All in the Mind

The Hidden Paedo-Scare Agenda

Hardly a day passes in the modern mainstream British media without a peadophilia-themed scandal, whether it be police discovering hundreds or thousands of child porn images on some poor soul's hard drive, a young woman's revelation about her parents' role in childhood sexual abuse, a high-ranking official or celebrity using his (or her) credit card to view child porn, a young female teacher seducing a 13 year old boy, a 13 year old girl, claiming to be 18, being groomed by a 50 year old male, claiming to be just 24. At times the hysteria reaches such extremes that one wonders why we don't just arrest every adult preventively on suspicion of child abuse?

Many others have commented on and indeed satirised the media's preoccuption with rampant paedophilia. It seems literally that one is hiding under every child's bed. Such is the hysteria that anyone ringing alarm bells at the Draconian legislation passed to combat this phenomenon (e-mail snooping, telephone tapping, psychiatric screening and the maintenance of extensive databases with confidential information) is soon accused of downplaying the paedophile threat, tacitly condoning the activities of sex fiends or even conniving with these social outcasts in the abuse of vulnerable minors.

Some of us seem to have short memories. As media stories about sexual abuse in religious and state institutions in 1970s and 80s abound, one wonders why we heard so little about it then. Was it because, as some might rather naively assume, few were prepared to speak out against this social taboo for fear of upsetting respected institutions such as the Church, the Scouts or social services, and only now in more enlightened times can we protect our kids from domestic and institutional sexual abuse. I would be the last one to downplay the effects of any form of physical and/or sexual abuse on children in key stages of their emotional development.

As the long-term effects of sexual abuse are mainly psychological, if we leave aside extreme cases with significant physical harm, early sexualisation promoted by the media and peer pressure tends to create an enviroment in which atomised children can easily make themselves vulnerable to atomised and sexually repressed adults. Indeed the whole notion of sexual repression is yet another misunderstood concept. Most of us maintain a considerable degree of sexual restraint, mediated by societal norms and expectations. We may view a person's sexuality from multiple perspectives. I may appreciate the sexy physique of my teenage daughter or younger half sister, and indirectly consider their suitability as a lucky man's girlfriend or spouse when the time is right. Indeed deep in the subconscience of any heterosexual male is the sexual desirability of any young girl. When you contemplate the beauty of your three year daughter, you consider her potential adult physique. We could think of children as adults in waiting or in the making, rather than mini-adults attempting to emulate the behaviour of their parents and media role models. The current emphasis on genetic psychiatrics leads us the mistaken conclusion that paedophiles (and I take the media's usual modern definition of this word) are somehow a subspecies. We simply need to identify, isolate, rehabilitate and/or chemically castrate them. But as all men are potential rapists, I submit that all sexually interested adults are potential child molesters. There has always been a sexual underclass, those who for physical or psychological reasons find it harder to satisfy their biological needs through consensual relationships with age-appropriate partners. On a personal note I've experienced both periods of frequent intercourse and period of relative abstinence, yet it has never dawned on me to exploit a vulnerable person, always seeking to establish an emotional bond and mutual understanding of the role of sex in the relationship. Certainly I've witnessed rival males, in the crude terminology of sexual competition, score with minimal effort. I've learned to take a philosophical approach, but understand some other males in a sexually obsessed society feel an urge to pursue every possible avenue for sexual fulfilment.

