Monthly Archives: January 2009


People Who Really Don’t Like Me

I had a rather peculiar happy thought today, caused by a somewhat aggressive phone call I received yesterday. The happy thought is that, while I am generally regarded as a pleasant and amusing fellow, there are a small but definite number of people who absolutely detest me.

How can that be a happy thought? Well, let me list them. I do not include people I surmise may dislike me, but only those I know for sure are aware of my existence and have said very nasty things about me:

Islam Karimov

Tony Blair

Jerry Rawlings

Gordon Brown

Tim Spicer

Jack Straw

Alisher Usmanov

Peter Mandelson

Gulnara Karimova

Baroness Amos

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

David Aaronovitch

That really is a collection of deeply unlovely people. If I have managed to do anything to protect anyone else from the effects of their relentlessly succesful and acquisitive lives, then I have achieved something in my life after all.

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New Labour’s Britain and The Silencing of Dissent

We all need to take a step back and see what kind of society we have become; in particular the Stalinist silencing of voices of dissent – even within our universities.

I have seen my past server host pull this website and my publisher pull my book, in attempts to silence my dissenting opinions. We overcame those, but they should never have happened. Now I have been telephoned by the University of Cambridge to be told that security staff will physically prevent me from entering the University of Cambridge to give a talk there.

What have we become? I have responded thus and am now off to Cambridge.

Dear Dr Elliott,

As I told you on the telephone, I was invited some weeks ago to speak this evening in a debate on the merits of the Afghan War. I learnt this morning that plans had changed due to a student occupation of a university building over University policy towards Gaza, and as the organisers of my debate were involved in the occupation, I was requested to switch my talk to the Law Faculty. I agreed to do so.

I then heard from you that the authorities had decided to exclude non-University members from the law faculty, and should I arrive to give my talk I will not be admitted; and indeed be physically prevented from entering.

I have given this some thought, and I have decided that the threat not to admit me to the University building is unwarranted.

As you may realise, I am Rector of the University of Dundee (and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law). I am not personally intending to occupy your building for longer than it takes to give a talk, and certainly intend to cause no damage. I am not a health and safety risk.

I am invited to lecture at Universities and other prestigious institutions worldwide; normally universities are urging me to come, not seeking to turn me away! I understand that a number of people are looking forward to hearing me this evening. To threaten to exclude me is a denial of freedom of speech which I find very peculiar behaviour for the University of Cambridge.

Student occupations are hardly a new phenomenon, and normally can easily be resolved through amicable negotiation. I was quite astonished to learn that Cambridge University had responded by attempting to starve the students out. To try also to ban a guest speaker seems to me likely to inflame and prolong, rather than resolve, the dispute.

It seems to me that the easiest way out of the current difficulty of my visit is for you to extend to me an invitation to speak this evening on behalf of the Faculty.

With all best wishes,

Craig Murray

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Jack Straw’s Corrupt Partner, Lord Taylor of Blackburn, Demands £120,000 to “Bend the Rules”

The disgusting Lord Taylor of Blackburn, who together with Justice Secretary Jack Straw forms the chief parliamentary support for the stinkingly corrupt BAE arms company, has been caught out demanding £120,000 to peddle his New Labour influence in the House of Lords.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/4339198/Labour-Lords-how-peer-allegedly-offered-to-bend-the-rules-for-120000-fee.html

As ever, this blog was there first – eighteen months ago. We have in fact been all over Lord Scumbag like a rash. These are essential reading as background to the current scandal:

http://www.craigmurray.co.uk/archives/2007/08/theres_good_mon.html#comments

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/08/more_lord_scumb.html

I think this passage I wrote in 2007 has been roundly vindicated:

Straw’s links with BAE are partly conducted through Lord Taylor of Blackburn, the former leader of the Blackburn with Darwen Council that includes Straw’s Blackburn constituency. Lord Taylor, an archetypal New Labour apparatchik from Straw’s constituency machine, has lived off the taxpayer in Labour Party appointed posts all his life. He is now chiefly known as the second highest claimer of expenses in the House of Lords. In 2005 Lord Taylor claimed over ‘57,000 of tax-free expenses, over three times the average claim of under ‘19,000. he spoke 15 times in the year.

But he doesn’t really need that public money anymore, as the grasping creep Taylor is the primary conduit between the defence industry and New Labour. He has been a highly paid “Consultant” to BAE for over a decade. He also has used some of that money to make major contributions to Jack Straw’s election expenses in his Blackburn constituency, declared by Straw in the Register of Member’s interests. Lord Taylor also regularly makes large contributions to fund Blackburn New Labour. When I stood against Straw in Blackburn at the last election, Taylor was present with Straw at a black tie event hosted by BAE in the constituency said to be “unrelated to the election”.

Interestingly, this year in the House of Lords’ Register of Members’ interests, BAE has disappeared from Taylor’s list of eleven paid consultancies and two paid directorships. It might be interesting to dig for links between these companies and BAE. Some are certainly arms firms – including the highly sinister Electronic Data Systems.

EDS is another of the arms companies that has made many billions from the Iraq war. Among their many current defence contracts is a $12 billion project on electronic systems for the US armed forces. Presumably a well-plugged in New Labour apparatchik like Lord Taylor was of no hindrance to EDS in March 2005 when they landed a ‘2.5 billion contract from the UK MOD for a similar project. Indeed, if Lord Taylor cannot help swing that kind of contract, why are EDS paying him?

