Monthly Archives: July 2009


Auditors Bribe Tories

There is an excellent article today in the Independent (thanks, Stephen) about the massive contribution to the Tories from accountancy firms.

Analysis by The Independent has revealed that leading companies including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG, have given the Tories nearly £500,000 since the start of last year as they attempt to build ties with the party that has a double-digit lead in the polls.

The firms involved already hold government contracts worth millions of pounds between them. More consultancy contracts would be on offer for auditors and consultants as the party would be forced to grapple with making vast savings across the public sector should it form the next government.

http://tinyurl.com/kuqmul

The Independent reckons these firms already have £4 billion worth of government contracts. Of course not only are they accountants and auditors, but “management consultants”. The idea that private sector consultants always know better took full wing under Thatcher and was enthusiastically adopted by New Labour. I have always found the argument that accountants know best how to fight wars, run hospitals and teach to be complete tripe. As the Independent says:

A single KPMG consultant working in the Department for Children, Schools and Families costs the taxpayer £1.35m over three years, a parliamentary inquiry found.

That’s ten teachers. We could make a start to saving public funds by banning the use of external consultants.

But the Tories’ dependence on these people should shatter any illusions that the Tories will better control the financial services sector. The financial services sector will, as always, control the Tories,

Newly elected Norwich North MP Chloe Smith was of course one of those seconded from the sector – from Deloitte – to the Conservative Party. It is an instructive case. After university, Smith worked for two Tory MPs, Gillian Shepherd and James Clappison – the latter famously bought 156 trees at taxpayer expense to mark the boundary of his country estate.

Chloe’s theoretical “Transfer” to Deloitte – while still in fact working for the Conservative Party on secondment – appears to be not only a subvention from Deloitte in taking a full time Tory hack onto their books, but a deliberate attempt to build up Chloe’s CV by making it appear she had not only worked for the Conservative Party.

As the Times put it:

She describes herself as a “business consultant” but is vague about what she does for Deloitte. Perhaps this is because she is on secondment to the Conservatives’ implementation unit

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6719526.ece

There may be one problem for them from this subterfuge strategy – unlike the secondments and donations mentioned in the Independent article, and unlike other secondments from Deloitte, Chloe Smith’s secondment has not been declared to the Electoral Commission as a donation to the Tory Party.

That is illegal.

Deloittes were, of course, auditors to the Royal Bank of Scotland/Natwest before the massive crash. A comment from Praguetory on a post below argued that nothing was wrong with the RBS audit. Well, that is true, if you overlook the failure to flag up the incredible over-valuation of worthless toxic assets, and the failure to warn that the biggest crash in corporate history was imminent.

I posted on this before, and hugely upset a (usually very interesting) accountants’ blog called The Sharpener, which had given a super review to Murder in Samarkand. But the plain truth is that all the first class financial scandals you can name – Polly Peck, BCCI, Enron, Equitable Life, RBS, Allan Stanford, Bernie Madoff – had blue chip accountants who signed off regularly on accounts giving a wholly false picture.

In not one of those case was it the auditors who blew the whistle.

The entire Western accounting system is based on the compliance of morally corrupt little pen pushers. The fact that it is the company which chooses its own accountants and auditors, who have a vested interest in keeping their mouths shut and are never prosecuted when a scheme folds (along with the hopes and savings of millions of investors), is a scandal.

Our jails should hold less desperate social security scammers, and a great many more accountants.

View with comments

Tilting At Windmills

There is a theory in Holyrood that “King Nuke” Brian Wilson’s support for the proposed 550 MW wind power project on Shetland, is based on a desire to see wind power terminally discredited by this over-large scheme.

Of Wilson’s motives I have no view – he was a good man forty years ago at, and immediately after, Dundee University, but like so many his morals appear to have been skewed by contact with Tony Blair.

But wind power needs to generate in serious units like 550 MW if it is to have a real impact on the future of British energy policy. Interestingly, if the Viking project can really be built for £800 million as stated, that is only twice the cost of installing conventional gas turbine plant – and the gas turbines will burn their construction cost again in fuel inside five years, while the fuel for the wind turbines is free.

I confess to having little time for the anti-wind turbine lobby. There are environmental consequences to any energy generation, of course, inclusing wind turbines. All human activity impacts the environment. But compared to the environmental costs of extracting and combusting fossil fuels, the impact of wind turbines is much less damaging.

