All posts by Harry Paterson

Friday Bloody Friday

Murder, mass murder, is nothing new for the Israeli Defence Force, sickeningly dubbed “the most moral army in the world” by former British Army Colonel, Richard Kemp. One would imagine this description would be difficult to reconcile with yesterday’s slaughter. Fortunately, the combined forces of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Board of Deputies of British Jews were on hand to render assistance to the IDF.

The BBC tweeted and ran headlines on its website that spoke of “clashes” and “deadly protests.” As if the massacre of unarmed civilians clad in jeans, t-shirts, trainers and flags by soldiers of one of the most heavily-armed and well-equipped militias in the world was a spat amongst equals; as if the blame and responsibility were to be equally distributed between the two sides. As the BBC evidently struggles with accuracy, it’s worth pointing out that the protest wasn’t “deadly”. The protest was peaceful. What was deadly, however, were the sniper bullets and tank shells (yes, really) fired on the protesters. In one instance, into the back of an unarmed and fleeing youth.

The Board of Deputies, shamefully, went even further. In a grotesque and obscene display of victim-blaming, the Board tweeted, “Alarming developments at Gaza border as Hamas once again using its civilians – inc children – as pawns.” Apart from being a lie – Hamas did no such thing – to blame oppressed and subjugated people for provoking the bullets fired by their murderers is unconscionable to anyone with aspirations to humanity and decency. Still, from an organisation that fawned and gushed over arch racist Donald Trump, decency would be an unrealistic expectation.

The Board’s Twitter feed was soon filled with outraged Tweets from those it claims to represent.  This, from @msjenifferjames, was typical: “Repulsive comment. How dare you blame unarmed, peacefully-protesting Arabs for their own deaths by Israeli gunfire? On their own land. You do not and will never speak for me or thousands of other Jewish people. You are disgusting.”

Were all this not sufficiently appalling, a now deleted Tweet by the IDF implies that these murders were premeditated, pre-planned and carried out, not as reaction to Palestinian ‘violence’, but as a proactive military operation.

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Now is the time to underline some unshakeable truths. The residents, or rather prisoners, of the Gaza strip are waging a life and death struggle that transcends even national liberation; they are concerned with simply survival. In such a case there is no ‘plague on both your houses’ option available. There is no moral equivalency between a mighty military power invading and then subjugating a poverty-stricken and oppressed people. People who are desperately fighting for their lives and the very existence of the miserable 32-mile strip of open-air prison they call home. There is no quandary, no grey area and no ambiguity; Israel is the aggressor. The Palestinians are the victims. We should unconditionally, unquestioningly and unequivocally support their resistance and right to defend themselves in any way they see fit. Rockets into Israel are the legitimate and just resistance of a desperate people.

Palestinian violence is not terrorism. Israel illegally occupies Palestinian land and visits human rights abuses and war crimes upon the Palestinian people. Any violence by any Palestinian body or person, is justified and permitted under international law. It is not terrorism; it is resistance to an invader.

There is the violence of the oppressor – Israel – and there is the violence of the oppressed; the Palestinians. The former is immoral, illegitimate and illegal while the latter is not only moral and legitimate but unavoidable and necessary. Self-defence is never an offence.

London Calling

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Image by Dr. Dunno

Allow me to pre-empt some wearyingly predictable liberal condemnation heading your way.

When the riots start be careful not to get trampled underfoot as liberals and reactionaries alike bolt for the moral high-ground. Watch out for the pious; the sanctimonious; the mealy-mouthed; the people who always see unruly protest as something worse than the injustice, the oppression, the social cleansing that triggered it.

Remind them that the freedom to voice their bourgeois indignation, along with the freedom to vote, to control their own fertility, to protest, to join a trade union, to have Saturday and Sunday off work, to even get paid for work and a great deal more, were only won by centuries of often violent struggle. They give us nothing but that which we take.

Riots are the final resort of the marginalised and disenfranchised. There can be no condemnation by anyone aspiring to humanity.

GE2017: Doing It For The Kids

Dorset Eye currently have a thread on lowering the voting age to 16, on their page, which is worth your time. I was thinking about this as I pulled into Beaconsfield services, earlier today. Where, lo and behold, a toxin of Tories at an adjacent table were discussing that very thing.

