Monthly archives: September 2011

Giving It All Away

Just a couple of quick thoughts. Firstly, the bailout funds for Greece are not going to put a single penny in the pocket of the Greek people. They are yet further transfers of taxpayers’ money from working people to rich bankers, who again are becoming rich on the basis of obviously impractical investments they made, this time in outlandish Greek government debt.

The EU now makes an evidently sensible proposal for a transaction tax on inter bank dealings – which would raise back from the bankers some tiny proportion of the money we have given them, and discourage a tiny bit multiple gambling transactions. What is truly scarey is the fact that the wealthy, who are taking our money, have the media so tied up in the UK, that the broadcast media condemned this as comprehensively and without question as a party line was reflected under Stalin. I watched many hours of news from mainstream channel to channel, and every person the BBC or Sky interviewed gave a ludicrously apocalyptic warning of the effect of this small measure. Not one supporter was brought on – even though it is a very highly supported measure among economists.

I have said it before, but democracy in the UK is now a complete charade. Our money is sucked away to the elite, and there is no media freedom to reach a mass audience with any view counter to the governing elite, even one supported by nearly every other government in Europe.

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Money to Explode

All previous experience indicates that the latest expert estimate of the money spent by the UK on bombing Libya – up to £1.75 billion – will prove in time to be an underestimate.

Yesterday saw the heaviest NATO attack of the entire war, on the very centre of Sirte, leading thousands of civilians to try to flee. They are largely unable to do so because of a cordon of checkpoints set up by their attackers, slowing movement to a standstill and very occasional crawl. This massive bombing was coordinated with what we must now call the Libyan government – the former TNC. That a military action by NATO rationalised as protecting civilians from the Libyan government, ends up with a far greater bombardment of civilians on behalf of a different Libyan government, is too terrible to call ironic. NATO’s mandate to “protect civilians” from the UN actually expires on Friday, so all this week we will see a massive crescendo in NATO bombing of towns before that deadline.

But let us put that cost to the UK in context. The whole world economy is being shaken, and the livelihoods of billions damaged, by the problems of French banks having to write off Greek debt. If as expected Greece repudiates 50% of its debt, the capital written off by French banks will be in sterling approximately £4 billion. The £1.75 billion would make a big hole in that. I am certainly not suggesting that money should have been given to Greece instead of blowing up Libya, I am merely pointing out that this is a significant amount of money to waste in terms of global capital sums.

Remember we did not have that £1,75 billion – we borrowed it from the banks, adding to the international debt crisis and your and my tax burden for the rest of our lives, and our children after us. And remember the UK contributed under 25% of the NATO effort in Libya – total wasted will be pushing £10 billion.

NATO members are at the absolute heart of the world financial crisis. The colossal squandering of incredible – and in some cases unaccountable – sums in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are fundamental to the lack of fiscal control in these economies. Not a single media pundit has mentioned it.

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Even the most serious minded attempt to explain curved space and black holes leaves me vaguely puzzled. And I had never understood Einstein’s contention – presuming that he made it – that nothing could move faster than light. Why? It appeared to me more of a theological statement than a measaured fact. Why? Of course, I can see it has ramifications for our observation of the universe, but why should it not be possible? I have wondered about this article of faith from time to time.

Now CERN have apparently measured some sub-atomic particles moving a bit faster than light. How jolly clever of them. I still don’t understand why they should not have been able to do that, and don’t feel anything much has changed now they have. What do we need now to adjust in our understanding of the universe? I just went to the Post Office, and it was still there.

Yes, I know Bonnie Tyler is singing “night”.

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Palestinian Torment

Peculiarly enough, if I thought that the Palestinian attempt to gain recognition at the UN would succeed, I would probably oppose it. I don’t think the “two state solution”, where the Palestinians are overcrowded, walled in, divided up and deprived of economic viability and of water, is any solution at all. I remain firmly in favour of a single secular non-racist state in which all the current inhabitants of Israel/Palestine, including recent settlers, are welcome as citizens.

