Category Archives: Carpetbaggers & Privatisers

Private Finance Initiatives, the encroachment of private money into and the salting away of private profit from the public sector

Wikipediaphile: Marshalsea

Marshalsea prison

Well, this is both grim and fascinating.

The Marshalsea (1373–1842) was a notorious prison in Southwark, just south of the River Thames. Although it housed a variety of prisoners, including men accused of crimes at sea and political figures charged with sedition, it became known, in particular, for its incarceration of the poorest of London’s debtors. Over half the population of England’s prisons in the 18th century were in jail because of debt.

Run privately for profit, as were all English prisons until the 19th century, the Marshalsea looked like an Oxbridge college and functioned as an extortion racket.

Not a fun place to reside:

By all accounts, living conditions in the common side were horrific. In 1639 prisoners complained that 23 women were being held in one room without space to lie down, leading to a revolt, with prisoners pulling down fences and attacking the guards with stones. Prisoners were regularly beaten with a “bull’s pizzle” (a whip made from a bull’s penis), or tortured with thumbscrews and a skullcap, a vice for the head that weighed 12 pounds (5.4 kg).

Thomas Bliss had a particularly grim time of it. A carpenter who was imprisoned over a debt, he wasn’t able to pay gaol fees, and so facing starvation he attempted to escape “by throwing a rope over the wall, but his pursuers severed it and he fell 20 feet into the prison yard.” He was tortured by prison boss William Acton and his goons, who wanted him to grass up who had supplied the rope. “Acton beat him with a bull’s pizzle, stamped on his stomach, placed him in the hole (a damp space under the stairs), then in the strong room.”

The ‘strong room’ was a fetid, airless, unlit hellhole originally designed to incarcerate pirates and located adjacent to the prison’s sewer.

Bliss was left in the strong room for three weeks wearing a skullcap (a heavy vice for the head), thumb screws, iron collar, leg irons, and irons round his ankles called sheers. One witness said the swelling in his legs was so bad that the irons on one side could no longer be seen for overflowing flesh. His wife, who was able to see him through a small hole in the door, testified that he was bleeding from the mouth and thumbs. He was given a small amount of food but the skullcap prevented him from chewing; he had to ask another prisoner, Susannah Dodd, to chew his meat for him. He was eventually released from the prison, but his health deteriorated and he died in St. Thomas’s Hospital.

You can almost hear the brows furrowing approvingly in boardrooms at companies like Sodexo, G4S and Serco as they consider the profitable lessons to be learned from the past.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshalsea

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

BristolBloggerGate: Three years on – the University of Liverpool, WordPress & censorship

Three years on from the original incident, fellow blogger EcoLogics has recapped some of the salient points in what some called BristolBloggerGate as something of a valedictory to the WP platform…

Exactly three years ago today, on 5 January 2010, WordPress took down several of this blog’s posts.

Actually, Ecologics didn’t fare too badly; even as a handful of my posts vanished without warning, WordPress, or rather its parent company, Automattic, closed down the entire blogs of some other writers (at least one has subsequently managed to find an alternative home). To be sure, WordPress also agreed to republish the censored posts. What we the censored bloggers had in common was that we had all published information about one Howard Newby, the former vice-chancellor (director) of the University of the West of England. It seems that Newby took exception to our views regarding a financial scandal which erupted around him in 2007, and which involved a private training firm which subsequently went bust (Carter & Carter).

Soon after the scandal emerged, and only about a year and a half since he first took up the post, Newby left UWE. But most peculiarly, it was not before three years had passed that the legal department of the University of Liverpool, Newby’s new home, got Automattic to close the blogs with information about Newby’s practices at UWE […]

I hope to revisit some of these issues again myself when I have the time. Perhaps even The Bristol Blogger – now relocated beyond the walled garden of WordPress.com, but quiet for nearly a year – might themself pipe up once more some time in 2013.

In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the various pieces I wrote about the whole Sir Howard Newby/Lady Sheila Newby/Kevan Ryan/University of the West of England/University of Liverpool clusterfuck:

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Magic Eye Pics #001: Emma Harrison (A4e)

Well, it was time for a new section, wasn’t it? And this seemed natural – there’s just been a glut of wonky-eyed arseholes around recently. Is this nature’s way of warning us?

Anyway, we kick off with slave-trading profiteer Emma Harrison, late of the parish of A4e. I’m sure you are all aware of this whole #workfare malarkey she and her type are embroiled in; if not, shame on you, and go catch up on it at The Void.

