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The Establishment: And how they get away with it
The Establishment: And how they get away with it
by Owen Jones
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lucid expose of the Establishment, 17 Feb. 2015
"The Establishment: and how they get away with it" is an important and timely book which analyses the actions and behaviour of the politically powerful in Britain in an era characterised by increasing inequality between rich and poor. How the powerful interact with one another and protect their interests is held up to scrutiny by left-wing author and commentator Owen Jones.

He exposes organisations like The Taxpayers Alliance (a tax-cutting pressure group) whom he calls outriders i.e people with extreme right-wing views who seek to shift the debate towards their political orientation. He exposes the politicisation of the police, the cosy relationship between the media and politicians, the actions of the City and Britain's subservient relationship with the USA.

Even individuals who are not particularly left-wing will be interested in the section about tax avoidance by the rich, an issue that has been brought to the fore in this age of spending cuts. The corrupt system of accountants making the tax laws then advising their clients on how to get round them is particularly illuminating.

Jones looks at the harsh treatment by the establishment of those on benefits contrasting it with welfare for the rich i.e bank bailouts and state subsidies. He points out the hypocrisy of big business demonising the state and calling for its shrinking when they benefit from a state-funded education system and rely on state provided infrastructure.

Jones's book may be a little thin on practical solutions (which has been a frequent criticism on amazon) but it does provide some recommendations such as nationalisation of the railways,banning Health ministers from joining private health companies after they leave office, the setting up of left-wing think-tanks, all of which seem practical and beneficial.

Jones may not be "our generation's Orwell" as described with some hyperbole by Russell Brand but an Orwellian compassion for the underdog runs through much of his writing. Keep up the good work Owen!

Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
by Richard English
Edition: Paperback

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is neither fair, objective or balanced!, 21 Sept. 2014
Some reviews have described this book as objective and balanced. It is nothing of the sort. I think some people believe it is because it treats the IRA as an interesting phenomenon which it then evaluated without negative moral judgement. This is not objectivity, in fact an objective academic would look at a violent paramilitary group with a critical eye, holding it's claims up to scrutiny. This is something English signally fails to do.

The book is well-written and easy to read. A reader my learn some of the facts but the book is so heavily skewed to the republican viewpoint that it is overwhelmingly a negative contribution to this subject. The IRA is analysed totally uncritically. The section on the hunger strikes is almost entirely from the republican perspective.

English has written a History of the IRA which ceases to form critical moral judgements even though it has been responsible for almost 1800 deaths, hundreds of which were civilian. He describes Sinn Fein/IRA's chief propagandist (Danny Morrison) as a "gifted publicist"!

English states "public attention on IRA victims shouldn't blind us to the suffering republicans themselves endured". Would English say that public attention on the victims of 7/7 shouldn't blind us to the suffering of the suicide bombers? . This is not objectivity it is taking a position of moral equivalence that has no rational moral basis.

English's analysis of why the IRA campaign ended is wrong and pretty much in line with what Sinn fein want us to believe. The IRA ended it's campaign because they realised they couldn't win and gave up. He says that republicans came to the realisation that they could achieve their objectives better through politics than violence. The success of the security forces in creating this opinion is crucially left out of the analysis!

English at times lapses into propaganda. For example he states that republican pride in the IRA is "understandable", going on to quote Gerry Adams praising it. Quoting Adams in such a way is not objectivity in an author but an author acting as a propagandist.

English's lack of any critical judgement on the IRA even extends to punishment beatings when he says that they can be explained by problems of policing, seeming almost to justify them. English states that he's not entirely convinced the IRA were justified but he doesn't believe in myopic condemnation of them. It's worth noting that English has no problem "myopically" condemning loyalists!

In conclusion this is a disappointing book. It lacks objectivity and critical analysis of a violent paramilitary group responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. Not a book I would recommend to anybody seeking to understand the IRA!

Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland
Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland
by Anne Cadwallader
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

11 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Republican propaganda from the IRA's allies, 10 Aug. 2014
The author of this book works for the Pat Finucane Centre. The PFC is a republican propaganda mill which exists to attack and villify the British and their security forces during the troubles

What Cadwallader has done is go through the Historical Inquiries Team's records (an organisation in NI which records all the troubles deaths) and pick out politically convenient loyalist murders, exploit mistakes to bash the police for incompetence and most importantly link loyalists to the security forces.

