Jan 072016

Paul Johnston Martin FordWith thanks to Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

Two Aberdeenshire councillors are dismissing Mr Donald Trump’s latest threat to cancel investment in his Scottish golf courses. Mr Trump was reacting to the petition calling on the Westminster government to ban him from the UK signed by over 570,000 people.

Democratic Independent and Green councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford are questioning the likelihood of the investment going ahead whether Mr Trump is banned from the UK or not.

Said Cllr Martin Ford,

“Mr Trump has been promising hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment in Aberdeenshire for ten years. He has also been threatening not to make the investment ever since he announced it.

“Mr Trump routinely uses threats to try to get his own way, to attempt to exert leverage over Aberdeenshire Council or Scottish Government decisions.

“Back in 2007, Mr Trump’s threat not to invest if he didn’t get everything he wanted clearly had the Council and the Scottish Government dancing to his tune.

“Surely, no-one is going to fall for this meaningless threat now. After ten years of promising an investment that has yet to materialise, the sensible working assumption has to be it’s not going to happen. The rational response to Mr Trump’s pronouncements is to ignore them.”

On Wednesday (6 January), Mr Trump said he would not invest £500 million in his Menie development nor £200 million at Turnberry if he was banned from the UK by the UK government. In 2007, Mr Trump promised to invest £1 billion at Menie – a claim repeated regularly over the following years. Mr Trump’s actual spend at Menie is believed to be less than £30 million.

Last year, Mr Trump announced his intention to apply for planning permission for housing and other further development at Menie. No corresponding planning applications have been submitted.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“We should deal in facts, not Mr Trump’s media comments. Mr Trump has invested less than £30 million at Menie and makes an operating loss on the course. All else is speculation.”

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Jan 062016

trump106featWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Hate speech and prejudice take a beating as Parliament’s Petitions Committee schedules 18 January for a debate on a proposed Donald Trump UK ban for hate speech. An unprecedented 580,000 people have signed an online petition started by Aberdeen Voice contributor Suzanne Kelly.

At 10,000 signatures the government made a response which can be found on the petition website.

Kelly welcomed the strongly-worded response, and replied to it as follows:

“I welcome the Government’s affirmation that it rejects attempts to create division, and that coming to the UK is a privilege which can be denied to those who seek to harm our society and who do not share our basic values.

“Much has happened since the petition was lodged on 28 November. When Trump came out with the astonishing statement in early December that Muslims should be barred from entering the US, it justified the need for this petition. At the time of writing, 567,000 people are asking for the ban.

“Freedom of any kind comes with responsibility; this includes free speech. Freedom of speech is not the freedom to engage in hate. Words can wound and can be a rallying cry to violence. If anyone doubts that speech can cause harm, reflect on how many physical fights start with verbal provocation, and how much harm is caused by verbal bullying in schools and in domestic situations.

“The reality of hate speech’s ability to incite violent acts is why the UK’s laws have stopped some 80 individuals from entering the UK to date. Trump has never, as far as I know, apologised for any of his verbal attacks.

“I am not someone known for wanting to ban one thing or another. Over the years I have fought to stop books and artwork being banned. However, there is a saying- ‘your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins’. In other words, freedom is not freedom to cause harm to others, and from the facts I personally conclude Donald Trump’s words are demonstrably causing harm. I do not see how the government can do other but ban his future entry.

“An educated person may laugh off Trump’s diatribes, and wonder why any action is needed. Unfortunately not everyone who hears prejudicial, hate-inciting speech stops to question or analyse what they hear. 

“Our government believes hate speech is illegal, witness the many who have been barred UK entry. Most of these banned people were hardly household names, so how much more weight might hate speech carry when it comes from someone who is a television personality, and would-be US president? 

“Trump has money, celebrity and influence. We know that people listen to celebrities; our advertising industry spends millions of pounds on sponsorship because of it. Donald Trump’s fame is helping to spread his hate-filled rhetoric.

“If the UK government needs evidence that Donald Trump’s hate speech can encourage violence, sadly this can be provided.

“The New York Times and other media have documented the surge in violence in America directed at Muslims since the tragic ISIS / fundamentalist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino [1] – and since some high-profile politicians have used these incidents as fuel for hate speech which can escalate problems. Some respected academics are greatly concerned by this trend [2].

“There are cases which link Donald Trump’s influence directly to violence. Californian William Celli attempted to make a pipe bomb with the intention of attacking Muslims. Celli is a huge Trump supporter. Celli said he would ‘Follow Trump to the end of the world.[3]’ The end of the world might well be where they wish to take us. But I for one am not intending to follow them there.

“As I said, my petition predates Donald Trump’s remarks about Muslims; here is the story of a man I had in mind when lodging it: A homeless Hispanic man was attacked in Boston by men who openly say that they were inspired by the words of Donald J Trump.[4] They beat the man with metal poles. They broke his nose. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” is what one of the accused said to the police.

“There is no further proof required that hate speech carries consequences and that Donald Trump’s hate speech has directly caused violence.

“George Osborne made a statement to the effect we will not ban Donald Trump. I think the decision is not his alone, and his premature words call for comment. Osborne may feel that “The best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in robust and democratic debate, and to make it clear his views are not welcome.[5]” – but that is little comfort to victims of Trump’s hate speech.

“I doubt anyone willing to hit another person with a metal pole because they are homeless and Hispanic is open to persuasion by ‘robust and democratic debate’. Perhaps Mr Osborne wants to change the laws on hate speech that saw the previous bans; but at this point in time, banning Mr Trump is the government’s clear responsibility.

“It will take more than a few harsh paragraphs from the UK’s Prime Minister to send the right message. We need to ban Donald Trump from bringing his violence-inspiring vitriol here.

“Donald Trump is also widely – chillingly – promoting the idea of killing people whose relatives are involved in terrorism. His own words testify why he should be banned from the UK: “…with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.[6]” He did not say they need to be arrested and tried by a recognised court; he said ‘you’ have to ‘take out their families’. It is remarkable a would-be president has such little knowledge and/or respect for international law and conventions.

“Does his statement sound like an incitement to murder? I believe there are those for whom this message could well have violent repercussions. I note that have not heard Trump call for ‘taking out’ the family of Celli, the would-be terrorist pipe bomber who intended to target Muslims. What kind of message shall the UK send back to Trump for his rallying cry for executions?

“If Mr Trump had said he wanted to ban anyone with links to militant violent organisations including ISIS, then that would have been a fairy reasonable statement. But he placed every single Muslim into a group which he says needs to be barred from US entry and monitored. He is perhaps the highest-profile promoter of Islamophobia there is in the entire world.

“As a brief aside, anyone who preaches hate and violence, whatever their reason or religion, is an enemy of the stability which the world desperately needs now. There are serious global issues that require international cooperation, understanding and attention; we cannot allow anyone, even Mr Trump, to fan the flames of hatred. I hope his supporters will think again.

“In 2007 there were between 2 to 7 million Muslims citizens or residents of the United States. What the United Kingdom does with regard to my petition is not just about one man, Donald Trump; it will be sending a message to Trump’s targets, his opponents and his supporters.

“I do hope the UK government will consider all of the repercussions of Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, as well as all of the sexist, racist, and nationalistic remarks he continues to make. The United Kingdom has in this petition an opportunity to say that anyone, even a billionaire, cannot mock people with disabilities, cannot disrespect women or label all Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists and call for them to be walled into Mexico, and still be welcome here.

“Many people will be watching this debate closely. Those who oppose banning Trump will need to explain their decision – not to me – but to 567,000 United Kingdom citizens. Banning Trump may well make us more secure; it would also send a message that there is not one law for the powerful, and another for the poor.

“In opening this petition I ran the risk of being ridiculed, but I have found that half a million people feel as I do. Groups have organised events and other petitions to show support for people being persecuted because of their faith. It is reassuring to see people from different backgrounds coming together to denounce hate speech.

“I am well aware how many problems and how much hatred exists around the world. I am also aware that within living memory an accomplished speaker’s words took the entire world to war and millions died as a result. No one thought that man would get into power. Donald Trump wants to be arguably the most powerful man in the world. If there is a chance that Trump could get into power, then the trajectory of his hate speech and its stated aims cannot be laughed off or dismissed as simple ‘free speech’.

