Monthly archives: June 2009

Corrigan Brothers Give Campaign Song

We now have an official campaign song, kindly donated by the Corrigan Borthers. Here is their press release:

Corrigan Brothers have today granted Independent candidate for Norwich exclusive rights to use their MP EXPENSES SONG in his campaign. Craig has agreed to perform the song with the Brothers. Lead singer Ger Corrigan said today, we had originally offered to help pay back the expenses of any MP who agreed to sing a duet of the song with us. We have however received no offers from expense shamed MPs! After reading last Saturday’s Daily Telegraph supplement “The Complete Expense Files” we wholly endorse Craig’s campaign and are delighted that our song will assist in his victory. The last song we did for a politician , Mr Barack Obama (There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’bama) helped greatly in his election and we hope to perform at Craig’s inauguration like we did at President Obama’s”. Go Craig!

And here is their great song:

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Norwich North Campaign Begins

We are now getting established in Norwich North. Our first leaflet is being printed. meeting rooms have been booked, an office and accommodation have been rented. Priority today is to sort out the internet and other communications.

There is still no definite date set for the by-election yet. I have been trying to hire empty shops to use as campaign centres, but the Conservative Party has in some cases got there first and been hiring them for two months – so they obviously expect an early election. But ii is the government which calls the date in this case. I still think July 23rd is most likely – New Labour are going to lose and it would be best to get the bad news out of the way before the summer. But Brown’s instinct is generally to procrastinate.

By law a minimum of only seventeen days notice has to be given for a by-election, so it could be sprung upon us any moment.

There is a genuine disgust at the political parties among the electors of Norwich North. There seems to be a public understanding that the expenses scandal is only a symptom of a party political system that is not functioning and not helping people.

I think we have a genuine opportunity to give the political establishment a real shock here. But I very much need help. We already have plenty of tasks for volunteers to campaign, we can accommodate people and it’s time now to come to Norwich and launch a radical assault on our rotten political system!

If you can come and help, call me on 07979 691085

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National Express – The Worst Train Service In The World

I am finally back in the UK! I shall be arriving in Norwich tomorrow for the by-election.

Meantime I am dashing up to York with Emily today. This means dealing again with National Express – undoubtedly the worst train service in the world.

Last night around 21.30 I went online on the National Express website to purchase the train tickets. All went well on the website, until I reached payment. Then I received the following message.

“Delivery method not available. Collection on departure not available due to essential maintenance. Please purchase ticket at station.”

There was nothing I could do as telephone support stops at 20.00.

Today, entirely predictably, the same tickets are £172 more expensive. I telephoned the “Ticket purchase web support” number, and was told they could find me tickets only £80 more expensive, on a luselessly later train. Being a persevering fellow I asked to speak to a manager, who insultingly told me he had never heard of the message I had received on the website. He did not call me a liar outright, but plainly implied it. He suggested that I buy the full price tickets and then write to a PO Box number in Newcastle for a “Full investigation.”

I really don’t know why we put up with the ludicrous prices charged for on the day train tickets – generally much higher than the air fare. But if companies are going to insist that people book in advance to get cheaper fares – which are still extremely high by international standards – the least they can do is make sure their advance purchase systems work. A particularly annoying aspect of this is that I am registered on the National Express website, and was logged in when I tried to make the purchase, so they ought to be able to have a record of what happened, even if they don’t record when their own site is under maintenance.

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Discovering That I Do Not Exist

My blog existence has been almost nil for a couple of weeks due to a truly terrible internet connection here in Ghana (where I still haven’t got everything on the project finished to the state where I can fly to Norwich North).

I recall a speech Peter Hain gave about ten years ago to the effect that the adoption of new technologies could lead Africa to catch up with the rest of the world economy, bypassing the smokestack age. In fact of course the advent of new technology leaves Africa further and further behind. “Broadband” here is 512 kb/ps and costs US $300 a month. In fact it is giving me 7 kb/ps.

But not only my virtual existence is tenuous. I have been surprised to discover that it seems that I was mistaken about my physical existence too. Today The Guardian leads with the story that Tony Blair knew of a secret UK policy of receiving intelligence from torture. The Guardian goes big, with five follow up articles.

