Blogito Ergo Sum? 236


I am afraid that the result of Norwich North by-election has severely dented my appetite for blogging. When I put my views to the electorate and asked for their support, I could hardly have been more comprehensively rejected. I was convinced we could get a respectable vote of 7% in Norwich North and have something to build on.

I am not interested in the smug self-satisfaction of believing I have access to a knowledge or analysis denied to the “ordinary” people. Nor do I think that people in the UK have lost their capacity for sensible judgement, or that political discourse needs to be dumbed down to try to achieve a wide appeal. The fact is that Norwich North showed that no significant minority of the general populace has any interest in what I have to say.

So the urge to give comment and information on the sick farce of the Afghan elections, the extraordinary and cynical charade over the Lockerbie “bomber”, or even the hope destroyed in University admissions this year, has been nullified by an awareness that what I think is of no account.

It is not a case of feeling sorry for myself. It is a long overdue hit of realism. I have frequently complained, for example, that the damning evidence I gave on the British government’s complicity in torture was almost totally ignored by the mainstream media. The reason is that the media is not manipulative, it is merely making a shrewd and correct commercial decision that almost nobody cares.

There are moments that change lives. I was fairly stoic at the Norwich North count. I was then struck by a catharsis. After the declaration of results, the candidates made their speeches from the platform. When it came to my turn, Chloe Smith walked off the platform and stood in front of me and the media pack noisily formed around her. The officials started chatting among themselves about what they were doing at the weekend. I was left in the position of having to make the customary comments to a noisy room in which most backs were turned on me and only a very few were politely pretending to listen.

I cannot get out of my head the idea that my blogging is but the virtual equivalent.


236 thoughts on “Blogito Ergo Sum?

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  • David McEwan Hill

    Perhaps you canunderstand why so many people with a cause hold their noses,bite the bullet and join mainstream parties – and the best of them survive the experience to become respected “independent” voices inside the parties they choose to join.

    Problem is I cannot imagine any political grouping in England I would vaguely want to join. In Scotland we have at least two interesting alternatives (nationalists and socialists) and a cause that is keeping the spotlight on political objectives. The sorry fact however is tha the media and those who control and own it now determine UK elections. I hold no brief at all for Gordon Brown (a severe understatement) but he is politically dead man walking because the media has determined so. Democracy in the UK is in a very dangerous place – if in fact it lives at all.

  • Paul J. Lewis

    “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” – Gandhi

  • technicolour

    “I never climbed any ladder: I have achieved eminence by sheer gravitation” (George Bernard Shaw)

  • Dodoze

    None of us can know the catalytic impact of the words we give to the world. It may be that the means need change but the effect is not through the visible count of an audience.

    The combination of the new propaganda, the self-serving sycophancy and ambition of the adherents of the new establishment with the diversions and attention-span dilutions of the mass audio-visual media might seek to extend to all of those who apparently no longer care. For when they no longer care they are no source of threat to that establishment and its power.

    At such times, continuity of a voice for truth, however small, is vital.

    At such times, that small voice for truth helps all of those, as with myself, who try to cling on with our fingernails. For that voice remains as a reminder that we are not alone.

  • technicolour

    Well, I have just read EM Forster’s The Machine Stops, available online.

    It is all very annoying, isn’t it? I have just come back from a spelll of not listening to much apart from Mozart, Bach and birdsong, and braved Radio 4 news again, which was like listening to an Escher print.

  • jo abbess

    Mr Murray,

    You are a man of honour as you tell the truth, openly, despite your fear and feelings of powerlessness.

    That you may have few listeners or few readers is not a reason to fall silent in weariness.

    Where else may one start a role of greatness but at the bottom ? And a major change of course in life always necessitates a rebuilding.

    Self-doubt is natural, and a useful tool.

    However, my advice to you is this : even though you may not have been permitted authority by democratic vote, you still have command of the facts and a vision of justice, and these are more powerful than the forces of defeat or humility.

