Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Endangered spies and other daily claims - must be true, it was on the news

So, what's in the news today?

Oh, the usual. Britain has had to move lots of its agents after the Russians and Chinese managed to hack the files stolen by fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Britain's youngest ever suicide bomber has blown himself up in Iraq. Hillary has made her first big presidential campaign speech promising progressive policies...

And so, indeed, it goes on. Just another 'news' day. Just another round of establishment-serving stories. Just more examples of clone-safe 'journalism', which a propaganda-coshed public, disinclined to look elsewhere for deeper context, explanation and actual truth behind the headlines, simply consume as fact.  

Scathingly, Glenn Greenwald said this about the Sunday Times' 'revelations' and all those who unquestioningly repeated them:
Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting. We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.”[...T]he entire report is a self-negating joke. It reads like a parody I might quickly whip up in order to illustrate the core sickness of western journalism.
But who, many people will ask, is Glenn Greenwald? And, anyway, why should his particular 'viewpoint' count against 'the news'? Herein lies the problem of making great journalism more reachable.  

Those who were part of the Snowden story, and others 'in the know' about such intelligence matters, also helped expose the gross distortion and mendacious motives behind it. You can find many more fine take-downs of Tom Harper's Sunday Times article, his cringing defence, the 'anonymous' briefings of UK intelligence and the stenography journalism that allowed this crass piece to be elevated as 'news'.  

Yet, beyond a vibrant alternative media and superb independent journalism, we still confront the sobering truth of the establishment's power to propagate great 'news' untruths.   

Even without substantive evidence, the BBC's security correspondent, Gordon Corera managed to give serious weight to the claims:
The phrases "neither confirm nor deny" and "no comment on intelligence matters" is being used by government to respond to Sunday Times' story. But my understanding from conversations over an extended period is that since he fled two years ago, British intelligence have worked on the assumption that Russian and Chinese spies might have access to his full cache of secrets. Snowden has always maintained that there is no way that other states could do this but the spies are likely to have thought it too risky to take the chance. In turn, this may have led to undercover agents being moved as a precaution. [My italics.] 
Adopting the same "reasonable to assume" line that Snowden may have taken documents to Moscow, and that Putin may really have such data, the BBC's Justin Webb, in incredulous tone, also asked Greenwald:
I mean you are not suggesting that President Putin's government is on a par in its support of democracy and human rights with the United States or Britain, or are you?
Having exposed Webb's failure as a journalist to deal in evidence rather than power-serving supposition over the documents, Greenwald responds perfectly:
[I'm]pretty sure that it wasn't Russia that invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people called Iraq, or set up a wold-wide torture regime around the world to torture people in secret, or put people in indefinite detention camps in the middle of the ocean called Guantanamo.
Nor has the BBC's inclusion of other counter-views provided serious balance or meaningful context. Trying to maintain the usual pretence of impartiality, it allowed some safe comment from Liberty spokesperson Shami Chakrabarti. As Harper's piece and UK intelligence claims were further undermined, it also permitted a few more moderately questioning voices.     
 
But it's still the HEADLINE story that most vitally registers amongst most of the public. The story passes, ably discredited by people like Greenwald. But the message and mitigations around it remain.

Thus, the implicit, intended message in this headline case still prevails: Britain, its key intelligence services, its trusty agents and its war on terrorism have all been compromised by the irresponsible actions of a deluded, enemy-serving traitor. 

The youngest suicide bomber story is another case in point. How many will be prompted by the BBC's headline to ask why suicide bombers now proliferate in Iraq, Syria and other such broken places?

This story led on the shocked reaction of Talma Asmal's family, and their insistence that Isis does not speak in their, or Islam's, name. But where was the crucial context on how the West's invasion of Iraq, mass destabilisation of a region and proxy approval of Isis has helped create such reactions?

Nowhere. In its place, we got what routinely passes for 'analysis' from BBC home affairs correspondent, Tom Symonds
The flow of young men and women to warzones in Syria and Iraq continues to be the biggest challenge to Britain's counter-terrorism effort. Senior officers estimate more than 700 British citizens have now made the journey, some taking on the name "al-Britani" to signify their origins. Half have come back to the UK, posing the risk that they might plan attacks. BBC research suggests more than 30 are still in the warzones, and possibly as many as 50. However its estimated a third are not known to police and the security services, making their job of tracking extremists and prioritising those posing the greatest risk much harder. [My italics.]  
This is an example of 'news as analysis' so synchronised with official language, so attuned to the vernacular of state propaganda and the "counter-terrorism effort", that Symonds, like most of his peers, probably doesn't even realise the difference himself.   

On last night's BBC News at Ten, presenter Sophie Raworth asked: "What can be done to stop young Britons joining the extremists?" One might more reasonably ask: "What can be done to stop young Britons joining the West's miltarist extremists?" A perfectly rational question given the latter's massively greater record of murder and mayhem. Yet, it's one that could never be remotely considered on a BBC news programme.   

Still, we always have the Guardian on hand to provide real, penetrating news. Except, we don't. Indeed, the very idea of the Guardian as a counter to other establishment-serving news is the best establishment-serving fiction of all.  

Take the Guardian's headline and major 'news report' on Hillary Clinton's campaign speech
Hillary Clinton rally puts spotlight on inequality and progressive causes
 
After two months of quiet campaigning, Hillary Clinton took the podium on Roosevelt Island on Saturday seeking to answer one key question: why should American voters elect her president? Against a backdrop of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, addressing thousands of supporters who braved sweltering summer heat, Clinton portrayed herself as a fighter and champion of progressive causes as she laid out the themes that will define her second bid for the White House.
As did the Guardian on her behalf, in glowing repetition of Clinton's lofty 'ideals' and 'progressive aims'. Her leading parts in the carnage of Libya, Iraq and other murderous warmongering wasn't deemed worthy of a single mention here - or, more likely, was routinely avoided. 
 
Inclusion of such, these journalists will say, would be to 'stray' towards 'comment' rather than 'informed reportage', which this adulating piece, like so much other Guardian 'political correspondence', affects to be.  

