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.
Lies, Perfidies and Tony Blair
“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terrorism.”President Barack Obama, April 15th 2013.
Having learned nothing from the catastrophes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, it seems President Obama, the equally clueless UK Prime Minister Cameron and his culturally challenged Foreign Secretary William Hague are cheer-leading another bloodbath in formerly peaceful, secular, outward looking Syria.
Having covertly provided arms and equipment to insurgents from numerous different countries for over two years, they have now moved to the overt stage, a move over which even arch hawks such as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former Republican Senator Richard Luger, six term leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged caution.
Luger said such action would boost extremists, with Brzezinski dismissing Obama’s talk of “red lines” as thoughtless and risking: “a large-scale disaster for the United States.”
During Brzezinski’s time as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter the decision was made to finance the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in response to Soviet deployment there. He’s had a bit of time to reflect on blowback and perhaps the 2,243 wasted US lives in that “graveyard of empires” – so far.
It seems however, the Washington and Whitehall regimes remain increasingly disconnected from reality. In spite of the plethora of gruesome images circulating on the internet of grinning terrorists holding up severed heads, cannibalizing body organs and summarily executing, they are to provide further arms to insurgency’s Hannibal Lecters. This, also regardless of the fact that Riad al-Assad, founder of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is quoted as saying that suicide bombing is: “ an integral part of revolutionary action, of Free Syrian Army action.”
Meanwhile, less than a month after the murder of a soldier in London’s Woolwich by wanna be jihadists (with reported relationship with hard drugs) Britain’s increasingly rudderless ship of state allows entry to a controversial Saudi preacher, Muhamed Al Arefe, alleged to have made anti-Shia and anti-Semitic exhortations and who argues that a husband: “may use beatings to discipline his wife” as long as he beats her “lightly.”(i)
Informed friends from the Middle East charge bluntly that he recruits jihadists, as last week in visits Riyadh and Cairo. One added: “David Cameron may as well stand at the gate (of the Mosque) and hand out arms for the ‘good freedom fighters’ who will be heading to Syria after hearing Arefe’s sickening lies, sectarian incitement and calls for jihad against the ‘infidel regime.’ “
This was not a low key occasion. Arefe, spoke at the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, built on land donated by King George V1 to the Muslim Community of Britain. The Cultural Centre was officially opened by the King in 1944. The Mosque, completed in 1978, which can hold over five thousand worshippers in the main hall alone, was designed by renowned architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. Quite a platform for any recruiter.
This week it was reported (ii, iii) that weapons are flooding in to Syria from a Libya awash with weapons, “with spy chiefs saying” that the country has become a supermarket “of the world’s illegal arms trade.”
“Up to 3,000 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) have gone missing since the conflict” with more than “one million tonnes of weapons belonging to Colonel Quaddaffi” looted after his terrible death at the hands of NATO’s “allies.”
Potentially that is enough SAMs to down 3,000 airliners.
The Daily Mail understands that, unsecured: “ … there are now more weapons in Libya than in the entire arsenal of the British Army” according to MI6 estimates.
One internet video showed a stockpile of SAMs, which can hit an aircraft flying at 11,000 feet, in the hands of the Syrian insurgents. Used from airport perimeters anywhere, the result could be tragedy.
However, Akhbar Alaan TV reports(iv) Benghazi has been supplying weapons to the Syrian terrorists for “over a year.” With pictures they: “show the shipments from Libya, via Turkey to the Syrian opposition.”
The TV station’s reporter states:
“Their own Libyan revolution was supported by NATO … But these former Libyan rebels say the world is abandoning the Syrian opposition. And because of that Benghazi decided to act …”
“All these weapons are donated by former rebel units in eastern Libya … According to the Libyan organizer they also have shipped around 120 SAM 7 surface to air-missiles to Syria.”
Rebel units were, of course aided by US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who arrived in a cargo ship loaded with arms (news, websites) and was murdered with colleagues in Benghazi on 11th September 2012.
According to the New York Times, Qatari C-17 cargo planes, capable of carrying a payload of over seventy tonnes, have picked up a weapons shipment at least three times this year, which were then delivered to the Turkish-Syrian border to be handed on to the “rebels.”