“If the UK government is serious about its stated aims, then this is arguably the strongest, most clear-cut case for banning it has ever had before it. Please side with the half a million strong who make this request as a small step towards a more tolerant and peaceful United Kingdom – and a less hate-filled world.

“I thank the Petitions Committee; the administrators of the petition, the Home Office and the Government for considering this petition; I do not see how this request, made by so many, backed by fact and precedent, can do anything except succeed.”


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/us/politics/crimes-against-muslim-americans-and-mosques-rise-sharply.html?_r=0
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/12/hate-speech-is-going-mainstream/
[3] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/william-celli-arrested-explosives-muslims
[4] http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/a-trump-inspired-hate-crime-in-boston/401906/
[5] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/09/petition-calling-for-donald-trump-to-be-banned-from-uk-signed-by-85000
[6] http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/trump-isis-you-have-take-out-their-families

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Dec 142015

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

With over half a million signatures, the petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK for hate speech has become the fastest ever to qualify for debate in Parliament.
Suzanne Kelly was inspired largely by the events at Aberdeenshire’s Menie Estate, and how residents were treated when Trump began construction for a golf course there.

Now Kelly wants some positive action to fix long-running issues with planning permission and access.

When Donald Trump set out to create his Menie Estate golf complex, he had a huge impact on the environment and area residents. SSSI protection, the highest level of environmental protection there is, was taken from the UK’s only moving sand dune system and its fragile ecosystem. A giant bund of earth was put between Susan Munro’s cottage and her views across the landscape to the sea; this served no functional or desirable purpose.

This bund, well over head height and topped with dead and dying trees, apparently was not part of the agreed plan. Water was cut off to the Forbes’ farm, forcing the farmer and his family – including his elderly mother – to carry water from a nearby stream.

“Imagine hearing bulldozers outside your home, and finding your new neighbour has put an 8 foot high mound of sandy earth between you and your former views to the sea. Imaging campaigning for years and being ignored by your local planning department. How Susie put up with it I don’t know.” says Suzanne Kelly.

Various aspects of the built landscape were changed, in some cases apparently without prior permission from Aberdeenshire planning officials. Michael Forbes, who previously was able to cross the estate to the sea for salmon fishing, had his access blocked – and the police (who normally would not be involved in civil matters) – told him he would be arrested if he touched the new gate or its lock.

Border disputes both with Forbes and David Milne saw existing fencing torn down, and Trump’s people re-drawing the boundaries.

Boundary disputes should have been treated as civil matters, but police were on hand to support Trump, not those living on the land. Gorse seems to have been planted to deter walkers in places, and a huge gate blocking Leyton Farm Road to the Trump parking lot is locked shut, with access impossible for anyone who is infirm.

Efforts to get planning permission rules enforced or to get access rights upheld have fallen on deaf ears at Aberdeenshire’s planning offices, Kelly and residents say. Kelly and many others have written to the local authority for years without success.

Of the Shire’s inaction Kelly says:

“In other cases we have seen people who flaunt planning laws dealt with swiftly and decisively. You could be forgiven for thinking there is a two-tier planning and countryside access system, one for the wealthy, and one for the poor.”

“I’ve written to Trump’s people; I’ve written to the Shire and the government. I am going to ask them again now to re-think making good all of the things that have gone wrong on the estate. It’s my understanding that finally Michael Forbes repaired the damage done to his water supply by Trump’s construction crews – which had happened years ago.  

The film ‘you’ve been trumped’ shows – among other things – the Forbes family, including Molly, having to carry water from a stream for their bathing, tea-making, you name it. The water supply was restored, but was unreliable according to Forbes.”

Forbes was voted ‘Top Scot of the Year’ by the public at Glenfiddich’s Spirit of Scotland Awards in 2012, to Donald Trump’s chagrin. Trump then banned the drink from all his property – with the result that the sales for the prestige whisky surged throughout Scotland.

Kelly continues:

“If I can’t get the Trump organisation, Aberdeenshire planning and the central government to get things made right by asking them nicely now, then I think they will find that some 550,000 people might now also be emailing them to ask for the changes and improvements we want. If we can’t get some swift, decisive action after years of writing about the problems, then the next step will be a protest at Menie.

“Of course, this would be a peaceful, legal event.

“Let’s hope those who can make good at the Estate will do so. For starters, that bund of earth must be taken away – cleanly and without making more mess for Susie Munro. Michael Forbes should immediately be allowed to access the beach in the same way, with the same boats/nets/vehicles as he enjoyed for years before Trump arrived. I think we should hear something positive and see results starting within 10 days.

“If not, I hope everyone’s email servers are up for a wee onslaught of correspondence, and perhaps another March of Menie demonstration, as had been held in the past. I do think the next such march might be a very large affair indeed.”

Kelly has sent a detailed email to Trump, Aberdeenshire Planning, the head of Aberdeenshire Council, and copied it to Nicola Sturgeon.

On the subject of Robert Gordon University and Dr Kennedy, Kelly said:

“Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, has been in contact, and has made it plain Dr Kennedy’s degree stands, even though he had handed it back to protest the honour bestowed on Trump. I find this and the revocation of Trump’s degree cause for celebration.”

Kelly adds:

“Today I saw on Facebook an open letter BrewDog wrote to Trump. It’s every bit as witty, scathing, and delightful as you’d come to expect. I started buying BrewDog beer from the first days it was made here in Aberdeenshire; James Watt and Martin Dickie sold their first brews from a market stall at Aberdeen’s farmers’ market. I expected great things from them, but never the degree of success they’ve had. 

“It’s kind of how I feel about the strength of support for the Parliamentary Petition. BrewDog also have a slogan, ‘Without us, we are Nothing’ – very apt for this petition I’d say. I’m proud to be one of the over 10,000 shareholders of this ethical, local, successful company.

“Amusingly, the post is attracting a number of posters telling the brewers to shut up/stay out of politics – and the same people are defending Trump’s right to ‘free speech’. It’s more than a little ironic, don’t you think? I don’t remember people saying the same thing when the company gave Putin the ‘BrewDog treatment’ over his anti-gay stance.

“Hate speech is not the same as free speech. That’s why this law, banning over 80 people previously, exists. Hate speech doesn’t work on the rational person who reads many sources of news and makes up their own mind; it falls on the ears of the mob and inflames.

“Occupy Democrats reports a surge in violence against Muslims in the US. To me, there is more than a strong chance this could have been fomented by the hate pouring out of a TV personality/presidential candidate’s mouth. I wonder whether Trump feels any responsibility for that? In my book he should. For me all rights come with responsibilities.

“Are some terrorists claiming their actions are Islamic? Undoubtedly. Are all people following a particular faith to be ostracized? Not if there is the least little thing I can do to stop it.”

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Dec 112015

The usual satire is suspended temporarily for a look at some of the comments Aberdeen Voice has had about some petitions. By Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly1Two days ago a petition went live to ban Trump from the UK for hate speech; 5 days before that, a petition to revoke Donald Trump’s honorary degree from RGU was started. I had hoped both petitions might get a little attention. They did.

That they exist is down to many factors; groups like Tripping up Trump, organisations like 38 Degrees, which created, promoted, supported the RGU petition. People like the Menie Estate residents and their experiences are never very far from my thoughts.

The celebrity George Takei (aka Sulu) had written a piece on how he’d never allow a situation like the WWII Japanese internment camps to arise again, and it was very moving.

Lots of protest songs, lots of protest art, and lots of individuals out there fighting their corners with their own petitions across every social ill there is.

I knew I’d have people agree with me; I knew people would condemn me. But I never, never thought RGU would revoke the degree so swiftly; I never thought 75,000 people would ask them to do so.

Not for a second did I think getting 100,000 people to take the time and trouble to sign and then confirm their signatures on the UK ban petition would be easy.

It reached that level within 24 hours of the petition being live, and as I’m writing, over a quarter of a million people want Donald Trump banned for hate speech. This is a huge goal for unity against racism and prejudice, whatever happens. If I could buy every signatory a BrewDog, then I would.

