On Being A Liberal Democrat

by craig on March 22, 2010 11:06 am in UK Policy

In my week without blogging, sorting out much personal detritus, I have been taking stock of the past and contemplating the future.

I have decided to rejoin the Liberal Democrats. I know that will disappoint some readers, but as I said after Norwich North, I was forced to conclude that it was impossible to make any worthwhile impact as an independent in British politics. No matter how good a candidate you are, and no matter how hard you and your supporters campaign, the combination of voter party loyalties and media exclusion are killing. Indeed, I find I get much more media exposure when I am not a candidate.

Politics is about the governance of society, and that entails people working together and collaborating their views. It is by definition a social pursuit, so to attempt to pursue it entirely alone to avoid compromising any of your opinions is not politics but futility. Why should I ever expect anybody to agree with me on absolutely every point? Probably nobody genuinely agrees with absolutely every word of the programme of any political party.

I was a member of the National Council of the Liberal Party when I was just sixteen years old. I was in student politics as a Liberal then a Lib Dem, and remained a party member right up until I stood against Jack Straw as an indpendent in Blackburn. I wanted to stand against Straw to highlight hs role in rendition and torture, and would have stood against him as a Lib Dem given the chance.

I am very sad that under Clegg the Lib Dems have not come out more strongly against the Afghan War and against replacing Trident. There is a disconnect here between the party leadership and the members. I spoke to a fringe meeting at the Scottish Lib Dem conference in Dunfermline in November. We took a straw poll after my talk, and out of forty five only two were against immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan – which was less that the number of MPs and MSPs present.

I have never made any bones about my strong support for Scottish independence, and on this issue as well as on Trident and on Afghanistan it is my intention to try to influence Lib Dem policy. I am very attracted by the Lib Dem proposal of a £10,000 tax allowance, to be paid for by a tax on houses worth over £2 million and by raising the rate of Capital Gains Tax to equal the rate of income tax paid by the individual benefiting.

That is a far more radical and egalitarian proposal than anything New Labour have on offer, and would enormously benefit the less well off, make work more attractive against benefits and stimulate the domestic economy through consumer demand.

So I shall not be standing in the general election, but will be actively campaigning for the Lib Dems. That does not indicate any hostility at all towards the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru or Respect, all of whom I hope do well.

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99 Comments

  1. Craig, this is very good news.

    Quite aside from any party political considerations, it is *a good thing* to have an honest man one step closer to everyday involvement in politics & central government.

  2. If the name of the game is to make “any worthwhile impact” then it would seem the Liberal Democrats might not be solution you’re looking for

  3. Dick the Prick

    22 Mar, 2010 - 11:51 am

    NNNNOOOOOOOoooooooo – err…okay then, fair enough. Dust off the sandals, pick up a few perversions, generally try and avoid saying anything relevant (could be a tough call for you Craig) and you should be alright.

    Honely joking. All the best.

  4. I don’t think it is a wise move.

    The Yellows are as war mongering and Zionists as the other two colours.

    When you are kept busy campaigning for the Yellow zionists, will you still have enough time to help that Uzbeck boy who was nearly deported?

    Will your new masters in the Libs allow you to do such a thing, if it gets in the way of their politics?

    What happens when it comes to Zionism?

    Will the Liberal friends of Israel be able to put pressure on you to stop you saying what you need to?

    If you are sure they wont be able to stop you, are you so sure they wont be able to reduce what you say?

    Are you so sure you are such a superman?

  5. Honour is more important than winning seats.

  6. For what its worth, welcome back, Craig. I too have reservations about certain aspects of Libdem policy, and even though Cleggy’s paean to the memory of La Thatch enfuriated me I was a bit mollified by his conference speech. Arsalan is quite right about the LD Friends of Israel blot on the party escutcheon, but politics is sometimes about teeth gritting (which is not the same as keeping silent – I look forward to any pronouncement by the LDFI and the opportunities for polemic it may present).

    The LibDems aren’t perfect by a long chalk, but they shine compared with the pink and blue wings of the Business Party.

  7. Larry from St. Louis

    22 Mar, 2010 - 12:11 pm

    Another hate-filled rant from Arsalan …

  8. Paul J. Lewis

    22 Mar, 2010 - 12:14 pm

    You didn’t mention Proportional Representation (which I think you have said you are in favour of). Will you campaign inside the Lib Dems on this issue?

    If the Lib Dems really went all out on this issue they might win some votes, perhaps not just from abstainers but also from people who would otherwise vote Green, etc. If, that is, anyone really though they were serious about electoral reform.

    I’ve wondered why most the minor parties don’t band together on this one (with the Lib Dems being the obvious lead) at least to try and get this changed. Then they can go their own ways (with, hopefully, a large share of the vote thereafter).

  9. Can’t say I’m happy about this and find it vexing that you took this decision before an election, not after.

    I will not take part in this election at all, not for one or the other, nor do I feel the need to re join any party for their half decent programme or their possible support for change.

    I hope that the Lib dems will not use this new member to push their wavering war credentials on to an honest hand cart.

    Should they support any future attack of Iran as ‘inevitable’ despite their initial lukewarm objections, then I will say, told you so.

    I expect the blog to get a little duller as a result of your step backwards.

    I wish you all the best and hope that one day the Lib Dems will be able to present us with a proper mandate and are able to act to their convictions, i.e. PR and coalition building before elections.

  10. “Another hate-filled rant from Arsalan …

    Posted by: Larry from St. Louis at March 22, 2010 12:11 PM

    I think Larry want’s you to join, so that means it must be wrong for you to join.

  11. I think I’ll take a look at their manifesto, but as ingo says, they have been extremely disappointing. I am in favour, for example, of “supporting the troops”, but if I were a liberal MP expressing a view on that, I would want at every occasion to connect it with a strong party opposition to the foreign policy that got troops into the mess in the first place. And yet all I hear from the LDs on the wars is talk about “mismanagement” and “more helicopters”, having been pushed into a red-white-and-blue corner by the reactionary press.

    I disagree with the assertion that the LDs are “as warmongering as the other two” – I honestly think they would not have taken us to war in Iraq. On Afghanistan maybe, and that is a shame, but they would have been better. As to whether they are “more Zionist”, I don’t really know. I’m with @Mike on this one – the cross-party rule of “all cabinent members in a FoI club” is worrying indeed, as per the recent Panorama programme.

