Vanessa Redgrave 11


The Guardian has an interview with Vanessa Redgrave. She is truly noble. Not necessarily always right – nobody is – but always kind, giving and helpful. You can’t ask more from anybody.

When I whistleblew on UK complicity in torture, I was smeared, falsely accused, sacked and my self worth and physical health were both destroyed. I was given by doctors a maximum of three years to live. I was penniless, living in a friend’s flat, and in danger of just giving up on life. Corin and Vanessa Redgrave actively sought me out. They invited me to dinner in a little Indian restaurant along King Street from the Lyric, Hammersmith, where I think Corin was appearing. I don’t think they realised it, but I hadn’t had money to eat for several days. I have never known such empathy. They seemed to understand what was happening to me, with very few words from me.

Vanessa was leaning heavily on a stick, and Corin seemed rheumy. But they still had a life force that spilled over enough to revitalise me. They thought I was doing something worthwhile – you must remember, that when I was trying to tell the world in early 2004 our government was complicit in torture abroad, the government told everyone I was lying, mad and a crook.

Corin and Vanessa made no attempt to twist my tale to an ideological construct. They just wanted to say thank you. They just wanted to buy me a meal. They just wanted to help. I am sure there must be thousands like me touched briefly by Vanessa’s kindness over the years.


11 thoughts on “Vanessa Redgrave

  • Sophia

    This post reminds me of a Brassens song ‘l’Auvergnat’. The man who offered Geroges Brassens food and shelter during a dark time in his life died recently.

    Elle est à toi cette chanson
    Toi l’Auvergnat qui sans façon
    M’a donné quatre bouts de bois
    Quand dans ma vie il faisait froid

    Toi qui m’a donné du feu quand
    Les croquantes et les croquants
    Tous les gens bien intentionnés
    M’avaient fermé la porte au nez

    Ce n’était rien qu’un feu de bois
    Mais il m’avait chauffé le corps
    Et dans mon âme il fume encore
    À la manière d’un feu de bois

  • Debbie

    I remember when I first heard about you back then. I had no idea you were penniless back then.

    I have a friend who has been an advocate for the undetected homeless for thirty-five years. She also has had her political foes trying to discredit her. She’s a remarkable woman. I hope she can somehow get the resources she needs to finish two documentaries she filmed. And also that she will not lose her house. She was homeless once and now would be too old and infirm to be homeless again.

    I have been wracking my brain as to how to help her. There are legal issues, too, as she was abused by doctors.

    People with truth to tell should not be hampered.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @Craig,
    The system for which you worked sought to discredit you because you acted honestly and spoke the truth.
    Do you see any comparative reference points with the following:-
    1. Someone, or many lied, about WMDs in Iraq – and millions died in a country than has been destroyed, ruined, pillaged, raped and subjected to the birth defects that depleted uranium has inflicted on generations to come.
    2. The killing goes on by way of drones inflicting death across Afghanistan and Pakistan – in the name of “freedom” and “democracy”.
    3. Libya is now being bombed, people are dying, a civil war has been instigated by NATO – in the name of a “humanitarian mission”.
    In a certain sense – it is the same powers that you had represented as a British Ambassador that are now inflicting the foregoing damages with impunity.
    I am not attacking you ( i.e. I definitely do not own any drones or bombs to drop on you) – just posing some honest questions about the duplicity that has inflicted itself on the world – symbolically – I can say that the same powers that sought the “reputational death” of Craig Murray, are daily inflicting actual deaths in the aforenamed countries on a large scale. In actual physical terms, these powers bomb in Pakistan, occupy and kill in Iraq, use drones in Pakistan, and are orchestrating in Libya a NATO led mission of “humanitarian bombing”.
    Her Majesty’s Government was the government that you were Ambassador for. These attacks, in the collective terms of a NATO alliance, are the powers that you were intimately associated with.
    But – you are now “free” and speak your own “truths” and are respected for that.
    Aluta continua! The global struggle of honesty, decency and integrity continues.

  • John Goss

    When I was involved in theatre in the nineties I had a friend who had long known the Redgrave family. Since my travelling I lost touch with her but she could not say a bad word about them. Your opinion corroborates hers. They are principled and kind.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    Working in the oil industry in the 70’s I used to go home in the evening with my boss, an old Iran ( pre-revolution) hand who had had to leave abruptly, when the revolution started. A very agreeable life came to an end (soon to be resumed in the Aberdeen oil hook-up boom of the late seventies). Each evening for months I had to listen to him berating and expressing his rage at Jimmy Carter for his uselessness in not addressing the Iranian revolution in a military way. He was completely convinced that the oilfields were ‘our’ property- the organisations he had been a part of, and that this property should have been defended, without hesitation, by military force.

