Monthly archives: May 2009

Calling Government To Account For Complicity In Torture

There is a very good article in the Independent by Simon Reid-Henry about the urgent need to call the government to account for its complicity in torture – something parliament seems not to care about at all.

Even without a judicial inquiry, therefore, perhaps there is at least one lesson to be learned from all this: that we must unpick ourselves from the dangerous tangle of national security and state secretiveness. As worrying as the prospect of British complicity in torture is, more worrying still is the apparent capacity of our government to keep brushing such claims of complicity aside


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Jim Devine MP is a Criminal

There is overwhelming evidence that New Labour’s Jim Devine MP is a criminal who has produced faked receipts for almost five thousand pounds.

The Herald has been doing an excellent job of digging in to Devine’s expenses. Last week they uncovered a “receipt” he submitted for 2157 pounds for rewiring. The company name, address, postcode and VAT number all proved bogus.

It could have been that Devine did pay for the work, and was given a fake receipt. But that seems less likely given this week’s revelation. Devine claimed 2326 pounds for 60 metres of shelving at his constituency office in Blackburn, West Lothian. (The same town has “Hairy Angel” Susan Boyle, and a criminal for an MP.)

Just think how much 200 feet of shelving is. A huge amount. About 2,000 books worth. But the Herald says that there is no shelving at the constituency office. What is more, the receipt is issued by the landlord of the local pub.

The electrician with the false name, address and VAT registration cannot be produced because, unfortunately, Devine says he has died. I do hope the pub landlord does not have a keg fall on him in the cellar.

Amazingly, there is not any police investigation into Devine.

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Cameron’s Open Primaries Will Entrench Our Corrupt Parties

Constitutional reform is in the air, and our corrupt political parties are trying to point the debate in directions which will entrench and enrich themselves still further.

James Purnell’s plea for the taxpayer to fund the parties should be rejected out of hand. So too should David Cameron’s call for “Open Primaries”.

Cameron does not mean open primaries. They would not be “Open” at all. I could not say that I consider myself a Conservative and stick my name down on the ballot paper. No, we would be presented with a carefully vetted shortlist of unpleasant party hacks determined by the party. They would then be able to shove yet more propaganda at us, and at great public expense the taxpayer would foot the bill for an election between them.

The result would be yet more attention for preening party politicians, and a still greater electoral advantage of exposure for them over independents and small parties. Or is the state going to run primaries for all the parties, including UKIP, Greens, BNP, Libertas etc etc?

The American system manages to produce even lower levels of voter turnout, even less range of political opinion, and even more dominance for corrupt party machines, than our own. I can see why the Tories would want to promote the model. The voters should tell them to get stuffed.

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Electoral Fraud Alert

The latest crop of opinion polls are nothing short of disastrous for New Labour, just ahead of the European elections. I don’t think I have linked before to UK Polling Report, which is an excellent site.

Postal balloting has already started. This has been thve vehicle for massive fraud in recent elections, after New Labour deliberately brought in a system wide open to vote harvesting amongst patriarchal immigrant communities where they have firm support. All parties have abused the system, but New Labour on a much vaster scale.

As an independent candidate I witnessed Jack Straw’s electoral fraud in Blackburn in 2005, where a monumental 29% of all votes were cast by postal ballot.

A key element of New Labour’s postal ballot fraud operation is that, by law, the postal ballots are mixed in with other ballots, out of view of the candidates and their agents, before the ballots are counted. That renders the fraud unprovable.

I have tried very hard to think of any valid reason for this provision of mixing in the postal ballots before counting, and other than facilitating fraud, no other reason occurs to me. I am quite simply stunned that we allow this fraud to happen.

An official who was present when the postal ballots were opened in Blackburn told me privately that they had the impression that 90% went to Jack Straw. Several of my canvassers had personally witnessed New Labour enforcers collecting up ssheaves of postal ballots door to door and taking them to local council community centres where New Labour were collating them. Whether the ballots were filled in before New Labour collected them, I know not.

New “safeguards” introduced since. chiefly regarding signatures, will make no difference at all in a situation where, rather than posting it yourself, you are intimidated into handing over your ballot unsealed to a New Labour man.

Lord Patel got his nose into the House of Peers’ trough solely for enforcing the New Labour vote among the Muslim community of Blackburn. I expect that is basically what the thief Baroness Udders was ennobled for, too.

The ennoblements in fact only symbolise an entire system whereby Muslim communities in the UK are kept dependent upon great streams of public money. Lord Patel’s own companies have benefited from a bewildering variety of government and EU grants and subsidies. Blackburn is soaked in EU regional funds and urban regeneration grants. It bristles with community centres, cultural organisations and community workers. The council is the biggest employer. I could go on and on.

Charles Moore is a fool. He is yet another Conservative who accepts the inane rubbish of Melanie Phillips and Michael Gove as expertise on British Muslims, who they never meet. (I was friends with Charles’ mum and dad, Richard and Anne, so I am really sorry the had an idiot).

It is in fact completely untrue that the Muslim Council of Britain supports attacks on British soldiers, as Moore claimed. The real disgrace is that, in return for vast flows of public funds and extremely lax visa regimes for relatives, orchestrated by Lord Ahmed, Lord Patel, Baroness Udders and others, British Muslims turned their backs on their co-religionists in Iraq and kept supporting New Labour for cash.