As to people condemning me, Britain First have a pro Donald Trump petition; and plenty of people are sending me / 38 Degrees comments against what’s happened.

Perhaps you’d like to see some of these comments, both good and bad. I’d love to do the usual satire about the Council, I’d love to praise the beauty of the Marischal Square project or the success of the Tree for Every Citizen scheme in establishing a beautiful forest on Tullos Hill. But that will have to wait. I’ve done over 20 phone/tv/radio interviews, and have one at 11:45 tonight.

Normal service will have to resume when things go quieter. For now, enjoy some of the many comments Aberdeen Voice and I have recieved.

The Good:

It was interesting to see how many people from other countries wish they could have signed the petitions.  As Steve Duncan put it:

“I was made aware of your petition to bar Donald Trump from traveling to Great Britain. As a U.S. citizen I’m filled with shame he represents our nation on the national stage in any fashion. I wish there was a way to include non-British signatories to your petition, as a way of impressing upon your Parliment the widespread consternation with Trump’s deplorable policy suggestions and opinions.

“Have you thought of offering an U.S. version of your petition, sort of an addendum to your efforts? Put that petition up in The States and I’ll venture a few hundred thousand would sign on. I certainly don’t want him sullying your grounds.”

The Bad

Boniface wrote the following; I am trying to figure out if they are better at satire than I’ll ever be, or if they’ve got a point:


You’ve got to respect the use of the capitals; I might not have taken notice of this one otherwise.

The Ugly:

A facebook message reads:

Jamie Moss

“Your just such a typical fucking gobby Middle class British woman who doesn’t like what someone says, about Banning Muslims, if u fully listen to what trump says, it’s to ban them until the visa situation is sorted out so we’re not letting fucking terrorists in, or is that what u want to do? Let “Refugees” into America without knowing who they are, you should just consider yourself a terrorist for that ???? typical middle class women”

– Alas Jamie!  You seem to have missed 99% of the other things Trump’s said in the past, and you are slightly misguided:  the petition came out before the anti-Muslim quote was even made. But full points on one score; yes, I’m a completely typical middle class woman.  If you say so.

A Mr A Dore has this to say. Alas! Like Jamie above, he doesn’t seem to know I am US born.

“Ms Kelly

How dare you interfere with our US politics and how dare you start a petition to refuse entry of D J Trump into the UK. You should mind your own business and realize the treats to your own homeland. My family fought the Muslim hoard in the third Crusade with Richard I and my antecedent Stephan de Longchamp routed Saladin. You seem to forget Islam has sought our Christian and Judaeo destruction for 1,400 years.

“Putin is considering using ICBMs against ISIS which will define exactly what Trump has declared when he put down the gauntlet against Islam. Please retract your stupid Nanny petition and go back to crochet.”

Personally, I’d love to have more time to crochet, sew and paint, but that will come later.

A succinct comment from Wayne M:

“Kelly is a moron,”

… and:

“Fuck that bitch Kelly.”

– Ah Wayne, it’s been said before. It’s this kind of structured, intellectual debate that makes writing worth it. Your mum must be very proud indeed.

Someone calling themselves George Bush from Bush City writes:-

“trunp is human and scared just like the rest of you of ISIS so block them from entering any country. Islam is not a christian view religion. duh..!” 

– Well, you learn something new every day.

A Ms Josephine Hawk writes:

“Soon to begin – a petition to ban the bitch Suzanne Kelly from the U.S. What happened in Paris and San Bernadino will be coming soon to neighborhood near you if the Muslims have anything to say about it. Remember when they burned cars by the hundreds in France. How is that assimilation working out for you in the U.K.?

“On a recent trip to Britain, I can’t count how many people said that the “country is not theirs anymore”. All you have to do is go to Heathrow to see that. Some of you politically correct mother fuckers need to wake up before it is too late for you.” 

– When I find that petition to ban me from the US, I’ll share the link. Did the rest of you know that Heathrow has international people moving through it? I should have been told.

Louis Friend wrote:

“So it’s only freedom of speech when it’s the type of speech you deem to be correct? At the end of the day more people didn’t sign the petition than did. I can’t help but feel there is a vindictive element to this petition, you didn’t stop his “ecological disaster” of a golf course so we will have our round two with this petition. There are actual hate preachers in this country who publicly call for the destruction of Britain.

“Where is you petition for them to be deported and banned? Seems that a rich white male oh and American makes an easier target for the socialist left leaning lunatics. I don’t agree with what Trump said, but I agree that he has a right to say what he thinks If you don’t like it?…change the channel.”

– Yes Louis, I should have given up when I didn’t win the environmental battle, because if at first you don’t win, give up. Free speech is of course the same as saying anyone can say anything they like, whether it incites violence and hatred. Thanks – had thought there was some kind of difference. But some of us socialist left-leaning lunatics are actually American. And white.

And for the record I’ve objected to hate speech wherever it comes from. I should just admit I didn’t save the sand dunes and the Menie environment, sit back and do nothing as someone filled with prejudice gets celebrated with degrees and honours, and who wants to have their finger on the button. Seems a good plan.

The legal expert:

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

And there you have it, a rich vein of responses. Finally here are one or two I’ll fondly remember:

The humourist:

“Rather than bar him from entering Great Britain, perhaps you could admit him and then immediately send him in exile to one of those tiny little rocky islands far off the coast of Scotland, the ones that are only like twenty by twenty feet or so. Drop food for him every few weeks, but that’s it. He’ll have to stay on his tiny island until he apologizes.

“Please, Britain, you are our ally. Couldn’t you take him off our hands for us here across the pond? The great majority of we Americans do not want Adolph — er I mean Donald over here any longer”

The Kind:

Umm Arif on Facebook wrote:

“Just wanted to say … Thank You and my God bless you. A [A Human, A British, A tax payer (pay 20K+ tax per year and proud of it) / A Muslim] from London.  Have a great day!”  

– some of the slightly intolerant might want to mull this one over.

Clem Smith on Facebook wrote:

“Oh, man. I just read about the petition you started to keep Trump from entering the UK. I have to say I am so happy to see that! I’m from the US and he is not well-liked here, either. I love that you started that petition! I so hope it is successful! (And I hope you see this message so you know he is not representative of most Americans. In fact, he makes me wish I could move … out of America.)”

Finally, I thought this was very sweet; I leave you with one more from Jane Doe. I knew I’d get abuse; that’s what happens to people who stick their head above the trench. If I get any that is in any way rational, I’ll let you know. I wish there were space for all the many kind words I’m getting. Maybe later.

“Please tell Suzanne Kelly THANK YOU from all rationale, compassionate, emotionally mature, mentally stable, humane Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Green Party members, etc. etc. in the USA that we completely agree with her, are truly appreciative of her petition, would sign it if we lived in the UK, are appalled beyond belief at the utter audacity of Mr. Trump, and view him only as a shameful representation of a dangerous, bigoted, narrow minded sector of our country now given a powerful voice on an international platform.

“While some fear what will unfold during the course of his now violent campaign activities, we now know we have active partners who also see the urgency around condemning and controlling his outrageous behavior.”

Next week – a return to the usual Old Susannah satirical column, unless I’ve been deported, hung, drawn and/or quartered.

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Dec 032015

trump106featWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Donald Trump’s latest attacks on religious groups, nationalities, and people with physical challenges spurred Aberdeen-based campaigner Suzanne Kelly to take action.

Kelly has launched petitions asking Home Secretary Teresa May to block Trump from
the UK for his hate speech, and asking Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University to strip Trump of the honorary doctorate it bestowed on him.

Text of Kelly’s draft petition to the UK Government is waiting approval; it reads:

“The signatories believe Donald J Trump should be banned from UK entry for his continued, unrepentant hate speech and unacceptable behaviour. His unacceptable behaviour is well documented, and we feel it foments racial, religious and nationalistic intolerance which should not be welcome in the UK.

“The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. This same principle should apply to Donald J Trump. We cannot see how the United Kingdom can condone his entry to the country when many people have been barred for less.