Yes, you have to join them with roads and cable ducts. Of course that has an impact on the environment – as does mining and smelting the steel, etc. But I am not a fan of closing down human activity altogether to end our environmental impact. Nor is there a great deal of evidence that birds suffer wholesale massacre. The construction will but scratch the surface of the Shetland wilderness – there are no dams flooding valleys, no mountains being moved. That the wilderness should remain pristine for the benefit of occasional sightseers from the cities – who actually never really visit, they just like to think it is there – is not a major priority.

So I hope Viking, and as many other wind projects as possible, speed ahead. Which is why I am furious at the government allowing the closure of the Vestas blade factory on the Isle of Wight. Any amount of public money is available to bail out casino banking young sharps in the City of London – even though it has put us in debt for generations. But it would be “Wrong” to help our too small stake in the wind turbine industry, according to “Lord” Mandelson.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer has been heavily subsidising the nuclear industry for my entire lifetime…

Returning to Norfolk has re-awakened my fury at the government’s abandonment of much of our coastal defences, as impractical and too expensive. Yet the East Coast is full of reclaimed land, around Kent, North Norfolk and the whole of the Fens. We were doing it for centuries armed only with picks, shovels and buckets. The obvious response to the government’s miserable policy is “tell that to the Dutch”. Infuriatingly, erosion on the Norfolk cost is being increased by the Crown Estate dredging sand offshore – to sell to the Netherlands government to improve their coastal defences.

There are offshore wind farms planned around here, including on the shoals off Sheringham. It seems to me that there must be a tremendous opportunity to combine major new coastal defences with renewable energy capture through wind, tide, wave and current. This is the kind of major and imaginative public works project, like building the Hoover Dam, which adds to the investment capital of a nation and provides jobs and economic activity as we enter serious recession.

View with comments

Internet Troll Attacks

Interesting post on the excellent politicalbetting.com. Mike Smithson has asked whether the strict rules that prevented the BBC giving me any coverage in Norwich North, relating to evidence of past electoral support in the area, will be applied to Esther Rantzen.

http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2009/07/28/will-the-craig-murray-rules-be-applied-to-esther/comment-page-4/

The answer is probably no, they won’t be, as they were not appled to Martin Bell. That is a good thing – they should not be applied, and should not have been applied to me. Fashionable though it is to decry Ms Rantzen, I wish her every success. The point of having more independents in parliament is that they should be independent, not that they should agree about everything.

But I was drawn particularly to a comment on the website. There seems an exponential increase in comment activity on the web designed to portray me as nuts, and this seems to me a particularly egregious example. I post it here with my response:

Comment 40 FPT – Is Craig Murray of Uzbekistan and Norwich North the same one who is lecturing on Out of Body Experiences and Near Death Experiences at the Society for Psychical Research?

No, I am not. Neither am I the film producer, ice hockey player, comedian, aviation photographer, naturalist, police chief, or Duke of Atholl, who all have the same name. Interesting you didn’t choose any of them, but attempt to portray me as someone of curious views.

View with comments

The Deeply Horrible Trevor Phillips and the NUS Monster Spawn

Trevor Phillips, New Labour hack to perfection, is Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – and his re-appointment has caused nearly half of the commissioners to leave.

At a time when human rights in the UK have come under sustained attack, with the effective extinction of habeas corpus, extraordinarily intrusive “Anti-terrorism Acts”, and growth of the surveillance society, Phillips has ensured the Equality and Human Rights Commission has remained absolutely silent on these issues.

Nor have they said a word about the now overwhelming evidence of UK collusion in torture abroad. When Islamophobia was at its height, and Jack Straw chose to make a populist attack on veiled Muslim women, Phillips waded in to back his long term political ally. He has been entirely silent on, but privately is a strong supporter of, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phillips is one of that extraordinary roll of former Presdents of the National Union of Students. As members of the far left, they showed an authoritarianism and disregard for democracy in their student days which has stood them in good stead as leaders, cheerleaders and administrators of New Labour’s authoritarian and aggressive right wing state. They are all ruthless careerists, and also fervently anti-Palestinian.

Jack Straw, Trevor Phillips, Charles Clarke, David Aaronovitch, Sue Slipman, all ex-NUS Presidents – a roll-call of shame indeed. Some on the left are surprised that my CV includes being a leader of the succesful movement to bring Scottish universities out of the NUS in the 1970s and 1980s. I rest my case.

(I knew Mike Phillips, Trevor’s brother, slightly and once had dinner at his home. A lovely man).