    There is a profile of Jimmy Carter in the Gaurdian/Observer today, which waits until near the end before raising what was in effect the seminal event of hte time, (the hostage crisis), and continues to resonate to the present.

    Jimmy Carter explained that military intervention would have cost countless Iranian lives and led to the death of the hostages.
    At the same time, there was a grizzled old American who ran an oil related business who had been booted out of Libya in the late sixties. He ran one of the sleaziest operations in Aberdeen at the time and undoubtedly used the methods he was familiar with in the Middle east. Basically, he bribed local officials and politicians for favours. He wasn’t even very circumspect about it as he was prone to enjoy a few malt whiskies where his tongue loosened off. His great business innovation and the foundation of his success, was the perception that politicians were the same the world over-just their price varied.Aberdeen had been a backwater so the political pickings were small and dismal, but the oil industry changed that.

    He agitated incessantly for the return of the American interests in Libya by force.

    It is quite an interesting read-the Jimmy carter profile. It is a reminder of the foundation of the political thinking of the time, which the author describes as the Christian left , with Christian precepts as the dominant factor. It was an attempt to incorporate left thinking in some way, with Christian ideas, liberation of the masses through investment in them-education and modern services would transform the world. It is interesting that this basic model still informs his thinking.
    What is interesting in a wider human sense, and something which i think will become an enduring topic of curiosity for generations of researchers is the replacement of that dominating perspective, expressed by Jimmy Carter, and those ideas which now dominate political life at the moment. The idea that Blair is the source of the idea of liberal intervention is really very false. It is perfectly clear that there was a tsunami of thinking in favour of military intervention-to restore the certainties of modernity. Blair’s unique contribution is his capacity to mingle with the high and mighty and then deploy the barrister’s skills of argumentation and rhetoric , to express and justify the views of his clients. i wider why we think of Blair as a player win he is simply a conduit. If he had not risen to the task there would have been another who would have been up for the task.
    the point i suppose I am making in my long winded observations is that it is easy to see how this conversion of the fundamentals of political belief must seem very strange almost conspiratorial . There seems to have been sudden conversion-sometime around the late nineties, which appears to have been so rapid that it must be a conspiracy. But not really. I think the seeds of the corruption of Nulabour were always there. their humiliation in the early eighties was because people like michael fot were expressing the same basic ideas of the christian left.
    Nulabour believed themselves to be doing what was needing to be done. Emphatic, decisive, clear thinking, managerially straightforward ( make decisions, make them fast, and if they are wrong-too bad-just get on with the next one).

    The process that Craig went through-the character assassination, was not unique. It was a common feature of the methodology of management of many public services that the informed outcomes chosen, often rather whimsically, or uninformed, by upper levels of management and political tiers being mangerial, were more important that the niceties of humane behaviour or keeping tp the long established rules that had governed human interactions. That just led to confusion and indecision. The stakes were just so much higher in Craig’s case and the sanction that much more severe.

    One curiosity about the current times is that there is not just a change in polarity of thinking but a change of the way that argumentation is deployed.
    Jimmy Carter’s basic beliefs were christian. His political views were selected to conform to those core beliefs.
    The situation we now see is that the political processes are now being supported by ‘theological’ or religious thinking, to to justify and support an intrinsically political position.

    Blair’s conversion came after, or solidified his actions. The tea party selects convenient scripture to support and intrinsically political position. These positions now seem feeble , insincere and so much inferior to those of Carter.

    I am not religious, should anyone assume that i am arguing in favour of a religious foundation to politics. I am just trying to tease out some of the appalling philosophical and political complexities we have been led into by the doublethink that permits our political leaders t justify torture, murder and victimisation.

  • writerman

    It’s interesting, instructive, and rather depressing, to compare Redgrave’s political fortunes with Blair’s.

    We’ve a political culture, a culture in fact, that lifts a person with Blair’s talents and values seemingly without hindrance, up, up, and up, towards unrestrained power and unlimited wealth. Redgrave, in contrast, with her qualities, is relatively poor and virtually powerless under our system, which may be a lot of things, but especially fair, or democratic, it isn’t.

    Blair is now trumpeting the call for more war, this time with Syria and Iran. He has no shame. He is, a kind of crusader warrior-king. He can see both a moral and material advantage from his crusade against “radical Islam”, just like a real crusader from the middle-ages. Christian glory, salvation from one’s sins… and the possibility of loot and booty, land, riches, and hostages.

    This is the essence of people like Blair, and perhaps of our entire culture which he personifies. That one can rationalize our monumental crimes and mass slaughter, as something else, as moral action. Almost like sloshing an expensive perfume over a turd.

  • Tom Welsh

    Well put, Writerman! I couldn’t express it so cogently, but I agree with everything you say.

    And thanks, Craig, for giving me this insight into the Redgraves’ decency. I was put off by Vanessa’s politics (or what distorted picture I was given of them); now I know to admire her.

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