Is Boris Proxying Jamaica to force out Baroness Scotland?

It must come as no real surprise to witness a Jamaican government acting as a willing pawn in the UK government’s plans at elevating domestic partisan politicking to create a Commonwealth incident such as the besmirching of Baroness Scotland .

In pushing Kamina Johnson-Smith (Jamaica’s foreign minister) forward to challenge incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General (CSG) the Jamaican government seems proud at acting as – UK Conservative Party PM – Boris Johnson’s trojan horse to discredit Baroness Scotland, a former British Labour Party government minister.

Baroness Scotland has been CSG at the Commonwealth Secretariat since 2016 and she is the 6th person to hold the 4-year post which in recent decades is traditionally renewable once, unopposed.

Boris is backed in his mission to depose Baroness Scotland by the usual alliance of head of governments in Australia and Canada whose own current tenure in power have all been tangled by claims of corruption and bullying of the extreme kind.

The pressure to remove Baroness Scotland is said to stem from a number of concerns over her stewardship of the Commonwealth Secretariat such as poor leadership and spending breaches. Her job was on shakier ground following a 2020 KPMG report on that London based organisation.

Baroness Scotland also faced criticism by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s internal audit committee for awarding a contract to her friend Lord Patel valued at roughly £250,000.

The blatant public shaming of Baroness Scotland in this manner has Boris’ filthy political fingerprints all over it. The willingness of some Caribbean and African nations to join in with this public humiliation of her is lamentable.

What is heart of the saga is that Baroness Scotland’s Labour Party affiliation and this is driving Boris and his hardline conservative leaning allies nuts.

What has added to the co-ordinated negative media reporting against Baroness Scotland is that she had taken her role of CSG seriously and given voice to some of the smaller nations within the Commonwealth. She has also pushed for much needed internal reforms and faced resistance within an archaic institution such as the Commonwealth Secretariat. Just as it did 2 decades ago when others tried to introduce serious benchmarking and good practice techniques.

[“Because there are so many entrenched vested interests (at Commonweath Secretariat). And they will be out to get anyone who is serious about reform.” – 2017, former Tory Cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell.]

Johnson, Morrison and Trudeau (Tricky Trio)

The current prime ministers of the UK (Boris), Australia (Scott Morrison) and Canada (Justin Trudeau) are the last people to lecture Baroness Scotland on good governance and bad practices.

  • Boris Johnson’s time as a government minister, Mayor of London and prime minister has been so dogged by claims of corruption, as well as bullying, smearing political enemies, bending the constitution and law breaking.
  • Scott Morrison was recently described by one of his own senators in Concetta Fierravanti-Wells  as an “autocrat [and] a bully who has no moral compass”.
  • Morrison has publicly attacked the anti-corruption government body in the New South Wales (NSW) known as Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for its investigation into one of his senior Liberal party allies – Gladys Berejiklian – who had to resign as premier of NSW over strong allegations of corruption and conflicts of interests
    • “A corruption hearing has heard former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian telling her secret MP boyfriend Daryl Maguire that a public servant’s “head would be gone” but only after he “fixed” a grant proposal in his electorate.”
    • Legal experts condemn Scott Morrison’s continuing attacks on ICAC as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘stupid’
  • Then there is Trudeau whose premiership has been mired by corruption, from holidaying on the Aga Khan’s private island to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. That latter scandal stemmed from Trudeau’s attempts to interfere in a corruption case. Trudeau eventually removed his own justice minister and attorney general (Jody Wilson-Raybould) for standing up to his interference. Wilson-Raybould was kicked out of Trudeau’s Liberal Party even though an ethics report did confirm that the PM broke conflict of interest rules

Trudeau broke rules in SNC-Lavalin affair, says ethics tsar – BBC  

Worth noting the rush by the Boris to reveal damaging findings on Baroness Scotland unlike his refusal to publish the full report of bullying by his Home Secretary – Priti Patel – at the Home Office.  Even when Alex Allan (Standards chief and brilliant former UK civil servant) found that Patel had broken the code over ministerial behaviour Boris backed his Home Secretary. Allan resigned over Boris’ decision.

Baroness the Brave?

The playing of the patriotic card to back Johnson-Smith by some in the Jamaican media shows a level of ignorance, short sightedness and bias by many who have become subservient echo-chamber-pots for Boris.

Where Baroness Scotland has come from in her early days in then racist village of Walthamstow, East London to reach where she has today is nothing short of stunning. Yet I feel at critical stages of her career in public office she has faced smirks and undermined by too many envious influential figures. I saw that for myself during her time as a Home Office minister.

During her time at the Commonwealth Secretariat there have been moments when Baroness Scotland may not have covered herself in glory.

  • “Commonwealth (Ojiambo) deputy wins compensation for dismissal” – BBC
  • “A senior civil servant (Venuprasad), who was subjected to an aggressive press campaign to damage his reputation, has won his employment claim against the Commonwealth Secretariat” – Leigh Day

One of the issues I have long had about Baroness Scotland since she became a public figure in British politics in the 2000s is her low media profile and rarely does media interviews especially tough ones.

In the aftermath of the KPMG report, internal audit findings and negative media briefings, Baroness Scotland should seized this opportunity to raise her profile and challenge the accuracy of these claims. Prior to her appointment as CSG the position was such a toothless role at Britain’s beckon call. Why now Boris?

Baroness Scotland should have opened herself to media scrutiny not just in the UK but also across the media houses of the Commonwealth nations that have become some of her harshest critics i.e. Canada, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, India & indeed Jamaica.

Baroness should have publicly questioned the cost of the KPMG report, demanded that KPMG report be published in full to the public along with her written response to each claim.

It is worth noting from media reports that some of the procurement breaches highlighted at the Commonwealth Secretariat occurred prior to Baroness Scotland’s appointment.

Boris Rules?

The four key pillars of the Commonwealth – UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada – always stick together on such inter-governmental issues. India is now a big player too. Indian government’s decision to join the anti Baroness Scotland camp is not surprising given the tribunal of Venuprasad did get decent coverage in the Indian press.

British government’s decision to suspend funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat (£4.7m per year) was no surprise. Boris’ is not a fan of funding such inter governmental organisation unless he has full control and he has taken a leaf out his hero’s (Donald Trump) book who had a habit of withdrawing funding from international groups if he did not get his own way.

The UK political right wingers have zero time for the Commonwealth unless they have absolute control.

One of first decisions Boris did when he became PM was to get rid of the Department of International Development.

  • “Patricia Scotland has been given a tough time, unwarranted and undeserved,” “You expect it to be difficult when reforming something like the Commonwealth secretariat, but she has received a barrel load of prejudice and backstabbing. She will see it through, though.” Peter Mandelson (former UK Labour Party government minister)  in 2017
  • “#Commonwealth gets a strong new Secretary General in Baroness Scotland. I back her reform efforts. Many global challenges ahead. #CHOGM2015” – Phillip Hammond, then British Foreign Secretary, November 2015 whose role included oversight of the Commonwealth.