If their religion is true, they are nearly all going to Hell.

In a 2005 general election which New Labour would probably have won without fraud, all this did not seem to worry too many people very much. As the New Labour vote dwindles radically, these great batches of postal votes are going to stick out like a sore thumb.

The Returning Officer in Blackburn refused to show me the actual law he claimed said that postal ballots must be mixed in before counting, but I understand it still happens in all elections. It may be worth taking this to the European Court of Human Rights, in relation to the conduct of the European Elections, as a provision which plainly encourages electoral fraud in the UK and thus affects the balance of the entire European Parliament,

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The Arrogance of James Purnell

James Purnell has decided that the answer to the problems of our political system is for the taxpayer to give out yet more money to politicians, by increased state funding of political parties.

The comments section reflects the predictable, and quite justified, outrage over the public at the sight of a politician planning to siphon off yet mote of their taxes to his own advantage. Purnell’s ludicrous suggestion is a sign of how completely New Labour are out of touch with the mood of the electorate.

But his proposal is much more dangerous than the sums of money involved. The parties assume they have a god given right to be entrenched in our constitution. They act as though the political parties embody democracy. In fact the parties, with their spin, vicious leadership structures and whipping to stifle thought and debate, are the enemy of emocracy. Why should the people fund them, and further disadvantage independent candidates and emergent parties and groupings?

One solution to the financial problems of political parties is to ban national advertising during election campaigns.

The current system is farcically unfair. As an independent candidate at the last general election, I was severely constrained in the amount of money I was allowed to spend by law on campaigning. Yet all around the constituency, vast billboards carried New Labour posters. That did not break Jack Straw’s spending limit, because it was national not constituency advertising. But I was not allowed to do anything to match it.

I am not convinced that the ever larger budgets of the major parties at elections do anything to enhance our democracy. Certainly let them campaign, hold meetings and press conferences, get all the media coverage they can. Let them raise money and fund it themselves. But paid national advertising should be banned. Local meetings, leaflets, canvassers and the electoral address should become principal sources of information about candidates again. The internet is relatively inexpensive.

I have no difficulty with trade union members paying a levy to New Labour, providing they choose to opt in to it. But I can think of no reason why any trade union member would think it was in their interest to fund people like James Purnell.

There should be a cap on the size of individual donations to parties – perhaps twenty thousand pounds might be reasonable.

The answer to the funding problems of political parties, is for the party organisations to become much smaller, less powerful, employ far far fewer amoral besuited spin doctors, spend less on advertising and go back to being highly dependent on voluntary workers.

Now that’s real democracy.

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Those Mythical Right Libertarians

I had a go last week at so-called libertarian bloggers who are really just neo-cons. It led to some interesting debate on this and other sites, with a general view that I was being too harsh. I would say that I was not claiming that every blogger who calls himself a libertatian is just a neo-con.

But most of them are.

I am impressed by the work of The Political Compass. Their system of classification seems to identify differences in political belief that do relate to important divisions in practical political life. Their system is intuitively easy to grasp, which is a good sign of relevance.


What follows is my own result. I am delighted to say that on this measure I am even more saintly than Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. That is using the word saintliness in its true meaning, which is diagonal opposition to George W Bush.

Your political compass

Economic Left/Right: -5.38

Authoritarian/Libertarian -6.21hereistand.png

The fascinating thing about the work of The Political Compass is their identification of the very narrow area of political ground occupied by current world leaders, and the fact, surely true, that Gordon Brown is grouped there with the other right wing authoritarians.

The other fascinating thing is that none of the leaders measured falls into the bottom right hand segment. I would contend that this is because right wing libertarians, though a theoretical possibility, do not actually exist in any significant number.

I think the reasons probably come down to the psychological motivation of most right wingers; they are just really nasty people. Right wingers tend to be psychologically incapable of not wishing power over others in what they view as the lifelong struggle for personal economic advantage.

Paul Staines is a good example. Paul and Charles Crawford are two of the better known alleged right wing libertarian bloggers who in fact, should they answer the questions honestly, would fall in the George Bush quadrant.

Blogwars aside, the truth is that the majority of professional politicians fall in the right wing authoritarian quadrant, yet those who command the most universal respect fall in the left wing libertarian quadrant. That is a primary cause of the public dissatisfaction with the dysfunctionality of our political systems.

We have politicains who are more intersted in wielding power than in helping people.

That is a function of the mechanics of our political systems, controlled by party machines, where competitiveness, and ruthlessness allied to conformity and subordination to the leadership as you work your way up, are the qualities which enable the scum to float to the top.

So right wing libertarians are rare beasts. I am, however, glad for those who do exist. The state’s numerous attacks on civil liberties and the increasing pervasiveness of the controlling, surveillance, database state has become the most acute problem in our politics. Western states have been shooting towards authoritarianism at an alarming rate.

The authoritarian/libertarian axis is currently the most important dividing line in modern politics.

