in Damascus] to announce that he [has] achieved Islamic unity, which he has long promised. He will descend from the pulpit with much pomp to wipe the head of a poor child to show the ‘tolerance of the powerful’ [toward Sunnis]. Then he will stand next to … Syrian Sunni scholars, with their white turbans, as there are always people like the mufti Ahmad Hassun who are ready to serve. He will [raise their hands] high, while cameras record this historic moment” (1).

In a speech the same day, Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hizbullah, justified sending fighters to Syria while recognising that although “a large part of the Syrians [support] the regime”, many were probably against it. He felt this internal conflict was secondary, since “Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the entire region are targeted by [a] US-Israeli-Takfiri scheme” (2) that must be resisted at all costs, which meant rushing to help the Assad regime.

As a US official wrote in a report by the International Crisis Group (3), “a Syrian war with regional consequences is becoming a regional war with a Syrian focus.” A new cold war is dividing the region, like the original, which set Nasser’s Egypt, allied with the USSR, against Saudi Arabia and the US in the 1950s and 60s. But times have changed. Arab nationalism has declined, sectarian positions are hardening, and there is even doubt over the future of the states and frontiers created after the first world war.

Syria, with its tens of thousands of dead, millions of refugees, and severely damaged industrial infrastructure and historic heritage, is the main victim. The hopeful dream of the spring of 2011 has turned into a nightmare. Why have the Syrians been unable to do in Damascus what the Egyptians did in Cairo?

The Egyptians were able to overthrow Mubarak relatively easily. The elite and social classes with ties to the clique that held power never really felt their privileges were threatened, let alone their physical safety. After the revolution, businessmen, senior army officers and intelligence service directors calmly changed sides. Only a few were brought to trial, slowly and with great reluctance. And Mubarak’s departure did not upset the regional geopolitical balance. The US and Saudi Arabia were able to adapt to changes they had not wanted but which did not threaten their interests, as long as they were able to channel those changes.

Hopes of a transition faded

It is different in Syria. From the start of the conflict, unrestricted use of force by the intelligence services gained the regime precious months in which to organise. The regime encouraged the militarisation of the opposition, escalation of the conflict, and even sectarianism, in order to scare large sections of the population; minorities, the bourgeoisie and the urban middle classes were already frightened by the extremist language of some opposition groups and the influx of foreign fighters reported by the regime.

As the atrocities continued, hopes of a transition without calls for revenge faded, and relatively large sections of society rallied to the regime, fearing for their safety in the event of an Islamist victory. The West had been invoking Islamist bogeymen for years, which made that prospect all the more frightening, and lent credence to the Assad regime’s challenge to France: “Why are you helping the same groups in Syria that you are fighting in Mali?”

The regime also used Syria’s strategic position as leverage to elicit support from its main allies, Iran and Russia, which have surprised the world by intervening in the conflict with far more determination than Arab or western countries.

Syria is the only Arab ally that Iran has been able to count on since the 1979 revolution. Syria stood by it in difficult times, especially during Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, when all the Gulf countries sided with Saddam Hussein. Given Iran’s deepening isolation over the last few years, the harsh sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, and the continued risk of military intervention by Israel and/or the US, Iran’s involvement in Syria, while not morally justifiable, is a rational strategic decision, and unlikely to be reversed by its new president, Hassan Rohani. Iran has done everything it can to rescue its ally, from granting credit to Syria’s central bank to supplying oil and military advisers.

Call for jihad

Iran’s involvement has led it — with the approval of Russia — to encourage Hizbullah to become directly involved in Syria. Hizbullah could argue that thousands of Islamist fighters, from Lebanon and other Arab countries, are already there, but direct involvement can only worsen tensions between Sunni and Shia (armed clashes have since increased in Lebanon) and embolden radical Sunni preachers.

The conference in Cairo on 13 June held in support of “our Syrian brothers” called for jihad. Mohammed Morsi took part and, though he had until then been cautious on Syria, announced that Egypt was breaking off diplomatic relations with the Assad regime. Anti-Shia rhetoric, even from moderate sheikhs, grew louder. Hassan al-Shafii, representative of Al-Azhar, the major institution of Sunni Islam based in Cairo, asked: “What is the meaning of Hizbullah’s interference [and spilling of] innocent blood in Qusayr? It is a war against Sunnis, it is Shia sectarianism” (4).

Russia’s involvement is not just a whim of Vladimir Putin, but a reassertion of its international importance. An Egyptian diplomat said: “The West is paying the price for its attempts to marginalise Russia since the end of the USSR. Despite Boris Yeltsin’s goodwill, Nato has expanded right up to Russia’s borders.” For two years, “the West has been suggesting to Russia that it should simply adopt the West’s line [on Syria]. That was not a realistic proposition.”

Wary since Libya

The way in which the UN Security Council resolution on Libya was distorted to legitimise military intervention also made Russia wary, and other countries too: Brazil, China, India and South Africa have expressed reservations over resolutions on Syria presented at the UN by the West. The fall of the Assad regime would be unacceptable to Russia: it would be a victory for Islamists and could stir up Muslims within the Federation, among whom Russia claims Wahabist propaganda is being disseminated.

