Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Caste of Mind

The Government continues to refuse to outlaw caste discrimination in Britain.

The Hindu nationalist BJP is now about as likely as the Congress Party to be the principal party of government in India. Within and allied to the BJP are violently fascistic elements such as the Shiv Sena and those who massacre Christians in Orissa. Leadership is passing to Narendra Modi, who is heavily implicated in Gujarat’s anti-Muslim pogroms in recent years.

Not, it must be said, that caste discrimination is a peculiarly Hindu affair. The Pakistani braderi system, a rising force in British politics, is in fact the carrying over of ancestral caste into Indo-Islam. Caste persists even among Sikhs, founded though they were in a rejection of it, and also among people whose families have been Christian for many generations, even centuries.

But then, look at some of our own social habits when it comes to marriage-making, or eating, or even touching, or telling things about people from their names. Look at the work done by the Dalits, the Untouchables, in India, and then look at who does that same work here.

Modi is banned from entering the EU, the US, and other relatively civilised places. However, last November and on David Cameron’s express instructions, he was paid court by the British High Commissioner to India.

Well, of course he was. If, say, apartheid South Africa, or Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, or Mussolini’s Italy at least before the alliance with Hitler, were still in existence, then it would be an object of uncritical neoconservative adoration and obedience.

Hindutva, the ideological roots of which are entirely Western, would be treated in exactly the same way; where it is already being attempted, on the backs of hundreds of millions of people, it is increasingly being so treated. Including right here in the United Kingdom.

After all, David Cameron’s vehicles toured Ealing Southall blasting out in Asian languages that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals would be made public holidays under his party. His “Quality of Life Commission” (don’t laugh, it’s real) then proposed giving the power to decide these things to “local community leaders”.

What else will those figures be given the power to decide in return for filling in every postal voting form in their households in the Bullingdon Boys’ interest, and making sure that all their mates did likewise?

To the statelets thus created – little Caliphates, little Hindutvas, little Khalistans, and so on – people minded to live in such places will flock from the ends of the earth, entrenching the situation forever.

Such would already appear to be well under way.

Something Surprisingly Radical

John Harris writes:

Sight unseen, you would hardly have expected an explosion of rage in the West Sussex village of Balcombe. It sits just to the north of that well-known hotbed Hayward's Heath, and suggests a mixture of chocolate-box cutesiness and commuter-belt quiet – hardly the most obvious setting for a carnival of dissent that has been supported by droves of local people, and such visitors as Bianca Jagger.

There again, neither does Balcombe look like the kind of place that prospectors might identify as a potentially rich source of oil: even though we have long had a small-scale inland industry, oil is a resource that most British people have always understood as coming exclusively from under the North Sea.

Now, though, with George Osborne in a state of high excitement, freshly announced tax breaks and planning exceptions, and the word "fracking" all over the media, a new reality is upon us. For the moment, the Balcombe stand-off is its most obvious manifestation – though the big story is less about oil than natural gas, and the supposedly plentiful supplies that lie in shale rock deep beneath whole swaths of the country.

The British Geological Survey reckons that Lancashire's Bowland basin could supply the UK's gas needs for 40 years. Meanwhile, prospecting licences for shale gas, coalbed methane and new oil supplies cover such diverse locations as Dorset, the Mendip Hills, the New Forest, and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

All over the country, an old story is back with a vengeance: the power of corporations and government colliding with much more human imperatives, and sparking trouble. It's there in an increasingly widespread juxtaposition of hi-vis jackets, drilling kit and security guards, and serene British countryside.

It was also evident in this week's claims by the Tory grandee Lord Howell – George Osborne's father-in-law – that though some parts of the country might have justified fears about fracking, in such "desolate" places as the rural north-east we should just get on with it.

In a country as deindustrialised as the UK, ministers will always go weak-kneed about grand projects and new technologies. But the lingering effects of the crash have pushed their thinking into the realms of the neurotic, as government has been seized by a mixture of fear, profiteering zeal and metropolitan arrogance.

All of these extend beyond energy policy into such issues as road-building, the dazzlingly stupid plan for high-speed rail, the current mania for airport expansion – and such delicate issues for the liberal-left as house-building on green-belt rather than brownfield land, and wind farms.

""Infrastructure" is this year's most ubiquitous word, even though it probably leaves most people feeling either indifferent or slightly nervous. This year's Tory conference, I would imagine, will hear rhetoric more suggestive of a Soviet party congress than a gathering of British Tories: lots of talk about energy security, salutes to the wonders of pipelines and power stations, and exhortations to further boost our growth figures and keep up with the Indians and Chinese.

By way of answering back, the people rattled by what's happening to their communities may cite such functional concerns as traffic congestion and noise pollution, but their take on things runs a bit deeper than that, into the profound stuff of place, history and collective identity.

Once upon a time, the Conservative party would have understood them: somewhere in its soul, after all, was an innate understanding of the more transcendental aspects of life outside big cities, and the elements of national life best kept away from the brutal ways of the market.

"The beauty of our landscapes, the particular cultures and traditions that rural life sustains – these are national treasures, to be cherished and protected for everyone's benefit. It is not enough for politicians just to say that. We need leaders who really understand it, and feel it in their bones. I do." David Cameron said that, five years ago.

Now, by contrast, his party's view of things is summed up by a pledge in Osborne's 2011 budget, to "introduce a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, so that the default answer to development is 'yes'". The word "sustainable", of course, was for the birds – here was a crude invitation to tarmac the planet.

Make no mistake: just as New Labour's London-centric prejudices fed the revolt led by the Countryside Alliance, so another rebellion is brewing, stoked by the Mail and Telegraph – and spread much wider than the hoo-hah over foxhunting, from the UK's rural wilds to the outer edges of the suburbs.

Given that the left is even more metropolitan than the right, as it grows louder, supposed progressives will doubtless come out with their standard sneers, bemoaning nimbyism and condemning anyone with small "c" conservative instincts as a hopeless throwback.

To that, there are two answers. First, it's probably worth bearing in mind that the worship of concrete, smokestacks and growth for its own sake has tended to be a much more congruent fit with dictatorship than democracy.

Second, as events in Balcombe prove, plenty of people are now standing in the way of an economic system that has never been more rapacious and corrupt, and demanding something surprisingly radical: peace and quiet.

The Third Rome Resurgent

Mark Hackard writes:

St. Paul of Tarsus may have earned martyrdom under the reign of Nero, but he also understood pagan Rome as the guarantor of order against evil and chaos within fallen creation[1]. Today’s enforcers of the End of History, however, wield their swords in vain. Modern empires are marked by self-assertion through fatuous intellectual constructs, mere excuses to satisfy certain passions.

Authority no longer carries divine origin or grave responsibility, but derives solely from the manipulation of human mass and dead matter. A ruling class lacking any notion of service to a higher principle sends other people’s children to perish for freedom, equality and progress; immense profits are to be reaped provided the media sets the appropriate narrative. 

