Sep 022017

A protest is to take place at Trump International Golf Course on Saturday 9th Sept 12 noon in opposition to the frightening standoff between the US and North Korea. With thanks to Jonathan Russell Chair Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

The cycle of threat and counter-threat is creating an appalling situation in which warfare between nuclear states is being discussed as a serious option on both sides.

The threat of the use of nuclear weapons by both sides has never happened before

Trump’s outbursts against the North Korean regime are deeply troubling. What impact can threat’s of ‘fire and fury’ have but to escalate tension and increase the likelihood of a catastrophic confrontation?

The urgent priority must be the opposite, to de-escalate and pursue a negotiated resolution to the crisis, which major players in the region are trying to achieve and most commentators recognise as possible.

China and Russia have put forward a proposal that the United States, Japan and Korea stop its military exercises and North Korea suspend its ballistic missile programme.

This would, however, require a sharp change of direction from both sides, including from the US, which has dramatically increased its military capabilities in South Korea and its military presence in the area. Already US B-1 bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons have flown from Guam over the Korean peninsula, joining the South Korean and Japanese air forces in joint exercises.

The North Koreans have fired a missile right across Japan. Such provocative actions on both sides must end. We must demand our governments focus on a peaceful resolution to this confrontation.

The alternative is not worth contemplating as not only would the Korean people who historically have already faced huge suffering be effected but China could also be dragged into a war which could include the use of Nuclear weapons. Leading to parody Trump to fire and fury like the world has never seen. We have to hope that sense will prevail.

Don’t let Trump and Kim Jong-Un lead us into Nuclear War. Protest at the entrance to the Trump International Golf Course by the A90, Saturday 9th Sept 12 noon.

The standoff between the US and North Korea is frightening. Be part of the protest which will present an open letter to Trump International Management.

Come by car or bus numbers 61, 62, 63 or 68 from stances 10, 11 or 12 at Union Square bus station, Aberdeen. The bus will take you to the stop at Menie – a short walk back to the Trump International entrance.

For more info contact Jonathan Russell by phone on: 01224-586435 or 07582-456-233 or via email: 

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Oct 152016

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over recent events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryGreetings belatedly; sorry for the late-running of this service; I’ve been busy. For one thing – Result! TV Smith played Krakatoa on 8 October with Fred Wilkinson opening. Fred, or ‘Wilkinson’ as beloved LibDem Aileen HoMalone refers to him, played a lovely song about fashion called The Ghosts of Cable Street. I’m not really sure what it was about, but I think it had to do cable-knit jumpers and something about black shirts not being very popular at one time.

Fashions do have a way of coming around again, and I think there are more than a few blackshirt-lovers out there right now.

Smith played some old-fashioned, quaint ‘protest music’ – although heaven knows, we really have nothing to protest about, except maybe all those foreigners Amber Herd wanted named and shamed for taking British Jobs.

I wonder why she changed her mind? Could there be any link between the pound plunging to a new 31 year low, Brexit, and Amber’s anti-foreigner stance? I doubt it.

I am guilty of not being born in the UK. I am taking the unpaid job of some poor satirical British columnist who otherwise could be labouring for free. Yes, naming and shaming the companies that hire people from other countries seemed like the way forward. But I digress. Smith sang about modern poverty (no doubt caused by foreigners), state surveillance, and other such lefty concerns. Just as well we’ve nothing to protest about here in the Deen.

I understand Torry residents are planning a parade to celebrate all the jobs creation coming our way. We’re getting an incinerator – sorry – waste to energy plant! Result!

We’re going to get rid of the under-used Bay of Nigg so that cruise ships filled with rich visitors can stop by for a bet at Ladbroke’s and some Spar shopping. Result! Of course we’ll have to make a few sacrifices for creating these jobs.

A few protected wildlife species in the Bay, clean air (which we enjoy so greatly now thanks to the sewerage plant) and the wishes of local people – many of whom are foreign! – should not stand in the way of making the Harbour Board richer or getting a good old-fashioned British firm busy burning rubbish next to the school in Tullos. While the house prices here will plummet, a clear message is sent: Scotland is Open For Business.

We are open to taking American fracked gas; a great tanker sailed to Scotland filled with fracked gas, while some Americans in Pennsylvania begged Scotland not to take it.

If it will make us money, at least the considerable pollution will be happening far away – foreigners do have their uses. (The energy efficiency of creating fuel in the US leaving pollution in its wake and shipping resultant gas to Scotland is a little hard for me to understand, especially with gas here having been at considerably low prices for years. Still, if there’s money to be made, we can’t be seen to be closed can we?)

We’re also open for business at Marischal Square, where in keeping with the look of the city, Granite will be the main cladding material. That The Granite City is importing granite from China, where there are a few equal pay and workers’ rights issues is not an issue. We are Open For Business. The council says it’s not their business where the granite comes from – a huge comfort to the veritable slave labour that will be quarrying it.

John Forbes of Bon Accord Granite said:

“What people don’t understand is we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years, at least. It’s down to price. If I don’t supply Chinese granite, others will.” 

Thanks John for helping the project’s carbon footprint, Chinese workers’ rights, the government’s push to use UK labour forces – all while making a tidy profit. Nice one.

I get it – the position seems to be ‘if I don’t exploit unfair labour practices in China to supply material cheaply, someone else will’. Good code of ethics there then. So – foreigners = good source of labour to exploit as cheaply as possible – as long as the blighters don’t actually come to Old Blighty.

When the much-loved Marischal Square building is clad in Chinese granite, the much-loved Press & Journal is set to take a year’s free rent to grace us with its presence.

In order to figure out how this equates to being ‘Open for Business’ as opposed to, shall we say, giving the paper a bone so that it won’t unleash its investigative new hounds (if any left) onto juicy city council stories (not that there are any unless you count the cremation scandal, the Torry carve-up, Marischal Square..), Old Susannah lodged a freedom of information request.

We do know the key players at the Town House in this genius free rent scheme are the Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, Asset Management Manager. The city refuses to comment on these ‘commercial negotiations’ because:

“Release of the information at this stage would influence the negotiating position of parties wishing to occupy space in the development, to the obvious detriment of the Council’s commercial interests.