Compared with the determination of Russia and Iran, external support for Syria’s opposition has been fragmented, erratic and incompetent, hardly a vast Saudi-Qatari-American-Israeli-Salafist conspiracy. Each country has been doing its own thing and helping its own clients, providing aid to some and refusing it to others. The absurdities reached a peak this April when Qatar funded the imposition of Ghassan Hitto, a US national, as prime minister of Syria’s “interim” government. Interference from rich Gulf businessmen not subject to any form of control adds to the confusion (5).

It is difficult to see what is really going on with so many different groups and combat units (katibas), all deceptively labelled “Islamists”, a term that makes it possible to ignore their strategic and political differences (6). Jabhat al-Nusra, which claims to be a branch of Al-Qaida, worries the West as much as it does Saudi Arabia, which fought a war to the death against Al-Qaida at home between 2003 and 2005. This apprehension is also felt within Salafist organisations: Nader Bakkar, the media-savvy spokesman of Egypt’s biggest Salafist party Al-Nour, wants to cut the ground from under Al-Qaida’s feet: “What we are asking for is a no-fly zone. So that the revolutionaries can win the war themselves. We are urging people in Egypt not to go to Syria; the victory must be won by Syrians alone.”

This confusion has been encouraged by the diffidence of the US, which though keen to see the Syrian regime fall, is reluctant to embark on another Middle East adventure after its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The change in Washington’s outlook is exemplified by Richard Haass. As one of the brains behind the Republican Party’s foreign policy he worked with President George W Bush. Now head of the influential Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he has just published a book called Foreign Policy Begins at Home: the Case for Putting America’s House in Order, which argues that internal problems, from the deterioration of the transport system to the lack of skilled labour, are preventing the US from exercising global leadership.

President Barack Obama has decided to supply weapons to the Syrian rebels. The pretext is the Syrian army’s use of sarin gas — a controversial affair with no independent enquiry as yet (7) — which, according to the US, has killed about 140 of the 90,000 victims of the conflict to date. But how should the decision be interpreted?

Syria has become a regional and international battlefield, and neither camp will accept the defeat of its champion. After the Syrian army’s success at Qusayr, the US wants to prevent the regime from gaining a complete victory, though such a victory is highly unlikely since much of the population has become radicalised and, with nothing more to lose, strongly rejects the regime. But the desires of the US will probably not turn into large-scale intervention, no-fly zones or the commitment of ground troops. If the military balance is maintained, the stalemate will continue, as will the death and destruction, and the risk that the conflict will spread across the region.

Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have been caught up in the conflict; Iraqi and Lebanese fighters, Sunni and Shia, find themselves on opposing sides in Syria. The international insurgency highway (8) is bringing fighters, weapons and ideas into Syria from as far as Afghanistan and the Sahel. As long as the external protagonists continue to see the conflict as a zero-sum game, Syria’s people will suffer and the whole region is in danger of being dragged in.

via Syria’s proxy war – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition.

Free Stephen Murney, Victim of British Political Repression


Those unfortunate to find themselves interned by remand, despite not being found guilty of anything, can be imprisoned for lengthy periods with no sign of either a date for trial or release. Political internees can find themselves in gaol for up to 2 years, or more, under this repressive, draconian policy, awaiting a trial… – Stephen Murney. 1/6/13.

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_stephen

Stephen Murney is a political and community activist, who lives in Newry in the north of Ireland. He is also a member of Eirigi (Arise) which is a legal, registered Irish socialist republican political party. Stephen has frequently documented, photographed and recorded incidents of harsh PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) stop and searches of people, house raids and other rough treatment in the Newry area. Stephen regularly highlighted these issues in local newspapers and on the internet.

In late November 2012, Stephen Murney wrote a letter to a local newspaper expressing his strong condemnation of several early morning raids by the PSNI on homes in the Derrybeg Estate, Newry. He stated that these incursions were causing deep distress to the targeted families and maintained the raids were excessive, unnecessary and avoidable.

On November 28th, some 24 hours after Stephen’s letter was published, in scenes similar to those he had described and criticised, police smashed in his front door and stormed into his home in a dawn raid. Police officers searched his house, seized a computer, political literature and a flute band uniform and arrested Stephen.

The PSNI then three days later charged Stephen Murney with three ‘offenses’. The first charge is, collecting information which maybe of use to terrorists. The second charge is, distributing information which maybe of use to terrorists. The third charge is, possessing items which could be used for terrorist purposes.

The first charge concerns Stephen openly taking photographs of people, including PSNI officers at a protest rally in Newry in June 2012. The PSNI didn’t question, or arrest Stephen, or confiscate or examine his camera/phone or ask for certain images to be deleted at that time. The police did ask him to stop taking photographs and he promptly agreed and did so. The second charge relates to Stephen later posting the same photographs on Facebook, as well as having other political images on this computer. The third charge is in regards to the items of clothing (flute band uniform), two airguns and political literature seized from his home.