Half a century ago, American officialdom justified the Vietnam War with the Domino Theory, claiming that Communist power would soon reach from the Mekong River to a stranglehold over the Strait of Malacca. All theorizing aside, US action in Southeast Asia at the time related much more to the expansion of the military-industrial complex and narcotics trade than “credibility” and containment.

But for the past decade, Washington has assiduously applied the Domino Theory to the Middle East. With the September 11th attacks as an alibi for limitless intervention into the Islamic world, the US has invaded, occupied, pressured or subverted any country therein refusing to toe its agenda.

A glance at a map will suffice to convey the breadth of US penetration into Dar al-Islam. Here’s a quick sampling: outright large-scale war on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; counterinsurgency strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and on Pakistan’s northwest frontier; sanctions and saber-rattling against Iran; and CIA-engineered color revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Egypt.

The 24-hour news cycle cannot capture the Novus Ordo Seclorum’s inexorable attack on sovereignty, nor is it meant to. While the thin layer of our public that pays any attention to transpiring events is fed “human rights” jingoism, Western banksters and the Salafist emirs of Arabia are moving in concert to seize control of a vast swathe of the earth’s energy resources. 

With Libyan ruler Mohammar Gaddafi overthrown and murdered in 2011, Langley’s operations wizards were already exploiting Syria’s internal fissures to bring down President Bashar al-Assad, son of the late Hafez al-Assad, and his Alawite government. When US attempts to rope Damascus into an anti-Iranian coalition were declined, Syria was targeted for destruction.

Yet against all odds, Assad has proven himself a fighter worthy of his ruthless father’s name, withstanding two years of US-backed insurrection in what has been a clear attempt to eliminate Syrian sovereignty.

It’s not just the White House that wants him dead, either - Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been especially enthusiastic in financing and arming Sunni rebels, the core of whom are foreign mercenaries linked to none other than Al Qaeda. 

Through NATO and in alliance with Gulf potentates, the United States has raised an army of jihadists, “freedom fighters” in our press parlance, against the regime in Damascus. The Free Syrian Army, Jahbat al-Nusra and other formations are already notorious for their massacres of Christians and at least one recorded episode of cannibalism.

US policymakers would doubtless revel in the young Assad’s suffering the same gruesome fate they arranged for Gaddafi, but matters aren’t going as smoothly as planned. With help from Iranian advisors and Hezbollah light infantry, Assad has buffeted the assault and made some impressive gains, having recently retaken the key town of Qusair near the Lebanese border before proceeding to rebel-held Aleppo in the north.

By now the Obama Administration has officially abandoned any pretenses to plausible deniability. The United States, a presidential national security aide announced, will directly and openly supply weaponry to rebel factions in Syria – under the highly specious pretext of alleged chemical weapons use by government forces.

The semi-secret war on Damascus has been directed by the CIA, with Langley facilitating arms shipments from places like Croatia and newly-“liberated” Libya, delivery of which is handled by the Turks.

While the administration’s step is mostly a public declaration of US policy intentions, it nonetheless builds momentum toward a no-fly-zone over the country, i.e. the inauguration of aerial bombardment as previously demonstrated over places like Belgrade, Baghdad and Tripoli.

Assad is a hard man in an unforgiving neighborhood, but he will need a good deal more than the patronage of Tehran’s ayatollahs to survive the sustained onslaught of the Pax Americana.

Enter Russian President Vladimir Putin, the only leader with the means and the will to prevent further aggression against Syria. Putin has spent 13 years charting Russia’s path of resurgence, and he is acutely aware of US destabilization programs for the Middle East and beyond.

The cold-eyed intelligence officer-turned-Gosudar is drawing a line in the sands of Syria, whose civil war has become an international proxy conflict. He knows quite well the fall of Damascus will serve only as a prelude to a US-Israeli campaign against Iran, a nation holding the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves[2]

Such an endeavor would expose Russia’s entire southern flank to increased migrant flows and crime, a new wave of mujahedin terrorists, and not far behind them, American power projection.

The long-term objective of US strategic planners is no less than the capture of Eurasia and Russia’s dismemberment; Putin is therefore mounting a geopolitical counteroffensive to halt Washington’s game of dominoes before it goes too far.

Of late Moscow has engaged in active diplomacy while maneuvering significant military assets to the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant. Thus, as the Kremlin continues to push for another round of Syria negotiations in Geneva and obstructs Western intervention at the level of the UN Security Council, it has deployed its own hard power to the region.

Russia's general staff has set about implementing leadership directives to strengthen the country's position in the Middle East, giving Washington and Tel Aviv a well-founded reason to think twice before embarking upon yet another reckless venture[3].

The upgrading Russian Navy just recently formed a permanent Mediterranean Flotilla of 16 combat-ready ships currently stationed off the coast of Syria, and negotiations with Cyprus to host basing facilities for both air and sea forces are reported to be in progress.

In another bold move, Putin even proposed that Russian paratroopers stand post on the Golan Heights, where Austrian and Croat peacekeepers have withdrawn and only a Fijian-Filipino contingent under Indian command remains[4].

Putin is skillfully making use of other policy instruments to change the Western calculus on Syria. Russian arms transfers to Damascus have garnered headlines due to the scheduled delivery of formidable S-300 SAM complexes sometime within the year as well as advanced MiG interceptors.

Avoiding any hasty gestures, the Kremlin has insisted upon the full legality of these defensive weapons sales (in contrast to US and allied arming of jihadists), thereby demonstrating its commitment to Syrian sovereignty.

It is also likely that Russian intelligence services have assisted in targeting the rebel command structure; though Moscow’s foreign ministry has announced that all government personnel have been evacuated from war-scarred Syria, the “advisory” work of spetsnaz units in these operations is probable.

As many American Evangelicals incessantly drum up billions for the IDF at the behest of an Israel lobby that holds them in undisguised contempt, Russia is increasingly returning to its ancient duty of defending the inheritance of Byzantium, the Second Rome.

Putin can hardly be accused of sentimentality; traditional Russian statecraft has maintained centuries of intense focus on controlling the Black Sea Basin and its approaches.

Yet geopolitics is not conducted in a rationalized vacuum, either- the entirety of cultural, historical and religious context will inevitably inform policy and conceptions of interest.

And so we observe the Kremlin making fraternal Serbia a key transit point in its planned South Stream gas pipeline, potentially expanding military ties with Orthodox Cyprus and shielding the Syrian Baathist state (and the Christian communities under its protection) from certain annihilation[5].

America, meanwhile, advances liberal imperialism through its favored cutouts- from transnational Muslim militant groups to Open Society NGOs imposing democracy, multiculturalism, feminism and sexual perversion.

In Russia’s case, we see evidence for both types of sabotage in Western elites’ advocacy for the depraved and blasphemous exhibitionists of Pussy Riot and the jihad in the North Caucasus. Tried and tested across Eurasia, this dual-track approach forms a dialectic of subversion aimed at destroying national cultures and state sovereignty.

