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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


At times we give big business more credit for its innate wisdom than it really deserves. Think about it. If a politician of any colour gives a view on one of the great issues of the day, we tend not to believe a word of it. But when the same theme is examined by a captain of industry we are encouraged to take their wisdom as seriously as cancer.

On the surface of things this deference is rather ridiculous. Our great corporations have hardly covered themselves in glory of late. Tesco, one of the very biggest fish in the British blue chip sea, has recently been forced to own up to a £250 million mistake. RBS would have given its eye teeth for its mistakes to have been so trifling. When it cocked things up, it cost the rest of us tens of billions to put things right.

In our money obsessed world, we are required to be in awe of the men and women of the corporate boardrooms who are able to nail down multimillion pound salaries without either kicking a football or appearing on X Factor.

This is why the Tories continue to be so convinced that the Private Sector will always be streets ahead of the hapless Public Sector.

For the hell of it, let’s assume for a while there is something in all this cap doffing.

One of the big publishers has recently laid out a six figure advance for Russell Brand to write a book. Nothing so very surprising in that. Russell is a seriously famous individual and the masters of the corporate universe know only too well how to leverage wagon loads of cash out of milking our obsession with celebrities.

So it is safe to assume that Russell’s book will be classic kiss and tell fare where he spills the beans on a whole host of the kind of people whose designer bedrooms appear in OK Magazine.

Not so.

The book has a one word title and that word is ‘Revolution’.

Russell has gone all serious on us. He has shelved the idea of acting the pratt and re-connected with his serious side. Unsurprisingly he hasn’t cut his hair, joined a political party and started to talk in jargon. Instead he has started to do his best to tell it like it is in his very distinctive voice. How loud will his voice prove to be? Pretty loud actually. Russell has 8.35 million followers on Twitter. David Cameron has 800,000 followers on Twitter. A hundred times more of us are interested in what Russell has to say than our Prime Minister.

That’s not just a few: it’s a shed load.

It is worth noting that Russell’s following has carried on rising despite the fact that he has gone all serious and started picking fights with Jeremy Paxman.

The publishing company has clearly cottoned onto this prevailing mood and backed it big bucks. Oh and by the way, I should mention the fact that Russell has decided to invest the royalties in opening up a café where all the staff with be recovering drug users.

The theme of the book is pretty simple. Enough is enough. It is no longer acceptable for us to live in a world where the 85 richest people in the world own more than the 3.5 billion poorest people. Can elected politicians change this woeful state of affairs? Do they actually want to change it? No chance. There is an unholy alliance in place which is dedicated to transferring everything from the 99% of us at the bottom of the pile into the offshore treasure troves of the 1% at the top of the pile.

Russell has decided that the ballot box no longer offers any kind of hope. Democracy has had its chance and duly blown it. The 1% has learned how to manipulate and control the wheels of democracy to such an extent that it has become a plaything of the super rich.

It has become a joke.

Russell’s solution? Simple. He has decided that the time is once again right for us to follow the path of George Washington and Robespierre and Trotsky and Che. The time is coming where we take to the streets and tear everything down. He reckons the time is coming when we stop listening to the sage words of bought and paid for politicians who tell us why it is impossible for them to collect the billions of pounds of dodged tax. Instead the time is coming where we kick down the front doors of the big houses and strip them bare.

Like they did in St Petersburg way back in 1917.

Of course it is really easy to scoff. Who the hell is Russell Brand to be spouting off about a coming revolution? What a joke. Look at him. A long haired idiot who was once upon a time a chronic smack addict. The establishment will not lack ammunition to fire at him. Russell is eminently discreditable. But will any of the tabloid accusations actually succeed in discrediting him? Let’s face it, the lad has done a pretty good job of bucking the trend so far. He is the product of a single mum upbringing and comprehensive school days where he was shy and bullied. Not many come out of the sucking swamp of chronic heroin addiction at all. To have pulled himself clear of the sucking, quicksand of opiates and risen to a place where a publisher will pay him a fortune to pen a book about Revolution is not a thing to be sniffed at.

But is he right?

The word ‘Revolution’ seemed like it had been permanently removed to the safety of O Level History books along with the likes of 'Socialism' and 'Karl Marx' and 'Rickets' and 'Slavery'. The last time Revolution threatened the 1% was way back in 1968. The flames flickered for while, but the Establishment clampdown soon extinguished them with comparative ease. The riot police cracked hot young heads from Chicago to Paris to West Berlin. A great column of Soviet tanks rumbled over the Charles Bridge to shut down the Prague Spring. The Tet Offensive was burned to crisp by tens of thousands of tonnes of napalm.

1968 was supposed to have been the end of that kind of thing. The masses did their very best to rise up and the masses were duly squashed like so many beetles.

And for the last 50 years the wealth of the world has flowed inexorably into the bulging coffers of the 1% who now own pretty much everything.

Well Russell thinks that the spirit of 1968 is back and the time is coming when the super rich will pay the price for their avarice.

He is quite sure that we once again live in a time of revolution.

It isn’t hard to guess what the view of the Establishment will be. They will mock and deride and instruct their in-house media bully boys to pick him to pieces. A long haired ex junkie…. how hard can it be?

We seem to be hearing a lot about how all kinds of events are nothing to do with any kind of revolution. They are mere blips. Hapless protest. Nothing to take seriously.

But when you take a step back and look at things with an open mind, it is easy to see that Russell might well have a point.