Who was Hammond’s successor in 2016?

Boris Johnson.…. who in 2002 wrote in the Daily Telegraph “The Queen loves the Commonwealth… “partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

In 2016, Boris (then foreign secretary) did not even know that a Commonwealth flag existed when answering questions from the UK parliament select committee.

The general consensus was that Boris Johnson’s performance at the Foreign Office (2016-18) was the worse in living memory.

Despite the harm to Scotland’s reputation over the Lord Patel deal, the same cannot be said of the noble Lord himself. He has – with the backing of the Boris government – pitched up as the new chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club following the racism scandals that has engulfed that vaunted organisation.

What Next for Scotland?

In the end this Baroness Scotland affair is all about a duplicitous British conservative prime minister trying to remove a CSG whose political ideology is out of synch with his own. It is also an attempt at blocking her attempts at making the Commonwealth Secretariat relevant for all 54 member nations and not the usual handful. 

Yes, there have been questionable concerns over her time there but this plot by Boris is just bias politicking.

It’s not as if the Baroness has tried to change the how misconduct investigations of MPs are done, or cover for endless scandals by a UK health cabinet minister, or allow Tory donors to covertly pay the cost £60k  of a flat refurbishment or holidaying in Mustique, or host illegal parties during lockdown and pinnochioing about it or unlawfully porouging parliament to suit his BREXIT agenda. But that’s just a smidgen of the scandals that has been the hallmark of Boris the PM.

The “crimes” of Baroness Scotland are minor when compared to the scandals of her accusers. If the same claims used against the Baroness were applied to her political accusers then none of them would be in office. Not even the Jamaican prime minister.

Shame on those Caribbean and African nations who have fallen for this treacherous move by Boris. The Jamaican media and public sector trying to use Johnson-Smith candidacy as some positive step for so-called brand Jamaica is equally laughable and embarrassing.

The short sightedness of the current Jamaican administration to back Boris is so reminiscent of when in 2019 they ripped up their oil deal with the Venezuela government to backed the moronic antics of then US president Donald Trump.

The current global economic crisis now means the Jamaican govt is having to scurry around to secure oil deals whilst the Trump’s successor -Joe Biden’s administration – is in talks with Venezuela to cover for the oil short fall from following recent sanctions against Russian oil.

If Boris does get his way and removes Baroness Scotland it would confirm that – despite independence and recent bruhaha by some members nations to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state – when it comes to the Commonwealth, London will forever call the shots.

No matter how repugnant the holder of the keys to 10 Downing Street is.

Baroness Patricia Scotland – One of Eastern Caribbean/East London’s finest

Notes

Baroness Scotland: UK suspends funding to Commonwealth Secretariat

Baroness Scotland criticised for awarding contract to friend’s firm – BBC

Stay or go? Baroness Scotland asked to explain as Commonwealth scandal grows – Sydney Morning Herald

Boris Johnson’s 50 lies, gaffes and scandals as PM’s future hangs in the balance – Daily Mirror

Scandals and sackings: why critics say Boris Johnson is not fit to be PM – The Guardian

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell stumps Boris Johnson with Commonwealth Flag question

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Fortnight of Old Harbour Stories in Media Land

It has been a newsy 2 weeks for the Jamaican St Catherine town of Old Harbour for an array of mostly positive reasons.

Negatively, there was a murder on Marlie Avenue, some kind of execution, not far from the new swanky constituency offices of MP Everald Warmington. The residents heard a barrage of gun shots at around 7.40pm and found the dead body of a man who was not from the area.

Days earlier the new local fire station (photo below) had its official opening back at its original home on South Street. It’s been a long time coming and the wider community is relieved at this development.

Old Harbour Fire Station

Last week, a news report by Dwayne Anderson (TVJ news) featured discussions with local business and community leaders in Old Harbour about the poor planning and development of the area. They spoke about decades of traffic congestion in the area and lack of proper infrastructure planning by local and central government officials to match the growth in housing and population. 

Anderson spoke to Adrian Samuda, owner of the popular restaurant Kaluga restaurant and also Andrew Hancel, CEO and founder of the essential Old Harbour News magazine.

These endless housing developments in the community has never been closely matched by the appropriate levels of investment needed for its infrastructure. The poor facilities such as limited sidewalks/parking and poorly designed shopping plazas means many of those who migrate to reside in Old Harbour do most of their shopping elsewhere thus harming the local economy.

[When the first housing development was set up in Marlie Gardens in the late 1960s, Old Harbour had 1 high school (built to accommodate 700ish students). 50 + years later and with tens of thousands of homes built since then, Old Harbour still has the 1 high school]

Anderson’s report also covered government plans for a new public health clinic/tier 5 hospital which is also long overdue and promised since the 1980s. The current clinic on the above mentioned Marlie Avenue is an embarrassment and an eyesore. Patients having to sit outside on the sidewalks (no shelter) for hours waiting for their names to be called is just wickedness.

In the 1970s many of us in the area found it bizarre that just 50 metres from that  public health clinic was a pipe machine factory (now closed) over run with asbestos dust some of which was dumped casually all over the immediate area.

The new public health clinic will be constructed on the grounds behind the local post office leading on to Walkers Road and close to the new fire station. Now that post office structure needs serious upgrading too as does the local library.

Today the grounds behind the post office is occupied by residents who have resided there for decades (some illegally) and will be served eviction notices by the government.

Last Sunday evening Old Harbour was featured 3 times in a 90 minutes period on TVJ.

  1. The Business Review (TVJ news) focused on Princess Richards, a young entrepreneur developing her catering business within the community. The report was filed by Javaughan Keyes of TVJ/RJR.
  2. The popular weekly interview show, Profile, showcased Dr Rohan McCalla who grew up in Old Harbour. McCalla talked about his school days (Claremont Basic, Old Harbour Primary, St Catherine High) and his time at UTECH etc. McCalla completed his PhD studies -correct me if I’m wrong- on education psychology and is a senior HR executive at the utility regulator – O.U.R (Office of Utilities Regulation). It was a strange interview though as McCalla did not mention a single specific name of those who assisted on his career journey. Maybe the names were edited out of the final cut of the show. McCalla was also interviewed earlier in the week on TVJ’s breakfast show Smile Jamaica
  3. A commercial ad about the vocational HEART NSTA Academy featured comments from a plumbing student from the Old Harbour campus.

The Jamaica Observer on Tuesday highlighted an article on leadership featuring Cheriese Walcott, CEO and commissioner of lands at the National Land Agency.

“Walcott grew up in Lionel Town, Clarendon, then moved to Old Harbour with her parents in order to complete secondary education at Clarendon College.”

3 May was World Veterinary Day and The Gleaner carried a message from Dr Osbil Watson, the government’s chief veterinary officer, who resides in Old Harbour. During a media presentation Denzil Miller, race secretary, at Caymanas Park sang the praises of Dr Wintorph Marsden, senior veterinary officer, for the sterling work he has done to support the horse racing industry. Marsden is also from Old Harbour.