I do not have power of words sufficiently to condemn the institutional sleaze of a system where a scumbag like Lord Taylor can be put, unelected, by Labour into a seat for life in the national legislature. There, while a legislator, he can act as a well paid and highly connected lobbyist for the arms industry. As someone who has been deeply patriotic, I must now say that I find myself unable to have any pride in my own country any longer.

I do hope the old war profiteer finally gets put away behind bars. But with his long term partner Jack Straw as so-called Minister of Justice…

Allowing influence to party hacks like Taylor is of course exactly why New Labour is 100% against democratic reform of the House of Lords. Now your essay question: examine the facts about Lord Taylor in the light of the analysis of the control of policy by specific interests by J A Hobson in the blog entry below.

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The Consequences of Imperialism

One of the purposes of this blog is to reconnect my readers with our heritage of British radical thought. These ideas were very much part of the intellectual mainstream, but in my lifetime that mainstream has been drastically narrowed by the control of media and of education by the very interests and methods that will be described in this entry.

Since I posted this extract two years ago the readership of this blog has expanded greatly, and those who were with me two years ago will benefit from a refresh. This is an extract from Imperialism: A Study (written in 1901) by the great and sadly neglected Liberal economist J A Hobson. Since my teens he has been one of the most profound influences on my own thinking.

Those who have read The Catholic Orangemen will understand that a consistent Hobsonian analysis underpinned my actions in Africa regarding both mercenary and British military and financial involvement there.

More fundamentally, Hobson’s profound and clear analysis is simply applied to Cheney and Halliburton, BAE and most of the other evils against which we are still struggling today.

Seeing that the Imperialism of the last three decades is clearly condemned as a business policy, in that at enormous expense it has procured a small, bad, unsafe increase of markets, and has jeopardised the entire wealth of the nation in rousing the strong resentment of other nations, we may ask, “How is the British nation induced to embark upon such unsound business?” The only possible answer is that the business interests of the nation as a whole are subordinated to those of certain sectional interests that usurp control of the national resources and use them for their private gain. This is no strange or monstrous charge to bring; it is the commonest disease of all forms of government. The famous words of Sir Thomas More are as true now as when he wrote them: “Everywhere do I perceive a certain conspiracy of rich men seeking their own advantage under the name and pretext of the commonwealth.”

I.IV.1

Although the new Imperialism has been bad business for the nation, it has been good business for certain classes and certain trades within the nation. The vast expenditure on armaments, the costly wars, the grave risks and embarrassments of foreign policy, the stoppage of political and social reforms within Great Britain, though fraught with great injury to the nation, have served well the present business interests of certain industries and professions.

I.IV.2

It is idle to meddle with politics unless we clearly recognise this central fact and understand what these sectional interests are which are the enemies of national safety and the commonwealth. We must put aside the merely sentimental diagnosis which explains wars or other national blunders by outbursts of patriotic animosity or errors of statecraft. Doubtless at every outbreak of war not only the man in the street but the man at the helm is often duped by the cunning with which aggressive motives and greedy purposes dress themselves in defensive clothing. There is, it may be safely asserted, no war within memory, however nakedly aggressive it may seem to the dispassionate historian, which has not been presented to the people who were called upon to fight as a necessary defensive policy, in which the honour, perhaps the very existence, of the State was involved.

I.IV.3

The disastrous folly of these wars, the material and moral damage inflicted even on the victor, appear so plain to the disinterested spectator that he is apt to despair of any State attaining years of discretion, and inclines to regard these natural cataclysms as implying some ultimate irrationalism in politics. But careful analysis of the existing relations between business and politics shows that the aggressive Imperialism which we seek to understand is not in the main the product of blind passions of races or of the mixed folly and ambition of politicians. It is far more rational than at first sight appears. Irrational from the standpoint of the whole nation, it is rational enough from the standpoint of certain classes in the nation. A completely socialist State which kept good books and presented regular balance-sheets of expenditure and assets would soon discard Imperialism; an intelligent laissez-faire democracy which gave duly proportionate weight in its policy to all economic interests alike would do the same. But a State in which certain well-organised business interests are able to outweigh the weak, diffused interest of the community is bound to pursue a policy which accords with the pressure of the former interests.

I.IV.4

In order to explain Imperialism on this hypothesis we have to answer two questions. Do we find in Great Britain to-day any well-organised group of special commercial and social interests which stand to gain by aggressive Imperialism and the militarism it involves? If such a combination of interests exists, has it the power to work its will in the arena of politics?

I.IV.5

What is the direct economic outcome of Imperialism? A great expenditure of public money upon ships, guns, military and naval equipment and stores, growing and productive of enormous profits when a war, or an alarm of war, occurs; new public loans and important fluctuations in the home and foreign Bourses; more posts for soldiers and sailors and in the diplomatic and consular services; improvement of foreign investments by the substitution of the British flag for a foreign flag; acquisition of markets for certain classes of exports, and some protection and assistance for trades representing British houses in these manufactures; employment for engineers, missionaries, speculative miners, ranchers and other emigrants.

