Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Low Tone

Today, Tony Blair refused to apologise for his role in the case of Abdel Hakim Belhaj. My parliamentary candidacy is not endorsed by Tony Blair. Is Laura Pidcock's?

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

#Ken4Lewisham?

Probably not, but there will be something. At 72, Ken Livingstone is younger than people whom we have all known try and fail to retire from politics. Why anyone imagines that this is the end of him, I have absolutely no idea.

Come What May

In relation to the Manchester Arena attack, do not mention the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, of which Manchester was made the global centre by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May.

And in relation to Grenfell Tower, do not mention Gavin Barwell, who is now the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Down Under

The conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson was gleefully reported by the Today programme. But what would have been the BBC's attitude to sex with a 15-year-old in 1976? 

Even today, the only person who could be so much as charged with sex with a 15-year-old girl, never mind convicted of it, would be a professional footballer, and even then only one from the "wrong" club.

And even today, the only person who could be so much as charged with sex with a 15-year-old boy, never mind convicted of it, would be a Catholic priest.

Meanwhile, in all other circumstances, the media depict such activity as normal, natural and healthy. One really does have to wonder why.

Not Beyond Our Ken

The second parting of the ways between Ken Livingstone and the Labour Party was probably inevitable. The first one never did him any harm. And he was the wrong colour to go so far as to expel as part of the fever about anti-Semitism, the renewed whipping up of which suggests that another General Election is on the way.

As an aside, Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Caroline Lucas and Sylvia Hermon should have voted against an early dissolution of Parliament last year, and they ought to vote against one this year. Tell Theresa May to get back to work.

Now, someone needs to make a serious television programme about the failed deal between the Nazis and the Zionists, because it is a fascinating historical curiosity. And especially after today, Labour needs to expel Tony Blair, as much as anything else to see whether anyone would go with him. It is practically certain that no one would, and that in turn would make a vitally important point.

As to those who have imported the Liberal Establishment's branding of uppity black activists as anti-Semitic, be careful what you wish for. If you want the racial politics of your beloved New York, then you can have the racial politics of your beloved New York.

To Add To The Mysteries

Craig Murray writes:

Mike Barson, keyboard player of the great ska group Madness, had his Wikipedia entry amended by “Philip Cross” to delete his membership of Momentum and interview with The Canary.

This apparently trivial incident raises an important question. How does the “Philip Cross” Wikipedia monitoring operation work? “Cross”’s systematic attack on Momentum and The Canary is a matter of record, and his Twitter feed proves it is motivated by a visceral hatred of the anti-war movement. But how would “Cross” discover that a reference to Momentum had turned up somewhere as improbable as the page of a member of Madness? 

To get this by Google just would not work – try it yourself if you don’t know it relates to Barson, to Madness, or anything about them. To do a daily Wikipedia site specific Google search for the word Momentum might get you there after hours of effort. Are there tools within Wikipedia itself that could alert “Cross” to this sort of reference being added anywhere on Wikipedia, and if so are they available to the general public? 

A number of people have opined in reply to my posts that the time spent to make all of Cross’s daily edits, as per the number of keystrokes, is not great. That ignores the colossal effort that goes into research and above all monitoring of Wikipedia by the “Philip Cross” operation.

Finally, this is an excellent example of the bias of Wikipedia. The information about Barson is totally true. He is a proud member of Momentum. It is also quite interesting and an important bit of his life. But according to Wikipedia’s pro-MSM rules, “Philip Cross” can indeed delete it because the information is not from an MSM source. In the unlikely event of the Times or Telegraph ever writing about Barson’s Momentum membership, it would of course be in a hostile attack to which “Philip Cross” could then link. 

I hope you are understanding the Jimmy Wales methodology by now. 

So, to add to the mysteries of how “Philip Cross” works every waking hour, never takes a single day off and is followed on Twitter by few people but including half of Fleet Street, we can add the mystery of how he has omniscience of left-wing references appearing in unlikely places on Wikipedia. Go figure.

Trial Date Watch: Day 28

More than five weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 83

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Both A Product And A Feature

Topped and tailed by my left and right hands (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?), this has been submitted unsuccessfully to numerous national and local media over the last month. The sitting MP, who is a tabloid caricature of a left-winger and who is surrounded by MI5, is clearly very well-protected indeed:

Dear Sir,

Here in North West Durham, Labour holds fewer than half of the County Council seats, the Conservative parliamentary candidate won 34 per cent of the vote last year, the Liberal Democrat candidate cut the Labour majority in half in 2010, and an Independent kept his deposit both in 2005 and in 2010. Wear Valley was controlled for a time by the Liberal Democrats, who remained numerous on it until its abolition. Derwentside was in practice controlled by an alliance between the Independents and that section of what was then the local Labour Party which now supports the parliamentary candidacy of David Lindsay.

David Lindsay is both a product and a feature of this political pluralism. He has undertaken that, as the Member of Parliament, he would appoint an Independent, a Labourite, a Conservative and a Liberal Democrat in each of the County Wards, ideally including at least one person in each of the former District Wards, to communicate the concerns of local people to him, and then to work with them and with him to address those concerns. All past, present and aspirant Independent Councillors, and all former Labour Councillors, ought to join us in signing David Lindsay’s nomination papers. 

Yours faithfully,

James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Norman Bolton, Consett, County Durham
Michael Parker, Crook, County Durham; @Michael45759951
Adam J. Young, Going Postal (personal capacity); Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

All of this is, of course, perfectly correct. Furthermore, I have undertaken, that, in the hung Parliament that is the most likely outcome of the next General Election, the price of my support for any Government would be the necessary support for a number of projects in each of the former District Wards equal to the former number of District Councillors, together with justice for the 472 Teaching Assistants whom Durham County Council had deprived of 23 per cent of their incomes.

My Campaign Patrons are Councillor Alex Watson OBE, who was the Leader of Derwentside District Council during the period described, and Davey Ayre, a legendary local trade unionist. Both are stalwarts of, among many other things, the Teaching Assistants’ campaign. By contrast, the sitting MP has appointed as her Political Advisor the man whose political advice has reduced the TAs to their present, sorry state. 

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Black Out?

Martha Osamor is the sixth, sixth, black anti-racist campaigner to have been accused of anti-Semitism by those who formed themselves into a lynch mob and marched to demand the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party.

The Klansmen had no idea who Wadsworth was or why he mattered, and they have no idea why Osamor is or why she matters. In the world of the clothing range Hope Not Hate, anti-racism began with Tony Blair as surely as everything else did.

For that is what Hope Not Hate is. It should be known as Jack Wills. Imagine, just try and imagine, the Hope Not Hate lot fighting the EDL or its predecessors on the streets. You just laughed out loud reading that, and I just laughed out loud writing it.