Let me know where you stand:

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A New Constitution

Constitutional Reform is in the air. I thought I might set out what I would wish to see. I could write a book – indeed I have been thinking about doing so – detailing the reasoning behind my prescriptions, but I thought that at the very least this should provoke some thought:

Independence for England, Scotland and Wales.

A United Ireland.

Each of them Republics.

Written constitution.

Bill of Rights.

International law automatically incorporated in domestic law.

Fixed term four year parliaments in the lower chamber.

100% elected upper chamber, one third elected every two years.

All elections by single tranferable vote.

Elected President for 7 years with ceremonial role.

Prime Minister chosen from lower chamber.

Powerful parliamentary committees which can compel witnesses and evidence.

Local Income Tax.

Minimum 80% of all local government spending to be be locally funded – 100% in wealthier regions.

Local government to decide local law on social issues (in conformity with equality provisions of national Bill of Rights) – eg alcohol and enternainments licensing laws, legality of drugs, euthanasia, prostitution.

No public money for any political party (ie no special advisers, subsidies etc).

Now I doubt there is anyone else who agrees with the entire prescription…

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Milliband Prepares to Stab Brown

Globalisation really has made the world a small place. I am currently in Africa, and last night was speaking with an African minister well connected to a group of New Labour’s senior black activists. He told me that David Milliband has been talking with his brother, two other cabinet ministers and Alan Johnson about how to ditch Brown if New Labour come fourth in the European Elections, behind the Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP.

There is a view now inside New Labour that coming fourth is a very real possibility, and would trigger mass panic among MPs and possibly a spiral downwards to electoral annihilation next year. They fear the Lib Dems traditionally poor performance in Euro elections will be outweighed by a failure of the New Labour core vote to turn out. There are also tensions over the Hazel Blears strategy of trying to motivate the core vote by talking up the BNP threat, with many in the black community feeling this was counter-productive in giving the BNP extra publicity.

Obviously there is an element of Chinese whispers here, but I have no doubt that his account is broadly true and does reflect what it now feels like to be inside as New Labour implodes – as witness the appalling revelation that 52 New Labour MPs have formally requested to be appointed for life to the disgusting croneyism that is the House of Lords.

I wonder if Uzbek government spokesman Andrew Dismore MP is one? No way he’ll hold Hendon, thank God.

Good article on New Labour’s rush for the Lords by Andrew Kettle. Comments are even better.

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North Korea – Trident A Complete Irrelevance in a Genuine Nuclear Standoff

The situation developing on the Korean Peninsula is close to the fulfilment of the nightmare scenario. A genuinely crazed regime, controlling a serf population, is on the verge of acquiring viable weapons of mass destruction.

It must be stressed that North Korea is not there yet. It is one thing to create a static nuclear explosion. It is quite another to miniaturise the mechanisms down to warhead size, with a viable trigger and reliable delivery system. It is understood North Korea has enough material for about five warheads. Its missiles are erratic. It has no missile ready mechanism.

How to deal with North Korea is an extremely difficult question. It has a regime which is completely despicable. Wishing it would behave well is pointless. Evidently the attitude of China – which appears still to see the continuance of the regime as preferable to the consequences of its collapse – will be crucial. There is no good solution. I am sorry to say that I tend to the view that least evil may have been done if we had not offered palliative aid to save North Koreans from the consequences of a disastrous form of communism.

Put harshly, if we had let large numbers of North Koreans starve to death, at some stage – and I realise a very late stage – the remnant would realise the regime wasn’t doing such a good job after all and string the Dear Leader up. That would have been horrible, but less horrible than the possibility of a war with nuclear elements which could engulf the whole peninsula and have the potential to become at least a US/China proxy conflict.

But I want this morning to concentrate on just one aspect of the problem in relationship to what the UK can do. That is to point out that the Trident missile system, for which New Labour are committed to buying an incredibly expensive replacement, thus smashing the Non-Proliferation Treaties – is absolutely no use whatsoever.

A casual observer dropping in from Mars would look at the UK’s massive nuclear arsenal, compared to the size of the country and its economic problems, would look at New Labour plans to replace our nuclear arsenal with something still more massive, and conclude that Gordon Brown was much more of a crazed militaristic nutter than the Dear Leader. And perhaps the martian might have a point.

Those who argue for Trident 2 no longer make a public case that we need to be able to obliterate Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. They tend rather to emphasise that we need to be able to deter rogue states which acquire nuclear weapons.

But now we actually do have the hawks’ favourite scenario playing out before us, and what use is our massive nuclear arsenal in this situation? Have you seen a single commentator refer to our Trident missiles as a factor? Of course not. They are, in point of fact, the most expensive chocolate teapot in the world, and quite possibly the universe.

Indeed, where are our Trident missiles targeted this morning? Do they still point at St Petersburg, Moscow and Ekaterinburg? Have they had the Pyongyang coordinates fed in? Two of our Trident submarines will be at sea today. What are their instructions? The truth is, the question is the world’s most expensive irrelevance.

The problem with deterrence theory is that you cannot deter a madman, particularly one who is going to die very soon anyway and may think a mass immolation sounds glorious. Let us look at the ultimate worst case scenario. North Korea somehow gets five warheads onto missiles, and fires them – let’s say at Seoul, the US and Japan. So this really is the worst case scenario, let’s say in two or three cases neither the missile nor the warhead malfunctions. The result is hundreds of thousands dead and environmental devastation.