I.IV.6

Certain definite business and professional interests feeding upon imperialistic expenditure, or upon the results of that expenditure, are thus set up in opposition to the common good, and, instinctively feeling their way to one another, are found united in strong sympathy to support every new imperialist exploit.

How do they do it?

In view of the part which the non-economic factors of patriotism, adventure, military enterprise, political ambition, and philanthropy play in imperial expansion, it may appear that to impute to financiers so much power is to take a too narrowly economic view of history. And it is true that the motor-power of Imperialism is not chiefly financial: finance is rather the governor of the imperial engine, directing the energy and determining its work: it does not constitute the fuel of the engine, nor does it directly generate the power. Finance manipulates the patriotic forces which politicians, soldiers, philanthropists, and traders generate; the enthusiasm for expansion which issues from these sources, though strong and genuine, is irregular and blind; the financial interest has those qualities of concentration and clear-sighted calculation which are needed to set Imperialism to work. An ambitious statesman, a frontier soldier, an overzealous missionary, a pushing trader, may suggest or even initiate a step of imperial expansion, may assist in educating patriotic public opinion to the urgent need of some fresh advance, but the final determination rests with the financial power. The direct influence exercised by great financial houses in “high politics” is supported by the control which they exercise over the body of public opinion through the Press, which, in every “civilised” country, is becoming more and more their obedient instrument. While the specifically financial newspaper imposes “facts” and “opinions” on the business classes, the general body of the Press comes more and more under the conscious or unconscious domination of financiers. The case of the South African Press, whose agents and correspondents fanned the martial flames in this country, was one of open ownership on the part of South African financiers, and this policy of owning newspapers for the sake of manufacturing public opinion is common in the great European cities. In Berlin, Vienna, and Paris many of the influential newspapers are held by financial houses, which use them, not primarily to make direct profits out of them, but in order to put into the public mind beliefs and sentiments which will influence public policy and thus affect the money market. In Great Britain this policy has not gone so far, but the alliance with finance grows closer every year, either by financiers purchasing a controlling share of newspapers, or by newspaper proprietors being tempted into finance. Apart from the financial Press, and financial ownership of the general Press, the City notoriously exercises a subtle and abiding influence upon leading London newspapers, and through them upon the body of the provincial Press, while the entire dependence of the Press for its business profits upon its advertising columns involves a peculiar reluctance to oppose the organised financial classes with whom rests the control of so much advertising business. Add to this the natural sympathy with a sensational policy which a cheap Press always manifests, and it becomes evident that the Press is strongly biassed towards Imperialism, and lends itself with great facility to the suggestion of financial or political Imperialists who desire to work up patriotism for some new piece of expansion.

I.IV.40

Such is the array of distinctively economic forces making for Imperialism, a large loose group of trades and professions seeking profitable business and lucrative employment from the expansion of military and civil services, from the expenditure on military operations, the opening up of new tracts of territory and trade with the same, and the provision of new capital which these operations require, all these finding their central guiding and directing force in the power of the general financier.

I.IV.41

The play of these forces does not openly appear. They are essentially parasites upon patriotism, and they adapt themselves to its protecting colours. In the mouths of their representatives are noble phrase, expressive of their desire to extend the area of civilisation, to establish good government, promote Christianity, extirpate slavery, and elevate the lower races. Some of the business men who hold such language may entertain a genuine, though usually a vague, desire to accomplish these ends, but they are primarily engaged in business, and they are not unaware of the utility of the more unselfish forces in furthering their ends. Their true attitude of mind is expressed by Mr. Rhodes in his famous description of “Her Majesty’s Flag” as “the greatest commercial asset in the world.”*20

The entire book is available online.

http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Hobson/hbsnImp.html

It is deeply saddening to me how much of the great heritage of Liberal thought is now neglected. I do hope you will take a look and see just how little we have learnt in the ensuing 100 years.

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Biased Broadcasting Corporation

I am hopeful the public outcry caused by the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the joint appeal for Gaza, will open more eyes to the immense bias in the BBC’s News coverage.

As it has slipped off the front page, I think it is worth reproducing this from my blog for 6 January:

What is Really Happening

I watched BBC World News for a timed hour yesterday. In that time I saw:

Pro-Israeli (including US government) speakers – 17

Pro-Palestinian speakers – 2

Mentions of Hamas Rockets as reason for war – 37

Mentions of illegal Israeli settlements – 0

Mentions of Palestinians killed by Israel during “ceasefire” – 2

Mentions of Sderot – 12

Mentions Sderot used to be Palestinian – 0

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

The BBC took being banned from Gaza by the Israelis as the excuse to focus a wildly disproportionate attention on the Hamas threat to Israel. Their choice of Sderot as their base of operations was in itself a factor of bias – and their failure to say, even once, that Sderot was once Palestinian was inexcusable.

Now journalists can get into Gaza there has been nothing by the BBC that comes close to matching the searing explorations by Channel 4, ITN and yes, Sky News, on the atrocities that happened there.

I am particularly outraged by the pusillanimity of my Dundee University and Tashkent colleague Alan Johnston, on whose behalf in his kidnapping I had been attempting to exert what little influence I have to its utmost limit (to no avail, I fear). He appears to have exhausted all his compassion on himself.

But what is truly extraordinary is the way that New Labour careerists like Alexander and Bradshaw, who have come out to ask for the appeal to be broadcast, now that Bush has gone are so instantly re-orienting themselves slavishly to follow a slightly different direction.