    I wonder if anyone has done any full analysis of Israeli influence in the Commons, by party, by cabinet membership and by each member’s Hansard record? That would be a large, but extremely interesting, undertaking.

  12. I remember a guy who tried to influence party policy and work from the inside, as it were, to bring about realistic electoral chances and a change for the good. What was his name? Tony, I think. Oh yes. Tony Blair.

  13. Craig, the RESPECT party has as policy withdrawal from Afghanistan and scrapping of Trident. It may only be a small party now but it is growing and opposes the main stream partys’ on most issues.

  14. I believe the issues where the libs disagree with the other two are minor issues. The Major issue is the wars for Israel, the two now and the future ones.

    All the parties are the same on what matters to us.

    Yes craig is right, you have to work with people you disagree with because you will never find anyone you agree with all the time. But you don’t diregard the major for the minor. We don’t support the Zionist war crazed libs because we like their tax policy.

    We do it the other way arround. We disregard the minor for the major.

    We support people who we may disagree with on taxes because they agree with us that the wars must stop. The wars being fought now must end, and new wars must not be fought.

    So yes craig, work with people you disgree with, but not those Zionist bastards.

  15. I can’t say I was 100% happy being in the LDs before, but I’m about 5% happier about it now I’m in the same party as Craig Murray.

  16. On Blair’s good intentions, I am warming to the theme discussed by Strategist, myself and others over a series of posts. He is convinced completely of his benign intentions, fully believes his own personal enrichment has nothing to do with it despite the available evidence, and does not regard his opinion of himself as over-inflated.

    Accordingly, it is intruiging to develop the theory that he is technically a sociopath, and that if he was not of the high-functioning kind he would have been receiving treatment by now.

  17. Very happy to hear this. My decision to join a couple of weeks ago would have been considerably easier if this had already happened by then :-)

  18. On the £10,000 tax allowance policy, it is worth noting that the median part-time income is just $8,628. So, for part-time workers, a £10k tax allowance helps the part-time professional more than the poorer part-time worker struggling to earn a bit extra for the family. Especially if a £10k tax allowance is also used as a reason to lower tax credits.

  19. Welcome back Craig.

    Can I suggest that you consider joining LDFP: http://www.ldfp.eu/home.html – I suspect you will find allies there against LDFI.

    I’d like to get out of Afghanistan, even though I thought the UK was right to go in; it’s been so completely messed up that I no longer believe that it can achieve the goals I saw the invasion as having in 2001.

  20. Oh dear. If you seriously believe that the best way to work for worthwhile change in society is through membership of a mainstream political party, then I’m afraid my opinion of your judgement is dealt another blow. I don’t doubt your honesty, but is that really best you can do?

    Frank Zappa had it about right when he described party politics as “…the entertainment division of the military industrial complex”. Long since co-opted to the purposes of our ‘Permanent Government’, it exists to exhaust the citizenry in passionate tribal disputes over trivia leaving the the hidden Deep State Agenda (HDSA) largely untouched.

    If considered a potential asset, no doubt you will be found a safe LD seat in the wilds of Cornwall somewhere and your battle with the accommodations of principle required in any ascent to Privy Councillor-dom will begin. Zealously defend and promote ‘The Official Narratives’ of the HDSA in ways that are seen as useful and, Tony Blair-like, your demeanour will change and who knows, you too may eventually trouser 20 million quid; or maybe emulation of the former MI6 Head of Geneva Station is more your thing – right party, no special forces service but more than made up for by the experiences of an ambassadorship I’d say – and our SIS’s are always on the look-out for ways to co-opt or compromise dissent – past masters a ‘making offers that simply cannot be refused’ in fact; or perhaps simply remain in assumed non-threatening ignorance of what is required of you, and Nick Clegg-like you too may retain that air of naive injured innocence – though at least whilst earning a living wage.

    But – BIG but – become a serious threat to that HDSA and, Harold Wilson-like you will be resigned, or Michael Foot-like you will be ridiculed, or Claire Short-like you will be marginalised. knowing what I think I know of you however, I’m afraid that a somewhat more likely scenario is probably that which overtook Robin Cook.

    Best wishes nonetheless.

  21. Paul Johnston

    22 Mar, 2010 - 3:30 pm

    Do you actually think there is a chance of being given a winnable seat in the future or do you think they will consider you too lose a cannon?

  22. One of Craig’s worst decisions.

  23. “Do you actually think there is a chance of being given a winnable seat in the future or do you think they will consider you too lose a cannon?

    The only chance they would give someone like Craig a winnable seat is if he sells out completely. And even if he sells out completely, that chance would be very slim.

    If he doesn’t sellout they will use him to compaign on areas where Craig agrees with Libs, to free up others to campaign for things like Zionism where Craig disagrees with them.

    So it is never a good idea to work with the Larry’s of this world, even if we limit it to the few things we agree on.

    Libs are a Pro War, Pro Zionism Pro Torture party. To work with them would be like sting saying, “I did do that song thing but I didn’t help Karimov boil anyone alive”.

    I think Craig would cause a massive stain on his name if he does that, one which will not whipe off completely even after he leaves when the Libs give their support to Israel’s next Gaza slaughter, or Craig gets kicked out for supporting the Palestinians doing what they can to stop themselves from dying.

  24. Hopefully they’ll kick him out before too long.

  25. “I have never made any bones about my strong support for Scottish independence, and on this issue as well as on Trident and on Afghanistan it is my intention to try to influence Lib Dem policy.”

    Which is to say, you hope to influence Lib Dem policy more than the Labour Party. Good luck with that! Cut out and keep these questions, and look at them in ten years time: (1) Will the Lib Dems ever form a coalition with the SNP in Edinburgh? (2) Will the Lib Dems (ironic title, in this context) ever withdraw their opposition to a referendum on independence? I can tell you now that the answer to both will still be ‘no’.

