Peak Craig Murray 37

My mother, Poppy Catherine Murray, nee Grice, passed away on 19 August aged 85 after a two year fight with multiple myeloma cancer. She had maintained herself in her own home until the last six weeks, and when she was eventually in hospital my brothers, sister and I took turns and were able between us to make sure that somebody was always with her. I last saw her on 14 August, and she never regained consciousness after that.

We faced the agonising decision of whether to come up and run the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival from 19 to 21 August. My son Jamie is Director, I run the bars and my brother Stuart supervises security. The festival is on a shoestring anyway and would genuinely have difficulty coping at if we dropped out at the last minute. It sounds a cliche, but we had no doubt Mum would have wanted us to go ahead with it, and we did so, leaving Neil and especially Celia to look after Mum. She finally passed away at 4.15pm on the Friday and we got the news literally as the gates to the arena opened.

I am sure many of you know from your own experience what a staggering blow it is, no matter how expected. Jamie was particularly struck. But the intensity of working through the festival was helpful – as usual I got a total of 7 hours sleep in 72 and Jamie probably less. The build, festival and takedown are extremely intense and this blog always disappears for ten days at this time.

Despite appalling weather, the festival was an enormous success and extremely well reviewed. I have always described it as life-affirming, and I could not have been surrounded by better people at a time of loss. The Scotsman review I think summed it up very well:

There is little doubt that Doune the Rabbit Hole is something special; a festival which is family friendly, extremely well-programmed and bearing a strong sense of localism in terms of its suppliers and its responsibilities.

And I was glad that the Herald noticed this:

Most mainstream festivals come under fire for routinely male-dominated programming, and could take a leaf from DTRH’s Sunday night line-up alone.

After two days assisting with the takedown, I left to go down to Norfolk again to make funeral arrangements and start to sift through my mother’s things. There can be no more lonely task in life, and the pain of looking through literally thousands of photos still lingers. A mother loves unconditionally. There were moments of joyous celebration brought back to life, wonderful times with grandparents and others long gone. There was a brilliant photo of my grandfather aged six, in an extravagantly braided costume, standing proudly with his drum in a Salvation Army band, his father beside him with his cornet. There were several photos of my mother’s beloved elder brother, who died aged just nineteen fighting against fascism. But most heart-wrenching were the photos which meant something to my mother but nothing to me, long ago people and places I did not recognise, memories now forever gone. And of course I was faced with my own life, stark and unedited, detailed minutely in 57 years of lovingly collected photographs. Neglected relationships, half forgotten friends, ex partners and so many people to whom I should have been nicer or whom I could have helped more.

I think I now have got to kick on with life.

We seem to be hitting peak Craig Murray. Before the hiatus of the last month or so, 40,000 people were regularly reading this blog and some entries were being seen by hundreds of thousands on this and other sites. My brief and simple demolition of Owen Smith is one of the posts that over a million people read, was massively retweeted and I think I can realistically claim had an early impact on the leadership contest. Indeed the general upsurge of interest in non neo-liberal thinking seems to have got me “discovered” by a whole new political generation and it has been an enormous pleasure to see evidence of people looking through the back catalogue of eleven years of posts on this little blog.

The film “The Killing of Tony Blair” turned out very much better than I expected. I really enjoyed it and have been very heartened by the large number of messages of congratulation I have received on my own contribution to it. Still closer to my heart, the documentary film “London Calling”, on the shocking BBC bias in the Scottish Independence referendum, has today been completed and I hope to have distribution information for you shortly.

The film rights to “Murder in Samarkand” have just been renewed, there is a new script and we now have very experienced and top rank producers, and while I do not wish to count chickens, we are closer to the film being made than ever before.

On Friday I am giving a talk to Edinburgh West SNP at 19.30 at Munro Community Centre, Clermiston and I am happy to say that this is just the start of what looks like a busy autumn of campaigning for independence.

Over seven years of effort came to an end on Friday when I signed off the final map for my new book “Sikunder Burnes – Master of the Great Game”, which will now be published on 22 September. It is being printed right now, which is exciting.

I never did get a chance to expand as promised on my thoughts about Chilcot, but this interview in Jacobin magazine did an excellent job in bringing out the observations which I was uniquely qualified to make from personal experience. I do urge you to read it.

On 24 September I shall be in Washington DC to present the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity to John Kiriakou. It is typical of Obama and Clinton’s America that despite all Obama’s false election promises, the only man to go to jail over the CIA’s acknowledged torture and extraordinary rendition programmes was the whistleblower John Kiriakou, jailed for revealing state secrets.

Then on 20 October I have been summoned to appear before the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee to give evidence upon the same subject.

Finally, the apparent demise of President Karimov has meant that temporarily even the BBC has had to acknowledge my existence and I have a whole raft of mainstream media interviews lined up for tomorrow.

It has been a very difficult period for me and I am rebounding from it straight into peak Craig Murray. I would like to reiterate once more that everybody who participates in commenting on this blog is equally welcome and valued, and those who disagree with me are just as welcome as those who agree. The whole reason I do this is to stimulate thinking outside the Overton window, not to attempt to impose my own ideas.

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A Moment of Hope 64

The apparent end to the power of my old adversary Islam Karimov gives a brief moment of hope for change in Uzbekistan.

It is worth recalling that Karimov was a member of the last Soviet politburo, and was a part of the failed hard line “communist” coup against Gorbachev. His support for Uzbek independence was both a matter of self-preservation and a successful endeavour to sustain the massively corrupt system that enabled a few families to pillage Uzbekistan’s great natural wealth. Tashkent was already famously corrupt in Soviet times; Karimov increased this and concentrated the wealth in an ever smaller circle, while personal freedoms were higher in the Soviet period than now.

There is no telling if Karimov is already dead or not, but a massive stroke has with certainty ended his rule. There is much speculation on what happens next. The one thing we can be quite certain will not happen is a free and fair election of a successor.

The formal process, presided over by the speaker of parliament, is an irrelevance to the power grab that is going on and depends on control of the army, the separate Ministry of the Interior armed forces, the police and the security services. By common consent Rustam Inoyatov is a key kingmaker, and for the last two years Prime Minister Mirzaeyev has been carefully cementing this alliance. Mirzaeyev is probably the most ruthless of all the candidates – he is as cold-blooded a killer as Karimov, and I suspect this quality will bring him through.

