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.

Friday, October 31, 2014


It’s a hell of a photo, don’t you think?

The place is Melilla which is a four square mile hangover from the days of the Spanish Empire. It isn’t in Spain any more than Gibraltar is in Britain. To all intents and purposes it is in Morocco. It’s a little piece of Europe clinging onto the northern coast of the Dark Continent of Africa. When you look at it another way, it is place where you can enter Europe without crossing any water.

For this reason the 4.7 square miles that belong to Spain are ringed by three thirty foot high fences. Here is one of the places where the twenty first century game of cat and mouse gets played out every day of the week. One side of the fence is the continent of famine, war, disease and sectarian slaughter. On the other side of the fence is the continent of the West Europeans who by and large live lives free from hunger, disease and sectarian slaughter.

Not surprisingly millions of those who live on the side of the fence where life is all but worthless dream of finding their way to the other side of the fence where stomachs are full and beds can be slept in safely.

On our side of the fence we prefer not to look too closely at the misery on the other side. We donate a few bob from time to time when Bob Geldof pricks away at our shrink wrapped consciences. And when something like Ebola or Aids comes along which thirty foot high fences are powerless to stop, then we reluctantly take an interest.

The photo says it all as great photos often do. The two smartly clad women who are striding the emerald green fairway have learned how to tune themselves out from the sight of the human desperation hovering above them. Two worlds might well be colliding, but they prefer to stay in their own comfortable Disneyland and gossip about who is having an affair with who.

What do we think of the men on top of the fence? Do we feel sorry for them? Do we acknowledge their super human journeys across deserts and through war zones?

Fat chance.

They are the enemy at the gates. They are the stuff of the UKIP nightmares. They are bad, bad people who are threatening to swarm all over us. They are human contagion. They are to be kept out.

So we build the walls and fences as high as we can and our leaders compete ferociously in the new game of who can hate the immigrants the most.

During the recent Referendum campaign, we were all subjected to a deal of flag waving from the Better Together people. We were told time and again about how wonderful Britain is and what a beacon we are to the world. The Establishment yelled at us like misbehaving primary school pupils and told us to be proud to be British.

Or else.

I have no particular objection to the idea of being proud to be British, but most of the time it is as alien to me as cheering on the eleven men wearing the red shirts of Man United. Every time it seems impossible that our nasty little country can possibly stoop to a new low, we do exactly that. Yesterday saw yet another of those lows and by Christ did we ever stoop.

Every day small, leaky boats head out from the North African coast carrying cargoes of the human desperate. We Brits should know a thing or two about packing human beings into boats in these kinds of numbers. Back in the day, we were the market leaders as we shipped tens of million of African slaves across the Atlantic to our colonies. Thankfully the weather in the Med tends to be a little kinder than the Mid Atlantic, but it doesn’t take much of a squall to capsize the boats and their cargoes of human misery.

Over the last few years the Royal Navy has played its part in searching for the ship wrecked victims and recuing them. It’s called basic common decency and it is the kind of thing British leaders love to gloat about. It is also very much the right thing to do. We never hear it said, but most of the human misery in Africa finds its root cause in the way we behaved during the time when we ran the place like some sort of a plantation. Is it really any surprise that you leave a bit of a hole when you steal 13 million of the fittest, strongest people and ship them off as slaves? For three hundred years we basically robbed Africa blind. We nicked everything that wasn’t bolted down including people and when there was nothing left to steal, we upped sticks and buggered off.

It is hardly surprising that the continent’s independent countries have found it so hard to deliver anything approaching a normal life for millions upon millions of their citizens. Which means it is hardly surprising that so many dream of escaping their lives of hunger and fear and start out on their epic journeys towards a better life in our lands of plenty.

So the very least we could do was to deploy our warships to pick them out of the sea before they drowned. Last year European ships saved 300,000 who would otherwise have perished.

Its only right that Britain takes a lead role in these rescues on all kinds of levels. First up, we are responsible for any amount of the misery and suffering as a result of our appalling behaviour during the years of the British Empire. We also have a whole load more ships than any of our European neighbours. We spend £35 billion a year on defence and a healthy chunk of that goes on the Navy. Well, of course it does. Think ‘Last Night of the Proms’. Unions Jacks and bright young things belting out ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves……”

France and Germany spend about £22 billioneach on their military and most of the other European countries spend way less. So we have the most ships and we kind of created the whole mess in the first place. So it’s only right that we do our bit, right?

Well not any more it isn’t.

Because on 20 November there is a bye election in Rochester and Strood and Nigel Farage has got our gallant leaders jumping about like scalded cats. Nigel is going ask the good folk of Rochester and Strood if they are happy for the Government to spend their taxes on providing a free ferry service to bring hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the Med to a life of benefit funded milk and honey in our green and pleasant land? Nigel will demand that the guys on the fence are knocked back onto the other side with police batons much like the Liverpool fans were smashed back into the death pens of the Leppings Lane End by South Yorkshire’s finest at Hillsborough.

We were told yesterday that recuing people from a watery grave only encourages more to make the crossing. Not since Marie Antoinette suggested that the starving poor should eat cake have we heard such callous claptrap. It is utter nonsense and the cynical, self serving brutality of the decision beggers belief.

