Cops Behaving Badly

There’s an Interesting edition of Panorama on tonight – focussing on Police Misconduct – the programme draws on Freedom of Information responses from 47 of 53 UK forces for 2008-2010 which  reveal that there had been –
  • 1,915 Findings of guilt for misconduct: 1,915 and of these
  • 382 were dismissed or told to resign as a result:
  • In addition to these – there were 489 Further cases where officers resigned or retired without facing the discipline process – meaning that they probably would have been found guilty of misconduct.
Assuming these are not repeat offenders, this means that in this two year period nearly 2500 officers were found guilty of  misconduct charges.
Given There are just under 150 000 full time officers in the UK (250 000 employees if we cound support staff) – so this means that in any two year period, 2% of them will be found guilty of misconduct charges (4/5ths of whom are allowed to stay). Keep in mind that the typical officer will serve longer than 2 years on the force, then the number who will eventually be found guilty will increase dramatically. Also, the above figures are just telling us about the ‘misconduct officers’ who get caught.
There is other evidence such as the fact that there have been 333 deaths in police custody in the last decade but not one prosecution  that suggests that there might in fact be a culture of turning a blind eye that allows misconduct to occur in a systematic way – this in turn raises the worrying prospect that the police are no more deserving of our respect than the criminals they are suppossed to be protecting the public from – as many members of the police force will themselves break the rules when they deem it to be convenient  

Buy (almost) Nothing Month

I am such a hopeless consumerist shit that in honour of ‘buy nothing day‘ later this month I’ve decided to make November my own personal ‘buy (almost) nothing month’ – I’d recommend everyone else does the same. I’m seriously going to just buy next to nothing and invest some quality time in meditating and introspection – I mean November’s depressing enough – may as well make it really depressing.

I regard myself as an anti-materialist, and ok, perhaps I’m just more deluded than most, but since I’ve been keeping a detailed record of everything I buy for the last two months – it appears my practical consumption levels don’t actually reflect my understanding of myself as an anti-materialist – reflecting on the list of things I’ve bought is enormously depressing – here are some examples –

  • almost £70 in September on take-out coffee – this hasn’t stopped in October – I spent £6 on the stuff today –
  • £86.50 in Sainsburies and Tesco, in addition to £60 on my weekly organic fruit box – so £146.50 on food/ munchies – even though I have a productive allotment and I’ve eaten take out about 4 times this month and I’ve bought lunch at work most days.
  • £173.55 on beer and munchies – I’m kind of hoping I’m paying more than my fair share here…although I do realise that if I was American, I’d probably be branded an alcoholic – thankfully I’m British, so that’s not the case.  
  • So this means I’ve spent £389 on shoving food and drink down my gullethole – not one single penny of this was spent in a restaurant btw, most of it’s food and beer on the go – I’m just that classy.
  • Oh and that’s excluding the £600 worth of clothes I just bought – but that was the first time I’ve been clothes shopping for about 4 years, so I’m gonna self-flagellate because of this.

What’s scary about this is how this has crept up on my since I’ve been working and earning a decent wage (admitedly we are talking a decade here) – This kind of extreme consumption has just become normalised over a period. I mean this is despite my supporting such wonderful ventures as ‘buy nothing day’ above, the anti-consumerist stance of those at LSX and the Church of stop shopping (perhaps I need spiritual intervention?), and adoring films like ‘No Impact Man’ – and the whole point of my having an allotment was so I could spend less.

This is a truly truly horrifying revelation and should be a lesson to you all, hence my buy nothing month – check consumption and then check your consumption!  

Of course when I say buy nothing, I mean buying nothing after the mortgage and all the other usual monthly outgoings and basic, basic food – hence buy (almost) nothing month (coughs) –  

The problem I’ve got is that November is the second most depressing month of the year – still, if ever I feel a little down I can look in the mirror and admire the moustache I’m growing for Movember, although there’s a risk that looking like a ginormous twatt might have the opposite effect and push me over the edge – still – I guess the dead, after the funeral, really don’t consume, so that wouldn’t necessarily be all bad… I’d rather be dead than consuming and unconsciously oiling the wheels of capital.


