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 UKIP: blind, unquestioning loyalty

 Saturday 19 April 2014

I was wondering what Paul Sykes might have been thinking about the latest UKIP publicity, only to have The Times oblige.

In today's piece, they have him say: "I'm sorry if there's some ambiguities about the odd bits of money - I'm sure there is in every political party - but there's only one political party giving the British people their rights in an immediate referendum if they win the European elections and that's what I’m fighting for".

"Some ambiguities?" "Odd bits of money?" You just have to walk away from that sort of thing, shaking your head in wonderment. But you also have to puzzle over the political acuity of a man who apparently believes that UKIP is "giving the British people their rights in an immediate referendum if they win the European elections" or, for that matter, that we could win a referendum if we actually got one in the near future.

This also harks back to my research into The Harrogate Agenda, where I have looked hard at different revolutionary movements, and what made them successful. Most often, people don't count the rise of the Nazi Party as a revolution, but that is exactly how it was seen at the time.

Looking back at that period of the early '30s, we ask ourselves how it came to be that the German people could give their blind, unquestioning loyalty to someone who was so evidently flawed. And then you look at what is happening around us today, and the comments of Mr Sykes. Then the behaviour of the German people begins to look more understandable. 

And no, I'm not suggesting that Farage is in any way like the German leader. But I do see in the behaviour of his supporters, a suspension of judgement and some of the other characteristics that allowed the situation to develop as it did, way back in those dark days. 

Then - and now - this does not end well.

Richard North 19/04/2014 link

 EU politics: keep away from the Nazi foundation myth

 Friday 18 April 2014

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We really, really, really can do without this garbage. I thought we had finally got past the Rodney Atkinson syndrome, with the lurid and entirely unsubstantiated claims that the Nazis created the European Union.

Yes, there were Nazi enthusiasts for creating a greater Europe, particularly Werner Daitz, Joachin von Ribbentrop, Hitler's foreign minister, and Walther Funk. And in November 1940, we saw outline plans published – with attendant publicity in the British and US papers.

There was no doubt then that this was a cynical propaganda ploy by the German government to convince the United States that Nazi intentions towards the newly occupied Europe was benign, and thus keep it out of the war. There was no genuine intention on the part of the Germans to create anything other than a Berlin-centric greater-German empire.

Nor was talk of European Union unique to the Germans by any means. We published a report to the War Cabinet on 12 November 1942 by Leo Amery. This was after a committee had been set up to consider the establishment of a "federal Europe" at the end of the war, based on the original initiative by Duff Cooper. This was alongside plans for Anglo-French co-operation, set out in these Cabinet papers

This was part of an initiative to crystallise the allied "war aims", to provide an incentive for Europeans to stay in the fight – something more positive than just winning the war. Some of that thinking emerged after the war, to feed into to push for a federal Europe, so much so that the earlier wartime thinking can be seen as a competitor to German propaganda.

And for those who want to argue that Hitler invented the construct we now know as the EU, we have Monnet's colleague, Arthur Salter, and his essay of 1929, which sets out an administrative structure for a " United States of Europe", the title of the book he subsequently published in 1933 (see pg 83). This exactly matches the structure of what is now the EU fathered by Monnet.

Hitler, on the other hand, never an enthusiast for a united Europe, simply wanted Europe pacified so that he could turn his attention east to Russia. And how could he have invented the term "United States of Europe" when Salter was writing about it in 1929?

As to the wartime period, Hitler, tiring of the advocacy of the people around him, and in particular Ribbentrop, for whom he had nothing but contempt, on 4 November 1942 issued a Fuhrer decree requiring that, "the planning, preparation and execution or demonstrations of a European or international kind, such as congress, assemblies, the founding of associations, etc., must cease".

Thus, while the idea of Europe was an idea in vogue at the time, particularly embraced by the Resistance, it is wholly wrong – a complete travesty – to attribute the creation of the EU, in the form that it has emerged, to the Nazis.