All over the world the established order is being challenged, just like it was challenged a hundred years ago. The big difference is that now there is no unifying force driving the challenge. A century ago the forces of revolution were more or less unified under the umbrella of communism. Now there are a whole host of umbrellas and the establishment is fighting on all kinds of different fronts. The way anger and rage are being shown is being demonstrated in many different forms. However, the underlying reason for so much discontent is remarkably similar. All over the world people are waking up to the fact that the 1% are stealing everything and hiding it away.

In Tunisia and Libya and Syria, the 1% was represented by brutal family dynasties and the response was the Arab Spring. There was no point trying to contain these uprisings by media propaganda: things had gone too far for that. The only way for the 1% to hang on was by deploying bombs and bullets. In Tunisia and Libya, the masses won the day. In Syria, the Assad family is still clinging on by a brutal thread.

In other places the Establishment is still just about managing to hold the line, but with every passing day their grip on power is being loosened. People across the world are find different ways to show how pissed off they are.

In many cases, the media is doing its level best to keep a lid on much of what is happening. A perfect example of this can be found in Spain where 45% of young people are unemployed. They formed themselves into a loose angry group and called themselves the ‘Indignados’ – the Outraged.

In the years after the banking crisis, many tottering Spanish banks started to send the bailiffs round to repossess the houses of pensioners who could no longer pay their mortgages once their pensions had been cut in half by the bankrupt government. How hard could that be? Well, bloody hard as it turned out. The ‘Indignados’ came up with a very efficient solution to this particular problem. As soon as a team of bailiffs arrived at the front door of a grandmother, she would ring her grandson or granddaughter and they would send out a flash message across the social media. The ‘Indignados’ could put a thousand people onto any Spanish street within minutes of the first Tweet being posted.

Four leather jacketed bailiffs against one terrified pensioner is a one way fight. Four leather jacket bailiffs against one empowered pensioner and a thousand angry young people is another thing altogether. The banks and the bailiffs begged the police to mobilise riots squads complete with tear gas and water canon to enable them to do their thing. The police told them to get stuffed. The police told them that there would be anarchy were they to go in heavy handed.

In the end, even policemen have grandmothers.

The banks were forced to back off. Now they don’t even try to repossess the flats of penniless pensioners. Instead they write the debt off. Very, very quietly.
And the Indignados won.

I wonder why we have heard so little about this particular example of civil disobedience? Well it isn’t very hard to guess why, is it?

As I write this, tens of thousands of young people have shut down the centre of Hong Kong Island and the all powerful Politburo in Beijing can’t find the nerve to deploy tanks in the spirit of Tiananmen Square.

As I write this the Far Right are sitting at 30% in France and the Far Left are sitting at 30% in Greece.

As I write this, the Sunni Muslim version of the ‘Indignados’ has taken itself on a killing spree across Syria and Iraq and there doesn’t seem like there is a thing anyone can do about it.

In Britain things seem rather less extreme. It is no accident that the gangsters and dictators of the world choose London as a safe haven for their riches and their families. They have identified Britain as the safest bolthole they can find and they are more than happy to lay out north of £50 million for their very own Hampstead safe houses.

But maybe they might not be quite as safe as they think and hope. It was only two years ago that the London skies were lit up by nights of fire the likes of which the city hadn’t been seen since Hitler sent his Heinkel bombers across the Channel. For three days, the 'Indignados' of Hackey and Peckham took over the streets and the police could do no more than stand in hapless lines and watch. In the end the Establishment managed to hold the line and the media ensured that the rest of the country was unified in its disgust at the looting of JD Sports.

But what about next time? What if the 'Indignados' of the capital choose some different targets? What if they give JD Sports a miss and aim their outrage at all those multi million piles of the 1%? Would we all be quite so upset at the sight of a vast mob kicking in Roman Abramovich’s front door and nicking everything in sight? No doubt he has some pretty tasty minders on his door, but they would be as helpless as the Spanish bailiffs should 10,000 Hackney 'Indignados' come a calling.

In the last few weeks we have seen just how stretched the line holding back the anger of the public has become. In Scotland, the Establishment had to throw the kitchen sink and more to hang on, but already it is very clear that their victory will be temporary to say the least. The three main parties stage managed their conferences and tried to pretend that all was well and business as usual was still on the cards.

Then UKIP stomped onto the scene and make a mockery of their attempts at complacency.

I think Russell Brand is on the money. The days of the 1% are numbered. The only question is how they are about to bite the dust. Some sort of Revolution has become inevitable. This is completely unsurprising really. History teaches us that when 1% of the population gets over rich, the 99% will eventually bite back. The only question is how painful the bite back is going to be. Will it be a bloodless coup like the way the 'Indignados' protected their grandparents from the bailiffs? Or will it be like to ongoing torture of Syria that we watch every night on the TV?

I’ll give the last word here to John Lennon who took a look at the blazing streets of 1968 and summed things up with his usual clarity.

‘You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out’

In St Petersburg 1917, the Bolsheviks threw up road blocks where every passing pedestrian was stopped. The hard men were not interested in any kind of in depth interrogation. Instead they demanded that those they detained held out their hands for inspection. Those with the hard calloused hands of manual workers were allowed to go about their business. Those with soft hands were dispatched with a bullet to the head.

Somehow we need to find a way to get rid of the 1% without everything ending in the kind of primordial butchery that so many revolutions descend to.

Any ideas on that one Russell?       

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