Monthly Archives: June 2007


Home Grown Terror

According to Willie Rae, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, there are clear links between today’s Glasgow incident and the London car bombs. He declined to expand further, but I presume he meant more than that both events involved cars and petrol. A copycat crime is, in a sense, always linked to the crime it copies. But Willie Rae is not the Metropolitan Police, with its track record of lying to us, so I am prepared to believe that he knows something more substantial.

I still cannot understand why the Met does not release the CCTV footage of the London suspects. As the suspects must realise that they will have been caught on CCTV, I can’t think of a single sensible motive for witholding it.

It is horrible to me to think of the possibility of terrorists coming out of Scotland’s Muslim communities; I find it really perturbing. Scotland does not have the completely isolated Muslim ghettoes that Labour created in Northern England. Of course, the fact the attack happened in Glasgow doesn’t necessarily mean the attackers came from there. But wherever the bombers were from, and however incompetent they were, their attempt to kill and maim innocent people going on holiday is an act of crazed fanaticism.

Thank goodness the only injured in Glasgow were the attackers, and one member of the public, who is not in danger. Fortunately, amateur does not do justice as a description of these attackers – absolute rubbish comes closer to it. It is worth noting that, if the London car bombs had ignited, they would probably have burnt like the Glasgow car, and almost certainly would not have had the kind of explosive force that the media tried to claim. Gas canisters are designed to withstand fire without exploding; they will eventually vent and the gas flare as it comes out. That is what looked on TV like it might have been happening in the back of the car in Glasgow.

Petrol and gas can be a deadly effective component of a bomb, and even a very small quantity of high explosive would have made the London car bombs potentially devastating. But there was no explosive present – I have held back on blogging on this aspect until I could confirm that fact from my own sources.

So this is not al-Qaeda, and we are not dealing with trained bomb-makers. The Glasgow attack looks like a purely home grown reaction to World events and our role in them. Assuming the London incident really is linked, the same applies. This threat will indeed remain with us until we stop being an acolyte for US foreign policy. Nobody is attacking Ireland – if Western hedonism and culture were the target, Ireland should be in big trouble. The answer is not further oppression at home, which will just exacerbate a sense of grievance.

The answer – or at least a large part of it – is to adopt a foreign policy which accords with the wishes of the majority of the British people, irrespective of the existence of terrorism.

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Glasgow Airport Incident

It will take a little time to work out what has happened in Glagow. From eyewitness accounts, this does seem like a definite attack, but an eyewitness on BBC News 24 has just described seeing two men get out of the car and try to torch it with bottles of petrol. The BBC also have a photo plainly showing the car well ablaze on the pavement, under the canopy and pointed towards, but not having penetrated, or apparently reached, the airport doors. This would have to have been taken after the occupants got out as it is very well ablaze. This is hard to reconcile with continued journalists’ reports of the car being inside the terminal building.

Anyway, four people have been arrested, so we should get some answers on this one fairly quickly. At least two of the arrested men were Asian. There is no simple equation between Asian and Muslim but in the UK, and particularly in Glasgow, it does increase the likelihood. Fortunately, on the information so far, it seems nobody has been killed.

Thankfully, whatever is happening, we do not appear to be facing a wave of attacks by sophisticated terrorists with good bomb making skills.

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Lord Levy and the Porn Star

Thanks to Blairwatch for this, which falls into the absolutely too wonderful to be true category.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2007290466,00.html

It is of course from The Sun, which generally means it is unlikely to be true, except that the Sun do not insult New Labour unless they have to, and go out of their way to limit that aspect of the damage. Epitomises the oozing sleaze that is NuLab. But why pretend they had a title, when they could have just bought one from Lord Levy?