“Furthermore, disclosure of the requested information at this stage is likely to weaken ACC’s position in a competitive environment by revealing sensitive information of potential usefulness to competitors. ACC must maintain good working relationships with reputable companies to enable it to obtain value for money and so releasing commercially sensitive information could potentially damage ACC’s reputation with such third parties, dissuading the third parties from engaging with ACC.”

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.” 

So if I understand correctly, the competition would get wind of us giving a years’ rent free in a new building to the press (normally expected to investigate just this kind of eventuality in some cities anyway), and they would give a better deal, or other people would want free rent like the P&J too.

Perhaps we should pay the P&J to grace the city centre, and breathing new life into the beating heart of the civic centre in a vibrant and dynamic manner.

The phrase ‘Value for Money’ worked its way into the FOI response. Older readers might remember when the previous administration sold property owned by the taxpayer for millions of pounds less than market value, and was investigated by Audit Scotland (the report was meant to be investigated by the police – but they didn’t do anything. When I asked for an update, it was explained the paperwork could not be found, and as it was only a few million pounds’ worth of potential fraud, it wasn’t really a big deal).

We also gifted Stewart Milne lots of land, at the same time he won a few sweet contracts totalling £10 million – he’d underbid the competition – possibly a feat made a bit easier by having a nice parcel of land as a handy asset. But again – I digress. Just as well though that the taxpayer isn’t propping up a hugely biased, outmoded pseudo-newspaper.

Not that there are any juicy city council stories of course, but in light of how the city’s officers are involved in a few slightly questionable activities, I set out to take a look at the register of officers’ interests. I was to meet someone from Legal and democratic services to take a look at the register. A few hours before the meeting, the legal team from the city decided that a FOI request was required.

Now in theory FOI requests should not have to be made to see information that is held – but they were apparently fearful that there might be ‘personal data’ in the register.

This register should be parallel to the register held on all the councillor’s interests and hospitality – which you can view right now on the website. It’s almost as if the officers had more power and influence than coucillors but surely not. The FOI service complains from time to time that it has too many requests to handle (which might be why it is late with a huge portion of responses).

If the other departments had this ‘transparency’ we’ve heard so much about, the FOI team wouldn’t have to suffer so greatly doing its job.

Democratic services? Transparency? Freedom of Information? Clearly not as important as being open for business. More on this soon.

While waiting for any of this information to ever get to me, liquid refreshment at BrewDog helps sustain me and pass the time. Old Dog (as I now call the Gallowgate bar, the first ever BrewDog bar) has been doing some wildly popular craft courses and a once-monthly fun event, Drink and Draw.

I have learned so very much from BrewDog. Did you know that it’s Robert Plant’s son Logan is behind the remarkable Beavertown Brewery? I hadn’t any idea. One of my favourite non-BD libations is Beavertown’s flavour packed Gamma Ray (American Pale Ale). And yes, I’m one of the 10,000 BrewDog shareholders, and still proud of it.

Finally, Anthony Baxter is making another film about ladies’ man Trump, although I can’t think of any recent news developments these past 12 months that would warrant any such documentary. However, the details are here for those who would like to chip in. Expected Aberdeen release 3 November at the Belmont. (And by way of disclosure, there is every chance I’ll be in it).

At this rate there won’t be time for definitions, so with no further hesitation, here are some career-related definitions for the wonderful people who bring so much to Aberdeen.

Spokeswoman: (Modern English noun) a female who undertakes public relations duties.

Sarah Malone has been enjoying a Trump salary these many years; this and husband Damian’s salary will no doubt be helping the Jimmy Choo purchase fund.

In order to get a paid gig dealing with the media as a spokeswoman for a multinational property developer, aspiring spokespersons would have to have style, flair, the ability to think quickly, analyse information and respond swiftly with tact and intelligence. This no doubt is why I toil for free. As a recent example illustrating the calibre of response such a professional spokeswoman would be expected to come up with, I offer the following recently issued by Sarah Malone-Bates, aka from now as Sarah Baloney:

“We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it.

“Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker. He has no interest in the facts or the people of north east Scotland.

“He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump.

“We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.”

Old Susannah can’t – however hard I try – write like this. For instance, if I had to use the compound-adjective ‘so-called’, I might have said ‘so-called journalist’. That would have opened up a debate on whether or not award-winning, acclaimed journalist Baxter is credible or not. Obviously we trust a Trump spokesperson’s word for what is and isn’t credible. However, ‘so-called film’ opens up the debate as to whether or not the film is a … film. I think even I could win that battle of wits with Sarah.

She is calling Baxter a liar – a daring PR move which of course could have legal consequences should Baxter want to sue Trump. I hope she’ll share the specific list of these lies with us; I promise I’ll ask for it.

As to that ‘great relationship with the local community’ – well, obviously that’s as true as anything else this professional, well-paid spokesperson said. Just because protestors raise Mexican flags, 580,000 people sign a petition against her boss coming here, the local university rescinded his honorary degree and he’s no longer a global Scot is no reason to think Mr Drumpf is in any way unpopular. And no doubt the relationship with this community is unshakeable…

Star: (modern English term) someone of celebrity status, admired and well-known.

Donald Trump is a star. How do I know? He said so in a conversation about the perks of stardom.

To attain star status, having superior genes is important; modestly Drumpf admits what we already know – that he has superior genes. Somewhere, in some obscure history lesson, I almost remember some other political figure being interested in genetic superiority. Perhaps it’s fashionable to talk about this again?

Perks of stardom include ‘just start kissing’ beautiful women ‘doing anything (to women)’ and ‘grabbing them by the pussy’. Oh those lucky, beautiful young women. Something in the nature of 1 in 5 American women can expect to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

And with that, I find the last satirical inclinations leaving me, and so I will sign off. Let’s hope nothing will dent that community appreciation Drumpf enjoys here in our little corner of Scotland.

Next week – more on other FOI requests, a look at the rosy future of Torry – and a DIY Investigating kit

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Nov 142014

Copyright: Newsline ScotlandWith thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are to be marketed to Chinese tourists in a new drive by tourism agency VisitAberdeen.