But as a tactic to isolate diplomatically the US and Israel, to show Obama for the lying Zionist puppet he is, and to reveal starkly the bullying and mendacity of US foreign policy, I think the statehood bid had been brilliant. With the US denying the most basic rights to the Palestinians, while supporting dreadful and cruel regimes in Yemen and Bahrain, any credibility which their Middle Eastern policy may have had is now completely buried, in the most public way. It is going to be even harder for wealthy and corrupt Arab elites to follow the US line, and will risk still greater reaction from their own people if they do.

This is a good and healthy day for the international community, where a harsh light is thrown on crawling things – including Obama.

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Banned By the BBC

It is a year since I wrote a detailed post about my being banned by the BBC. At the time I wrote that article, I had genuinely forgotten that, during the last of my (once frequent) BBC News appearances, 10 Downing St had called and demanded I was taken off. I just came across this account, which I wrote at the time it happened.

(The point about vehicle excise duty is that at the time those British seamen were captured by Iran, they were officially in process of boarding a ship to do a customs check on vehicles it was carrying).

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PFI Disaster

There is an excellent article in the Daily Telegraph about the PFI disaster, about which I have been warning from since I started blogging. The public sector will be crippled for a generation by the need to shovel enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money directly into the financiers’ profits – that super profit, in addition to a normal builders’ profit, being split between banks and construction companies.

Gordon Brown takes much of the blame for PFI, but like everything that shovels taxpayers’ cash to big business, all of our major parties have bought into it, or more accurately been bought up by it.

It does not tug the heart strings like the health service, but I came across PFI when in the Foreign Office. We in the British High Commission were paying extremely high private sector rents in Accra for accommodation for an ever-increasing staff, most of whom were visa related. We owned land, and it would have been obviously cost-effective to build our own housing. In fact rents were so high, that the capital cost of building would be saved in well under four years.

My proposal was well received, but I had to then submit to the Treasury a cost comparison between government funding and the Private Finance Initiative. This assumed an opportunity cost on the government money invested at an extraordinary annual rate – about three times the Bank base rate at the time.

Even so government finance worked out far cheaper than PFI – so then an “efficiency factor” was introduced into the equation, from memory of about 12%, which supposedly represented some magical way that private sector management was more efficient than public sector. Just what this was quantifying when build costs, land value, finance costs, opportunity costs and maintenance costs were all already stipulated I have no idea.

In short, the thing was a transparent ideological fix. In fact the efficiency factor was the opposite of the truth, because the PFI route limited us to a couple of particular builders who could organise the PFI, and whose capital cost was more expensive by over thirty per cent than other builders, without the banking hook-up but who could have done the job.

I dropped the project in disgust.

The idea that by giving private companies and bankers huge extra financing profits from public sector capital investment, you can deliver more cost effective public services, was always self-evidently nuts.

PFI is, like the banking bailout, a further example of the way the political class use the power of the state to transfer money from ordinary people to the super rich.

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Parvan Prison Guantanamo

Any Americans who thought their country was hard up for cash because of Obama’s deep welfare cuts can be happy to know that the USA still has huge amounts of money to spare. $100 million of US taxpayers’ cash is being spent on building a new Guantanamo for 2,000 political prisoners near Baghram airport, Afghanistan.

Baghram was of course already a notorious torture black site for the CIA, and there was a regular transport of prisomers between Baghram and Tashkent when I was British Ambassador in Uzbekistan. None, I believe, of the prisoners transferred by the CIA into Tashkent from Baghram has survived to tell their story.

The site of the new Obamamo complex is actually on the battlefield of Parvan, where the Emir Dost Mohammed defeated the British on November 2 1840. Alexander Burnes was present at the battle, at which his close friend and travelling companion Dr Percival Lord and another friend Lt James Broadfoot were killed. After the British had occupied Kabul a year earlier and installed a pupper ruler, the Emir of Kabul Dost Mohammed had originally fled to Bukhara, where he had been held prisoner by the mad ruler Nasrulla. Eventually escaping, he had raised a largely Uzbek force in Kunduz, but this had been dispersed by a British attack. Wandering with only a few hundred followers, at Parvan he encountered the large British force under General Bob Sale which had been sent out to find him.