How can I forget, local cricketer Rovman Powell who is developing a big hitting reputation in this season’s Indian Premier League for the Delhi Capitals. While Powell’s Jamaican team mate Andre Russell – who owns a restaurant (Russell’s T20) in Old Harbour – is still swinging hard for his under performing KKR team.

Old Harbour has its challenges and has been stifled by poor planning & development as well as violent organised crime and high unemployment.

Despite those pressures of violent crime, the above stories proves that Old Harbour continues to nurture Jamaicans who go on to make a transformational impact on societies both at home and abroad. 

[Congrats to the fastest man alive and his better half on the christening of their children at a local  church in Old Harbour over the weekend when local athletic fans were focused on the Penn Relays in the US. His partner is from Old Harbour and part of the great man’s ancestry is rooted 2ish miles away at Davis District.]

The local primary school at Davis, Bannister, Old Harbour includes former alumnis Adrian Samuda, Rovman Powell and Javaughan Keyes.

Davis Primary and Infant School - Home | Facebook

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CARIFTA Games 2022 Delivered But Needs a Refresh

The recent 3-day CARIFTA Games  was concluded in Kingston, Jamaica and was a tremendous occasion for both the athletes and the exuberant spectators in the stands.

The fans in the National Stadium were just epic in their support for the junior athletics on show which was appreciated by both local and other Caribbean athletes who competed.

There were many colossal performances from the athletes, with the junior world record set by the Jamaican girls under-20 team in the 4 x 100m relay being most people’s defining moment of the Games. Just stunning.

As usual, Jamaica came out on top of the medal table and that winning streak goes back to the mid-1980s. In fact, since the CARFITA Games began in 1974 Jamaica has finish top all but 5 of the years.

Given the investment made at the junior level in Jamaican athletics it is no surprise at the island’s sustained success compared to the other Caribbean islands at this regional event. Population also plays a part given there are some high schools in Jamaica who have more kids in attendance than the entire island of some of the other participating nations.

Despite the perceived success of the CARIFTA Games just like any sport the event needs fresh thinking.

Just like any long standing sporting event the CARIFTA Games needs a injection of participants to attract greater coverage, more competition and increased revenue streams from within and beyond the shores of the Caribbean.

For one thing the CARIFTA Games organizing body should lobby hard for the participation of the larger non-English speaking Caribbean nations such as Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti.

But I would go even further to make CARIFTA Games a more global attraction and invite one, maybe 2, guest nations from other continents.

Just imagine the interest and revenue stream if the CARIFTA Games hosted the top juniors from Qatar one year, then South Africa the following year followed by Japan, Brazil, England and so on?

The CARFITA Games is largely considered as one of the most successful development events in all of sports. It’s success at being a critical launch pad for future sporting stars is part of its ongoing appeal.

The fan expectations from last week’s CARIFTA Games means that the likes of Brianna Lyston, Tia and Tina Clayton, Serena Cole (Jamaica’s sprint relay world record quartet) and Adaejah Hodge (British Virgin Islands) are considered favorites to reach the pinnacle of athletics whenever they step onto the senior stage.

The Caribbean is a powerhouse in athletics today and adding more nations to a major junior event such as the CARIFTA Games will just keep the region’s dominance on a sound footing. And boost the local coffers as well.

CARFITA Games 2022 is one event many who witnessed it will never forget. It delivered and set a platform for what is to come from those who had competed.

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ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 – Aussies, Different Class

As expected, Australia easily won the recently concluded ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup held in New Zealand.

In the final against defending champions England, the Aussie women simply outclassed their perennial rivals to win the match by 71 runs.

The overall 8-team round robin tournament took too long at times. The group stage of 28 matches should have had 2 games per day more often to speed up the tournament and not clash with the start of the men’s Indian Premier League.

There were some headscratchers for me during the World Cup such as

  • How did England reach the semis after such a dismal start?
  • How did the West Indies perform so woefully after such a great start defeating England and New Zealand?
  • How did Bangladesh lose to the West Indies?
  • How did India not make the semis?
  • How did South Africa lose so sheepishly to England in the semis after playing great cricket throughout?
  • I was half way through watching the tournament on tv and thought where was Sri Lanka?

There was quite a few last over nail biting finishes with the India vs South Africa game the most dramatic.  

England have been down under in Australia and New Zealand for 3 months that may have helped them recover from the poor start to make the semis & finals.

Australia was just so dominant and they have been so for quite some time.

Australia has such depth of talent that even their B and C teams would have made strong cases for the semis of this tournament. Their overall talent is just frightening.

Credit must go to Cricket Australia (CA) for the investment they have made to develop the game locally. The Australian 50-overs and T20 local major tournaments are very competitive.  

Cricket Australia pay the best salaries in women’s cricket with the likes of skipper Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry earning close to $US80k for basics. Australia’s state-contracted women’s player earn upwards of AUS$40K (US$30K),

Cricket Australia (CA) investments has surely paid off for the long term. The structure has done a good job in preparing the younger players for the international stage.

CA and key stakeholders have also made great steps to fund the wellbeing support and gave $AU250k for players to bring their partners and dependents with them while they are playing away from home.

During the 2-year pandemic lockdown the women’s game in Australia still thrived. So too in England.  Whereas in the West Indies there was next to no local cricket. Especially in Jamaica.

The biggest disappointment of the world cup though was the performance of host New Zealand.

West Indies making the finals was unexpected and fluky. Yet with the exception of Hayley Mathews the other top players in the team failed to deliver consistently.

Unless Mathews, Deandra Dottin and skipper Stefanie Taylor play well in the same game it was hard to see the West Indies winning on a consistent basis. Taylor was not her usual high standard. Dottin’s one-handed catch against England was just airborne crazy.

Cricket West Indies must protect Matthews who is superstar quality.

India annihilation of the West Indies in the group stage was just brutal. India gave the Aussies a game in the group stage. A major review must be going on by the Indian administrators on how their side failed to make the semis. Especially as half way through the tournament it was announced that a women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) will be launched in 2023. Timing!

But that was the nature of this World Cup. Apart from the Aussies to many of the teams were inconsistent or was it consistently competitive?

The Bangladeshi team has made good strides. They and Pakistani teams seem to have a bright future especially in their batting.

The South Africans played good cricket up to the semis. They had the team to compete with the Aussies, even without their star player and captain Dané van Niekerk, who missed the tournament through injury.

It is just absurd at how often both the South Africa women’s and men’s cricket teams have fallen at the semi-final stage of cricket world cup tournaments.

Australia’s Alyssa Healy was different class in the semi and finals. Despite her 2 superb centuries the bowling from both the West Indies and England was took to the ropes. The way Healy used the crease to dispatch boundaries over cover was a treat for batting coaches. Less said about the West Indies catching  in the semis.

Meg Lanning had an easier job leading her team. But what was great about the Australian side was that they all made crucial contributions. Some of their top players were injured and missed the world cup but the newer players stepped in and performed admirably. Big fan of the leggy spinner Alana King.