The campaign will see the creation of a new website for the lucrative Chinese market, as well as attendance at key tourism events aimed at encouraging visitors to the region.

Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen, said:

“China boasts the largest outbound tourism market and is the highest spender on overseas travel, contributing $124 billion (around £78 billion) to the global tourism industry – 50% higher than that of the USA.

“This willingness to travel and explore overseas, coupled with a cultural love of golf, whisky and history, makes Aberdeen the perfect destination for Chinese tourists. With 60 golf courses within an hour of the city, some of the world’s most famous whisky brands including The Glenlivet and Royal Lochnagar, and a number of the finest castles in Scotland, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have a lot of offer Chinese tourists.”

There are now around 638 million Chinese internet users who make $22 billion (almost £14 billion) worth of bookings online each year. VisitAberdeen will capitalise on this with the launch of a new website aimed at Chinese tourists looking to travel overseas.

Steve continued:

“We have been working with the China Business Network (CBN) to create a new website which will be hosted on the China Wide Web. This has involved the translation of a large portion of the VisitAberdeen website, which will provide useful information to those wishing to travel from China to Aberdeen.

“This year 110 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas, and it is predicted that in the next 15 years this will increase to 500 million. Through the introduction of our new website, we will reach out to those travellers and show them all that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has to offer.

“We are also working to produce Chinese brochures and literature that will be distributed throughout the country, and will be represented by the CBN at the China International Travel Mart from 14-16 November.”

In 2015, VisitAberdeen plans to have a presence at further international travel markets in China, in order to reach out to tourism operators to show them the value of Aberdeen as a tourism destination. VisitAberdeen will attend the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market, and Incentive Travel and Conventions, Meetings China exhibitions next year.

VisitAberdeen is a partnership between Aberdeen City Council and the industry including Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association and Aberdeen Inspired. For further information, visit


Oct 092013

Potala Palace by Duncan HarleyBy Duncan Harley.

Dr Choje Akong Rinpoche, the founder and abbot of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Scotland, has reportedly been “assassinated” in the south west Chinese city of Chengdu.
Dr Akong was aged 73 and had lived in Britain since 1963. He co-founded Samye Ling in 1967 in a former nurses home in Eskdalemuir.

It was the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West and is currently home to a community of around 60 monks and lay-people.

A statement from police in the Chinese city of Chengdu said Choje Akong Rinpoche, his nephew and his driver were killed in a residential area and that three suspects had stabbed the men to death in a dispute about money. The usual suspects have been arrested by Chinese Police.

A statement posted on the Samye Ling website by Akong’s brother Lama Yeshe Rinpoche said:

“To all dear friends of Samye Ling and Choje Akong Rinpoche, I am very, very sorry to inform you all that tragically, my brother Choje Akong Rinpoche, my nephew and one monk who was travelling with them were all assassinated in Chengdu today.”

The Foreign Office said:

“We can confirm the death of a British national in Chengdu, China on 8th October and we stand ready to provide consular assistance.”

Akong Rinpoche will be missed.

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Sep 062013
The Dalai Llama In Inverness.

The Dalai Lama In Inverness.

By Duncan Harley.

It has been just over a year since the Dalai Lama visited Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness.

The good folk of Dundee welcomed him with open arms and presented Tibet’s spiritual leader with a meditation stool and some very loud applause.

Some children from the city’s deaf school sang a song to him and several Dundee politicians refused to meet him. Seemingly, the Chinese Consul General to Scotland had met council leaders from all three cities scheduled for the tour.

The issue was raised during First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, where opposition parties claimed China had put pressure on the SNP government over the visit.

First Minister Alex Salmond had visited China in December 2011 to strengthen trade, arts and cultural links following the arrival of two giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. One of the pandas may now be pregnant.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned parties not to politicise what was a ‘pastoral’ visit, saying that no UK government ministers were meeting the Dalai Lama during his trip.

A UK government source later pointed out that both Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, met the Dalai Lama in May.

Ms Sturgeon – standing in for Mr Salmond, who had been on a US trade visit – said, ‘There has been no discussion or contact whatsoever between the Scottish government and Dundee City Council about the visit of the Dalai Lama.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed Mr Salmond had displayed an ‘ambiguous attitude’ to the issue of China’s human rights record.

He urged Ms Sturgeon to condemn practices in the country, which he said included the detention of 500000 people without trial, and forcing women to have abortions.

The Dalai Lama, one of the world’s most revered leaders, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and was awarded the £1.1m Templeton Prize at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2012 for his engagement with science and people beyond his religious traditions.

He has lived in exile in Dharamsala in northern India since 1959.

He’s an awfully nice man. The folk of Inverness, Embra and Dundee agree.

When he came to Inverness he was shown the usual tourist places. When asked about local politics he said, ‘I like my cats but hate what they do’.

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Nov 162012

Aberdeen Voice presents the last of three articles by Jonathan Russell  of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) investigating the nuclear and military build-up and tensions in Korea and the wider Asia Pacific area.

Possibly the single most important and worrying decision of Obama’s first presidential term was to move 60% of US naval assets plus other military personnel to the Asia Pacific area by 2020.
Obviously linked to shifts in military resources from Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan, this development is the principal reason bilateral relations between the US and China are at their lowest point since Obama came to power.

That said, the possibilities following the re-election of Obama are certainly preferable to what may have unfolded under Romney. The latter’s insistence on naming China as a currency manipulator might well have increased tensions between the two countries.

One key issue is that, while the US has huge debts and could face economic meltdown, its military might continues to dominate the world. We now face a scenario where, on one hand, US allies in Asia Pacific have huge military budgets while, on the other, China is now the second biggest global military spender. This is a situation as unsustainable as it is absurd.