Cadwallader conveniently picks out the period of 1974-76. This is because it was a time of prolific loyalist violence. If Cadwallader had gone beyond this period the reader would see that loyalist violence had considerably reduced. They would also see that this was because of the activities of the security forces, giving the lie to the nonsense that loyalist paras and the Brits were "lethal allies". Cadwallaher indeed contradicts herself on this by citing instances when loyalists were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.

Cadwallader focuses entirely on loyalist killings without reference (in most cases) to the IRA. Loyalist violence cannot be understood this way since most loyalist violence was retaliation against nationalists for what Loyalists considered to be attacks by nationalists on their communities.

It is most important to point out that Collusion between loyalist paras and the security forces was an inevitability of the conflict. The UDR and RUC in particular came from the loyalist community. Given that over 300 members were murdered by the IRA it's not surprising that some acted outside the constraints of the law. This is simply exploited by republicans for their own ends.

The book makes enormously serious allegations whilst providing little or no real evidence to back them up. An example of this is the book's attempt to link the British to the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings. The "evidence" for such an incredibly serious allegation is essentially:

1. The protestants are too stupid to have carried out the bombings on their own so the Brits must have helped them.
2. A few individuals involved with the security forces have made unsubstantiated allegations of British involvement.

Cadwallader doesn't go where the evidence follows her as a real academic would. She has pre-conceived ideas which she then seeks evidence for. These are the actions of a propagandist not a serious researcher.

Loyalist killings are recounted with humanising descriptions of their victims and in fact an entire chapter dedicated to discussing the grief of bereaved families (no mention of IRA victims who make up the majority). This hypocrisy comes to the fore towards the end where the author states that the true villains are "old gentlemen.. living in the English Shires" and even implies that loyalists were also the victims of the manipulative British!

Running agents inside terrorist organisations is a murky business. The purpose of this book is to exploit the inevitable mistakes and excesses of the security forces for the purpose of scape-goating the British for Irish paramilitary violence.

The book is an exercise in collusion between the IRA and it's friends in the Pat Finucane Centre. If you want to understand the troubles in NI this book should be avoided!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2016 1:30 PM BST

The War On Democracy [DVD]
The War On Democracy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Martin
Offered by Rikdev Media
Price: £7.28

4.0 out of 5 stars The war on democracy, 22 July 2014
This review is from: The War On Democracy [DVD] (DVD)
The War on Democracy is a must-see documentary made by left-wing journalist and film-maker John Pilger.

The film is essentially about American imperialism in Latin America. It shows how the US has tried to control the countries of Latin America for the benefit of itself and it's private companies. This has involved supporting the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala and generally interfering in the affairs of Latin American nations which try to follow a more socialist economic policy.

The film makes a very powerful case against the view that the US is a beacon of democracy spreading it's values around the world in a benevolent manner. At one point in the film a CIA operative explicitly states that they were never concerned about democracy, only US interests.

One particularly shocking interview is with former CIA chief in Latin America Duane Clarridge who states that the US will intervene wherever it feels necessary and that "if you don't like it, lump it". He also states that the world must get used to it because the US will not put up with nonsense! This is just one scene in which the viewer is exposed to the authentic voice of American power, behind the rhetoric of spreading freedom and democracy.

The film makes for uncomfortable viewing. It pulls no punches in describing horrific events such as torture and rape by dictatorships in the countries listed earlier. It is not a documentary for the faint-hearted yet central to it is the inspiring idea that people can take on the powerful and win.

This is a left-wing film which makes no pretence at balance or even-handedness. It is however an essential film for anybody who seeks to understand how America wields it's influence in it's "own backyard".

Documentaries That Changed The World - John Pilger (4 Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Documentaries That Changed The World - John Pilger (4 Disc Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Pilger
Offered by A2ZSupplies
Price: £12.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twelve Brave and Informative Documentaries, 16 Feb. 2014
John Pilger's documentaries are informative, well-made and often extremely controversial. In my view of all his box-sets yet released "Documentaries that changed the world" is by far the best.

One of the most controversial documentaries in the set is "Palestine is still the issue" about Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. It received a great deal of criticism from pro-Israel groups but also a number of awards. Another important film is "Paying the price, Killing the Children of Iraq". Though this is no longer contemporary (as it was when I first watched it) anybody who believes that the Iraqi people have been the focus of our compassionate concern since Gulf War 1 should watch this film.

