Category Archives: Salisbury UK

How Yulia and Sergei Skripal (and their cat) Saved the World!

Ah, the “Sorrows of Empire.” Its lies these days so easily exposed. Yet, too often ignored.

Saturday morning, April 14, 2018, the world released a collective sigh of relief after a week of anguished hand-wringing at the too-likely possibility of our own utter annihilation. US President, Donald J. Trump, a man of massive ego, reportedly small hands and apparently insignificant phallus, had failed, despite direct attempts by the Big Bad Wolf of American military madness, to blow down the retaining walls protecting human conscience… and reality.

Or fatally damage Syria.

Having witnessed this failed attempt to blow the world to pieces via the winds of war, we, the remaining civilized world, were instead treated to worldwide giddy, heel kicking and side-splitting laughter at the ultimate tepid US military inspired results. Yes, despite a week of US hegemonic huffing and puffing — and tweeting — many of us were amazed to actually wake up once again.

This past Saturday, we all discovered that the latest triumvirate of self-serving, sadistic and socially-challenged world leaders (US/UK/ FR)  had suffered a storied defeat…one caused by two little pigs — guinea pigs really — and one black cat.

Thanks to these three demur little mammals, who spoke not a word of English, but were likely – if the UK media folly is to believed-  secretly taking Russian language lessons, these three accurately summed up current Western foreign policy:

You can fool some of the people some of the time. You can fool some of the people all of the time, but… You can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

This sage advice, of course, was not within the full understanding of Messrs. Trump and Macron, nor Ms. May who instead preferred to believe in their own weakening hearts and minds the much older capitalist mantra:

Never give a sucker an even break!

Having seen their laundry list of previous cunning political connivinces go almost unchallenged by their own populace in routine acquiescence, their lies became ever bolder. And inexplicable. This lulled them into a false sense of overconfidence that believed they could provide all manner of utter nonsense as long as it was alleged to be attached to the never passe “Soviet Union” better known as “Russia.” So, it was natural for these three myopic world leaders to assume their latest plot would pass easily within the shadows of their own dark souls. Instead, theirs was a comedy show that suddenly snapped the world to the realization:

We no longer believe a fucking thing you say!

This ultimate and fundamental realization was spawned weeks before this past Saturday’s illegal attack. In the quaint UK town of Salisbury,  former double agent and recent MI-6 participant, Sergei Skripal, had relocated to go out to pasture, retire and die. Little did he know that his long-term goals would turn out to be somewhat premature. Well, almost.

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May was, and is, a desperate woman. So desperate is she — after her own recent David Cameron moment of parliamentary disaster — to retain power within the posh digs at No. 10 that she quite willingly proved correct all criticisms of her Conservative Party: She joined forces with the Irish Nazi party, better known as the DUP… and gave them a 1 Billion British pound mortita for their trouble. That’s desperate!

Strangely, Ms. May could not understand why, after all this, she was still reviled by all the UK parliamentary parties and most of the British people. Having done her best to achieve Neville Chamberlain style unpopularity, she needed a distraction… no matter how amateurish the production. For she had long ago concluded, as have so many foreign leaders, that her public was just as easily controlled as watering a potted plant in the window of her number 10.

Over arrogant, Ms. May sent in her Keystone Cops — MI-6 — to do what had worked so often before in times of political need. So easy. Indeed! As the plot unfurled on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, the press dutifully expanded daily on the one proffered set of lies. Nice and smoothly… Russia did it! Who, but a treasonous Brit would possibly argue with such a complete lack of prima face evidence? Yes, all was going so well for Ms. May and her conspirators until their hired media minions made their first fatal and undeniable mistake.

Enter the true hero of our story, our savior, Nash Van Drake. Cat. Black cat. Likely Russian agent and the only live witness; one who knew all too well the other fundamental slogan of political cover-up…”Dead men ( and cats) tell no tales”. The two Guinea pigs were already toast, which, of course, fit the UK narrative that the Russian sounding Novichok — quickly renamed that week from its original name, “Foliant” —  had ultimately (after the Government story changed multiple times) originated in… or on… or around the Skripal house, hence the two little Guinea pigs’ timely demise and convenient incineration. However…

You see, Van Drake was a black cat: Persian of Arabic descent. In the UK being black and/or Arab is increasingly great cause for caution. After years of living safely curled up on the living room settee watching the daily BBC propaganda reel or evenings on former spy Mr. Skripal’s lap forever watching James Bond reruns on ITV — over and over and over again — when the strange alien-looking men in yellow suits, plastic masks, and oxygen tanks picked the lock on the Skripal’s front door, astutely Van Drake took to these years of imposed TV training and knew just what to do. Run!

The poor caged Guinea pigs didn’t have a chance.

Once upon a time, the secret services of the dominant world had at least the courtesy to respect the world’s intelligence quotient even when discounting their country’s own. In that era, evil political intentions did attempt to carefully cover the footprints leading to their too many false flag operations. Professional surreptitious skullduggery, however, has now given way to plots of conquest that are really ham-fisted affronts to simple mental logic followed by a near total media cover-up in favor of same.

This has so far been all too effective, and with the similarly agendized publishers in the US and UK having control of over 90% of these “media choices,” a media black-out of inconvenient facts has been the de rigueur method of cover-up. This new methodology of political deceit relies on one single, all-important premise, one that evil minds similar to those of Trump, Macron, and May believe to their soulless core:

We control the story and …You… are too stupid and willfully ignorant to find the truth.

While quantitatively and historically accurate in their belief to date, unfortunately for MI-6 and their resulting worldwide television theatrical performance, Brits are also animal lovers. One might well, then, imagine the look on the faces of the conspirators when, after already disposing of the evidence of the two conveniently dead rodents and thus certifying their claim that the Skripals were poisoned at their home, they were suddenly shocked by the very first serious media question, one for which the co-conspirators collectively had only one confused, nervous, sideways looking answer… “What Cat?!”

Like Jack Ruby seeking out Oswald, the cops were off again to fix this glaring omission. Poor Van Drake, still hiding in the dark of his own Palestine under the couch, and now revealed, never had a chance. As the yellow suited masked men dragged him kicking and screaming off to certain chemical weapons death at Briton’s own self-proclaimed Auschwitz, the secret chemical weapons facility known instead as Porton Down, the poor kitty had no way of knowing that his cremation would make him the hero of this hilarious and almost fatal — for us — tragedy. For it was Van Drake, his being alive and next dead, that snapped the world to the proper realization that: one: the highly lethal military grade Novichok/Foliant in question was approximately as deadly as Van Drake’s own flea collar, and better: Ms. May, the Cons, and the vaunted UK press were completely lying out their ass!

