Let’s not Condemn Violence on “Many Sides”


By Jason Michael

After empowering the ultra-far-right Nazis in the United States, Donald Trump condemns even the violence of those resisting their rise to power. In Britain and the rest of Europe it’s the same. So it’s time to get tough.


“Violence is always wrong,” my mother used to tell me after giving me a hiding for fighting at school. The irony of a grown – formidable – woman of 5’4 thumping a wain to give him a lesson in non-violence always seemed to be lost on her in fairness. I hope she never reads this. But what I learned growing up was that, yes, sometimes violence is the right and only response to the threats and actions of others. Anyone who thinks otherwise really ought to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bełżec,‎ ‎Sobibór,‎ ‎Treblinka, or any of the other mass extermination centres operated by the Nazis in eastern Europe during the holocaust. So you might well imagine my consternation when Donald Trump condemned the violence “on many sides” after neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, resulting in the murder of one young counterdemonstrator.

Let’s be under no illusions here. There is absolutely no comparison between the violence of white supremacist, race-hating Nazis and the violence used by those who oppose them. If history has taught us anything – which I fear, having witnessed people like Trump come to power, it hasn’t – it is that no amount of violence against Nazism can be condemned. We’re not talking about common or garden varieties of racism here. No one is suggesting we should hunt down and beat up every ignorant racist. We are talking about “Roman” or “Red Hand of Ulster” saluting, “blood and soil” chanting, swastika flag waving Nazis.

…and this from the father of Godwin’s Law!

In case you have been living in a cave somewhere in the arse end of nowhere for the past few years, Nazism – real Nazism – has come back into fashion. Emboldened by the dog whistle politics and overtly racist opinions and policies of politicians like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marie le Pen, and the British Prime Minister Theresa May, white ethno-nationalism has come out from beneath the rock it has been hiding under for the past seventy years. What differentiates these people from your average knuckle-dragging racist is that they are educated, middle class, and highly politically motivated. When it comes to the subversion of democracy and seizing power rapidly we know they have form. Through people like Steve Bannon we have seen just how effectively they have mobilised racist opinion to gain access to power in the world’s mightiest super power.

At what point, do you think, will they tire of their recent achievements and form an orderly queue out of the White House, out of the halls of power in the United Kingdom, and go back to their homes? Once ideologies like this gain power, gain influence over the media and public opinion, it becomes increasingly difficult – every passing day – to remove them. Fascism is corporatism. It eats away at workers’ rights, corrodes human rights, and challenges the value society places on life – all to the benefit of big business and private industry. After gaining power, as we saw with Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet, and others, it soon gains the protection of big money. Considering the state of western democracy right now – with its complete and utter impotence in the face of rising right-wing populism – we have already crossed that line.

Do we negotiate with these thugs? How did that pan out for the socialists, communists, church leaders, and liberal politicians in Germany after 1933? Not very well! Before the roundups of Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gypsies began, these “traitors” – wasn’t that what Jo Cox’s killer was shouting as he hacked her to death? – were picked up in short order and interned in concentration camps like Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen, where they were tortured and murdered. How well do we think we will manage to reason with people who believe they are protecting the sacredness of white blood from pollution and who consider us “race-traitors?”

When these people come to power – and that hour is already upon us – people like me and you (if you happen to agree with people like me) will be put on lists. We will be the first to go. That’s how it works. Their intended crimes against racially and ethnically different minorities – and all other out-groups they happen to deem “undesirable” – can’t go ahead with us calling them out. At that point we have a choice; either shut up and join the party or continue doing what we’re doing. But by then it will already be too late. It’s the man or woman out there – however much I deplore violence – in Charlottesville clattering these brutes with a spade handle that I respect.


During the Civil War in Spain and then again on the beaches of Normandy and all across Europe members of my family were pumping these bastards with lead. Some never came home. Some came home with medals. They have all been remembered as heroes – and heroes they are. What, does fighting Nazism only get to be heroic when our government says it is? Nonsense! Fighting the evil of Nazi ideological racism – even with force – is good and necessary whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. You can quote me on that.