Ruth Smeeth, Jess Phillips and John Woodcock all abstained on Windrush. Perhaps someone should hold a march against them? Someone experienced in such campaigning? Someone like, oh, I don't know, Marc Wadsworth?

But the recent failed attempt by David Miliband to re-enter British politics reminded us of where all this was coming from. In New York, when a black activist becomes too uppity for the liking of the wealthy Liberal Establishment, then he or she is branded an anti-Semite and, for the most part, never heard of again. New York New Labour expects the same tactic to work here.

Ho, hum. It looks as if Labour might not expel Ken Livingstone after all. Well, he is the wrong colour for that. So Ruth Smeeth and those who marched with her can then leave the Labour Party at that point. Or they can shut the hell up.

You Crossed The Wrong Man

Philip Cross's principal target on Wikipedia has been George Galloway. But Galloway's Wikipedia article has now been locked, so that it cannot be edited.

"Mum said to me, on 'er deafbed," tweeted Oliver "Del Boy" Kamm two years ago. Or words to that effect, "Last thing Christopher Hitchens ever said to me was to urge us to keep on Galloway's case."

As another sitcom catchphrase of yesteryear would have it, "Oh dear, how sad, never mind."

A New Charge

No, not against me. Against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. And therefore from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Again I say that a deputation of British politicians needs to board a plane to Tehran, unannounced, with their smartphones in their hands so that one of them might tweet immediately before landing that they would not be leaving without Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Abbas Edelat.

But they won't. They haven't yet, and they won't. Tulip Siddiq hasn't yet, and she won't. Emily Thornberry hasn't yet, and she won't. Sadiq Khan hasn't yet, and he won't. Jeremy Corbyn hasn't yet, and he won't.

In which case, who will? My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Fair Winds

Boris Johnson has arrived in Buenos Aires to the realisation that the enemy with which he has to deal is in London, in the same Cabinet as himself. But they are all as one in supporting the erstwhile enemy's friend.

My friend Hernán Dobry is the author of a groundbreaking book, Operation Israel: The Rearming of Argentina During the Dictatorship, 1976-1983, on Israel's arming of Argentina during the Falklands War. He owns all of the rights, because his publisher in Argentina has decided against a second edition. But he has updated it based on new research.

Its publication in Britain would significantly alter the debate on Israel among those who have become the staunchest British supporters of the current Israeli Government. I am therefore seeking to arrange simultaneous publication in Spanish in Buenos Aires and in London, and then the same of an English translation as soon as possible thereafter, with a preface or a foreword by someone at once distinguished and marketable; obviously, we already have someone specific in mind. 

Hernán maintains that his English is not up to translating his text, and my Spanish is certainly nowhere near that good, so we do need to find someone. A major London publishing house is interested, but the question is that of the translation costs, which would be in the region of £5000. Anyone in a position to help in any way, please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Courting Couples

Have the Commissioners been sent in to Kensington and Chelsea yet? If not, why not? They ought of course to be sent in to Durham, too. Although whether we could get Stormzy as one of ours, who knows?

Stormzy embodies the awakening cultural and political giant, especially but not exclusively in London, that is the Black Church. The Black Church that has so prominently blessed the latest Royal marriage. 

Stormzy is also Prince William's gym buddy, as well as a major figure in getting out Jeremy Corbyn's core vote from the urban black streets to the white teenage bedrooms of suburbia and the countryside. 

Welcome to the new Court Party.

Do Not Weep For Bernard Lewis

Peter Oborne writes:

It is customary to speak well of the dead. I refuse to observe this convention in the case of Bernard Lewis, a historian of Islam and the Middle East, who died over the weekend aged 101. I can think of no modern scholar who has perpetrated half as much harm. Lewis was intellectually a towering figure. This meant he had the ability to do great good.

Instead, he became the intellectual high priest for the calamitous wars which have caused such bloodshed across the Middle East, while doing unlimited damage to the standing of the United States.

A racist approach

Lewis's influence continues to this day. US Secretary of State and former CIA boss Mike Pompeo declared on 20 May: "I owe a great deal of my understanding of the Middle East to his work." Regime change in Iran was one of Bernard Lewis’s political projects and, inspired by his intellectual hero, Pompeo may be about to have a go at achieving it.

We have been here before. Lewis was the moral leader of the small group of intellectuals who argued for the Iraq invasion of 2003. Within days of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, he was agitating for the downfall of Saddam Hussein, expressing opinions which delighted the neoconservatives pressing for military action in the Middle East. 

He later deceitfully claimed that he had been against the Iraq invasion. This is rubbish. He was directly involved. Even before 9/11 he'd pressed for regime change in Iraq, and after the attack he seized his chance. Lewis was there when the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board held its notorious meeting to consider military action against Iraq at the end of September 2001. Lewis told the board that the United States should support so-called democratic reformers in the Middle East, "such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalabi". 

As one of the world's leading experts on Islam, Bernard Lewis had no excuse for falling for Chalabi, the charlatan who led the Iraqi National Congress.   Yet he did - hook line and sinker -  with terrible consequences that the Middle East lives with to this day.

Lewis's mistake over Iraq was just one manifestation of a hideous world view that included a nakedly racist approach to the Middle East. He told Vice President Dick Cheney: "I believe that one of the things you've got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick. They respect power." 

Intellectual justification for war 

Lewis expanded on this view in a series of books and lectures that painted a backwards-looking Muslim world seething with hatred against a modernising and virtuous West. It was him, and not Samuel Huntington, who coined the phrase "clash of civilisations".  

"We are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them," observed Lewis in 1990, adding: "This is no less than a clash of civilisations, the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both."

This view that Islam and the West are embroiled in an existential battle for survival has proved hugely influential on both sides of the Atlantic. It shapes official thinking to this day. Yet it is laden with contradictions. If the world is facing a war of civilisations, why do states remain the powerful actors in world affairs? If Islam is at war with the West, then why are the large Islamic states (Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc) for the most part Western allies?

A propagandist against Islam 

Lewis was also guilty of a disastrous intellectual reductionism. To put it mildly, the world's estimated 1.8 billion Muslims do not all think the same. Lewis often wrote as if they did.

No one person can or should be blamed for all the death and destruction we are witnessing in the Middle East. But Lewis bears his share because he provided the intellectual and moral justification for bigotry and war. Not that you would know this from reading today's newspapers. The Wall Street JournalThe TimesThe Daily Telegraph and many other outlets carry long obituaries full of praise for one of the great sages of our age.

More than 30 years ago Lewis was engaged in a furious series of exchanges with the Palestinian literary critic Edward Said. Both great scholars struck heavy blows in this debate, but I believe that Said was onto something important when he argued that "Lewis simply cannot deal with the diversity of Muslim, much less human life, because it is closed to him as something foreign, radically different, and other."

