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.

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236 thoughts on “Blogito Ergo Sum?

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is aware of your efforts to report the truth and of the trouble you have faced because of it.

    By writing this blog, you circumvent the very measures put in place to silence you. Your words reach far further then you might imagine. Through the internet the truth becomes loud and inescapable. Do not be disheartened by the acts of discourtesy dished out to you by lying politicians.

    Be glad that you will never have to fear public dislike of yourself simply because of your job. Change is coming, but that change can only come if every one of us continues to speak the truth, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

    We are Anonymous,

    we are Legion,

    we do not forgive,

    we do not forget,

    expect us.

  • Scott

    Keep at it.

    And try harder to resist the appeal of fame and recognition.

    Your true work is more important.

  • angrysoba

    You periodically emerge with a post about how useless and pointless it all is and how the media are out to get you and then go into some starry-eyed frenzy about how you’re going to storm the corridors of power any minute now and how you’re reaching millions through the daily mail. Up and down constantly having a feast or a famine when maybe you’ll just have to work at it on a more long-term basis. You stood ONCE and expect to win trust from the whole constituency in a matter of weeks? You’ll just have to accept that building a relationship in a community takes time and you’ll have to work much harder to show you’re a serious candidate. First, why don’t you put a bit of distance between yourself and conspiracy theorists like the loon who thinks he gets five am from silent chekists to warn him off his important ‘research’. The comments boxes fester with crackpots. You don’t help yourself when you paint yourself as a Scottish nationalist who’s more Norfolk than thou when it comes to someone who wasn’t born there, your opponent. In fact, given the fact you’ve stood in other places to become MP your attacks come off as petty and obnoxious at times.

    You’ve got a lot of good stuff to say but you get mired in too much tinfoil crap that does you no service or credit.

  • tony_opmoc


    You should get out down your local pub, and see a band and dance. We may all be on the equivalent of the Titanic and its about to sink, but there is no point worrying about it or getting pissed off about it.

    Yesterday morning for no logical reason whatsoever ( we had just had some incredibly good news ) my wife was feeling really depressed.

    She didn’t want to go to her regular weekly Yoga class.

    I came close to screaming and shouting at her – like I had sometimes before – but just said…


    She Came Back a New Woman – All The Shit Cleared Out of Her Brain. I’m not sure if it is the Exercise or The Meditation or The Communal Farting

    But It Definitely Works

    Our Daughter Got Great Results in Her “A” Levels and is going to The University of Her Choice – Not Only That – She has got a Full Grant cos we are in theory Skint – well according to the rules. You see I retired early – and we live on a small pension. Money isn’t everything – there are more important things in life.

    She already knows loads of people at the University she is going to via the Internet – and has already been asked to go on a trip to Amsterdam in November..

    She is now in South Wales – with one of her boyfriends and his family.

    She thinks the World is Great – even if we are all going to hell.

    You might as well enjoy it while you can.

    A Turkish friend of mine got seriously depressed a couple of years ago, such that she couldn’t leave the house.

    We went to see her – and because we arrived – she forced herself to get up and get dressed.

    I said – when I was a kid, I learnt a little mental trick when everything was completely shite and I was worrying like hell. I just managed to parcel up the thing I was worrying about – and slide it over to the other side of my brain. The worry was still there – but it was slid over to the compartment to be dealt with later. And then I just got on with my life and did something more interesting instead. When I went back to deal with my worry, the problem had disappeared.

    My Turkish friend, later thanked me – when she became her normal self again – and said – you were right – it really worked.


  • Duncan McFarlane

    I’ve frequently thought the same things about everything I’ve ever written Craig and wondered if there was any point.

    I know what you’ve gone through is harder than anything i’ve gone through.

    Look at it on a bigger scale though.

    Uzbeks have posted in this thread. Would it be better if you said nothing and they didn’t know that at least one person in Britain who’s knowledgeable enough that they can’t be ignored was speaking up on their behalf and against the dictatorship oppressing them? I don’t think so. The knowledge that even one other person is speaking up on their behalf and letting the world know what they’re suffering is enough on its own to make it worth you continuing blogging – and standing for parliament again if you want to do it.

    How many decades did Nelson Mandela have to wait in prison before Apartheid ended? He must have suffered even more and must have doubted whether anything would ever change.

    Greater change will take perseverance and determination. Anti-slavery campaigners in 19th century Britain had to campaign for decades until they made a break-through.

