Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Keeping it local - the only way democracy can work

The Guardian is running an article today bewailing the disappearance of a crucial local government layer in British society, to the degree that our first port of call for what should be local government concerns these days is actually the police. It's debatable just how much clout village and local community councils ever had, but there is absolutely no doubt that confidence in the institution of democracy - people running their own communities, for themselves, has evaporated almost entirely in Britain today.

The UK has had whatever feeble democratic institutions it originally had perniciously eroded over the past 30 years, and individuals now need to start to fight back by forming their own grassroots local democratic groups and bypassing the undemocratic top-down no-say "system". Looking elsewhere in Europe shows the picture is very, very different.

Manuscripts Don't Burn is based in Normandy, in a tiny commune of 180 individuals. This rural commune possesses an elected mayor and an elected commune council of 10 people, who everyone knows on first name terms, and who pretty much know everyone in the commune. The commune council has direct control over a sizable chunk of the local community tax. Each year they host a New Year's presentation where they explain how their share of the local taxes which everyone has paid in have been spent around the commune, and how they plan to spend in the coming year. Each person in the commune has the opportunity to ask questions directly of the people spending their taxes, to protest, or to organise petitions to spend the money in other ways if they disagree. About 80% of the commune turn up at such meetings, and involvement is high.

If Manuscripts Don't Burn has a local problem which needs dealing with, one goes to the mayor. He is able to escalate things as high as he needs to, and makes himself available for meetings with commune members for two 3-hour sessions a week - it's rarely necessary to wait more than 30 minutes before sitting down to talk to him, face to face.

Manuscripts Don't Burn has tried to explain the British "system" to the French, only to be met with shock. "But if that is your system, how are you represented?" was their universal response.

Manuscripts Don't Burn has no answer to this question. The UK public, quite simply, are not represented in their government, at any level: it is a travesty to call the system democratic. The UK is a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state, pure and simple.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Saudi Prince threatened "another 7/7" over BAe Investigation

The Guardian yesterday reported something which to many of us has been obvious for some time - that the Saudis have had a lot more to do with events such as 911 and 7/7 than our cringing media have dared say. Court documents released yesterday have revealed that during the official British investigation into the BAe / Saudi bribing scandal in 2004-2006, Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday's high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.

The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.

Lord Justice Moses, hearing the civil case with Mr Justice Sullivan, said the government appeared to have "rolled over" after the threats. He said one possible view was that it was "just as if a gun had been held to the head" of the government.

Manuscripts Don't Burn notes for the moment that this revelation is receiving little attention in our Supine Corporate Media - including a grovelling article on the BBC site which would be funny if it weren't so serious, suggesting that it was the BAe inquiry posing the danger to lives rather than the Saudi threats - understandable given that woman-beheading Saudi Arabia is an enormous investor in BushCo and a country with which we share "so many common virtues", in the NuLabour government's words. Consequently we would like to present this information here - for posterity's sake.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Who Will Rid Me of this Turbulent Website - Economic Indicators Site Closed Down

There is an Inconvenient Truth known as the Economic Indicators website at, a site run by the US government providing free-of-charge data on the state of the US economy. As Forbes has explained, the site provides an invaluable service to the public for accessing US economic data:

This site is maintained by the Economics and Statistics Administration and combines data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, like GDP and net imports and exports, and the Census Bureau, like retail sales and durable goods shipments. The site simply links to the relevant department’s Web site. This might not seem like a big deal, but doing it yourself–say, trying to find retail sales data on the Census Bureau’s site–is such an exercise in futility that it will convince you why this portal is necessary.

As of March 1 this year, the Bush administration is going to CLOSE DOWN this website due to "budgetary constraints". Yeah, right... As if "budgetary constraints" affected anything that BushCo did. And, in any case, as those of us who know anything about the production of websites is concerned, costs almost NOTHING to run - the only "budget saving" would be if BushCo decided they weren't going to collect the stats at all, which is hardly likely... But, as we all know, the "budget" has nothing to do with it - it's the fact that this information is being made freely available to the global public.