British-Libyan arms dealer Abdul Basit Haroun – who was a property developer in Manchester, UK for twenty years, until 2011 – has told Reuters that weapons are reaching Syria not alone by numerous flights, but on ships, concealed amongst humanitarian aid. Haroun has claimed that the authorities know about the shipment: “everybody knows.”
Further, Libyan Assembly Member Tawfiq Shehabi has said he supports the activities of people like Haroun, who was a brigade commander during the Libyan uprising: “After the end of the (uprising) he became involved in supporting the Syrian revolution … he does a good job of supporting the Syrian revolution.”
Claims are that permission for shipments is sought from and sanctioned by, Turkey. The UN has criticized Libya for proliferating weapons at an “alarming rate” and for “enriching the arsenals of a range of non-State actors, including terrorist groups.”(v)
Reuters interviewed Haroun and a reporter was taken to a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria: “ … stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.”
Arms are flown in to “neighbouring countries on chartered flights”, several to Jordan as well as Turkey: “weapons were then transferred over the border.” (vi)
In Libya, the versatile Mr Haroun: “helps the government with state security, according to interior ministry spokesman Majdi al-Ourfi.”
Quite an own goal, NATO.
But no lessons have been learned. On Saturday (22nd June) the ridiculously named, eleven nation “Friends of Syria”, meeting in Qatar, agreed to supply: “all the necessary material” to the insurgents. Britain, with the US, is of course cheer-leading.
This in spite of warnings from such as Charles Lister, analyst at HIS – Jane’s Terrorist and Insurgency Centre – of the danger that weapons “almost invariably end up in the hands of” terrorists and extremists, and possibly even back in Britain.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, said last week he was: “very much in the camp of those who would not wish to be involved and intervene in any shape or form”, with Major General Julian Thompson, who commanded British forces in the Falklands War in 1982, saying it was: “absolutely ridiculous” to contemplate another intervention …and getting involved with something else” whilst still mired in Afghanistan after nearly twelve years.
“Our information from Doha says that five countries have decided to start arming us immediately, and four other countries will give us logistical and technical support and, at a later stage, arm the Free Syrian Army,” a spokesman for the opposition fighters, Loay Al Mikdad, said in an interview with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV.
Incredibly, with not a glance towards legality, the Doha plotters: “repeated their call for the establishment of a transitional governing body to which full executive powers would be transferred … Bashar Assad has no role in the transitional governing body or thereafter.”
However, Syria is a founding Member of the UN, one of the fifty one countries who signed to the Charter on 26th June 1945. Member States of the United Nations are bound by the UN Charter.
Article 2 (4) states:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Article 2 (1) The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
Article 2 (2) All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
The UN’s 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States directs:
“No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.
“Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the state or against its political economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.”
Recalling the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State,
“Considering it essential that all States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,
“In accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression.
Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another State.
“Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when the acts referred to in the present paragraph involve a threat or use of force.”
End Note. Lest we Forget.
That Middle East “Peace Envoy” Tony Blair [left] who lied his way in to the destruction of Iraq, kissed his welcoming host Colonel Gaddafi then betrayed worthy of any Judas, had also entertained President Assad.
In 2002, when Bashar al Assad visited Britain, meeting the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and dined with Blair at Downing Street, it was considered bestowing an honor on the President.
“According to documents, on Nov. 14, 2002, a desk officer covering Syria and Lebanon at the Foreign and Commonwealth office wrote: “You should be aware that President Bashar of Syria will visit the U.K. as a guest of government … This will include an audience with the queen. I have been advised that we need to consider whether the queen should bestow an honor on him.”(ix)
Blair is, of course, cheer leading for Syria’s destruction:
“A spokesperson for Tony Blair defended the actions of the government under the former PM, stating: “Engagement with Syria and Assad in 2002 was absolutely right … Mr. Blair has said many times since that the situation has changed and Assad now has to go.”
