In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act

Jobs for life? Nuclear storage on the Marsh

Hemingway said that you should always write about what you know. I know about the psychology of selling.

I am a sales director and I am fluent all sales techniques and persuasion tricks that can be employed to convince people ‘to buy’. I have been reading all the information around the planned nuclear dump on the Marsh. What I have read makes me very worried, not solely based on the obvious dangers of storing nuclear waste, but more worrying for me is the way it is being sold to us and why?

The hilarious ‘official’ website for the consultation (the ‘Ladybird guide to have hundreds of tons of hugely toxic, radioactive waste buried under your feet’ site) is not even slightly unbiased. The welcome page sets the scene as if the rest of the site will be impartial and states the council has ‘no official formal view’. The rest of the site however is an unashamed sales job worthy of any double-glazing company fighting for survival in the recession.

The next page ‘How does Geological Disposal work?’ shows that there is a brain behind the site. They have controlled and cleaned up the language they use to describe what they are selling. The page isn’t called ‘How does dumping tons of radioactive waste under your garden work?’ Geological disposal sounds clean, scientific and something you should not worry your pretty little heads about.

It lists lots of scientific organizations that back dumping highly radioactive waste in a big pit. Which of us little people can argue with an organization so respected with names we struggle to pronounce? After a whole page of ringing endorsements by these respected bodies, who all coincidentally work in the nuclear field, there is a half sentence, almost muttered under its breath that says ‘It should be noted, though, that organizations such as Greenpeace have their doubts about the effectiveness of geological disposal’.

Would it be worth mentioning on this page that this has never been done before? No one has ever buried nuclear waste long term under ground before. Hence no one really knows if it’s going to be ok? That seems quiet a big thing to me, we are being used as guinea pigs! Shepway Council did not feel the need to spoil the lovely feel of the site with such negativity.

Should they mention that this was tried in Germany? They thought that Asse was a safe place to store its nuclear waste. They now have to dig it all up again because it’s leaking, after less than 30 years (instead of the projected 30,000). And that’s in a country renowned for its engineering skills! Not worth a mention?

How about the USA? The US spent tens of billions on developing a waste site in Yucca mountain in Utah (remote, unlike the Romney Marsh), which was meant to be opened in 1998, but is still not open and was closed/put on hold by Obama in 2009 as it was deemed unsafe.

I could go on and on deconstructing the spin employed but I don’t want to bore you. Let’s instead look at their main sales point, the close. You will find this on the ‘Why host it?’ page, or if you like “Why you should buy our idea?’ In it you will find this staggering sentence ‘Its ongoing operation would then guarantee work for many decades to come. The jobs would be varied, skilled and well paid’. Wow, in an area of high unemployment here is a big juicy carrot on a stick. We are going to give you lots of money.

I mean come on! This amounts to nasty pressure sales.

If Alistair Stewart, chief executive of Shepway district council is ever out of work and needs a job in sales, tell him to come see me. He is quoted as saying ‘the promised investment in transport, infrastructure and jobs is not a “bribe” and the council will go ahead only if the community is keen. (Note: the best time in sales to answer a customer’s objection is before it is raised)

He points out ‘that in Sweden two communities “fought over” which would get a similar facility. (Note: This is called social proof and it is very powerful. ‘Lot’s of other people like you have bought my product so you should too’)

Sales at its best. I have a couple of questions then. Why are they selling it to us so strongly? Who is behind it? It is a huge investment so where is the profit going to come from?

You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that if this is the first time long term underground storage will be used, a lot of other countries would like to use it eh? I mean other countries who can’t trick, sorry I meant to write convince their citizens to accept this highly toxic radioactive waste will pay big money to dump their waste in the good old UK.

So, it’s not just Britain’s Nuclear waste that they’re hoping to bury here, they’ll be tendering to dispose of the entire continent’ or maybe the worlds nuclear waste, right here, under our feet. The Marsh will become a dumping ground for other countries toxic waste too, a nice thought.

Don’t worry though it will no go ahead until the people have been consulted. How will the consultation work? Will we have clear and transparent access to all the data collected? Will we have an opportunity to examine in detail the issues surrounding the long-term dangers of storing radioactive material under ground or is the council’s website it? Will they just say ‘Hey good news the people say yes!’ without providing proof?

I know Shepway recently employed more traffic wardens following ‘calls from the public’. When challenged by a local celebrity to show proof of those calls, they were unable to. Neither a good precedent nor one that fills me with confidence.

If you think it’s good or if you think it’s bad, make sure your voice can be heard and make your decisions on your own research, not on spin.