The strange thing is, I could have sworn that I had been a British Ambassador and had been smeared in a campaign orchestrated by No 10, and then sacked, for opposing this torture policy. I thought I had blown the whistle on this policy five years ago and published a number of government documents which proved the existence of this policy. I even thought I had written a book about it which became a bestseller.

I appear to have been suffering from this delusion over a lengthy period, because I also thought that I gave detailed evidence on all of this just six weeks ago to a parliamentary committee.

But all that cannot be true. For one thing, David Miliband gave evidence on UK complicity in torture two days ago to another parliamentary committee, and not one MP mentioned the eye witness testimony I had just given, which contradicted much of what David Miliband had said. For another, the Guardian’s survey of key points of evidence for the existence of a secret pro-torture policy, does not mention anywhere that it was denounced by a British Ambassador who was sacked for it and published documentary proof.

I cannot quite explain to you how unpleasant it feels to be written out of history before you are dead. Stalin of course airbrushed people out of the official photos all the time. At least he had the decency to kill them first.

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Miliband Lies About Torture

David Miliband refused to testify to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights about UK complicity in torture. That in itself is an example of how useless our parliament is and of the contempt in which the executive hold it. Thr JCHR was set up by the Commons and Lords specifically to monitor the UK’s compliance with its international human rights obligations. In the case of a most serious breach, government ministers can simply refuse to appear before the committee. What use is it?

Had Miliband testified at the JCHR, he would have been confronted with my evidence and that of others and expected to respond.

Instead, Miliband appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, with its absolute New Labour majority.

I am in Accra and have not had any internet connection for two days. Today I have, but very very slow and I can’t watch Miliband’s appearance. If I buffer for three minutes I can get a twelve section tape. So I have been sampling his evidence. As far as I can tell nobody confronted him with my evidence. But from around 48 minutes he tells a direct lie, that we do use intelligence from torture but only where it concerns a direct threat to life.

As I testified to the JCHR, the torture material which I was seeing from Uzbekistan plainly did not fall into this category, yet I was told it was “Useful” to the intelligence services and we ahould continue to receive it. The meeting at which Iwas told this was minuted by the FCO.

Our parliament is pathetic in allowing Miliband to testify before a different body to that which heard the contrary evidence. But even so, even from the snatches I have been able to view, Miliband comes over as shifty and the government’s determination to continue receiving intelligence from torture glare through the carefully contrived answers.

Comment from those more able than I to see a fuller part of his evidence would be very welcome.

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For me, any sensible discussion of Iran must accept a number of facts. I will set these out as Set A and Set B. Both sets are true. But ideologues of the right routinely discount Set A, while ideologues of the left routinely discount Set B. That is why most debate on Iran is inane.

Set A

Iranian Islamic fundamentalism allied to fierce anti-Americanism was born from CIA intervention to topple democracy and keep in power a ruthless murdering despot for decades, in the interests of US oil and gas companies

Iranian anti-Americanism was fuelled further by US support for US friend and ally Saddam Hussein who was armed to wage a murderous war against Iran, again in the hope of US access to Iran’s oil and gas

The US committed a terrible atrocity against civilians by shooting down an Iranian passenger jet

Iran is surrounded by US military forces and has been repeatedly threatened to the extent that the desire to develop a nuclear weapon is a reflex

There is monumental hypocrisy in condemning Iran’s nuclear programme while overlooking Israel’s nuclear weapons

Set B

Iran is governed by an appalling set of vicious theocratic nutters

Iran is not any kind of democracy. It fails the first hurdle of candidates being allowed to put forward meaningful alternatives

Hanging of gays, stoning of adulterers, floggings, censorship and pervasive control are not fine because of cultural relativism. Iran’s whole legislative basis is inimical to universal ideals of human rights.

Iran really is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme, though with some years still to go.

There are two very good articles on the current situation in Iran. One from the ever excellent Juan Cole. I would accept his judgement on the elections being rigged.

The other from Yasamine Mather, which puts it in another perspective.

I am not optimistic about the outcome of the popular protest.

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Normal Service Will resume….

Sorry, about this folks. I am still in Africa trying very hard to get some odds and ends tied up on the project here before I go. And at the same time – with help from some great volunteers – I am trying to get the logistics in place for Norwich North, and am also writing election literature. So apologies for lack of blogging at the minute. Hope to be back in the UK on Tuesday.