Finally, it seemed the counter-intelligence services of first world hegemony had actually managed to underestimate the true intelligence of the average Briton and, apparently, the military intelligence services of most of the other nations on earth. It’s one thing to shoot Palestinians for target practice, inflict the world’s biggest cholera epidemic on Yemen while bombing its hospitals and doctors, or terrorize a few hundred thousand Rohingya into abandoning their homes for the pleasure of capitalist pursuits: all these so easily ignored by a deliberate media sedated, flag-wrapped public. But, this time they had gone too far. They had killed… a cat!

What a fuck-up!

Fast forward to the land — the epicenter — of nationwide mind fabrication. Just as strangely as barely-prime minister, Ms. May, the new White House presidential marionette in orange, despite having been repeatedly for a year bitch slapped into submission by his adversaries on all sides of the aisle, was still having problems with those pesky Democrats and their Justice Department, their attorneys, and this past week, their cops. Worse, to a President who craves personal approval like an American male does Opioids, his popularity ratings were down.

What to do? To a man with a golf ball sized IQ, there was only one thing he could do. A choice that would make him popular from the boardrooms of Halliburton to the gun-toting, Jack Daniels-swilling taverns, and barrooms of Tennessee. From the dark shadowy dampness of the Israeli Knesset to the gold lined palaces of the newly anointed Saudi prophet, MBS in Riyadh: A nice “new, shiny, smart” war.

Perfect!!

But how to start a new war. That chemical weapons false flag rubbish had failed, one, two three… six times in the past. Oh, and that Salisbury debacle — where the Skripal’s were doing just fine all of a sudden — now makes seven failures. But, to hell with a smart guy like Einstein, why not give it another shot. Besides Trump had a specially prepared US media tool awaiting: Those ever handy and timely White Helmets; the ones who always seem better with a video camera than at performing first aid. Fresh off being handed a shiny 2017 Oscar for their star acting role in their own Hollywood propaganda film of justification, surely they could finally get it right this time?

Thus we, the civilized world, were treated to another round of intelligence insulting western inspired theatrics. And it might have worked. Almost did. Because, hey, these are the guys who wore the White helmets. White ones. Who could argue with that?

Needing a coalition of the willing for his new war, the logical first choice for Trump was to invite his equally flawed counterpart in London to jump into bed with him.  Apparently the salacious allegations of the Steele dossier — which the UK press failed to show as connected to Skripal senior — may be true since Trump showed a continued passion for the kinky in next going French, and inviting another similarly descending political hack to his menage a trois of war.

Macron, whose popularity echoes his two concubines in being approximately that of Napoleon bringing the troops home from Russia, was down to his skivvies in seconds. Reduced to attacking farmers and peaceful protesters in his stated effort to bring all things capitalist to bare in traditionally socialist France, he had obviously failed to yet master the emasculation of his own media. Thus the irony of all this, applied to French Napoleonic law, was that in the eyes of his countrymen Macron was at the very least, “guilty until proven innocent.” And, good luck with that.

So, when Washington called, followed by a short follow-up ring from Tel Aviv, Macron also knew just what to do. And, off to war it was.

For two weeks these three frolicked in a pre-war orgy of selling the exact same pack of lies to their own nation’s public via their own controlled media; lies that continued to include the connection to the Soviet Union Russia via the Skripal chemical weapons attack in Salisbury. Of course, this Syrian attack in Ghouta was real this time. Right?

However, in this mad three-nation ramp-up to new war many persons of rational mind and a penchant for self-preservation, persons that included world leaders still in possession of their facilities, continued to wonder about the massive logical and factual problems with the Skripal incident and “the cat.” This was shown in the universal lack of willingness of other countries to enter the fray. When Angela Merkel doesn’t willingly join an American rush to war, you know there’s a big problem. However, many leaders did save face with Israel and half-heartedly attested to the full package of lies being true by abstaining in their UN votes to stop the pending attack.

So, our three continued to cavort in pre-war bliss despite the constant interruptions made by John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, scratching and whining at the bedroom door while trying to get in. But, their orgy did continue, the glee of upcoming death and destruction being spawned from their own loins an aphrodisiac far too strong to be controlled.

Sadly, despite the inquiries and outrage of the few sharp minds — and cat lovers — worldwide, these three Israeli concubines did finally manage to achieve coitus this past Saturday, April 14, 2018, with the Donald next indiscriminately ejaculating cruise missiles all over Syria.

These missiles, having an unusually high mortality rate of their own (71/103), did almost nothing to Syria or Syrians who that new morning danced in streets afterward. But this charade did allow an embattled US president to temporarily forget his troubles, put his golf balls back in his sack and feel much better after having finally relieved himself.

Not quite done, it was time for the final act: for the three to prove that, when it comes to congressional or parliamentary oversight for more war: 1) it is far easier to beg forgiveness, than to ask permission and 2) these same legislative checks on war powers are in reality as effective a deterrent as that of a Las Vegas boxing commissioner. A few more calls from Tel Aviv, soon to be Jerusalem, and the little fish in the US congress and the two parliaments were again nicely ketteled into the proper way of retroactive thinking and approving…more war.

Well, the moral of this ages-old recurring fable of overconfident governmental, covert operations should be obvious. It should not take one dead cat and a couple of Guineas to shock us all to the proper realization:

When it comes to the Governments of our world…it’s all a pack of lies.

So, we the intelligent world salute you Nash Van Drake and your tiny brethren. May you all rest in peace in the service of us all. May we together pray: pray that the world quickly awakens to the terminal realizations of poor Van Drake, reluctant hero, as the steel doors of the gas chamber called Porton Down creaked open before him and he swallowed forever his last breath…

Not a one of us has nine lives, and our governments are pretty sure that we are all… dumber than a god damn cat!

Poison Gas: Weapon of Choice for “False News”

Poison gas is not only deadly, it often provokes a slow suffocating death. That, perpetrated on innocent children, is particularly cruel. But when such poison gas attacks are mere false flags, or by the new term, “false news”, and are used to provoke war, perhaps an all annihilating war, then humanity has turned to what it never should have become – a lowly-lowly herd of brainless zombies. Is that what we have become – brainless, greedy, selfish beings, no sense of solidarity, no respect for other beings; I am not even talking about humans, but any living being.

Poison gas, the weapon of choice for fear. Poisoning in Salisbury of the former Russian double-agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, visiting her dad from Moscow. Poisoning with a nerve gas, called Novichok that was allegedly made in Russia. In the meantime, we know that nerve gas made in the former Soviet Union, now non-existent in Russia, was military grade and deadly. The gas used for the alleged attack was not deadly. We also know by now that the UK – all of their highest officials, from PM May down the ladder, lied so miserably that they will have a hard time recovering. It will backfire. The foreign secretary, Johnson boy, pretended their secret bio-gas/bio-weapon laboratory Porton Down, just 13 km down the road from Salisbury, where the pair was allegedly found unconscious on a park bench, assured him the gas was made in Russia. Alas, it was a miserable lie. The laboratory’s chief chemists testified later to the media that they could not be sure that the substance was made in Russia. No, of course not.

