The Right to a Choice

by craig on February 15, 2012 12:49 pm in Uncategorized

You may have to trust me on this, but the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a terrific organisation that does remarkably good work, considering that it works for member states as diverse, and governments as severally ill-intentioned, as the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan and the UK.

When I was looking to leave the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I applied for a senior post at ODIHR and travelled to Warsaw for an interview. I believe my application was torpedoed by the FCO, who considered me far too committed to democracy and human rights to be allowed to work on the subject in a formal international body. There is a de facto – amd perhaps even an acknowledged – veto by member states on employment of their individual nationals in international institutions.

Yet somehow despite national governments ODIHR has managed to do its job credibly, and by and large OSCE election monitoring in particular has been very valuable, even where the result of the monitoring is not what some or even most member states on the OSCE Council want. All of Uzbekistan’s elections have been judged not free and fair, for example, with election monitoring missions generally not even being deployed on the grounds of assessment by ODIHR that the preconditions for free and fair elections simply do not exist.

Unfortunately ODIHR has no means to prevent member states from simply ignoring its reports, which they do, and the Heads of State whose election OSCE pronounced fraudulent immediately turn up as members of the OSCE council. But the rports themselves and the work behind them are good.

One important criterion for a free and fair election is that there should be a real choice offered to voters between genuine political alternatives. You find this expressed several times in the ODIHR guidance for election observers:

Genuine elections presupposes that the electoral process will be conducted in an accountable
and transparent manner and will provide a real and informed choice for voters,

A genuine election is a political competition that takes place in an
environment characterized by confidence, transparency, and accountability and that provides
voters with an informed choice between distinct political alternatives.

In Uzbekistan, for example, everyone has the chance to go and vote and there are several alternative candidates to choose between, but they all support President Karimov and his policies. In fact, this provision on distinct political alternatives and genuine choice has been repeatedly used by ODIHR and OSCE against elections throughout the former Soviet Union.

So what do we make of the EU – all of whose members are members of the OSCE – insisting that the leaders of all Greek political parties must sign up to an agreement to supprot the dreadful cuts in public spending, in imminent elections? With severe financial menaces, they are demanding that the Greek people be denied any real choice in the upcoming election. The EU members are thus in the most brazen breach of their OSCE commitments and obligations. It is appalling hypocrisy.

I am not sure in practice what mechanisms exist in Greece to keep independent candidates off the ballot or deny them access to the media. But the institutional advantages enjoyed by the main parties are massive throughout Europe, and having all the main parties campaigning on the same economic policy – due to direct foreign political pressure – cannot be a free and fair election.

I hope that the example of Greece will further open people’s eyes to what has happened in the UK, where the massive and growing gap between rich and poor is enmeshed with complete corporate control of what are now three neo-con main parties, whose policy distinctions are absolutely tiny. They all support bank bailouts, quantitative easing, public spending cuts and aggressive neo-con wars. The differences of degree are extremely marginal.

I published an article on this in The Guardian before our last general election – the rather foolish headline was not mine. But I am quite proud of that article, and believe there is increased understanding and support for the view it expresses.

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207 Comments

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  1. You can have any colour of model T ford you like…
    .
    The trouble with choosing a party of governance, is that they will repay you with their government. And the more ‘problems’ they promise to solve, the more law you will suffer, until you have no more room to choose an alternative:
    .
    http://jimmygiro.blogspot.com/2008/05/democratic-fascism.html

  2. Craig,
    ,
    The sad fact remains, your contentions are the antithesis of our current system that adheres to mushroom principles; keep the punters in the dark and throw crap at them. We have no transparency of any kind concerning the political processes, starting with the selection processes of the parties, and ending in the opaque vote counts, in mid between: the puerile sound bite manifesto fed to the punters , mostly about paying less taxes.
    ,
    Further, given the miracles of the dead people still having a say by voting, as well as postal ballots getting fiddled on an industrial scale, adding the finishing touches, to the exercise of ticking a box on a bit of paper and then getting back to the same old, same old.
    ,
    ,
    With respect to the tragedy unfolding in Greece, the events have just taken a turn for the worse. After the UK initiated EU “Oil Embargo” on Iran, as of today Iran has stopped supplying six EU countries; Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal. These countries have the zionist sponsors/supporters, and our own Werrity, Fox, Gould troika to thank for.