The approach of Sale’s army had seen the local tribes abandon their villages and take to the hills, where they made hostile demonstrations and took long shots with their jezzails. But these locals were not really a part of the battle. Two squadrons of the 2nd Bengal Cavalry became detached on the right of the British advance, after a planned sweep went still wider to avoid fire from a fort in which a local chief had taken refuge. Seeing his chance, Dost Mohammed with 200 irregular cavalry swept down on the 2nd Cavalry. Numbers each side were about equal, but when the British officers of the 2nd Bengal Cavalry charged, they found almost all their men had panicked and routed, even running down and killing and wounding some of their own side coming up to support, including horse artillery. Seven British officers and about a dozen of their men completed the charge, and all were killed or severely wounded.

Afghan historians claim the battle of Parvan was a much more general affair with thousands engaged each side, but British military records do not bear this interpretation out – there just are not the causalties or use of supplies this would entail. Burnes was with Sale and saw his friends’ disaster from a distance. Precisely one year later he was himself to be killed, alongside James Broadfoot’s brother William and his own brother Charlie.

After his cavalry charge, Dost Mohammed rode on through the night and, considering honour satisfied, the next evening surrendered himself in Kabul to the British authorities.

For America to be building a new Guantanamo is terrible enough. To be building it on Parvan – which has strong associations for Afghans in their national history – is crass.

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Political Planning

The Daily Telegraph yesterday published satellite images of Dale Farm from 1999 to 2011. These clearly show that, contrary to propaganda spewed on all media, the site has neither expanded nor used up any green fields. You find them at 14.15 on that long Daily Telegraph blog post.

I am fascinated by the campaign to use respect for planning law as the justification for racist bile. Planning law is a very political area indeed. The government is seeking actively to relax the protection of green belt land- we are going to see homes built on actual green fields, not on the wasteland Dale Farm plainly was in those Telegraph images. Of course, they will be for middle class people – I shall be fascinated to see how many people posting here so keen to see families evicted from Dale Farm, are going to be out protesting as real green fields get concreted over.

Like most people, I have encountered planning regulations several times in my life. The first time was in Gravesend. I used to live at No 3 Portland Road. The owners of No 5 Portland Road built a two storey extension, in order to convert it into flats. This brought building right on to the boundary line and substantially diminished my sunlight and amenity in a number of ways. It was also very ramshackle and ill-looking construction. I was away serving abroad while it was built. On return I contacted the Council planning department, and discovered that it had been done entirely without planning permission, as indeed had the conversion into flats in a zone excluded from multi-occupancy. But Gravesham Council did absolutely nothing. (NB the owners of 5 Portland Road have since changed and the current owners were in no way responsible).

I was further unlucky in Gravesend because my house, No. 3, was semi-detached with No. 1. That was bought by The Kenward Trust, for use as a hostel for recovering drug addicts on release from prison. That seemed to me not a good use for a semi-detached property adjoining a young family, and we tried to fight it. However it turned out that under “Care in the community”, a hostel for 5 people or less did not need planning permission, as the use was considered still that of an ordinary family home.

Before coming to 1 Portland Road the inmates, on release from jail, spent time in Kenward House, a Kent mansion. The Kenward Trust is an evangelical christian organisation, and the anti-addiction programme consisted of christian indoctrination and happy clappy songs. Most of the inmates had criminal records in addition to addiction, and not always was the crime related. While we were trying to fight their taking over the other half of our semi, one of their inmates from Kenward House raped a passer-by there.

Inmates succesfully “treated” would come on to 1 Portland Road, as kind of halfway house. There they would get food, a tiny living allowance and a weekly visit from a warder – which involved more happy-clappy christianity. While I still maintain this was a crazy and reckless thing to put in a semi with a family home, I got to know some inmates over the years and some were nice enough. They were all entirely cynical about the happy clappy stuff.

They were also very aware of the massive amounts of government money the Kenward Trust was receiving for each inmate – ten times the cost of housing, feeding and their allowance. Very occasionally directors of the Kenward Trust would turn up in huge BMWs. Their salaries, expenses, vehicles and free accommodation were amazing. Damn clever, these Christians. Anne Widdecombe was their patron.