Whatever the media tells you, there are surprisingly few cases of loners lurking behind the bushes by playgrounds waiting for the right moment snatch and rape a child. In the vast majority of cases of childhood sexual abuse, children fall victim to adults who have won their confidence. Indeed in an alarming number of cases they are not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Such is the hysteria surrounding paedophilia that there have been more cases of teachers falsely accused of sexual abuse than teachers who have actually sexually assualted a child. In the narrowest definition of the term, sexual assault of children by teachers is statistically a very rare occurrence, but age-inappropriate sexual liaison has thanks to early sexualisation become increasingly common. A number of cases have emerged of false accusations lodged against unpopular teachers, especially those that students consider uncool or too strict, while some female teachers have seduced teenage male students. In modern Britain most children over ten are not only aware of the birds and bees, but also of numerous sexual practices (fellatio, cunnilings, anal intercourse etc.) and orientations and with mounting media and peer pressure to go out and score with an alpha male or hot babe. That certainly was not true in the relatively carefree 1960s and 70s. At the tender age of ten I showed zilch interest in porn and on reaching puberty limited myself to private exploration of my sexuality until I met a consenting partner. Although we had some sex education at school, we learned most through gradual discovery of sexuality, mainly from older friends and relatives (ideally cousins and uncles rather than siblings or parents) or perhaps through books available at the local library or in the family bookcase. Around 1978 (at the tender age of 14) I learned an awful lot about sexual positions from the Sunday Times supplement complete with sketches. I can cite a couple of unfortunate experiences, a male seven years my elder, who forcibly penetrated me with my reluctant consent (considering myself at the time bisexual and theoretically open to experimentation) and a one night stand where my female partner was simply too inebriated to reciprocate, an occurrence that, I suppose, is all too common for today's partying youth. Yet despite times of considerable emotional instability, I had a clear view of the bounds of acceptable behaviour, whatever my wildest fantasies might have been. I became aware of non heterosexual orientations mainly through school taunting, a few media allegations about public figures and later involvement with fringe neo-Trotskyite groupings. In all honesty the concept of paedophilia completely escaped my attention before my mid teens and continued to play an exceedingly peripheral role until the great paedo-scare raised its ugly head in the mid 1990s. Did my father secretly abuse in the bath at the age of seven? To the best of recollections, the only fear I had was the prospect of shampoo seeping into my sensitive eyes for sex in any form meant absolutely nothing to me. Shame of the human body and prudishness are learned and thus culturally mediated behaviours for reasons of social control.

To put it bluntly, the paedophile scare is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we obsess about it, the more we warn children of insidious adults harbouring paedophile tendencies, the more it becomes a problem that needs be addressed by all conceivable means. Childhood innocence is a treasured time in our lives when we need not worry the huge emotional wranglings that erotic desire and sexual competition unleash. Why should a seven year old girl, often encouraged by her cool parents, want to dress in a sexy manner? Why can't she just be a cute girl, completely oblivious to her potential eroticising powers? Rather than protect vulnerable children, which thanks to a large increase in the numbers of single parents abound in this country, the paedo scare empowers institutions to regulate family units. Consider the outgoing Home Secretary's latest proposals to combat the paedo danger. Not only will some paedophiles be offered drugs, yet another boon for big pharma and the psychiatric lobby, but a mother will be able to find out if her new partner is in the sex offenders' database. In what kind of society do we need to rely on the police or social services to ascertain the moral integrity of our partners, friends and family? The term police state springs to mind. Just imagine the scenario:

Enquirer: Hello, my name is Freda Blogga, ID card number AB 2334543892 HU. I have a new partner I met at the new casino in Manchester last week. We had such a good time and I'd like him to come and live with me and my 13 year old daughter, but I'd just like to check he's a safe pair of hands. His name is Fred Bloggs, ID card number XY 6789400 HY.

Police helpline assistant: Thank you, madam. I'm just bringing up his data on my computer. Apparently we can identify your new partner, the sixth one you've had in the last 2 years according to our records, as low risk on our standard paedophilia risk assessment criteria. We have no records of any paedophile-related behaviour. Over the last five years he has spent only 4.7% of his online time, as monitored by AOL, accessing adult sites, all of which are certified, 27.6% accessing first-person shooter gaming sites and 54.3% playing poker and backgammon, again as far as we can ascertain all via certified service providers. I can also reveal that in 1999 he received a diagnosis of ADHD, which if unmedicated may statistically represent a risk factor. He seems like a typical fun-loving guy, although he did once visit a conspiracy theory site, a little out of character I suppose.

Moral Hypocrisy

Morality, criminality and illegality have long been nuanced concepts. Illegality clearly refers to infringements of the law as it is applied in your local jurisdiction. Duplicating copyrighted music is technically illegal, but apart from denying musicians and record companies of revenue it hardly infringes anyone's basic human rights. Running a licensed casino in modern Britain is technically legal, but many (myself included) would argue its activities are immoral, a giant scam designed to strip people of their hard-earned income while raising their material and emotional expectations. As discussed elsewhere the higher our hedonistic expectations, the greater the disappointment when we fail to attain them. Criminality may comprise either acts infringing basic human rights or acts defying the law of the land. Thus the legality of bombing civilians in another land is simply a technical issue with little bearing on the act's morality or indeed its criminality if we apply the juridical interpretation of the word.