Do not be fooled by New Labour; they have no core beliefs but in their own careers. Stand by for them to explain they were against extraordinary rendition all along. Do not believe an of our Ministers on anything. And should you get close to any of them, I believe personal violence may be justified in this instance.

Note added 26.01.09

If you have not complained to the BBC yet, you can do so at:

PHONE: 03700 100 222

TEXT: 03700 100 212

ONLINE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complaints_stage1.shtml

You can donate to the appeal that the BBC is denying a

broadcast here: https://www.donate.bt.com/bt_form_gaza.html

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Reasons to Believe

I have been firmly in the camp of Obama sceptics, viewing the adulation with distaste and seeing little substance in his famed rhetoric. But in just 48 hours I fnd myself warming very considerably to the man. The priority he has given to reversing the worst excesses of the Bush regime in the “War on Terror” has been extraordinary. All the indications are that it is genuine. He is not just closing Guantanamo as a blind under which to continue the torture and extraordinary rendition, but is closing down the whole system.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/23/secret-prisons-closure-obama-cia

I cannot tell you how much emotion I feel that the US will no longer be flying people to Uzbekistan, to be tortured and often buried there. I lost my livelihood trying to stop it.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/documents/Telegram.pdf

This “Intelligence cooperation” continued after the US withdrew from K2 airbase in 2005, though recently at a much lower level of intensity.

Obama seems genuinely to understand that the major thrust of preventing political violence must be not to give people genuine cause to hate you. But it must go further. Obama’s moves to restore legality are an acknowledgement that what went before was illegal. There must be full openness and investigation. America’s reputation will not be restored until all of those who unleashed systematic kidnapping, torture and murder round the world are brought to justice.

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Petition Gordon Brown Over Israeli War Crimes

Two important petitions to Gordon Brown are on the official government ‘Number 10’ website.

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to do everything in his power to impose an arms embargo on Israel in light of the recent Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip and to apply pressure on countries supplying Israel with arms that breach international agreements with the intention of restoring lasting peace to the region.”

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Arms-embargo/

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Introduce sanctions against Israel.

Israeli must be punished for its failure to adhere to the Geneva convention concerning the collective punishment of the citizens of Gaza. Israeli tactics are cruel, malicious and demonstrate that Israel is not interested in the peace process or a Palestinian State. They are creating the ideal breeding ground for extremism, sabotaging peace efforts and squandering the good will they have been given.”

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Israel-Sanctions/

Both of these petitions are entitled to an official government response. They are currently the third and fourth biggest open petitions on the site…

Petitions’ deadline is 27th January.

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British Academics Slam Israel

On the war:

“…Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Full letter and signatories…

On the humanitarian consequences:

“…casualty data are indicative of a military campaign being waged in an indiscriminate, disproportionate, and therefore under International Humanitarian Law, illegal fashion. Failure of the international community to ensure legal culpability would provide military forces around the world with a clear message that the Geneva Conventions can be discarded with impunity, as in Gaza today. If this happens, children and women will continue to pay heavily in future conflicts.”

University College London, CIHD

Update 22.01.09: British students are also taking action in at least eight Universities, adopting various protest tactics.

Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities

Students stage university protest

Oxford University

Birmingham University

Essex University

Kings College London

London School of Economics

SOAS

Sussex University

Warwick University

Update 25.01.09:

Cambridge University joins the protests

17+ Universities have now taken action

The Cambridge University Gaza solidarity blog can be read at: http://cambridgegazasolidarity.blogspot.com/

Update 29.01.09:

http://queenmaryoccupation.blogspot.com/

http://shuoccupation.blogspot.com/

Update 03.02.09:

Nottingham University has forcibly evicted students engaged in a sit-in. Security guards manhandled and apparently assaulted students last night to force an end to the protest. A video is available here

More details at: http://occupationnottingham.wordpress.com/

A blog with news on all the different university protests can be read at: http://occupations.org.uk/

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Lies, Damn Lies, White Phosphorus and Israel

“Israel military forces only use munitions that are acceptable under international law and international convention,” Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

22nd March 1995 – Israel signs the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

Protocol III, Article 2 states:

1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual

civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.

2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a

concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.

wpgaza.jpg

17 January 2009 – “… a number of white phosphorous shells struck the yard of an UNRWA school in Beit Lahia, causing panic among the 1,600 civilians who had taken refuge there. While evacuating the shelter, an explosive shell struck the third floor of the school, killing two brothers, aged five and seven, and injuring 14 others including the boys’ mother. UNRWA has demanded an independent investigation into this incident.”

“…Where you have a direct hit on an UNRWA school where about 1,600 people had taken refuge, where the Israeli army knows the coordinates and knows who’s there, where this comes as the latest in a catalogue of direct and indirect attacks on UNRWA facilities, there have to be investigations to establish whether war crimes have been committed.” – Christopher Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson” [UN OCHA]

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Help Wanted

Self-Publishing is very hard work. I reflected on this as I packed and labelled eighty individually ordered copies yesterday, lugged them to Shepherds Bush Post Office (approx 50kg!) and stood in line for 55 minutes to reach the counter at what I contend is the worst managed post office branch in the world. Today I was doing the same thing but ran out of books, which is something of a relief, albeit temporary.

