Iain Dale Rides To Rescue Charles Crawford 23

Iain Dale has offered much needed assistance to Charles Crawford, as Charles struggles to promote the New Labour doctrine that “Torture is Good”.

Condoleeza Rice – The Mask Slips

I think Iain ought perhaps to have checked with William Hague for the line on this one, but we’ll let that go. Anyway, Iain has given Charles a link on “The Daley Dozen” with the plug “Charles Crawford is not an FCO lickspittle, whatever Craig Murray might say.”


So to what does Iain Dale link to prove that Charles Crawford is not an FCO lickspittle? To a bold criticism by Charles of British foreign policy? An attack by Charles on Milliband’s lack of effort on human rights, or on supine British policy over the Israeli attack on Gaza?

No, those don’t exist. Iain links, to “prove” that Charles is no lickspittle, to Charles’ attack on me to further the FCO position of supporting torture. Iain thus shoots both himself and Charles in the foot with one bullet.

I have increased respect for Iain Dale since he recently joined the long list of Tories coming out against Trident 2. I don’t choose friends by their political views. Charles Crawford is a perfectly nice bloke as well. That is the problem when governments do things like institute torture policy. The public servants who go along with it are not monsters but ordinary people.

Charles had attacked me about a dozen times on his blog, if you include his feeble series of “reviews” of Murder in Samarkand, and is acting in a thin-skinned way when I mentioned him for the first time, in the context of his support for the government’s torture policy.

But Charles Crawford’s huffing and puffing cannot disguise his failure to answer the question I put to him. When he was British Ambassador to Poland, did he know about the CIA secret prison near Sczytno Szymany, about torture in it and about the extraordinary rendition flights through that airport? Until he answers those questions, there is nothing else to discuss with him.

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23 thoughts on “Iain Dale Rides To Rescue Charles Crawford

  • dreoilin

    Yes, Charles, when you were British Ambassador to Poland, *DID* you know about the CIA secret prison near Sczytno Szymany, about torture in it and about the extraordinary rendition flights through that airport??

    Don’t pretend you’re not reading.

    I have been reading American apologists for torture on various US blogs. I had to stop as I felt sick to my stomach.

  • subrosa

    I saw that on Iain Dale’s list this morning Craig. Iain has his own agenda I realise but haven’t we all.

    Charles Crawford’s response on your last post was rather too personal for my taste and he never answered your questions. I see you’ve posed them again but please don’t lose sleep while you await a explicit reply.

  • anticant

    When you are a professional civil servant working for a government which has decided to collude with a foreign government’s illegal and immoral policies, you are in a very difficult position, and I sympathise with both Craig and Charles Crawford and all their colleagues over this during the last dark decade.

    But either you know the policies are wrong and immoral, or you don’t. If you do, the issue is always “at what point should I resign?” I’m sure that very many honourable civil servants, not only in the UK since 9/11, but also in Germany in the first months of the Nazi regime, asked themselves that question more than once. It is human nature to postpone the evil day, and that is what most people do. By the time their consciences are really pricking, it is too late to do anything effective to change the policy, so you just shrug and go along with it. What is the alternative?

    I don’t regard Craig as a “whistleblower” or a “maverick”. He is an honest man who has been brave enough to make some extremely difficult personal choices. He deserves respect, even from those who disagree with him.

  • hatfield girl

    I understand that even the decision to send Polish troops as part of the ‘coalition of the willing’ was not discussed with the Polish cabinet before it was decided by the then Polish Prime Minister and Polish President. Further, the existence of a rendition flight airport and a Polish torture prison was not information shared with members of the Polish cabinet of the time either.

    It cannot be easy to access information denied to the Polish cabinet, as a British official even at ambassadorial level. Such information could have come only from the United Kingdom, and torture policy there had been changed arbitrarily and without widespread consultation or promulgation of the change .

  • nextus

    From http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-pe07.html



    Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Many highly successful individuals might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing.


    Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with this disorder very sensitive to criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.


    Evidence is freely available on the Blogoir – http://charlescrawford.biz/ – no private briefing necessary.

  • nextus

    The Wikipedia page on RWA is also enlightening:


    Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. It is defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together:[1][2]

    1. Authoritarian submission ?” a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.

    2. Authoritarian aggression ?” a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.

    3. Conventionalism ?” a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

  • Iain Dale

    Actually Criag, I wasn’t endorsing Charles. My Daley Dozen list highlights posts I have found interesting. I admit the wording might have led you to believe that I was endorsing his view, but if you look at how I word these lists it is almost always reflecting the substance of the original post.

  • Craig


    I accept that. I think (though I might be wrong) that you are more likely to be on the liberal side of the “To torture or not to torture” debate.

    I should add that Charles is undeniably a bit vain, but I wouldn’t characterise it as a disorder!