  • Current US debt is more than $16 trillion — the country is facing bankruptcy
  • Conflict over this continues between the Democratic Presidency/Senate and the Republican Congress.
  • Popular belief is that most of this debt is held by China. In fact, the biggest debt (one third) relates to surpluses in social security, unemployment benefit, disability, federal employer’s pensions and hospital insurance.
  • Though the US owes similar figures to Japan ($1.1 trillion) and China ($1.16 trillion), the US media often lumps these together and quotes the Chinese debt as $3 trillion, giving US citizens a false perception that China is somehow largely responsible for their fiscal difficulties.
  • Meanwhile, annual world military spending of $1,735 billion continues to explode, the US spending $711 billion this year alone.
  • China is now the second highest global spender on the military ($143 billion), almost double that of third-placed Russia on $71.9 billion.
  • In Asia Pacific, Japan ($59.3 billion) is the world’s 6th highest spender; South Korea ($ 30.8 billion) comes in at number 12, followed by Australia on $26.7 billion.

One US think tank suggests that as US debt equals its military spending, the way to reduce the deficit is to withdraw from its international military role.

While huge sums are spent on the military, international aid has fallen rapidly to $114 billion, much of this awarded to recession-hit western countries or used to boost western sales in the third world. Unfortunately, much aid is wasted funding large-scale corruption and high consultancy bills.

US defence department study The US force posture strategy in the Asia Pacific was presented to Congress in July. Co-author Michael J Green explained:

“An underlying weakness in the strategy is that it focuses on the US military in Asia in isolation from diplomacy, trade policy and other non-military elements of government that are just as important in maintaining influence in the region. The defence establishment meanwhile continues to see US/China issues in binary terms as it did during the cold war against the Soviets.” 

Concerns across Asia about the US military shift in the region were further fuelled by the US launching an air-sea battle exercise focused on fighting emerging powers. Green warned against overestimating China’s military despite its rapid growth, pointing to China’s huge vulnerability due to its dependence on sea lines.

China is now questioning the sincerity of the US role in stabilising Asia. Given their strong security ties to the US, China regards Japan, South Korea and the Philippines as US proxies and is consequently investing considerably more of its resources into military spending, at the same time reaching out to the US through diplomatic channels.

Following a meeting between a US deputation including Hilary Clinton and China (as reported on September 12) Councillor Doi Binggu stated:

“Major powers like China and the US should focus their Asia Pacific policies and interactions on regional peace, development and cooperation. China and the US cannot tread an old path of conflict and confrontation.”  

The Chinese do not have a history of invasion outside what they see as China. The US has considerable form in such matters. The emerging country also faces internal conflicts which, added to the massive task of sustaining its own population and dealing with rising inequality and an ageing population, leaves it with little energy to take on the US militarily. Despite this, China’s military continues to grow, largely in response to US military policy.

A recent power struggle has taken place in China. An open letter from a group of leftists asked parliament not to expel disgraced leader Bo Xilia, protesting such a move would be politically motivated. Particularly popular with the poor, Bo Xilia’s demands for social reform were seen as a threat to the current leadership.

  Meanwhile, both countries are meant to be making cuts in their military budgets, the US to the tune of $400 billion

In my last report, I spoke of the Juju island situation in South Korea, where the US wants to build a naval base against strong local opposition.

Japan has a similar conflict on Okinawa, an island annexed in the 19th century that looks across to both China and the Korean peninsula.

The island houses two-thirds of the US army in Japan (currently 26,000 troops), and is the centre of opposition to having Osprey aircraft based in the area.

Ospreys, which take off and land like helicopters but fly like fixed wing aircraft, could be used to attack the Chinese mainland and North Korea. It is reported 80-90% of the local population opposes basing them in Okinawa and a protest involving some 100,000 took place recently. A number of older protestors maintain a constant vigil outside the US base.

Despite Australia’s economic reliance on China, it has also increased its military alliance with the US with a doubling of US troops, primarily in the Darwin area. Meanwhile, both countries are meant to be making cuts in their military budgets, the US to the tune of $400 billion. Policies and budgets are clearly not fitting.

There have been reports of conflicts between China and Japan following the landing on the disputed Diayutai/Senkaku islands of 14 activists from Beijing. The islands, Chinese prior to WWII but now Japanese, are being used as a US military base. This initial incursion was followed by 150 Japanese activists landing on Diayutai/Senkaku, leading to nationalist demonstrations in both China and Japan.

These demonstrations have arguably helped both governments: in Japan, by deflecting concern from the Okinawa situation and boosting the popularity of a right wing government; in China, by distracting public concern about Bo Xilia and bolstering a government still to the right politically despite increasing concerns about corruption and inequality.

Japan and the US are presently undertaking joint military operations with 10,000 US and 37,400 Japanese troops. This again creates tension and will certainly lead to increased military spending by China. The Chinese are monitoring the situation but accuse Japan of manufacturing tensions. This may also be related to Obama’s successful presidential campaign in showing he can be tough on foreign policy, particularly on China.

On a positive note, Japan and North Korea met in August, their first meeting in four years and the first ever between their respective leaders.

Elections will take place in South Korea on December 19. For the Saenuri party Park Guen-hye is standing, the daughter of previous president Park Chung-hye.

Initially, her only rival was former human rights lawyer Moon-Jae-in of the liberal left Democratic United Party, but a new contender is Ahn Cheol-so, founder of the country’s biggest antivirus software company. One factor that may yet play a part in the region’s future is the historic hatred that exists between North Korea and the Saenuri party to this day.

Park Geun-hye initially led the polls and remains the leading contender, though Ahn Cheol-so has considerable support, particularly among young people.

In a further development, Moe-Jae-in and Ahn Cheol–so formed an electoral pact to beat Park Guen-hye but as we go to press have yet to decide who will lead (they hold similar positions on increasing welfare, and on North Korea favour dialogue and economic co-operation). In response, Park Geun-hye has said she wants to meet the North’s Kim Jong-un in a bid to improve relations.

Another development in South Korea is that two nuclear reactors have been closed temporarily.

The South Korean economy has ridden the recession in similar fashion to Brazil by moving to Green technology.

It is difficult to judge what control China has over North Korea. Information leaked to Wikileaks suggests there is often tension between the two and at the UN, China has condemned the latter’s nuclear weapon trials. China remains North Korea’s main ally, however.

