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This Winter, Collapse Is Coming to Britain

Britain Is Standing at the Edge of Social Collapse’s Abyss — And It’s About to Jump

Image via Mark Thompson on Twitter

These days, my British friends ask me the same question, with the same faint tinge of terror in their voices. “So. How bad is it going to be?” What they mean is…well, let me try to explain why they’re asking.

Right about now, Britain’s setting records. Not good ones. It’s the rich world’s worst performing country in a stunning multitude of regards — falling incomes, crashing economy, skyrocketing inflation, dwindling confidence and optimism. Twice as many people died in Britain this summer of Covid than they did last summer. They were mostly elderly people, and that’s a parable for what modern Britain’s become: a stunningly cruel, indifferent, embittered society, inured to the grim reality of its own collapse.

Britain is the world’s preeminent bellwether of social collapse at this point in history. No nation in the rich world — and barely any in the poor one, really — come close. The rest of the world is dusting itself off after a rough few years, and restarting the engines of progress. But in Britain? Well, the engines of regress are pumping. Literally — sewage into the rivers. What kind of country wants to cover itself in its own — never mind.

For some reason that the world can’t quite fathom, Britain has decided to turn itself a kind of Neo Victorian dystopia, by way of American style ultra libertarianism. Think about how baffling and strange this really is for a moment. The nation that was renowned for its NHS and BBC, which invented the idea of the public park and the modern public library and museum. Now? It’s the kind of place with would make Dickens entire cast of villains, from Uriah Heep to Fagin, cackle in morbid glee.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Revolution Has Begun”: 75,000 Brits To Stop Paying Power Bills Amid Inflation Storm

“Revolution Has Begun”: 75,000 Brits To Stop Paying Power Bills Amid Inflation Storm

The resistance is growing as more than 75,000 irritated people in the UK have pledged not to pay their electricity bill this fall when prices jump again.

“75,000 people have pledged to strike on October 1st! If the government & energy companies refuse to act then ordinary people will! Together we can enforce a fair price and affordable energy for all,” tweeted “Don’t Pay UK,” an anonymous group spearheading the effort to have more than one million Brits boycott paying their power bill by Oct. 1.

The strike comes as an inflation storm of high energy prices has obliterated household incomes. Brits are the most miserable in three decades as inflation is expected to hit 13%. And while Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey hiked interest rates the most in 27 years to tame inflation, risks are mounting of a recession.

On Oct. 1, the average household will pay almost £300 a month for power, the BoE warned. Couple surging power costs with negative real wage growth, and it becomes apparent households are being squeezed. This excludes soaring prices for shelter, food, and petrol at the pump — this trend is unsustainable and could result in social instabilities.

British news outlet Glasgow Live said the strike is similar to the “action in the late 1980s and ’90s to fight against the poll tax brought in by PM Margaret Thatcher. In protest, 17 million people refused to pay.”

UK financial journalist and broadcaster Martin Lewis said this about the strike:

“I think I can categorise it more accurately now, the big movement that I am seeing is an increase of growth in people calling for a non-payment of energy bills, mass non-payment. Effectively a consumer strike on energy bills and getting rid of the legitimacy of paying that.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

#234. Britain on the brink

#234. Britain on the brink


Whether the country’s leaders know it or not, the United Kingdom is now at serious risk of economic collapse.

We must hope that this doesn’t happen. If it does, it will take the form of a sharp fall in the value of Sterling which, in these circumstances, is the indicator to watch.

A currency crash would cause sharp increases, not just in the prices of essential imports such as energy and food, but also in the cost of servicing debt. In defence of its currency, Britain could be forced into rate rises which would bring down its dangerously over-inflated property market.

This risk itself isn’t new. Rather, it results from a long period of folly, and can’t be blamed entirely on the current administration, inept though the Johnson government undoubtedly is. What we’re witnessing now seems to be a government on the edge of panic. The official opposition doesn’t offer a workable alternative programme, and mightn’t be electable if it did.

We need to be clear that the root cause of Britain’s problems is long-term adherence to an increasingly extreme ideology sometimes labelled ‘liberal’.

It’s one thing to recognize the merits of the market economy, but quite another to turn this into a fanaticism which judges everything on its capability of generating short-term private profit.

Extremism is divisive, and creates winners and losers to an extent that moderation does not. If solutions still exist for Britain’s worsening problems – and that’s a very big “if” – there are two reasons why such solutions mightn’t be adopted.