  • JimmyGiro


    Using the psychobabble of pseudo-science to undermine peoples credibility, is a two-edged blade.

    The schools already use the invented condition of ADHD to ‘control’ some children, mainly boys; and it’s only a matter of time for the rest of us to be controlled via various diagnoses.

    Remember citizen, if you’re not with us then you must be cured.

  • nextus

    Charles is, I’m sure, a perfectly decent chap in everyday life, and he was a highly efficient ambassador. But it’s clear from the excerpt that he exhibits narcissistic traits – though not to the extent of a disabling disorder. It’s not an insinuation of a clinical diagnosis; there’s a more general and important point here.

    As you know, authoritarian personalities are common amongst faceless bureaucrats. It makes them susceptible to moral allegiance to whatever the establishment position happens to be. Those at the top often display narcissistic traits, citing their own authority or specialness in defence of that position.

    Many good public servants display these traits, and we see the consquences when the rot sets in from the top. This isn’t just about Charles. However, Charles is deliberately setting himself up as a spokesperson and advocate for this style of thinking, and he is staunchly defending it in public. That’s what singles him out for special criticism. In order to stop the moral rot, we need to deconstruct this attitude without branding those who display it as evil – or mentally ill.

    By contrast, Craig has become the poster boy for the conscientious opposition within the FCO. I think a debate between him and Charles on ‘Diplomacy and Ethics’ (as Charles has proposed in his blogoir) would shed light on the key issues at the heart of what we perceive as government ‘corruption’.

  • Clark

    Whoa, important post, nextus;

    anticant and JimmyGyro, I agree that many normal personality traits get classed as “mental illnesses”, especially when it’s convenient to someone, but it seems that nextus is describing rather than classifying, and is on the scent of some structural understanding here.

    Certain jobs may disproportionally attract applicants with certain traits. A concentration of such people within an establishment may tend to employ like minded people, and then the whole thing becomes self reinforcing. This makes a good explanation as to how we can have so many people doing so much wrong with so little display of remorse, without having to invoke any “conspiracy theories”. These people keep backing each other up, reinforcing their mutual belief systems; they ACTUALLY BELIEVE that they’re doing the right thing!

    Of course, it’s not all black and white. Such a “skewed” establishment would provide good cover for true corruption; all the exploiters would have to do is emulate the moral indignation of their colleagues and hide the sources of their ill-gotten gains. Indeed, the tendencies both to corruption and to narcissism could quite happily coexist in any given individual, the narcissism masking that individual’s conscious awareness of their own corruption.

    This gives added importance to what Craig is doing; expose torture as absolutely morally wrong, and the non and less corrupt members may start facing what they have done. Suddenly the lights come on, and the truly corrupt have to run for cover… Come on you narcissists, accept your minor personality flaws, and together you can achieve something truly inspiring – a great cleansing of our political system.

    “Mental health is the ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs” (M Scott Peck)

    At ALL costs.

  • dreoilin

    “These people keep backing each other up, reinforcing their mutual belief systems; they ACTUALLY BELIEVE that they’re doing the right thing!”


    Reminds me of senior members of the medical establishment who (still) believe that they are mini-gods and will back each other up no matter what mistakes have been made. They’re finding it tough going these days when so much medical information is online, and sometimes patients can point out to consultants where wrong diagnoses or treatments have been given. They do NOT like it. In my experience, the patient’s health comes second to their egos.

  • amk

    “Using the psychobabble of pseudo-science to undermine peoples credibility, is a two-edged blade.

    The schools already use the invented condition of ADHD to ‘control’ some children, mainly boys; and it’s only a matter of time for the rest of us to be controlled via various diagnoses.”

    Don’t be daft. By the way, I diagnose you with paranoia 😉

    If you want to see some of the empirical evidence behind high RWA personality types, read this…


    …which I posted yesterday on another thread.

  • nextus

    @ Clark – Thanks for your succinct and powerful summary.

    Good link from amk. Dr Robert Altemeyer’s book, The Authoritarians, is a wonderful read, rigorously researched, yet written in a humorous and accessible style ?” rather similar to Craig’s in a way, but lighter. It’s the primary research manual on political authoritarianism and should be required reading for regular participants on this forum. Altemeyer provides it *free* in PDF format on his website. Go seek.

    As dreoilin pointed out, it’s not a uniquely political phenomenon. The same authoritarian attitudes pervade all large institutions (corporations, NHS, charities, etc.). In my research into the epistemology of moral beliefs, I’ve found that authoritarians make less use of their own intuition and gut feelings in their moral reasoning, instead favouring ‘Kantian’ moral rationalism combined with consequentialism. Their moral principles can become divorced from their emotional sensitivities and moral conditioning, and they are easily influenced by the objectives of the institutions to which they subscribe. There are ways of detecting these personalities with standard psychological questionnaires. There’s a lot of scope here.