In fact, Porton Down, working in close collaboration with the CIA, is a highly sophisticated chemical warfare facility that can easily make the gas themselves, at the grades they please, deadly or not so deadly, if it should serve a “false news” purpose, which this did. In the meantime, as reported today by RT, the entire case has been deconstructed. The components of Novichok are easy to come by, and almost every decent lab can make the poison gas, tailored to its needs.

Were father and daughter indeed poisoned?  This is a legitimate question. Who has seen them since the alleged poisoning occurred on 28 March?  They disappeared from the public eye. Apparently, they are both recovering, Yulia having been released from hospital a few days ago, but has not been seen by anyone in public, nor been able to talk to the media, lest she could say “something” the public is not allowed to know. She is being kept in a secret place. Her father is also recovering and may be released soon – released from where? Is this all a farce?

An aunt talked to Yulia from Moscow, where she noticed that Yulia was not free to talk. The aunt wanted to visit her niece in the UK but was obviously denied a visa.

Where are father and daughter? Washington has “offered” them a new home and new identity in the US, to avoid further poisoning attempts… how ridiculous! A blind man or woman must see that this is another farce, or more correctly, an outright abduction. The two won’t have a chance to resist. They are just taken away – not to talk anymore to anyone ever. That’s the way the story goes. The lies are protected, and the “Russia did it” syndrome will prevail – prevail in the dumb folded public, in the herd of pigs that we all have become, as Goebbels would say.

And the saga continues. The saga to drum up war. That’s the purpose of it all. Nothing else – Russia, the evil nation, led by an evil leader, must be subdued and conquered. But the empire needs the public for their support. And the empire is almost there. It disposes of a vicious media corporate army that lies flagrantly about anything that money can buy. It’s like spitting in the face of the world, and nobody seems to care, or worse, even to notice.

On the other side of the Mediterranean is Syria. A vast and noble country, Syria, with a leader who truly loves his people and country, a leader who has despite a foreign induced war — not civil war, a proxy war — instigated and funded by Washington and its vassal allies in Europe and the Middle East; Syria, a highly educated socialist country that has shared the benefit of her resources, free education, free medical services, free basic infrastructure, with her people. This Syria must fall. Such strength cannot be tolerated by the all-dominating west. Like Iraq and Libya, also socialist countries once-upon-a-time, and like Syria, secular Muslim nations, sharing their countries’ wealth with the people, such countries must fall.

According to Pentagon planners and those Zion-neofascist think tanks that designed the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century), as the chief instrument of US foreign policy, we know since Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied commander and Chief of NATO in Europe (1997-2000) talked to Democracy Now in 2007, saying that within 5 years seven countries must fall. One of them is Syria. Since 2011, the Syrian people have been bombarded by US and NATO and Saudi funded terrorists, causing tens of thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees. Now, even more blatantly, US bases are vying to occupying the northern third of Syria, totally illegally, but nobody says beep. Not even the UN.

The recent fake gas attack on Douma outside of Damascus has allegedly killed 80 to 120 people, mostly women and children. Of course, that sells best in the propaganda theatre – women and children. But there is not proof, none whatsoever. To the contrary. People living in Douma say they haven’t heard of any nerve gas attack. Strangely, like last time, the infamous White Helmets discovered the gas victims, including a gas canister-like bomb laying on a bed, having been shot through the roof of a house… a totally unprofessionally staged event. As Russian military quickly discovered and reported. They called on an independent investigation, one that could not be bought and corrupted by Washington. President Assad invited a team of investigators to inspect the scene.

Instead of heeding this invitation, Trump, the bully, calls Mr. Assad an “animal” and a “monster”, twittering his brainless aggressions throughout the world. Tell you what, Mr. Trump.  Bashar al-Assad is a far better human being than you are a monster. You and your dark handlers don’t even deserve being called human. Mr. Assad has regard and respect for his people, attempts to protect them and has so far succeeded with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, recovering the last bits of Syrian territory from the terrorists, except, of course, the northern part, where the chief terrorist and the world’s only rogue state has installed itself, the US of A. Why in the world would Mr. Assad choose to gas his own people? Especially, when he is winning the war?  People, ask yourself, cui bono (who benefits?) and the answer is simple: The western aggressors, who seek a reason to mass bomb Syria into even more rubble, causing even more death and destitution. And making a shitload of money – as war usually does. That’s who.

While you, Donald, and those monsters that direct you from behind the scenes, have no, but absolutely no respect for your own people, for any people on this globe, for that matter, not even for your kind, for your greed-no-end kind of elite, as you bring the world to the brink of an all-destructive, all killing annihilating war.

Since the other fake event, 9/11, we are, of course, already in a “soft version” of WWIII, but that’s not enough. The United States needs a hard war, so badly it doesn’t shy away from destroying itself. That’s how blinded your own propaganda has made you Americans, you generals, you corporate “leaders” (sic-sic) – and all you Congress puppets. That is the sheer truth. You better read this and wake up. Otherwise your death sentence is hastened by your own greed and ignorance.

Both Russia and the US drafted each a Security Council Resolution – which, of course, are both not approved, with Nikki Haley lambasting Russia, accusing them of being responsible for the countless deaths in Syria, pointing again to the children and women, making up the majority. Again, it sells best in the world of psychological propaganda, while evil Nikki Haley knows very well who has caused all these deaths by the millions, destitution and refugees by the millions, tens of millions throughout the Middle East and the world – her own country, directly or through NATO, the European puppets allies and proxy wars, paid and funded by Washington and by elbow-twisting her vassals.

On 9 April – UNSC – while Nikki Haley, repeats and over-repeats her lies and fake accusations, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Vassily Nebenzia, listens. And then in a twenty-minute statement of sheer intelligence, he dismantles all the lies, and lays bare the truth, about all the fakeness being played out internationally. The depth with which he addresses the assembly is concise and so brilliant, none of his UK, French and German counterparts could have ever come close to a statement of this magnitude and excellence. Even Ms. Haley can’t help glancing over ever-so often to Vassily Nebenzia, as he speaks. Her eyes reveal some kind of hidden admiration for what he says. After all, she can’t be as dumb as she is paid for to look and sound.