Henceforth, this free economic data will NOT BE AVAILABLE TO YOU, although you'll be able to pay (through the nose) for "bulletins" detailing bits of the economy that BushCo want you to know about.

Again and again, the pieces add up. Freedom of information in the Anglo-Saxon Empire is being systematically closed down, to general apathy. We keep a record here of how it was done - in case it should prove useful to posterity. We can always hope.

Mr Bush - the time for glorifying yourself will soon be at an end.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Arrested at gunpoint for listening to an MP3 player

As a testament to the police state the UK is rapidly turning into, and the extent to which the media is colluding with this, Tuesday's "Metro" is reporting a shocking incident in which a man was arrested at gunpoint, bundled into a police van, and locked up, having had his fingerprints, mugshot, and DNA samples taken - all of which now are on a permanent database, along with the information that he was "once arrested for a firearms offense".

The reason for this? When waiting for a bus, the 28-year old man had taken his black Philips MP3 player out of his pocket to change tracks. Another person in the bus queue had panicked, thinking the man had taken out a gun, and phoned 999. The police immediately sent a firearms squad to "bring the man in".

This could easiy have been another Menezes event - if the man hadn't been white, but instead Asian, perhaps he would have been shot on sight "just in case". Either way, this event just shows how paranoid the UK public have become, and how heavy-handed the police are now freely allowed to be. And an innocent man now has a criminal record.

Manuscripts Don't Burn notices that none of the major news channels have even so much as touched this story. We post it here, like so many other stories, together with the link (above), to preserve it from vanishing without a trace.

Multi-million Pound Study States the "Bleeding Obvious"

The Guardian reports today that the Sutton Trust, an "influential charity", whatever that is, has discovered that university tuition fees in the UK actually favour rich families, and have been dissuading poorer students from going to university because of "fear of debt".

This kind of pseudo-revelatory bollocks really angers Manuscripts Don't Burn. In fact, Manuscripts Don't Burn is offering itself up as a "Blindingly Obvious Think Tank" for government ministries and "influential charities" to save millions of pounds in future when researching the f*cking obvious. If you want to know whether water is wet, the pope catholic, or whether setting yourself on fire is likely to hurt, just call Manuscripts Don't Burn - we'll send you a 700-page feasibility study and multimedia-sexy Powerpoint presentation in a fraction of the time of Accenture and at a fraction of the cost... For F*ck's Sake...

University Tuition fees are one of the shameful legacies of Thatcher's social engineering program which the NuLabour coup did nothing to expunge, and which since its inception has done its job to increasingly dumb down the Proles and leave a generation of young people intellectually frustrated and unable to afford education whilst the like of Hatfield Polytechnic (the "University of Hertford") are packed out with thousands upon thousands of A-level students pretending to do media studies degrees on mummy and daddy's bank account.

You may have already guessed it from our tone, but Manuscripts Don't Burn represents one of the thousands who, in times past, would not have been allowed to go to university by its parents if it entailed racking up tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt before the age of 20. And quite rightly so. Education is not a privilege - it is a right. It is not something which we have to buy; we, and our parents, grandparents, and all taxpayers and disenfranchised folks for generations past, have already more than paid for it - education is owing to us.

The social engineering of university tuition fees is all the more horrible because of its short-sightedness. No longer does the UK have a sufficiently skilled workforce; no longer to the desperately cheapened "A-levels" count for anything when entering university; no longer does a BA mean what it did a generation ago - not when they're two a penny. We now have to look abroad for our doctors, dentists, engineers, technicians. The UK, by this and other dismal methods of social engineering, is hollowing itself out, turning itself into a shadow, in which all looks well when seen on paper, but outside, in the real world, things look terribly, terribly different.