    As for the Norwich North result, yes it was disappointing, but it shouldnt really have been surprising. Two weeks isn’t long enough to even get known in a constituency never mind get a majority of votes there. If you want to get into parliament you may have to become a councillor first and build up from there.

    As for getting the real facts out to the majority the problem really is just getting through to the majority of people. What percentage of people in most countries read political blogs and websites at all though? Not very many. It may take a very long time to get the information to the majority and it may be very hard to make many of them, the ones who dont read beyond the headlines in the newspaper or watch beyond them on the TV News.

    A lot of people just believe whatever they’ve heard the most times and to counter it you’re just going to have to repeat the truth even more times and with reliable sources that cant be dismissed. It could change enough peoples’ minds in 5 years or 10 if some events take place that make people look again, or maybe it won’t change them till after we’re all dead – but it’s worth it anyway.

  • Vronsky

    I’d agree with anne at 1:21. Blogging is what you do, and what we out here want you to do. You’d probably be a fucking useless MP (don’t frown – it’s a compliment).

    I’m a political activist (SNP). I imagined when I began to take part that everything was now going to change, because *I* was now a part of it. I learned fairly quickly that it just aint so – you’ve just had the same lesson. I make a useful contribution – I’m a good administrator, have some facility with IT stuff, and don’t mind working many hours. I’ve seen my skills make a difference, but only slowly. The SNP now controls a council which would previously have been thought unassailable, and my little tuppenceworth helped to make that happen. Similarly, you may consider your work as a blogger rather slight, but it isn’t. Don’t let a foolish vanity be your judge – your efforts will tell, however slight they may often seem to you.


    You say the little efforts that I make

    will do no good: they never will prevail

    to tip the hovering scale

    where justice hangs in balance.

    I don’t think

    I ever thought they would.

    But I am prejudiced beyond debate

    in favor of my right to choose which side

    shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

    (Bonaro Overstreet)

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Good points Vronsky and i like the quote too.

    Craig, you often an rightly criticise Blair and others for seeing everything in terms of absolute good versus absolute evil.

    It’s easy for us to see our own lives in terms of absolute success or absolute failure too, but i doubt there’s anyone who ever went through their life without failing to meet some goals they hoped to achieve – and even most of those that succeeded didnt succeed without putting decades of effort in and having to accept many disappointments and a lot of suffering along the way.

    There are plenty of very famous ones who probably felt they had failed, but are still remembered today – and probably many more who were never famous and whose names are forgotten but did plenty of good in their lives.

    At the end of the day that’s all that matters – did you try to do your best by other people and try to do what was right? Everyone’s bound to make some mistakes along the way.

  • marlowe

    Maybe the absolute numbers of people interested in what you are saying in Norwich North is not so big compared to the more mainstream people — but this blog is not only read in Norwich North, not only in England, but probably in a number of countries. I guess the number of readers you have who are really interested in your thoughts is quite big.

    And there are probably several reasons not connected to your person why some people are not interested: Mainstream media are barely covering “conspiracy theories”, defined as ideas that elite groups or the government could deliberately break the law (lie, torture, support terrorists) or follow hidden agendas not in the best interest of the people. And it is not convenient to believe your own government, democratically elected (?), could perhaps adhere to non-democratic, not-legal standards or possibly finance terrorists.

    Keep up your good blog, thank you for your work.

  • dreoilin

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men stop blogging”.


    “By writing this blog, you circumvent the very measures put in place to silence you.”


    Exactly. And you know from experience, Craig, that when you publish documents, or may say things that people will pressure you to take down, other bloggers will rally round to provide space for them.

    I can well imagine that Norwich North flattened your morale – for a while. And I’m assuming (not really knowing) that it cost you a packet. (It would be easy for commentators here to say that ‘money isn’t important’, but it is. Anyone without a roof, adequate sustenance, and an internet connection, is at a serious disadvantage when it comes to activism. Tony is right when he says that ‘money isn’t everything’, but it must be very hard to think of activism when looking for a crust.)

    I often feel that “nobody cares”. And yet, a whip around the internet on both sides of the pond, shows that many, many people do indeed care, and are busy writing and blogging about the issues that really matter – issues the both worry and anger them. (And anger is far healthier than depression, because anger spurs us to action, while depression does the opposite.)

    Your voice is a very important and unique part of this. You are informing and inspiring people that you don’t know and have never met. Provoking them to question things they’ve never given much thought to before.

    You’re in a special position to write from a background that not many of us have. And you’re honest in a way that so many lemmings are too blind or too afraid to be. You may be much more valuable outside the system than within.

    Go and find your lost anger, and use it here.

