Independent Scotland Will Need a New Capital 57

This is going to annoy a good many traditionalists, but here goes…

Edinburgh is already the wealthiest and economically most successful city in Scotland. For the first time in 200 years it has overtaken Glasgow in population. Its housing is becoming prohibitively expensive for ordinary citizens. A two bedroom flat carved out of a converted house goes for £250,000 in a “normal” area. Three bed family homes are well over £350,000 in much of the city.

In any state, the capital sucks in economic resources from the rest of the country, because that is where the centre of government services lies. London currently absorbs an awful lot of Scottish taxpayers’ money, and the Treasury counts projects such as crossrail as a UK, not just English, benefit – a fact worth remembering when you look at GERS figures.

An independent Scotland will need new ministries of foreign affairs, defence, and immigration/security, and a much bigger ministry of finance. It will need a central bank. On top of which it will receive at least 60 foreign embassies and also, and often forgotten, about the same again in national offices of international institutions like the EU, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, etc. That also comes with an economic boom to supply all the needed accommodation and infrastructure.

But that is by no means all. Edinburgh is already a huge international finance sector. Insurance companies, fund managers and banks based in Edinburgh manage more assets than are held in the Paris, behind only London and Frankfurt in the EU. If the rest of the UK plunges out of the EU while Scotland stays in, where will be the obvious bolthole for financial institutions wishing to headquarter in a location which gives continued free access to EU markets, while minimising dislocation effects and need for new languages? Edinburgh.

That is not the only benefit which a Scotland still in the EU will gain from the new situation. The astonishing xenophobia south of the border is dictating a severe reduction in numbers of overseas students. If Scotland is independent and still in the EU, which English speaking destination with superb universities will those students go to instead? The continued expansion of the University and of student accommodation is already out of hand in Edinburgh city centre – this will get worse.

The truth is, post independence the economic boom which will hit Edinburgh will be more than the city can physically handle. It will be much more sensible to remove the public sector element – the functions and accretions of a capital city – to another destination.

This will shock traditionalists, but Edinburgh will always have its history and the tourists that come with it. There are older capitals available. Dunkeld of the Picts probably does not have enough available land. But Perth does, close to the ancient installation site of the rulers at Scone. Scone Palace would be a magnificent residence for Scotland’s President after Lizzie is given her marching orders.

Many countries have moved to brand new capitals. My own choice of capital would be Dundee. The railway, road and airport connections already exist and the Caird Hall could be converted to a magnificent parliament. The seat of Scottish government is currently Ruth Davidson’s constituency – surely it would be much better to move it to Yes City.

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On Personalities, Politics and Liking the Wrong People 23

In general, I don’t like or dislike people for their politics. This is sometimes worrying. I was, rather strangely, on a Christian radio show with Zac Goldsmith once, and we chatted afterwards, and he seemed a really pleasant and genuine person. I was surprised by the stuff he allowed in his name during the London mayoral election.

Similarly I went out drinking with David Aaronovitch after a debate in Dublin and we got on famously. I seldom agree with him, and therefore attack him often on my blog, but I have to admit I like him in person.

But I am very happy to say, that the only time I ever met Toby Young, when I lived in Acton, I had to be physically restrained from a desire to attack him with a wine bottle. Even I have my limits.

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How the British Brexit Economy Works 189

1) A containerful of shoddy training shoes are produced in China, shipped to UK, sorted by lowly paid British zero hours workers and put on shelves of High Street sports shop.
2) While this is happening, sterling plunges 25%.
3) Coachload of Chinese tourists visit sports shop attracted by collapsed pound sterling. They exclaim “Wow Western trainers! And so cheap”. They buy them to take back to China as gifts for family members they don’t like that much.
4) Declare a Brexit sales boom!

The expert among you will have noted this economic model is not very sustainable.

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Blanket Corporate Media Corruption 404

It is disconcerting to be praised by a website whose next article warns of a “plague of sodomites”. Sometimes truth-telling is a difficult act because truth is a simple matter of fact; who might seek to exploit that truth is a different question. I almost certainly have little in common with the anti-gay people who chose to commend me.

It is however incumbent on those who know truth to reveal it to the best of their ability, particularly if it contradicts an untruth being put about widely. The lie that WikiLeaks is acting as an agent of the Russian state is one that needs to be countered. Wikileaks is much more important than a mere state propaganda organisation, and needs to be protected.

Political lying is a sad fact of modern life, but some lies are more dangerous than others. Hillary Clinton’s lies that the Podesta and Democratic National Congress email leaks are hacks by the Russian state, should be countered because they are untrue, and because their intention is to distract attention from her own corrupt abuse of power and money. But even more so because they recklessly feed in to a Russophobia which is starting to exceed Cold War levels in terms of open public abuse.

Clinton has made no secret of her view that Obama has not been forceful enough in his dealings in Syria, and within her immediate circle she has frequently referred to the Cuban missile crisis as the precedent for how she believes Russia must be faced down. It is her intention to restore US international prestige by such a confrontation with Putin in Syria early in her Presidency, and perhaps more to the point to restore the prestige of the office of POTUS and thus enhance her chances of getting her way with a probable Republican controlled senate and congress.