When Donald Trump refuses to condemn these Nazis – white supremacists, white nationalists, patriots, whatever – by name; opting rather to blast the violence on “many sides,” what he is doing is equating Nazi racism with the “extremists” who oppose them. Robert Brown – or “Big Rab” as my granny knew him – was one of those anti-Fascist extremists. He left Glasgow with James Maley in 1936 to fight the forces of Franco and Hitler. He enlisted to go and fight the Nazis again in 1939. There are very few killer extremists I have time for, but see my uncle Rab – I’m not worthy to be his nephew. What we need now, more than at any time between then and now, is guys and gals like Rab and his pals. If we fail to nip this in the bud it will be curtains.

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The Great Enabler


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Drawing a Perfect World


By Jason Michael

Of all the things that are wrong with the world, baby boxes and free sanitary provision aren’t two of them. Yet the BBC wants us to ignore the costs of Brexit and nuclear bombs and think of these as a waste of money.


Many – many – moons ago, while still a nipper back in Bellfield Primary School, my teacher Mrs Miller asked our class to draw the perfect world. What we all drew exactly I can no longer remember. It has been a while. But, having seen other teachers work this magic with other children, no doubt we drew our families holding hands on sunny days, with rainbows and unicorns and that sort of thing. Perhaps there is an unintended cruelty in this lesson for youngsters. Teachers are essentially asking their pupils to imagine a utopia which’s absence will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

As adults living in the real world – in the actualised dystopia our political leaders have made for us – we find ourselves longing for that ephemeral perfection. Sure, isn’t that exactly why we are prepared to move heaven and earth just to get a few days in the sun once in a while? With or without Theresa May and Donald Trump and their ilk wreaking havoc upon the face of the earth, life isn’t perfect. There will always be speed bumps. That’s why genuine goodness touches us.


In Scotland we are blessed to see some of that genuine goodness being done by a Scottish government eager to make a difference in a nation that has suffered long at the hands of a self-serving and negligent London government. Baby boxes and free sanitary provision for women living in poverty are two of its genuinely good initiatives. Beginning very soon, after a successful pilot project, every newborn child in Scotland will be given a rigid, safety assured box; filled with many of the essentials needed by a baby in its first few months, that doubles as a cot – giving our newest Scots the best possible start in life. Having seen more than a few babies sleeping in drawers growing up, I can’t even write about this scheme without getting emotional.

There was a time in my life, while out of work and struggling to pay a private landlord rent, when all I could afford to eat was pasta or rice and brown sauce. I was right on the edge of falling into homelessness. Had I been a woman I would have been forced to find alternatives to tampons or sanitary towels during my period, and I know a number of woman who have been in precisely this position. There is no denying that all over Scotland, where record numbers are dependent on foodbanks, that countless women and girls are faced with this indignity. Scotland’s government is the first government in the world to have taken steps to end this.

When I say that I am proud of our “SNP government” – as the BBC is wont to call it when it puts Scotland, as it always does, in a dim light – I mean it. I am dead proud of the government in Edinburgh Scotland has elected to represent it.

Had these baby boxes been sent out to the “Black Babies” – remember that colonialist-racist and patronising British aid programme? – the UK government and media would be gushing. Had some fancy London-based charity, headed up by some character of dubious character with an OBE, spearheaded free sanitary provision for women in India or Africa, we would never hear the end of it. But that these things are being done in Scotland, by the Scottish government, for the people of Scotland, the British press and the Scottish unionist commentariat are working overtime to paint these boxes as potentially life-threatening, and all of it as a frivolous waste of money.

Absolutely, when the government gives stuff out for free it costs money – it costs the taxpayer money. But since we are going to be paying tax anyway, we should perhaps take some time to look at the kinds of things the UK government wants to use our money for – compared to what the Scottish government is doing. Brexit – something Scotland resoundingly rejected – will be costing the Scottish taxpayer £5,333 a year, HS2 – the high speed rail link that won’t even come to Scotland – will take £2,201 a year from the philanthropic Scots taxpayer, refitting Westminster – the English parliament – will cost us £276 annually, and Trident – the nuclear deterrent the Scottish parliament has objected to – will lighten Scottish pockets by £269 every year. That’s a staggering £8,079 yearly cost to the Scottish taxpayer for the things we don’t want.


