Uzbekistan. Crazy name, crazy guys. It’s a former Soviet state. It’s on the silk road between the Mediterranean and China, and has a border with Afghanistan. It’s capital is Tashkent which was the 4th largest city in the old Soviet Union. And a centre for research in science. Including chemical weapons. You don’t hear the name in the news at the moment. You don’t hear about the Russian centres which also produced nerve agents like Sarin. Or their proximity to the strife in Central Asia. Or how secure their facilities were back in the 1990’s in the wake of the fall of communism.
On the 4th March 2018 a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter were allegedly poisoned by a nerve agent called Novichok. It is thought by some experts that this particular nerve agent has been retained by Russia as part of a stockpile of chemical weapons. In the same way that the US has.
Okay, and so much for all that.The UK foreign secretary, an adulterous buffoon with a questionable record with facts (Indeed, he has treated the truth much the same way he treated his wife) said on the UK state broadcaster that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia was responsible. Now a rational person might ask the question, “What ? All of them ?” but he was talking about a recognisable ‘baddie’ in Vladimir Putin. Because as I have observed before, there is no subtlety or nuance in public debate in the West anymore. A detailed investigation leading to the charging of a suspect might take weeks, but here was the government of the UK ensuring that even if the actual perpetrator could be identified, and even if they were able to be held in custody, they could never be tried because no right minded court could believe that they would have a fair trial since the ‘prime minister’ had stood in parliament and announced who was responsible and why. And so some Russian diplomats are expelled from the UK. Which would be fine it it weren’t for the fact that the UK state broadcaster in 1987 broadcast an episode of the satirical series ‘Yes Prime Minister’ entitled ‘Official Secrets’ in which the senior civil servant advises the Prime Minister that the traditional way for the government to get the press to lose interest in a story is to expel Russian diplomats. So, I ask myself, what might the UK government want to distract attention away from by focusing on a potential assassination which would require meticulous and forensic investigation ?
Well there is the whole Brexit business. In particular the issue of the land border with the EU on the island of Ireland. A UK parliamentary committee released a report questioning the competence of the UK government’s strategy to the issue. The chair of the committee, Dr Andrew Murrison (Con) said in a statement
Brexit’s success or otherwise hinges on the UK-Ireland border. Everyone agrees that the border after Brexit must look and feel as it does today.
However, we have heard no evidence to suggest that there is currently a technical solution that would avoid infrastructure at the border. Furthermore, we have no detail on how checks on goods and people will be undertaken away from the border.
It is now clear that a significant transition period is essential for the options in December’s Joint Report to be worked though. It is equally clear that regulatory and tariff alignment will be required during transition to avoid any hardening of the border before a definitive low-friction solution can be determined.
Clearly it will require subtlety and nuance. So we’re fucked. But this is only one of 2 significant news stories that the UK would want to slip away without questions. The other is Facebook suspending the data company Cambridge Analytica. Steve Bannon was on its board. It is part owned by the same group of people (Oh there are many linguistic terms I could use but they are notoriously litigious) that own Breitbart for example. It played a significant role in the election of Donald Trump and influencing Brexit. It was investigated by the US congress in connection with Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. They collect personal data via apps that predict personality traits. And then sell on this data. Yours. Mine. It helps political mechanics target the malleable minds of people who can’t think to the end of a sentence.
In the UK Brexit has been the single defining issue of our society. It has demonstrated that we are a nation ruled by antediluvian hyphens. The Rees-Moggs of this parish. When they talk about “British sovereignty” what they are actually referring to is their own sovereignty. As Hunter S Thompson put it about Nixon’s White house,
the right of the rich to put saddles on the backs of the poor and build private prisons big enough to house anyone who disagrees.
Rees-Mogg. Jacob. The despoiler of British heritage. The mouther of untruthes and tax-dodging Katie Price of right wing politics. He has no actual convictions beyond his own importance and wealth. Like the Foreign Secretary, he longs to own the rights of British people. He is part of a pseudo-baronial class. I don’t hate him. I hate no-one. I pity him. He can no longer face himself in the mirror without feeling a sense of revulsion for everything he stands for. I do not know if his stated religious convictions are real or as ersatz as everything else he claims to believe in, but I do know that no human being can behave in the way he does without being burdened with immense moral pain at the core of his being. He must gaze into his own eyes and be gripped with the knowledge that it is too late for him to salvage his own soul. Oh he will die rich, but morally impoverished. Like Trump, and Robert Mercer and Vladimir Putin.
As John Steinbeck wrote in Cannery Row,
It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.