Monday, 28 July 2014

This my account of Saturday's Gaza Demonstration now we must build on it

Sometimes, I must admit, and in what I consider to be very depressing times, it seems I need my faith renewing in the human race, and with it the capacity to reach out with compassion and empathy to others who are suffering unimaginable and very real horrors at the hands of other human beings in this world, such as it is today.

We all must have them moments of weakness, them blackouts of despair, the complete loss and absence of hope. But you know, then something extraordinary and remarkable happens across the world, when hands start to reach out, across continents, in the darkness and into the daylight, over the hills and the great mountains of mother earth, crossing vast oceans as if parting the waters, as thousands if not millions have joined together in condemning the murder, the murderess darkness of this slaughter and the genocide of the Zionist Israeli state.

For the second week in succession, I managed to join Saturdays London demonstration for Gaza and Palestine, so glad I did and what a magnificent show of solidarity it was and for the second week in a row, this truly dispatching any doubting thoughts that I may have had and renewing my faith in the human race.

The march was organised in only five days, called by Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of Al Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain, and it started from the Israeli Embassy and marched through London to a rally which was held in Parliament Square.

I had been preparing my body and mind for this march all week and planned to cycle from my home in Canning Town to the Embassy which I did in two hours at a steady pace, it was such a lovely morning and I had taken a pack-up and plenty of cold water with me, which I had frozen overnight in my fridge, the ride was really lovely and when I arrived thousands of people had already amassed outside the Israeli embassy chanting in such volume, how could anyone not hear it inside.

The appearance and cool refreshing atmosphere was breath taking and welcome, looking around I took note of banners on parade and assembled, there was the International Zionist Network, Global Women's Strike, with the lead banners of Stop the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and CND to name but a few. But it was the home made placards and banners that interested me the most, precisely one that said ‘killing is not the answer’ and another that made the call to ‘legalise peace’.

I didn't think it too hot or uncomfortable and still the banners and people kept on arriving, I knew this was going to be big and as impressive as the week before when 100,000 took to the London streets and I would say that the same number had turned out again chanting messages of renewed solidarity, they simply are never going to flicker out or end.

When the march moved off we headed into Knightsbridge the exclusive residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. Knightsbridge is home to many expensive shops, including the department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, don’t think I would be able to afford anything from them stores or would I want anything from them I thought to myself as we passed on by, it was here that I spotted two other banners one said ‘Israel is the real terrorism’ and the other ‘Israel watch out we are coming for you’. As we marched on through I noticed the England football team coach stuck in the traffic, I asked the driver whose window was open if this was the official team transport and he said it was, I think the team must have been visiting a casino we passed, for a punt on the roulette table.

On towards Marble Arch and then down towards and past the Ritz Hotel in the heart of Piccadilly as the thousands of us made our way, it was here that I noticed people on the pavements were starting to applaud the march which was still vigorous and energetic in voice, ‘free, free Palestine’ echoing all around.

As the march swung around and passing the column of one eyed Nelson, entering Whitehall the palace and home to our rulers, we went by Downing Street currently residence to the utterly incompetent David Cameron, with a substantial police presence fenced in by a two tier barricade even though Thatcher’s gates stood behind them with police guns and firearms.

I had been at the front of the march for most of the time and on arriving in Parliament Square found a position to observe the length of the march, it took 50 minutes to enter the square form start to finish that is some size and volume of people many of whom had turned up for the second week in succession and I say well done to all of them.

The brutal Israeli bombing of Gaza is provoking increasing opposition and revulsion, sparking a series of protests around the world and in London we held one of the largest protests in the world, But large protests were also held in India, Korea, Indonesia, Spain, Ireland, and many other countries. In the United States, 2,000-3,000 people rallied in New York City’s Times Square and in Chicago a demonstration on Saturday night was attended by more than 10,000 people, which gave me an idea why not hold a demonstration in the evening for a change?

Cities and towns that held protests on the same day as London included Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Hastings, Hebden Bridge, Lancaster, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Oxford, Peterborough, Preston, Salisbury, Sheffield, Southampton, Stroud.