At a hearing on December 21, Stephen’s lawyer said the photographs had been openly taken, that Stephen had stopped when instructed and that the posting of some photographs was also for a perfectly legitimate purpose. Some of these photos were taken by Stephen at political protests, commemorations and other events. But most of the photos were downloaded from the internet, many were old, dating back to the Civil Rights Movement in north of Ireland in the late 1960s. The lawyer added that the items that could allegedly be used for ‘terrorist’ purposes consisted of flute band uniforms, possessing two ball-bearing airguns (belonging to his son and are legal and widely available throughout Ireland), legal political leaflets and images freely available to the public on the internet. Many supportive references from community organisations in Newry in support of Stephen Murney were also presented to the court.

It is common practice for political activists around the world to take photographs of demonstrations and of police at political protests. In fact, legal and human rights groups regularly advise political activists to record such protests and any instances of police harassment or mistreatment that occur. Like many hundreds of thousands of other people Stephen loads this information on his computer and sometimes posts some of it on social media sites.

After querying the vague nature of the charges the judge granted Stephen bail. But at the request of the PSNI, the judge imposed several draconian bail conditions, including: banning Stephen from living at home with his wife and family, banning him from entering Newry, his home town, where almost all his family and friends live and banning him from attending any political events or meetings. The judge additionally, ordered that Stephen, reside at least five miles from Newry, report daily to the PSNI barracks (a further 12 miles away), accept a daily curfew from 7pm to 10am and wear an electric tagging device at all times.

Stephen rejected the humiliating bail conditions the court imposed, declaring his total innocence of the charges. Several efforts by Stephen’s lawyers to change the harsh bail conditions were refused and he remains in imprisoned in Maghaberry Gaol.

The Orwellian State of Affairs in the North of Ireland.

‘There has been an accelerated erosion of legal rights since 1998’ –  Pat McNamee, former member of the Stormont Assembly and former local councillor.

At a recent protest, a former member of the Stormont Assembly and friend of Stephen Murney, Pat McNamee stated, that only through entering the world of ‘newspeak’ could we obtain the answer as to why Stephen Murney is imprisoned. He said:

Newspeak is the term used by Orwell, in his book 1984, to describe the language employed to oppress people in what was a fictional totalitarian state. That state is not really so fictional nowadays.

Pat continued:

Stephen Murney is charged with having a band uniform that he wore whilst a member of a local republican flute band. In ‘newspeak’, that is having a paramilitary uniform and being equipped for terrorism. Stephen Murney is charged with having photographs of protests he had taken part in, which inevitably included images of members of the PSNI, who were also present at these demonstrations. In ‘newspeak’, that is having information useful to terrorists. Stephen Murney is charged with having his son’s toy guns in his home. In ‘newspeak’, that is having an imitation firearm. In ‘real speak’, Stephen has been held in prison for over six months solely because he is an effective republican and community activist.

Congratulating all of those present at the rally, Eirígí activist Shane Jones said that it was representative of a growing awareness of the plight of Stephen Murney across the country and of the excesses of the British state. He said:

However, if those within the British establishment, its puppet parliament at Stormont, its compliant judiciary or its corrupt police force thought that they could isolate Stephen Murney and smother his criticism of their collective actions, they have misjudged the situation. People once unaware of the true nature of the continued British presence in Ireland are being exposed to it across the country. Over the past couple of weeks alone pickets, protests, leaflet drops and information stalls have been held in Newry, Offaly, Wexford, Wicklow, Belfast, Galway and Dublin, with many more to come.

Concluding the rally, Davy Hyland, independent councillor in Newry and Mourne District Council, vowed that he and those assembled would continue to raise the case of Stephen Murney until he is released and allowed to return to his family, home and community. Despite The Good Friday Agreement, Injustice Continues.

Despite all the supposed “changes’, many of the old repressive injustices remain, including internment, political policing, Diplock courts and ongoing M15/ British army military activity – Stephen Murney.

Highlighting that Stephen Murney is but one victim of an increasingly oppressive British state apparatus, Pat McNamee said that after two decades of ‘peace processing’, the rights of the individual, rather than being protected through a Bill of Rights, which was but one of a number of promises enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement that had been reneged upon without sanction. Pat McNamee stated.

Through extended periods of detention, increased stop and search powers, the reduction of the right to a trial by jury and ‘closed evidence hearings’, where judges are presented with secret ‘evidence’ which can neither be disclosed to nor challenged by the accused or their legal representatives, the British state apparatus is more draconian now than at any time during the years from 1969 through 1999. Instead of moving forward with human rights, it is they who are dragging us back.

Stephen Murney is a victim of British injustice in the north of Ireland, but he is one of many of those suffering from an increasingly oppressive British state system. The terms of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) offered better times, a period of peace and healing, yet people’s human rights and civil liberties are still constantly violated. And the basic rights that were meant to be upheld by the GFA process are being grossly abused.

Calls for the Release of Stephen Murney Grow.

Since the arrest and imprisonment of Stephen Murney a number of Irish republican and various other organizations have campaigned for his freedom, including Eirigi, Republican Network for Unity, Irish Republican Socialist Party, Republican Sinn Fein, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, as well as local Councillors and other individuals.