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Poignant Folkestone Pier – Update and get involved

Firstly, thank you for the huge response to my pervious blog ( over 900 people have read it up to now and I have had a deluge of comments, suggestions and ideas from people about it. A lot of people have asked what our idea was for the development was, so here is a sketch of what we wanted to do at the harbour pier.

I would say that this is just a rough idea and by no means the finished plan. If you have any other ideas or suggestions please feel free to comment.

As a main feature we wanted a renewable light feature, which would shine up to the heavens to mark the importance of the spot. Yoko Ono commissioned one in Reykjavik called the ‘peace tower’ which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. This would act as a reminder for the world of what important events took place right here in Folkestone and how many millions of young people lost their lives.

The fact that it was visible from France would make Folkestone an important landmark in the UK. Just like Lands End, John O’ Groats and the White Cliffs of Dover, we would become a place people would want to visit. As I said in my previous blog this would immediately attract half a million-war tourists as well as an even larger number of people who would just want to see it and have their photograph taken there.

Imagine what that amount of visitors could do to the local economy and its role in providing much-needed jobs and opportunities?

In the very old part of the station we thought it would be good to have a museum to WW1 and WW2.  We could make it interactive and emotive like the war tunnels of Dover, something that really evokes that time. We could also display a searchable digital version of the books that contained all the signatures of those that passed through on route to France, that were collected in the wars, currently being worked on by the fabulous Step Short. As well as a new digital ‘book’ where visitors could leave a message about their loved ones who may have passed through the port or how the visit has affected them

We also wanted a renewable energy science theme with various interactive installations that people could experiment with and learn about. As well as adding a unique twist, this would attract many school outings and would connect our town to the collective psyche of the UK.

The newer part of the station where the Rug People installation sits, could be turned into an area that could be used for the community of Folkestone. In summertime plays could take place on the tracks, we could have music played there and various other happenings.  Imagine a weekly ‘ghost story play’ staged on the tracks? It would be awesome in that space.

The picture above is the only memorial to the millions who died, four bits of laminated A4 pages stapled to a flaky wooden wall.

All of the above ideas would put Folkestone firmly on the map and would go a long way to reviving our fortunes and establishing some civic pride. Folkestone has this amazing place in history and yet we do nothing about it, we do not mark it nor celebrate it. Once it has been demolished, concreted over and a Starbucks or yacht house has been built there it will be gone forever. Our chance to put this town firmly on the map will evaporate into a miasma of apathy.

This is our only opportunity to let our voices be heard to Damian, the Council and all other parties who may have commercial interests in the land. If you have any other ideas or you would like to be involved in a campaign that backs this and step short and the Harbour Company initiatives, please leave a comment or your suggestions.  If there enough interest in it, we would be happy to start a campaign.

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Poignant Folkestone Pier – Our heritage and our future?

Since we moved to Folkestone a decade ago the Folkestone pier has been somewhere that has fascinated us. A few days ago we went for a walk to the end of the pier and through the derelict Folkestone harbor station. The whole place is rotting in front of your eyes and decay hangs heavy in the air. From the train tracks grow prodigious weeds left unchecked except for a random statue plonked in the middle of the tracks called Rug People. The paint is peeling and half hearted graffiti decorates the walls. There are some cheap metal fencing tied together to stop you walking along the tracks to the end of the Pier because the floor has rotted away in sections, forcing you to walk up a piss stained stairwell to the top of the pier.

There is absolutely nothing here, though, that tells you that you are, in fact, stood on one of most poignant pieces of land in the UK.

This Station and Pier is the point where over 10 million soldiers were brought to and packed off in boats to go and fight in WWI and WWII. For the lucky ones it was also the first bit of UK soil they returned to if they survived. However, for millions of young men and women, it was the last piece of British soil they ever touched before being killed in action.

Can you just imagine the strength of emotions that must have been experienced on that thin piece of land? As a soldier you would get off the train and wait there for the ship to take you across the Channel. You would look over at France and see explosions and hear aircraft fighting overhead. You would notice the wounded slumped all around being transported to hospitals and you’re only thought would be ‘Will I survive this?’

Imagine also, how many times that slim piece of land would have been kissed by the lucky ones who made it back alive? They lived through true horror for years, saw things that we could never imagine and witnessed their friends killed all around them and finally they are back, safe, on British soil. Can you just imagine what emotions they felt as they took that first step back on British soil at Folkestone harbour?

The only memorial you will find here however for those brave souls are a couple of A4 pieces of paper, laminated and stapled to the wall. They tell the brief life story of a couple soldiers who passed through this station, placed by someone who wants to remember the life of a loved one, who never returned. There is a haunting poem by the war poet Wilfred Owen, himself a soldier who left Folkestone pier for the last time and never returned from France. There is nothing else.