And that's what matters most immediately in shaping the public's generalised worldview: the delivery of what's valued as 'primary news', rather than 'secondary opinion'. The latter - such as the Guardian's own latest grovelling editorial on resisting Islamic State - provides a key, supporting role, most often as establishment-safe, liberal 'perspective' - all serving the hegemonic notion that we partake in a free media and vibrant democracy.

But it's 'the news' that's more-readily consumed and absorbed as 'authoritative' statement, 'here-and-now fact', almost sacrosanct information deemed higher than 'mere opinion'.

It's within headline 'news' that the greatest scope for propagandist conditioning prevails. Thus, you're still more likely to hear someone 'confirm' the 'authenticity' of an issue or establishment claim by saying, 'oh, yes, it's true, I heard it on the news' - typically citing a BBC headline - rather than 'yes, that's true, I read it in a Daily Mail column'.

Again, that's certainly not to understate the malign influence of the latter in shaping and polluting minds on behalf of established interests, particularly in keeping people frightened and hateful of others.

But it's the much more 'respectable' daily dose of loaded, framed and subliminally-received 'news' that those elite interests most count on in keeping the population dulled and obedient.

From 'immigration floods' to 'benefit cheats', 'electoral choices' to 'benign interventions', it all comes in easy, 'grab-and-go' news form: digest quickly, absorb the message and move passively on.     


The merging of news with official-line 'analysis' gives added 'gravitas' to the deceptive diet. Who, after all, are we to question the 'expertise' and position of those 'esteemed' BBC correspondents?      

Even the 'register' of news in its selective enunciation gives it a commanding status. As Tom Leonard's liberating poem The Six O'clock News so brilliantly evokes, the very 'voice of the news' is there to colonise minds, marginalise the cultural other and exclude "yoo scruff".

Encouragingly, we're seeing the subverting of that dominant media narrative - finding notable impetus in Scotland with the rise of the independence movement. Yet, as one useful commentary reminds us, while a 'new media' there is producing worthy, radical analysis and critical output, it still faces tough challenges in how to build collective and popular-reaching 'news portals'.

Recalling the harsh lesson of how the establishment deployed its 'news' machine to prevent a Yes outcome, there's a pressing need, at large, to think more strategically about that task. It's an imperative that won't come as 'news' to many already engaged in alternative media-building, but it's worth considering how best to convey that process in itself as real and valued news.        

Monday, 8 June 2015

Complicit liberal-speak: Stephen Fry says the 'unsayable' about Israel's 'right' over Palestinians

In a feature at the New Statesman inviting notable figures to 'say the unsayable', Stephen Fry has this to say:
Israel has every right to resist coming to an accommodation with Palestine while it is led by Hamas.
Although a signatory to Jews for a Just Palestine, many readers will have felt deep disappointment in Fry's comments. Given his very apparent capacity for understanding the real issues around Palestine-Israel, it seemed entirely appropriate and responsible for this writer to respond with the perfectly sayable: "Shameful words from @stephenfry". 

Yet, while Fry was seemingly intent on saying the unsayable at the New Statesman, he blocked me for stating what was just as reasonably sayable about a view he's willingly placed in the public domain. That, arguably, says more about the mindset of the sensitive liberal than any concern I have at being twitter-blanked.
 
Actually, there are no 'unsayable' things, just things you say, or really want to say but fear the consequences. And Stephen Fry has clearly said what he meant.
 
His talk of Israel's "right" here is morally indefensible. It's not just that this 'right' should be seen against Palestinian rights. It's, more fundamentally, that a state built on historic theft, dispossession, ethnic cleansing, daily apartheid, inhuman siege and ongoing mass murder doesn't even have the right to talk of rights. And those who talk of Israel's 'rights' in this regard are only amplifying that gross distortion. 
 
Fry's 'unsayable' comment includes the claim that Israel has a right to negate any "accommodation" with the Palestinians, a particularly-loaded word, suggesting it's somehow within Israel's rightful gift to grant Palestinians 'concessions', or come to some 'dispensation/arrangement' of their choosing.

Palestinians will rightfully say that they aren't there to be 'accommodated'. They'd more rightfully say that they're demanding an end to their occupation, insisting on their primary right to statehood and civil rights, things which Israel has no basic right to gainsay.   
 
Of course, caution must be taken when someone says something that may need greater expansion. Context is always important. But Fry has provided preparatory context here in making his case for 'Israel's right' conditional on the presence of Hamas. That criticism is standard establishment fare, a liberal default view that shows no real comprehension of Hamas politics. But there's no need to approve or disapprove of Hamas to see the key import of Fry's words.       
 
Decry Hamas, if you wish. But don't say that Israel has the right to deny Palestinians their rights because they elected a government you don't like. That's been Israel's and its allies' convenient and complicit excuse in the whole, posturing 'peace process'. Stephen Fry's words only give sustenance to that duplicitous pretext.

It's the typical narrative of 'balance', so often dressed-up in emphasised outrage against those resisting aggression, rather than at the principal aggressor, a line drearily familiar of celebrity liberals and faux 'radicals', so readily incorporated into and conditioned by the safe zone of establishment life.

How much harder, yet more honourable, for such figures to say something really 'unsayable', something decisively critical of Israel and the whole political-media network that gives it relentless, mitigating cover.   
 
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be prepared for reasonable criticism of what you've said. Engage in fair discussion, rather than resorting to blocking it, and, hopefully, come back to a more committed position on behalf of the oppressed, the more usefully sayable that speaks truth to power, rather than the 'unsayable' that merely reinforces it.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Framing the news: how the Guardian maintains the lie of Blair's 'moral motives'

If anyone needs a model view of how the Guardian, and establishment media at large, protect 'our' political villains through selective framing and omission dressed-up as 'routine reportage', here's a classic example.

Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent for the Guardian, has written what purports to be a 'news report' on Tony Blair's appointment as chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR).

Although a seeming standard series of quotes and information, it's a cloying promo piece, accepting and extolling Blair's 'moral motives' in his proclaimed desire for 'greater understanding of religion' and the particular fight against anti-semitism.

There's precisely nothing here about Blair's historic war villainy, or his seamless shift from one Israel-protecting role, as Middle East 'peace envoy,' to another Israel-serving sinecure.