The fella at the next table, I subsequently learned, was a visitor to our septic isle and he, like me, shuddered at their discourse. These specimens were The Daily Mail made flesh. Comprising, in the main, perpetually resentful snobs and narrow-minded dullards; terrified some smelly poor person might obtain something they shouldn’t.

They were appalled even at the possibility of a refugee child making it into the country and putting non-existent pressure on the services their party consistently hack to bits anyway. And then reaching the age of 16 and voting for ‘the loony lefties.’

And our indigenous youngsters? “Scruffy oiks pretending to be wogs,” proffered one silver-haired, red-cheeked, polyester-clad monstrosity.

“They shouldn’t be allowed a vote until they’ve done a stint in the army,” responded another.

“Sshhh, you can’t say that!” belatedly cautioned a third.

“Damn their bloody political correctness, I’ll still call a spade a spade,” retorted the first, while sniggering at his ‘pun.’

Their sense of entitlement and cognitive dissonance were at virtually epidemic levels. So, too, was the absence of anything resembling empathy. As I politely interjected to inform them. Along with a couple of other succintly articulated observations…

The point? Only that there are no teens I can even imagine who would be less qualified to make a rational political decision than these grotesque parodies of humanity.

These grasping, hate-filled simpletons; these vacuous, bitter racists masquerading as sentient adults; these greedy, pitiless things are going to kill your future stone-cold dead on Thursday, kids. If you let them. You know what you have to do…

Sack the Tories on June 8th.

GE2017: Terror and How Not To Fight It

Trigger Warning: cheap party political points about terrorism.

The Tories are great at selling arms to, and funding, terrorists, aren’t they? But they’re clearly dreadful at fighting them. Basically.

I mean, if I ever needed someone to sell some guns and bombs for me to, say, a  barbaric medieval  regime, who funds and arms Islamic State, then I’d be all “Yes, Tories! I need Tories! Those guys really know how to get the job done.”

If, on the other hand, I wanted someone to fight terrorists; someone who wouldn’t, for example, recruit a fundamentalist zealot to fight Gaddaffi, pay for his family to settle in the UK and then let his son go to terrorist training camps in Libya and then go on to bomb the Manchester Arena, then I’d look elsewhere.

But the Tory way is clearly better, apparently:-

Carry on creating hundreds of thousands of bereaved mums, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, sons, daughters, just ripe in their demented grief, for turning by Wahhabist monsters.

Become the world’s second biggest arms dealer.

Keep Islamic State in bombs and guns, courtesy of our head-chopping, woman-stoning, gay-killing friends in Saudi Arabia.

Facilitate the training and funding of other terrorists to fight our dirty wars and then run around screeching when it all blows up in our faces on the streets of Manchester and London.

Oh, and don’t forget to blame the bloke who isn’t Prime Minister because the one who is, is unfit for the job and has utterly failed to keep the people of this country safe.

Are you really going to vote for the satanic matron who runs Islamic State’s procurement and supply-chain?

Sack the Tories on June 8th.

GE2017: This Septic Isle


Truly, there is a sickness at large in this increasingly benighted nation; a degeneration of humanity; a cancer of the soul.

That anyone would choose the next Prime Minister based on who would vaporise the most children and destroy the only planet we’ve got, is beyond obscene.

They aren’t content, these unconscionable ghouls, to steal the food from our children’s mouths; it isn’t enough to saddle them with £50,000 of debt for the cheek of pursuing education; it isn’t even enough for these demented medieval bastards that our mentally ill and physically disabled are bullied into poverty and then hounded to early deaths. Nor that they can laugh and sneer at children drowning in the sea and gleefully rip apart foxes in the name of ‘sport.’

No. It still isn’t enough. We have to bait a potential Prime Minister to commit to nuclear Armageddon. His fitness for office cannot be judged by his compassion. Only by his lust for blood; by his desire to destroy humanity; his eagerness to wipe earth from existence.

These people, and those who vote for them, are a threat to you, your children and your children’s children.