The problem with a game of nuclear armed chicken is we might all end up dead. The Americans do not read Putin well. As my readers know, I am in no way a fan of Putin. He believes he has a personal vocation to restore Russian greatness and has been ever more consumed by a religious devotion to the Orthodox Russian Church. It seems to me highly improbable Hillary can make him back down over Syria. I am no more a fan of Assad than I am a fan of Putin. Nevertheless to risk nuclear war over a desire to replace Assad with rival swarms of vicious disjointed Saudi and Al-Qaeda backed jihadist militias, scarcely seems sensible.

Is Trump any less dangerous? I don’t know. I simply fail to understand the cultural background from which he springs, and what I do understand, I dislike. Were I an American, I would have backed Bernie Sanders and I would now back Jill Stein.

It is worth noting that Hillary’s claim that 17 US Intelligence Agencies agree that Russia was the source of the leaks is plainly untrue. All they have said is that the leaks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed attacks.” Under extreme White House pressure to state that the Russians did it, that extremely weak statement was the only thing that the US Intelligence chiefs could cobble together. It is very plainly an admission there is no evidence that Russia did it, but the appalling corporate media have reported it as though it “proves” Hillary’s accusation of Russia is true.

Bill Binney is like myself a former recipient of the Sam Adams Award – the World’s foremost whistleblowing award. Bill was the senior NSA Director who actually oversaw the design of their current mass surveillance software, and Bill has been telling anybody who will listen exactly what I have been telling – that this material was not hacked from Russia. Bill believes – and nobody has better contacts or understanding of capability than Bill – that the material was leaked from within the US intelligence services.

I was in Washington last month to chair the presentation of the Sam Adams Award to heroic former ex-CIA agent and whistleblower John Kiriakou. There were on the platform with me a dozen or so former very senior and distinguished officers of the CIA, NSA, FBI and US Army. All now identify with the whistleblower community. There were speeches of tremendous power and insight about state abuse, from those who really know. But as usual, not one mainstream media outlet turned up to report an award whose previous winners and still active participants include Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

Similarly my statement of definite knowledge that Russia is not behind the Clinton leaks has caused enormous interest in the internet. One article alone about my visit to Assange has 174,000 Facebook likes. Across all internet media we calculate over 30 million people have read my information that Russia was not responsible for these leaks. There is no doubt whatsoever that I have direct access to the correct information.

Yet not one single mainstream media journalist has attempted to contact me.

Why do you think that might be?

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Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament 164

I have just finished giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament on torture and extraordinary rendition. I am dashing off now and will give a fuller account later of what I said only. But I will just say that I was very happily surprised by how genuine the committee were, by the acuity of their questioning and by what was revealed of the general trend of their thinking. I perceived no hostility at all. I rather hope, and believe I have grounds to hope, that their eventual report will contain more of both truth and wisdom than is generally expected.

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How to Really Really Upset the Foreign Office and Security Services 293

1) Go into the Foreign Office and read ten Top Secret documents about UK collaboration with torture to refresh my memory. Hand back documents and my notes in a double sealed envelope (have just done this bit).
2) Immediately after reading Top Secret documents, go to see Julian Assange for a whisky in the Ecuador Embassy (am on my way).
3) Tomorrow morning, arrive at Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee to give evidence in secret session. Get handed hopefully still double sealed envelope with my notes to use during evidence. Hand back notes for destruction when finished.
4) Immediately after very secret evidence session, go for (hopefully boozy) lunch with Peter Oborne.

Sometimes I quite enjoy my life. If you can’t annoy the arrogant bastards who run the world for the 1%, what point is there in living?


I left Julian after midnight. He is fit, well, sharp and in good spirits. WikiLeaks never reveals or comments upon its sources, but as I published before a fortnight ago, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is not any Russian state actor or proxy that gave the Democratic National Committee and Podesta material to WikiLeaks. The claim is nonsense. Journalists are also publishing that these were obtained by “hacking” with no evidence that this was the method used to obtain them.

The control of the Democratic party machinery deliberately to unfairly ensure Clinton’s victory over Bernie Sanders is a matter of great public interest. The attempt by the establishment from Obama down to divert attention from this by a completely spurious claim against Russia, repeated without investigation by a servile media, is a disgrace.

The over-close relationship between the probable future President and Wall Street is also very important. WikiLeaks has done a great public service by making this plain.

The attempts by the mainstream media to portray WikiLeaks as supporters of Trump and Putin because they publish some of Clinton’s darker secrets is completely illogical and untrue in fact. The idea we must pretend Clinton is a saint is emetic.

But the key point is that WikiLeaks is a publisher. It is a vehicle for publishing leaks, and is much more of a vehicle for whistleblowers than for hackers. It does not originate the material. I have often seen comments such as “Why has WikiLeaks not published material on Israel/Putin/Trump?” The answer is that they have not been given any. They publish good, verifiable material that they are given by whistleblowers. They are not protecting Israel, Putin, or Trump. Nobody has given them viable material.