Mirzaeyev comes from the same Samarkand power base as Karimov, but he faces a difficult balancing act in ensuring nobody else has any power to challenge him, while at the same time placating powerful Tashkent and Ferghana interests. If Mirzaeyev can gain the support of the Gafur Rakhimov/Alisher Usmanov mafia nexus he will probably be home and dry. But to emphasise how complex and vicious this will be, when the Alisher Usmanov/Mirzaeyev family relationship was due to be cemented in 2013 by a marriage alliance featuring Usmanov’s nephew and heir Babur Usmanov, the groom was killed in a “car crash” at the behest of Inoyatov. This murder was probably just a friendly reminder that Inoyatov cannot be cut out, and one Mirzaeyev seems to have heeded, but underlines the potential for it all to go violently wrong.

So how can this be hopeful? Well, quite simply things can only get better. Whoever takes over is unlikely to want immediately to rush into the arms of one of Uzbekistan’s three suitors, the USA, China and Russia. There is a reasonable chance that they will wish to portray themselves as having a reform agenda, in order to keep the USA and to some extent Russia interested. Putin never viewed Karimov as more than an embarrassment. Indeed, almost every potential President except Mirzaeyev does have an inkling that the deliberate stifling of all economic initiative and the enslavement of the country to a cotton monoculture is not a good policy.

Finally a message to Karimov, my old sparring partner. You won, you kept power and I lost, and got sacked for my pains. But then I am not dead, and when I am I shall not go to Hell. Good luck with that. Craig

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Let’s Rename Housing Benefit more fairly as “Landlord Bonus”. 90

So-called “Housing benefit” is of zero benefit to tenants. It is a massive flow of taxpayer cash to landlords – an incredible £25 billion per year. It plays a pivotal role in the growth of landlordism and the bubbling of house prices to well beyond the pockets of most young people.

It is argued on the right of politics that rent controls would be an unwarranted interference that would distort the housing market and prevent it operating efficiently. Yet housing benefit is itself a massive distortion, allowing landlords to charge rents far beyond what the market would ordinarily bear. If the state is to pay or top-up rents in this way, the state must also have a right to interfere in the level of rents.

For the sake of clarity of argument, I do not regard “Housing Associations” as anything but part of the landlord class, especially given the high salaries they pay their executives.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith have recently argued for a rent control solution – and in Jeremy Corbyn’s case he believes it. That would certainly be a vast improvement on the present situation. But my own view is that it is illogical to boost rents by a massive transfer of taxpayer cash to landlords by housing benefit, and then seek a second mechanism to control them.

Housing benefit should simply be abolished. The results would be the collapse of the buy to let market and the bankruptcy of some of the least lovely people in the country, a crash in rents, and the pricking of the UK’s property bubble, where homes are priced in much of the UK at 8 to 12 times average salary.

The abolition would need to be accompanied by a one year moratorium on all evictions until the market settles down and rents can be renegotiated. I do not rule out rent controls as part of the new arrangements to govern the market.

It is worth pointing out that as housing benefit is taken from general taxation, and as London accounts for an obscenely disproportionate percentage of housing benefit paid, it represents yet another hidden area where London sucks the wealth from the rest of the country.

Housing benefit is not actually a “benefit” to the needy at all. Have you ever wondered why the Tories make zero concerted efforts to cut this “benefit”, when they are so keen on driving disabled people to suicide and sanctioning the unemployed?

It is because housing “benefit” is the UK’s biggest con, a direct subsidy from the taxpayers to the very wealthy.

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The Dysfunctional United Kingdom 2394

Recently an Angus mother of three infant children was separated from them and jailed for ten months for over-claiming £10,000 per year in benefits. Meanwhile the Duke of Westminster evades £3.6 billion in inheritance tax through a transparently fraudulent use of trusts which “have the option” to give the money to someone else instead.

The United Kingdom is a socially backward and sometimes vicious polity, an island which prides itself on the state enforced conservatism which allowed it to evade intellectually motivated reform and retain a historical legacy of gross injustice and privilege.

For historical reasons land reform is an immensely popular cause in Scotland, and one of so many areas where SNP timidity is a deep, deep disappointment. The fact that they are covered in buildings does not make the vast London estates of the Grosvenors any more acceptable than the unnecessarily empty Highland estates where golden eagles are destroyed so the chinless wonders, hedge fund managers and sheikhs can blast away at tame grouse.

The late Duke of Westminster is characterised as a “philanthropist” by mainstream media even though the percentage of both his income and his wealth he gave to charity was less than most ordinary people’s mite, myself included, and I am willing to bet that what he did do, was tax-deductible. That a parasite who sat on £9 billion of unearned money in a country where disabled people commit suicide from poverty, and who got two O levels from Harrow, was Prince Charles’ closest friend, cuts through the lying propaganda about the Royal family we are constantly fed.

The political class have a deliberate will not to enforce inheritance tax on the super wealthy. They have a political will not to tackle landlordism, which as it affects both residential and commercial tenants is a fundamental malaise of the British economy. Neither problem is technically difficult. The problem is that the political class as a whole are in the pockets of the super-wealthy, promote their interests and ache to join them.

Which is why in the UK it is important that the threat to them posed by Corbyn is maintained, and why in Scotland it is essential that the SNP membership now push their own leadership into bold action on fundamental land reform and Independence. To call the current SNP approach to both issues desultory would be excessively polite.

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The Cynicism of Hillary 339

Hillary Clinton’s completely unfounded claim that Russia was behind the passing to WikiLeaks of Democratic National Committee documents was breathtakingly cynical. It was a successful ploy in that it gave her supporters, particularly those dominating mainstream media, something else to focus on other than the fact that the DNC had been busily fixing the primaries for Hillary.

It was however grossly irresponsible – an accusation that a US Secretary of State would hesitate to make in public even at the height of the Cold War. It raises further the tensions between the World’s two largest nuclear armed powers, and plays into the mood of rampant Russophobia which we are seeing whipped up daily in the press. With the Ukraine and Syria as points of major tension, to throw such an accusation wildly in defence of her own political ambitions, shows precisely why Hillary should never be US President.

This is all the more true as not only did Hillary have no evidence of Russian involvement, she almost certainly knows the allegation is completely baseless.

