Tag Archive: establishment

Facts and Lies: UKIP Checking

Nobody can be bothered to check facts.

UKIP, the Lernaean Hydra of British politics

UKIP Hydra
[credit: Jon Worth, please click image ]

For months I have endured a deluge of facts and lies, all leading up to yesterday’s election. (I voted Green – there were only European elections in my area, so no local stuff).  Mostly, it’s all been around UKIP.  They really have stoked the fires, first lit by this government that wasn’t elected and that has done a raft of nasty things never included in their 2010 manifestos.  But the fires against the disadvantaged are really aflame now.

It’s UKIP wot done it guv.  It’s Suzanne Evans talking – click here to pause her waffle.

Tactics

The Chubby Elite

UKIP’s backers are some of the sharpest, wealthiest people in the land.

UKIP’s tactics however, have been to take on all crackpots of all kinds, then, when the fuckwit says something beyond the pale, they evict them.

This has the effect of being news-worthy, and as we in entertainment know, all news is good news.  The normal triumvirate of red, blue and orange have had a few gobshite moments, but UKIP beats them hands down.

The litany of UKIP’s tactics is strewn across the web, but a fairly recent summary and discourse on them can be found on Another Angry Voice (AAV).

Fact Checks #1

As Tom at AAV noted in the link above, UKIP-ers are not fond of reading anything beyond the first few lines of anything and have a raft of weird ideas all   the stuff headed up and analysed with examples, summarised neatly here:

General abuse Confirmation Bias Denial of reality Just making stuff up
Conspiracies Meta-slander Persecution complexes Marxist fearmongering
Talking in absolutes This is a “Hate group” The Censorship fallacy Fascist sentiments
Straw-manning You called us racist Humourlessness Right, I’m definitely voting UKIP now!

It’s all very “lowest common denominator” (LCD) stuff.  Confirmation Bias rules, okay!

 Fact Checks #2

Though I despise UKIP and parties like them, I do try to check facts, from all over and presented by anyone.  Even those that I support get it wrong sometimes.  Question everything!

UKIP’s Suzanne Evans on Radio 4

I heard that Evans had been quoted as saying that UKIP ” had difficulty appealing to the educated, cultured and young” with regard to the voting in London.  It was on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme.  You can listen to the whole thing here for the next few days.  If you do a Google search for the phrase, “difficulty appealing to the “educated, cultured and young”” a whole raft of websites, news organisations, social media and news agregation websites are all reporting this very same thing.  The search produced >1000 – here are 3.

This Reddit chat is a notable exception to the broadcast-info-with-impunity-or-checks brigade and also has a link to the interview.  They say she never said it and provide a textual view of the interview.

She Never Said It!

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The trouble is, she never actually said it!  This is my recording of the show, editted down to Suzanne Evans’ interview and compressed for audio clarity before MP3-ing it.

 It’s True – She Never Said It!

Ukip members wait for results of local election in Croydon

So why are all the news sites and almost every Google search result saying that she did?  ( Well almost all – a Reddit chat also says that she never said it. )  The Independent report even has a nicely forlorn UKIP blokey.

In the interview, then interviewer actually says that it was a colleague in London  (not known, not named) who, she said, UKIP “had difficulty appealing to the educated, cultured and young”

 

 Conclusion

Either:

  1. The truth of the matter is that people hardly ever check anything nowadays.
    • The deluge of information is too great.
    • Everyone expects reputable news providers to do properly journalistic background checks.
    • The BBC interviewer never checked.
  2. The truth of the matter is that all news providers are in collusion with the establishment to maintain the neoliberal status quo.
    • The UKIP freaks who commented on AAV are correct in that it is a conspiracy.
    • UKIP freaks are right in that the BBC shows anti-UKIP left-wing bias.

The trouble with #2 is that UKIP contains part of the powerful establishment elite.

  • Farage is a former banker and apart from a host of wealthy backers, the normal tory paper (Daily Telegraph – torygraph in common parlance) is now swapping sides since the tories are not right-wing enough for it’s wealthy  owners, the reclusive, island-owning, tax-avoiding, feudalistic, Sark-criticising (because it won’t allow them to set up a tax haven),  Barclay Brothers.
  • Many other establishment papers likewise share a divisive, right wing, xenophobic stance.
  • The BBC has had rafts of governement enforced right wing management changes (government plants is the phrase).
  • The BBC has given more airtime to Farage than any other panellist on “Question Time” except for Dimbleby.

This leaves #1.

Answer:

Nobody can be bothered to check facts.

Related Posts:

Tony Benn in Bing Top 3 – BBC Hide Tony Benn Funeral

Bing Search Shows True Popularity of Tony Benn

Benn Funeral

Benn Funeral

I’ve seen the Bing search engine promote Tony Benn’s funeral to the top 3 searches, while the BBC coverage almost hide’s the funeral!  For god’s sake, people cheered and applauded with gratitude in the streets as the coffin went past!  There was NO jeering.

Many people on social media have commented that the Tory government is manipulating the news output through changing the hire & fire of those that run the corporation to tory supporters and lobby groups.  This is readily apparent today, when comparing the BBC output for the funeral of a revered MP, Tony Benn, to that of Thatcher, the former leader, loathed and derided my millions.  See Mike, for instance.

Benn, top 3 on Bing!

Benn, top 3 on Bing!

Many on Facebook and Twitter have pointed out this difference.  So I checked an alternate stream…. the load page of Bing (Microsoft’s search engine).  That’s it here.

You will see that the top 3 web searches are (were):

  • Ukraine IMF Bailout
  • Tony Benn Funeral
  • Obama meets Pope

BBC Hide, BBC Change?

BBC Shove It

BBC Shove It

I was hoping to get some screenshots of the search results, but since I started typing, the results are now driving the BBC up the rankings! (Initially, the BBC was not to be seen!)

I can only assume that this is due to some BBC editorial decisions following on from a myriad of postings onto the BBC FB and Twitter pages of photo memes and comments like this one.

Key Differences?

Comparing the military coldness Thatcher funeral, where the police outnumbered the spectators 3 to 1, where the BBC really struggles to show any pictures of anyone or anything that is not part of the establishment, where the thin crowds are strung out and kept back like kids at the zoo, Benn’s funeral was a large, well attended, peaceful affair, where politicos and commentators from all sides paid due respect to a man who always spoke his mind, and was for the most part, consistent.  There was a warmth and closeness at Benn’s which was noticeably lacking at Thatcher’s send off.

BBC Funeral of Thatcher

BBC Funeral of Thatcher

Here’s Benn’s summarised.  Follow the links through.  Thick crowds, not the thin cold lines at Thatchers, all guarded and marshalled by thousands of police.

You have to ask, why such a difference?  The answer is obvious, but you won’t find the BBC expanding on it.  Only latterly has this belated report come out, now snuggled down and buried under the 2 year fudge of an enquiry into energy business prices.  It says,

A large crowd holding trade union and anti-war banners lined the route of his funeral cortege.

There were tears and sustained applause as the procession arrived at St Margaret’s Church, yards from the House of Commons.

Benn's Funeral

Benn’s Funeral

So why the subterfuge?  Matt Cole in small print says,

You could tell Tony Benn’s coffin had arrived at St Margaret’s before you could see it – because loud spontaneous applause broke out.

Yeah right.  Too late Matt.  Just too damned late.  You should have less fear.  They cannot hurt you by speaking the truth out loud right from the off.  Now’s the time to take a hold of the BBC and make it what it should be – after all – we all pay for it.

 

Related Posts:

Boundless Hypocrisy Over Kate’s Tits

Public Breast-beating Over Middleton Paparazzi Photos

You must understand that there is no news today.
Everything is celebrity, sport and royal in the UK.
Everyone has a media correspondent, a sports correspondent and a royal correspondent.
Reporters just report on the latest twitter feed.  No-one searches.

There are several aspects to this boob photos media blizzard.

  • There’s the mass media  almost to a man, fawning and groping at half truths.
  • There are many ordinary people wondering what’s going on.

So I’ll explain.                                  (As I see it, natch)

If you want the tit and bum shots, check at the end.  If you can’t wait, click here for the latest information on modified sweat glands.