  Short-term internal needs must be replaced by a longer term vision for Asia Pacific

North Korea has been badly affected by floods this year, leading to increased aid from China. Agricultural reforms similar to those in Cuba have taken place and following shortages of artificial fertiliser and pesticides, they are increasingly moving towards organic farming.

The state has supported training and research in this area and has developed organic fertilisers suitable to its cold climate. Farmers are now allowed to keep 30% of produce to sell in markets; the rest goes to the state.

Following its own agricultural crises linked to the long-term damaging effects of industrial farming, South Korea has been developing organic farming since 1993.

There are problems politically and culturally in both North and South Korea. A united Korea should be the long term aim, with a government hopefully informed by the mistakes of the past and foreign influence kept to a minimum.

Military posturing on all sides serves only to worsen the situation. Short-term internal needs must be replaced by a longer term vision for Asia Pacific. Diplomacy should take centre stage and agreements must be reached by all sides to reduce their military, reducing tension and leading to better relations all round. Reducing military spending will then allow countries to foster alternative use of resources and improve the lot of ordinary people.

On a broader front, the people of the world need to start protesting NOW against the crazy military machine that controls, kills and robs us of our humanity. We need real statesmen like South Korea’s former president Kim Dae-Jung and current world leaders could do worse than follow this great man’s example.

Nov 092012

Aberdeen Voice presents the second of three articles by Jonathan Russell  of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) investigating the nuclear and military build up and tensions in Korea and the wider Asia/Pacific situation.

Jonathan will be giving a talk on this subject at 7.30pm on Monday 12 November in the conference room on the top floor of Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema.

The one Korean politician who has cut a positive figure in recent years is Kim Dae-Jung.

President of South Korea from 1998-2003, the introduction of his Sunshine Policy led to marked improvements in relations between North and South Korea.

In the period following Dae-Jung’s presidency, however, the historic lack of trust between the nations, a change in the South Korean government and lack of positive leadership, both internally and internationally, has seen the relationship deteriorate.


North Korea decides to re-activate a nuclear reactor and expel international inspectors.

2006: President Bush names North Korea as part of the axis of evil. In October, North Korea states that, due to growing intimidation by the US, they will stage a nuclear test that month and a second in 2009.

The situation worsens when South Korean president Lee Myunheg-Bak ends his predecessor’s Sunshine Policy.

2009: North Korea walks out of international talks aimed at ending its nuclear activity and announces it no longer considers itself bound by the terms of the 1953 truce.

2010: The south accuses the north of sinking one of its warships and cuts off all cross border trade. The accusation is strenuously denied and the north severs all ties with Seoul. The US then imposes tough sanctions on the north. During a trip to China in August, North Korea’s Kim Jung Il signals a willingness to accept foreign aid to help cope with major flood damage.

2012: South Korea hosts the second Nuclear Security summit. The gathering of 50 nations is attended by President Obama, who hosted the first summit in Washington in 2010. North Korea condemns the South’s hosting of the event as ‘an unpardonable crime’ and an ‘intolerable grave provocation’. During the summit, the south mobilises more than 40,000 police and an unidentified number of troops to guard against possible provocation by North Korea, terrorists or demonstrations by its own citizens.

The United States has 28,500 troops based in South Korea. As a direct result of US pressure and with massive American funding, South Korea is constructing a naval base on the island of Jeju to berth Aegis warships, 38 of which form part of the US missile defence system.

Named the Island of Peace by the late President Roo Moo Hyon, Jeju was the site of a massacre where more than 30,000 civilians were estimated to have been slaughtered by the South Korean army during a 1948 uprising.

The high biological diversity, unique volcanic typography and local culture of Jeju attract many tourists but building the base will be hugely detrimental to the environment (notably its coral reefs), threatening the livelihoods of local fisherman and many related jobs.

Located strategically in the Korean straits, the construction of a naval base would considerably increase the island’s potential to become a military target in the event of an armed conflict.

Many observers believe Jeju naval base will serve the sea-based component of the US ballistic missile force.

Actor and campaigner Robert Redford has stated:

‘’I am moved and impressed that residents near the coastline have been waging a fierce, non-violent struggle to stop the base. They’ve used their bodies to block bulldozers and cement trucks, sacrificed their personal freedom, been beaten and imprisoned and paid heavy fines… I think the least environmentalists, peace activists and supporters of democracy can do is express our outrage.’’

In September, the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) held its World Conservation Congress with some 8,000 attendees on Jeju, throwing the spotlight on the bitter battle over the island’s future.

Missile defence systems on Aegis destroyers are currently being tested at the Pentagon’s testing facility on Hawaiian island Kavai. There is a potential danger of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan going nuclear or having US nuclear bases.

In February, there was good news following talks in Beijing between North Korea and the US, the former agreeing to halt uranium enrichment and the testing of long range missiles in return for food aid.

This agreement foundered on North Korea’s plan to launch a long range missile in honour of the hundredth anniversary of their leader Kim Il-Sung.

South Korea uses extensive nuclear power and produces plutonium

While the Koreans claim the launch was linked to the peaceful advance of their space programme, critics suspect it was connected to their nuclear ambitions. Both South Korea and Japan threatened to shoot the missile down if it entered their territory. In reality, however, the launch failed.

The failed ballistic missile launch by North Korea has been condemned by the UN Security Council, including China and Russia.

The unexpected re-election of the conservative Saenuri party in South Korea has complicated matters. As the Saenuri and North Koreans traditionally hate each other, the party is not interested in improving relations and tensions have increased.

South Korea uses extensive nuclear power and produces plutonium. If its nuclear plants were targeted in a conflict, extensive devastation would follow with possibly catastrophic consequences worldwide.

While it has not yet developed a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, it is likely North Korea has more than one enrichment plant. Though a failure, the recent attempted missile launch suggests North Korea is well on its way to developing such a weapon.

Confused messages coming out of the country suggest an internal power struggle, that some elements want better relations with the West in return for food aid while others seek a more militant stance.

Meanwhile, China has been advocating calm in the area. North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner and main source of food, arms and fuel, China has its own internal conflicts between its role as an emerging global player and its commitment to its North Korean allies.