The first is that these solutions would anger a very vocal group of winners under the existing system.

The second is that those in charge would have to make a public admission of the failures of extremism.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK shatters record for its hottest day ever; London fire service declares ‘major incident’

  • Britain recorded its hottest-ever day Tuesday, with temperatures hitting a high of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the east of England, according to provisional data from the Met Office.
  • London’s fire brigade declared a major incident after a “huge surge” in fires across the capital Tuesday.
  • Millions of Brits endured the country’s hottest-ever night Monday, with temperatures remaining above 25C in places.
People turn out to watch the sunrise at Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside. Britons are set to melt on the hottest UK day on record as temperatures are predicted to hit 40C. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2022.
People turn out to watch the sunrise at Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside. Britons are set to melt on the hottest UK day on record as temperatures are predicted to hit 40C. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2022.
Owen Humphreys | Pa Images | Getty Images

LONDON — Britain recorded its hottest-ever day Tuesday, with temperatures hitting a high of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the east of England, as London’s fire service tackled several blazes across the capital.

The provisional figures from the U.K.’s weather service showed Coningsby, Lincolnshire, hit the new high Tuesday afternoon, surpassing two new records set earlier in the day.

The country’s previous hottest temperature was 38.7C, recorded in Cambridge in 2019.

It comes as Brits face the second day of an extreme heatwave, which is causing widespread disruption and raising the risk of wildfires.

“If confirmed this will be the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK. Temperatures are likely to rise further through today,” the Met Office said on Twitter.

Temperatures were forecast to hit as high as 42C in parts of England by Tuesday afternoon, according to the Met Office, which issued a red extreme heat warning. Health authorities urged people to take precautions, including staying indoors and drinking plenty of water.

The country is also on high alert for wildfires, with the southeast of England at “very extreme danger,” according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Six Million Britons Could Face Power Rationing If Russia Cuts Supplies 

Six Million Britons Could Face Power Rationing If Russia Cuts Supplies 

Millions of UK households could face a treacherous winter riddled with power blackouts if Russian natural gas supplies to Europe stop, according to The Times, citing a government report.

Officials from Whitehall have drawn up a “reasonable” worst-case scenario, outlining widespread natgas shortages are possible if Russia continues to tighten the supplies to Europe.

A Whitehall source said:

 “As a responsible government, it is right that we plan for every single extreme scenario, however unlikely.

“Britain is well prepared for any supply disruptions. Unlike EU countries, our North Sea gas reserves are being pumped out at full pelt, Norwegian rigs are directly connected into the UK, and we have the second-largest LNG import infrastructure in Europe – whereas Germany has none.”

The model assumes UK natgas imports from Norway could be slashed by half. Then it assumes no imports of natgas from interconnectors in the Netherlands and Belgium, due to protectionist measures. This would cause authorities to shutter UK natgas power plants and energy-intensive industrial facilities to keep natgas flowing to households.

Reducing natgas power generating capacity on the grid would trigger rolling blackouts for six million homes. Rationing of power would be during peak weekdays between 0700-1000 to 1600-2100.

The UK has vowed to phase out Russian fossil fuels and simultaneously extend the lifespan of Somerset nuclear power plant Hinkley Point B for 18 months despite decommissioning plans at the aging facility and extending the life at coal-fired power plants despite the greenifying of the economy (this will outrage climate alarmist Greta Thunberg).

The Whitehall source added: “Given the EU’s historical dependence on Putin’s gas, the winter could be very hard for countries on the continent.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

Julian Assange’s High Court judges offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality, writes John Pilger.

Let us look at ourselves, if we have the courage, to see what is happening to us” –-  Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre’s words should echo in all our minds following the grotesque decision of Britain’s High Court to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he faces “a living death”. This is his punishment for the crime of authentic, accurate, courageous, vital journalism.

Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial F.B.I. informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a C.I.A. front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) – that, too, was ignored.