Private Pictures, Public Place?

We now have several (mainly establishment types) people making exaggerated claims about the camera location.  Well, I’ve checked.

The photos were NOT taken “over a mile and a half away”, nor “well over a mile” away, nor “about a mile away”, nor “from a long way off, in private woods”, but about half a mile away.  The house is clearly visible, along with the windows, railings and garden stuff that appear in the photos on Google Maps Streetview.

I’ve chosen a point ~ 900m from the building as one of many good vantage points.  Go down now to see it.

If I used my hand-held camera taking a shot, I could see the whites of the eyes….  Yes really!  To demonstrate — here are two pictures that show the capability of my hand-held Panasonic Lumix, DMC-TZ30. 

Be careful when clicking as I’ve uploaded the shots at full resolution.  Once loaded, click the little green arrow to see the pictures in all their full-size glory – you will need to scroll both vertically and horizontally to find the yacht when on full-size.

They are hand-held, on a normal day, just like many of my recent shots from my recent French vacation.  I have many high-res scenic shots – I’ll have to check them through – who knows what I’ll find LOL.

No Zoom of Yacht - Can you see it?

No Zoom:  There’s a Yacht here – Can you see it?
Click to see just how really small it is.

20x Optical Zoom of Yacht

20x Optical Zoom of Yacht – Now can you see it?
Click and you’ll see a tanker in the background which I couldn’t see at all with the naked eye.
These two shots and more are visible at lower resolution here on Christine’s Beach Hut.

If someone was on the yacht, I could see them.  The boat is several miles offshore – nearly on the horizon actually!   So don’t let the Streetview shot below fool you – the house is a lot closer than it looks, even from the position I’ve chosen here.  It is only 900 metres away!

The house is dead centre in this link.   So it is a private house visible in public, much like me in my bedroom at night with the curtains open, okay?  My camera could have easily shown them doing anything. Easily.  Yet if I can be easily seen in my bedroom at night (i.e. clearly a private place as they keep repeating) I can get done for indecent exposure?  Right?

Hopefully, by seeing the capability of my own camera in conjunction with a normal Streetview of the area, you can now see how incongruous the claims that this is a private place actually are?

(p.s. pan left – it’s a lovely view!)

View Larger Map


But surely, 900m is a Long Way, isn’t it?

The firstworldwar.com website shows the standard issue British rifle  in WW1 as having guaranteed accuracy up to 600m.  This had no optical scope, just sights to be used by a normal man.  This means a kill shot at 600m, not just wounding, which shows the hand/eye/gun precision easily possible from anyone.  900 metres doesn’t look so far now, eh?
I also remember reading in “With a Machine Gun to Cambrai”, the author George Coppard saying that he picked off men at a similar range with just one or two rounds from his heavy machine gun.  This is despite the juddery nature of a heavy machine gun.

Again, 900 metres doesn’t look so far now, eh?


A Right to Privacy?

Well almost.

The royals have done very well over the last few years with Elizabeth II’s annus horribalis being mostly forgotten.  But let’s cast our minds back, shall we?

At that time, Diana and Fergie had caused much embarrassment with their girlie antics.  Charlie’s behaviour outside the public face of marital fidelity was well known and became ever-more detailed as time passed.  Phil the Greek was his usual self and scandal after scandal built up until the Castle burnt down.  So that was that – then.

Now we have Harry getting his kit off to the amusement of the world (in a €6000 a night hotel suite on a serviceman’s salary, note),  but being dismissed as “just letting off steam but must be more careful in future”.  And almost synchronously in time with Harry, it now appears, Kate & Wills feel so assured in their new-found popularity that they can do anything.  They certainly have the money for it.

But you know – they can’t.

If they want the esteemed position that they publicly project and behind which the combined forces of a fawning mass media enforce, then they must behave like it.  They cannot behave like normal holidaymakers and not expect a come-back no matter how “ordinary” Kate was supposed to have been.  You can’t be a “highness” and not expect attention?   They cannot say and do anything – for one thing, our constitution forbids it!

For another, the public will hate it and they need the public much more than we need them.

Why don’t they all just go away?  I won’t mind a bit.  Maybe this’ll be a turning point as the penny drops?

Privacy – What Privacy? – added 18/9/2012

The BBC has now leapt onto my referencing Google Streetview as an aid to showing relative privacy.  Of course, the devil-in-the-detail of this is not mentioned as I’ve done above.

BBC Copies Me - Chateau d'Autet

BBC Copies Me – Chateau d’Autet
Click image for BBC webpage

But that’s not my point here, is it?  Neither is my point that criminal proceedings are now starting.   My point is that for all of us….

Our Own Privacy is Zilch.

We are (or will be):

  • Subjected to full intimate  body scans at airports by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our emails and web activity saved and analysed at leisure by faceless private “agencies”
  • Followed down every street, across every junction, inside every shop by CCTV “security” cameras run by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our phones tapped by faceless private “agencies”
  • Have our shopping habits monitored by faceless private “businesses”
  • Have our finances, credit cards, driving licences all cross-referenced ad infinitum with our passports, our insurances, our taxes and more – by faceless private “agencies”

…and all of this is done to us while the few that own these “agencies” and “businesses” flaunt their wealth, hide their money, holiday in their tax havens, pay no taxes, are as secret and private as they choose to be, collude to manage information and the law, and then have the audacity to tell us how to behave.  Royalty is just the icing on top of a very rich cake…..

Charles & Camilla recently visited the notable tax haven of Jersey on the of 18th July for a day – it cost us £60,000 which we paid to Jersey!   The current SE Asia visit will cost on a par with the last Canadian tour which cost the Canadians alone nearly $2m in security.

  • Why do we let them get away with it?
  • What use are they?
  • Where is our privacy?
  • Where is our return on investment?  I see none.

Reverting to Type?

I’ve just been to a “do” at the Lily Langtry in Bournemouth.  This is the former house, bought by Edward VII as Prince of Wales for his actress mistress , Lily Langtry, the first face of Pears Soap..

And here’s where more hypocrisy creeps in as those reversions to type are conveniently forgotten.

As we all know, Charles, William’s dad, was knocking off Camilla his mistress both before and during his marriage to Diana, Wills’ mother.  Much like Edward VII & Langtry.  All of the UK knows this.  Now Camilla is supposed to be “accepted”, according to our fawning press.  A few grannies during the jubilee said she looked nice….well that’s it then!

Yet in France, for years the hobbled press kept secret the facts of former President Mitterrand’s mistress and his second family….a bit like secret polygamy, but in a Catholic country….?   Yet millions get their kit off in summer all over France?

Ye-es, as Paxman would say….

The French press hid also the fact that 200 Algerians were slaughtered and chucked in the Seine in 1961 by the police.  Now that’s privacy!   Obviously, this is sarcasm, but the royals are using this weird French cultural mish-mash  and press/law combo for their own advantage……. They think!  They should hope!

Clearly, French privacy is wholly different to the British version.  I can get done for undressing while forgetting to shut the curtains, but in France my privacy to do this is upheld?

Ye-es I hear Paxman saying again.


Media Guff and Fawn

So how can we accept protestations about “rightness” from these people when nothing is said about actions and happenings either then or now which go clearly against their public statements and media view of their lifestyle?

If the next likely Prince of Wales, Wills, turns out like other former Princes of Wales’, do we wash it away but say that sensationalistic reporting of public/private sunbathing “hotties” is wrong?

Because a “hottie” is what Kate is – she’s smart, apparently intelligent, elegant and (most importantly for the press), hot in a swimsuit  – as earlier photos revealed. (Remember the debate in all the papers about who was hotter, Kate or Pippa?  Of course you do, but you’d forgotten, hadn’t you?).

The success of the Daily Mail website hangs on her and other sensationalist voyeuristic shots of hundreds of “hotties” – here’s today’s Kate article; note the HUGE list down the right for articles, near half of which are for scantily clad women.    n.b. Checking the Mail On-line now shows a huge dearth of the usual skin revealing links.

The comments at the bottom, like I said, for the most part, go totally against the fawning theme of the piece.  One repeats the mile and a half lie so that mud has stuck again.

