Yearly archives: 2009

Angrysoba Doesn’t Like This Blog

“Am I sometimes exasperated by the barmier entries, including by those who appear to believe that all terrorism is always false flag? Yes, I am sometimes. But no more than I am exasperated by those who swallow the entire war on terror agenda and the associated wars and attacks on liberty at home.”

I am having an interesting dialogue with angrysoba in comments on his blogpost about one of my blogposts. Some people don’t seem to get the concept of open debate. Angrysoba appears to be angry because he believes it is wrong for anyone to be allowed to express views which he deplores.

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Peter Moore

I am delighted for Peter Moore and his family. The invasion of Iraq was very wrong, but Peter Moore was not a combatant or engaged in reprehensible occupation activities. My own FCO contacts tell me two interesting things: firstly that claims there was something sensitive and secret about Peter Moore’s IT work, aimed at Iran, are wrong, and secondly that the Guardian take on the release is essentially right.

Which is interesting, as Miliband is strenuously denying the Guardian story about the link to the release of Qais al-Khazali. My friend – who is a senior member of the FCO and has been operationally involved in the case – says that there was a link and the FCO were very conscious of it.

Looks like Miliband is lying yet again. Now there’s a shock.

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Suddenly I Feel Much Better

I have been foolish sometimes, but I will never, ever write anything as stupid as this:

White is of course no ordinary fool, but one of the very nastiest reptiles on the nexus of political power and media control of the people. He is fully complicit in New Labour’s war crimes and assaults on civil liberties. This piece of pathetic hagiography exposes him to deserved ridicule.

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Traditional New Year Thoughts

My blogging has been intermittent for the last few months, and this reflects a continued angst since the Norwich by-election about what I am doing, and why I am doing it. It is traditional to take stock at this time of year, so here are a few thoughts on 2009.

Two wonderful old radicals left us in 2009. Ed Teague and Gerard Mulholland both fell firmly into the “Cantankerous old git” category. Ed was well known in the blogosphere as Postman Patel:

Gerard didn’t run a blog but you found him all over the place:

I had some arguments with both of them, but continual interaction with both these larger than life personalities helped keep up my morale. I miss them.

Cameron’s arrival has been the most significant and wonderful event of the year. I am extraordinarily lucky to have Nadira, Jamie, Emily and Cameron, and that my first children have been not just accepting but loving of their new family. My home life is really happy.

I have no selfish need to take an interest in public policy. I derive no income from it – indeed it costs me money. I do it because I believe that politics is in the grip of a rapacious and warmongering elite who need to be countered. I have just finished reading Peter Oborne’s The Triumph of the Political Class, and I must recommend it as an essential work. His basic thesis that modern professional politicians are bereft of concern for the common good – of any but their own good – is devastatingly accurate.

Which brings us to the MPs’ expenses scandal. It is a symptom of an underlying rottenness in our politics, and it revealed for all to see just what kind of contemptible people so many of our politicians are. Which is why I hoped that the Norwich North by-election would provide an opportunity for the public to express their disgust at the party system by voting for an independent candidate.

I was by no means insistent that I should be the candidate – indeed as Ingo can testify, I put some effort into contacting other possible independent candidates who might do better. But the by-election showed that the political parties have an unbreakable grip on the electoral system – not least through their monopoly of media access.

In fact, independent candidates only ever win – or even score over 5% – when one or more of the major parties stands down in their favour. Only Reg Keys has made it over 10% as an independent against all parties, and my own Blackburn result was the second best.

The circumstances could hardly get more auspicious for an independent than they were in Norwich, with the expenses scandal plus all the main parties supporting an unpopular war. I cannot imagine the circumstances in which I would stand as an independent again. I am considering whether the only way to have any practical impact on politics in the UK is to join a political party.

The tremendous plus about the Norwich campaign was the wonderful group of people who turned up to help – both locally and from a distance. Ingo, Steve, Iain, Owen, Stuart, John, Duncan, Alan, Keith – I shouldn’t have started to list names as there are scores and those not mentioned will be disappointed. I am feeling guilty at not keeping in touch with everyone.

The Norwich result was the lowest point of the year for me – I really did think we would do better than that – perhaps equalled as worst by the moment when the nice Iranian couple left saying they just didn’t find me a very warm and welcoming person.