Independent Councillor Davy Hyland from the Newry and Mourne Council stated that, ‘Stephen has been held … on the most spurious charges … he tried to get bail, but was given the most atrocious conditions that he couldn’t possibly meet.’ He added, ‘Stephen’s treatment has been absolutely deplorable.’ Sinn Fein Councillor Brendan Curran said the bail restrictions imposed were, “excessive and unacceptable” given the “dubious” charges.

And human rights groups are starting to take up his case. On 14, June, Justice Watch Ireland wrote to the British Secretary of State Theresa Villars and Justice Minister, David Ford, calling for the immediate release of Stephen Murney. JWI also issued a press release on the facts of the case and their conclusions. JWI’s press release said:

Justice Watch Ireland are more than concerned that Mr Murney may be a victim of the most blatant abuse of the Justice system seen in the last decade. We are equally concerned that should this practice of Judicial Abuse be allowed to continue unabated, it could well threaten the democratic rights of all citizens in the future. We call on all politicians and those opposed to losing their democratic and human rights, to voice their disapproval of such abuses continuing. Justice Watch Ireland calls for Stephen Murney to be released on unconditional bail as a matter of urgency. We believe his detention is nothing short of ‘Interment’ by definition. ‘Internment by remand’ is being claimed by many, in which we are currently investigating, but in this case our conclusion is that Mr Murney truly is interned by definition with the use of the remand process currently being implemented.

Support Stephen Murney, Imprisoned Republican Political Prisoner.

Political policing and internment is nothing new. They are practices which have been in place for some decades, practices that we in Eirigi have been to fore in highlighting, exposing and opposing. As a result, those of us who have been most vocal in opposing these unjust activities and our families have paid a heavy personal price in the form of constant PSNI harassment, frequent ‘stop and searches’, house raids, assaults, threats, intimidation and ultimately, the loss of liberty – Stephen Murney

Stephen Murney is imprisoned, not because he has done or planned to do anything unlawful, but he is in jail due to his dissident political views and because he is an active, outspoken and effective Republican and community activist. In a normal, civil society in another place there would have to be substantial evidence against Stephen Murney to warrant the serious charges he now faces. But the British occupied north of Ireland is not a normal, ordinary place. So, instead of these charges being clearly recognised as weak and ridiculous, in the six counties, they are depicted by the PSNI as a very grave matter and bring the prospect of lengthy prison sentence if Stephen is convicted.

The British authorities have used a policy of selective internment against Stephen Murney in an attempt to silence him and other opposition. A political activist is now in effect interned without trial on the basis of the most ridiculous ‘evidence.’ Stephen Murney has done nothing wrong, but freely exercised his democratic right to attend political demonstrations, to take photographs and to be critic of PSNI actions and of British rule in the north of Ireland. Stephen Murney is innocent and his imprisonment is utterly unjust. The flimsy charges against him should be dropped and Stephen should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Internment was wrong and unjust in previous years and it remains as equally wrong and unjust today. I would encourage all those that disagree with its continued use to organise and publicly oppose internment in its current form –  Stephen Murney.

Guest writer Steven Katsineris, Vice Chairman of the James Connolly Association, Melbourne, Australia with a piece on republican prisoner Stephen Murney.

via Free Stephen Murney, Victim of British Political Repression – The Pensive Quill.

Keynes, Balls, Austerity, and what Voters Deserve


Well Ed, Keynes might not have been on side..

Ed Balls’ recent announcement that Labour would prepare its Shadow Budget within Coalition spending limits came less than two weeks after the IMF urged George Osborne to slow the pace of cuts.

So why did the Shadow Chancellor meekly abandon his position just as it received tacit endorsement from an organisation that was hitherto austerity’s biggest cheerleader?

Keynesians were flummoxed. However, for all Balls’ indignation over austerity, Labour’s previous prescription was really just austerity-lite: they were still going to cut, just a bit more slowly.

Balls has recognised his limited room for manoeuvre. With the UK having lost its prized AAA credit rating in February, a slowdown in the pace of cuts – never mind a net spending boost – may ultimately increase the cost of borrowing and balloon the deficit further still.

The name of Keynes has been invoked by the Left to damn the austerity drive across Europe, while the Right ripostes that imprudence during the boom left the finances too fragile to countenance more stimulus spending.

Often overlooked is the fact that Keynes preached fiscal constraint in the boom times to leave a budgetary surplus to draw on when the economy contracts: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity,” he wrote 76 years ago.

Achieving a tri-partisan compact to pursue such policies seems a forlorn hope if you subscribe to the axiom that voters tend to vote for parties that spend heavily during boom times but lurch rightwards when the economy nosedives.

The rise of fascism is often cited as exhibit A: European trends have often supported this theory. With the debt contagion threatening to engulf the Eurozone, a wave of Rightist victories left only Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Slovenia of 27 member states with left-leaning governments by 2011.

The election of François Hollande in France and electoral breakthrough of Leftists in Greece has reversed the polarity somewhat, but we’re a long way from 2007 when 10 left-of-centre administrations held power in the Eurozone.

The undeniable hardening of opinion against benefit ‘scroungers’ amid the biggest squeeze on living standards since the 1930s further validates the theory that voters grow less receptive to social justice narratives when their own economic situation deteriorates.