In the meantime, those of you in the BSville area may like to make use of Bristol Anarchist Federation’s handy – and, they assure us, up to date – list of local companies exploiting enforced unpaid labour. Just in time for the local leg [FB page] of tomorrow’s national day of action against workfare, called by the appropriately-monickered Boycott Workfare.

Have a good’un!

Wikipediaphile: EUROGENDFOR

A timely wiki for you, given it’s all kicking off in Greece at the moment. Only spotted this via a mention on twitter linking to a cranky-sounding website which suggested that a “non-Greek militarized riot force may have arrived to enforce austerity” in the Hellenic Republic.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about EUROGENDFOR:

The European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF) was launched by an agreement in 2006 between five members of the European Union (EU): France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Romania subsequently joined in 2009. Its purpose is the creation of a European intervention force, designed after the French Gendarmerie and the Italian Unità Specializzate Multinazionali (M.S.U.) of the Carabinieri; that force will have militarised police functions and specialise in crisis management. Its status is enshrined in the Treaty of Velsen of 18 October 2007.

The EGF is based in Vicenza, in northeastern Italy, and has a core of 800-900 members ready to deploy within 30 days. This includes elements from the;

An additional 2,300 reinforcements will be available on standby. The Polish Military Gendarmerie are also a partner force, and on 10 October 2006, Poland indicated it would like to join the EGF.[1] More countries will be allowed to join in the future.

Hart broken: Dodgy right-winger David Hart dies on Twelfth Night

You know, that sometime-advisor to Thatcher, freelance strike-breaker, self-appointed guardian of the citadel, playwright, he who bankrolled failed drug dealer Paul Staines, etc, etc, etc…

Anyway, he popped his clogs yesterday. No mention from Guido yet.

Today is polling day. Whoever wins the vote, we the people will lose.

Subvertised Cameron poster, Dalston

A détourned Tory election poster in Dalston.

There are rising 50 million adults in the UK. The Prime Minister – whichever party is declared the victor – will be backed by the votes of barely one-quarter of them, if that.

No matter who gets in, there will be budget cuts, new laws, harder times.

(Pic via @Jake_Kanter)

Raytheon <3 Tim?

Raytheon

Wonder what about professional killer Tim Spicer the Raytheon bods are interested in?

O_o

Raytheon is the company whose Bristol office roof has been repeatedly occupied over the past few weeks by people protesting against its business – arms manufacture:

Raytheon are 4th largest arms company in the world with a $20 billion turnover per year. They are involved massively in the manufacture or delivery systems of WMD. They are the biggest cruise missile maker (Patriot and tomahawk). Their range of both cruise-missiles and plane-dropped bombs can be loaded with cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons killing civilians and soldiers alike. During the 2006 War on Southern Lebanon, Raytheon were supplying the Israeli military who were using the weaponry on civilian targets and deliberately sprayed millions of bomblets throughout the country. They also manufacture DU depleted-Uranium tipped Bunker Busters bombs, such as the ones that killed hundreds of civilians in the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad. DU has had devastating health effects on civilian population of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on British soldiers. Raytheon munitions were used extensively in the destruction of the city of Fallujah during the second Iraq war. Have the UK contract with MOD for UK inland security and the Olympics, plus are involved with the new military training academy being built at St Athens [sic] in South Wales. They are also researching military technology for civilian control, such as a sinister crowd-dispersal microwave beam called “The Silent Guardian” which causes intense burning effects on the recipients.

(From a report on IndyMedia, included here with all the usual implied caveats, etc.)

There’s also a Smash Raytheon blog, and Anti-METRIX, a blog about the campaign opposing the St Athan privatised military academy.

More Carbootballs

Continuing on the Carboot Circus theme, some more links:

Facebook groups:

(Members of 1235hrs 6th October 2008)

[Members as of 2215 hrs 6th October 2008]

<Members as of 1740hrs 7th October 2008>

{Members as of 1917hrs 8th October 2008}

%age = BunKRS effect in change in membership numbers from first mention on this blog to last update.

Other menshes of Carboot Circus:

Bristol blogosphere united by the meme that cannot die… All hail CARBOOT CIRCUS!

Birth of a meme..?

Picking up the meme and running with it:

Eyeing the meme covetously, but restraining themselves:

Other contenders:

  • Bread and Cabot Circus
  • Cahoot Circus
  • Carbon Circus
  • Carrot Circus
  • Circusmead
  • Cornucopia Circus
  • Jesus Building
  • New Broadmead
Edited Friday 14th November to add more links

Fighting Mann: a “mere instrument” or a total tool?

