Thoughts on Chapter 1 ‘The Bellwether Of America’ of ‘Hiding In Plain Sight’ by Sarah Kendzior

It’s surprising and a little frightening to find that Missouri is as much a Bellwether for the UK as it is for the US

At the end of her chapter ‘The Bellwether Of America’ Sarah Kendzior concludes that her home state of Missouri

‘…is not a Red State but it is becoming a one party state. A party ruled by ruled by,mega-donors. A Party that openly disregards thé will of its electorate. In the most damming of ways ,we are the bellwether for the united States. We are losing not only our freedom but our sovereignty to forces we do not fully understand but which understand our own vulnerabilities àll too well.’

As a Brit, I’d like to be shaking my head in sympathy with America’s troubles, while telling myself that it could never happen here. Except it is happening here. It’s being made to happen by the same people using the same techniques, skilfully adapted to take into account their detailed knowledge of our very British vulnerabilities.

Sarah Kendzior describes a transformation of Missouri into a State run by indicted criminals who came to power on the back of (legally allowed) dark money from anonymous donors that paid for weaponising social media and reframing inconvenient laws.

Although some of the things in Missouri like the deregulation of firearms, don’t resonate with the UK experience, many of them do.

Like Missouri, the UK has been drowning in dark money from anonymous foreign donars which has been used to fund the Leave Campaign well beyond legal limits and to pay for Cambridge Analytica to weaponise Social Media in favour of Brexit.

When Sarah Kendzior describing how national media uses vox pop slots to present a pre-agreed political narrative, said:

“A media make over is a peculiar wound. It is a terrible feeling to be in pain and to be ignored, as a place, as a person. It is worse to be given a mask and told it’s your face.”

I thought of the way Brexit had been used to turn my country from a place that new and cared very little about the EU into a place deeply divided between Leavers and Remainers and how two million people on an anti-Brexit march could go almost unreported but the BBC could always find ‘ordinary people’ to repeat all the Leave slogans for the TV camera.

The weaponisation of social media, especially Facebook, was fierce and unregulated. Watch Carol Cadwallar’s TED talk to understand how this worked.

Or go here to see the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the architect of the Leave campaign’s social media strategy. proudly explain how this works.

Many of the statements about Missouri, resonated with my own experience in England:

“The facts no longer add up. The facts make you wish they were fiction but that is all the more reason we need to hear them.”

This reminded me of all the claims and counter claims in Brexit, the stories of Russian interference that are covered in the Russia Report that the government will not release, and the false claims and doctored statistics our government has used to disguise their failing in dealing with COVID-19.

When I read:

“We are held together by the recognition that we are being torn apart.”

It seemed to me that this is what Brexit had been designed to do to us. It has spread division, fuelled hate and anger while creating a sense that we are powerless.

Then i read:

“The real divide is between a few exorbitant cities and everywhere else, a few exorbitant I individuals and everyone else, a fracture that widened into a chasm during my life time.”

and recognised that that too is true in England. Over the past ten years, our government has imposed ‘managed decline’ on our towns and cities outside of London, with local councils seeing their funding cut by more than sixty per cent. Their “austerity campaign” has become a war on the poor and the disabled to the point where the UN envoy, sent to look at the astonishing level of poverty in the UK characterized the high level of poverty as a political choice rather than an economic side-effect. Take a look at his twenty-four page report “Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom”.

At the same time, we have seen a massive concentration of wealth and a record number of new billionaires. Data from The Equality Trust shows that the UK has a very high level of income inequality compared to other developed countries with the richest fifth having an income more than 12 times the amount earned by the poorest fifth.

But two of the most shocking statements made by Sarah Kendzior are the ones I can see clearly when applied to British politics now and over the past ten years:

“To millionaire elites a de-populated world is not a tragedy but an opportunity.”

and

It’s the sense of having a government that seems to welcome death. A government that has abdicated even the pretence of working for its citizens or caring if they live or die. 

In the UK, the government’s war on the poor has stripped back the NHS so that it is no longer one of the best health services in Europe but is crippled by a lack of staff (100,000 vacancies) and resources. The introduction of the mis-leadingly named Universal Credit has cut support to the disabled, the long term sick and the unemployed. Research by University College London estimates 120,000 avoidable deaths attributable to the government’s austerity policies.

The UK government’s handling of COVID-19 is the worst in Europe. Johnson’s initial ‘take it on the chin’ herd immunity stance showed a mindset that put the economy ahead of saving the lives of citizens. The subsequent failure to follow WHO advice on testing or to provide PPE to frontline NHS and Care Home staff show an arrogant indifference towards preserving life and an instinct to deny the damage that ten years of austerity has done to our ability to respond to a pandemic as well as our neighbours have.

There are too many similarities between the US and UK for this to be coincidence. We are both being played by the same global elite who are circling like vultures to benefit from Disaster Capitalism, facilitated by kleptocratic states.

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