The Great Lord Cochrane and the Astonishing Ignorance of New Labour 12

I appeared on Sky News yesterday to talk about the Damian Green case (by webcam from Accra), and was simply stunned when another guest on the programme, some idiot from, cited the arrest of an MP in the chamber of the House of Commons in 1815 as justification for police treatment of Damian Green. That excuse is being spread by New Labour across the media and blogosphere.

When this blog was very new, on 8 August 2005, I wrote that: “These are the most dangerous times for liberty in the UK since the government of Lord Liverpool”.

I never for a moment thought that I would see New Labour use one of the most infamous acts of Lord Liverpool’s ultra-reactionary government to justify their behaviour.

The MP arrested was Lord Thomas Cochrane. He was arguably the greatest fighting sailor the World has ever produced – very serious military historians will argue that he was even more daring and innovative than Nelson. This is from the official MOD website:

Cochrane was also a Radical. He was elected to Parliament to represent Westminster – at a time the only parliamentary seat with a broadly democratic franchise. He believed in one man one vote, and the abolition of taxes on food and newspapers, and the destruction of scores of privileges. He was also dangerously (to the government) popular and a war hero.

So Lords Liverpool, Eldon and Sidmouth had him arrested, on patently trumped-up embezzlement charges. There followed a series of trials, acquittals, demonstrations and a popular uprising freeing him from prison, after which he was dragged and arrested from the opposition front bench while about to denounce instances of very real government corruption.

Liverpool of course abolished habeas corpus, public meetings, and trades unions and his governrnent perpetrated the Peterloo Massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators. So I suppose it is not a shock to see this near-fascist government quoting Liverpool as a good precedent. Except that this is supposed to be a Labour government, and the entire Labour/Liberal tendency in this country was brought up for six generations to view Liverpool as all that was evil in conservatism. This was the period of Peterloo and the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Has anybody in this government even read E P Thompson’s “The Making of the English Working Class”?

Cochrane escaped abroad and continued to fight for freedom in the most literal way. He helped lead the anti-colonial struggles in Chile, Brazil and Greece. He formed makeshift navies for them, and with tiny resources and near superhuman energy and ability waged long and ultimately succesful naval campaigns against the Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish navies.

The arrest of Thomas Cochrane in the House of Commons was the lowest point of despotism in the UK since the death of Charles I. Those New Labour hacks who cite it in justification are ill-educated fools beneath contempt.

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12 thoughts on “The Great Lord Cochrane and the Astonishing Ignorance of New Labour

  • ruth

    Your recent articles are brilliant; informative and essential in these times when I fear we're slipping very fast into a fascist state to contain us in the economic crisis.

  • Alex Hilton


    Well this idiot thoroughly supported your stance when you exposed our complicity in Uzb human rights abuses.

    Yet there's an enormous difference between what you did, which must have been a difficult task considering the impact it had on your life, and the deliberate drip leaking of confidential info for personal and political gain.

    I have written a wide ranging rant on this subject, small elements of which you may agree with.

    Though you may disagree with the vast majority of my position, I hope you will accept that I'm honestly presenting my own views and not accuse me of blind loyalty to my party.

    Alex Hilton

    [email protected]

    07985 384 859

  • Mark Wood

    It's a pity we don't learn such simple but all important truths from the B.B.C. I hold all concerned at the corporation with aiding and abetting fully this dark journey into the 1984 brave new world of dystopian neo-fascism that Nu-Labour is rapidly bringing about.

    Like many I was ecstatic on the election of a Labour government after the long dark years of Tory misrule, but compared to the blatant dishonesty of the present evil shambles am even thinking of voting for them at the next election.

    It can not be right that the only real option we have is to support a party many fundamentally disagree with but guess it shows clearly just how bad things have got.

    What we need to do is re-examine our so-called democratic system and create a new system that truly represents the wishes and best interests of its population instead of the industrial military and banking complex that has for so long inflicted such damage to the people.

  • Refugee from Uzb

    Hi Mr Murray,

    Yesterday I was watching Question Time programme on BBC and part of the programme was dedicated to Damian Green. I liked the part when Lord Maginnis said that he will encourage any civil servant who knows anything about government's wrong doing to tell about it and not being shut by any signed documents such as secrecy act etc. It seems that Lord Maginnis is kind of last Mohicans in this corrupt Parliament.

    While all these discussions were going on yesterday I thought about your actions when you were not able to keep silence seeing how British government is using information which uzbek authorities obtained under torture. You have also become the victim of new labours as well as that civil servant who passed information to Green. It is very putty to see how one of the most democratic countries in the world slides toward state control country.

    With regards,


  • Chuck Unsworth

    "Those who do not learn from History" etc. But I suspect that this Government (if that is an apposite description) is so drunk with power, so inept, so intellectually stunted and so fearful of the electorate that it will do whatever it feels it can get away with. It has no scruples whatsoever. These elected representatives have chosen to live by legislation and accountancy, but always with a cynical lawyer's eye on opportunities for deception and personal gain.