Lanning is probably the best 50 over batter of all time. Yet she did not have be in top form for the Aussies to sweep the tournament. Her century against South Africa was special. All-rounder Perry did not have to be at her usual best in the bowling department.

The lack of overseas fans gave the tournament an empty feeling for most of the games. When such a tournament is held that far away it needs all the diverse  fans it can get.

A special mention to England’s Nat Scivers who scored 2 brilliant centuries in her 2 matches against the Aussies.

Overall, a very good World Cup given the restrictions women’s cricket has faced over the past 2 years.

This was the 7th time the Australians were winning the world cup since its inception in 1973. England (4) and New Zealand (1) are the only other winners of the tournament  and I was hoping for a South Africa victory this time round.

But the 2022 Australian cricket team have set a remarkable benchmark.

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The Case for Caribbean Reparations Requires High Profile Advocates and Ambassadors

The recent visit to Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas by Kate & William (Duchess & Duke of Cambridge) has revived the debate of reparations to former UK Caribbean colonies by British in relation to the systematic abuse (incl. slavery) of African-Caribbean people from the 17th to the 20th century.

Some opponents to reparations claim that Britain owes the former Caribbean colonies nothing. Such deliberate ignorance is far from a convincing argument.

For over 70 years the political class in the UK and Caribbean have deliberately steered clear of the issue of any recompense for the former’s past atrocities.

If you take Jamaica, the ruling class had long seen to it that slavery and post slavery abuses was reduced to footnotes in the classroom or in media circles. African-Caribbean empowerment was shunned.

Jamaica’s Reparation Avoidance Scheme

The issue of reparations has long been ignored or down played by the Caribbean political class. Most Jamaican parliamentarians since the 1990s – with the exception of government member of parliament, Mike Henry – have kept their distance from the issue. Whatever some MPs are saying now about the need for reparations their remarks seem opportunistic.

In 2019, BBC World Service hosted a forum in Kingston, Jamaica where Kamina Johnson-Smith (Jamaica’s foreign minister) showed lukewarm interest in the case for reparations.

Pan-African academics, media commentators and historians have done stellar work in keeping the fight for amends – over the African-Caribbean slavery atrocity – in the public eye despite pushback from multiple angles.

The work of the Rastafarian community as well as cultural messengers such as Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Mutabaruka, The Abyssinians and Peter Tosh devoted their craft to equal rights and justice.

With such wimpish efforts by Jamaica governments and their Caribbean counterparts for reparations, it is no wonder that the British government and the royal family have chosen to ignore the issue.

One reason for this show of contempt by London is that British governments do not react to such critical or historical reports and lobbying led by academics. Especially those from former colonies of a certain shade.

A lot of excellent work has been done by the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) led by the likes of Professors Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd.

British public opinion generally has a short attention span so when it comes to atrocities that happened 70-200+ years ago and not on their watch, many Brits will just brush off the issue of reparations as some left-wing drivel.

British governments have a long track record of not owning financially to any horrific actions of their past; even if it meant compensating their own citizens.

But what powerful British political figures will do is react if such criticisms is fronted by high profile figures such as celebrities.

Historically one of the most ineffective lobbying groups in the UK has been those from the Caribbean.

Celebrity Influencing  Works on Serious Issues

One of the criticisms I have long had about certain UK black-related issues that harm the African Caribbean community (immigration, police harassment) is the lack of public support from high profile figures from its community. Many choose to stay in their high-flying career lane and not publicly speak out, or only do so if the issue affects them personally or professionally.

I have seen first-hand back in the 2000s how UK governments ministers and senior civil servants would go into meltdown if celebrities took up certain cause that embarrassed the State, especially if cause is covered fairly by the Daily Mail or Sun newspapers.

Our ancestors post 1830s did not have the platform, the resources and to fight for reparations. Slavery may have been abolished in the 1830s but the abuse and racism of the black population continued right up to the 1960s.

Today, the African-Caribbean community has the resource, we have people in places of influence. We just need some of them to show up.

That’s why celebrity figures are needed to come out and become ambassadors for the reparation cause. These celebrities can open the political and financial doors that has stayed shut to the academics and Caribbean-friendly politicians.

We have seen celebrity figures campaign passionately and successfully for numerous humanitarian issues going back to the days of US civil rights movement.

That is one reason why certain major charities and NGOs appoint celebrity-type figures to senior PR/ambassadorial roles.

The power of social media today is immense and the CRC has to do a better job at developing a larger following on such platforms. Here again is where high profile figures can help. Having just under 1000 followers on Instagram is not a promising sign.

https://www.instagram.com/caricomreparations/

It does not help the Caribbean case though when – during Kate & William’s appearance at Trench Town, Jamaica – the likes of sports stars Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and footballer Raheem Sterling were being evasive on the issue of reparations when asked by broadcaster Anthony Miller.

Never Forget

Too many has never truly understood the magnitude of the atrocities, the racism committed by Britain through its colonial functions up to the 20th century.

Caribbean slavery did not have film footage and audio recordings, unlike subsequent atrocities in the 20th century, to make our case to the public simpler. We do not even have blockbuster Hollywood movies of that period which tended to focus on European figures like Henry Morgan.

But we have greater access to documented evidence of the slavery period, we have the stories passed through word of mouth and journals. We have evidence of the shackles, the bones and the riches the British attained from this period.

The government approved history books used in schools/higher education during that aftermath paid more attention to the exploits of British and European figures in the Caribbean.  So we knew everything about Horatio Nelson and nothing of William Johnson (friend of Samuel Sharpe).

I am always baffled at how passionate my African-Caribbean cousins are about the events in the Bible, a collection of stories scribed thousands of years ago in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Yet the majority of us show little passion in knowing what happened to our direct ancestors from 1660s to the 1960s on the same soil many of us are walking on today.

Mia the Merciful

The one Caribbean political figure today that has that star quality to gain access to the global corridors of power for reparation is Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados.

But for now, Mottley has just started the 2nd term of her premiership. That is why there is need to some UK based or Caribbean high- profile figures to take up this ambassadorial role and support Mottley who has been steadfast  behind the reparations cause.

Right Time Come

The African-Caribbean community has long accepted that to get anywhere on the global scene we have to work 10-1000 times harder than others. Hence, the push for reparations from Britain and their European allies was never going to be straightforward.

The way Germany has bobbed and weaved to avoid accepting full responsibility in Namibia (1904-1908) for their genocide of the Herero, Nama, and San peoples is symptomatic at how Europe has handled compensation for the abuse of Africans in Africa and the Caribbean.

Caribbean slavery and its colonial offshoots happened over 4 centuries ago to African-Caribbeans. Too early for their descendants to just walk away and not maintain the pressure on Britain.

The case for reparations from Britain is still relevant. This is not some insurance claim with a cut off time period for payment. It took the Brits 400 years to come to their senses and even then, they paid their own over £7.6 billion in today’s money, gave some indentured Indian servants land and (for revenge) kept the African majority landless and penniless.