How much will it cost to give a baby a safe place to sleep and everything it needs for its first few months? It will all cost £4 a year from every taxpayer in Scotland. For a measly £4 a year – that’s about 1p a day – we can reduce the burden on families, lower the infant mortality rate, and do something that is actually genuinely good. Compare that to the imposition of a Brexit we didn’t want, a fast train we won’t get, and nuclear weapons dumped on the Clyde. I’m no economist, but I can’t see tampons and sanitary towels for women and girls living in Westminster imposed poverty as costing even that much.

Take me back then to the fish table in Mrs Miller’s class and let me draw that perfect world again. I have a much better idea than I probably had at the time. It would be a world of baby boxes and free tampons, safe, adequate housing, sustainable employment and a basic income for everyone. It would be far from a utopia. No doubt the BBC would still be covering up the British establishment’s child sex abuse scandals, but at least my mammy would be damn proud to stick it on the fridge.

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BBC 3: People are only “amazing” when they are doing good and not Scottish


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Standing against the Tide


By Jason Michael

Charlottesville isn’t just about Trump’s America. This is only the latest warning of the fire that is burning right across the world. We are kidding ourselves on if we think this is all just going to blow over. This is getting worse.


Fire has always been humanity’s most useful tool, but – as an analogy of the frightening developments we are witnessing around us – there reaches a point when lighting fires when the flames get out of control. Our world is on fire. We are caught in the midst of a conflagration that is threatening to consume us all. Watching events unfold in Charlottesville, where thousands of white supremacists marched on the town in a Nuremburg rally-style torchlight procession and where at least one counter-protestor has now been killed, we are forced to realise that a line has been crossed; that the world has taken a turn for the worse.

It is not the case that this verrechtsing (or right turn) is limited to Trump’s America. This rise in right-wing populism is a global phenomenon. The racism we are seeing emboldened by the current US administration is also being emboldened across Europe and Russia, and – terrifyingly – these groups are more connected to one another, thanks to the internet, than ever before. In Scotland the coded and overt Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia at the core of hard unionism is echoing and is being echoed by Tommy Robinson and neo-Nazi organisations like Britain First and the English Defence League. We’re looking at a disease that has spread far and penetrated deep into our society.


In the month following the Brexit vote reports of hate crimes across England and Wales doubled, while incidents of Islamophobic abuse and violence – specifically targeting Muslims – increased by a terrifying 326 per cent in the year prior to the vote. Politically very little is being done to tackle this trend because populist leaders in the west are relying on support from the right to stay in power. In some cases, as is the case with Donald Trump in the States and Theresa May in the UK, leaders are actively inciting the far-right and turning a blind eye to the consequences. It is little wonder then that these rightists are feeling emboldened and becoming more audacious and violent.

Having pondered this intensification of right-wing sentiment over the past half-decade or so I have reached a conclusion that is not in the least optimistic. The forces that right-populist political leaders have harnessed and piggybacked have – like the fire – gotten ahead of them. What they thought they could control has become their master, driving them ever further to the right in the pursuit of power. We are now in the midst of an uncontrollable inferno, one that is going to get a damn sight worse before it will either blow itself out or be defeated.

If you are thinking what I am describing here is apocalyptic, you’re right. This is apocalyptic. Not in the modern sense of an end of the world, but in the proper sense; an unveiling – a cataclysm between the ages, a laying bare and an unleashing of the aggressions that the dying age has stored up in sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Yes, I fear we are about to reap the whirlwind.

It is all too easy to think that we are safe in Scotland. Racially motivated hate crime in Scotland has been falling steadily over the past ten years, and this is praiseworthy. But this is a bubble. It is an anomaly created for the most part by the growth of a socially inclusive independence movement which sets itself against the ideological trends of the Westminster government and the populist political positioning of Scottish unionism and its English cognate British nationalism. We hope that the Scottish exception lasts and that the cause for independence is ultimately successful in extricating Scotland from the mounting toxicity of the United Kingdom, but its failure will burst this bubble. The death of the independence movement will unfetter all the rage and bile that is simmering beneath the surface of right-wing Scottish unionism.