Which brings me to the curious murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer killed by an armed street robber who left Rich’s gun, watch, cash and wallet. WikiLeaks have offered an award of US $20,000 for information on his assassination. This does not indicate that it was Rich who leaked the emails. It does indicate that WikiLeaks are aware of profound shenanigans involving the Hillary campaign, and are putting effort and resources into piecing together the picture.

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Doune the Rabbit Hole 19-21 August

As regular readers know, this blog is intimately connected to the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival. I always enjoy meeting many of you there in the eponymous Whistleblower bar, and this year the tremendous moral uplift I personally get from our pop-up community will be more welcome than ever, after a difficult few weeks coping with family illness.

There are a couple of short videos from last year which capture the eclectic atmosphere brilliantly. In this first one you get to glimpse Nadira at 1.34, evidently enjoying the music!

While this second one by Stirling Council I think encapsulates the extraordinary charm

I am obliged to note in passing that we are challenged financially this year as Creative Scotland have withdrawn our £15,000 grant for no sensible reason. Yet they continue to fund other far more commercial and far less artistically innovative festivals. Which is even more reason for you to come.

I shall as ever be running the bars, having found a niche in which I am competent.

dounebar

If you can’t afford to buy a ticket, we still need volunteers, both for the festival dates and immediately. Please contact [email protected] It is just as much fun if you are working!

I can honestly say that nobody who has come through this blog, either just to enjoy the festival or to volunteer, has ever told me they found the experience less than uplifting. I look forward to seeing you – and don’t forget to buy the barman a pint!

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The Killings of Tony Blair

Tonight I am appearing at a panel discussion following the screening of the long-awaited film by George Galloway, The Killings of Tony Blair. I shall have the dubious pleasure of debating with John McTernan, who has never lacked brass neck but does deserve some credit for appearing to represent the forces of darkness before what I imagine will be a very hostile audience. The other panel members are Michael Mansfield and Lauren Booth.

Blair1

The film has been predictably lambasted by the mainstream media. But it does include some very essential first hand evidence – myself apart, two other British Ambassadors tell what they themselves witnessed, as do Cabinet members. Noam Chomsky adds some important perceptions. This cannot just be dismissed by cries of “Oh look! George Galloway’s in a hat!! Remember when he was on Big Brother!!” The mainstream media’s response to this film has been unanimously puerile.

The Blair-loving Guardian gave the film two stars and called it “sanctimonious”. If one cannot express moral condemnation of a man who forced through an aggressive war, directly killing hundreds of thousands and destabilising both the Middle East and communities in Europe, and who then went on to make multiple millions of pounds promoting vicious dictatorships, then are we to suspend the very idea of ethics itself?

The Guardian subscribes to the world view propounded weekly by Nick Cohen, that to appear on an Iranian government TV channel is a far greater sin than to promote a war which killed and maimed countless thousands of small children. None of the many contributors appeared in the film under a mistaken belief that George Galloway is perfect. That George (whom I first met in Dundee in 1977) is not perfect in no way detracts from the evidence stated against Tony Blair. On Iraq, George was both right and brave. I would add that I did not for one moment consider refusing to take part on the grounds that George is a unionist.

Getting cinema screenings for an independent documentary film is extremely difficult. This is what is available so far.

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I assume there are plans to make it available on wider platforms later.

The Killing$ Of Tony Blair – Official Trailer from The Killing of Tony Blair – Film on Vimeo.

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Barbarians at the Gates

A Typical Raiding Party of Corbynistas and Cybernats

A Typical Raiding Party of Corbynistas and Cybernats

A key weapon of the neo-liberal establishment in delegitimising the emergence of popular organisation to the left, is to portray all thinkers outside the Overton window as dangerous; actively violent, misogynist and racist.

WikiLeaks have once again done the world a great service by publishing smoking gun evidence that the Democratic National Committee – which was supposed to be a neutral body overseeing the Democrats primary election – was doing everything possible to tilt the field against Bernie Sanders. Just one of the ways that was done was by secretly promoting to the media the idea that Sanders’ supporters were violent, misogynist and intimidatory thugs.

One of the major events used to further this trope was the Democratic state convention in Nevada. This is a powerful demonstration of a phenomenon that we are witnessing daily in the UK – the use of the mainstream media to perpetrate the trope, despite the existence of irrefutable evidence that the narrative being put forward by the mainstream media is factually untrue. I have posted this video before, but please look at it now, whether again or for the first time. This is video of the actual events at Nevada taken from the heart of the “Barbarian crowd of Sanders supporters. The media characterisation of the events you are watching – a characterisation that was spread in active collusion between the media and neo-liberal politicians – includes accusations which we see repeated again and again, of violence, physical threat, misogynist abuse and spitting. What the actual evidence shows is something which we are seeing again and again as the actual reality – neo-liberal members of the paid political class astonished and indignant that their “position” and authority is not being treated with deference by ordinary people. Watch the video.

It is important to say that there is a lot of other video evidence available. This is the clearest I can find. No evidence appears anywhere online which bears out the stories of violence, abuse and spitting – which is quite astonishing given that the entire mainstream media carried and promoted those stories.

The Labour Party constituency meeting at Brighton gives us a precise analogy to the Nevada Democrats meeting. Again claims were made of violent intimidation, swearing and spitting. Again, in this age where everybody has a video camera in their pocket, there is absolutely zero objective evidence of this behaviour and a great deal of evidence to the contrary. It appears the real sin of the Brighton Labour Party members was to elect pro-Corbyn officers. That election has now been annulled. The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party is playing precisely the role against Corbyn that the NDC played against Sanders.

None of this is new. From the start, the Labour establishment has attempted to portray ordinary members as thugs. 7 months ago Stella Creasy claimed that a violent and intimidatory mob had gathered outside her constituency office, and in consequence she and her staff had been too scared to go to work. Here is a video of the actual incident.

Again the obvious and glaring disparity between what actually happened – this “peace vigil” was led by the local vicar to urge Creasy to withdraw her support for bombing Syria – and what Creasy claimed had happened, was ignored by the mainstream media. The mainstream media has become the home of fact free journalism. If you want to find anything approaching truth, you have to go surfing the social media.

It is highly significant that among the “demands” made in a recent letter by 44 anti-Corbyn female MPs was that demonstrations at their offices should be banned, and anyone who participates in one expelled from the Labour Party. I think that in itself says enough about their sense of entitlement and attitude to free speech.