What Putin faces is the same Revolution that nearly killed Russia in the last century, the same regicide apostates who have driven over generations to build a counterfeit paradise on earth according to malevolently inspired abstractions of liberty and equality. In the fateful year of 1848, the poet Fedor Tyutchev would write of a coming war, one as much spiritual as physical:

Long now in Europe there have existed only two actual forces - the Revolution and Russia. These two powers are now set against each other, and perhaps tomorrow they will enter into combat. Between them there are no negotiations, and all treaties are impossible; the existence of one is tantamount to the death of the other! Upon the outcome of the struggle that has arisen between them, the greatest struggle to which the world has been witness, depends the political and religious future of humanity for centuries.

That war is not over[6]. The West tramples its patrimony, fashioning sacraments out of abominations, and demands that all humanity follow suit. Whatever its own tragic shortcomings, Russia is increasingly rejecting the latest iterations of “progress” on offer and now prepares its lines of defense beginning with Syria, among the first lands to receive Our Lord’s Gospel[7].

Vladimir Putin is far from a perfect counterrevolutionary, but he leads the last great people to oppose an incipient, inhuman world tyranny. His place in history’s saga depends on an ideal reborn- not bourgeois, technocratic Russia Inc., but a Third Rome, calling the nations to repentance and giving the enemies of God good cause to shudder.

[1] "…for the authority (civil) does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:4)
[2] Other reasons for Western aggression against Syria include the discovery of significant natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean and Syria’s continuing refusal to submit to the globalist elites’ Bank for International Settlements.
[3] The IDF has carried out at least four raids against Syrian territory this year, the latest a submarine-launched cruise missile strike against a storage facility holding Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles. Should Moscow follow through on its deliveries, Tel Aviv might soon learn it can no longer attack Syria’s armed forces with impunity.
[4] Because of its UN Security Council permanent membership and Israeli objections, Russia’s initiative was blocked. 340 Filipinos will likely withdraw in August, and 150 Irish and 50 Nepalese soldiers will now be sent to reinforce some 500 Fijians.
[5] As 2013 is the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, Putin is also hosting the patriarchs and senior clergy of the 15 Orthodox Churches to “discuss interfaith matters as well as current international events of interest to Orthodox communities in various parts of the world.”
[6] Tyutchev continues:
Russia is first and foremost a Christian empire; the Russian people are Christian not only by the Orthodoxy of their belief, but in even greater measure due to something more intimate than beliefs...The Revolution is first and foremost the enemy of Christianity!...Those transformations to which it has consecutively been subjected, those slogans it without fail adopts, even its violence and crimes were of secondary nature and incidental; yet the one thing in it not of this order is the anti-Christian intent that inspires it, and it is this which has granted it dread mastery over the universe...He who cannot understand this is no more than a blind man present at a spectacle delivered to him by the world.
[7] This summer Russia has held the largest-scale military exercises since the end of the Soviet Union. Drills include Russo-Chinese naval war games, operational testing for the Strategic Rocket Forces and sweeping joint-force maneuvers in the Far East. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

School Exchange

Following Toby Young's jaw-dropping Newsnight performance, remember that if the Governing Bodies of Michael Gove's "free" schools are not being chaired by the Director of Strategy for Serco, then they are being chaired by Young, the Parliamentary Mammary Inspector.

That Director of Strategy, one Jonathan Simons, is about to move on to a cosy, cushy job as Head of Education at Policy Exchange, the trading name of Gove's office. How ever did he get that? Is a registered charity in receipt of the proceeds of crime? Is a body which seeks to influence public policy funded by the defrauding of the public; by charging to tag dead convicts and what have you? Could that possibly be true?

UPDATE 00:25AM: This Simons has confirmed to me on Twitter that Policy Exchange is indeed funded by Serco, but will not be repaying to the Treasury one penny of those ill-gotten gains. The position into which Simons is about to come is therefore untenable. From that position, he will seek to influence public policy. Yet that position will have been bought for him with stolen public money. Such is the Chairman of Governors of Greenwich Free School.

Fracked In The North East

George Osborne's father-in-law's intervention will not have cost the Coalition parties anything here.

They already held all of two seats each, out of 29 in total. And they were going to lose one each, anyway.

Leaving one each. Both of them in rural Northumberland, which is far from desolate.

Whereas the Coalition parties, of course, are.

An Important Moral Victory

Owen Jones writes:

Power has to be relentlessly fought. Without being constantly checked, exposed, harangued, mocked and driven back, it would swiftly devour all the rights that were won at its expense. There is invariably a cost. The powerful know that if those who chip away at their authority are not undermined, or humiliated, or even persecuted, others would be emboldened to strike blows at them, too.

And so it is with Bradley Manning. Although a military judge has found him not guilty of aiding the enemy, the guilty verdicts on other charges will leave him languishing in military custody for much, if not all, of his life: indeed, he faces a sentence of 130 years. Here is the sacrifice he has paid for exposing the secretive actions of a government that claims to act in the name of the US people.

Here's why. Over a decade ago, the US initiated two calamitous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with a terrible human cost that is still paid every single day. The then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that the Iraq invasion was illegal; the country is today still awash with car bombings and gruesome sectarian bloodletting. It was always in the interests of the US elite to keep the consequences of their actions as far away from public consciousness as possible.

The justification is that such secrecy is needed to protect the American people from the country's enemies. “It's for your own good” is the stock defence of every authoritarian. But the real aim is to stem opposition. Every US hawk still shivers at the photographs of naked Vietnamese children, faces contorted with panic, running with their skin burned after a napalm attack, which helped galvanise the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s.

By being responsible for the biggest leak of classified information in US history, Manning revealed the sordid realities of a war that the armchair warriors want sanitised. Like an Apache helicopter, bombing the life out of Iraqi civilians and a Reuters journalist, the corrupted pilots dismissing their victims as “dead bastards”. He found evidence of US-backed death squads and militias operating in Afghanistan.

He helped reveal the rampant corruption of the US-backed Tunisian dictatorship, who basked in luxurious homes and extravagant lifestyles while their people suffered grinding poverty, providing ammunition for the revolutionaries who toppled Ben Ali.

It would have been a farce if Bradley Manning had been found guilty of aiding the enemy. After all, it was not Bradley Manning who funded and armed Afghan jihadis in the 1980s, some of whom evolved into al-Qa’ida elements; it was not Bradley Manning who propped up the thugs, thieves and murderers who dress themselves up as the rulers of the Middle East, provoking the fury of millions; it is not Bradley Manning who unleashed the bloody mayhem of Iraq, which attracted swarms of Islamist car-bombers and throat-slitters. The US government officials who doubled up as recruiting agents for al-Qa’ida remain at large.

Nonetheless, there is an important moral victory in the verdict. Manning is a whistleblower, not a traitor. If revealing information that was portrayed as playing into the hands of the enemy was officially declared to be treasonous, it could have had a crushing impact on investigative journalism and political dissent.