By now anybody who dares not just reading and listening to the mainstream presstitute “fake news”, but has the courage to dig into the truth news, RT, TeleSur, CGTN, PressTV and a few others, or websites like Global Research, The Saker Blog, ICH, NEO, Greanville Post, CounterCurrent, Dissident Voice and many other trustworthy sources, knows about the lies and the only, but the very only, purpose these false flags cum false news serve: Provoking a war with Russia, subjugating and dividing Syria, and the Middle East and the US becoming the hegemonic masters of the universe.

For the simple reason, and hardly anybody talks or writes about it – the US economy is based on war, is based on weapon manufacturing and international banking which finances weapon manufacturing and the exploitation of mineral resources coveted by weapon manufacturing.

The entire war industry with all its associated civil services and industries, of banking, electronics, aviation, mining…. makes up more than half of the US GDP but, of course, it’s never broken down that way. The chosen people will control the world. Well, they do already – financially at least the western part of our globe. But it’s not enough. They will not stop before they bury themselves in their own-dug graves, or rather in one massive mass-grave. But, please, do take all your fakeness, from money, to lies, to hypocrisy and more lies and coercion and sanctions and blackmail with you never to surface again. And give peace a chance for those who survive your (almost) terminal assault on humanity.

Salisbury Continues to Suffer While Theresa May Plays Novichok Game

Salisbury is still suffering from the crazy Skripal/nerve agent event that took place on Sunday 4th March.  Four weeks on the picture is still grim despite local efforts to encourage people to come to the city.  It is after all a shopping and tourist magnet.

On 23rd March Environment Minister Michael Gove visited the city and promised government support.  He said, “I know that local businesses have taken a bit of a hit understandably as a result of the events…”  A ‘bit of a hit’?

Across the city, businesses have taken a 20% fall and are still far from back to normal.  There has been a 90% drop in visitors to the city, with a corresponding drop in trade, particularly for those shops near the Maltings where the unconscious Skripals were found, and it is not much better now.  It could take weeks for things to return to anything like it should be.

The government is providing £1 million to help faltering business, although they haven’t said when.  And promises are often empty where this government is concerned.  It may sound a lot but it isn’t, and Salisbury will be lobbying for more.  It really should be seen as compensation for the damage done by the government in pushing its anti-Russia agenda.  In a more constructive fashion, Wiltshire County Council took the decision to make all parking free within the city, even though it would lose them a lot of revenue.  Did that work?

On Easter Saturday I revisited Salisbury to see for myself.  This was, after all, a holiday weekend, and Salisbury should be packed with people.  Yes, car parks were full but…

Sainsbury’s supermarket, between a big car park and the Maltings, was not exactly humming.  Although the check-out tills were busy, there were no queues.  Walking along the ends of the aisles, I saw only one or two people in each, searching the shelves.  I spoke to a Sainsbury’s floor manager, who told me that, “Yes, free parking has made a difference, but…,” and he looked around, “this is not as it would be, normally.”

I later went to another supermarket, out on the edge of the city centre, and accessible by one of the busy through-roads.  That was very active.  I wondered whether it may have picked up some of the customers lost by other stores, but truly, no one is a winner here.

Whichever way you approach the Maltings, there are large official signs saying ‘Shops Open’.  But there is also a very visible police presence, both cars and officers, and areas cordoned-off with police tape.

Because it was a holiday weekend, work on the decontamination of various sites had been postponed and everywhere cleared of people in protective suits, which might have ‘unsettled’ Easter weekend visitors.  But there were still too many police on display, some of which have been drafted in from other counties.  And the shops along the area where the Skripals were found are still shut, even though the bench they sat on has been removed.  Why not remove the litter bin right beside it?

I returned to a shop I had been in before and spoke to the manager.  Free parking had not made much difference to shops around the Maltings.  People see the police, she explained, and walk another way into the city centre.  Yes, some did come into the shop and say they were ‘there to support Salisbury’.  Then, she said, they walk out again.  Well, sorry folks, but don’t pat yourselves on the back for that.  Next time, get your wallets out and buy something.  That’s how to support Salisbury.

All such small shops, so dependent on tourists, are wondering if they can survive much more because, despite cars coming in and parking for free, the coaches full of tourists are not coming.  I found one coach park that, apart from two little local buses and a big coach from Kent, was empty.  I was told that one coach tour company has simply cancelled all its Salisbury tours for this year.

And what of Guildhall Square that was so empty when I last saw it?  It was filled with the Saturday market; huge stalls laid out with rails of clothes, tiers of fresh vegetables and all the other things you expect in an open-air market.  Just not quite enough customers to fill the spaces between the stalls.  Bustle it didn’t, and the cafes and restaurants were still not full enough.

Salisbury may have to face months of decontamination work, with all that involves.  What is worse is that, each time the Novichok story goes a bit dead in the media, out pops something else to hit the headlines.  And none of it, when you sit back and really look at it, makes sense.

Almost 3 weeks after the incident, Public Health England issued further advice on dealing with the clothes worn by perhaps 500 people which may have been ‘infected’, offering compensation for those clothes that should be dry-cleaned.  Is this for real?  Or has everything been infected by May?

At the end of March Prime Minister May was still claiming that up to 130 people ‘may have been exposed to Novichok’.  A Salisbury Hospital doctor disagreed.  In a letter to The Times, regarding their article Salisbury poisoning exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment, Stephen Davies, a consultant in emergency medicine, wrote that:

‘No patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning’.  And note, not nerve agent poisoning, just poisoning.

Three patients – Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was reported to have been ‘among the first to help Col. Skripal and his daughter as they lay stricken… and was rushed to hospital after the incident.’

Now, hang on a minute.  What was a plain clothes policeman doing on a Sunday afternoon to be so handily on the scene?  And none of the first responders, the paramedics, were affected by this deadly nerve agent.  In fact, when May met them she was told that they thought they were attending a drug overdose, and goodness knows, paramedics have seen enough of those to know what they’re looking at.

Bailey apparently took himself to hospital later to report some symptoms but was discharged.  He was also one of the first police officers to go to Skripal’s house the following morning, and was in hospital by the evening, with reports of the police believing he was ‘contaminated’ in Skripal’s house.

He was discharged from hospital on March 22nd, unlike the Skripals, who are invisible and, despite pressure, unvisited by the Russian Ambassador.  “At least Bailey’s gone home,” I commented to one shop owner, a long-time Salisbury trader.  “Oh no,” she replied.  “He can’t go there, his house is cordoned off!”

“Well,” I said, “perhaps he’s in hiding elsewhere in Salisbury.”

No again.  “We all know Nick.  He’d be recognised, wherever he was.”

“Then perhaps he’s gone somewhere else.  Perhaps he’ll transfer to another police force,” I suggested.