“If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”

A link to the pending UK Government petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114003/sponsors/nGGS2xREOf7xenNcRh

Campaigner Suzanne Kelly contributes to online newspaper Aberdeen Voice (www.aberdeenvoice.com), and has written a report analyzing Trump’s presence at the Menie Estate and has followed his career.

She said:

“The government is to be congratulated for keeping people who preach hatred and intolerance out of the UK. If Trump doesn’t fit the criteria of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ that has kept so many others out, I’d very much like to know why. It’s getting to the point that I can’t think of any group he hasn’t made negative remarks about, but some of his recent comments seem to me to hit out at religious freedom, people with physical disabilities and whole nations.

“I don’t know where this man belongs, but for me, it’s definitely not in the White House, and it’s definitely not as a welcome guest in the UK. I hope he’ll lose his ‘Global Scot’ status and his honorary degree from Robert Gordon University, too.

“I’m not alone in feeling that any group that would willingly endorse him at this point is on shaky moral ground. Any UK groups that receive taxpayer funding should not align with this person, and should re-think their positions.

“When I first discussed launching petitions on these issues, all the feedback was positive. In fact, there are so many people around the globe who want to stand up and be counted that a second petition open to everyone, not just UK citizens, has been created as well, demanding that Robert Gordon University revoke Trump’s honorary degree.”

The text of this petition reads:

“We respectfully request that Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen) strips Donald Trump of the honorary degree it bestowed on him with immediate effect.”We feel that Donald Trump’s unrepentant, persistent verbal attacks on various groups of people based on nationality, religion, race and physical abilities are a huge detriment to RGU. Hate speech must not have a place in academia, in politics or on the world stage. We are confident RGU will agree with the petitioners, and act swiftly.

“We would also note the brave opposition of Dr David Kennedy to this degree at the time it was bestowed.”

A link to this petition can be found here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/donald-j-trump-revoke-rgu-degree

Kelly also plans to petition her local and national governments to cease all projects which join Trump’s business interests and taxpayer money.

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Sep 072015

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

DictionaryApologies for the late running of this service. One or two little non-Aberdeen Voice responsibilities have kept me tied up. I’ve got about 12 days left to get artwork ready for a group show at Under The Hammer, and there’s much to do. If anyone has experience making talking Donald Trump and Friends dolls, I could use a pointer or two.

This will be as respectful and tasteful a collection of art as befits our presidential candidate; the man who ‘is the evidence’ against windfarms, and who is, as he puts it liked by ‘the blacks… the Latinos… and the educated blacks…’ We women of course love ‘em. But I digress.

I had a little visit to BrewDog’s Ellon factory bar, and enjoyed a nice chat with Stephen, one of the brewers. He’s even given me one of his own home brew ciders which is ageing nicely in my beer/brew library. Thanks Stephen.

Could things get any more vibrant and dynamic we wonder; I don’t think I’ve written since the astonishing development on Belmont Street. Fashionable Café Culture has Belmont Street! Result! Even if only until 6pm.

This development has made us the envy of Europe, not least for the festive warning signs we’ve put up to let motorists know that there are tables and chairs out in force. Not even some Inspired bunting could add further festive cheer. Do our city safety officers know something about chairs the rest of us don’t? Chairs – specifically those dangerous plastic ones – were on the list of forbidden items back when the Commonwealth Games torch festivities overwhelmed us all.

We’ll look back on the people barriers, list of banned items (pets, chairs, food, drink), the hordes of security forces outnumbering the punters, and happily tell our children’s children what a safe event it was.

While we were all clamboring to get into the gardens, for some reason people are clamouring to leave their own countries to come to seek new lives in Europe. What’s going on? What are we to call them? What’s caused this? Perhaps some definitions may help

Migrants: (English plural noun) – Human beings; men, women, boys, girls infants trying to find a place to live.

A nice little collective noun, useful for dehumanising humans – just a group of faceless individuals on the move.

Refugees: (English plural noun) – Human beings; men, women, boys, girls infants trying to find a place to live.

Another nice little collective noun; avoids any collective responsibility we have for how they got there.

Cockroaches: (English plural noun) – vermin insects

Now we’re talking – large groups of the hungry? Cockroaches it is then. Dehumanising people into something less than human is a great propaganda tactic.

It’s been used by the greats: Hitler, and the folks that brought you genocide in Rwanda used this word – so did our dearly beloved Katie Hopkins. (Ah Rwanda – genocide, famine, aids, other epidemics, lack of schools. And our very own Ian Wood is holding onto some £50,000,000 to this day, until he figures out how to help the existing Rwanda landowners grow more tea. That’s what I’d do if I had a few spare millions).

We’ve even seen the word vermin used here in Aberdeen by our fearless office Peter Leonard when describing the Tullos deer he wanted shot of so he pushed to have them shot. He called these herbivores vermin so often that even the SNH had to tell him to cut it out.

Propaganda is just a useful way to tell people what they should be thinking. Have a look at old columns, Old Susannah #72 – Propaganda Special and Old Susannah No 172 – Propaganda 101 Part 2 for a helpful guide to the dark arts of persuasion.

Katie Hopkins: (Improper English Noun) – Scholar, Renaissance Woman, empath, philosopher, writer

Hooray for people who tell it like it is. People who aren’t afraid to stick to their misanthropic, far right wing ideas are just what this world needs. At least someone had the guts to call these migrants cockroaches.

It’s a courageous thing to stand up for what’s right. Katie famously wrote this some time back:

“No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.

 “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.” (newspapers ad nauseum – literally)

However, not all the migrants/cockroaches got the memo, because 800 of them drowned within days of her penning this great, well thought out column. Untold thousands died since. Maybe they could have withstood a nuclear bomb, but thousands aren’t making it past the people traffickers, the waves, and the squalor of the refugee/cockroach camps. (I am just jealous you see; after all, she’s blonde, she’s been on TV, and she gets paid to write her column).

I think she’s on to something there though – nuclear bombs. I wonder if Iain Duncan Smith isn’t thinking along those lines? I know he is doing his best to keep these things out of the UK. Here’s how:

Detention Centres: (English compound plural noun) – holiday resorts for migrants, refugees, cockroaches

Anyone who gets this far ought to be grateful if they make it to a detention centre. There are lots of activities to participate in. The centres even have nice names, like Yarls Wood.

Channel 4 did a bit of filiming inside: this was very, very wrong. No one – not even the UN’s expert on violence against women – is allowed to film. I think this must just be a case of respecting the refugee/cockroache’s privacy, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Channel 4 is pretty left wing anyway, and their slant on this would have you believe that detainees (a kind of refugee, don’t worry about it) don’t get good medical care, are abused, and wind up with psychological problems evidenced by self-harming. Probably just some kind of cultural phenomenon thingy, I wouldn’t worry. The kids, instead of being grateful for the lack of schooling, are said to be at serious psychological risks.

Anyway, if you can be bothered, here’s a link to some Channel 4 propaganda – I’m sure it’s much more fun than it might look

Those that make it through get to live a life of luxury inside detention centres. The kids don’t have to worry about school much – then when they turn 18, they get a free one-way ticket back to where their parents tried to leave behind in the first place.

Some of the people being returned object to having to leave the luxury camps, and make wild claims like they will be tortured if sent back to countries where torture takes place.

Now, how I wonder would third world dictators get the equipment to subdue, kill, torture, gas and otherwise deal with their civilians?

British Arms Export Sector: (Modern English compound noun) – Area of enterprise responsible for selling UK produced arms, ammunition, chemical weapons, restraints, chains, etc. to countries outwith the UK.

The UK sold £12 billion pounds’ worth of weaponry and restraints abroad last year. You’d get quite a few granite webs for that kind of money, I can tell you. It seems completely ungrateful that with all that lovely hardware floating around the third world, people aren’t staying put and enjoying how much safer we’ve made things for them.

Where have we sold the goods?

“Britain has supplied £12bn of arms to some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, China and Belarus, a report by MPs has revealed.

“Almost half of all exports were sent to Israel.

“The UK also sent arms to countries who have tense relations with Britain, including Russia, which still supplies weapons to Syria’s President Assad, and Argentina, despite its threats over the Falklands.