Sack the Tories on 8th June.

Say No to the Poppy

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The tedius annual poppy hysteria shows no signs of abating. My own position has been expressed perhaps less clearly (yes, really) than I’d have liked. Given that, for me, the poppy is about much more than some would have us believe, I’m taking the opportunity to address some of the many objections fired my way, recently. So, without further ado, buckle up…

“You insult our brave forces who have consistently fought for freedom”

I am genuinely baffled at the general view that soldiers – at least ‘our boys’ not those nasty foreign ones – somehow represent freedom, democracy and decency. They absolutely don’t.

WW1 was an imperial bloodbath. An orgy of death regarding markets and territory.  Whole generations of working-class conscripts fired out of trenches like so much human confetti. It was futile and every dead soldier was a wasted life. Their deaths meant nothing, achieved nothing and changed nothing. How heart-breakingly dreadful is that?

Sometimes, like WW2, they find themselves on the side of moral virtue. But that’s an accident of history. Soldiers are first, last and always there to protect, defend and consolidate the state and the establishment’s privilege and power.

Soldiers chasing down striking miners in Tonypandy, tanks rolling into George Square in Glasgow or bludgeoning trade unionists during the General Strike, to give just three examples, show exactly where our standing army ends up when freedom really does become an issue. They’ll turn on their own at the twitch of an officer’s eyebrow because that’s their job. And let’s not bother discussing the Six Counties, Aden, Cyprus or any of the former Colonies who actually did dare to fight for freedom. Their own. Free from British subjugation. We all know how they were treated…

As for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, only the cerebrally challenged would seriously posit that these grubby ‘interventions’ were even within touching distance of freedom or democracy.

Instead, every (comparative) freedom we enjoy today, women having the vote, political protest, joining a trade union and much, much more, were all won by working class men and women facing down the army. In reality, soldiers’ default setting is to be the enemy of freedom; at home and abroad.

“They’re just doing their job and you don’t get to pick and choose which orders you obey”

Conscription ended in the UK in 1960. Thereafter, anyone who died while killing Irish civilians in Derry, teenage Argentinean conscripts in the South Atlantic or Iraqi wedding guests in Basra did so as a result of a free and conscious choice. I will not be bullied or emotionally blackmailed into supporting such people or mourning their passing. And if you really want to talk about insulting the dead, you expect me to draw equivalence between the terrified, conscripted kids butchered in the Somme; the heroic men and women of WW2 who fought fascism and really did defend Britain and today’s squaddies ?Who choose, consciously and deliberately, to join up, invade other peoples’ countries and kill Arabs on behalf of the Brit state? Now that’s insulting.

“You lefty scum don’t know anything. The poppy is remembrance for the people not the politics.”

Rubbish. It isn’t solely about remembrance or respect anymore. Or have you folks, somehow, failed to notice the fetishisation of the military, over recent years? The attempts to cultivate and then co-opt the hideous mawkishness surrounding ‘our boys’? The poppy cult is a powerful plank in the establishment’s propaganda arsenal and like so much of their class offensive, is about the here and now and the future; not the past.

Linking the revolting slaughter of millions of wasted, pointless deaths during WW1 to the UK’s post-imperial adventures today –  in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria – is an attempt to confer legitimacy on the latter. It’s disgusting, frankly. Cynical and inhumane.

It’s about as subtle as a punch in the face. It’s screamingly apparent that it’s a thinly-veiled disguise to justify and glorify war. Fostered by the establishment who stand to profit from the lives squandered by those who have to fight them.

We continue to glorify and sentimentalise imperial slaughter so yet more young men and women will be willing to get their legs blown off. Along with lots of brown people, of course. Who I added as an afterthought to keep this piece in line with Brit liberal values.

I want to see an end to this sick and grotesque cult of soldier worship, of which the poppy is now a central plank. It’s macabre, dangerous and hideous.

They tell you the poppy isn’t celebrating war. That it’s just a symbol of family, friends and comrades remembering those who did not come home. Try being a TV presenter and not wearing one, then. The poor bastards get virtually lynched. Try being James McLean.