Indeed, for those with long memories, the video at the bottom harps on about Berlesconi’s ownership of the magazines and his publication of Diana’s car photos  “minutes after the accident”.

Now, maybe you remember that  following Diana’s crash, The Daily Mail solemnly pledged never to use paparazzi photos again?

Yet virtually all the links down the right of any Mail page are paparazzi pictures!  They have to be – they’ve sacked nearly everyone and the paper would fold without them.

Porn Baron Protests and Threatens to Close Magazine!

Yes.  It’s true.  Here’s the chronology.

  1. French magazine publishes photos taken during the summer. – 14 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19595221
  2. Irish paper does the same on Saturday. – 15 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19611407
  3. Italian magazine follows suit. – 17 Sep (today) – http://www.metro.co.uk/news/912183-topless-photos-of-duchess-published-in-italian-magazine-chi

It’s the Irish one that’s interesting!  It’s co-owned by Richard (Dirty) Desmond, who besides running UK TV’s Channel 5 and  publishing the Daily Express and tit paper The Daily Star, also runs porn channels Red Hot TV and Television X.  This growth was part financed by selling off his earlier publishing business which included such salubrious titles as Asian Babes and Readers Wives.  Notably, his celebrity magazines of OK! and New! are full of paparazzi photos…….  like, dah?

Now, to top it all, Desmond has said he wants the Irish paper closed….. – 17 Sep – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19621188     He must be after a knighthood or something because his history shows that prurient disapproval is not one of his strong-points.  It’s laughable.

The lady (and Desmond) doth protest too much, methinks. – Hamlet

Mass Media Princely Support, Public Split

Checking the comments following news reporting, I note a two-thirds majority telling Kate to keep her kit on if she doesn’t want to be rumbled.  This is despite the media claiming “over-whelming condemnation” or whatever.

It’s just simply not there.  Most of the public aren’t swallowing it.

Sooner or later there will be a backlash against the Royals if they keep this up.  Let well alone, it’d have blown over, much like Harry’s knob-tastic exposures.  But keeping it going, on and on, using their inherited and publicly provided wealth to pursue legal redress shows them seriously out of touch with the common mood, no matter how much the mass media are beefing them up.

The recent Hilsborough revelations show that media collusion is not a new thing.


Tits and Bums

A lot of people are behaving like bums or making a tit of themselves.

Those in “the establishment” are doing what those in the establishment normally do, which is to fawn and whine, pontificate and lie, all to keep ranks under the firm expectation of a gong at some point.

Then there are the “granny types” who all think she’s lovely and that the queen does a marvellous job.

There’s a few who see it as an attack on women, part of the objectification of women that’s happened for millenia and has now gone past saucy postcards, through Page 3 and porn mags (like Dirty Desmond’s) to full on ubiquitous internet porn and the gyrating phone girls on Freeview.  (All very valid, but not my gist)

Then there’s everyone else!

These are in two camps, I think;

  • those that don’t care either way but think the royals should think themselves lucky to get free holidays and trips and well looked after for the whole of their lives
  • those that just want to see the tits

Well, thanks to Kate & Wills’ explosive reaction, Kate’s bits are everywhere now.

For instance, here’s an enterprising guy (Oliver James) in Bath, UK, who’s got a domain up and running in record time!  See http://www.katemiddletontopless.co.uk/ for all the shots you’ll need.  A WHOIS puts the owner, Bee Digital Media Ltd,  in California.  But a company search places it here in the UK!  (better watch out Oliver…..perhaps….?)

BEE DIGITAL MEDIA LIMITED  (also has website bee-digital.co.uk)

Address removed since it’s been reported as changed, thanks Dan

Kate Middleton Topless Photos – Prince William and Kate Suing Publication

Kate Middleton Topless Photos – Prince William and Kate Suing Publication

Apart from that, there are loads of others.  One that caught my eye was a website called Divided States, a US political site.  They had a web-page here, http://www.dividedstates.com/kate-middleton-topless-photos-prince-william-and-kate-suing-publication/ which they’ve now pulled.  How coy.

Fortunately, the Google Cache shows us this – the full copy of their original posting – click here or the screenshot for the cache. (full image available on request)

  • So am I a tit or a bum?
  • Is Oliver above?
  • Is Berlesconi?  Berlesconi certainly has gripes with the UK following his latin faux-pas with the queen and others….?  Maybe he’s publishing just for revenge?

Conclusion

Wills, with his experience, has behaved like a knob.  He should have known better.  He slipped up, which is a possible explanation for the rapid response unit being thrown into action.  It was notably absent following the Harry incident.

But really, what everyone has totally forgotten, is the old adage:

Don’t throw stones when you live in a greenhouse.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. – Hamlet


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Related Posts:

Embarrassment or Dirty Dealing Discovery – the Real Reason for Secret Trials

Cameron, Blair, Brown and Straw – The Real Reason for Secret Trials

Embarrassing Smiles Cover Up Secrets and Lies

Tony Blair and Jack Straw

Tony Blair and Jack Straw

Jack Straw may have been “embarrassed” when he abolished his plans to abolish secret inquests which would have covered up his and Blair’s secret dealings over the euphemistically named extraordinary renditions (a.k.a. kidnappings and torture) that he initially claimed not to have done.

He may have been embarrassed about his son getting done in a tabloid sting for dope selling although his continued usage of the substance seems to have passed him by.

He may also have been embarrassed about being caught out for hiding the truth about using fake reasons to start the illegal war in Iraq.

Discovery and Personal Guilt

Embarrassment is not it though.  The real reason is our discovery of Straw & Blair’s hypocritical dealings over wars and torture, kidnap and illegal detention without trial, things that Straw’s government, and now our own coalition one, seek to hide.  That’s a deep guilt.

Was it guilt over the knowledge that as he was the head of an unaccountable web of spies, they were doing everything that any free democratic nation would naturally think abhorrent?

Or was it guilt over authorising these abhorrences to civilised behaviour?  Perhaps he knew that in 2005 the US was training already designated terrorists, in terrorism, on their own soil?

Extraordinary rendition, U.S. style

Extraordinary rendition, U.S. (and U.K!!) style

That’s the special relationship for ya!   Straw brought in the US-UK one-sided extradition agreement in 2003.  The following yearhe and Blair were found out to have started the war in Iraq on false pretences.  There then followed the endless investigations that dragged on for so long that folks forgot what they were about.

A collusion between the military, the law and politics from the establishment, designed to legally obfuscate by the dreary analysis of the minutiae of the webs of illegality they’d hatched?

We now find out, in the same year, 2004, that Straw and Blair were (supposedly) in government, Fatima Bouchar and her husband, Abdel Hakim Belhaj were captured, bound in gaffa tape (her eyelid bound open for 17 hours during this process), kidnapped and transported to a foreign power (Libya) where they were tortured and imprisoned for seven years.

Straw said he knew nothing, so what exactly was he paid for?  Was he a stooge, a calm reassuring personae, quietly acquiescing to misdeeds on the grandest of scales in exchange for lifelong protection and a nice pension?

Abdel is now in the ruling government of Libya, having fought and beaten Gaddhafi, with The West’s help, let’s not forget….

See: Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials.  This is the story of their imprisonment, and the trail of evidence that reveals the involvement of the British government.  It’s all there.  Detailed.  How Straw and Blair either instigated or permitted this to happen.

Cover Up Illegal Government Work by Invoking Secret Trials, “in the national interest”!

Killer Drone Aircraft

Killer Drone Aircraft

It’s all true.  Our own (and the US) secret services kidnapped and transported innocents from our own and foreign soils to foreign powers.  This was all done without the intervention of a judge, without court orders and in many cases (those in Guantanamo Bay for instance), without any immediate or subsequent trial.  They’re still doing it!

Bush, Cheney, Obama, Blair - their handiwork

Bush, Cheney, Obama, Blair – their handiwork – it is estimated that >3ooo civilians have been killed by drones

The only difference between the recent actions of Jack Straw, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Blunket, Teresa May, Ken Clarke & David Cameron, and the historical actions of Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao and Adolf Hitler are that in the former, there’s been no trial and the people are still alive, and in the latter there were usually show or peremptory trials usually followed by immediate execution.