I next have to start phoning up books section editors and persuading publications to review the book, then send out the review copies. That is for all the national and major regional press, political publications, international relations publications and Africa publications. Just finding the phone numbers will be a major task. I expect to spend most of next week on it.

(On Tuesday I am giving evidence to an Uzbek immigration asylum appeal, and on Thursday evening am speaking at the Oxford Union against Oliver Kamm and others, on the motion that “This House Believes that George Bush Has Made The World a Safer Place”. On Saturday I have a meeting in Copenhagen I’ll tell you more about later.)

But the biggest single task I have is getting the book into bookshops. As of today, to my knowledge not a single bookshop is selling it. The book is registered on the computer indexes that bookshops use for ordering, and I rather presumed that given all the publicity and the Mail on Sunday extracts, orders from bookshops would start to come in. But so far, nothing.

Again, this looks like it is going to have to be a question of somehow getting together a phone list and bashing the telephone. This is where help would be particularly welcome. If any readers know their local bookstores, I should be most grateful if you spoke to them and could suggest they stock The Catholic Orangemen. It should be available through their normal ordering method.

Any feedback you can give on the response, positive or negative, would be most welcome.

It could be that the association of the dread word “Schillings” with the book has scared off booksellers (who can also be sued). If the question is raised by the bookseller, it is worth refuting any question of a libel threat to the book. Catholic Orangemen is all over the web, the key bits were published by the Mail on Sunday, and it is happily being distributed by me and by Amazon. Nobody has heard anything from lawyers since a warning letter to Mainstream 18 months ago. Nobody has received any threat relating to libel since publication.

Similar conversations with libraries would also be helpful.

I have incidentally started the extraordinarily long-winded procedure used by Waterstones to qualify as a publisher for the book to be accepted in their branches.

I feel rather guilty; bloggers aren’t really supposed to keep urging their readers to do things for them!

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3rd National Demonstration For Gaza (updated 23.01.09)

DEMONSTRATE FOR GAZA: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY

END THE BLOCKADE: STOP ALL ARMS SALES

BRING THE WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

Assemble 2.00pm BBC Broadcasting House for rally

Portland Place, London W1A 1AA

Nearest tubes: Great Portland Street or Regents park.

March starts at 3.00 pm. Ends with rally in Trafalgar Square

4.30 pm.

MARCH ROUTE:

Assemble and rally Portland Place, March to Regent Street,

Piccadilly, Lower Regent Street, Trafalgar Square,

Northumberland Avenue, Embankment, Parliament, Downing Street,

Trafalgar Square (End rally)

For details and updates: http://www.stopwar.org.uk

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Heathrow Bollocks

Geoff Hoon has just informed the Commons that a third runway at Heathrow is essential to Britain’s economic prospects.

I have never understood why it is essential to our economy that a gentleman flying indirect from, say, Dubai to Phoenix, should change his plane in Heathrow rather than Paris. It is that kind of transit traffic which accounts for over 90% of the additional capacity BAA is seeking.

If more people do that, we will get some more landing fees; the passenger might buy a cup of coffee in the airport. But these gains are outweighed by the costs in air and noise pollution. Our slender chances of meeting climate change targets will be greatly dented.

Hoon suggested that the extra aviation emissions could be offset by increased use of electric cars. He could have rephrased that by saying that any gains from increased use of electric cars would be lost by increased aircraft emissions.

We are used to New Labour being completely in the pocket of private business interests. But the doublespeak about how a third runway is environmentally friendly makes me puke.

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Lest We Forget

With the media pumping out Israeli propaganda about the clinical accuracy of their weapons, today the Israelis have hit the UN aid distribution centre and a Gaza hospital. The UN Secretary General has expressed “outrage”. The UN report that their compound was bombed with phosphorous shells – which the Israels still deny using as part of their “Big Lie” propaganda blitz.

Then, as one of many such incidents every day, this is in the Independent:

At least three Palestinians in Gaza were shot dead yesterday after Israeli soldiers fired on a group of residents leaving their homes on orders from the military and waving white flags, according to testimony taken by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/gaza-residents-waving-white-flags-shot-dead-as-they-flee-their-homes-14138998.html

Naturally, the Israelis are denying it.

We must not let compassion fatigue set in as these terrible atrocities by the Israeli military unfold. The essential fact is that at least 450 of the dead are women and children.

Stand by for one of those obnoxious Israeli spokesman telling us Hamas were firing from the UN compound.

STOP PRESS

UN Refugee Agency Head of Mission John Ging in Gaza

“It looks like phosphorous, it smells like phosphorous and its acting like phosphorous”.

“We were continually in contact with the Israelis throughout the night telling them their shelling was coming too close. The artillery was pounding and pasting this area all night. We have been warning them all night that it was not appropriate to use shells in a built up area. We had seven hundred people in the compound seeking refuge.”

“People are being killed here hour by hour and the extent of damage and destruction is frightening”.

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Catholic Orangemen Update

In September 2007 Schillings got my website closed down by my hosting company. They threatened them with legal action on behalf of convicted blackmailer and racketeer Alisher Usmanov, who is still attempting to complete his takeover of Arsenal FC.

Then in 2008 Schillings succeeded in getting my book publication cancelled on behalf of notorious mercenary Tim Spicer, by threatening my publisher.

