Just let your imagination run wild for a moment or two. Imagine that demonstrations against the government in Britain had turned into a riot. Cars were set on fire in the streets. Young lads in balaclavas hurling petrol bombs at the police. Middle aged women bashing policemen over the head with their shopping bags. The crowd surging forward and taking over public buildings.
Liverpool? Glasgow? Belfast? London? It has happened. In the UK, the authorities have always regained control.
Imagine though, if the Russian Foreign Minister had flown in to address the rioters with words of support in London? If China was offering to loan billions of pounds to avoid the rioters having to pay, say, the ill-named bedroom tax? If America, who had not long before declared the election of David Cameron ‘free and fair’, now threatened sanctions against the UK unless new elections were held within weeks so that the varied ‘leaders’ of the revolution could take their ‘rightful’ place running the country.
Who would be the leaders that such a crowd of rioters would hold dear? Derek Hatton? Arthur Scargill? Gordon Brown? Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, Nigel Farage? Old Holborn even? It’s not such a far fetched idea, for you can be sure that those who rise up and riot are unlikely to be representative of the entire population: the grey, middle aged, middle income, middle politics ‘Britain’, that sits in supine silence watching the country fall apart.
With the best will in the world, and paying due homage to his well hidden heart of gold, I wouldn’t trust Old Holborn to run my car, never mind the country. Nor any of the other likely heroes of the sort of people who do actually rise up and revolt. Even though I believe a revolution would do the UK good….
How long do you think it would take the Americans to fly in extra forces to guard RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall – ostensibly Royal Air Force Bases, with British ‘Commanders’, albeit with 25,000 american ‘advisors’? Would they be right to do so? Old Holborn’s army of followers in charge of the American nuclear arsenal? Argggh!
How about Russian ‘Sky’, or should that be ‘небо’, making nightly broadcasts from the Liverpool Adelpi foyer, the hotel where the rampaging crowd have helpfully brought their injured to a makeshift hospital so that the ‘небо’ journalists can stay in the bar till the next transmission time, whence they will don flak jackets and be filmed on the balcony of their room against the burning night sky? Filming Peter Mandelson’s triumphant release from Wakefield prison where he had been incarcerated on fraud charges (I did tell you to use your imagination!). A Peter Mandelson who had been given an expensive makeover from the creature we thought we knew into a pantomime version of a cuddly avuncular Father Christmas promising us everything and anything we wanted…
Are you puzzled by the pictures? That is Julia Hryhyan. The top one is when she left school in 1975, the one on the left in 2001. She is a hero of the ‘Ukrainian revolutionaries’. You have to search long and hard to find such pictures. Most have been wiped from memory. Julia’s origins have been the basis of some debate. Some have claimed that her maiden name is Grigyan, and that she is half-Armenian on her father’s side. Some say Telegina.
One thing is clear – Julia is a multi-billionaire.
You couldn’t run a private business in the USSR until 1986. Between 1986 and 1997, a mere 11 years, starting from scratch, Julia amassed several billion pounds.
(Hat tip to Ukrainian Taras for the translation!)
Julia : Uh…I…uh…spent more than half of my life doing very big business — very big business. That’s a business that had billions of…uh…revenue…
Interviewer: You have some savings left?
Julia: Definitely! Definitely! And these savings…they…uh…at that time, I…didn’t have to disclose them…
Interviewer: They’re in Ukraine?
Julia: …because I was not an official. Uh…all these savings…they do exist, and we as a family are using them.
You don’t amass that sort of fortune in the lawless atmosphere that existed post-perestroika by being soft in the head. That brunette bob hides nerves of steel and a hard business head on young shoulders. And good contacts. Which is why young Julia found herself explicitly involved in a US court case in 2000 against ex-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko.
“Lazarenko received money from companies owned or controlled by Ukrianian [sic] business woman Julia […] in exchange for which Lazarenko exercised his official authority in favor [of Julia’s] companies, and … Lazarenko failed to disclose to the people and government of Ukraine that he was receiving significant amounts of money from these companies.”
The billions she had amassed came in handy though. She hired Oleh Pokalchuk, a social psychologist, to give her a make over from hard nosed brunette business woman to – pagan mother goddess of the Ukrainian peasants. Somewhere between ‘Eva Perón’ and the ‘Princess Leia’ character from the Star Wars and Evita DVDs that she had imported into a chain of Ukrainian cinemas. Said Oleh in 2007:
“It was necessary to work out and implement an image that would block out the image [...] of wealth, of envy, hatred. I created an image of a modest village teacher. A visual type, clothes and haircut, a retro image evoking memories of childhood and schooldays… simple clothes, simple haircut, a Ukrainian archetype, [...] She didn’t speak Ukrainian so well then and it was necessary for parts of the country, where nationalism is a powerful force, that she should appear one of us.”
Night after night we are told of ‘Russian thugs’, and ‘Gangsters’ lined up against ‘brave freedom fighters’. The choice of words is illuminating. The imagery fascinating. The frail Yulia was freed from prison and wheeled into Independence Square in Kiev to loud cheers – from the EU which is pledging 11 billion of our money to bail out the bankrupt Ukraine.
The Russians have threatened to cut the gas pipe lines from which Yulia made her billions – a pipe line which she signed up to a new deal with in 2009, which the rest of her cabinet (she was by then Prime Minister) opposed. It was this ‘deal’ with the Russians which saw her jailed as ‘having exceeded her authority as Prime Minister’.
Peter Mandelson would be hard put to emulate the twists and turns of Tymoshenko’s political allegiances. Now she is supported by the EU in a move which may see Ukraine denuded of the revenue from hosting the pipe lines she made her millions from – and her country divided into two.
Strangely, she was born in Dnipropetrovsk, a city which neatly straddles the political and linguistic divide in Ukraine. Perhaps that accounts for her hopping from one side to another of it.
Now we must watch as the US and the EU lecture the Russians on the evils of ‘invading Sovereignty’ – Libya, Iraq anyone? Or Democracy? Or corrupt politicians? Or how to deal with a bankrupt economy? At least the Ukrainian’s don’t need a lecture on how to give political schemers and opportunists a make-over – they have out classed us on that one.
Your vote as to who would have been given the make-over in Britain – and into what – should the same situation have occurred here? I still fancy Mandelson as Father Christmas.