Daily archives: March 31, 2009

Great News From Dundee

One of the most venial administrations in the UK’s many rotten boroughs was finally kicked out yesterday as New Labour lost power in Dundee City Council for the first time in my political lifetime.

It was Gordon Brown what done it. The day after Gordon’s speech to the Scottish New Labour Conference in Dundee earlier this month, New Labour lost a key by-election there to the SNP. Even then they had to be prised out kicking and screaming. For the last three years the SNP has been the largest party but kept out of power by a New Labour/Lib Dem alliance, with Tory voting support. Which illustrates perfectly the fact that the only actual choice in Scottish politics is between nationalists and unionists.

Manouverings to keep New Labour in power now included the offer of an OBE to John Letford, Lord Provost. I know John Letford, who is a good man from a trade union background. A Labour Party man his entire adult life, he has been so disgusted by the sordid dealings of Scottish New Labour in attempting to cling on to power that he has resigned from the party and offered his voting support to the SNP.

I won’t now go into the detail of the massively corrupt demolition and construction contracts, or the jerry built huge shopping centre and hotel that lasted fifteen years. Let us just be grateful we got them out at last, and make sure they don’t get back.

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Why Was Alisher Usmanov Jailed?

I keep being asked this, so I thought I would set the record straight. Arsenal’s main shareholder Alisher Usmanov was jailed in Soviet times for blackmail. He and a colleague in the KGB attempted to blackmail another KGB officer. The KGB officer they tried to blackmail was Jewish and they seem to have felt that would make it easier to isolate him and his “roof”, or network of protective interests, would be weak. They miscalculated badly. Many believe that Usmanov was involved generally in extortion and overreached himself in this one case.

Contrary to assertions made by Usmanov’s lawyers Schillings, liars for the wealthy, Usmanov was not any kind of political prisoner. He was convicted as a straightforward criminal. He was later pardoned by Uzbek dictator President Karimov of Uzbekistan – not by Gorbachev, another Schillings lie.

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Giving Evidence to Parliament

As I prepare for my evidence session before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on 28 April, I was looking back for the evidence I gave to the European Parliament on extraordinary rendition. Unfortunately it seems that no transcript was made of the committee questioning me (unless anyone who knows the system there better than I can come up with one) but rather a kind of precis made of my evidence as a “working document”.


It also helpfully published the supporting documentation I gave.

What still surprises me is that, after I gave my evidence, I was mobbed by media, gave numerous television interviews, and was headline news all over Europe. Except in the UK where there was no mention of it at all. I was pondering this over the weekend as I read a very large number of commentary pieces, in every serious newspaper, on the apparent complicity in torture and what enquiries into it may find.

I have been answering the question of the moment – was there a policy of torture – for the last five years, with eye-witness testimony backed up with documentary proof. Yet I appear not to exist to the media. Will my testimony to the JCHR also be simply ignored?

At least this time I am going to get to give evidence. This was the response when I tried to give evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in 2006:

Dear Mr Murray, The Committee considered your e-mail at its meeting yesterday, 15 March. As you requested, it was made available to all members. The Committee decided not to receive the communication as evidence. Steve Priestley Clerk of FAC


It is, I think, worth thinking about this again


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