The US whistleblower Edward Snowden will have watched the verdict carefully from his banishment in a Russian airport. If he is unable to reach Venezuela, which has granted him political asylum, and falls into the hands of the US authorities, he too will face a lifetime of incarceration.

The US government will hope that an example has been set; that future whistleblowers will be deterred from uncovering injustices committed in the name of the US people without their knowledge or consent.

That is why it is so important to offer gratitude and support for the Mannings and Snowdens of this world, when they sacrifice so much in the interests of openness, transparency and freedom. Only that will inspire other whistleblowers who know that – while their liberty is imperilled – millions will be cheering them on.

It should not come down to brave, one-off individuals, of course. The struggle for open governments, who are honest about what they do in our name, needs a mass movement to be truly successful.

Bradley Manning explained his actions by saying he wanted a debate about Western foreign policy. As this 5 foot 2 soldier continues a life without any liberty, we owe him that much. Even many of us who opposed or even marched against the Iraq war, then turned our eyes when the blood and chaos began: it was all too complicated, too distant, too unreal.

We shrug off the support of our governments for dictatorships who torture, main and kill as though it is simply a fact of life. Another shipment of arms for the Saudi's ruling thugs; another Afghan wedding party reduced to a pile of shredded organs and charred bones; a former Prime Minister working for a dictatorship, as with Tony Blair and Kazakhstan's tyrant. Sometimes, it barely even registers.

We shouldn't pity Manning. We should admire his courage, and be inspired by it to scrutinise what our governments do both here and in distant lands without even bothering to consult us. For us all to do our bit in a struggle for a more just world order: that would be the ultimate show of gratitude to Bradley Manning.

The Company That Is Running Britain

John Harris writes:

In May this year, a huge company listed on the London Stock Exchange found itself in the midst of controversy about a prison it runs for the government – Thameside, a newly built jail next to Belmarsh, in south-east London.

A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate found that 60% of its inmates were locked up all day, and there were only "vague plans to restore the prison to normality". The prison campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform talked about conditions that were "truly alarming".

Two months later, the same company was the subject of a high- profile report published by the House Of Commons public accounts committee, prompted by the work of Guardian journalist Felicity Lawrence. This time, attention was focused on how it was managing out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall, and massive failings that had first surfaced two years before.

Again, the verdict was damning: data had been falsified, national standards had not been met, there was a culture of "lying and cheating", and the service offered to the public was simply "not good enough".

Three weeks ago, there came grimmer news. Thanks to its contracts for tagging offenders, the company was now the focus of panic at the Ministry of Justice, where it had been discovered that it was one of two contractors that had somehow overcharged the government for its services, possibly by as much as £50m; there were suggestions that one in six of the tags that the state had paid for did not actually exist. How this happened is still unclear, but justice secretary Chris Grayling has said the allegations represent something "wholly indefensible and unacceptable".

The firm that links these three stories together is Serco. Its range of activities, here and abroad, is truly mind-boggling, taking in no end of things that were once done by the state, but are now outsourced to private companies.

Amazingly, its contracts with government are subject to what's known as "commercial confidentiality" and as a private firm it's not open to Freedom of Information requests, so looking into the details of what it does is fraught with difficulty.

But the basic facts are plain enough. As well as five British prisons and the tags attached to over 8,000 English and Welsh offenders, Serco sees to two immigration removal centres, at Colnbrook near Heathrow, and Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire.

You'll also see its logo on the Docklands Light Railway and Woolwich ferry, and is a partner in both Liverpool's Merseyrail network, and the Northern Rail franchise, which sees to trains that run in a huge area between the North Midlands and English-Scottish border.

Serco runs school inspections in parts of England, speed cameras all over the UK, and the National Nuclear Laboratory, based at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. It also holds the contracts for the management of the UK's ballistic missile early warning system on the Yorkshire moors, the running of the Manchester Aquatics Centre, and London's "Boris bikes".

As evidenced by the story of how it handled out-of-hours care in Cornwall, it is also an increasingly big player in a health service that is being privatised at speed, in the face of surprisingly little public opposition: among its array of NHS contracts is a new role seeing to "community health services" in Suffolk, which involves 1,030 employees.

The company is also set to bid for an even bigger healthcare contract in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough: the NHS's single-biggest privatisation – or, if you prefer, "outsourcing" – to date, which could be worth over £1bn.

But even this is only a fraction of the story. Among their scores of roles across the planet, Serco is responsible for air traffic control in the United Arab Emirates, parking-meter services in Chicago, driving tests in Ontario, and an immigration detention centre on Christmas Island, run on behalf of those well-known friends of overseas visitors the Australian government.

In the US, the company has just been awarded a controversial $1.25bn contract by that country's Department of Health. All told, its operations suggest some real-life version of the fantastical mega-corporations that have long been invented by fiction writers; a more benign version of the Tyrell Corporation from Blade Runner, say, or one of those creations from James Bond movies whose name always seems to end with the word "industries".

The strangest thing, though, is the gap between Serco's size and how little the public knows about it. Not for nothing does so much coverage of its work include the sentence "the biggest company you've never heard of".

I first heard Serco's name about eight years ago, when I was just starting to understand the amazing growth of what are now called "public service companies". Once I started looking, their logos were everywhere, suggesting a shadow state that has since grown ever-bigger. Their names seemed anonymously stylised, in keeping with the sense that they seemed both omnipresent, and barely known: Interserve, Sodexo, Capita, the Compass Group.

Serco is among the biggest of them all. At the last count, its annual pre-tax profits were up 27%, at £302m. In 2012 alone, its British workforce grew by 10,000, to 53,000 people (tellingly, as many as 90% of them are said to be former civil servant employees). In terms of employees, that makes it more than twice as large as the BBC, and around 20% bigger than Philip Green's Arcadia group.

A very significant player, in other words, and one that has come a long way since its foundation 1929, when it was a branch of the American RCA corporation called RCA Services Ltd, involved in the then booming UK cinema industry.

It was renamed Serco in 1987, after a management buy-out, and floated on the stock exchange the following year. In the 25 subsequent years, during which the UK has grown ever-fonder of outsourcing and privatisation, Serco has grown at an amazing rate.

The current chief executive of the global Serco Group is 49-year-old Chris Hyman, born in Durban, South Africa. His annual remuneration is around £700,000, plus bonuses; in 2011, the value of his total package rose 18%, to £1.86m (the company's finance director had to slum it at £948,295).

In 2010, Hyman was given a CBE for services to business and charity; he is also an enthusiastic fan of motor racing and an evangelical Christian. Four years ago, he was asked about his company's very low profile, and he said this:

"We had a dilemma – what do we do with the Serco name. We are proud of it. We thought we needed billboards at airports and places like that, to be seen with Tiger Woods on. But we worked out very quickly that is not what we are meant to do. We are meant to be known by the 5,000 not the five billion. The people who serve the people need to choose who supplies the service. We are delighted when the public knows who we are, but really, we need to be known by the people who make decisions."