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Norwich North First Poster


Brilliant first poster design here from Brynmor. It needs a little tweaking – I wouldn’t call myself a politician, as I have spent a very large amount on civil liberties campaigning and not made a penny out of it. But it is going to be very strong.

We are going to need volunteers. The election will be in July or September , with July looking more likely. Either way we need to start now. Stevie has volunteered to coordinate.

We need office workers, canvassers, leafletters, drivers, media handlers, IT campaign organisers, graphic artists, printers, fundraisers, volunteer coordinators, diary keepers, candidate cheerer uppers, accommodation providers. There is something everybody can do, of whatever age, however mobile, wherever they are.

If you would like to help, please start by sending an initial email to

[email protected]

giving full contact details, stating what time or resource you might make available, if you live in Norwich or if you can come when you might come, any relevant experience (not that this is required) and anything else that might help. We will work out shortly how to make donations – the offers are greatly appreciated. Accommodation will be available in Norwich for volunteers.

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New Labour Opened The Door For Torture

It is no surprise to me that detectives in the Metropolitan Police have been using waterboarding.

The government has specifically decided that it is acceptable to gain information from torture in the context of the “War on Terror”. When I recently gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to the effect that torture is now government policy, I was disappointed to find that rather than take the view that torture is illegal, the MPs were concerned to establish just how much torture material might be accepted before it becomes illegal.

The prohibition of torture must be absolute. Once you say it is OK in some circumstances, once you admit torture into government policy, it will spread like a cancer. You cannot then claim to be shocked that agents of the state thought that, if it was justified in x case, it might be justified in y case too.

This is well understood in international law. That is why Article 2 of the UN Convention Against Torture states:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

We are a signatory to that convention and bound by it in law. But as anybody will plainly learn who watches the youtube link posted above, we are plainly breaking it. It is the grossest hypocrisy. New Labour have sent public policy back to medieval times. Is it any wonder the police follow?

It also points up perfectly the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown’s reform plan. He says he wishes to

strengthen the powers of parliamentary select committees. But Foreign Secretary David Miliband has point blank refused to appear before the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to answer questions on government policy on using torture material. New Labour’s real attitude to parliament and people is one of total arrogance.

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John Rentoul and Margaret Beckett: Never Seen Together

More evidence that inane Blairite cheerleader John Rentoul and Margaret Beckett are in fact the same person.



Rentoul is plugging Beckett as the new Speaker to reform the House of Commons.

That’s Margaret Beckett, who for years lived in a government “Grace and Favour” mansion as a minister, while at the same time the taxpayer paid the mortgage on her “Second home”, while she rented out her “Main home” and pocketed tens of thousands of pounds more cash?

These people really do make me sick. Absolutely shameless.

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Ricky Hatton-Brown Proposes Rules Change

After being knocked to the canvas for the third time in two minutes, nose split and gums bleeding, Ricky Hatton-Brown struggled to his feet and said:

“Errr, I god ad good idea. What if we change the rules, so the guy is nicest to the other guy winds, rather than the one who hits him the most?”

He was promptly smashed to the floor again.

Brown’s hypocritical conversion to constitutional reform, after twelve years of this government blocking all progress, is beneath contempt.

I sketched out my own views recently. Plainly several of the commenters did not understand what single transferable vote is. It is not the terrible system in place for the EU elections, where you vote for the party and not the person. It is the antithesis of that. You have all the candidates’ names, and you vote for them 1,2,3,4, etc in order of preference. So you can put Tory Joe Bloggs first, Green Trishia Windpower second, and Tory Tufton-Bufton third because they are who you like.

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Norwich North Urgent Help Needed – We Have To Formally Constitute

We need to formally constitute as a political party. And I need volunteers to kick this off for me. Here is why:

One of Blair’s numerous Anti-Libertarian laws was a new provision that the only description allowed on the ballot paper is the official, registered party name. Before Blair you could call yourself what you liked to guide the voters.

If you don’t register a party name, you can just be described as “independent” on the ballot. I am proud to be independent. But if there are several people all described as “independent”, the public in the polling booth might get confused which is which.

Parties can spend as much as they like on national advertising, and have National HQs and party offices. All the main parties have offices in Norwich. The costs of these Norwich offices and their national advertising do not count against the very tight by-election spending limit. An independent standing for election will have his office costs and all advertising counted against his expenses – leaving nothing for campaigning.