The attempts to do so, in my view, have cause serious damage to the anti-EU movement, contributing to its "loony-tunes" reputation, more so when the Europeans see the construct as the antidote to Nazism and all that is associated with it.

How typically crass it is of the Express to publish details of what can only be a silly book, peddling a malign idea. This is a route we really do not want to go down again. We are struggling hard enough for credibility already, without making it even easier for our critics and detractors.


Richard North 18/04/2014 link

 Brex-kip: the issues combine

 Friday 18 April 2014

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Over on Autonomous Mind is an update to the William Dartmouth "wind turbine" story, which leads us to the conclusion that UKIP MEP is concealing ownership behind layers of obscurity, all to prevent people seeing where the controlling interests lie.

How ironic it is, therefore, that the self-same William Dartmouth is the UKIP spokesman shrieking for openness in the IEA "Brexit" competition, reacting "furiously" to the news that Iain Mansfield, winner of the prize, "has been silenced by the Foreign Office".

Never mind that Mansfield hasn't been silenced – we wouldn't expect a UKIP spokesman to get such a detail right. He has simply been held to his standard contract which prohibits him from speaking to the press without permission from his superiors – something which we would expect of a supposedly neutral civil services.

But Dartmouth is nothing if not determined to parade his ignorance. "It is ludicrous that William Hague and the Foreign Office are hounding this man and censoring his voice simply because he put forward a case for Britain to leave the EU", the man says, oblivious to the fact that Mansfield has written a blueprint on how we leave the EU, once the decision to leave has been made.

As he was careful to explain when he received his prize, he had no view on whether we should leave the EU, and certainly did not "put forward a case for Britain to leave the EU".

One might have, though, that a man so dedicated to openness might be keener to declare his real interest in the wind farm development with which he is being linked. He might also have a view on why the IEA apparently rigged the "Brexit" competition, and seem set on suppressing any options other than that one preferred by IEA former judge and advisor Roger Bootle.

As explained by The Boiling Frog in some detail, the IEA opted for a flawed and relatively rare combination of EFTA membership and exclusion of participation in the EEA in favour of bilateral negotiations with the EU.

By coincidence, it seems, that was precisely the option adopted by Bootle's own firm, Capital Economics, reportedly up for sale for as much as £50 million, set to make Mr Bootle a very wealthy man. The last thing Bootle would have wanted, however, was IEA Brexit prize winners to offer contradictory solutions. That cannot have enhanced his firm's reputation, with possibly adverse financial effects.

How relieved Bootle must have been when all six finalists came up with the same solution, identical to that proposed in his "Nexit" plan, endorsed by a judging panel of which he had been part, and continued to advise despite complaints about his lack of impartiality.

One might have thought that such shenanigans might be just the sort of thing to come to the notice of a UKIP MEP, as the party has a strong interest in seeing a workable exit plan being promoted. But then, William Dartmouth seems to be so wrapped up in his own shenanigans that this one seems to have passed him by.

Thus it is that, when you vote UKIP, a party opposed to both wind farms and the EU, you get wind farms and a rigged EU exit plan, all without a murmur of protest.  It thus seems we must vote EX-KIP. You know it makes sense.


Richard North 18/04/2014 link

 UKIP: a sterile campaign

 Friday 18 April 2014

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Lord Tebbit, the former chairman of the Conservative party, has said that Mr Farage must learn to expect greater scrutiny over his finances after joining the "big league" of British politics.

To which Farage might have rejoined, "Not as long as Carter Fuck is around to stop it happening". Even the oaf Bloom is turning on his former drinking pal, though, but if that is all The Times has to offer for today's piece, then its is scraping the bottom of the barrel to such an extent that the splinters are a serious hazard.

The interesting thing is that, while The Times will focus on his character flaws, not a single journalist will ever comment on Farage's political incompetence. The fact that he is useless at the very thing he is paid to do is of no interest to the legacy media. And that's why, ultimately, this campaign will be sterile.

