Monthly Archives: May 2016

Referendum . . . Blah! Blah! Blah!

We had my partner’s grandchildren over at the weekend and like any 8 and 14 year olds they played together and squabbled. At one point I overheard them jousting for the dominant position by calling each other liars repeatedly and giggling whilst they did it.

How different this picture of kids doing what healthy kids do the world over and the same actions coming from people a lot older and supposedly more mature, who are responsible for running our country . . . and some for running the world.

If you Google ‘Cameron lies’ you will produce some 558,000 results, something even the cynic inside me was not expecting. Lies about his father’s offshore funds, lies from last year’s electioneering, lies about the current EU Referendum campaign . . . the list just goes on and on. He’s not alone in this BUT he is our ‘Prime’ Minister.

Then we hear from that august body The Institute of Fiscal Studies that, among other claims about Brexit, the figure of £350 million, which the EU costs Britain each week, is in fact a whole lot lower . . . at just £150 million, when all factors and rebates are taken into account. It also claims that leaving the EU could result in a budget deficit of between £20 and £40 billion higher than if we remain.

Whilst this body is held in great respect and its findings focus on the effects on the Public Purse if we leave, it must also be taken into account that it receives the vast majority of its funding from the UK government, although the EU’s contribution has doubled since 2009 up to 2014.

Given the manner in which our very own Treasury has weighed into battle on behalf of the government, the credibility, timing and content of prognostications by our Civil Service and related bodies become questionable.

I am not arguing here for either side, or the merits of one set of statistics over another. What gives me far greater cause for concern is the obvious contempt with which the public at large are held by those whose salaries we pay.

Not only is there lack of integrity and respect but a serious naivety, by those in power, who seem to be applying outmoded techniques of propaganda in an age where understanding by the public (their target) is undergoing a thorough re-education.

The internet has opened up the Pandora’s box of operational techniques by which the establishment have controlled us over the eons and it is now being shown up to be crude and incapable of withstanding our new technological environment.

In spite of this, over the years, the global rich and powerful continue to blindly try and hoodwink us. Nowhere was this more blatant than with the re-election of George W Bush in 2004 when, upon a recount, he was re-elected to office by a narrow majority. We now hear that the UK Referendum could also produce a similar narrow majority, in the same vein as the Tory’s election win last year.

Time ratified the accusations of rigging in the case of the Bush re-election and no doubt time will also pronounce on the current uncertainty in the UK, as the same people who helped Bush have also been helping the Tories for a while now.

Modern technology is constantly lifting the veil and raises a far bigger question in my mind which, similar to climate change, could be devastating for all of us and will certainly not go away.

It is the mind-set of our leaders, who either have not caught up with our growing awareness of their crude skulduggery or, worse still don’t care, as they have the armed forces, the police and riot squads to call on if they come unstuck.

Whatever is going on in their collective heads, they certainly have not taken on board the fact that our eyes are being opened and life can never be the same again. Before, we would blindly accept what were told but now new resources are opening up to ‘fact check’ whatever is reported or said.

Armed with the truth about lies and deceit, credibility and support go out the window. As the late Robert Maxwell was reported to have said “The truth is like virginity. Once lost it can never be recovered”. Something Tony Blair has first-hand experience of.

What I am aware of now are the early rumblings for an entirely new leadership that has integrity and honesty. As a species we need to believe in something, it is how we live our lives and the powerful know this. In the past they have manipulated this human characteristic for their own benefit but the ball game is changing.

I, for one, am not convinced by any of the current leaders that they actually have the vision and determination to confront the destructive values of Neoliberalism, the destructive forces of Climate Change, or the self-destructive creed of Consumerism. But my mind remains open.

My cynicism comes with the EU Referendum. I find it symptomatic of a cancerous culture at work that has no compunction about distorting the truth, with no apparent boundaries, in its lust for power and greed. At the heart of this culture is the ‘Career’ politician, who cares little for what he or she is voting for and who, it is reported, spends 80% of their working day seeking financial and other support to retain their power.

They are a part of the present party system, which they have evolved to maintain power. It is this visionless and comfortable mind-set that has created all of the problems we face today and is now supporting the transfer of power from the people to the corporate world, with odious trade agreements such as TTIP.

Whether it is the US, EU, UK, Australia or elsewhere, distrust of politicians is endemic.

It therefore follows that people of integrity will quickly be recognised and stand out from the crowd. I would also venture that it is only with people like this that our trust can be rebuilt into a powerful democracy, through the transparency of their honesty and a vision of a future that is at odds with current short termism and only supports profit.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

The Age of Snowden

“WHEN YOU FIRST go on duty at CIA headquarters, you raise your hand and swear an oath — not to government, not to the agency, not to secrecy. You swear an oath to the Constitution. So there’s this friction, this emerging contest between the obligations and values that the government asks you to uphold, and the actual activities that you’re asked to participate in”.