Opponents have a field day at country meeting of the rich and powerful – The Irish Times – Sat, Jun 08, 2013
In the eyes of its most extreme enemies, the illuminati are not a creation of the author Dan Brown but, rather, a group of powerful people meeting this weekend in a luxury hotel in the English countryside. Now nearly 60 years old, the Bilderberg Group has been accused of being a secret, shadowy society controlled by the ultra-rich, intent on world domination.
Since Thursday, 130 senior business, political and legal figures have been enjoying the pleasures of the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, behind tight security. There, they are debating the need for more growth, “jobs [and] entitlement”, “nationalism and populism”, medical research trends and “the politics of the EU”. The topics also include “cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats”, online education and “Africa’s challenges”.
No minutes are kept and no decisions will be made, they insist. Because of the privacy that surrounds it, “the participants are not bound by the conventions of office or by pre-agreed positions. As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights.”
Such declarations are exactly the problem for its opponents, who see the Bilderberg Group as a body free of democratic restraint, responsible for the Iraq War, airborne chemicals, cancer and privatisation.
Not all of its critics, however, delve into conspiracy-filled language, although, the Labour MP Michael Meacher argues, “These are 130 of the world’s most powerful people. This is not just intended to be a chat. This is intended to reach some decisions and we are not being told what they are.”
Meacher, a former minister under Tony Blair’s Labour government, criticised the presence of politicians such as the European Commission’s Manuel Barroso, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Labour’s Ed Balls, and, before them, his former leader, Tony Blair.
The list includes two Irish names: Peter Sutherland, chairman of Goldman Sachs International, a long-time attender, and a former attorney general, Paul Gallagher, who has come every year since 2010. The head of Google, Eric Schmidt, is present, along with two directors of Facebook, Christine Lagarde of the IMF, and a string of bankers, including HSBC’s chief executive, Stuart Gallagher.
Jake Bexx, who says he is making a documentary on Bilderberg, became interested in it after he listened to “the conspiracy theories told to me by my tattoo artist. I used to believe in world government, the illuminati and all of that. I don’t any more; but they don’t tell us what goes on,” he says.
Two years ago, Bexx began a battle with the treasury to get information about the past attendance of George Osborne at Bilderberg meetings. “They eventually threw me a bone about his expenses,” says Bexx, “£350 for a flight to Switzerland. “I didn’t care about his expenses. I wanted information about what he was doing there.”
The treasury refused, citing a series of exemptions allowed for under freedom-of-information legislation, and on the grounds that it was “information relating to the formulation or development of government policy”.
The first Bilderberg meeting was held in 1954 following concerns about the “growing distrust of America which was making itself manifest in western Europe and which was paralleled by a similar distrust of western Europe in America”.
Propaganda was not needed, said one of its creators, Dr JH Retinger. “It was of far greater consequence to us to have mutual understanding and goodwill among men occupying the highest positions in the life of each country than to try to influence the man in the street directly,” he wrote in a 1956 note.
The choice of men, for it was then all men, was key: “The first essential is undoubtedly to have men of absolute personal and political integrity; the second, to have men of real international standing, or whose position in their own countries is such as to give them considerable influence.”
For years, conspiracy-filled accusations were of little import to the Bilderberg organisers, the rantings of a few without a platform since it was rarely reported on.
Things have changed a little: globalisation is increasingly under question, charges about the influences on politicians have become more common-place following scandals in the US and the UK. Fuelled by websites such as infowars.com and wearechange.net, Bilderberg has begun to enter a wider stream, even if it is still far from widespread public consciousness.
A PR company was appointed, though it says little. The attendance list has been published for some years, while a partial agenda for the gathering in the Grove hotel has been given out.
On a hill half a mile from the hotel there is a press encampment, where speakers rail against the group’s existence. Opponents include anti-austerity campaigners, old hippies and conservative libertarians such as Alex Jones of infowars.com. Jones is the star of the press camp, with his acolytes hanging on his every word. “We can’t let the ants stand up, that what’s they fear. Because if one does they might all stand up. And there are more of them,” he declaims through a bullhorn.
The campaigners are not united, however. One writer for an alternative media publication mocks a Guardian journalist for “your trivial little stories”.
Charity starts at home, as the saying goes. So the very least that can be expected of communication consultants is that they are successful at communicating.