When Serco made its bid to run NHS community-health services in Suffolk – district nursing, physiotherapy, OT, end-of-life palliative care, wheelchair services – it reckoned it could do it for £140m over three years – £16m less than the existing NHS "provider" had managed, which would eventually allow for their standard profit margin of around 6% a year.

When it started to become clear that Serco was the frontrunner, there was some opposition, but perhaps not nearly enough. "Suffolk isn't the most politically active part of the country," says one local insider. "And the staff were very lackadaisical. It was: 'NHS Suffolk wouldn't made a bad decision.' So it was hard to get a campaign going."

Serco was officially awarded the contract in October 2012, which meant that hundreds of staff would leave the NHS, and become company employees. Within weeks, the company proposed a huge reorganisation, which involved getting rid of one in six jobs. This has since come down to one in seven, two thirds of which will apparently go via natural wastage.

In terms of their pay and conditions, the hundreds of people who have been transferred from the NHS to Serco are protected by provisions laid down by the last government, but it is already becoming clear that many new staff are on inferior contracts: as one local source puts it, "they've got less annual leave, less sick pay … it's significantly worse."

Meanwhile, other people are reportedly quitting their jobs, and the service given to patients is said to be getting worse. "In my team alone, we're 50% down on staffing hours compared with last year," says one former NHS worker, who provides home-care to patients who are largely elderly.

Thanks to poor morale, she says that the team in which she works has lost around a third of its staff, and she is also having to see to administrative tasks that were previously carried out by someone else: in addition, she claims, support for a new IT regime is "farcical".

"We've still got the same number of patients," she says, "so the workload has massively increased." As a result, she and her colleagues are having to cut people out of their previous entitlement to treatment at home. "That completely goes against our ethics," she says, "but that's what we're having to do."

The NHS is a relatively new area of controversy for Serco, but concerns about their practices run across many other areas. Right now, the controversy over alleged overcharging, focused on both Serco and its fellow tagging- contractor G4S, seems to have only just begun. When the news was made public, 8% was wiped off Serco's share price.

The Cabinet Office has announced a review "into government-held G4S and Serco contracts to ensure that contracts are well-managed and in good order", which will report in the autumn. Work for the British government accounts for 40% of Serco's revenues; to quote from the Daily Telegraph, "Without Serco, Britain would struggle to go to war". That gives you some idea of how deeply its work penetrates the state, and how unthinkable any kind of corporate crisis would be. 

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister who now chairs the public accounts committee, clearly thinks that all these stories point to huge issues. She talks about "the inability of government to contract-out in a way that protects the taxpayer's interest."

The Cornwall out-of-hours story, she tells me, was reducible to "an absurd situation where you had a company seemingly lying about what it was doing, but there was nothing in the contract that could allow you to terminate it – indeed, they still appeared to be eligible for their bonus payments. It's quite extraordinary."

There are even bigger issues at stake, though. "There's also the inability of the public sector to monitor effectively," she says. "The Cornwall story came to light because of a Guardian journalist and a whole load of whistleblowers. Which is nuts: a crazy way for the public sector holding to account the private sector when it's delivering public services."

Even her committee, she says, cannot break through a great wall of commercial confidentiality, and look at what the companies delivering pubic services are up to – not just in terms of their bids for public services and contracts with government, but such vital matters as their costs, and the profits they make from particular jobs.

Does she feel any guilt about the fact that companies such as Serco made their decisive breakthrough into public services when Labour was in power? There's a murmur of agreement. "I think we were as bad at managing this diversity of providers," she says.

"But one of the things that gets me with this government is that they should have learned from our mistakes. What is becoming really clear to me … is that the Sercos, the A4s, the G4Ss, the Capitas – they're good at winning contracts, but too often, they're bad at running services."

And what of the incredible range of what Serco actually does, from school inspections to Boris bikes? "Interestingly, we are looking at this. The National Audit Office is doing work around the development of quasi-monopoly private providers, which is the world we're moving into. We don't really understand the size of their empires. We've got to start getting hold of this. It's a new phenomenon."

Once I'd spoken to Hodge, I got hold of one of Serco's "media relations team", and arranged to send him a few questions. On the subject of the out-of-hours GP fiasco in Cornwall, he quoted a response from the doctor in charge of their set-up. "It's really important that the local people in Cornwall do not lose confidence in this essential urgent care service," he said. "It is a valued part of the local NHS and we are proud of our professional team who provide it."

A wider statement said the company had taken "swift and decisive action to put the situation right and apologised to the people of Cornwall", and made "a goodwill gesture to repay the bonus made [sic] to us in 2012, which we were under no obligation to do." All told, I was assured, their service "delivers a high standard against the national quality requirements".

On the allegations about what has happened since Serco took over community healthcare in Suffolk, and the claim that any new starters aside from clinical staff are on inferior terms and conditions, the same spokesperson said that such employees are "offered contracts in line with Serco standard terms and conditions which are market comparable".

He denied that anyone had been cut out of treatment at home, said that the company had "recently realigned our clinical teams across Suffolk according to the needs of the areas in which they deliver care" and claimed that new IT systems are being implemented "slowly and carefully".

The controversy surrounding Thameside prison, they said, had been followed by "a series of initiatives" including a "gangs strategy", and measures to help prisoners with mental-health issues. Some people were now allowed to be outside their cells "during the core part of the day", and in August, Serco anticipated that this would be extended.

As for the ongoing story about overcharging for their tagging contract with the Ministry of Justice, Serco said this: "We are working with our customer, the Ministry of Justice [on] this matter so there is very little we can add at this stage."

I was also directed to a statement from Chris Hyman, which said the company "will not tolerate poor practice and behaviour and wherever it is found we will put it right", and reminded that justice secretary Chris Grayling has said he so far has "no information to confirm dishonesty had taken place" on the part of either Serco or G4S.

There was one last question, concerning the amazing spread of what Serco sees to, from parking meters, through nuclear early warning systems, to an expanding share of the NHS. Is there any limit to the fields they work in?

"We operate in a range of markets and geographies," went its answer, "which means we are well placed to bring a wide range of experiences and knowledge to help customers with the challenges that they face."

That'll be a no, then.

Monday, 29 July 2013

"Who Am I To Judge?"

The last Pope said all of this.

And the one before that.

Where is the story here?

At The Nexus

The five Tyne and Wear local authorities are preparing to take over the bus services, not on a London-style basis as is being claimed, but on a much better basis than that, there being no Boris Johnson in Tyne and Wear.

Thus will be saved 455 bus routes, including all school services, together with Metro Gold Card and the Shields Ferry.

The bus companies are incredulous. "Do the people of Tyneside and Sunderland really want to be subsidising the buses, the Metro and the ferries for ever more?", they ask. As if the question were rhetorical. It is not.