We are doubly doomed, however, if the fluff-head Isabel Hardman is any guide, offering a response to the Times campaign in the Barclay Beano. If this is the best the metro-centric media can offer than we really have been wasting our efforts.

Almost ignoring the issues - these are, effectively, noises off - la Hardman indulges her girlie preoccupation with personality politics, preferring the gossip-led approach to writing about issues of substance.

Never mind that donations to UKIP in the order of £400,000 have gone missing, with suggestions that TGL has developed a chronic case of digitos lentescit, all the girlie is concerned with is that, this week, Farage "has been showing us his grumpy side", after being challenged on Sky News about his office's £3,000-a-year electricity bills.

Being "Mr Angry", is seems, is UKIP "taking yet another leaf from the playbook of its apparent rivals", the LiB-Dems, leading Hardman to the conclusion that Farage will need to "discard the very useful persecution complex he's copied".

Otherwise, says Hardman, "his party will continue to walk along, muttering to itself about its enemies, when it’s simply experiencing the highs and lows of being under the spotlight".

As this excruciating drivel of jaw-dropping banality continues, the girlie girds her loins, or whatever it is girlies do, and delivers unto us her peroration. "The exact timing", she intones, "will be a matter of fine judgement for those running UKIP's spin machine". Then from this girlie of all girlies, we are told that, for the time being, we should not expect "difficult stories" about Mr Farage's expenses to dampen his activists' enthusiasm.

So that is what it's all about: "difficult stories". This is from Hardman of Spectator fame, a supposedly leading political journal. If that is the measure of her penetrating political analysis, then the local playgroup beckons. It is the destination of choice in the future.

Richard North 18/04/2014 link

 UKIP: Times attack day number three

 Thursday 17 April 2014

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On the third day of the assault on the Farage Party by The Times, we are witnessing an interesting media phenomenon. Single-handedly, a national newspaper is setting out to destroy – or at least gravely damage – a prominent political party.

For the moment, it seems the rest of the legacy media is content to sit on its hands and watch The Times and UKIP slug it out, the idleness in part enforced by wholesale threats of intervention by Carter Fuck, and the inherent caution of post-Leveson editorial policy.

There is a sense that the beast is not yet mortally wounded, so the hyenas are circling the prey, not sufficiently emboldened to move in for the kill. The effect, though, has been drastically to reduce the volume of stories featuring UKIP, and to cut off the supply of Farage puffs.

That said, the hostile publicity is doubtless having an effect, with the latest offering headed: "What happened to the £287,000 donated to Farage’s local branch?".

The question is genuine. The newspaper has been made aware of almost £300,000 in UKIP party donations having been paid in to Nigel Farage's local branch and withdrawn as unspecified "other costs". There could, of course, be perfectly innocent explanations for this and, to the brainwashed cultists (#cultofFarage), the mere assurances of TGL are sufficient to support a belief of rectitude.

The more cynical and world-weary, however, are less easily convinced. UKIP insiders, for instance, have repeatedly raised concerns over £287,734 spent by the party's southeast branch in 2004 and 2005 – a fortune compared with the funds in other branches which struggle to meet even basic expenses in the hundreds.

In detail, The Times is looking at a company called Ashford Employment Ltd, a company owned by Mr Bown, UKIP's biggest donor, and run by UKIP. It  was set up in October 2003 to pay for call centre workers collecting donations from UKIP supporters, spending £158,582 in 2004 and £89,456 in 2005 in operating costs.

Once staff and the running costs had been met from donations, the surplus from Ashford was transferred to the Farage's southeast branch, according to Terry Quarterman, the centre's former manager and a director of the company. The branch received £291,931 in donations in 2004, the year of the European elections, and £114,967 in 2005, although it is unclear how much was from Ashford.