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Censorship By PBS

This link goes to a blog referencing a Frontline documentary on the alleged Toronto bomb plot, in which I participated.

http://blog.throwawayyourtv.com/2007/06/cracking-toronto-terror-cell.html

it is not a great documentary, giving too much implicit credence to an extremely dodgy informant, and ignoring the crucial agent provocateur aspects of the case. This series is produced out of Canada, and shown first there, and then in the US by PBS. The original documentary did have the saving grace of looking at what drives young Muslims to extremism, particularly in US and UK foreign policy. That is where I came in.

However, when PBS came to reshow this in the US, they insisted on a complete recut, taking out all the balance (including all of me) and turning it purely into an exercise in fear – those Muslims are planning to blow you up because they are plain evil.

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CCTV Footage

I am increasingly puzzled as to why police haven’t released CCTV footage of the driver of the vehicle fleeing the scene. The whole Piccadilly area is swamped by CCTV coverage. Normally, you would expect this released, so the public can help with the manhunt. That happened with the 21/7 incidents. It did not happen with Jean Charles De Menezes, of course, because the CCTV footage disproved the police story that De Menezes vaulted the barriers and sprinted through the station.

It does now appear that these were indeed not suicide bombs, and were not professionally made.

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Bombs and the Great Wen

London is an extraordinary, teeming, multicultural metropolis. It is a great hub of international finance, politics and intrigue. Extraordinary things have happened in London throughout my adult life. Beneath the surface events are bubbling which most Londoners neither know nor understand.

LONDON

An Italian banker, custodian of Vatican money and secrets, is found swinging under Blackfriars Bridge. Businessmen purchase seats in the national legislature simply for payments of cash. A Bulgarian dissident is killed with a tiny ricin pellet injected from an umbrella. A Brazilian electrician is executed by police on the London underground. The dismembered torso of a small African child floats down the Thames. The country’s most flamboyant businessman, a lawmaker, steals his workers’ pensions and leaves for a yacht cruise. Muslim lads from Yorkshire kill themselves and 67 people on public transport. Etonian mercenaries plan coups in Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea before finding respectability and the jackpot in Iraq. A Russian defector is poisoned with polonium and dies a slow horrible death. Politicians and civil servants concoct a dossier of lies to provoke a war. A girl is arrested for reading out the names of the dead at the Cenotaph, and a man for carrying Vanity Fair outside Downing St. A small black child bleeds to death in a tenement stairwell. Gays die as a nail bomb rips through a pub. The IRA run a long, slow war of death and attrition. Every year, scores of people simply disappear. Homeless people curl up like bundles in neon-lit doorways.

Two remarkable things happened in the last two days within half a mile of each other, at either end of Piccadilly. One, the car bomb, you have probably heard of. The second you probably haven’t.

This is a straight reproduction of a small article from The Metro newspaper, Friday June 29, 2007

“Mossad Spy” Found Dead

An Egyptian financier accused of spying for Israel has been found dead outside his London home in mysterious circumstances. Ashraf Marwan was alleged to have worked for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad during the 1973 Yom Kippur war with Egypt and Syria. He was accused of tipping Israel off about the war. Police said “He appears to have fallen from a balcony. The death is being treated as unexplained.” The 62 year old son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser was found on Wednesday in St James’s, Central London.

The fact that these two incidents are less than ten minutes walk apart does not make them connected. They may or may not be. But I note this, and the list above, to help those who have difficulty imagining that there is any need to consider any possibility other than Islamic terrorism to explain the apparent Haymarket car bomb. Astonishing things do happen in London.

A good rule is to look at what did happen, not what might have happened. Consider this:

a) Nobody committed suicide. Rather than follow Scotland Yard’s Peter Clarke and speculate that was because the driver lost his nerve, let us admit that it is at least possible that nobody was intended to commit suicide. If suicide was not part of the modus operandi, that vastly increases the number of groups and individuals who might have been responsible.

b) No bomb exploded and nobody was killed. There seems a general presumption that was because the trigger failed, or was defused in time. That is possible, certainly. It could well be so. But there is another possibility that cannot be ruled out yet – perhaps the thing was not meant to explode, perhaps no-one was meant to be killed. Perhaps it was meant to look like a convincing bomb, even like a convincing failed bomb. If you accept that as a logical possibility, that would bring in even more individuals and organisations who might have been responsible. To be up for a bomb scare is very different to being up for a bomb.

