I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


On Monday afternoon our local battalion marched through the town for a Homecoming Parade having completed their latest tour in Helmand. For a few minutes the sound of bagpipes and crashing boots filled the street outside First Base. The street in the picture isn’t our street. It is the next along, a few hundred yards from the Agency. However the picture above paints a similar scene to the one that played outside our front window.

I wonder if your impressions are the same as mine?

How many of a thousand words does this picture paint?

First up, check out the weather. No rain. Fair enough, it wasn’t an afternoon of blazing sunshine, but the clouds were high and the air was warm. More to the point, that was exactly what the forecast promised the day before. So what? So where are all the people, that’s what. Just look at how empty the streets are. This isn’t seven in the morning by the way. It is 12.30 pm and it isn’t a Bank Holiday.

Was this a surprise event? No. It had been advertised for weeks. And yet a mere handful turned out to acknowledge what these lads had been through in all of our names. Things on our street were slightly different as a gaggle of kids from a nearby Primary School had been mobilised to cheer and wave little plastic Scottish flags.

Surely these lads deserve something better than a march through an empty town where nobody seems to give a damn.

To be honest, the lack of cheering crowds on the streets of Dumfries is the least of the problems for the guys in the photo. Whilst they were in Helmand they received letters from the MOD informing them that their home base was to be moved from Edinburgh to Northern Ireland. Many have bought houses in Edinburgh to ensure their families are close by. Wives have jobs. Kids have schools. Grandparents are at hand for baby sitting duty. A move across the water to Ulster represents a huge upheaval. Unbelievably they were given 24 hours to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the move. They were expected to make the decision whilst in a war zone thousands of miles from home on the back of a snatched chat on the sat phone with their families. The move is a hassle for the younger lads and the Fijians. It is a much bigger blow for the older guys with houses and families. For them the options on the table were pretty stark. You either go live on your own and get leave time with the family. Or you sell up in the teeth of the recession and move away from home. Or of course there was a third option.

Resign. Jack it in. Do not make it to 12 years and a decent pension. Do not qualify for a redundancy payment. Just resign and save a few bob for the MOD. Make sure that none of the civil servants in the department have to fall on their swords.

The next day those same civil servants announced another 4500 redundancies. A major appeared on the news to explain how the MOD had got shut of him a mere 87 days before his half pension turned into a full pension. Our politicians never tire of bigging themselves up on trips to Helmand and waxing lyrical about the courage and professionalism of the lads in the Green Machine. Behind the sound bites is a nasty miserable campaign to get rid of career soldiers on the cheap. It is shoddy and quite frankly it beggars belief.

As I stood at the window and watched the row after row of young faces pass by, I found it hard to feel any great sense of celebration. At First Base we don’t see these guys march in full of confidence and taking their pick of multiple career opportunities. When they come to see us after a few months on Civvy St, they have confused and hollowed eyes and they seem somehow shrunken. The nightmares are eating them alive and they cannot understand why they are flying off the handle all the time. The Job Centre is treating them like they are scum and the Army doesn’t want to know any more. They have realised that the recruitment adverts that once captured their imagination so completely were nothing but an elaborate con. They expected training and new skills which would guarantee them a career and a bright future. Instead all they have received is first rate training in how to deploy maximum violence. Instead they have been granted an endless legacy of sleepless nights and flashbacks of the reality of what it looks like when red hot metal meets human flesh. Instead they are intimately acquainted with how it feels to be on the scrap heap.

How many of the young faces from the parade will end up coming through our doors in the months and years to come? Too many. Way too many.

I wonder if you have maybe clocked another thing about the picture. Look how close the march is to the shops. When they passed First Base they were a mere ten yards or so from our front window.

Here are a few basic facts.

The parade was advertised weeks in advance. I knew exactly when the lads would march by to within five minutes.

Our front window is completely obscured by blinds.

I was in there on my own and had been so since I had opened up just after half past eight to unload our weekly donation of 50 loaves of bread from Greggs. Just like every Monday.
So what?

Well, what if an Al Queda intelligence officer had taken a note of the time and date of the parade and sensed an opportunity for a ‘Spectacular’? It wouldn’t have been hard. Check out the route. What shops are there? What about that First Base place? What is their routine on a Monday? One middle aged guy goes in at half past eight. On his own. OK. Where does he enter the building? A back door in a quiet street. How strong is the lock? Not strong at all.

