The Grenfell Tower Disaster

June 16, 2017
The Grenfell Tower disaster has highlighted the difference between aviation accident investigation and the investigation of other accidents. In aviation, an independent body (the AAIB in UK, NTSB in the USA) carries out a thorough investigation to determine the causes of the accident. They issue a report in the public domain and this includes recommendations to make sure it never happens again. The regulator responds to these recommendations and changes the regulations accordingly. Hence we have an ever-increasing level of safety so that aviation is now the safest form of transport.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about a search for the guilty. That’s because it doesn’t happen in aviation. People are devastated by tragedy and angry but the investigation is independent of that. The reason is because the causes of a major accident are always complex and interlinked. No one involved tries to be negligent, incompetent or stupid so looking for the smoking gun simply fuels anger and the desire to blame someone for a series of events that should never have happened but did. The search for the guilty is fuelled only by the media whose interest is in a juicy story to sell more newspapers.  If there has been negligence or foul play, this comes out in the report but…and here’s the main point…in my recollection, no one is ever prosecuted for an aviation accident.  That is because there are no judges, lawyers or solicitors involved in the process.  The investigation is carried out by professional engineers who know what they’re doing, not by legal eagles looking to make political capital or a fat pay cheque.
Therefore stop looking to blame someone and make sure that this dreadful event is the last of its kind.

Election post mortem. Now for the good news…

June 9, 2017

The votes are counted and no one has an overall majority.  Theresa May is hanging on by her fingernails but her new government will not be able to get anything through parliament without an overall majority.  Good.  She called this unnecessary election because she thought she’d get a landslide but ended up losing the majority she had.  Good.  She underestimated Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party and showed how out of touch she is.  The more people saw of her the more they disliked her.  Good.  The Conservative party will spend the next few weeks tearing itself to pieces in recrimination and Theresa May will be executed.  In the end, Boris Johnson will be their leader, so we will have our very own Donald Trump.  Good…er…not good.  Depends how you look at it.

Jeremy Corbyn covered himself in glory coming from an impossible disadvantageous position to within a few votes of winning.   Even most of his MPs didn’t support him.  But…the British people did.  So now, who’s out of touch?  The more he talked, the more people warmed to him; never underestimate a decent man telling the truth.  It’s unusual in politics but we have one now.  I think that, if the campaign had gone on for another week, Corbyn would have won.  Time for the likes of Hilary Benn, Stephen Kinnock and Chuka Amunna to admit that they were wrong and start to work for the next Labour government.

The media were a disgrace throughout.  Of the print media, only the Guardian provided any kind of even-handed approach but the rest were vindictive, biassed, partial and filled their pages with barely-disguised lies and half-truths.  No  surprise there, then.  The piles of copies of the Sun being burnt in the streets of Liverpool was a wonderful sight as people were sickened by their puerile, sickening and infantile editorial stance.  The Express and Mail were little better.  How stupid do these editors think the British people are?  Don’t answer that one; it was a rhetorical question.  The TV coverage was dire and the level of bias staggered me; I can never trust the BBC again.  Sky News (Murdoch press) was, of course, execrable with the whole news team (except Faisal Islam) showing clearly which way they would vote.  They all tried to out-Paxman each other but there’s only one Paxman!  I don’t know why they don’t stand as Conservatives next time.  Fortunately, we have the internet and that’s the only place where you can now find out the truth.  However, find it we could.  Thank God for the internet!

UKIP, who engineered this entire debacle, have deflated like an old ballon and now lie like a discarded condom in the gutter.   Good.

So, what of the future?  Well, the Brexit negotiations will be a catastrophe whoever ‘negotiates’ them because the EU really couldn’t care less and hold all the cards.  The Conservative government will limp on for a while but there will inevitably be another election, probably within a year.  In this time, Corbyn will be seen to be what he is; a decent man with decent values and a vision of a better way for the world’s fifth richest country to be run.

And he’ll win.  Good.


June 5, 2017

In the midst of this election fever, I came across this by Sasha Baron-Cohen (the film is ‘The Dictator (2012)) which I’d never seen before.  It’s a wonderful parody of the US political system and, by extension, that in UK and probably most of what we regard as the enlightened West.  Please watch it and enjoy!