The Chilcot Inquiry has been deeply depressing, with his panel of carefully chosen Iraq War supporters failing to ask relevant questions of a stream of witnesses. It is of course more interesting to me than to many people, as I actually know a lot of the witnesses. Bill Patey, Jeremy Greenstock and Christopher Meyer I am sure would all have liked to say more, given the chance by the panel. Scarlett looked like Faust just before midnight. David Manning and John Sawers, on the other hand, were lying through their teeth throughout.

There were some high points. On the wall in my lounge is a rather striking photograph of Milan cathedral, which I took myself. I had stopped seeing it, through familiarity, but now it makes me smile several times a day. I wonder if the spire of Salisbury or the sheer weight of Durham would be best for Blair?

But we still have a political leadership of all important parties committed to continuing the disastrous occupation of Afghanistan and attacks on Pakistan. Universities are subject to philistine attack by Mandelson, while all “major” parties are committed to the ruinously expensive upgrading of the British paid arm of the US nuclear deterrent. British families all carry a huge burden of debt because their money has been given to the bankers; the full ramifications of that have not yet entered public consciousness. What political debate there is, takes place at a trivial level and the under-educated public are kept happy with a major overdose of manipulated “Reality TV”.

Blogging about it all is like throwing a banana at a nuclear explosion in an attempt to counteract the blast.

Happy New Year!

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The Year of The Exploding Underpants

The extraordinarily incompetent Nigerian underpant bomber somehow seems a fit conclusion to the year. The debate on my last post has garnered 235 comments already. What comes over most strongly is the absolute desperate, psychological need of the right for the “War on Terror” to be real.

Given the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, of course there is huge resentment towards the West in much of the Islamic world, and a small fringe willing to carry that resentment into violence. That is an unavoidable consequence of the hundreds of thousands of deaths for which US, UK and Israel have been responsible.

But for the right, it is not enough that they have created a threat which is real; it must be not only real, but enormous. John Reid famously described the Islamic terrorist threat as being as great as the Second World War, whereas Tony Blair described it as an “existential threat”. Both are massive, incredible exaggerations.

The armaments, oil, and security industries, and the politicians they fund, of course make massive profits from the government policies, including wars, enacted in response to a massive exaggeration of the threat. But many on the right have a psychological rather than merely material need for an enemy, for an embodiment of evil, and for the idea of being involved in a gripping life or death battle.

This is difficult to sustain, as the actual battles involve merely our use of absolutely overwhelming power to devastate weak nations. Hence the disproportionately weak reactions must be hyped to sustain the narrative. The sad truth that a pathetic Nigerian wannabe terrorist singed his own gonads must be buried beneath a raft of stories that the explosive was powerful enough to blow a hole in an aeroplane.

The right are desperate to hear that the plane would have been destroyed, hundreds killed, and probably could have ploughed into a big building and killed thousands. In their fantasy world they are fighting off these disasters. In the real world, a Nigerian man singed his own gonads. That is not to excuse him. He planned to do harm and may be a very horrible person indeed. But he just singed his own gonads. It is also worth noting that, if he had destroyed the plane, he would have killed only one third of the innocent civilians who died on just day one of “Shock and Awe” in Iraq.

There is no existential threat to the Western world from Islam. Sorry.

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Silly Nigerian Man Sets Fire to Own Leg

Happy Christmas Everybody!!

I just saw an eyewitness on BBC TV News recount that the Nigerian man who set fire to his leg on a Delta flight was shouting “about Afghanistan”. Which proves yet again that by occupying Afghanistan we are provoking, not preventing, attempted terrorism.

Regular readers know that I fly out of Schiphol some thirty times a year. Security there is ultra tight – in fact a real pain in the neck – with intensive searches and x rays actually at gate. The non-explosive and non-dangerous (as it proved) substance he had might very well prove to be duty free alcohol – it is being described by the US authorities as “incendiary” rather than “explosive”. But the BBC is still referring to an “Explosive mixture”, even though it plainly was not “explosive” as it did not explode.

It seems to me most improbable that if Abdul Faroukh really was working for Al-Qaida, he would have been quite so open about it, as it is claimed he is being. But we will doubtless see this incident ramped up more and more to justify the occupation of Afghanistan. A BBC “security correspondent” is waffling on even now about “sophisticated explosive devices”. In fact it sounds as about as effective as a christmas cracker.

Don’t let it spoil your turkey sandwiches. How long before Brown is on screen explaining this is why we have to be in Afghanistan?