So. The bones of a plan. Break in quietly in the wee small hours and plant a huge bomb behind the blinds of the front window. Any cameras at the back door? No. No cameras. Then wait for the guy to turn up and bash him on the head and tie him up in the basement. Or cut his throat. Whatever. Then you have total control of the building. All you need to do is patiently wait for 12.30pm and press the trigger.


The worst disaster for the British Army since Korea.

So did anyone from the Security Services call into First Base that morning for a quick look around? No. Not a soul. Imagine if such an opportunity had been presented to the IRA in the late seventies? They would have grabbed it with both hands. But there never was such an opportunity because the powers that be knew only too well that the Boyos would have absolutely grabbed it with both hands. Imagine it. 1 Scots have a homecoming parade having completed a tour of duty in South Armargh and nobody bothers to check out the shops lining the route.

It would have been boom, boom and more boom.

But there was no boom and it seems that the Security Services were more than confident that there would be no boom. Was this mere complacency and the result of spending cuts? Or was it a realisation that Al Queda are in fact no great threat at all; nothing even approaching the threat that the Provos once represented? I tend to favour the second scenario.

And them a final thought came to me. Imagine if the Taliban who the lads in the parade have been fighting for so many hot, dusty months had decided to have a parade of their own. Picture it. About 400 fully armed Taliban fighters advertise weeks in advance that they will be parading through a small town in their home province having served down south in Helmand for a few months. In fact they even give an exact time for their march.

Would there be a boom?

I think we all know the answer to that one. There would be one almighty boom. The boys in the RAF and the USAF would surely lick their lips in anticipation. And the parade would indeed be rained on by a deluge of Hellfire missiles care of roving Apache helicopters and F16’s. And when the dust at last settled, there would have been several hundred very dead Taliban guys and the kids from the local school would have been reduced to tiny bite sized pieces for the crows.

And within minutes our gallant politicians would have be all over our TV screens to crow about a huge and vital victory in the War on Terror. And of course they would go completely overboard about the magnificent professionalism of our heroic airman who had rained death from the skies.

I don’t suppose there would have been any talk of magnificent professionalism and heroism had a squad of Al Queda fighters tied me up on Monday morning and used our front window to launch the greatest attack on the British Army in years and years. Instead they would have used words like ‘despicable’ and ‘cowardly attack’.

Simple really.

If you kill a whole bunch of enemy soldiers by using millions of pounds worth of high tech aviation equipment and ordinance, it is heroic and magnificently professionl.

If you kill a whole bunch of enemy soldiers by blowing up a bomb from behind a shop window, it is despicable and cowardly.

Maybe there are just a few double standards here?

I once heard an excellent of what a terrorist is.

A terrorist is someone who throws a stone at a tank.

That sounds about right to me!


Monday, June 17, 2013


I have spent the last few days in a strange kind of limbo-land. Work has meant the now accustomed procession of beaten down characters bearing a slip of paper to exchange for a bag of food. Outside of work, I have been outside in the warmth of a surprisingly sunny Scottish spring and working my way through Anthony Beevor’s almost epic 900 page account of the Second World War. As we all come to terms with the permanent erosion of our standard of living, it is tempting to succumb to the idea that things are becoming really bad. It certainly feels that way. It certainly looks that way on the TV. It certainly can be seen in the uncomprehending eyes of those who come into First Base for a bag of food.

Two or three hours spend in the Anthony Beevor Tardis is more than enough to dispel any such thinking.

For years I was as conned as everyone else in my generation when it came to the memories of what went down right across the globe in the 1940’s. I grew up with action men. Some were plastic figures with chiselled chins and all kinds of gear to collect and swap. Others were the heroic characters from the big screen. The Americans had John Wayne, Rob Mitchum and Burt Lancaster. We had Leslie Howard, David Niven and John Mills. Heroes and warriors and when the baddy Germans died, they died well; quickly and almost peacefully as a burst from a machine gun seemed almost like a kindness. The young lads of the Sixties were never subjected to any of the realities of the mechanised butchery that swept the world in the middle of the 20th Century leaving far too many millions of dead people to accurately count. We were reared on the Boys Own heroics of The Battle of Britain and the Dambusters and the Great Escape and Colditz and D Day. We were steered clear of vast visions of Hell that played out in the East.