    Act like you’re in charge and you will be, officially sanctioned role or no officially sanctioned role.

    My great respect and the strongest of best wishes,

  • ingo

    To cheer this up a bit, all our critical expectations on the electoral process in Afghanistan have been answered by what has happened yesterday. Karzai’s wobbly make’s it clear that he has no intend to allow a fair election, or a second election.

    Paddy Ashdown says that Holborrks intervention is wrong, that we should apease these heroin pushing warlorads and get along with them for now to stop a possible pashtun versus Northern alliance tribal clash and war.

    Our support for Karzai and the war on terror has not brought any advances in any of the Stan’s, termez is still the main crossing for tons of heroin and I suspect that US flights out of Karshy Khanabad are used, underhand off course, to fly the stuff around the world. With it come all the human rights abuses that come with narcotrafficking and with keeping the population quiet. Karzai, so it seems has lost or is loosing US support, soon the country will be in the pre state of civil war and NATO, unless they are getting out soon, will be entrenched in it up to the hilt.

    Israels insistence on a new kind of deal, i.e. Iran sanctions versus a stop of settlement building in the west bank, alone, is a new ludicrous attempt by Netanyahu to widen Israels foreign policy influences, equally their meddling with India, trying to undermine Pakistans internal security with their support for LashkaIToiber, is undermining US policies as presented to us, unless they have not changed since Obama’s election. This war ion terrorism is now widening to ever greater fronts and the establishment of seven bases into Columbia opening up most of South America up to US reach is a further sign of their undeminished hegemonial drive.

    Unless I hear Obama denounce the principal aims that guide their Council for Foreign Relations, I will rest my trust in his academic fervour.

    Another point, what has Brzezinski still got to do in a US Government, it was his book ‘American primacy and its geostartegic Imperatives’ that send us out on this ‘self perpetuating’ path to a futile war on terror, he should be resigning or prosecuted for his deviousness beyond contempt.

    I hope that cheered everyone up and get you all going again, including Craig.

    Norwich North has finished, anybody wanting to know how young chloe is getting on can watch, dare I say comment on this watchfull blog.

    http://chloesmithwatch.blogspot.com/

    enjoy

  • david McEwan Hill

    Come home, Craig. There is a great cause requiring a coordinator to pull all the facts together and establish in the publuc domain what many of us have known for years

    Al Megrahi had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bomb.

    The UK and the US was complicit in the biggest stitch up in history.

    The trial at Camp Zeist (with no jury)was a travesty.

    The only – repeat only – evidence which purported to link al Megrahi with the bomb came from a small Maltese shopkeeper who retired to Oz on the $2million he got for providing his testimony.

    US government officials and agents were warned by the US not to travel on that flight.

    Al Megrahi has now named a Syrian living in the US as a double agent who planted the bomb.

    I could go on and on………

    The United Nations observer at the trial described it as a “gross miscarriage of justice”.

    The grossest ever,in fact.

    As the Arabs say – the truth never dies but its presently not far from death on this affair. I believe that the whole world will know the truth before long if all good men get together and demand the full inquiry which is essential.

  • David McEwan Hill

    For those prepared to search for the truth from Kenneth Roy’s excellent Scottish Online review

    KENNETH ROY

    on the unanswered questions

    In the interests of justice

    A few nights ago, the man who brought the Lockerbie prosecution gave a short but extraordinary interview to Newsnight Scotland (BBC2). Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the former Lord Advocate, although ‘sympathetic’ to the justice secretary’s decision to release Megrahi, was highly critical of Kenny MacAskill’s handling of the case, suggesting more than once that he should have gone to Washington to explain himself. I am not sure why Mr MacAskill would have wanted to do any such thing; Lord Fraser seemed to think it was a good idea because of America’s importance in the world and its military might. But the more remarkable part of the interview (the part ignored until now) was his reply to a question about the prosecution itself and the reliability of the chief prosecution witness, Tony Gauci.