    I have endless respect for you Craig, but you’ve made a mistake. You despise Labour, but you’ve joined their poodles. Much better to have come to Scotland and joined the Nats, who have consistently opposed the Blair/NATO wars, Trident and the rest of the post-imperial lunacy. I know that kicking the Union to bits isn’t by itself a solution to the UK’s problems, but it is the essential starting point for the project. The machine needs dismantled before it can be fixed, and working for Scottish independence is not neglecting the aspirations of those in other parts of the Union. Tear up that card now, and take the train north. I think minority government would suit you.

  26. Alfred Burdett

    22 Mar, 2010 - 4:38 pm

    God, what a dreadful prospect: the Liberals seeking to outbid Labour for the mob vote by promising greater transfers of wealth. And it may work, too, electorally, that is, meaning a place for some Lib-Dem boneless wonder in a coalition government. Meantime, more capital will take flight, and more job-creating entrepreneurs will emigrate to countries with saner governments.

    Of course if you really wanted to help those in poverty, you’d want to give the poor economic independence by raising their wages, not by making them dependent on handouts, i.e., wealth transferred from the more or less successful members of society via a vast bureaucracy that absorbs most of the money in overheads.

    With eight million workers either on the dole, working part-time when the want fulltime work or who simply despair of finding work and have given up looking, the first thing to do would be to end the massive competition for low-end jobs created by an annual influx of immigrants equal in number to the combined populations of Manchester and Leicester.

    But what the Hell: you want to see the country bust up anyway. So economic wrecking looks like a way to go.

  27. Craig, you clot. If you’d come to this earth-shattering decision a few weeks sooner you could have stood for election in my constituency in North-West Norfolk just down the road from Norwich. This lot here are so dozy they left selecting a PPC until Feb and could muster only one taker at the hustings.

    Not that you’d have won – it’ll be a 10 year mindnumbing slog – but at least you’d have given the local scene and media a jolt.

  28. “Libs are a Pro War, Pro Zionism Pro Torture party” says Arsalan.

    No we’re not. Of course, you’re free to disagree and present what evidence you can cook up. If so, its gonna get ugly.

  29. Fair enough Craig – if you can influence the party and maybe one day be a Lib Dem MP (and who knows – even party leader possibly) it could make a big difference.

    I doubt i’d have the patience for all the politicking and in-fighting and personal jealousies you get in political parties, but i suppose you get them in every walk of life to some extent.

  30. I’m sure these guys can give you all the evidence you want, and then some:

    http://www.ldfi.org.uk/

    Well let your party cook it up then will we?

  31. Alfred

    It is a proposal that would mean that the vast majority of people pay less tax. Economically liberal, in fact.

    Rwendland,

    Most beneficiaries will be full time workers. For a great many full time workers, £10,000 is still over 50% of their income.

  32. Welcome back, Craig. The LibDems aren’t perfect but we are on the right track. As Chair of Lib Dems for Peace & Security, I can confirm that Nick Clegg has accepted our view on Trident and party policy has changed – we will not replace Trident. On Middle East people who think we are Zionist just haven’t read our policies. Yes we have a Friends of Israel group but we also have a Friends of Palestine Group. Like all parties we have too many public relations wunderkinder weakening our message but we are travelling in the right direction.

  33. Larry from St. Louis

    22 Mar, 2010 - 5:50 pm

    Yes, David, and apparently some prominent Liberal Democrats believe that Israel is selling Haitian body parts!

    Stay classy Liberal Democrats!

  34. After thinking about it more i’m not sure whether to congratulate you on your wisdom. foresight and lack of vanity in committing to a larger group on the one hand, or to call you a chicken-shit bastard for not ‘Conan the barbarian’-ing it more – One Man Against the Party Hordes – he will triumph (or maybe not) – the Voters will Decide, etc.

    I think it’s the first one though ;-)

  35. As for the criticisms of the Lib Dems i have plenty too – but they’re not all ‘Friends of Israel’ by any means – and Larry the Lib Dem MP you refer to merely said that there should be an inquiry in order to establish the truth – she didn’t say Israeli forces had taken body parts (though the Israeli government have taken organs from both dead Israelis and dead Palestinians without the permission of either

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/israeli-pathologists-harvested-organs

  36. sorry last comment should have read “without the permission of the families of either” – doesnt make much sense to not get permission from dead people after they’re dead

  37. I’m a Lib Dem who campaigned for Craig at Norwich North, partly over sleaze and expenses, partly because Clegg had shown too much enthusiasm for “savage cuts”. I’m sticking with the Lib Dems now because with all their faults, I think they’re still a lot better than the alternatives. So I’ll cheer Craig for his decision – though not all that loudly!

    As luck would have it, my local councillor died the day after the Norwich result, presenting me with a golden opportunity to overdose on politics a second time, and contest the seat as a Lib Dem. Now, having just supported an independent candidate is not precisely “best behaviour”, if you belong to a political party! So my local Lib Dem colleagues gave me a right old grilling before they decided I could stand as a Lib Dem candidate. Fair enough. Any other party would have simply kicked me out and slammed the door. The Lib Dems were prepared to listen, think about my motives and arguments, and give me a chance. Good for them.

    (And the election? The good news – we gained a 19% swing from the Tories. The bad news – I needed a 20% swing to win!)

    So – Welcome to a party which is capable of listening to you, Craig. Please do what I do, visit http://www.libdemvoice.org/ and try to make some waves. You’ll find plenty of others besides yourself who don’t think it’s good enough that the Lib Dems are a bit less sleazy that the other two. You may also find a few Zionists, but they don’t run the party.

    Most of all, see what you can do to turn the party against the Afghan war. An outright anti-war stance would probably lose too many votes, but I’m very disappointed that we aren’t at least demanding a rigid 2011 deadline for a negotiated end to the war.

    That, I think, is mainly because of Paddy Ashdown’s influence. Paddy commands tremendous respect within the party from all sides – and that certainly includes me. Especially on military strategy, he generally knows what he’s talking about. On this one issue, I think he’s got it wrong. It will take someone with a similar level of experience and expertise to challenge Ashdown. Could that be your next big job Craig, once the election is over?

  38. Larry from St. Louis

    22 Mar, 2010 - 6:12 pm

    Duncan McFarlane, are you so dumb that you don’t understand the blood libel?

    I heard you might have had sex with your father. I’m not saying you did, but it’s certainly worthy of investigation.