Why more of us should hate clothes shopping

This one… or

I’ve just been clothes shopping for the first time in about four years. I hated every minute of it, I know I’m not the only one, and I know we’re right to hate it.

Western culture presents this activity to me as an enjoyable leisure activity that will allow me to express something about myself – The vanguard of this message – whereby the ideal of ‘clothes-shopping-as-liberation-through-self-expression is presented to us is through the increasing array of clothing-lifestyle programmes where fashion-hero celebs, such as Gok Wan, who, between strutting around expressing his camp-vivaciousness, finds the time to advise aesthetically challenged individuals how to successfully negotiate their way through the bewildering choices on offer in today’s fashion landscape. In episode after episode of this show, subject after subject goes through a ‘road to Damascus’ experience in which, after much counselling and cajoling, they eventually end up with ‘a look’, or if they’re young and attractive, maybe even ‘the look’ – and feel much better about themselves.

or this one – either way I only express my ritualistic sheepishness

Oddly, my recent ‘road to Crawley’ clothes-shopping experience was most un-Damascus like. I seem to have ended up spending the best part of half a grand to end up with the same old sort of stuff – and I think this is what clothes shopping is about for most people – rather than clothes shopping being about standing out and expressing one’s true self – it’s more about buying the same old shit so my social persona fits in with very ordinary and hardly-changeable pre-existing fashion- standards. For me, and I know this is the case for most other people, especially men, clothes shopping at best involves my avoiding looking less like the loser in slacks rather than my succeeding in finding ‘the look’ that makes me stand out as someone worth knowing.  What is also painfully obvious is just how many people – men especially – are with me on this – so many of them clearly do not enjoy the process of shopping for clothes – it is painful to watch – I know it, they know it, and so do all the people working in the stores – all of us making our pathetically limited choices just make sure we don’t actually stand out….

Personally, I think this is about the best I can ever hope for when it comes to fashion – given a number of things – my general cluelessness about what’s fashionable – which is understandable given that what’s fashionable is a highly flexible and changeable social construction; my lack of knowing anyone that knows about fashion who would be prepared to come and shop with me; my lack of a partner (which in turn is possibly related to the fact that I think partner-clothes-shopping is pretty much the Nadir of any relationship); my relative lack of leisure time (as well as my desire to other things with it); and given a my lack of desire to spend that much money on clothes. Oh, and more important than any of this, is the fact that I just think that judging people by the clothes they wear is incredibly shallow. I don’t feel liberated by the last few hours spent clothes shopping, I feel trapped by its unfortunate necessity.

Unfortunately I don’t really have the subcultural capital to pull this off

And right there lies another annoying thing about all of this – while in principle I am free to choose to never buy any new clothes again – in reality this is a monstrous freedom –  I have to go through this ritual periodically. I can’t detach myself entirely from fashion-norms because I don’t really want to stand out – I, like most other people, just want to ‘fit in’ – I don’t want to use anti-fashion to stand out – I don’t want to use crusty-fashion to express my distaste of Capitalism, I don’t want to go naked to show my anti-materialism, and, even though I’ve contemplated it, I can’t quite bring myself round to just wearing exactly the same things day in-day out (I’ve considered overalls for example, but no) – I can’t help it, I feel the  need to ‘fit in’ – which isn’t terribly unusual by the way – and so I can’t avoid not making clothing choices, I can’t avoid spending time and effort on this – being part of this society necessitates some time and effort being invested in this most shallow of experiences, and as a result I’ve ended up feeling horribly depressed and somewhat trapped. This feeling of being ‘trapped by choice’ is I think partly due to the fact that despite the bewildering ‘variety’ of men’s fashion on offer, there is, actually, an incredible lack of variety – I mean, honestly, of all the colours and cuts available – I am left with a huge amount of very limited choice – but as a result of money being spent on making item A ever so slightly different to item B, and of course because of the huge mark up, I end up paying huge amounts of cash for something cut in a slightly different way, with a slightly different collar, or, if I’m 12 and uber-shallow, a certain logo.