Ecuador is keen to make plain that they are not interfering in the US election and wish to make plain material on the Presidential candidates is not being published from their facilities. Julian has no problem with the statement put out by Ecuador yesterday. It is worth noting that WikiLeaks is established in several countries and nothing has ever been published by WikiLeaks from any facility situated in the Ecuadorean Embassy.

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The Ugliest Face of Unionism 161

It is very hard to understand why The Spectator would wish to pay Nick Cohen substantial money to write a column defending Brian Spanner and Stephen Daisley, and claiming the SNP has destroyed free media in Scotland.

To start with the most astonishing, Nick Cohen vociferously denies that “Brian Spanner” is a misogynist. Yet his own article contains a series of appalling tweets from Spanner, sent to Cohen by John Nicolson MP in an effort to make Cohen see sense. They include these tweets:

Margaret Curran: is she a victim of FGM? She is a torn faced cunt.

Mhairi Black is a nasty little fuck.

Poor Roseanna Cunningham. The change really has made her a bitter shovelled old cunt.

Plainly Cohen’s repeated assertion that Spanner is not misogynist is simply a lie. Cohen’s argument – that Spanner could not be misogynist as he is a friend of J K Rowling – is nonsensical. For those who were not already aware of her appalling neo-con politics, Rowling’s friendship with whoever “Spanner” really is might give some worrying indication of Rowling’s character. But it can in no way be said to prove Spanner is not misogynist. I am not sure it is possible to imagine more misogynist material than the above.

Long term readers of this blog will know that Daisley and Cohen are old comrades in arms. Daisley, Cohen, Murdoch attack dog Oliver Kamm and the Guardian’s Hadley Freeman indulged together in a mainstream media anti-Craig Murray hate fest on twitter.

A year ago I published about Daisley:

It is amazing to me that a supposed “journalist” working for a broadcaster would be so completely open about their anti-SNP, unionist, anti-Corbyn and far right agenda. Daisley is only very small beer, a stinking, sweating foot-soldier of the forces of reaction. But if you can stand it, the way the unionist establishment interacts and thinks is revealed very clearly from a study of his twitter feed. Messages are exchanged with Aaronovitch of Murdoch, Nick Cohen of the Guardian, with John McTernan of the Blairites and with J K Rowling of the 1%, and a great many others. The SNP and Corbyn are smugly derided by all. These well-paid state supporters live in a cosy Panglossian paradise and have contempt for anyone who is not “in”.

Cohen’s fury that a member of his neo-con clique should be denigrated, leads him to deny the existence of the most extreme misogyny imaginable. It also leads him to make the laughable assertion that the SNP control the media in Scotland. In Scotland the BBC, STV and 80% of the newspapers are viciously anti-SNP. Plainly that is not enough for Cohen. He hates the SNP for providing an alternative to unionism, he hates Corbyn for providing an alternative to neo-liberalism, and he hates the idea of anybody criticising the neo-con cheerleaders. His pathology is simple enough. But why does the Spectator pay him for it?

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Highland Clearances 288

There is so much injustice in Tory Britain you trip over it when you are not looking. We just enjoyed a long weekend in the Highlands, and stayed through airbnb at the Wayfarers’ Rest in Laggan. Out hosts were the delightful Zielsdorf family, who could not have been more friendly and welcoming. Their kindness and attention were particularly remarkable given they are every second awaiting the arrival of the border force to deport them.

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf are Canadian. They have been in Scotland for eight years, legally, and several of their children were born here. After studying theology at St Andrews, Jason decided to stay on. Armed with an entrepreneur visa, two years ago he bought the general store and bothy in the small Highland village of Laggan. The premises had been empty for 18 months, because there is not a rich living in providing this community service. The Zielsdorfs reckoned that by investing in the accommodation and opening a coffee shop highlighting their excellent home cooking (and it really is excellent), they could make a go of it and cater not just for locals but the passing hillwalkers. And they have done.

It took some time and a lot of work for the business to find its feet, and to date they have only been able to give full time employment to one person, not the two their visa stipulates. Although they argue given time their business will reach a stage to employ two people, the Home Office says their time is up and is insisting on their deportation; a month ago they were told they will be deported imminently.

Deporting children who have only ever known Scotland is ludicrous. Fairly well the entire community of Laggan has written in support of the Zielsdorfs. Both Jason and Christy have Scottish ancestry.

It is not easy to run a business in the Highlands and Laggan is better for what the Zielsdorfs have done. Local MP Drew Hendry has worked hard for them, but met only unhelpfulness from the Home Office, who have not even given a ministerial meeting promised in response to a parliamentary question.

We do not know when they will get the 5am knock on the door and be taken into custody. They have been unable to sell the Wayfarers’ Rest, in which they invested £240,000, because just as before they came, nobody else wants to run it. In an act of supreme pettiness, the Home Office have confiscated Jason’s driving licence, which makes life in the Highlands near impossible. Also as a former pastor Jason used to pay community visits on elderly and vulnerable people in isolated locations, which he cannot now do.