Over recent years, having visited a few of those places where for a while Hell came alive on earth, I have developed something of an unhealthy fascination with the biblical savagery that took a hold of so many millions of people for those darkest of all years.

In my opinion, Beevor has no peers. He tells it like it was, warts and all. He gives the view from the top and the view from the bottom. He gives the context of how normal every day postmen and farmers were transformed into utter psychopaths. For a while in the late Seventies, we were all held transfixed as the Yorkshire Ripper story played out and the extent of his butchery was revealed. Well, obviously we were. Yet what Peter Sutcliffe did was no more than the day to day bread and butter of what both sides did to each other in the lunatic asylum of the Eastern Front.

Taking a time to trip back to the very darkest hour of humankind soon dispels any foolish thoughts that things are a particularly bad right now. Sure, life ain’t great and it doesn’t look much like it will get any better in the near future. But once you get a handle on what it must have been like for civilian and soldier alike in places like Stalingrad or Smolensk of Leningrad, then it is impossible not to feel truly blessed.

Having established that the scope for things to be worse is almost absolute, there is some worth in wondering if there are any similarities to be found between now and then.

Maybe there are.

Germany 1933 and Britain 2013. Two outwardly civilised and wealthy western countries, eighty years apart. Is there anything in common? Bits and bats. Both shared some similar problems, mainly economic. In both cases, a massive implosion of the Wall St banks had completely screwed up just about everything. Unemployment up, wages down and factories and shops closed down and boarded up. Did it lead to mass demonstration on the streets against a small minority of capitalists who had robbed us all blind and stuffed their tax haven bank accounts to bursting point? Not really. Not at all in fact.

By 1933 the Nazi propaganda machine was purring like a brand new Jag. They could get millions of Germans to dance to more or less any tunes they pleased. Had Goebbels chosen to urge his brown shirted minions to march their way into Charlottenberg to ransack the mansions of the bankers at the top of the pile, they would have done so without a second thought. He didn’t of course. None of the Nazis did. They were much more interested in cosying up to the super rich and sweet talking their way into a piece of the action.

Sound familiar? Look at the utter misery that is being heaped onto so many hundreds of thousands of people at the moment in the shape of the Bedroom Tax. We are told that times are really hard for the country and hard decisions need to be made to balance the books. The Bedroom Tax will save the country £400 million and every single penny counts. The fact that in the first two months of the financial year 70% of Bedroom Tax is not being paid is brushed under the carpet. It is the principle that counts surely. Everybody is having a tough time they tell us at every opportunity.

But that isn’t entirely true. In fact that isn’t even remotely true. Last year the richest 1000 individuals in Britain saw their collective wealth increase by £40 billion. Big numbers. As in 100 times more than the theoretical savings made by the Bedroom tax. A thousand people saw their wealth go up by an average of £40 million each. It doesn’t seem like the recession is hitting those lads particularly hard. So do we hear about it? Surely we must. Surely such news should dominate the front pages of the papers every day. After all, £40 billion represents more than half of the much talked about structural deficit. Well you know the answer to that one already. Of course we don’t hear about it.

Instead the best selling tabloid newspapers focus on the wickedness of the idle, scrounging poor. The bankers screwed everything up we all picked up the tab. They soon resumed business as usual and the small number of people who own almost everything now use their in-house media to tell us all that the blame for everything is to be found at the doors of the poor. It is ridiculous and illogical and it is hard to get your head around the fact that people are daft enough to take it on board. But they do take it on board. All of it. Hook, line and sinker.

So what template did Hitler and his fellow gangsters leave for the super-rich of today to follow? Not a bad one actually. Get a hold of just about all the media and bribe politicians with promises of a seat at the high table and them distract everyone by blaming the whole mess on someone the people don’t like much anyway.

The Nazis blamed it all on the Jews.

Our lot are blaming it all on the scrounging poor.

And let’s face it, we are lapping it all up just as willingly as the Germans lapped it up in the early 30’s.

This is a golden era for tax haven banks from Grand Cayman to Monaco to Jersey. Just like the 30’s and 40’s represented the greatest ever golden era for those wing collared bankers of Zurich and Geneva.