Gok Wan all is forgiven – I submit, just please come save me from the depths of my-self

Of course for those with more money (or possibly more willingness to go into debt) – they can transform this thoroughly negative experience of clothes shopping into something very positive – but this takes not only cash – but considerable time and effort – you have to understand fashion for a start, and I for one wouldn’t know where to begin. So I’m stuck in this limbo land of having to accept going through the ‘ritual of choice’ – going clothes shopping – without actually exercising that choice that in any way that makes me a fashion star – I end up expending money, time and emotional energy on just standing still –

Those willing and able to do this must be in a minority – less than 10% of the population? – but of course, it may seem like more, because these type of people are the more visible – in order to justify the time they invest in their fashion choices, they have to go out and put those choices on display. The end result is that because of this minority of people exercising their financial and stylistic freedom being more visible, both in ordinary life and in hyper reality, we get a mistaken impression about ‘normality’ – we kind of get the impression that investing time and effort in nurturing ‘a look’ is what people in Britain do – when, actually, it is not – pause a moment on the high street on a typical weekday – most people are wearing remarkably drab clothing – mostly hues of blue, black and grey for example – but most of those people would have had to have spent time choosing between items that are very similar to each other…..

So isn’t this just another victory for Capitalism, and what the hell do I actually do about this? The answer is I don’t actually know – but at least when I’m parading around in my new clothes, that look very much like my old clothes, I certainly won’t be giving anyone the satisfaction of looking like I’m feeling good about myself – especially since I haven’t got round to buying any new shoes yet… and we all know that a new look just isn’t complete without shoes, is it now…

Related posts

Why do some men hate clothes shopping (because some men are rational?)

Why do men hate shopping – blame the pushy staff (and Capitalism)

Thoughts for Thursday – why I hate shopping


The Twitter challenge to Saudi Patriarchy

Listened a very interesting story on R4 today that illustrates the extent of patriarchy in Saudi Arabia – In this report  Samar Badawi tells of her father who abused her for over 15 years. but because of the guardianship system ended up in prison for seven months after trying to stop it – Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to make certain decisions such as travelling or having medical treatment without the agreement of their male guardian.

Samar’s father a drug addict, started to abuse her from the age of 14, and used her as a source income since she started working at the age of 15. The abuse continued for 15 years. Because she eventually managed to prove her father’s abuse, she became a guest at a family rescue centre, and her father filed a case against her for ‘being disobedient’ – the residing judge decided that the father had a right to beat her and take her money so gave Samar the choice of returning to live with her father or go to jail – she chose jail. She spent 7 months there – interestingly, what got Samar released wasn’t letters of appeal to higher Saudi authorities, but a Twitter and Facebook campaign – after 6 days of this – she was released.!

There’s more details of this fascinating story here

The links between St Paul’s board and the city

You’ve probably heard about Gile’s Fraser resigning because he couldn’t sanction the use of force to evict the only people in Britain willing to physically resist against the power finance Capitalism – I imagine that many on the board of St Pauls are extremely glad to see the back of him – given the close links between them and Corporations

I thought this was worth sharing from the Green Party Web site – details of some of the links between the board of St Pauls and our Corporate Elites –

Sir John Stuttard, the Chairman of St Paul’s hails from PricewaterhouseCoopers, of which he is now Deputy Chairman of the firm’s Advisory Board. Trustees ALSO  include John Spence of Lloyds Bank , Roger Gifford, the UK Country head of SEB Swedish bank and Carol Sergeant, Chief Risk director at Lloyds Banking Group.


