More Russian deceit as victory is claimed in self-rule referendum … none of which is true.

A polling booth in Donetsk region

A polling booth in Donetsk region


It is difficult to write a headline for an article that has so many falsehoods that are peddled as truth. It might be best to explain all of that as I write about this extraordinary bending of anything resembling normality. Thus I will break the matter down into three separate areas.

The referendum

The fact that the pro-Russian rebels held a ‘referendum’ in the first place is fatally flawed as they were arguing in March – along with ex-president Viktor Yanukovych – that the Ukrainian presidential election could not be held in a free and fair manner in such turmoil. Despite that it seems that the pro-Russian elements in eastern Ukraine feel that it is perfectly ‘free and fair’ to hold a state-splitting referendum whilst the region is ruled by gun-toting rebels.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, urged the rebels not to hold the referendum. According to The Guardian newspaper, Russia‘s president, Vladimir Putin, said the referendum being staged by pro-Russia separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine on Sunday should be postponed. As usual though, his words did not match his deeds as a polling station was set up near the Kievsky railway station, in Moscow, where trains and buses leave for Ukraine. According to Reuters, “several thousand Ukrainians voted on Sunday at a makeshift Moscow polling station, joining a self-rule referendum by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who want the region to break away from Kiev“. How is it possible for the Russians to claim that they believe the referendum should be delayed whilst allowing polling facilities to be set up in Moscow?

The FT reported that the Ukrainian government called on its people to ignore the “illegal referendum”.




This plebiscite is intended to determine whether those participating feel that ‘The Republic of Donetsk’  – including Lugansk – should become a state independent of Kyev. This is another false premise as the first thing the rebels would do is to hold a second-round ballot to determine the wish of the people in the newly created republic to join Russia. So the matter is not about self-rule at all, but is being used as a tactic to deflect claims that Russia is annexing the territory. In the knowledge of the polling facility for the referendum in Moscow, it is quite clear what Putin’s position is regarding Donetsk seceding from Ukraine with the intention of joining Russia.


Masked democrats of Donetsk

Masked democrats of Donetsk

Pro-Russian ‘victory’ in the referendum

The fact that the poll was illegal – held in a state of armed conflict, with the rebels themselves arranging the plebiscite without any international observers, with death threats locally reported for those who stood in the way of the poll – it is difficult to see how the rebels can claim any victory at all. This was not a free and fair vote, it was held under extreme duress, and Russia’s complicity in allowing the rebels to set up a ‘polling station’ in Moscow for Ukrainian nationals makes it a complete farce.

The ponzi-scheme salesman fraudster-cum-governor-elect of Donetsk is the man in the centre, listening to the results of the referendum.

The ponzi-scheme salesman fraudster-cum-governor-elect of Donetsk is the man in the centre, listening to the results of the referendum.

Anecdotal evidence of possible election fraud

At the Primorsky polling station in Mariupol, a large crowd is gathered outside, waiting to vote. There is a crush of people inside.

Organisation is chaotic at best. There are no polling booths: people vote at the registration desks. People’s details are hastily scribbled on generic forms. There is also a collection for money towards funding the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The chairman of this polling station, Sergei Babin, said that people from other regions are permitted to vote here. He said their details would be taken down, and then, to ensure they haven’t voted elsewhere, “the lists from different polling stations would be checked against each other”.

Asked how long such a mammoth task would take, he replied “one day.”


Despite the claims by Putin and his spokesmen, that the Kyev government is a fascist cabal, quite to the contrary Russia itself seems to be the one destabilising the Ukrainian state, inciting considerable unrest and exploiting it viciously with the use of covert military forces because it feels, as Hitler did in the pre-war years, that it will get away with it.

In the run up to the Crimean referendum, Putin claimed that no Russian military were involved in the uprising. After the event he admitted that troops were indeed active during that time, meaning that he seemingly lied in the first instance.

If stronger action is not taken against Russsia we will see more than part of Ukraine being repossessed by the ‘New Russia’.


The Tories simply cannot help falling over themselves

The Prime Minister has said, in an interview with BBC London, that if the Conservatives were re-elected to government with a majority in 2015, he would introduce legislation to enforce a legal threshold concerning ballots for strike action. He said that he could not deliver the changes in coalition because his LibDem partners would not support it.

Mr Cameron said: “I want a Conservative government to pass new legislation so that strikes in central public services can’t go ahead unless there is a proper threshold crossed in terms of the number of people taking part in the ballot. Of course there is a right to strike in this country, but in essential services, isn’t it worth saying there ought to be a threshold before a strike is called, which causes so much damage? I am keen on it and a new Conservative government would deal with that.”