Just a couple more examples of many score I could give. The “brick through Angela Eagle’s window” story is repeated continually by the mainstream media to show the violence of Corbyn supporters. But in fact the broken window was in a stairwell of an office block, actually on a different face of the building to the one on which Angela Eagle’s office has windows. There is no evidence at all that Ms Eagle’s office was the target, let alone that a Corbyn supporter was the perpetrator. I have been able to find no evidence of the existence of the brick. What is interesting, is that on this common stairwell, not connected to the Labour Party, a Party poster was used to close up the void, thus giving a photo opportunity that all of the mainstream media used and reinforcing the false impression – more than impression, false statement in the entire mainstream media – that it was Ms Eagle’s window that was broken. How did this happen? Emergency glaziers carry boards. I have also seen no evidence of the existence of the brick. Was it a literal brick? Where did it come from? Or was it, perhaps, a lump of Portland cement?

My all time favourite for mainstream media distortion of a story comes, naturally, from the BBC. Labour MP Marie Rimmer has been brought to trial for kicking a canvasser. This is how the BBC reported it. This really is beyond satire.

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To us Scottish nationalists, the portrayal of those who challenge the status quo as violent and racist is something that we have lived with for years. That is why I use the expression “vauntie cybernat” at the top of my blog, “cybernat” having become the mainstream media term for barbarian during the referendum campaign.

The smearing of critics of the status quo being violent, threatening racists and misogynists was demonstrated perfectly in the killing of the petition against the BBC’s obnoxiously right wing and obviously biased political correspondent, Laura Kuenssberg. A whole wave of obscene, vile and threatening online abuse was alleged to be associated with the petition, but careful investigation – of which zero was done by the mainstream media – proved this to be an outright lie.

Finally, we come to the slur that Corbyn supporters are anti-Semitic. As I have stated before, one obvious flaw in this charge is that almost all Corbyn supporters enthusiastically cheered on Bernie Sanders. Again, the slightest examination of the facts shows that in many cases the accusation absolutely does not stand up, as with the Ruth Smeeth incident where the man demonstrably did not say what she quoted him as saying. Again the mainstream media had no interest in simply provable actual fact.

What has been extremely reprehensible has been the tendency to the mainstream media to slip in, as the Guardian did with the case of Luciana Berger, examples of genuine and appalling anti-Semitic abuse, without making clear that in these cases the perpetrators (and somebody was convicted) were from the far right and had absolutely nothing to do with Corbyn and his supporters. Much the same is true of references to the murder of Jo Cox.

The Establishment will always attempt to characterise any root challenge to its hegemony and ideology as violent, atavistic and subscribing to appalling beliefs and behaviour. The theme of challengers as “Barbarians” runs through history. We will have to put up with it for some time. The good news is, they are seriously rattled.

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Fox, Gould, Werritty and Israel – Please write to your MP

Now that Liam Fox is back in the Cabinet and Matthew Gould, ex-Ambassador to Israel, in in charge of Security in the Cabinet Office, it is essential to get answers to what happened in at least eight meetings between Adam Werritty and Gould at least some of which involved Mossad – as Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell acknowledged to a parliamentary committee:

Hansard Public Administration Committee 24/11/2011

Q<369> Paul Flynn: Okay. Matthew Gould has been the subject of a very serious complaint from two of my constituents, Pippa Bartolotti and Joyce Giblin. When they were briefly imprisoned in Israel, they met the ambassador, and they strongly believe—it is nothing to do with this case at all—that he was serving the interest of the Israeli Government, and not the interests of two British citizens. This has been the subject of correspondence.

In your report, you suggest that there were two meetings between the ambassador and Werritty and Liam Fox. Questions and letters have proved that, in fact, six such meetings took place. There are a number of issues around this. I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories, but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran, in the service. Werritty is a self-proclaimed—

Robert Halfon: Point of order, Chairman. What is the point of this?

Paul Flynn: Let me get to it. Werritty is a self-proclaimed expert on Iran.

Chair: I have to take a point of order.

Robert Halfon: Mr Flynn is implying that the British ambassador to Israel is working for a foreign power, which is out of order.

Paul Flynn: I quote the Daily Mail: “Mr Werritty is a self-proclaimed expert on Iran and has made several visits. He has also met senior Israeli officials, leading to accusations”—not from me, from the Daily Mail—“that he was close to the country’s secret service, Mossad.” There may be nothing in that, but that appeared in a national newspaper.

Chair: I am going to rule on a point of order. Mr Flynn has made it clear that there may be nothing in these allegations, but it is important to have put it on the record. Be careful how you phrase questions.

Paul Flynn: Indeed. The two worst decisions taken by Parliament in my 25 years were the invasion of Iraq—joining Bush’s war in Iraq—and the invasion of Helmand province. We know now that there were things going on in the background while that built up to these mistakes. The charge in this case is that Werritty was the servant of neo-con people in America, who take an aggressive view on Iran. They want to foment a war in Iran in the same way as in the early years, there was another—

Chair: Order. I must ask you to move to a question that is relevant to the inquiry.

Q<370> Paul Flynn: Okay. The question is, are you satisfied that you missed out on the extra four meetings that took place, and does this not mean that those meetings should have been investigated because of the nature of Mr Werritty’s interests?

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I think if you look at some of those meetings, some people are referring to meetings that took place before the election.

Q<371> Paul Flynn: Indeed, which is even more worrying.

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I am afraid they were not the subject—what members of the Opposition do is not something that the Cabinet Secretary should look into. It is not relevant.

But these meetings were held—
Chair: Mr Flynn, would you let him answer please?

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I really do not think that was within my context, because they were not Ministers of the Government and what they were up to was not something I should get into at all.

Chair: Final question, Mr Flynn.

Q<372> Paul Flynn: No, it is not a final question. I am not going to be silenced by you, Chairman; I have important things to raise. I have stayed silent throughout this meeting so far.

You state in the report—on the meeting held between Gould, Fox and Werritty, on 6 February, in Tel Aviv—that there was a general discussion of international affairs over a private dinner with senior Israelis. The UK ambassador was present…

Sir Gus O’Donnell: The important point here was that, when the Secretary of State had that meeting, he had an official with him—namely, in this case, the ambassador. That is very important, and I should stress that I would expect our ambassador in Israel to have contact with Mossad. That will be part of his job. It is totally natural, and I do not think that you should infer anything from that about the individual’s biases.