So we are going to form “Put An Honest Man Into Parliament” as the name of a party. The electoral commission registration form allows up to two alternative descriptions. The alternative description will be “Put An Honest Woman Into Parliament”. The purpose of the party is to get elected honest non-racist people of independent mind to renew our democracy. Future candidates can use either description as appropriate.

I need someone to download the registration forms and get them filled in today and in to the Electoral Commission. If a commenter on this site who I can recognise will volunteer I would be most grateful. You’ll need to knock up a short anarchic constitution. You’ll have to pay the 150 pound fee till I can get back to reimburse you! You can be the leader 🙂 I think legally we need two members.

I hope to get back Friday but this cannot wait for this reason. It takes 20 days for the Electoral Commission to register a new party. Once the election is called – and it could be called any time – we only have ten days or so to get in the nomination, and the party must be registered by then. So it could already be too late, or we might just make it. If not, we go ahead with the simple independent description.

The party can be registered to a home address for now, but we will quickly move our national HQ to a North Norwich office. We will be undertaking some national advertising, and it is our genuine intention to stand candidates elsewhere come the general election.

In response to all the volunteering offers – yes! All help needed – canvassers, leafletters, office workers, drivers, media handlers, IT campaign organisers, graphic artists, printers, fundraisers, volunteer coordinators, diary keeper, candidate cheerer uppers. Will be looking to establish the office and rent a house in Norwich North very quickly.

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In Memory of Ed Teague, Postman Patel

One of the best and most original voices on this British blogosphere has fallen silent with the death this morning of my friend Ed Teague, better known to many as the blogger “Lord Patel”.

I will be forever in Ed’s debt. When I pitched up in Blackburn, cold and friendless, to make a stand against Jack Straw, he read about me in the local paper, turned up and became my campaign manager. He had enormous dynamism and fantastic managerial skills. If we managed as independents to prise out 2,000 votes from this most corrupt of NuLab rotten boroughs, which has officially the third lowest educational achievement in England, it was entirely due to Ed’s ingenuity.

We were both stunned by the obstacles put in our way. I was not aloowed to take part in candidates’ hustings hosted by the Churches. I was banned from a Radio 4 Blackburn candidates’ debate. I was not given the legally obliged access to public owned meeting rooms. The local Post Office didn’t start delivering my electoral addresses until the day before polling. I could go on. Ed fought and fought with relentless energy, and never let it depress him.

The full name of his blog – Postman Patel and His Dog Jack – was a reference to Lord Patel, Jack Straw’s other corrupt Blackburn peer besides Lord Taylor of Blackburn. Lord Patel was dubbed “Postman Patel” by Ed because of his tight gripped control over Blackburn’s Muslim Community, used to farm postal ballots for New Labour. Blackburn had the highest incidence of postal voting in the UK – three times the UK average. That is why Lord Patel is a Lord.

The reward system for corrupt cronies is of course why Gordon Brown is so adamantly against a democratic House of Lords. The suspension of Lord Taylor for corruption was not an aberration. Corruption is the purpose of the unelected chamber, as far as New Labour are concerned.

So that is why Ed was Postman Patel – and his dog Jack should be obvious to you now too (though he seems to have dropped off the blog heading latterly).

So please, go to Ed’s blog and just savour for a while a unique and courageous voice. Much missed, I hope by all the blogosphere, of whatever political view.

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Guardian on Norwich North

Excellent article in the Guardian on my candidacy for Norwich North.

Murray is currently the rector of the University of Dundee and a prolific blogger. The Foreign Office forced him out of his job as ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2003 for failing to toe the British line on intelligence obtained under torture.

Asked if he was standing out of revenge, Murray said: “I wouldn’t put it that way. I want to show the government that it cannot use its power against individuals with impunity, and that honest people can fight back.”

He added: “The point is to encourage more independents to stand. We need more people who genuinely want to serve the interests of their constituents. I’ve always believed that parties are part of the problem and the expenses scandal is symptom of the problem.”

Read the whole thing:

For students of irony, I just received an email from a friend who works in Portcullis House. Apparently some Blairites are hoping I win in order to put more pressure on Brown while slowing the Tory bandwagon!