Across Britain we can be proud that so many of us have answered the call, defend Gaza, defend Palestine, defend the people, defend the children - A start has been made but we have much more to do, every day must be a day of activity, we can build the boycott of Israeli goods and products, we can and must use every opportunity to talk to as many people as is humanly possible, because our message is hitting home...     

This my account of Saturday's Gaza Demonstration now we must build on it!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Gaza is basking in as much wealth as the State of Kuwait thats what Israel is after!

While Israel has been telling the world that it has the right to defend itself against foreign aggression, arguing that no country should ever be made to tolerate systematic terror, even though under international law such narrative holds no legal ground as Israel has been de facto occupying Gaza, rendering null and void the notion of Gaza as a foreign entity, and yet very little has been said of Israel's real motives.

First lets settle Israel’s argument that (Israel) it legally and morally has a right to defend itself against aggression supposedly coming coming from Gaza and Hamas, who they claim to be a militant Islamic fundamentalist political movement that opposes peace with Israel, it is important to understand that the Gaza Strip is not, under international law, a sovereign state, it is an occupied land, therefore Israel cannot declare war on its people, rather it owes its people if you like protection.

"Military occupation is a recognised status under international law and since 1967, the international community has designated the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as militarily occupied.

As for Palestinians in Gaza they do however have an inherent right to resist foreign occupation. Such right is again, protected under international law.

Israel is so keen on levelling Hamas because Hamas has categorically refused to discuss an energy sharing agreement whereby Israel would have access to Gaza's gas resources. Israel faces an energy crisis of biblical proportion and that Gaza's untapped and unexploited billions of dollars represent a fortune and a lifeline which Tel Aviv will not tolerate to go to waste  

Operation Protective Edge is the war of a colonial state dedicated to expanding its theft of Palestine's natural resources ... incarcerating and bombing its people in the world's biggest open air prison, while growing rich at their expense that is the simple plan truth!

What Israel really seek in Gaza is access to Palestine's underground riches. Whatever happens on the surface is just there to act as a public distraction, a ploy designed for the masses so that Israel could commit grand larceny in perfect impunity under the very nose of the ever pliable world community.

Palestine's vast natural resources

Back in 2000 British Gas (BG) discovered that Gaza sat on an estimated $4 billion worth of natural gas. Needless to say that this discovery came as a shock to Israel, as suddenly Gaza, this little slither of land which Palestinians have been discarded upon, if you like an open prison in which to punish and crush the Palestinians.
Since BG made its first estimation, it has now been established that Gaza's gas reserves are far greater than first anticipated. Seemingly and according to some experts Gaza is basking in as much wealth as the State of Kuwait.

Rather than live in abject poverty, Gaza should be a vibrant business hub, a brilliant economic success. Instead, it has been withering away under Israel's blockade, forced to scrap and beg for its daily bread, its people reduced to servitude.

Let us remember that Israel's maritime blockade coincides with BG's discovery. Let us remember that it is since 2000 that Israel has denied Palestine access to its territorial waters, thus infringing on international law and de facto putting Gaza under siege; all because Israel wants to pillage Palestine's resources.

So why a war now

So why a war now? To put it bluntly, Israel cannot wait any longer. Plagued by high unemployment and rising inflation, Israel needs to find a viable solution to both its energy crisis and mounting economic difficulties.

According to Israel's own projection, the state will face an aggravated energy crisis by 2020.

Israel is quite simply running out of time. If recent mass protests in Israel in regards to depreciating living conditions and social injustice are anything to go by, officials indeed feel a great sense of urgency.

As Israel's needs increase, so has its determination to bypass international law.

Whatever Israel cannot negotiate it will obliterate, beginning of course with Hamas, the war on Gaza came as a natural development to Israel's geo-strategic realities.

just one other thing to remember is that the last time Israel marched on Gaza, in 2008, its military deployment also aligned with its contracting of BG to discuss critical negotiations around Gaza's natural gas. A coincidence?