View with comments

A 19th Century Horror

Last Wednesday, the day before the by-election, I had my first ever encounter with a bailiff – and highly unpleasant it was.

As it happens, I was not the target. I had rented a large house in Norwich to serve as a campaign HQ, and for the rest of the summer as a haven while I crack on with my next book, Sikunder Burnes. The bailiffs were after the landlord of the property.

The debt in question had started at £700, and is disputed by my landlord. I don’t know the rights and wrongs, but he had lost what he says is but the first court skirmish. His creditors had immediately set the bailiffs upon him. One consequence of this was that a £700 debt had grown to £2,700 with court, legal and bailiff costs added.

The bailiff himself was a large man, with the build and manner of a night club bouncer. To call him aggressive would be unfair, but intimidating and extremely pushy would be fair. The landlord, of course, was not around.

The bailiff introduced himself as a “High Court enforcement officer”. But close inspection of his paperwork indicated that he worked for a company named “High Court Enforcement Group Ltd”, as opposed to working for the High Court. All of his paperwork bore the stamp “High Court Enforcement Group”. I could find nothing with the stamp or signature of an actual judge.

He told me that he was entitled to remove all the contents of the house (which I had rented furnished). I told him I was not satisfied with his paperwork. A standoff of several hours ensued, and eventually a policeman was called. The policeman said the bailiff’s warrant was valid, and this did indeed entitle him to remove all the contents of the house.

I am still not convinced the polceman was right. My brother, who is also a polceman, had told me that I should not accept anything other than a Notice of Distress signed by a judge or court official. This bailiff had nothing signed by anyone other than his own company, though the paperwork did refer to a supposed judgement of a court. But the local policeman was backing the bailiff up.

What was even more extraordinary was his apparent entitlement to remove all the contents of the house. This is a distinguished old place, and there are several individual items each worth more than the debt. The total value would be many, many times the value of the debt. Presumably there was a commercial incentive for High Court Enforcement Group Ltd to take away as much as possible, irrespective of the actual debt.

In the end, I managed to argue past 6pm when the bailff knocked off, and the next morning the landlord arrived with the cash.

But I must emphasise how unpleasant the experience was. I am not accusing the bailiff of doing anything wrong, but he was plainly chosen because he was of a very large, shaven headed, bulging muscled, physically intimidating type. Nadira and baby Cameron were alone in the house when he first came.

For a private company to be allowed to call itself “High Court Enforcement Group Ltd”, and effectively try to pass itself off as an arm of the High Court, must be wrong. I cannot understand how paperwork stamped and signed only by a private firm can be sufficient to enter a home and remove its contents, whatever the policeman said.

In The Trials of Oscar Wilde, Peter Finch gives a brilliantly moving portrayal of the poet. One of the strongest scenes, which has remained with me, is when the bailiffs move in on Wilde’s home to enforce a warrant sale after his legal losses.

I am horrified that we treat debtors still with comparable 19th century brutality. Presumably a great many of the bailiffs’ targets are comparatively poor people. The threatening invasion of homes and ripping out of family belongings must tip many over the edge. It is worth noting that many of the items removed by bailiffs from the poor will be exactly the sort of things – televisions, garden ornaments, dinner services – that MPs were buying in highest quality on the taxpayer.

This way of dealing with debt truly is a barbarous survival, and must be ended.

View with comments

Torture and Denial

The cumulative evidence of UK complicity in torture is now so overwhelming as to be undeniable. Yet nobody is held to account, and in a curious British way, while it is not exactly denied it is not exactly admitted either. Until New Labour are gone, plainly there will be no real moves to get to the bottom of UK complicity. Simply to release the minute, classified Top Secret, of my meeting on 7 or 8 March 2003 in the FCO with Sir Michael Wood (Legal Adviser), Linda Duffield (Director Wider Europe) and Matthew Kydd, (Head, Permanent Under Secretary’s Department) would reveal a great deal of the policy.

There is more evidence in today’s Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/26/alam-ghafoor-torture-uk-intelligence

While Alam Ghafoor was being held tortured in the UAE, the British consul’s half-hearted attempts to fulfil his duty of visiting him in detention were addressed not to the UAE authorities, but to third party. The third party is blanked out from the released documents, along with much else, but the Guardian surmises it is likely to be an MI5 officer.

I am not so sure. It could be, but the style of the minute is more that used in referring to someone representing a different government. MI5 would almost certainly be regularly calling into the Embassy anyway, if operating in liaison with the UAE authorities (MI5 do not do undercover abroad). It seems to me most likely that, even if Ghafoor was first “Fingered” by MI5, the UAE authorities were taking their instructions from the CIA and that is who was being phoned and reported – though these were very strange conversations to have by telephone anyway.