Stalins Handiwork

Stalins Handiwork

Though life is precious, today’s innocents (innocent unless proven guilty, remember) may have at times wished they were dead.

One man’s been locked up since just after Jack Straw brought in the extradition deal with the US…! He’s now destined for transport to the USA and has been in solitary confinement here, without trial, for 8 years!  Murderers get less than that!  His crime was to host an anti-American website using a US-based host.

Killer Drone Pilots

Killer Drone Pilots

This is a bit like me.

  • I hate much of what the USA & UK does in the name of freedom, because plainly, it’s not.
  • I hate the undemocratic, illegal processes that the US and UK have done in the past (and now it appears are continuing to do) with a passion.
  • This website is hosted in the USA (Dallas, Texas, to be exact).

Can I expect a knock on the door and to be gaffa-taped off to solitary soon?  Probably not, because I don’t promote war, in fact, it’s an abhorrence.

Meanwhile, thousands of civilians die in US drone attacks while a lawyer for the victims is mysteriously prevented from gaining a visa because of “technical difficulties”!

Terrorist Distractions

Haditha Killings - US marines get away with murder

Haditha Killings – US marines get away with murder

Let’s not get distracted by today’s news that the European Court of Human Rights has allowed the extradition of a few “terror suspects” to be extradited to the USA though.

Killer Drone Pilot Control - the hand of death.

The targets have no chance to surrender, and the Afghan government has raised concerns. The drone strikes are dubbed ”Kill TV” or ”Taliban TV” because soldiers watch live video feeds of bombs and missiles detonating, with one source admitting it is uncomfortable viewing: ”You can see everything.”

Because the real devilish forces, whereby a supposedly civilised country like the United Kingdom can kidnap and torture with impunity, still exist.  Pregnant Fatima Bouchar was not a terrorist and nor was her husband.  Their terrifying ordeal at the hands of our secret service stands testament to that.

The Real Targets - our own freedoms

The Real Targets – our own freedoms

Even worse, our own dear whiter-than-white freedom-loving governments have now been found to have colluded in the kidnap, lied about having knowledge of the kidnap, and now seek to cover up any further public knowledge of this and other kidnaps (and worse, perhaps?) under the guise of “national security”.

These are the real devils in our midst.  They are the real terrorists.  Under false pretexts they continue to bomb civilians with drones and kidnap and torture those they can’t kill.  Though from different political persuasions, successive governments draft laws cover up the previous one’s actions.

What an evil nasty bunch they are.     Cameron and his crowing cohorts are just the latest in a long line.

 

Meanwhile,

  • MPs and judges can retire to fully indexed-linked pensions,   unlike the rest of the public sector workers who have been recently brutalised and scape-goated in the press for the thieving behaviour of gambling banker-politicians.
  • MPs and judges are protected from harm by the very secret services they’ve steered and governed while the rest of us are made
  •  to feel fear at home, where none exists
  • to feel loathed abroad, when we have done nothing

All due to the evil machinations of these few folk.

The Real Reason for Secret Trials and Internet Censorship

At least we can all now see the real reason for last week’s push for secret trials by Cameron and the ConDems – to cover up our government’s hypocritical, illegal, criminal, actions.

In future, all reporting of these actions will naturally be curtailed when the internet is thoroughly locked down and all we’ll be able to see will be tits, bums and football interspersed with Simon Cowell same-songs and holiday-home recipes of the day.  Everything will be like the front page of the Daily Mail website.  Some freedom, eh?

Question:  Why Pictures of Drones and Dead Innocents, Yet not many Kidnaps?

A. Simple.    It’s the same mentality of person that sends in the drones to kill innocents as kidnaps innocents.  In fact, it’s the same people.  They stand there smiling on our TVs, in suits, with the appropriate amount of gravitas dependant on the situation.

The real devils in our midst.  The real terrorists.

 

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Summer Camps

How Summer Camps Could Change Britain

by Christopher M. Green (Convenor of the Summer Camps Forum and Founding Director of The ATE Trust)

Download Links to Original Chris Green Articles:

Some ways in which a larger national programme of well-run, imaginative and creative Summer Camps would change Britain:

America has a large programme, as does France. In both countries Summer Camps are a valued part of their national provision for children and young people. But in Britain less than 2% of youngsters ever attend a Summer Camp. Opposite are some of the very real benefits which would follow if we had a larger national programme with many more children taking part. (By “a Summer Camp” I mean a 7 – 10 day residential holiday for children aged usually 8 -15, drawn from all areas and backgrounds, with imaginative, energetic and creative activities, both outdoor and indoor, from exploring the countryside or tracking games in the woods to drama sessions or stories round the fire, away from TVs or computers. Many of the staff are volunteers aged 17- 25).

  • It would help our social integration and understanding, by enabling young people to meet others from different schools and backgrounds, in a setting where class or ethnic labels have no relevance. It could help youngsters who feel “at the bottom of the heap” to see they do have a real place in society.
  • It would improve the self-image, confidence and independence of all the youngsters who take part, at an age when they are open to change, helping them to believe in their own potential and to become successful adults.
  • It would offer time and space to play and enjoy being children, to discover new hobbies and interests, and to find out that active learning can be fun.
  • Children (and young staff) would see that there are far better ways of enjoying life than being riotous or drunk. Summer Camps would help counteract the over-commercialisation of the world for children today.
  • It would offer valuable insights into civic responsibility. A Summer Camp is a micro-society with rights and responsibilities easily understood.
  • It would help children and young people to develop common sense, a feel for what really matters, and an appreciation of what is true and beautiful.
  • It would give us more and better young teachers, and improved parenting skills, by enabling many more of our 17 – 21 year-olds to train and to work with children in the context of a happy holiday.
  • Those staff who go on to further training and to take charge of a camp would gain invaluable experience of management at a young and formative age.
  • Young staff would often find they can achieve more than they ever thought possible, and so be encouraged to aim high in their own lives and careers.
  • Young staff would enjoy working really hard for something they believe in. This booklet explains why I am certain a national system of well-run Summer Camps would offer such important benefits to Britain’s children and young people, and how it could be achieved without major public funding.    Please read on….

1. What is unique about Summer Camps.

Most informed educational opinion believes that residential experience is of vital importance in the learning and development of young people. Sir Tim Brighouse recently said “A week living away with others can often be worth a term spent in school – that is how dramatic the effect can be on children’s learning and development.”

Most British youngsters today probably do experience some form of residential session during their schooldays. Lots of schools and Education Authorities place a high priority on offering such sessions to as many children as possible.

These “school trips”, (like scout camps, youth group weekends away, etc.), provide great benefits for those who take part, not least in cementing relationships with each other and with the adults involved. The time away together can be prepared in advance, followed up afterwards, and have a good effect on both the learning and the community side of the school, scout pack or youth group.

This type of residential session is by its nature always for pre-existing groups of young people who know each other already from school or club, and is staffed by adults they also already know. The whole experience is a part (potentially a very valuable part) of a continuing relationship between the participants which existed before the residential session and continues afterwards.

This is all quite admirable, and to be encouraged. But we should not forget that another kind of residential opportunity also exists, with benefits which are not exactly the same but at least as great. Attending a Summer Camp offers children and young people the chance to spend a happy and positive week with others they do not yet know and would otherwise never be likely to meet.

It is important to understand the implications of this crucial distinction between a “school trip” and a Summer Camp. Children coming to a school trip bring with them their reputation from school. Even teachers may well be thinking “Oh God, will Tommy get up to his usual tricks?” At a Summer Camp, on the other hand, everyone starts with a blank slate and as equals because nobody knows anyone else. Youngsters have to get to know new people, some very different from them, make new friends, fit into a new structure, and often have a go at new activities. If, as almost always happens, the Summer Camp ends with everyone feeling one big group of friends and one happy family, a significant part of the pleasure they all feel at being part of it is a sense of achievement at having managed to get on well with others from all backgrounds who they had not met a week before.

If a girl from a smart school in Surrey is in the next bed to one from a rough inner-city school, with labels removed so that instead of being “posh school girl” and “rough school girl” they are just Jane and Sue, they may well end up best of friends, and both gain immeasurably from their time together.