With or without Scotland, this cataclysm is coming. Every time I say this, however, someone will tell me that war is over in Europe. Apparently we are too modern, too sophisticated, too bloody technologically advanced and scientific to go to war with one another (but we’ve never had a problem going to war with non-Europeans). Bullshit! The holocaust wasn’t shocking. Mass murder and genocide are par for the course in human history. What was shocking was that Germany did it. Germany was the apex of philosophical, scientific, cultural, and technological enlightenment. No way could Germany perpetrate such a crime – but it did.

On the eve of every major war or social-civilisational collapse there are those who say it can never happen. These things never happen… until they do.

Of course I hope I am wrong. I pray to God I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. All the signs are there. Police participating in the violence against refugees in Hungary, the government sending vans around London telling foreigners to “go home,” the President of the world’s leading super-power calling Mexicans rapists and signing orders banning Muslims from entering the country. There were plenty of people in Berlin and Paris convinced it would all blow over when Hitler started expelling Jews and other “undesirables” from the Reich. Many in Rwanda thought it only a phase when the government began describing Tutsis as “cockroaches” – now a familiar slur against Muslims in England.

This isn’t going to get better. What, do you think that when it gets too much for you to take you can just tweet POTUS and ask him nicely to cool it down? It’s already upon us people, the axe is already at the root, and it is high time that we decided what side we are on.

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White House defends Trump’s response to Charlottesville unrest


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‘…Or So She Thinks:’ The Exoneration of Michelle Thomson


By Jason Michael

An innocent woman – an SNP MP – is falsely implicated in an alleged crime by the British state broadcaster. Once all of this had unravelled and its falsehoods run their course the BBC did not even have the good grace to apologise.


“The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field.” This eerie little line from the Genesis creation myth has percolated in my memory ever since it was first drummed into me as a youngster at Sunday school. Yes, I was one of those kids. It appears in the biblical text, in literature, and in art as a vignette describing how humanity – “in the days of man’s innocency” – was beguiled by the devil. In his craftiness and subtlety the serpent tells no lies. He, who later tradition would call “the father of lies,” has no need of naked mendacities – for he knows how willing people are to be manipulated. Watching the BBC often reminds me of this story.

On Tuesday we watched as Jackie Bird and Nick Eardley discussed how the criminal case invented by the BBC and the British media into former SNP MP Michelle Thomson had been dropped. The Crown Office had found there to be “no credible or reliable evidence against her.” Why would there be? Michelle did nothing wrong. As a property developer she availed of the services of a solicitor. Unbeknownst to Thomson this solicitor, Christopher Hales, would subsequently be investigated by the police in matters pertaining to alleged mortgage fraud. Michelle Thomson had no more to do with this man’s alleged actions than I had to do with my neighbour’s decision to pinch the road cones from the bottom of the street.


At no point was any of this anything to do with Ms Thomson. She was only ever the man’s client. Yet it is evident there has been a conspiracy within and throughout the British media establishment to use her association with someone who may have committed a crime to discredit her. Sadly, in its earliest phases at least, this conspiracy worked. It succeeded in casting such a shadow of guilt over her that she was pressured into leaving the SNP. While she continued until the general election as an independent member of parliament, the slur ultimately cost her the opportunity to run again and the seat she held was lost altogether. All the while she was perfectly innocent.

This is what Jackie and Nick should have spelt out to a Scottish viewing public which deserves the truth. They did not. Knowing the truth as well as anyone else, they continued their deception, insinuating her actual guilt and implying a miscarriage of justice in the bogus decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to pursue the case. It had never considered it. There was never even a whiff of a case against her.