    Lord Fraser had this to say:

    ‘I have always been of the view and I remain of the view that both children and others who are not trying to rationalise their evidence are probably the most reliable witnesses and for that reason I think that Tony Gauci was an extremely good witness.’

    What on earth could this mean? The fact that the first word to enter Lord Fraser’s mind in dealing with the question was the word ‘children’ was unsettling, children being notoriously suggestible. Perhaps the ‘others’ ?” one presumes he is trying to convey the sense of immature or unintelligent people ?” are equally suggestible. Regrettably the matter was not pursued and so the BBC missed an opportunity to probe Lord Fraser’s thinking.

    Four years ago, in a newspaper interview, the former Lord Advocate caused much consternation with his view of the chief prosecution witness. The words atttributed to him ?” so far as I am aware, he has never denied using them ?” were:

    ‘Gauci was not quite the full shilling. I think even his family would say he was an apple short of a picnic. He was quite a tricky guy. I don’t think he was deliberately lying but if you asked him the same question three times he would just get irritated and refuse to answer.’

    The then Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, was clearly disturbed by this assessment of the witness, pointing out that it was Lord Fraser who had initiated the prosecution of Megrahi and his co-accused. Mr Boyd asked Lord Fraser to clarify his apparent attack on Gauci’s credibility by issuing a public statement of explanation. Megrahi’s counsel, William Taylor, went further: he said that, in view of what was now known, Gauci should never have been presented as a Crown witness. ‘A man who has a public office, who is prosecuting in the criminal courts of Scotland, has a duty to put forward evidence based upon people he considers to be reliable,’ Mr Taylor added. Tam Dalyell, among others, called on Lord Fraser to give sworn testimony to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which was considering Megrahi’s request for a second appeal against conviction. I have no knowledge of whether he did.

    The issue went away; from the public arena at least. But on Newsnight Scotland this week, it resurfaced with Lord Fraser’s assurance that ‘Tony Gauci was an extremely good witness’.

    How can Lord Fraser ?” who is so criticial of the justice secretary’s handling of the case ?” be so confident of his own? What are the grounds for his continuing faith in the credibility of Tony Gauci, the man whose evidence was instrumental in convicting Megrahi of the murders of 270 people?

    Let us remind ourselves of Mr Gauci and his pivotal contribution to the Crown case. He was the owner of a clothes shop in Malta called Mary’s House. On 7 December 1988, so it was alleged at the trial, Megrahi bought from him some clothes and an umbrella. The clothes were then said to have been wrapped around the improvised explosive device that brought the PanAm aircraft down over Lockerbie: this was the only piece of evidence which linked Megrahi to the device.

    But were the clothes sold to Megrahi? Were they even sold on that date? At the trial, Gauci seemed unsure about both these critical points. There was no positive ID: the most he was prepared to say was that the purchaser ‘resembled’ Megrahi. As for the date, if Gauci got that wrong, the rest fell apart. The only date when Megrahi was in the area, the only date when he would have had an opportunity to buy the clothes, was 7 December. Yet Gauci could not be sure that it was 7 December.

    It seems barely credible that, on this unimpressive testimony from the chief prosecution witness, Megrahi was convicted. But worse, much worse, was to follow.

    The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, when it investigated the case, discovered that Gauci had been interviewed no fewer than 17 times by Scottish and Maltese police and that, during these sessions, he had given a series of ‘inconclusive’ statements. The commission formed the view that there was ‘no reasonable basis’ for the court’s judgement that the purchase of the clothes from Mary’s House took place on 7 December. In the commission’s view, ‘additional evidence not heard at the trial’ indicated that the clothes were bought on some unspecified date prior to 6 December. The nature of this new evidence, so damning to the Crown’s case, has never been divulged.