A Summer Camp is an opportunity (and few such exist in our society) for a youngster to venture outside his own group, his own tribe and comfort zone for a short period, and get to know others whose lives may be based on very different assumptions and rules. The week at camp offers a rich mix of new and valuable experiences, based not only on being part of a group from diverse backgrounds, but also on seeing new places, trying new activities or new ways of doing things, and on enjoying laughter, imagination and having fun together.

Trevor Phillips remarked some years ago that a system of summer camps could do wonders for community relations in giving to children from minority groups the chance to live closely for a short period with others from all walks of British life, and to get to know them as real friends, away from everyday constraints. There is a creative and therapeutic joy in playing and laughing together under a blue sky, with the space to run about and enjoy being young. Our society can still be obstinately tribal, with whole groups being written off as “yobs”, “snobs”, “southern pansies”, “rough northerners”, and much worse. It is only by meeting each other as real people and having fun together that the growing generation can understand the pleasure and the reassurance of their common humanity.

2. Who staffs Summer Camps?

A vital aspect of summer camps is the work done by young volunteer staff in looking after the youngsters. In the summer camps I know (I will explain my history later) a “monitor” aged usually 17 to 20 will be allocated a group of 6 or 8 children to look after. He / she is known as Jim or Annie, and lives as a full member of the group, being with them almost all the time. Being the age they are, monitors are not felt to be “like teachers”, rather older brother or sister figures. However, by being always there they pre-empt many safety or behaviour problems before they start, and are able to deal with others that arise at once. For many children the relationship with “their” monitor is a vital part of the summer camp. To have an 18 year-old there for them all the time, joining in their games, chatting and joking with them, getting to know them and caring for them while also making sure they get on with each other and benefit from the holiday, is both very reassuring and great fun.

As well as the monitors there will be two or three Camp Leaders or managers to oversee the whole camp as Directors or Assistant Directors, plus a Matron figure (often a trained nurse), also catering and domestic staff.

In the summer camp system I know best (where the training policy is modelled on the French state-supervised system) young people wanting to volunteer for work as Monitors compulsorily attend an intensive residential training week, in which they are taught stocks of games, songs, and ideas for children’s activities, they have talks and discussions about many aspects of looking after children residentially, from safety and hygiene to dealing with upsets or disputes, and they also experience for themselves the kind of community which the children will be living at camp. A very few may be turned down after the course (as not being yet ready to handle the responsibility). Everyone leaves with a good repertoire of ideas and resources, and also with a real belief in the potential of the work they will be doing to change children’s lives for the better.

Volunteers then typically give a couple of weeks a year to working in summer camps. Some only do one year, some stay involved for many years. A Monitor who has worked successfully on at least three separate sessions, and who has reached the age of 21, may then be invited to attend a further week of training to work as Assistant Director (deputy head as it were) of a camp. These courses prepare for a lead role in the staff team, and for organising activities for a whole camp together. After working successfully in this capacity on at least three occasions, suitable people are then invited for yet a third training week to take overall charge of a camp as Director. Directors may be any age from 24 upwards. Most are under 40, and still enjoy joining in children’s games and activities. Many (but by no means all) are teachers who give a week of their summer holidays. They like the more informal relationship with young people, and the opportunity to have fun together.

The Monitors (who very much enjoy giving up part of their vacations to work with children and work devotedly to make it a success) are wonderful role-models for the children under their care. Equally the Directors are often great role-models for young Monitors. The whole staff team have a great time working together for the benefit of the children, and they can form a real bond of mutual support and friendship. This rubs off on everyone there.

Training is of course the key to success, and all summer camp staff must be trained to a high standard of competence, common sense and responsibility. As with the best staff in any context, they appear to the children to be happy and relaxed people, good fun, and enjoying themselves. But underneath there must be a thoroughly serious approach to children’s safety, welfare, and long term best interests.

Critics who have never seen a summer camp often express doubts whether eighteen year-olds with just one week’s training are capable of taking this kind of responsibility. We who have regularly lived many happy and beneficial sessions in summer camps know they can. Colony Holidays and ATE (of which more later) have between them run holidays for nearly 100,000 children and young people over forty years, looked after by more than 10,000 young monitors. All have been kept quite safe not only physically but emotionally as well. There has never been a serious accident or incident, nor any significant complaint from a parent which has been found to be justified. What there have been is many thousands of letters from parents and children paying tribute to the fun, the happiness, the new confidence, the new ideas and interests, and the improved life skills in general that youngsters have gained from their holidays, and from their contact with the young staff.

3. How people spend their time in summer camps.

Summer Camps are usually run in buildings rather than tents. The premises used may be boarding schools, field study centres, etc., rented for the holidays, or Youth Hostels, or purpose built centres. Most are in country areas, and have large grounds.

The Outdoor Manifesto, and the various documents produced recently by the English Outdoor Council, are warmly to be welcomed. They are absolutely right to stress the importance of getting young people involved in outdoor activities of all kinds, both to help with fitness and counteract obesity, and to enrich their whole lives in all sorts of ways. Summer Camp providers completely support this campaign. The opportunity to run about in green fields and to enjoy the great outdoors must be an important ingredient of any summer camp.

Many of the commercial summer camp providers base their activity programmes round the traditional “outdoor pursuits”, from canoeing and abseiling to pony trekking or rock climbing. Such programmes can give memorable new experiences to young people, and often set them up with lifelong interests and hobbies.

There is however room for programmes not based mainly or at all round these types of activity. Not every child will be attracted by the more adventurous activities, or at least not until they have been to a few camps and feel more confident in general. The summer camp movement should provide for a frail artistic child or a weedy intellectual child just as much as for a tough outdoor one.

There is real value in camps with one main activity, such as a Performing Arts Camp, a Science and Robotics Camp, or an Improve Your Tennis Camp. I have run many such camps, and they have been very successful. I have experienced some wonderful Children’s Literature Camps, for members of the Puffin Club in the great days of Kaye Webb and Puffin Post. Fifty children from all over Britain who loved reading spent a ten day holiday together, and such authors as Joan Aiken, Ian Serrailier and Clive King would spend a few days with us. A Performing Arts Camp, or a Choral Singing Camp, which ends with a performance or concert for parents, is also very much enjoyed and successful.

However there is also a place for camps with a varied, “bit of everything” activity programme. To go from making a kite or a marionette after breakfast to playing a large outdoor ball game all together, then a singing session, then lunch, then a period of drawing or painting to let lunch go down, then a swim, then a fantasy game all over the grounds looking for clues to where the smugglers have hidden their contraband, then some indoor games, then 9 supper, then a drama evening, then singing and stories at bedtime, means there is always something different to look forward to, and the day contains something for everyone. Such a programme also presupposes everyone has a go at everything, which draws the whole community together in a unique way. Even in a nominally Science or Robotics Camp, youngsters need other activities as well as the “specialist” sessions, and they enjoy the running about and the singing just as much as making their robot.

One of the good things about a summer camp is that it has no set curriculum or programme of work to be covered, and this gives real freedom to follow up young people’s interests or local possibilities. I have seen a camp where youngsters became fascinated by local wild life, following the visit of a naturalist, and which ended with an enormous exhibition of bark rubbings, leaf collages, plaster casts of animal tracks, wild flowers, drawings of wild animals seen, etc., opened by the naturalist and visited by a good number of parents and local people. At another camp we were given the opportunity to put on a floodlit pageant at a local historic building, and at another to do street theatre in a nearby town. All these activities were led by the enthusiasm of the youngsters, and helped by the team of monitors, to produce a genuinely high quality result.

One crucial function of the activities is of course to act as a group dynamic, to help everyone make friends and feel valued. When you have hunted for clues to hidden treasure together, acted together, sung together and played games together, you have plenty to talk about and soon become friends. When you have surprised yourself by finding that you can make something, draw, swim or act, as well as or better than someone from a supposedly much more prestigious school, you feel a more valued member of the community and able to hold your head up with anyone But activities are also important in their own right. A child who discovers the pleasure in singing or making something, or who finds to his surprise that ball games or acting can after all be fun, or that he has skills and talents he had not known about, has gained something of real and lasting value from his time at summer camp.