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Anglo Uzbek Democracy

Uzbek voters have the fun of going to the polls on December 29 to choose between candidates for parliament from four “political parties”, each one of which loudly supports President Islam Karimov. Even the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), so often ready to excuse authoritarian behaviour by its members, has concluded that the Uzbek elections do not offer a genuine choice to the Uzbek people.

Whereas here in the UK, we are to have our democracy “Reinvigorated” by live broadcast debates between the leaders of the three “major” political parties. Which explains why this post is titled Anglo Uzbek democracy. We are urged to applaud as a major breakthrough a TV event that is irrelevant to the key political choices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and which further enhances the disastrous “Presidentialism” that enabled one man to take us to war in Iraq, by telling lies to overcome the real wishes of almost all his party.

Despite the most concerted and near unanimous campaign of media jingoism in UK history, a consistent majority of British voters are against the costly war to keep the fraudster Karzai in power in Afghanistan, and to maintain security for the drugs warlords who make up most of his government.

People simply do not buy the line that killing people in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes a terrorist reaction in the UK less likely.

The establishment response is to pack the airwaves with military figures on any excuse. Not only are the military, retired and serving, used to openly propagandise for the war, but they turn up to review the papers or choose Desert Island Discs. Doubtless Antiques Roadshow from Chelsea Barracks is being filmed. I should like to hear some soldiers singing a sentimental Christmas song about a mutilated Afghan girl who will never see her parents again after her village was bombed.

But there are very few signs the perpetual propaganda is working. The public remain deeply hostile to the Afghan War. Yet we are approaching a general election, and a “Leaders’ debate” in which all the “Major” parties will firmly support the war and the ludicrous line that it keeps us safe in our beds.

Where, then, is the “Genuine choice” for the UK electorate. There is none. The old joke that, whoever you vote for, the government gets in, has never been more apposite. There is no real choice for the British electorate. Will someone phone the OSCE?

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My schedule for blogging gets further and further behind, as I try to cram six weeks of parenting and husbanding into two days. Then Monday am flying up to Dundee for University Court and flying back to London same day, then Tuesday first thing flying back to Accra. Hope to blog something tomorrow between present buying, turkey ordering etc. But anything blogged at the weekend gets less than half the readership and almost no repostings on other blogs.

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The Sad Death of is no more. When Alisher Usmanov set Schillings on to me for daring to publish the truth about his past as a convicted racketeer and blackmailer, he caused my webhosts to pull the plug. Happily, after a very few days the blog returned hosted outside the UK, with a new domain name – instead of the used the previous three years.

Richard, Wibbler, Tim, Jeroen and Andrew between them did something brilliant so all the previous entres were copied to, and if you entered an old url, you got instantly redirected.

But sadly this no longer works. has now disappeared completely. It was hosted by Lycos, which went out of business, and we could not rescue it because nobody remembered any of the usernames, passwords or credit card details used when it was set up five years ago for the Blackburn election.

The content still exists safely on, but literally thousands of links around the net to addresses no longer work. This includes those to the Murder in Samarkand leaked FCO documents, and the urls printed in the books. The loss of many thousand old links has also of course led to a slump in various rankings on the blog – including a spectacular fall on Wikio which actually measures and not

Anyone who has a site with a search and replace facility, if you could replace with that would be very helpful (if you have the ability to do it when it forms a part of an url).

Anyway, that’s the boring housekeeping announcement. My internet connection went down in Accra before I left, so some postings promised earlier were delayed but I hope to do them later today.

On arrival back in London I found that I had no court papers delivered from the Qulliam Foundation. So they join pathetic worms Jack Straw, Tim Spicer and Alisher Usmanov in the list of those who set lawyers on me to try to bully away the truth, but lacked the guts to go to court (though of course Usmanov has no lack of gut).

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Obama – “Evil Does Exist In The World”

Thank you Mr President. Actually I knew that. In fact I am just watching its most high profile representative making a speech.

As Rector of the University of Dundee, I am entitled to put forward nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. With Obama as an example of the kind of person the committee want, I am wondering who I might propose. Charles Taylor? Maybe Osama Bin Laden? Or perhaps George W Bush and Tony Blair jointly?

Wow, those pompous Scandinavians are fucking stupid.