Let me be quite clear again: Islamic extremists may very well be responsible. I am not saying they are not. I am saying nobody knows yet. But let me expand a bit on my Cui Bono theme.

There are plenty of companies – and wealthy individuals – making huge amounts of money from both the War on Terror and its equally ugly sister, the War in Iraq. There has been much speculation that Brown will edge away from both of these. If British troops were to withdraw from Iraq, for example, that could reduce the access currently enjoyed by companies, including Aegis and BAE, to billions of dollars of US government contracts for arms and mercenaries. These companies make money out of killing. Death is their business. Today’s car bomb – and the immediate media presumption it is Islamic terrorism – certainly forces Brown further into the War on Terror. The fact that the Iraq war is the root cause of an upsurge of terror in the UK, strangely does not negate the surge of political support for the War that this sort of incident brings as a reflex reaction from our leaders.

I am not saying it was Aegis or BAE. I am saying don’t be one-eyed about the possibilities. Look at the list of amazing things in London above. Do I really believe that there are wealthy people in London who would stage this sort of thing to protect or further their financial interests? Yes, I do.

It could well be Islamic terrorists. That remains the most probable explanation – but by no means the only possible explanation. It could have been a preparation for an attack on tomorrow’s Gay Pride march. Mossad? Why not? We just don’t know yet. There is also of course the possibility that whoever planted it has tried to make it look like another group, by planted forensic evidence or disguising the driver. Presumably we will see CCTV footage of the driver shortly.

I am also saying that I have first hand experience of the fact that governments lie about who plants bombs. See my posting on Lockerbie below. Read pages 325 to 339 of Murder in Samarkand. Or read Darkness at Dawn by David Satter, or The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

Think.

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London Bomb – Cui Bono?

Whoever was behind the apparent car bomb in London, it almost certainly wasn’t the police explosives experts who made it safe, and we should acknowledge the heroism it takes to do that job.

Peter Clarke, the Met’s anti-terrorism point man, gave a press conference claiming he was not going to speculate, but then doing everything he could to indicate it was an Islamic plot. He referred to other recent cases, including the Barot case, in which night clubs were mentioned as targets, and the use of gas canisters in cars discussed. The one bit of modus operandi pointing another way – the fact it wasn’t a suicide bomber – he was at pains to explain away by speculating that the driver had lost his nerve.

Of course the last time a nail bomb was actually exploded among clubbers in Central London, it was by a homophobic fascist. So it is right to keep an open mind. But whoever did this, the only people who can possibly benefit are the vast and ever-burgeoning security industry of all kinds, and those who want discord between the Islamic World and the West. Unfortunately, the extremists on all sides are strengthened by this incident.

Brown had already made plain he supports further anti-civil liberties legislation. This produces just the kind of febrile atmosphere in which that can be done. The television news is already pushing 90 day detention without charge again.

I am adding this para in response to blogs attempting to say that I am claiming the bomb was planted by the State. I have not changed the above, and plainly it does not say that. In fact, I think that is one of the least likely explanations – in terms of the British State, at least. I have no idea who planted it. I am saying we should not leap to the conclusion it was Islamic fundamentalists. It could be, or it could be other extremists, or interests, who benefit from the War on Terror. The Cui Bono test throws up a number of possibilities.

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Lockerbie

Reading through Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, and accepting his definitions, confirms that I am a Deist rather than a Theist, Atheist or Agnostic. Except I have days when I go agnostic. I will blog about Dawkins another day.

I mention God because I have no way to prove what I am going to tell you now. I would swear any oath to its truth, but that might not convince you. Actually, I have nothing much left to me now but my reputation for honesty, and nothing to gain by sticking my neck into this one.