And they have been successful – well beyond expectations. They have not only managed to take a front-and-center seat in electoral campaigns, they are now also sought after to promote both government policy and lobbying objectives.
It has become hard to even imagine any ambitious leader, or political party, not making use of their services. Sometimes several are hired – one can’t be too well advised. So the communication business has prospered big time thanks to major or particularly astute public figures and some prestige-building wins.
Along with the leaders they advised, over time the consultants themselves began to become better and better known by playing up their role in the winning or exercise of power by their man – one thinks of Tony Blair’s Alastair Campbell, George W. Bush’s Karl Rove, and François Mitterrand’s (and later Jacques Chirac’s) Jacques Pilhan.
Some communication consultants engaged actively in self-promotion. Jacques Séguéla, co-founder of the RSCG (Havas) communication agency, sometimes made it sound as if he were the one who won France’s presidential election in 1981. Others let others do the talking while never denying rumors about just how great the extent of their influence was. They peppered their conversation with the titles and names of important people, sometimes divulging insider tidbits or referring to the VIPs by their first names to suggest the closeness of the relationship.
Quite naturally, story-telling specialists lend themselves to story-telling, and we have Alastair Campbell (Mark Bazeley) at the side of Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) in Stephen Frears’s 2006 film The Queen, or a fictional, romantic U.S. president (Michael Douglas) constantly being updated on poll results by his closest consultant (Annette Bening) in Rob Reiner’s 1995 film The American President. That’s unless the communicator actually morphs into a democratic hero himself, as in the 2012 Chilean movie No, in which an ad man becomes a principal agent of General Pinochet’s downfall.
Undoubtedly not the least of the successes of communication consultants is having made it via morally ambiguous means. Just as all election campaigners can’t come out the winner, neither can communication consultants – unless they’re also advising the opponents.
Big groups like Euro RSCG can pretend that it’s not the same teams that are “conceiving” rival campaigns. Other consultants – like one who was proud of handling “three presidential elections for 17 candidates” – vaunt advising multiple candidates. Without conflict of interest, of course!
Brains in the shadows
There are still some lingering bad smells associated with the communication business that – like all new and not very legitimate endeavors, particularly in democracies where opinion is supposed to be sovereign and commitment motivated by conviction and altruism – at first prospered in the shadows.
And mystery may indeed be largely responsible for the reputation such consultants have today. After their semi-veiled éminence grise era, they have emerged into the open where they enjoy the ambiguous power-and-cynicism-fueled prestige of spin-doctors. One doesn’t really know if that’s a term of reprobation, admiration, or if it is simply coldly realistic.
The big collective win of communication consultants has been to make people believe. First and foremost – in them. That success is even bigger if you consider that it was won using a very basic vocabulary borrowed from advertising: knowing the market (in this case, citizens); segmenting those citizens politically via polls and focus groups; and applying recipes borrowed from social psychology to present the products – which is to say, candidates, images, platforms.
The activity generated its own success. The existence of permanent yardsticks for public opinion (polls, surveys) requires communication consultants to manage that opinion. Are the polls “bad”? The communicators are at hand to turn “bad” to “good.”
Consultants in political communication can no doubt be seen as part of the long tradition of princely counselors, and in line with the present professionalization of politics, division of political work, and replacement of militants by mercenaries.
Of course, communicators can’t force political leaders to employ them and cannot be accused of the evils from which they benefit. But they can’t be exonerated either.
And having made themselves indispensable, they ask for top dollar – thus increasing the costs of politics to the state and hence taxpayers.
It is also true that political marketing has gone some way to creating disillusionment with democracy. Does it really mean nothing that citizens are treated like consumers, that the procedures of marketing commercial products has been applied to them as “targets” of tactics and cynical calculation?
The objective of communication is winning. But at any price? It comes expensive if you consider the financial costs but even more the moral costs inflicted on democracy.
Effect and outcomes can no longer be ignored as they have been in the past – for example in conjunction with famous ad campaigns like the one concocted by Edward Bernays for American Tobacco. The goal was to break the taboo that forbade women from smoking in public.