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Happy Thoughts


Coming back to London tonight after ultimately a very fruitful trip to Ghana, in which I was able to provide some useful (I hope) advice on changes to their offshore oil regime, so it will benefit Ghanaians more and big oil companies a bit less. Might post on that tomorrow.

Have to come back here in a week. But tomorrow morning I’ll see Nadira and Cameron, Emily will join us Saturday and I might even be able to track down Jamie in Dumfries.

Stoater of a post in my head about psychopaths – got to go to a meeting now but look out for it this afternoon.

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Copenhagen and Common Sense

I have no expertise in environmental science, and have never made an intensive study. I realise that what I write here is so simple as to be taught to a six year old. But there is a reason I write it.

I am however trained as a historian. That mankind has changed the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indubitable from a moment’s consideration of the evidence.

Early man lived in an earth covered by vast forest. Cultivation brought a cutting down of forest for clearings. Industrial development brought a cutting down of forests for fuel and raw material. We know this for certain because the process continued into historic times, and has never stopped but simply spread into lesser developed parts of the world, and because of the unlimited numbers of tree throws discovered by archaeologists in areas of prehistoric settlement.

The burning of the trees released carbon dioxide, but this process was greatly accelerated by the industrial revolution, where the start of intensive use of fossil fuels released the stored carbon dioxide of millennia. At the same time, of course, the destruction of the forests reduced the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and replenish oxygen.

The Earth is big, but not that big. I’ve been round it a few times. The incredible scale is of human activity. It is impossible for an honest rational man to believe that the destruction of the forests and burning of fossile fuels on an ever accelerating scale has not had an effect on the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is of course not the only pollutant involved.

Now I do not claim to understand the complex science of the interaction between man made atmospheric change and the natural processes of climate change. But plainly, as we change the atmosphere it is going to have some effect on the movement of gases and vapours within the atmosphere, which we call weather, and might perfectly well affect the extent to which the atmosphere absorbs or reflects energy from the sun.

I doubt that the processes are fully understood. But the argument seems to me unanswerable that mankind should seek to minimise its effect on the environment that bred us, for obvious reasons of self preservation.

We should also seek to reduce the astonishing rate at which we squander non-renewable resources. I view most of the opposition to the Copenhagen process as missing the point entirely – be it from the ultra-rich fossil fuels lobbies, scientific dissidents [I don’t despise them; all accepted science was once dissidence, including global warming], those who think anything agreed by governments must be a plot against us, or those who just want to keep on personally enjoying the fruits of untramelled consumption. The point they miss entirely is that we should stop polluting anyway.

I can’t say I fully support the Copenhagen process because it is too timid, the “cuts” offered by the US are derisory, and the oil producers should also be paying much more to the developing world. Carbon trading and its derivatives show we have still, despite the banking collapse. not learnt that inventive greed is not the best motivator.

But thirty years ago I never thought we would have this much agreement by governments to an environmental agenda. The broad direction is better, and Copenhagen must succeed to keep the dynamic going.

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The White Charger Stays In The Stable

As a campaigner for liberty, and a sucker for damsels in distress, I was looking to work up a piece in defence of Amanda Knox.

Incarceration is a horrible thing. We lock up far, far too many people in the UK. Punishment is necessary in society, but there are innumerable other forms of punishment possible apart from prison. The only real reason I can think of to lock somebody away is that they pose a physical danger to others; why we lock people up for non-violent property crime I have no idea, especially as in the vast majority of cases the cost of incarceration is greater than the value of the property which was stolen.

But I am genuinely sorry to say that the more I researched the more I came to the conclusion that locking up Amanda Knox is rather sensible. Having previously simply seen the odd bit of news coverage, I am quite sure after further research that the balance of that reporting has been rather kinder to Amanda Knox than she deserved.

She gave a series of lies to the police about where she was at the time of the murder, and has no corroborated alibi. She did not just (as news reports I have seen implied) suggest to the police that it may have been Patrick Lumumba, she actually told them that she was present in the flat when he murdered Meredith. Lumumba – who it is worth stating is entirely innocent – had many witnesses to the fact he was in his bar all evening. Knox later changed her story back to not having been in the flat that evening at all.

She also claimed that the next morning she came back to the flat, found a broken window and blood on the floor and wall, and Meredith’s door locked, but did not call the police or in fact anyone. Instead she took a shower and washed her hair in a bloodstained bathroom. Rudy Guede’s unflushed faeces now eight hours old and presumably pretty smelly – we in the toilet, and it was one of those ledge ones so they sit above the water. She didn’t flush them, but showered, brushed and blow dried her hair all standing in the small bathroom next to them.

