Churchill: A Great Paradox

Last week marked the day in which Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1940. As with many historical events, the press and public look back and ponder the ‘what ifs’, we see montages of his greatest moments and we idolise the man who led a nation in its darkest hour, Britain’s saviour one could say.

When considering Churchill’s legacy, we think of the Second World War, his grand speeches in parliament, his defiance in the face of overwhelming adversity and how it emboldened the people of the United Kingdom to fight fascism. What is often overlooked however is his immense role in the ghastly actions of Imperial-Age Britain.

Many do not include the British Empire in the club of murderous, tyrannical empires of the past. We are not the Mongols, or the Romans, we are not the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. We modernised more than half the world and established democracies that still remain to this day, albeit independent from our rule. These are all wonderful aspects of the British Empire, aren’t they? It is for that reason we can soundly proclaim we were the ‘good guys’, right?

Unsurprisingly, it is not that simple. For every road paved, for every child literate and for every clean water well there are hundreds of dead, incarcerated and oppressed people’s. The blood shed by the British Empire throughout its centuries-long history is unfathomable, yet we are blind to these realities – A selective view of history instilled in our minds from the moment we enter the education system.

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Winston Churchill is a product of this time in our history. A man who firmly believed the British Empire was the moral authority around the globe. A civilised nation whose god given right it was to spread British values, democracy and culture. He was an imperialist, plain and simple. In recent years, many have argued that by modern definitions he was a white supremacist as throughout his career there are examples of his contempt for supposedly ‘lesser’ cultures.

Speaking of the indigenous peoples of America and Australia, Churchill claimed:

“I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

As well as a contempt for indigenous populations, Churchill had spoken in an almost Nazi-esque fashion, claiming: “The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

A statement more at home in Mein Kampf than a biography of Britain’s most celebrated leader.

Let us examine a selection of his darkest actions.

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In 1919 during Britain’s third occupation of Afghanistan, Churchill advocated the use of chemical weapons against the insurrectionist tribes of the region. These surely are not the actions of a moral and just individual, are they? Even more sordid when considering the devastating affects gas had upon British troops during the First World War.

“We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells…burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.”

As a young officer, Churchill witnessed – and perhaps acquired his taste for – great brutality against indigenous populations in South Africa during the Boer War, where concentration camps were pioneered. He even claimed this method ‘reduced suffering‘.

Over 28,000 white Boers died as well as anywhere up to 14,000 black South African peoples.

These methods were also used in Kenya during the 1950’s, where over 100,000 black civilians – which Churchill labelled ‘blackamoors’ – were interred in concentration camps. Britain’s actions at this time were particularly brutal, and focused firmly on maintaining the control of the minority white population in the country.

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One of the worst atrocities carried out by the United Kingdom, and often erased from our history books, is the Bengal famine of 1943. At the height of the Second World War, Britain’s resources were stretched beyond breaking point. Food supplies throughout the Commonwealth and in Britain were dangerously low, and one may be forgiven for assuming that the defence of mainland Britain was a priority.

When famine struck however, Churchill it seems disregarded the gravity of the situation, and is even claimed to have placed the blame at the feet of the Indian population, saying they ‘breed like rabbits’ – A callous remark met with an equally callous response. Wheat shipments from Australia were bypassed to the European theatre of war and this led to increased suffering in the Bengal region.

Churchill’s actions, or there lack of, appear to have aggravated the situation further, and it is believed that over three million people died. His disregard for the people of India is evident during his time in politics and is likely due to his contemptuous view of the people. The Viceroy of India claimed:

“Churchill’s attitude towards India and the famine is negligent, hostile and contemptuous”

A topic still hotly debated to this day is British involvement in Iran. Western meddling in the Middle-East is often acknowledged as one of the main factors of numerous problems. Churchill had long meddled in the affairs of the Iranian people and viewed the mineral wealth of the nation as a massive prize for the British Empire, so much so that he helped orchestrate the complete seizure of the nations oil supply.

Speaking of the seizure of oil, he claimed it was “a prize from fairyland beyond our wildest dreams”

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His meddling did not relent, and during his post-war term as Prime Minister he enabled the Shah to overthrow the popular nationalist government under Mohammad Mosaddegh, thus setting off a cataclysm of events that would shock the Middle-East for decades. The Shah committed atrocities against the Iranian people for over two decades, supported by Britain and United States, until the Islamic Revolution of 1979 ushered in a dark new era of regional politics.

