We have reclaimed our first floor . . .

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The State we’re in . . .

If you pay taxes in the UK, your money is helping fund disinformation, division and conspiracy theories. Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson, and a host of other right-wing propagandists are benefitting from taxpayer-funded government support. A recent investigation from Byline Times revealed that the government is by far the biggest spender on GB News advertising.

Granted, it’s more subtle than the blatant state propaganda you’ll find at Russia Today or China Central Television. But THIS Conservative government is pouring OUR cash into a “news” channel that pumps out ugly propaganda to give the impression that this THIS government’s heartless, right-wing policies have widespread support.

A number of the channel’s flagship programmes are hosted by Conservative Party MPs and close allies. Their presence lends credibility to falsehoods and bonkers theories concocted to justify ill-advised and unworkable government policies…policies that are only supported by a very small minority of the population. It’s a textbook propaganda operation.

You’re probably wondering why the government would choose to pump our money into a channel that has been repeatedly investigated and reprimanded by Ofcom for spreading fake news and for presenting politicians as newsreaders. Here’s a clue: It’s owned by Paul Marshall, Dubai-based billionaire and Conservative party mega-donor. See it now?

We made clear in our Functional Democracy Goals report that the media is a key component of a working democracy. A free press is fundamental to the information environment that guides the decisions of voters and law-makers. This corrupt nexus of billionaires, government, and media companies is skewing the field on which our democratic debate plays out. That can’t be allowed to continue.

Functional democracy is impossible without truth, and truth is elusive without a free and fair information system. UK laws on media regulation – from newspapers to TV to social networks – have been neglected for decades and now fall woefully short of being fit for purpose. As with so many of our democratic safeguards, we are now paying a heavy price for that neglect.

Our report includes recommendations drawn from the work of seasoned press reform campaigners, HackedOff. Those recommendations show how we can begin to address the disrepair in the system. The first thing we must do is take press reform seriously. We must open our eyes to the dire state of the UK media environment and pick up where the Leveson inquiry left off. If we don’t, we will become an Orwellian state in which none of us has the information we need to make proper democratic decisions. (Read thereport for full details of our recommendations.)

Many British people believe that the UK has some natural immunity to authoritarianism and that our democracy is a given. It doesn’t and it isn’t. Democracy, freedom, and fairness only survive if enough good people are prepared to engage in the constant struggle required to maintain them. The right-wing ghouls over at GB News may have the advantage now, but by working together, by organising and mobilising, our movement, nearly 300,000 strong, will turn the tide.

Best wishes,

The Open Britain Team

Open Britain

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The Balfour Declaration . . .

To really understand the present day situation in what was once rather loosely called “Palestine” a sort of starting point might be the Balfour Declaration of 1917. And one needs to bear in mind that Declaration was made in wartime when the Government was under many pressures , and the Middle East itself was a tricky area with the collapse of the old Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Army being trained by German instructors. For more details Wikipedia is a good source of information at “Balfour Declaration

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rites of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Arthur Balfour

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Spring Tides . . .

Alcedo, 16 February 2024 (Source : WCSP, Facebook) Alcedo means Kingfisher.
Osprey, 16 February 2024. (Source : WCSP, Facebook)
24 February 2024, Kirkcudbright Harbour, (Source : WCSP, Facebook)
24 February 2024, Kirkcudbright Harbour, (Source : WCSP, Facebook)
24 February 2024, Kirkcudbright Harbour, (Source : WCSP, Facebook)
24 February 2024, Kirkcudbright Harbour, (Source : WCSP, Facebook)
24 February 2024, Kirkcudbright Harbour, (Source : WCSP, Facebook)

WCSP is short for West Coast Sea Products.

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Grammar . . .

With thanks to

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Those who go down the sea in ships . . .

Monkfish – not the man ! – the fish !

One of the most obvious local industries is fishing, and in particular, scallop fishing or dredging. The vessel “Alcedo” is a scallop dredger belonging to West Coast Sea Products and you can see where the dredging apparatus gets hauled up at the side of the boat. In action, the derricks swing out like wings and the trawl is towed along from their outer ends – one trawl each side. The scallops are processed ashore and go all over the place to hotels and restaurants everywhere. They do how ever come up with other fish such as the Monkfish shown in the bottom picture – an ugly looking thing, but good eating.

From time to time a great pile of scallop shells appears on the quayside and then get loaded onto a vessel and taken away.

The pictures are taken from a West Coast Sea Products post on Facebook. There are many more photos on the WCSP web site – the fleet of vessels – and a gallery of all their activities, and others if you search around.

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King Challenger

King Challenger pulls into KBT Harbour, 7.30 this morning (6 Feb 24), by Steve Roberts.

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Vertigo . . .

The caption to this photograph from The Guardian (2 Feb 24) reads . . .

Pencaitland, Scotland

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner wears tartan boots on her visit Diageo’s Glenkinchie Distillery to learn more about the importance of the industry and to talk about Labour’s New Deal for Working People

Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Many years ago we visited an old malt house in Belgium which had been converted into a museum and art gallery. The original floors had been kept and were wire mesh similar to the ones in the photo above. I set out across the room unthinkingly, but part way across my legs became distinctly wobbly as I had the feeling that I was walking on thin air. I saw all that I wane to see but it required a considerable effort of mind over matter to do it.

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Idle Thoughts . . .

Uriah Heep

I always think when I see photos or videos of Jacob Rees Mogg that Uriah Heep must have been one of his ancestors. Dickens is silent on the point and leaves us with Uriah being transported to Australia – what happened after that ? Perhaps some novelist is missing a chance here ?

Uriah Heep

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Suspended . . . !

Yesterday, whilst typing a response to a post my “X” account was suddenly suspended. A flurry of emails have passed to and fro since, to little effect. Odd that it says that were I to subscribe (an expensive thing to do) I could see more posts – but in fact if the subscribe notice is clicked you go back to going round in the suspended circle. I shall, like Asquith, wait and see, and although I shall miss the contacts I have made on “X” I may well just let the thing go.

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