Former UKIP members have raised concerns about the two large sums that were paid out of the branch in the same two years. In 2004, the branch recorded a £211,267 withdrawal as "other" running costs. In 2005, £89,996 was spent in the same way. Late in 2005, the call centre's financial affairs were transferred to UKIP's head office.

What is especially suspicious is that the money was transferred to Farage's branch – over which he had complete control, and not to head office for distribution to the national branch network. And, in the hands of Farage, it was not used for campaigning, communications, property rental, utilities or auditing. In the accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, the spending is described only as "other running costs". Even though the accounts itemised payments for as little as £496 on communications, they offered no explanation of how these much larger sums were spent.

In the years after this suspicious spike in expenditure, total branch running costs amounted to no more than £8,200, clearly indicating the exceptional nature of the costs. 

If in any commercial business, unusually large sums started flowing through the accounts, without any information on where the money was going or what it was being spent on, suspicions would quite reasonably raised – especially as the money, collected from members nationally, should have been distributed nationally.

In a political party, and especially one supposedly committed to openness, full details of expenditure should have been given and, in the absence of such detail, it is not at all unreasonable that questions should be asked. When those questions were met with a wall of silence, and persistence was then greeted by sustained aggression, the very obvious and reasonable question was: "What have you got to hide?". Furthermore, Farage and his supporters can hardly complain if people try to fill the gaps with speculation. 

What we do know then takes on greater significance, and through The Times the wider pubic (or some of it) is told that these unexplained withdrawals came as UKIP was channelling national donations generated by the "controversial" call centre in Ashford, Kent, directly into the southeast branch.

This had started off as a fundraising operation, set up in mid-2003 in an office provided free by Alan Bown. Farage himself is on the record as claiming that it raised at least £400,000 and boosted the membership of the fledgeling party.

Understandably, UKIP officials who started seeing this flow of money started asking questions. Martin Haslam, the treasurer at UKIP's southeast branch in 2005, described the call centre as an operation "where money went in and no one quite knew what happened to it".

Such was the concern about the call centre's finances that in 2006, a group of UKIP members in the south east commissioned a corporate due diligence company to examine the centre's business structure. A partial copy of the initial report, obtained by The Times, indicates that concerns were raised about "a lack of transparency regarding the set-up and continuing operation of Ashford Employment Ltd".

There were also questions raised about he company history of John Moran, one of the centre's founders, the outcome being that the report called for an independent auditor to perform a full audit. This was never done, further strengthening suspicions that things were amiss.

To this day, there have been no satisfactory (or any) explanations of what happened to the money and now it is known that very large sums were passed to a branch under the total control of Farage, for which there are no details as to the eventual destination of the money.

It would have been very easy for Farage to have provided independently audited accounts, certifying where and how the money had been spent. His refusal to do so, combined with his aggression against anyone who asks perfectly reasonable questions, tells its own story.

For my part, on this blog, I really have better things to do with my time than chart these apparent misdeeds, but I – like many others concerned with the conduct and performance of UKIP – cannot stand idly by as the party seems to become more and more the private fiefdom of Mr Farage and, it would appear, his personal piggy bank.

Still to come are some very strange tales of offshore bank accounts in the Caymans, Farage's unexplained disappearances when he was supposed to be in Strasbourg but had in fact hopped over the border, to spend days at a time on "private" business in Geneva, relying on free passage with his MEP's diplomatic passport.

Thus, those who believe that this is merely a "plot" organised by Conservative HQ could not be more wrong. If that was the case, we would be dealing with the same sort of low calibre of people who were involved in rigging the IEA "Brexit" competition. If they were behind this, you would see their clumsy bootprints all over the terrain.

What we have here is altogether far more considered, amounting to a search for what is looking like fraud on an industrial scale. And until Farage comes clean, instead of unleashing the attack dogs on his critics, the questions are not going to go away.