The set also contains a classic documentary from 1970 called "Vietnam the quiet mutiny" which caused a great stir when originally released. It is about the demoralisation of U.S troops in Vietnam and the open mutiny that was beginning to develop amongst them at this time.

"Flying the flag, Arming the world" deals with a subject that is seldom brought up by Journalists in Britain. That of the arms trade. It reveals British involvement in selling arms to oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia.

One aspect of the films in this collection that I liked (and in Pilger's films in general) are the scenes in which he grills government ministers (or whoever else is responsible for wrong-doing in the context of the film). It is satisfying to watch journalists hold the powerful to account for crimes we rarely hear discussed i.e the (now former) sanctions regime in Iraq.

As other reviewers have commented, ignore the cheesy cover and watch the documentaries in this box-set. They will challenge your view of the world and mainstream journalism in general. Highly recommended!

Some Mother's Son (1996)
Some Mother's Son (1996)
Price: £2.49

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A thinly disguised celebration of the IRA, 25 Jan. 2014
Some Mothers Son is a thinly disguised piece of IRA propaganda, celebrating the IRA hunger strikers. The film thinly disguises it's eulogising of the hunger strikers(they are fictional (Gerard Qigley) and (Frankie Higgins) as are the mothers) Kathleen (Helen Mirren) and Annie. The former disapproves of violence but joins in the hunger strikers campaign for political status to save her son's life whilst the latter is a committed republican supporter.

The film unequivocally sides with the IRA as they, with the help of their mothers fight to be recognized as political prisoners, first with a blanket protest, escalating into a hunger strike. The film's bias shows from the beginning with a major emphasis on disruption caused by British security measures. IRA violence is shown and described as retaliation to these measures.

The two hunger strikers are shown in the bosom of their families with scenes of Gerard Quigley dancing with his mother whilst discussing plans for university along with scenes of both the Quigley and Higgins family having Christmas dinner (until they are interrupted by the Brits strangely dressed in paramilitary uniform).

The film focuses the viewer's sympathies on the families of the hunger strikers due to it's emphasis on their humanity. Kathleen is a gentle woman who just wants the best for her son and supports the cause only to save his life rather than advance republicanism. Annie and her son are rougher characters but we are encouraged to understand Annie's republicanism because her son was killed by the British Army.

The film also deflects our sympathies away from the British and their security forces by it's negative portrayal of them (except one positive scene involving the Army) . They are presented as surly bullies, effeminate looking manipulators and men in grey suits looking sinister in darkened rooms. Needless to say they are always shown in a formal role and never with their families or friends.

The portrayal of the Quigley and Higgins trial (diplock courts)is a classic example of how propagandistic the film is. The court which is rejected as British by the two is made up of a British judge and British barristers. This is absurd. Most likely they would all be Irish in a real life Diplock court. Pandemonium breaks out in the court and the defendants are dragged away with the sentences handed out in the midst of the noise and chaos.

The way in which IRA violence is presented is another example of propaganda. There are two major instances of IRA violence. One a rocket attack on the British Army and another a series of prison officer shootings. The former takes place with the presence of Irish music and scenes of Irish dancing. All very romantic! Needless to say there are no dead or maimed civilians.

The blink and you could miss them prison officer shooting scenes are grossly insensitive and offensive. The screaming relatives appear to have been directed to badly act the scenes. The viewer could be forgiven for believing that they are included only as black comedy!

Any Mother opposed to violence would never allow her son to become a martyr and recruiting sergeant for the IRA so the whole story-line constructed to make the viewer support the hunger strikers families is absurd.

The purpose of the film is not to bear the true ugly face of the troubles but to hide it, behind a mask of romantic, sentimental Irish patriotism. Some Mother's Son represents everything that is wrong with cinematic coverage of the troubles in Northern Ireland

Hidden Agenda [DVD] [1991]
Hidden Agenda [DVD] [1991]
Dvd ~ Frances McDormand
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £4.66

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Offensive Rubbish, 11 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hidden Agenda [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
Ken Loach has directed "Hidden Agenda" a film which starts off as an IRA propaganda film and then descends into a vague conspiracy theory about attempts to smear Harold Wilson's Government.

The film annoyingly begins with two American human rights activists, Paul and Ingrid documenting British violations in Northern Ireland in the 1980's (NORAID and irony spring to mind). Absurdly one of the activists is killed by an undercover British unit. Northern Ireland is portrayed and openly described as a police state and at one point in the film compared to General Pinochet's Chile.