    The commission unearthed further evidence, ‘not made available to the defence’, which established that four days before the ID parade at which Gauci picked out Megrahi, he saw a photograph of Megrahi in a magazine article linking him to the bombing. As the commission put it: ‘….evidence of his exposure to the photograph in such close proximity to the parade undermines the reliability of his identification’.

    And there is yet more. Other, unspecified, evidence not made available to the defence, also unpublished to this day, further undermined (in the commission’s opinion) the reliability, not only of Gauci’s identification of Megrahi, but the court’s finding as to the date of purchase.

    These findings must be regarded with the utmost seriousness. They are the result of a painstaking investigation conducted over a period of four years.

    Why, then, is the additional evidence uncovered during the course of this inquiry not now being made public? Indeed, why is everything the commission knows not now being made public? All we have ever been given is a brief summary of the commission’s findings. Its statement of reasons for referring the case a second time to the court of appeal runs to more than 800 pages, with a further 13 volumes of appendices. This is a monumental work of the greatest importance; it would be difficult to think of a document in the history of modern Scotland more vital to the public interest. Two hundred and seventy people lost their lives; a man who may well be innocent of the terrible crimes for which he was imprisoned will die convicted. Yet 800 pages and 13 volumes of appendices, the record of an inquiry paid for at the public expense, a record which could help to clear Megrahi’s name, are kept secret except for the barest facts.

    The commission said in 2007, when it referred the case to the court of appeal, that it had no power under statute to make copies of its statement of reasons available to the public. Then statute should be changed.

    Lord Fraser has been quite free in his criticisms of others. I will, however, refrain from criticising Lord Fraser. I do, however, propose that the time has come for utter clarity on his part. Taking up the excellent suggestion of his successor Colin Boyd, he should make a full and unambiguous public statement about the credibility, or otherwise, of the chief prosecution witness, dealing with the grave reservations of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Comission. I would be happy to publish such a statement. I challenge him to provide it.

    In 2007, the commission concluded:

    ‘Of the remaining grounds [for appeal], some of which resulted from the commission’s own investigation, the commission has identified six grounds where it believes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred and that it is in the interests of justice [my italics] to refer the matter to the court of appeal.’

    The appeal has now been dropped; judicially, the case is at an end. We are therefore left to assume that the interests of justice will never be served. This is a blot on the conscience of Scotland and it is hard to see how it will ever be eradicated.

  • Anonymous

    Ref the Afghan ‘elections’ – Holbrooke, Ashdown etc. Good cop, bad cop etc. I thought ‘this is the coup de grace’ for the division of the country back to tribal areas and long continued domination. They would have known Karzai was unlikely to unite the country and now they pull the rug from under them/him. It will help the ‘bring then troops home’ movement.

    Under it all the Judaeo-Christian coalition could not run a whelk stall; weapons and great violence are all they know. If they had wanted stability in Afghanistan, the first thing they should have done was to build court houses with their flag flying and then to have sent justice teams around. That was a central need.

    As the others are saying, we implore you Craig to continue. There is so much wrong and injustice to fight.

    This just one example.

    http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m57363&hd=&size=1&l=e

    A run down of Uruknet’s main page provides dozens and dozens of similar horror stories. ( http://www.uruknet.info )

  • ingo

    I find it easiest to believe that Lockerbie was an eye for an eye situation.

    Iran was a little aroused by the ‘accidental’ shooting down of a passenger aircraft, revenge was sworn and third parties approached, as very well researched report by a german team of journalists indicates.

    They seem to have found information that a CIA bag containing class a drugs was to be switched for one with a bomb and that this switch did not happen in Malta but in Frankfurt, whatever Megrahi says. Jibril apparently had a role to play in it, he is a man who then could initiate such events, maybe a Syrian connection, maybe a Lebanese one, but the guilty are still out there, equally stray missiles don’t wash, fingers must have been on buttons and redyness must have been given, so the accidental theory is implausible. If the US would agree to a thourough investigfation into the shooting down of the passenger jet and prosecute/reprimand those responsible, maybe the current deadlock in diplomatic relations would ease somewhat, Lockerbie might become more explainable and other issues primed for debate.