The truth is, having set arbitrary numerical limits on net immigration, if the Home office deports the Zielsdorf family that reduces net immigration by seven – and they are low-hanging fruit, easy to find, not able to disappear and defenceless. Their plight is Tory Britain’s heartless xenophobia in action.

This case is a prime example of how ridiculous it is to rule the Highlands from London. The law is framed to deal with the immigration situation in London or Birmingham. It is totally inappropriate to the Highlands, where the problem is under-population, where a village store is a precious thing and providing even one full time job to the community is invaluable.

It is also of course worth noting that it takes a special kind of government stupidity to embark upon post-Brexit relationships by picking on the Canadians.

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A Peculiar Coincidence 201

Today, Swedish prosecutors were meant to question Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy, something for which the Assange legal team has been pressing for years. They believe that once this step has been taken, prosecutors will no longer be able to keep from the scrutiny of Swedish courts the fact that there is no viable evidence whatsoever to back up the ludicrous allegations which have been made.

Frustratingly, Swedish prosecutors cancelled the interview last week, with no explanation given. Anyone would think they do not wish the investigation to progress… Then this same day Assange’s internet access is cut, WikiLeaks say by a state actor. To add to this string of coincidence, at the same time Russia Today has its bank accounts frozen by the Royal Bank of Scotland, again without explanation

This series of events are all aimed at those who seek to counter the neo-con narrative pumped out by the state and corporate media. It could be coincidence, but it looks like co-ordinated clampdown to me.

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Winning the Playwrights’ Vote 102

I am very honoured that Alan Bennett wrote, and has now published, that he would have voted for me. From his 2005 diary

25 April Keep being rung by journalists asking how I intend to vote, information which I don’t divulge not because I’ve got any principled notions to do with the secret ballot but because I like disappointing newspapers. If I were a voter in the Blackburn constituency my vote would go to Craig Murray, the ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, who resigned from the diplomatic service over the foreign secretary’s refusal to discount information obtained by torture in the prisons of Uzbekistan, a decision that means torture is likely to continue. If there is a market for the information why should it stop? Mr [Jack] Straw claims to have lost sleep over his decision. Some of the tortured will have lost sleep, too, but that’s because they will have lost fingernails first. I suppose I despise Straw more than Blair, thinking, perhaps wrongly, that he is capable of better.

8 July Shocked that after the initial horror my first reaction to the Tube and bus bombings should be “How convenient” and at how little of what we are told I now believe. As Blair lines up in front of his sombre colleagues at Gleneagles it’s hard not to think how useful this outrage is and how effectively it silences the critics. And as Bush and Blair trot out their vapid platitudes about “the War on Terror”, give or take a few score of dead it’s hard not to think things are well under control. No one as yet suggests or speculates that this new front in “the War on Terror” might have been avoided had the country not gone to war in the first place. Only yesterday the Guardian reprinted an LRB piece revealing how Iraq had been fleeced of billions of dollars via Paul Bremer’s so-called aid programme – the figures those of US auditors whose reports have passed without notice. Except that they’re maybe even now being read by some burning-eyed youth planning more and worse.

I have been extremely fortunate in enjoying the friendship of great playwrights. I had a late relationship with Harold Pinter which meant a great deal to me; he wrote a cover quote for Murder in Samarkand
on a restaurant menu when we were both pretty pissed. David Hare spent time with me and researching me before writing his radio play, and we still send occasional mutual encouragement. Robin Soans has been extremely supportive and great company, and now we have this from Alan Bennett. You can jeer at me now for pseudo-intellectual drivel, but I think playwrights enjoy people who are imperfect, and that is why we get on. Paragons can be so boring.

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UK Torture Secrets Will Remain Secret 134

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has agreed that I shall be able to review Top Secret and other classified documents which contain the evidence of UK complicity in torture and my attempts to stop it, before giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. But under conditions which make plain the determination that the dirtiest of secrets will remain firmly shut away. Given that parliament actually defers to the FCO over what can and cannot be done, the entire pointlessness of the Intelligence and Security Committee Inquiry is starkly revealed.

Gareth Peirce as my counsel is not to be allowed in to any of my evidence where anything secret is being discussed – which is 100% of it. I think that really says everything about the “Inquiry” that you need to know.

Here is the communication from the FCO:

FCO policy is that access to documents by former officials when giving evidence to a Committee is subject to the discretion of the Director/ Minister. The documents in question include highly classified material, and Mr Murray does not currently hold any security clearance. However, as he is a former FCO employee who has already seen the specified documents, and as these documents have been shared with the ISC for its Inquiry, we are content to grant him access to these documents for the purposes of giving evidence to the ISC Detainee Inquiry. In line with FCO policy on information security, we must impose the following terms of access:

(a) Mr Murray will be allowed to view hard copies of the documents in the FCO for the purposes of preparing evidence. We will arrange a mutually convenient date and time for him to view the documents.
(b) While viewing the documents, Mr Murray will not have access to any electronic devices- in line with FCO policy for current staff- and will be accompanied by a member of the FCO Estates and Security Directorate.
(c) Once he is finished, Mr Murray will be asked to place any notes he has taken in a sealed envelope and to sign the seal. FCO officials will pass this envelope to the ISC, who will make it available to Mr Murray at his oral evidence session. The envelope will be kept in secure facilities in line with the FCO’s policy on handling classified material. The envelope will not be opened by anyone other than Mr Murray.
(d) When Mr Murray has completed his oral evidence, these notes will be destroyed.
(e) Mr Murray’s lawyer will not be permitted to see any classified documents or be present when classified evidence is being discussed, as she holds no security clearance.