Speaking of the Metro, it was the best performing in the country when it was directly municipal. Thanks to central government fiat, it is now run by Deutsche Bahn. In which the majority shareholder is the German federal government.

Meaning that the Metro is still in public ownership. It is just not in the ownership of the British public. Still less of the public in Tyne and Wear.

One thing at a time, though. One thing at a time.

One Out, All Out

As of today, with the introduction of charges to bring cases to Employment Tribunals, you can no longer afford not to be in a trade union.

Can that really have been what the Government had in mind?

The Vision of Something Better, Indeed

"Peter Tatchell thinks singles should be allowed to nominate a friend or relative to be their "significant other", who would enjoy the same exemption from inheritance tax as a spouse, and the same legal rights as a next of kin."

Quite so.

Never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated same-sex couples, or even to unrelated couples generally.

Furthermore, any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage which it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly.

Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses.

There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party's estate for each year of marriage, up to fifty per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party’s fault be proved.

That would be a start, anyway.

"Masonic Lobbies"

The Masonic Lodges were key to the circulation of the ideas that became the French Revolution against which all three of Gaullism, the non-Gaullist French Right and the non-Marxist French Left are to many extents ongoing reactions.

In the Latin world, the Masonic Lodges have ever since been organisational bases of attacks on the Church and on Her interests.

The Masonic Lodges were key to the circulation of the ideas against which the several States had to demand that the First Amendment to the American Constitution protect their respective Established Churches.

Freemasonry has been, and to some extent remains, part of petty anti-Catholicism in this country; it was, for example, why Catholics found it so difficult to secure promotion while working for the Consett Iron Company.

But it is impossible to imagine a band of men less likely to conspire to overthrow the economic, social, cultural and political order. Simply because it is impossible to imagine a band of men which better epitomised the economic, social, cultural and political order. 

Masonic influence over the Church in this country, and Catholic influence over the Masons, are both immemorial in certain places. I know of a ward where the only way to get anything done is through the Catholics within the Masons within the Labour Party.

This is not a post-Conciliar phenomenon: it has ever been thus, and several of the individuals in question are Latin Mass aficionados, while they are all indefatigable battlers for Catholic schools, pro-life, and so on.

All aspects of which I am told are fairly unusual but far from unique, whether now, or in the 1950s, or ever. A lot of people are surprised when one is surprised at them. Cardinal Heenan was known expressly to enjoin converts, including convert Anglican clergymen, to remain active in the Lodge.

Scotland is a different story, but I should not be at all surprised if Catholics were now the single largest bloc among English Freemasons, and had been for decades. In fact, I should be thoroughly surprised if that were not the case.

There are, and there certainly were, far fewer Catholics in the strongly Conservative areas where Freemasonry is also strongly Conservative. But even so, who knows how much influence might have been exercised against the Hard Right? Less, undeniably. But some, quite plausibly. 

The Lodge was an undeniable bulwark against the more-or-less Marxist tendencies in the strongly Labour areas where Freemasonry is also strongly Labour, so who knows if part of that was due to the influence of Catholic Social Teaching?

To them was and is addressed the message, formulated while he was still an Anglican clergyman, of Fr Walton Hannah, who had no time for lurid Masonic conspiracy theories.

It was precisely because the original Masonic rituals in this country had drawn heavily on the Book of Common Prayer, itself drawn heavily from Medieval and earlier sources, but had later been redacted to exclude expressions of orthodox Trinitarian and Christological doctrine, that they were now unconscionable to those who continued to adhere to that orthodoxy.

That argument is unanswerable. On these shores, we ought therefore to deploy that, and not detain ourselves with Abroad's lurid theories, or even lurid facts, for which Fr Hannah had no time.

But what of the far more politicised Freemasonry of the Continent and of its former Empires? The only recent example of a conspiracy of that kind has been based in Italy, although it was also actively in, among other places, Argentina.

That consisted precisely in the P2 Lodge's support for the Far Right. But then, of course it did.

The Far Right is the continuation of that which overthrew the old, organic, Catholic states of the Italian Peninsula, and the old, organic, often Catholic states of German-speaking Europe.

It did so in precisely the spirit of the French Revolution. In precisely the spirit of the attacks on the Church and on Her interests ever since.

And in precisely the spirit against which the several States had to demand that the First Amendment to the American Constitution protect their respective Established Churches.

Interesting Findings Altogether Ignored

Last week saw the release of all registered parties’ finances for 2012, as well as Q1 figures for 2013.

It was gold dust for politics geeks. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), the media chose to ignore pretty much all of the data, probably due to all the much more newsworthy story of a couple having a baby.

The press did pick up on Labour’s finances, noting it received the most donations out of any party after raking in over £33m. Yet this fails to note that the total was in reality a fair bit higher than that due to the existence of the Co-operative Party, which only runs candidates jointly with Labour – effectively adding over £1m to Labour’s spending. So £34m spent, with not much of a boost for Miliband.

There are some much more interesting findings altogether ignored. Here’s the top ten: 

1) The BNP remains heavily in debt (despite claims by Nick Griffin that it’s on the mend), with over £356,000 in liabilities. While a slight improvement on its previous £541k of debt, in relation to its income (nearly £650k) it still equates to the party being 55% in the red. 

2) UKIP’s rise isn’t really reflected in its 2012 finances after bringing in £1.23m, only slightly up on its £1.07m in 2011. And it spent just over a million pounds, little up on its £971k the year before. So its surge in membership and support doesn’t seem to have translated immediately into hard cash. On the other hand, it looks like it’s building up a substantial-ish fighting fund for the 2015 election (see here). Thus far it’s amassed over £323k, tripling its 2011 assets of £104k. Keep your eye out for a continuing trend in 2014 in the run-up to the election. 

3) The SNP’s income plummeted last year from over £5m in 2011 to just over £2.3m. That doesn’t bode well for its independence hopes. It’s also reflected in its expenditure, which went from £3.45m in 2011 to £2.66m last year. It does have half a million quid in reserves, meaning the SNP could be gearing up for a big referendum campaign spending spree in 2014. Or it could reflect its activists and independence supporters tunnelling funds directly into the Yes to Independence campaign. Check out the dramatic graph anyway. 

4) A mixed picture for the Welsh nationalists, with Plaid Cymru racking up £683k in income and spending £594k of it – yet with similar assets to that of UKIP of £318k. Why does a Welsh-only party have the same amount in the kitty as a UK-wide party polling double that of the Liberal Democrats? 

5) The Green Party of England and Wales is on the up, remaining one of the only parties to spend less than it brings in. Basically, the Greens know how to ‘balance the books’. Scoring some steady gains in local government, the party ran a pretty tight ship on an income of £781k (not much more than the collapsing BNP’s £650k), and spent £745k. Not bad work. 

6) Things aren’t great for the Liberal Democrats. They’ve gone from holding nearly £2m of assets in 2006 to being £1.15m in the red today. At the same time, their income has gone from £10m in 2010 (at the peak of Cleggmania) to £6.4m today, a collapse of more than a third. The phrase ‘terminal decline’ comes to mind. 