  • tony_opmoc


    Yes you are a complete and utter arsehole, probably almost impossible to live with at times. I guess you are like an overcharged hormonal emotional psychotic female that needs taming..

    But when you are on form – you are like Wayne Rooney – you just go right through all the defenses – and stick it into the heart.

    Your courage is enormous – you are fearless – you couldn’t give a Fuck About The Evil Bastards who want to Kill You.

    That is Why We All Love You So Much

    You Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down

    You Just Go Straight Through Them and Fight For FREEDOM and JUSTICE and an END TO TORTURE

    You Have Already Had a Massive EFFECT at Changing World Government Policy

    We Need More Men Like You

    Now Stop Moping about How You Feel Cos Chloe The Cat Beat You…

    If You’d Wanted To – and Used Your Talent You Could Easily Have Joined Any Of The Main Parties and Get Parachuted Into a Safe Seat..

    But You Are Much More Valuable Outside – Pissing On Their Tents


  • dreoilin

    [“but it must be very hard to think of activism when looking for a crust” – was a generalisation, and not meant to refer directly to Craig.]

  • dreoilin

    “I guess you are like an overcharged hormonal emotional psychotic female that needs taming..”

    — Tony

    Oi! There are women here, Tony. It’s not the men’s loo!

    “We Need More Men Like You”

    Absolutely. And women too.

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig, surely the role of an activist is to bring issues that are important to the attention of the public to effect gradual change. In running in Norwich you gained country-wide publicity for the issues that are important to you, and in this you were successful. When people elect MP’s they are really electing a government, or protesting on its performance ?” electing a party, not an individual! Far better to fight for real democracy as an advocate where one has a voice that can be heard, that in a parliament where a lone backbencher is neutered.

    One thing you have learned is the power of the establishment to influence the media against you. Is that not an issue, and are there not other examples of the establishment pushing the media and government around? What about the banking issue? Why did we help the establishment out by bailing out the foreign obligations of private British banks, while burdening the middle-class taxpayer for generations to come? Home obligations, yes ?” but foreign obligations as well! And did we not unnecessarily help the establishment just a generation ago with the bailout of Lloyds of London. The establishment’s philosophy is ?” we keep the profits, the middle class taxpayer pays the losses. And, what about Human Rights in the UK? As my issue shows, the UK’s Human Rights industry In “Don Quixote fashion” are lions when fighting Pinochet-types thousands of miles away, but wimps when dealing with issues at home that involve the UK establishment as the culprits.

    By running in Norwich you have raised your profile, and the profile of the issues you care about, and in that you have been successful.

  • tony_opmoc


    You look like me when I was 45. I am now considerably older.

    You could do with going on a diet – you know just losing a bit of that beer gut.

    You have got really good skin and a beautiful Baby Face…

    Actually – You are Potentially incredidibly Good Looking..

    You Have Got an Incredibly Beautiful Wife who Loves You To Bits

    I suggest you do far more Exercise, Cut Down on The Beer, Grow Your Hair – and Go To a Good Hairdresser to Colour it Blonde.

    White hair makes you look 70, when with a bit of hard work you could easily look about 35…

    It may result in no reduction with regards to the number of people being tortured…

    But why not try and look like your beautiful wife

    My wife is my model


  • Polo


    You’ve hit the wall in the marathon. That is something to get through and not turn back at.

    You are making a unique contribution to freedom and political development and you are not allowed to quit. Falter yes, quit no.

    You are the top bookmark in my list, and believe you me, I have deleted and demoted a legion of them.

    Your commenters may be an incestuous group, but your readers are wider and the effect of what you put in the public domain is incalculable.

    If I may be allowed to quote a a bit of RC bog latin from my youth:

    Sed tantum dic verbo …

    [No pedants please.]

  • Babak Fakhamzadeh

    Well well. Isn’t this where the foreign service, or perhaps the British government, exactly would want to have you?

    Clearly, from the popularity of your blog, you’re writing for an audience of some size. But, no, that doesn’t mean your audience has a reasonable enough influence in the outcome of the by-election of some small nothing in the middle of nowhere, so to speak.

    You speak from your heart, the size and relevance of your audience is not trivial, but imagine the hordes of bloggers who have a dedication like yours and some, perhaps, a cause on the same level as yours, but without an audience.

    You are, indeed, the better man. Or, at least, in a much more comfy position. You have an audience. And though you might not think it big enough, it’s bigger than most could hope for.