  39. When I spoke at a local meeting of LibDems some years ago on the crushing effect of the illegal Iraq war on Iraqi children, many strong members were in tears, many thanked me for probing deeply into the malnutrition, the trauma, the deaths from treatable diseases, the sadness and bewilderment of orphans and the cancers from DU on babies and the unborn.

    These emotions had a lasting effect on me and my reason for supporting Nick Clegg with all the energy I can muster.

  40. Larry – i think that given the established and admitted fact that Israeli doctors admit they took organs from both dead Israelis and dead Palestinians without their families’ consent an inquiry in Haiti might be justified – though it’s most likely that the Haiti rumour is just a wild rumour based on exaggeration of the facts.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/israeli-pathologists-harvested-organs

  41. David – well done on getting a 19% swing from the Tories, good on your constituency party for taking you on as a candidate and i hope it’s a 20 plus % swing next time.

  42. Alfred Burdett

    22 Mar, 2010 - 6:30 pm

    Sure, raise the basic personal exemption from tax, but not by raising taxes on capital.

    The idea of raising the capital gains tax to the same rate as the tax on income is particularly pernicious. Entrepreneurs create the most jobs, and they do it in the pursuit of profit. Mostly, their profit comes from selling a business and the resulting capital gains tax liability is, therefore, a major consideration when deciding where to launch a business, or where to transfer a business once it becomes profitable (not a difficult thing to do in many fields, e.g., biotech, software, finance). Capital gains taxes in Britain must, therefore, remain similar to those in the US if there is not to be a major drain of capital and entrepreneurial talent across the Atlantic or to Asia.

    If you want to do something sensible about capital taxes, abolish death duties, which fall in a haphazard and fundamentally unfair way according to whether or not family members die off in an orderly manner at 30 year intervals, have a good tax adviser, etc., and altogether eliminate the capital gains tax, which is equally unfair in that it applies whether you made a killing on the market on a day trade, or owned a painting for 50 years during which time the nominal value may have increased 32 times but the value of money has fallen by the same ratio, making a tax liability on a non-profit.

    Instead, it would be better to have an annual capital tax of 1 to 1.5% as in Switzerland. This is something that rich people could tolerate and would bring rich expatriates home, where they would, in retirement, contribute significantly to the national tax revenue. Applicable on all assets at home or abroad, including trust assets of which the beneficiaries are British domiciles, such a capital tax would discourage creation of offshore trusts and off-shoring of investment capital.

    In addition, cut the expense of government in the way William Gladstone went about it, combing through the government accounts asking what this person and that did, and failing a satisfactory answer, having them sacked. Then you could eliminate the corporation tax, providing a huge incentive for capital investment and hence job creation in Britain.

  43. Good ol’ Arsalan – just doesn’t take any notice of what people actually write in their posting, instead bibbles along in his own subreality. As for the Haitian/Iraeli body-parts imbroglio – the prime minister of Haiti publically stated in an interview that organs had been taken from the bodies of dead Haitians. Now, whether the Israelis were behind it he didnt say; to be frank, I think any military has people who are capable of such violations. I look forward to discovering more facts before coming to further conclusions.

    Or, I could look into Larry’s crystal ball and go woooo, woooo, conspiralooooons, everwherrrrrre!

  44. Sabretache (315pm), I agree with you.

    While I respect Craig’s decision and of course, I hugely respect Craig himself, I think that figures like Craig are actually more effective in garnering opposition to the endemic war machine when they are outside (to extend the phrase) the ‘Las Vegas of the military-indsutrial complex’.

    I too wish Craig all the best.

    Btw, I note that the probing Norman Baker (Lib Dem, Lewes, Sussex) is under pressure as the Tories have poured tanker-loads of money into their campaign to get him unseated. He’s been a thorn in the side of the security state for some years, though I note from his website that he also supports the Tibet movement at high level, a movement which, I am certain, has strong and longstanding ties with the CIA/ SIS in their aim to destabilise China.

    Tell us more, please, about the ex-SIS Head of Station in Geneva – it’s not one I’ve heard of; this is not Norman Fulton, ex-Head of their Moscow station, fake Professor of Law at Glasgow University and at Camp Zeist, current board director of Hakluyt (arms dealer, scary SIS front company) and now also Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party. Is there another? Not surprising, really. Meta (Margaret)Ramsey (openly), Caroline Cox (allegedly), Paddy Ashdown (reportedly)… the list goes on.

  45. Absolutely, writerman, your last paragraph in particular is a silver bullet.

  46. Craig

    Sensible decision. No man is an island etc. Politics is about community, and like any community endeavour you have to compromise to get things done. The Lib Dems may end up with the balance of power so there may be more opportunities for influence than ever before. I met Matthew Taylor last week. Decent bloke. And Vince Cable is one of the best politicians in the House.

  47. Suhayl 8:33pm

    Paddy Ashdown’s your man.

    There are now multiple internet sources for it – not least the Cryptome published list of MI6 officers allegedly leaked by Richard Tomlinson and which the British Authorities tried so hard to suppress – it’s still available there.

    I believe it was Chris Cowley’s book on the Iraq Supergun affair (Guns Lies and Spies) that I first saw the actual phrase “Head of Station – Geneva” but there’s no index so I can’t check easily. It was probably Stephen Dorril who first speculated openly about it back in 1985. He has this to say in his 1993 book “The Silent Conspiracy”:

    “Paddy Ashdown … then had a spell in Northern Ireland and was subsequently asked to join MI6. ‘the Halcyon days of may life’ as he described them, were during his posting to Geneva where he monitored the activities of Soviet Bloc intelligence officers and liaised with Swiss Intelligence on aspects of the Gladio stay-behind networks”.

    His posting was as ‘First Secretary’. Paddy has certainly never denied it and there is even some detail in the notes to his Wikipedia entry.

    I’m sure Craig will understand the set up intimately

  48. Makes sense to me,Craig. The only party with a decent record in foreign policy matters in the last 10 years. I don’t think anyone could call Ming Campbell a Zionist.

  49. Interesting and fascinating, thanks as always, Sabretache. Stephen Dorril is indeed excellent on the whole subject.

    Ah! First Secretary! Or Second, or even Third, usually Second though! Or Counsellor! What spicy and hermeneutic jobs for the professionally mendacious boys and girls of Vauxhall!