But people don’t simply become hard-hearted.

Swing voters – because most voters are solidly right- or left-leaning regardless – often vote for parties whose spending patterns mirror their own when income rises or falls.

But it’s counterproductive, cry the Keynesians, for the state to emulate a private household’s eminently sensible approach. Cut spending on eating out by £100 a month and a household saves precisely £100 a month. Income is entirely unaffected.

Between government spending and income, however, there’s a feedback loop, the so-called ‘paradox of thrift’: slash public spending and you put people out of work, thus increasing the benefits bill and reducing income tax receipts. Rising unemployment reduces consumer demand and fewer public-sector contracts are available to private businesses – again stunting growth and reducing the tax take.

Perhaps, then, swing voter should defy their intuition and vote in governments that implement countercyclical spending policies – so parties of the right to ‘fix the roof when the sun is shining’ and then of the left to cushion the crash.

Canada, which turned a budget deficit of 9 percent of GDP into a surplus in just three years following a humiliating ratings downgrade in 1992, represents a good case study for countercyclical spending. Scarred by the early 90s recession, there was a bipartisan consensus to avoid deficits, so the Canadians were better equipped for stimulus spending when the 2008 crash hit. Canada has created more than 600,000 jobs since the slump.

Perhaps European governments should practice what they preach to Northern Rock and RBS, who are forced to keep greater reserves of capital to act as a safety buffer during unforeseen events. “When you have an extra kidney, you don’t have to predict the source of harm – whether it’s going to be a snake or cancer or whatever,” said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Black Swan, on Radio Four last year.

“Likewise if you have a lot of savings, you don’t have to predict the cause of the next crisis. But if you have debt, you need to be very accurate in your forecast of the future.

“To emulate nature, we could just say we don’t want government debt […] we want a surplus in the good years. It is completely immoral to stick your descendents […] with the cost of your mistakes. Even if debt is economically efficient, you’re not bearing the risk.”

Increased spending during downturns and retrenchment amid booms would surely result in a more serene economic cycle; lower peaks, sure, but shallower troughs too.

It seems an impossible utopia. Across Europe policymakers have coalesced behind a consensus that deficit reduction should trump growth spending. Meanwhile, the Tories berate Labour for its profligacy during the boom times, forgetting conveniently how David Cameron had promised before the crash to “share the proceeds of growth” between tax cuts and spending rises – which surely would have resulted in a similarly huge deficit.

It seems that neither the Tories nor Labour have the stomach to challenge voters’ understandable instincts over state spending, whether its indulgence of largesse in the good times or approval of self-defeating austerity in the bad.

One can hardly blame them: had the Tory Party advocated punitive cuts between 1997 and 2007 their trio of General Election defeats would surely have been far heavier.

In that sense, when it comes to boom and bust, it’s neither the fault of Labour nor the Conservatives – we, as voters, sort of get the economy we deserve.

That said, the correlation between voting patterns and the state of the economy doesn’t consistently fit this model if you examine UK electoral history.

Labour governments were elected during the 1930-34 and 1973-76 recessions, although the early 80s downturn ushered in Margaret Thatcher and the Tories also presided over the next contraction, between 1990-1993. The 2010 General Election, the first since the 2008 financial crash, again returned a Conservative Prime Minister, albeit the Tories failed to win a majority despite the incumbent Labour administration having presided over the worst slump since the 1930s.

Winston Churchill is often quoted – falsely, it transpires – as saying:

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

You might also tell swing voters that if they don’t lean right during a boom and left during a bust then they’re fuelling a boom and bust cycle (a less catchy saying, I know).

via Keynes, Balls, austerity, and what voters deserve – The Commentator.

New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade


A new hard-hitting briefing from Amnesty International launched today accuses the UK Government of allowing businesses to dip under the human rights radar when it comes to trade and investment.

The 30-page document A history of neglect: UK Export Finance and human rights shines a light on a little known agency operating out of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills – UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Peter Frankental, of Amnesty International, explained:

“Through UKEF, the Government is enabling UK businesses to engage in high risk activities without proper scrutiny of their human rights impacts.

Export credit agencies like UKEF should not be allowed to support projects that undermine human rights and destroy the environment. And yet the British public has no real idea what UKEF gets up to.

“It is shameful that through their inaction, David Cameron’s government cannot be sure that UKEF doesn’t contribute to forced labour, trafficking or abusive forms of child labour.”

Export credit agencies exist to fill a gap by supporting transactions and projects around the world that commercial banks consider too risky. The reasons can range from political instability to the fear that they will not get paid.

In these cases companies may turn for financial assistance to export credit agencies such as UKEF.

The concern, as revealed in the briefing, is that UKEF pays too little heed to international human rights standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Instead, UKEF has chosen to be constrained by the weak international standard for export credit agencies, the OECD’s ‘Common Approaches’. This means that the only transactions which are potentially considered for human rights and environmental impact assessment have to hit the following criteria: be for more than £10 million; last more than two years; and not be for the aerospace or defence sectors.

UKEF’s recently released annual report showed that of the 138 transactions supported in the last 12 months only eight could have been considered for human rights and environmental impact assessments.