It is a matter of tone and how the FCO write. The minute just reads fine if the CIA were the interlocutor, and feels a bit strange if MI5 were the interlocutor.

View with comments

Libeler Iain Dale’s Sour Grapes of Victory

I was in some danger of falling into the slough of despond, but I have been rescued by the need to defend myself against the ludicrous attacks of Dorries Dale. That anybody can be quite so graceless in victory is something I find hard to comprehend.

Following his statesmanlike “Craig Murray lost his deposit. Ha ha double ha!” posting, Iain Dale has come out with this one:

Perhaps if he had done anything worth reporting, he might have got some media space, but the fact is that the “honest man’s” sole noteworthy contribution to the campaign was to put out a virtually libellous leaflet about Chloe Smith.

I am not sure what the new Dale concept of “virtual libel” is, precisely. Iain is of course an expert on libel, having recently cost the Mail on Sunday a major amount of money as a result of one of his wild and unfounded articles. Having never libeled anybody, I do not need the proven libeler Iain Dale to give me any lessons.

But “virtual libel” seems to be Dale speak for “Truths the Tories do not want want you to know.”

The facts about Ms Smith in the leaflet in question are these:

She was born in Ashford in Kent

She works for Deloitte Touche

Deloitte Touche were accountants and auditors to RBS/Natwest before the crash

Chloe Smith tried to be selected as candidte for Ipswich before being selected for Norwich

Iain Dale does not think you should know any of this – and all of these facts were totally absent from the Tory literature and from Ms Smith’s own website. It is apparently “Virtual libel” to tell inconvenient truths about Tories.

There was a time when Dale’s blog was worth reading, but sadly it has degenerated into the dullest of party propaganda.

Dale has also published an attack on me in the Eastern Daily Press. It is very brave of that paper to run columns by a notorious libeler. He calls me “scurrilous”, again in relation to my truth telling about Ms Smith.

As a believer in free speech, I have never pursued anybody for libel, or threatened anybody with a libel suit. But I am pondering the moral question of whether, in these particular circumstances, it would be good to pursue the case and recover my election expenses? Dale of course is a known and proven libeler already, so I should not be damaging anybody’s reputation. I should be grateful for your views.

I suspect that Dorries Dale’s ire was stoked by the fact that my article on the by-election was published by the Mail on Sunday.

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/debate/article-1202235/CRAIG-MURRAY-I-worst-election-candidate-history–result-losers.html

The Mail on Sunday is of course the very newspaper who are more careful in their dealings with Iain nowadays, after he cost them a lot of money with his libel. I do understand Iain’s resentment that I am writing on the by-election for the biggest selling national Sunday newspaper, while he is confined to a quiet corner of the regional press, but nontheless I do think he is unwise to allow his jealousy to get the better of him.

Another fascinating point is that it turns out that Ms Smith’s “Job” at Deloitte Touche was to be on secondment to the Conservative Party. Is this a disguised form of political donation to get round disclosure rules? It certainly shows how ludicrous it is to belive that the Tories will control the financial services industry. It’s the other way round, I fear.

The blog will emerge from Norwich North mode and start concentrating on world events again, soon. It is taking me a few days to get over it. I cannot get over the feeling that I let down rather badly the wonderful volunteers who came and gave so much.

View with comments

I Was Rubbish

I can’t think of a great deal more to say, except that it is worth noting that the Conservatives are celebrating wildly losing 2,000 of the votes they had at the General Election. It was great to see the New Labour betrayers getting almost totally deserted by their followers, and instructive that the LIBDems also lost a third of their vote.

The real lesson is that the total vote for the three “Main parties” fell from 42,000 votes at the general election to 23,000 now, with each of them shedding votes. That is a profound statistic. The political landscape is indeed shifting sharply, even if my own efforts to affect it were rubbish. Tory braying is futile and shallow.

In this “great victory”, 18% of the electorate voted for them. I know form doostep experience that many of those who stayed at home were not merely apathetic, but actively hostile.

View with comments

Silly Lib Dem Accusation – And The Mystery Solved

From a comment on Norfolk Blogger’s blog – he is still outraged about flyposting:

Frank, what of the missing Lib Dem posters. It’s no BS to state that Murray posters appeared everywhere overnight and that Lib Dems leaving the HQ very late on Sunday noticed our signs were still up and no Murray posters had been stuck up but in the morning Murray posters everywhere and Lib Dem posters removed.