This new war on Gaza is a colonial war. This new war on Gaza has little to do with self-defence or terror or sovereignty... it has however everything to do with Israel's neo-imperialistic ambitions.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Gaza boy who clung to the paramedic and the photo that went around the world

This the story behind the young terrified and clearly traumatised young boy who clung to the paramedic and the photo that went around the world this week, yet again illustrating the full horror and hideous and disgusting crimes raining down on children from the mighty state of Israel. I have taken the liberty of reposting it in its entirety on this blog.

Thursday night, 17 July, was the heaviest yet since Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began almost two weeks ago.

Dozens of people arrived to Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital, where I was on shift that night. Some arrived torn to pieces, some beheaded, some disfigured beyond recognition, although still alive and breathing.

Seemingly indiscriminate artillery fire, a new element in Israel’s assault, had exacted a heavy toll on civilians.

The medical staff were lucky to get a break of less than half an hour. Some spent it watching the flares and bombs Israel was raining on the eastern neighborhoods of Gaza City, while others refueled with coffee or lay down for a few moments.

The relative calm did not last long. At around 3am, about eight or nine casualties arrived at the emergency room all at once. The last to come in were four siblings — two of them little children, both about three years old, with relatively superficial wounds. But it was clear they were pulled from under rubble, their faces and clothes covered in dirt and  dust.

Then came the older of the four siblings, a boy in his early teens. His head and face were covered in blood and he was pressing a rag to his head to stanch the flow. But his focus was on something else: “Save my little brother!” he kept screaming.

The last to arrive was his brother, the child in the above photo that circulated around the world.
“I want my father!”
He was carried in by a paramedic and immediately rushed to the intensive care unit, which is right next to the ER. He clung to the paramedic, crying, “I want my father, bring me my father!” until he had to be forced to let go.

As I stood by, alert for orders, a group of four medical personnel immediately started to treat the boy. But he kept kicking and screaming and calling for his father.
His injuries were serious: a wound to the left side of his head which could indicate a skull fracture and a large piece of shrapnel in his neck. Another piece of shrapnel had penetrated his chest and a third had entered his abdomen. There were many smaller wounds all over his body.
Immediate measures had to be taken to save his life; he was sedated so the medics could get to work.
Upon carefully examining the wounds, it appeared that the explosion from the artillery round sent flying small pieces of stone from the walls of his house, and that some of his wounds were caused by these high-velocity projectiles.

He was extremely lucky: his neck injury was just an inch away from a major artery, his chest injury penetrated all the way through but failed to puncture his lung, and his abdomen was struck by shrapnel that just missed his bowel.


He had a stroke of luck denied to many that night.

The medics performed heroic measures in a remarkably short time, and the little boy’s life was saved.

Meanwhile in the emergency room, the elder brother was stitched up and the younger two siblings were washed and thoroughly examined for possible hidden injuries.
Somehow, despite the horror and the pain, they were sleeping. I don’t know how they did it, but I felt envious and grateful for the divine mercy that found its way to them.
Their brother with the most serious wounds will almost certainly survive, but with many scars and a difficult recovery period, both physical and psychological.
Too many casualties came in that night, too many for me to get this boy’s name, to know whether he was reunited with his father, or even what became of the rest of his family.
But there’s one thing that I know for sure, which is that hundreds of children just like him suffered similar or worse injuries, and up to the moment of this writing, nearly eighty children just like him have been killed as Israel’s merciless attack goes on.

Taken From

Millions are forced through the ringer of austerity whilst parliamentarians drink champagne

Budgets undeniably, are tight as millions of us are forced through austerity, some take an unprecedented cut in their standard of living, then struggling with low pay or having to take a pay cut just to keep a job, then there are the millions, the legions and multitudes reliant on the foodbank and the handout just to keep body and soul together and sustained physically and mentally strong, It’s definitely hard for many of us and has been for some considerable time now!

However, it’s good to know that for some the good times never ended and the champagne still flows and the party never came to an end.

It’s been reported in our press, that  champagne consumption in Westminster appears immune to austerity measures.  As new  figures uncovered by the Huffington Post UK show that there has been a substantial rise in the number of bottles of bubbly ordered by the House of Commons since the current coalition came to power.