So remember - the next time you're about to spend millions of pounds on a survey to find out the bleeding obvious, think of Manuscripts Don't Burn.

Tune in next week for: Why Lending Thousands of Pounds to Penniless People on State Benefits is a BAD IDEA and not a Viable Method of "Structured Investment".

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Rowan Williams: Media Stooge

The Archbishop of Canterbury has attempted to say something sensible about the status and future of Muslim culture in the UK. Unfortunately, he has said it publicly. About Muslims. Big mistake.

This entire issue is an excellent example of what's wrong with Britain at the moment, and why so much of Britain's government is being carried on behind closed doors. The new reality, it seems, is that whatever you want to do, just do it, but for God's sake don't try and talk about it.

Anyone who wishes to propose mature and serious debate about an issue in Britain has to have an army of spin doctors to couch it in terms which won't send the mass media off wetting themselves in a blind, hysterical frenzy and misrepresent the hell out of whatever was said. So people stop bothering. What *is* the point of bothering? What's the point of trying to talk about things, when the media will just tear you apart and splatter you all over their pages in their hysterical attempts to sell papers. It's what they do.

If it was necessary for the media to roll in the gutter p*ssing themselves and grovelling for our money in order to sell papers, they'd do it. It's nothing to do with news - it's the hysterical production of equally hysterical demand, nothing more. And our democracy has it as a terminal disease. The mass media is collaborating in screwing our country into the ground. Cui bono?

A lot of issues need discussing in modern Britain: global warming, joining the Euro, immigration, corporate corruption, decentralisation, and many, many more. But they won't be. They're perceived by the media as boring, stick-in-the-mud topics which require at least a small exercise of the grey matter to contribute to, and therefore f'all use in selling papers. And in our increasingly uneducated and asinine culture, it's so much easier for the media to scream their heads off with easy-to-swallow knee-jerk meaningless soundbites before tuning into wall-to-wall Eastenders and celebrity dancing / hiking / cooking / what-the-frack-ever programs than actually trying to get people to concentrate on an issue for more than five minutes. Which suits the shadowy backers of the shadowy government which *really* runs the show just fine.

And so democracy dies. Not to the sound of tumultuous applause, but to indifference, and the frantic changing of channels...

...and the lighting of cigars, and satisfied smiles, in oak-panelled rooms far, far, from public view. Nemo custodiet ipsos custodes. And they like that just fine.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Now Optional: the Rule of Law

The Soviet Union had many marvellous and enlightened laws, on paper. So did Nazi Germany, and so do many dictatorial and tin-pot third world regimes today. But the presence of a splendid body of law means nothing if the uniform, unbiassed application of it cannot be relied upon. It has been one of the major bugbears stopping social advancement in the former Eastern bloc, the simple fact that whilst there may be laws condemning corruption, state appropriation of property, theft, nepotism, and all manner of graft, those laws have for years simply been sidestepped by those in a position to do so for their own benefit, and misapplied again when it has stood in their favour. Nothing, and no one, stands to ensure the uniform and unavoidable application of the law.

This is the rot that is facing the UK today - the inability to guarantee the enforcement of the laws which regulate and guarantee our freedoms. The lack of investigation into 7/7, Dr Kelly, the Menezes murder, honours for sale, the Saudi-BA bribery allegations, the lost details of half the population, and countless, countless other incidents, are what is sending us down the dark path we're currently treading. Scandals which in the past would have brought down governments are ignored, and there is no recourse.

In Pakistan, lawyers and the judiciary chose to make a stand, and suffered for it. This is what we need in the UK; action from just those people have explicitly and individually sworn to uphold justice in the UK. Their silence now only abets those who wish to sweep the remnants of it away. If the process can be stopped anywhere, it is at the root which is being invisibly chopped away.

The simple truth is, in the UK today, if you have money or power enough, the law doesn't apply to you anymore. And for the rest of us, who assume we are still protected by that very law, we should realise too that it can no longer be relied upon when we need it.