“Sales to Sri Lanka raise “very serious questions”, the report by MPs says. Three licences still remain valid for Syria.

“The UK sold arms to almost all of the countries which the Foreign Office blacklisted as human rights abusers.” http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/17/uk-sells-arms-to-worlds-w_n_3608760.html

It’s not as if this were some self-interested British cartel enriching itself off of human suffering and making countries uninhabitable for the citizenry. We don’t sell to North Korea, so I think we can be proud of what we’re doing.

But somehow, I can’t occasionally wonder if there might be a link between selling guns, shackles, tear gas and weapons to despots, and people trying to get to the UK.

I even once wondered if sending all this hardware abroad instead of sending teachers, books, farmers and seeds and medicine, etc. might be a better way to get a secure world than torturing people into submission. And if you can believe it, there was this time I wondered if resentment in the third world for the UK could somehow be connected with our arming the despots that keep things in order.

Happily these thoughts faded as soon as I started being a devout reader of Hopkins.

One thing I don’t get, is why don’t these people just stay where they are? Palestine has some nice scenic areas. ISIS keeps law and order maintained (as long as you do exactly what you’re told and believe as they do, and aren’t Christian, gay, or heaven forbid Jewish or a woman with ideas of independence). Then there’s Syria. Why are these migrants/cockroaches migrating out of Syria?

Climate Change: (Modern English pseudo-science) – Idea that we are somehow changing our planet’s climate

As far-fetched ideas go, this climate change is quite a piece of propaganda. There’s no evidence for it, and no evidence that it’s got anything to do with Syria. Sure, a bit of land known historically as ‘The Fertile Crescent’ is drying out, laying waste to thousands of Syrian farms. Sure, there’s famine. But that’s no real reason for migrants to migrate away like cockroaches in to the cities, is it?

It’s all nonsense, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway, just to show you that for every reasonable columnist like Katie H, there are a few crackpots out there. Here’s a quote that might entertain you:

“Syria sits in a band of relatively moist and productive land in the Middle East, known as the Fertile Crescent. But between 2006 and 2010, the region was hit by the worst multiyear drought since 1940

“Syria gets almost all of its rain during its six-month winter, from November to April. In 2007-08, winter rainfall across Syria fell by a third, with some areas receiving no rain at all….,

“As the drought continued, farmers and their families abandoned their land and headed to urban areas for work. Around 1.5 million people migrated to Syrian cities during the drought, adding to the high population growth and recent arrival of 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqi refugees…

“The growing urban populations resulted in overcrowding, unemployment and crime, but the worsening situation was neglected by the Syrian government, the study says. This growing unrest, the researchers say, was the trigger for the uprising…. “

“Dr Peter Gleick, an expert on water and conflict at the Pacific Institute, says the evidence for the impact of climate change on security is mounting:

“The war in Syria has many causes, from ancient enmities, religious and ideological disputes, economic and social pressures, and political tensions. But there is growing evidence that pressures on water resources associated with poor management, increasing populations, and human-caused climate changes are now influencing regional security in new and disturbing ways.”

I wouldn’t put much store in this ‘Dr Peter Gleick’s’ opinions anyway – that’s a pretty foreign-sounding name he’s got there, don’t you think?

Pretty much, these people brought their problems on themselves, just like the Oklahoma farmers did in the 1930s. In true American style, most of the displaced farmers had a jolly time of it seeking work and lives elsewhere. A guy named Steinbeck has a little comedy booklet on this happy episode called The Grapes of Wrath, if you’ve got enough time after reading your daily serving of Hopkins to want to read any further.

Just remember back to World War II, when England decided to send its children to live abroad. We did the world a favour by sharing our English youth. Let’s not let anyone use the evacuations as an excuse to let these migrant/refugee/cockroaches in here. Some things just don’t cut both ways.

So there you have it. As an aside, some well-intentioned I’m sure Aberdeen folk have been collecting clothes and goods to send to the migrants. Many of the migrants are off on holiday in France in a place called Calais.

The people behind this campaign are really too numerous to mention – but a few include Iain Richardson and Pat Ballantyne (both musicians, so probably left-wing types), The Café 52 Bothwell clan (trouble makers with form), a lady named Shelley Milne, ACT Aberdeen, The drama school and its students (obviously left wing). Clearly Katie Hopkins still has her work cut out for her.

If you want to give, there is still time – just of course to get on the band wagon and not because you actually care about these migrants, mind. Details of remaining collections here and here.

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Aug 072015

With thanks to With thanks to Lee Robb, Caseworker to Christian Allard MSP.

Christian Allard MSP at Holyrood2French-born MSP, Christian Allard (North-East Scotland), has submitted a motion calling for politicians and media commentators alike to “watch their language” with regards to referring to the situation in Calais and the people involved.

The call comes in response to recent coverage of the refugee situation in Calais.

Mr Allard has expressed his disappointment towards the derogatory terms used to refer to what he describes as “desperate people in desperate need of a new life”.

Commenting, Christian Allard said:

“We have a UK Government that callously responds to desperate people who are desperately seeking a new start in life by calling for higher security fences and more police dogs. David Cameron does not recognise that the people he is neglecting are human beings.

“I am disgusted by the response of the UK Government so far. Not only does the UK fall far short of meeting its quota on refugees, but its government reacts in such a manner of contempt.”

In response to the increased attempts of refugees to cross the Mediterranean, proposals from the European Union was that member-states would increase their asylum seeker quotas to 40,000 – a proposal that the UK Government has dismissed.

In 2014, the UK had 31,000 refugees applying for asylum. In contrast, France had 62,000 applicants, and Germany had 202,000.

Mr. Allard added:

“This negative attitude is reflected in the language used when referring to these refugees. They are not migrants; they are refugees fleeing their homeland. Many of them are from Syria – the alternative is to stay in a country that UK allies are bombing.

“To hear a Prime Minister refer to these people as a ‘swarm’ was totally unacceptable. The derogatory rhetoric from some government officials and media channels alike has got to stop. That is why I submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament calling for those commenting to watch their language.”


David Cameron remarks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33714282
EU proposals: theguardian-40000-asylum-seekers-migration-quota-syria-uk
Europa asylum statitstics: http://ec.europa.eu/index.php/Asylum_statistics

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Sep 192014

In the second article of an ongoing series, the racism permeating the UK’s police forces is examined. By Suzanne Kelly.

Police line pic2 Justice is often depicted as blindfolded as she weighs the evidence in her scales, her sword clutched to dispense an impartial, fair sentence.

The evidence suggests a different reality, one wherein suspects, victims, even police officers who are not white males still have the cards stacked against them.

Perhaps there is a clue to race relations in the mix of police officers? If we are meant to believe that police forces in the UK have worked on their well documented ‘institutionalised racism’ over the years, there is absolutely no sign of this in the 2013 Scottish police equality mainstreaming report:


“The percentage of minority ethnic police officers was 1% at 31/03/2010 and remains static at 28/02/2013.

“The percentage of minority ethnic police staff was 1% at 31/03/2010 and remains static at 28/02/2013.

“The percentage of minority ethnic special constables was 2% in 2010 decreasing to 1% in 2013.

“Note: Minority Ethnic figures throughout the document include those who have self-classified their ethnic origin as Mixed Ethnic Group, Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Other Asian Background, African, Other African Background, Caribbean, Black, Other Caribbean or Black Background, Arab, Other Ethnic Group.” 

The same document reports that in 2013 there were 17,830 police officers, 7,411 police staff and 1,371 special constables. Therefore, there were 1,783 minority police officers, 741 minority background police staff and a mere 137 special constables were from minority backgrounds.

If there is reticence in certain communities to joining the police forces, perhaps the tale of former police officer Gurpal Virdi has some bearing. Virdi was accused of sending racist hate mail to himself. The police claimed that he was disgruntled at being passed over for promotion. It was demonstrated he was not around when some of this mail was sent.

This historic case in England is an interesting contrast to today’s Aberdeen story of DC Duthie, cleared of breaching data protection. Someone used his user name and his personal password, illegally looked at personal data pertaining to Duthie’s ex partner and her family. But he’s been found innocent this week; it was apparently too difficult to prove who else had his password who would have had a motive for this breach.