From late 1989 to 1992 I was the Head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and No 2 in the Aviation and Maritime Department (for those into FCO arcana, the Maritime Section was headed by a Grade 5 First Secretary and the Aviation Section by a Grade 6 First Secretary). This was the period of the invasion of Kuwait and first Gulf War, in which the Maritime Section, including me, mostly got picked up and deposited in an underground bunker as the FCO part of the Embargo Surveillance Centre. We did intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement and organised interdiction worldwide.

In this period I mostly lived in my underground bunker, quite literally, and didn’t get back to the FCO much to keep an eye on the rest of my section. On one occasion when I did, I was told something remarkable by a colleague in Aviation section.

At this time we suddenly switched from blaming Iran and Syria for the Lockerbie bombing to blaming Libya. This was part of a diplomatic drive to isolate Iraq from its neighbours in the run-up to the invasion. Aviation section were seeing all the intelligence on Lockerbie, for obvious reasons. A colleague there told me, in a deeply worried way, that he/she had the most extraordinary intelligence report which showed conclusively that it was really Syria, not Libya, that bombed the Pan Am jet, and that the switch was pure expediency.

I asked if I could see the report, and my colleague declined, saying this was too sensitive and dangerous; the report was marked for named eyes only. That in itself was extremely unusual – normally we would pass intelligence reports freely to each other, signing the register for them.

That is all I know. I never saw the report myself, and I do not know what it said, or why it was so conclusive. I am sorry to say it was such an incredibly busy time, we never discussed it again. I do not know, for instance, whether the intelligence contained an actual admission the charge aganst Libya was fake, or merely evidence that proved Syria did it (a communications intercept, for example). I suspect it will never be made public.

But the knowledge has remained with me ever since, and I was extremely sorry at the conviction of al-Magrahi. I do hope his appeal is successful. I am particularly impressed at the upright stand of Dr Swire and other victims’ representatives on this issue.

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Worth Sending Our Troops to Die For

Last night three more British soldiers died in Iraq.

There are people who can talk with chilling detachment about the deaths of other people. There are even people who can talk this way about the deaths of other people, while they are actively planning to cause those deaths. Peter Ricketts is one such person.

Is he a criminal in a secure unit at Broadmoor? No, he is Sir Peter Ricketts, KCMG, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I just watched him standing alongside David Milliband, as our new Foreign Secretary gave his little homily on taking office.

Ricketts, then Political Director of the FCO, was a major player in the concoction of the lies about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Ricketts’ minute to Jack Straw of 22 March 2002 is damning.

http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/docs/ricketts.pdf

Ricketts defines the problem with public opinion:

we have to be convincing that:

– the threat is so serious imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for;

There is only one possible interpretation of Ricketts letter. He is well aware that the threat is not really that imminent at all.

But even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts…

Nonetheless we must work on

bringing public opinion to accept the imminence of a threat from Iraq

Otherwise the public might get uppity about dead British soldiers. Seeing Ricketts standing next to Milliband reminded me how facile Brown’s spin of “Change” really is. Until we get rid of the people who led us into illegal war on the basis of lies, from not just the Cabinet but the Civil Service, there will be no real change.

For more of those memos between the guilty parties, go to

http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html

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Exit Tony, Enter Gordon

I spent most of a fun day outside Downing St shouting “Boo!”, and giving a lot of interviews to foreign television media. One very pretty Spanish television journalist interviewed me under the impression I was John Major. I expect some Spaniards tomorrow might be puzzled by Major’s radical views. I rather enjoyed aspects of this. She asked me “What was it like when you left Downing Street, Prime Minister Major” and I replied “I think it was sunny, oh yes.” She looked very confused.