Peter Frankental said:

“UKEF reflects a fatal combination of an agency that doesn’t want to be held accountable for its impacts and a Government that won’t lift a finger to hold it accountable.

“Human rights should not be sacrificed in this way on the altar of trade and investment.

“That cannot be allowed to continue. As a matter of urgency, the government should be pushing for complete transparency and the highest level of accountability.”

UKEF guarantees payment to the UK company exporting or investing abroad. If the contract is with a foreign state which defaults, the debt is covered by UKEF and added to that country’s sovereign debt to the UK. Debts to export credit agencies represent the majority of the developing world’s bilateral debt.

via AIUK : New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade.

What will it take for us to stand up and get angry?


Several subjects are difficult for me to write about. At such times, a long-ago professor’s words comes to mind. He advised young writers to take extra care with emotion-charged topics, cautioning that the message could be lost amid the sentiment. Still, I have to try.

The actions and rhetoric of Exxon, British Petroleum, Chevron, Monsanto, Enbridge and a host of related companies fill me with disgust as does that of numerous government departments and agencies.

The terms fracking, toxic tar sands, genetically modified organisms, carcinogenic chemicals, metallic sulfide mining, acid mine drainage and many others stir fear-filled loathing. I need answers to troubling questions:

• Are the people who run these companies and our government genuinely evil or just exceedingly naïve as they destroy our planet in the name of energy and jobs?

• Why are so many of us, seduced by energy-guzzling lifestyles and the promise of jobs, unwilling to change our wasteful ways? A recent report stated that most people would rather adjust to the negative effects of our actions than change them.

• What are the most effective things people who truly care can do to make a difference before it is too late?

The natural environment, particularly fresh water, is our source of life and livelihood, ultimately more precious than oil and craved by other countries.

Yet in 1953 when the Mackinac Bridge was completed, Enbridge was allowed by our government to run an oil pipeline under the Straits through this incomparably valuable water.

Now, Enbridge wants to increase both the pressure within and poisonous content of the oil flowing through this aging pipeline. The existing pipeline should be removed, not made more vulnerable to a disaster of absolutely unparalleled proportions from which there can be no real recovery.

What happened in 1989 in the exquisitely beautiful Prince William Sound, Alaska, thanks to Exxon can never be undone nor can it in the Gulf, due to the negligence of British Petroleum, or here in Calhoun County, compliments of Enbridge.

Major corporations lie willfully, continually and without compunction. British Petroleum pats itself on the back in its public relations for its “commitment that began two years ago” to the Gulf Coast.

Awfully late isn’t it? Where was its “commitment” from the very beginning of any thought of drilling for oil in the Gulf or anywhere else for that matter? Shame on them and shame on those who are swayed by the verbiage.

Likewise, Chevron brags that it is so concerned about the environment that if it cannot do things right, it won’t do them at all. Yet when this hyperbole began airing, the company had been cited for deliberately violating environmental regulations at one of its major operations in California.

To me, Monsanto is a curse word. What would Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movement, say if she were alive today? Might her words be a prophetic: “I told you so”?

Genetically modified crops are already linked to health problems while Monsanto intimidates farmers who want to work with heirloom seeds in sustainable settings. It is seeking government approval to allow more toxic “Round-Up” residue on food crops.

Corporate executives and government officials snuggle up and plump pillows in the same bed. It is all so convenient and cozy for deal-making and favor-swapping.

Yet, my anger isn’t just directed at them. It is also at us, the public. We’re being lied to, our world is being poisoned before our eyes and many of us blithely do nothing constructive or corrective. We are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.

On July 14, we have the opportunity to take steps on behalf of change at “Oil & Water Don’t Mix: A Rally for the Great Lakes” to be held at Bridge View Park in St. Ignace, in view of the Mackinac Bridge. (See http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.

com and the report by the National Wildlife Federation, “Sunken Hazard.”)

Without drinkable water, breathable air, and safe food-bearing soil, we cannot live. Can it be put any more directly than that? I am angry. You should be too. But anger isn’t enough. What will we do?

via What will it take for us to stand up and get angry? | Battle Creek Enquirer | battlecreekenquirer.com.