Ada and Mabel in Blackburn had a similar experience to mine over unauthorised building extensions by neighbours. I am sorry to say that both in Blackburn and Gravesend the real reason the council did nothing was because the illegal building was done by members of ethnic communities whose electoral support New Labour – which ran both councils at the relevant time -was eager to buy locally. Just as at Dale Farm the planning enforcement is against an ethnic community which the council feel it will be electorally popular to persecute.

Planning law and its enforcement is a deeply political matter. Care in the community, going easy or hard on specific ethnic minorities, these are purely political decisions. The idea that Dale Farm is an impartial piece of administration aimed at upholding the rule of law, is such balderdash is it scarcely worth addressing.

This is politically decided ethnic cleansing.

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Losing Afghanistan, Losing Central Asia

Obama is now asking Congress for a waiver on Uzbekitsan’s human rights record – arguably the worst in the world – in order to restart military supplies to President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Even Bush stopped these, after the 2005 Andijan massacre of at least 800 civilian demonstrators.

This blog has repeatedly pointed to the ever-increasing role of the “Northern Distribution Network” for getting supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, with Uzbekistan as the point of entry. The Wikileaks cables from Tashkent outline a consistent US policy of sacrificing the human rights of Uzbeks in order to promote this military agenda.

Unfortunately, by promoting evil dictatorship in Central Asia, the United States and NATO are not advancing their own long term interests. Like Mubarak, Karimov is passing his sell-by date. But all rational thinking is thrown out of the window as NATO concentrates on the war it is losing in Afghanistan.

I am advised by the British Embassy that to visit the scenes of the November 1841 uprising in central Kabul as research for my book on Burnes is too dangerous. After ten full years of occupation, with 180,000 troops and billions of dollars in military hardware, they do not even control a few square miles in the centre of the capital, let alone the country. The recent attacks on the US Embassy and British Council have proved that. This war is lost.

America’s increasing fawning to Karimov is yet more evidence of that. The reason America is now so desperate for his favour is that, as they leave defeated, taking Karzai with them, they have to get out millions of tonnes of vehicles and military equipment, which has to pass overland. They have lost this war so absolutely that they no longer have possession of the ground they started with. They cannot get out the way they went in, through Pakistan, as they would be attacked in the Bolan and Khyber passes, and along the entire route. So they have to leave through Uzbekistan. The Americans will do anything for Karimov, just as long as they get permission to slink out through his country. I hope as they go they look into the faces of the people whose continued enslavement buys their permission.

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Dale Farm

The evictions at Dale Farm are wrong. Eviction – forcibly removing someone from their home – is always a serious evil in itself. It is resorted to far too easily in this country, and is in pretty well every circumstance a far greater evil than the problem it seeks to resolve. That seems to be the case here.

The media has been scarily propaganda laden. We are told that this is green belt land, which will always provoke a strong and justified countryside protection reflex in the middle class. But in truth this was not a site of green fields, but a scrapyard. I very much doubt it will be returned to green fields now. The government meantime has been telling us for months we have to give up green belt so that homes can be built on it. Homes, of course, for nice middle class people. Not these homes.

The media have gone out of their way to promote every old prejudice against travellers – I have seen interviews alleging illegal tipping, dirt, and squalor. I doubt there is a great deal of truth behind these cliches in this case, but if there is some truth, the remedy is not eviction. The media is shrill also that these travellers are members of an extended Irish family, members of which own some property in Ireland. Why that is taken as removing their claim to humane treatment in Essex is something I fail to follow.

The biggest mystery to me is why the travellers wish to live next to such very unpleasant people in Basildon.

A society should not be judged by how it treats those who conform neatly to its regulations and social norms. It should be judged by how it treats minorities who do not so conform. It is a test we are failing.

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The Lonely Liberal

I remain a liberal. As I have explained often with regard to my views on specific political questions, my political thought sits in a tradition handed down from Hazlitt, Bright, John Stuart Mill and Gladstone. That will always be the case. I joined the Liberal Party in 1973.

There is much to be said for consistency and for loyalty. But I really cannot with conscience look at the reforms to introduce private profit into the NHS and the state education sector, and remain a card carrying member of a governing party. These are not small points. So I have left.