Arriving back home I did a very good, long documentary interview for ITV, this time as me again, then watched the TV. Adam Bolton on Sky News gave a remarkable bit of information – Gordon Brown has been a personal friend of Henry Kissinger for a long time, and the last time Kissinger came to London, Brown and Kissinger spent two hours alone together in 11 Downing St discussing Kissinger’s latest book. That should disillusion those daft enough to believe that Brown’s five year support for Bush’s wars was a aberration forced upon him by circumstance.

Meanwhile Blair, for whom the House of Commons was never more than a vehicle for personal interest, has quit it even sooner than decently possible, so not a penny of the tens of millions of pounds about to flow his way from corporate America will have to be declared in the register of member’s interests.

Beyond satire is Blair’s appointment as Middle East envoy. Blair is the most wholehearted Zionist ever to lead a major British political party – including Balfour. He is at one with the religious right in the United States in having a gut Zionism perversely engendered by fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

Remember, Blair is leaving today because he was forced to announce his departure last summer. Even the eternally supine Labour Party revolted over Blair’s support for the Israeli attack on the Lebanon. Blair is going because he sacrificed his last remaining political capital to block a UN call for a ceasefire. He did this, knowingly and deliberately, to give the Israelis another two weeks to devastate Southern Lebanon from the air.

This is the man who, in the Rose Garden, moved the UK away from the EU consensus and lined us up uncritically with George Bush’s professedly pro-Israeli policies. All that is without counting the buckets of Iraqi arab blood on Blair’s hands. No self-respecting Palestinian representative, of any party or group, should have any truck with Tony Blair.

Blair is the most famous liar in the World, since the Iraqi WMD debacle. Why should anybody trust him as an envoy?

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War for Oil

The frantic efforts of the US and British governments to persuade Iraq to sign over its oil to Western companies on terms wildly unfavourable to Iraq, happily continue to run into the sands. But it is instructive to those who still try to argue this whole war wasn’t about oil.

http://www.accuracy.org:80/newsrelease.php?articleId=1511

Meanwhile, the major oil companies have no desire to step into the bloodbath yet anyway. They are making truly unbelievable profits from the high oil and gas prices the war has engendered.

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Ghana – Democracy and Economy

In Ghana, President Kuffour has demanded, in line with his party’s constitution, the resignations of eight ministers who have declared themselves as candidates for the Presidential nomination of their party, the NPP.

John Kuffour is a good man, and he himself is standing down as President after two terms in accordance with the law, something so very few leaders in Africa do. He is right to enforce the provisions of his own party constitution, too. There is also the point that he has been annoyed for at least a year that a minority of the candidates were so engaged in preparing their Presidential campaign, that they were neglecting their ministerial duties. It is also typical of Kuffour that he did not make an exception for hiw own brother, formerly Minister of Defence. Finally, as Kuffour has battled hard (and not 100% succesfully, but more succesfully than anyone else in Africa) against corruption among his ministers, it removes the temptation of ministers to use their ministries to fund their campaigns.

But still, it is unlucky for Ghana that they should prematurely lose the services of good ministers like Nana Akuffo Addo, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey and Kwame Addo Kuffour. We wait to see whether the new team bring new impetus to Kuffour’s remaining time in office. One thing Ghana does not lack is talent

It is very difficult for me, because I count most of the presidential aspirants as personal friends, several of whom have really outstanding qualities – in mentioning the three above it would be churlish not to mention another former minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, who has a brain the size of a planet.

Ghana is a genuine democracy and there are good people in the opposition NDC, too, particularly John Mahama. The whole Presidential process should be fascinating.

Ghana is a ready corrective to the gormless naivety of the Make Poverty History campaign. Ghana has done everything right. It is a democracy with a first class human rights record. All governments everywhere are corrupt, but Ghana’s is less so than, say , the UK (no billion pound BAE slush funds in Ghana). Because it ticks all the right governance buttons, Ghana has benefitted enormously from debt relief, and from aid flows. The money has all gone to exactly the right places – education, and bottom-up rural development.

