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The State: Who Does it Work For?

Campbell Martin's long-running campaign to expose high-level corruption, revisited and updated with disturbing new implications.

Sunday, October 8, 2023
5 mins

I recently read a book called 'The Wild East' by Ian Hernon [Amberley Publishing: ISBN-978-1-3981-0910-0]. In the book, Hernon meticulously explains how in the late 1800s/early 1900s, Americans were much more likely to experience serious acts of violence in eastern cities like New York than in Wild West towns of legend, such as Tombstone or Dodge City.

What struck me most, though, wasn't the undisputed violence of gangs in America's eastern cities, it was the corruption of state agencies, the police, prosecutors, newspapers and what passed for big business at that time. As I read of coal and anthracite miners being arrested, prosecuted, found guilty and hanged for actions that constituted nothing more than trying to stop private mine-owners from imposing a 20% cut to already inadequate wages, I was thinking, not of America around 100-years-ago, where the law was twisted for private ends and fake news became the norm, but of Scotland in the 21st Century.

What made me equate contemporary Scotland with the America described in 'Wild East' was a reference to a series of trials, held in the 1870s, where so-called 'militant miners' were prosecuted, found guilty and executed, primarily on prosecution-evidence provided by Private Investigators of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been employed by the owners of privately-operated mines. Conflicting evidence presented by the defence was ignored. The judiciary was in the pocket of the big-business establishment. In fact, in one trial, the judge was also the owner of a business that operated mines. Newspapers, also owned by capitalist members of the establishment, reported the trials from the mine-owners perspective and portrayed the miners as a threat to society. Working class Americans believed the media reports and accepted that the miners deserved to die because the state had found them guilty.

So why did such rampant corruption make me think about Scotland in the early years of the 21st Century? The answer is the prosecution of Alex Salmond, where, like events described in 'The Wild East', the law was twisted to suit the aims of the state, and fake news became the norm.

There will come a day when it can be revealed the extent to which the British State was involved in the prosecution of Alex Salmond. It will also be revealed, eventually, the extent to which people in the Scottish National Party colluded with agencies of the British State in an attempt to jail the independence movement's greatest leader. I would love to comment further here regarding those issues, but legal matters emanating from the trial make that difficult. However, there is a separate matter that involved some of the same people, and in which I was heavily involved.

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI), introduced by the Conservative Government of John Major in 1992, was a method of funding the cost of building and maintaining schools and hospitals. In fact, PFI was nothing more than a massive con on the public. It existed to funnel huge amounts of public money into the bank accounts of private companies.

Following the election of the New Labour Government led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in 1997, PFI was rebranded as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and was massively expanded. Local authorities and health boards were told that if they wanted to fund public capital projects – primarily the building of schools and hospitals – there was only one method they could use: Public Private Partnerships became 'the only game in town', which massively increased the already staggering profits the private sector was raking-in from the public purse.

The public sector in Scotland is paying around £9bn for mainly schools and hospitals valued at just £3bn when new. Of course, the buildings are depreciating in value every day as they age, but councils and health boards will continue to fork-out over-the-odds payments until PFI/PPP contracts end around 2038.

I was involved in investigating one particular PPP contract – the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project – where the local authority signed a contract to build four schools: taxpayers are now paying over £1m every month for this one contract.

I'm not going to go into greater detail here about the North Ayrshire PPP Project, but you might be asking, legitimately, what has all this to do with corrupt government, police and prosecutors in America around 100-years-ago, or the prosecution of Alex Salmond? What I would ask you to do is watch two documentaries I had a hand in making. They reveal what happened in the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project, Scotland's biggest PFI/PPP scandal. See if you can spot the criminality that the police and Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service said they could not find. Also, see if you can spot a couple of people involved in the North Ayrshire Schools PPP Project and who would later feature in the Alex Salmond case.

Finally, maybe look at how state agencies refused to investigate or prosecute in a matter where millions-of-pounds of public money was being funnelled into the bank accounts of private enterprise, but fell over themselves to try and jail Scotland's former First Minister.

The two documentaries about the North Ayrshire PFI/PPP scandal 'The Only Game In Town' and 'The Only Game In Town 2 – The Cover UP' - are available to view on YouTube, links below.

The Only Game in Town:


The Only Game in Town 2 - The Cover Up:


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