In the US certain states and institutions have taken steps to delivery their one unique reparation package. The is something the UK can learn from rather than turning their noses up at our demands.

The cause for reparations needs better messaging, wider reach and globally recognised ambassadors to get meaningful outcomes from Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. And Brussels too.

In the end, it does not even matter the race, colour or nationality of such potential reparation high profile ambassadors. The more support we can get from that elevated field the better chance of positive outcomes that benefits African-Caribbean people today and for generations to come.

Useful sources

  • eligible for scholarship from Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
  • signed a bill allowing taxpayers to voluntarily donate to a slavery reparations fund
  • vote to limit reparations makes eligibility difficult, narrows slavery’s impact, experts say
  • Nothing is Foreign, CBC
  • Examples of paid adverts of runaway slaves in the 19th century

“SWIFT, a Wakee, to the Rev. THOMAS SIMCOCKES, marked T S on right shoulder.”

Rasta a Beat Wid Babylon
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Time Dread for The Mighty Diamonds

It was only the previous weekend that I was talking about The Mighty Diamonds with a dear friend. Gutted that two members of the trio left us last week.

The Diamonds name had come up in discussion after my friend told me a story of another top reggae star that she knows well who maintains a very low profile in Jamaica due to the pressures of being pestered at every turn. Even taking his kids to school can be daunting. So that reggae star leaves any external matters in the hands of his immediate family.

I said to my mate that if her singer friend had earned the royalties he was due for his global hits then that person would living in a more affluent and comfortable part of Jamaica or overseas where many Jamaican reggae stars chose to reside for their personal safety and piece of mind.

I then mentioned The Mighty Diamonds to my mate as a similar example of those reggae artistes who should have been living a more upscale lifestyle if they had got paid properly for their hit songs.

The Mighty Diamonds hits songs especially in the 1970s were some of the most successful reggae records sold. We know this because Richard Branson had signed the group to his Virgin/Frontline label in the 1970s. Branson has disclosed publicly of how much of his initial wealth stemmed from success of the Jamaican reggae records he sold at the time.

Their first album Right Time (1976) is one of the seminal albums in all of music and not just reggae.

From my time in the 1990s when I worked in the West End of London, I used to hang out after work at Tower Records, the 2 HMV records shops, Branson’s Virgin and the smaller independent records shops in the area off Oxford Street. EMI Records was also next door.

Back then staff at these record stores the staff would tell me that The Mighty Diamonds CDs and LPs sold well. For one thing The Diamonds’ CDs were excellently packaged.

We all knew The Diamonds wrote all their songs led by Judge Diamond yet all they had to show for the sales of those classic records til this day was just $4000 Jamaica Dollars each the trio received in the late 1970s.

Now, some people in Jamaica must have made money from those Diamonds records. The hits were recorded at Channel 1 Studios. How much did the owners of Channel 1 make from their songs? Who else benefitted? Who is still benefitting globally?

We know that The Mighty Diamonds was signed by Virgin when The Right Time was made and that Virgin was eventually sold to EMI records in the early 1990s. EMI was eventually bought by Universal Music Group (UMG). UMG is also owners of Island Records who had signed The Wailers and eventually The Mighty Diamonds.

One can thus hazard a guess that UMG is in the driving seat on The Diamonds dollars.

The lack of any royalties since the 1970s has meant the trio have had to tour well into their advanced years and many of us have felt for Bunny when on stage as clearly, he should have been resting.

I know my mate’s reggae star friend is still livid about how he was treated by the record industry he was signed to at time his songs were doing well in the shops.

As a fan of reggae one of my regrets is buying records that enriched those who nothing to do with the song aka wolves in sheep clothing. These were the kind of people that reggae artistes such as The Diamonds warned Jamaicans about in the 1970s and not realising that such vipers were in their own midst.

The trio were one of the more uplifting groups of that era. I would say for true roots and culture moods The Mighty Diamonds, The Congos The Abyssinians, Black Uhuru and Israel Vibrations were head and shoulders above the other groups of that era.

In London The Diamonds were reggae royalty.

I have felt that the record industry or Jamaican government should have brought in some ethics to the record selling process so that the purchaser knows precisely how much percentage of the sale will go to the singer/composer.

The passing of both Bunny and Tabby is bound to lead to increased air play and sales of their songs. If only we kept our money/cards in our pockets.

The news of the killing of Tabby Diamond deflated an island nation that is fed up with the horrific violent nature of today’s Jamaica. By Friday, Bunny Diamond’s demise from health issues left many Jamaicans just heartbroken. One can only feel it for their families as well as Judge Diamond.

But if only these 3 men, these 3 roots men, were given the fairness their songs were signaling for us to do (human rights, justice, Garveyism) then The Diamonds would have been living in a better-off position for decades.

Back Against di Wall: Bunny, Judge & Tabby
Posted in music, Obituary, reggae | Leave a comment

Cheltenham National Hunt Festival 2022: Blackmore Seals It Late

Well, what more can you say about the Irish jump jockey sensation Rachael Blackmore and her racing trainer compatriot, Henry De Bromhead, as they capped off the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with victory in the yesterday’s main event – Gold Cup (3 miles 2 furlongs) – on A Plus Tard.

De Bromhead  trained the first and second in the blue riband race with Minella Indo in the runner up spot thus reversing the placings with A Plus Tard from last year’s race. Some back-to-back achievement.

The Blackmore/De Bromhead combination had a high profile treble at this year’s Festival with Bob Olinger fortuitously winning the novice chase as well their flagship star Honeysuckle retaining the much coveted Champion Hurdle.

Blackmore was top rider at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival but later between July and October she was off the course after suffering a leg injury whilst riding in a race at Killarney, Ireland.

Even at this year’s festival Blackmore suffered a number of heavy falls but kept getting up and her calming ride on A Plus Tard was out of the top draw.

The unbeaten mare Honeysuckle’s 15th consecutive win just cemented her position as one of the great 2-mile hurdlers of modern times.

In a few weeks, the De Bromhead/Blackmore team will be heading to Aintree racecourse with the horse Minella Times to defend the Grand National they won last year. No one will be astonished if they repeat the win despite the heavier weight Minella Times will have to lumber for the 4 miles 2 furlongs marathon .

Looking to Cheltenham 2023 it is conceivable that the Blackmore/Bromhead combo will add more to their superlatives.

  • Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard must be clear favourites to retain their respective crowns.
  • Bob Olinger looks a possible target for next year’s Stayers Hurdle.
  • Envoi Allen looks to be recapturing some of his earlier promise when running a credible 3rd in the rain-sogging-fest Queen Mother’s Chase.

De Bromhead’s Irish compatriot Willie Mullins was top trainer at the Festival with a record breaking ten winners over the 4 days + three 2nds and seven 3rd place finishes. Mullins’ stable jockey – Paul Townend- was top jockey.

The best ride over the Festival for me was Danny Mullins (Willie’s nephew) on Flooring Porter who defended his title in the Stayer’s Hurdle.