Gus O’Donnell was being examined on his Cabinet Office report into the Fox/Werritty affair, which contained the blatant lie that Gould and Werritty had only met on two occasions. In fact they met eight times that we know for certain, with Gould’s role being:

1) 8 September 2009 as Miliband’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
2) 16 June 2010 as Hague’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
3) A “social occasion” in summer 2010 as Ambassador designate to Israel with Gould, Fox and Werritty (omitted from O’Donnell report)
4) 1 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
5) 27 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
6) 4-6 February 2011 Herzilya Conference Israel (omitted from O’Donnell report)
7) 6 February 2011 Tel Aviv dinner with Mossad and Israeli military
8) 15 May 2011 “We believe in Israel” conference London (omitted from O’Donnell report)

You can find full details here.

As O’Donnell states, some of the Werritty/Gould meetings happened when Fox and the Tories were not even in power. My own Freedom of Information request for all correspondence between Adam Werritty and Matthew Gould was denied as it would “breach the cost limit”. What is the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act if something as simple as correspondence between two named individuals is refused on grounds of cost.

Astonishingly, the request was denied within one hour of being submitted, and after 11pm!!!!! In reply to a further Freedom of Information Act request for minutes of the meetings between Gould and Werritty while Gould was Private Secretary to Hague and Miliband, the FCO quite literally sent me two blank pages with everything redacted except the date!!!

Various MP’s, including Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas, dragged out the information bit by bit, like drawing teeth.

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The media were by and large prepared to treat the Werritty/Fox scandal purely as sniggering homophobia. Only the Independent reported the actual story

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Fox’s resignation enabled the media to bury the real scandal, which was Israeli government influence on both Red and Blue Tories.

I therefore request everybody who reads this to write to their MP and ask them to find the following information. Here is a draft you may utilise, but the more you customise it the better:

Dear ……..,

I am concerned about unresolved questions from the Adam Werritty affair, and I should be grateful if you could discover the following information for me.

1) On how many occasions did Cabinet Office official Matthew Gould meet with Mr Adam Werritty, either
a) in a personal capacity
b) in an official capacity

2) Who else was present on each occasion?
3) What was discussed on each occasion?

I have been informed of at least eight such meetings which have been collected together from parliamentary questions and FOIA requests. I am concerned that only two of these meetings was detailed in the Cabinet Secretary’s report into the Adam Werritty affair.

1) 8 September 2009 as Miliband’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
2) 16 June 2010 as Hague’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
3) A “social occasion” in summer 2010 as Ambassador designate to Israel with Gould, Fox and Werritty (omitted from O’Donnell report)
4) 1 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
5) 27 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
6) 4-6 February 2011 Herzilya Conference Israel (omitted from O’Donnell report)
7) 6 February 2011 Tel Aviv dinner with Mossad and Israeli military
8) 15 May 2011 “We believe in Israel” conference London (omitted from O’Donnell report)

Can you discover why so many of these meetings were omitted from the O’Donnell report?

I should be most grateful for your assistance.

Yours faithfully,

You can write to your MP via this website , though I awlays prefer to send a physical letter to the House of Commons. I should be most grateful for your assistance in doing this, and in spreading this appeal around by social media.

It is to me disgusting that a politician so thoroughly disgraced as Liam Fox should be back in power. Answers were blanked on the actual purpose of the Werritty connection, and I think collectively we should try to do something about that.

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Mhairi Black on Trident

Note that the government benches are almost empty. The people who bothered to be present and listen to the debate were overwhelmingly those who voted against Trident. With all Scotland’s MPs but one opposing, this is yet another reason to get a move on with Indyref2. I don’t share the criticism of the Tories for calling this debate and vote – it helpfully clarifies that the representatives of Scotland are treated with contempt, and that the Blairite majority in the Parliamentary Labour Party are in hock to arms industry interests.

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That Far Left Entryist Takeover of the Labour Party

At its height in the 1980’s, Militant claimed 8,000 members. In 2013 its descendant, the Socialist Party, claimed 2,500 members and crowed that it was now bigger than the Socialist Workers Party. The SWP replied, not by claiming to have more than 2,500 members, but by saying that the Socialist Party’s claim of 2,500 was inflated. The various manifestations of the Communist Party are smaller. An umbrella group, the People’s Assembly against Austerity, incorporates more or less all of these disparate elements plus much of the organised left of the Labour Party and trades union supporters. Its mailing list, which includes many Greens and other radicals like me, is 40,000 people. That is probably an exaggeration of the membership of the formal left in the UK and it should be noted that a significant proportion of that 40,000 are long term Labour members. Momentum, the Blairites’ bete noir, has only about 10,000 members.

I have therefore watched with bemusement the claims that the 120,000 new Labour members now banned from voting, and perhaps half of the remaining 400,000 Labour electorate, are entryists from organisations of the “hard left”. Anybody who believes there are over 300,000 members of “hard left” groups in the UK is frankly bonkers.

What we are seeing is rather a spontaneous expression of a genuine popular upsurge against neo-liberalism. Angela Eagle’s car crash interview on the Andrew Marr show this morning was all delectable, but for me the best moment was when Marr asked her if she would resign as an MP if her local party in Wallasey no-confidence her, to which she replied that this could not happen because the national executive had banned all constituency labour party meetings. The attempts of the Labour NEC to play King Canute against a popular tide they cannot begin to comprehend are hilarious.

As these people have come to paid political position through groups of well-connected people pulling the right strings, they assume all politics must work like that. So they are convinced that there must be an entryist cabal who have organised everything, with powerful people pulling the strings. My bet is the Blairites will be defeated, deselected and defenestrated without ever working out it was not a plot. It is just that ordinary people find their vacuous careerism appalling.

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The Timing Trap for Scotland

It is self-evidently essential to negotiate for Independent Scotland to remain in the EU, in advance of Brexit taking effect. But those negotiations will take time – budgetary contributions, relationship to the Euro, the Central Bank and Schengen, fisheries quotas, representation in the parliament and commission, Phare and research grants, structural and development funding, and those are only a few of a massive list of details to be settled before Independent Scotland takes its place in the EU. There is over a year of negotiation there.

But Scotland’s position becomes much more difficult if there is not a seamless transition. If when the rest of the UK withdraws, Scotland remains seated at the table as a successor member without its citizens losing that status, both the process and the substance are very much simpler than if Scotland leaves with Brexit and has to apply to rejoin. Indeed there is a respectable legal argument that in the first case Scotland’s continuing membership cannot be subject to single state veto, whereas a Scotland which is rejoining could.