Well, the trial of Simon Mann over his involvement in the planned coup in Equatorial Guinea is off the blocks at last…

The judge opened with the reading of a police report setting out the well-rehearsed allegations: Mann had conspired with the London-based Lebanese businessman Ely Calil and the exiled politician Severo Motto to mount an armed coup with South African mercenaries that would not have ruled out killing the president. In return, Mann would have received £15m. There was a contract in evidence.

Then it was the turn of the attorney general, Jose Olo Obono, who outlined the prosecution case and read out the charges: crimes against the head of state, against the form of government and against the peace and independence of the republic.

He said Mann’s first lawyer, who was suspended from the case last week, was to be prosecuted for insulting Obiang. This was a reference to the fact that he had wanted to argue that Mann’s extradition from Zimbabwe in February this year was illegal.

Obono compared Mann with the terrorists who attacked New York, Madrid and London. They were, he said, “a threat to humanity that must be wiped out”.

The attorney general also claimed the main conspirators included Calil, Mark Thatcher, the British businessmen Greg Wales and David Tremain and Nigel Morgan, a former intelligence officer with the Irish Guards now living in South Africa. Calil had put in $2m (£1m).

Obono told the court for the first time that the Lebanese defendant, a Malabo resident called Mohammed Salam, had known about the plot but failed to tell the authorities.

The court was told the six local men were opposition members of Motto’s party who had been in touch with Motto by email. Each of the 70 mercenaries would have received £3,000. For the first two charges against Mann he asked for 14 years and eight months and two years and four months on the third.

The defence lawyers were about to present their opening speeches when the judge dropped another bombshell. He ordered a smartly dressed man who had been sitting with the diplomats to join the defendants.

He is a serving minister. Although evidence has yet to be adduced it is understood he knew of Calil’s investment in Equatorial Guinea as a precursor to the coup and failed to raise the alarm.

And so to Mann’s new lawyer, Jose Pablo Nvo, who in a short speech said his client was a “mere instrument” working for Calil and the coup could have gone ahead without him. It was, in effect, a guilty plea.

The hearing continues.

(From The Guardian)

BCC to stimulate local economy by introducing 450 workers to the employment market

A reorganisation could lead to the loss of up to 450 jobs at Bristol City Council, a spokesman has confirmed.

The authority wants to save £17m annually and has decided 35 of its 52 office buildings are to be sold off.

The council also hopes that as many as three in every 10 of its remaining 16,000 employees will work from home.

Councillor John Bees, in charge of transformation, said he believed the actual redundancy figure would be 100.

He said: “By 2012 the council will look, feel and operate very differently.

“This will be the most radical change to the way the council is organised and operates in over a decade and will make an enormous difference to the lives of everyone in our city.

“Tinkering with the organisation or doing nothing are simply not options.

“We cannot deliver the kind of services that the people of Bristol expect and operate effectively as one council without a real shake up of the way we work and I believe we are now ready to make that change.”

(BBC Bristol)

Don’t panic, though – I’m sure none of this ‘transformation’ will involve losing any of our Very Important six-figure salaried ‘strategic directors‘ who are so vital to ensuring we, the people of Bristol, receive such high quality services as in the fields of education, housing and social care.

Brown: shirty measures to safeguard liberty

Gordon Brown thinks a more authoritarian, intrusive, centralised state affords its citizens greater liberty.

Gordon Brown has defended the use of CCTV, ID cards and the DNA database – saying they protect civil liberties.

In a speech to the IPPR think tank, the prime minister said they helped ensure people’s right to live free from crime.

…In his speech Mr Brown said it was time to write a “new chapter” in Britain’s history which would both protect citizens’ security and individual liberties.

(from the BBC report on the speech)

STOP PRESS: Downing Street plans to send a research team to the moon on a factfinding mission into the possibility of securing the longterm sustainability of the British cheese industry through interstellar expansion. Now that’s thinking outside the political box, baby!

The Bristol Blogger is dead, long live the Bristol Blogger

On that note The Blogger is calling it a day for the time being. We’ve done a year solid reporting on these useless twats and that’s enough for anyone. If you haven’t realised you’re being done over yet, then you’re never going to.

We’re now off to pursue some “new projects”, although they’ll be some occasional postings on this site as we use our time to follow up some of those bigger stories we’ve missed due to the workload.

Look out for stuff on local Labour funding, SWRDA IT budgets and ISiS/Southwest One over the coming months along with the odd ramble here and there. But the day-to-day stuff, alas, is gone until we return this time next year for the local elections…


The Bristol Blogger