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.