This is consistent with the approach we have taken in similar cases where former officials have had to give evidence based on classified material. These terms are in line with standard FCO policy and ensure that we are able to continue cooperating fully with the ISC Detainee Inquiry.

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I am Warming to Nicola 244

The BBC spin on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was that actually it was a move further back from Indyref2. It can be interpreted that way. In effect she was saying that leaving the EU is perhaps not a “material change” triggering Indyref2, only hard Brexit would be a “material change”. On this reading, as given by Brian Taylor of the BBC, the publishing of a draft Indyref bill is simply a sop to placate the SNP troops in the hall.

But I am satisfied that Nicola has in fact deliberately set conditions for Scotland to remain in the Union which she knows Theresa May will under no circumstances meet. Barring continued full access for Scotland to the single market, which simply cannot happen if England leaves it, then she insists that not only must the powers held by Brussels come to Scotland (eg fisheries) but that Scotland must control its own immigration policy and run its own foreign relations.

Now nobody is more fervent than me in wanting to get on with Independence and an early second referendum. But I am very happy with the criteria which Nicola has set out, which Theresa May is bound to attempt to sweep right over on the current wave of xenophobic jingoism prevailing in England. Not only will Sturgeon’s conditions not be met, it will be made very plain very quickly that they are not going to be met.

I think like all decent people, Nicola Sturgeon was quite genuinely appalled by celebration of open racism at the Tory party conference – her passage on this was very strong and very good. That has spurred her to abandon some of her usual caution and not really leave herself an out. We are going to see a second Independence referendum before the next Scottish parliamentary elections, and I am extremely happy about it.

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How Much Will Brexit Add to the Cost of Trident and Hinkley Point? 45

The spectacular and continuing fall in the value of the pound will add over £50 billion to the cost of Trident. Yes, bits of steel are being welded together in the UK, but the steel is imported and so is the missile technology.

Similarly, Hinkley Point will be in trouble. The Chinese and French are to build it against guarantees of income from future energy prices fixed at double the cost of current wholesale electricity. But the hard currency value of that income has now been slashed. I do not know the precise details of the contracts, but the French and Chinese not being stupid, my guess is that their income from it is set in a proper stable currency not in sterling. Which means that electricity prices to the British consumer will have to not just double as planned, but go up 50% again, to cover the diminished value of sterling.

Of course, it would be wonderful if all this led to both Trident and Hinkley Point being cancelled, but sadly politicians are wed to nuclear projects, both civil and military, as both symbol and source of vast central power for them and their paymasters. But the implications of paying for them with Mickey Mouse currency are going to bite the Tory loons hard in coming months.

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I Support a No-Fly Zone in Syria – A Real One that Applies to NATO Too 247

This is the result of NATO bombing of Sirte to “enforce the no-fly zone” in Libya.


When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a “no-fly zone” they actually mean the opposite. They mean that NATO should be given untrammelled access to the airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else should.

We saw it in Libya. The argument goes like this. NATO aircraft need to enforce the no-fly zone. To do this in safety, they need to attack and destroy any ground to air weapons capabilities on the ground. That does not just include surface to air missiles, both carriage mounted and hand held, but anything that can be pointed upwards and fired. They need to take out by more bombing any stores that may house such weapons. They need to take out any radar installations, including civilian ones, that may pinpoint NATO aircraft. They need to destroy any runways and hangars, including civilian ones. They need to destroy by bombing all military command and control centres, including those in built up areas. They need to destroy the infrastructure on which air defence relies, including electricity generation and water supply, including civilian assets.

I am not exaggerating. That really is the doctrine of NATO for enforcing a “no fly zone”, as previously witnessed in Iraq and Libya. It really was NATO aircraft which did to the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sirte the destruction which you see in that picture – in order to enforce a no-fly zone. Enforcement of the no-fly zone was the only authorisation NATO had for the massive bombing campaign on Libya which enabled regime change, which enabled rival jihadist militias to take over the country. They showed their gratitude by murdering the US Ambassador. The failure of central government led to Libya becoming the operating site from which a number now in the hundreds of thousands of boat refugees have crossed to Europe.

Now they wish to do precisely the same again. Make no mistake. Those calling for a “No-fly zone” do indeed want to stop the bombs falling on jihadist-held areas of Aleppo. But they want to replace this with NATO dropping a vastly greater weight of vastly more powerful weaponry on areas held by the Assad regime. They are relentless warmongering bastards, pretending to be motivated by humanitarian concern.