    But that’s not all. I would hate to think that you’re doing what you’re doing because you want to be popular. I’d like to think that you’re keeping your blog alive, writing as you are, in order to communicate what you believe in. You don’t need an audience for that, just the ability for others to year you.

  • Lourens Veen

    Of course people don’t care about things like this. People only really care about things that are related to their immediate family and friends, provided that they’re easy to identify and not farther into the future than a year or so. But you’re missing the point. Your goal as a politician or dissident is to _make_ them care.

    Unfortunately, you’re a pretty lousy communicator, which causes you to lose the argument regardless of whether you are right or not (I can’t tell, I haven’t done any independent research, and that is not what this post is about anyway).

    For decades, hardly anyone cared about the environment. Then Al Gore made a film and a book, and now everyone talks about climate change, and there is even a new administration in the US that might actually do something about it.

    But Al Gore didn’t go on a rant about how the evil powers-that-be are wrecking the planet. He didn’t hurl insults at political leaders or personally attack the CEOs of oil companies. He knows that only works if you’re preaching to the converted, and he wanted to persuade the rest of the world.

    So instead, he explained human behaviour with a funny story about a frog, evoked a love of nature by painting a nostalgic picture of a happy childhood spent on a farm, told a moving story about losing his favourite sister to cancer, underlined the seriousness of the situation with some whizz-bang graphics and a little stunt with a lift, and overall came across as a guy who is just like us, but has found out a few things that are going pretty badly wrong. And he gently but persistently tells us to start doing something about it, because sooner or later it will affect us too.

    You, by contrast, come across as a cantankerous old man with a score to settle, at least to me (from reading your blog, I’m not anywhere near Norwich North), and judging by the foreword you posted about, also to the committee you testified to about the UK government’s involvement in torture.

    I think that you would have had a far better chance if you had positioned yourself as a dignified and well-spoken gentleman, rather than an indignant ranting blogger. That would have given you a nice contrast to the heirs of Cool Brittania, while making you a credible alternative to the Conservatives in times of expenses scandals. But you presented yourself in a way that made you look no better than Iain Dale.

    In between blaming the public for being apathetic, the media for being biased, the political parties for cheating, and the current leaders for being corrupt, you may want to consider the enormous amount of political experience and skill that the established parties bring to the table as a factor in their success.

    I’ll join the sentiments of the other commenters in encouraging you to go on, because these issues do need to be brought to the fore. But you need to take a step back, reevaluate your strategy, and learn a thing or two about communicating with the public, before trying again.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Lourens – if you meet Craig, watch him in debates or watch video of his testimony you’ll see that actually, face to face, Craig is a very skilful and experienced diplomat, who gets his points across very well.

    If you read his books they’re also very well written, managing to make serious points and be informative at the same time as telling a story and giving some laughs at the ridiculous that goes along with the serious in life.

    He does sometimes blow off steam on his blog (i have to plead guilty to doing the same) but he’s a lot better at getting his message across than some of his less diplomatic blog posts would sometimes suggest – and frankly his anger on a lot of issues (e.g torture) is entirely justified.

    I felt his first leaflet in the Norwich campaign could have been better and gave the false impression that he was a member of an elite out of touch with ordinary people, but i’ve made some bad mistakes myself and it’s only my opinion.

    While the fact Craig refused to stay silent on or go along with torture is probably the best evidence of his good character and the best reason to support him, it won’t win any elections on its own. Most people have no choice except to think about how they can get a job and how they can be financially secure and provide some security for their children. They’re also strongly encouraged by many governments, big companies and the big parties to focus mainly on those issues and not anything wider.

    So it might be necessary to start any leaflet with what a candidate will try to do for them on those issues and how – and back it up with the rest.

  • anne

    PS. I’m clearly not alone in wanting to hear your “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.”

    And I’d like to know what you think about reports coming out of Iran, and Chinese suppression of the Uighurs, &c, &c, &c.

    So please quit this angst and get blogging, man.

  • Rose

    How can we make intelligent judgements if we don’t hear opposing views? Keep going. Sometimes I agree with you, most often I don’t. But whichever it is you are worth a read and consideration – many who ignored you are not!!

    So let’s have those views on the Afgan elections, the Lockerbie charade and the University farce – we won’t hear them on the BBC, even if we bother to listen to them anymore.

  • Jim Smith

    If you honestly thought you could do well in a by-election despite having virtually zero public profile in an area where you have never lived, then you need your head examining. On the other hand, as a commentator and expert on diplomatic practices and the ‘Stans, you have a fair amount of profile among journalists and other opinion formers. You have a box of lemons, try making lemonade.