Corporate Pay Rises by 49% – Another reason to support #LSX

Research from Income Data Services showed that directors of companies on Britain’s FTSE 100 index enjoyed a 49 percent rise in total salaries last year compared to 3 percent rise for the FTSE 100 in the last business year.The total annual pay for the directors now averages 2.7 million pounds

This compares to a recent drop in annual average salaries – according the Mail, a drop of £2500 in the average in a recent 6 month period

For some reason, radio 4 gave air time to one such CEO justifying the inreases due to the fact that these companies are global in scope – and if we didn’t offer such huge salaries in the UK, the ‘talent’ at the top would go.

It’s unusual for radio 4 to give airtime to such nonsense! Nonsense according to Toybe and Walker’s book – unjust rewards – Chapter 3 of which investigates why Britain’s chief executives get paid so much money – and finds those at the top are not especially talented people – and there is no correlation between company performance and executive pay – for every Alan Sugar there are dozens of bureaucratic pen pushers who just go with the flow. Worryingly old boy’s networks restrict access to the boards of the FTSE 100 companies – how else could it be that, in the age of globalization, 85% of CEOs of the FTSE 100 companies are British?

Also, If there was true competition for these jobs the field would be much more international, and if there was genuine competition for these jobs, wages and bonuses would be driven down!

Instead CEOs get paid as much as they do because they demand it – and they base their demands on what other CEOs are demanding – and their demands for ever increasing wages get pushed through at board meetings because of recommendations by consultants who make their recommendations for wage and bonus increases by looking at other CEOs salaries.

Of course the government is on the side of the Corporations and it won’t do anything to combat inflated and unjust corporate pay levels- which yet another reason to protest, strike etc – It’s up to us to, after all, to control these Corporate leaches….

Related posts –

 Disparities between top pay packets need better explanation

Socialist review – unjust rewards

My review of ‘unjust rewards’

Guy Fawkes Masks

I’m heading up to London in a couple of days to visit the revolution romancers outside St Pauls – after an NUT demo (followed by some beers) – these protests are pretty inspiring – in no way can I be cynical about them –  I’m especially interested in the use of the Guy Fawkes masks by those who claim to be part of anonymous (and those who are just tagging along and pretending – ‘cos it is pretty cool after all) – what’s interesting is that the orings of the mask lie in a film called V for Vendetta

It’s set in a dystopian future where the fictional prime-minister resides over a police state and freedom of speach has been quashed – the movie may be a shadow of Orwell’s 1984 – and the parallells between the dystopian future it depicts and where our current condition are fairly obvious in this speach given by V… (at least I think that’s the main characters name!)

V remains anonymous all the way through the movie – eventually inspiring a revolution on the 5th November. I just wonder what the chances are of this playful spirit actually changing anything….?

Occupy LSX – can it really go from lifeworld to system?

Wandered up to LSX yesterday – I was mostly encouraged by what I saw to be honest – although the camp looked pretty dishevelled in the rain.

The Occupy movement is about drawing attention to the injustices in the economic and political system and sends out a message that we should seek to reform it so that the 1% cannot profit from the poverty of the 99%.

<:header>The full initial statement of the movement is here – which is a very accessible list of demands given that it was agreed through consensus – The immediate essence of the movement seems to be that we will not pay for the bankers’ crisis through cuts to public services….

At the moment, however, despite the obvious intention being systemic reform at the moment this remains an alternative ‘lifeworld movement’ in that it displays the following typical left-green-anarchist forms of organisation –

    • Participatory decision making (and a lot of moaning about there being too much discussion about operational issues, now handily on live stream for all to witness)
    • Voluntary Poverty – although I’m sure if you dug down you’d find plenty of middle class students hanging out on daddy’s credit card.
    • A commitment to avoiding dealing with large corporations – effort is made to source things second hand, and the issue of whether to set up a bank account for funding had the agenda of ‘do we need one or credit union or co-op?)
    • Vegetarianism – it clearly states ‘no meat’ on the food wish list in the kitchen
    • Lots of creativity – valuing art, music, colour…
    • Acceptance of lots of diversity and creativity – I think this will move more to ‘tolerance’ as things evolve.