    I’m trying to develop this work and ultimately hope to introduce it to courses in management and business ethics, but it all depends on securing a suitable research grant; no luck yet on that front, though I’m crossing my fingers for the latest app.

  • JimmyGiro

    @nextus, amk, dreoili, Clark,

    I agree with your sentiments, there are a lot of gis-bags to contend with, and it’s good sport to rationalise their psychological profiles; but there is the danger of making measurements the same thing as the subject matter:

    A man is 5 foot eight inches, but 5’8″ doesn’t make a man.

    A bad deed is bad by its actions, if we presume to anticipate badness by association with some secondary measure such as a character trait or ‘mental condition’, then we risk confounding ourselves, and your opponents are at liberty to use the same!

    The actor Chris Langham was judged guilty by association with other paedophiles due to a shared propensity to view images of child abuse; but Chris Langham had committed no child abuse directly.

    Finally, the experiments of Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo, demonstrate the pliability of our morality, making all measurements of ‘mental condition’ somewhat time and environment dependent, hence psychological profiling maybe of minimal use as a true predictor of criminal intent.

    If we give a dog a bad name…

    Reality is complex enough without our efforts of adding to the menagerie of confounding influences. The schools of psychology are like the floor of a nursery, strewn with broken pegs and splintered mallets, as each generation graduates after its fractious efforts to hammer the real world into its naive holes, and leaving us to sweep up the mess.

  • Neohagrid

    Never mind Craig, today you have made the Independent on Sunday’s list of ‘Rough Diamonds’ – ‘They’re the ones who make our lives better despite the occasional slip of the halo’, while Charles, though ‘a perfectly decent chap’ will, I suspect, never receive this accolade.

  • sabretache

    Ah yes, Ian Dale. Undoubtedly a real nice guy. He works hard at his blog and is a consummate Westminster Village insider attuned to all the nuances of village gossip – but anything heavyweight? Hmm – I don’t think so. He’s a sort of Dale Winton of British politics you might say.

    Check out his views on Israel say, or ‘the US as a force for good in the world’, before crediting him with being much more than a dupe (honest and nice no doubt) but a dupe nonetheless for the forces of real evil in this world

  • Polo

    As a former civil servant I find this thread fascinating and hope that its themes will continue to permeate the posts and comments on this blog.

    The private conscience versus bureaucratic compliance is at the heart of the matter. As are recruitment protocols and personality “syndromes”.

    I have started on Altemeyer. Looks very promising.

    On a lighter note, did Charles invent the term “Blogoir”? While it has a whiff of the posh about it, it does sound a bit like something you would sit on to do your business or wrap around you to conceal your nakedness.

    Any takers for the Great Oir on Terror?

  • nextus

    @ JimmyGiro,

    There’s no compulsion to make “measurements the same thing as the subject matter”, “hammer the real world into naive holes”, or “give a dog a bad name”: that invokes a stereotype of a different kind of psychology, which makes crude inferences from the general to the particular – and I’d prefer not to be hammered into that particular box by association.

    Personality types should not be construed as causal factors that determine behaviour; they are abstract generalisations about how people tend to behave. Personality theory helps to explain the complex dynamics of attitudes and behaviour at the generic level, much as economics describes patterns of financial flow. These generalisations are useful to understand cultures, but when applied to individuals they can only provide hypotheses, not conclusions.

    So it doesn’t necessarily raise the spectre of a descent into an Orwellian dystopia where Big Brother (aka ‘NuLabour’) classifies aberrant thinking as pathological in order to suppress individual liberties. The abuse of diagnostic models for political or social purposes – well critiqued by Laing, Szasz and Foucault – isn’t directly relevant to the analysis of how some personalities are morally impressionable, which is what we’re concerned with here.

    Charles Crawford, an otherwise decent fellow, is openly defending the culture of compliance. We’re struggling to understand how he can do this, and why so many others within the same institutions subscribe to the same mindset. Is their logic faulty? Do they start with crazy assumptions or antisocial values? No. These people are generally intelligent, realistic and ethical. So it’s worth investigating which factors are distorting their moral compass, and personality theory is one part of that. Naturally, logic, epistemology and ethics are fundamental to the enquiry.

    Will the bureaucrats ever accept this analysis and institute change from within? I doubt it. Narcissists won’t face up to their own (minor) flaws, and authoritarians are hostile to ideas perceived as anti-establishment. Maybe other approaches can make a positive difference. Have a look at the ‘Disruptive Social Innovators’ group on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=175057500000 – coincidentally, the next seminar concerns abuses of the “‘mental capital’ system, including therapy, psychiatry, skills training, leadership, ‘enrichment’ and big pharma’s prozac-style products”. That is indeed another system of control. Be assured we’re already on the case.

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