Based on the work of a psychoanalyst who associated cigarettes with penises, Bernays decided to create a link between feminism and smoking. At New York’s renowned Easter Day Parade in 1929 he organized a group of women to light up for photographers. The next day the image of the suffragettes and their “torches of freedom” had been circulated all over the country.
Today we know that “smoking kills.”
Alain Garrigou is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre.
Even in death, Thatcher’s zombie ideology that “there is no alternative” will continue to feed on our imagination. The time has come to prove her wrong.
Thatcher is dead — and I am in a state of mourning. I am mourning because she got away with it. Just like that disgusting dictatorial friend of hers, General Pinochet, when the mass-murdering monster peacefully died in his sleep in 2006. They both got away with it. And worse: each left behind an ideological legacy so politically and culturally pervasive that we are still beating our heads into the wall just to try and erase it. Like some kind of zombie ideology preying on our collective imagination, the undying spirit of Pinochet and Thatcher lingers on into the 21st century. We protest, we write, we riot — but nothing ever seems to change. For these are the undead. They cannot die.
“Liberalize, privatize, stabilize!” The austerity mantra is repeated by bland and lifeless technocrats from Mexico to Greece, while teenage students lock themselves up in high schools and go on hunger strike in Santiago de Chile. Others run riot in the street, dragging policemen off their horses and beating them up with sticks. In London, the disaffected youth rise up in riotous fury, attacking police, looting shops and burning down their neighbor’s homes. “There is no alternative,” Thatcher said. In this neoliberal era of cynicism, the only alternative left for Generation Playstation has become the emulation of the effigies of consumerism; or burning down its symbols of authority.
The traditional Left still has good reason to hate Thatcher, and perhaps to organize some kind of public party on her state-funded grave. I don’t blame them. But I also don’t think the celebration of her long-awaited death will do the cause of the Left much good. The traditional Left — based as it is on defunct political parties and dysfunctional trade unions that toppled over the moment the Big Bad Wolf huffed and puffed and blew a whiff of its neoliberal hot air at them — is clearly moribund and destined for the dustbin of history. Partly, the ferocity with which Thatcher pursued her state-based class war was responsible for its demise; but for the most part the decline of state-oriented labor activism is simply the result of a process of structural change that goes far beyond the actions of an individual woman.
In an otherwise profoundly misguided article, Slavoj Zizek once rightly observed that the greatest achievement of Thatcherism was not the 11-year rule of Thatcher herself, but the premiership of Tony Blair. There is a truth in these words that should weigh heavily on the conscience of all those who remain committed to social change today. The great triumph of Thatcher’s neoliberal project resides not in the many confrontational ways in which she sought to weaken Labour, but rather in the subversive ways in which her polarizing rhetoric actually ended up strengthening Labour — eventually turning it into the most powerful weapon of the capitalist class. If anything, Tony Blair proved that it was never really Thatcher who ruled Britain, but the financial interests in the City of London all along.
From the very beginning it was clear that Thatcher was really just the bitch of financial capital — who did not mind biting ordinary citizens in the face on its behalf. She deregulated the financial sector with a religious ferocity that would make even an inquisition-era Pope blush; but she was by no means single-handedly responsible for the financialization and de-industrialization of the British economy. Indeed, the seeds of that process go back way further, at least to the late 1950s, when a combination of structural pressures and deliberate state actions helped to establish the so-called Eurodollar markets in London, which effectively served to re-establish the City as a major international financial center. And, of course, Thatcher’s deregulation of the City continued with equally dogmatic conviction under Tony Blair.
In this sense, Thatcher is hated not because she assaulted labor and destroyed the British welfare state — but because she did it with such religious zeal and such extreme determination. She was hated, in other words, not for the policies and ideas she pursued but for the ugly face she put on them, and the extremely obnoxious squeaking voice with which she barked at her opponents. Ultimately, Thatcher was hated because she personified the naked logic of class warfare operating underneath the technocratic surface of her neoliberal project. She was hated because she made “there is no alternative” sound like there really was no alternative; and because her version of class warfare seemed to veer on the same blunt brutality that had marked the profoundly dehumanizing logic of laissez-faire capitalism in the Victorian era.