Richard North 17/04/2014 link

 Ukraine: WWIII postponed

 Thursday 17 April 2014

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Yesterday, we saw Armaggeddon on the cards, with a convoy of Ukrainian museum pieces marching on Slavyansk, slated by the Mail and others as the prelude to World War III. As it turned out, though, the great military cavalcade ground to a halt in the most humiliating of ways as pro-Russian separatists, backed by angry crowds, seized six of their toys and paraded them through the streets.

Shouts of "Russia! Russia!" from crowds gathered in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk greeted the vehicles as they drove past the town hall. They had been taken earlier from Ukrainian troops in Kramatorsk, a 20-minute drive from Slavyansk, having been sent to dislodge an armed rebellion that is quickly consolidating control of the area.

The BBC is on the case and, as far as I can gather from their report, the activist stashed some of the liberated armour, which had the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse haring off in search of them.

According to this girlie-boy, he duly found one of these "tanks", their trophy pictured above. And this is one of those rare times where you just love being a nerd. The "tank" – as will be obvious even to our regular ex-readers - isn't a tank.

This, of course, is a 2S9 Nona, a self-propelled 120mm mortar, first introduced into the military in 1981. This is one of those geriatric pieces of kit that has no real role in putting down a putative uprising, once again demonstrating the very obvious fact that this attempt at military intervention was not a serious play.

Despite the best attempts of the legacy media and western politicians to talk up the crisis, the immediate outcome of the current round of activity seems to have been the Russian acquisition of a few more museum exhibits, in an operation that even the warmongering Telegraph is admitting was a "fiasco". 

The provisional Ukrainian government has got serious egg on its face and WWIII has been postponed for a few millennia. It's over before it even started, about as real as the BBC's tanks. The media wuzzies will have to work a little harder if they want to get it up and running again, while the politicians will have to stack up some more air miles.

Meanwhile, in the face of western impotence and incompetence (a truly toxic mix),  the Russians and Ukrainians are getting on with "sorting" their problems between them, which really amounts to Ukraine doing what it's told. If you want an example of "fax democracy", I suppose Kiev is as good a place as any to start looking.


Richard North 17/04/2014 link

 UKIP: The Times's Ode to Farage

 Wednesday 16 April 2014

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Totally unmoved by the squealing of the Farage Party in response to yesterday's attack, The Times was back in action again earlier today, with yet another front page attack piece on the nation's favourite protest party.

Before getting stuck into the details (which we will have to, because the paywall precludes most people seeing the detail for themselves), one has to look at the bigger picture. And here, one must observe that what goes on the front page as the lead story is a top-line editorial decision. For this to happen twice in succession is a studied decision. Such things do not happen by accident.

When, as we saw with yesterday's story (although less so today) content was thin, and the target a minor political figure, leader of a "populist" political party, this is not normal news reporting. There is an agenda at play. And it was to that which I was alluding yesterday, a point lost on some of my regular ex-readers, who see any reference to Farage on this blog as yet more evidence of North's rabid hatred of him, for grounds which are quite irrational.

Part of what is happening here, it seems, is a determination to bring Farage down. And, little do UKIP members know it (or begin to agree), but the best thing that could happen to their party is for the paper to succeed.  It it doesn't, then Farage will bring the Party down.

To an extent, the piece of the day does make it clear, that the paper in gunning for Farage, headed as it was, "UKIP blocked questions over party's EU funding". In so doing, it tells a familiar (to us) tale of how "members were silenced, ignored or forced out of the party after questioning its use of EU allowances and donations". Farage and other senior UKIP officials, it appears, "traduced colleagues who raised concerns about how the party handled millions of pounds in funds".

This, of course, we didn't need The Times to tell us. Again and again, we've been pointing out all manner of things amiss in UKIP but, in the manner of people who simply don't want to know, the members attack the messenger rather than the message. Even my repeating charges made by others is treated as evidence of my "rabid hatred". 