This tax year the catering services at Westminster bought 8,082 bottles of the luxury tipple, a 72 per cent increase from the 4,691 bottles purchased in 2010. The rise has been a steady one, with approximately 1000 more bottles ordered in each year.

The total cost of stocking the House of Commons with champagne has added up to £275,221 since 2010. This brought Westminster over 25,000 bottles, which MPs and their staff are able to buy at a rate subsidised by the taxpayer.
Two Labour MPs a few years back  were involved in a champagne drinking contest which got so raucous one needed medical treatment while on official business in Paris.

Earlier this year the Metro newspaper published anonymous complaints made by MPs about the on-site subsidised catering services. These included concerns about the "embarrassing" lack of Martini and a request for "more fresh game" to be introduced to the menu.

Would you believe that 78% of our current Government’s MPs are millionaires. How in touch with the ordinary man and his everyday experience can they be must be the question?

Adding up the amount of ‪‎Millionaires‬ in both the House of Commons & the House of Lords - in TOTAL nearly 80% are Millionaires.
Currently 75% of 'Government Cabinet Ministers' - within parliament are Millionaires. Those that sit in the House of Commons  and the House of Lords all Members of Parliament - The figures If you include both Houses TOTAL - members 1462 (650 MPs + 812 House Lords).
In TOTAL nearly 80% are MILLIONAIRES.

I believe parliament should represent the majority not the minority !! But the reality is - We are governed by a MILLIONAIRES - Democracy ?.

The 99% in Britain are struggling in chronic poverty, unable to pay bills, buy quality food items. Meanwhile both the House of Commons and the House of Lords enjoy privilege beyond our wildest imagination.
These Lords and MP's hold many assets - (many hidden from public view), including savings and (second income wages). There are Lords and MP's who gain extra payments from industrial lobbyist.

Benefit Claimants are quite rightly 'angry' at those who sit in an 'undemocratic & an unelected House of Lords. Those MP's and those who sit in the Lords firmly believe it's OK to hold two jobs & enjoy a subsidised restaurant and bar. In contrast benefit claimants are struggling to buy food, pay bills or 'even get the benefit payments'. This indeed is a real scandal a true story of the political class the real parasites and scroungers that clearly live off others.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

We need to build and make this the biggest demonstration thus far for Gaza

Last Saturday, cities and towns across the world demonstrated against Israel's barbaric attack on Gaza. The biggest was in London, where up to 100,000 marched. This coming Saturday 26 July another mass demonstration has been called for and organised by: Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of Al Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain.

During the course of the next few days, we need to build and make this the biggest demonstration thus far, that’s not an impossible task to achieve, only last night my own next door neighbour said during the course of a conversation we had about Gaza that he would very much like to attend the next event or demonstration; you will be surprised at the number of people who have told me they are appalled at what they have seen and understand to be going on in Gaza.

As I write this post IDF names the 28th soldier killed in Gaza; Gaza officials put the day's death toll at 27 - 608 total. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its ground operation, raising the recent escalation death toll in Gaza to 608, with 3,700 wounded.

Now I’m not going to write a song and a long post about Israel's Operation Protective Edge as it enters its third week, my primary concern is with building and urging others to help build Saturdays demonstration, to make it big, to make it loud and colorful, full of interest; lively and exciting, that would indeed be brilliant!  





Monday, 21 July 2014

Effectively support Gaza through Boycotts

Morning comrades and friends all, here is a list of things and products that we can Boycott in support of Gaza and against Israel’s bloody onslaught, it’s by no means a full list and I would be grateful if others could add to it, thanks and have a great week.