So where does paedophilia stand in moral stakes? In a society obsessed with virtual murder and revenge killings, the whole theme of the Kill Bill, it appears homocide is a lesser crime than child molestation. Certainly many Sun readers have been conditioned to consider the murder of a convicted paedophile a lesser crime than paedophilia itself. While first person shooter addicts and marketers alike have perfected the argument that no gamers would ever dream of reenacting their fantasies, the same argument does not hold true in establishment circles for occasional viewers of child porn, however defined. Personally I think both extreme child porn (i.e. depicting penetrative intercourse rather than certain body parts or mere poses) and virtual violence (i.e. glorifying and justifying mass murder) affect a person's behaviour, just like any other experience, whether first-hand or simulated, but someone cannot be convicted because of a mere fantasy or obsession until they act on it. The real answer to the moral equalivalency issue all depends on the severity of the acts performed. Does it refer simply to viewing images and fantacising underage sex (or perhaps fantacising oneself engaging in such acts as a child)? Is it confined to cases of overt intimate contact with aroused sexual organs? May it comprise fondling whose sexuality may not be obvious at all to immature and sexually naive children? Unfortunately the witch hunt mentality of the media lets us make few of these distinctions. A person may, in their eyes, either be a sex fiend or not. As a result many parents, teachers, close relatives and family friends now habitually avoid all comforting physical contact with younger children, something hardly anyone in the pre-paedo-scare era associated with sex. Just consider that in much of the world nobody bats eyelid about children sleeping their parents' bed, often into their early teens and in crammed living quarters a logistical as well as emotional necessity. Pre-school children sleeping in the matrimonial bed is the norm not just in Iran or Zambia, but in Italy and Spain. Your average 7 year old feels more secure tucked up in bed hugging mum or dad, than partitioned in a cubicle replete with technological wizardry. Yet surprisingly few young Italian adults take their parents to court over alleged child abuse. In the vast majority of cases it was the child, not the parents, who wanted to snuggle in with Mum and Dad. Then what about having a bath unclothed with your five year son. Again this was pretty normal behaviour until recently. Now the paedophile smear is at the back of every parent's or even every adult's mind. I've noticed some pretty odd behaviour in public toilets, with grown men sneaking into cubicles to avoid the embarrassment of temporarily exposing themselves in the presence of young boys, as if the boys minded, and actually inconveniencing others who might actually need a cubicle to dispose of solid waste. Certainly at the age of seven I was totally unconcerned about older men pulling out their willies to urinate. It was just the norm. To become offensive or abusive, an organ or act has to acquire a sexual value and the victim has to be intimately aware of abuse. Certainly any penetrative or otherwise painful acts could not escape the attention of any young child, however aware he or she might be of sexuality. These acts are indeed an extreme perversion, but most societies have successfully marginalised such activities by channelling sexual expression into meaningful consenting relationship between adults, however defined, all without the help of an all-powerful state overseeing every aspect of personal conduct.

To combat the very real dangers of emotional and physical abuse, we should first address the real causes, social instability and atomisation, rather than spreading fear in an already terrorised populace and turning us all into suspects.