Given it was the Blairites who had me sacked as Ambassador for disagreeing with their collusion with dictatorship, that is just weird. Some people’s support I can do without.

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How Our Money Vanished

I have just finished reading an absolutely brilliant exposition of the banking crisis by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books (hat-tip George Monbiot).

Lanchester’s explanation of how the disaster happened is clear and brilliant, though it need concentration and a nice cup of tea. These are his conclusions, with which I generally agree:

It’s for this reason that the thing the governments least want to do ?” take over the banks ?” is something that needs to happen, not just for economic reasons, but for ethical ones too. There needs to be a general acceptance that the current model has failed. The brakes-off, deregulate or die, privatise or stagnate, lunch is for wimps, greed is good, what’s good for the financial sector is good for the economy model; the sack the bottom 10 per cent, bonus-driven, if you can’t measure it, it isn’t real model; the model that spread from the City to government and from there through the whole culture, in which the idea of value has gradually faded to be replaced by the idea of price. Thatcher began, and Labour continued, the switch towards an economy which was reliant on financial services at the expense of other areas of society. What was equally damaging for Britain was the hegemony of economic, or quasi-economic, thinking. The economic metaphor came to be applied to every aspect of modern life, especially the areas where it simply didn’t belong. In fields such as education, equality of opportunity, health, employees’ rights, the social contract and culture, the first conversation to happen should be about values; then you have the conversation about costs. In Britain in the last 20 to 30 years that has all been the wrong way round. There was a reverse takeover, in which City values came to dominate the whole of British life.

It’s becoming traditional at this point to argue that perhaps the financial crisis will be good for us, because it will cause people to rediscover other sources of value. I suspect this is wishful thinking, or thinking about something which is quite a long way away, because it doesn’t consider just how angry people are going to get when they realise the extent of the costs we are going to carry for the next few decades. I think we will end up nationalising at least some of our big banks because the electorate will be too angry to do anything that looks in the smallest degree like letting them get away with it. Banks can’t change their behaviour, so we have to do it for them, and the only way to do it is to take them over. We can’t afford any more TBTF.

I get the strong impression, talking to people, that the penny hasn’t fully dropped. As the ultra-bleak condition of our finances becomes more and more apparent people are going to ask increasingly angry questions about how we got into this predicament. The drop in sterling, for instance, means that prices for all sorts of goods will go up just as oil and gas prices have spiked downwards. Combined with job losses ?” a million people are forecast to lose their jobs this year, taking unemployment back to Thatcherite levels ?” and tax rises, and inflation, and the increasing realisation that the cost of the financial crisis is going to be paid not over a few years but over a generation, we have a perfect formula for a deep and growing anger. Expectations have risen a lot, over the last three decades; that’s going to have a big impact on how furious people feel about the hard years ahead. The level of future public spending cuts implied in Darling’s recent budget ?” which included the laughably optimistic idea that the economy will grow by 1.25 per cent next year ?” is greater than the level of cuts implemented by Thatcher. Remember, that’s the optimistic version. If we’re lucky, it won’t be any worse than Thatcherism.

But it is the forensic examination of RBS before this which is most enlightening. I understood most of the principles, but to have the detail set out so clearly is very useful.

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Comments Policy

I am in a quandary what to do about comments policy. This blog has become quite a popular internet forum. It has a very liberal attitude to free speech. But yesterday we had a car crash. It started with someone making some highly personal comments about me, to which I replied but which I was content to leave. It then got much worse as somebody started posting foolish threats of violence, allegedly in my support. I know the thtreats were not meant literally, but that was extremely stupid and hardly contributed to debate.. We then had a racist epithet thrown.

I know because I am standing for election there are bound to be efforts to insult me or discredit me through posting or quoting other people’s comments on my blog. But I can live with that.

I closed comments, appealed for calm, and deleted the worst. But then overnight somebody has started to propound complete nonsense about zionist and illuminati plans, drawing on a long tradition of Eastern European hate forgery.

No comments on this blog represent my own views except my original articles and comments over my own name.

But from now on, comments off topic from the original link will be deleted. And off topic includes “ah, but this is all caused by such and such a dark force which is behind every development in the economy/foreign affairs/religion.”

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Norwich North Starting Line

This really sounds interesting. According to tonight’s Norwich Evening News, my friend Rupert Read could be the Green candidate while fellow blogger “Norfolk Blogger” Nick Starling could be the Lib Dem candidate. New Labour still have to pick someone to come last.