At the heart of Said's attack on Lewis was the assertion that he was less an objective scholar and more a propagandist against Islam and the Arab world. The controversy still rages but my guess is that history will agree that Said was right. In the meantime, as another war looms again in the Middle East, this time with Iran, Lewis's influence and standing remains as high as ever.

You Get The Circle?

Craig Murray writes:

High Tory [well...], ex Daily Telegraph and Murdoch, expensive private school, Emma Barnett is BBC Politics’ rising star and stood in as host of the BBC flagship Marr programme on Sunday. She was there rude and aggressive to Labour’s Barry Gardiner. The “highlight” of her career so far was during the general election when on Radio 4 Women’s Hour she demanded instant, top of the head recall of complicated figures from Jeremy Corbyn, a ploy the BBC never turns on the Tories.

The most interesting fact about Emma Barnett is that her exclusive private education was funded by her parents who were pimps and brothel keepers on a large scale, for which both were convicted. I know of no compelling evidence as to whether Barnett was, or was not, complicit in her parents’ activities, which financed her education into adulthood. But that this background is interesting and unusual is not in doubt. 

However the MSM’s image protector, “Philip Cross”, has been assiduous in, again and again, deleting the information about Barnett’s parents from Wikipedia. Not only has Cross deleted the referenced information of her parents being brothel-keepers, he has repeatedly inserted the ludicrous euphemisms that her father was a “businessman” and her mother a “housewife”. 

Cross has also deleted references to Barnett – who wrote for the Telegraph and then for Murdoch’s Times, being “right-wing”. He has instead inserted claims that criticisms of Emma Barnett following her aggressive Corbyn interview were “anti-Semitic”, in a classic Cross move to undermine any left-wing point. Naturally he had references from The Times and The Guardian – evidence free articles – to back up these claims – and naturally from journalists whose Wikipedia pages Cross curates. 

You get the circle? On 21 June 2017 editor Alfonz-kiki complained that Cross’s continual whitewashing of Barnett’s entry was by “paid PR”. He pointed out that he had references on her parents’ brothels from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Alfonz-kiki is one of scores to have separately noticed and complained of Cross’s activities over years, but Cross has been defended by Wikipedia again and again and again. 

Barnett is demonstrably right-wing from her Murdoch and Telegraph columns. Her expensive private education – which got her where she is – was undeniably paid for by the proceeds of prostitution and by the trafficking in persons that led to the operation being closed down. But Philip Cross makes sure you can see none of that on Wikipedia. 

In case you are saying that Cross is justified, Barnett’s parents activities were not her fault and ought not be on her Wikipedia page, let me remind you of one thing. The same “Philip Cross” edited my own Wikipedia page to state that my wife Nadira used to be a stripper, sourced to the Mail. Cross abuses family information, as all other information, to defame dissidents or to burnish Establishment defenders, not according to a moral code. 

And:

“Philip Cross” has just 200 Twitter followers, but has more MSM journalists following him than are to be found among my 42,300 twitter followers. Despite the fact a large majority of “Philip Cross’s” tweets are mere retweets, with Oliver Kamm and Nick Cohen most frequently retweeted. “Philip Cross” has never broken a news story and the few tweets which are not retweets contain no gems of expression or shrewd observation. 

In short, his Twitter feed is extremely banal; there is literally nothing in it that might interest a journalist in particular. Do not take my word for it, judge for yourself

Why then does James Le Mesurier, founder of the “White Helmets”, follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does ex-minister Tristram Hunt follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon, follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why then do so the following corporate and state journalists follow “Philip Cross” on Twitter? 

Oliver Kamm, Leader Writer, The Times
Nick Cohen, Columnist, The Guardian/Observer
Joan Smith, Columnist, The Independent
Leslie Felperin, Film Columnist, The Guardian
Kate Connolly, Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian/Observer
Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit Correspondent, The Guardian
James Bloodorth, Columnist, The Independent
Cristina Criddle, BBC Radio 4, Today 
Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times
Iain Watson, Political Correspondent, The BBC
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor, The Sunday Times
Jennifer Chevalier, CBC, ex-BBC
Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday 

Prominent Freelancers: 

Bonnie Greer (frequently in The Guardian)
Mason Boycott-Owen (The Guardian, New Statesman)
Marko Attilla Hoare (The Guardian)
Kirsty Hughes
Guy Walters (BBC)
Paul Canning 

Let me recap, The official story is that “Philip Cross” is an obscure and dedicated Wikipedia editor who edits every single day for five years. His Twitter feed has never contained any “news”. Yet among the 160 followers he had last week before the media spotlight was turned upon him, were all these MSM journalists, many more than follow anyone but the most prominent individuals, more than follow an activist like me. Also big figures like Sarah Brown, Tristram Hunt and James Le Mesurier. What does this tell us about who Philip Cross is?

The largest single category of Philip Cross’ historic 160 followers is anti-Left and anti-Corbyn twitter accounts, especially those that specialise in making accusations of anti-Semitism against left wing or anti-war figures. These include: UK Media Watch “promoting accurate coverage of Israel”; ALT Putin’s Capitalist Wealth “@medialenswipe”; Antinat; Jeremy Corbin Prime Minister; Jewish News; Anti-Nazis Utd [which thinks I am a Nazi]; Labour Against Anti-Semitism; Jews Against Jeremy Corbyn. 

A very much larger number of individual followers of “Philip Cross” have twitter streams which predominantly consist of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn or the anti-war Left in general, and of vociferous support for Israel. Of personal interest to me, there are at least seventeen of Philip Cross’s supporters who have made utterly unprovoked attacks on me on social media over the last twelve months. 

So let us recap what we know. “Philip Cross” spends a quite astonishing amount of time on Wikipedia making malicious edits to the entries of anti-war or anti-corporate media figures, while at the same time polishing and protecting the Wikipedia profiles of corporate and state media figures. “Philip Cross” had done this obsessively for 13 years, and not had a single day off, even at Christmas, for five years. 

“Philip Cross” is not very active on Twitter, mostly just retweeting, and as you would expect has therefore not had many followers. But an extraordinary percentage of that very limited number of followers are MSM journalists or senior Establishment figures. There is absolutely no reason on the face of his Twtter stream why Philip Cross would attract this particular type of following. His retweets are mostly of Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm, and his followership is concentrated in The Guardian and The Times, which nowadays have very similar neo-con agendas.

“Philip Cross”‘s own Twitter stream makes no effort at all to hide the fact that he has the strongest of neo-conservative biases, hates the Left and anti-war movement, and strongly supports Israel. “He” is part of an active social media network trolling these views. The purpose of “his” continual Wikipedia editing could not be clearer. I suspect strongly that this particular Philip Cross Twitter follower gives us a clue:

That is a Twitter account founded by a collective of Guardian writers to attack MediaLens, whose Wikipedia entry “Philip Cross” has edited over 800 times. I suspect “Philip Cross” is a similar collective effort, which may hide behind the persona of a real life individual called Philip Cross. The intention of this effort to denigrate and demean alternative media and anti-war figures through their Wikipedia entries, and at the same time to burnish the Wikipedia entries of mainstream media figures, is proven without doubt, as is the continued complicity of Wikipedia in enabling and defending the long-term operation.