“I doubt he’ll want to carry on policing, not after this,” was the confident reply.  Indeed, Salisbury does know, and has great affection for its Nick Bailey.  When I said he seemed to be quite a poster boy for the city, she agreed.  And I cynically wondered if that was why he had been chosen for the role in May’s Novichok drama.

Then on March 28th something else hit the headlines: Specialists have found that the greatest concentration of the nerve agent was on Skripal’s front door, and that this must be how they were poisoned.

Now hang on another minute.  Police and aliens in Hazmat suits have been going in and out of this house since whenever.  One investigator was photographed in the garden with a checklist taped to the back of his/her suit. Are these really specialists in their work?  And why react to the ‘front door’ news by rushing to cordon off the children’s play area just down the road?  A ‘precautionary’ measure or scare tactics?

If the contamination by such a deadly ‘nerve agent’ on the front door was so high, and is now first in the long list of how the Skripals got poisoned, why did it take so long to have an effect?  Drive into the city centre, park your car, walk to the Mill pub for a drink, walk back to the Zizzi restaurant to have a leisurely meal, walk from Zizzi’s through Market Walk to the bench in the Maltings (a mere 100 yards or so) and all the while showing no signs of physical distress – all this, then boom, and you’re unconscious?

Here’s another question: why, when a few days earlier, investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were collecting their own samples from ‘contaminated sites’, was the deadly front door only discovered after they had left?

One can only hope that OPCW gets brave and really sinks Theresa May’s nerve agent ship.  And if it does, Salisbury is due much, much more than £1 million.

The Ease of Accusation: The Skripal Affair

The policy of responding to assassinations on British soil is a near non-existent one.  Her Majesty’s Government is certainly in the habit of huffing, and steam can issue from deliberations in the House of Commons. But substance is often absent.

When Buzzfeed conducted an investigation into the mortuary of incidents in 2017, it found a degree of indifference on the part of British authorities.  Trumpeting findings that fourteen individuals had “been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem”, the reporters honed in on British sluggishness.  While the Russian bear was busy, Britannia was asleep.

The attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia by a nerve agent is coloured by such a backdrop.  With each day, Downing Street has had to seem to be doing something in linking the attempted killings with identifiable culprits.  Britain is at a low ebb, barely finding its place at the Brexit negotiation table with the European Union.  Weakness and questionable competence is all around.

While this has happened, President Vladimir Putin has been re-elected.  Russia is revitalised.  The Kremlin comes with conveniently heavy baggage of blame.  A perfect situation, then, to point a distracting finger of accusation, making Britain the first state to accuse another of attacking it with a chemical weapon since the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has obviously been landed the job of running the accusations which have been beaded together with faux consistency. The case for the prosecution, he argues, is that the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack was of the Novichok group “according to our scientists at Porton Down.”

The second point is track record and experience. “You also have to consider,” he explained to Deutsche Welle, “that Sergei Skripal is somebody who is being identified as a target for liquidation and that Vladimir Putin has himself said that traitors, i.e. defectors such as Mr. Skripal, should be poisoned.”

Let us take the Novichok suggestion.  The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which oversees the implementation of the CWC, claimed on March 16 that there was “no record of the Novichok group of nerve agents having been declared by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Where intelligence matters are politicised, links will be forged and tenuous ties made.  The Russian factor, goes the British line, is unmistakable and unimpeachable.  This, despite certification by the OPCW that Russia destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical weapons pursuant to the CWC.  Or that its source of production – the Nukus plant in Uzbekistan – was dismantled and decontaminated with the assistance of the United States in accordance with the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program in 1999.  Brows might well crease with suspicion at that very fact.

Then comes the ease with which Novichok agents can be made.  According to military chemist Vil Mirzayanov, the man who first revealed the existence of the chemical family, making such compounds using commercial ingredients is hardly a herculean task.  This very fact flies in the face of the British claim of Russian exclusivity.

Despite such spanners being cast into the works, individuals such as John Lamb of Birmingham City University insist that, “The Novichok family was specifically created by Russia to be unknown in the West and as such it’ll be one of their most tightly guarded secrets.”

Except, of course, when US scientists made contact with the Uzbek plant in question.  Couple this with the throwaway line in a 2007 Stratfor study on makers of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the singular premise starts to wither: “Cuba is believed to have developed these chemical weapons: tabun, sarin, soman, yellow rain, novichok, phosgene oxime, arsine trihydride, and hydrogen cyanide.”

The second point – the poisoning of traitors, defectors or the like – only makes sense if Skripal had turned a newly rotten leaf.  Political opponents, dissidents and journalists constitute ongoing threats; a double agent living out his days away from the service in Salisbury – if it can be assumed he ever left it – hardly cuts the mustard.  It would, for one thing, make the largest post-Cold War spy exchange moot.

“If they really wanted the man dead,” suggests Justin Glyn, “a convenient accident could surely have been arranged while he was still in prison.”  Yet here was a statement of blatant, open incrimination, delivered with distinctly odd timing.

Even major papers are pondering the sense of targeting Skripal. “So far,” goes the Financial Times, “the picture that has emerged of Mr Skripal suggests he was living a quiet life and had left his days as a colonel in Russia’s military intelligence arm, the GRU, and as a high-value M16 informant, well behind him.”  Links to private intelligence firms such as Christopher Steele’s Orbis, the entity behind the Trump-Russia dossier, are also discounted.

That said, the paper goes on to suggest that Skripal had not been fully decommissioned.  A “senior security source” – anonymously cited, naturally – is quoted as claiming that, “There was interest from friendly foreign services after he was released in the spy swap. He was useful for a limited period.” Hardly a ringing endorsement for murder.

Putin, however, remains irresistible as the accused. He furnishes Johnson with historical elevation and purpose. “We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War.”

On this occasion, domestic politics, as it often does, is driving the international response.  Diplomats have been expelled from both states.  Harsh words are being traded.  Strikingly, Britain, in defiance of the spirit behind the CWC, has refused to surrender any of the Novichok samples to Russian investigators.  The dense incongruity of it all might, in time, only be illuminated by Skripal himself.  Double agents, let alone ones dedicated to one side, never quite abandon their briefs.

The Ease of Accusation: The Skripal Affair

The policy of responding to assassinations on British soil is a near non-existent one.  Her Majesty’s Government is certainly in the habit of huffing, and steam can issue from deliberations in the House of Commons. But substance is often absent.

When Buzzfeed conducted an investigation into the mortuary of incidents in 2017, it found a degree of indifference on the part of British authorities.  Trumpeting findings that fourteen individuals had “been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem”, the reporters honed in on British sluggishness.  While the Russian bear was busy, Britannia was asleep.

The attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia by a nerve agent is coloured by such a backdrop.  With each day, Downing Street has had to seem to be doing something in linking the attempted killings with identifiable culprits.  Britain is at a low ebb, barely finding its place at the Brexit negotiation table with the European Union.  Weakness and questionable competence is all around.