I am very ready to confess that a good summer camp can be a kind of educational “con trick”. None of the staff there seem like teachers. The whole atmosphere seems to say: “this is a holiday, it’s nothing like school, so just relax and have a laugh”, but then it gets children playing team games, doing projects together, singing, acting, making things, walking to see a castle or ancient earthwork, all as part of a fun holiday. Since children often show more enthusiasm for what is on offer at camp than they do for school lessons, they can be helped to find the fun in all these activities, and to discover new interests and talents they never thought they had. Summer camps can show children real enjoyment beyond television or computer games, and help them acquire more resources for a full and happy life, as well as a more positive attitude to all sorts of things.

4. What exists in Britain now?

Many educators and administrators would entirely accept the arguments set out above, and would like to see the summer camps sector grow. There are some good quality summer camps on offer now, and a couple of attempts have been made to get something going on a larger scale.

Peter Gordon Lawrence enjoyed taking youngsters camping in France in the nineteen sixties, and set up PGL as a full-time commercial provider of summer camps. It is now a large organisation, and has been joined by other commercial bodies (Camp Beaumont, XKeys, Mill on the Brue, etc.). These bodies at first offered mainly residential summer camps (often on the American model), but have now been compelled to diversify after difficulty in recruiting enough youngsters for their summer camps. Most of their work today is school residentials. Some offer day camps (where children are offered a non-residential day at a time activity programme in towns and cities around the U.K.) The commercial organisations which run activity centres and all different kinds of sessions for schools or holiday groups are mainly members of the British Activity Holidays Association (BAHA).

Religious based summer camps, run by such organisations as the Scripture Union and Pathfinders, cater for several thousand children each year, recruited mainly from local churches and religious groups. They mix children from different backgrounds, and run some very successful camps. They are almost all members of Christian Camps International (CCI). There is also a system of Jewish summer camps.

A small number of charitable Trusts (as Forest School Camps and the Woodcraft Folk) have existed since the nineteen thirties and still run a few holidays every year.

These various organisations have all built up their own expertise in delivering successful residential camps, and many have long experience of doing so.

There have been two major attempts to get summer camps going on a larger scale. The first, in which I have been very much involved, has been Colony Holidays and its successor body the Active Training and Education Trust (ATE).

5. Colony Holidays and ATE.

In the nineteen fifties and sixties many British students went to France to work in “colonies de vacances”, rather as today’s students go to Camp America. I went to France several times, and was impressed by what was being offered (in those days over 5 million French children from all backgrounds went to colonies each year). In the early sixties we lobbied British officialdom, saying that something of the kind would have a great deal to offer here. As a result in 1963 the Council for Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren was established, with a launching grant from the then Ministry of Education, and with a governing Council of representatives from all the main educational Associations under Sir John Wolfenden’s chairmanship. Two of us left teaching to start full-time operations in 1965. Over the following sixteen years holidays were run for around 80,000 children, and training courses for over 10,000 young leaders were developed which were praised as “good practice” by several HMIs. Holidays were run for a number of affiliated bodies, notably the Puffin Club, the National Trust, Birmingham Settlement, Manchester University Settlement, and the WRVS. An offshoot (Discovery Holidays) was set up in Northern Ireland, which took 2000 children from all backgrounds each year. Some 1500 children each year were paid for by Local Education Authorities. Over a hundred talented young educators went all through the system to become directors and run the holidays; many of them have gone on to do good work as headteachers, or as managers in other contexts, and they have acknowledged how much their later work benefited from the training and experience they had had with Colony Holidays.

In many ways Colony Holidays was a tremendous success, and we still hear regularly from many people who came as children or monitors, saying what an important part of their childhood and their growing up Colony Holidays were. But despite all our efforts the numbers only reached 6000 or 7000 a year, and there was still reluctance by many parents to trust their children to “people they did not know”.

After those of us who had set up CCHS returned to teaching in the early eighties, and handed the organisation over to younger leadership, it ran into financial difficulty, and closed in 1985. The new management did not resolve the problem of the appropriate fee level in a non-subsidised setup, so as to appear good value but have enough to run the organisation.

ATE, founded as a successor body in 1996, under the chairmanship of Baroness Warnock (who sent her own children to Colony Holidays and has always believed strongly in the value of this kind of summer camp), now takes approaching 1000 children per annum. Despite the world being very different from that of 1980, and there being more challenging children around today, it is wonderful to see how the youngsters of 2009 13 still gain in so many ways. The opportunity to play together in a green and peaceful rural setting is not as common as it ought to be. ATE urges parents to “give your children back some real childhood.” We are regularly delighted and moved to see young people heave a sigh of relief after a day or two at an ATE holiday, realising they do not need to keep up an act or pretend they are more sophisticated and grown up than they are, and then throw themselves into just playing and having a great time together, as children should.

Fifty or so young people train as Monitors each year, and there are 25 people who have gone through all the stages and become Directors.

6. Get REAL / Do It 4 REAL.

The other attempt to raise the profile of summer camps has been the recent government “Get REAL” or “Do It 4 REAL” scheme. Set up as part of a farsighted initiative by David Miliband and Tessa Jowell in 2002/3, the scheme offered subsidies to encourage more parents to send children to summer camps. In 2003 the scheme was run by the DfES, and over 1000 children were recruited by a number of recruiting agents, notably Brathay Hall, and Connexions Devon and Cornwall. Half a dozen providers took part in the scheme, and youngsters were allocated to them by the recruiting agents. ATE was one of the providers, and took 100 children into its own 2003 programme. The money for all this came from the Big Lottery, and there was sadly an unhelpful difference of opinion as to whether they or the DfES should be running the scheme. On the principle of “He who pays the piper” the Big Lottery won this argument, and they managed the 2004 scheme, using the same providers but taking three times as many children. They were (understandably) mainly concerned to see that the children benefiting from their money ticked all the correct boxes, whereas the DfES had also been trying to give the whole idea of summer camps a longer term boost.

The 2004 scheme was nevertheless very successful, and several articles appeared in the press welcoming the higher profile being given to summer camps. There was also a piece on the BBC Six o’clock News, with interviews and film from some ATE holidays. The Big Lottery was looking to put the scheme onto a much larger basis for 2005 and 2006. They had indicated to ATE and the other providers that they should prepare for considerable growth. The Big Lottery then decided to seek a Lead Agency to oversee the growth of the holiday programme on their behalf. The 2003 – 2004 providers bid as a consortium, but in the end the contract was awarded to the Youth Hostels 14 Association. The YHA had not run summer camps at all until then, but were well placed to start doing so, with suitable premises all over the country and lots of experience with school groups. The YHA elected not to subcontract places to other providers who could then work in their own way, as had happened for the first two years, but to produce a new single “brand” of summer camps, almost all in youth hostels and lasting only four or five days. Other providers who ran YHA camps had to follow this pattern and keep to rules laid down by the YHA. Some providers did become involved, but others found they could not work within the rigid YHA framework.

To staff their summer camps the YHA sought via a staff finding agency people from all over the world who had been trained and worked in American summer camps.

Their recruitment was very successful, and some 20,000 young people took part in the 2005 and 2006 camps. The YHA, who had to put a whole system in place from a standing start in a few months, are to be congratulated on doing so with outstanding success, and many children had a wonderful experience. The way things had worked out, however, was decidedly unhelpful to ATE and other providers. Having been encouraged by the Big Lottery to prepare for a substantial increase in numbers for 2005, ATE in the end received no children at all from Do It 4 Real, and also had to compete with the YHA to recruit its own customers, with the extra handicap that the price of YHA holidays was heavily subsidised.

In 2007 there was uncertainty as to whether money would or would not be available to continue Do It 4 Real. In the end the Big Lottery did find some, and the YHA was asked at the last minute to deliver another programme. At this stage the DfES decided to take back from the Big Lottery responsibility for the programme, and to seek new bids for the contract in 2009 – 2010. (They decided there was not time to have a new bidding process for 2008, and asked the YHA to carry on one more year.) This new bidding process was to emphasise sustainability, and prospective bidders were asked to spell out how they would ensure that the scheme continued after the end of DfES funding. The DfES (by then becoming DCSF) held a series of helpful meetings to which everyone who could be involved was invited, and views were sought on how the bidding process should work.