There are no easy answers in Syria. Without Russian and Syrian government air power, Syria might well already have fallen to disparate groups of murdering religious fanatics, who would then have redoubled their existing tendency to also kill each other. The pretence that there is any significant number of pro-western democratic rebels is ludicrous nonsense. But so equally is the pretence that the Assad regime is a decent regime. It is not and never has been. There is always this pathetic reductionism in the western media to conflict as between “good guys” and “bad guys”. They are all killing civilians. They are all bad guys.

If all bombing were to stop, the danger is that jihadists would again gain the upper hand. But in a situation where there are no good options, I think that is still better than the continued bombing of civilian areas held by jihadists. The fact that the West has repeatedly done this massively in Mosul or Fallujah does not make it right for the Russians or Assad to do it now. The moral balance now must be for a halt to all bombing and all military air operations – including by NATO.

A security council resolution could be tabled calling for the end of all military flights, by anybody, over Syrian airspace. The UK and US would oppose that, and so would all those Tories ad Blairites pretending to advocate a no-fly zone in the House of Commons. That would show up the bastards for the evil hypocrites they are.

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As the Spirit of Enoch Powell Presides Over England, Scotland Must Leave the Union Now 382

I am genuinely stunned that, following the competitive racism-fest that was the Tory Party conference, the Tories have gone up in the opinion polls.

I quite admit my judgement was completely wrong. I was feeling happily that the Tories had finally overreached themselves, and the implications of employers drawing up lists of foreign employees, or primary schools writing to parents demanding birth certificates, would be met with popular revulsion from the inherently decent British people.

Well, I was wrong. Racism pays, at least in England. After their Conference the Tories are up to 43%. The Tories and UKIP combined are up to 54%. I am afraid it is intellectually dishonest to avoid the grim truth. At present, you cannot be too racist for popular English taste. The underlying theme of the Labour Party conference was Blairite calls for Labour to join in the mood of xenophobia. Of the existence of that mood there can now be no doubt.

That Scotland has an entirely different political culture to England is now undeniable. I think the map of the EU vote by voting district is crystal clear.


The problem is, “Devolution” does not protect Scotland from implementation of this tide of xenophobia. As immigration is a reserved matter, the refusal of visas to attend non-Russell Group universities will impact harshly on some Scottish universities, even though University policy is theoretically with Holyrood. Similarly Holyrood cannot stop Scottish employers being ordered to draw up lists of foreigners by the Home Office, nor Scottish primary schools carrying out new immigrant checks ordered by Amber Rudd.

Theresa May has already sought to rub Scottish subservience in our faces by making plain Scotland will have no place in Brexit negotiations and Holyrood no veto on any outcome. Now we see the true limitations of our defences against Tory rule.

In the Independence referendum campaign Gordon Brown vowed that, if Scotland voted No to Independence, it would within two years be “as close to a federal state as you can be”. Instead it is as close to a fascist state as you can be.

There is a huge gulf between what is happening in the UK and what a great many No voters in the Indyref, particularly Labour No voters, believed would happen. The political circumstances are now entirely different to those prevailing or promised in 2014.

It is therefore very legitimate, indeed necessary, now to call a second Independence referendum to sort out the mutually conflicting votes of Scots in the Independence and EU referenda. Scots voted, democratically, to be both in the Union and in the EU. But they cannot be in both. It is vital, now, to discover which they want as a matter of democratic legitimacy.

The SNP really must stop havering. Now is the time for Indyref2. we must break free from the toxic culture of jingoism that has swept much of the UK. It is both a political and a moral imperative.

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My Secret Evidence to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee

I have been summoned to give evidence before Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on 20 October, in a secret session. It ought not to be secret as my evidence goes to illegality at the heart of government and collusion in torture. It will be based around the evidence I gave to the Metropolitan Police, which you can read here.

We are now in the ludicrous position where the FCO is considering whether I can be allowed to see documents I actually wrote myself, communications which were sent to me and minutes of meetings I was at, or whether I should be asked to give evidence without any access to the written evidence. I am also waiting to hear whether I shall be allowed to be accompanied by my counsel, the great lawyer Gareth Peirce. I need help and support in preparing and organising my evidence, and I need moral support in appearing in a secret meeting where the large majority of the committee have been chosen specifically as security service “trusties” with an unquestioning neo-con world view. I expect to receive a very hostile reception.

I have just sent this email to the committee:

Dear James,

I have been considering my appearance before the Committee.

As you will know, there has been very substantial doubt in the human rights community about the good faith of your committee’s inquiry. I have been prepared to give the benefit of the doubt and offer to cooperate.

However if the committee really are genuine, they should wish me to be able to prepare and give the best evidence that I am able to do. There is no doubt that something went very wrong in terms of the UK government’s collusion with overseas torture programmes. The Feinstein report made plain that the CIA was very wrong in what it did, and your committee know very well that the CIA was sharing with SIS the intelligence obtained by torture. The British government has settled with large payments cases where the British government was involved more actively.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the only member of the senior civil service in the UK who attempted to raise a red flag and stop what was happening. My evidence is therefore of some weight. I will also testify there was a deliberate policy of not writing down the policy on accepting torture. I was told this directly and can point to documentary evidence of senior level unminuted policy meetings on the specific subject.