Not only have Schillings never taken me to court, they have never even communicated with me. They don’t want a fight with someone with a spine.

Well, having released The Catholic Orangemen free online 48 hours ago, in the last twelve hours, the number of hits on a google search for the exact phrase “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo” has gone up from 1,810 to 2,390. There are now several hundred places you can download it

Schillings did try to excise the truth about Usmanov from the web internationally. Mostly they received a pretty robust response from bloggers. Here is a good example:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2007/09/they-get-spam.html

For now, the reptiles are quiet. Maybe they are too busy with their new contract to protect Derek Draper’s rubbish New Labour blog. They do represent the most appalling people. But then I don’t suppose nice people need them. In fact, I don’t suppose nice people would want to be in a room with anyone from Schillings.

It seems I was wrong in crediting Ten Percent with the first review of Catholic Orangemen. Babak Fakhamzadeh got there first. It is a full review and benefits from his knowing some of the people and places in the book.

http://babakfakhamzadeh.com/site/index.php?c=2&i=3913

Here is an excerpt:

I couldn’t find the book as important as Murder in Samarkand, but it’s an entertaining read, focussing on Murray’s time, mostly working as the British High Commissioner to Ghana, roughly from 1998 to 2001, which was publicly characterized by the Arms to Africa affair.

Part of the critique on Murray’s earlier book was the intertwining of spilling political beans with spilling private beans, mostly involving Murray’s sexual escapades. Possibly to poke fun at his critics, it’s his relationship issues he starts the first few paragraphs of this book with.

The book works for Murray’s candid approach both to himself and his experiences. Clearly, what he went through both in Ghana and, more importantly, Uzbekistan, and the emotional breakdown which followed, resulted in him getting to know himself to the fullest. And The Catholic Orangemen…, as a biography or memoir works because Murray is not full of himself. He’s aware of this, touching upon it in the preface, where he points out that contrary to typical biographies, Murder in Samarkand showed the author, warts and all, as opposed to presenting a near perfect image of himself, which autobiographies and memoirs often end up doing.

As far as revelations go, this book’s not nearly as impressive as its predecessor. It’s the small details which make it juicy. Descriptions of warlords, national leaders, politics behind politics and whatnot.

But also, Murray has clearly become a better writer since his previous book, using his tongue-in-cheek style with gusto.

I very much doubt that the mainstream media will come up with anything more perceptive – and if you read his full review he is right on all points about Adrienne, too.

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UK Libel Laws Busted

We have comprehensively blown wide apart the UK’s infamously repressive libel laws. Up until now, these have routinely been used not to prevent untruth, but to hide truth on behalf of the ultra-rich. In so doing they have spawned a whole universe of massively wealthy lawyers devoid of any moral values, dedicated only to the service and pursuit of money.

The leeches at Schillings appeared to have scored a routine victory on behalf of their client, notorious mercenary commander Tim Spicer, who has made a fortune from the war in Iraq. They threatened my publisher, Mainstream, with highly expensive legal action and Mainstream dropped my book.

Only ten years ago that would have been it – it would have been extraordinarily difficult to find a way to get the truth out to a wide public. Schillings, Spicer and the British legal system are still living in the 20th Century when English libel laws could effectiively give untold opportunity for repression.

But we are living now, so we put it free online, and published some copies privately. After just two days, a Google search on the precise phrase “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo” brings up 1,810 hits. A great many of these lead to a free download of the book. 23,000 copies of Murder in Samarkand have been sold so far, and most of those have been read by more than one person. But readership of The Catholic Orangemen looks likely to overtake in two weeks the readership that Murder in Samarkand achieved in two years.

So well done Schillings! The greatest publicist I could have!

Now what of Tim Spicer? Having put the very expensive Schillings on to me, he has either discovered a new commitment to free speech, or he was bluffing. No injunctions have appeared at my home in Sinclair Gardens. So now Spicer has either to sue, or stand revealed to the World as a man who tried to bully the truth out of print.

He will not sue, no matter how much I goad him. Not even if I show him some of my own legal advice:

There is no doubt that Craig is telling the truth. I do not say this because

on any question of fact I would believe Craig over Spicer, though that is the

case. The simple fact is that Craig can corroborate his story whilst Spicer

can’t. Spicer has no witnesses who were present at his meeting with Craig and

who can confirm what he says. Craig has a witness in the person of another

Foreign Office official who not only participated in the meeting but who

actually took notes during the meeting and who Craig says was the one who

actually produced the text of the UN Resolution so that it could be read out to

Spicer. Following the meeting Craig informed his Foreign Office superiors

about his concerns about Spicer. A whole series of meetings and discussions

about the Sierra Leone situation then followed lasting many months over the

course of which Craig abundantly and exhaustively documented his views about

Sierra Leone and the conflict there. These are the diametric opposite of those

that Spicer says Craig expressed during the meeting between Spicer and Craig.

The Foreign Office obviously believes Craig over Spicer because, instead of

disciplining Craig, which it surely would have done if Craig had contrary to

official policy first given Spicer the green light to sell arms illegally to

Sierra Leone in breach of a UN embargo and then lied about it, it instead

appointed Craig to a senior diplomatic post in Accra where he was given the

important job of brokering a peace agreement to end the Sierra Leone conflict.