Get ready for the Big Corporate Takeover of the Web

The Internet is not going to disappear any time soon, at least short of a nuclear holocaust or a world-wide power outage. Big business has simply invested too much money in it to let that happen. What's at stake is the pioneering concept of a free and open network of hyperlinked resources. Media leviathans may feel threatened by You Tube, but they'll learn to work with it. Although server farms and desktop PCs may still produce an annoying hum, they represent a tiny fraction of global electricity consumption. The dot com boom years let a lucky few exploit new opportunities, but ten years on most large Internet enterprises would not have seen the light of day or night were it not for huge capital investment from the usual suspects. To attract millions of paying visitors to one of over a billion Internet domains, you need to invest heavily in advertising. The other day I caught sight of a huge billboard for Why bother spending millions on an antiquated poster campaign if people can search the Web for alternatives to Google (the default for Firefox, Safari, Opera and Konqueror users), Yahoo and Microsoft's Windows Live (the default for IE 7 users). Tech-savvy users with a modern browser (i.e. post IE 6 era) can always add a search engine to their search bar. I've added Clusty, Yahoo, Creative Commons,, Wikipedia, Ask Dot Com, Google Maps UK and even Window Live to my Firefox search box. But most Web users just use whatever comes standard just like most users of word processors do not know how to save in a different format (File > Save as in most cases). Unless they see a huge billboard on the way to work or are advised by close friends to try another search, they might never dream of fiddling with their browser's default settings. Anyway I gave ask dot com spin. If you want to search a well known organisation, person or authorised information on a given subject, ask dot com will suit you fine. Your average BBC news fan and Daily Mail reader, accustomed to officially sanctioned truth, will love it. Want to learn about retiring Prime Minister Tony Blair? Let's cut out all the crap from numerous sites exposing the man's sheer hypocrisy and corruption and go straight to 10 Downing Street's site or New Labour's site or maybe a review of a favourable biography on Amazon Dot Com. This is great for your kids' homework too. Their Blair/Brownite teachers will give them full marks. Want to know about the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center? Again the only references to conspiracy theories are ones denouncing or debunking all theories that challenge the orthodox version of events. You certainly don't want your child suggesting in a school essay the physical impossibility of a near perfect vertical collapse of a 400 metre tall skyscraper without a controlled demolition using thermite. What if your child wishes to learn more about human reproduction? Many parents would understandably prefer their inquisitive children not to view certain pornographic sites, which in all honesty, offer little enlightenment on any aspect of sexuality. With ask dot com's filters you can rest assured that should your 5 year old daughter types pussy cat, she will only see listings hits pertaining to friendly furry felines.

In its early years the World Wide Web was mostly used by academia and computer geeks expanding rapidly to IT-literate businesses, but online shopping was confined to a technophile elite until 2002/3. Indeed globally it still is. Now even Sun-readers and Sky-TV addicts do their Tesco shopping online. They don't care about thei socio-environmental impact of Tesco's domination of the grocery trade. It's cool to shop online from the comfort of their sofa and they can have some more quality to time to play with their kids or maybe gamble online or engage in a mindless blether via MSN, preinstalled on their Tesco/PC World/Currys PC or perhaps upgrade their preinstalled edition of Norton AntiVirus (happily using over half of their brand new system's resources and requiring a memory upgrade to 4GB so they can crop that picture of kids on holiday in Ibiza last year). To test the technical competency of modern UK resident, ask if they trust Internet banking or consider IE6 a safe browser as long as they have donated £40 to Symantec. If they believe the hype about the Internet banking revolution, they probably have little understanding of its inner workings. Yes, key-logging software, often installed with the free gizmos (search bars and famncy cursors) you can install only on Windows, can capture confidential data even if your Internet connection is encrypted via SSL. Your only real protection against fraudsters is to set up a firewall, use a sensible non-Microsoft browser, (Firefox,Opera or Safari) and uninstall all crapware and best of all not use MS Windows, but don't expect anyone from corporate estalishment to tell you that. Indeed they'll tell you the opposite, e.g. Channel 4's 40D Player will only work with WIndows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer and basically we don't care a less if you accidentally download viruses if Internet Explorer activates My Web Search Bar. The whole debate about the platform-neutral provision of copyright-protected media using Digital Rights Management is rather tedious, as DRM empowers remote organisations to control content on your hard drive.

Does Internet smut debase women (men and children). Of course is does. Is Internet gambling even more addictive than bricks-and-mortar casinos? Probably. Does prolonged exposure and addiction to violent video games desensitise young minds to the true horrors of warfare? Again the weight of evidence and common sense suggests it does. The sad fact of the matter is that none of these pursuits either require a free and open World Wide Web or started with mass adoption of broadband Internet access. Porn has long used print media and videotapes. Virtual violence evolved mainly with game consoles plugged into TV sets and gambling has always thrived where governments let a few entrepreneural crooks entice the masses with dreams of limitless wealth. The Internet is just another vehicle. Phenemona like spam, viruses, spyware and phising simply destroys people's confidence in the Internet as a medium. What governments and karge organisations fear most is the continued democratisation of the Internet. They lose little sleep over morons who claim to have seen two-headed purple extraterrestrials in their back garden. They worry more about those intent on exposing the sheer hypocrisy an corruption of the ruling elite.