  3. One of the main problems with western democracy, most especially in the USA, is the funding of the election process.
    .
    In order to have enough money to mount a credible challenge as a presidential candidate, a person needs to accept huge sums of money from vested interests.
    .
    Some kind of ringfenced independent funding system would have to be established to enable a real election.

  4. “Genuine elections presupposes that the electoral process will be conducted in an accountable and transparent manner and will provide a real and informed choice for voters,

    “A genuine election is a political competition that takes place in an
    environment characterized by confidence, transparency, and accountability and that provides
    voters with an informed choice between distinct political alternatives”.

    Very laudable. But are there ANY nations that currently hold such elections? In particular, how much genuine choice do British voters get? And how answerable are British politicians for the decisions they make while in power? (In the USA, of course, matters are even worse).

  5. I am sick of hearing the phrase ‘we all lived beyond our means’ referring to the present dire situation and that therefore we have to accept the cuts. I certainly did not live on borrowed money in the previous decade or live beyond my means. The bankers’ greed and fraud is never mentioned.

    I heard the phrase at lunchtime in a debate on Mervyn King’s latest views on the state of the economy and in particular on the rise in unemployment.
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/uk-britain-boe-king-idUKTRE81E0LA20120215

  6. Uzbek in the UK

    15 Feb, 2012 - 2:24 pm

    Mr Murray,
    .
    Can you or anyone else advise Greeks how to maintain current spending withOUT increasing their debt?
    .
    Greek economy for the last 15 years has been somewhat like soviet economy but with slight difference being that huge social cost have been covered by borrowing rather than by taxation like in USSR where majority of revenues from economic activity were owned by state.
    .
    It is simple math. If you cannot live by means then you need to cut your spending. Why Germans need to contribute to Greek’s artificial economy? Is it fare?

  7. Yemen seems to be leading this anti-democratic wave with the ‘choice’ of only one candidate in their forthcoming presidential ‘election’…

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/06/us-yemen-election-idUSTRE81510F20120206

  8. Uzbek in the UK

    15 Feb, 2012 - 2:39 pm

    Mr Murray,
    You said: “They all support bank bailouts, quantitative easing, public spending cuts and aggressive neo-con wars. The differences of degree are extremely marginal.”
    .
    Britain has been an empire for over 300 years. Despite formally losing its colonies Britain had not lost control over them. Since the beginning for WWII Britain has made its choice of sucking up to the US. The other alternative would probably be sucking up to Stalin. Comparatively to the rest of Europe Britain had always been different in good and in bad. In Britain elites have always been distant from the rest and maintained relative control over economy and politics. In summary Britain has always been more conservative than the rest of Europe, and it is not necessarily bad considering that in Britain there have not been a case when Weimar Republic replaced by Nazi dictatorship. Sometimes having political forced with extreme differences is not necessary good.
    .
    But I agree with you that at present real power is in hands of financial elites those who make money out of air and this is true for most of western nations but traditionally of course for Britain and US.

  9. Electoral battles are fought over differences between parties that are usually far less than the differences within parties. We need a satirist in words as effective as Martin Rowson often is in his cartoons. Oh! for a 21st century coprophagic Swift, whose Lilliputians got into a lengthy conflict with Blefuscu: the big-enders and the little-enders. The difference depends on which end of a boiled egg one must crack in order to eat it. [I’m a big ender and will laught scornfully at anyone crass enough to vote for a little end candidate].

  10. Recently I have been reading about British foreign policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is astonishing how little some things have changed. For instance, in the 1870s there were three main political tendencies: the Liberals, who wanted a moral (ethical) foreign policy supporting the underdogs and deterring bullies; those, like Disraeli, who mimicked a moral foreign policy for purposes of their own (Realpolitik); and the traditional Conservatives, who simply wanted to live in peace, mind their own business, and not interfere in other people’s affairs.