The first six-nation talks since 2008 between North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US were due to restart in September. Russia allocated one of their top deputies to the talks, showing they are taking the situation seriously. While it seems some informal contacts did take place, these turned into an exchange of insults rather than any constructive dialogue or agreement.

Heads need to be knocked together by Russia and China re the North and the US re the South to make these talks happen and work. The alternative is ever escalating tension leading potentially to military and even nuclear warfare.

0n 23 October, South Korea announced a new deal with the US allowing it to develop ballistic missiles capable of striking targets anywhere in North Korea, missiles with larger warheads than had previously been in operation. North Korea responded by claiming it had missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.

A frequent complaint made by North Korea is that South Korea is a puppet regime of the US, which wants it to invade the north. This leads to North Korea pursuing its military First, Second and Third policies, meaning other aspects of society are neglected. This surely is not the way forward for either of the Koreas or the wider Asia Pacific area.

Next week Jonathan Russell will be writing about the wider Asia/Pacific political context taking in developments in China, the US, Japan, other Asian countries, Australia and Korea.

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Apr 062012

At the next meeting of Aberdeen CND on Monday 10th April, Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen CND and also a member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, will be leading a discussion on the Arms Trade. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm on the Top Floor of the Belmont Cinema, Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

The arms trade is a deadly, corrupt business. It supports conflicts and human rights abusing regimes while squandering valuable resources which could be used to deal with the many social and environmental challenges we face here on Planet Earth. It does this with the full support of governments around the world, in particular the five permanent members of the United Nations  Security Council: the United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom.

These are the very countries which are meant to be our global custodians, but are in fact the very countries which are feeding global insecurity and conflict.

While very few countries sell large volumes of weaponry, the buyers are spread across the world. Other than to the five permanent UN Security Council members, the largest buyers are in the Middle East and South East Asia. The arms themselves range from fighter aircraft, helicopters and warships with guided missiles, radar and electronic warfare systems, tanks, armoured vehicles, machine guns and rifles.

The common misconception is that it is the illegal trade that is damaging, while the legal trade is tightly controlled and acceptable. However, the vast majority of arms sold around the world including those to human rights abusing governments or into areas of conflict are legal and are supported by governments. In 2007 the value of legal arms around the world amounted to 60 billion dollars. The illegal market is estimated at 5 billion dollars:  many illegal weapons end up as legal weapons.

The arms trade exists to provide weapons to those who can pay for them. What the buyers do with the arms, what political approval the sales signify, and how money could be better spent appears irrelevant to the arms companies and our governments. The UK Government’s 2010 Human Rights Annual Report identified 26 countries of concern. In that year the UK approved arms licences to 16 of these.

There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.

David Cameron was in the Middle East on a high-profile mission to sell arms when the democracy movement started in the Middle East. Selling arms to a country in conflict whether internal or external makes the conflict more deadly and longer lasting.
If there is tension between countries or within a country, then arms purchases are likely to increase this tension and make actual conflict more likely.

Even when conflict has ended, arms, particularly small arms, may remain in large numbers (as in Libya at present), fuelling further conflicts and/or criminal activity.

Every year the UK Government authorises the sale of arms to well over 100 countries. This is hardly surprising given that it is Government policy to vigorously support arms exports. Peter Luff, Minister of Defence Exports in the present UK Government, has stated that:

“There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.”

Arms companies and Government are inseparable when it comes to selling arms. The Government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) department is a vital element of UK’s arms dealing. In 2008 the Government opened the Defence and Security Organisation which promotes weaponry on behalf of arms companies. There are 158 civil servants in the Defence and Security Organisation while other non-arms sectors have137 staff. This is despite arms accounting for less than 1.5 Percent of UK exports.

• Arms export jobs as a percentage of total employment:  0.2%
• Arms as a percentage of exports:  1.5 %
• UK Government Research Expenditure Spent on Arms:  27%
• UK trade and investment staff committed to selling arms:  54%

Research carried out for Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) by the Stockholm International Peace Institute assesses the level of subsidy by Government to the arms trade in the UK to be around £700 million a year.  In 2010 the UK Government issued 10,850 arms export licences, refused 230, and revoked 14.

Half of the refusals related to proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, with a maximum of 76 being revoked on the grounds that they contributed to internal repression, internal conflict or regional instability. Foreign office embassies also promote the arms sales, as do the Ministry of Defence armed services. Arms fairs are common in the UK and around the world.  The governments of host countries provides support for their arms firms.

Arms sales from the UK seem to vary from year to year:

• 2007    9651 million   (particularly high because of sales of Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia)
• 2008    4367 million
• 2009    7261 million also high as included Typhoon support services to Saudi Arabia)
• 2010    5819 million

Of the 16 countries identified by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as locations of major conflict in 2009, the UK sold arms to 12.

Columnist Will Self –  “War, the arms trade and the abuse of language”

BAE arms are the UK’s main arms company and has military customers in over 100 countries. BAE’s focus over the past few years has been on increasing sales to the US, specifically targeting equipment for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and supplying Euro fighters and other arms to Saudi Arabia. BAE routinely supplies countries which the UK Foreign Office considers as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’.

The casualties of conflict are now overwhelmingly civilian, increasing from 50% of war related deaths in the first half of the twentieth century to 90% near the end of the century.

The arms trade affects development both through the money wasted on arms purchased and through the conflicts fuelled by arms.

A study in 2007 by Oxfam of the economic cost of armed conflict to Africa estimated that Africa  loses around 18 billion dollars a year due to wars and that armed conflict shrinks an African nations economy by 15%.

As well as the direct effects of military spending, medical costs and the destruction of infrastructure, there are indirect costs on the  economy and employment suffers ( this does not take into account the countless human misery caused by loss of life and sustained injuries effecting families and friends as well as the individuals concerned).

The study estimated that the cost  of conflicts in Africa since 1990 was equivalent to the aid provided to them by major donors.

Even when conflict is not taking place money diverted to arms is a drain on government resources and takes away from vital spending on health education and infrastructure. The massive 1998 South African arms deals for aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines cost the country over £8billion. Yet most of the population live in shanty towns and other poor housing and South Africans with HIV/AIDS were told that the country could not afford ant-retroviral medication.