As the Scottish Police Federation’s website reported on 17th July of this year:

“Police Scotland is under ­scrutiny over how it investigates its own officers after it emerged that out of hundreds of complaints of racism against the force, fewer than 10 had been upheld. New figures reveal that, of almost 300 formal complaints of racist behaviour against police officers in the past five-and-a-half years, nine were upheld, two of which led to misconduct procedures. Since Police Scotland was ­established in April last year, one of 78 complaints of racist behaviour has been upheld, with the matter “concluded by explanation”. In the same period, 47 of the complaints were not upheld, with the remainder abandoned, withdrawn or still being investigated.”

This is a damning indictment of the system.

Since the UK police forces demonstrably tolerate internal racism (and certainly seem keen to cover it up, as the SPF’s website reports), then how are the police behaving towards citizens?

Stop and Search operations – a Black and White situation.

If you are not white, you are more likely to be stopped and searched by police in the UK than if you’re white. In some parts of the UK, the figures are staggering:

“Black and Asian people are still far more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales, a report has said.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in some areas black people were 29 times more likely to be stopped and searched.

Overall, black people were six times as likely as white people to be stopped.

The commission said the disproportion between different ethnic groups remained “stubbornly high.   … The figure for these searches fell to 1,137,551 in 2011-12 from 1,222,378 the previous year.”

These alarmingly high figures demonstrate that some police officers are arbitrarily using the controversial stop and search policies in a racist way – this sad fact is undeniable. Scotland is also searching young children – but the way in which the system treats children will be the focus of a future article.

The high profile cases of the recent past make it clear that racism can have fatal consequences.

Jean Charles de Menezes.

The police shot dead Mr de Menezes as he sat on a tube train. The excuse seems to be that:

a. it was shortly after the London tube bombings and
b. he had a backpack. (It is frightening that the police thought shooting someone on a crowded tube who might have had a bag loaded with explosives was wise – they risked hundreds of lives had the pack been a bomb).

We know the police testimony about the surveillance, the log, and what happened on the tube train was deeply flawed; the log was altered, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Commission give a chronology in their finding report which opens with the dates of the tube bombing and the failed bombing.

This, in the eyes of many, taints the entire report: millions of people used the tube the day de Menezes was executed by multiple police gunshots – he and his murder had absolutely nothing to do with the bombings except in the overactive imagination of police, who decided that the detection of potential crime meant to kill the suspect.

As the BBC reported:

“The report says 17 witnesses said they had not heard officers shout a clear warning before opening fire.

“The report makes 16 recommendations for change, and says the Met has already begun acting upon them.

“It also says police radios deployed on the day did not work underground, a problem that was first identified in the 1987 King’s Cross fire.

“It also reveals that investigators had asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to look at possible charges against the two officers who shot Mr de Menezes, and the commander on the day, Cressida Dick. The CPS decided not to bring charges against the individuals.

“The IPCC said the Met had to rethink policies around deploying firearms officers and critical language governing the manner in which they stopped a suspect.

Mr Hardwick said the IPCC’s investigators believed that Sir Ian Blair played a key role in delaying their work.

“The commissioner attempted to prevent us carrying out an investigation. In my view much of the avoidable difficulty of the Stockwell incident has caused the Met Police arose from the delay in referral [to the IPCC].”
Stockwell One – Investigation into the shootingof Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station on 22 July 2005.

The jury were not allowed to put in an ‘unlawful killing’ verdict. Sir Ian Blair refused to resign his police position at the time. No police officers were in any disciplined, although one was to be ‘spoken to’.

The policy behind this man’s death is Operation Kratos policy – a shoot to kill policy meant to deal with terrorists. With more and more police routinely carrying weapons (even in the usually peaceful Scottish Highlands), and with most stop and search policy targets being from minority backgrounds, we may well be on a hiding to a volatile future where race trumps rights.

It’s bad enough that de Menezes was killed. The Institute of Race Relations keeps a list of those who have died in police custody – it is a heady mixture of unexplained serious (sometimes fatal) injuries, lack of medical care, apparent suicides.

The Ballad of Stephen Lawrence.

The sad story of Stephen Lawrence, a bright young black teenager killed by a gang of racist white youths in 1993, is widely known. It was widely reported at the time too that the police were less than meticulous and thorough in their investigation of the suspects:

“Met detective Paul Steed, 49, tampered with key times and dates on an evidence log, it was confirmed. A Met spokesman said a misconduct board demoted a detective from the rank of sergeant to constable and fined him. …A Kent Police inquiry took place into the case in 1997, followed by the Macpherson Report in 1999, which found evidence of “pernicious and institutionalised racism” in the Metropolitan Police.” 

Insult to Injury, and Rights go out the window.

Imagine your son had been held in a tube seat and shot multiple times by police – when 17 witnesses say he had not been warned and had done nothing wrong. Or imagine your teenage son had been killed by racist thugs, and evidence was tampered with. Things couldn’t get much worse. But they did.

Police spies tried to discredit witnesses, and police spied on the de Menezes and Lawrence families and friends. This was done using our tax money, in the name of keeping us safe. Enter the unilaterally acting ‘Special Demonstration Squad’.

This unit allegedly is so important and so secret it answers to no one – not even the most highly placed Met officers, who we are being led to believe didn’t know what was going on. This convenient ignorance might remind you of the famous scene in Casablanca. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is being chastised by the chief of police for allowing gambling at the bar.

A casino staff member interrupts the conversation to give the police chief his winnings. If we are to believe that the top brass have no clue what is going on, then:

a. they are incompetent from the top downwards,
b. they are not in control, and
c. we have a police force that is unaccountable, anarchic, and as demonstrated – racist.

In an excerpt from a Mirror article:

“Yard chiefs were potentially negligent in their “astonishing” failure to monitor the activities of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

“A report published today found the SDS [which] had gathered intelligence on 18 campaign groups.

They included those set up by friends and family of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager murdered in a racist attack, and Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in error by police in the wake of the July 7 bombings.

“The family of Ricky Reel, who drowned shortly after being racially abused in London in 1997, were also targeted.

“Relatives of Mr de Menezes said in a statement: “It is shameful that the Met spied on the legitimate activities of a grieving family who were trying to get the answers they deserved.”

“… Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon said … “What is surprising to me is the number of people, the most senior levels in the Met working in covert policing, working in public order command, who did not know about the unit at all.”

“One reference was to an unnamed person planning to go to a funeral, even though “there was no intelligence to indicate that the funeral would have been anything other than a dignified event”, the report said, and Mr Creedon confirmed that there were “more personal examples” 

Summing Up

The police acknowledge their racism, but it seems far from being remedied, going by cases such as Virdi’s and the small number of minorities represented on the force. The police virtually executed a helpless Jean Charles de Menezes, and tampered with evidence which might have helped bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to a swift justice.

The police have had virtually no comeback from any of this. The police do however want more powers and want to carry guns routinely.

We need to talk about the police.

The next article will delve into the world of the SDS and other covert operations, and cases which have removed any pretense the police might make to operating within the law or respecting basic human rights.

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Jun 202014

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

DictionaryIt may seem like a lovely summer here in Aberdeen, but depending on  who you believe, we need to be on the lookout for dangerous foreign invaders of all kinds. Our lives, jobs and even our gardens are not safe from alien interlopers of one sort or another. More on that later.

However, along with locals and even some foreigners, I’ll brave the ever-present dangers to go to both the Gray’s School of Arts Degree show (Friday) and BrewDog’s Annual General Meeting (Saturday).

Apparently something is taking place in Brazil; it involves a bunch of foreigners getting together to play football.

This kind of foreign invasion is a good thing; it brings lots of investment apparently, unless you’ve the misfortune to be one of Brazil’s poor who are being turfed out of the makeshift homes that stand in the way of the beautiful game. 

Still, FIFA knows what’s best. That nice Mr Blatter does seem to have one or two critics of late; I can’t imagine why.

Let’s look at these foreign threats by way of a definition or two.

Foreign intervention: (Mod English Phrase) – An involvement in a sovereign state’s affairs by another state, body or army.