    Maintaining an alternative life-world is relatively straightforward – especially when the general public are on side and stocking your free kitchen with a range of nibbles and dips and large tubs full of fruit.

the problem the movement now faces is how, exactly, is it going to challenge the system it opposes – what exactly is systemic reform going to look like in pratice – and how far do they compromise with the mainstream left?Capitalism can easily survive – even if tens of thousands camp out on London’s streets chomping on charity munchies, playing Djembe Drums and discussing radical politics…

A few views on occupy wall street etc.

So its day 39 of occupy wall street and day something or other of occupy LSX – these are definitely the the most significant movements to have emerged since the anti-globalisation movement of the late 90s/ early 2000s, and possibly the most important movements for change ever – they have a global reach, unlike the anti-globalisation movement, they are now rooted, rather than transitory, and in the wake of the extreme nature of the legitimation crisis facing the (I won’t say ‘our’) corporate-states these movements have popular and growing support, even in spite of the best efforts of the mainstream press. The links above will take you to the livestreams of the Wall Street and St Pauls sites (although the later is not working as of 11.00 a.m. Tue 25th Oct) and the later to the global stream hub… they all seem to have chat rooms where you can engage in conversation with whoever else is online.

So what’s the movement about?

Well of course it’s going to be difficult to give an easy answer to this because the occupy movement is a grass roots movement, based in several hundred cities around the world. This is also a movement that’s evolving all the time – due to its radically democratic in nature, this means that it is subject to the ‘will of the assembly’ – all of which means that it’s hard to ascertain exactly where this is going!

So I’m going to give you my interpretation of what I understand the movement to be about – people will of course disagree with this – some present at LSX no doubt think, for example, that poetry, face painting and drum circles have a much more significant role to play in ‘realising utopia’ than I do. (For the record I quite like resistance poetry, I can tolerate face painting, but I think all Djembe drums should drums on site should be rounded up and used as cooking fuel.)

It’s also clear from looking at recent events that there are some differences between movements in different countries – most notably for me (because this is what I’m interested in) the passion, turnout, and organisation of the #occupywallstreet movement appears to be much greater than the LSX movement – this is probably due to the fact that the American government really has been bought out by the Corporate sector, while in Britain, all we really have to complain about is the trillion dollar bail out of the city and the ensuing cuts to public services, rather than the wholesale Corporate takeover of our system – there are some politicians remain relatively untainted.

I’m going to treat occupy Wall Street and occupy LSX separately – and look at grievances and proposals/ demands separately – there will be overlap so I’m not gonna repeat myself.


Occupy Wall Street…

As I said above, different people have different reasons for being at either event, but a sensible starting point for anyone wishing to understand more would be to check out the adbusters site – this is where I first saw the original Occupy idea being promoted back in July. I’d also recommend going here and looking at Naomi Klein’s take on the movement – which she roots back to the anti-globalisation movements of a decade ago – the one line that stands outThe point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy.

I’d also recommend watching some of these videos –

Video 1 – A stupid person’s guide to Occupy Wall Street – A young woman, clearly affecting a ‘ditsy persona’ does a nice job of giving an introductory summary of the movement


My summary – Occupy Wall Street – It’s basically about the 99% – which is ordinary American citizens – using their democratic right to assemble in order to raise awareness of economic injustice – particularly the fact that the 1% – or Corporate America is profiting off of the misery of the 99% – and a bit more too!

Charts like this also do quite a lot to explain one of the basic gripes of the movement – increasing inequality



Video 2  – A Business Man occupies wall street – this is more a conservative take on why even conservatives should support the 99%


My Summary – In this video – ‘David Instrator points out that Transnational Corporations are by definition un-American – they do not owe their allegiance to any one country. The wall street protest is by ordinary American people against Corporatism – in other words it is against the takeover of the American government by Transnational Corporate interests .