No, the poppy, these days, is a kind of patriot litmus-test. A barometer of how staunchly one stands behind the troops. I mean, don’t take my word for it; the British Legion are telling you! Christ, how much clearer does that image need to be? An official British Legion PR photo with a child holding a giant poppy while wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘future soldier.’

Grotesque.
Immoral.
Obscene.

Orgreave: “The fact is that it was a set-up and it worked brilliantly.”

otjcThe Tories can whitewash and cover up with all the energy they can muster but the fight goes on. Please support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign http://otjc.org.uk/

Here’s an excerpt from my book Look Back in Anger; the Miners’ Strike in Nottingham, published by Five Leaves 2014.

In a dispute filled with violence, the final showdown at Orgreave produced the most appalling scenes thus far. Even thirty years later, the footage has the power to shock. Pickets in trainers and t-shirts, some entirely shirtless on that beautiful summer’s day, were mercilessly battered by police officers in full riot-gear, flailing away indiscriminately with truncheons, while mounted officers charged fleeing bands of men, desperate to escape. On the miners’ side, barricades were erected and bricks and stones were hurled into the mêlée. A car from a nearby scrap-yard was dragged into the middle of the road and set alight and police pursued the miners into the nearby village, through gardens and houses, hammering down all they caught.

The numbers were formidable. Accounts vary but around 8000 pickets to 9,000 police is a generally accepted figure. The police deployed around sixty mounted officers, sixty attack-dogs and several thousand officers with short-shield riot-gear and the remainder sporting long-shield issue.

There remains little doubt that the violence meted out to the miners was pre-planned, deliberate and sanctioned at the highest level of the South Yorkshire force. Miners, en route to the plant, were amazed to see signs directing them to convenient car parks, smiling officers helpfully pointing the way and guiding them in with no attempts whatsoever to dissuade or turn back the thousands of pickets who had heeded Scargill’s call. Such behaviour stood in contrast to the manner in which all police forces had handled flying pickets up to that point.

For the Nottinghamshire miners, their experiences confirmed suspicions that ‘The Battle of Orgreave’ was a set-up orchestrated by the police. Years later, in a 1993 interview, Thatcher’s adviser and strike fixer David Hart would confirm  that view: “The coke was of no interest whatsoever. We didn’t need it. It was a set-up by us on a battle ground of our choosing .  The fact is that it was a set-up and it worked brilliantly.”

The fall-out from Orgreave was considerable although it would be many years before its full truth was revealed. TV viewers were treated to scenes of mobs of violent thugs hurling bricks and stones before embattled mounted police moved in to disperse the offenders. Only it wasn’t like that at all. As Red Pepper reported, nearly thirty years after the event, “When broadcasting footage of Orgreave, the BBC, incredibly, transposed the sequence of events, making it appear that police cavalry charges had been a defensive response to antagonism by stone-throwing pickets rather than an act of aggression. Only in 1991 did the BBC issue an apology for this, claiming that its action footage had been “inadvertently reversed.” The publicly-funded, ‘neutral’ state broadcaster had reversed footage which, in its original form, showed cowering pickets with nowhere to run, desperately fending off charging police with whatever they had to hand. Given the pre-digital era of 1984, with physical tape being used for filming, which required conscious human cutting, splicing and chopping for editing purposes, one can view the BBC’s claims of the footage being “inadvertently reversed” with a degree of contempt.

The South Yorkshire Police didn’t stop at merely bludgeoning defenceless men, either. Ninety five pickets were arrested and charged with a number of offences. The most serious being charges of rioting and affray which carried sentences of upwards of ten years. In 1987 the trials soon collapsed in a welter of conflicting police evidence, fabricated statements and embarrassing inconsistencies. Although described by renowned QC, Michael Mansfield, as “the biggest frame-up ever,” no officers were ever investigated or charged. This was despite South Yorkshire Police being forced to hand over nearly half-a-million pounds in compensation to thirty nine of the arrested pickets and incurring costs of over £100,000.

In light of the Hillsborough cover-up, it’s possible that an independent enquiry into Orgreave might yet bring further humiliation to a force that was institutionally corrupt. The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Justice for Mineworkers and other organisations continue to press the case.