Despite desperate poverty and its recent appalling history of armed struggle, the UK government is actively promoting arms struggle to Angola. The UK government not only approved arms exports to Angola it actively organised an “industry day’’ when HMS Liverpool docked in Angola waters and hosted Angolan political and military officials.

The arms trade causes countless misery in our world; it is a poor use of limited resources which should be used to make this world a better place. We need to question the thinking in the world that believes you only get what you want by force. The five members of the Security Council should start taking on their responsibilities and use conflict resolution rather than warfare to sort the many conflicts that take place both between and within countries.

Nov 082011

By Jonathan Hamilton Russell.

This is my third article on Libya over the seven month period of the ‘revolution’.

The reason that I have written these articles is the general silence and passive acceptance that has taken place on developments in Libya as they have unfolded, and my wish to raise awareness.

I am also greatly concerned in a period when we should have learnt from world wars and numerous conflicts across the world that war is not the solution and leads to untold misery.

Yet war has become our most favoured form of foreign intervention. My intention had been to leave writing a further article until a new government was formed however the atrocities that have taken place at the end revolution have led me to writing the present article. I  realise much of what I  report goes against what many people have come to believe, but feel it essential to report on what I  have read.

My previous arguments have been that rather than relying solely on military intervention, negotiations should have taken place with the prerequisite that elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Everyone could have had a say regarding the future of Libya: including those who supported Qaddafi’s green movement who have been effectively disenfranchised.

The African Union and Venezuela offered to broker negotiations and Qaddafi and the then Libyan government on frequent occasions wanted to have a cease fire and negotiations. I also argued that all those responsible for torture and war crimes whether Qaddafi’s regime, NATO or the revolutionary militias should be put before an international court for their crimes.

On the 4th February following International pressure the International Criminal Court have stated that they will be investigating war crimes perpetuated by Qaddafi Loyalists, the National Transitional Government and NATO. Interestingly this has not been reported in the British media but is whatever a significant step forward in terms of justice

If you do nothing else please watch the following video.

Journalist Lizzie Phelan was in Tripoli before during and after its fall. She explains the support for Qaddafi including a 1.7 million demonstration in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi  in July, of an entire population of around five million in Libya.

She also reports on how the media was falsely reporting, the democratic nature of Qaddafi’s regime, how many women took up arms and of mass murder by NATO. Have a look on You Tube and compare footage of the numbers demonstrating for Qaddafi and those for the revolutionary fighters.

Seamus Milne in the Guardian has argued that intervention by the West rather than saving public lives has in fact increased deaths at least tenfold. Off course we can never know what might have happened if the then Libyan Government tanks had reached Benghazi. What we do know is that in towns that Qaddafi’s troops did retake, reprisals if any were minimal.

We also know that that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there have been considerable reprisals by the Revolutionary militias as well as the deaths inflicted by NATO bombing. Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to 50,00 with  many more injured in a population of around five million.

Amnesty International has evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities carried out by the revolutionary militias. Human rights watch have identified a number of mass graves and discovered 53 bodies with hands tied of Qaddafi fighter’s, some who had clearly been in hospital, near to the hotel used by Qaddafi loyalists just before he was he was murdered. In Sirte over 500 fighters and civilians were killed in the last ten days

There was knowledge by the revolutionary militia and NATO, as evidenced by militia fighters speaking on the BBC that Qaddafi was in Sirte in the last few days of fighting.

Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

The statement by NATO that they did not now that Gaddafi was in the 80 strong convoy that was bombed while trying to escape Sirte was almost certainly untrue, as was the assertion that the bombings and drone attacks was done to protect civilians as they were fleeing not attacking anyone.

A reporter on the BBC said the carnage was horrific.

What I believe has happened has been a concerted attempt by the revolutionary militias and NATO to destroy Qaddafi’s Green movement supporters in Libya so that they cannot become a force in a future Libya. Mustafa Abdel Jalil the National Transitional Council Chairman and previously Qaddafi’s Justice Minister tried to put the blame of Qaddafi’s death onto Qaddafi’s own snipers despite the horrendous mobile footage that was published on the net all over the world.

Peter Boukaret the head of Human Rights Watch in Libya has seen revolutionary militias burning homes in Tawerga where the majority of people were black Libyans who were seen as supporters of the Qaddafi regime, so that they can never return to their home town.

Under International law combatants should be released at the end of a civil war but the Washington Post has reported that 1,000 Qaddafi loyalists are packed in dingy jails and have faced abuse and even torture. Amnesty International have criticised the EU for leaving 5,000 Sub-Saharan refugees camped in appalling conditions on Libya’s border

Will Self on the BBC has pointed out that arms are still being sold to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco who have equally poor human rights records. He also pointed out that arms on both sides of the Libyan conflict were supplied by Britain.  Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

It could be suggested that it was in the interests of Western Leaders for Qaddafi not to live as at any court hearing he could have informed the world of the arms and human rights deals brokered with the likes of Sarkozy and Blair.

The future of Libya is most certainly in the balance. Abel Hakim Belhaj kidnapped by MI6 and tortured in Libya is threatening legal action against the UK Government, and who is the leader of the militias in Tripoli, has already warned that they will not be taking orders from the National Transitional Council.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil Chairperson of the National Transitional council’s attempts to mollify the Islamic militias is to say that a future state will be based in Shariah law and that polygamy not allowed previously in Libya would be allowed.

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians.

This in itself would suggest that women’s role in Libya will take a considerable backward step. Kevin Rudd the Australian Foreign minister has warned that Libya could become another Iraq. There could well be further conflict before any elections take place.

What I would conjecture is that though there will be on-going violence, it is more likely that what will happen is that elections will eventually take place and the winners will be those that are sympathetic to the west. However as corruption increases as in Afghanistan and many people’s living standards fall,  that within ten years the Islamic parties as the only alternative will gain electoral or even military victory.