While this has happened, President Vladimir Putin has been re-elected.  Russia is revitalised.  The Kremlin comes with conveniently heavy baggage of blame.  A perfect situation, then, to point a distracting finger of accusation, making Britain the first state to accuse another of attacking it with a chemical weapon since the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has obviously been landed the job of running the accusations which have been beaded together with faux consistency. The case for the prosecution, he argues, is that the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack was of the Novichok group “according to our scientists at Porton Down.”

The second point is track record and experience. “You also have to consider,” he explained to Deutsche Welle, “that Sergei Skripal is somebody who is being identified as a target for liquidation and that Vladimir Putin has himself said that traitors, i.e. defectors such as Mr. Skripal, should be poisoned.”

Let us take the Novichok suggestion.  The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which oversees the implementation of the CWC, claimed on March 16 that there was “no record of the Novichok group of nerve agents having been declared by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Where intelligence matters are politicised, links will be forged and tenuous ties made.  The Russian factor, goes the British line, is unmistakable and unimpeachable.  This, despite certification by the OPCW that Russia destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical weapons pursuant to the CWC.  Or that its source of production – the Nukus plant in Uzbekistan – was dismantled and decontaminated with the assistance of the United States in accordance with the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program in 1999.  Brows might well crease with suspicion at that very fact.

Then comes the ease with which Novichok agents can be made.  According to military chemist Vil Mirzayanov, the man who first revealed the existence of the chemical family, making such compounds using commercial ingredients is hardly a herculean task.  This very fact flies in the face of the British claim of Russian exclusivity.

Despite such spanners being cast into the works, individuals such as John Lamb of Birmingham City University insist that, “The Novichok family was specifically created by Russia to be unknown in the West and as such it’ll be one of their most tightly guarded secrets.”

Except, of course, when US scientists made contact with the Uzbek plant in question.  Couple this with the throwaway line in a 2007 Stratfor study on makers of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the singular premise starts to wither: “Cuba is believed to have developed these chemical weapons: tabun, sarin, soman, yellow rain, novichok, phosgene oxime, arsine trihydride, and hydrogen cyanide.”

The second point – the poisoning of traitors, defectors or the like – only makes sense if Skripal had turned a newly rotten leaf.  Political opponents, dissidents and journalists constitute ongoing threats; a double agent living out his days away from the service in Salisbury – if it can be assumed he ever left it – hardly cuts the mustard.  It would, for one thing, make the largest post-Cold War spy exchange moot.

“If they really wanted the man dead,” suggests Justin Glyn, “a convenient accident could surely have been arranged while he was still in prison.”  Yet here was a statement of blatant, open incrimination, delivered with distinctly odd timing.

Even major papers are pondering the sense of targeting Skripal. “So far,” goes the Financial Times, “the picture that has emerged of Mr Skripal suggests he was living a quiet life and had left his days as a colonel in Russia’s military intelligence arm, the GRU, and as a high-value M16 informant, well behind him.”  Links to private intelligence firms such as Christopher Steele’s Orbis, the entity behind the Trump-Russia dossier, are also discounted.

That said, the paper goes on to suggest that Skripal had not been fully decommissioned.  A “senior security source” – anonymously cited, naturally – is quoted as claiming that, “There was interest from friendly foreign services after he was released in the spy swap. He was useful for a limited period.” Hardly a ringing endorsement for murder.

Putin, however, remains irresistible as the accused. He furnishes Johnson with historical elevation and purpose. “We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War.”

On this occasion, domestic politics, as it often does, is driving the international response.  Diplomats have been expelled from both states.  Harsh words are being traded.  Strikingly, Britain, in defiance of the spirit behind the CWC, has refused to surrender any of the Novichok samples to Russian investigators.  The dense incongruity of it all might, in time, only be illuminated by Skripal himself.  Double agents, let alone ones dedicated to one side, never quite abandon their briefs.

Salisbury, Skripal and Novichok: A Local View

From the moment the news came out that on Sunday March 4th in Salisbury, one of England’s revered cathedral cities, a Russian spy and his daughter had been poisoned by some form of ‘nerve agent’ my reaction was ‘Oh dear’.

Jeremy Corbyn correctly reminded Parliament of Tony Blair’s attempt to frighten people into going to war with Iraq with his ‘’dodgy dossier’ and 45 minutes claim.  But most have forgotten that, four days before the huge demonstration in London the Army very visibly arrived at Heathrow airport, because there was a possible threat of planes being hit by al Qa’ida missiles.  They disappeared after a day or so as it was obvious the protest by millions would go ahead anyway.

The ever-increasing hysteria of the government and mainstream media in the days that followed the Salisbury incident was giving off the same nasty smell.  All the ‘news’ was evidence-light and full of anomalies that no one addressed.  It seems that once again, a government is trying to scare everyone, this time to make us point the accusing finger at Russia.

Then I read a comment by a Salisbury resident: “It’s like a ghost town.”  The government’s reaction had so frightened everyone that people weren’t coming to the city.  Shops and businesses were suffering.  I don’t exactly live a million miles from Salisbury, so I hopped on the train to see for myself how it was coping.

Visit Salisbury at any time of the year and it will be heaving with people coming to shop, to eat at one of the many cafes, restaurants and pubs, to visit the Cathedral and to walk through the ancient narrow streets.  Not now, it isn’t.  From the moment I walked out of the station towards the city centre I was struck by the lack of people.  Plenty of traffic winding its way through the narrow medieval streets but pedestrians?  No.

I made my way to the Maltings where Skripal and his daughter had been found, collapsed on a bench.  It’s a pedestrianised area, with a central green area (where that bench was) beside a river, surrounded by some big stores and lots of little, individual shops.  Walk through it from the car parks and you come out into the old city centre with its ancient timber-frame and brick buildings.  It’s not just popular with the locals, it is tourist heaven.

On my way in there was a policemen on duty and blue-and-white cordon tape.  Further in were more police guarding cordoned-off areas and some media – cameras and reporters making their filmed reports to Sky News or whoever.  I overheard one of them saying “She is due to arrive…”  Could I possibly have arrived just before our useless Prime Minister Theresa May finally came to Salisbury?  I would have to wait and see.

I filled in time with looking at some of the shops.  There were five within the cordon, forced to close for nearly two weeks, and no end in sight.  Beyond them, just outside the cordon, was an Original Factory Shop with open doors.  I didn’t go in.  I didn’t want to face the embarrassment of being the only person in a large store not standing behind a counter.  Sainsbury’s supermarket, on the edge of the Maltings, wasn’t faring much better.