  11. Sadly, the only one of those three that has vanished utterly is the third. Today’s Conservatives are all of the Disraeli persuasion. While reading about Disraeli’s foreign policy, it is sometimes necessary to remind oneself that it is not Blair who is the subject. The thought processes are uncannily similar, right down to the concern for appearance rather than substance and the complete uninterest in long term consequences.

  12. But alas, one could not insert a cigarette paper between Blair and Cameron in respect of their sincerity.

  13. Uzbek in the UK

    15 Feb, 2012 - 3:06 pm

    Tom Welsh,
    .
    Can you name ONE Prime Minister in British history who you would call to be sincere? Sincere people are usually cast out of big politics even before they reach any sensible position. And this is true in both democracy or in dictatorship.
    .
    And also speaking of so called traditional conservatives in 19th century; it is easy to think about peace when they supported the idea of empire that enslaved half of the world’s population. The real issue with British politics is that elites have always achieved objectives in their agenda irrespectively of government colour.

  14. Very valid point Craig.
    the Greeks are being denied their Democratic birthright.
    Their Politicians are being bought and the EU want to deny the people an election because the traitors would be voted out.
    PASOK and Nea Demokratia have just pledged to do the Troika’s bidding. That’s the 2 main parties.The same parties that have agreed in Parliament to 4 Austerity programs which have pushed the average Greek below the bread line.The conflagration and anarchy is just beginning in Athens. When push comes to shove, Greeks say OXI (no).
    Athens will burn for a while.

  15. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, “we live in a single-ideological state in which virtually identical political parties compete for the reins of power”.

    This is the ‘two cheeks of the same arse’ syndrome often mentioned by George Galloway.

    There is no other way to describe it other than an elected dictatorship.

  16. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Petros Efthymiou is wasting his time talking to the Israelis.
    .
    President Efthymiou urges peace, regional co-operation in official visit to Israel
    http://www.osce.org/pa/88196
    .
    The obligatory visit to Yad Vashem was made I note.
    .
    {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petros_Efthymiou}

  17. “There is no other way to describe it other than an elected dictatorship”.

    And in a dictatorship, elections don’t matter – just as in the USSR.

  18. Craig has a valid point, which is worth debating but Tom, this is not the USSR. If you lived there you would know that and actually if you didn’t live there you should know anyway. Mary, there is nothing wrong with a visit to the Holocaust Museum. There are many less worthy obligations. Uzbek, sincerity is not a political virtue, it is a private virtue, or a virtue of the religious sphere or the legal sphere. Machiavelli was the first to notice this in his letter to Savonaralo. We don’t demand of politicians that they are sincere, that would be to demand too much, except when they are under oath, but that is law. We demand that they are competent and we demand of our INSTITUTIONS that they are capable of rooting out the truth.

  19. There is obviously a trade-off between proposing a wide variety of solutions, and proposing solutions that work.

    For instance, in the case of Greece, it seems to be an arithmetic reality that something has to be done to balance the budget; I fear that many developed countries have similarly borrowed money from their children to artificially maintain the level of prosperity of the post-war economic boom, and mortgaged environmental stability from their grand-children to keep driving SUVs.

    We could honestly wish for our very opponents to have a right to express themselves, however ludicrous their ideas, and interpret the relative success of global-warming-negating, sabre-rattling, bigoted, borderline-racist homophobic candidates to the US Republican primaries as a sign of healthy debate. On the other hand, we will also hope for the general level of education in the population to provide voters with a minimal understanding of reality (for instance, understanding that Evolution is simply a fact of life, and that even if it were in doubt it would not be a matter of political debate); this will mechanically prune out the most outlandish positions from the political menu.