There are numerous other examples of Churchill’s callous actions throughout his political career, but there simply is not enough room in this article to delve further, a few other examples are:

  •  The partitioning of the Near East, an issue that still plagues global politics to this day.
  • State endorsed violence in Ireland through the ‘Black & Tans’.
  • Violent suppression of civilian protesters in Greece in 1944.
  •  The appalling treatment of workers in the UK. (See the Tonypandy Riots)

What can be said in an albeit futile defence of the man is that his views on race are not unique for the time. As a man born in Edwardian Britain it is likely these beliefs were held by a great deal more people in the UK. This does not exempt him from criticism however, and upon reflection we today find these views offensive and his actions deplorable.

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He was a product of his time, and it must be said his views, although not too dissimilar, do not quite compare to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or others who believed in racial or societal hierarchies at the time. The great paradox of Winston Churchill is that he did champion the defence of western capitalism & democracy and he did rouse the people of the UK and other European nations to resist fascism. Whilst doing this however he stands as a living embodiment of what many today would view as the antithesis of modern democratic values; equality and tolerance.

A monumental figure in British and world history, but perhaps not for the supposedly noble reasons we believe. His legacy is one of blood and torment, with a gloss finish of glory.

 

 

The Nasty Party MkII

It’s short story time folks so buckle up and let’s delve into a dystopian world in which violence against animals is fully endorsed by the British Prime Minister. One where human life is categorised as ‘low value’ and ‘high value’ and where the working class mindlessly dig their own graves with ballot papers. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Wait, hold on a minute…

With one fell swoop Theresa May has solidified her place as the new Margaret Thatcher – in that I mean truly hated. In scenes reminiscent of a TV political satire, she utterly baffled millions of British voters by openly endorsing the practice of riding around fields in southern England, dressed like an idiot and mutilating animals. Her comments supporting the reintroduction of fox hunting are deplorable, but sadly, nothing out of the ordinary from the Conservative Party.

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Conservatives and their harmless ‘traditions’.

The notion that the Tories had changed, that they were no longer the ‘nasty party’ is false. Earlier this week Iain Duncan Smith spoke of other human beings as ‘low value’ – Comments that bear harrowing similarities to the Nazi ‘untermenschen’ concept of the 1930s. (Video link below)

 

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It’s not new though, is it? Under the previous government, NHS workers were demonised to such an extent that you’d think they’d been forcefully euthanising patients. The European Union was portrayed as a tyrannical regime hellbent on the destruction of everything British.

So, basically fish ‘n chips and England fans trashing European city centres.

Now Theresa wishes to bring back a barbaric practice that is largely reserved for their own ilk. I can’t imagine your average Joe Bloggs battering animals to death, what is it about the Tories that makes them like this? Were they raised by psychopaths? Brought up around them? Even pigs aren’t safe.

Sadly for Iain Duncan Smith, the possibility of hunting these ‘low value’ human beings with hounds is out of the question for now. However over the years the Tories have tried their best to degrade and harm defenceless creatures through other means.

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Post-Brexit fox and working-class hunts look all the rage.

Whether it be the disabled or miners and steel workers, low-income families and students, foreign nationals and NHS workers, the Tories just love to prey on the weak, demonise foreigners and convince the working class that the source of their problems are other working class people.

If fox hunting once again becomes commonplace then it merely serves as a platform for the Tories to satisfy their insatiable lust for cruelty. I wouldn’t pin your hopes on them stopping their systematic destruction of the working class though, it’s just another way to vent.

Focusing on the opposite side of the spectrum, how can one even fathom the thought of not voting for Labour, the SNP, or Liberal Democrats? Admittedly they all have their faults; Petty nationalism, inner-party conflicts and past discrepancies. Yes we know Labour allowed banks to run riot and near bankrupt an economy, the Lib Dems jumped into bed with David Cameron at the first sniff of power, and the SNP have been blurting out calls for a referendum ever since…well, since the last one.

One thing that can be said however, is that the alternatives they offer to the Conservatives are clear.

Increased wages, adequately fed children, protection of civil and human rights, a secure – and crucially – well funded National Health Service and ensuring that large corporations actually pay their share of tax in the U.K.

Furthermore, all of the above have stated their intention to take a moderate stance with the European Union. The Tories are firmly grounded in their belief that Britain has a god given right to a good deal. After all, we saved Europe, didn’t we? Bloody Germans telling us what to do.

Make no mistake, the Tories are not the people’s party that they paint themselves to be, and every vote cast in their favour is an endorsement of a leader and a party that holds life in all forms in complete contempt, as well as your full support of an obviously failing system.

But y’know, those foxes won’t hunt themselves.

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…Surely? 

On Friday morning I woke to find that President Trump had ordered retaliatory air strikes in Syria in the wake of the Idlib gas attack. That evening, I watched The Who live in Glasgow and the lyrics ‘we don’t get fooled again’ and ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss‘ ring frightfully in my mind. 

Now, I am of the opinion that the solution to this conflict can’t, at this stage, be through dialogue. Especially considering that time and time again, the regime and Russia have disregarded the UN, NATO & the EU. They are protecting their strategic interests and could not care less about the Syrian people – If Assad goes, they’ll still be there. 


Action had to be taken and it was. If flattening Syrian airbases prevents further gas attacks then surely that is an appropriate response, but then again, I’m not a military strategist, I’m also not one for advocating sending others to die while I binge on PlayStation for seven hours on a Sunday. 


What I do have an issue with is the rhetoric coming from the media and the state. It echoes everything we heard in the days preceding the Iraq War, and scarily, we seem to be quite oblivious to it, happy to go along with the conversation and posture aimlessly to at least have a say in it all. Hell, even people who’ve spent months castigating Trump have applauded his response, it is utterly baffling. 

Additionally, the response to the gas attack was not what I expected. Compassion fatigue is very much present in the west, and these events and atrocities are often sideline news to the cacophony of garbage we are bombarded with. “It happens everyday, you just can’t keep up” is often a response I hear. People are outraged and they are angry, and that’s good, so you should be when other humans are suffering at the hands of a despotic maniac and his puppet master in Moscow, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. 


Over the weekend we have seen news organisations, political commentators and politicians alike all calling for an increased presence in this conflict – Some going so far as to call for boots on the ground. Many of these people are those who have consistently screamed “let’s not get involved” or “we’re the reason this is happening, leave the region alone!”. 

This is dangerous. These things can take on a life of their own and we the public are often blinded to the reality of the situation – Remember how certain people were that Iraq was necessary? 

It also reeks of hypocrisy, you can’t bury your head in the sand until a Facebook post shows just a glimpse of the countless suffering children in Syria then suddenly become Dwight D Eisenhower, a military strategist, statesman and diplomat all rolled into one. Have you thought about the outcome of this? The repercussions of another costly, bloody conflict in the Middle East? Are you the one going there? 

It’s frightening to see opinion swivel on a knifes edge, and exercising restraint in this scenario is imperative. Let’s not get dragged into a current of war mongering, I don’t know the solution to this, neither do you, and you can bet your life that your government or favourite news outlet doesn’t either. Regardless of the outcome, the losses and the torment, they all profit from this, not you or those still dealing with this horror every single day. 

Sadiq Khan is Wrong on Scottish Nationalism.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s comments regarding Scottish nationalism are not only unfounded, but deeply detrimental to the efforts of the Scottish Labour Party. Additionally, he is merely furthering the division we see across the Scottish political landscape.

Similar to what we encountered during the Brexit campaign, it is very counterproductive to simply stereotype an entire demographic of people as racist, bigoted or antiquated in their beliefs. Scottish nationalism is none of the above, and, despite my opposition to Scottish independence in 2014, I have come to find the the engagement in Scotland post-IndyRef to be a positive and refreshing outcome.

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Mayor Khan’s speech at the Scottish Labour Party Conference this weekend past merely sought to fan the flames of Scottish nationalist fervour. He is correct on one count at least, another independence referendum would be extremely destabilising. Nonetheless, should we abandon the process of democracy merely to maintain stability? I disagree entirely. During the IndyRef campaign of 2014, we regularly heard cries of ‘vote No to remain in the EU‘ – Only to see ourselves heading toward a hard Brexit having voted overwhelmingly to remain. Scotland is entitled to another referendum on this basis alone, and when you consider that we are now governed by a party that holds one seat from 59 in Scotland, and a Prime Minister whom we did not elect, then the choice is crystal clear.

“Now is not the time to fuel that division or to seek separation or isolation. Now is not the time to play on people’s fears or to pit one part of our country – or one section of our society – against another.”

I do not fully believe that Khan’s comments signaled a belief that Scotland was a particularly racist or bigoted nation. He is merely playing on the current mindset of many in the UK and across the western world. Populism is on the rise, and with this, we see an growing isolationist rhetoric from both the British and American governments, along with right-wing candidates in France.

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However it appears he does not fully understand the fundamental aspects of the Scottish separatist movement. It is regarded as ‘civic nationalism’ and not one based entirely on ideological differences to our English neighbours, nor does it have any racial or religious undertones to it. It is based firmly around the sovereignty of Scottish citizens and the right for any nation to dictate its policies, both foreign and domestic.

He said: “We celebrate our diversity and take pride in our tolerance. We strive for equality and to increase opportunities. And we fight tooth and nail for fairness and inclusion.”

Sadly, his comments only prove the lack of understanding that Westminster has regarding Scotland’s issues. Throughout the referendum campaign, all of the ideals he speaks of were mentioned and were at the forefront of the debate. Why then would he imply that Scotland’s political movements do not bear these characteristics? Is the Labour Party alone in championing inclusion and diversity in the UK? I would argue that in light of the Brexit result, they have not done so, choosing instead to follow a process that will potentially stifle inclusion and diversity, led by a government that is by no means ‘striving’ for opportunities and equality.

At a moments notice he was pounced upon by commentators and voters from across the political spectrum. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a cross-party, unilateral denial of his statement. It proves once again that despite political differences, Scottish voters are very much still same boat in some sense.

This is another indictment of Labour’s downfall north of the border. To say their influence in Scotland has been diminishing would be an enormous understatement – They’ve been free falling. The 2015 Westminster Elections saw Labour lose all but one seat in Scotland, a victory of monumental proportions for the SNP, and one that reflected the changing tide of Scottish political ideals. Labour have lost touch with their roots, the Blairite years were the final nail in the coffin and now, the game has changed in both a UK-wide and Scottish sense.

Once the working man’s party, Labour were guaranteed victories across the board, and with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the party, one would have assumed that a shift to the left, back to basics and a resurgence in Scotland would be on its way, but this has not been the case at all. It has merely resulted in a series of damaging losses, with the Copeland by-election signalling the end of Corbyn and Labour’s leftist experiment.

The great paradox of Scottish politics today is that we predominantly associate ourselves as a ‘left-leaning’ nation. Historically Labour had held great sway in Scotland through their links with trade unions and their working man’s mantra. The SNP are by no means polar opposite to this, but they bear all the characteristics of a modern, centrist Labour Party as opposed to the party of old.

However the15825713351_a831284e27_z SNP has exquisitely capitalised on the growing discord among the young, politically engaged Scottish electorate. One that is growing increasingly tired of casting votes overwhelmingly toward one ideological wing, only to see it overruled by a mere portion of the rUK electorate.

 

Additionally, post-Brexit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan appeared to be on good terms, offering an alternative voice in the opposition to government proposals on the issue. In light of this however it seems that this apparently tentative alliance of sorts still has major differences, and confirms what the SNP have been claiming for years; Labour are no longer the party for Scotland.

 

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February 27, 1776

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In North Carolina, Patriots defeat loyalists at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

The Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, had been attempting to create a large Loyalist force, made up of local loyalists as well as Scots settlers, and had permission to raise a regiment that would be known as the Royal Highland Emigrants.  Patriots, on the other hand, had been organizing Continental Army militia units ever since word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord had come to them.   When he became aware of a planned British Army expedition in the area, Governor Martin ordered the Loyalist militia to form in anticipation of their arrival.  Rebels mobilized to prevent this, and blockaded several routes until the Loyalists found themselves forced to confront them at Moore’s Creek Bridge, which is about eighteen miles north of Wilmington.  The Loyalists were poorly armed, but charged across the bridge wielding their…

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February 27

Little Bits of History

1964: Italy requests help to save an iconic landmark. The Torre di Pisa, or as we call it, the Tower of Pisa, has been leaning since before it was even fully constructed. The freestanding bell tower is part of the cathedral built in the Italian city and known worldwide for its distinctive tilt. It is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square with only the Cathedral itself and the Pisa Baptistry older. Groundbreaking took place in 1173 but there was inadequate foundation for the structure. The ground on one side was too soft to support the weight of the tower.

It took 199 years to built the tower. Work began during a period of military success and therefore, local prosperity. When the work on the second floor began, the tower began its slow and inexorable tilt. The structure,  which eventually rose 184 feet into the sky, was built on…

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Echo & the Funny Men

The Trump administrations’ latest in a seemingly never ending line of gaffs has been to prevent certain news organisations from White House briefings. CNN, BBC and the New York Times have been singled out  and banned for…well, reporting the news. This news of course, is actual news, and not the fake news Donald Trump so often reminds us of.