I tried the little shops, loved by visitors to Salisbury.  It is nearly Easter.  Windows were filled with Easter displays, and no public to enjoy them.  In each was a lonely person waiting in vain for customers.  I asked one of them how bad the trade was.  “It’s twice as bad as it was last week,” she said, “and it’s getting worse.”  Depressed, I went back and stood by the bridge over the river, waiting for May.

The press were gathering, more cameras, microphones held ready.  A Wiltshire policeman passed me and grinned. “We don’t usually have exciting things happen in Salisbury!” he said cheerfully.  But Salisbury really could do without this thrill.

May appeared with Chief Constable Pritchard and was immediately surrounded by the press.  I heard an animated conversation going on behind me.  It was Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, talking to some local people.  They only realised who he was after he walked off, back to the city centre and away from the media scrum.  Sensible man.

Two schoolgirls passed May on their way back to school after lunch, one of them saying, “I don’t really care about her.”  May went on a tiny walk-about and met one or two shop owners, probably handpicked for being Prime Minister-friendly.  Then it was off to the Guildhall for a meeting with first-responders.

The empty Guildhall Square at lunchtime – every building in the photo is a café, pub or restaurant!

Outside was a crowd, rubber necking, along with lots of police, some noisy police dogs, and a fire engine.  Hovering overhead were helicopters and a drone.  No wonder Salisbury residents and visitors are becoming fearful and staying away.  Apart from the crowd standing outside the Guildhall, the large Guildhall Square was almost deserted, and this at lunchtime when offices empty and people fill the cafes, restaurants and pubs that surround the Square and it’s hard to find a free table anywhere.  Now they were almost all free.

Here and there I saw large signs outside the shops declaring, ‘Open for Business’.  I had never seen the city like this and it broke my heart.  It is scheduled to get worse.  On Monday March 12th the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner said that all the cordoned areas (of which there are several around the city) could remain in place for weeks, and that more could be set up.

But Salisbury has had enough and is fighting back.  In a narrow street going towards the cathedral I found a shop window with a message strung across it: #SALISBURYISOPEN.  Naturally I went in and asked the woman behind the counter what it meant.  And it all came pouring out.  “We’ve just recovered from all the ‘regeneration work’ on the car parks and the Maltings, when this happens,” she said, while explaining her message.

The Salisbury Journal, the city’s weekly paper, is one to be envied by other places.  The March 15th issue has a 12-page focus on the incident which puts the hyperventilating national press to shame.  The Journal is also doing what government has failed to do.  Ministers might insist Salisbury is ‘safe’, but that doesn’t match their scare-mongering.  So the Journal launched the ‘Salisbury is Open’ campaign.  That is what the ‘Open for Business’ signs are about.

Twitter: #salisburyisopen

I was told how Salisbury residents are too frightened to come into the centre to shop.  I was told of suspect vehicles being taken by the military to Porton Down, a fact confirmed by the Journal.  The Journal carefully lists them: ambulances, police cars (some unmarked) and two vehicle recovery vans, over several days.

Altogether, about 10 or 11 vehicles, for the scientists at Porton Down to examine for the presence of a ‘nerve agent’.  Scientists there must be tired of this, having apparently refused to identify it as Russian-made.

But the real question, says the lady in the shop, is ‘What about Skripal’s car?’ a red BMW series 3.  Why was it taking so long for the police to find it?  Surely they would look in the Sainsbury’s car park first?  They cordoned off the car park, but not until 8 days after the poisoning.  Later they came back and cordoned off the ticket machine.

It is known Skripal’s car entered the car park at about 1:40 pm on March 4th.  When was it taken to the Ashley Wood Recovery Garage, and by whom?  And indeed, why, unless to get it out of the way?

Why did ‘incident response units’ examine a red BMW at the Garage on Thursday March 8th, remove an Ashley Wood recovery van from Winterslow village on Monday 12th, return to the Garage on Tuesday 13th, remove another recovery van from a Dorset town on Thursday March 14th and only then on Friday, 12 whole days after the incident, it is officially identified as Skripal’s car, and the Journal reports that it is being removed from Ashley Wood Recovery Garage, with the national media limping in a day later.

12 days.  If this nerve agent is so very dangerous why is there so little to show for so much activity, and so many delays in dealing with it?  Doesn’t it look like an exercise in propaganda?

Are the counter terrorism police going to trace all those who used the car park ticket machine?  Are they going to cordon off any place (the cemetery is already out of bounds) where Skripal may possibly have been?  Are they going to spin this out even more and gradually put all of Ashley Wood’s vehicles in Porton Down, and all its staff in hospital?  Another local business ruined to further the UK’s anti-Russia campaign.

There is no thought for the city of Salisbury and its people in any of the government’s actions, so focused are they on their unsubstantiated accusations against Russia.  A Foreign Office statement claimed:

Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter – the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable.

The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was a ‘state-sponsored murder attempt’.  But which ‘state’ are we talking about?

It’s been clear for months that the government was using the Brexit shambles to hide the fact that they couldn’t govern the country and tackle its pressing issues – the health crisis, homelessness and lack of social housing, poverty and the awful results of its austerity programme.  Now it seems that the government is using Skripal to hide the fact that they can’t govern Brexit either.

And while they’re sorting out their fantastical mess, and if you live anywhere near Salisbury, go visit, eat out and buy something in the shops.

• Photos by Lesley Docksey

Salisbury, Skripal and Novichok: A Local View

From the moment the news came out that on Sunday March 4th in Salisbury, one of England’s revered cathedral cities, a Russian spy and his daughter had been poisoned by some form of ‘nerve agent’ my reaction was ‘Oh dear’.

Jeremy Corbyn correctly reminded Parliament of Tony Blair’s attempt to frighten people into going to war with Iraq with his ‘’dodgy dossier’ and 45 minutes claim.  But most have forgotten that, four days before the huge demonstration in London the Army very visibly arrived at Heathrow airport, because there was a possible threat of planes being hit by al Qa’ida missiles.  They disappeared after a day or so as it was obvious the protest by millions would go ahead anyway.

The ever-increasing hysteria of the government and mainstream media in the days that followed the Salisbury incident was giving off the same nasty smell.  All the ‘news’ was evidence-light and full of anomalies that no one addressed.  It seems that once again, a government is trying to scare everyone, this time to make us point the accusing finger at Russia.

Then I read a comment by a Salisbury resident: “It’s like a ghost town.”  The government’s reaction had so frightened everyone that people weren’t coming to the city.  Shops and businesses were suffering.  I don’t exactly live a million miles from Salisbury, so I hopped on the train to see for myself how it was coping.