A.N. WIlson of the Daily Mail favourably reviewed Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur, bemoaning staff cutbacks at the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as a result of the phenomenal expansion of Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia much more comprehensive than the Anglosaxon establishment's authorised fount of all knowledge worth knowing, it allows contributions from the general public. In reality numerous contributions on controversial or sensitive topics have already been censored by Wikipedia editors, partly an act of self-censorship to appear credible to the corporate and state elite. What worries large corporations is the wealth of information not yet censored and numerosity of links to unorthodox sources of information. They fear not so much that casual surfers may stumble on more disinformation, which thrives in the mainstream media, but they may find out what their masters are up to, verify facts and challenge their allegiance to the ruling elite.

By equating the massive potential the Internet has for unbridled commercial exploitation, cultural decay and brainwashing with the disinformation of amateurs daring to have their own say, Mr Wilson expects us to trust the likes of the BBC (who have broadcast their fair share of moronic violence) to decide what we may or may not access. They would like to see an unfree Web. Broadly speaking Windows Live, CNN, the BBC, Tesco, the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a plethora of censored blogspots and moderated discussion groups (lest someone express a racist opinion of course). The entertainment industry lobby will ensure public access to online casinos and first person shooters. Plenty of eye candy, a wide selection of DRM-ed media and games, but we can kiss goodbye to our freedom of expression. It's your Internet, treat it like your neighbourhood. If you let crooks and gangsters seize control, you'll need heavily armed police and curfews to provide of minimum of security. But if you let a community spirit prosper in the treu spirit of peace and open debate, you might just hold your rulers to account.

My unpublished comment:

While I share Mr Wilson's concern over cultural decay, Internet smut and a growing obsession with virtual violence, I disagree over collaborative projects such as Wikipedia, which, warts and all, remains one of the Internet's greatest achievements. Why should we in a democratic society rely solely on state and corporate entities such as Encyclopaedia Britannica?

The aforementioned social trends started long before most of us had an e-mail account, mainly thanks to multi-million dollar blockbusters, MTV and soap operas, produced by media leviathans who now see their grip on the collective psyche challenged by P2P file sharing. The Web has both reflected and accelerated existing trends, but with its increasing commercialisation we see its early democratising aspects drowned in an ocean of flashing ads, scams and disinformation. May I suggest the main concern of the British establishment is not protecting children from porn or violence, but silencing dissent?

All in the Mind

It’s official, Dissent is a Mental Illness

If you obsess with or consider stalking political celebrities, personally I think your fixations and potential actions are both ill-advised and in all likelihood counterproductive. Politicians not only thrive on publicity, the media would be quick to whip up a frenzy of hysteria should anyone attempt to threaten their life. An assassination attempt represents a huge a public relations coup for an unpopular member of the ruling elite. Admittedly some milder comical forms of stalking such as egg-throwing or carefully engineered stunts may, if reported accurately in the media, raise awareness of a dissident cause. After all to the best of my knowledge no politicians have ever died of custard pies or eggs being splattered all over their tailor-made suits. The trouble is these days politicians are just unthinking celebs, whose very rise to power depends on the approval of media moguls. A protest may be perfectly justified on a moral plane, but Sun readers will either be none the wiser or will be led to consider the protest as the antics of mentally deranged extremists.

Having instilled in the public mind that all sorts of inappropriate or nonconformist behaviours are caused by genetically determined mental disorders, often marketed as differences with benefits as well as downsides, diagnosing dissent as a mental disorder is the next logical step. According to an article, "Blair's secret stalker squad" penned by Jason Lewis, in the left's favourite bete noire, the Daily Mail, the government already employs psychiatrists to identify potential troublemakers. This is no longer wild conspiracy-theory territory, it's reality. However, it is true that psychological profiling can identify those most likely to channel their powers of critical thinking into active opposition to the agenda of the ruling elite. However, they merely identify people whose critical faculties have remained both intact and focussed on the misdemeanours of their own bosses, rather than on their bosses' enemies. A conformist in Stalin-era Russia would be a loyal Communist Party member happily spying on traitors and evil revisionists. The same mindset translated and adapted to the UK in the early 21st century would use her or his soft skills to identify extremists, conspiracy theorists and mavericks who might become enemies, as they see it, of our wondefully tolerant, dynamic and fun-loving democratic civilisation. Progress towards a neoliberal panacea of all-night smokefree raves and wheelchair-friendly casinos, conveniently located next to your local hypermarket, seems on par with the sales drive of your employer in the insurance business.