Collage of UC Global surveillance photos made for C.I.A. inside Ecuador embassy.  (Cathy Vogan)

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the C.I.A. had planned to murder Julian in London – even that was ignored.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

British Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To US

British Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To US

More than 2.5 years have passed since Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after 7 years in hiding from British authorities, during which time Assange has struggled through a lengthy court battle, all while remaining imprisoned. And yet it seems Assange’s real nightmare is only just beginning as Britain’s high court ruled Friday that he could be extradited to the US to face charges that could see him imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Judges at the Royal Courts of Justice in London overruled a lower court judge who had decided nearly a year ago that Assange shouldn’t be extradited to the US due to the threat of him facing unjust physical harm (not to mention the very real possibility that Assange might kill himself, as the judge acknowledged). They ruled that Assange can face extradition to the US, practically guaranteeing that he will stand trial in an American courtroom.

Assange can appeal the ruling, but it’s clear at this point that the chips are stacked against him. The US government has been quietly pursuing charges against the Wikileaks founder under the Espionage Act for years. According to what’s been publicly revealed, Assange is facing an 18 count indictment in the US with most of the charges focused on violating the Espionage Act. Should he be found guilty, Assange could be imprisoned for up to 175 years.

In response to the ruling, Wikileaks slammed the US for trying to avoid accountability by covering up the “collateral murder” incident where two Reuters journalists were killed in Iraq, along with innocent civilians, by the US military. The infamous footage from that incident, which was first published by Assange after being leaked by Chelsea Manning (back when she was an army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Brits Google ‘Energy Bill Help’ As Energy Suppliers Go Bankrupt

Brits Google ‘Energy Bill Help’ As Energy Suppliers Go Bankrupt

  • Extreme gas price volatility has led to a string of bankruptcies among British energy suppliers
  • UK Household gas bills have risen by 28.1 percent and electricity bills 18.8 percent in the year to October
  • Germany’s recent decision to halt approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has added to UK energy woes

Google searches for ‘energy bill help’ exploded over three thousand percent in the UK on November 17, the same day two more energy suppliers collapsed.

Neon Energy and Social Energy Supply both ceased trading earlier this week, leaving 35,000 more customers in need of rescue from market regulator Ofgem.

Recent analysis of Google data from energy experts Boiler Central showed a massive spike in people looking for help with their energy bills.

This included a whopping 212 percent increase in searches for cheaper heating alternatives including ‘portable heater’ on November 17 as well.

Since the start of September, 21 energy companies have ceased trading due to soaring wholesale costs, while half of the country’s dual-suppliers have crashed out of the market in the past 12 months.

Household gas bills have risen by 28.1 percent and electricity bills 18.8 percent in the year to October, according to the ONS.

Related: Could An Energy Crunch Lead To A Worldwide Financial Crisis?

Germany’s recent decision to halt approval of a gas pipeline from Russia has also caused wholesale gas prices to jump 17 percent in the UK and EU.

Meanwhile, Ofgem is set to examine and potentially increase the energy price cap from its current £1,277 average use limit next year.

A spokesperson for Boiler Central said: “The rise in searches for help with energy bills in the UK, as well as an increase in searches for portable heaters, exposes how much recent soaring energy bills are affecting people.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Stealing a Nation: Secret SAS Mission to Capture Mideast Oil Artery

Stealing a Nation: Secret SAS Mission to Capture Mideast Oil Artery

British files seen by Declassified-UK reveal details of torture from 1970, when special forces invaded and annexed the Persian Gulf’s most important oil route, Phil Miller reports.

A dhow in the waters off Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, 2007. (hoteldephil, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Fifty years ago, U.S. troops began building a military base on the Chagos Islands, a British territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Its inhabitants, who numbered several thousand, were forcibly removed to make way for a naval station.

They received almost nothing in compensation for the loss of their homeland, but Britain did well out of the deal. The Pentagon gave the Royal Navy a discount on its first nuclear-armed submarine fleet.

This bargain helped Whitehall keep up the pretense of being a great power, bolstering the U.K.’s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council even as the British empire crumbled.

But nuclear weapons would not be enough to stay ahead in this new world order. While evicting the Chagossians, U.K. officials busily conducted another colonial carve-up — this time to ensure continued control of global oil supply routes.

Known as Operation Intradon, it saw a proudly autonomous Arab tribe have their land handed over to a pro-Western dictator, detainees tortured by British troops and a U.K. special forces soldier dying in a night-time parachute jump.

Yet the episode has been largely forgotten outside of Musandam — a mountainous peninsula overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow sea lane between Iran and Arabia through which a third of the world’s oil supplies are shipped each day.

