Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

thatcher election wave

The start of it all: Thatcher conquers 10 Downing Street

The British media are evidently awash with coverage of the death of Margaret Thatcher, former Conservative British Prime Minister.

There’s saturation coverage on all my UK online sources: you’d be forgiven for thinking a catastrophe had occurred within the British royal family. (No, Thatcher will not receive a state funeral, as some have proposed.)

Reaction across the UK (and beyond) has been, as expected, extreme. We’ve had the usual formulaic ‘tributes’ from prominent politicians; vituperative negative comments by extreme UK public figures: even street parties to ‘celebrate’ her passing – I received a comment from a shocked Bulgarian friend currently in UK, saying that:

“there certainly was a celebration in London, which sounds quite crude – in Bulgaria we do not celebrate anyone’s death, even the biggest enemy.”

The underlying motif of much of what I’ve read today has been along the lines of ‘Love her, hate her – no one remained indifferent to her’. Along with the frequent observation that her political ethos was invariably divisive, at all levels of UK society.

My own views, for what they are worth?

I was living in South Wales throughout Thatcher’s ‘reign’, and saw at first-hand the effects (good and bad), many of which remain as part of her legacy. [1]

And – no, I have never voted for the Conservative (political right) Party.


I thought the editorial in today’s Guardian was reasonably balanced and comprehensive. [2]

And, for a personal slant on Thatcher (and her husband, Denis) from a former British Ambassador, this article seemed to tackle the problem of ‘personality’ versus ‘political achievement’ in the writer’s usual direct manner. [3]

[1]: BBC Online

[2]: The Guardian

[3]: Craig Murray

Image: BBC


BBC: I’m so bloody angry about this!

What! - serving American propaganda!

What! – serving American propaganda?

I’d intended to take a few days off from this blog, to enjoy some days of peace and quiet, non-contention, and so on. ‘Peace, man’, as they used to say in the 60s.

Then, I saw an online report this evening, stating that:

“the BBC World Service could broadcast programmes aimed at residents of North Korea for the first time, under proposals being discussed by MPs, corporation bosses and US officials.

Barack Obama’s administration is encouraging the Foreign Office to back plans to establish a BBC Korean service to help open up the most secret country on earth.[1] [my emphasis]

“They, [the US], believe the BBC’s reputation for impartiality could help build up trust “with [the?] communist state’s 24 million population.” [so, they – the US – admit they have no credibility at all?] [my comment]


You may have noticed my completely sympathetic remarks about North Korea and its stupendously charismatic new leader. Plus, the BBC is, deservedly so, under attack for a recent load of complete cock-ups (I’ll return to some ‘lighter’ aspects soon); but it’s a British institution, funded by the British licence payer  (internally), and by a direct British government grant derived from UK tax payers (specifically for its foreign services), i.e, the BBC World Service.

So, why  is the US involved in this, at all?

  • Is the UK really the 51st. US state?
  • What is the meaning of this much mis-quoted ‘special relationship’, which invariably means the UK wagging its tail to North (US) America?
  • Who the hell pays for this UK government-funded service? (and, that’s bad enough, in terms of national democracy vs. short-term political expediency)
  • Who, finally, are those spineless English (the BBC Trust, presumably, led by that stubborn hero of British public credibility, Lord Patten) sucking up to?

Bugger off, UK government – use your own initiative – you are currently vociferous enough about ‘UK sovereignty’ vis à vis the EU, for example.

Bugger off, Obama administration – use CNN and Fox TV for your stupid, vapid propaganda! Get out of our garden, you miserable, malicious… !

[1]: The Independent

BBC: ‘How I missed the boat’

BBC Director-General George Entwistle

The shortest-serving BBC Director-General ever?

Well, I truly blew it!

I must have been “peddling my ewn cenoe” at the time.

I had started drafting a post earlier today (10th. November) about the ongoing troubles of the BBC in the wake of the sex scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile, and the latest fiasco concerning the resulting accusations of systemic child molestation in the UK, as broadcast (or not) by the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, and the new DG’s (lack of) knowledge as to what, editorially, was going on in this evidently troubled department.

My drafted headline was:

BBC top dog: ‘Big crisis of trust’,

a very recent quote from the very man, George Entwistle.

It’s just been announced that Entwistle has resigned, on 10th. November, 2012. He took up his position as long ago as… 17th. September, 2012.[1]

Where did I learn this? From a direct news subscriber feed to the BBC.

More to follow (as they say). I was going to tell the story backwards, in any case!

[1]: BBC Online


British judge: “a duty to protect”


British policing works – of course!

“A young man who died in police custody less than 45 minutes after ringing 999 for help [the national emergency number] was captured on CCTV pleading for mercy, an inquest into his death has been shown.”[1]

Hah! We British bang on about the ‘Stans’ and their records of police treatment. But, “he had taken cocaine the weekend before his death”. So? Relevant? Pepper-sprayed, cuffed, legs shackled? Why?

[1]:  The Independent

BBC: US military death toll in Afghanistan reaches 2,000

afghanistan wars

Never-ending death toll?

A checkpoint shooting in eastern Afghanistan has taken the US military’s death toll in the war past 2,000.”[1]

They say that Afghanistan has never lost a war on its own territory. I can’t vouch for that but, looking at recent attempts (from C19 onwards), the claim may well be realistic.

Armed invasion of what we currently know as Afghanistan is nothing new. Invaders include Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur, the Mughal Empire, assorted Russian Tsars, the British Empire, and the Soviet Union. Since 2001, it’s been the NATO coalition, led by US troops.

The following statements are direct quotes from a punchy BBC Online item. So are the headline and subheading. Someone (not credited) did a good journalistic job that sparsely paints a grim and horrible slaughter – on all sides.[1]

Who benefits from this tragic situation?

The American death toll goes back to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The figure of 2,000 deaths was given by US officials on Sunday. (During the war in Iraq, 4,409 American soldiers were killed.)
Officially, at least 17,644 US soldiers have been wounded in action in Afghanistan.
The independent organisation iCasualties[2] estimates a higher US death toll, recording 2,125 to date.
This same source reports 1,066 deaths of non-US members of the coalition in Afghanistan. Since the war began, 433 British soldiers have been killed.

And – here we go – the expendable

It is more difficult to establish the Afghan toll in the war but most estimates calculate a minimum of 20,000 civilian deaths, AP [Associated Press] notes.
Some 10,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed. No reliable figures exist for deaths among the Taliban and other insurgents.

[1]: BBC Online

[2]: iCasualties

Image source:

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