Visit Salisbury at any time of the year and it will be heaving with people coming to shop, to eat at one of the many cafes, restaurants and pubs, to visit the Cathedral and to walk through the ancient narrow streets.  Not now, it isn’t.  From the moment I walked out of the station towards the city centre I was struck by the lack of people.  Plenty of traffic winding its way through the narrow medieval streets but pedestrians?  No.

I made my way to the Maltings where Skripal and his daughter had been found, collapsed on a bench.  It’s a pedestrianised area, with a central green area (where that bench was) beside a river, surrounded by some big stores and lots of little, individual shops.  Walk through it from the car parks and you come out into the old city centre with its ancient timber-frame and brick buildings.  It’s not just popular with the locals, it is tourist heaven.

On my way in there was a policemen on duty and blue-and-white cordon tape.  Further in were more police guarding cordoned-off areas and some media – cameras and reporters making their filmed reports to Sky News or whoever.  I overheard one of them saying “She is due to arrive…”  Could I possibly have arrived just before our useless Prime Minister Theresa May finally came to Salisbury?  I would have to wait and see.

I filled in time with looking at some of the shops.  There were five within the cordon, forced to close for nearly two weeks, and no end in sight.  Beyond them, just outside the cordon, was an Original Factory Shop with open doors.  I didn’t go in.  I didn’t want to face the embarrassment of being the only person in a large store not standing behind a counter.  Sainsbury’s supermarket, on the edge of the Maltings, wasn’t faring much better.

I tried the little shops, loved by visitors to Salisbury.  It is nearly Easter.  Windows were filled with Easter displays, and no public to enjoy them.  In each was a lonely person waiting in vain for customers.  I asked one of them how bad the trade was.  “It’s twice as bad as it was last week,” she said, “and it’s getting worse.”  Depressed, I went back and stood by the bridge over the river, waiting for May.

The press were gathering, more cameras, microphones held ready.  A Wiltshire policeman passed me and grinned. “We don’t usually have exciting things happen in Salisbury!” he said cheerfully.  But Salisbury really could do without this thrill.

May appeared with Chief Constable Pritchard and was immediately surrounded by the press.  I heard an animated conversation going on behind me.  It was Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, talking to some local people.  They only realised who he was after he walked off, back to the city centre and away from the media scrum.  Sensible man.

Two schoolgirls passed May on their way back to school after lunch, one of them saying, “I don’t really care about her.”  May went on a tiny walk-about and met one or two shop owners, probably handpicked for being Prime Minister-friendly.  Then it was off to the Guildhall for a meeting with first-responders.

The empty Guildhall Square at lunchtime – every building in the photo is a café, pub or restaurant!

Outside was a crowd, rubber necking, along with lots of police, some noisy police dogs, and a fire engine.  Hovering overhead were helicopters and a drone.  No wonder Salisbury residents and visitors are becoming fearful and staying away.  Apart from the crowd standing outside the Guildhall, the large Guildhall Square was almost deserted, and this at lunchtime when offices empty and people fill the cafes, restaurants and pubs that surround the Square and it’s hard to find a free table anywhere.  Now they were almost all free.

Here and there I saw large signs outside the shops declaring, ‘Open for Business’.  I had never seen the city like this and it broke my heart.  It is scheduled to get worse.  On Monday March 12th the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner said that all the cordoned areas (of which there are several around the city) could remain in place for weeks, and that more could be set up.

But Salisbury has had enough and is fighting back.  In a narrow street going towards the cathedral I found a shop window with a message strung across it: #SALISBURYISOPEN.  Naturally I went in and asked the woman behind the counter what it meant.  And it all came pouring out.  “We’ve just recovered from all the ‘regeneration work’ on the car parks and the Maltings, when this happens,” she said, while explaining her message.

The Salisbury Journal, the city’s weekly paper, is one to be envied by other places.  The March 15th issue has a 12-page focus on the incident which puts the hyperventilating national press to shame.  The Journal is also doing what government has failed to do.  Ministers might insist Salisbury is ‘safe’, but that doesn’t match their scare-mongering.  So the Journal launched the ‘Salisbury is Open’ campaign.  That is what the ‘Open for Business’ signs are about.

Twitter: #salisburyisopen

I was told how Salisbury residents are too frightened to come into the centre to shop.  I was told of suspect vehicles being taken by the military to Porton Down, a fact confirmed by the Journal.  The Journal carefully lists them: ambulances, police cars (some unmarked) and two vehicle recovery vans, over several days.

Altogether, about 10 or 11 vehicles, for the scientists at Porton Down to examine for the presence of a ‘nerve agent’.  Scientists there must be tired of this, having apparently refused to identify it as Russian-made.

But the real question, says the lady in the shop, is ‘What about Skripal’s car?’ a red BMW series 3.  Why was it taking so long for the police to find it?  Surely they would look in the Sainsbury’s car park first?  They cordoned off the car park, but not until 8 days after the poisoning.  Later they came back and cordoned off the ticket machine.

It is known Skripal’s car entered the car park at about 1:40 pm on March 4th.  When was it taken to the Ashley Wood Recovery Garage, and by whom?  And indeed, why, unless to get it out of the way?

Why did ‘incident response units’ examine a red BMW at the Garage on Thursday March 8th, remove an Ashley Wood recovery van from Winterslow village on Monday 12th, return to the Garage on Tuesday 13th, remove another recovery van from a Dorset town on Thursday March 14th and only then on Friday, 12 whole days after the incident, it is officially identified as Skripal’s car, and the Journal reports that it is being removed from Ashley Wood Recovery Garage, with the national media limping in a day later.

12 days.  If this nerve agent is so very dangerous why is there so little to show for so much activity, and so many delays in dealing with it?  Doesn’t it look like an exercise in propaganda?

Are the counter terrorism police going to trace all those who used the car park ticket machine?  Are they going to cordon off any place (the cemetery is already out of bounds) where Skripal may possibly have been?  Are they going to spin this out even more and gradually put all of Ashley Wood’s vehicles in Porton Down, and all its staff in hospital?  Another local business ruined to further the UK’s anti-Russia campaign.

There is no thought for the city of Salisbury and its people in any of the government’s actions, so focused are they on their unsubstantiated accusations against Russia.  A Foreign Office statement claimed:

Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter – the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable.

The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was a ‘state-sponsored murder attempt’.  But which ‘state’ are we talking about?

It’s been clear for months that the government was using the Brexit shambles to hide the fact that they couldn’t govern the country and tackle its pressing issues – the health crisis, homelessness and lack of social housing, poverty and the awful results of its austerity programme.  Now it seems that the government is using Skripal to hide the fact that they can’t govern Brexit either.

And while they’re sorting out their fantastical mess, and if you live anywhere near Salisbury, go visit, eat out and buy something in the shops.

• Photos by Lesley Docksey