Mr Johnson has publicly called for strikes to be unlawful unless 50% of staff in a workplace take part in a ballot. This raises interesting and uncomfortable parallels for those supporting the 50% threshold.

  • In 2012, Police Crime Commissioners were elected by a voter turnout of around 15%.
  • In 2000, the elections for the London Mayor saw a turnout of 33.7%
  • In the 2010 general election the largest vote share was for the Conservatives at 36.1%

The graph below shows the percentage share of the vote for each party at all general elections since 1945.

Percentage vote shares for each political party at general elections since 1945

Percentage vote shares for each political party at general elections since 1945

This begs the question: why should there be a 50% voter participating threshold in strike ballots when none of the political elections have this imposed upon them?

Mr. Cameron says he is keen on introducing this measure, but when Police and Crime Commissioners were elected by an insignificant percentage of the population of the UK, the conclusion must be drawn that the Conservatives seek to curtail union activities in this way simply to be seen to be serving the interests of commerce and thus demonstrate little interest for those at the lower end of the employment market. The recent announcement to force jobseekers to accept certain – probably most – offers of zero-hours contracts is another example of the contempt that Conservatives have for low-paid workers.

It would be nice to think that the electorate would bear this in mind in May of next year, come the general election.


How many more times must Clarkson offend people before he is put out to pasture?


Jeremy Clarkson has been given support by Sebastian Shakespeare, columnist in the Mail newspaper, who made a comparison between Elvis Costello’s use of the word ‘nigger’ in his song, ‘Oliver’s Army’, and Clarkson’s use of it by reciting the nursery rhyme ‘Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe’ to choose between two cars.

Arguing that the BBC had chastised Clarkson, putting him on a final warning, Shakespeare observed that the BBC still permits Costello’s song to be played, despite the fact that it too uses the word.

‘Oliver’s Army’ makes references to Cromwell, militarisation, checkpoint Charlie (where there was a huge military presence) the murder mile, which referred to either Northern Ireland, or Upper Hackney in London, as both fit, a trigger, a reference to firearms, then: “One more widow, one less white nigger” refers to military killing with its ‘disposable’ victims and its repugnant nature. Using such a strong word underscores the continuing brutalisation of different races and the similarity to wanton military deaths, i.e. picking up on the heinous historical treatment of black people and contrasting that with ‘body counts’, clearly a positive use of the word.

I would like to ask Seb Shakespeare: how could Clarkson’s utterance of ‘Eeeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe’ ever be considered positive? Sorry Seb, but your thinking has gone horribly awry and shows you have a serious problem with your comprehension of why each person used the word.


McGuinness hints at a path to renewed anarchy

Sinn Fein anti-police action protest on the Falls Road

Sinn Fein anti-police action protest on the Falls Road

Gerry Adams was released from police custody with no charge levelled against him as of yesterday. Whether the matter ends there is yet to be seen and indeed, for his part, the Sinn Fein leader has protested about the way the police had dealt with the matter, saying that the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) did not need to use “pernicious, coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue”. Martin McGuinness had said on Saturday that. with regard to Sinn Féin’s support for PSNI, that it would continue if the situation with Mr Adams is resolved in a satisfactory manner. “If it doesn’t, we will have to review that situation” he said. Hundreds of Sinn Fein supporters took to the streets of Belfast to protest against the continuing detention of their leader Gerry Adams, matched equally, but separately, by loyalists protesting Adam’s release.

This situation shows disturbing parallels, though in different measures,  with the situation in Ukraine, where the pro-Russian protesters in Odessa laid siege to the central police station and set about getting over sixty rebel protesters released, those who were allegedly involved in the violence and death in Odessa on Friday when pro-Russian rebels used a city center trade union building as a means of attacking pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, who were largely kept at bay outside. In the course of a volley of missiles and Molotov cocktails being thrown that set the building ablaze. The latest death toll indicates that it was largely pro-Russian rebels that died in the building, but the death toll also included some Ukrainian nationalists.

McGuinness’s threat to rethink Sinn Fein’s support for the PSNI shows a tendency to polarise opinion into lawlessness. Those of us who remember Northern Ireland 40 years ago, see something of its inglorious past in what is happening in Ukraine. Happily, Eire is not Putin’s Russia. McGuinness would do well to support the rule of law, regardless of his partisan leanings.