After this unlikely assassination an investigator from Britain (Kerrigan) is tasked to find out the facts. Thus begins an incoherent story about a tape made by an Army psych-ops officer showing that members of the Tory party sort to smear Harold Wilson's government. The Tories (presented as snotty aristocrats) later admit all this to Kerrigan.

This film can be dismissed as a fanciful piece of left-wing propaganda. The conspiracy theory is based upon allegations made by Colin Wallace about British government dirty tricks. Wallace is an ex-British Army officer who has been shown to have embellished his military career and has been dismissed by many as a Walter-mitty character. To base a film making such serious allegations on such unreliable testimony is dishonest and unfair to the accused.

The film is actively offensive rather than just silly. It is partly a piece of IRA propaganda. The idea that an American would be murdered by the British state in Ireland is absolutely absurd. The comparisons made between Northern Ireland and Pinochet's Chile are not just stupid but offensive, not just to the British and their security forces but also to those who lived and suffered under Pinochet's regime.

The security forces are demonized in the film not only through the depiction of the RUC as cold-hearted bullies and the scary music played when the British forces are shown but by allegations made by interviewees of Paul and Ingrid. Allegations are made of water-boarding. I have never even heard ex-IRA members accuse the British of this in any case from the late 1970's CCTV has been in operation in all interrogation rooms and such abuse would lead to a substantial compensation payout for a victim.

Whilst the Brits are presented as the forces of darkness the IRA are presented as jolly folk-singers with one Sinn Feiner arguing that the Irish are fighting for freedom like Nelson Mandela and Jomo Kenyatta. Needless to say counter-arguments that there are hundreds of thousands of loyalists in NI who don't want "freedom" are never put forward!

There is no doubt that this film which was made in 1990 would have been perfect propaganda for the IRA. It may well have led to Americans giving money to NORAID. Along with The Wind that Shakes the Barley this is another piece of anti-British, pro-IRA rubbish from Mr Ken Loach!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2015 6:26 PM BST

Ross Kemp - Extreme World [DVD]
Ross Kemp - Extreme World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ross Kemp
Price: £6.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Ross Kemp documentary, 17 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I rented this DVD because I had enjoyed Kemp's other Documentaries on Gangs and Afghanistan. I didn't know what the series was about until I watched it. Now I've decided it's the best Kemp documentary.

The essence of Extreme Worlds is that Kemp travels to parts of the globe which greatly contrast with the everyday reality of life for your average person in the western world. He travels to Chicago to investigate the Heroin scene, Congo to report on Militia violence, Mexico to report on it's drug-related violence and finally he goes to Haiti to see how the country is coping after the devastating earthquake.

I feel that this is Kemp's best documentary because it is the most informative and intellectually-rewarding. Extreme Worlds really lets you see how tough the lives are of those who live in third-world countries. It also informs the viewer about the seedier side of life in Western societies.

The viewer should be under no illusions, the subject matter of these documentaries is grim. The Congo episode for example is shocking in it's coverage of sexual violence in the country. Extreme worlds will shock and appaul you but it is a must watch for anyone who wants to take a look at the darker side of the world in which we live.

Sunday [DVD]
Sunday [DVD]
Dvd ~ CiarŠn McMenamin
Price: £6.00

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda so blatant you think you're watching a Parody, 7 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sunday [DVD] (DVD)
The film is about Bloody Sunday (13 civilians and one IRA youth killed by the 1 para of the British Army in Northern Ireland 30.01.72). This is a very contentious event which has been used as propaganda for 30 years by Republicans. Jimmy Mcgovern decided to go to the families of the victims (who come from a staunch republican area) and make a film from their perspective. As you would imagine the result is an angry diatribe against the British Army.

The film begins by stating that it is all based on fact. This is an incorrect statement. The only facts in the film are those that support the propaganda line that the shootings were ordered by the British government.

The nationalists are shown as gentle, calm, naÔve pacifists. The pacifists are shown either in the bosom of their families, being shot at and terrorised by the British soldiers, crying over their dead relatives or outsmarting smarmy and obnoxious British lawyers at the tribunal.

The Paras are shown as deranged, angry, paddy-hating psychopaths. The British psychos are either shooting and terrorising the Irish pacifists, making derogatory comments about the Irish or being outsmarted by the compassionate Irish lawyer at the tribunal.