When the bids were assessed the YHA was once again successful. This means that by autumn 2010 they will have continued for six years to operate basically the same scheme, i.e. to use government or Lottery money to run a programme of subsidised holidays for 10,000 children or so per year, staffed mainly by people who have worked in America, all lasting for 4 or 5 days, almost all in Youth Hostels. Other providers have overall probably been weakened by the scheme (ATE has had several parents saying “He would love to come again, but the YHA is so much cheaper”). Thus whether the scheme 15 will lead to a long term growth in summer camps depends on how far the YHA will be willing or able to sustain their programme when the subsidy goes. They have assured everyone that they have lots of plans for doing so, but more recently have been saying they cannot see how it can be sustainable without more public money. This is in no way to devalue the good work they have done in giving worthwhile holidays to 60,000 children, mixing children from different backgrounds, introducing children to outdoor activities, etc. But it is in my view a shame that they have not used their privileged position as lead agents and as recipients of far more public money than has ever before been put into summer camps, to try and lead the whole summer camps world forward rather than to establish a YHA brand with which, whether they like it or not, everyone else has had no option but to compete.

7. How can we get more children to take part?

After many years of trying to raise the profile of summer camps and meeting lots of ill-informed reluctance and fear by parents and schools, I believe that what is now needed is a sustained effort to “change hearts and minds”, and to convince more people that their youngsters stand to gain enormously by taking part in summer camps. Very often when you actually have the attention of a group of parents and you explain the benefits, their reaction is “why have we never heard about this before?” If going to summer camp became really “cool”, and if parents felt their children were missing out by not taking part, the numbers would soon grow. Existing good providers of all kinds would be able to expand and flourish, and exciting new initiatives would also come along.

It was with this in mind I invited representatives from all the summer camp operators I could find to a meeting in London at the end of 2006 to see if we could establish some kind of National Association. I hoped such a group could maybe combine their forces and their marketing expertise to put across a powerful general message about all the potential benefits. The meeting was well attended, and there was enthusiasm for the idea. However, in the end we were not able to agree, mainly because BAHA and CCI did not want to see “yet another organisation in the field”. They felt the English Outdoor Council already grouped many significant players, and that any lobbying on summer camps should be left to them.

I am grateful to the many people (from BAHA, CCI, the YHA, and many individual operators) who kindly supported me in this attempt, and who, even when they did not feel able to back a formal move, assured me of their enthusiastic backing for what I was trying to do.

I attempted to bid for the 2009 – 2010 Do It 4 Real contract in the name of The Summer Camps Trust, which would have been established as a new charity had we been successful. I got together a number of people who have worked with Colony Holidays and ATE, and with the right backgrounds to oversee such an organisation properly (an inner city headteacher, the ex-director of a merchant bank, a chartered accountant, an ex-senior executive from Coopers and Lybrand, a teacher of handicapped children in Manchester, and a young advanced skills teacher). We put forward the vision of a Trust whose role is to promote the development of summer camps in Britain, to raise training standards and safety standards overall, to offer to all existing and future providers (provided they could offer a week’s holiday including travel for £300 or less) membership of the scheme and subsidies to help poorer children take part. We had in mind a suitably dynamic and forceful person to be Chief Executive. We also said that £1 million of the Do It 4 Real money each year would be spent on a massive campaign of PR, to change hearts and minds, seeing this as a better way of achieving growth and long term sustainability than offering places at a reduced rate to parents who could afford the full cost.

I went to see the YHA and told them that, should we be successful, we hoped they would continue with and grow their system of summer camps in cooperation with the Trust.

Sadly, for technical reasons, this bid was not able to be entertained.

So now, with Do It 4 Real money due to end after this summer, are we back to square one? It is not likely in the current climate that any government will feel able to earmark any funding for summer camps, especially since so much money has been given over the past eight years.

Nevertheless, I still feel very positive about how much difference summer camps could make in the current state of British society, and believe a real step forward could be achieved without spending public money. “Government nudging” seems to be an in phrase at the moment, and I feel sure that the right sort of nudging could achieve a great deal. I set out in the next section how I think it could work.

8. What could be done by nudging?

It would be a very good first step for the DCSF, or some other appropriate agency, officially to have a look at the summer camps world – to visit holidays and training courses, and to meet with operators, (not, please, to send each organisation a form with boxes to tick!), to understand by seeing it the value of what is being done, and the potential to use the expertise which is out there now for the benefit of more young people from all backgrounds.

It was following a day’s visit to an ATE session in 2001 that the DfES put the organisation forward to take part in Get Real. The DfES visitor was very impressed by what she saw, (and indeed sent her own children to ATE the following summer).

  • To nudge SCHOOLS and LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES would be very helpful. Often ATE approaches schools and asks to be allowed to tell pupils and parents about its programme of summer camps. If schools knew that it was officially thought a good thing for their pupils to hear about such opportunities, or if Local Authorities knew they would have DCSF backing for circulating details of summer camp opportunities to schools, more parents would certainly get to know about them.
  • To nudge PARENTS THEMSELVES would help too. Many would be more willing to give summer camps a try for their children if they thought the idea was supported and approved by the education and child care authorities.
  • To nudge LOCAL TRUSTS, ROUND TABLES OR ROTARY CLUBS, LOCAL FIRMS, etc., with a suggestion they might look at sponsoring a few children from their area who could not otherwise afford the cost, would help make the holidays more of a social mix.
  • To nudge PRESS AND MEDIA, BOTH LOCAL AND NATIONAL, might lead to more publicity about the opportunities that exist. Some good articles by journalists who had visited summer camps would certainly interest parents.
  • To nudge INDEPENDENT BOARDING SCHOOLS, FIELD STUDY CENTRES, etc., and suggest they might allow their premises to house summer camps during school holidays would help make more suitable venues available for use.
  • To nudge CELEBRITIES FROM THE ARTS OR SPORTS WORLD to try Summer Camps for their own children, and then to let everyone know if they had had a great time, would help promote the idea that going to Summer Camps is a cool thing to do.
  • To nudge SIXTH FORMERS, TRAINEE TEACHERS, etc., with the idea that training and working with children in summer camps is a good thing to do would help increase the supply of suitable staff.

One of the disheartening problems in promoting summer camps today is the unwillingness of almost every official body to recommend anything at all, however worthwhile, in case something were to go wrong and they might be held guilty by association. To get rid of such an attitude would be a major step forward not only for summer camps but for national good sense in general. To reassure parents that something of real value to which they might send their children is not going to be a hotbed of child abuse or a traumatic disaster, because “you read such awful things in the press”, would be a healthy move towards giving young people more of the experiences they need to grow and thrive. While parents feel unable to let children out of their sight “for fear of meeting something worse”, youngsters miss out on experiences which would help them towards greater self-confidence and successful independence. To be prepared to find out what is valuable and then say so might start to make a dent in the widespread feeling that the policy of most public bodies towards those under their care is determined first and foremost by “covering their back” and making sure that if anyone is going to be sued it is not them.

There are some excellent Summer Camp providers in Britain, ready and willing to expand what they do for children, and to change the lives of many more young people if they could be helped to grow and reach more potential beneficiaries. This surely is a situation where “nudging” by government and the education establishment could make a real difference.

9. Coordination and Control.

Clearly there would need to be some control over summer camps providers if more parents were to be encouraged to send children. BAHA has its own inspectors who conduct Health and Safety audits of BAHA members. Colony Holidays had an HMI “Assessor” attached to it by the government, and she kept an eye on what was happening.

It would be good if such control was not of the kind to inhibit creativity or different ways of working. Everyone understands that staff need to be CRB checked, that sensible risk assessments need to be in place, and that children’s safety, both physical and emotional, needs to be given top priority. But in my view the best kind of control should first have a good look at what an organisation is doing, in the way of training staff, codes of practice, ethos and educational values, then ask questions, and finally make suggestions or even criticise where appropriate (this was exactly what Colony Holidays’ HMI used to do). If control took the form of people coming in with predetermined tick lists, or wanting to substitute their own ways of working for perfectly satisfactory ones already in place, creativity and originality (which are vital ingredients of a good educational experience) would be damaged.