(Extract from a recent article by Edward Snowden – The full article is available here )

It becomes blatantly clear from this insight into the previous world of Edward Snowden what values he operates from and how those values provided the conflict of interest he tussled with before making his world shattering revelations.

His first loyalty, at the behest of his employers, was to the American Constitution. This mighty document was conceived and implemented by the Founding Fathers, to give their new country and its people a set of values to live by. Over the centuries, this document has been amended, in line with the evolution of the country, to ensure its values reflect changes to Society.

You could almost say that the Constitution is ‘America set in stone’. It was obviously seen this way by the security services who employed Snowden, because they demanded his oath of allegiance to those values, not them or the current government.

Therefore, this places Snowden and his work above his employers and his government, to ensure abuse of the Constitution, by the greedy and powerful, can be recognised and dealt with.

If you read the above article you will see that his employers were aware of abuses to the people by the powerful and how the system to deal with such abuses was simply ignored. In the end Snowden had no option than to ‘go public’ with his fears and concerns and the rest is history.

What interests me in all of this is that element of human nature, which is in all of us at varying levels and pushed him finally to do what he did, knowing full well the consequences of his actions included possible lifetime incarceration or death.

Deep within all of us is a sense of right and wrong. It can’t be defined and is not set out in any statutes. Whilst religious teachings give guidelines, our sense of right and wrong can vary from one person to the next and is often the source of conflict, particularly where politics is involved.

Whatever these differences there is one common denominator that triggers this human reaction and that is dishonesty that leads to distrust.

Unjust behaviour can manifest in discrimination, political deviance or corporate abuse. In Snowden’s case it was the unjust nature of the use of surveillance upon the public at large, accepted as normal by his employers, in spite of violating the Constitution they had all sworn allegiance to.

As a species we can only function at our best if our perception of the truth is not violated. That perception may come from false information and propaganda that supports vested interest but until that vested interest is made public we are happy to go along with what we are told.

However, when that trust is violated, as was the case with what Snowden revealed, the credibility of those in charge is destroyed. There is no doubt that, with our newfound technology, we have entered a new age where our perception of the truth is changing dramatically, as secrets of centuries are now coming to light and reshaping Society . . . A Snowden Age.

As our traditional institutions become less credible and are seen for the manipulative bodies they have always been, so our scepticism evolves new services to meet the demand for truth. We are all aware of WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning and many others who have been motivated by right over wrong and how the establishment has reacted with outrage and suppression, not only to subdue the perpetrators but also to try and frighten off further acts of this nature.

Sadly, our leaders have not recognised what they are dealing with, because they are bereft of it themselves. We are talking here about integrity, which has vanished from the face of global leadership and which many would laugh at, unable to see how critical it is to how we live our lives.

Honesty is the only means by which to build anything lasting, be it government, commerce or personal friendships. Trust is implicit in all of these human interactions and when it is ignored or flouted there is a breaking down of the status quo.

I believe we are now seeing a breaking down of our global institutions from the disclosures of whistleblowers like Snowden, as we become more aware of how they operate. They cannot survive with such distrust, although they are blindly trying to bluff their way through their constant abuses by secrecy, manipulation of the media and anything else that might support their cause.

Nowhere is this now more evident than in the UK with the forthcoming Referendum and is responsible for new services springing up designed to get at the truth:

Full Fact  whose purpose they state as Factchecking isn’t just about writing articles. It’s also about correcting misinformation, and stopping it from spreading in public debate.

The BBC has also jumped on the bandwagon with its new service, ‘Reality Check

Their need becomes obvious today, if this – one of many – recent whistleblower reports, is anything to go by.

(David Cameron’s former director of strategy recently accused the Treasury of “making up numbers” for its dossier alleging economic disaster if Britain leaves the EU. Steve Hilton said they were “phoney figures” and were cooked up with the Treasury in the same way as the Tories’ famous 1992 campaign that claimed a Labour Tax Bombshell would cost every family £1,250 more.)

That democracy has come to such a low ebb is a sure sign of the growing decadence of Society, something repeated throughout history.

As a further sign of how lost meaningful values have now become The New York Times reported that:

‘Nobel Peace Prize Winning President Obama Has Been At War Longer Than Any Other American President’, (approving $200 Billion in Arms Deals Since 2009 when he received the prize).

When that prestigious prize is taken away from Obama and given to Edward Snowden I think we will be headed towards a meaningful world where integrity is at long last being valued.

And let’s be honest my friends, it is the only means by which we can deal with the challenges we now face for our very survival.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes