The comments by BP’s chief execute, Tony Hayward, that, as a Brit, he can take the vitriol that’s being chucked at himself and his company may not exactly be helpful, but it’s certainly more constructive than the crude oil that’s spilling out of Barack Obama’s department, which have led to yet another war of words with Britain.
The new British Business Secretary, Vince Cable, was forced to condemn American ‘gunboat diplomacy,’ citing the president’s ‘extreme’ anti-British rhetoric, having heard that the US government now intended to launch criminal proceedings. Now, I’m as much on the US’s side as anyone else here; it was BP that caused the mess, even if it doesn’t deserve the lion’s share of the blame.
And that’s exactly why I object to their president’s obsessive hatred of Britain and its people, which now rears its ugly head yet again.
It may surprise Mr Obama to know that BP is actually a multinational company. Although he gets his fix on referring to it as British Petroleum, it has been officially known as Beyond Petroleum for more than a decade. However, as much as I’d like to think that Obama doesn’t have a bizarre, deep-seated resentment of Britain, I simply must accept that everything he’s done during his presidency, from sending back an official gift, a bust of Churchill, to the frankly insulting treachery of refusing to support us over our defence of the Falklands, which are as much a part of Britain as London, despite our involvement in two of America’s wars.
Of course, the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion is not even comparable to the destruction levelled on the Indian city of Bhopal in where almost two and a half thousand citizens were killed by pesticides, with estimates of more than ten thousand Indian civilians killed as a result of the disaster. That was, funnily enough, not caused by British imperialism, nor even by a British corporation, but an American company known as Union Carbide. What about the one hundred and seventy people killed by an American company, Occidental Petroleum, in the North Sea? And the psychopathic US officials who refused to testify at the inquiry? Not that anyone should be killed in the pursuit of oil, but only eleven lives were lost when Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, and the company has already taken full responsibility for the calamity - when this isn’t entirely justified, either.
Obama’s criminal investigation may reveal to him the full scale of American culpability in this. It is not BP who built or managed the rigs, but an American company, Transocean. It was, in fact, Transocean that built it, and then leased it to BP. Haliburton that was responsible for the concrete, not BP. And, even though the rig was now in nominally British ownership, it was still the employees and resources of yet another US corporation who were responsible for overseeing it.
I respectfully submit to the US president that he tones down his anti-colonial hatred; it is spilling out into the Atlantic, at a rate of at least three press conferences a day, and even Vince Cable, a mild-mannered financial expert, is finding it a little difficult to stem the tide flowing from such a public disaster.
"Bòrd na Gàidhlig say they are not forcing this is on anyone but if you study the plan they certainly are forcing this on us. Last month, I made a remark about the Gaelic Inquisition but that is not too strong a word for it. This is being rammed down our throats. The only way to stop this is for Caithness to declare UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence)."
That's the opinion of one Don Smith, Thurso community councillor. You'd probably be forgiven for thinking that he's some hero of liberation for oppressed minorities; and, if you change the words 'Bòrd na Gàidhlig' for 'the government,' 'Gaelic Inquisition' for 'the police,' and 'Caithness' for 'downtown Johannesburg,' that's exactly what he'd be.
But the organisation he is referring to is not an Apartheid government; it is a Scottish advisory board on the use of the country's native language. The Gaelic Inquisition, despite its comparison to a brutal medieval religious regime, is one of the most important public campaigns carried out by that organisation, to date. The objective doesn't involve the suppression of ethnic minorities; in fact, it's quite the opposite. Bilingual roadsigns, which will doubtless reduce the monopoly on roads that the non-Gaelic Scots such as Mr Smith currently enjoy, but will also enable tens of thousands of native speakers to drive without relying on their ability to speak a foreign language. In the face of the obvious benefits to the economy and social well-being of the region, Mr Smith's hysterical opposition to the scheme 'when money is being thrown at Gaelic' should be, as his fellow councillor, Mr Rosie, says regarding the new roadsigns, 'laughed out of court.' It's almost as pathetic as the Scottish transport minister, Stewart Stevenson, claiming that bilingual roadsigns (the only roadsigns that many of the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands can understand) cause accidents. The basis of this argument, he claimed, was his accounts of English-speakers trying to read Gaelic placenames. But people who do speak it should not be denied the right to drive around on the roads that their council taxes pay for.
A contributor from Nairn perhaps explains it best:
"These ruins (a list of abbeys and castles) have been maintained. But does anyone realistically want to restore them to their former glory and live in these ancient piles as monks? Rightly or wrongly, that is how many view the aims of the Gaelic lobby.'
There is nothing to suggest that they cause accidents, and yet the council officials take issue with Gaelic being used in the bastions where it is still spoken. Wales has nowhere near the same power as Scotland does to control its own affairs. It's national parliament is second only in powerlessness to the English lack of one. Of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, two Crown dependencies, and its overseas territories, Scotland is second to none in its legal autonomy. It is in Scotland,the corridors of power of village halls and community centres, that the problem lies.
Scottish law does nothing to protect the language against the bigoted views espoused by its inhabitants, especially those in the media power-house of Edinburgh. The most trivial example in recent history is the comments published in 2004, in the Student newspaper, in their television listings. In a rubbish attempt to explain what Gaelic programmes were about, its editor made several comments that, whilst I personally don’t care about, would have sparked a massive public outcry had they been about any other nationality. The newspaper would probably have been banned, and the editors arrested for inciting racial hatred, and a score of other thought-crimes. However, there was no criminal or civil proceedings to be taken, for, earlier this year, MSPs voted against giving Gaelic-speakers equal status with English. Blatant racism is now perfectly acceptable, as, officially, the Gaels are second-class citizens. We should read the ‘lack of equality’ for what it is - inequality. Their promise to give it ‘equal respect’ rather than ‘equal validity’ is even more offensive. I was considering sending an email to a variety of MSPs earlier, although the irony of me writing one in English would probably have been used in one of their bizarre, logic-challenged arguments, so I didn’t bother. It wouldn’t have been as ‘valid’ as a complaint made in English, anyway.
In what way is Gaelic not as valid as English? Why does the language and culture of its speakers, which is completely different to that of people in the Lowlands, not demand equal respect with English, or even languages that really are foreign, such as Punjabi and Guajarati? It may seen to the former landlords who govern us that Gaelic is the tongue of 19th-century evictees, but Gaelic is an integral part of Scottish identity. Even in the Lowlands, the vast majority of placenames are Gaelic, and the fact that many of these MSPs who ‘fail to see the relevance of Gaelic in Scotland’ cannot translate the name of their town is tragically ironic. Compared to the Scots dialects, for which there is now a campaign to recognise as no fewer than three new official, separate language, although it is perfectly possible for their speakers to understand both each other and the English, Gaelic is ancient. It first arrived in Scotland in the 300s, having been in Ireland for anything up to two thousand years, and was the official language of state until the 1100s. It continued to be the official tongue of the Highlands and Islands, under the de facto independent Lordship of the Isles, until 1493. It would be another three hundred years before Scots had a significant presence in the region, as a language of trade and commerce. In 1891, more than two and a half thousand Gaelic-speakers were returned by the census, only including those who could read and write in the language. It even, gallingly for those who maintain the exact opposite, has the backing of the current Lord of the Isles, who is none other than the heir to the throne - Prince Charles - who says that ‘Scottish life is greatly enriched by the Gaelic dimension.’
One councillor, Deirdre Mackay of Brora, Sutherland, who is the daughter of Mr Rosie, even says that allowing children to learn in their native language is damaging equal opportunities. Never mind the irony of a Labour councillor complaining about political correctness, but the notion that Gaelic ‘has to be challenged’ is flawed. She claims that, if bilingual education is to be provided, then it should be in Spanish, Urdu, and Chinese, not in Gaelic. The last time I checked, Mrs Mackay, the two of those that are languages were not spoken natively by large numbers of people, and they already have millions of speakers. And, besides, those languages are taught in Scotland; the total cost of English education is more than four and a half billion pounds per annum. That’s four and a half thousand times the cost that Mrs Mackay was complaining about - if that was proportionate to the official number of Gaels, then the population of Scotland would be twenty-seven million. She also complained that people who ring Porterfield Prison are asked if they are Gaelic-speakers - forgetting that some people are, and that Gaels have just as much right to talk to their imprisoned relatives as anyone else. She then goes on to say that it is wrong for Gaels to have such small class sizes, and receive a better education than anyone else. Not only is the logic completely backwards, but it is a false argument; her real complaint is that those who attend such schools ‘have to put up with Gaelic at the same time.’ And do you know what the most depressing part of the saga is? The councillor’s first name and surname are both of Gaelic origin.
The thing that every single one of these councillors is forgetting is that Gaels also pay council tax. They also want parks; they also want good schools; they also have relatives; they also get old. It is not just for the Scots to decide how that money is spent; and, indeed, why should Gaelic money be used to support the agenda of a select few Scots with a superiority complex, and to provide them with the services that Gaels also demand? I know that comparisons with historical regimes are not that easy to pull off, especially not on a blog, but in what way is making public services exclusive to the non-Gaels any different from Apartheid? There is no ‘Gaelic Mafia’ stalking the corridors of power waiting to pull off a creagh. There will be no Scots taken out of school and thrashed for speaking English. There will be no campaign to make people pay to watch a BBC (state-owned) channel simply because they are not the ‘majority.’ There will be no Scots forced to learn a foreign language to drive and work. No-one will be refused a job because they speak English at home, and they will not have to be shut off from the rest of the world as they are forced to listen to BBC Alba in a dark room whilst their ‘normal’ classmates play amongst a wide variety of toys and fun activities, in the ‘proper’ language.
We demand recognition. We are a thousand-year-old people with a unique culture and history, and a legitimate right to exist - no-one can truly deny that we are here, even if they’d rather pretend that we weren’t. We demand equality. We want schools, signs, and services that we can make use of. We pay for them, as well; we fight in wars, as well, more so than any other nation in the Commonwealth in proportion to our population size. We demand validity.
As usual, the Eurovision Song Contest is so blatantly political that I have an overwhelming urge to tear the heart out of its creator and beat it to the sound of pounding techno. Let's get one thing straight: the UK's entry, was, as usual, utter rubbish. But if you can find a country whose entry was not as cringeworthingly bad as a fat kid in glasses body-popping to Beyonce, you're watching the Winter Olympics.
The vast majority of countries did better than the UK because they were better. But there are a select few who completely bombed, and it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to see how they are connected. Ireland, Iceland, and the UK? The hair on the rear legs of a wild black Labrador is fairer than that! And the winners? Germany. With a contemporary and well-written song, but not one that, judging from the audience's reception, should have came anywhere near the top spot. It was pushed there by other Germanic and Scandinavian nations - Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland. The former Eastern Bloc partied like it was the Prague Spring - Russia included - voting and cheering for each other. Greece gave Cyprus twelve points. Serbia gave Bosnia and Herzegovina twelve points. Macedonia gave Albania twelve points. Portugal gave Spain twelve points. This went on up the ladder right to the top spot!
I don't know what I'm complaining about. I've not watched it with any great attention. But if this was the Olympics, there'd be a scandal! The English World Cup bid manager was forced to resign for accusing the Spanish and Russians of bribing the referees. I think a job in Brussels is now out of the question?
The social services. Families rely on them to offer fair and impartial advice and assistance, and, yes, to sometimes take the decision to break up a family in the interests of its members. They are supposed to be trained, committed, and professional individuals; they are not supposed to be able to force children into homes for their own personal reasons, or to receive financial benefits. But they can, and they often do. In fact, there have been a large number of incidents that show this; each of them relegated to the back page of tabloids, even the harshest, such as the Daily Mail. They are only now beginning to break through to the front pages, or on the comment sections of online newspapers, where they desperately need to be.
I will refer you to the work of Tim Yeo, MP for Suffolk. He has worked tirelessly over the last few years to raise the matter in parliament. He launched an outspoken attack on Suffolk County Council, claiming that it was responsible for ‘child kidnap,’ and was ‘actively seeking opportunities to remove babies from their mothers.’ To those of you who might see this as a remarkable claim to make, then the details of this particular incident, as reported in the Daily Mail, might surprise you; the social services watched the couple’s movements, and then waited for the father to leave before they launched a raid, and took the baby by force. The reason was, as with many other similar stories, was ‘physical or emotional abuse.’ This charge was declared by the council, not any actual authority on the subject, and was, claimed the MP, backed up with no evidence whatsoever. ‘The fact that no fault could be found in the physical and emotional care provided by her parents did not stop the council from destroying this fragile family.’ The council then went on to receive the opinion of two experts, although none of them would endorse the other, and the council eventually claimed that, as there was the ‘possibility of future physical or emotional abuse,’ they took action. Read that again, and count how many principles of a fair justice system that breaks; presumption of innocence, lack of evidence, and even the need to have committed a crime before you are punished. And is there really a harsher punishment for a mother than having a baby taken from her arms through no fault of her own, when the council responsible freely admits that they acted on a ‘possibility?’ She was eventually forced to move to Spain, where she gave birth to another baby, which was seized by the Spanish authorities on instructions from their British counterparts, and she is not the only one. Four babies a day are taken from their parents, just like the above incident.
British families have been scattered to Spain and Ireland in the pursuit of sanity - ironic, as the latter has had to endure our jokes about the export of pregnant girls since the 1920s – and they are often unsuccessful. One of them, also in Spain, and also reported by the Daily Mail, was forced to flee when Suffolk Social Services claimed that she was not capable of raising a child because of mild learning difficulties. John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, had this to say about the circumstances surround her: ‘Evidence is given in secret by experts who depend on local authorities for their income. The system is so biased towards local authorities that they get whatever they want.’ He also raised another important issue: ‘we have to stop gagging people who are victims of miscarriages of justice.’ Yes, you see, the social services know how to cover their tracks. They strictly forbid any communication between any of the parties concerned, outside of allocated times when they meet, usually for no more than an hour a week, and only when supervised. The parents of those who are taken by social services are not permitted to discuss the events, even with friends, and those who are placed in state care are forbidden from talking to anyone about it, as well, even if they believe that they genuinely are being abused at the hands of staff. One woman was locked up for waving to her son when she was surprised to see him on the other side of the road, according to an article in the Telegraph. It is also alleged by posters on the MailOnline comment boards (in a section of the site called ‘Femail’) that some social workers installed CCTV cameras in their bedrooms. It is clear that, on both occasions (if indeed the latter is true), that the security of the individual was not on the agenda, but rather a blanket ban on communication and movement that serves only to protect the job of the social worker, and the integrity of the social services. The same site also has contributors who claim that they are not allowed witnesses, or do not get to hear the ‘evidence’ against them.
What do these social workers do, then, when they’ve won? More often than not, whoever has been taken is then put up for adoption - two siblings were taken and placed in the hands of a gay couple, although there were close relations who were willing to raise the pair. If contact is permitted between the people involved, then it is usually supervised by social services; certain topics are banned, including the court proceedings, or even what the parents think of the situation (something which makes it very easy to convince the individual that the social workers and their adoptive parents act in their own best interests). The individual cannot discuss the details of their adopted family, either, something which makes it very easy to conceal anything that they want to hide. The individuals are exposed to the will of their ‘new parents,’ with no-one to talk to if there are problems. You can use your imagination for the kinds of things that people are getting away with, although it probably takes a quick glimpse at the social worker’s paycheque to see why.
The reason that the family that were mentioned above were overlooked was the government’s equality targets - total numbers of adopted children, and those adopted by gay or ethnic minority families - for which the local authorities get paid for meeting. There are financial incentives to take as many people as possible, often carefully-selected by council workers (although, to be fair, the council workers did mention the age of the two who volunteered to take in their relative’s children - 52 and 46 - as proof that they were unsuitable parents). Foster families are paid up to five hundred pounds per week, and ‘special schools’ pay up to six thousand pounds per week. Those the social services claims are ‘experts’ are paid, by the social services, anything up to four thousand pounds to write a report on a parent, and, well, you can expect what the lawyer’s fees are, when the SS has the limitless pit of public funding at its disposal.
So, what happens to those who end up in care, rather than in the hands of people, the equally responsible adoptive parents? As already said, they are also banned from any non-supervised contact with their parents, and telephone calls are also restricted. In fact, they are restricted just as those who end up in adopted families are. However, there is one important difference. They are also threatened with prison if they break any of this, and they are no safer than those with adopted families. In Wales, in 2006, a hundred and sixty people who were abused in state care received a total payout of three million pounds. A third of young prisoners are among those who have been in state care, and more than twenty per cent of young girls are pregnant within two years of leaving, with over half unemployed. The overwhelming majority of them have no qualifications, and, not surprisingly, many of them are also homeless. The information about their family is still withheld by the social services. Oh, and the babies of those that become pregnant are also adopted, as are any other babies that she has. Even years after she has left the care home, she is still on a ‘list’ because she was one hauled through its doors, at the command of their local council, and an expert in their pay.
This is the truth about family courts in the UK: a social services worker can appear at the birth of a baby, and take it from its parents, and offer many different accounts, each of them unproven or conflicting, as to why, and then the case is heard by a secret court, with secret evidence, and the word of an ‘expert’ who depends on one of the parties for their income. The other party has no witnesses, and there is no jury, obviously, and they are also not permitted to talk about events with their family. When the social workers are successful (which they always are), they impose a blanket ban on communication outside of a small amount of time, and they are often present at meetings to ensure that banned subjects are not discussed. They do the same to the individual, and let many of them suffer physical, verbal, and sexual abuse at the hands of their adopted parents to preserve their own careers, and committed to a life of unemployment, poverty, and having marriages banned and children taken by social services solely because they were in a care home, or because the problems that their lack of a proper education has left them with. The social services need absolutely no evidence to do that, so don’t apply the usual rule and claim that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.’ It’s false. If you have a baby, then there are plenty of people behind their marbled desks and swivel chairs that will be paid a large sum of money to take it off your hands.
The man somewhat carelessly branded a 'lightweight' by Barack Obama - yes, Barack Obama, the commissar of evaporating poll leads - is now the new British Prime Minister. Considering the US President's long track record of opposing almost anything British, this will be a special relationship.
David Cameron's face is certainly a picture, or at least was when he received a phone call from the White House this morning. A beaming Barack Obama was at the other end, hoping to get the 'special relationship' back on track. That's not exactly typical of the US president, who has done everything in his power to consistently oppose British interests. The US president got something right: that the US has no closer ally than the United Kingdom. What he really meant was that his other allies put their own interests ahead of those of the US, and the UK obediently does whatever it is told. However, he'd do well to tread lightly around the Conservatives, who traditionally stand up for British interests against any opponent (Thatcher called the US out on their funding for IRA terrorists in the 1970s and 80s, and their invasion of British sovereign territory - does anyone really believe that it was an accident?). He's already called in every one of his favours, and his opposition to British sovereignty within the European Union and its continued claim to the Falkland Islands (which it was the first country to settle, and has overwhelming support from the local population to hold) is showing itself just as the magic of America's heir to Blair is beginning to wear off.
As soon as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the first European leader to arrive in Washington after Obama's inauguration, the rift between him and his US 'ally' was obvious. There was no White House dinner, no press conference, and Brown pretty much had to prise the door open with little assistance from those standing by, according to accounts. I'm surprised he didn't land his great clunking fist on the door and knock it through: he's not known for his tact, and, frankly, I'd have done the same thing, if I'd placed nine thousand troops in a hostile environment for reasons that had no repurcussions for Britain. Obama would go on to commit many sacriligeous acts towards the British people; throwing out a bust of Churchill being the most famous, a smart-arse comment from a senior official (who, to be fair, does know the number of countries in the world) coming a close second. He would then take the side of Argentina in a long-running dispute over the Falkland Islands, and two other British territories in the Atlantic.
Apparently, Obama gets most of ideas from a think tank, the New America Foundation. I suspect that someone has been putting bubble bath in their water filter - any fish that may once have been present are most certainly in that famous belly-up stage of their careers. This think tank claims that Britain would need to make sacrifices before Obama pays any attention whatsoever. How do three hundred killed in action - more than the total of the Falklands War - sound to the Obama administration, then? Out of a total of nine thousand soldiers on the ground, three thousand have been evacuated, another one thousand wounded in battle, another two thousand wounded off of the field. Now we are supposed to move to the neighbouring province of Kandahar - where British senior command suggested their soldiers should be deployed in the first place - so the Americans can build upon the mounds of exhausted ammunition and rubbish dumps left in Helmand Province. That's only Afghanistan; not Iraq. Our human rights record and international prestige (especially within what Bush referred to as 'Old Europe') has also collapsed as a result of support for the US. David Cameron, we owe Obama nothing. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The US president has also admitted liability for advising Merkel on saving the Euro (he wishes...) although the European Union has stated (see the Telegraph) that we will not be bailed out in the event of an economic collapse.
So, where do Barack Obama's true loyalties lie, I wonder? And, more importantly, is David Cameron going to ask him?
Separate names with a comma.