Do we then obliterate North Korea with nuclear weapons and kill tens of millions of people and create untold further environmental damage?

North Korea poses the problem of asymmetric nuclear warfare. It may soon possess a very small number of low quality nuclear missiles, but is potentially mad enough to use them. That madness means that our possession of vastly more and vastly superior nuclear weapons does not deter. North Korea has the potential to be the nuclear State equivalent of the civilian suicide bomber, who can inflict casualties on the most sophisticated army in the world. We have got some understanding of the dilemmas posed by asymmetric warfare. What we have here is just vast difference of scale; the asymmetry remains.

Let me be plain. I am not predicting any of these disastrous outcomes. I am running through the very scenarios that are used in theory to justify the spending of huge sums in my taxes, and those of my children and grandchildren, in government borrowing mind-blowing money to acquire Trident 2.

North Korea shows just how pointless that is.

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Andrew Dismore MP A Karimov Stooge

A commenter has left this about Andrew Dismore, the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Commission on Human Rights. The email address and ISP connected to the comment (which I shall not reveal) appear to confirm this was from an Uzbek source, It is worth noting that there are a number of good disaffected young people inside the Uzbek foreign ministry.

Mr Dismore is a friend of Uzbeki regime. He has been in our Embassy in London on several occasions for treatment with plov and shashlik (famous uzbek national dish). In 2003-2004 he promoted Uzbekistani interests, and like many other, he played great role in putting Uzbeki pressure on British FCO to sack their Ambassador Murray from his office in Tashkent.

I have been trying to check up on this. The comment was made on my posting which included reference to Dismore’s efforts from the chair to minimise the impact of my evidence on UK complicity in torture. It goes without saying that if Dismore had indeed had any role in prompting my dismissal, he should have declared this at the Select Committee. A friend of mine with very strong Labour Party connections, told me recently that she had been talking to one of Jack Straw’s former New Labour Special Advisers in the FCO. She mentioned she knew me, and he said he had last heard of me when he approved my letter of dismissal. For a Special Adviser to be involved in any way in the dismissal of a civil servant is of course in complete contravention of the Civil Service Code.

It is also true, and appalling, that the Uzbek government was told I had been dismissed, before I was told myself. All of which does fit with the idea that New Labour were discussing it with the Uzbek government.

In looking for further evidence to support or refute my informant, I bear in mind that Andrew Dismore is the Vice Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel. The Karimov regime is of course a long term supporter and strategic partner of Israel – one of the very small group of countries which always supports Israel at the UN General Assembly. The Israel link could be what led Dismore into support for the Uzbek regime.

There is substantial evidence for this. In the middle of a long speech in Parliament against Palestinian terrorism, Andrew Dismore suddenly switched to describing an alleged terrorist attack on Uzbekistan, and then switched back to the Palestinians again:

Andrew Dismore

…there was an attempted attack on the Maccabiah games in Jerusalem. Salem Taleb Al-Darawi, of the PFLP, was one of those involved. It was described as a Xjoint operation” and a PFLP militia group was involved. Perhaps most chilling of all was the attempt to bring down the Israeli equivalent of the twin towers when, on 7 May this year, Israeli soldiers intercepted a truck filled with more than half a tonne of high explosives, the target being the 50-storey Azrieli towers. Again, two of those involved were senior PFLP leaders, Ra’ad Nazel, the area commander for the PFLP, who was killed in the operation, and another PFLP commander who was arrested. Let us contrast that record with that of the JI organisation, which was accused only of planning attacks. I think that the PFLP attacks were much more serious.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is being proscribed because it is supposed to have launched a sophisticated bombing campaign in Tashkent, which was directed against the Uzbekistan regime. We should note that it was not directed against UK interests. However, in the past few months the PFLP has organised more bomb attacks. On 3 September, a car bomb and three other bombs exploded in Jerusalem and nine civilians were injured. On 17 October 2001, there was a car bombing in the Gaza strip at Nahal Oz. On 16 February 2002, two children were killed and 27 wounded when a PFLP suicide bomber exploded himself at a crowded shopping mall in Karnei Shomron. On 19 May 2002, the PFLP carried out a suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya, in which three people were killed and 59 wounded, which was apparently planned from prison by Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the PFLP, according to telephone taps, while he was supposed to have been guarded by UK and American prison guards as part of the agreement with the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The “bombings” to which Dismore refers form a key part of the propaganda of the Karimov regime, but are a total fiction. I was in Tashkent that day and I went right to the site of each of the four alleged bombs, in one case arriving less that an hour after the alleged explosion. It was very obvious from the physical evidence that there had in fact been no explosions. My investigations at the time are described in great detail in Murder in Samarkand. So why did Dismore in the middle of a speech about Israel big up a Karimov propaganda big lie?

His speech was about only two situations: Israel and Uzbekistan. That is at least circumstantial support that our Uzbek informant is indeed telling the truth about Dismore.