Notice how the British media have long described the last few remaining critical thinking politicians as mavericks, a term never used for politicians who toe the corporate or party line. Some even wonder why all dissidents are coincidentally mavericks. "Sure", some think, "I agree with much of what George Galloway/Tony Benn/Michael Meacher says, but he's just a maverick". Sooner or later the Guardian or Independent will do the nasty on any articulate person in the public eye who oversteps the margins of permissible dissent. Maybe this is one reason why so many otherwise rational commentators such as George Monbiot go out of the way to distance themselves from conspiracy theorists who fail to believe the official 9/11 story. Now I've met some of the assorted types who regularly attend 9/11 Truth group meetings. These events attract a fair number of individuals who would meet a psychiatrist's criteria for a pervasive personality disorder. Put simply your average happy-go-lucky working person, immersed in pervasive entertainment culture and preoccupied with their career and family (or whatever passes for a family these days), simply doesn't have time to consider the musings of fringe groups. They're more likely to settle for the conclusions of respected left-leaning commentators like George Monbiot, than actually think for themselves. What matters more is the calibre and prestige of opinion leaders. Read the moderated postings in the BBC's Have your Say forum or even musings in the Medialens forum and you'll soon notice the omnipresence of name-dropping and references to authoritative sources such as the BBC itself. Indeed some people in the UK refuse to believe anything until it's on Aunty Beeb (an affectionate, but often satirical nickname for the state broadcasting corporation). The Beeb is, of course, a massive organisation employing thousands of journalists and producers, many keen to investigate all sides of a story. Nonetheless some good stuff does seep through. BBC documentaries have revealed the side effects of antidepressants (Panorama on Seroxat) or in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq BBC 2 aired a documentary highlighting the role that oil plays in US administration's Mideast policy. But these tend to be the exception rather than the rule, and serve to reassure us, or the critically thinking minority among us, that Aunty Beeb remains a bastion of objectivity. This is the same BBC that consistently refers to the United States as a democracy and regularly talks of Anglo-American plans to extend democracy to Iraq, all without addressing the key issue of control of the country's oil.

Apparently some self-righteous left-leaning opinion leaders suffer a similar delusion, basically truth emerges from a consensus of high-profile experts given access to the BBC, CNN and a handful of other media outlets in the Anglosphere.

So who is more deluded? Those who challenge orthodoxy or those who swallow mainstream propaganda hook, line and sinker? In my humble opinion it is plainly naive to base your assessment of reality on the official or counter-current cult status of those advocating a position. Something is not true because MS-NBC has just aired a documentary debunking the controlled demolition theory for the vertical collapse of the World Trade Center, any more than it's true because Loose Change has some convincing video clips and David Ray Griffin seems an honest guy. What matters is evidence. If the evidence in favour of the official theory were so overwhelming, why would they seek to deny public access to so much incriminating evidence? Apart from applying one's understanding of science and politics, how can millions of mortal souls distinguish fact from fiction? While the motives of mainstream propagandists are clear, those of the 9/11 Truth movement are much less so? Some have suggested the whole conspiracy theory cult is a gigantic diversion from the real issues bedevilling humanity, such as resource depletion, nuclear war and climate change. Others view government complicity in acts of sabotage and psychological terrorism as crucial signs of a civilisation on the brink.