Since the comments Craig makes about Spicer are true I would have thought it

most unlikely that Spicer would risk bringing a libel action against Craig.

This is not just because in a situation where Craig can corroborate what he

says whilst Spicer can’t the odds overwhelmingly point to Craig winning. It is

because of the serious consequences for Spicer if he were to bring such a case

and lost. These would go far beyond damage to reputation and financial loss.

If a Court were to find that Craig had not libelled Spicer because Craig was

telling the truth, Spicer could find himself once again facing criminal charges

for illegal arms trading. His defence (that the the Foreign Office in the

person of Craig had given him the green light) would be shot to pieces since it

would already have been discredited in advance by the libel Court. The CPS

would be looking at an open goal and this time it might be difficult to do what

was done back in 1998 and simply close the prosecution down. Simply by

bringing the libel action Spicer would have given the whole matter further

publicity whilst by discrediting his own defence Spicer would deprive the CPS

of its main grounds for not bringing a prosecution. There would even be a risk

(not great but by no means negligible) that the trial judge might even

recommend to the DPP that a prosecution be brought against Spicer in which case

calls for such a prosecution would probably be irresistable.

As for Craig’s other comments about Spicer, it is a matter of public knowledge

that Spicer is a mercenary even if that is not the word he uses to describe

himself. Craig is very careful not to make his allegations about Spicer’s

activities as a mercenary too specific, so I personally can see no grounds for

a libel action there. It is again a matter of public record that Spicer (along

with lots of other mercenaries) has been involved in and made a great deal of

money from the war in Iraq. Craig makes a frankly gratuitous comment about

Spicer’s facial appearance, but this is scarcely grounds for a libel action

.

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Boring, Boring, Boring

Oh dear. it was bound to come sooner or later. As soon as anybody sticks their head above the parapet to criticise Israel, an attempt is made to slur them as an anti-semite. I now have the notorious Zionist propagandist Jonathan Hoffman on my case.

Hoffman is the Zionists’ equivalent of the Witchfinder-General. In July 2008 he produced a report on “Anti-Semitism on The Guardian Comment is Free”, in which his definition of anti-semites included “Those who question the Zionist aim of a Jewish Homeland”.

http://www.zionismontheweb.org/CommentIsFree_ParliamentASCttee_July08.pdf

This blatant conflation of anti-Zionists with anti-Semites is typical of his methodology. It does not wash. There are a significant minority of anti-Zionist Jews, for one thing. My personal view is that all those now living in Israel and Palestine should be allowed to stay there, in a new secular and race-blind state. I do reject the state of Israel with its racially defined citizenship qualification. That is not an unusual position – Germany was only recently obliged by the EU to abandon citizenship laws based on race.

In 2004 Jonathan Hoffman made this laughable contribution as a submission in the consultation exercise on the BBC Charter:

I want to comment on the BBC’s persistent anti-Israel bias. They have

appointed Malcolm Balen as overall editor of programmes with a Mid-East

content but it has made no difference

.

www.bbccharterreview.org.uk/first_phase_responses/H/Hoffman_Jonathan.rtf

It is, incidentally, interesting that he appears to have the impression that the appointment of Malcolm Balen was supposed to help Israel. Anyone know anything about Mr Balen?

It is worth comparing Hoffman’s complaint about the BBC to the comment by OrwellianUK after the blog entry before this.

Anyway, Hoffman is now onto my case. I have just had the following email exchange with him:

Dear Mr Murray

Are you content that your site is being used to propagate anti-Semitism? :

I am a newcomer to your site. I found it because rense.com linked to your

recent colourfully titled piece on Gordon Brown (though they applied

asterisks where you did not).

I am delighted to find a former member of the British Establishment who holds

the views that you do and also that you clearly take an active interest in the comments left by your readers.

If you feel so inclined, I would be grateful if you might consider giving

your opinion on an issue regarding Israel that troubles me often: why is it that the European nations’ response to Israeli atrocities is so feeble and

half-hearted when, if it were a Muslim country doing the same thing, they would be down on it like a ton of bricks? Is it because, as respected Israeli historian and military adviser Martin van Creveld has revealed, a sizeable proportion of Israel’s nuclear weapons is trained on Europe? Is it because so much of the Western financial system and media is controlled by Zionists? Is it because the Mossad has penetrated the higher echelons of the European political Establishment?

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan,

There are many comments on my site that I do not agree with, not only the anti-Jewish ones. There are some very rude comments about me, for example, some completely untrue. There are currently people defending the use of the word “Paki”. I disagree with them too. There have been a number of offensively worded pro-Israel comments, and I have not deleted them. But I tend to the view that freedom of speech is most important, so I almost never delete anything from comments. My own views are the bits of the blog which I have written.

I have only ever deleted, I believe, 36 comments from my site in four years; 2 because they were about children of politicians, and 34 for being anti-semitic. This post from five days ago explained my position:

I have not deleted a single pro-Israeli comment from discussion on these pages, though I disagree profoundly with many. I have deleted three anti-Jewish comments. I should make it plain that I am in profound disagreement with those commenters who conflate Israel with Jews in general. We have had commenters excusing anti-Jewish comments on the grounds Jews are not a race, and positing claims of a world conspiracy of Jews and freemasons. I have only deleted three of these, because in general I believe the suppression of any opinion to be an evil which requires major justification. I find it hard to define the exact line which leads to deletion.