Yet after a decade of being held up as a “Model” by the IMF, DFID and NEPAD, Ghana remains stubbornly poor. Accra is booming in terms of roads and literally miles of burgeoning middle class estates, but for ordinary Ghanaians, rising rents, transport and food costs squeeze out any improvement in their standard of living. Even when you do everything right, trickledown just isn’t happening. Why?

I fear part of the answer is, it never does. You can also point to climate change and electricity shortages because of falling water levels in the Volta Dam. I believe that part of the problem is that it was wrong for aid agencies to turn their backs on project work, and we should be building roads, bridges and power stations – fully funded by us – in addition to the increased budget support. But what Ghana shows is that the prescriptions of the development experts, which change with fashion every decade, will not in themselves bring Africa out of poverty.

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Happily Ever After

For those of you who have read Murder in Samarkand, you might be interested in an update on what has happened to Nadira, now over a year since the ending of the book.

Well, we are still very happy together. Nadira completed a course at Rose Bruford College, then last year did both summer schools at RADA and this week finishes her postgraduate acting course at Drama Studio London. Next week ahe discovers if she has passed her BA at Trinity College, London. She has obtained her RADA Bronze Shakespeare Certificate, and takes her Silver in the summer. As many actors who are native English speakers have difficulty with these, I am terribly proud of her.

But now, of course, she faces the acid test for any young actor; whetherr she can make a living in the profession. She has already had a couple of small professional parts on TV, but the next few months will be crucial. At this stage you need luck as well as talent and hard work.

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Richest Man in House of Commons Joins Labour Party

Quentin Davies, former Director of Morgan Grenfell Bank, holder of numerous directorships in addition to his neglected parliamentary duties, has joined the Labour Party.

Davies, who had an undistinguished Foreign Office career ending as one of the FCO’s many hundred First Secretaries, should be right at home with New Labour. After all, under NULab the gap between the extremely rich, like Mr Davies, and both the poor and the middling, is greater than at any time in British history. Mr Davies is right – who needs the Conservatives when NuLab are the best friend unearned income ever had?

Secondly, Davies is a warmonger for whom the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead are not enough – he’s just itching to attack Iran. Doubtless some of his financial interests would benefit from the consequent massive profits to the weapons and oil sectors.

Here is “Genghis” Davies in the House of Commons on 21 February 2007:

Quentin Davies (Grantham & Stamford, Conservative)

Today’s news is extremely good. Does the Prime Minister accept that he deserves genuine credit for having kept his nerve and not withdrawn the troops prematurely, despite the strong pressures on him? We have got to the point today where we are making some real progress. On Iran, while of course diplomacy must be tried, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) is correct that we need to go for tougher sanctions, particularly if we can get them through the Security Council, would it not be utterly irresponsible not to recognise that there is a real possibility that the last thing the Iranians want or would accept is a strong, united and successful democratic Iraq on their borders, and the last thing that they will ever agree to do, whatever the pressures on them, is to give up their enrichment and their nuclear weapons programmes? Do we not seriously have to confront that unfortunate, hideous possibility and plan accordingly?

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2007-02-21b.261.0&s=iraq+speaker%3A10160#g276.2

The extraordinary thing is that such an odious, bigoted, violent, vastly wealthy warmonger can feel fully at home in the Labour Party. I think this strange weather might be caused by Keir Hardie spinning. David Cameron should cheer up – his party is better off without this dangerous nutter.

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Turns Out I Was Wrong…

… in saying that it would be pointless for the Stop the War Coalition to walk around Manchester in the rain while the Dance of the War Criminals proceeded inside the Labour Party Special Conference. In fact STW got much more media coverage than the bigger demo in Manchester last year. Sky News was particularly good in its live coverage, although the later news bulletins were not so good. The Blair and Brown Corporation (BBC) was appalling as usual.

The most interesting thing about the Deputy Leadership contest was its revelation of just how tiny the true membership of the Labour Party is.