Nor does Watt offers one word of critical enquiry or searching comment on the ECTR itself, citing it unquestioningly, in his opening line, as "a pan-European body that campaigns for stronger laws against extremism across the continent".

As more ably exposed by David Cronin, it's really "an initiative of the Zionist zealot and fertilizer tycoon Moshe Kantor".

None of this appears relevant to Watt, who writes:
In an article for the Times, in which he sets out his plans for his new role, Blair says that he will campaign against the abuse of religions which has become a “mask behind which those bent on death and destruction all too often hide”.
Many readers will marvel at Blair's brazen talk of a duplicitous mask. But Watt lets this shameless chutzpah pass without comment. 
 
He goes on:
Blair’s proposals will revive memories of some of the laws he tried to introduce in Britain in the wake of the 9/11 attacks which prompted a debate on civil liberties.
It will also intensify pained thoughts about what he did to the people of Iraq in the wake of 9/11, in blatant disregard of their civil rights. Watt has nothing to say in this deplorable piece about that crucial violation of life and liberty.
 
The article also gives uncritical space to the views of Kantor, co-author of Blair's Times piece, who holds presidencies of both the ECTR and the European Jewish Congress. 

While Cronin gives us key character background - "By acting as a cheerleader for Israeli aggression, Kantor lends credence to the fallacy that Israel enjoys a universal blessing from Jews" - Watt, in contrast, has no such context for his readers, citing their views with relentless approval: "Blair says", "Blair warns", "Blair and Kantor write", "the pair cite", "they write", "friends said...".

In a facile gesture towards 'balance', Watt permits a short, sanitised paragraph noting opposition to Blair's posting:
Blair faced criticism during his time in the position for being overly sympathetic to Israel. The Palestinian Authority’s former chief negotiator Nabil Shaath said Blair had “achieved so very little because of his gross efforts to please the Israelis”. (My italics.)
Not, for Watt, Blair being a dutiful advocate and complicit apologist for Israel's mass war crimes, just that he was "overly sympathetic".

Even the damning issue of Blair's corrupt and grasping business activities is sparsely mentioned, as Watt offers more positive interpretation of his lofty motives:  
The new appointment suggests that Blair, who has been criticised for his worldwide business interests, sees a need to promote tolerance and to confront extremism closer to home.
Yet another substantive paragraph cites Blair's and Kantor's 'deep concerns' over the 'abuse of religion' and the 'need for tolerance'. Again, Watt sees no room here for any counterview, or consideration of their own roles in feeding conflict through such resolute defence of Israel's occupation and atrocities.

This leads on to a penultimate paragraph in which the words of Blair, Kantor and Watt himself are now effectively indistinguishable:
The council chaired by Blair believes it should promote education and ideas for legislation to confront extremists...
Not, 'the council chaired by Blair claims to believe', or 'says it believes', just a straight, unquestioning amplification of Blair's and the council's 'ideals'.

A final two lines inform the reader about who Blair replaces at the post, and that the body's "board members include Blair’s friend and political ally, the Spanish former prime minister Jose MarĂ­a Aznar". There's no mention of how these "friends" both conspired in the mass murder of Iraq, or of Aznar's enduring initiatives to protect Israel.

Similar sterilised 'news' of Blair's appointment was dutifully delivered by British state media.

Yet, what of the Guardian itself? Where's the leader piece denouncing this on-the-run charlatan, and calling for his indictment? Who at the paper is big enough to question its harbouring of Blair, or to highlight Jonathan Freedland's pro-Israel editorial stamp? How, one wonders, can star writers like Owen Jones and George Monbiot - who even edits an arrest Blair bounty site - affect not to notice such brazenly-loaded output at the very newspaper they inhabit and champion? What does it say about their 'radical' vigilance? When did you ever see them offering a critical tweet or challenging comment on such power-friendly copy?

While Blair's fugitive evasions and shameless self-promotions know no bounds, the ever-protective Guardian and its in-house 'best' seem to know the prudent boundaries of serious criticism.      

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Seeking a new-language politics - Owen Jones needn't just speak Spanish

There's a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Owen Jones's recent Guardian article, 'The British left must learn to speak a new language - Spanish'.

It's implicit in the article's byline, which says: 'Labour should listen.'

A seemingly progressive call, you might readily think. But why should that injunction to listen even be urged of 'the people's party' when Labour is the enduring problem for any people-rooted, left advancement?

Lamentably, within this lofty endorsement of Podemos, Jones still fails to concede that Labour can never be a credible vehicle for change, that it's long-done, unreformable, too tainted by establishment ideology, neoliberal doctrine and historic sellout.

Like so many left-loyal-Labourites, he refuses to give it over to the Blairites. But why not? It isn't worth keeping. How could something Podemos-style ever emerge from such a compromised entity?

Even if, rather than installing another right-wing leader, it somehow manages to place a more leftist figure at the helm, Labour is now utterly defunct as a serious motor of reform. It's part of a cabal politics which, as expressed in the very street thinking of Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, has to be replaced by a real bottom-up, people-rooted politics.

Jones appears up for the task. But any consideration of such must be honest about how the Labour protectorate, including Jones, has actually served to stifle that goal.

Without recrimination, and in positive critique, we must be open about how Jones gave his all in backing Miliband and saving Labour - in the process almost begging Blairite Alan Johnson to return as the party saviour. We must reiterate how Jones advocated a No vote in the Scottish referendum, despite the Yes movement's meteoric rise, the closest thing we've ever seen to a real Podemos-style street politics.

Likewise with this article. If Podemos is the politics of the moment, why was it not championed by Jones before the election and during the referendum?

When these kind of points are put to Jones they're often met with dismissive jibes - as in: "Ever get bored of your sectarianism?" As if having a fundamental disagreement on such vital issues constitutes some petty wish for division, or that a challenging view is somehow invalid.

This is not about personal politics - something Tony Benn always, admirably avoided - or about targeting Jones. It's a rational assessment of what a key and influential figure has been mistakenly proposing, and how we might now use such errors to progress a viable alternative, the very Podemos-type alternative Jones himself writes of.