I shall not back any political party in England. I have always supported Scottish independence, and I have now taken out a formal SNP membership. There is no perfection in practical politics and should be no idols. But Alex Salmond and his people are doing a decent job in an imperfect world. For reasons I gave recently, breaking up the British state and its resurgent neo-imperialism and neo-conservatism is a political priority.

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Cameron On Follow That Camel

Cameron and Sarkozy in Benghazi

Aircraftman Cameron and Sarkozy are in Benghazi taking the applause of cheering tribal warriors. Sarkozy looks a bit nervous, as though scared he might meet the English rugby team at a dwarf hurling evening. Cameron looks a bit dazed, probably not sure what applause is. Aaah, that heady moment of triumph! Just like George Bush and Mission Accomplished!

Now those delightful oil contracts to sort out.

Elsewhere, Libyans who foolishly fail to agree with them are being bombed to pieces by NATO. Presumably, once anyone who might hold a different view is dead, it will be safe to hold a democratic election.

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Independence for England?

Unemployment fell in Scotland on yesterday’s new figures, while it rose everywhere else in the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that the difference was caused by the fact that the Scottish government has a (limited) ability to effectively spend forward and thus postpone the results of the Osborne public spending cuts. But the interesting result of that, is that the employment increase in Scotland was in the private sector, not the public sector, while private sector employment fell in England.

The Osborne theory – that public sector employment “crowds out” private sector employment, and cutting public sector jobs will somehow automatically increase the production of private sector jobs – appears, in this large scale example in the actual UK economy – the opposite of the truth. Cutting public sector jobs cuts private sector jobs too. That is intuitively correct – people who have just lost their job, their car and their home are going to be spending less buying things from other people.

As Miliband’s appearance before the TUC reminds us, the truth is that, were New Labour in power, the difference between what Osborne is doing and what New Labour would do is very marginal indeed. Only in Scotland do the voters have a real alternative, and they have flocked to it in droves.

While some old people will die this winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes, the Westminster government has had no trouble at all in finding over £100 billion to burn in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, in the interests of the wealthy elite in charge of a few mega-corporations. These wars have been solidly supported by all the unionist parties, with a brief wobble by the Lib Dems under the good Charlie Kennedy, quickly disposed of.

The SNP have provided the only electable alternative to extreme neo-conservative policy (including neo-liberal economic policy) available to electors in the UK. They have had stunning electoral success as a result. The Lib Dems were perceived briefly in England as opposing the neo-cons, with some justice, but were hijacked by the right wing Clegg, and their wider leadership was bought up by the present and future riches office brings in our corrupt system. But in the period the Lib Dems did seem an alternative to the neo-con Tory and New Labour parties, they rose to new heights of popularity and support.

The almost 100% correlation today between unionism and neo-conservatism among professional politicians and media pundits is why I am absolutely confident Scotland will achieve independence very soon. That neo-con recipe is well and truly rejected by the Scottish people.

But where does that leave a newly independent England? (presumably still attached to Wales, but I leave that and Irish union aside) Political progressives in England have traditionally been the most hostile to English independence because England would have a permanent Tory majority.

Well, I am not so sure it would. Only ten years ago Scotland seemed to have a permanent New Labour majority. Things change. But also, how thick do so-called progressives have to be, not to see that New Labour is absolutely another neo-con party?

Who launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who introduced university tuition fees? Who brought in control orders and 28 days detention? Who sanctioned kettling? Who gave unimaginable sums of your money to the bankers? Who massively expanded the Private Finance Initiative? Who invented Academy schools? Who was complicit in torture and extraordinary rendition? Who presided over the greatest ever growth in the gap between rich and poor in this country? Answers: New Labour, New Labour, New Labour, New Labour, New Labour, New Labour, New Labour, New Labour and
New Labour.

The truth is that, within the union, there is no practical chance for England to have any government other than a government of neo-cons. It needs a seismic shift to break this up. What we have seen is that the party system is resilient even to moments when its corruption is revealed to all, as in the MPs’ expenses and Murdoch scandals. The United Kingdom as an entity is in the power of a corrupt political class controlled by corporations, for whom perpetual war, hydrocarbon dominance worldwide and access at will to taxpayers’ pockets are the necessary conditions of their existence. Only a truly seismic shock in the political landscape can save the English from this. That much-needed shock can be the break-up of the United Kingdom. Who knows how politics in England would fall out afterwards, but it cannot be worse. A shake of the kaleidoscope is a moment of great potential. England needs that.