Last week I sensed a stranger echo with those distant times when Hell and earth became inseparable for a while. Beevor dwells for a while on the sense of astonishment that many young German soldiers experienced once they were surrounded and doomed in the frozen wreckage of Stalingrad. Their childhood years had been completely formed and shaped by Hitler. They were the product of one of the greatest brain washing machines in history; the Hitler Youth. Between 1939 and 1945 the Hitler Youth delivered 8 million soldiers to the Wehrmacht. These young men and women were a thousand percent convinced of their racial superiority and the inevitability of their eventual victory over the sub human Slavs, Bolsheviks and Jews. They were a thousand percent convinced that their beloved Fuhrer was more God than man.

As the Red Army slowly tightened its murderous grip on the half frozen, half staved men of the doomed 6th Army, many of the young soldiers remained convinced that their beloved Fuhrer would magic up a mighty army of shiny new Panzers to roar across the frozen Russian steppes to save them and smash the Reds into tiny pieces.

When it at last became clear that no such thing was going to happen, they were left confused. Bemused. Uncomprehending. How could it be so?

In some ways, many of those who come in for food parcels carry a similar incomprehension. For years they have assumed that things will just carry on for ever. Every fortnight they will be given some money. They will be given a flat to live in. They will be exempted from most bills. Nobody has seriously ever expected them to get a job. Not really. Both sides have played the game. The person at the Job Centre asks if they have looked for work and they have said yes I have. A comfortable fiction played out by both sides. You get your flat and sixty quid a week and we pretend you don’t actually exist. It all ran a bit like that favourite joke from Soviet Russia where workers said ‘They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.’

And now of course everything has changed utterly, over the course of a few short months. Last week we handed out 80 food parcels and over half went to people who had been sanctioned out of their benefits. All of a sudden the fortnightly money that was supposed to be there for ever wasn’t there any more. All of a sudden the people at the Job Centre seriously seem to expect people to actually look for jobs and not just pretend to. All of a sudden landlords don’t just threaten eviction, but actually start proceedings.

How? Why? It was never supposed to be like this? Things were supposed to stay the same. Promises were made. What has happened? How can this be happening to me?

What a strange echo. In a way the confusion of the sanctioned souls coming in for their food parcels mirrors the confusion of the doomed young soldiers facing their bad deaths in the frozen Hell that was Stalingrad in January 1943.

Like I said.

Strange echoes.             

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I know it sounds bad, but he really didn’t look like a food parcel client. This is the case more often than not these days. A few years ago and nine times out of ten a food parcel client looked like a food parcel client. The unsteady walk, the charity shop clothes in desperate need of a laundering and the eyes red and vacant care of a noxious mix of methadone, cheap cider and street valium.

Not so this lad.

Jeans, T shirt and sunglasses. He had the look of a high flying Harvard English student who had been offered a professorship at an unusually early age. So, no. Not the usual food parcel client.

These days we have a form to fill in which teases out the reasons behind a person having no money to feed themselves in Dumfries 2013. In the month of May we handed out 255 parcels - about three times as many as a year ago. 30% of the time, the reason for these people coming through our doors was that they had been sanctioned from their benefits.


Never before has the word 'sanctioned' played so large in our daily vocabulary. I suppose the word does the job it is required to do. Try on these three sentences for size.

Sir, I must inform you that all of your benefits have been sanctioned for three months.

Sir, I am taking away all for your benefits for three months.

Sir, I am going to leave you completely penniless for three months as punishment for you turning up ten minutes late for your appointment.

Sanctioned kind of sounds the easiest option, doesn’t it?

So what heinous crime had the young Harvard professor lookalike committed to have been rendered penniless for a month of his life?

When he told his story, there was a reluctance. A wariness. He was pretty sure that I wouldn’t believe a word he said. This is hardly surprising. With every passing week, the ongoing media campaign to get us all to hate, loathe, distrust and despise the poor is having an ever deeper effect. It means that people who find themselves in poverty feel like lepers. Bad people. The shirkers. The ones everyone suspects as having 52 inch 3D TV’s and clockwork regular holidays in Benidorm. They do not expect to be believed.