Labour is unrecoverable. But Jones is certainly not. He says this is now about a collective failure of the left, including his own:
This is not me castigating the failures of others, arrogantly assuming I have it all worked out. I don’t, and this is about my failure as much as anyone else’s.
His openness is to be applauded. Honest reflection, coming from good, reasoned debate, is something we can all, always aspire to. I do, indeed, hope Jones - with Russell Brand - is in the process of rethinking many of the positions he's adopted, that he really does now, in particular, even belatedly, see the futility of default Labourism.

But I retain serious doubts. How easy now for Jones to acknowledge a Podemos-movement politics, just as he acknowledged the Yes movement in Scotland without actually urging and working for a Yes vote. 

Jones should not just have been listening to the massive street politics that caused the poorest of Glasgow to turn out for a Yes - and then, still defiant after being stitched-up by the establishment, voted in record numbers to ditch Labour in its historic heartland. He should have been working with them/us for the same progressive outcomes.

From Madrid to Athens, Barcelona to Glasgow, it's the same basic indignados politics, not just the rejection of austerity, but a new nothing-to-lose response to decades of alienation and abandonment.

It's that same rejectionist politics that's driven the amazing Podemos victory in Barcelona, and Manuela Carmena, through leftist platform Ahora Madrid (including Podemos), to an historic breakthrough in Madrid.

Even though Iglesias favours a unified Spain, he also recognises the progressive demands energising politics in Catalonia. And with this, the more important unifying role of movement politics in connecting with people on the ground over immediate issues:
I also think that paradoxically we [Podemos], Syriza and ourselves, are playing the role [of the] social democra[tic] left. We saw this in the UK. The Scottish National Party really beat the Labour Party by criticising austerity and criticising cuts...
Interviewing Iglesias, Tariq Ali concurs, noting that the establishment imperative is not just, as in Greece, an issue over economic control, but a political emergency for the establishment, that they're determined to crush the whole radical experiment.

Iglesias agrees, but is optimistic about the gathering response: "the political opposition space in Europe is being taken over by us".

And so it is proving, with tremendous advances now for Podemos in the Spanish regional elections, resilient popular support for Syriza in Greece, and massive new confidence over the SNP's civic-minded rise in Scotland - much of it admired and supported across the UK.

While political distinctions prevail on different European streets, this is the same mode of civil resistance. Indeed, Jones should be urging the model language of political Scotland as much as any new political Spanish. Again, it's about movement rather than party politics.

The SNP are, in this regard, only valid as a popular manifestation of that movement politics - otherwise the shift from Labour to SNP could be seen as little more than the standard protest vote. It's definitively not. And, again, be certain that the establishment also know very differently. For them, this is a crisis exercise in halting a mood-movement politics, which is why they've thrown every available weapon in their considerable armoury at trying to eliminate it.

Having stolen the referendum and seen its preferred party installed at Westminster, the establishment narrative has now conveniently shifted to fixing-up Labour. The system, after all, is only legitimised by that old trope, a 'necessary and viable opposition'.

Predictably, much focus is now being given over to Labour's successor. Like the tired old 'parliamentary choice', we're now expected to pick over the 'differences' between Burnham, Kendall et al. Again, Jones appears dissatisfied:
Labour’s leadership “debate” is so far anything but: platitudes instead of policies. So let’s have some of the latter and decide what future – if any – Labour actually has.
Jones reiterates his discontent in his latest video, 'What's the point in the Labour party now?'  He derides the leadership contest with its "vacuous buzzwords", such as 'aspiration', and ends with the question: "What are we going to do about the Labour party?"

But why even engage this 'debate'? It's an utterly futile exercise. If Jones is serious about Podemos politics, start writing in a consistent Podemos vernacular, rather than lamenting Labour's decline and being part of the 're-branding'. Otherwise all we'll get is another dragged-out five years preparing for the next Labour 'deliverance'.

And if Podemos politics is about pulling people away from controlling parties and their clone narrative, it's also, even more seriously, about pulling them away from an all-controlling media.

As Iglesias so acutely asserts:
We believe that the media is the real terrain of the ideological battle...if you don't win the battle with the media, then you don't exist politically.
Even though Iglesias is speaking the voice of the street, he's actually articulating a useful Gramscian Marxism in his reading of the organic crisis of the dominant system and the vital role of counter-intellectuals in breaking elite hegemony through popular alternative politics.

Which raises another elementary question: how can would-be radicals like Jones seriously assist that counter-hegemony, that vital street-led narrative, from within a liberal, power-serving media?

There now needs to be the greatest war ever waged on all forms of the dominant media. And, like sticking with format party politics, that's not going to be advanced from inside the cosy establishment confines of the Guardian.

So there needs to be a fundamental re-evaluation of how to move beyond that existing media, to promoting exciting, alternative popular platforms, just as there has to be a decisive break with working to prop-up and legitimate establishment parties.

In the same vein, there has to be a decisive challenge to the very structures of parliamentary power and the UK state. 

As with cabal parties and the boundary-policing media, the political Union, and its corporate arm ,UK Inc, is a crucial part of the establishment matrix; nothing of any radical worth can be realised from working within it.

Jones has declared his preference for a federalist UK. But this still holds to the same essential covenant of Unionist politics, none of which allows for any truly alternative model of governance. As part of an establishment-left effort to save Labour, Jones has played a substantive part in holding back Scotland's aspirations towards radical independence. How street-savvy or Podemos-affirming is that? 

Nor can any radical result ever be realised under our grotesque Westminster electoral system. The Electoral Reform Society has just issued a key report declaring the prevailing voting system 'bust', after the most unrepresentative election in history.

Again, Jones has no particular need, in this regard, to look towards Spain. Just turn to the vibrant possibilities in Scotland, where under Holyrood's modern PR system, a range of Green and small left parties are now organising for a real chance of meaningful representation at next May's election.

There can be no serious radical shift under the current political/electoral system. It has to be rendered illegitimate and opposed on the street, not through hoped-for internal reform.

Meanwhile, back in our fantasia democracy, electors face another five-year search for New Improved Labour, forlorn hopes of some future PR deal, and an enduring zombie-land of neoliberal politics. There's also the UK state's relentless 'world power' addiction to warmongering and coveting of mad missiles on the Clyde.