  50. “Accordingly, it is intruiging to develop the theory that he [Blair] is technically a sociopath, and that if he was not of the high-functioning kind he would have been receiving treatment by now.” Jon.

    Broadmoor.

  51. Come on, Larry, tear off your veil, and tell us. Yes or no. Yes or no. Do you support the policies of Bush-Obama in the Middle East and Central Asia? Yes or no. Yes or no. Tonton macoute. Yes or no. Yes or no. Tonton macoute. Yes or no. Yes or no. Tonton macoute. Yes or no. Spill a chicken. Yes or no. Drink it’s blood. Yes or no. This is what Craig lost his job over and got pulmonary-embolised over: Bush-Obama policy in the Middle East and Central Asia nearly killed our Man of the Blog. It’s important. That’s why we’re here, in cyberland. Do you support it? Yes or no. Do you agree with it? Yes or no.

    Why is it that when I ask this very simple and rather inportant question, the bloggers who tend to be extremely outspoken and who tend to attack anyone who critiques US power, either from a position assumed on ‘the Left’ (yes, yes, I know it’s the elite and left-right has no meaning, but still, let’s play for a moment) or one presumed on the Right, suddenly fall silent?

    An intriguing and telling observation in itself.

    Now for black-hole silence or a hail of insults, but still no answers. Tonton macoute. CIA.

  52. Good stuff, you can now exert an influence in the Lib Dem party (which I voted for in 2005, mainly in protest against the Iraq war). Here’s a tip from a disillusioned former New Labour supporter (myself). When I campaigned for Tony Blair in 1997, and we were canvassing voters by telephone, we were told not to waste time if someone said that they were Conservative supporters. But we were to try to persuade Lib Dem supporters that their vote would be wasted. I am sure that New Labour will try the same tactic this time. Forewarned is forearmed. Go get ‘em!

  53. Interesting that all essentially the pro-war bloggers on this blog – as well as one or two others and of course Lib Dem members – support the Lib Dem move by Craig. Troubling.

  54. I wouldn’t say i support it – i can understand it though. I doubt i’d ever do it myself but i can’t deny i’ve thought about joining a party before – though i’d be more likely to join Solidarity than any of the big parties – the trouble being they come with an image that could put off a lot of people who’d vote for the same policies if they didn’t come with that image.

    If Craig does become a Lib Dem MP at some point he can have a big influence on Lib Dem policies – maybe he could even be leader one day. If that doesn’t work out and say he gets elected as a Lib Dem MP but then expelled from the party by the leadership over some issue he’ll have a high enough political profile to win elections as an independent.

    The down side is all the internal bickering and distrust and jealousies within parties, which are a waste of time, but sadly usually necessary for anyone who wants to be a party candidate.

  55. I’ll offer an humble answer to that Suhayl,if i may…

    It may be because they are simple bought and paid for provocateurs operating from within a military cyber-bunker and have to liase with their shift superivisor before they find an answer,any answer,to address your truthful raag,as contrast to their arcane bluster and thin posturing?

    Those types tend to riff on the predictable enough jaded retrouve formalism of pentatonic blues,if you will,far removed from the primal dignity of said source.

    I’m also a Glaswegian musician although i’m sure i’ve never met you.I do,however,play in and round these parts a coupla hundred times per year.

    Maybe you’ve seen us?

    Who knows?

    Regards to you.

  56. Craig – i agree with taking the lowest earners out of tax altogether, but the ‘mansion tax’ is just going to result in the billionaires keeping their ‘mansions’ while anyone with a big house but no huge income will be forced to sell it to a billionaire or a hotel chain.

    The 50% rate on income over £150,000 that Clegg dropped made far more sense.

  57. Craig, You’ve sold out. You have opted for: if I can’t beat them I’ll join them – for your own personal ambitions. If you really think that the Lib-Dems in government will be anti-war; anti-arms-industry; anti-MI5/MI6 torture; anti-corporate-corruption; anti-hedge-fund-gambling; you’re daft. Have a rethink. Join a small, but honest and ethical party, and give up ideas of grandeur.

  58. Jives – it’s possible that one or two people posting on Craig’s blog might fit the profile you describe (i’m sure it happens), but all of them – i doubt it a lot.

    Some people are strongly pro-Iraq war and strongly pro-Israel. I disagree with them completely and suspect they’re ignorant of the full facts (or don’t want to admit to them because they identify too closely with their government), but not all of those people can be secret agents.

  59. @ Duncan McFarlane…

    You misunderstand my post Duncan..’twas referring to Larry in particular and his endlessly boring erroneous provocative guff that most of us on this site are virulent anti-Semites.

  60. @ Duncan

    I was responding to Suhyal’s post two comments above the one you think i was was…

    Does that clarify the continuum?

    Regards..

  61. Larry from St. Louis

    23 Mar, 2010 - 1:04 am

    “that most of us on this site are virulent anti-Semites.”

    … only those who complain about the “Mishpucka” and believe that the Jews did 911 and otherwise go out of their way to evidence their anti-Jewish hatred.

    You people are fucking hilarious. Such explicit hatred, yet if you’re called out on it you whine whine whine whine.

  62. ah right – sorry Jives

  63. Larry from St. Louis

    23 Mar, 2010 - 1:18 am

    “it’s possible that one or two people posting on Craig’s blog might fit the profile you describe”

    Ok, so quite possibly you’re only a partial loon, Duncan.

    Do you think I’m in a military bunker?

    Don’t you folks see how you’re self-discrediting? I don’t think the secret agent men need to bother.

  64. alan campbell

    23 Mar, 2010 - 2:07 am

    If arselan and suhayl think it’s a bad move,then it must be a good move. Well done.

    But steer clear of Respect. Bunch of racist extremists – the other side of the BNP coin.

  65. - “We will do everything we can to support our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and ensure they have all the equipment and support they need. We will spend over £5 billion to April next year ?” around half a million per year per soldier serving in Afghanistan and will ensure not a penny will be cut from the Defence Budget in 2010/11 ?” in fact the budget will rise above inflation.” – Labour Party website

    Craig, you’re desperate to be involved, fair enough, you feel you have a lot to offer.