If this is the sort of guy you can bring yourself to support then you are no liberal.

http://norfolkblogger.blogspot.com/2009/07/once-can-be-error-but-twice-oh-mr.html

I should say that I was personally with our poster team and we most certainly did not touch any Lib Dem posters, or any other posters for that matter. What kind of liberal accuses somebody on the sole basis that they happened to be in the area at the time?

STOP PRESS

I think we have solved the mystery. I have been contacted by a local fire crew, who sent me this email three days ago:

May I just say I am not a member of your constituency but I thought you should know about this.

Whilst at work today myself and my colleagues were completely disgusted when we saw a vehicle clearly marked with Labour flags and Stickers traveling around the Chartwell road area taking your posters down.

We did have the sense to take down vehicle details should you require them.

They have the vehicle details in their locker room and will phone them through to me tonight. I will repeat for the sake of the particularly obtuse first commenter on this post, that I was with our posting team on the night in question and we did not remove any posters at all, nor do I believe we have removed any poster of anybody at any stage.

View with comments

Heading For The Polls

Almost there now. The Labour candidate has reportedly gone down with swine flu, and I do hope he gets better soon. I feel ten years younger than I did at the start of the campaign and have enjoyed it enormously.

Two nights ago the BBC Look East programme broadcast a live “Candidates debate” from which I was excluded, and which may have a major effect on the result. The four “Main parties” were included – NuLab, Con, LibDem and Green. The BBC is desperate to shoehorn an outraged public opinion back into support for political parties. They are certainly making it as difficult as possible for independents to campaign.

The BBC also lied to me in that they said that the debate would be between the “main four” parties, but there would be a short “package” on me and on the UKIP candidate, as the other two candidates the BBC was “taking seriously”. That turned out to be a straight lie – they ran a “Package” on the UKIP candidate but not on me. You will recall that Michael Crick from Newsnight said that I had to queue “behind UKIP and the BNP” to be interviewed. Well, I am still waiting.

We had the fun of invading the BBC’s offices and posing with a real dalek, which seemed a fit representative of the BBC’s attitude to democracy. The BBC got very cross.

I have a nasty feeling the turnout could be very low. To say that people are unenthused with politics would be an understatement. With the Conservatives alone having delivered over 20 different leaflets to each house, the public are starting to react against leafletters from any party. As this is our only way to reach people, that is difficult.

But the public meetings we have held have been lively debates with really nice and interesting people. The difficulty is in persuading people that it is worth trying to effect change. To turn electoral despair and disillusion into hope and action is the challenge. I don’t think we have cracked it this time. But it has been an uplifting experience to try.

The other real postive is the change in public mood on the Afghan War. The public on the doorstep appears to be resisting the politicians’ spin that we need to fight it better, and to understand it is a spiral of disaster.

View with comments

Threatening The Powerful

About 20,000 of our 80,000 DVDs have now been delivered, with startling results. People have started phoning up for posters, and coming out of their homes to shake our hands as we go past.

I have knocked on hundreds of doors personally, possibly thousands, in the last three weeks. I can report that I have detected absolutely no public enthusiasm for the Conservative Party. The media’s presumption that this is a shoo-in for Chloe Smith seems based on nothing. In fact, many more people have told me that they are voting UKIP, than have said they are voting for any other party. The large majority say they will either not vote, or will vote for an independent.

The media’s determination to hype the Greens is even weirder. At its most frenetic, the Green campaign has been invisible verging on lacklustre. They seem to think it will help them to be shrilly rude about me, while Rupert their candidate wears ties and tries to look official.

The BBC is doing everything possible to constrainn debate, and in particular to give no time to arguments against banking bailouts or aganst the Afghan War, and to corral political opinion back into the safe custody of the major political parties. Even though our campaign is the only interesting thing in Norwich, and even the Sunday Express reports today that I am “Head and shoulders above” the other candidates in debate, the BBC is excluding me from their live televised “Candidates’ Hustings” on Monday at 22.15.

They are also excluding UKIP. While I disagree with them fundamentally, they also plainly have a right to be heard. The BBC is trying to define the field of politicial debate and choice.

Guidance from the Electoral Commission clearly states that, where there is a candidates’ hustings from which any candidate is excluded, the candidates who take part must divide the cost of the hustings between them and declare it against their election expenses limit.