Back in the day, you may remember how the US and the UK kindly went to help make things better in Iraq. Tony Blair said our little intervention was the right thing to do; he should have known – he wrote most of the dossier supporting the case for us getting in there.

I can’t imagine why, but things don’t seem to have worked out quite like Tony said they would. He wants us to go back in, or rather to bomb a few people. We’ve never gone wrong listening to him in the past perhaps we should do as he says now.

There was a tiny parade of a million or so people in London back in the day, asking him not to go to war, but he bravely stood his ground, and took us to where we are today. Remember, it’s only a foreign invasion if it’s happening in the UK, not if it’s the UK going somewhere else and lending a friendly helping hand.

It’s important to remember there are good foreigners and bad ones.

The good ones want to come over and buy up our land, utilities, newspapers and other media, and of course businesses. The bad ones want to come over and work for us, live in decent rooms without getting ripped off, be treated fairly and other unreasonable demands. It’s very important to remember too that all of the rich ones are not involved in crime, and all of the non-wealthy immigrants are criminals.

We’re open for business – if you’ve got the right connections. Thankfully, we have all sorts of level-headed politicians looking out for our interests.

And UK residents who live abroad? Well, we’re not invading foreigners – we’re expats. That’s different.

But possibly the worst kinds of foreigners are the ones that are set to take over.

Romanians: (Proper noun) People born in, living in, or descended from citizens of Romania.

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, has seized on yet another group of foreigners that we must be wary of, the wily, dangerous Romanians.  Here’s a little clip of Nigel explaining all to Jeremy Paxman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynq_KqlmHIY .

Nigel explains that Romanian organised criminals are the most prolific and dangerous in Europe. Paxman then quotes some statistics saying they’re no such thing. Paxman asks more questions; Farage gives brilliant answers that are not at all xenophobic, reactionary or racist. Farage worries that Romanian hordes will come to the UK and we’ll be inundated with their organised crime gangs.

It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it will any day.

Paxman also asks some questions about UKIP members’ homophobic statements; Farage explains this is all down to the fact the members in question are old, and from a time when homosexuality was illegal – so it’s fair enough if they’re anti-gay. I’m sure you’re as happy as  I am with UKIP’s recent political gains. I wonder what’s next for this forward-looking, inclusive, tolerant party?   In the meantime forget about the politicians taking more than their share of expenses, billionaires avoiding taxes that should support our infrastructure – it’s Romanians we should be thinking about.

Invasive species: (Modern English compound noun) Flora and Fauna not native to the UK but which can be found here.

They’re over here, and they will soon outnumber their British counterparts. We’ve heard about the muntjack deer – dubbed the ‘Asbo’ deer by one of our SNH experts, publicity-shy Jamie.

But now an imminent scientist – who isn’t at all a headline-grabbing empire builder – has identified ‘the biggest threat to our ecology’.

Is it urban sprawl and the loss of green space in favour of tarmac? Is it that Scotland’s roads exceed acceptable levels of pollution for many years? Is it climate change? The decline of bee populations which may hurt pollination and crops? Rising sea levels? Godzilla?  Mothra? Obviously not – our biggest threat is the Rhododendron.

‘Destroy All Rhododendrons in Scotland’ is the battle-cry of scientist (so he must be taken seriously and will have no ulterior motives and won’t let any personal feelings interfere with his objective, rational position) James Fenton. What are Rhododendrons to him?

“It is probably the biggest ecological issue for Scotland. If we did nothing and came back in a thousand years, the landscape would be just one dark rhododendron forest.”

Well, he’s a scientist and he says so, so that’s that. He also says this invading foreign threat creates so many seeds that its spread is exponential. Old Susannah might then wonder why we’re not already in his supposed Rhododendron forest.

I guess we’re meant to think that there have never been any plants that naturalised in the UK and that were beneficial. I guess we’re supposed to forget about all the foreign confiers planted up and down the countryside (taking away many meadowlands in the process).

I guess the fact that many of the rhododendrons that are supposed to be destroyed support wildlife that has otherwise been displaced; bees seem rather partial to the flowers for one thing. I’m sure the bee population won’t mind if we take out this source of food immediately. No, Mr Fenton sounds completely calm, rational and logical to me.

Thankfully, he also seems to be something of an economics expert. For funnily enough, there’s money to be had by eradicating the Rhododendron Menace. According to the Herald article:

“The plant has been eradicated from some areas, including Knoydart in the West Highlands, where £250,000 in grants paid for a ten-year programme using local workers. Fenton said an eradication programme would boost the economy of rural areas.”

Funnily enough, the SNH will soon release its Rhododendron strategy.

Funnily enough, every time the SNH comes up with a new animal or plant to demonise, they also want to demand the right to tell private landowners what to do, and there is coincidentally a wee bit of money involved. Their guidelines on the deer population, including the invading threat that is the muntjack deer included a policy of ‘advising’ landowners how many deer should be slaughtered.

The landowners recently have disagreed with the SNH deer population figures, and don’t want to shoot as many deer as the SNH would like. Well, who are you going to believe – the people who are on the land and see the deer, or the guys with science degrees sitting in their offices writing papers, and getting their names into the papers who propose increasing the SNH’s powers?

These same scientists came up with the earth-shattering guideline that if a doe is shot, any fawns should be shot as well or they may starve. This came as a huge revelation to the people on the front lines of deer management; they’d never have guessed it.

Perhaps I’m wrong to see a pattern here, but it seems

1.  boffins get together and write a policy.

2.  the policy identifies a species of plant or animal that the SNH wants to get rid of or greatly curtail.

3.  articles appear in the media, happily going along with what the SNH wants.

4.  guidelines tell public and private sectors that they ‘should’ manage the plant/animal in question.

5.  grants spring up like mushrooms to help destroy the offending natural life form.

6.  guidelines turn into laws wit the SNH demanding control over private lands irrespective of the landowner’s own observations and wishes.

As the asthma and respiratory disease rates increase (and a link between dementia and particulate pollution has just been made), as green spaces disappear (or become nothing more than petri dishes for whatever style of land management is in vogue at the time), as the seas are increasingly polluted, as the bird, fish and bee populations diminish, it’s good to know that the real culprit in our environment’s destruction has been identified: death to all Rhododendrons.

Of course Fenton’s offered no explanation of what will become of the species now depending on the plant, or what will go in place of the destroyed invaders (perhaps we’ll just have holes in the ground). But he can’t be expected to think of everything, can he.

Old Susannah’s out now to look for Romanian crime gangs, Rhododendrons and other invading species. By the time I make it to my front door, I half expect that the ‘exponentially increasing’ Rhododendrons will have covered my street, but I’ll try and hack my way through the foliage, mindful that Romanian thieves may well be hiding in the boughs.

Thank goodness we have Fenton and Farage to look out for our welfare and propose sensible reforms.

Next week:  a report on the Rhododendron crisis, and an analysis on how many new plants have sprung up.

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Jun 132014

Old Susannah’s news round up of current events local and larger, online and offline. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryNow that summer has arrived, things are heating up, at least in Aberdeen Town Hall, and on Facebook. There are a mere 99 days to go before the referendum on Scotland’s future. I for one will be sad to see the end of the friendly debates, good humoured disagreements, and logical discourse.

One or two interesting memes have made the rounds on Facebook (memes are digital posters, usually pictures and text, trying to prove something, to mislead, or just to promote laughter. Hard to tell with some of them what the desired result is).

More on that later.

Rick Mayall has passed away; an alternative comic who packed a heck of a lot into his 56 years.  The Young Ones, Bottom and The New Statesman were among his great comic works.

If you missed The New Statesman, it followed the life of the fictional MP Alan B’Stard.  B’Stard the MP was elitist, completely dishonest, devious, greedy, self-centred,  egotistical, ambitious beyond his talents, and cared for no one but himself.  As such, it will be hard for any of us today to imagine such an MP  could exist, but it was a hilarious series at the time.

Enjoy some of Mr Mayall’s best moments here.