The honest man and the UK election

June 2, 2017

This is a piece by a guy called Chris Renwick.  I’ve been wanting to write something similar but he got there first and did it much better than me!  Please read and let me know whether you disagree with a single word:

Here’s what I’m really struggling to understand. All I’ve ever heard from people, for years, is:

“bloody bankers and their bonuses”
“bloody rich and their offshore tax havens “
“bloody politicians with their lying and second homes”
“bloody corporations paying less tax than me”
“bloody Establishment, they’re all in it together”
“it’ll never change, there’s no point in voting”

And quite rightly so, I said all the same things.

But then someone comes along that’s different. He upsets the bankers and the rich. The Tory politicians hate him along with most of the labour politicians. The corporations throw more money at the politicians to keep him quiet. And the Establishment is visibly shaken. I’ve never seen the Establishment so genuinely scared of a single person.

So the media arm of the establishment gets involved. Theresa phones Rupert asking what he can do, and he tells her to keep her mouth shut, don’t do the live debate, he’ll sort this out. So the media goes into overdrive with:

“she’s strong and stable”
“he’s a clown”
“he’s not a leader”
“look he can’t even control his own party”
“he’ll ruin the economy”
“how’s he gonna pay for it all?!”
“he’s a terrorist sympathiser, burn him, burn the terrorist sympathiser”

And what do we? We’ve waited forever for an honest politician to come along but instead of getting behind him we bow to the establishment like good little workers. They whistle and we do a little dance for them. We run around like hypnotised robots repeating headlines we’ve read, all nodding and agreeing. Feeling really proud of ourselves because we think we’ve came up with our very own first political opinion. But we haven’t, we haven’t came up with anything. This is how you tell. No matter where someone lives in the country, they’re repeating the same headlines, word for word. From Cornwall to Newcastle people are saying:

“he’s a clown”
“he’s a threat to the country”
“she’s strong and stable”
“he’ll take us back to the 70s”

And there’s nothing else, there’s no further opinion. There’s no evidence apart from 1 radio 5 interview that isn’t even concrete evidence, he actually condemns the violence of both sides in the interview. There’s no data or studies or official reports to back anything up. Try and think really hard why you think he’s a clown, other than the fact he looks like a geography teacher. (no offence geography teachers) because he hasn’t done anything clownish from what I’ve seen.

And you’re not on this planet if you think the establishment and the media aren’t all in it together.

You think Richard Branson, who’s quietly winning NHS contracts, wants Corbyn in?

You think Rupert Murdoch, who’s currently trying to widen his media monopoly by buying sky outright, wants Jeremy in?

You think the Barclay brothers, with their offshore residencies, want him in?

You think Philip Green, who stole all the pensions from BHS workers and claims his wife owns Top Shop because she lives in Monaco, wants Corbyn in?

You think the politicians, both Labour and Tory, with their second homes and alcohol paid for by us, want him in?

You think Starbucks, paying near zero tax, wants him in?

You think bankers, with their multi million pound bonuses, want him in?

And do you think they don’t have contact with May? Or with the media? You honestly think that these millionaires and billionaires are the sort of people that go “ah well, easy come easy go, it was nice while it lasted”?? I wouldn’t be if my personal fortune was at risk, I’d be straight on the phone to Theresa May or Rupert Murdoch demanding this gets sorted immediately.

Because here’s a man, a politician that doesn’t lie and can’t lie. He could have said whatever would get him votes anytime he wanted but he hasn’t. He lives in a normal house like us and uses the bus just like us. He’s fought for justice and peace for nearly 40 years. He has no career ambitions. And his seat is untouchable. That’s one of the greatest testimonies. No one comes close to removing him from his constituency, election after election.

His Manifesto is fully costed. It all adds up, yes there’s some borrowing but that’s just to renationalise the railway, you know we already subsidise them and they make profit yeah? One more time… WE subsidise the railway companies and they walk away with a profit, just try and grasp the level of piss taking going on there.

Unlike the Tory manifesto with a £9 billion hole, their figures don’t even add up.