Analysis of “Philip Cross” tweets.

FOOTNOTE Since Philip Cross’a activity was brought into prominence throughout social media a few days ago, his Twitter followers have increased, mostly by people who dislike his activity wishing to keep an eye on him. I have disregarded these new followers, and it in no way diminishes my argument for trolls to point out that he now has left wing followers as well.

Trial Date Watch: Day 27

More than five weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 82

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

One Spirit, One Body

The whole Church was baptised with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, which we celebrate today, and She manifests that baptism through a rich plurality of gifts, the charisms. The whole Church, and thus every member, is therefore both Pentecostal and Charismatic.

Every gift is a charism, and each is always given for the good of the whole body, in response to Her evangelistic activity, in the context of Her sacramental life, and subject to Her gift of discernment. She exercises that gift within Her institutional life, because the institutional Church and the charismatic Church are inseparable, being two aspects of a single reality.

It is wholly unscriptural to impose any requirement that anyone exercise any particular charism in order to be considered a full, believing member of the Church. There has never been the slightest doubt that the charisms include healing, exorcism, prophecy and words of knowledge, nor really even that they include speaking in tongues.

Furthermore, healing is here understood as even those of us not raised in the Charismatic Movement understand it: it is the restoration of the human person to wholeness, which might or might not take the form of healing as understood by medical science, depending on what is known best to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Wisdom of God. Similarly, the performance of exorcism is restricted to suitably qualified people, and it is only ever used against the power of that objective evil which we can but thank God that we do not fully understand.

Prophecy is recognised as the gift of being able to read the signs of the times and to communicate effectively what is thus read, so that there is always foretelling in the forthtelling, while words of knowledge are always relevant, always wise counsel and always independently verifiable. Speaking in tongues is never without the interpretation of tongues, and together they make it possible to understand where such would not otherwise be the case.

By contrast, glossolalia is not a Biblical word, but a twentieth-century running together of two such words in order to describe a twentieth-century phenomenon associated with the denial that those who do not exercise it have been “baptised with the Holy Spirit”, with the degeneration of worship into banality and incoherence, with the refusal of legitimate ecclesial authority, with the denial or minimisation of doctrine, and with the transfer of ecclesial authority to parachurch leaders.

For example, as well as having been miraculously healed, the great Dominican Saint Vincent Ferrer was also blessed with the gift of tongues. Other than Ecclesiastical Latin and despite his English father, he had no language but Limousin, which was what they spoke in his native Valencia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Yet he was a tireless itinerant missionary, preaching to tremendous effect in Aragon, Castile, Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Ireland and Scotland.

Whereas glossolalia is, it is worth repeating, a twentieth-century running together of two Biblical Greek words in order to describe a twentieth-century phenomenon that does not occur in the Bible. Is it Saint Paul's “tongues of angels”? There is nothing in Scripture to support that view. The true gift of tongues is as manifested by Saint Vincent Ferrer OP, Biblical scholar, philosopher, thus doubly informed and doubly informing theologian, and thanks to that ongoing formation a gloriously successful preacher of the Gospel, not least to the Jews, precisely as an ordained priest and a solemnly professed Religious in perfect unity with the See of Peter.

These and the other charisms serve to re-root Theology in experience, and to call the whole Church to watch at all times for the Second Coming. They restore the integrity of the Liturgy by freeing it from over-formality and over-conventionality. And they release the ministries of women, young people, the poor, and others who experience marginalisation and oppression. Yet there is never any question of any one gift’s being used to decide whether or not someone has been “baptised with the Holy Spirit”, because it is the whole Church that has been so baptised.

Nor need there be any degeneration into banal and incoherent services; indeed, any such degeneration, like any refusal of legitimate ecclesial authority, or any denial or minimisation of anything taught by the Magisterium, is a sign to the institutional Church, in Her exercise of Her charism of discernment, that the spirits being tested are not of God. And nor is there any transfer of ecclesial authority to parachurch leaders, because there is no parachurch. Rather, there is the Holy, Catholic and Roman Church.

The Natural State

Peter Hitchens writes: 

Nationalisation is the natural state of modern railways. Dress it up any way you like, they are never going to make a real profit. 

The benefit they give to our civilisation cannot be measured in money alone, but in speed, safety, energy efficiency, clean air and reduced noise pollution.

The absurd 'privatisation' imposed on them by silly John Major in the 1990s has never worked, and will never work. 

The increase in passenger numbers which came soon afterwards wasn't because of privatisation. It resulted from an explosion in long-distance commuting, caused by high house prices. 

Had it been given the enormous subsidies handed to the privatised train companies, efficient old British Rail could have given us a network to be proud of.

Time and again privatisation has failed, even on its own terms. Last week, yet again, the majestic East Coast route had to be taken back into public ownership because private contractors have made a mess of it.

They did so in spite of the fact that BR had handed them an electrified and highly modern line.

People who think private operators have made this service better don't know what they're talking about. I look at the ghastly Virgin services of the past few years, with their horrible matey publicity, stupid notices in the lavatories, flashy livery and incomprehensible fares.

And then I think of the sight of the old Tyne-Tees Pullman coming into the great curve of York station in the 1970s, with a uniformed attendant at every door, smack on time; or of the beautiful, steam-hauled Elizabethan in the 1950s carrying me south across the Forth Bridge.

If Richard Branson's tawdry trains are an improvement on them, then the world's been turned upside down. 

And:

So off we go once more to the futile battlegrounds of Afghanistan, where no foreign army has succeeded, ever.

This time we're being assured that British troops will be there only to train the Afghans. Last time we were told that their mission would be accomplished without a shot being fired.

Yet within months the flag-wrapped coffins were being flown home. 'When will they ever learn?' as Marlene Dietrich used to sing.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Take Back The City

With Sakina Sheikh out of the race for Lewisham East because of her ties to Take Back The City, Claudia Webbe it is, then. Failing that, Marc Wadsworth, who should have been ennobled yesterday, should put up as an Independent, right there on the South East London home turf of the Stephen Lawrence campaign.

Take Back The City? Is that all? On being welcomed into the Parliamentary Labour Party, Peter Temple-Morris, who died recently, had been elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament on no fewer than seven occasions. Robert Jackson had been so five times, Quentin Davies five times (including at all three of the General Elections at which Labour had been led by Tony Blair), and Alan Howarth three times. Shaun Woodward had managed it only once, but he had managed it. In view of the ennoblements of Temple-Morris and Davies upon their retirements, has either of them ever voted Labour at a parliamentary election? If so, then when, exactly?