At this point we arrive at what I thought the most interesting – perhaps the most devious – point in the bulletin, where Eardley says: “Michelle Thomson thinks she’s been completely exonerated.” Indeed, the serpent is more cunning than any beast. The devil is, as always, in the detail. Michelle Thomson has been exonerated… or so she thinks.” In this one word exists all the cunning and wickedness of the BBC beast. It calls out to the audience the broadcaster’s presumption of guilt, and with a conspiratorial wink utters the unspoken promise that they will get her yet. At the same time it works to persuade the listener that Thomson is aware of her crimes and that by thinking she has gotten away with them she is deceiving herself. They will get her yet.

He never lied. The report itself didn’t lie. But they did. The script they were reading – and this was scripted – is indicative of the game the BBC and the whole British media apparatus have been playing with Scotland. It is nothing new of course. When the jury at the inquest into the deaths of Diana Spencer and Dodi al-Fayed found them to be “unlawful killings;” caused by heretofore missing vehicles, the media shouted “paparazzi!” Clever manipulation is what the BBC does. It controls the narrative. It hides the truth. It leads millions of people – without necessarily lying – to believe things that amount to lies. Britain’s media machine has mastered the art of leading its viewers to the point where they lie to themselves.


None of this stops with Michelle Thomson or indeed with Diana and Dodi. This subtle and crafty – often almost undiscernible – state media confidence trick has been going on for years. More recently here in Scotland, as we push ever closer towards another independence referendum, its application has been intensified. No democracy can function without accurate, reliable information and news, and we are not being given this. What we are being given is at best a sedative. At worst a poison. What the BBC is doing in Scotland is criminal. It is a crime against the body politic of our country and a crime against the profession that we are a nation in a union of equal members.

It is our responsibility as people who love Scotland and want what is best for our country – no matter what that is – to resist this toxic and insidious interference in our national consciousness by what is and has always been essentially a foreign and hostile force. We must make concrete steps to defend ourselves from Britain’s distortive and manipulative media. This we can do by tuning out, by forgetting to pay the licence fee that fuels this monster, by informing ourselves and others by seeking out quality alternatives, and – most ambitiously – by putting some serious work into the creation of an authentic media of our own. Every other nation, many of them far smaller than Scotland, manages this. Why can’t we?

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Dear Reader: From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for reading the Random Public Journal. It is a privilege to write it and to know that so many read what I have to say. Your comments have always been so encouraging, and I appreciate that support. I have a wee ask. Don’t worry, it’s not money. This is my hobby/addiction. What I am asking is that if you have enjoyed this, if you have gotten something from it, or if you think what I have written is important then would you please consider sharing it on social media? I write about what I think is important and by sharing it you can help this blog reach more people. Every share is greatly appreciated. Jason Michael


Jackie Bird and Nick Eardley working some BBC magic on Michelle Thomson


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Yes, They Are Killing Us


By Jason Michael

Why is it that when we describe what we are doing in the independence movement as a “conflict” there is a general panic in some quarters? Just what is it that people think we are doing here, and how does Britain see it all?


Young Ross Greer, that ragamuffin who thinks I’m a latter day Michael Collins with a keyboard, has taken issue with the suggestion that we are in a conflict with Britain. His understanding of conflict would appear to be limited to Dan Dare and Biggles; although even those might be before his time. Responding to the assertion made by the Butterfly Rebellion that we are “engaged in a real conflict with Britain,” he insisted – by way of excusing his anti-Irish racist remarks – that “we are definitely not in a conflict with the British state where it’s willing to kill some of us.”

Where does one begin with this level of ignorance? Okay, I’m not going to be too tough on wee Ross. I have a sneaking admiration for anyone who would compare me to an Irish national hero dazzling enough to be played by Liam Neeson on the big screen. “Riddled? Riddled? What are you going round riddling people for?” Whatever he needs, this young whippersnapper needs a short history lesson. As he was so keen to start his attack on me with Ireland, let’s start there. This British state of his that isn’t willing to kill us – its citizens – on 30 January 1972 shot and killed fourteen innocent civil rights protesters on the streets of Derry. On 6 April 1985 the 61 year old Scottish independence campaigner and anti-nuclear activist Willie McRae, after being surveilled by Special Branch and MI5, was shot in the head. He died the next day.