They tell us to be proud to be British. I mean, be serious. How can any half way decent human being be proud of a country that is willing to see thousands of people drown in order to win a few votes from UKIP in the leafy suburbs of Kent?

We will now see the very same newspapers that peddled the Better Together lies close ranks and make this evil decision seem acceptable. And we are supposed to be proud of that? What does a farmer do when one of his cats has an unwanted litter of kittens? He drowns them. It seems like the British Government is now happy to allow much the same outcome to play out in the waters of the Med.

Of course this is a place where we have plenty of previous. Just under a hundred years ago the generals of the British High Command took their plans for a their 1917 spring offensive in Belgium to Downing Street to be signed off by the Cabinet. The big push was to be centred around a small, inconsequential village that nobody had ever heard of. Well, that was to change. The village was called Passchendaele. But when the top brass laid out their plans, there was a pretty big problem. The bill for the coming battle ran to over £20 million and the coffers were as empty as the pockets of the guys on the fence in the picture.

For a while it seemed like the 'Big Show' would have to be called off due to a lack of funds. But then the Foreign Secretary, Edward Balfour came up with a cunning plan which everyone signed up to. Balfour sailed to New York and set up meetings with the big Jewish banks on Wall Street where he offered then a sweetheart deal. You lend us the money for our spring offensive and we will promise a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

Hands were shaken and the cash was duly transferred. The Balfour Declaration sold the land out from under the feet of the people who had always lived in Palestine. The money bought enough bullets and shells to enable the Brits to advance five miles eastwards. They were expensive miles. 250,000 Brits and 400,000 Germans paid the price for those five miles.

But I digress.

By 1945 everything had changed and the 1917 Balfour Declaration suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea any more. By now it was very clear that oil was the biggest show in town and the Arabs weren’t at all keen on the whole 'Homeland for the Jews' thing. So we back tracked in a hurry and claimed that the Balfour Declaration had been completely misunderstood. The problem was that hundreds and thousands of the survivors of Auschwitz and Treblinka and Sobibor and Majdanek and Chelmno had taken it at face value and packed themselves onto boats to cross the Med to find a safe home in Palestine. The Royal Navy wasn’t having any of it. We stopped the ships and threatened to sink them if they didn’t turn around. The fact that they were packed with the half starved and completely traumatised survivors of the Nazi camps mattered not a jot. The only thing that mattered was Britsih interests and currying favour with the guys with all the oil.

Proud to be British?

In July 1940 the Royal Navy was involved in another miserable affair off the North African coast. Thanks in large part to the heroism of French troops, we had just managed to get 300,000 of our guys off the beach at Dunkirk. You would have thought that this would have meant that we owed our French allies a favour or two. Not so. The French had sailed their navy south to the safety of the their base at Mers El Kebir on the Algerian coast. This made Downing St feel a bit jumpy. What if the surrender monkeys in Paris join up with Hitler and let him have all their ships? Well we were having none of that, so we sent the Royal Navy to Mers El Kebir and told the French Admiral to hand over the keys or else. He said sorry, but I can’t do that. But he gave his word of honour that he would scuttle the fleet if there was any danger that it was about to fall into Hitler’s hands. That wasn’t good enough for us. So we shelled them and sunk their ships and killed 1250 French sailors. A nice way to treat an ally?

It really is no wonder that so many people cannot stand us. For hundreds of years we have behaved like murderous pirates on the oceans of the world and then we wave our flags and sing ‘Rule Britannia’. For once we have been using our beloved Royal Navy for something that is right and decent. Helping to save 300,000 lives is no small thing. It is a very big thing. A very good thing. A thing that for once we can be proud of.

But not any more.

Because thousands of innocent lives have been deemed to be secondary to beating UKIP in a bye election in Kent.

And they still keep telling us to be proud to be British……

Oh why oh why did we vote no!      


  1. Dear Mark,

    By the term “Navy”, I imagine you are referring to Britain’s Royal Navy. The sentence “pulling the Navy out of the Med and thereby leaving people to drown” does not do you credit.
    To my knowledge, the Royal Navy has not rescued a single African migrant in the Mediterranean.
    Let me tell you how things stand in the main crossing between Libya/Tunisia and Italy.
    This has been the task of the Italian Navy and Italian fishermen. If the overloaded boats have the misfortune to enter Maltese waters, they are pushed away. I know migrants who have made this crossing.
    So Italy (where I live) receives 400 immigrants per day, and many less fortunate ones die in the water between the African coast and the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily where they are heading. While Italy does its best to cope with these considerable numbers, it is lectured by north European countries about letting too many people into Europe. This is a massive humanitarian issue. Italians refuse to let these people simply drown, and it can be irritating being lectured by people sitting in government offices in the north of Europe.
    And now I open your email and it sounds as if everything is going to grind to a halt because the Royal Navy is pulling out of the Med. Britain is irrelevant in this issue.

    Daniella Engel

  2. Daniella, the UK itself is an irrelevance and one I refuse to be associated with.
    Only its establishment and unthinking drones believe otherwise.