Based on recent results in the constituency young financial services executive Chloe Smith must start the bookies’ favourite to win it for the Tories.

Here is her website.

I think we can win this one. A very high proportion of people seem to realise that just swapping New Labour for Tory isn’t going to make the changes this country needs.

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Jack Straw: Nothing To Do With Us Guv: We’ve Only Been In Power Twelve Years

Jack Straw just made a most hypocritical statement in parliament in which he nobly said “I accept full responsibility” and then proceeded to claim he and the government had been perfect, but a lot of other people had been useless.

He was talking of the brutal murders of French students Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez.

Now we will never stop all murder. The killers did it, not Jack Straw. We will never stop all crime. But, as with the case of Baby Peter, in this instance there had been frequent contacts with the authorities in which the authorities ought to have intervened. One of the killers, Sonix, should have been in jail for several different reasons, and was not in jail only because of an extraordinary string of institutional failures.

Except that Straw just explained the institutions did not fail at all. New Labour has been in power for twelve years, so there was “No problem of under-resourcing”. It was instead a catalogue of individual mistakes by everyone except New Labour. It was all due, said Straw, to “Poor judgement and poor management within the probation service and individual failures within the Metropolitan Police and Prosecution Service”.

Yep. Probation officers, policemen, prosecutors, completely useless, the lot of them. Jack Straw’s system is perfect. But you just can’t get the staff nowadays. But Jack told us he had already acted. He had sacked the head of the London Probation Service.

This is the antithesis of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. You sack a middle level civil servant as a scapegoat and explain it was all their fault.

Straw went on to outline Gordon Borwn style lying statistics of the extra resources that had been put into the services involved. But everyone knows that “extra resources” in public service go into exercises to determine centrally ordered performance targets, which themselves change emphasis with the tabloid headlines. You then have to design all the forms to measure the targets and all the accountants to cost resource spend per target measure achieved. Often there are artificial internal market procedures to monitor and administer too. Loads of accountants for that. And the people at the sharp end find career progression much more dependant on internal form filling ability than on the activity where you interact with the real world you are meant to affect. Then there is the constant pressure not to put people in jail, the jails being too full – for the most part with non-violent offenders, mental health cases and drug addicts.

The serious point of all this is that New Labour continually takes it on itself to blame civil servants for system failings. New Labour did everything good, but are nothing to do with anything bad, as if they had not been in charge for the last twelve years.

Jack Straw’s “I accept responsibility” before going on to deny it ad nauseam was too sickening for words. New labour have become a parody of themselves.

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Truly Horrible

Here is a profile of the really appalling man who has been elected in Yorkshire and Humberside to be a MEP (hat-tip to Harry’s Place).

It is astonishing to me that some ten per cent of any British electorate could vote for this. It makes me truly, terribly sad. It is certainly true that New Labour neglected the interests of ordinary people they took for granted, and were seen to spend more public resources on immigrant communities. That is not an entirely false perception. But the answer is to enfranchise ignored estates and help bring them into the wider community, not to turn towards fascism.

Education is also a major part of the problem, with appalling standards in failed communities and an excessively dictated curriculum that has abandoned much of the traditional liberal curriculum.

New Labour has also overseen the fruition of effectively racially segregated state schools throughout Northern England.

I have not heard even one mention of that appalling fact in all the analysis of why the BNP is making progress. Separate Catholic and Protestant schools in Northern Ireland were a main cause of bonding apart separate communities and inculcating hatred of the “other”. Forcible racial mixing in education – “bussing” – was absolutely key to the eventual success of the civil rights movements in the US. This must be tackled here.

A note on Harry’s Place, through which I found the excellent article linked above. In the post below about the EDP, the proprietor of Harry’s Place posted unpleasant personal comments about my being a manic depressive and my wife an “ex sex-worker”, which description he then justifies by saying it includes belly dancers.

Harry’s Place is a website which has an openly avowed purpose of defending the interests of the State of Israel and of US policy in the Middle East. They have every right to do that, as I have a right to disagree.

But I would make a plea to them, faced with the real problem of this rise in support for the BNP. Concentrate your fire on people who are actual racists and anti-semites. This is really not the time to attack people like me – liberals who believe that Israel has cruelly mistreated the Palestinians. We need to fight the racists together.