Nevertheless, for those who will allow themselves to be informed, we hear that Mr Farage called a senior female UKIP official a "stupid woman" and told her to "shut up" when she asked for an independent audit into party finances. This was according to Delroy Young, once UKIP's only black executive. However, he is not the most sympathetic of persons, which has allowed UKIP official to trash his character, as indeed they have attempted to do with mine.

We also learn that another member was "allegedly physically threatened", which is entirely in character for Farage. Those who have been close to him know full well that he is a vicious, vindictive bully, who will stop at nothing to get his way.

But now we have still more that UKIP members can ignore, and put down to "smears", as they close their minds to the true nature of their leader, preferring instead the image he presents to the world.

Never mind that six former party officials have alleged that Mr Farage presided over a party that reacted furiously to any questioning of its financial affairs. After leaving UKIP in 2008, Delroy Young claimed that he received a telephone death threat, allegedly on the orders of a senior UKIP party executive. At the time, UKIP denied that anyone in the party ordered the threat – as indeed you would expect.

Young has told The Times that Mr Farage had a habit of going "berserk" whenever anyone asks questions about money. And that he goes "berserk" I know to be true. I've seen this with my own eyes, and it is not a pretty sight. But that is the dark side of Farage that he keeps well-hidden from the public and gushing girlie reporters.

Says Young, in 2006 he joined five other UKIP national executive committee (NEC) members to call for "an immediate internal audit of the party finances by members of the NEC with full disclosure".The NEC members were reacting to concerns over the use of MEP allowances as well as to questions about donations raised through a UKIP call centre in Kent. Mr Farage has said that the Ashford call centre raised at least £400,000 over three years.

That money subsequently went "missing" and despite strenuous attempts to trace its whereabouts, the fate of the Ashford money remains a mystery - and any inquiries about it are met with hostility and the most violent of reactions.

At a UKIP meeting in Bromley, a female committee member attempted to ask Mr Farage about the Ashford and MEPs' expenses. It was then that Farage is said to have shouted at her, "Shut up you stupid woman". Young, who was at the meeting, said. "He went berserk".

Ian Gillman, a former member of UKIP's NEC, said that he had also raised questions about what happened to the Ashford money, as well as about funds raised through the sale of lottery tickets. Gillman described a meeting of the party's East Midlands committee in March 2008 at which he highlighted his concerns. for his trouble, he was "physically threatened" by a party official in the presence of Derek Clark MEP.

"I never raised my voice, I just persisted with question after question about where our money had gone", says Gillman. "The official made threats to take me outside the room and beat me up. He darted a ballpoint pen at my eye [and] said how dare you ask these questions". Gillman says that he was asked to leave the meeting and thrown off the committee. And in what is an entirely typical response, he was subsequently targeted with a spam email attack by the same party official.

Needless to say, a UKIP official disputes Gillman's account. On behalf of their master, currently employed UKIP officials always do – until they too sicken and, weary of the lies, break away to join the growing ranks of the "whistleblowers". Then the UKIP spin machine moves into action, dripping its vitriol, lies and smears.

Yet Tony Ellwood, who worked as Clark's political researcher for several years, was also present at the meeting and corroborates Gillman's account. Ellwood said that in 2006 he was asked to reconcile the national party's accounts and found that 95 percent of its funds were being withdrawn as cash for unknown purposes.

He said that he had "kept quiet" in order to keep his job, but after witnessing the way Gillman had been treated, he confronted Mr Clark about alleged financial irregularities. Ellwood said the MEP "lost his temper" and told him to resign.

And that's the way UKIP works. You either close ranks and worship the leader, or you're out. There's no messing, and no halfway house. And once you have been removed, by whatever means,  the "briefings" start. And there are plenty of the faithful prepared to believe the slanderous murmurings, repeating them uncritically at every opportunity. I should know - I've been on the receiving end of this treatment for over a decade.