7) Labour are actually much less in debt than the Conservatives. Says a lot about Osborne’s economic policies both for the country and his own party… 

8) The Communist Party of Britain seems to be doing reasonably (especially given it sort of disbanded at the start of the 1990s), with an income of £123k while spending over £129k in 2012 – leading some to ask how it was planning to make up the shortfall: Keynesian stimulus or ruthless austerity? Either way it’s unclear what they spend it on given they rarely stand candidates. Either way we won’t know who funds them since they stopped registering large donations in mid-2009 (check it yourself here). 

9) The ~200 member strong Socialist Party of Great Britain, not to be confused with the much larger Socialist Party of England and Wales (hold off the People’s Front of Judea jokes…), raked in a £295,775 donation early this year from a certain Mr. Stanley Robert Parker. He’s a published sociologist (cited on Wikipedia, no less). In fact, his donation is the 7th largest party donation of the whole first quarter of 2013. The same chap also gave them £150k at the end of 2012. 

10) Company donations made up over 40% of UKIP’s income in the first part of the year, a higher proportion than any other party (the Lib Dems ranking second at nearly 25%, with the Tories on less than a fifth).

The Really Dangerous Thing

Tim Black writes:

At the Conservative Party conference in October 1980, with the economy faltering and the Winter of Discontent of 1978-79 all too fresh in the public imagination, prime minister Margaret Thatcher remained steadfast in her commitment to Tory economic policy. It was a conference speech that was to help define her as a strong, dare I say, iron leader. ‘To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U-turn”, I have only one thing to say: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”’

How things change. The worst traditions of New Labour policy-un-making, where PR-driven announcements were followed by perfunctory public consultations, and eventually a subtle shelving of said policies, have been embraced by the Lib-Con coalition government as some sort of genius electoral strategy. If you ain’t done anything, you ain’t done anything unpopular, seems to be the magical thinking.

Examples of mainly Conservative policy-reversal abound. There was, for instance, the plan to sell off 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland in England. ‘It’s time for the government to step back and allow those who are most involved with England’s woodlands to play a much greater role in their future’, said environment secretary Caroline Spelman at the beginning of 2011. A few weeks later, the plan had been abandoned. ‘I’m sorry. We got this one wrong’, said Spelman.

Or take the money-saving plans to scrap free school milk for the under-fives. With the Cameron milk-snatcher backlash in full swing, the government promptly dropped the plan, albeit without telling Tory minister David Willetts who continued to defend the plan on TV while No.10 was busy briefing that it had been dropped. Then, of course, there were the repeated budget climbdowns during 2012, from the axing of a tax-relief cap on charitable donations, to the abandonment of levies on pasties and static caravans.

But perhaps most striking of all has been the recent rowing back on high-profile public-health proposals, be it minimum pricing for alcohol or plain packaging for cigarettes. This, after all, was an area on which the Conservatives in particular have been keen to make a stand.

And at the start of their period in office, they certainly looked liked they wanted to be seen as the party committed to changing our boozing and smoking ways. In November 2010, then health secretary Andrew Lansley seemed almost determined to ban branded cigarette packs: ‘The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It’s wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets.’

The following year, Lansley reiterated his commitment: ‘Health ministers across the UK have a responsibility to look closely at initiatives that might encourage smokers to quit and stop young people taking up smoking in the first place.’

The Tories’ approach to national alcohol consumption was, if anything, even more strident. Following Cameron’s admission in August 2010 that he would view Manchester council plans to introduce a 50 pence per unit minimum price ‘very sympathetically’ in 2011 the Lib-Cons announced a consultation on plans to introduce a nationwide minimum price per unit of alcohol, which would supposedly price so-called problem drinkers out of their behaviour.

Cameron himself clearly loved posturing on the issue. ‘Every night, in town centres, hospitals and police stations across the country, people have to cope with the consequences of alcohol abuse. And the problem is getting worse’, he intoned darkly in February 2012. ‘Whether it’s the police officers in A&E who have been deployed in some hospitals, the booze buses in Soho and Norwich, or the “drunk tanks” used abroad, we need innovative solutions to confront the rising tide of unacceptable behaviour’, he said. And the innovative solution of choice seemed to be 45 pence per unit of alcohol and, with it, the eradication of cheap booze.

The gallery of public-health lobbyists and campaigning organisations were delighted by the Tories performance. ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save lives, to save the country money. Both of those are very good deals for [Cameron]’, said the British Medical Association’s Vivienne Nathanson.

And this presumably was what the Tories wanted to hear. They were doing the ‘right’ thing, they were ‘improving’ and changing our behaviour. Whether it was to be achieved through nannying or nudging hardly mattered; what did matter was that the Tories were positioning themselves as a party committed to telling us how best to live our lives: smoke-free and low alcohol, as it happened.

And yet over the course of the past month or so, these two flagship proposals, these two markers of the government’s righteous concern with our health, and by default our everyday behaviour, have been, if not dumped, then certainly plonked on the back burner in some far away kitchen, with a sign instructing ministers not to approach until after the next General Election.

This ought to be a good thing, right? We at spiked have always been opposed to the nasty politics of behaviour and snobby lifestyle preaching of New Labour and now the Lib-Cons. So you’d think the abandonment of these two illiberal policies, both of which are underpinned by degrading assumptions about people’s capacities to make their own decisions about how to live their lives, ought to be something to be welcomed.

But it’s not really a good thing at all. In fact, if there’s one thing worse than a petty authoritarian government, intent on regulating autonomy out of our existence, then it’s a government with no authority at all. Because that is what this Conservative-dominated government is: a ruling force with neither reason nor conviction to rule.

Policies are chucked out into the public realm as little more than press releases. The plans and proposals themselves are weightless, without consequence. But then, this is hardly surprising given that actually acting on plans or proposals is far less important than appearing to act, than the press-released posture.

The reasons for postponing any decision on either minimum pricing or plain packaging are revealing, too. They are not born of a change in principle, or a strong political argument. No, in both cases the government claims there is not enough ‘evidence’ to say that either policy will improve public health. Which is no doubt true. But it’s also irrelevant. Politics shouldn’t be guided by some spurious notion of ‘evidence’; it should be informed by ideals, by a sense of how things ought to be.

But lacking these ruling ideals, these reasons for being in government, Cameron and Co. are outsourcing responsibility for decision- and policymaking to experts and evidence gatherers. ‘The evidence made me do it’, runs the mantra of the age. Has the government actually changed its view on whether minimum pricing or plain packaging is the right thing to do? Who knows.

At least a government committed to the idea of a nannying and nudging state is committed to something. At least it attempts to govern, to rule as it feels mandated to. You might not like it – and we at spiked certainly don’t – but disagreement is the lifeblood of political argument. But the current mess of an administration does not seem committed to anything.