That tiny detail is for me a clincher that her story is untrue. Yes, it is of course physically possible to wash brush and blow dry your hair right next to a pile of someone elese’s faeces, but do you know a girl who would do it?

The glass from the broken window had fallen on top of belongings of another flat mate that had been strewn around the floor, and had not been strewn around when the flatmate left that afternoon. But the glass landed on top of the strewn around things. So the strewing around was not done by someone who broke in through the window. The window breakage therefore looks like a later effort to simulate burglary.

Knox testified that she had been worried when she found the blood and the broken window and no Meredith, so she had phoned several times to check if she was OK. Phone records show that she had phoned each of Meredith’s phones, but only once – and for three seconds and four seconds respectively. That is less than two rings.

Knox was leaving the flat with a mop and bucket when the police arrived. She had not called them and Meredith’s body was still locked in its bedroom. Police had been alerted by finding Merdith’s phones, apparently flung out of her window. Knox had a mop and bucket with her which she said she was taking to her boyfriend’s house to clean up a pasta spill. When police got to his place, everything was newly cleaned – with bleach – including the knife which matched one of the wounds. Have you ever cleaned a knife with bleach?

So the white charger is staying the stable on this one. The defence are making much of the fact that Knox had no motive. But what precisely is the motive of the Perugia authorities for setting her up meant to be? Chillingly, someone who worked with Knox in the US and is Jewish said that Knox, who has German ancestry, taunted “My people killed your people! My people killed your people!”

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Impersonating A Drunkard

This blog has plenty of typos and spelling mistakes too, but I still couldn’t help chuckling at Iain Dale’s Carousal Fraud.

(You have to click on show original post. I haven’t worked out how you link to individual entries on Iain’s site).

Delicious images of people pretending to stagger around, hug each other and sing. But the linked article by Charles Crawford is worth reading.

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An Old Fool in Africa

I have many friends in Ghana, but when a stay becomes extended like this one I miss Nadira, Jamie, Emily and Cameron dreadfully.

When I was about 8 years old and living in a bungalow at Beeston Regis with my mum and brothers and sister, we had one of the very few christmasses in my early childhood when my father was at home. We had a black and white TV and the big BBC film on Christmas Eve was “Calamity Jane” with Doris Day. My parents and especially grandparents were quite excited about this and had been talking about it all day.

We had eaten our tea, the children sat on the floor with our Corona pop and the adults sat behind with their Guinness or Mackeson, sherry or whisky as we focussed on the small television.

We had placed pillowcases around the christmas tree. I decided that I was so excited about Christmas that I wanted to go to bed early so it would come quickly. I thought as my dad was home I would get a really good present (I did. I got a bike. It wasn’t new, but my grandad got a tin of silver spray paint from Woolworths and sprayed it. I thought it looked new. I couldn’t touch the pedals at the bottom of their rotation. I rode that bike until my knees scarcely unbent as the pedals turned).

I left the party, though everyone told me it was a really good film. Of course, I didn’t sleep. I lay in my bunk bed staring out at the stars and listening to all the songs from Calamity Jane through the wall, with various family members singing along.

I never did see Calamity Jane, until last night when it came on satellite TV in Accra. Then, in the dark of an African night, in a small house alone in a big compound, through the one lit window a stupid old white man sat, with tears streaming down his face, sobbing out loud for all that was lost, for every hurtful word he had said to those who were gone, and for all the good he had not done.

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Pity He Wasn’t A Banker

“It’s hard to put into words how bad I feel right now. I’m in my 40s now and I’ve been at Corus since I left school. I’m a single parent with a daughter at university and one at home. Of course they are worried – and so are thousands of other families. I fear the future. I’ve got a mortgage to pay and I’m worried that I’ll end up losing my home.”

Michael Shepherd

Had he been a banker, of course, he would keep his job, benefiting from 150 billion pounds of taxpayers’ moner actually paid out and the surety of a further 700 billion that the taxpayer has “agreed” to stump up to underwrite his job if necessary. If he were a banker, he would still get his multi-million pound bonus and his daughters’ lives would be gilded.