  • Clark

    Dear Craig,

    if you really don’t want to keep blogging then I shouldn’t try to persuade you otherwise. However, the reasons you’ve given above are all wrong. I won’t argue with them, you can work out why they’re wrong yourself, in fact I’m pretty sure that you already know.

    You have, of course, already done more than enough to help make the world a better place, far more than the vast majority of people will ever do, or even get the chance to do. It would be utterly selfish of me to ask you to keep blogging if you’d really rather use that time for something else.

    Yet I do ask just that. Your site is my regular starting point for checking the news. Other sites may express similar opinions, but here is one of the very few places that I can find those opinions backed by facts, by someone who has seen the workings of The System from the inside. This, for me, is the proof that I so sorely need. This is the one site that reassures me that I am not crazy to hold the views that I do, in spite of opinions of the majority which are so very different, and the constantly repeated consensus of the mainstream media.

    Craig, I think you probably need a holiday, or maybe just a break from your analysis of “current affairs”. I spent six years when I never read a paper or watched TV news, I deliberately avoided “current affairs” as much as I could. I think I was much happier then, though “blissfully ignorant” would probably be nearer the mark. But that was back in the days before blogging on the Internet.

    I’m rambling. I just hope you’ll keep blogging.

    Best wishes,


  • Malcolm Pryce

    Mate, what you are experiencing is a bigger version of what we all feel every day. It seems hopeless. It probably is. But better to raise your voice in protest against the injustices and lose, than give up and let them win unopposed. Get back in the saddle. And tell us your thoughts about the Lockerbie thing, I really want to know; I miss your voice out here where the people who get it meet.

  • Greengorilla

    Your feelings are understandable but you shouldn’t equate the effectiveness of your blog with the charade of Norwich North. As Clark suggests you most likely need a holiday away from it all.

    You may not feel that your views are being heard or that people do not care. But can you imagine how things might be if whistleblowers such as you didn’t exist at all? We would really be in the dark ages then.

    Craig, your views DO count and many of us are grateful that decent people like you still exist. And as has been noted “you have a fair amount of profile among journalists and other opinion formers.”

    So don’t let the bastards grind you down!

  • Simon King


    Keep it up and keep blogging. And if you need thanks to keep going then I thank you from the bottom of my heart for informing and enlightening me as to the present state of some of the politics in the world today.

    Keep going!

  • ken

    No no no! Craig. What you think is of every account.

    I observed a little of what was happening during the Norwich North campaign, and have eventually reached a conclusion after voting in, and observing, more elections than I can remember.

    That is, the vast majority of voters vote for who they think will win.

    I may be crazy, but I think the obsession with modern TV and media material in which the public are exhorted to vote for the most inane things imaginable, and have to pay for the privilege, has in recent years accelerated that culture; the culture of voting for who you think will win in a general, local, or by-election.

    I just read KevinB’s posting, who, I think, says almost the same thing.

    “It is a sad fact that the great majority of the public care more to have their prejudices confirmed than to understand the truth about important issues.”

    They do that by watching the media that feeds them, judging which candidate most other people will vote for, and following suite.

    Also, for some reason, most people are incapable of ‘following the money’ on any issues. Again Kevin puts it another way: “Understand the money and you will understand what is driving political events.”

    Since time immemorial, war has served one purpose: to enrich the leaders who wage it, quite often including the leaders on the ‘losing’ side. It simply transfers money out of the pockets of ‘the public’ to the pockets of those leaders.

    And the power held by the ‘leaders’ is sufficient to prevent ordinary people realising that.

    I’ll pinch yet another writer’s line: “Tell people something they already know and they will thank you for it. Tell them something they don’t know and they will hate you forever.”

    Craig, never stop telling us things we don’t know.

    (Things we already know will be fine too).

  • amk

    I’ve had a comment sitting in moderation for most of the day. Too many links.

    If Craig wishes to reach a wider audience than his own blog allows he should consider writing for a Web magazine or group blog (Salon, Alternet, Truthdig, Talking Points Memo, Firedoglake, Crooks and Liars… all American, never mind). He could also network this blog better than it is now. I’m not aware of a British equivalent of the Liberal Advertising Network though.

  • subrosa

    I’m totally with Vronksy on this Craig. You must continue blogging because your common sense and truth telling is refreshing in today’s world.

    Now surely you haven’t forgotten that old Dundee saying ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle’?

    I’m a very wee mickle and you’re a much larger mickle but onwards and upwards we must go.

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