I guess visitors to the sleepy Silesian town of Oswiciem must have had a similar experience when they told their stories back in the early 1940’s. There was this terrible smell and trains running all hours of the day and all this smoke pouring into the sky 24 hours a day from what looked like the middle of the fields. Did anyone believe these far fetched tales? Nah. Did they hell. Oswiciem by the way was the town’s Polish name: the name it bears today. Its German name was Auschwitz.

In the end when you hear the same stories over and over and over, you get to believing the stories and discounting the nonsense spouted by junior ministers.

So. Back to my man.

He had his next appointment at the Job Centre on 16th May. But they decided to change it to the 10th May. They called him up and left him a voicemail message. You can probably guess the next bit. He never has any credit in his phone. So he couldn’t afford the call to pick up the voice message. They know this of course. Everyone else from Dentist Surgeries to the Tesco delivery service send out texts to give the person at the other end the best chance of picking up the required information. They never tend to leave voicemail messages because people tend to miss voicemail messages, whether they have credit or not.

It is hard not to conclude that the Job Centre were actually not overly keen for the required information to find its way to the recipient. No information means non attendance which means another sanction. Their target is three a week and people kind of know this by now. It means the staff at the Job Centre are having to find new and more creative means to catch people out. My man was the wrong side of a particularly cunning plan. Change the date. Inform via a voicemail message. Assume the punter has no credit. Bingo. Gotcha. One down, two to go.

So actually we do believe these tales of woe. And every month of a sanction means at least 8 food parcels will need to be filled and handed out.

I am pretty confident that none of the seventy odd people we have given food to who have been sanctioned in the last month are about to starve to death. The deal seems to be that it is down to the Voluntary Sector to make sure that nobody starves to death.

Happy days.

I recall a joke from the 1970’s which did the rounds for a while. The joke came in the form of a mock newspaper headline

Britain’s application to join the Third World turned down’

It doesn’t seem so funny any more.   

Monday, June 3, 2013


I guess my faith in the honesty and decency of the British State has been slowly crumbling away for most of my adult life until I have reached a point where there is barely a shred left. When did it start? Dusty memories of Bloody Sunday? Piles of rubbish in the streets when we were told that everything was fine and dandy? Driving around Europe in the summer of 81 to find posters of Bobby Sands on every wall? Witnessing the North, my North, become a police state during the Miner’s Strike? The cynical, brutal Hillsborough cover up?

Markers on a road to disillusionment and cynicism.

Then the bumbling State joined forces with a bunch of puffed up scientists desperate to get their faces on the tele, and between them they saw off two businesses of mine care of the BSE and Mad Cow fiascos.

I became an author and a frontline charity worker and duly found myself drawn into ever darker corners. Sometimes researching novels took me into the places you really don’t particularly want to go. Sometimes it was the stories that would come in through the front door of the First Base Agency. If you want a close up view of the pitch black deeds of those to pull the strings for Great Britain Plc, then you can do worse than get a visa to visit the world of heroin. Many foot soldiers who become embroiled in the State’s power games ultimately seek solace in the memory killing embrace of opiates.

It all leaves a mark. A stain. And at times I seriously wonder if I am morphing into one of those wild eyed conspiracy nuts who wave their banners with such frantic desperation. God forbid.

Then I’ll read a Le Carre book or listen to John Pilger and I figure that most of my faculties are probably in place after all.

After seeing so many lies and cover ups, many at first hand, it becomes almost impossible to take anything at face value: impossible not to sense some kind of permanent hidden agenda. 

Tony Blair told us that Iraq presents a clear and present danger to our very way of life. Then he stepped down and lo and behold he is now suddenly trousering £10 million a year care of non-exec directorships from a variety of American Corporations. The worst of it is how ‘in your face’ the whole thing was. Let’s face it, Blair does little to hide the extent of his pay off. But why should I be surprised about that? The State is never less than brazen in its corruption. There were 50,000 of us who saw the truth of what happened at Hillsborough with our very own eyes. Did that make any difference? Nope. Collusion between police, government and media shut us all down for twenty three years – long enough for knighthoods, retirements and final salary pensions running to hundreds of thousands a year.