In April 2004 Dismore asked a parliamentary questions also promoting the Uzbek propaganda account of the non-existent bombings:

Mr. Dismore To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Allairs what assessment he has made of the statement by the authorities in Uzbekistan that terrorist attacks in late March were linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir; and if he will make a statement


Next we have Dismore actually admitting that he is raising an issue at the behest of the Uzbek government:

I certainly do not hold up Uzbekistan as a example of liberal democracy?”far from it; it has a pretty nasty regime?”but it believes quite strongly that it faces a serious terrorist threat organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir. I have no way of knowing whether that it right, but it has certainly raised that issue with me.

The fact that the Uzbek regime is “pretty nasty” is of course so blatantly obvious that no politician in the UK could speak on its behalf without a false disclaimer, before going on to put the Karimov regime’s viewpoint. Again, as explained at length in Murder in Samarkand, there were plenty of examples of the Uzbek government concocting evidence of Hizb Ut Tehrir involvement in violence, (Like the H-u-T activist dragged out of bed in his underpants, and found to be concealing ammunition when searched at the police station). But in two years careful study of dissidence and terrorism, looking at facts and interviewing people all over Uzbekistan, I concluded H-u-T were indeed an organisation with some aims I certainly do not share, but committed to non-violence.

But the important point here is that Dismore admits in Parliament that the Karimov regime is “raising concerns” with Dismore. Why does Dismore have a line to the Karimov regime, and by precisely what mechanism? Does it work as my commenter alleges through hospitality and contacts at the Uzbek Embassy? Dismore then undeniably passes on those entirely faked Karimov concerns in our parliament. This strongly inclines me to believe that my commenter has genuine inside knowledge of Dismore’s contacts with the Uzbek Embassy; it indeed seems probable that he lobbied on their behalf for me to be sacked.

I may get more detail from my Uzbek informant, or others may know more. If indeed Dismore did discuss my dismissal with the Uzbek government or Embassy as alleged, then it is a disgrace he was chairing my evidence session, and he should resign as Chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee. How anyone in that Chair can even attend functions at the Uzbek Embassy is beyond me.

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Nadine Dorries: Mad Wittering Coward

I now deeply regret supporting Nadine Dorries on the issue of blogging freedom after her ISP pulled her blog, following legal threats from the odious Barclay Bros. it is now back. Nadine is such a courageous campaigner for truth, she has pulled the article from her website – something I have never done in response to threats from lawyers acting for Usmanov, Spicer or anybody else.

But then, I have never libelled anyone. Nadine was introduced to blogging by Dorries Dale, recently found guilty of libel in a case that set the Mail on Sunday back over 350,000 pounds including damages and costs.

You can find a photo of Britian’s most libellous bloggers here, as they spend their lives on a never-ending round of freebies.

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Convicted BlackMailer Usmanov Gets Stake in Facebook

People who flirt on Facebook – and why else join – may be less than enamoured by the fact that a $200 million stake has been bought by a company of which the biggest shareholder is a major criminal convicted of … blackmail.

Gangster and racketeer Alisher Usmanov was jailed in the Soviet Union when he finally overreached himself and attempted to blackmail a Jewish KGB officer.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Alisher Usmanov was pardoned by his croney President Karimov of Uzbekistan, perhaps the World’s most vicious dictator. Karimov runs a gangster state and political opponents have been boiled alive.

I was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and I will swear to these facts on oath before any court.

Usmanov became a billionaire oligarch in the gangster takeover of Russia’s “privatised” mineral assets. He is close to Putin, and has been used by him to buy up and neutralise much of the little remaining independent media in Russia. Usmanov does this in his own name or as Chairman of GazpromInvestHolding. Independent journalists have died in mysterious accidents following Usmanov takeovers.

For a blackmailer who is a key tool in Putin’s increasingly authoritarian regime, to have a share in Facebook is totally unacceptable. Perhaps someone might start a Facebook group against it?

Usmanov uses lawyers to close down blogs who carry these facts. His lawyers, Schillings, will assert a number of lies in response:

Schillings Lie 1 Usmanov was a political prisoner

UNTRUE He was a gangster convicted of blackmail. There was no political element. (It has been hinted to me that anti-Semitism might have formed part of the motive, but without supporting evidence for that theory I think it was just greed).

Schillings Lie 2 Usmanov received a full pardon from President Gorbachev

UNTRUE He was pardoned by President Karimov of Uzbekistan after the fall of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev greatly dislikes Usmanov

Schillings Lie 3 He was convicted because he took the rap for a friend

UNTRUE Usmanov only started using this line when I revealed he was not a political prisoner but a racketeer. Nobody else ever mentioned such a theory to me.

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Torture: The Guardian Protects Jack Straw

There is, on the face of it, another in a series of very good articles by Ian Cobain in The Guardian, on complicity by the British security services in torture abroad. Sixteen MI5 and MI6 personnel are under investigationby the Metropolitan Police for their involvement in torture.

The home secretary Jacqui Smith faces legal action over allegations that MI5 agents colluded in the torture of a British former civil servant by Bangladeshi intelligence officers.

Lawyers for the British man, Jamil Rahman, are to file a damages claim alleging that Smith was complicit in assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and breaches of human rights legislation over his alleged ill-treatment while detained in Bangladesh.