Davies abruptly decided that "my party had left me" on 26th June 2007, the night before Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. He was rapidly rewarded, and he has continued to be so. He remains in receipt of the Labour Whip in the House of Lords, having served under Brown as a Minister in the House of Commons. He had been elected as a Conservative MP at all five of the 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005 General Elections. He had served in the Shadow Cabinets of Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.

Yet people are making a fuss about Take Back The City. In reality, we need supporters of economic equality to be elected to the City of London Corporation, as well as to the States of Jersey, to the States of Guernsey, to Tynwald, and to the legislatures of the British Overseas Territories. Labour has had some success in the City in the recent past, despite the jaw-dropping electoral system. And candidates for Mayor of London have to be nominated by at least 10 local government electors in each of the 32 Boroughs and in the City. Sadiq Khan, Siân Berry and George Galloway all managed that last year. Those 30 people are there.

David Aaronovitch Stinks

Miles Gosslet writes:

I’ve been watching with interest the debate on this website between Peter Oborne and David Aaronovitch on the subject of my recently published book about the David Kelly affair. I had not expected that An Inconvenient Death was going to generate this sort of discussion but, now that these two writers have had their say, I have been invited to add some thoughts on the matter. I was flattered that The Times devoted a page to Aaronovitch’s review of my book on 7 April – just two days after it was published (the review is quoted in full in Aaronovitch’s response to Oborne on this site).

As I read Aaronovitch’s 1,200 words, however, I became increasingly puzzled. The first 40 per cent was a self-defensive commentary about Kelly’s death and the Blair government’s management of it. Then, when Aaronovitch concluded: “It stinks, really, does this waste of publisher’s, purchaser’s and reviewer’s time and money,” I couldn’t help wondering why he had bothered to read and then write about the book in the first place. Why did he waste his time – and the highly prized space on the pages of The Times – on what he considers to be worthless material? Why not ignore it? 

One thing is clear to me: the fact that Aaronovitch has now devoted yet more time to this concern by responding to Oborne’s deconstruction of his Times review indicates that he feels very strongly about the Kelly case. He is, contrary to his suggestion that my book “stinks”, quite willing to pledge many hours to it. Indeed, his review followed a 1,200-word comment piece in The Times in October 2007 lambasting the former MP Norman Baker’s book on the same subject. 

He returned to the Kelly episode – again in The Times – in a critical 1,000-word comment piece in August 2010. And – again in The Times – in June 2013 he reviewed a book by Robert Lewis about Kelly’s life and work, also negatively. From this I deduce that Aaronovitch thinks it’s OK for him to write about the Kelly case; it’s just that he doesn’t want people like Baker, Lewis and me doing the same thing. 

Had Aaronovitch written a straight review of my book, saying that it was rubbish because it was badly written, poorly structured and full of sloppy research, I would have been stung, but I would have accepted it as his considered opinion. Certainly, I would have said nothing about it publicly, because doing so would trigger justifiable accusations of sour grapes. 

But what Oborne appears to think, and what I also think, is that without critical observations of this type, but instead presenting a caricature of the book to Times readers, Aaronovitch’s review was an attack launched at the earliest opportunity that may have damaged its prospects – intentionally or otherwise. 

As Oborne has demonstrated, Aaronovitch misrepresented my book and portrayed me as an unhinged conspiracy theorist. In fact, the book is intended to be a careful analysis of the Hutton Inquiry into Kelly’s death and the ramifications of that process. Its aim is to show how Tony Blair’s desperate government rode roughshod over the long-established method of inquiry into this event – a coroner's inquest – and installed its own, less rigorous investigation. As a result key witnesses were excluded, evidence was concealed and loose ends allowed to remain untied. 

I believe, though I accept I may be wrong, that Aaronovitch began his review with a firmly closed mind. Let me explain why I have arrived at this interpretation.

Ad hominems

In his Times review, Aaronovitch presented himself as something of an expert on the subject. He reminded readers of a book he wrote on conspiracy theories which was published in 2009, a chapter of which is devoted to examining sceptically any sense of mystery surrounding Kelly’s death. He may think his 25 pages on this topic makes him a specialist in the field, but I would suggest it means simply that he has a position to defend.

Certainly, it would be understandable if Aaronovitch feels somewhat exposed when it comes to this period of British politics. In April 2003 he wrote regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: “If nothing is eventually found, I – as a supporter of the war – will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again. And, more to the point, neither will anyone else. Those weapons had better be there somewhere.” 

I have recently read the aforementioned chapter of Aaronovitch’s book. It is titled “Mr Pooter Forms a Theory” and largely focuses on criticising Norman Baker’s 2007 book about Kelly’s death. It begins by criticising Baker on a personal level. Charges against him include his having a “receded chin”, a “receding hairline”, not having a “distinguished dress sense” and being “exceptionally ordinary”.

Aaronovitch’s perceptions of Baker have nothing to do with the matter at hand, of course. They are an attempt to belittle Baker and, by extension, his endeavour. Aaronovitch obviously thinks he is witty and clever for ridiculing Baker in this way. But don’t these unpleasant and irrelevant words merely reinforce the possibility that Aaronovitch boils so furiously at anybody questioning the official David Kelly story that he feels the need to spend his precious time thinking up ways to humiliate them publicly? Well, to borrow a term, I think this stinks. 

The errors of Aaronovitch

Aaronovitch will not welcome this, but I have noticed that his Kelly thesis appears to contain a number of errors which suggest that he is not as familiar with the issue as he wishes Times readers to believe. These are some problems I can find in his book:

1. Page 262, paragraph 1: Aaronovitch writes that “it was probably inevitable” that Kelly's contact with the journalist Andrew Gilligan would become public and “the government took no very stringent steps to ensure that it didn’t”. This is at best a limited interpretation of what actually happened, which is that Blair chaired a meeting in Downing Street on 8 July 2003 at which it was actively decided that Kelly's name could be given by the Ministry of Defence press office to any journalist who guessed it. Even if his “probably inevitable” remark is not a deliberate understatement by Aaronovitch, it certainly isn’t a fair reflection of the facts either.

2. Page 262, paragraph 1: he writes of a “besieged Kelly… giving evidence to the televised committees...”. Note the plural “committees”. The clear inference is that this level of public exposure on two occasions helped tip him over the edge. In fact, Kelly gave evidence at only one televised select committee hearing. The second was held in private. This is a small error, but an error nonetheless.

3. Page 264, paragraph 3, last sentence: Aaronovitch says Kelly “had at least one characteristic which, in statistical terms, probably made him an enhanced suicide risk”. This is wrong. See next point.