A BBC broadcast candidates’ debate, where the candidates’ speak for election and answer questions to voters, plainly is not BBC news and editorial content, but a hustings. That hustings reaches the voters through a broadcast, and the cost of the event is both the cost of organisation and the cost of broadcast to the voters. So the entire cost of the BBC broadcast must be divided between the candidates and declared against their election limit.

I am sure the Tories and Lib Dems at least are already over their election limit (to be disguised by false accounting on the cost of centrally printed leaflets). Each has already delivered a dozen different leaflets per voter, several of them in fake newspaper or magazine format. If the BBC hustings cost is divided between those candidates invited to take part – Con, NuLab, Lib Dem and Grren – they wil be tipped well over the limit.

I regret having to take a legalistic approach, but the BBC’s determination to exclude me from the election has to be countered.

Meantime, just as the momentum is really switching our way, we need both people here to help leaflet and canvass, and we need donations to cover the remaining materials and expenses of the campaign. Please, please come. or if you can’t please give something to help the work of those who are here.

View with comments

The Fun of Electioneering

I just received a phone call from a very nice lady. concerned that the obstacles being placed in my way as a candidate may be getting me down. On the contrary, I haven’t had so much fun in ages.

We sit down to dinner about 10pm every evening after the day’s campaigning, usually about 16 of us, guitars come out, someone strikes up on the piano and we have enormous fun, except for my singing, for which the politest word is loud.

If we didn’t scare the political establishment, they would not react so fiercely to us. We get abuse from party hacks on the street, while the parties are tellingly polite to each other and connive to keep me out of broadcast events. Lots of flak now coming on the internet from Tories, Lib Dems (see the immensely dull Norfolk Blogger) and Greens, and lots of trolls on this website. I might start a flyposting storm to wind them up further.

A prize of twenty pounds is offered to anyone who spots Chloe Smith in public with less than six minders.

Reaction on the doorsteps can only be described as extremely warm – and we have witnessed many instances of outright hostility in public reaction to the political parties. So despite the efforts of overpaid BBC execs to bolster the political parties, something really interesting is happening with real people here in Norwich North. The challenge is to turn that in to action at the ballot box.

Get yourselves to Norwich now – you are missing a lot of fun!

View with comments

Oh, The Shame, The Shame!! I think I’ll Have To Kill Myself

Preening Tory “Dorries” Dale has exposed me on his blog as a “Liar” because I said somethng had happened two days ago, when it happened three days ago.

I guess I’ll just have to give up blogging now…

He does rather fail though to address the point that “Norfolk through and through” Chloe Smith tried to become candidate for Ipswich before settling for Norwich.

The Tories “Norfolk throguh and through” candidate was born in Kent and works in London, even though she claims on her leaflets to live in Norwich. Hell of a commute. Indeed in a Daily Telegraph video interview she clearly states she visits Norwich at weekends. Who was the interviewer? Why, Iain Dale…

View with comments

Taking The Offensive

The local BBC are broadcasting a live TV debate between the “Four Main Candidates” – none of whom has anything interesting to say – on 22 July at 22.15. I am excluded lest I say something voters might actually care about. Like the need to end the war in Afghanistan, where our troops are dying to protect a government of corrupt warlords and heroin dealers, in the interests of the right of US companies to build oil and gas pipelines over Afghanistan from Central Asia.

I have of course been Ambassador to neighbouring Uzbekistan and know what I am talking about. Much better to exclude me therefore.

With Michael Crick of Newsnight following Chloe Smith around Taverham and Drayton yesterday like an obedient if over-excited lapdog, the media are treating the by-election as the coronoation of the blessed Chloe. Time I think that some of the less convenient facts about her were exposed – like her attempt to be MP for Ipswich, which will be very unpopular here in Norwich. The media know about this, but are keeping it quiet not to upset their putative new masters.

So I had fun with this. Hope you do too.

http://www.putanhonestman.org/

Incidentally, yesterday Chloe was walking along the main road with five minders, while six minor lackeys including Iain Dale ran ahead from house to house rousing the inhabitants and asking them if they wanted to meet Chloe Smith. She went for at least half a mile and not one person took up the offer. The voters may be less inclined than the media to assume they have to vote for her.

View with comments

Totalitarian Dictatorships Are Very Tidy

Totalitarian dictatorships are generally extremely tidy places. In Uzbekistan, even with major massacres, the streets are sluiced down within a few hours, bullet holes filled in, walls repainted, new flower beds instantly in bloom. There is never any litter, nothing out of place.