And it benefits all of us, young, old, working, disabled, everyone. The only people it hurts are the establishment, the rich, the bankers, the top 5% highest earners.

Good, screw them, it’s long overdue.

Trump declares war on the world

June 2, 2017

In leaving the Paris climate change accord, President Trump has shown exactly what a moron he is.  How can the leader of the so-called free world do such a stupid thing?  How could the great American people do such a stupid thing as to elect such an idiot to this exalted position?  I despair.

Elon Musk despairs as well:

The future of the NHS? This is important!

May 30, 2017

Manufacturing Consent – the curse of the democratic classes

May 28, 2017

The UK election is on 8 June and I regret that I’m no longer eligible to vote as I’ve been out of the UK for more than fifteen years.  However, I follow the debates and dogfights on the media and am dismayed by the poor quality of the coverage by the media.  Of course, apart from state-owned BBC, the rest of the media is dominated by the Murdoch Press (Sky News, Times, Sun) and their ilk and essentially support the establishment against the people whilst purporting to be on the side of Everyman.  The choice between a government that acts in the interests of the majority of its citizens and one that acts in the interests of big business and banks should be stark and clear.  However, the media distorts the facts with unbelievably partial coverage; I listen to some of the Sky News journalists and the choice of language seems to be deliberate, almost as if there is a Sky News handbook listing perjorative words when describing anything socalist.  I must particularly criticise Sophy Ridge and Kay Burley for their dreadful and rude interviewing technique with their constant interruptions.  If I was being interviewed by them I would ask whether they would like to be interviewed by me as they usually seem to have more to say and their political opinions are barely disguised.  Incidentally, the best of them is Faisal Islam, a total gentleman.

One of the problems with a democracy is that every few years, the people are called on to vote.  US president James Madison echoed the reservations of Socrates when he observed that the dispossessed majority will naturally vote for a redistribution of wealth downwards, given half a chance.  In their day wealth was land whereas we are now in an age of industrial capitalism where wealth is wealth concentrated in very few hands.  This tendency has to be catered for in a capitalist system where it is natural for the power to rest with the people with money and that government will normally favour them.  The media play a role in this by manufacturing consent; in other words, swaying public opinion by partial reporting of the truth and in careful choice of language to produce the required result.  We call it propaganda.  This is made much easier when the public is dumbed down or too busy or fearful.  Sound bites were invented to help the ‘bewildered herd’ (to quote Walter Lippmann who said that the people functioned as a “bewildered herd” who must be governed by “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality).  So in the UK,  the Conservative Party mantra ‘strong and stable’ has been repeated so many times that it is now tedious and comical.  What is not comical is that this is exactly the technique used by Josef Göbbels (and I quote:  ‘…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.)  This is nothing to be proud of, to state the obvious.

The UK Labour Party is led by Jeremy Corbyn who has the largest mandate of any leader of any political party in Europe.  Most of his MPs do not support him.  His problem is that he is that rare thing, a Socialist, and the MPs are mostly Blairite; ie, soft Conservatives. Yet every time Corbyn opens his mouth he voices the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the people.  He sees through cant and hypocrisy so clearly that it must infuriate those whose jobs is to maintain that particular house of cards.  He has barely diguised contempt for most political journalists but he rarely gets angry.  Theresa May is a hard-right Thatcherite but has poor powers of rhetoric.  There is a programme on Sky News tomorrow night in which both she and Jeremy Corbyn are to be interviewed; Theresa May will not engage in a public debate.  I expect Corbyn to come out of this on top and that the gap between Conservative and Labour will close still further when the people realise that, when they actually listen to what he says (as opposed to Sky News telling them their version) they find themselves agreeing.

I wonder whether common sense will prevail and that the people will vote in their best interests rather than in the best interests of bankers, businessman and the military.  You’d think that after the financial meltdown of 2008 (the greatest theft in the history of mankind), our disastrous interventions in the Middle East fuelling terrorism at home, the increased personal debt of everyone in the UK, reductions in police, social services and an NHS in crisis, that we, the people, would have seen through the mirage of lies and half-truths that the media feed to us.

Or are we more stupid that even I had thought?