The claims bring to three the number of countries in which British intelligence agents have been accused of colluding in the torture of UK nationals. Rahman says that he was the victim of repeated beatings over a period of more than two years at the hands of Bangladeshi intelligence officers, and he claims that a pair of MI5 officers were blatantly involved in his ordeal.

The two men would leave the room where he was being interrogated whenever he refused to answer their questions, he says, and he would be severely beaten. They would then return to the room to resume the interrogation.

Last month I gave evidence to a parliamentary select committee that I had direct first hand experience as a British Ambassador that the UK had a policy, set by Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary, of obtaining torture from intelligence abroad.

I was summoned back to a meeting which was held in the FCO on 7 or 8 March 2003. Present were Linda Duffield, Director Wider Europe; Matthew Kydd, Head Permanent Under Secretary’s Department; Sir Michael Wood, Legal Adviser.

At the start of the meeting Linda Duffield told me that Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Under Secretary, wished me to know that my telegrams were unwise and that these sensitive questions were best not discussed on paper.

In the meeting, Sir Michael Wood told me that it was not illegal for us to obtain intelligence from torture, provided someone else did the torture. He added “I make no comment on the moral aspect” and appeared to me to be signalling disapproval.

Matthew Kydd told me that the Security Services considered the material from the CIA in Tashkent useful. He also argued that, as the final intelligence report issued by the security services excludes the name of the detainee interrogated, it is not possible to prove that torture was involved in any particular piece of intelligence.

Linda Duffield told me that Jack Straw had discussed this question with Sir Richard Dearlove and the policy was that, in the War on Terror, we should not question such intelligence.

…It was agreed that Sir Michael Wood’s view that it was not illegal to receive intelligence from torture would be put in writing. I attach a copy of his letter of 13 March 2003.

This meeting was minuted. I have seen the minute, which is classified Top Secret. On the top copy is a manuscript note giving Jack Straw’s views. It is entirely plain from this note that this torture policy was under his personal direction.

The New Labour chairman, Andrew Dismore, appeared not keen to include in his summary of my testimony the fact I had been directly instructed that this was a minsterially set policy, and I had both been told that Jack Straw had approved it and I had seen Straw’s own subsequent marginalia on the minutes of the meeting. All that had been clearly set out in my written memorandum of evidence to the committee, and I was determined not to let Dismore wriggle away from the fact that these MI5 officers were following ministerial policy: as in this passage.

Q77 Chairman: To summarise where we are, we were not directly involved in torturing anybody in Uzbekistan, but effectively there was a chain that ended up with you in Tashkent via the CIA and MI6 in London. It is not like the allegations we have received regarding Pakistan, for example, where basically we are in the prison cell asking the questions and somebody may have been tortured. This is a much more remote chain of circumstances. Your argument is that because Uzbekistan is a country where torture is almost a way of life in that country evidence was being obtained by the CIA indirectly from the Uzbeks and then supplied to MI6 and the sum totality must have been known to ministers. Although we were not directly involved through that chain that is sufficient in your view to create an allegation of complicity by the UK in torture in Uzbekistan?

Mr Murray: I would agree with that.

Q78 Chairman: That is a summary of your case?

Mr Murray: I would add one point. My case is that because as an ambassador I was fortunately a member of the senior civil service and I was arguing against this I was able to be given high-level policy direction and be told that ministers had decided we would get intelligence from torture. The fact that ministers made that decision was the background to what was happening in Pakistan, for example. It is not that MI5 operatives were acting independently; they were pursuing a policy framework set ministerially


Q79 Chairman: So, ministers specifically used the words “torture”, “evidence from the CIA” and “no questions: turn a blind eye”?

Mr Murray: Ministers certainly had before them and read my telegrams which said that this was torture and detailed the type of torture involved.

Q80 Chairman: What you just said was that ministers said it was okay to use torture?

Mr Murray: No; I think I said that ministers said it was okay to use intelligence from torture.

Q81 Chairman: Therefore, the inference is that it is not just turning a blind eye or “ask no questions, tell no lies”; it is specific knowledge?

Mr Murray: Nobody argued to me once that the Uzbek intelligence we were discussing did not come from torture; everyone accepted that it came from torture and the question was whether or not we accepted it. Nobody said that it was not actually torture.

You can watch my evidence here:

Now as Rahman is going to sue the British government over his torture, my evidence that MI5 were following ministerial policy could hardly be more relevant. But The Guardian doesn’t even mention it in this article. Yet the reporter Iain Cobain actually attended the Select Committee and sat taking notes through my whole evidence session.

Even though the Today programme thought it was worth four minutes on arguably Britain’s most influential broadcast news, Ian Cobain has not reported it or referred to it once. This despite the fact that I am sure you will agree if you look at the videos, it is pretty startling stuff, delivered in a punctiliously accurate manner as I could and backed by documentation.

Why can this be? One possibility is that Cobain just doesn’t believe me – as some of the Committee members were also obviously desperate to think up some reason not to believe me. But what I said was the truth, delivered in full knowledge that there are severe penalties for misleading a select committee. The telegrams I referred to exist in the FCO, and the minutes of the meetings I detail also exist in the FCO. If I were lying, the FCO could simply release the documents and prove it. And I do have some very key FCO documents which strongly support my account and which I gave to the committee.