The UK trainer for me was Venetia Williams whose recent record at the Festival had been below par.  Williams had 2 winners and 99% of her other horses ran win with credit. Her novice chase winner L’Homme Presse looks the UK’s best hope of challenging the Irish raiders at next year’s Gold Cup.

Rachael Blackmore -who won her first race as a jockey in 2011 – is a superstar beyond her sport yet grounded about her sterling achievements. She is the feel-good factor of Irish/UK jump racing. I am pleased that US race followers were able see her to win in the Gold Cup live on FOX Sports.

Blackmore may not have the global reach like many of her female counterparts in  more high-profile sports such as tennis and athletics but her exploits eclipses the lot of them.

The Cheltenham National Hunt Festival is one of the greatest events in all of sports. It is unique in its rural setting, the camaraderie between spectators and jockeys and the excitement that the 28 races bring to the track. 

Having the crowds back again after a year’s break due to the pandemic added colour and drama to the races.

Other sports would scramble to have someone such as Blackmore as its standard-bearer. As De Bromhead keeps reminding us in his interviews “we’re lucky to have her”.

Damn right.

Well, what more can you say about the Irish jump jockey sensation Rachael Blackmore and her racing trainer compatriot, Henry De Bromhead, as they capped off the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with victory in the yesterday’s main event – Gold Cup (3 miles 2 furlongs) – on A Plus Tard.

De Bromhead  trained the first and second in the blue riband race with Minella Indo in the runner up spot thus reversing the placings with A Plus Tard from last year’s race. Some back-to-back achievement.

The Blackmore/De Bromhead combination had a high profile treble at this year’s Festival with Bob Olinger fortuitously winning the novice chase as well their flagship star Honeysuckle retaining the much coveted Champion Hurdle.

Blackmore was top rider at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival but later between July and October she was off the course after suffering a leg injury whilst riding in a race at Killarney, Ireland.

Even at this year’s festival Blackmore suffered a number of heavy falls but kept getting up and her calming ride on A Plus Tard was out of the top draw.

The unbeaten mare Honeysuckle’s 15th consecutive win just cemented her position as one of the great 2-mile hurdlers of modern times.

In a few weeks, the De Bromhead/Blackmore team will be heading to Aintree racecourse with the horse Minella Times to defend the Grand National they won last year. No one will be astonished if they repeat the win despite the heavier weight Minella Times will have to lumber for the 4 miles 2 furlongs marathon .

Looking to Cheltenham 2023 it is conceivable that the Blackmore/Bromhead combo will add more to their superlatives.

  • Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard must be clear favourites to retain their respective crowns.
  • Bob Olinger looks a possible target for next year’s Stayers Hurdle.
  • Envoi Allen looks to be recapturing some of his earlier promise when running a credible 3rd in the rain-sogging-fest Queen Mother’s Chase.

De Bromhead’s Irish compatriot Willie Mullins was top trainer at the Festival with a record breaking ten winners over the 4 days + three 2nds and seven 3rd place finishes. Mullins’ stable jockey – Paul Townend- was top jockey.

The best ride over the Festival for me was Danny Mullins (Willie’s nephew) on Flooring Porter who defendedhis titlein the Stayer’s Hurdle.

The UK trainer for me was Venetia Williams whose recent record at the Festival had been below par.  Williams had 2 winners and 99% of her other horses ran win with credit. Her novice chase winner L’Homme Presse looks the UK’s best hope of challenging the Irish raiders at next year’s Gold Cup.

Rachael Blackmore -who won her first race as a jockey in 2011 – is a superstar beyond her sport yet grounded about her sterling achievements. She is the feel-good factor of Irish/UK jump racing. I am pleased that US race followers were able see her to win in the Gold Cup live on FOX Sports.

Blackmore may not have the global reach like many of her female counterparts in  more high-profile sports such as tennis and athletics but her exploits eclipses the lot of them.

The Cheltenham National Hunt Festival is one of the greatest events in all of sports. It is unique in its rural setting, the camaraderie between spectators and jockeys and the excitement that the 28 races bring to the track. 

Having the crowds back again after a year’s break due to the pandemic added colour and drama to the races.

Other sports would scramble to have someone such as Blackmore as its standard-bearer. As De Bromhead keeps reminding us in his interviews “we’re lucky to have her”.

Damn right.

Well, what more can you say about the Irish jump jockey sensation Rachael Blackmore and her racing trainer compatriot, Henry De Bromhead, as they capped off the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with victory in the yesterday’s main event – Gold Cup (3 miles 2 furlongs) – on the French bred horse A Plus Tard.

De Bromhead  trained the first and second in the blue riband race with Minella Indo in the runner up spot thus reversing the placings with A Plus Tard from last year’s race. Some back-to-back achievement.

The Blackmore/De Bromhead combination had a high profile treble at this year’s Festival with Bob Olinger fortuitously winning the novice chase as well their flagship star Honeysuckle retaining the much coveted Champion Hurdle.

Blackmore was top rider at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival but later between July and October she was off the course after suffering a leg injury whilst riding in a race at Killarney, Ireland.

Even at this year’s festival Blackmore suffered a number of heavy falls but kept getting up and her calming ride on A Plus Tard was out of the top draw.

The unbeaten mare Honeysuckle’s 15th consecutive win just cemented her position as one of the great 2-mile hurdlers of modern times.

In a few weeks, the De Bromhead/Blackmore team will be heading to Aintree racecourse with the horse Minella Times to defend the Grand National they won last year. No one will be astonished if they repeat the win despite the heavier weight Minella Times will have to lumber for the 4 miles 2 furlongs marathon .

Looking to Cheltenham 2023 it is conceivable that the Blackmore/Bromhead combo will add more to their superlatives.

  • Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard must be clear favourites to retain their respective crowns.
  • Bob Olinger looks a possible target for next year’s Stayers Hurdle.
  • Envoi Allen looks to be recapturing some of his earlier promise when running a credible 3rd in the rain-sogging-fest Queen Mother’s Chase.

De Bromhead’s Irish compatriot Willie Mullins was top trainer at the Festival with a record breaking ten winners over the 4 days + three 2nds and seven 3rd place finishes. Mullins’ stable jockey – Paul Townend- was top jockey.

The best ride over the Festival for me was Danny Mullins (Willie’s nephew) on Flooring Porter who defended his title in the Stayer’s Hurdle.

The UK trainer for me was Venetia Williams whose recent record at the Festival had been below par.  Williams had 2 winners and 99% of her other horses ran win with credit. Her novice chase winner L’Homme Presse looks the UK’s best hope of challenging the Irish raiders at next year’s Gold Cup.

Rachael Blackmore -who won her first race as a jockey in 2011 – is a superstar beyond her sport yet grounded about her sterling achievements. She is the feel-good factor of Irish/UK jump racing. I am pleased that US race followers were able see her to win in the Gold Cup live on FOX Sports.