At the time I blew the whistle, Jack Straw denied the existence of the extraordinary rendition programme and I faced 18 trumped-up disciplinary charges, some of them criminal in nature, which resulted in the destruction of my career and my health. I attach a letter from the government to Lord Jones of Cheltenham which confirms I was cleared of all the original charges (but found guilty of revealing their existence). To the best of my knowledge this letter tells a direct untruth that the charges against me arose from formal complaints from members of my staff. I was never told this during the disciplinary process and no such formal complaint was ever put to me.

You will therefore understand that it is essential I am given every facility to give the best evidence to the committee. That means I must be allowed to see the paperwork I have requested already, to refresh my memory. It would make a farce of your inquiry were I not allowed to see communications which were sent to me, minutes of meetings I was at, and even correspondence I wrote myself.

I am not prepared to appear before the committee in a position where the members of the committee have the appropriate documents before them, and I do not. Still less when nobody has the relevant documents.

Similarly, I wish to prepare my evidence with my counsel, Gareth Peirce, and to have her alongside to support and advise me in giving my evidence. If the best evidence to get at the truth is the genuine desire of your committee, I am sure you will decide to allow this.

I should be grateful if you could pass this email and its attachment, which I am publishing, to all members of the committee.


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The Headless UK European Movement

Tony Blair may have zero moral sense, but he has great commercial acumen, and there is no doubt he spotted a gap in the market in proposing his own return to British politics. The gap is for a pro-EU political leader who does not accept the EU referendum result as the end of the debate, and will stand against the horrifying tide of racism, both on the streets and coming from the Tory party, that Brexit has unleashed.

Where Blair is deluded is in thinking that he can have any role to play. If you have not watched The Killings of Tony Blair yet, I urge you to do so. Apart from the damning verdict of even the ultra-Establishment Chilcot Report on the Iraq War, Blair’s record ever since in whoring himself out as PR man to any rich dictator has damned him forever in public opinion.

I should set out my stall from the start and say I remain strongly pro EU. I don’t see a 52/48 vote as definitive or closing off debate. I am indeed happy that Brexit is giving a boost to prospects of Scottish Independence, but it cannot be in Scotland’s long term interests to have an isolated, impoverished and xenophobic large neighbour, so I shall continue to argue that Brexit should not happen.

While Corbyn has taken an admirable stand against popular chauvinism, he plainly has no interest in trying to keep the UK in the EU, which is consistent with his long term scepticism. That is fair enough. But it means that the 48% who voted against leaving the EU, and are generally aghast that government is now moving to draw up lists of foreign workers and to get primary schools to check birth certificates, are feeling unrepresented. Blair and super-Blairite Jonathan Freedland have genuinely identified a political vacuum. Their folly lies in imagining that they and their chums might fill it.

Freedland’s disconnection from reality is nowhere more starkly revealed than in naming Nick Clegg as a “serious asset” in a pro-EU campaign. Outside the delusions of the Westminster bubble, Clegg is nearly hated as much as Blair. Clegg and friends took Charlie Kennedy’s large left wing party, and turned it into a small right wing party. It says a great deal that in considering leadership for a continued pro-EU campaign against xenophobia, the anti-Gay pipsqueak Farron is a complete irrelevance.

What Freedland does not understand is that it was hatred of his political bubble chums which caused Brexit in the first place. The official Remain campaign director was Jack Straw’s son Will. Peter Mandelson was Vice-President. The top-down campaign was devoid of popular enthusiasm with an almost total lack of popular engagement and community events. It continually paraded figures like Blair, Cameron, Osborne, Straw, Clegg, Kinnock and others, which gave ordinary people a chance to give those they rightly despise a political kick in the pants by voting against their will. Brexit has been caused by a justified hatred of the UK political class.

That those who caused the disaster see themselves as the answer to it is laughable. I remain hopeful that the English in particular will recover from the wave of jingoism which appears to have swept over them like a plague. But resistance must be organic and arise from the people themselves. I hope to see the emergence of a new, untainted and dynamic generation of young activists. My generation have bequeathed a terrible legacy.

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A Blatant Neo-Con Lie

It is a plain lie that Russia was responsible for the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks. It is quite extraordinary that the Obama administration formally adopted the accusation yesterday.

The US motivation is apparently to attempt to discredit in advance the further Hillary material that WikiLeaks plans to release in the coming month. The official statement that the leak was “consistent with the methods and motivation of Russian directed efforts” is carefully written by the NSA and, when you analyse it, extremely weak. What it says is “there is no evidence whatsoever but this is the sort of thing we think the Russians do”. As it happens, I have direct knowledge that there could not have been any evidence as it was not the Russians.