The most basic step is to stop buying products and services of Israeli companies and, whenever feasible, of international companies involved in Israel’s human rights violations. Try to encourage your friends, family and community to join you in doing so.
the most common Israeli exports include:

- fresh fruit and vegetables such as Jaffa citrus fruits and Israeli Medjoul Dates
- Eden Springs bottled water
- Golan Heights Wineries and other Israeli wines

And of course, Boycott Marks & Spencer

Remember this if you will: M&S supports Israel with £240 million in trade each year and sees ‘aiding the economic development of Israel as one of its fundamental objectives’.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Still ringing in my ears is the chant “from the river to the sea Gaza will be free”

Going on and participating in the massive protest this Saturday just gone and in regard to the onslaught on Gaza was good for me, and indeed I was glad to have shown if only some solidarity with those so far away and suffering what can only be to me and for many others, a real but still unimaginable, difficult and near impossible to comprehend properly, the pain and horror inflicted upon them and from and at the hands of the Israeli army known as the Israel Defence Forces or IDF.

Extremely outraged by the wanton and unjustifiable bombardment and killings of innocent civilians, including children, in the Palestinian territory of Gaza by Israeli military forces, meant that thousands of us gathered on a hot and very humid July afternoon and marched to the London Embassy of Israel in posh Kensington, to demand "justice and freedom" for Palestine and an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.

People want justice and freedom for the Palestinians, and they were voicing this in their thousands, Still ringing in my ears is the chant “from the river to the sea Gaza will be free”. We arrived at the Israeli embassy but were met by a police blockade sealing off the place and   preventing anyone of us from getting anywhere near to the building.
A number of high-profile Palestine supporters addressed the crowd near to the embassy. This morning one of the organisers John Rees wrote on facbook the following:

“Some say the Palestine demo was 50,000 and others say 100,000. I was stewarding at the front and didn't get the chance to look back over it all from either Trafalgar Square or down Piccadilly. But one policeman told me that it was still in Piccadilly when we arrived at the Israeli embassy in High Street Kensington. Anyway here is a great picture and it certainly is a mass demonstration on the scale of earlier Palestine mobilisations. Congratulations to all those that built it, organised on the day and attended.”

The trapped, is the best way of describing the blockade of 1.8 million people in the Gaza strip, now over the last two weeks in a densely populated area they have been bombarded with the death toll of 75% civilians, over 40 children. Extended families eating Ramadan meals after sunset have suffered unimaginable atrocities and many people are now homeless having had their properties blown up. In one strike, 17 members of a family died together, even a care home for severely disabled people was hit.

The demo on Saturday is part of a world wide and I do hope will become an ever growing echo of widespread condemnation of these senseless attacks on defenceless Palestinians and a call on the government of Israel to immediately cease with this blatant act of criminality. We still have much to do but in Britain we have made a start, for make no mistake the government of this country are complicit with these crimes.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The ever-increasing gulf between rich and poor

The richest 20% of the population in Britain will have, on average, the spare sum of £18,680 to put into their savings this year, while the poorest 20% will spend £1,910 more than they earn, latest figures suggest.

In research published, the Post Office said saving was still being driven by the wealthiest people while lower earners were suffering a debt crisis. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which undertook the analysis, this trend has been happening for the past 12 years.

The poorest 40% of the population have spent more than they have earned over this period, in contrast to the top 40% of earners who had money to save every year.

Even during the financial crisis of 2007-2008 those in the highest income brackets had enough disposable income to increase the amount they saved annually. By contrast, the rise of payday lenders in Britain's "Wonga economy" symbolised the squeeze on living standards faced by ordinary families, the report says.

According to a report by the housing charity Shelter about 3.8m households did not have any reserves to pay housing costs. Shelter's findings were based on a YouGov survey of 7,500 adults who had rent or mortgage payments.

Shelter found that 44% of working families with children under 18 could be one month's salary away from losing their homes if they became unemployed because they had little or no savings.
Meanwhile Citizens Advice said it had noted a 16% rise in social housing rent arrears last year, and a big jump in repossession warnings.

Economic inequality

The biggest drop in living standards since the Victorian age is seeing low and middle earners suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their incomes as austerity measures continue to bite, with women and part-time workers disproportionately affected.