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The Eastern Daily Press – known locally as the EDP – is one of Britain’s regional newspapers with surviving real influence. It is said to be still the highest selling newspaper in Norfolk. My grandparents had the EDP delivered every day, plus the North Norfolk News on Fridays (and the Pink’Un on Saturdays). They would never have dreamt of buying a national paper.

It was founded in the mid nineteenth century by the leading Norwich families – the Colemans (of mustard fame), Jarrolds (publishers and booksellers) and the Copemans. There was another family too but their name escapes me. What the Copemans did apart from the paper I am not sure, but they ran the paper literally for generations and produced at least one great editor, Tom Copeman, an inspirational man of a radical turn of mind, In the early 1970s, Tom retired to Sheringham, where he lived three streets from us.

I think I first got to meet the retired Tom at a Third World First meeting when I was about fourteen. He was, I think, quietly amused by my strong desire for justice allied to ignorance of – well, almost everything. We formed an unlikely friendship and I used to visit him on winter’s evenings, sit on his floor,and drink his coffee, chat and learn. I would meet people who to my small world seemed extraordinarily cosmopolitan. (You will laugh at me, but when I went to Chicago at the age of 20, I was asked if I wanted some pizza, and I had never heard the word before)!

I remember Tom telling me he had been sent to Arctic Russian – Murmansk I think – to link with the White Russians and fight the bolsheviks. It had been a complete shambles; they were not equipped properly for the Arctic and casualties had been very high, despite never really working out who they were meant to fight. The terrible futility and suffering of it all had convinced him that wars should only be fought in direct self-defence.

Tom left an imprint on my political thinking which undoubtedly helped me form the broadly liberal views I have stuck with since those days. If it were not for Tom and a few others like him, I would not have been the only person to quit the FCO or security services over what the government has finally admitted is a policy of using intelligence obtained by torture.

All of which I hope leads you to understand why I was a bit hurt to read this in the EDP today:

Mr Murray was appointed British ambassador to Uzbekistan at the relatively young age of 43, and was dismissed from the post in October 2004. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office denied any controversy and said it was for “operational reasons”.

He separated from his wife, with whom he has two children, after starting a relationship with an Uzbek woman whom he met while she was working as a belly dancer in a night club. She followed him when he left Uzbekistan and they married in May.

I do trust that, in the interests of balance, the EDP will publish a detailed history of the love lives of all the other candidates for the last seven years.

Sadly, the EDP has become perhaps the most rabidly Conservative paper in the UK. Its coverage of the largest political demonstration the UK has ever seen was, amazingly, even more biased than that of the Sun. The EDP ran an editorial denouncing the “ragbag coalition” of people it characterised as Marxists, supporters of dictatorship, pacifists and swampies. If there are over a million of those in the country, we are in trouble.

I hope the EDP has very deep pockets, because it employs as a columnist the well known libeller, Tory Iain Dale. Dale recently admitted guilt in libelling Tom Watson MP, and cost the Mail on Sunday 350,000 pounds including all costs. I have a notion of how I might find I am able to fund my Norwich campaign…

Iain Dale is of course all over the media nowadays and has become a political force to be reckoned with. In fact, through his EDP column, we can now see what psephologists are dubbing the “Iain Dale effect” for the Tories.

The “Iain Dale effect” can be seen most clearly in North Norfolk, where Iain Dale was the Tory parliamentary candidate at the last general election. Look at the council results last Thursday for North Norfolk.

Look at that map. You can immediately see Iain Dale’s constituency. Just join up those two big yellow blocks. Against the trend in the rest of Norfolk and the rest of the region, in North Norfolk there was a swing from the Tories to the Lib Dems of seven per cent and the Lib Dems had a net gain from the Tories of four seats.

That’s the Iain Dale effect.

The Tories of North Norfolk have sensibly dumped him in favour of some fat Norwich solicitor. I do hope he turns up in Norwich North to campaign against me. Could be just the boost I need.

I can’t let that map go without congratulating Brian Hannah on his victory in Sheringham. Brian’s father Joe was my grandfather Henry Grice’s best friend. Joe taught me to cut hay with a scythe, which is much harder than it looks. I shall stop before I drown in nostalgia.

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