So on and on it goes. My mate Tommy Sheridan started to become too much of a nuisance. No problem. A call was made to those ever helpful chaps at the News of the World and a couple of years later he was residing in HM Barlinnie at her Majesty’s pleasure. Liam Fox seemed a little too keen to dig into the damning details of some of those multi billion defence deals. Can’t be having that can we? Another call to pals in the tabloids and he was hustled back to the back benches pretty damn quick.

These days we have to jump through a ludicrous number of hoops to open a bank account because of anti money laundering legislation and the War on Drugs. And yet a blind eye was turned for years when HSBC took care of $8 billion for the Mexican Cartels. Surprise, surprise.

Even when the full extent of HSBC’s relationship with the drug cartels was revealed, our leaders still continued to peddle the usual nonsense about our wonderful British values and playing every ball with a straight bat. Aye right. The HSBC case made it crystal clear that the City of London is ready and eager to wash, dry and iron the dirtiest money on the planet.

And so the gravy train trundles seamlessly along its well worn tracks. From public school to Oxbridge to Parliament or the City. Deals in wood panelled clubs and knighthoods and MBE’s and jolly days out at Epson and Lords and Wimbledon.

Last week William Hague successfully threw Britain’s weight around in Brussels and managed to force the arms sanctions to Syria to be dropped. He told us all about the human catastrophe that is playing out. Fair enough. 80,000 people or so have been killed. So what is the British solution? Let’s give them more arms so they can do even more killing. Like some American politician said, it seems like British policy in Syria is to help create a level killing field.


Why is her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary so keen to tip petrol on a Syrian fire that is already burning perfectly well?

I guess the first answer is the obvious one. The usual one. No doubt the arms we will send will be very expensive toys indeed. Nice business for the Defence Industry which is always more than happy to reward those who throw a bit of business their way. Best of all, there will be no need to come up with a cock and bull story for those pesky busybodies on the Pubic Accounts Committee. Why? Well this is the good bit. On this occasion there is no need for the British Tax payer to cough up the cash to line the pockets of the Defence Industry. Oh no. Those good old chaps from Saudi Arabia will be settling all the accounts. It is sweet deal for one and all. The money will be wired into the City and lots of good old boys in the banks will get a slice of the pie. Then the money will be wired over to various purveyors of the very finest killing and maiming equipment Britain can produce and a few more decent chaps will be able to cash in their share options. And a year of two down the tracks, the civil servants and politicians who got rid of those pesky EU sanctions will get their non-exec directorships as a reward for all their efforts in Brussels. Nice work if you can get it: three days of work a year for a couple of hundred grand and golf every day.

And on the streets of Aleppo and Homs, young kids will start out on a life without limbs. It’s gin and tonic at the Opera from the good old boys who shared a dorm at Harrow and amputation without anaesthetic for the street kids of Homs.

And yet it is hard to wonder if this particular grubby deed maybe goes a little further than the usual corruption. Maybe this is what defeat looks like.

Over the last few years we have given up the habits of our history and done something that we have always avoided in the past: we have picked a fight with Sunni Muslims. This is not our usual way. For hundreds of years we have gone out of our way to be best mates with the Sunni world.

This probably dates back to one our very greatest cock ups – the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Interestingly enough, this particular catastrophe started off with some all too familiar corruption. Rifle bullets in those days used to be wrapped in oiled paper to keep the metal safe from the humidity and dust of the sub-continent. Some bright young thing in an arms factory came up with a cunning plan to enhance the bottom line. Instead of using expensive oil to grease the paper, he decided to use much cheaper tallow fat. No doubt a few palms were greased and soon all the rifles in the Indian Army were to be fed by bullets wrapped in the new tallow soaked paper.

But there was a hitch.

The majority of Indian soldiers in the ranks were Muslims and before using any bullet a soldier needed to bite off the paper coating with their teeth. Not surprisingly the soldiers were not at all keen to put paper soaked in pig fat in their mouths, for to have done so would have damned them to eternal hell.

So they said we’re not doing that.

And we said if you don’t do it we’ll shoot you.

And they still refused to do it and we shot them.

Not surprisingly, they were seriously pissed off by this and they duly mutinied. It all got pretty grim for a while, particularly in Lucknow where British women and children died in horrific circumstances. The British press had a field day. Few things were more guaranteed to get the Victorian gander up than stories of Christian women dying badly at the hands of savage heathens with brown skin. It was decided that we needed to each them a lesson they would not forget in a hurry.