That the Obama administration has made a formal accusation of Russia based on no evidence is, on one level, astonishing. But it is motivated by desperation. WikiLeaks have already announced that they have a huge cache of other material relating to Hillary’s shenanigans. The White House is simply seeking to discredit it in advance by a completely false association with Russian intelligence.

It fascinates me that the media reports the story widely with no reference anywhere to what the DNC leak actually revealed – that the body organising the Democratic election had a consistent and active bias, doing everything possible to tilt the plating field and ensure that Hillary “won” against Bernie Sanders.

The US government cares so little about its relationship with Russia that it is prepared to launch completely false allegations at the Kremlin in order to influence a domestic election. The implications of that are chilling.

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Opposing Populist Chauvinism is not Elitism

History demonstrates the evils that arise from whipping up popular xenophobic nationalism. After the Tories trumpeted that companies will have to declare how many foreigners they employ, that foreign doctors will be phased out of the NHS, that taxi drivers will have to prove their immigration status, that fewer foreigners will be allowed to study at British universities and that landlords will have to check the papers of their foreign tenants, we will now be told by Theresa May that to oppose this surge of fascism is elitism. I call it fascist after careful consideration; I don’t know what else to call it. Immigrants to Britain are going to be hauled up to produce documents at numerous moments of daily life to prove their right to be here. They will not yet need to be identified by yellow stars, but anybody who does not see the direction of travel is a fool.

The ability of politicians and media to whip up popular racism is well demonstrated historical fact. I am simply appalled by the catalogue I have outlined above. It is astonishing to me that popular opinion, particularly in England, has been conditioned to the point where outright racism has become the accepted everyday level of political discourse. And it is not just the Tories. Blairites are using populist anti-immigrant rhetoric as their most potent attack on Corbyn. Rachel Reeves made a speech last week that channelled Enoch Powell in predicting violent reaction to immigrants, and in some ways was worse than Powell’s classical allusion. But while Powell’s anti-immigrant rant ended his chances of becoming Prime Minister in a more decent age, Reeves is firmly in today’s UK establishment mainstream.

The argument that immigration is impacting the living standards of ordinary working people is a demonstrable falsehood. If mass immigration made a country’s people poorer, then Germany and the USA would have the lowest living standards for ordinary citizens in the world. An economy is not a thing of fixed size with a set number of jobs. If it were not for immigration, there would have been no economic growth in the UK at all since the millennium.

The march of Tory militarism continues apace. Today we will have a further glorying in the creation of weapons of mass destruction, while yesterday scarcely a hair was turned at the announcement of the reintroduction of military cadet forces in our state schools, to instil militarism and xenophobic patriotism into children. The attempt to elide patriotism, militarism, monarchism and the interests of the corporate elite would be laughable were it not successful.

There is no doubt that the racist mood in England is real, and there is no doubt that it is racist. I have never accepted the argument that to oppose immigration is not racist, and consider myself entirely vindicated by current events. The argument that to oppose immigration is not racist is precisely the same as the argument that holocaust denial is not anti-semitic – you can make out a theoretical case that it isn’t, but in practice it works as an extremely good indicator.

It is ironic that May accuses the opponents of popular chauvinism as elitist. The Tory Conference has had two key themes – one is xenophobic nationalism, and the other is educational elitism. The grammar school policy is being driven through, along with the school military cadets – what kind of crazed government is this? But the significance on the attack on the university sector should not be missed. Overseas students are a vital source of revenue and all are already seeing a drop in interest as nobody wants to live in a country where they will be the subject of patent racist hostility, while EU students cannot know where they will stand on fee structures by the end of their course. However the announcement that “new” universities will be treated differently in terms of numbers of overseas students allowed is a major departure that will inevitably spread into other areas; a de facto return to polytechnic status is in the offing.

The new Tory self-confidence was evidenced also in attitudes to Scotland. Theresa May could not have been more explicit that Scotland is but a part of the UK, that the UK voted for Brexit, that Westminster will handle Brexit negotiations and she really does not care what the Scots think. There very plainly is no process, or any intention of any process, that could result in Scotland maintaining a more integrated relationship with the EU while within the United Kingdom. That idea was always fantastical anyway, as it would be an impossibility to accommodate such an arrangement within EU treaties, as I have previously explained. But the gradualists in the SNP have sought to pretend that such a process is happening of which we need to see the outcome before an Independence referendum.

What Theresa May has done this week is publically to rend Nicola Sturgeon’s tabard, and make absolutely plain that Brexit will be organised, negotiated and decided by the UK government and parliament alone. The Scottish parliament will have associated legislative changes, even on devolved matters, imposed on it from above. Scotland’s response to this has so far been alarmingly supine.

I support Scottish Independence passionately because I have an urgent desire to get away from the control of these appalling Tories. I want to live in a society where I can dissent from populist racism without being condemned by the government as a liberal elitist. I also firmly believe that the shock of the break up of the UK is the dislocation required to break the grip of the Tories and UKIP on the psyche of so much of the public in England. It can provide the revolutionary moment for change that Corbyn and those like him can exploit. Scottish independence is the best hope for the rest of the UK too.

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