    Instead we are given this strawman debate whether the scottish executive has made the right decision, off bloody cause they have, congratulations to a compassionate humane decision, I take my hate off.

    Mind you it wouldn’t have looked nee good if he’d died in a scottish prison either.

  • Tom Kennedy

    ingo,

    You may be interested in the following excerpt from an email sent to me in 2002. The writer did military service in Korea and is an impeccable source. The email is discussing the bumper opium harvest in Afghanistan after the US invasion.

    “At least in VietNam, there were enough body bags that the tar opium could be shipped to Turkey for processing into heroin on USAF Military Air Transport Service planes with armed uniformed and plainclothes guards, in coffins. It must be rough to have to ship it in a plain brown wrapper.

    Not that the MATS crews were fooled or anything ~ armed plainclothes guard for *coffins*?”

  • anticant

    The US has agreed to a thorough (and honest) investigation!

    I have just seen a herd of pink elephants flying past my window.

  • ianjuggles

    “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

    Thomas Paine, The Crisis

    Some words of encouragement from a former Norfolk blogger who refused to be silenced.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Inspiring quote Ian. Thomas Paine won’t be forgotten and i doubt Craig will be either.

    Craig – there are two basic choices for people involved in politics. Do you stand for whatever you think will be most populat and will fit best with the preconceptions of the majority, as created by big media companies and parties? If you take that to it’s extreme you become like Jack Straw – a career politician, a “dessicated calculating machine” who only considers what will get him the support of the majority and avoid alienating any of them.

    On the other hand you can follow your natural inclinations and say what you think is true, as well as you can approximate it from the sources you have. This will often result in alienating large numbers of voters who are basically uninterested in politics and so easy prey to the propaganda of the alliances between media barons and the leaders of the big parties.

    Now of course that can be taken to extremes too and there’s nothing wrong with trying to persuade people or bringing up issues where you know your position already has the support of the majority.

    However the basic choice will keep coming up on issues where compromise becomes morally wrong and costs other peoples’ lives or sanity and on those issues the only choice will be to be unpopular or keeping silent, with keeping silent being hard to justify to yourself. Iraq, Afghanistan, torture and Megrahi/Lockerbie are four of these issues.

    It seems pretty obvious which choice you’ve usually made and that it’s cost you a lot of votes. That doesn’t mean that you made the wrong choice or that the opinion of the majority can never be changed though.

  • Kerstin in Sweden

    I am sitting i Sweden, reading your blog regularly and with great interest, find it to be one of the most informative bloggs there are, concerning the questions you use to write about.

    So please, do not take that source of information and reflections away from us.

  • mary

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6814420.ece

    Greed lies behind Mr al Megrahi’s release. Some of the usual names from the military industrial complex feature here –

    ‘Mr Blair became the first prime minister since Churchill to travel to Libya when he held his “Big Tent” meeting with Colonel Gaddafi in March 2004. Less than a fortnight later a flight laid on by the Libyan leader’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, brought representatives from British businesses.

    On board were the architect Lord Foster of Thames Bank; Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the former Army Chief of Staff; Sir John Bond, the chairman of HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, and the financier Lord Rothschild. Lord Rothschild brought along his youngest son, Nathaniel, and the party was accompanied by four executives from a public relations firm run by Lord Bell.

    The delegation marked the first steps by British business back into Libya since the United Nations imposed sanctions in 1992. At stake was access to oil and gas reserves and the opportunity to profit from the country’s $90 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority.’

    Related Links

    Is truth about dealings with Libya a mirage?

    Prince may drop Libya trade mission

    Britain’s sustained courtship of Libya

  • suraci

    We are all talking to an ignorant herd of beasts who merely do as they are told. Personally, I have total contempt for the British public, and absolute hatred for those who shepherd their rediculous opinions from here to there with the most rediculous ease.