Despite living at a crossroads of the global economy as important as the Suez or Panama canals, Musandam’s main tribe, the Shihuh, long resented outside interference and effectively regarded themselves as independent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Dying: Ireland as a Distant Mirror

The Great Dying: Ireland as a Distant Mirror


After a series of six posts on the “age of exterminations” (one,  two,  threefourfive, and six) I wrote that I was moving to different subjects. But then I stumbled into this video on the Irish famine of mid 19th century. It is so fascinating (in a certain sense) that I can’t avoid sharing it with you.

You may know something about the great Irish famine that began in 1845. History tells us of millions of deaths, but the whole thing for us remains remote. We don’t really realize who the victims were, how, why, what exactly happened. But I strongly suggest you set aside 50 minutes and watch this movie. “Hunger” from 2020.

It is a hit direct to the stomach. After having seen this movie, I don’t know how to describe what happened in Ireland from about 1845 to 1850. A nightmare? A horror movie? A Flemish painting of the triumph of death? Munch’s Scream multiplied by one million? Just imagine for a moment what it might have been like to live in those years for the Irish. No food, no money, no possessions, no power, no friends, and no hope. Even burying the dead became impossible: you can still see in Ireland the mass graves of the time where the bodies were thrown in thousands. The film doesn’t mention cannibalism, but there are reports that it happened at least in two cases. Surely there were many more.

What’s really horrifying is how the British government treated the Irish. Think about it for a moment: the Irish were citizens of the United Kingdom, at least theoretically. You could define them as “second-class” citizens. But they were not treated as such. Not even as non-citizens, they were treated as not belonging to the human race…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Britain faces ‘massacre’ of 20 more bust energy suppliers, Scottish Power says

The sun rises behind electricity pylons near Chester, northern England October 24, 2011.  REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

The sun rises behind electricity pylons near Chester, northern England October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Britain’s energy market faces an absolute massacre that could force at least 20 suppliers into bankruptcy in the next month alone unless the government reviews the energy price cap, Scottish Power Chief Executive Keith Anderson said on Thursday.

Natural gas prices have spiked this year as economies reopened from COVID-19 lockdowns and high demand for liquefied natural gas in Asia pushed down supplies to Europe, sending shockwaves through industries reliant on power.

Around 13 British suppliers have collapsed in recent months, forcing more than 2 million customers so far to switch providers. Before the crisis, there were more than 50 small- and mid-sized independent energy suppliers in Britain with around a 30% share of the market.

“There is a significant risk you could see the market shrink all the way back to five to six companies,” Anderson told the Financial Times.

Scottish Power, owned by Iberdrola (IBE.MC), is Britain’s fifth largest energy supplier with around 8% of the domestic gas supply market, according to data from regulator Ofgem.

“We expect, probably in the next month, at least another 20 suppliers will end up going bankrupt,” Anderson told Sky. “We are now going to start seeing some relatively well-run, good, commercially sound businesses going bankrupt because they just can’t pass the cost of the product through to customers.”

The soaring natural gas prices have strained Britain’s retail energy markets to breaking point, putting into question 30 years of energy deregulation which began in 1989 under then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Anderson cast Britain’s energy market as facing months of tumult that could shrink the market all the way back to just five or six companies unless the price cap, set by Ofgem, was reviewed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is this peak gas?

Is this peak gas?

The recent, spectacular increase in the price of gas has created a sense of crisis not seen outside the financial sector since the early 1980s.  In Europe in general and the UK in particular, it has begun to expose the folly of having an economy entirely dependent upon imports; including imports of the energy that powers everything we do.  The conceit, of course, was that because we have gone much further than anyone else in deploying non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) we were somehow less dependent on fossil fuels when events this week show that we are, in fact, more dependent than ever.

The deeper crisis though, is economic because without growing energy we cannot have a growing economy.  This is obscured to some extent by GDP figures which count the movement of bits in bank computers as real economic growth when in reality, they merely add a new mountain of unrepayable debt to an already massive mountain of unrepayable debt.  In the real world where the rest of us live, nothing gets done unless there is sufficient surplus energy to power it.

