Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Follow me on Twitter!

For those of you on Twitter, I'm 'tweeting' here @NeilClark66.

I'll still be putting up regular posts here as well, so no change in that direction.   

For those of you particularly interested in public ownership issues and fighting privatisation, the Campaign for Public Ownership is also now on Twitter, here, @PublicOwnership.

Do try and spread the word if you can!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Danny Boyle's Britain is being dismantled brick-by-brick

This piece of mine appears over at The Week/The First Post.

ON THE strength of Friday night's Olympic opening ceremony, I think it's fair to describe Danny Boyle as a 'progressive patriot'. The working-class son of a school dinner lady and a self-educated farm labourer, his patriotism is about pride in Britain's industrial achievements, its welfare state and its tolerance towards minorities.

But the sad truth is that the Britain Danny Boyle was celebrating in some of the most memorable scenes on Friday is either finished or very close to being finished.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Channel 4's Alex Thomson's Guide to 'what the hell is going on in Syria'

Rather different, I think you'll agree, from the black-and-white neocon/'liberal'-interventionist narrative written from thousands of miles away and to which we're subjected on a daily basis.

The regime is not simply shelling entire city zones and never has.

They know where the rebels are fighting and that is where the warfare takes place. The rest of the city will look and feel strikingly normal to you. Inside the fighting area of course it is terrifying and exceptionally dangerous.

So what do Syrians want?

Hard to tell. But for sure this is not Egypt – there are no Tahrir Squares or vast protests against the regime.

There is no discernible sign in any of the big cities – Homs, Aleppo and Damascus for example,that the people even wish to rise up against the regime.

You can read the whole of Alex Thomson's Guide here.

Hat tip: our regular commenter Brian.

More on what's happening in Aleppo over at RT

During a statement at a news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian government could not be expected to stand by while rebel forces occupy Aleppo and other areas throughout the country.

"Our Western partners, together with some of Syria's neighbors, are essentially encouraging, supporting and directing an armed struggle against the regime," said Lavrov.

Also on RT, check out this story about where Syrian rebels have been in training.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Olympics: Then and Now

This piece of mine appears in the Sunday Express.

Neil Clark looks at how London 2012 is a far cry from the charming Games we managed to host in the capital 64 years ago.

THERE is now less than a week to go before “The Greatest Show On Earth” begins. This year’s Olympics will be the biggest, the most expensive and easily the most publicised in history. So am I the only one who wishes we had a very different Olympic Games in prospect, such as the one held in London in 1948?

The 1948 Games were described by Janie Hampton, author of The Austerity Olympics, as “one of the most inexpensive and unpretentious Olympiads of the 20th century”.

You can read the whole of the piece here.

On the subject of the 2012 Olympics, you can read my piece on ten of the world’s most fabulous sports stars who’ll be appearing over the next two weeks, here. 

While here you can me discussing on BBC Radio Five Live as to whether there are any ‘dead certs’ for Olympic gold medals. (The item starts at around 1hr 20mins into the programme).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Death and Destruction in 'liberated' Iraq

Over a hundred people killed in bomb attacks in a Middle East country. No, not in Syria, but in Iraq. A country we 'liberated' earlier. As the RT reporter asks in the above video, why is that events in Iraq are no longer getting much coverage- certainly nowhere near as much coverage as Syria?

Think back to ten years ago, when we couldn't put on a tv set without seeing some neocon warning us on the danger that Iraq posed to the world with its WMD. The neocons and their 'liberal interventionists' allies, the great 'humanitarians' who couldn't stop talking about Iraq and 'liberating' its people in 2002, don't seem too interested in the country's plight in 2012. I wonder why that is?

Meanwhile, one of the architects of the destruction of Iraq, the serial war criminal Tony B-Liar, is out and about in London tonight. Over at Stop the War you can find out about how you can join the protest. And remember, there is a £2,500 reward for anyone who attempts a citizens arrest.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bradley Wiggins's Tour de France win: Britain's greatest sporting achievement ever?

video: fritz51302.

Wow, what a dramatic sporting Sunday. Adam Scott's incredible collapse in the Open and Bradley Wiggins's historic win in the Tour de France.

You can hear me attempting to put Wiggins's victory into some sort of context on BBC Radio Five Live here (the item starts at around 1hr10mins into the programme)

You can also read a round up of  media reaction to Wiggins's win over at The Week.