    It's not the system which is at fault. You cannot devise a system which ensures integrity, probity, decency and honesty. Those are individual personal qualities which should guide men (OK, women too) of honour.

    No legislation or political system, no matter how detailed and complex, can replace a sound moral code. This past decade of prolonged abuse of Parliament and the electorate is by Members of Parliament who have no moral compass. It is they who should be jettisoned, not the system.

  • amk

    Chuck, Mark may be complaining about the electoral system which all too often enforces a choice between Nulab and the Tories. A preferential system (e.g. AV and STV) would allow a voter to vote for an honest third party without compromising their power to support one of the main parties over the other.

  • Davie Park

    They will indeed do whatever they feel they can get away with.

    Lord Mandelson's letter (I have few doubts it emanated from him) to the Merger Action Group – set up to legally challenge the Lloyds takeover of HBoS – is indicative of exactly this.

    I have now heard that, in addition to this blatant attempt to intimidate and bully, the Government has now requested details of the 500 or so who have registered their support of the legal challenge on the MAG website.

    If this is true, I wonder what they intend to do with this information.

  • David Grace

    Craig, I completely share your view of the Damian Green affair and was once again reminded of the weakness of the British parliament in controlling the executive when I watched Monday's debate on setting up a committee of "wise men". As a footnote, Patrick O'Brian's hero Capt Jack Aubrey MP is framed and tried in the novel "Reverse of the Medal" just as Cochrane was.

  • Clydebuilt

    Couldn't agree more Mark, we need a new system (OR politicians Chuck) that represents the wishes and interests of the people….this country isn't run for the people never has been. Infact what does the British economy exist for other than to supply funding to purchase American weaponry and pay for an army to go to America's assistance. What benefits has being the 4th largest economy in the world bequested on british people. We still have a transport system just capable of getting the workers to their work, and the worst health service in Western Europe with Scotland at the bottom of virtually every league table on health….. In Scotland the BBC exists souly to keep Scots shackled to the Union…… great to see your back Craig

  • David Redfern

    Many voters are crying out for another political soution but another Labour party named Conservative or Liberal is hardly the solution. They will inherit the existing all powerful and corrupt political system developed over the past 30 or 40+ years and will fight tooth and nail to retain it because it suits their personal and political agendas. Whoever of the mainstream political parties wins at the next elections you can bet will not be significantly different to what we have.

    Soultions? Well we could all vote BNP and to be honest I dont think they would make a worse job of it that our current leadership.

    No, there is only one party offering what I perceive to be credible solutions to our overbloated, self serving political regeim and that's the Libertarian Party. Simply eradicate all the non elected, corrupt, inefficient quango's that are burning through money like there's no tomorrow. Witness the Department for transports £50M efficiency saving measures that cost £80M and were described as a lamentable failure. This kind of debacle is going on in every quango successive goverments have introduced, look at the money drain that is the Child Support Agency and I would hazard a guess that most of the 100 quango's established over Labours tenure are no better.

    Hav a look at the Libertarians site with an open mind, no it's not the perfect solution but at least there won't be department's working towards their own survival presided over by officials toeing the party line in order to keep their priveledged position.

    We have 60 Million people in this country manipulated by by a few hundred thousand Government employees with 'safe' jobs and cast iron pensions whilst the rest of us are at the mercy of market conditions, I don't see any of the £170Bn quangos being made redundant in order to cut government spending whilst friends and relatives are being thrown into unemployement by our succession of conventional governments desperatly incompetent fiscal management.

    How much worse could a properly independent, self regulated financial sector have managed?

    How much worse could our government be if there was dramatically fewer of them to be corrupt, fewer places for them to hide, more accountability and a genuine prospect of criminal proceedings should they be exposed.

    Laughably, we were an Income Tax free country until a rate of 1% was introduced to fight the Napoleonic war and it was re introduced and dropped a few times until it became a regular feature until the first world war when a rate of 30% was introduced. Of course it was never dropped following the war and thats when our quango dependant society grew. So an Income Tax free Britian isn't untried, it's just a long time since our governments acknowledged it was possible.

  • noel

    Quote: "Yesterday I was watching Question Time programme on BBC and part of the programme was dedicated to Damian Green. I liked the part when Lord Maginnis said that he will encourage any civil servant who knows anything about government's wrong doing to tell about it and not being shut by any signed documents such as secrecy act etc. It seems that Lord Maginnis is kind of last Mohicans in this corrupt Parliament." posted by Refugee from Uzb.

    Having regards to the above perhaps I might point out that Lord Maginnis may be breaking the law if he was encouraging anyone to break the Official Secrets Act. If anyone knows plenty of secrets, dirty deeds and dark acts it's those at the top of society. So perhaps it's long past time they did something about it – instead of encouraging others to get themselves into serious trouble.

    The way to deal with those effectively running their own self-preservation society for themselves & their cronies is to stop electing them. Remember this, the UK has been run by only two political parties since the end of World War ll, if it's in a mess you know who to blame.

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