I am typing this on a keyboard which was not made by a banker. It rests on a desk which was not built by a banker. I am sitting on a chair which was not made by a banker, which rests on floor tiles not made by bankers, resting on a concrete and steel reinforced floor not built by bankers in a house of similar construction. I have to hand a sausage sandwich – the pigs were not reared by bankers and the wheat was not grown by bankers, and a cup of coffee – the beans were not grown by bankers, the milk was not from banker raised cattle, the water was not purified by a banker, the sugar cane was not cut by a banker. The clay was not dug by a banker nor the kiln fired by a banker. None of it was brought to this spot and assembled or constructed by a banker.

Bankers act as middlemen for the finanical transactions that enable people working with real goods to process the flows of payment. They also enable corporate entities to gamble, most of those gambles coming down to a bet on the future value of real goods. For this they get a cut.

Fair enough. But as a simple man, it is hard for me to understand how these enabling middlemen are infinitely superior to the people actually doing things in the real economy, to the extent that the middlemen may never be allowed to fail. It also looks pretty plain that, if they failed and went bust because they were no good, new paople would step in to do the same job, as they have for thousands of years.

There is no rationale beyond power, influence and a corrupt political system that sees hundreds of billions of pounds from ordinary families pumped in to keep failed bankers very rich, whereas not even the 0.0003% (that tiny fraction is 50 million pounds) of the bank bailout money paid out so far, can be spared to keep Corus going on Teeside through the downturn.

Nobody in Whitehall will give a second’s thought to Mr Shepherd’s daughters. Their dad is only a steelworker. It’s not like they’re bankers or anything.

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Gie’s A Pint O’ Heavy

I have been reading Maggie Craig’s Bare Arsed Banditti, which is a highly revealling collection of personal stories from the ’45. I recommend it. Together with Fitzroy MacLean’s brilliant life of Charles III, it is now my favourite book on the Jacobites.

One thing which Craig brings out very well, with ample documentary evidence (though I deplore her lack of footnotes) is the extremely strong Scottish nationalist aspect of the rebellion and the strong nationalist sentiments expressed by many of the clan leaders and footsoldiers. This is an element which was not just ignored but deliberately falsified in history as it has been taught for generations – I still recall the scoffing at John Prebble. In fact an independent Scotland was almost certainly the desire of most of the Jacobite army, from the evidence available to us. Craig also demolishes the myth that there were as many Scots on the Hanoverian side as on the Stuart side at Culloden. I had known that was a myth, but just how overwhelmingly the Hanoverian army was English I had not fully taken on board.

The truly great Jacobite general, Lord George Murray, knew he was joining a disastrous enterprise, but felt he had to do it. His touching letter is often quoted:

My life, my fortune, my expectations, the happiness of my wife and children, are all at stake (and the chances are against me), and yet my duty to Scotland in which my Honor is too deeply to withdraw —– this matter of principles outweighs everything.

But historians have routinely overlooked the obvious – his duty was to Scotland, not to Britain. Maggie Craig does not quote this letter in her book, but the nationalist sentiment she records pervaded the army to the very top. It was of course true then as now that the ancestors of the New Labour numpties of Strathclyde gave not a fig for anything but cash, but the rebels were nationalist.

Scotland is not unusual. National independence is something which people have been prepared to give up their lives for around the world, for as long as the concept of a nation has existed (and the Declaration of Arbroath is arguably the first documentary assertion of a modern concept of nationality).

It is infinitely better to resove these matters without violence, but the desire for national freedom still ought to stir the blood. Which is why I am puzzled by Alex Salmond’s tactical decision to make independence as boring as possible, in the hope that nobody will be scared of it. It is of course true that independence should not necessitate physical border controls or economic barriers of any kind; it is quite extraordinary that unionists still talk as if independence would necessitate a return to mercantilism and a new effort to colonise Darien. But Salmond’s independence lite, where Scotland keeps the Queen, the pound, the British army to wage illegal wars, and doesn’t even have a proper diplomatic service, is just a further measure of devolution. Why should anybody work for a change on the grounds that nobody will notice it?

Forget independence lite, gie’s a pint of heavy. A republican Scotland where we can jail our own bankers.

Oh, and before anyone points out I was born in Norfolk, let me point out that Robert the Bruce was almost certainly born in Essex. I see no intellectual dilemma in myself being part English and part Scottish and wishing both to enjoy independent nationhood.

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Obama Is Wrong On Both Counts

Obama loves his rhetoric, and his speech on the Afghan surge was topped by a rhetorical flourish:

“Our cause is just, our resolve unshaken”.

