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.

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.


  1. Masterly as ever, Mark. I wish you'd been my history teacher.

  2. Wow. Thanks for that Jan. I was particularly lucky with my History teacher. He was wildly eccentric and talked about just about anything that wasn't in the syllabus! Funnily enough I have learnt plenty of history in the process of writing these blogs. I kind of half know something and therefore have to research it to get the real facts. From many months spent in India as part of a hippy youth I had heard whispers that we had killed an awful lot of people in reprisals after the Mutiny. Until yesterday I had no clue that it was in fact ten million. It left me feeling pretty harrowed to be honest.