Blackmore may not have the global reach like many of her female counterparts in  more high-profile sports such as tennis and athletics but her exploits eclipses the lot of them.

The Cheltenham National Hunt Festival is one of the greatest events in all of sports. It is unique in its rural setting, the camaraderie between spectators and jockeys and the excitement that the 28 races bring to the track. 

Having the crowds back again after a year’s break due to the pandemic added colour and drama to the races.

Other sports would scramble to have someone such as Blackmore as its standard-bearer. As De Bromhead keeps reminding us in his interviews “we’re lucky to have her”.

Damn right.

Future Looks Good : De Bromhead, Blackmore, A Plus Tard
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Sanctions Against Putin Inc: 2 Decades too Late?

The sanctions pushed by Western governments in recent weeks against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his circle of oligarchs, after decades of investments and extravagance in the West, was long overdue.

Such vast levels of financial investments into the UK and elsewhere from Putin Inc should never have been allowed from the outset in the early 2000s.

UK governments should not have waited until Putin invaded Ukraine for the umpteenth time before taking these drastic steps which seems too little too late. But the Tory party/government in particular have been long tarnished by their links to the Russian financiers and donors.

Back in the early days of the surge in oligarch investment in the UK some critics were miffed at how Labour and then Conservative/Liberal Democratic governments seemed so receptive to the incoming wealth from Putin Inc.

The idea that Chelsea Football Club was allowed to be bought by Putin-ally Roman Abramovich was gross. That purchase showed a poor level of judgement by the relevant London-based regulators as well as pure greed from key stakeholders.

Even I raised the issue of the Abramovich purchase of Chelsea F.C. in 2003 with a civil servant from the Department of Culture, Media & Sports.

Why would anybody put so much money into any football club much less Chelsea? It just did not make sense unless the investment came with Putin’s blessing.

Read:[Guardian July 2003 – Tony Banks MP, the former sports minister, has called for the government to look into the deal which has seen a controversial Russian billionaire buy Chelsea in a deal worth up to £140m]

I agree with the recent comments made by Simon Jordan (former football club owner and radio presenter) when he said “good riddance” to Abramovich now that he is now forced to sell Chelsea.

Thankfully, the Boris Johnson administration has woken up from its groveling approach to the UK-based Russian oligarchs and just froze all of  their (incl. Abramovich’s) UK assets.

The vast of amount of money Abramovich infused into Chelsea was so obscene and turned the football industry upside down. Roman brought out the worst in football spending by facilitating the kind of wealth for very few English football clubs to thrive whilst the rest of the 92 clubs in the top 4 leagues forever running on debt.

[I have nothing against Chelsea F.C., it was the first club my dad took me to watch a live football match. The likes of Peter Osgood, Ron “Choppa” Harris and Jon Hollins were some of my favorite players.

But when Roman took over with the wealth he was pumping in I lost interest for that club.]

The UK governments since 2000s – then under the Labour Party – were slow to realise that the huge wealth coming from Russia was Putin’s soft powering way influencing British society. Putin was winning in Western Europe with this ostentatious approach to English football.

UK Government Regulator’s Standard Lost its Independence

What was equally stunning to me during that period of Putin Inc’s wealth crusade in the UK was when in 2009 the authorities allowed for the former KGB chief operative, Alexander Lebedev, and his group to take ownership of key British newspapers in the London Evening Standard and The Independent papers.

The current Tory government can act all outrage today by the oligarchs’ manipulative wealth in London but the Evening Standard under Lebedev was turned into even more pro Conservative Party publication and not only backed Boris Johnson for mayor of London and PM, the Standard hired George Osborne (former Tory govt finance minister) as its editor (2017-2020).

When Lebedev’s company took over the The Indy papers you could see a gradual shift in its Russian reporting where there was little to no criticism of Putin.

Read: Lebedev buys Independent newspapers

When objections were raised as to the influx of Russian money the usual remarks from some local officials were that they feared such trillions would end up elsewhere such as Frankfurt and the City could lose its influence on the global market.

The Russian soft power wealth in the West set a precedent that allowed powerful figures from similar autocratic nations to flood their countries’ unlimited wealth easily into Western Europe.

The only UK publication during that whole period that kept the public aware of the gluttony of finances from the oligarchs, the Arab sheikhs and not forgetting China was the magazine Public Eye.

Sunni Middle Eastern Powers Next for the Freeze?

The Saudi Arabian government has long been linked in numerous report to the events behind the US 9/11 bombings of 2001 and other barbaric actions such as mass executions.

But that has not stopped the Saudi government from using its wealth to create allies at the heart of certain Western governments especially the UK and US.

When he was British PM, Tony Blair once blocked his own fraud investigators from probing possible corruption practices by Saudi officials in relation to military procurements. Blair feared the potential loss of revenue from arms sales to the Saudi government.

Since 9/11, US presidents have blocked numerous attempts by the US Senate and Congress to officially condemn or  punish the Saudi government for 9/11.

Again, loss of arms sales and national security issues were some of the excuses given by US presidents to blocking legislative measures.

Read: Obama Vetoes Bill to Let 9/11 Families Sue Saudi Arabia

Read: Trump Vetoes Bills Intended To Block Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government has their own geo-politically led bloodbath in Yemen backed up by their allies incl. United Arab Emirates (UAE). Kuwait and Bahrain.

According to the UN the 8-year war in Yemen by the Saudi government would have cost the lives of 377,000 people by the end of 2021.

Yet there has been continued silence from the same Western governments who are now sanctioning the oligarch’s assets for Putin’s invasion.

This kind of barbaric carnage by the Saudi government did not stop the Boris Johnson administration from authorising the sale of £1.39bn in arms during July- September of 2021.

The world of sport has been a useful avenue for autocratic nations such as the Saudi, Qatari & UAE government to use their sovereign wealth funds in order to enhance their personal reputation on the Western stage.

Only recently the English Premier League approved the Saudi government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund ownership of Newcastle Football Club. The UAE government is the owner of Manchester City Football Club.

In 2008 the UAE government had bought Manchester City Football Club from previous owner Thaksin Shinawatra (former prime minister of Thailand) who himself was found guilty of corruption in his home country and is on the run hiding in Dubai.

Global sporting governing organisations such as FIFA, UEFA and IOC have damaged the image of their sports when they played major roles in escalating Putin’s soft power globally by allowing Russia to host major sporting events such as the football World Cup, Champion League Finals and the Olympic Games.

The organisers of the top flight football in England and France have allowed football clubs to be taken over by nation states or individuals with strong links to governments mentioned earlier as well as China.

But prior to Putin’s soft power approach in the West one of the earlier drivers of financial influence in the West was the Maktoum royal family who run the UAE state of Dubai.

Under the leadership Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s wealth fund has been the biggest investor in European horse racing since the 1980s.

Newmarket in central England is considered the headquarters of flat racing in Europe and it is fair to say that Sheikh Mohammed’s investment was driving force and some will kept the racing industry afloat.

