Liars to the left of me, Liars to the right, stuck in the middle with EU

Less than two weeks ago former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, both remain in hospital in a critical condition. The police and the security services investigated the incident and quite shortly afterwards announced that both had succumbed to a chemical warfare agent. Following further analysis by scientists at the Chemical Warfare facility at Porton Down the public have been subsequently informed this agent was a type developed in the former Soviet Union called Novichok.

Days later in the Commons the Prime Minister, Theresa May made a statement to the House that the evidence points to the incident being an assassination attempt by the Russian security services or criminals that have managed to gain access to military grade chemical weapons. The Prime Minister went on the list the number of sanctions – in effect our retaliation for this crime. Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the opposition (who does have the job of holding the Government to account) was widely criticised for demanding more evidence.

Very few have any real access to facts other than the ones we are told by the Government – normally via the BBC. Few of us however doubt that the Russians are capable of this type of activity; few of us believe that Russia under Vladimir Putin is some shining beacon of democracy and the rule of law. After all, there was a previous attack in 2006 when Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned using Polonium (a radiological weapon) that was alleged to have been conducted by the Russian security services. It is difficult not to conclude that the same people were behind the recent outrage in Salisbury.

There is also compelling evidence that within Russia itself, being an opponent of the current regime is a life limiting activity. A number of journalists and political opponents have met with mysterious or violent deaths. I do not think many would argue with me when I state that Vladimir Putin and his circle of Oligarchs are dangerous people to cross, this is not a pleasant regime.

Yet here is my problem, in the same week this story is whipped up in the press we also saw the completely shameless work of the BBC in refusing to even mention the scandal of the grooming gangs in Telford where over a thousand children were systematically abused, a despicable lie by omission. It is the same BBC that has zero credibility with millions of us that is now zealously pushing the Government’s line.

The Government line reminds me all too readily of the reasons we were taken to war in Iraq, that our intelligence services were absolutely certain that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction such as chemical weapons and the capability to use them in 45 minutes. Being generous to the intelligence services their information was incorrect; we invaded and found no evidence. Over half a million Iraqis lost their lives as did thousands of British and American service men and service women. Suspicion still hangs over the deaths of Robin Cook and Dr. Kelly, other than the authorities few of us are satisfied with the official version of what happened to them.

So this is where I am at now, I don’t believe a single word our establishment and their loudhailer the BBC tell me. I am deeply suspicious of their motives and deeply suspicious of any issue they decide to whip up as news. I don’t believe a single thing they tell me about why we are interfering in Syria and I don’t believe a single thing they tell me about the activities of the Russians in that God awful war and for clarity I don’t believe the Russians either.

Yes – this is the problem, there are pathological liars on both sides and a degenerate, malign mouthpiece called the BBC telling me what I should believe. So how about this? I don’t believe any of you, not one word, not a single letter of a word, you are all inveterate liars, this is the world you wanted, this is the world you created, lap it up, I am not buying any of it.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

A plague on all your houses.

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Charity – the perfect disguise

In the 2012 film adaptation of Anna Karenina, there is a scene where Anna travels to Moscow by train and encounters Count Alexei Vronsky striking up a mutual attraction. As the scene unfolds a rail worker is killed crossing the track, Vronsky is witnessed by Anna giving a large sum of money to the rail worker’s colleagues for his family. There is a suggestion that Vronsky makes this public demonstration of kindness to impress Anna. The deed in itself is a good one but the viewer is left with some doubt as to whether Vronsky would have done this if Anna was not looking.

Trying to impress a girl for her affections is one of the most natural things in the world common to nearly all species, from male spiders presenting their potential mate with a tasty treat (to avoid being eaten as a post coital snack) to the fabulous courtship dances and plumage displays of birds of paradise. Impressing a girl by our generosity reveals one of the more noble aspects of humankind; we clearly value altruism and respond warmly to those who demonstrate it. This aspect of our nature was one of the running gags in the comedy movie ‘There’s something about Mary’ as each of her potential suitors engaged in an arms race to outdo each other’s altruism, in the movie at least it is clear that the displays of altruism are mainly performed for selfish reasons.