Instead, it seems slippery, soft, and utterly ungraspable, its political commitments extending little further than the possibility of not doing anything too unpopular before the opportunity to get re-elected comes along. As such it degrades government and politics alike, reducing it to something without consequence or seriousness. And as such, it further depoliticises today’s already emaciated political life. 

Cameron, Clegg and the other interchangeable faces of the political class are not only for turning. They can see no reason why they ought not to. And that is the really dangerous thing.

The Myth of The Back Streets

Abortion activists love their folklore. Women. Hangers. Millions of deaths. None of it’s true, but it sure sounds scary in a sound bite. Planned Parenthood’s own Medical Director, Dr. Mary Calderone, in a 1959 article decrying the lack of social acceptance of abortion declared: “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure…90% of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Many of these physicians are in good standing in their communities.”

From the “back alley” to main street, the self-policing abortion industry sets up shops, unaccountable to seemingly anyone, making millions in profit behind closed (and filthy) doors. The landmark ruling of Roe (coupled with Doe v. Bolton) birthed abortionists like Kermit Gosnell, Steve Brigham, Solieman Soli, LeRoy Carhart, James S. Pendergraft and hundreds more across the country.

It allowed other abortionists to simply change their geography from the back alley to a storefront. Same folks. Different decade. Gosnell’s case has only shed a sliver of light into what commonly happens across the United States. Contrary to NARAL President, Ilyse Hogue’s, silly and historically ignorant contention that Gosnell is a “peek into the world before Roe v. Wade”, he is the world legitimized, praised and forced upon us by Roe and its worshippers.

Gosnell is a murderer. A jury of Philadelphians convicted him on only 3 out of 4 1st degree murder charges. According to Grand Jury and court testimony, he killed possibly hundreds of babies born alive, aided by a state regulatory agency that recklessly did nothing for decades. Planned Parenthood Southeast Pennsylvania boasted of knowing of Gosnell’s squalid clinic. They did nothing.

The National Abortion Federation inspected the “House of Horrors” and silently rejected Gosnell’s application into their elite world of baby killers. And they did nothing. NARAL knew of Gosnell’s “back-alley” butchery back in 1972 when poor black women (bussed from Chicago) were brutalized by Gosnell and International Planned Parenthood-funded convicted abortionist Harvey Karman in their “supercoil” experiment. NARAL did nothing. The Radiance Foundation discusses that tragic history here, where Gosnell’s heinous actions went ignored and unpunished.

And now NARAL, Planned Parenthood, their Sanger-award-winning media parrots, and liberal feminists blame Gosnell on prolifers. Yes, the very people who try desperately to save women and children through maternity homes, free services at pregnancy medical clinics, adoption, and other acts of love and compassion are the guilty ones. Huffington Post writes of the “rogue abortionist” and gives NARAL the creative space to weave a ludicrous tale of Gosnell as the “back alley” abortionist created by pro-life abortion regulations.

Sorry, NARAL. Sorry, Harry Reid. Gosnell was not rogue. He is vogue. The pro-infanticide abortion crowd, whose morality hinges on geography, (whether the baby’s body is a few inches this way or a few inches that way) hates to see the face of a typical abortionist shown to the world, revealing who they truly are. So, Gosnell is our fault? Abortion activists blaming Gosnell on prolifers is about as absurd as saying abolitionists caused slavery.

Failed actions from state medical boards, just as in Pennsylvania with Gosnell, enable these “doctors” of death to return to their dens of squalor and illegal activity. NARAL, when it first started, assured the American public that abortions were “safe” and conducted inspections to prove it (h/t In fact, the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one NARAL’s co-founders, inspected clinic after clinic following the legalization of abortion in New York City in 1970. NARAL never had these foul places shut down.

As horrifically revealed in Mark Crutcher’s Lime 5, Dr. Nathanson found filthy clinics from coast to coast – including Gosnell’s partner-in-crime Harvey Karman’s clinic, which was described as “drab, dark, and unsanitary.” NARAL’s Dr. Nathanson then went to work for the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH) in NYC to try to rescue it from the cesspool that it was. The CRASH clinic administrator described the abortionists there as: “atrocious…sadists, drunks, incompetents, sex maniacs, thieves, butchers, and lunatics…”

Hmmmm. Sounds familiar.

After one and a half years of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s efforts to impose a “professional” and clean killing environment, his attempts failed. (He eventually left and became passionately prolife, revealing the voluminous lies NARAL pumped out to the public about “safe” and legal abortions.) CRASH, on the other hand, eventually crashed. New York City Health Department forced it to close in 1988 following the death of a 19 year old victim due to a botched abortion. The abortion mill was under the medical supervision of abortionist David A. Gluck.

Mr. Gluck’s medical license had been previously revoked for 3 years because of felony charges stemming from illegal drug sales used to pay off his gambling debts – according to a 1988 New York Newsday article, entitled “Abortion Clinic Closed After Woman’s Death.” His medical license was revoked, again, but temporarily blocked by a court order.

His revocation was based on the illegal sale of prescription drugs, not because women were harmed in his CRASH clinic. In 1992, according to this letter from the New York City Office of Professional Medical Conduct, his license was reinstated. Only two years later, he killed a woman (Alerte Desanges, a 36 year old Haitian mother of three) in a botched abortion at Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens.

This is all in a day’s work, though, for an abortionist. Today, Dr. David Alan Gluck now runs the Westside Women’s Medical Pavilion abortion center in Manhattan that performs abortions up to 26 weeks. But no worries, he’s “Board Certified”!

Despite his felony charges, having presided over one of the filthiest abortion clinics in NYC, and causing the death of a mother in a botched abortion, he’s free and clear. He’s even a member of the National Abortion Federation. Ignored and empowered like Gosnell by state health authorities who apparently have incredibly low standards for “physicians”.

The enforcement of regulations isn’t the problem. That saves lives. It’s the evisceration of these regulations that should cause alarm, like the efforts of Planned Parenthood in NYC (already the abortion capital of the nation). They’re endorsing New York’s Reproductive Health Act that is Governor Cuomo’s attempt to eliminate every state restriction on abortion, including all clinic standards. The abortion giant wants abortion to be classified as “primary care” (no different than treating a cold) and have building code standards (AB980) rescinded in California, according to California Family Alliance.

In the state where over 214,000 abortions occur annually (obviously not a lack of access), PPFA is fighting to pass AB154 so that non-doctors can commit abortions in California. Women aren’t at the center of their “back alley” advocacy; they’re just protecting abortion. In defending AB980 and asserting that abortion is the same as primary healthcare, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California’s chief legal counsel, Beth Parker, wrote: “There is no difference between taking a pill for a cold or taking one to induce an abortion.”

A child being given a cold and flu prescription doesn’t require the same medical attention as a woman who has undergone a life-ending abortion. The American public needs to see the abortion industry’s infatuation with the “back alley” and how they empower Gosnells across the country. Every “back alley” has a front door. And Planned Parenthood is spending (our) millions to make sure those doors stay open for business.