There are so many people in the independence movement who, in their innocence and naïveté, truly believe we are not in a conflict with the British state – a conflict in which Britain would be willing to kill. Youngsters the likes of Greer, born in 1994, will no doubt think of Bloody Sunday and the McRae assassination as events from the olden days, when the television was black and white. Guys like Greer, with their visions of independence and as means to a utopian end, look at the London government and see little more than a benign auld uncle who’s dithering is getting in the way of “progress.” People who approach Britain the way these lambs do are living with their heads up their backsides.

Britain is the dying embers of what was an imperial-colonialist murder machine that put both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union in the shade when it came to its sheer barbarism and its perpetration of genocide. In Greer’s own lifetime the British government lied to the public in order to follow the United States into the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan – conflicts in which over one million civilians have been killed – and now stands implicated in the murder of the weapons expert, Dr David Kelly, who blew the whistle on the state’s lies.

All of this might seem a bit abstract and far away to Ross Greer and the others just like him in the independence movement, so let’s bring this a little closer to home. In the early hours of this morning, at four twenty-six according to my phone log, I had to make a call to a young woman who was feeling suicidal. Very shortly she has to undergo a Personal Independence Payment – or PIP – assessment at the hands of the DWP. With a chronic illness she cannot work, she has no savings, no family nearby, barely meets her rent, and is so petrified of this trial by pencil-pusher that she believes she is on the verge of taking her own life.

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Britain has a welfare cuts system designed to kill people.

When we add up the numbers of all those who have taken their lives as a result of the strain imposed upon them by this system and all those who have otherwise died due to the stress it causes, can we ask how many people in Scotland the British state has killed as a result of this deliberate and calculated, callous “welfare” régime? It’s darkly humorous to point out that Greer, after watching the Ken Loach film I Daniel Blake knows all about it. We know this because he tweeted: “May be [sic] a movie but it’s the reality I see every day when constituents ask for support. #WeAreAllDanielBlake” Just who does Greer imagine is behind this violence; a violence described by Loach as “imposed with conscious cruelty?” This is a system engineered to kill people.

I am questioning if Greer is, as he claims, Daniel Blake at all. He doesn’t give the impression that he has joined the dots between the conscious cruelty of the British state and the groundswell in support for independence in Scotland over the past ten years. It is clear for anyone to see that London is using austerity and now the chaos of a Brexit that will compound the suffering of tens of thousands across Scotland as a weapon to bring Scotland to heel. Such economic warfare was used against us in the past, and, yes, it is killing people.

As I see it, there is a confusion here when we use the word “conflict” – exactly the right term to describe what is happening. There are those – both unionists and utopian independentistas – who are trying to narrowly define “conflict” so as to portray people like me, who use it – in the Marxist sense, as idiotic keyboard Michael Collins’ or William Wallace’s; imagining ourselves at fictive barricades fending off the Black and Tans or the English. But no, “the history of all hitherto existing society,” wrote Karl Marx, “is the history of class conflicts.”

It is true; we are not a class in the socio-economic sense intended by the Manifesto. Yet we are a class in the sense implied by the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. We have come together as a political and politicised class – the independence movement – in order to challenge the hegemony of the British state and the British establishment, which is – in every sense – a class unto itself. Everything we are doing as a movement is done in the context of this conflict, and whether or not we are comfortable with the language of conflict – class or otherwise – we can be absolutely certain that Britain sees this as nothing other than an existential conflict.

So to address Ross Greer’s quibbles about us being in a “deadly conflict” with the British state, we can say quite uncategorically that he could not be more wrong. It was British violence towards Scotland over three centuries, and the lives that it has cost, that gave rise to this movement he now pretends to lead, and now that we have started Britain will kill more in its efforts to stop us. Ross, after dropping out of university, wants to school me on what is and is not conflict. After having completed an MPhil in Conflict Studies and awarded a fellowship at the In Flanders Fields museum in Flanders, Belgium, I am fairly sure I know what I am talking about. We’re in a deadly conflict.

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Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’


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