While above you can listen to a cycling pegged-classic hit from the summer of 1977: Oh Lori by the Alessi Brothers. Enjoy a truly great track.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Alexander Cockburn R.I.P.

Very sad news: Alexander Cockburn, one of the truly great political writers of our time and a man whose opposition to neoliberalism and aggressive military interventions never wavered, has died.

You can read Nigel Horne’s tribute piece from The Week here. While above you can watch an interview with Alexander Cockburn on RT in which he talks about the NATO war against Libya.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why Britain needs public ownership

If you’re based in London/South East you can hear me making the case for public ownership at the 21st Century Marxism Festival in Bishopsgate, London today.

Further details of the weekend programme, here and here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking News: Syria's Defence Minister killed in suicide bomb attack

RT reports:

Several Syrian government officials have been badly wounded by a suicide bombing attack at a national security building in Damascus. State TV says the country’s Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha was killed by the attack.
A meeting of Syrian ministers and security officials was taking place on the premises at the time of the blast. 

So, the terrorists have struck again- oops sorry, I shouldn't use the word 'terrorists'-I forgot it's only meant to be used when people who aren't on 'our' side carry out such attacks......


The Guardian reports:

The defence minister, Gen Dawoud Rajha, was a Greek Orthodox Christian from Damascus. Aged 65, he was appointed defence minister last August. He had previously served as the army's chief of staff.  

It seems that President Assad's brother-in-law has also been killed in the bombing.

Some people seem quite delighted about today's events.

Here’s Sultan Al Qassemi boasting on Twitter about how they are ‘dropping like flies’

We’ve got some great peace-loving, moderate ‘allies’ in Syria, haven’t we?

UPDATE: 'Don't be duped by Western humanitarian rhetoric on Syria': an interview with Russia's US Ambassador Churkin, here on RT.

We know those greatest humanists in the world – US and UK – intervened in Iraq, for instance, citing all sorts of noble pretexts, in that particular case – non-existent weapons of mass destruction. What it caused – 150 thousand civilian deaths alone, to say nothing about millions of refugees, displaced persons and the whole dislocation in the country. So, don’t be duped by humanitarian rhetoric. There is much more geopolitics in their policy in Syria than humanism

I must add that after Yugoslavia, after Afghanistan, after Iraq, and after Libya, that anyone who does believe that the west & its allies are motivated by humanitarian concerns in Syria, must be extraordinarily naive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why we can't afford a privatised railway

This article of mine appears over at The Huffington Post.(UK edition)

David Cameron has hailed it as the "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era". But we really shouldn't get too carried away about the government's £9.4bn programme of investment in the railways announced today, or believe it will do much to alleviate our transport problems. For a start, building work on the projects will not start until 2014 at the earliest. And even when the modernisation does get going, the basic problem of our railways will remain: namely that they are run for private profit and not as a public service. For that we have to blame a certain Mr John Major.

You can read the whole article here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Russia holds firm against western bullying on Syria

RT reports:

Lavrov did not miss an opportunity to address Russia’s detractors – specifically the United States – which, he said, seeks to “blame” Russia and China for the ongoing hostilities in Syria.
"It is not right to blame the situation [in Syria] on Russia and China, to say nothing about threats like 'they are going to pay for this'," he said.
The Russian minister then criticized Moscow's western partners for provoking a civil war in the country.
"Some of my Western colleagues even proposed that the resolution [the Western draft resolution that mentions Chapter 7 of the UN Charter] declare an economic, financial and communication blockade against the Syrian government,” the minister said. “In other words, even talks with [the Syrian government] are ruled out.”
"This is a direct invitation to a civil war, not the implementation of the Geneva communique," Lavrov declared.

Meanwhile, guess which country is talking about a Syrian WMD threat?! Yes, you guessed right, the same one that is telling us that Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons programme is a threat to the entire world. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

G4S's Olympic struggles should derail the drive towards more privatisation

This article of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: Private companies have one aim: profit maximisation. So expect cuts in staffing levels and everything done on the cheap

The next time you meet one of those free-market ideologues who tells you private companies are always more efficient than the public sector, don't bother to get involved in a lengthy argument. Instead just use the example of G4S.

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Austerity at the races: trainers boycott race over paltry prize

This piece of mine appears in The Week/The First Post.

Neil Clark:  Barbour-clad brigade are not waving placards yet – but they're angry about falling prize money

THE natives are restless. I'm not talking about Spain, or Greece, where anti-austerity protestors have been taking to the streets, but about the - usually - more placid world of British jump racing.

