Vice In A Vacuum

I was invited for coffee by a co-ordinator from online campaign org 38 Degrees after sending him a piece I’ve written for a local freebie newspaper on their current big issue the EU/US TransAtlantic Trade And Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the threat it could pose to the NHS. The org has a mailshot of 3 million members now, notably spurred by the Scottish referendum last month. He said that they were bemused to find our late Prime Minister George Brown had signed a petition of theirs – a judge it’s appealing to playing at being an appellant!

He thought that the Dump The Debt issue raised by The Crunch might be a candidate for 38 Degrees at some stage. To make a fictional movie that works in its own right but that could also help generate thinking on a big, important question like this would be a real plus. But back to reality – both The Crunch and Getting Real remain becalmed in a Sargasso Sea of waiting, aka Development Hell in the trade.

I trawled an inside story doc on ISIS The Islamic State by Vice TV, the ‘gonzo’ US station already worth $2.5 billion since launching last year. The filmmaker took truck rides with an ISIS press officer and a morals enforcer meeting civilians and street traders, prisoners awaiting trial and whippings, ardent militiamen and kids – but no women, of course. The one chink among the universal litanies of fundamentalist devotion was a wispy 7-year old boy who had come from Belgium with his burly dad to join the struggle for the Caliphate. When asked if he’d prefer to be back in Belgium he looked away shyly, hesitated. Dad quickly put him right! Local peoples’ evident satisfaction at seeing a bulldozer remove a barrier dividing Iraq and Syria as an ISIS warrior swore an end to the Anglo French Sykes-Picot Agreement, which carved up the region artificially almost 100 years ago, seemed deeply felt. An unsettling insight. And another savvy ISIS promo move allowing an offbeat Western TV station access to their citadel – and with a name like that!


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