He is of course wrong on both counts.

The occupation of Afghanistan by the US and its allies is there to prop up the government of President Karzai. Karzai’s has always been an ultra-corrupt government of vicious warlords and drugs barons. I have been pointing this out for years,

The CIA is up to its usual tricks again supporting the drug running of key warlords loyal to them. They are also setting up death squads on the Central American model, in cooperation with Blackwater.

Fortunately Karzai’s rigging of his re-election was so blatant that the scales have fallen from the eys of the public and even the mainstream media. Politicians no longer pretend we are promoting democracy in Afghanistan.

Karzai comes directly from the Bush camp and was put in place because of his role with Unocal in developing the Trans Afghanistan Gas Pipeline project. That remains a chief strategic goal. The Asian Development Bank has agreed finance to start construction in Spring 2011. It is of course a total coincidence that 30,000 extra US troops will arrive six months before, and that the US (as opposed to other NATO forces) deployment area corresponds with the pipeline route.

Obama’s claim that “Our cause is just” ultimately rests on the extraordinary claim that, eight years after the invasion, we are still there in self-defence. In both the UK and US, governments are relying on the mantra that the occupation of Afghanistan protects us from terrorism at home.

This is utter nonsense. The large majority of post 9/11 terror incidents have been by Western Muslims outraged by our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Put bluntly, if we keep invading Muslim countries, of course we will face a violent backlash. The idea that because we occupy Afghanistan a Muslim from Dewsbury or Detroit disenchanted with the West would not be able to manufacture a bomb is patent nonsense. It would be an infinitely better strategy to make out theoretical Muslim less disenchanted by not attacking and killing huge numbers of his civilian co-religionists.

Our cause is unjust.

We are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and for the further of radicalisation of Muslim communities worldwide. That threatens a perpetual war – which is of course just what the military-industrial complex and the security industry want. They have captured Obama.

Fortunately, our resolve is shaken.

The ordinary people of the UK and US have begun in sufficient numbers to see through this perpetual war confidence trick; they realise there is nothing in it for them but dead youngsters and high taxes. That is why Obama made a very vague promise – which I believe in its vagueness and caveats to be deliberate deceit – that troops will start to leave in 2011.

Today’s promises of 5,000 additional NATO troops are, incidentally, empty rhetoric. I gather from friends in the FCO that firm pledges to date amount to 670.

A well-placed source close to the Taliban in Pakistan tells me that the Afghan Taliban and their tribal allies have a plan. As the US seeks massively to expand the Afghan forces, they are feeding in large numbers of volunteers. I suspect that while we may see the odd attack on their trainers, the vast majority will get trained, fed, paid and equipped and bide their time before turning en masse. This is nothing new; it is precisely the history of foreign occupations in the region and the purchase of tribal auxiliaries and alliances.

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The Convicted Criminal Alisher Usmanov

For the first time yesterday the mainstream media had the guts to take on billionaire Alisher Usmanov, whose hyperactive libel lawyers succeeded for a few days in closing this blog down.

Channel 4 yesterday showed a Dispatches programme on the Russian oligarchs, which for the first time in Bruitish mainstream media put the case that Arsenal shareholder Usmanov is a convicted blackmailer and racketeer. You can see the programme here:

Sadly I cannot see it in Ghana (I get a not available in your area message) so I do not yet know how much of my own interview in the programme got past the Channel 4 layers. It is however typical of Usmanov that I can find not a single comment on the programme in the mainstream media or even in any of the Arsenal blogs. All of the major Arsenal blogs have in the past received threatening letters from Schillings, Usmanov’s solicitors.

I shall be posting at the end of this week on a US racketeer, Gene E Phillips, and his corrupt – and so far succesful – attempt to rip off billions of dollars from the poor people of Ghana. I gave an interview on this to the FT last week and I am hopeful they will be running a less detailed expose on Thursday, on which I will follow up.

Meantime, it is worth noting that libel bullies the Quilliam Foundation and their pathetic lawyers Clarke Willmott seem to have skulked away. Not one of the individuals – including Jack Straw, Tim Spicer, Allisher Usmanov and Ed Hussain – who has set the lawyers onto this blog has ever dared to go to court.

That is because this blog does not libel, it tells the truth, and not one of them dares to face the truth in court, even with England’s notoriously oppressive libel laws on their side.

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