You can read the whole piece here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

URGENT: War Criminal on the loose in London. Stop the B-Liar!

An urgent message from Stop the War.

Tony Blair is on the comeback trail to rehabilitate his political career. Help give him the welcome he deserves when he speaks at Arsenal Stadium on Wednesday 11 July: War Criminals are not welcome here... or anywhere except at the International Criminal Court facing war crime charges.

More details on tonight’s anti-B-Liar protest here. Do try and make it to the Arsenal Stadium if you live in the London area and try and spread the word as widely as you can. Don't forget either, that there is a reward for anyone attempting to make a peaceful citizen's arrest of the former British Prime Minister and serial warmonger.

UPDATE: On the subject of Tony B-Liar and his planned comeback, don’t miss this great piece from Lindsey German over at CIF.

And for the most na├»ve piece I’ve ever read on Blair and his motivations, here’s Ed West, writing in the DT.
(HAT TIP: Media Lens Message Board)

Blair had nothing to win from Iraq.  He invaded Iraq because he thought Saddam was a monster who should be removed 
Yeah, right…..!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Telstar: The satellite that launched the 1960s

video: cheesemoon

Fifty years ago today, Telstar was launched. Here’s my piece from The Daily Express.

FIFTY years ago next Tuesday the world suddenly became a much smaller place. On July 10 1962 at 11.47 GMT, Telstar, the world’s first direct relay communications satellite, was launched into space from Cape Canaveral in the US. For the very first time television pictures, telephone calls and telegraph images could be relayed through space.

Nowadays we don’t think much about it when we sit back and watch major sporting events such as World Cup finals or the Olympics or news stories from the other side of the globe broadcast live on television from wherever they take place. But before Telstar it was a different story……..

Many believed in the Sixties that satellite technology would lead to a more united world. “Both sides of Earth can be in immediate photographic contact, communication that could bring better understanding among men,” a newsreel at the time of the Telstar launch declared.

But although wars still go on the impact the satellite had on our lives cannot be underestimated………

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Andy Murray's finest hour

Well, he didn’t quite manage it- but what a great effort- and what a touching speech he made afterwards.

I was never a huge Andy Murray fan, but he seems a lot more likeable nowadays and I’m sure that if he continues to improve his game then one day he’ll land that elusive first Grand Slam.

PS Wondered why it’s so hard for ordinary tennis fans to get Centre Court tickets?
Take a look at this. No doubt the same crowd of  'celebrities’ will be at the Olympics.

As ‘Amanda’, from Norwich says in the comments section:

Makes me sick! I am a life long tennis fan, I would give almost anything to see a Wimbledon final but there is not much chance of that. Why do these 'celebs' , some of whom obviously have little or no interest in the sport, get the greatest prize of all? I am so angry looking at these photo's. Wimbledon, you should be ashamed of yourselves. -

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Black Caviar: Mare's best

This piece of mine appears in The Spectator (Australia)

Neil Clark:  Black Caviar's narrow victory at Ascot will seal her legend.

She came. She saw. She conquered. But blimey, it was close. Like 77,000 or so others I headed to Royal Ascot on Saturday to see ‘The Wonder from Down Under’ — to get my first glimpse of the horse officially rated the world’s fastest sprinter. I’d seen Black Caviar on YouTube and had read about her exploits at Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and other tracks across Australia. But now this equine superstar was 10,496 miles from home, in the cool and cloudy UK, to put her reputation and her unbeaten record on the line. Could she make it 22 wins from 22 races? Or were we about to witness the eclipse of an Australian sporting icon, a shock defeat on a par with Eric Hollies bowling Don Bradman out for a second ball duck in his final Test innings at The Oval? 

You can read more of the article here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Seumas Milne on the (latest) disgrace of our neoliberal and neocon governing elite

This is yet another disgrace for the country's governing elites. The new revelation of corruption comes after the exposure of the deception of the Iraq war, fraud in parliament and the police, the criminality of a media mafia and the devastating failure of the banks four years ago. It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life. 

You can read the whole of the article here.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The best and the worst of the Euro 2012 football tournament

This piece of mine appears over at The Week/The First Post.

Neil Clark: Who gets the brickbats, who gets the plaudits among players, managers, commentators and fans?

THE LATE Jimmy Sirrel  famously said that in football the best team always wins - the rest is only gossip. Few could disagree that the best team- Spain - won the tournament. But what about some other categories as we look back at a vintage three weeks of football?

You can read the whole piece here.