The Times, though, is immune to the blandishment of the UKIP faithful. Their journalists have seen a letter from Bruce Lawson, a former national treasurer, to Farage in 2008 urging him to resign as UKIP's leader. Lawson, who suggested that Farage remain as the party's top MEP in Brussels, said he was "wholly uncomfortable" with how UKIP MEPs received allowances and "where those monies go".

Lawson sent Farage an attached document called: "MEPs' Pay and Expenses — Who wants to be a Millionaire", noting that, "MEPs [get] an office allowance of about £30,000. No receipts are required".

In this document, he added: "Some MEPs use it to pay an extra £660 a month into their pension plans from their office expenses money. In theory they are then supposed to reimburse this money from their salaries, but everyone relies on the MEPs' honesty. There are no checks that any of them actually do repay this money".

As is customary in newspaper pieces, a UKIP spokesman was asked for a comment, and responded: "These historic allegations come from a few very unimpressive people that UKIP attracted years ago and who were gradually weeded out".

That is both characteristic and indicative of a UKIP response, attacking the accusers rather than dealing with what they have to say. But amongst those "historic allegations" is the charge that over £400,000 of members' money went missing and, to this day, has not been properly (or at all) accounted for.

But, if you are on the inside, you complain about its activities, and of Farage, at your peril. And, from the outside, you become one of those "unimpressive people that UKIP attracted years ago and who were gradually weeded out".

This "unimpressive person", however, is unimpressed. And so is The Times, read by hundreds of thousands of people. The faithful may stick their fingers in their ears and close their eyes, singing "Ode to Farage" at the tops of their voices, but the fact is that TGL's days are numbered. This is only the start.


Richard North 16/04/2014 link

 Ukraine: lusting after war

 Wednesday 16 April 2014

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An ignorant western media is now slavering over the prospect of civil war, with the Guardian, the Mail and others getting excited over the manoeuvrings of a limited number of (mainly) BMD-2s and BTR-D, air-portable light tanks and APCs, equipment used by Russian and Ukrainian airborne forces.

Variously described as "armoured vehicles", APCs, "tanks" and even "combat vehicles" by the girlie-boys, who are clearly all at sea when is comes to any green-painted "target” (the aviator's generic term for AFVs), we have observed before that, while target recognition is not the be all and end all, if can't identify your toys, you're not really in the game.

What shows up with such clarity at times like these is the rank amateurishness of the media – not always so apparent when they are operating on their home turf. But here, they are in unfamiliar territory, being asked to comment on things and issues about which they know next to nothing, and lack the mental architecture with which to evaluate the things they see.

Thus, the legacy media resorts to fatuous wiffle from the likes of Con Couglin, and sundry other commentators who rely more on prestige than knowledge. Each offers lame "analyses" based on stereotypic narratives which owe more to the comic-book "biff-bam" than any serious understanding of the events they are witnessing at one step removed.

However, their "reach" (the number of people that get to read their stuff) is determined not by the quality or depth of their message, but by the "prestige" and general popularity of their platform. Thus the "biff-bam" narrative will largely prevail until, like the grave predictions of imminent Russian invasion, none of their warnings transpire. Then, their rubbish will be quietly forgotten, while they ladle out another pile of garbage for public consumption.

One gets the impression, though, that these ghoulish parasites would like nothing better than blood flowing in the street, presenting them with scenarios which even those will their limited abilities can understand and describe – instead of the three-dimensional chess that seems to be being played out.

My guess, though, is that the dismal intellects of the western governments are being completely outflanked, not by any great strategic genius on the Russian side – that Putin is not – but simply because the politicians of the west have played a bad hand with staggering incompetence.

There is, of course, no way that this is going to end well for anyone, but one can see the hallmarks of a guiding mind here. Ukraine is well on its way to being partitioned, but I don't see there being any great conflagration in the passage to that end. 

Clearly, the Ukrainians haven't got their heart in standing up to Russia, and if all they are doing is fielding small packets of light, air-portable "armour", then they are not really serious. Without any shred of exaggeration, Mr Clegg's armoured limousine offers better ballistic protection than the kit we've seen. 