4. Page 266, paragraph 2: Aaronovitch says: “David Kelly's own mother committed suicide.” He says this makes it more likely that Kelly would have done the same thing and quotes psychiatric research from 2002 to support his point. But at the coroner's inquest into Margaret Kelly's death in 1964 , the coroner recorded an open verdict. He did not determine that David Kelly’s mother had taken her own life. This point feeds into the key consideration any coroner must make when dealing with an apparent suicide, and one which I write about in my book: intent. 

Specifically, a coroner must ask himself or herself: “Did the person whose death I am considering intend to take their own life?” Very often, the coroner will record an open verdict because they cannot satisfy themself “beyond reasonable doubt” that the deceased really did intend to do so. Furthermore, as I say in my own book (page 284), when Professor Keith Hawton – an expert witness who appeared at the Hutton Inquiry – was required to judge whether Margaret Kelly's death influenced her son’s, he dismissed this possibility. Aaronovitch was apparently unaware of this when he published his book six years later in 2009.

5. Page 266: Aaronovitch makes great play of evidence given by a former British diplomat, David Broucher, to the Hutton Inquiry. Broucher said that Kelly once told him that if an invasion of Iraq went ahead, he, Kelly, would “probably be found dead in the woods”. Aaronovitch says this comment was akin to Kelly sharing what amounts to a mental dress rehearsal of his suicide with Broucher, and may prove Kelly had the idea of ending his life in his mind long before he did so. This is surely an amateur interpretation which Aaronovitch, who is not a psychiatrist, has no right to make. 

More importantly, why should Broucher be believed? By his own admission, he couldn’t recall the details of his contact with Kelly. He couldn’t remember whether they had met once or twice; he couldn’t remember when their meeting or meetings took place; and he couldn’t remember where they had met – not even in which country. I would say Broucher was not a reliable witness; Aaronovitch, apparently, would say he was. Even if Broucher’s memory was accurate, one chance remark cannot prove that Kelly intended to kill himself and then did so. No coroner would use this as evidence of intent, but Aaronovitch is happy to accept it as gospel.

6. Pages 269-71: Aaronovitch writes of the 29 co-proxamol tablets that Kelly allegedly swallowed. In fact there is doubt as to how many pills he did swallow, as Alex Allan, the toxicologist who gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, explained. He told the inquiry that the drug levels in his system were “somewhat lower than what I would normally expect to encounter in cases of death due to an overdose of co-proxamol.” (see pages 272-3 of my book). There is also the point that Kelly’s friend, Mai Pederson, said Kelly had an aversion to swallowing pills – one of many key points not raised at the Hutton Inquiry but which his widow, Janice Kelly, has acknowledged. 

7. Page 271: Aaronovitch speaks in terms of Kelly being “intent” on suicide – yet, as discussed, intent was not ever discussed at Hutton, though it should have been. (See pages 281-2 of my book.) It is worth saying again that a coroner must satisfy himself or herself “beyond reasonable doubt” that someone intended to kill themself and then did so. This bar is set deliberately high at coroners’ inquests. I am not even sure that this bar existed at the Hutton Inquiry.

8. Page 272: Aaronovitch endorses the forensic pathologist Nicholas Hunt, who investigated Kelly’s death. In so doing, he tries to undermine legitimate queries which Baker made in his book and which I have also made. As it happens, in my book, I take the opposite view about Hunt. Perhaps Aaronovitch should have looked at Hunt’s record more closely as well. At the time Aaronovitch published his book in 2009, Hunt was under a five-year warning for breaching General Medical Council guidelines. His misdemeanour was to have shown to members of the public photographs of the mutilated bodies of three Royal Military Police officers killed in Iraq in 2003.

Regarding his inquiry into Kelly’s death, many medical professionals have criticised Hunt for waiting seven hours before taking Kelly’s body temperature at the location where it was found, complicating the process of establishing what time he died. In his autopsy Hunt recorded Kelly’s height and weight incorrectly (he recorded that Kelly was more than two stones lighter than he was) and also recorded the weight of his liver incorrectly. Incidentally, Hunt has said repeatedly that he thinks there ought to be a coroner's inquest into David Kelly’s death – something which Aaronovitch obviously does not want.

A Kelly monopoly 

The evidence indicates that Aaronovitch objects passionately to anybody asking searching questions about Kelly’s death. This is a surprising response for a journalist, given that the matter falls squarely into the public interest. But in his world, he – and nobody else – decides what is a legitimate journalistic inquiry and what is a conspiracy theory.

For having written my book, I have been branded a money-grabbing “conspiracy theorist”. In fact, anybody who, like me, believes there ought to be a full coroner’s inquest into Kelly’s death is also a “conspiracy theorist”. This includes, presumably, the two coroners whom I met earlier this year at separate social occasions, both of whom called Hutton’s finding “unsafe”. 

It’s not obvious to me why Aaronovitch should feel he has a monopoly on this situation. Neither is it apparent why he slavishly follows the official version of events about Kelly’s death without considering the many unanswered questions surrounding it, or wanting others to do so. But it does seem unusual that one journalist would actively want to prevent the excavations of another journalist from being read as widely as possible.

Luckily, for me, Aaronovitch is not in charge of deciding whether journalists are allowed to probe this business, and I intend to carry on doing so. Even more luckily for me, the two newspaper reviews of my book (only one online) published after his were both objective. This is all any author should be able to expect having pulled off the notoriously tricky task of getting a book published. And, as it happens, both were very supportive of the book.

A Chambers and Partners Band 1 legal practice is now on standby to pursue an action to bring about a Coroner's Inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, an action before the International Criminal Court against those who had brought slavery back to Libya, and an action before the High Court of Justiciary of Scotland inviting it to exercise its declaratory power against Tony Blair and his accomplices in the aggression against Iraq in 2003. We are of course also keeping a very close eye on the situation in Syria.

All of these actions are to begin immediately upon my election to the House of Commons. My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Trial Date Watch: Day 26

More than five weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 81

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Out Of The Bag

I am very glad that Sergei Skripal has been discharged from hospital. The human fatalities of the "deadly" attack in Salisbury, not so very long ago the biggest story in the world, have turned out to number precisely zero. But who killed the two guinea pigs and the cat? This is Britain, after all.

Porc Normande

Whatever Prince Harry is getting up to tonight, consider that, like Henry VIII before him and Prince Hal before that, he will always be an amateur compared to their ancestor and namesake, Henry I.

William the Conqueror’s youngest son probably became King of England by having one his own brothers murdered, certainly became Duke of Normandy by defeating another brother in battle, had at least 29 children by at least eight (and possibly 19) different women, and literally ate himself to death on the night of 1st and 2nd December 1135, aged 67.

Not The Great Game

No more British troops to Afghanistan.

Pull out the ones who are already there.

And never, ever, ever go back.