Any system of control being put in place should concentrate first and foremost on the selection of staff and the training being given to them. This above all makes summer camps what they are, and guarantees children will be properly looked after.

10. Conclusion.

Many thanks for reading this far, if you have done. May I add some quotes which illuminate the potential benefits I listed at the start. All of them (apart from President Sarkozy’s) are from parents, children or staff who have recently been part of ATE, or from people looking back on their Colony Holidays experiences twenty or thirty years later.

Social Integration and Understanding:

“She has made friends with a wide range of people her own age over the years, and from all over the country. She has been coming for five years, and on each occasion she has returned full of the things she has done and the new friends she has made. Thank you for looking after her so well and giving her experiences that we could not”. Mrs. L., Leicester.

“When I arrived I sussed out who I wanted to be friends with and who I wanted to avoid. After a few days I realised even the ones I had decided to avoid were good to be friends with too.” David, Stafford.

Self-image, Confidence, Independence:

“My son had a fab time, and has come back with an ‘I can try anything’ attitude, which he didn’t have before.” Mrs. B., Worcester.

“Ben came home saying that the people at your Performing Arts holiday were ‘the nicest people I have ever met’. His self-esteem has had a real boost, and he had the best time of his life”. Mrs. H., Surrey

Time and Space to play:

“Thank you, thank you, for giving my children back some real childhood, and the chance to run about and play in green fields, which they almost never experience in the urban world of today.” Mrs. G., Manchester.

“Summer camps remind children that they are allowed to BE children, and to have fun with no pressure to be older, cooler or more fashionable.” Kate J, Oxford graduate just entering teaching.

Better ways of enjoying life:

“It is a brilliant scheme, and has helped Molly tremendously. The spontaneous singing at the end of the performance is a treasured memory which will stay with me forever. The sight of so many young people enjoying themselves brought tears to my eyes. For Molly to be so disinhibited and just enjoying the moment without concern I think was amazing.” Mrs. M., Worcestershire.

“I don’t think I have ever seen so many happy, happy people in one place enjoying each other’s company before.” Katie L., young teacher.

Civic Responsibility:

“I really liked being in an atmosphere where no one was judged for what clothes they wore or how they spoke. I really liked being with such a variety of children, all of them so friendly.” Briony, Sutton Coldfield.

“Your community is a state in miniature. Everyone must be learning really valuable citizenship skills.” President Sarkozy after visiting a French summer camp in 2007.

Good sense, feeling for what matters:

“I admired the way that simple activities, organised with their help, would bring them together in an enjoyable and uncompetitive way. He benefited SO MUCH from the experience.” Mrs. L., Northampton.

“I have known and admired the educational thinking behind Colony Holidays and ATE for many years. The best thing of all about these holidays is the chance they give to children to exercise their imagination. In a surprisingly short time they begin to enjoy shared creative activity. The possibility of this imaginative pleasure can carry over into the rest of their lives.” Baroness Mary Warnock DBE, who sent her own children to Colony Holidays, and is ATE’s President. More and better teachers, better parenting: “Colony Holidays had a profound effect on how I see and do things. As a teacher and a parent it helped me realise that learning and teaching can be real fun. On Colony Holidays I saw children show excitement and interest in activities in a way I rarely witnessed in schools. This was because of the safe, caring environment which was created, and the imaginative way in which things were presented.” Sir David Green KCMG, recently Director General the British Council.

“I trained as a monitor with Colony Holidays while I was at Oxford and determined I was not going to teach. It sounded fun to go to various holiday centres during my vacations and better than the local factory. From that initial training course I was hooked – on children, on co-operative work, and on education. While doing my PGCE I trained as an Assistant Director. This course had a powerful effect on my development. The areas of self-knowledge, assertiveness, leadership and co-operation were brilliantly drawn together in a course which was more effective than any professional development training I have done since. Without Colony Holidays I would not be where I am now – a Senior Teacher and a City Councillor”. Alison Noble.

Experience of management:

“I joined Colony Holidays in 1970 and stayed involved for ten years. It was a unique experience, and had a great influence on my work as Headmaster of Northampton School for Boys. Few days went by in that job when some aspect of my training and work with Colony Holidays did not come in useful. I am sure that my experience in directing summer camps, and thus having great responsibility at a young age, helped prepare me for the work of a Head.” Sir Bruce Liddington, recently DCSF Schools Commissioner.

“I was a Monitor, Assistant Director and Director with Colony Holidays in the 1980s, and am now Production Manager with Glaxo Wellcome, married with three children. From Colony Holidays I learned first hand that you get out of life what you put in. I gained self-confidence from being myself, and being appreciated for what I am and can contribute. I learned how much a close group of people with a common purpose and the will to succeed can achieve against the most difficult obstacles. In business good teamwork and leadership are crucial, and training and development in those areas are valued highly. Looking back I can honestly say that my Colony Holidays training and experience, while I was a student then newly employed, were more powerful and more worthwhile than any management training I have received. Finally, the fun, emotion and magic of the holidays I worked on stay with me today, reminding me that working with people, and particularly for the benefit of children, is the most rewarding thing one can do.” Nick Maishman.

Working really hard:

“Since I trained as a Monitor in 1993, my commitment to ATE, and my belief in what it stands for, has grown and grown. The benefits I have received are vast, and I now realise the immense potential not only in the field of education for children but also in training young people. From ATE I have learned to play again, work hard for something I believe in, to take responsibility, to be tactful and diplomatic, to believe in myself and in my ability to encourage, enthuse and lead young people, while keeping them safe and being their friend. I want to see many more young people benefit as I have”. Helen Fairest, working in the NHS.

“Now that I am looking back over thirty years to the start of my Colony Holidays experience, I am more acutely aware than ever of the value of the perspectives and insights which I gained. At the very core was the respect for the individual worth of every child. There was never any compromise of the axiom that, given a challenging, exciting, kindly and supportive environment, every child can learn, grow in confidence, and develop the sort of self-esteem which produces capability and humanity in adult life.” Peter Wootton Head of Department in a Secondary School.

A flourishing Summer Camps sector would have all sorts of desirable spinoffs for the education world in addition to its main function. Over the past few years ATE has run Maths Fundays in schools, a well-attended Conference on “Fun, Creativity and Imagination in Education”, and a number of courses for teachers who would like to use more games and active methods in their classrooms. In June 2010 ATE will be running a five-day residential for a Year 6 in a Nottinghamshire primary school together with the same year-group in their partner French école primaire – possibly a first, and an initiative which could have much to offer if and when the traditional foreign exchange becomes more problematical to organise. The enormous expertise and repertoire of games, songs and other activities built up over the years by Colony Holidays and ATE is a valuable national resource, which could be useful in many contexts.

British society in 2010 is so diverse and so complex (and the Press and lobby groups of all kinds so vociferous) that it must be a nightmare for Ministers and Members of Parliament to decide what social initiatives and changes they would like to get going, or how on earth they can be made effective in the real world. Promoting the benefits of residential Summer Camps is something that could be done in addition to anything else, and that would make a real difference without costing public money. Summer Camps providers would of course like to grow and flourish, but only because they believe so strongly in the benefits Summer Camps can offer. Any support that can be given to the cause of well-run residential Summer Camps will help to transform the lives of any children or young volunteers who may be persuaded to take part by government “nudging”, by press coverage, or by their parents hearing about it in a positive way. If we could move from 2% to 10% or 20% of British youngsters being involved, many of the apparently intractable problems facing our society would be significantly reduced. Lots more of our young people, from all classes, backgrounds and areas, would have their lives enriched, socially, personally, and educationally. We would reap the benefit in very many ways.

Thank you for anything you can do to help promote the cause of Summer Camps. I would be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions, or if you would like me to meet you and tell you more about it, or (better still) if you would like to come and see for yourself .

Chris Green M.A. January 2010.

( [email protected] 01684 – 577033 )

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