Zachary Gelevinger Kidnapped By PSNI –


This is being kept out of the media, both in Ireland and the USA: From the organization “HARK.” Zachary Gelevinger is a young man from Wisconsin who arrived in Belfast Wednesday to enjoy a long-timed planned first trip to Ireland, the home of his Grandmother and a lifetime dream that has turned into a nightmare. Zachary had been corresponding with Political Prisoner Christine Connor and as a gesture of kindness, had organised a visit with Christine on her birthday, arranged by Christine’s mother. This act of good will was forever tarnished when the visit was cut short and Zachary was taken out of the visit by the PSNI in handcuffs under suspicion of “Dissident Activity.” Please note again that Zachary had not stepped foot in Ireland until Wednesday. The American Embassy was not contacted as is proper procedure and in fact when outside sources contacted the US Stated Department at the Embassy, their calls to speak with Zachary weren’t allowed through…again violating International Law. Zachary suffers from epilepsy and may not have access to his medicines. His case has been picked up by the law practice of Madden and Finucane and just this morning the police were granted an additional 72 hours to hold Zachary for questioning by a Belfast Judge. What we have here is the arrogance of the PSNI at it’s most disgraceful. Citizens in the North of Ireland have lived with constant violations of human rights by the police for longer than anyone can remember, but now visitors to the North can be arrested and held for dissident activity, even if they have never set foot in Ireland before? By arresting a foreign citizen visiting Ireland on holiday, the PSNI have shown that as we’ve seen in the recent actions in the April appeal of Brendan McConville and John Paul Woottton, that they are answerable to no one, that they feel that they are above the law. In this new atrocity, in ignoring the US State Department and not following proper International procedure, they are showing that the feel they are even above International law. I beg you, do not remain silent in this case. Zachary Gelevinger came to Belfast to visit the land of his birth and sets in chains because he chose to reach out to a Political Prisoner on her birthday. A lot of words have been tossed around lately about this horror. Outrage. Unjust. Evil. There are no words to describe what this man in his early 20’s is going through and absolutely no description to describe the arrogance and vanity of the PSNI in arresting a visiting citizen from America. If a citizen from another country has no rights in the North of Ireland, how does NI ever expect to become anything but isolated and alone? We suffer enough in the fight to bring awareness of our own continuing human rights violations and governmental challenges to the rest of the world. We can not allow the same to start happening to visitors and tourists. You might as well lock the borders and toss away the key. Please share Zachary’s story everywhere you can. Caroline Ceallaigh via Zachary Gelevinger Kidnapped By PSNI – Indymedia Ireland.

How Austerity Has Failed


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Austerity has failed. It turned a nascent recovery into stagnation. That imposes huge and unnecessary costs, not just in the short run, but also in the long term: the costs of investments unmade, of businesses not started, of skills atrophied, and of hopes destroyed.

What is being done here in the UK and also in much of the eurozone is worse than a crime, it is a blunder. If policymakers listened to the arguments put forward by our opponents, the picture, already dark, would become still darker.

How Austerity Aborted Recovery

Austerity came to Europe in the first half of 2010, with the Greek crisis, the coalition government in the UK, and above all, in June of that year, the Toronto summit of the group of twenty leading countries. This meeting prematurely reversed the successful stimulus launched at the previous summits and declared, roundly, that “advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013.”

This was clearly an attempt at austerity, which I define as a reduction in the structural, or cyclically adjusted, fiscal balance—i.e., the budget deficit or surplus that would exist after adjustments are made for the ups and downs of the business cycle. It was an attempt prematurely and unwisely made. The cuts in these structural deficits, a mix of tax increases and government spending cuts between 2010 and 2013, will be around 11.8 percent of potential GDP in Greece, 6.1 percent in Portugal, 3.5 percent in Spain, and 3.4 percent in Italy. One might argue that these countries have had little choice. But the UK did, yet its cut in the structural deficit over these three years will be 4.3 percent of GDP.

What was the consequence? In a word, “dire.”

In 2010, as a result of heroic interventions by the monetary and fiscal authorities, many countries hit by the crisis enjoyed surprisingly good recoveries from the “great recession” of 2008–2009. This then stopped (see figure 1). The International Monetary Fund now thinks, perhaps optimistically, that the British economy will expand by 1.8 percent between 2010 and 2013. But it expanded by 1.8 percent between 2009 and 2010 alone. The economy has now stagnated for almost three years. Even if the IMF is right about a recovery this year, it will be 2015 before the economy reaches the size it was before the crisis began.

The picture in the eurozone is worse: its economy expanded by 2 percent between 2009 and 2010. It is now forecast to expand by a mere 0.4 percent between 2010 and 2013. Austerity has put the crisis-hit countries through a wringer, with huge and ongoing recessions. Rates of unemployment are more than a quarter of the labor force in Greece and Spain (see figure 2).

When the economies of many neighboring countries contract simultaneously, the impact is far worse since one country’s reduced spending on imports is another country’s reduced export demand. This is why the concerted decision to retrench was a huge mistake. It aborted the recovery, undermining confidence in our economy and causing long-term damage.

Why Fiscal Policy

Why is strong fiscal support needed after a financial crisis? The answer for the crisis of recent years is that, with the credit system damaged and asset prices falling, short-term interest rates quickly fell to the lower boundary—that is, they were cut to nearly zero. Today, the highest interest rate offered by any of the four most important central banks is half a percent. Used in conjunction with monetary policy, aggressive and well-designed fiscal stimulus is the most effective response to the huge decrease in spending by individuals as they try to save money in order to pay down debt. This desire for higher savings is the salient characteristic of the post–financial crisis economy, which now characterizes the US, Europe, and Japan. Together these three still make up more than 50 percent of the world economy.

Of course, some think that neither monetary nor fiscal policy should be used. Instead, they argue, we should “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” In other words, sell everything until they reach a rock-bottom price at which point, supposedly, the economy will readjust and spending and investing will resume. That, according to Herbert Hoover, was the advice he received from Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary, as America plunged into the Great Depression. Mellon thought government should do nothing. This advice manages to be both stupid and wicked. Stupid, because following it would almost certainly lead to a depression across the advanced world. Wicked, because of the misery that would follow.