One factor not reported in our media is that Qaddafi through the African Union and with other Middle Eastern states had been pushing for a new currency – the Gold Dinar.  This would have been a threat to the Euro and the Dollar. This would have soon come into effect and would have enriched African countries and had a negative effect on western countries. This in itself was a major reason as to why they wanted to get rid of Qaddafi as he had large stocks of gold.

Britain’s new defence secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC:

 “I would expect British Companies to be packing their suitcases for Libya”

UK trade and Investment a British Government body has estimated that oil, gas and reconstruction works will be worth over 320 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Daniel Kaczynski a conservative MP and Chair of the parliamentary Libyan committee who has written extensively on Qaddafi  and who has been a major influence on British Policy on Libya has suggested that Libya pay back the costs of British military intervention. Previous to the revolution the majority of contracts were going to Russia and China.

There are already significant land and property claims being made by Libyans who lost their property under Qaddafi this will have a significant knock on effect pushing those who have lived in the property and land into poverty

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians. It has been about regime change and a grab for lucrative resources and ending Qaddafi’s nearly met aim of creating a Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to threaten the Euro and the Dollar. 

In carrying out this policy the revolutionary militias aided extensively by NATO have carried out and continue to carry out genocide of ideological nature against those many Libyans who continued to support Qaddafi.

Nov 192010

By Alan Gatt.

Last week, as a way of remotely pulling the Chinese chain on his way to the G20 in Seoul, American President Barack Obama said to an Indonesian audience “prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.

I have recently been asked to consider just where it is that Aberdeen (the town where I live) is going wrong. This question has been posed to me and others in the context of the visible decay in the urban environment of the town, the deterioration of some aspects of its infrastructure and services and the perception that – in the context of a political sphere which is perceived as weak or incompetent, intransigent or complicit – business interests are poised to mount a putsch on the civic space in favour of their own vested interests.

A common enough phenomenon but one that is novel in living memory in Aberdeen, at least in the shameless, nakedness of its ambition.

These phenomena first started manifesting themselves a couple of years ago. At that time my wife and I decided that we did not much like the way the wind was blowing and we considered leaving. We set about saying goodbye to Aberdeen. We did not know it at the time, but what we embarked upon was a process of psychogeography, which allowed us to uncover more of the truth of the real shape which Aberdeen’s in than the easy-to-level “j’accuse” which so many simply point at Aberdeen City Council.


The Oil and Gas industry makes up almost a quarter of our economy in the North East of Scotland. It employs around a fifth of our workers. According to Aberdeen City Council, at current rates of extraction, the currently proven reserves will be effectively depleted by 2016. We do not need to read far between the lines of the local press to understand that this is a source of palpable insecurity at development agency and Chamber of Commerce level. So what else is there? There are no more primary sector resources to extract. Once we dug value from the igneous stone beneath our feet, at present we sook it from beneath the seabed. These fountainheads of value are now depleting fast if not already depleted.

According to Aberdeen City Council, at current rates of extraction, the currently proven reserves will be effectively depleted by 2016

There is much talk of supporting retail development in Aberdeen – in a sort of  beggar-thy-neighbour attempt to pull demand in from the hinterland and as far away as Dundee and Inverness. But we cannot just hope to continue shopping on tick, unless we simultaneously create value elsewhere in the economy.

Luxe retail being an example of what economists call a ‘sink sector’ (munitions being another) whereby excess value is drained from an economy. That is assuming there is excess value.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that this support for retail (which includes big-ticket city-centre road projects like the Berryden Corridor urban dual carriageway) is beginning to look like a bit of a cargo cult. We are like the Melanesian tribes people   who after the 2nd World War built bamboo control towers and palm-frond landing strips in the hope of attracting down from the heavens their own supernatural Dakota freighter-planes full of goods from the gods. Like the cargo-cultists we ape and adopt the signifiers of economic success and affluence in the hope that that this will make that very economic success somehow arrive. “If you build it they will come…”.   It is putting the cart before the horse. Some of the projects we see being proposed are therefore, in my opinion, wrong-headed as they seek to create the omega-point of wealth creation, without noticing that first there is a whole long process of boot-strapping to be done in adding value before that value can be exploited by luxe retail and leisure. The cliché is “all fur coat and nae knickers”. But if the right conditions are in place to make the engine of capitalism hum, then the potential for wealth creation creates the jobs which will then in turn create and sustain the ‘lifestyle sector’,  which includes luxe retail, catering etc.

It is easy to be cynical, and we should applaud efforts by national and local government along with development agencies and industry bodies to initiate a renewable energy industrial sector in the area. Getting a significant portion of this sector to ‘anchor’ here would be a source of continual endogenous (self-generating) economic growth.

But almost by definition, such an industry will be orders of magnitude less capital intensive than oil and gas. Meantime, we see sink-sector cargo-cult (City Square, Trump Links) projects gaining much more prominence and promotion.

On a larger canvas, we are about to live in a time of transition. The transition away from debt-propelled consumerism is underway and the impact on the UK’s retail sector and its supply chains has already been severe.

However, to concentrate on national performance is a bit of a red herring. It is in the arena of cities and their relative strengths and attractiveness in retaining both finance capital and human/intellectual capital that we will see both the positive and negative effects of the transition which is already underway. We do not need to ask how the UK will compete with India; we need to ask how Aberdeen will compete with York and Lubeck, Cork and Ljubljana.

For cities that have a diverse economic base, a reduction in highly skilled roles will be difficult in the short term, but these highly skilled knowledge workers tend to be flexible and able to seek (or create) employment in other industries – the Work Foundation calls this ‘flexicurity’. For cities that have specialised more heavily, there are dangers that the transition may impact productivity and employment levels significantly without there being alternative industries for those workers to move into. In Aberdeen, we will be hit simultaneously by both resource depletion and wider economic rebalancing.

The question for us should be: “How much flexicurity is there in the Aberdeen economy?” We have become trapped by the easy money from Oil and Gas that has denuded the rest of our economy. Our local economy has lost its diversity and freedom of movement. “Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”.

Next week, in part 2 of Going Wrong, Alan Gatt looks at how Aberdeen may be affected by The Dutch Disease, Affluenza and Hyperreality.