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Disgusting War Criminals Squeal

The New Labour Torture and War Crimes Party is squealing at the boundary commission changes. I hate their rank hypocrisy. Anyone with the remotest interest in psephology knows that a combination of shire constituencies being historically larger, and recent drift from city centres, gives New Labour an advantage over the vicious Tories. I do not favour First Past the Post at all, but the electorate hates Nick Clegg so much that FPTP has become beloved of the people as the best defence against him. Fairly equal constituency sizes is a necessary feature for FPTP to have even a smidgeon of validity.

New Labour’s argument that they should have less electors per constituency because their geographical areas contain more illegal immigrants and persons too thick to register to vote, is hilarious. We are now to take into account in the democratic process those who do not bother to register, let alone vote? Actually most of those “ghost” people are a hypothetical posit by government statisticians, because they do not fill in the census either. You can surmise their existence in other ways. I posted about Stratford earlier. Did you know that in Stratford and in Tower Hamlets, either there are many people there who officially do not exist, or they produce over half as much more sewerage per person than anyone else? Anyway, I digress.

Anyone can register to vote. the “Transient population” argument does not wash because there is no longer a single annual registration – here in Thanet the register is updated once a month, for example. If you have chosen not to be a part of the political process – which should be a right not to be part – you do not count in it and you should not count in it. You cannot be psychically chalked up as a supporter of Harriet fucking Harman.

The advantage to New Labour over the Conservatives was about 5% at the 2010 election.

Here is how many votes it takes to elect one MP:

DUP Nasty Proddie Bigots 21,027
New Labour War Criminal and Torturer 33,858
Sinn Fein Ex-Murderers 34,388
Tory Vicious Sneering Bastards 34,979
SDLP Rather Nice People 36,990
Alliance Sickly Nice People 42,762
Plaid Cymru Ineffectual Quasi-Nationalists 55,131
SNP Hooray! 81,898
Lib Dem Lying Two Faced Traitor Clegg 119,934
Green Very Nice But Need To Eat More Meat 285,612

Not forgetting, with no MPs

UKIP Like BNP With O Levels infinity 919,471 votes
BNP Hitler Loving Scum infinity 564,321 votes
Ulster Conservatives Like DUP With O Levels infinity 102,361 votes
Respect Green Leotard Tendency infinity 33,251 votes

Can’t wait for details of the Scottish boundary proposals.

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Hague Protects Straw on Torture



Something is, obviously to anybody, missing from this document series and something else is also missing obviously to anybody who has been a Whitehall civil servant.

For earlier documents in the series see here. But the crucial missing documents relate to these two above, labeled duffieldminute and mcDonald.

What is, obviously to anybody, missing is a communication from the PUS (head of the Diplomatic Service Sir Michael Jay, now Lord Jay for services to torture) to Jack Straw. Jack Straw’s Private Secretary minutes “The Foreign Secretary agrees with the PUS that you handled this very well. Thank you.”

Where is the communication from the PUS to Straw saying that Duffield handled this meeting with me, about complicity in torture, very well? We do not have it. This despite repeated Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act requests from me for all the documents. I have been told that some documents were withheld on grounds of national security. What did Lord Torture-Jay say to Jack War-Criminal-Straw, that is still being withheld by Hague to protect Straw?

The next part is that which anyone who has worked in Whitehall will understand. The Duffield minute is a record of an internal meeting between FCO officials. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of internal meetings between FCO officials every single day. Some will be on major policy questions, like the future of the EU or global warming. Yet only one or two minutes of internal meetings a day will be deemed important enough to be put into the Secretary of State’s box. An internal FCO meeting solely about matters in Tashkent will probably never have been selected before.

What was so important about this little internal meeting that it commanded the full attention of Jack Straw and Lord Jay?
Anybody who has ever worked in Whitehall will know that it is next to impossible that this minute was simply put before Jack Straw unexpectedly like this.