The stark fact is this. Scotland cannot await the outcome of Brexit negotiations. These are certain to take up almost all of the available time between triggering of Article 50 and actual Brexit two years later. If Scotland waits, it will be too late for Independent Scotland to negotiate her own terms in time for continuing EU membership on rBrexit.

The only possible result of the petrified stalling of the SNP in the face of the obvious need for IndyRef2 is that they will fail in both of their objectives. Even at the earliest the Scottish Government may call for IndyRef2 on their current plans, it will be too late. Scotland will find itself still inside the UK and outside of the EU or just about to be. They will then face the prospect of selling Independence with no guarantee that we will be allowed back in.

Caution can be good. But there are times in life where inaction, though from the best of motives, may prove disastrous. I very much fear that, if we do not move to hold Indyref2 in spring 2017, the sequence of events may mean we miss the chance for Independence for a great many decades.

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Time for Nicola to Pick a Fight

It is time for straight talking. Philip Hammond stated the plain truth when he said that Scotland could not have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK. It is true as a simple technical truth, as I explained. If the UK leaves the EU, the only way for Scotland to remain a member is Independence. Frankly anybody who understands the first thing about the subject knows that and it is actually helpful for Hammond to explain it. I have no doubt that May gave Sturgeon the same message today. By proclaiming commitment to Unionism in the first sentence of her first speech in Number 10, and then immediately coming to Edinburgh, May could not have made her position clearer. Further there is no doubt that Hammond would have cleared his unequivocal statement with May before he made it.

If I can forsake honesty and straightforwardness, and try to channel Machiavelli, I can make out a case for Nicola Sturgeon to initiate a time-consuming – and expensive – process of entering extensive consultations to try to find a way that Scotland can effectively remain in both the EU and the UK, even though I have no doubt whatsoever that Sturgeon, who is not stupid, knows as well as I do that this is an impossibility. That Machiavellian argument goes like this – “We know it is impossible for Scotland to continue EU membership still within the UK if the UK leaves, but we must be seen to have explored all avenues so that unionists will be persuaded that independence is the only option left.”

But here are four arguments against that:

1) Pitching independence as a very bad option, only to be taken if no others are available, is not a good sales technique
2) Wasting European politicians’ time asking for an impossible “part of UK” arrangement will erode the initial surge of sympathetic support for Scotland’s democratic desire to remain in the EU, which sympathy has been strongly felt in Europe
3) Sturgeon has appointed an “expert panel” to advise her with a massive establishment and neo-liberal bias and a unionist majority, containing just a single radical thinker, Alan Mille.
4) We are witnessing the final implosion of the British Empire with the Westminster bubble detested and politics in a state of flux. There could be no more auspicious time to launch a new push for Independence. This is not the time for temporising.

The appointment of such an establishment “expert panel” really does worry me. You can guarantee that this panel is not going to recommend that Scotland leaves the UK in order to obtain a continuing or expedited membership of the EU. Three are former FCO colleagues of mine. They happen to all be people I like, but I don’t dislike people for their politics. You could not get a more solid establishment man than Lord John Kerr. He is on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, for Christ’s sake. David Frost as CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association actively campaigned against independence. Mariot Leslie is sound and pro-Indy but not radical.

Bluntly the composition of this panel worries me that Nicola Sturgeon is seeking not to push forward for independence and does not want an Indyref2. Why else would you appoint a representative of the steering committee of Bilderberg to your expert panel, together with fistfuls of other uber-establishment figures? For me, it says a lot about Sturgeon that she has chosen to advise her a group of people almost all of whom are used to six figure incomes and whose average income is well over £200,000 p.a.

Stuart Campbell hit the nail – as so often – on the head when he suggested that actually Hammond’s position should be a gift which Sturgeon accepts. It is extremely helpful that Westminster states Scotland can only be a member of the EU if it leaves the UK. It is true, and it is a choice the Scottish people must be offered to sort out the two incompatible referendum results. In a choice between the EU and Tory Westminster – a far clearer choice than Indyref1 – I am confident how the vote will go. For Heaven’s sake, Nicola, quit messing around with your entirely voluntary association with the Bilderberg Group and go for the referendum.

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The Entirely Fake Owen Smith 615

Even the mainstream media feel compelled to drop hints that Owen Smith is not what he is being promoted as. The Guardian’s words yesterday were unintentionally revealing;

the former shadow work and pensions secretary plans to pitch himself as the soft-left option

Note “to pitch himself”. For PR professional Smith, political stance is nothing to do with personal belief, it is to do with brand positioning. On Channel 4 News last night, an incredulous Michael Crick pointed out that the “soft left” Smith had previously given interviews supporting PFI and privatisation in the health service. He also strongly supported Blair’s city academies.

As chief lobbyist for Pfizer, Smith actively pushed for privatisation of NHS services. This is not something Pfizer did very openly, and you have to search the evidence carefully. Footnotes often tell you what is really happening, as in this press release in which Owen Smith says of a Pfizer funded “focus group” study:

We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda.

You have to look at the footnotes to see what kind of choice Owen Smith is actually talking about. Note to Editors 3 includes

“The focus groups also explored areas of choice that do not yet exist in the UK – most specifically the use of direct payments and the ability to choose to go directly to a specialist without first having to see the GP.”

Well, at least it is clear – direct payments from the public to doctors replacing current NHS services. Smith was promoting straight privatisation. As Head of Policy and Government Relations for Pfizer, Owen Smith was also directly involved in Pfizer’s funding of Blairite right wing entryist group Progress. Pfizer gave Progress £53,000. Progress has actively pursued the agenda of PFI and privatisation of NHS services.

Owen Smith went to Pfizer from a Labour Party job, while Labour were in government, and there is no doubt that his hiring was an example of the corrupt relationship between New Labour and big business which is why the Blairites are so hated by the public. It is also beyond any argument that if Pfizer had any doubts about Owen Smith’s willingness to promote the Big Pharma and NHS Privatisation agenda, they would never have hired him.

Owen Smith is a strong supporter of Trident and assiduously courts the arms industry. He is a regular at defence industry events.

Perhaps most crucially of all, Owen Smith joined his fellow Red Tories in abstaining on the Tory welfare benefit cuts.