This morning (03/06/2007), the Aunty Beeb's news site leads on PM in Waiting Gordon Brown's support for even tougher anti-terrorism legislation, presented at a stage-managed conference in Glasgow with wonderful reassurances about checks and balances to safeguard civil liberties. Let's get this whole terrorism scare-mongering into perspective. The UK's capital attracts billions from global money laundering with sky-rocketing property prices requiring couples to earn jointly 75,000 just to buy a very humble modest 3-bedroom rabbit hutch, overcrowded transport infrastructure grinding to a halt with tube passengers packed like sardines and literally suffocating in each other's sweat and a huge influx of cheap labour and a steady outflow of native Londoners. To me, this would seem a recipe for disaster, easily exploited by gangsters, criminals and even would-be terrorists with an axe to grind against the financial or military elites. Yet unsurprisingly most residents of the sprawling metropolis are too busy competing in the rat race or coping with the sheer humiliation of not living up to the material and aesthetic expectations set by media role models, to even consider fighting the system. If Brown really cared about the safety of ordinary citizens, he might start by bringing in more socio-economic stability and thus defuse a state of of constant tension that his dynamic consumer-led economic model has instilled in us and simultaneously withdraw British forces from foreign ventures. Instead we get more of the same and worse and anyone who disagrees is labelled paranoid. The message is loud and clear. If you suspect the ruling elite may have it in for you, seek therapy, forget about your misgivings and return to your assigned role as a lowly parrot.

Power Dynamics

The Brown Broadcasting Corporation

Call me a cynic, but the BBC seems to have transitioned magnificently from its role as a covet apologist for the Blair regime to a smooth public relations operation for the emerging Brown leadership. Such a transition requires no change in logo, editorial control or political outlook. Indeed, as the electorate has grown tired of Blair's persistent hectoring and lecturing on subjects about which he is so obvioulsy ill-informed, Gordon Brown will give the New Labour project a whole new lease of life. Some English voters may not like his Scottishness, but that's quite irrelevant as his chancellorship has overseen a continuation of the steady flow of high-paid jobs away from Scotland and Northern England to the South East of England with the near total demise of the country's manufacturing sector and the flight of call centre jobs abroad.

One wonders just how Gordon Brown retained his credentials as a prudent defender of the interests of ordinary working people tied to his Scottish roots in the Lang Toun of Kirkcaldy, an area with considerable social deprivation and paradoxically the UK's highest Ritalin prescription rate (and probably lowest consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables). For his political choices over the last decade as Chancellor of Exchequer have been neither prudent nor in the interests of the traditional working classes Mr Brown claims to represent.

In the UK the best test of your overall class allegiance is not your annual income, your parents' income or even your academic background, but your favourite newspaper, whether print or online. Whether we like or not, there is a class of UK residents who instinctively buy one of the redtop tabloids, the Sun, Star, Mirror and in Scotland the Daily Record (aka the Daily Retard). As more school leavers go to university, you'll even see the shelves of student shops stacked with copies of these Celebrity Gossip comics. Without the blessing of a hanful of media magnates and their appointed editors-in-chief Thatcher would never have won such a resounding victory in 1979, 83 and 87, Kinnock might have won in 1992, but Tony Blair would never have swept to power in 1997 or retained sufficient public confidence despite his repeated warmongering, corruption and toadying to the whims of big business. The usual suspects in Scotland, the Daily Retard and the Scottish Sun, both of which have helped fuel anti-English sentiment in the past, tried their best to avert an SNP victory at the Polls. When New Labour's line manager in Holyrood, Jack McConnell, belittles the SNP's electoral gains, he does so in the full knowledge that without the gutter press the fate of the New Labour Mafia north of the border would be a whole lot worse. In short New Labour's tabloid propagandists appeal to the same tribal gut instincts that lead some to support Rangers or Celtic come what may.

Brown's left wing credentials are largely a figment of the media's and New Labour's spin machine's imagination. This is the same man who has consistently backed every single decision Tony Blair has taken on behalf of his corporate handlers. He had absolutely no qualms about hosting dinners in honour of Alan Greenberg, a person more responsible than almost anyone else for the imposition of neoliberal policies on the Third World leading to the decimation of public services and the selling off of local industries to predatory multinationals, a processs popularised as privatisation or inward investment. The only conceivable concession to those who fear a slide towards British involvement in a future US invasion of Iran seems to be his rhetorical support for a increased role of Parliament in decisions over war and peace. But let us not forget that a majority of New Labour MPs voted to support British participation in the invasion of Iraq, so why shouldn't the same bunch of lemmings fall for humanitarian propaganda that the likes of the Guardian and BBC have already begun to peddle to justify more military intervention in resource-rich regions?

Gordon Brown may give the New Labour project a temporary facelift, but don't be fooled. His prudence is as big a façade as his predecessor's integrity.