I very much hope I may testify in Court under oath in the Rahman case, and perhaps the Court will order the minutes and telegrams to be produced by the FCO.

The other reason that The Guardian may be suppressing my evidence from their story – and I believe this is almost certainly the true reason – is that Jack Straw is the Minister who approved the use of torture material. Straw is as thick as thieves with Guardian Deputy Editor Michael White, Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger and Guardian Media Group Chairman, also New Labour City Minister, Lord Myners. That lot are not going to finger their good mate Jack as a promoter of torture.

CP Scott has caused several minor earthquakes by the speed of his revolutions. Aside from cleaning up Parliament, when are we going to get these New Labour war criminals out of The Guardian?

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Israel Acts Appallingly Again

Whether Obama wants to do anything about Israel is one question. Whether he would ever be allowed to do anything about Israel is another question. I suspect the answer to both is negative. I am more certain about the second question than the first.

At the moment Israel is putting two fingers up to him by spurring ahead with new illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. I thought this was a grimly amusing piece from Sky News:

Under international law they are illegal, though Israel disputes this.

They are also a major obstacle to peace because they are spread out across the land that Palestinians want for their own state.

There are almost 500,000 Israeli settlers now living on occupied land.

Last year, their numbers grew three times as fast as that of the general population in Israel.

The Israelis say they have the right to continue what they call the “natural growth” of settlements, to allow for the increase in population.

A bit like “Murder is illegal, though Jack the Ripper disputes this. He says culling is required to reduce the female population.”

With bombing stepped up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US withdrawal from Iraq an obvious fake which sees weekly increments in plans for the number of US troops to remain, and detention without trial for Guanatanamo internees to continue indefinitely – somewhere – behind a smokescreen of rhetoric, I am struggling to think of anything Obama does better, other than not look a complete arsehole.

You would hope that the combination of a rhetorically liberal US Administration with the most openly vicious of Israeli regimes might lead to some change in the massive supply of US money and weapons that keeps Israel viable for all those irreligious ex-Soviets who moved there for an easy high standard of living.

But I fear you would be very disappointed.

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Worst Fake Terror Plot Ever?

This blog told you immediately that Gordon Brown’s “Very big terror plot” at Easter was a complete fake, and this blog was telling the truth. But the media in the UK have never realy admitted that the whole thing was a government con.

But, four days after this blog told you the New York terror plot was a blatant agent provocateur operation –

Groom Your Own Terrorist – FBI Agent Provocateur Operation Leads to Terror Arrests – the mainstream media have finally caught on. The reason for the difference between New York and Manchester being that there are still a few investigative reporters left in the United States, whereas ours either repeat lobby briefing or write stories about Simon Cowell.

The Sunday Times headline sums it up entirely – “FBI lured dimwits into terrorist plot”.

One question [about the synagogue case] that has to be answered is: did the informant go in and enlist people who were otherwise not considering trouble ?” said Kevin Luibrand, who represented a Muslim businessman caught up in another FBI sting three years ago. “Did the government induce someone to commit a crime?”

The other question that US security experts were debating was how much had been achieved by assigning more than 100 agents to a year-long investigation of three petty criminals and a mentally ill Haitian immigrant, none of whom had any connection with any known terrorist group. “They were all unsophisticated dimwits,” said Kindlon.

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Julia Exploited

Nadira and I spoke with Julia Naidenko this afternoon before her performance tonight in the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent, and she had been crying. She said they were forcing her to dance to music that was totally unsuitable, and not allowing her choreography.

Interestingly, she said that the same thing had happened at the first round televised audition. She had taken with her a CD of Arabic drum music to do a traditional belly dance, but had not been allowed to do it, and instead told to dance to Shakira and with a more pop choreography.

That contradicts the whole carefully presented image of the show, of which the story line is that at the auditions the acts just turn up and nobody knows what exactly they are going to do.

That image of spontaneity was manifest most spectacularly in the case of Susan Boyle, where the video made famous on You Tube pretends that the judges did not even know she was a singer or whether she would be any good. The judges then proceeded to manifest what, when you know the truth, you can see is terribly ham acted astonishment.

In fact, just as Julia had her music and choreography altered before her audition, the show would have already seen Susan Boyle, have known exactly what Susan Boyle was going to do, how good she was, and had quite probably chosen the song for her. I bet even the clunking jaw dropping of the judges was rehearsed.

The “Susan Boyle moment” was a brilliantly produced fake.

Anyway, back to poor Julia. Today she was made to dance to Lady Marmalade, which was totally inappropriate in every way for a belly dancer, and made her look just like a Vegas showgirl.

I should say that I am very, very proud of Julia. She picked herself up, made the best anybody possibly could of it, and performed a kind of dance that is not her own with such elegance and allure as almost to redefine the medium. And she looked absolutely stunning. But I know that she feels unhappy, not that she didn’t get through to the final, but that she never did get allowed to show her own dance to her own music.