For this, we should actually be grateful to Thatcher: at least she made it very obvious where she stood. From the extreme police brutality at the Battle of Orgreaves to the highly symbolic milk snatching from school children, Thatcher’s approach to class struggle was straightforward and in-your-face: “my job is to stop Britain going red”, she once proudly boasted. Under Thatcher, as under Reagan and George W. Bush, the battle-lines were clearly drawn: you were either with her or against her. Things were so simple then. What are we to do today, with the Orwellian ideological apparatus of the neoliberal project firing on all cylinders? Thatcher’s dictum that “there is no such thing as society” became Cameron’s “Big Society”. The policies and social outcomes are still the same, but many people just don’t see it anymore.
In the global class war of the 21st century, Thatcher’s blunt upper-class sneers have been replaced with the seemingly progressive reason of the embarrassingly subservient Nick Clegg; Pinochet’s murderous role in suppressing the Left became Piñera’s heroic role in saving trapped Chilean miners; Reagan’s cowboy attitude to CIA-sponsored coups and US invasions in Latin America has long since made way for Obama’s friendly smiles and silent drone strikes. In the process, the dehumanizing logic of global capitalism and neoliberal ideology is obscured with a gentle layer of good-intent. This is capitalism with a human face; a blend of market fundamentalism specifically tailored to making you believe it is in your best interest to obey.
But the financial meltdown of 2008 and the deluge of public debt that followed in its wake have made it clear that the financial sector still pulls the strings everywhere, and that the political puppet-show and democratic dress-rehearsal repeated every four years or so are just that: superficial changes to cover up a terrifying process of structural change towards ever greater capitalist control over our lives. Coming on the heels of the collapse of the corporatist Keynesian compromise that had marked the post-war decades, Thatcher’s relentless assault on the working class came to embody that structural change — it came to represent it. But it remains crucially important to make a distinction here: it was not Thatcher who systematically erased our dignity and destroyed our society. It was the capitalist system she sought to defend.
If there is one thing that captures Thatcherism as an ideology and sets it apart from the naked logic of capitalism as Thatcher otherwise expounded it, it must be the immensely effective mantra that “there is no alternative.” In this respect, Thatcher helped to bring about one of the most dramatic and most successful suppressions of humanity’s collective imagination since the invention of the Catholic Church. Indeed, the mantra was so powerful that it continues to be repeated ad nauseam by the right today — in the proclamations of Troika representatives, for instance, when they claim that “there is no alternative” to dramatic budget cuts, impossible tax hikes and a mass firesale privatization of state assets in Greece or Spain. This is surely the most powerful way to repress change and avoid any democratic debate.
And yet the mantra’s most destructive and subversive legacy resides not in its dogmatic appropriation by the right, but in the many subversive ways in which it managed to undermine the collective imagination of the Left. For instance, when reviewing David Graeber’s new book on democracy, John Kampfner argues that “Graeber’s unwillingness to set out credible economic and political alternatives is curious.” But did not Graeber, by helping to set up the New York General Assembly and by explicitly mentioning Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots and its emphasis on direct democracy, provide precisely such an already-existing alternative? Was not the prefigurative politics of the Occupy movement precisely the type of real-world alternative we have all been longing for? By just refusing to see it, Kampfner indirectly helps to perpetuate Thatcher’s dictum that there is, indeed, no alternative.
Either way, regardless of how successful her ideological mantras may have been, Thatcher was never really the prophet her supporters made her out to be. In the 1980s, she unapologetically defended the Apartheid regime in South Africa, stating that Mandela’s ANC “is a typical terrorist organisation” and “anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa is living in cloud-cuckoo land.” For Thatcher, there was apparently no alternative to white racist rule in South Africa. Luckily, it only took a few years for the Iron Lady to be proven wrong. Now that global capitalism and neoliberal ideology are running on their last legs, the time has come for us — those anti-capitalists living in “cloud-cuckoo land” — to prove her wrong once more.
“OSSL management seems to be so disgusted by Shell management that they appear set on a self-destruct mission. The two main possibilities appear to be that they are either responsible for manufacturing forged documents as part of an attempt to put pressure on Shell, or have been drawn by Shell into a corruption conspiracy/scheme operated in Ireland on an industrial scale.”