Well, we taught them a lesson all right. In the ten years that followed the Mutiny, we undertook our very own Holocaust which accounted for ten million deaths – double what Hitler managed to achieve less than a hundred years later. I suppose those of us at Hillsborough should not be all that surprised that a successful cover up of 96 deaths was possible. Just like the people of Derry should hardly be astonished that the execution of 13 civilians was buried deep in the bowels of Whitehall. Any country that has the experience of covering up a revenge killing spree that ran to ten million is hardly going to be phased by putting a lid on a mere 96 deaths: or a mere 13.

However, once we had wound up our ten year long genocide, we embarked on a new policy of playing nice with the world of Sunni Muslims. To start with, this cosy new relationship was handy in helping us to carry out our favoured ‘divide and rule’ policy in our Indian ‘Jewel in the Crown’. We filled up our armies with Sunni Muslim warriors from the wild country around the North West Frontier and used them as ferocious in-house mercenaries. They did our dirty work across the length and breadth of the Empire.

Once the Empire days were finally over, we kept our old ties going. By this stage our old pals from the Khyber Pass had become the Muhajadeen and the Pakistani Intelligence Forces. They both hated the Soviets who had invaded Afghanistan with a cold, murderous fury and so did we. Our interests were nicely in line. So we gave them weapons and they used them to kill Bolsheviks on our behalf.

Lawrence of Arabia gave us a template to follow in terms of playing nice with the wild eyed characters who ruled the roost in the deserts of the Middle East. So when these same guys all of a sudden became the richest guys on planet earth, we were first in line to be their best pal. For years we have sold them the very best of weaponry, sent along the SAS to train their soldiers and opened up the doors of the City to look after all their lovely cash. We have also done our best to keep their nasty habits - like stoning adulterous women to death - as far from public view as possible.

All good stuff. Good for the defence industry. Good for the City boys. And good for politicians and civil servants on the make.

And then for the first time in a century and a half, we suddenly changed tack. In the wake of 9/11, we became the tail wagged by the American dog and we duly turned on our old pals. Those scary guys from the wilds of the North West Frontier suddenly were no longer on our side. They were no longer firing our bullets at our enemies. Instead, they started firing our bullets at us, and our other Sunni pals in the Middle East were less than amused. What the hell were we playing at! And then to cap it all, we got wagged again by our trans-Atlantic dog and joined in a crusade against one of the Sunni’s pin up boys, Saddam Hussein.

Well, our change of policy hasn’t exactly worked out all that well. All of a sudden the Russians and the Chinese seem to be getting all the new arms contracts and the good old boys in the City are wondering where all the Arab oil money has gone.

Worse than that, our old allies have pretty well given us a proper kicking. We ducked out of Iraq with our tails between our legs and now we are gearing up to do a similarly undignified bunk from Afghanistan.

All of which makes me wonder if William Hague was last week playing the front man for a return to business as usual. A nice big gesture to please our old pals in the deserts of Arabia and the mountains of the Hindu Kush. We’re back in your camp lads. Sorry we lost the plot for a while. No idea what happened there. But it’s all over now. So let’s see. You need a few guns to kill a few nasty Shia types over there in Syria. Not a problemo. We have guns a plenty. And just leave it to us to square all those limp wristed peace loving types in Brussels.

By the way. Maybe we could ask a small favour. Well. Yes. As well as borrowing £120 million a day at 2%.

Here’s the thing. We will be popping off from our base at Camp Bastion soon, and to be honest, we have rather a lot of expensive kit to ship out. Would you mind awfully? Just a quick word on our behalf to our old muckers in Waziristan? Ask them to maybe ease off a tad whilst we get on with our packing? And you can rest assured that we are very much back in the fold. Absolutely. Super. Now. A little dickie bird tells me you are flying into London next month. Well, you must absolutely come along for a spot of shooting old chap. Remember Muggsy? That’s right? He was in the year below us. With Barclays now. Jolly good sort, old Muggsy. Well he gave me a number for these two Ukrainian girls……..

And in a few month’s time, kids on the streets of Homs will make like colanders care of good old British made cluster bombs.

Business as usual

Cannae beat it with a stick.

Maybe this is what a very British defeat looks like.