Still, there's always our enchanting royals and feudal UKania keeping us lowly subjects loyal and steadfast, helping to preserve our beloved institutions, constitutional authority and unifying politics. As Tom Nairn so quintessentially asks: 'Are we all mad?'    

Where's the political exit? Isn't it now time for modernity, real democratic participation and a year-zero politics?

If Jones is really serious about turning to Spain and Podemos, about acting in the spirit of Iglesias, and defining a new-era project, here's three immediate tasks to consider:

1. Abandon Labour. The bulk of Scotland already has. Urge all other leftists, unions and civil institutions to do likewise.
2. Dispense with the left/liberal establishment media. Only a radically, corporate-free new media can speak with a truly independent street voice.
3. Reject parliament's stacked system and do everything possible to help break-up the UK state, in pursuit of independence for Scotland and other regional parliaments.

Beyond Owen Jones's apparent endorsement of Podemos lies a real testing choice: lifeboat politics - trying to rescue a sinking Labour party, keeping safe within the establishment media and clinging to an archaic state; or real movement politics - standing outside collaborator parties, writing as an independent journalist and taking a decisive position in casting adrift all those archaic institutions.

Is Jones ready to advance these core ideas, a new street politics untainted and unconstrained by the old system? Let's see.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Media's deafening silence over West's and Israel's alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria

 
The strange and strategic alliances of Middle East geopolitics never seems to surprise. But care to suggest that the West and Israel are in deep cahoots with al-Qaeda in Syria and expect a sharper look of incredulity.   
 
Yet, two vital new articles now fully illuminate this very reality.
 
The first is from Dr Nafeez Ahmed, analysing the profound implications of a recently declassified US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document. It's key finding, notes Ahmed: 
‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity
 
In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.” The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.” Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.
If only 'the best' of our news outlets were leading the way with such challenging and damning journalism. The fanciful idea that we'd ever see these kind of revelations heading the BBC's Six O'Clock News, or even Channel 4 News, says all we need to know about why the mass population is still in the dark about the West's true, deceitful agenda in Syria and the Middle East at large.
 
Secondly, consider the same deafening media silence on Israel's particular role in this alliance, the details this time forensically documented by independent journalist Asa Winstanley:
For several years now there have been propaganda reports in the Israeli press about how Israel is supposedly playing a purely "humanitarian" role in the Syrian war, by treating civilians and sending them back. But this has now been exposed as propaganda. If that were really the case, Israel would be treating combatants from all sides in the Syrian war and furthermore it would arrest suspected al-Qaeda militants. But in reality, all reports confirm that the Israelis are treating only the "rebel" side, including the al-Qaeda militants that lead the armed opposition in that area of Syria (as indeed they do in much of the country). The key difference that disproves the propaganda line, and proves an active Israel-al-Qaeda alliance is that, after treatment, instead of arresting them, the al-Qaeda fighters are sent back to fight in Syria. There is no chance at all that, in the event that Israel captures injured Hamas, Hizballah or Iranian combatants alive, it would send them back to Gaza or Syria to "go on their way", as the unnamed Israeli official put it.
Winstanley provides multiple corroboration of Israel's supportive role, including the testimonies of Israeli military figures and a few braver field journalists. 
 
Further sporadic pieces on these clandestine collaborations have been seeping through. (As for the supposedly more-favoured 'moderate rebels', it's also worth noting that Netanyahu's recent re-election was warmly greeted by leading FSA figures.) But it's still a far cry from any headline narrative of Western-Israeli mendacity. So, again, why, with all that accumulated evidence, is this not a major media story? 
 
Of the virtual media blackout, Winstanley concludes:
We can say with confidence that the mainstream press in the West supports Israel, and so does not find it convenient to report on this scandalous Israeli-al-Qaeda alliance in Syria. But it's crucial to understand that this is part of a wider pattern in which the West's alliances with (to say the least) morally-dubious regional actors are ignored, downplayed or actively disguised by the media.
All of which lends continuing gloss to the pristine illusion that the West is 'fighting the good fight' on 'civilization's behalf' against the barbarian forces now controlling half of Syria and laying waste to cradles of ancient culture like Palmyra. 
 
Isis and al-Nusra Front have long constituted the key anti-Assad opposition in Syria. We now have definitive proof that the West, its Gulf allies, Turkey and Israel have been promoting and protecting those very forces all along.
 
As millions of innocents in Syria and Iraq continue to die and suffer, the core cause of that historic carnage, Western invasion and proxy warmongering, remains an all-too awkward and avoidable subject for serious media discussion. 
 
Encouragingly, this kind of independent, untainted journalism is serving to bring us the dual truths of Western criminality and media complicity. Please help spread and support that new media front.   
 
 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Trident: whistleblower reveals dangers of imminent nuclear calamity

 

TRIDENT submarines are plagued by serious security lapses, beset by multiple safety blunders and are "a disaster waiting to happen", according to a nuclear weapons engineer turned whistleblower who is now being hunted by the police.
William McNeilly, who says he was on patrol with HMS Victorious from January to April this year, alleges that the Trident missiles it carries are vulnerable to a terrorist attack that "would kill our people and destroy our land". Infiltrators have "the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK", he claims.

He has written a detailed 18-page report called The Nuclear Secrets, which claims to lift the lid on the alarming state of the UK's ageing and short-staffed nuclear deterrent. He went absent without leave from the Royal Navy last week, is on the run and expects to be arrested. "This is bigger than me, it's bigger than all of us," he says. "We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public. If we don't act now lives could be lost for generations."

The risk was "extremely high", he told the Sunday Herald. "My information comes from good sources and I have no reason to lie. If change isn't made, a nuclear catastrophe almost certainly will happen."

McNeilly's report alleges 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde. They include failures in testing whether missiles could be safely launched, burning toilet rolls starting a fire in a missile compartment, and security passes and bags going unchecked.

He also reports alarms being muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures being ignored and top secret information left unguarded.

"It's just a matter of time before we're infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist," he says. "There were some people that I served with on that patrol who showed clear psychopathic tendencies."