JOHN DONOVAN EMAIL TO PRIVATE SECRETARY OF IRISH JUSTICE MINISTER, MR ALAN SHATTER
From: John Donovan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Alleged Corruption of Irish Police Force
Date: 6 April 2013 16:38:12 GMT+01:00
To: INFO <email@example.com>
Dear Mr Brennan
I do apologise for sending this further email but OSSL contacted me again this morning. As a result I have supplied three additional items of purported evidence that I have not seen before, that should be brought to the attention of Mr. Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice and Equality.
1. A copy of a purported testimonial letter about OSSL dated 8 August 2012 purportedly from Mr. Michiel Crothers, Managing Director of Shell E&P Ireland Limited.
2. A copy of a purported letter marked “Strictly Private & Confidential” dated 28 February 2011 from The OSSL Company to Garda Superintendent Mr. John Gilligan. The author was purportedly Mr. Desmond Kane. The letter, if authentic, discussed the purchase and delivery of festive gifts to the Garda and claims that the gifts were purchased by OSSL on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland. According to the purported letter: “At Shell’s insistence these gifts came with a high degree of confidentiality, which we have adhered to until this very day.”
3. A purported letter dated 5 May 2011 to Mr. Kane at The OSSL Company from Superintendent John Gilligan, which may be in response to the above OSSL letter.
I pointed out yesterday that although the allegations appear to be outlandish (and may be unfounded), Shell has a track record of giving improper gifts, including alcohol, to federal employees. I supplied the relevant official investigation report by The Office of The inspector General of the US Department of the Interior.
I now recall other corruption scandals involving Royal Dutch Shell.
The first is, in one respect, even closer in nature to the current allegations, in so far as Shell using a sub-contractor to bribe government officials of a host country – in this example, Nigeria.
Shell to pay $48m Nigerian bribe fine: Daily Telegraph 4 November 2010
These companies, including Shell, admitted they “approved of or condoned the payment of bribes on their behalf in Nigeria and falsely recorded the bribe payments made on their behalf as legitimate business expenses in their corporate books, records and accounts”.
SHELL IN BRIBERY FINE: Daily Express 6 November 2010
Shell must pay a $30million “criminal penalty” over charges it paid $2million to a sub-contractor “with the knowledge that some or all of the money” would be used to bribe Nigerian officials to allow equipment into the country without paying duty. Shell, which has not admitted guilt, must pay a further $18million to repay profits and interests.
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Cease and Desist Order: Shell Corruption in Nigeria
Royal Dutch Shell fulfilled a money-laundering role in the Al-Yamamah “oil for arm” corruption scandal that was being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office until Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped in and terminated the investigation on spurious grounds of national security.
Executive Intelligence Review: Scandal of the Century Rocks British Crown and the City: June 22, 2007
The al-Yamamah deal: The Guardian: 7 June 2007
BAE lands arms deal for a new generation: The Telegraph: 19 August 2006
BAE rejects calls for fresh Saudi investigation: The Telegraph 3 February 2013
Shell’s involvement in the cited corruption scandals obviously does not mean that it is guilty of the allegations made by OSSL.
It does however mean that Shell has prior form.
The new alleged evidence can be viewed here (See Below)
OSSL management seems to be so disgusted by Shell management that they appear set on a self-destruct mission. The two main possibilities appear to be that they are either responsible for manufacturing forged documents as part of an attempt to put pressure on Shell, or have been drawn by Shell into a corruption conspiracy/scheme operated in Ireland on an industrial scale.
Shell’s partners in the Corrib Gas Project must be concerned that the lead partner, Shell, has allowed this matter to drag on.
Though it barely received any media attention at the time, a renowned British biochemist who back in 1998 exposed the shocking truth about how genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) cause organ damage, reproductive failure, digestive dysfunction, impaired immunity, and cancer, among many other conditions, was immediately fired from his job, and the team of researchers who assisted him dismissed from their post within 24 hours from the time when the findings went public.