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Then we're even seeing BMD-1s, one pictured in the NYT. These are late 70s museum pieces. And to bring to bring the reporting to its highest comedic value, we have that total arse Edward Lucas in the Mail, blathering: "I hope I'm wrong but historians may look back and say this was the start of World War III".

Illustrating his strident piece is a photograph of "a Ukrainian military convoy travelling towards the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk", with the vehicles turning out to be those self-same BMD-1s, complete with their useless 2A28 "Grom" 73mm smooth-bore guns. The wonder is that they got that many of the ancient engines to run at the same time.

This can only be part of a fiendish plot to confuse the Russians who will need to identify their targets before opening fire. It will not be recognition manuals they will need, but history books, and I doubt anything they have to hand will go that far back. By the time they have worked out what the hell it is the Ukrainians are fielding, they will be long gone.

The chances of a fire-fight are remote. It will be frankly amazing if any functioning ammunition for these museum pieces still exists. The most likely possibility is that the Russians, once they realise what is going on, will die from laughing.

On the other hand, you might just begin to suspect that the Ukrainian action is gesture politics on a tiny scale, the provisional government going through the motions for its western paymasters. Very little will come of it, despite what the wuzzies in the legacy media might have to say, those who have nothing better to do but indulge their blood-lust and stupidity in equal measure.


Richard North 16/04/2014 link

 EU politics: we assume too much

 Wednesday 16 April 2014

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The recent IEA "Brexit prize" submissions brought home to us the depth of ignorance of people supposed to be expert in matters EU. This actually stops you short – one tends to assume that people at least know the basics and when they don't, it is necessary to reassess the way we deal with things.

But, if we need to be wary of the "experts", what about the ordinary public? According to YouGov, their ignorance is profound. For instance, only 16 percent can correctly name the date of the coming Euro-elections. A clear 68 percent didn't know and 16 percent choose the wrong date.

It gets worse. Some 77 percent admit they don't know how many MEPs we have. Only seven percent actually got the figure right. Some 93 percent couldn't even name one of their MPs.

Only 20 percent of respondents could get the number of countries in the EU right, a mere 44 percent of people knew that Norway was not a member of the EU, 27 percent thought Ukraine was a member and 30 percent believed Turkey was in the Union.

I am sure if we started asking more detailed questions, such as the names of the five principle institutions of EU, we would get blank stares. So here we are then, getting excited about arcane details of the EU, nuances in the polls and shades of opinion,  yet the bulk of people don't even know the date of the election. 

This tells us that we cannot assume that what drives us has any impact on the public, or they care about what we care about. For all our knowledge, we're flying blind. Intellectually, we live in a different world.


Richard North 16/04/2014 link

 Brexit: publish or be damned?

 Tuesday 15 April 2014

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Following his thoughtful piece on the "Brexit prize", The Boiling Frog is carrying out a lonely campaign, seeking to get the IEA to publish the remaining eleven of the 17 finalists' submissions, so that we can properly analyse the results.

I reckon he could do with a little help on twitter, with tweets calling to "free the Brexit 11", with the message: "published or be dammed, or somesuch. To maximise their effect, tweets might be copied to @iealondon with the hashtag #brexitprize, and this link.

Something is certainly needed to counter this stupidity where Alan Murad, Acting Campaign Manager of Get Britain Out, has decided that Iain Mansfield has been "silenced", even though this is not the case.

We have an interesting social phenomenon here, where Murad reports the "silencing" because that is what he wants to believe, then allowing his belief to transcend fact. This has some implications for the way news in now disseminated, when belief systems are competing with hard fact, and in some cases gaining greater traction.

It is ironic, though, that Murad, who is quick to leap on any examples of EU propaganda that he can find, should be just as willing to promote his own propaganda, to spread the messages in which he chooses to believe. As scary is the number of people prepared to believe what they want to hear.


Richard North 15/04/2014 link