The Royal Navy has launched an investigation into McNeilly's report, and is working with the civilian police to find him. It describes his criticisms as "subjective and unsubstantiated", stressing that submarines never go to sea unless they are completely safe.
The SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson MP, is demanding a full explanation and action to rectify all the failings. "These revelations, if true, are extremely concerning. It reads as a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches," he said.
"They add to what appears to be a chaotic, shambolic safety culture on these aged subs. Broken or faulty equipment with no spares leading to slapdash patch-up jobs have no place in the Navy and just shows how utterly stretched it is."

Robertson added: "Failure to follow standard safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Trident submarine on patrol it could result in extreme tragedy, not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet."

McNeilly claims that there was a "massive cover-up" of what happened when HMS Vanguard collided with the French nuclear submarine, Le Triomphant, in the Atlantic in February 2009. He quotes a senior officer who was on Vanguard at the time as saying: "We thought, this is it, we're all going to die."

The crash dislodged high-pressure air (HPA) bottles, he says. "They had to return to base port slowly, because if one of HPA bottle groups exploded it would have created a chain reaction and sent the submarine plummeting to the bottom."

McNeilly also outlines a litany of equipment problems, including a seawater leak, a flooded torpedo compartment and defective toilets. A missile compartment was used as an exercise gym, he alleges, and the submarine speaker system was difficult to understand.

He insists that he has been careful about what he has said publicly in order to avoid prejudicing security. He repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors but they were ignored, he says.

McNeilly, who describes himself as "weapons engineer", is 25 years old, and from Newtownabbey near Belfast. He says he joined the Navy in July 2013, and arrived at Faslane a year ago.

After six months training, according to his account, he went on patrol with HMS Victorious for three months earlier this year.

It is difficult to independently verify all his allegations.

The independent nuclear submarine expert, John Large, concluded McNeilly was credible, though he may have misunderstood some of the things he saw.

Large said: "Even if he is right about the disorganisation, lack of morale, and sheer foolhardiness of the personnel around him - and the unreliability of the engineered systems - it is likely that the Trident system as a whole will tolerate the misdemeanours, as it's designed to do."

The Royal Navy confirmed that McNeilly was a member of the naval service. "The Navy is concerned for the whereabouts and wellbeing of able seaman McNeilly and is working closely with civilian police to locate him," it said.

His report did not pose any security risk to personnel or operations, it added. "The document contains a number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor, with which the naval service completely disagrees."

A Royal Navy spokeswoman stressed that security and nuclear safety were taken extremely seriously. "We are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents," she said.

"The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so."
But John Ainslie, co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, praised McNeilly. "He is a whistleblower who has revealed that there is a callous disregard for safety and security onboard Trident submarines," he said.

"He should be commended for his action, not hounded by the Royal Navy. He has exposed the fact that Trident is a catastrophe waiting to happen - by accident, an act of terrorism or sabotage."
 
Edited extract from the dossier of William McNeilly compiled before going into hiding:

'My name is William McNeilly. I am a weapons engineer submariner for the UK's Trident II D5 strategic weapons system. The penalty for releasing this
report will be life prison if I'm lucky.

The worst fear for me isn't prison ... it's the fear of sacrificing everything I have just to warn the public and yet never be heard. My leave expires today. I will be hunted down for not turning up.

When I'm found I will confess and will no longer be able to keep trying to warn the public. This document will enlighten you about the shockingly extreme conditions that our nuclear weapons system is in right now, and has been in the past. I need you to publish this document or send it to someone who will - please, for the safety of the people.

The complete lack of concern for security worries me. The fact is it would have been even easier for me to cause a nuclear catastrophe than to gather information, and gathering information was actually quite simple, due to the amount of ignorance.
We are at war, with a new kind of enemy. The terrorists have infiltrated every nation on our planet. Our nuclear weapons are a target that's wide open to attack. You don't have to be Alexander the Great to see we must adapt our strategies.

The Cold War is over; are we still in a situation where we must invest billions upon billions into a system that puts our citizens at risk? No! We must adapt to the evolving world in order to survive!

I had envisioned a system with strict security and safety. I didn't see how wrong I was until I arrived at HMS Neptune (Faslane). At the gate the guard barely looked at my pass. It's harder to get into most nightclubs.

We headed down the boat. No search at all. It wasn't because we're Royal Navy personnel; it was because that's the standard procedures. Hundreds of contractors go down the boat when it's alongside.

Their equipment isn't searched and they are not patted down. All it takes is someone to bring a bomb on board to commit the worst terrorist attack the UK and the world has ever seen. At a base security brief we were told that thousands of Royal Navy IDs go missing every year. A terrorist can use them, or create counterfeits with them and easily gain access down the submarine.

We went down to missile compartment two deck, set our bags just feet away from the missiles and no-one stopped us. This was our first time on the boat. No-one in the crew knew who we were, but they still didn't stop us. You can carry anything through the security checkpoints without it being checked.

If you've been through airport security after 9/11 you'll have seen how thorough the security is nowadays. If airport security and nuclear weapon security were both compared to prisons, the airport would be Alcatraz and base security would be house arrest.

Seeing the condition of the security and equipment made me more than concerned, for the safety of the people. It was at that point I realised I needed to gather as much safety and security information as I could. My intentions were to make changes by reporting through the chain of command.

I learnt that HMS Vanguard is in the worst of the worst condition. Countless times it tried to sail but had to come back in, forcing the other boats to do extended patrols.
Just weeks after passing out of training I was drafted to HMS Victorious. Day one was a dark, rainy and windy morning. I made it through the checkpoint by keeping my face away from the guards. I didn't show my ID, and I never handed any ID in.

On the first dive there was a loud continuous bang being heard by everyone. It was down the forward starboard side. The next day in the junior rates mess, I heard people complaining about it being ignored.

A problem occurred with the main hydraulic plant. Somehow seawater was getting into it. The amount of actual hydraulic oil in the plant had fallen to 35 per cent. The problem was there until the end of the patrol.