Austerity in the Eurozone

Some will insist that the eurozone countries had no alternative: they had to retrench.

This is true in the sense that members have limited sovereignty, wed as they are to a single currency, and had to adapt to the dysfunctional eurozone policy regime. Yet it did not have to be this way.

1. The creditor countries, particularly Germany, could have recognized that they were enjoying incredibly low interest rates on their own public debt partly because of the crises in the vulnerable countries. They could have shared some of this windfall they enjoyed with those under pressure.

2. The needed adjustment could have been made far more symmetrical, with strong action in creditor countries to expand demand.

3. The European Central Bank could have offered two years earlier the kind of open-ended support for debt of hard-pressed countries that it made available in the summer of 2012.

4. The funds made available to cushion the crisis could have been substantially larger.

5. The emphasis could then have been more on structural reforms, such as easing labor regulations and union protections that restrain hiring and firing and raise labor costs, and less on fiscal retrenchment in the form of reduced spending. Reduced labor costs could have made these nations’ export industries more competitive and encouraged domestic hiring.

It is possible to admit all this and yet argue that without deep slumps, the necessary pressure for adjustment in labor costs that is inherent in the adoption of a single currency (which is a modern version of the gold-standard-type mechanism that once ruled the advanced nations and helped bring on the Great Depression) would not have existed.

This, too, is in general not true.

1. In Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, at least, the private sector was in such a deep crisis that additional downward pressure as a result of rapid fiscal retrenchment simply added insult—and more unemployment—to deep injury.

2. In Italy, the pressure from years of semi-stagnation, with many more to come, would probably have been sufficient to restructure the labor markets, to bring about lower labor costs, provided structural reforms of the labor market were carried out, measures allowing companies to reduce their workforces and adjust wages more easily.

In short, the scale of the austerity was unnecessary and ill-timed. This is now widely admitted.

Austerity in the UK

The UK certainly did have alternatives—a host of them. It could have chosen from a wide range of different fiscal policies. The government could, for example, have:

1. Increased public investment, rather than halving it (initially decided by Labour), when it enjoyed zero real interest rates on long-term borrowing.

2. It could have cut taxes.

3. It could have slowed the pace of reduction in current spending.

It could, in brief, have preserved more freedom to respond to the exceptional circumstances it confronted.

Why did the government not do so?

1. It believed, and was advised to believe, that monetary policy alone could do the job. But monetary policy is hard to calibrate when interest rates are already so low (at or close to zero) and potentially damaging particularly in the form of asset bubbles. Fiscal policy is not only more direct, but it can also be more easily calibrated and, when the time comes, more easily reversed.

2. The government believed that its fiscal plans gave it credibility and so would deliver lower long-term interest rates. But what determines long-term interest rates for a sovereign country with a floating exchange rate is the expected future short-term interest rates. These rates are determined by the state of the economy, not that of the public finances. In the emergency budget of June 2010, the cumulative net borrowing of the public sector between 2011 and 2015–2016 had been forecast to be £322 billion; in the June 2013 budget, this borrowing is forecast at £539.4 billion, that is, 68 percent more. Has this failure destroyed confidence and so raised long-term interest rates on government bonds? No.

3. It believed that high government deficits would crowd out private spending—that is, the need of the government to borrow would leave less room for private borrowing. But after a huge financial crisis, there is no such crowding out because private firms are reluctant to invest, and consumers are reluctant to spend, in a weak economic environment.

4. It argued that the UK had too much debt. But the UK government started the crisis with close to its lowest net public debt relative to gross domestic product in three hundred years. It still has a debt ratio much lower than its long-term historical average (which is about 110 percent of GDP).

5. The government argued that the UK could not afford additional debt. But that, of course, depends on the cost of debt. When debt is as cheap as it is today, the UK can hardly afford not to borrow. It is impossible to believe that the country cannot find public investments—the cautious IMF itself urges more spending on infrastructure—that will generate positive real returns. Indeed, with real interest rates negative, borrowing is close to a “free lunch.”

6. The government now believes that the UK has very little excess capacity. But even the most pessimistic analysts believe it has some. Of course, the right policy would address both demand and supply, together. But I, for one, cannot accept that the UK is fated to produce 16 percent less than its pre-crisis trend of growth suggested. Yes, some of that output was exaggerated. There is no reason to believe so much was.

Assessment of Austerity

We, on this side of the argument, are certainly not stating that premature austerity is the only reason for weak economies: the financial crisis, the subsequent end of the era of easy credit, and the adverse shocks are crucial. But austerity has made it far more difficult than it needed to be to deal with these shocks.

The right approach to a crisis of this kind is to use everything: policies that strengthen the banking system; policies that increase private sector incentives to invest; expansionary monetary policies; and, last but not least, the government’s capacity to borrow and spend.

Failing to do this, in the UK, or failing to make this possible, in the eurozone, has helped cause a lamentably weak recovery that is very likely to leave long-lasting scars. It was a huge mistake. It is not too late to change course.

via How Austerity Has Failed by Martin Wolf | The New York Review of Books.

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