Democraries are by contrast messy. Members of the ultra-boring blogging tendency (Iain Dale, Norfolk Blogger) etc have been attacking my campaign for fly-posting. That conjures up unpleasant images of derelict buildings and bridges with scores of tatty mouldering posters pasted to them, for months.

We have been attaching posters, on hardboard, with cable ties, to lamp-posts and other street furniture in the constituency. We have been careful to avoid traffic lights and not to cause obstruction. We will remove all trace after the election. This is the common practice in elections over much of the UK.

The political parties, who don’t want people to be reminded of a wide range of democratic choice, are pretending to be outraged. The council have been going around scrupulously removing my posters. Interestingly, they have not been removing the numerous other posters on street furniture in Norwich, including scores for something called a “Bang Fest”. I don’t know what that is, but it sounds fun.

There are occasions where my poster and another poster are on the same lamp-post. They have only removed mine. The peculiar explanation they give is that mine are the only ones they have received complaints about.

Anyway, much better to keep the lamp-posts free from temporary posters, than have an outbreak of political expression outwith the political parties. Where might that end?

View with comments

Ministry of Justice Blocks My Electoral Address: BBC Changes The Rules: UCU Bars Me From Candidates’ Debate

STOP PRESS

With grateful thanks to famous human rights lawyers Birnberg Peirce, (who advised I had a complete legal right) the Royal Mail have now at the last possible second relented and accepted that I can send out a DVD as an Electoral Communication. So we are going full blast to get it out!!

This has so far been a rollocking campaign of small victories, all achieved because of the friends I have made in my civil rights work over the years. I am both buoyed and humbled.

Every candidate in a parliamentary election has the right to have one “election communication” delivered free of charge by the Post Office.

These are normally rather dull leaflets, so I decided to put my election address on a DVD. It’s rather picturesque and entitled “A Norfolk Journey”. 80,000 copies are being made.

The Post Office is so far refusing to deliver it. The “election communication” must meet the Post Office’s “Reasonable Terms And Conditions” for such communications. These are published. The main ones are that it:

Must weigh less than 60gm – mine is less than 40gm

Must be less than 5mm thick – mine is 2mm thick

Must meet length and width criteria – mine is well inside

Must be securely folded or in a sealed envelope – mine is the latter

Must marked “electoral communication” amd carry printed and published info – mine does

Must be sorted by postcode and address – mine is.

Extraordinarily, the Post Office must also vet the content for libel, incitement to violence or incitement to racial hatred. That is a strange bit of censorship – they don’t check the content of normal mail theydeliver – but my DVD passes that test too.

There is nothing in the criteria at all that says the communication must be in the 14th century medium of printed ink on paper. The regulations are silent on the medium of communication. If you took a DVD in an envelope to any Post Office, you would have no difficulty posting it as a letter.

Yet the Post Office refuses to give permission for the delivery, apparently on the grounds that nobody has ever sent a DVD before as their election communication. They have not actually refused, but have delayed beyond the stage where it is logistically possible to get it out.

They are acting, they say, on legal advice from the Ministry of Justice – prop. Jack Straw! The man who brought you the dodgy dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.

At the moment, it looks like the voters of Norwich North will be denied my electoral address before they vote – unless we can get a real flood of volunteers in to deliver them ourselves.

Even more sleazy is the BBC’s response to the many complaints about their decision to exclude me from all election coverage. They have started to send out standard replies saying:

one of the key factors they look for is “evidence of past and/or current electoral support” in that electoral area.

Note the BBC’s own quotation marks within that quote. They have tacked on “In that area” to their formal criterion.

When the BBC banned me from all coverage at the last General Election when I stood in Blackburn against Jack Straw, who is blocking my electoral address now, the BBC explained it was because I had no “evidence of past and/or current electoral support”.

I gained 5% in that election – which is a lot better than the 3% the Greens got in the same election in Norwich North. That 5% may have been modest, but it does meet the BBC’s criterion. So the BBC have now moved the goalposts to exclude me, by adding a brand new stipulation “in that area” to their criterion, so the electoral support in Blackburn does not count – despite the fact I might reasonably expect to do a lot better in my own county.

Finally, despite numerous representations from within their own union, the Universities and Colleges Union have still banned me from this evenings candidates’ education debate, despite the fact that I am the Rector of a Univeristy and a great deal more interesting on the subject than the rest of the candidates put together.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/06/the_value_of_ed.html

View with comments

URGENT HELP NEEDED

The reaction we are getting on the streets of Norwich North is tremendous, When we talk to people they are sick of corrupt politicians, sick of vast sums of their money being handed to banks, sick of war and the deaths of young men.