Peering Into The Future

At 2:20 here, George Galloway promises live on air to take a seat in the House of Lords if I do. That was on 21st December 2016, but I assume that it still stands.

Yet no ermine for either of us this time, it seems. Even though Guido Fawkes has been reduced to tarring the soon-to-be-ennobled Martha Osamor with the worn out brush of anti-Semitism.

Another election of some kind must be on its way if he has been told to dig this one out again, and there is only one kind that the Prime Minister can call when she pleases.

All in all, Jeremy Corbyn might be left wishing that he had indeed raised George, Neil Clark and me to the peerage when he had the chance.

The Style To Which They Are Accustomed

And so the Government simply gives up on trying to stay out of the Customs Union, at least in fact rather than merely in name. Its own party's right wing, perhaps 20 mostly rather eccentric MPs but certainly not 30, will um and ah. But they cannot do any more than that, and of course they can be asked whether they wanted to add the dissolution of the Union with Northern Ireland to their already stated aim of the abolition of the House of Lords. Not that that question is now rhetorical. How very, very far Brexit has moved them.

The idea that the United Kingdom has a land border at all, never mind one that is more than 300 miles long and which has more than 200 crossing points, has shaken the Right's own sense of national identity to its core. But there are more crossing points on the Irish Border than there are on the entire eastern border of the EU. Some of them are streams so small that they have no names, and so shallow that they have no bridges; you just have to wade. Yet such is the land frontier of the United Kingdom, a frontier the very existence of which entirely blows the minds of the Our Island Story brigade.

Nor does the Right really have any argument against the Customs Union, as such. For that, you need the Left, which has been working on this for 60 years and which could do so for 60 more if it had to. Although key points of the last Labour manifesto were dependent on leaving both the Customs Union and the Single Market, as key points of the next Labour manifesto will be. By contrast, Brexit itself was the only point in the last Conservative manifesto to have been in any way dependent on Brexit.

Speak As I Find

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, to whom I am not related to the best of my knowledge, would make an excellent Speaker of the House of Commons. Harriet Harman, on the other hand, would not.

I have spent more than 20 years, since I was (just) still in my teens and had never seen the Internet, trying to get the story out about Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange. I have paid a terrible journalistic and political price for it, but I have no regrets. Media that always knew about it simply ignored the whole thing, banning me from their websites and what have you, until a period of no more than two weeks when they needed to distract attention from Patrick Rock. Normal service was rapidly resumed, and it has continued ever since.

And now, the plan is advancing to make Harman the next Speaker. The only outside chance of stopping that is to put the only person who would dare to mention her past, me, into the House of Commons. Am I serious about this? Utterly. To the marrow of my bones. No one has done more on this issue than I have. No one. Not only would I oppose her election, but, were she already in post, then I would oppose her re-election at the start of the next Parliament.

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Trial Date Watch: Day 25

More than five weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 80

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

This Need Is Urgent


Imagine if, at birth, newborns were divided into five groups. The five groups are allotted varying time-spans on the planet, with the bottom fifth having the shortest lives, the next fifth longer life, and so on, with the top fifth living longest. 

The upshot is that that the top fifth of newborns have lives ten years longer than the bottom fifth. Real disparities in life expectancy in the 21st century UK are as glaring as this. Residents of the most affluent communities live almost a decade more than those of the most deprived.

For decades, the links between health, poverty and inequality have been securely established, with perhaps the most renowned work on it – by Professor Michael Marmot – revealing how mortality and morbidity are linked to ‘social determinants’ of health. Chief among them these social determinants are class, ethnicity, gender, disability, relative wealth and poverty, the characteristics of neighbourhoods, quality of environment, and housing. 

Yet poor lifestyle choices in deprived communities continue to be blamed for health inequities. New analysis reveals how that view is wrong. Professor Marmot writes in the foreword to a forthcoming report by the Human City Institute (HCI): 

There is a rumour going around that poor people are unhealthy because they make unhealthy choices. This rumour is a myth. It has the causal connection backwards…It is not poor choices that lead to poverty, but poverty that leads to poor choices. Change circumstances and people on low incomes are more likely to adopt the choices that are good for health.

This need is urgent. HCI’s research shows that significant health inequalities exist at all geographical levels, and are on the rise. Major disparities in life expectancy exist between the countries and regions of the UK, between local councils within regions, and most starkly, between neighbourhoods within local authorities.

The most deprived neighbourhoods include larger concentrations of poor and overcrowded housing, which poses major risks to health – including poor mental health, respiratory disease, long-term health and disability and the delayed physical and cognitive development of children. Cold housing is especially damaging for health, and causes an estimated fifth of excess winter deaths. Insecure and short-term tenure housing is especially damaging for physical and mental health. 

Levels of poor, hazardous and overcrowded housing are also on the rise. It is estimated that such housing costs the NHS £1.4bn annually. Austerity and welfare reform introduced in 2010, are factors in widening health inequalities. As the BMA says in a recent report:

Austerity is the central public health issue of our time. From A&E departments to mental health to child health, austerity hampers the ability of the NHS to respond to the needs of the British population…and austerity falls hardest on the poorest in society, the most vulnerable, the voiceless.” 

The Tories’ record on health is weak and worsening – spending on the NHS has fallen as a proportion of GDP and now lags behind the EU average; public satisfaction with the NHS plummets as crisis after crisis hits the NHS; and public health has been reorganised, reduced and rendered less effective. Alongside this, we see cuts to services from Sure Start to welfare benefits, coupled with stagnating earnings at the bottom of the income scale.

All this exacerbates inequality – which in turn is feeding into low life expectancy for the poor. That this is not a national scandal in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS says an awful lot about the priorities of politicians, the media and the British people.

Read the Human City Institute report here.

Cross Words

Craig Murray writes:

133,612 edits to Wikpedia have been made in the name of “Philip Cross” over 14 years. That’s over 30 edits per day, seven days a week. And I do not use that figuratively: Wikipedia edits are timed, and if you plot them, the timecard for “Philip Cross’s” Wikipedia activity is astonishing is astonishing if it is one individual:

The operation runs like clockwork, seven days a week, every waking hour, without significant variation. If Philip Cross genuinely is an individual, there is no denying he is morbidly obsessed. I am no psychiatrist, but to my entirely inexpert eyes this looks like the behaviour of a deranged psychotic with no regular social activities outside the home, no job (or an incredibly tolerant boss), living his life through a screen.

I run what is arguably the most widely read single person political blog in the UK, and I do not spend nearly as much time on the internet as “Philip Cross”. My “timecard” would show where I watch football on Saturdays, go drinking on Fridays, go to the supermarket and for a walk or out with the family on Sundays, and generally relax much more and read books in the evenings. Cross does not have the patterns of activity of a normal and properly rounded human being.