Hydraulics are used to open the muzzle hatches. This defect stopped them from doing a battle readiness test that proves that the muzzle hatches could have opened whilst on patrol, and that, if we needed to, we could have launched missiles.

I could sometimes hear alarms on the missiles control and monitoring position while lying in bed. I later found out that I would have been hearing them more frequently if they didn't mute the console just to avoid listening to the alarms.

One of the watch keepers laughed about how they would deal with any issues. They would deviate from set procedures because the procedures can be "long and winding." If you work on the strategic weapon system you must follow the procedures. Mistakes can be catastrophic.

A mistake was made on the panel in the control room. A small mistake from this position can cause a disaster. None of the electrical isolations that are required to be made were made, creating a high risk of fire in a compartment which contains torpedoes.

A lot of submarines have been lost due to simple accidents. If one simple mistake is made it can be all over. You can find some of the information online but most of it is covered up. It's only a matter of time before one of the Trident submarines is lost.

Everyone who serves on the Trident submarines knows that it was HMS Vanguard that crashed into the French submarine [in the Atlantic in February 2009]. I was talking to a chief who was on the submarine at the time. He said: "We thought, this is it, we're all going to die." He went on to explain what happened. There was a massive cover up of the incident.

There was a fire in the missile compartment, in harbour. The chief said if it had been at sea there would've been about 50 dead bodies on three deck because of the amount of people struggling to find an emergency breathing system.

The fire was caused by the ship's toilet rolls being stacked from deck to deckhead the whole way along four deck (right beside the missiles and firing units). They reckon it was the heat from the cables that caused the fire.

One motor generator was dysfunctional. There were a lot of problems with the electrical generation equipment. Losing power could result in losing the submarine.
The missile compartment four deck has been turned into a gym. There are people sweating their asses off between the missiles, people rowing between a blanket of shit because the sewage system is defective.

Personal electronics should be banned yet the policy isn't enforced. You can bring whatever electronic devices you want on board. Simple rules like no e-cigs and no shaving are also not obeyed.

One time the supervisor was off somewhere and it would've been easy for me to gather top secret information. To the right buyer this information would sell for millions.

The information I have released in this document has been carefully selected. An idiot may say that releasing information about how open to attack we are will invite terrorism and create an increased risk to security. The truth is the threat already exists.
A few of us got to climb inside a nuclear missile, which could have had up to 12 nuclear warheads on it. I climbed the ladder, put half my body inside the missile and had a look around. If any of us had been terrorists we would've been given the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK.

Luckily none of us were terrorists. However the rate at which people are getting pushed through the system because of manpower shortages is scary. It's just a matter of time before we're infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist.

Some of the personalities on board are already alarming. Probably the most worrying is the junior rate whose hobby is killing small animals. He also expressed his interest in watching dark porn. It appeared most people had breaking points at some point on patrol.

At one point I was told the best way to take down a submarine. I'm not going say how here, that's information nobody should talk about. It's disturbing to know that the people serving on these boats are aware of many ways to destroy them from within.
One of the biggest threats we face is suicidal attack from within. There have been suicides onboard, and on an Astute boat we had a shooter kill his own work colleagues [in Southampton in April 2011]. There were some people that I served with who showed clear psychopathic tendencies.

A missile compensation test was carried out three times and it failed three times. Which means the missiles would have been launched on an unstable platform, if they decided to launch. Basically they're endangering the public and spending billions of taxpayers' money for a system so broken it can't even do the tests that prove it works.
Five minutes before leaving the boat for leave I walked into the junior rates' toilets. The whole deck was flooded in a couple inches of brown water. I tried the senior rates' and it was the same. This summed the system up.

Most people know the Trident programme is a disaster waiting to happen, but they never tell the public. You're guaranteed to lose everything, if you talk. Career, money, everything you own, your freedom, contact with family and friends.

I believe it's in the Prime Minister's best interest to pardon me. Prosecuting someone for alerting the people and the government to a major threat isn't a good image for someone who serves the people.

I raised my concerns about the safety and security of the weapon system through the chain of command on multiple occasions. My concern couldn't have been any clearer.
Not once did someone even attempt to make a change.

I strongly believe that the Prime Minister and most people that defended Trident have no idea about how dire the situation is. This is not the time to judge on what they did when they didn't know. It's about what they do now that they know.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/trident-whistleblower-says-nuclear-submarimes-are-insecure-unsafe-and-a-disaster-wait.1431860917

The Secret Nuclear Threat, William McNeilly's full account: http://www.scribd.com/doc/265119365/The-Sec-ret-Nuc-lea-r-Th-re-At#
 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Hopeful new politics and resisting the corporate media

The Tories are back. Five more grinding years for the poorest and most vulnerable. It's a despairing landscape for a lot of people. Yet, here in Scotland there's a remarkable absence of despondency.

Unlike so many past doleful mornings after voting Labour and getting Tory, people in Scotland have acted this time to avoid the great two-party stitch-up. This time, unlike for so many south of the border, people in Scotland have both mandate and hope. Our votes have counted for something. Not just because they shifted en masse to the SNP, and certainly not as any positive endorsement of Westminster, but because they've been registered as a statement of collective resolve and as part of a people movement.

As with September 18, the establishment got its way in seeing Cameron win. Once more, the media and big corporate money made sure of its preferred result. Project Fear 2 was rolled out, the screenplay this time shifting from the panic of Scottish separation to the terror of Scottish invasion.

Yet, while Fear 1, with its late addition of 'the Vow', just managed to save the day for Establishment Productions, Fear 2, the sequel, has spectacularly bombed. Not even 'Hulk Brown' could deliver the vital box office numbers this time round.

With Miliband's departure, the Blairites have lost no time in moving to reassert control. Dutifully amplified by the Guardian -  as Media Lens observe: 'the Guardian's love affair with Tony Blair just goes on and on' - Blair has seized the moment, pleading for a decisive return to the politics of 'ambition' - in essence, middle-class, Thatcherite individualism.

Lord Mandelson has joined him in pitching the case for a renewal of New Labour and championing of the 'aspirational classes', again not too subtle code for all things Blairite.   