There is a real chance in Norwich North to land a real blow on the dinosaur political parties that are so comfortable in exercising ever increasing power over us. If we can win in Norwich North, it will give momentum to the cause of independent people in parliament and could build momentum towards challenging the big party dominance at the coming general election.

BUT – while the ground is fertile, we have to sow the seed. We have an extremely energetic campaign, and those voters we reach are very sympathetic. But still, less than half of the people when asked know that I am standing. The media are wilfully ignoring us.

THERE ARE JUST TWO WEEKS TO GO

We have some major campaign surprises up our sleeve which can break through to public awareness and win this, including a first in British electoral history. But we desperately need manpower to do it.

So far 37 volunteers have delivered leaflets for us. That is wonderful, but not nearly enough. There are 79,000 voters in over 30,000 households, and we need to leaflet each one twice more in two weeks, and to speak to people.

I am urging you to get yourself here and help. If you can just come for one afternoon, and deliver a few hundred leaflets, that is already a huge assistance. If you can persuade others to come, that is wonderful. Best of all is if you can come and stay a few days – we have room, but it would help if you can bring bedding. Please come, and please urge anybody you can to come.

We gave to show that an independent can stand against the system without simply being knocked down by the sheer organisational muscle of the big parties.

So please, please come and help me now.

CRAIG MURRAY

PUT AN HONEST MAN INTO PARLIAMENT

View with comments

Craig Murray Banned From Candidates’ Education Debate

It has realy started in earnest now. Before the election was called, we had booked halls for the meeting schedule which you have seen. One of these was Hellesdon High School this Friday, 10 July.

The school has now phoned to say the Governors have decided not to permit my meeting -despite Nick Clegg having already held a by-election meeting there.

This is not just unfair, it is illegal. The Electoral Commissions rules state:

6.1 Once an election is called, candidates are legally entitled to use publicly funded schools and other public meeting rooms for election meetings free of .charge…..

It is happening again exactly as it did in Blackburn, where I was never permitted my entitlement to public rooms. Exactly as in Blackburn, I have followed Electoral Commission guidance and complained to the Returning Officer, who has done nothing. Returning Officers, as with Colin Bland here, are usually the chief executive of the local authority, and as such are normally party loyalists of the governing party. In our current state of politics, I don’t trust them at all.

STOP PRESS

In fact the Returning Officer Colin Bland has now told the school they are not legally entitled to bar candidates, and the school have apologised for not being aware of the legal position. So we are back on. A small but pleasant victory.

It is also worth adding that, while maintaining my distrust of returning officers, particularly chief executives of Labour councils in Labour rotten boroughs, here Colin Bland appears to be doing the right thing so far.

I am also being excluded from candidates’ hustings. The first is a debate on the future of education. I am far more qualified on this than any other candidate. The debate is being organised by the Univerisities and Colleges Union (UCU). This time the excuse for banning me is that I did not score highly in a poll which was conducted before I was a candidate and in which my name was not mentioned!

Hi Craig,

Lisa tells me you are enquiring about our event this Thursday. I took the decision to invite only those candidates shown by our poll to have a chance of winning the seat.

It is nothing personal, or any reflection – either positive or negative – on your platform and I wish you all the best for your campaign.

Best

Matt

[email protected]

I have really had enough.

Matt,

That is not acceptable. Your poll was conducted before I declared my candidacy and as you know well, I was not included in your poll.

As you also know well, at every bookmakers I am currently on shorter odds than the Lib Dems, just behind the Greens and overhauling them in the odds day by day.

As you know, I am the Rector of the University of Dundee and I have a much higher profile on education issues than any of the other candidates in Norwich North. I am also an honorary fellow of the University of Lancaster.

I have played a leading role in anti-cuts campaigns in Scotland’s universities in close liaison with the UCU, and have defended UCU members in individual cases on University Court. For someone who has voluntarily given so much to UCU members, to be kicked in the teeth like this by the UCU over an education debate is completely outrageous.

I will take direct action to take my rightful place in your debate, and you will need to call the police physically to prevent me.

I think the UCU having one of their higher profile allies arrested should be a fascinating spectacle for all. It would be much better if you were prepared to speak to me. I am on 07979 691085.

Craig

They will also need to ask the police to act illegally in stopping me from speaking at Hellesdon High. I have taken enough of this.

View with comments