More than five million people are officially classified as low paid and an increasing number of public sector workers are struggling to make ends meet, and so the economic inequality between the rich and poor in the UK continues to to march onwards in foodbank britain. The ever-increasing gulf between rich and poor in Britain is costing the economy more than £39bn a year, according to a report by the Equality Trust thinktank. The effects of inequality can be measured in financial terms through its impact on health, wellbeing and crime rates, according to statisticians at the independent campaign group.
Researchers pointed to the fact that the 100 wealthiest people in the UK have as much money as the poorest 18 million – 30% of all people – and said that the consequences of such unusually high rates of inequality needed to be acknowledged by politicians...

I think most people have always known the trickle down effect is and always has been complete and utter bollocks.

Bringing the problems of inequality to the attention of politicians who can't see past the next election or a future directorship is also pointless as they just don't care as long as they are part of the 1%.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gold plated silver-tongued self-opinionated and minted Owen Jones

Gold plated, silver-tongued, self-opinionated and minted Owen Jones who has appeared over the last few years as a standard bearer of what is left of the old left now very much diminishing in the Labour Party that was; he has made good use of his position as a columnist for the Guardian in attacking his opponents to the left of where he stands, in this article (Mocking an Eton boy's death is the worst politics of envy) that appeared in the said newspaper on Monday.  

Although, I must confess that I do share his feelings in regard to the youngster and Eton College pupil from Salisbury, mauled to death by a polar bear in Norway's Svalbard archipelago in 2011.

Indeed, it is in very bad taste, disgusting and arousing revulsion and rightly a strong indignation that the SWP can speak so ill and mock the tragic death of this young man whatever his background or upbringing may have been. However, Jones in my opinion, wastes time and energy and only illuminates what is after all a spent influence in and amongst our movement and I think that his planned and penned attack has more to do with shoring up his own position as a leader of the the People's Assembly, which is beginning to lose ground and not metabolising or even materialising into anything like an effective fightback against austerity if the last national demonstration is anything to go by only 50,000 on it, some fight back?

In his article Jones also attacks the anarchist Ian Bone and Class War, I must say I think that Bone is really a bit of a joker if his blog is anything to go by, however there is nothing wrong with a humorist writer, but the anarchist movement in general in this country commands a great deal of respect from me, and some friends have even suggested that my own politics are quite close to the anarchists, possibly, all I know is that they work hard in defending and standing up for working people whether its housing or the attacks on welfare and combating the worst effects of poverty on the many, they are mostly to be found on the front and that counts the most at the end of the day.

I am no fan of Owen Jones, and yes I do consider him and the top table of the People’s Assembly to be nothing more than "champagne socialists". the very same self-appointed leaders who led and still lead the so-called anti-war movement which stopped nothing, they, have and make a very good living out of all this, Jones now a journalist, always popping up on the telly doesn't do it for peanuts he makes good money, not like the rest of us, and I include myself in this description, who live in poverty of one kind or another and have felt the boot go in over the course of this government's assault on the poor and low paid. The last thing we need is lectures from the like of Owen and his mates, the priority should be building unity of purpose not a bounty hunt or a beauty contest of righteousness, where the sun never shines.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Newly unemployed and seriously ill will soon wait five weeks for benefit cash, says TUC

Most people who lose their jobs will soon have to wait five weeks before they get any cash help, according to small print in the Universal Credit rules uncovered by the TUC as it launches a new campaign today (Wednesday), Saving Our Safety Net. A YouGov poll reports opposition of almost four to one to the five-week wait.

Currently most newly unemployed people have to wait two weeks they get their first benefit payment. But under new Universal Credit rules people will not be eligible for any help for a week and must then wait a further month for their benefits to be paid in arrears. This means that, other than the few who receive emergency help, any new claimants will have to wait at least five weeks for any cash.

In a new report Universal Credit: the problem of delay in benefit payments published today (Wednesday), the TUC says that this new and deliberate delay to payments means that worries about money are likely to distract new claimants from looking for work, drive them into the hands of payday loan lenders and increase demand on food banks.

The new five-week wait will apply to anyone making a fresh claim for social security benefits, regardless of how long they have held their job or how much they have paid in National Insurance contributions.

Full Article

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Pipe Major William Lawrie and the unarmed Pipers of the Trenches

This year marks, and as we all know from the press, the television and even every given opportunity taken by politicians today to enhance their own position by association with the 100 year anniversary of the First World War, a war that was fought by the armies of the British and French Empires against the German Empire.