I do not doubt Owen Smith’s expertise in brand positioning. I expect that there are indeed a large number of Labour Party members who might vote for a left wing alternative to Corbyn. But I also suspect that Smith has adopted the PR man’s typical contempt for the public, who are not as stupid as he seems to think. There is no evidence whatsoever that Smith is a left winger. There is every evidence that he is another New Labour unprincipled and immoral careerist, adopting a left wing pose that he thinks will win him votes.

People will notice, Owen. They really are not that stupid.

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Thoughts After Chilcot

I hope today that people will remember Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Carne Ross, and Katherine Gun, who were all prepared to give up excellent careers to stand against the war in Iraq.

Blair is still a creature of absolute self-serving slime. His attempt yesterday to justify the invasion of Iraq as an effort to prevent a 9/11 on British soil is dishonest in every way. Blair knew full well that Iraq had nothing at all to do with 9/11 – that was his still friends and financiers the Saudi elite. The intelligence advice in advance of the invasion he received was unequivocal that it would increase the threat to the UK, and it directly caused the attacks of 7/7.

The broadcast media seem to think the Chilcot report is an occasion to give unlimited airtime to Blair and Alastair Campbell. Scores of supporters and instigators of the was have been interviewed. By contrast, almost no airtime has been given to those who campaigned against the war.

Cameron’s speech to parliament was such an out and out, and dishonest, apologia for the invasion that it bore no relationship to the report. Corbyn is no orator, but his genuine moral outrage was justified. The Blairites who heckled him from behind during his speech are disgusting. If any meaningful democratic choice is to be offered to people in England and Wales, the Blairites have to be removed from the Labour Party to join with their fellow Tories.

The SNP are playing a blinder on Chilcot. I do hope Salmond moves forward with impeachment, not least because it will both force the Blairites to expose themselves, and reveal the deep feelings against Blair’s actions in the military linked wing of the Tory party.

As predicted, Chilcot had to repeat the Butler Inquiry’s verdict that the intelligence was not fixed, because Chilcot was himself on the Butler Inquiry. It is a lie, the intelligence was knowingly fixed. More on that later.

I apologise these are very brief thoughts. I have not had the opportunity to pay the attention you would expect, as my mother has been taken into hospital and I had yesterday to dash down to Norwich. It will be a few days before I am able to concentrate on politics.

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The Truth About Chilcot

The death toll from the horrific recent Iraq bombings has risen over 250. If Blair had not been absolutely determined to attack Iraq on the basis of a knowing lie about WMD, they would be alive now, along with millions of other dead. ISIS would never have taken control of territory in Iraq and Syria. Al Qaeda would never have grown from an organisation of a few hundred to one of tens of thousands. We would not have a completely destabilised Middle East and a massive refugee crisis.

Do not expect a full truth and a full accounting from the Chilcot panel of establishment trusties today. Remember who they are.

Sir John Chilcot

Member of the Butler Inquiry which whitewashed the fabrication of evidence of Iraqi WMD. The fact is that, beyond doubt, the FCO and SIS knew there were no Iraqi WMD. In the early 1990’s I had headed the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, tasked with monitoring and preventing Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement. In 2002 I was on a course for newly appointed Ambassadors alongside Bill Patey, who was Head of the FCO Department dealing with Iraq. Bill is a fellow Dundee University graduate and is one of the witnesses before the Iraq Inquiry this morning. I suggested to him that the stories we were spreading about Iraqi WMD could not be true. He laughed and said “Of course not Craig, it’s bollocks”. I had too many other conversations to mention over the next few months, with FCO colleagues who knew the WMD scare to be false.

Yet Chilcot was party to a Butler Inquiry conclusion that the Iraqi WMD scare was an “Honest mistake”. That a man involved on a notorious whitewash is assuring us that this will not be one, is bullshit.

Sir Roderick Lyne

A good friend and former jogging partner of Alastair Campbell.

Last time I actually spoke to him we were both Ambassadors and on a British frigate moored on the Neva in St Petersburg. Colleagues may have many words to describe Rod Lyne, some of them complimentary, but “open-minded” is not one of them.

If the Committee were to feel that the Iraq War was a war crime, then Rod Lyne would be accusing himself. As Ambassador to Moscow he was active in trying to mitigate Russian opposition to the War. He personally outlined to the Russian foreign minister the lies on Iraqi WMD. There was never the slightest private indication that Lyne had any misgivings about the war.

From Uzbekistan we always copied Moscow in on our reporting telegrams, for obvious reasons. Lyne responded to my telegrams protesting at the CIA’s use of intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers, by requesting not to be sent such telegrams.

Sir Lawrence Freedman

Lawrence Freedman is the most appalling choice of all. The patron saint of “Justified” wars of aggression, and exponent of “Wars of Choice” and “Humanitarian Intervention”. He is 100% parti pris.

Here is part of his evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution on 18 January 2006:

The basic idea here is that our armed forces prepared for what we might call wars of necessity, that the country was under an existential threat so if you did not respond to that threat then in some very basic way our vital interests, our way of life, would be threatened, and when you are looking at certain such situations, these are great national occasions. The difficulty we are now facing with wars of choice is that these are discretionary and the government is weighing a number of factors against each other. I mentioned Sierra Leone but Rwanda passed us by, which many people would think was an occasion when it would have been worth getting involved. There was Sudan and a lot of things have been said about Darfur but not much has happened…

…Iraq was a very unusual situation where it was not an ongoing conflict. If we had waited things would not have been that much different in two or three months’ time and so, instead of responding either to aggression by somebody else, as with the Falklands, or to developing humanitarian distress, as in the Balkans, we decided that security considerations for the future demanded immediate action.”

Sir Martin Gilbert (died in course of Inquiry)

Very right wing historian whose biography of Churchill focussed on Gilbert’s relish for war and was otherwise dull. (Roy Jenkins’ Churchill biography is infinitely better). Gilbert was not only rabidly pro-Iraq War, he actually saw Blair as Churchill.

Although it can easily be argued that George W Bush and Tony Blair face a far lesser challenge than Roosevelt and Churchill did – that the war on terror is not a third world war – they may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill. Their societies are too divided today to deliver a calm judgment, and many of their achievements may be in the future: when Iraq has a stable democracy, with al-Qaeda neutralised, and when Israel and the Palestinian Authority are independent democracies, living side by side in constructive economic cooperation.