I have a certain ambivalence on the matter, I am as guilty as any when it comes to trying to impress a girl in this way although my efforts were more along the lines of buying a whole block of raffle tickets at a corporate Christmas bash, a display of generosity that follows a precise mathematical relationship to the amount of wine I have consumed. My ambivalence comes about when I try to decide at what point is the deed obscured by the motive? I will happily bask in the glory of competing in a fun run having raised money for a charity, I don’t feel any contradiction here, yes it makes me feel good about myself, I make no secret of it because I genuinely want to help. So I ask myself what are the bad motives, since by own admission I sometimes seek social approval? I don’t see anything wrong with the kudos benign characteristics bring, good deeds should be encouraged if we seek an altruistic society. Most times when I give money to charity I do so anonymously but as I have written in a previous blog, taking part in a charitable event such as a fun run can be very rewarding; I struggle to see the harm in this. I would argue that the motives become less benign when it is done for purely narcissistic reasons – or worse, where it serves as a mask for evil.

Jimmy Saville conducted widespread child abuse over a number of decades successfully hiding behind his work in charity. There is a story about Saville that came out not long after the scandal came to public attention. A witness described seeing Jimmy working as a hospital porter pushing a heavy trolley with a look on his face as though the trolley was the burden of a great crime, the personification of his vile deeds. Of course the story is subjective and third hand but I like to believe it is true, I like to believe that there was still a part of him that was human and decent, crushed by the weight of the monster that had driven out the better angels of his heart. This does beg the question was his commitment to charity not only his shield but also what he saw as some form of atonement?

Sadly Jimmy Saville is hardly unique to the charity sector and I suspect over the coming weeks we will hear more about the activities of certain individuals that worked not only for Oxfam but more widely across the NGO sector. There is however the other class of individual that seems drawn to the sector, these I prefer to call selfish narcissists. To me selfish narcissism describes an individual who cares little for the cause but cares solely in the platform it provides to bathe his or her ego in the warm sunlight of an adoring audience. The current media attention on the sector is thankfully bringing some long needed attention to some of these people.

The recent resignation of Brendan Cox from a number of charities as a result of allegations of inappropriate behaviour to women is an example of this type of individual who use the kudos charitable work brings in order to mask some very unpleasant characteristics. By resigning Brendan Cox has done the right thing and owned up to his behaviour and I hope he gets the help he needs to change his life, but I also hope that his shame is real and not yet another vehicle to gain a respect that he is not entitled to. If he disappears from the public eye and gets on with a new life and provided there are no criminal charges arising from his behaviour then I wish him well.

Camilla Batmanghelidjh the founder of Kids Company is yet another of the legends of the charity sector feted by politicians and the elite media. Whilst there is no evidence whatsoever of any physical misconduct, her alleged mishandling of the finances of Kids Company is believed by many to be the reason it failed. What is not often explored is her autocratic manner in running the charity, I don’t expect everyone to be a financial genius but surely questions should have been asked about whether Kids Company was nothing more than a platform for a giant ego that did a bit of charity on the side? I am left with the feeling that any charity led by such a flamboyant attention seeking character should be avoided.

Perhaps this is the common denominator to all of these three people, for different reasons each sought the limelight. Each sought glory either to serve their own ego or to disguise their true nature. If this is the case then surely we must be very wary of these charismatic individuals in the charity sector, perhaps charitable causes are much better served by ordinary people with ordinary jobs and the ego of a filing cabinet?

It is difficult for me to conclude on this piece, I do support charity and I will continue to participate in charity events because of the enjoyment it brings. I am aware of my hypocrisy; I have written this down for you, I have written it down because I am conflicted. Yet I remain troubled about how the sector seems to attract sociopaths, egotists and the downright evil and I still wonder if there is some unexplored realm where darkened hearts take pleasure in wallowing in human misery. Maybe it was always thus but right now it seems to be there is something very rotten at the heart of our charity sector. I have few answers for you, I can only share a sense that another pure and innocent part of the human spirit is being corrupted and perverted in an orchestrated manner.