Sunday is an unbelievably exploitative and propagandistic film which plays to the viewer's emotions throughout. Sombre music is played over long scenes of dead corpses lying in the streets covered in blood as well as scenes of bereaved family members weeping over their dead relatives. This is then contrasted with the psychos boasting about putting bullets into the "Irish Bastards".

Leo young (who later finds out his brother has been killed) tries to take Gerard Donaghy to hospital. He is stopped and arrested by soldiers who scream sectarian abuse at him.

We later see him in a police station with officers who are equally as psychopathic as the soldiers. Sectarian abuse is whispered into his ear by one officer as well as jokes about the Potato famine. They say Donaghy has been found with nail bombs and thus begins the film's line that the nail bombs were planted.

We then see the tribunal. The nationalists are represented by an Irishman with a face full of compassion who outsmarts the thuggish soldiers. The psychos are represented by an Englishman, his face full of arrogance and self-importance who asks insensitive questions and is outsmarted by the nationalist witnesses. At this point in the film one of the psychos (who looks like he's just escaped from Broadmoor) tries to tell "the truth". An arrogant lawyer dismisses him. That is the film's only attempt at balance.

The film's propaganda line that the shootings were ordered "from the highest level" is totally rejected by the Saville Inquiry and there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate it. In relation to Donaghy, Saville concluded that the nail bombs were "probably on his possession" when he was shot.

The IRA seem to have gone on holiday in this film (apart from a scene where some gunmen are told by the pacifists to put the gun away as they don't want any more shooting). According to the pacifists the Brits knew there'd be no IRA because they had promised to stay away, yeah right!

Unsurprisingly the IRA didn't stay away. In fact Saville found that snipers did fire shots at the Brits (from pre-arranged sniper positions). He also concluded that Martin Mcguinness was probably armed with a sub-machine gun which he may have fired at the soldiers.

It would be easy to laugh at such a blatant piece of propaganda if it were not so harmful. It fills the viewer full of anti-British hatred as well as manipulating the viewer into siding with the IRA paramilitarism. Mcgovern has produced a film which is enormously harmful, for which he should be ashamed!
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2015 3:04 PM GMT

You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom
You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom
by Nick Cohen
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definately read this book... even though it's author is a hypocrite!, 17 July 2012
As a strong believer in the right to free expression I picked up this book and read it. I was sceptical at first due to it's author. Nick Cohen is an apologist for the Iraq war, a zionist (by which I mean a supporter of Israel, not a jew) so given his support for bad causes I was sceptical about this book.

Cohen's book is about censorship. When we think of censorship we think of North Korea, Iran and other dictatorships. Cohen's book is about censorship in free societies, particulary his native England.

He sets out the threat to our freedom from religion, those with money and lastly the state. He rightly attacks the UK's notoriously oppressive libel laws which are notoriously restrictive of free speech. "In England money buys silence". He discusses restrictions on free speech we can all relate to, the restrictions placed on us by our employers!

Cohen makes good points about the internet. It has been hailed by optimists as a tool which will make censorship impossible and will free humanity from censorship. Cohen rightly points out that the internet is a double-edged sword. It can have liberating potential but can also be used by those that want to suppress free speech For example in Iran they post pictures of protesters on the net and ask supporters of the regime to identify them.

Cohen the author of a previous book attacking the left, continues in that vain. He rightly attacks the left for not standing up for brave women like Ayaan hirsi Ali who have taken on Islam and it's misogyny. They had fallen into the dangerous belief that looking down on other cultures as inferior was racists. Some cultures just are superior to others!

Now to Cohen's hypocrisy! He has written a book about free-expression and yet doesn't believe in that when it comes to the Israel-palestine conflict! At one point in the book he states that when people use the term zionist, they really mean jew. It follows that anti-zionism is therefore anti-semitism. Anti-zionism means opposition to the colonialism of a state (Israel in this case)not an ethnic group. He accuses the left of anti-semitism later in the book as well. He also took part in a documentary by Richard Littlejohn accusing israel's critics of fighting a war against britains jews. He's not to keen on free speech when it comes to Israel!

This is a very well-written, informative and lucid book. It is recommended for everyone who believes in free speech. Shame it is written by a hypocrite!!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2013 9:41 PM GMT

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