Baroness Prashar

A governor of the FCO institution the Ditchley Foundation – of which the Director is Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK Ambassador to the UN who presented the lies about Iraqi WMD and was intimately involved in the lead in to war. So very much another cosy foreign policy insider.

So, in short, the committee – all hand-picked by Gordon Brown – could not have been better picked to ensure a whitewash.

Over 50% of the British population were against the Iraq War, including for example many scores of distinguished ex-Ambassadors, many military men and many academics. Yet Brown chose nobody on the Inquiry who had been against the Iraq War, while three out of five were active and open supporters of the war.

Do not expect to see this truth reflected in any of the mainstream media coverage.

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Blair Can Be Tried For War Crimes

There is no requirement in international law for the appropriate jurisdiction of a tribunal – or even the tribunal itself – to be in place before a crime is committed, in order for it to try that crime. The most obvious evidence of this is the Nuremburg Tribunal, which did not even exist when the crimes which it tried were committed. But in fact international law has a long tradition of arbitration or judgement by bodies which were set up after the event, but judging by the law applicable at the time of the event. It is the crime itself which must be a crime at the time it is committed. The jurisdiction of the body which tries the criminal can be created after the crime itself.

Total nonsense has been written widely that it would be retroactive law, and thus unacceptable, for Tony Blair to be tried at the Hague for the crime of waging aggressive war. But the crime itself was very plainly already in existence when Blair committed it.

Indeed, Blair apologists claim that the Statute of Rome of 1998, which set up the International Criminal Court, means that Blair cannot face trial because it specifically exempts aggressive war from the jurisdiction of the court. But in fact that is the opposite of the truth. The Statute of Rome unequivocally confirms the existence of the crime of waging aggressive war. It states that the tribunal “shall not exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression”. That is in itself sufficient evidence that the international community reconfirmed the existence of the crime of aggression in 1998, shortly before Blair committed it in 2003.

It just means that at present the crime has to be prosecuted somewhere else. The FCO’s Legal Advisers, a department of extremely able professional international lawyers, unanimously believed the invasion of Iraq was an act of aggressive war, as plainly told to Chilcot by their then Head Sir Michael Wood.

If the Hague tribunal obtains, as expected, power to cover this crime, there is no reason in principle why it should not investigate such crimes which were committed before it had that jurisdiction. Except that we can be sure that the British government will ensure there is a clause in the agreement forbidding that. Then there is the fact that Blair is not a black African and has never been bombed by NATO. Nobody who fails to meet those criteria will ever be tried at the Hague.

Blair is a war criminal. He can be tried by n international tribunal, or he can, more satisfactory still, be tried in the UK. The attempts of his defenders to claim it is impossible technically to try him gives some sign how desperate they have become. Aggressive war was a crime at the time he committed it.

Tomorrow the Chilcot whitewash will be liberally splashed around. I do strongly recommend that you buy and read Peter Oborne’s Not the Chilcot Report to get the real picture.

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Theresa May, Your New Islamophobic Prime Minister?

A quick Google news search for “Theresa May and “Abu Qatada” reveals over 2,000 mainstream media articles in the last three days combining both. This is hardly surprising, as in her speech announcing her candidacy for Tory leader (and thus PM) May dwelt on her deportation of Abu Qatada as evidence she was qualified for the job. The May supporting Tory MP who was put up for Sky to interview immediately afterwards managed to say “Abu Qatada” three times in a two minute interview.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a powerful symbol – but not the symbol he has become, a hate figure. He should rather be a symbol of the hate-filled and intolerant place Britain has become, and the dreadful injustice meted out to individuals both by the state and the media.

Abu Qatada spent, over a thirteen year period, a total of nine years in jail in England despite never being charged with any crime. It is not just that he was not convicted. He was never charged. Nine years, think about it. In all that time, neither he nor his lawyers were ever permitted to see the accusations or evidence against him.

Britain has draconian anti-terrorism laws that would make a dictatorship blush. It is an offence to “glorify” terrorism. It is specifically “terrorism” for me to write, here and now, that Nelson Mandela was justified in supporting the bombing campaign that got him arrested. I just knowingly committed “glorifying terrorism” under British law. It is specifically “terrorism” to deface the property in the UK of a foreign state with a political motive. If I spray “Gay Pride” on the Saudi embassy, that is terrorism. We also have secret courts, where “terrorists” can be convicted without ever seeing the “intelligence-based” evidence against them. We have convicted young idiots for discussing terror fantasies online. We have convicted a wife who “must have known” what her husband was doing (at least that one was overturned on appeal).

Yet even with the bar so low it is resting on the ground, from his first arrest in 2001 to his deportation in 2013, through innumerable arrests, police interviews, wiretaps, computer seizures and searches, no evidence against Abu Qatada was ever found which would stand up in court. It is worth noting that if almost any of the vast number of accusations the tabloids made against him had been true, for example if he had actually said in sermons the things he was stated to have said in the UK press, he could have been charged and convicted. But investigation by the police and security services found every single one of these claims to be false.

It is true that Theresa May did succeed in deporting him. To Jordan, where he faced charges of association with terrorist groups. In two trials, one before a military tribunal, Abu Qatada was found not guilty of association with terrorism and all other charges. It should be very plainly understood that the Jordanian monarchy is no friend at all to Palestinian salafist clerics like Abu Qatada, and he had good reason to fear being deported there. But even they found that the evidence Abu Qatada is a terrorist does not exist.

Now I have never met him, though I have met his lawyers and doctor. Abu Qatada holds views with which I do not agree; I dislike the bigoted in any religion. But his main crime appears to have been to be a Palestinian cleric with a perfect comic opera appearance for the right wing media to make up quotes and hate stories around.

Abu-Qatada_2111808c

This picture is taken from a hilarious Daily Telegraph article in which that author complains that Abu Qatada had “fooled us again” – by the dastardly expedient of not actually committing any crimes.

So if you are proud of a world in which people against whom there is not one shred of court-worthy evidence, who have never been charged, can be detained for nine years and then deported, vote for Theresa May as PM. I expect the Tories will, happily.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a symbol. He should be a symbol of the deepest national disgrace of unjustified imprisonment and of the foul place the United Kingdom has become under successive far right Labour and Tory governments. And I say far right with deliberation. In what other kind of country could the story of Abu Qatada happen?

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