    I believe that this balance between variety and reason is not so straightforward. In some cases, I would understand that one would force a particular point to sink into the common world-view by restraining the spectrum of the debate; this is for instance the point of anti-hate-speech laws in France or Germany, which date back from a time when the political elite did not quite trust the people not to reunite with old demons. I do agree that these measures have probably outlived their usefulness, and I would quite support the idea of allowing racists to openly ridicule themselves, rather than offering them the benefit of the inuendo and the appearance of being persecuted for their opinions. But just because it is so in our days, does not exclude the theoretical usefulness of an elite herding the masses in a consensually agreed direction (sorry if that makes me sound like a marxist-leninist or a neo-conservative).

    Now, of course, the matter is quite different when the common denominator of the mainstream political class is an absurdity. The present struggle to maintain US hegemony in a world turning multi-polar, the indifference towards economic inequalities between countries and generations, the blindness to long-term ecology and energy matters, certainly count as such.

  20. No nothing wrong at all Lloyd but why compulsory for every visiting VIP? I am not denying the Holocaust just to make that clear.
    .
    Is a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior compulsory for VIPs coming to the UK? The memorial represents the military dead in WWI.
    .
    ‘The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 35 million. There were over 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6.0 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4.0 million. About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle.’ Wikipedia WWI casualties
    .
    Have you ever read Norman Finkelstein’s book? – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/185984488X/normanfinkelst00/

  21. Lenders need borrowers, just, if not more, than borrowers need lenders.
    *
    The financial sector would be ‘useless’, ‘impotent’ ‘redundent’ ‘irrelevant’ if it didn’t have individuals, firms, companies, countries, standing in line to ‘borrow.’

    Greece is a tiny fraction of the EU’s total economy, supposedly only around 2%, so why the fuss? Well, Greece woul appear to be a kind of test case, one has, after all, got to start somewhere. If the Greek model works, then vital lessons are learned that can be applied in other parts of Europe at the appropriate time.

    But why, one wonders, did the banks, allow Greece to borrow so much for so long? It’s not as if the ‘perculiarities’ of the Greek economy were a secret. Greece was only a tiny part of a far larger financial bubble, which, arguably involves most of the economies of the western world. But like Iceland, it’s easier to bully Greece, than, for example, the United States, that just creates more debt when it needs to without having to ask anyone for permission, who dares to say ‘no’ to the United States about anything?

  22. Ben Franklin

    15 Feb, 2012 - 8:00 pm

    O/T

    Israel is running out of excuses………

    http://www.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1535391

  23. Look at it this way – if the banks and investors and hedge funds and speculators had done what they did to Greece at the behest of another foreign power, another nation, that would be considered to be an act of war. The Greek government would then have been completely justified in seizing the commercial operations involved, arresting their managements and freezing all associated accounts and funds. Once the full ramifications of this deliberate attempt to destabilise the entire economy of Greece by A.N.Other country became clear, the Greek government could quite legitimately nationalise all the commercial entities residing on Greek soil, cancel the debts created to destabilise the nation, and jail all company employees found guilty of high misdemeanours (or the Greek equivalent).
    .

    Now, just because the same scenario has essentially been playing out only without the malefic influence of an outside agency (apparently), why should those same commercial entities be treated any differently?

  24. Ben Franklin

    15 Feb, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    I don’t know about the UK, but petrol demand is down to 1997 levels in the US.

    The stagnant pricing seems indicative of speculation of the Hedge Funders (They are still redistributing the wealth) but there is a Legion of ways to manipulate the price of gas.

    What I worry about most, is what methods I don’t know about.

    http://www.businessweek.com/finance/rising-gas-prices-not-demand-driven-02142012.html

  25. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    15 Feb, 2012 - 9:37 pm

    Former Vice President of the European Central Bank Lucas Papademo, who was imposed on the Greeks as prime minister by the EU has criticised the recent civil unrest as being undemocratic. How I laughed.
    .
    It is my belief that all politicians are just taking the piss out of the public. And why not? Even when they get caught up to their necks in corruption, criminality and incompetence come the next election the electorate march off and vote for the exact same parties that have consistently supplied their nation with the most contemptible ‘public servants’. People picked randomly off the street could make better decisions than those self-serving parasites.