Labour darling Alan Johnson has also rushed to the cause, urging respectful recognition of Blair's successes in a bid to bring the party back to electoral viability. Again, it's the Guardian giving ready platform to his appeal:
"The issue of aspiration in people’s lives; we can no longer relate to them as a party of aspiration. And that was one of the big successes that won us three elections." Johnson criticised Labour’s strategy of talking down its 13 years in government under Blair and then Gordon Brown, and suggested the party should embrace those years. Asked whether Labour still had a problem with Blairites and Brownites arguing over the direction of the party, he said: "You might well be right. I mean it’s an incredible thing now that I was part of a successful government that did really good things, but you’d think that Tony Blair had lost us three elections, not won us three elections, it’s almost de rigeur now not to mention his name."
Remember, this is the same Alan Johnson that Owen Jones almost implored to return in a late effort to rescue Labour. One wonders whether Jones still sees him as part of his 'team effort' in 'radical' renewal. 

Meanwhile, surveying the crisis landscape for Scottish Labour, Neil Findlay has called for a formal break with UK Labour, allowing the party in Scotland freedom to engage the new political mood, including its opposition to Trident.

It's a desperately belated exercise in damage limitation. Would Findlay and his circle be making this same call had Labour been elected? Where was all their vocal and moral opposition to Trident during the election?

And, incredibly, amid the wreckage, Jim Murphy still carries on as leader, like some catastrophe-blind zombie, oblivious to the carnage.

But Murphy's sci-fi behaviour is only one symptom of the malaise. Labourism's death throes and ditching of the old cabal is reflective of a new vibrancy in Scotland desiring not just a change of party but a whole new progressive politics. It's also, whatever the SNP are prudently saying, a substantive new statement for a second referendum on independence.
 
And now, after Better Together's love-bombing of Scotland, the turn to hostile recrimination: it was Scotland that lost it for Labour, apparently, letting the Tories back in. Aside from the arrogance of entitlement and arithmetical fallacy - even all Scottish seats going to Labour wouldn't have given it a UK majority - it's another establishment-fed narrative moving to demonise the SNP and Yes movement as some back-door 'Jacobin threat', not just to the Union but to 'democracy' itself.

We shouldn't understate just how effectively that message was fed and implied across the media, from the Murdoch tabloids shrieking their ugly anti-SNP headlines to the Guardian's dutiful embracing of Miliband and careful negation of what Scotland was really feeling about Labour.           

Indeed, the very idea of a media 'spectrum' is in itself conveniently misleading. It's more appropriate to see all its organic parts as serving establishment functions. The so-called left-liberal-centre idealise political authority, give safe vent to its 'problems' and 'mistakes' (just think of Polly Toynbee's output) and set the very limits of radical thought, while the right-far-right give voice to hateful division and popular conservatism. All help, in key distinctive ways, to preserve the legitimacy of the system, whatever party is in office, whatever version suits the corporate establishment at any given time. 

As noted in the latest penetrating Media Lens alert:  
Some readers might object that the BBC, Guardian and the Independent are not right-wing at all, but centre or even left-liberal. But, as we have shown in numerous books and media alerts, these media organisations are embedded in powerful networks of big business, finance and establishment elites. Naturally, these are the one per cent - or even narrower - interests that corporate media largely serve and support. Such media do not even deserve to be called 'centre', if the term is to retain any meaning.
The imperative task is preservation of the system, under the masquerade of 'party choice' and 'electoral participation'. Yet, as ML conclude, the outcome of this election, like so many others, was determined principally by a much more overseeing corporate 'party' and its relentlessly-serving media.

Until we recognise and act upon that dismal truth, the same political occupation will prevail, the same cosy labels like 'centre ground' rationalised and peddled, as in this unctuous gush from the Guardian on its hopes for the 'new modern', 'blue collar Conservatism': 
To stack up, blue collar Conservatism has to be more than a collection of populist policies. Its declared ambition is to provide the underpinning for Mr Cameron's notion of the good life. The distinction between it and Labour's election offer is in the emphasis on success as a matter entirely of personal effort....For now, though, with their new mandate, this is the agenda the Tories are in a position to deliver. Labour must take note.
Another squirming Guardian post-election editorial urged Cameron now to 'put country before party'. 

And on Labour's defeat, the Guardian could only wallow on about Labour's need for a 'new facility to deploy moral arguments' and 'again learn to tell stories, in a voice – and perhaps an accent – that speaks to the individual ear, and the country as a whole.'   

As Media Lens comment:
Labour and 'moral arguments'? The mind boggles at the lack of insight that sees those words committed to posterity after all that Labour has done; not least the immoral arguments and deceits that launched the illegal invasion of Iraq. Attempting to brush the 'supreme international crime' under the carpet with the weasel words 'the uneasy inheritance of the New Labour years' is appalling. One wonders whether any senior Guardian staff have sufficient self-awareness, and the remnant shreds of dignity, to be squirming uneasily after the paper's earlier declared support for Ed Miliband.
In Scotland, the political sea change is inspiring more free-thinking media, as in Bella Caledonia's latest efforts to extend its project. But such outlets would benefit even more from close scrutiny and engagement of serious non-corporate, independent journalists like Jonathan Cook, Nafeez Ahmed and Media Lens.

As for related street mobilisation, Scotland is now the kernel of dissent, the movement that all serious radicals  - Owen Jones, take note - should be getting behind.  

As Tariq Ali argues, it's 'farewell to the United Kingdom', and a new realisation of how progressive forces can now move forward:
The tasks facing radicals ands socialists in Scotland and England are very different. In Scotland the young people who dominated Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) played an exemplary role in the referendum and the recent elections. Broad-minded, non-sectarian, realizing what was at stake and focusing all their energies to defeat the common foe. The results have vindicated their approach. They now need to assemble the forces that want a radical Scotland to represent them in the Scottish parliament that will be elected in 2016. This means a constructive left opposition that carries on the tradition of RIC but this time in Parliament preparing the ground for a Scotland that is both independent and different. 
Ali's decisive conclusion on the Miliband disaster: 
As for the Labour Party, I think we should let it bleed. Here the Scottish route offers hope.
Indeed. New movement politics driven by new movement media is the only useful, radical direction to follow.