He also argues that occupy Wall Street is a conservative movement – it is about the interests of the country over the interests of the market, and it is about us acting as citizens rather than as consumers. He also argues that this movement might actually be pro-Capitalism – in that capitalism would not have allowed the bailing out of the banks (insert too big to fail) and the socialising of losses while gains are privatised (insert income chart or wealth charts).

He finishes by imploring people – if you are a conservative, come join us, this is your movement.  


Video 3 – A very impassioned account of why politics as usual is not working! As #anonymous tweeted – this is a core value of the movement – money in politics is the root cause of all political evil


My Summary – Transnational Corporations have been extracting wealth from the US for 20 years, the political system has facilitated this and is incapable of stopping it – the speaker calls on Obama to stand up to congress and enact economic policy for the people rather than for the Corporations – but given that he’s not doing it – I see this speech as justification for why a movement such as the occupy movement outside of mainstream American Politics is necessary


Video 4 – Why Noam Chomsky supports Occupy Wall Street



Wall Street is just short hand for the financial institutions – the banks are richer and bigger than ever before, and corporate profits are soaring while real unemployment is similar to that of the great depression. At the same time as enormous wealth being generated, fiscal policies (tax cuts and spending reductions) have lead to massive poverty and the collapse of social infrastructure. Cycle

In the next election year, Campaign spending will exceed one billion dollars – where does it come from? – if we look at 2008, Obama mainly got his money from financial intuitions. Also in terms of the day to day running of the parliament – committees are bought – increasing the influence of concentrated capital. 2/3rds of the public think most of congress should be thrown out.

All of these things are signs that the system is not working – the system is not functioning. NB – this isn’t new – but there are degrees and this is now extreme, it’s time for protest….


Video 5 – Wall streeters mocking protestors

My summary – The claims that the #occupywallstreet movement have no clear message is totally blow away by this video – As protestors march past a load of wealthy individuals quaffing Champaign on a balcony chanting ‘we are the 99% – at about 33 seconds in someone walks past the camera sporting a ‘commodity inflation causes starvation’ placard. I think the message here is at its most obvious – The money that bought you that Champaign – it comes at the expense of the many.

Personally, I want to see the people on the balcony getting even closer to the produces their immorality has bought them – maybe by shoving those Champaign glasses in their faces?  But that’s just me, as I understand it the movement is peaceful – it’s the system that’s violent.


So there are some of the key ideas of occupy wall street – in a future post, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll look at Occupy LSX and some of the proposals that are being put forwards to make our world a more just place in which to live…

Cuts to universities are funding subsidies to Business training programmes

In the sense that University places are being replaced with apprenticeships under current government policy

Two recent sources suggest an significant drop in UK students intending to go to unviersity – recent UCAS stats show a 12% drop in applications – 52 000 applicants so far this year, compared to 59 000 last year in that while a recent survey suggests that 1/10 students are being put of going to University.

What I find extremely interesting here is that 2/3rds of students currently doing A levels are considering doing apprenticeships instead of degrees. The rate at which these apprenticeships are growing in modern Britain recently took me my surprise – the number available for 16-19 year olds in now around the 400 000 mark – and  number of ‘higher apprenticeships’ for 18-21 year olds ( or older) are growing – The government has recently found £25 million to support them, enough to fund 10 000 positions

So err, hang on, that’s roughly 10 000 fewer people going to university to learn critical thought – and an additional 10 000 people going straight into training with businesses, paid for by the government. Isn’t this an example of the government just cutting critical, academic education, and using the cash to pay for cut-price youth-labour for businesses?

So fastforward a decade – and what we’ll have are thousands of more 18-20 years olds working for large corporations doing ‘apprenticeships’ either earning nothing or paying for the privilege, and tends of thousands more 20 somethings who have gone through apprenticeships having missed out on the broader, more critical and academic education that they would have got had they gone to unversity.

And Ok I know there are arguements for more vocational education and then theres the fact that many graduates are underemployed but what I’m talking about here is the decline of education for the sake of education, and its replacement with education for the sake of supporting business (note, I don’t say industry – because I’s sure many of these apprenticeships are not actually that productive.