    But how do you square supporting the Lib Dems as somehow the most palatable option of the three, when the positions on Afghanistan, from respective official websites, is:

    - “Under a Conservative government, the work being done in Afghanistan will be a priority for the entire government. Change is needed to bring about a whole government effort that will deliver results in Afghanistan.” – George Osborne, Conservative Shadow Chancellor

    - “We support the mission in Afghanistan.” – Lib Dem Pocket Guide to Policy

  66. Craig. You are wrong.

    You said: Politics is about the governance of society,

    The correction is thus:

    Politics -SHOULD- is about the governance of society.

    Party loyalty is bloody stupid. As most Brit voters do show party loyalty, therefore Brits are …!

  67. As I am not a UK citizen, I can’t really offer an opinion the different parties. However I find the general question of whether ‘it is worth it/possible to join the mainstream parties and make a real difference’ fascinating. One of the things I find most frustrating about the ‘hard left’ (using the term only for simplicities sake) is the dedication to remaining outside the mainstream, which only ensures their position is never heard by most. I admire principled stands, but I also value pragmatism. A theory is only a pretty thought if it has no real life consequences.

    It seems that generally the mainstream has a neutralising effect on those wishing to change it, but not always. I do believe however that someone of Craig’s intellectual and moral calibre stands a better chance than most. I will just offer this word of warning: [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_garrett]

    One thing that I have always found curious about Craig’s story (which this post has just made me think of again), was how he was so surprised by his governments actions during his time as an ambassador. My understanding of history makes me think that such actions were standard operating procedure. Maybe it’s simply that I am unable to see from outside my own upbringing, where I was taught to never trust those in power. Some may be good, some are definitely bad, but it always stupid to put your trust in them.

  68. Hey, Jives, that was a smashing, jiving post! And thanks for it! What do you play, btw?

    Ah, so Mr Alan Campbell also supports the Lib Dem move. How very interesting. Eddie (my old pal from ‘Iran’! How are you?), Larry (no answer yet to my simple, simple question), Alan Campbell (I was always a MacDonald), Abe Rene (Don’t Walk Away!). I respect Duncan McFarlane though and do see what he’s saying.

    Intriguing dynamics.

    Where is Mr John Cord, one wonders?

  69. Absolutely, CheebaCow. The average woman on the ‘Clapham bus’ in the streets of Karachi/Mumbai/Dhaka knows exactly how the world works. Robin Ramsey of Lobster magazine also voiced a similar question in the current issue of the magazine.

    But you see, in the UK people tend to be brainwashed into believing in the benificence of the state. They’ve been read the fairytale, and they believe it.

    But yes, one would have thought that anyone who has experienced even the tiniest view of the very edge of the hard state would not surely still hold to such beliefs. One would have thought.

  70. I think Craig is too instinctively Liberal to care about the realities, but it will end in tears. I am with Arsalan, sabretache and writerman, against your decision. I believe that Craig will end up out of politics and inside Islam, but he hasn’t realised yet that Islam is not even remotely represented by the idiots of Blackburn who opposed him in his challenge to Jack Straw. Of course, then the atheists of his readers would turn against him. You can’t please all the people all the time, and you have to make your own decision.

  71. Suhayl

    ‘..the tiniest view of the very edge of the hard state..’

    Today we are seeing the soft flaking of the symphony for spin, called New Labour, crumbling in front of us with senior politicians disgraced for paid lobbying.

    Underneath the surface is the phoenix of that hard state, freshly cast in glowing red alloy, the beak and claw of a new, Liberal and Conservative alliance.

    If we get a £10,000 tax-free allowance, that will only be restoring us to the level of allowance we had at the start of the New Labour government.

    Plus ca fucking change, n’est-ce pas, mon vieux, plus the omnibus has broken down and you have to wait around for the next bus to come along. I’d rather be waiting on the dusty roadside in Karachi than in Clapham.

  72. p.s. I drove many celebrities in my short time as a chauffeur, but I never met anyone as pompous as Paddy Ashdown. Apart from Sooty, he was the only passenger who refused to engage in conversation.

  73. Suhayl 9:55pm

    Got it! Though my memory of the precise phraseology was a little off.

    It appeared in the introduction to Gerald James’s 1995 book “In the Public Interest”, a play on the “Public Interest Immunity Certificates” wording that were used to deny defendants access to government material that proved their prosecutions over the ‘Arms to Iraq’ scandal to be corrupt and merely designed to cover Ministers’ backsides as usual.

    Gerald James was the Chief Executive of Astra Holding throughout the events that led to those prosecutions and that other toothless (but still largely suppressed – Saudi arms deal scandals anyone?) official Inquiry under Sir Richard Scott. Bearing in mind the date of publication, the passage containing the Paddy Ashdown snippet was indeed prophetic. In the context of Craig’s decision and this thread, it is worth quoting a some length:

    ” In the 1980′s the policies of Margaret Thatcher’s government brought the activities of the covert establishment closer to the surface (particularly wrt the arms industry) than at any time. Mine was a ‘privileged’ glimpse of their activities in action. But anyone who believes that with Margaret Thatcher’s passing they no longer have a forum; anyone who believes that the election of Mr Blair and his Party will make ANY difference to who runs this country, is indeed naive. Even the extremely unlikely success of of the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown (former MI6 Controller, Geneva Station) will not make the slightest difference. ‘Quis custodies custodiet?’ ”

    Gerald James was given a VERY hard time over his Chairmanship of Astra Holding, a position which in the final analysis was actually almost nominal since in large measure the company was controlled and manipulated by the spooks to their own hidden purposes. . Similarly over the book where he names many of them. He published it anyway. It has the ring of solid ‘screw-you you bastards’ truth to it and ought to be required reading for any aspiring politician.

    A few posters here ought to read my first comment and this book – not that they will change anything. As that old Paul Simon song has it “… still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”

  74. Anno

    And I’m sure he didn’t even leave a tip.

    Stingy bastard.

    anno

    I think I know you, in the real world. I’m not going to write your name here for privacy reasons. But does your father in law

    own a Limousine company?

    I’m sure craig will become Muslim too. Sometimes you can see this from someones mannerisms. But sometimes it takes a while. a few years ago this Jamaican man

    Came in to a Mosque I was sleeping in to convert. He decided to convert when he was stationed in North Africa during WW2, but he kept putting it off until a couple of years ago.