By all accounts there has been much on the television already, mostly in documentary form and interestingly screened by the BBC a propagator outlet for the government and establishment, this of course is a view that I hold and may not be shared by others that I do understand, however, for me the only thing that is worth remembering and the lesson learnt is that all wars are futile and humanities worse side is the indiscriminate slaughter of others that still continues around the world today.

I don’t possess a receptacle, have or care to make a space for a television set in my modest East London flat, from past experience I found it to be a weapon of mass distraction, but I must confess that on occasions I do watch Eastends or anything that takes my interest and by way of the iPlyer, and so it was this last week just gone, when my cousin on facebook alerted me and others to a documentary program to be shown on BBC 2 (‘Pipers of the Trenches’) in regard to the Great War and the prominent part that was played by the Scottish Piper in that horrendous conflict. The war that 'would be over by Christmas', indeed, as we now know it became  an extremely bloody war that engulfed Europe from 1914 to 1918, with huge losses of life and little ground lost or won. Fought mostly by soldiers in trenches, the war that saw an estimated 10 million military deaths and another 20 million wounded.

We should remember that the commonwealth contribution came from: One and a half million volunteers from India came forward, men from the West Indies won 81 medals for bravery, whilst 49 were mentioned in despatches, 55,000 men from Africa fought for the British during the war and hundreds of thousands of others carried out the vital roles of carriers or auxiliaries. They came from Nigeria, the Gambia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Nyasaland (now Malawi), Kenya and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). It is estimated that 10,000 Africans were killed. African troops were awarded 166 decorations for bravery.

There were close to 80 British Dominions that fought in the First World War. Many soldiers were from undivided India (which today comprises of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Nepal and various different parts of Africa with a sizeable army from the Caribbean recruited into the British West Indies Regiment taking part on the Western Front and in the Middle East. Over 1,000,000 men from ethnic minorities served in the First World War.

Now with that said, it is my own opinion, that there was none the braver than the Scottish soldier, always ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing real courage, and: "a brave soldier" is indeed the history of the highland warrior, forgive me if you would, but I have to be biased considering my upbringing with an old Scottish family and with (I have very mixed feelings about this) a long history of soldering and involvement in most if not all the wars whilst part of the union with England (and I’m a supporter of Scottish independence). My late grandfather found himself on the beaches of Dunkirk. The Battle of Dunkirk was an important battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. I am extremely proud that my grandfather was part of the British Expeditionary Force who were bottled up in a corridor to the sea, then The War Office made the decision to evacuate British forces and amazingly they did it in nine days, 338,226 men escaped, including 139,997 French, Polish, and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, aboard 861 vessels (of which 243 were sunk during the operation). British Fighter Command lost 106 aircraft dogfighting over Dunkirk, and the Luftwaffe lost about 135 – some of which were shot down by the French Navy and the Royal Navy. The rest as they say is history, but I’m glad that my grandfather was able to make it back or I and many of this grandchildren would never have been able to have had the real pleasure of knowing him, and of course his 11 children would have suffered the most if anything had happened to him, so thank the Lord above he made it home in 1940.

My grandfather was a renowned and well respected piper of Scottish music played on the historic and very ancient instrument known the world over as the bagpipes, in fact my family has been involved with the playing and promotion of the instrument for hundreds of years stretching back in time and history, a real part of Scottish history that continues today being passed down from one generation to the next.

So I hope that the reader of this post now gets a little of the background of what I’m about to express next in words and about a real hero, and I am so proud to say a member of my own family, who was possibly one of the greatest pipers of all time, who not only fought and lost (sadly) his life in the Battle of the Somme, dying from an infection that he caught in the disease infested trenches, he died by the way in a military hospital back in England in 1916,  this great man wrote and composed the famous pipe tune and I must say, one of the most celebrated and loved pieces of Scottish (world famous) music, ‘The Battle of the Somme.’