When a UK family court ruled in 2020 that Sheikh Mohammed organised the kidnapping of his children there was silence from the UK government and the racing regulators British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

It remains to be seen how damaging the sanctions against the Putin and his oligarchy network will be.  The sanctions could prove bathetic if those targeted are able to use their secretive connections (off shore) to avoid financial disaster.

I am sure the oligarchy network have already channeled some of their capital to regions such as the Middle East where Russia has strong political and economic ties to the likes of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Israel.

e.g. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, owes Putin big time for standing by him in the aftermath of the West’s condemnation of his government’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

So the Saudis will have no issue in supporting Putin Inc in its hour of economic need and the Western government have no clout stop them.

Roman and Vladimir: Political Brothers?

Since the news broke that Abramovich was out of Chelsea F.C. some football observers and Blues fans have praised him for the influence he has had on the English Premier League.

Some Chelsea F.C. fans have tried to downplay Abramovich’s close to ties Putin.

Do they relly think Putin would have trusted the Chelsea owner with the organisation and financial investments of the 2018 men’s football World Cup?

In 2007 Putin blocked Abramovich attempts to resign as governor of the autonomous eastern Russian region known as Chukotka. Meaning Putin was Roman’s political boss even when he purchased Chelsea in 2003. 

If Abramovich had publicly condemned Putin’s latest criminal actions in Ukraine then he would have had a chance to keep his UK assets intact including Chelsea. But once again Abramovich shied away from ever denouncing Putin, unlike some other oligarchs who have long been critical of Putin’s regime but paid dearly for their stance.

  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent 9 years in prison for slamming the corruption of Putin’s government.
  • Boris Abramovich Berezovsky, a critic of Putin since 2000, was found dead at his England home in 2013. The coroner ruled an open verdict on his death.

What next?

If the UK authorities are serious at preventing similar investments similar to the oligarchs then there is a need for a public inquiry into how the Russian wealth was allowed to flood the market in the first place.

E.g.

  • Were UK civils servants prevented by ministers from going after the oligarchs laundering of their wealth?
  • What tax exemptions were any of these oligarchs given for logging their billions in the UK?
  • How many former ministers went on the payroll to the oligarch network?

However, given the receptive behaviour by various administrations toward the oligarch’s since 2000 I cannot see any desire by the Boris Johnson administration to pursue this issue in the serious manner it warrants.

Russian Communism Fueled by Western Capitalism

Since the advent of Thatcherite economic principles in the 1980s the UK financial sector has prided itself on being the epicenter of bureaucratic-lite free market activities.

That kind of shameless greed allowed a lot of money to be parked (& profited) in the UK by international investors from autocratic nations; with the Communist KGB’s Putin being once of its biggest winners.

Useful Sources

Money, power and subservience. How Russia will deliver in 2018 – Paul Hayward

Vladimir Putin tells Roman Abramovich to pay for World Cup 2018 – Tom Parfitt

Russia-Ukraine war: Jeremy Corbyn was right all along about Putin and his oligarchs – Peter Oborne

Door after door in Britain has been opened for Evgeny Lebedev, all the way to a seat in the House of Lords. Who has opened the doors, and why? – The Slow Newscast

Posted in corruption, media, middle east, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Women’s Day & the Missed Chance on Jamaica’s New Banknotes

When Nigel Clarke (Jamaica’s finance minister) addressed parliament yesterday and announced a raft of new bank notes I thought from the display it must be April Fools.

The names of the individuals on these notes are roughly the same from previous incarnations with the exceptions of former prime minister Edward Seaga being added and the “return” of Paul Bogle.

The late Seaga is an interesting figure given that since his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) returned to running the government in 2016, under current PM Andrew Holness, his name has been officially adorned on a number of landmarks from a school, a highway, a building, I’ve lost count.

But the political class of both the JLP and the current opposition People’s National Party have done the island a disservice with its constant naming of landmarks after their colleagues and ignoring those Jamaicans away from politics whose contribution was for more significant and positive.

Given that yesterday was International Women’s Day, both Clarke and Holness missed a golden chance of elevating certain Jamaica women’s name to this lofty lifetime position. Given that 10 of the 11 names on the notes are now men, it’s not a good look. Plus you got to have more more African-Jamaicans for obvious reasons.

My own suggestions would be cultural giants Louise Bennett-Coverley and Olive Lewin.

Maybe it is time for the naming of certain lifetime landmarks be taken out of the politicians’ hand and put to a public discussion and poll.

Read: Minister Clarke Announces Newly Designed Banknotes

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Warne the Wizard of Spin

Only last Sunday I heard Shane Warne guesting on the Sky Sports cricket podcast hosted by Rob Key and Nasser Hussain. On that podcast Warne explained his coaching plans for the London Spirit cricket team for the upcoming season of The Hundred. Warne also talked about his interest in becoming the next England head coach. That England job fascinated him. During that chat with Key and Hussain, Warne was scathing of Cricket Australia’s management and senior players over their treatment of his former team-mate and head coach, Justin Langer, who recently resigned from his post.

Warne was always keen on modernizing the game of cricket. He was an enthusiastic thinker of the game. He embraced the T20 format of cricket in its early days and was crucial to its success during the early phases of the Indian Premier League. Warne enjoyed The Hundred in England and the interesting strategies that new form of the game gave coaches and players.

Warne loved those cricket captains who brought innovation to their field placements and bowling options.

I loved Warne’s straight talking. I have always thought his bluntness is what my West Indies senior and upcoming players needed to get their act together.

Warne was a winner, an entertainer and a leader. He may have not been the official skipper of the Australian cricket team but you could see that those captains would lean on his advice.

Warne made leg spin bowling hip. With his bowling, supported by the commentary of the late Richie Benaud, the art of understanding leg spin became a treat for fans as we learnt more about the top spin, the flipper, the googly and of course the slider.

Not only was Warne a great cricketer but he brought new people to the game.

Shane Warne was magnetic, magic and masterful. He just gave the game of a cricket an honesty and passion both on and off the field that is rare. He was always in the game.

Warne was engaging with fans whether at the match, on the streets of London and at book signings. He was just great banter the few times I came across him in London.

In the commentary box Warne kept stating all he wanted to see was just good competitive cricket. Even if his own Aussie team were on top, he wanted the opposing team to perform well and kept churning out advice over the mic.

Yes, Warne had an edge, a gusto and had the odd bit of controversy. But what a star!

There were a few times when Warne’s bowling was taken to task by the brilliance of the likes of Brian Lara (West Indies), Kevin Pietersen (England) and VVS Laxman (India). But Warne would show his class by applauding or displaying a wry smile when such batsmen reached their landmark or made a brilliant stroke off his bowling during the innings.

It’s hard to believe we won’t read Warne’s tweets or hear his views on the current tour to Pakistan by Australia. It is hard to believe Shane Warne is no more.

52. Man

“In the space of a short time, he’s (Shane Warne) turned the game upside down, changed it in concept,” – Richie Benaud

India, 2001: Warne vs Laxman
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