I am just back from Geneva, and flicking through the international news channels there I was very impressed indeed by the coverage of the demo. So the spectres of the dead of our wars for oil did haunt Brown’s feast. At least those abroad understand that opposition to the war in UK public opinion is as strong as ever.

Makes me all the more keen to turn up and yell at Blair tomorrow morning.

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Week Round-Up

Having explained in the post below why I have been hors de blog combat, here is my lightning take on the week’s events.

Reports on the captured sailors. What a farce! The government appoints a couple of “trusties” to produce reports, and is miraculously exonerated of all blame. We have seem it time and again – Legge, Butler, Hutton – and nobody buys this Whitehall Whitewash any more.

My favourite stupidities – apparently an ultra-sophisticated anti-submarine frigate, launching rubber dinghies, is indeed exactly the right sort of vessel for inshore coastal patrolling, and no mistakes have been made in the shaping of our navy. Also nobody could be found to take a proper decision on whether the sailors could sell their stories, because it was the Easter weekend, and all the Ministers had buggered off, in the middle of a so-called hostage crisis.

Of course, neither of the reports asked the key question – what on earth are we doing there in the first place?

Also this week, Menzies Campbell has somewhat surprised me by making the right decision and refusing to enter a government of war criminals. In a Machiavellian way I don’t think Brown came out of it badly anyway, appearing open. Northern Ireland is a political graveyard for British politicians – it was Blair’s ploy to get rid of the hugely popular Mo Mowlam by sending her there – and Brown’s offer of it to Captain Ashdown – who has just founded a new right-wing “security” think-tank with the Brownites – carried few political risks.

Finally, I don’t think the EU Treaty is bad at all, and I don’t think it needs a referendum. Interesting that Sarkozy so quickly has moved to populist economic nationalism. The treaty is a very small step closer to an effective common foreign policy, and a good thing too. Blair’s rampant support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and for the US invasion of Iraq, illustrate why we need a common European Foreign Policy. So does the excellent European Parliament report on Extraordinary Rendition.

My solution to prevent a future Blair is to split up the UK into its constituent nations, each a full member of a strong, European Parliament led, EU.

Finally, on Blair’s ill-hidden Catholicism, why would the Catholic Church want him? Are they short of mass murderers? Confession must be interesting. When the war criminal does convert, I hope that they make him read out the names of every individual his wars killed, as a penance. They should make him do it at the Cenotaph or in Parliament Square, then we could have the great irony of his being arrested under his own draconian laws. Perhaps a death-bed conversion would more suit Blair’s sense of drama. Go for it, Tony, and don’t keep your audience waiting too long!

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Graduation

The Blog fell silent these last four days because I have been at Dundee University for graduation, in my capacity as Rector. Graduation is done very pleasantly at Dundee, with each new graduate walking up individually to be touched on the head by the Chancellor with a ceremonial bonnet, to general applause plus whoops from their family and friends. Even though I haven’t been in office long enough to get to know many of this year’s graduates, I have to say it brought a lump to my throat on several occasions.

The University is now so large that this takes six ceremonies, each for about seven hundred new graduates. We finished five last week, the new doctors graduating next month, and I must confess I felt a bit weary after applauding three and a half thousand individuals over three days. With two ceremonies per day, interspersed by a formal lunch, and followed by a garden party then a formal dinner, I hope you will understand why I didn’t find time to blog.

I return to find a letter from the Council of the University of Lancaster offering me an appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow in their School of Law, which is most kind of them. They have one of the UK’s three leading Human Rights Centres. I need to give some thought to how I might fit this in, in a way which would make a useful contribution to the University. Then at lunchtime I have to leave to give a lecture in Geneva tomorrow.

I feel increasingly “in from the cold”, I suspect because those who think now almost universally acknowledge that the War in Iraq and the so-called War on Terror are indeed both a disaster, and I was telling the truth back in 2002 about torture. Now all I have to do is work out how to make a living!

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