The great John Stuart Mill said it was legitimate to express the opinion that all corn merchants are thieves of the people’s bread; but it was not legitimate to shout the same thing to a howling mob at night carrying torches outside a corn merchant’s house. He was, as ever, right.

So almost any opinion can be expressed here. But I would be grateful if those people who have a serious grudge against Jews in general, would go and express their views on their own websites.

UPDATE

Michael has overstepped the mark by a posting about “Jews with their Satanic Smirks” and then introducing the Protocols of Zion. All of his 31 comments have therefore been deleted.”

In addition I have added numerous comments in dialogue with commenters to the effect that one should not confuse anger at the killings by Israel, with racism against Jews in general.

It is an extraordinary and terribly sad and bad thing that anti-semitism still exists. It is to me genuinely incomprehensible.

But sadly any discussion forum on Israel attracts two kinds of malevolent people.

The first kind are anti-semites.

The second are those who seek to portray as anti-semites anyone who opposes Israel’s appalling actions in Gaza. I rather fear you may be one of that kind of malevolent people, Jonathan.

I have given a fair and full answer to your question. Let me now ask you, are you content with the murder by Israel of so many women, children and old people in Gaza?

Craig Murray

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The Catholic Orangemen – First Review

I think this is the first review of The Catholic Orangemen, from Ten Percent. If the reception is generally like this, I shall be pretty happy:

I enjoyed it immensely, found myself at page 100 before I knew what hit me, a testament to fascinating subject matter and an easy friendly style. It’s fascinating to learn more of how our embassies work (or don’t, it also works as a companion to le Carre’s recent books in providing more background detail to the machinations of power) and the reality of New Labour politicians (Amos!) and their far too close relationship with business all the while slickly marketing themselves as great states-people. His account of Africa and our role in it is useful and pragmatic although like me I’m sure there will be differences of opinion here and there. But as with Murder in Samarkand it is a forthright account of a man who we can recognise, with faults and weaknesses but a core determination to do his best, his pesky loyalty to democracy and human rights is the thing that tellingly makes him different from the establishment. Careerism, party/class loyalty, greed, tradition seem to have trumped all other considerations in many of the well known names who crop up. For example it’s interesting that the ‘ethical foreign policy’ that Robin Cook tried to implement was steadfastly opposed by Blair in No. 10 from the outset. And the passages where Craig, in Sierra Leone peace talks, realises he is the only one in the room who has never killed anybody, show the difficulty but necessity of peace negotiations.

http://tenpercent.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/free-book-craig-murrays-the-catholic-orangemen-of-togo/

I also extracted this from the comments:

Terrific read from start to finish. Before the end of the third paragraph I was forced to eagerly cancel any and all plans which would interfere with my finishing the book.

“It was possibly the worst thing I had ever done, and my conscience was bothering me. As my wife Fiona was nudging our overloaded Saab 9.3 around a Polish lake, through fog so dense it looked like solid mass, I felt uneasy. Mariola had been perhaps the nicest, kindest, gentlest mistress I ever had. Her red curls framed a face of pre-Raphaelite perfection, her lithe but well curved body was the incarnation of allure, and more precious still, her soul was deep, gentle and romantic. She was also discreet, reliable, faithful and inexpensive. Yet I was running away, leaving the country without even saying goodbye. Worse, without even telling her I was going. I hadn’t been able to face it. I just left. What a bastard I was. I reached up to the steering wheel and squeezed my wife’s hand for comfort.

What I was doing to Mariola was really, really bad. Even worse than sleeping with both her sisters. I wondered if they would tell her.

I had hugely enjoyed my time in Poland as First Secretary at the British Embassy.”

From there on it gets even more interesting!

Johan van Rooyen

It is genuinely nervewracking offering up something that was so much work, and is rather unconventional, and not knowing what the reaction will be.

If people could add reviews on Amazon that would be helpful. It might also be good if someone was able to update wikipedia with some of the information from the book – notably Tim Spicer’s carefully presented entry.

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The Doctrine of Greater Eligibility

We were taught at school to detest the early 19th century reformer Owen Chadwick and his “Doctrine of lesser eligibility”. What this meant was that it should be less eligible – desirable – to be on benefit than off it. Chadwick’s plans led to the cruelties of the workhouse system – though cruelty was not Chadwick’s intention.

Nadira and I have to move from our small Shepherds Bush flat, with a baby on the way and my children often visiting. I don’t want to buy in a still falling market, so I was looking to rent again. More space means moving further out, so we were looking at a nice house at Ealing Common.

The house had three bedrooms and was for rent at £2,300 per month. The rental market is also falling – not plummeting like the purchase market, but floating gently downwards. So we offered £2,100 and agreement seemed very close.

Then Ealing Council stepped in and offered the owner £2,700 per month to take it for social housing.

Obviously I admit to some personal frustration, but it is plain in this case (and I don’t know how many houses Ealing Council are taking) that the government intervention is radically distorting the market, to the detriment of private renters.

Chadwick’s doctrine of lesser eligibility was abused to harrass the poor. But we have an opposite doctrine at work here. If you are on state benefits you can get a level of housing that self-reliant working people are priced out of. That seems wrong too.

I await the howls of left wing rage!

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