There were well over one million casualties on both sides at the Somme, and yet out of this unimaginable terror, a young Scottish bagpiper called William Lawrie composed and in the trenches of all places this magnificent masterpiece of fine Scottish music which every piper in the world knows, and every generation, will know for evermore, for the rest of time, until the end of time.

The Somme was fought by the armies of the British and French against the German army. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of humanity's bloodiest battles.

William a native of Ballachulish, Argyll, (The name Ballachulish (from Scottish Gaelic, Baile a' Chaolais means "the Village by the Narrows") he was first taught by his father, but later by John MacColl, In 1910 he became only the second piper ever to win the Gold Medals at both Oban and Inverness games in the same year, and he added Clasp to his Inverness Gold Medal the following year. He won the marches and the strathspeys and reels at Inverness on the same day. But his prime legacy is as a composer. His small 20 tunes – but powerful. His distinctive gift for melody and structure gave the best tunes in the art form: the marches John MacDonald of Glencoe, The Pap of Glencoe, The Braes of Brecklet and Mrs. H. L. MacDonald of Dunach, the strathspey Inveraray Castle, the 4/4 march The 8th Argylls and the 9/8 retreat march and of course The Battle of the Somme, to name a few. These tunes are stunning achievements for a man who, it could be argued, was still short of his prime.

Now I know that some of the above technical stuff will be beyond the reader as it is indeed me, as I never got the hang of the pipes like my brother did, oh well, my talents must have laid always somewhere else, in the class war says he laughingly.

William was one of the first amongst his peers to hear and answer the call of King and country, and I can just imagine young men joining up in what would have been from a very small village and community, many would otherwise have been destine to live out their lives in the village and surrounding area, and then came along the war with the opportunity to venture a far, after all they were told it would be over by Christmas so why not, so William In 1914 became the Pipe Major of the 8th Argyllshire Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – the 8th Argylls – and accompanied them to France in 1915. But as I have already said in 1916 he became ill while in the trenches, was invalided home, and died in a military hospital on November 28 of that year.

Until the the showing of this excellent documentary I knew very little about William, he may have been spoken about but I never really took any notice or was just too young to understand who and what he did for both his music and his country, and now it becomes clear, he was a real hero, and so were all the pipers on the front line, they were expected to play the pipes when the call was made to rise out of the trenches and attack the enemy lines, unarmed only with a set of bagpipes leading from the front their comrades the men into battle, and out of 2,500 pipers half were killed, how about that then?

This year, I have already done (wrote) quite a lot of posts already on the great war and of course from an anti-war position, I have always been and remain totally opposed to war in all its many forms and will continue to do so for the rest of my life, this has at times found some indifference and disagreement (but I view it as friendly) with members of my own family which is sad. The truth is I respect what others have done, the decisions they have made in their own lives when it comes to taking up arms and going off to war. I understand what Williams generation did and why they did it, they may have been misinformed by the press, the government and the terrible British ruling class propaganda of them times, the white feathers and all of that horrid stuff, but still I can feel pride in the sacrifice they made, for really they were doing it and did it for all the things they loved the most and left behind at home, and for the great many never to return, in fact lets get this into perspective “ the missing” dead from the First World War are still being found almost 100 years since the guns fell silent in 1918.. But you know, I think and believe that the late Harry Patch who was known as Britain's last fighting Tommy, got it right when he said the following:

“I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the ‘guns’ and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalised murder.”   

Now in bringing this post to an end, there is just one or two things that I would like to say, on 4 August the date which marks 100 years since Britain entered the First World War a Candlelit vigil (in an echo of the remark by Foreign Secretary Viscount Edward Grey, who said on the outbreak of war: 'The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our time') will be held around the country in an act of remembrance for the fallen and I would like to urge everyone whatever views are held, to put them to one side and at 10pm to turn all the lights off at home and to light a Candle and allow it to burn for one hour until 11pm as a solemn act of understanding and remembrance passed between us and them who gave up so much.

And finally I would like to dedicate this post to all my family, who I love with all my heart despite all our differences over the years and to my very good friend and comrade Mark Wright who has impressed me so much over the last few years, stay strong Mark and play your part and make the world a better place for all.

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