In a surprising development – literally a development – those nice people at Muse want to move the goal posts on their St Nicholas House project. Actually they don’t want to move the goal posts; they want to move (or remove) bits and  pieces of Provost Skene’s House to make their shiny new office complex even more spectacular and original than it already is.

Provost Skene’s House is after all not as pretty as a glass box, and it’s very inconveniently located. You might think that since 2,500 people all contributed to a public consultation that this is a bit late in the day to start dismantling Provost Skene’s footprint. After all, it’s not as if a public consultation in this city would ever be disregarded.

Of course, there was the biased ‘consultation’ on the short list of 6 designs for Union Terrace Gardens; we were not allowed to vote for leaving the gardens alone.

Then again, there was the consultation for 6 possible routes for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. Tens of thousands of pounds were spent on roadshows displaying the proposals, the public voted on these routes – and then at the end of the day, a brand new route was invented to cut through the greenbelt (what’s left of it) and chosen with no public say.

Then there was the public consultation on planting a tree for every citizen.

The slight problem there was that the city planned in advance to exterminate a herd of deer to plant the trees on a rubbish tip where a previous attempt had failed and cost £43,800, and the city decided  not to burden the public with these minor details during the consultation, and when the fact came out at last, they refused to listen to the 3500 people and community councils that objected.

Sustainable Development refers to building thousands of homes in boring greenbelt land

Yes, a consultation is an important exercise to go through here in Aberdeen. If you do want to comment on Muse’s plans for Provost Skene’s house, I’m sure your views will be listened to (I’m sure this consultation will be different); you can do so here (just put in reference number 140755.

The responsible department is aptly called ‘Planning and Sustainable Development’.

The word ‘Planning’ refers to all the well thought out, expertly organised projects that never deviate from the approved designs (from the council house car garages that were too small to get out of your car if you drove into them to the approval of hundreds of homes by the Haudagain Roundabout).

Sustainable Development refers to building thousands of homes in boring greenbelt land while the city centre disused brown field sites sit empty, adding character to the area. So what if there are no thoughts given to infrastructure and the roads come to a standstill? We will be a sprawling (urban sprawling) metropolis before you know it.

There is the little matter of our air pollution continuing to worsen, our C02 production is increasing, and our health suffering.   But we’ll be making money.

But there is some good news:  Michael Gove is going to punish parents if their children are not ready to learn and don’t show respect!   Result!

Even better, we are going to teach children British Values (perhaps this term will need its own column to be sufficiently defined). It’s hard to understand why young people don’t respect authority figures. A few teachers have turned out to be child abusers, woeful incompetents and/or would-be brainwashers, but that can’t be the cause of any disrespect or mistrust, can it?

Perhaps we could ask some of our MPs why young people have problems respecting authority figures.  We can’t ask UKIP Man Colin Brewer why he recommended putting disabled children down as if they were deformed livestock; he’s passed away.  It would have been nice to get his perspective on respect.

We could have asked Maria Miller, former MP and Culture Secretary for her expert opinion on youth culture – but unfortunately she’s spending more time with her family after deciding to resign, coincidentally she was involved in an expenses fiddle, and allegedly intimidating a journalist.

 this book has something to do with ideas like truth, justice, racial equality and fairness

We could ask elder Statesman Tony Blair to write something up on the matter; after all, his creative writing flair turned a fairly tame dossier into a terrifying call to war, when he did a bit of editing, and told us that Iraq was able to hit us with chemical weapons within 45 minutes (Perhaps I shouldn’t include the Iraq War – look how well that turned out for the Iraqi citizens after all).

Pity no one ever found those weapons of mass destruction that were meant to be pointing at us.

There are, as you can see, plenty of role models to inspire young people to respect authority figures. Let’s punish those parents, and ban a few books while we’re at it. Gove of course has got rid of a few books of late from the curriculum, including some obscure work called To Kill A Mockingbird.

Apparently this book has something to do with ideas like truth, justice, racial equality and fairness. Doubt there is room or need for such a book these days.

Anyway, on with some definitions, based on some memes doing the rounds on Facebook

Simile: (Eng. noun) comparison between equal items – such as ‘breakfast is to morning as lunch is to afternoon’

It’s great when you come across really clever memes using simile for comparing things.  One such meme that has been doing the rounds for at least 15 months is pictured below. The source of this one is difficult to pin down, but surely it can’t be anyone connected with either advertising or the tobacco lobby.

The idea is that putting images of diseases caused by smoking on cigarette packs is exactly the same as putting pictures of animal experiments on cosmetics labels, or obese people on fast food wrappers, or deeds of crooked politicians on tax returns.

As really clever as this might seem at first, alas!  There are just a few problems with the simile being used.

In the first place, if we are to look at cigarettes, cosmetics, fast food and politicians, you might conclude that only one of these things is: a.  always damaging to your health, b.  harms those around you, and c.  has no redeeming health benefits at all.  (No, I don’t mean politicians, I mean cigarettes).

It has been possible for decades to buy cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals, and Europe has pretty much called time on animal experiments for cosmetics (but note – dogs and other animals are often made to inhale tobacco smoke in remarkably cruel, unnecessary experiments).

Moving swiftly along, fast food and alcohol are not instantly harmful (but should be ingested in reasonable quantities), but as the WHO will tell you, all smoke is hazardous not only to the smoker, but those around them. Sorry, this meme may look very clever at first, but it is completely illogical.

Then there are rather more sinister memes. Two London murder victims are compared side by side.

Why was there no monument for one, and for the other all sorts of awards given to the relatives? How unfair this looks at first glance.

The two being compared are murdered black UK citizen Stephen Lawrence, and murdered UK soldier Lee Rigby. Both were innocent of any wrongdoing; both were brutally, senselessly murdered.

How unfair that Lawrence’s memory and family were treated differently – or so you were supposed to think. Happily, the men who executed Rigby were immediately caught and brought to trial. What this little, innocent-looking meme conveniently overlooks is that Lawrence’s family, witnesses and friends were put through hell by the police.

The investigation overlooked vital clues, which were allowed to be destroyed by those implicated. The police spied on and tried to discredit witnesses.

The cover-up that was attempted was thwarted in no small part by the courage and dedication of the Lawrence family. Perhaps the nice people who created this meme just didn’t know about the Lawrence case background? After all, they have a lovely-sounding name, ‘Britain First’.

Britain First: (English proper name) – a social media force known for racism.

The D-Day anniversary came, and with it came stories of heroism, the scale of the human tragedy of battle – and memes from Britain First. Many people shared these memes without checking what group was behind them, and in doing so swelled the Britain First viewing figures and popularity stakes.

Thankfully we now also have on Facebook ‘Exposing Britain First’ – a group combating the propaganda war that Britain First is waging.  Old Susannah finds Britain First using WWII commemorations just a bit confusing: Britain First seems to want us to overlook the small fact their racist, nationalist values are exactly what the soldiers Britain First posts about were fighting against.

Unionist Alliance: (English fictional proper noun) – a supposed group of organisations opposed to Scottish Independence.

This meme popped up on Facebook, using what looked like logos from a wide range of groups from the BNP and UKIP through the Conservatives, LibDems and Labour.

It was headed Unionist Alliance.  People saw this and shared it, with suitably outraged comments against Labour for joining this alliance – only it doesn’t exist.

I tracked down the originator, who then told me ‘it was an illustration’ and not a real alliance.

Pity those who saw it didn’t have that information. The Labour Logo was also altered in this odd meme. Labour are looking into it, as may be other parties.

Wimbledon Rules: (Eng. compound noun) – rules for those attending tennis matches on how to dress, act and not to wave banners or flags.

So – what’s wrong with Alex Salmond waving a giant saltire when Cameron can wave a flag at the Olympics?

Alas, they are different events with different rules. So, comparing what’s allowed at Wimbledon with what’s allowed elsewhere isn’t particularly logical.

I guess the creator of this one, who hasn’t answered my messages yet, will let us know if he was in the dark about the Wimbledon rules, widely publicised at the time of Salmond’s social gaffe.

So – be careful what you believe, who’s trying to get you to share their memes, and do look into things before jumping to the conclusions you’re being led to.

Next week: Send in any memes you want to have looked at; there are plenty out there.

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