  75. I think it is great that you have decided to reenter politics. Your country certainly needs you. Good luck.

  76. There’s an interesting and relevant piece over at Juan Cole – excerpt:

    “Ottaway argues that during the Cold War, the opposition between authoritarian regimes and democratic ones was more stark and that hybrid forms falling in neither camp were rare. “Semi-Authoritarian regimes” have political parties and NGOs, hold elections, and look on paper as though they at least have some democratic attributes. But behind the scenes the power elite makes sure it remains in power and reduces the ‘democratic’ activities to a shadow play for the benefit of a restless domestic public and for that of international bureaucrats.”

    http://www.juancole.com/

  77. Craig,

    maybe I don’t know enought to make an informed comment, but I think I approve of your decision; it feels right, and I’m sure that you are much better qualified to judge than I.

    Immediately I would suggest that you campaign for coordination with the Green party and others, including reciprocal ‘standing aside’ arangements’ to field the strongest candidates with maximum support. The warped UK voting system is the strongest guardian of the corrupt status-quo.

    All in general,

    for heavens sakes chill out! Craig is only joining a political party, not selling his soul to Dick Cheney, and he can always leave again if he wishes.

    Suhayl Saadi,

    my approval moves your ‘pro / anti war’ statistic a little, I hope; I am opposed to both wars. You recommended Lobster magazine; the article linked on the front page, “As Denounced in the House of Commons”:

    http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/articles/security.htm

    suggests that the security services commit greater excesses under Labour, who don’t know how to control them. Do you think that someone like Craig (and possibly Ashdown?) could help to rectify this?

  78. Hi Craig,

    I know you don’t read down this far, usually, but hey, what’s to lose.

    Why don’t you join Respect?

    Best,

    Stephen

  79. Clark – 10:48

    The prospect of Paddy Ashdown helping to ‘… control the SIS’s’ is vanishing to non-existent – IMHO. He allegedly ‘resigned’ from MI6 over his refusal to take part in the sabotage of the UNCTAD agreement on higher prices for third world commodities whilst first Secretary to the British UN Mission; a principled decision it seems. But you don’t resign from MI6, and ESPECIALLY not on a maverick issue of principle that puts a service operation at risk. Thereafter he was a marked man. Not too ‘out-in-the-cold’ dangerous (in spite of his irritating behaviour over the privatisations of Royal Ordnance and Trade Union rights at GCHQ) until it became clear he might become even more ‘damaging’ through his elevation to the LD leadership and Privy Council membership. His little ‘Paddy Pantsdown’ episode back in 1992 has the hallmark of a typical SIS reminder of just who calls the shots. He heeded the warning, came in from the cold, and was rewarded with Lord High this, that and the other.

    He is quintessentially Establishment – and arrogant with it. The prospects of him exercising ANY control over the SIS’s are similar to the survival of a snowball in Hell – and the SIS’s KNOW it – which is precisely why I would not be at all surprised if one bright morning I read in the papers that he has been given precisely such a role. It is the way these things work you see.

  80. Craig,

    Building a new political movement takes more than one election and many more than one failure. A real political movement for change can only be built by people taking the message out to others and talking and convincing people face to face. It will take time, there will be many defeats but thats just the way it has to be with the media being what it is (biased and also not a good medium of communication).

  81. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/23/amnesty-uk-torture-human-rights

    Amnesty accuses UK of ‘grave’ human rights violations

    ‘Credible evidence’ of UK government links to torture, unlawful detentions and rendition, says damning Amnesty report

    aa~~

    The British government is today accused of involvement in a catalogue of “grave human rights violations” since the September 2001 al-Qaida attacks, in a report published by Amnesty International.

    In the most damning Amnesty report on the UK’s human rights record for a generation, the organisation says there is “credible evidence” that the government is implicated in torture, unlawful detentions, rendition, the concealment of victims’ complaints and a failure to disclose evidence of torture.

    Its publication comes 24 hours after an alliance of human rights groups and MPs, including Amnesty, Liberty and the New York-based Human Rights Watch, wrote a joint letter to the British media demanding an independent inquiry into the UK’s role in torture and rendition.

    In a sign of growing turmoil within government over the issue, last Thursday it was decided to shelve publication of a rewritten interrogation policy for MI5 and MI6 officers questioning suspects overseas ?” something Gordon Brown promised a year ago on the grounds that he believed “it is right that parliament and the public should know what those involved in interviewing detainees can and cannot do”.

    /continues…..

  82. Dick Cheney already crossed out Craig’s name. He wouldn’t buy him anyway, even if he was for sale. Belonging to any party, political, religious, or even social, is to transfer some of your independency of mind. I would prefer my conscience to remain under my own control.

    But for Craig, his allegiance to the Liberals will remove the stigma of maverick and I feel sure that, at some stage in the future, genuine independence of mind will required by government to sort out the problems left by the two main political parties, especially the ones highlighted by Mary. Also at some stage the madness of a world run for the exclusive benefit of bankers, will have to be challenged. It will be smacked bottoms all round, before we return to sanity.

  83. Larry wrote “Do you think I’m in a military bunker?”

    No, i don’t think you are, i think you just have different views from Craig or me or most other people who comment on his blog. That’s my general assumption on anyone who disagrees with me, because it’s by far most likely.

    I’m not ruling out the possibility that some posters could be on government pay-rolls though – the Israeli government for instance has hired thousands of people to go on the internet and rubbish any criticism of Israel -

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3744516,00.html

  84. @ Suhayl..

    Well i’m a guitarist who is currently playing bass.I have a home recording setup and write/record songs.I also play keyboards,to a degree,but unfortunately not as well as Donald Fagen,McCoy Tyner or Brian Eno…i wish…

    Acoustic Butterfly be the band.

    Cheers.

  85. Craig…

    According to Hunter S Thompson politics is “the art of controlling one’s environment”

    Mind you he was horrified/transfixed by the Nixon monster at the time,which might explain this curiously telling statement..

    Food for thought though…

  86. Israel. Yah Boo. Put the money in the hat. Thank you.

  87. the proposed “Freedom Bill” by the LibDems.

    http://freedom.libdems.org.uk/the-freedom-bill/

    The Freedom Bill contains twenty measures to restore the fundamental rights that have been stripped away in recent years. We would:

    Scrap ID cards for everyone, including foreign nationals.