Setting aside for a moment the environmental imperative to cease polluting the planet, if it were possible to stabilise our fossil fuel consumption at 2019 levels, then we have some 50 years’ worth of accessible (proven reserves) of oil; 53 years of gas; and 115 years of coal.  But flatlining is something that only happens in recessions.  In the economy that we have come to take for granted, year-on-year growth in energy consumption is the precondition for improvements in prosperity:

This suggests that we have far less than 50 years before we run out of oil and gas if we insist on continuing to grow the rate at which we consume it…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

British industry warns of factory closures without help on fuel costs

Stainless steel tubes are stored ready to be made into exhausts at the Eminox factory, during a post-Budget visit by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, in Gainsborough, Britain October 30, 2018.  Christopher Furlong/Pool via REUTERS

Stainless steel tubes are stored ready to be made into exhausts at the Eminox factory, during a post-Budget visit by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, in Gainsborough, Britain October 30, 2018. Christopher Furlong/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s most energy intensive manufacturers, including producers of steel, glass, ceramics and paper, have warned the government that unless something is done about soaring wholesale gas prices they could be forced to shut down production.

Wholesale gas prices have increased 400% this year in Europe, partly due to low stocks and strong demand from Asia, putting particular pressure on energy intensive industries. read more

Industry bosses held talks on Friday with business minister Kwasi Kwarteng but said these ended with no immediate solutions.

“If the government doesn’t take any action then basically what we’ll see for the steel sector is more and more pauses of production in certain times of the day and those pauses will become longer,” Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel told ITV News.

Similarly, Andrew Large, director general of the Confederation of Paper Industries, told the same broadcaster that he could not rule out factories having to suspend production due to increased energy costs.

David Dalton of the British Glass Manufacturers Association said some companies were days away from halting production.

After meeting the industry leaders on Friday, Kwarteng’s department said he was determined to secure a competitive future for Britain’s energy intensive industries.

It said he “promised to continue to work closely with companies over the coming days to further understand and help mitigate the impacts of any cost increases faced by businesses.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What then are we to become?

What then are we to become?

According to Boris Johnson, the economic dislocation which appears to be gathering pace across the UK is merely “a period of adjustment after Brexit.” In Johnson’s formulation, those who would turn the clock back are tacitly in favour of the low-pay and poor working conditions which were encouraged when the UK was a member of the European Union.  There is, for example, no shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.  More than 230,000 of us hold valid Heavy Goods vehicle licences.  Unfortunately for those who like turkey for Christmas dinner and petrol at any time, the pay and conditions in the haulage industry are so poor that most prefer to work elsewhere.  Cheap Eastern European drivers living out of their cabs and engaging in cabotage helped to paper over the cracks until the lockdowns began and some 20,000 of them opted to be quarantined at home rather than stay in the UK.

In the anti-Brexit narrative, the shortage of drivers, agricultural workers, natural gas, garden furniture and anything else which turns out to be in short supply, is the unintended consequence of an ill-conceived withdrawal from the EU.  But in Johnson’s formulation, the dislocation is no more than the intended first phase of a transition from the low-paid and low-skilled economy of the past to a new, high-paid and hi-tech “global Britain.”  It is not – his supporters claim – the government’s fault that these shortages are materialising now.  It is the fault of employers who – despite having had five years to prepare for Brexit – have failed to train enough workers and offer them decent enough pay and conditions to retain them in their respective industries…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pandora Papers Show True Face of Global Britain

Pandora Papers Show True Face of Global Britain

Through its network of tax havens, the U.K. is the fulcrum of a system that benefits the rich and powerful writes Adam Ramsay. 

Cherie and Tony and Blair in 2003. The former U.K. prime minister and his wife are among those mentioned in the Pandora Papers. (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Perhaps more than anything else, the Pandora Papers — the tranche of documents published Sunday night, which reveal the secret wealth of the world’s rich and powerful — tell a story about Britain.

There’s the role, for instance, played by the British Virgin Islands, an overseas territory of the U.K. that functions as a tax haven. Czechia’s multimillionaire prime minister used the territory to hide his ownership of a chateau in France. Others, including the family of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vladimir Putin’s PR man, have made similar use of the islands to conceal wealth — while Tony and Cherie Blair reportedly saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London property from a company registered in the British Virgin Islands in 2017.

Then there’s London itself. The leaked documents show how the King of Jordan squirrelled personal cash away in the capital’s property market, as did key allies of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s president.

More details will emerge in the coming days. But one thing is already clear. This isn’t a story about countries on the periphery of the world economy. It is a story about how the British state drives a global system in which the richest extract wealth from the rest.

British Through & Through

Cayman Islands government administration building. (Kmanian345, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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