    The media does not ignore you because they think it commercially the right thing to do, but because they are not permitted to cover what you say. The BBC for instance is these days a total organ of the state. Most BBC news now is about the brave lads in Afghanistan fighting for freedom and democracy, the only question being whether they are properly resourced and compensated. Nothing about the illegality of the wars or those behind them pulling the strings.

    Most are not interested in what you say it’s true, but those that are watching you are the most powerful people on the planet, and they fear both you and bloggers like me. They know that it doesn’t take too much for the mass cattle to turn into a stampede, charging right over them in the process.

    If I ahve one criticism of you it is that you don’t always acknowledge those behind much of the horror in todays world. They are not hard to isolate, by following the money, the control of the media, or even the strange people arrested after 911 before being quietly released on visa irregularities.

  • dorset recluse

    As a reader of this blog I actively seek it out and have generally found something interesting and thought-provoking.

    It’s quite different from the election count audience who may indeed have seemed to be politely pretending to listen.

    The hacks almost invariably cluster around the election winner, driven by an inevitable media cliche and generally not having much time before needing to file copy.

    And independents without already having a nationally-recognised name rarely make any mark at elections – however decent is their platform.

    I certainly am already missing Craig’s comments – and only hope the blog resumes.

  • ingo

    thanks for that little insight Tom. Since the Laos triangle production fell, Afghanistan has been in the forefront of this trade, most of it clandestine. Some of it finds its way over the western border into Iran, most of it is coming out via the northern borders, no doubt some is flown out via USAF regular flights, it would not make a surprising difference from what was going on in Laos Cambodia and Burma just before, during and a little after the Vietnam war.

  • colin buchanan

    As long as the British people think it’s business as usual and are waiting for the “recession” to end then it is a waste of time. You timed your run too soon – by next years election the collapse of the empire and the need for a completely new direction will be only too evident. Try standing again then.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    Craig.

    There are some people who are intellectually tall enough to see over the heads of the crowd and view coming events that are invisible to the majority, you are one of them. One of the disadvantages of such intellectual height is that one becomes frustrated when the majority is slow to perceive the things that you see so clearly. However this is always the way if things.

    In 2007 Australia finally threw out the conservative Government of John Winston Howard, Australia’s answer to Bush lap dog Tony Blair. But the factors that caused the electorate to turn against Howard after 11 years were visible to a noisy minority of latte sipping chattering class types for years before this. The lies and petty dishonesties by which Howard appealed to the bigotries of working class people by scapegoating disliked minorities, including the descendants of the unlawful immigrants who entered Australia 40,000 years before the rightful owners and later unlawful arrivals fleeing Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and arriving in Australia by boat, even as his Government was damaging the interests of those to whose racism he was appealing was obvious 2 years after the first election of the Howard Government, but it took a further 9 years for the electorate as a whole to respond. In the end the electorate did respond and the wedge issue techniques by which Howard split his opposition ceased to work, the majority woke up and began to see the things that had been obvious to the chattering classes all along.

    No doubt the backlash against Tony Blair type government in the UK will arrive, just later than you think it should have.

    Keep on blogging, what you say eventually trickles down to the majority.

  • anon

    When you join a group, as you joined the Foreign Office and subsequently joined those who aspire to political office, you have to expect to find that half of them are thick, stubborn and devious and many others are vile in their own unexpected ways you didn’t experience before you came into the group.

    I know. I came into Islam. But in Ramadhan the Muslim community pulls together and listens to the word of Allah and its an awe-inspiring experience.

    My father used to ask me why he should come to my assistance when I had chosen to go in exactly the opposition direction to the rest of the world. Our prophet, peace be upon him, was reassured by God many times in the Qur’an about the challenge of opposing popular prejudice.

    He was told he would prevail. I can’t give that assurance to you Craig. I think that in this political game and especially in this country plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose. But you have picked up many friends, including myself, along the way.

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