One of two things must be true. Either Jack Straw was fully up to speed and had been extensively briefed before about intelligence from torture in Tashkent and my attitude to it, or the Duffield minute was put up behind a substantive submission explaining the background. Either way, vital documents are being hidden concerning Jack Straw’s involvement in the policy of receiving intelligence from torture.

It is worth remembering that the FCO did not give any of the documents above to the Gibson Inquiry until I did.

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World’s Largest Shoplifting Centre

The world’s largest shoplifting centre has been opened next to the Olympic stadium in Stratford. This will be the most enjoyable epic fail by the Australians since the Ashes.

I walked a few months ago along a street in nearby Leyton, off Francis Rd. Something caught my attention, and I started looking at tax discs. Of sixty two cars parked on one side of the street, twenty one had no valid tax disc. I would bet that at least that many had no valid insurance. All of these cars were within two hundred yards of Francis Rd police station.

The Olympics have cost £20 billion we don’t have, and in three years time the site will be a mouldering white elephant. The flats of the Olympic village, hopefully destined for yuppie accommodation, are less attractive than the nastier flats of Moscow or, still worse, the ones they have just demolished in Dundee. Moving West Ham just up the road from Upton Park to the new Olympic Stadium will have no net economic effect I can see.

I would be willing to bet, from talking to locals, that the thousands of people it is being announced are to be employed in the new shopping centre include the highest percentage of security staff and store detectives in the world. It is still not going to work.

More shopping malls is not the answer to our economic problems. This is madness.

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SM, Drugs, Osborne and Coulson

One good thing about the Aussies is that they are not deferential.
Thanks jonangus for flagging this up to me in comments. I should say that I have no objection to Osborne taking cocaine, but I do object to his subsequent hypocrisy in defending its criminalisation. Nor do I care about his masochistic practices in subsequent sexual activity with a prostitute, though I do object to his hypocrisy in defending the continuing legal persecution of prostitutes.

But what is of overwhelming public interest is how this all links in to the insertion of the criminal Coulson into the heart of government.

It would be wonderful to hear this lady giving evidence in public before Judge Leveson’s phone hacking inquiry. I fear that is not going to happen.

William Sinclair eh? Perhaps we have finally solved the mystery of what goes on in the hidden vaults under Rosslyn Chapel!

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Simon McDonald

I keep linking a lot to the Daily Mail lately. Their coverage of the revelations of security services complicity with the Gadaffi regime has been outstanding.

Yesterday they showed that Libyan dissidents in the UK were made victims of control orders at the request of Colonel Gadaffi – not because they posed any particular threat of terrorism in the UK, but to handicap their anti-Gadaffi activities.

It is hard to imagine something that points up current hypocrisy over Libya more starkly. It also increases the shame of Nick Clegg for caving in to the Tories over the continuance of rebranded control orders. We are told that these are essential to protect the public when the Home Secretary has evidence that cannot be put before the court. The government continually briefs that this is communications intercept intelligence. In fact, as I have revealed before on this blog, that is a smokescreen – virtually none is communications intercept intelligence.

Most people under control orders were victims of “intelligence” from torture chambers overseas. That is why the “evidence” could not be put to court. That is the simple, shameful truth. But we now know, that in some cases the people whose lives were ruined by the extreme restrictions of Control Orders, were simply accused to please a dictator.

I do hope this opens the eyes of some who believe liberties can be surrendered to government in security matters because government can be trusted.

It is interesting to see Simon McDonald’s name appearing on one decidedly embarrassing letter published by the Mail. Simon, now our Ambassador in Germany, seems to have been one civil servant with no scruples about the dirtiest of dirty work. It was he who minuted Jack Straw’s approval of the meeting at which I was told it was policy to obtain torture from intelligence abroad. If the Gibson Inquiry were a genuine public inquiry, he should be in for a major grilling.

It is also good to see the Mail not scrupling to publish documents found, they say, not in Libyan security service offices, but in the British Ambassador’s Residence. This is however somewhat strange – you are not supposed to keep this kind of document lying around your Residence. In truth, every Ambassador sometimes takes classified papers home to work on, but these predate the current Ambassador. I am surprised if they really came from the Residence.

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