Don’t worry, Julia. Your niceness and decency shone through, you moved like a dream and a million people fell in love with you. Your friends are proud of you. You are a wonderful, graceful and intelligent woman. You don’t need to chase faked dreams..

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Bercow Exposes Cameron’s Hypocrisy

Tory hypocrisy – and that of David Cameron in particular – is exposed by their attitude to John Bercow as a possible speaker.

I have to admit to an being an admirer of Bercow because he has been the most consistent and active supporter of human rights for Uzbekistan in the House of Commons. Strangely the only other MP who comes to mind straight away as a doughty parliamentary supporter for the Uzbek people is also a Tory, Greg Hands.

But the Tories apparently hate Bercow, as witness this Spectator blog article today.

And why do they hate him? Because he is a backbench MP with a mind of his own, who does not slavishly follow the party whip.

The Mail on Sunday editorial attacking Bercow today describes him as “Increasingly New Labour.” But that is untrue. Where Bercow has been particularly inclined to rebel, is on issues where there has been an unholy alliance between the Tories and New Labour to bring in mad policies. Bercow has therefore voted against university top-up fees, foundation hospitals and various manifestations of the private finance initiative – all things where his party supported Blair – and has gone futher than his party in opposing New Labour “anti-terror” legislation.

In fact Bercow’s voting record looks more Tory veering to Lib Dem than to New Labour – with the major exception that he voted for the Iraq war.

That last is only one example of an area where I disagree with John Bercow. But when the man votes on any issue, it is not because someone told him to, it is because he has thought about it and used his brain to decide what is best.

That is exactly the sort of MP we need.

It is also why the Tories hate him. And their hatred of him exposes the full extent of Tory hypocrisy. They will jump on any reformist bandwagon going in a direction which may help them into power. But once in power, they will rule with just as much of an over-mighty executive, just as much throttling by party whip, just as much contempt for independent parliamentary thought, as New Labour have shown.

The Tories simply want their turn to be the elective dictators.

Andrew Marr questioned David Cameron rather well on precisely this point this morning. Cameron was trying to do his feely touchy reformist bit, and Marr moved to pin him down on whether a Tory government would allow more scope to parliament, by allowing backbenchers to make up their own minds how to vote. Cameron said there should be more free votes, but that politics was a team game and collective responsibility an important principle.

Marr then went on to question Cameron about his attitude to Bercow for speaker. While saying that a party leader should not support a particular candidate, Cameron managed to give the impression that he had just smelled something very bad, and added “But it must be a figure with the necessary respect and authority”, plainly meaning to cast doubt on Bercow’s possession of those qualities.

Remember, if you vote Conservative you do not get reform.

You get Tories.

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Women MPs Have More Front

The female of the species is more deadly than the male. While several of the worst offending male MPs in sleazegate have announced that they will stand down at the next election, the females all continue to tough it out. While the men caught with their hands in the till have appeared shamefaced, the women have defended themselves shrilly.

Nowhere has this contrast been more sharp than in the case of Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride, who are guilty of the same offence in the most literal sense. Husband and wife, both MPs, they lived together and each claimed a second home allowance.

He has announced he will stand down. She is battling on. What is that about? It is made worse by the additional, though comparatively minor, complication that it is her brother who was living, against the rules, at one of their homes.

Kirkbride is just one example.

The shrill fool Nadine Dorries, after lying about where she mainly lives and deliberately concealing from her constituents that she did not live in the constituency, tells us she feels got at. The horrible Hazel Blears still continues to bounce right into our faces. There is a good argument that Margaret Moran is the most blatant abuser of the rules to get money, and abuser of her position for her lobbying company. She shows no sign of going voluntarily at all.

You have to pinch yourself to believe that Tessa Jowell is still in the Cabinet after laundering, through her joint mortgage, money that has been proven in court to come from crime.

Steen, Mackay, Viggers, Martin, Chapman and others are going. The women so far just will not go. Their behaviour is so hideous, they will be putting back the cause of women in politics for a generation.

I think the phrase brazen hussies, selected with due care and attention, is in fact totally appropriate.

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Britain’s Got Talent – Vote For Julia!

I was sitting in my study working on Alexander Burnes when suddenly shrieks came from the living room. I went to investigate and was really surprised to see Nadira’s belly dancing colleague and our friend Julia Naidenko on Britain’s Got Talent. What is more she got through!

Julia is a lovely person. A few years ago she asked me to edit her book on belly dancing, but I didn’t have time because I was finalising Murder in Samarkand. Probably a poor decision on my part! Nadira and Julia used to practice in our living room while I was writing, which may explain the odd bit of dodgy grammar. Julia is very modest, too, She was in touch with Nadira this week and didn’t mention she had been on the show.

Nadira and Julia are both very serious about their craft. I was very proud when the Observer published of Nadira’s show:

‘A subtle dancer who ripples like water under wind”.

Most of the belly dancers currently working in London (you learn some esoteric stuff on this site!) are Brazilian showgirls. While undoubtedly alluring, what they do is not really belly dancing.

Julia is a great belly dancer. There is both dedication and skill behind what you see as beauty and effortless grace.

And remember the idiots of UKIP and the BNP would have kept Julia out of the country!

Brilliant, Julia!

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