Or is it fake news? At this point (31 days into his presidency) I’m honestly not sure. The lines between reality and dystopian sci-fi nightmare were already blurring as state results were swinging in his favour last November, so you can forgive me for not having a clue what he’s on about half the time.

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The maniacal nature of this presidency is anxiety inducing, tear-jerking and terrifying – it is everything you want from a Sunday Netflix binge. Sadly however, it is real, and in and amongst the cringe worthy interviews, satirical slaughtering of Trump, his staff, and support, along with the occasional bursts of ‘wow did he just..?’ there is a suspicious undercurrent of authoritarianism.

News organisations such as the BBC are often accused of bias. Ask a broad range of Scots and you will likely be met with an unequivocal rejection of this idea, or, an extended explanation as to how the BBC influenced every sentient life form in Scotland during the run up to the 2014 independence referendum. Brexiteers also followed this route, lambasting the BBC and main stream media for portraying their cause in a negative light…whilst they lied through their back teeth about NHS budget increases.

The BBC has its flaws, its shortcomings and its scandals, but it is a fantastic and informative service to the public,  the same can be said about their co-conspirators in this diabolical MSM propaganda campaign, it is a disgrace that they have been cast out.

Since his election, there has been no shortage of news to report from Washington, and the air time reflects this. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s just getting boring now, but the fact of the matter is that everything the press has reported thus far has either been announced by the White House, or proclaimed loudly by Trump himself (most likely on stage, in front of numerous other news organisations who also publish and broadcast his statements).

We are of course talking about news here, stories as they unfold, not opinion or punditry. Nonetheless, the media has a right to air or publish content such as this, if the White House can’t handle an opinion piece, then do they have the ‘stamina’ that Trump so boldly declared he had?

How can the White House exile these organisations in good conscience?

Wait, let me rephrase that…

How can the White House now morally or legally justify exiling them?

Hang on, I’ll try again…In fact no, no I will not try to rationalise this.

The reality of the situation here is that the Trump administration is desperately clambering to control the narrative, and by refusing to engage with news organisations critical of the government, branding them ‘fake news’ or biased, they think they can maintain this control through their own channels – They are gravely mistaken. With each passing threat toward the media and with every day they are locked out, the Trump administration loses what little reputation it even had in the first place, and places the ball into the court of the opposition and the press.

A fundamental aspect of any democracy is a free press and a transparent government. These two are delicately entwined and have been for decades. To restrict the press from carrying out its role of informing the public, and holding power structures to account, is an insult to the system itself and those living in it. Furthermore, it is a stain on the legacy of the idols they revere; Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln Et al

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In the alt-right echo chamber that Trump, his supporters and puppet master Steve Bannon exist, they feel safe and secure. After all, if you disregard opposing beliefs and ideologies, viewing your own as superior and everyone else as a cuck or snowflake, then it’s easy to understand why you’d be so eager to suppress everything else, you’re doing the world a favour. It would also be nice to imagine a world where nobody disagreed, where everyone conformed to the same thoughts and beliefs. (if you’d like to read more about this I’d suggest George Orwell’s ‘1984’.)

If your sources of information are through news outfits such as Breitbart, known for its sensationalist and often offensive content, or InfoWars, led by a man who believes the upper echelons of the Democrat Party are part of an inter-dimensional, vampiric paedophile ring* – I’m being serious here – then I imagine your life would be pretty peachy. After all, ignorance is bliss as they say.

A real democrat however would relish the opportunity to see debate flourish, political engagement rise and a population elevated. A true patriot would welcome a stronger democracy, and in turn a stronger nation. The golden boy of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, would have rolled his sleeves up and slugged it out in a manner befitting of the office, he wouldn’t run away and scream 140 characters worth of bile onto social media.

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Trump is none of the above, and seeks to restrict those things, instead relying on ignorance and intolerance to control, through marginalising large parts of the populace and de-legitimising the pillars of democracy. We have seen on a number of occasions in the past century where a free press is portrayed as an enemy of the people, and these have largely been in totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China – Is this any way for the President of the United States to act?

For a man and a movement that so often squeals about freedom of speech, he doesn’t seem too keen on ensuring it works both ways.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a real democrat, century’s old but still frighteningly relevant:

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

* For more on Alex Jones’ mind boggling statements see: Joe Rogan Podcast episode 911

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