Arpad Pusztai, who is considered to be one of the world’s most respected and well-learned biochemists, had for three years led a team of researchers from Scotland’s prestigious Rowett Research Institute (RRI) in studying the health effects of a novel GM potato with built-in Bt toxin. Much to the surprise of many, the team discovered that, contrary to industry rhetoric, Bt potato was responsible for causing severe health damage in test rats, a fact that was quickly relayed to the media out of concern for public hearing.
But rather than be praised for their honest assessment into this genetically-tampered potato, Pusztai and his colleagues were chastised by industry-backed government authorities, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose office was discovered to have secretly contacted RRI just hours after Pusztai and his team announced the results of their study on television. For speaking the truth, Pusztai was immediately fired from his position, and his team dismissed from their positions at the school.
Research out of Egypt finds similar results – GMOs cause severe, long-term health damage
As reported recently in Egypt Independent, similar research by Hussein Kaoud from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene also made some fascinating, though politically incorrect, discoveries about the effects of GMOs on the body. After feeding nine groups of rats varying combinations of GM soy, corn, wheat, and canola, Kaoud and his team observed that these genetic poisons clearly obstructed the normal function of the animals, affirming Pusztai’s research.
I recorded the alteration of different organs, shrinkage of kidneys, change in the liver and spleen, appearance of malignant parts in the tissues, (and) kidney failure and hemorrhages in the intestine,” said Kaoud about the effects of GMOs as observed in the test rats. “The brain functions were touched as well, and the rats’ learning and memory abilities were seriously altered.”
In Kaoud’s case, his groundbreaking findings will soon be published in the respected journals Neurotoxicology and Ecotoxicology. But it remains to be seen whether or not the scientific community at large, which is heavily influenced by biotechnology interests, and the political structures that control it will accept the results as valid, or pull a similar character assassination on Kaoud and his team as punishment for defying the status quo.
What all this clearly illustrates, of course, is that modern science can hardly be considered the independent, truth-seeking, “gold standard” of interpreting and understanding reality that many people mistakenly think it is. The truth about GMOs, as uncovered by mounds of independent research, is that they are inadequately safety tested, at best, and deadly at worst. But this fact remains shrouded in deception, thanks to the corporatized, pro-GMO culture of mainstream science.
Sources for this article include:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Main article: Pusztai affair
In 1995 the Árpád Pusztai began research on genetically modified potatoes containing the GNA lectin gene from the snowdrop plant. His group fed rats on raw and cooked genetically modified potatoes, using Desiree Red potatoes as controls. In 1998 Árpád Pusztai said in an interview on a World in Action programme that his group had observed damage to the intestines and immune systems of rats fed the genetically modified potatoes. He also said “If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it”, and that “I find it’s very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs”.
This resulted in a media frenzy, and Rowett Institute’s director Philip James, after initially supporting Pusztai, suspended him and banned both Pusztai and Susan Bardocz from speaking publicly. He also used misconduct procedures to seize the raw data. The Rowett Institute published an audit criticizing Pusztai’s results and sent the raw data to six anonymous reviewers who also criticized Pusztai’s work. Pusztai responded that the raw data was “never intended for publication under intense scrutiny”. Pusztai sent the audit report and his rebuttal to scientists who requested it, and in February 1999, twenty-one European and American scientists released a memo supporting Pusztai.
Pusztai’s experiment was eventually published as a letter in The Lancet in 1999. Because of the controversial nature of his research the letter was reviewed by six reviewers – three times the usual number. One publicly opposed the letter, another thought it was flawed, but wanted it published “to avoid suspicions of a conspiracy against Pusztai and to give colleagues a chance to see the data for themselves” while the other four raised questions that were addressed by the authors. The letter reported significant differences between the thickness of the gut epithelium of rats fed genetically modified potatoes, compared to those fed the control diet.
Pusztai’s annual contract at Rowett was not renewed following the incident and he moved back to Hungary. He has been giving lectures on his GM potato work and on claimed dangers in general of genetic engineering of crop plants. In 2005, he received the Whistleblower Award from the German Section of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and the Federation of German Scientists (VDW). In 2009, Pusztai and his wife received the Stuttgart peace prize (Stuttgarter Friedenspreis).