It seems hugely remiss and slightly immoral that the importance of this strip of land is not marked, acknowledged and celebrated.

We (Bluesky Pie) did some fundraising for the fabulous Step Short Charity a couple of years ago and after researching the importance of the Pier we suggested that we should raise money and build something that lets the world know the poignancy of this piece of land. We wanted to install a light installation, a ‘white light tower’ powered by renewable energy, which shone up to the heavens every night as a remembrance to those that died. Unfortunately nothing came of this as the land is marked to be demolished and turned into a moneymaking project for some wealthy individuals to become wealthier.

Of course, if we could find a way to turn the Station and Pier into somewhere people could go to remember it’s importance. If the whole place was space we used to celebrate the past and a working space for the community to use. If we used some of the unique mementos we have from this time to attract visitors, Folkestone Pier would be a center of civic pride.

For example, in the station was a café that handed out free hot drinks and cakes to the troops which was run by many but notably the Jeffery sisters, who were both awarded the Order of the British Empire, the Queen Elisabeth Medal (Belgium)
and the Medal of Gratitude (France).

They had a book on display, which was signed by the soldiers waiting to go to France. Over 300,000 soldiers signed it including: King George V, Lord Derby, David Lloyd George, Wilfred Owen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many more. Imagine if this were digitalized and displayed.

To use Folkestone Pier as a place of remembrance like the Dover Tunnels would make it a center of civic pride and it would create jobs for the area. There is, however, a much stronger reason for doing it. Thanks to the Internet and a surge in interest in genealogy, there are now around 500,000 people every year who go on war tours. Thousands of British, American and Canadians go on holidays to try to trace the footsteps of their relatives who died in the wars. All these tours start in Dover. No one bothers to come to Folkestone because no one knows the significance of the Pier.

If we made Folkestone Pier into an interactive museum, if we had an installation that shone at night and could be seen from France at night and by everyone using the ferries. Folkestone would be on the map. Imagine what half a million tourists would do to the economy of our town?

For me, allowing the Pier to fall into rack and ruin and then turned into a concrete monstrosity like every other homogenous seaside town must be a criminal waste of an asset, which could hugely boost the economy of our town.

On top of that it seems hugely disrespectful to all those millions of young people who lost their lives in the wars.

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War is peace. Security is control. A lie is the truth.

Is anyone else totally bored with this sea of doublespeak, which has covered the country in a tsunami of bullshit? Is anyone at all taken in by it? I mean when they say that there has been ‘considerable collateral damage’ we all know that really means we have needlessly killed lots of innocent people, including women and children, right?

Or when they say they are ‘servicing the target’ we all know that means bombing the fuck out of someone’s hometown? Or our nations ‘defence budget’ is really an attack budget? Or when they say they are going to ‘liberate a country’ it means they are going to invade, destroy and control it, and then steal all the resources?

One of my personal favourites is ‘Homeland Security’. Homeland conjures up a warm fuzzy picture of our home, our lovely country with rolling green meadows with sheep and cows grazing, and that lovely word ‘security’. The truth is that the organization is black hearted, shady one, which does the unethical bidding of an Imperial state.

Based on the ‘the bigger the lie, the more believable it is’ paradigm, this disingenuous bullshit can be taken to stratospheric heights. How could George W. Bush live with himself after he said ‘I reminded [the soldiers] and their families that the war in Iraq is really about peace.’
(April 2003) I mean, wow! That is as big a lie as you can get. If it were Pinocchio saying that, his nose would have circumnavigated the globe.

I know why politicians do it. Language is the basis of all human communication, which subsequently acts as the catalysis of all human action (like voting for example). Hence if they can sully and control the actual words we use to describe the issues and events, they can control us, our feelings around them and distance us from the truth.

Here’s the clever thing. They know we don’t buy the bullshit but they just keep feeding it and feeding it to us everyday. The sheer volume of the doublespeak makes it almost impossible to fight against, who of us has the time to be picking through government syntax on an hourly basis?

There are serious consequences though. In a poll last month by Trust in Professional annual survey only 13% of the populous trust politicians to tell the truth. That’s a damning amount and probably lower than many of the ‘third world counties’ we are currently ‘liberating.’

Couple that with the fact that in the last election on 61% of the population only voted and only 36% of those had real confidence in the parties they could vote for. Not healthy reading for politicians, who as far as opinions go are clearly on the ropes.

Do they decide to stop lying to us and treat us like adults? Do they decide stop putting spin on every syllable? No, the current government spends more on PR every year than any other company in this country including Saatchi & Saatchi!

Did I ever mention that I have never voted?

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