There are three options here. “Philip Cross” is either a very strange person indeed, or is a false persona disguising a paid operation to control Wikipedia content, or is a real front person for such an operation in his name. Why does this – to take the official explanation – sad obsessive no friends nutter, matter? Because the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation is systematically to attack and undermine the reputations of those who are prominent in challenging the dominant corporate and state media narrative, particularly in foreign affairs.

“Philip Cross” also systematically seeks to burnish the reputations of mainstream media journalists and other figures who are particularly prominent in pushing neo-con propaganda and in promoting the interests of Israel. This matters because, an ordinary reader who comes across an article questioning (say) the official narrative on the Skripals, is very likely to turn to Wikipedia to get information on the author of the article.

Simply put, the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation is to make certain that if that reader looks up an anti-war person such as John Pilger, they will conclude they are thoroughly unreliable and untrustworthy, whereas if they look up a right-wing MSM journalist, they will conclude they are a paragon of virtue and entirely to be trusted.

The “Philip Cross” treatment is meted out not just to left wingers, but to all sceptical of neo-conservatism and who oppose “wars of intervention”. A list of Cross’s victims includes Alex Salmond, Peter Oborne, John Pilger, Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Hayward, Diane Abbott, Neil Clark, Lindsey German, Vanessa Beeley, and George Galloway.

As you would expect “Philip Cross” is particularly active in making amendments to the Wikipedia articles of alternative media, and of MSM critique sites. “Philip Cross” has made 36 edits to the Wikipedia entry of The Canary and, staggeringly, over 800 edits on Media Lens. George Galloway remains the “Philip Cross” operation’s favourite target with a quite incredible 1,800 edits.

Just as revealing are the people who “Philip Cross” seeks to protect and promote. Sarah Smith, BBC Scotland’s uber-unionist, has had “Philip Cross” kindly delete references from her Wikipedia entry to family ties that (ahem) may have helped her career. Labour Friends of Israel’s Ruth Smeeth MP has had reference to the Wikileaks released US diplomatic cable that showed she was an informer to the US Embassy on the secrets of the Labour Party, deleted by “Philip Cross”. Right-wing columnist Melanie Phillips had her embarrassing climate change denial excised by Cross.

“Philip Cross” not only carefully tends and protects the Wikipedia entry of Guardian editor Katherine Viner, who has taken the paper four square into the neo-con camp, Philip Cross actually wrote the original hagiographic entry. The Guardian’s MI6 contact, Luke Harding, is particularly looked after by Cross, as are their anti-Corbyn obsessives Nick Cohen and Jonathan Freedland. So are Murdoch hacks David Aaronovitch and Oliver Kamm.

There is no doubt that Kamm, leader writer of Murdoch’s Times, is close the the “Philip Cross” operation. Many people believe that Kamm and Cross are the same person, or that Kamm is part of a multiple persona. Six times I have personally had hostile edits to my Wikipedia page by “Philip Cross” made in precise conjunction with attacks on me by Kamm, either on Twitter, in a Times editorial or in Prospect magazine.

Altogether “Philip Cross” has made 275 edits to my Wikipedia page. These include calling my wife a stripper, deleting my photo, removing my reply to attacks made on me by Kamm and Harding among others, and deleting my refusal of all honours while a British diplomat. Neil Clark and Peter Oborne are among many others who have suffered attacks on them by Philip Cross on Wikipedia simultaneously with attacks by Kamm on other media. Clark is taking Kamm to court for stalking – and “Philip Cross” has deleted all reference to that fact from Kamm’s Wikipedia page.

What is plain is that Kamm and Cross have extremely similar political views, and that the dividing line of those they attack and those they defend is based squarely on the principles of the Euston Manifesto. This may be obscure, but is in fact an important Blairite declaration of support for Israel and for neo-con wars of intervention, and was linked to the foundation of the Henry Jackson Society. Who do we find editing the Wikipedia entry for the Euston Manifesto? “Philip Cross”.

What is particularly interesting is that “Philip Cross”‘s views happen to be precisely the same political views as those of Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales has been on Twitter the last three days being actively rude and unpleasant to anybody questioning the activities of Philip Cross.

His commitment to Cross’s freedom to operate on Wikipedia would be rather more impressive if the Cross operation were not promoting Wales’ own opinions. Jimmy Wales has actively spoken against Jeremy Corbyn, supports the bombing of Syria, supports Israel, is so much of a Blairite that he married Blair’s secretary, and sits on the board of Guardian Media Group Ltd alongside Katherine Viner.

The extreme defensiveness and surliness of Wales’ twitter responses on the “Philip Cross” operation is very revealing. Why do you think he reacts like this? Interestingly enough. Wikipedia’s UK begging arm, Wikimedia UK, joined in with equal hostile responses to anyone questioning Cross.

In response many people sent Jimmy Wales evidence, which he ignored, while his “charity” got very upset with those questioning the Philip Cross operation.

Wikimedia had arrived uninvited into a Twitter thread discussing the “Philip Cross” operation and had immediately started attacking people questioning Cross’s legitimacy. Can anybody else see anything “insulting” in my tweet? I repeat, the coincidence of Philip Cross’s political views with those of Jimmy Wales, allied to Wales’ and Wikimedia’s immediate hostility to anybody questioning the Cross operation – without needing to look at any evidence – raises a large number of questions.

“Philip Cross” does not attempt to hide his motive or his hatred of those whose Wikipedia entries he attacks. He openly taunts them on Twitter. The obvious unbalance of his edits is plain for anybody to see. I have in the past exchanged messages with “Philip Cross”. He says he is a person, and that he edits in conjunction with Oliver Kamm tweets because he follows Kamm and his tweets inspire him to edit. He says he has met Kamm and admits to being in electronic communication with him. That exchange I had with Cross was some years ago. More recent communication with Cross (who has now changed his twitter ID to “Julian”) has been less forthcoming and he has not replied:

George Galloway has offered a reward of £1,000 for the name and address of “Cross” so he may also take legal action. My view is that Philip Cross probably is a real person, but that he fronts for a group acting under his name.

It is undeniably true, in fact the government has boasted, that both the MOD and GCHQ have “cyber-war” ops aiming to defend the “official” narrative against alternative news media, and that is precisely the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation on Wikipedia. The extreme regularity of output argues against “Philip Cross” being either a one man or volunteer operation. I do not rule out however the possibility he genuinely is just a single, extremely obsessed right-wing fanatic.

Finally, it is worth noting that on Wikipedia, an operation to boost the mainstream media narrative and denigrate alternative sources, has the massive advantage that only information from mainstream media sources is permitted in political articles. In conclusion, some images from the edit pages of Wikipedia articles to give just a little flavour of what I am talking about:

I am slightly concerned lest I am myself getting obsessed. Do you find this as fascinating as I do?