    Ensure that there are no restrictions in the right to trial by jury for serious offences including fraud.

    Restore the right to protest in Parliament Square, at the heart of our democracy.

    Abolish the flawed control orders regime.

    Renegotiate the unfair extradition treaty with the United States.

    Restore the right to public assembly for more than two people.

    Scrap the ContactPoint database of all children in Britain.

    Strengthen freedom of information by giving greater powers to the Information Commissioner and reducing exemptions.

    Stop criminalising trespass.

    Restore the public interest defence for whistleblowers.

    Prevent allegations of ?bad character? from being used in court.

    Restore the right to silence when accused in court.

    Prevent bailiffs from using force.

    Restrict the use of surveillance powers to the investigation of serious crimes and stop councils snooping.

    Restore the principle of double jeopardy in UK law.

    Remove innocent people from the DNA database.

    Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.

    Scrap the ministerial veto which allowed the Government to block the release of Cabinet minutes relating to the Iraq war.

    Require explicit parental consent for biometric information to be taken from children.

    Regulate CCTV following a Royal Commission on cameras.

  88. “Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days”

    What was wrong with 3 days?

  89. If only i had thought to get a hat anno. If only. I could have fifty pence by now.

  90. I will not be voting for Red or Blue. (After being a life long Labour voter)

    I currently feel that I should just wipe my arse on the ballot paper until politics is cleaned up and outside interests regulated properly.

    It will be up to the other parties to convince me to vote … but they seem to be pretty quiet on most issues.

    anon @ 3:48

    The proposed Lib-Dem Freedom Bill looks quite promising.

  91. If voting worked it would be illegal.

  92. To quote you:’I am very sad that under Clegg the Lib Dems have not come out more strongly against the Afghan War and against replacing Trident.’

    In my opinion Clegg is cut from the same cloth as Blair and Cameron. I personally think that the problem with the left and right political system is that it frames the debate into an intellectually childish

    format. The lib Dems just fill the gap between the two and offer nothing new.

    As long as we align ourselves to a party and therefore are part of the machinery which legitamises the current system which is fundamentally corrupt and supports a social system which is inhumane we get what we deserve.

    I think running as an independent was an incredibly brave and testing thing which you did. It may have been a lonely depressing experience but you should be proud of yourself.

    I think joining the LibDems is a mistake , but I am sure that you have many good reasons for the decision, and that anywork you do for them will be from a very moral,intelligent and clear thinking perspective and when you change your mind and run as an independent again I’ll back you and go out of my way to help.

  93. To quote you:’I am very sad that under Clegg the Lib Dems have not come out more strongly against the Afghan War and against replacing Trident.’

    In my opinion Clegg is cut from the same cloth as Blair and Cameron. I personally think that the problem with the left and right political system is that it frames the debate into an intellectually childish

    format. The lib Dems just fill the gap between the two and offer nothing new.

    As long as we align ourselves to a party and therefore are part of the machinery which legitamises the current system which is fundamentally corrupt and supports a social system which is inhumane we get what we deserve.

    I think running as an independent was an incredibly brave and testing thing which you did. It may have been a lonely depressing experience but you should be proud of yourself.

    I think joining the LibDems is a mistake , but I am sure that you have many good reasons for the decision, and that anywork you do for them will be from a very moral,intelligent and clear thinking perspective and when you change your mind and run as an independent again I’ll back you and go out of my way to help.

  94. Craig. Like Vronsky I wish you had come to Scotland and joined the SNP, whose policies I think most reflect your views. However since you live in England the LibDems may be your next best. At least LibDem peer Jamie Mar believes in Scottish Independence. But then again, we nationalists want to abolish the Lords!

    Good luck. I think you will need it!

  95. Whilst I have little time for Clegg, I do think it is shocking that Bercow (Speaker) doesn’t shut up the background noise from the Tory boy and NuLabour clone rabble that goes on when Clegg speaks and which detracts greatly from his message.

  96. SABRETACH ?” As my own story shows, MI6 have gone far beyond legitimate intelligence gathering work to act as a secret police and bullyboy for the establishment. They have lost all right to anonymity, and their private connections to politicians are dangerous for democracy. In identifying some of these connections, you are operating in the public interest.

    The nature of the threat to democracy that these so-called intelligence services impose, is that they seem to be able to dominate our politicians. Have a look at my detailed comment titled “DO VALUES MATTER TO [Canada's] PRIME MINISTER HARPER AT ALL?” that is just below this article on “rights and democracy” in MacLean’s ?” which is Canada’s top current affairs magazine. It says it all.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/03/22/rights-and-democracy-let-100-schools-of-thought-contend/

    Incidentally, you can see the smear go in immediately after my comment just as with a blog. Rather than try and ignore me, the paid help (CSIS ?” which is Canada’s MI5) are getting worried.

    Sabretach you are operating in the public interest in exposing some of these connections with politicians. Keep up the good work. What about MI5 and Canada’s CSIS, and what about their dangerous connections to the human rights industry and press?

  97. Definitely, I agree. The hard state dominates and determines. They vet, and will destroy any politician who dares to challenge their authority.

    Jives, thanks, I’ve heard of Acoustic Butterfly; very interesting; I’ll check them/ you out on the web now!

  98. ‘The hard state dominates and determines. They vet, and will destroy any politician who dares to challenge their authority.’

    Absolutely. They don’t jus’t use destruction. They manipulate indirectly. I’d put down many of the problems Craig faced in Norwich to their interference including the possibilty that votes for him were excluded/changed/substituted. There was time to do this between the closing of the polls in the evening to the unusual count in the morning. People like Craig are a very real threat to the hard state. I believe increasingly people with ties to the intelligence services are put in as candidates so total control of the political system is put into effect but the illusion of democracy is maintained.

  99. The LibDems can say what they like because they know that under the present first past the post system they will never have their hands on the levers of power.

    However if by some miracle the electorate came to their senses and decided to vote on the issues rather than party loyalty and put a LibDem govt in power, you can be sure that within a month or two, you would not be able to tell them apart from the LabCon rabble. Some miracle of transformation would occur and they would be good capitalist thinking puppets in the pockets of the banking establishment once more.

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