  26. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    15 Feb, 2012 - 10:33 pm

    there is a Legion of ways to manipulate the price of gas. What I worry about most, is what methods I don’t know about.

    The current favorite seems to be threatening global oil supplies by entertaining an attack on Iran. This is great for the Fed because it keeps global demand for the dollar high even though demand for oil is low. The knock-on is that petrol/gas is high – a small price to pay for being able to create ‘money’, and more importantly the demand for it, from thin air.
    .
    Also, if the US economy doesn’t pick up they can attack Iran and double the oil price overnight, while they’re at it they can tell the Chinese to f*ck off as well because now they control all the worlds significant oil deposits and the road to the glittering treasures of the Caspian Basin lay ahead undefended, ripe for the plundering.

  27. Chinese to f*ck off as well because now they control all the worlds significant oil deposits and the road to the glittering treasures of the Caspian Basin lay ahead undefended, ripe for the plundering.
    ,
    Only one slight problem with that hypothesis.
    ,
    Chinese alongside Russians will not sit back and take that, and there is every danger of WWIII.
    ,
    Syria is the test case, and so far Russians are winning in this game.

  28. “Only one slight problem with that hypothesis….”

    If the price of oil is the only game, imagine what they can make the ppb when WWIII begins.

  29. If the price of oil is the only game,
    ,
    Nothing doing with the price of oil, the expansionist US setting up bases around China and Russia as well as planing regime change/attacks on these are the very real subsequent facts that will kick start WWIII, before events gets there.
    ,
    The infrastructure of US is in no shape to take any kind of a probable and potential retaliatory hit. The fragmented and inefficient health care in US cannot cope with a flue out break never mind any kind of mass casualty scenarios.
    ,

  30. “Nothing doing with the price of oil” More about ‘access’. I was being sarcastic, but then you knew that :>)

  31. According to the Financial Times, parties of the far left in Greece now poll 42% of the electorate. Leftwing leader snubs Greek bail-out:

    Opinion polls show combined backing for the Democratic Left, the Greek Communist party (KKE) and Syriza at 42 per cent – well ahead of any single party. But the three groups are too deeply divided by ideology and personal rivalries to consider teaming up in a coalition government, according to analysts.

  32. UK Uzbek! I’m your man!
    .
    The problem you see comes in having a nation borrow its money from an international banking monopoly. Why should a sovereign nation have to do this? Especially considering that the bankers never had the money to begin with. They simply conjured it from thin air with a click their fingers – nice work if you can get it. Not forgetting that that nation is then required to pay interest on this imaginary money. Madness.
    .
    It’s a simple fact that if a nation’s bond (by which it guarantees the ‘loan’) is good then any money they issue themselves should be just as good. No? Both are just a fiat, the only difference being that one leaves a nation beholden to a brutal supra-national monopoly (and carries interest) and the other is a simple expression of independent sovereignty (and doesn’t). God forbid the latter! Sorry, did I say God? I meant to say ‘bankers’.
    .
    Anyway, were a nation to control its own money supply, and provided it weren’t starved or bombed into submission by us (the mindless debt-peon dupes of the bankers) there’d be no need for any lifeblood-sapping interest and that nation would find itself back on its feet within a few years. If history is anything to go by, that is.
    .
    So there you go. And there went Iceland! Since they kicked the bankers out are they in need of any bailouts? Hmm… best the media pay no attention.
    .
    Iceland aside, I think there’s two nations left who control their own monetary policy – North Korea and Iran. By way of mass-starvation trade embargoes (aka ‘act of war’), we’ve reduced the former to a pallid near corpse, and the latter? They’ll get theirs! Mossad is right this minute busily running around painting an otherwise absurd picture of a threatened Iran inviting their own destruction by way of (almost, but not quite) harming valueless Israeli targets here, there, and everywhere. It doesn’t make a lick of sense but we, the dim-witted debt zombies of the West, will declare it good enough and pile in on their destruction. Like we did with Libya. Sure enough, the seizing of Libya’s central bank was one of the first act of the ‘rebels’. Sure. Of course.
    .
    Sorry to one-up you there Craig but if you’re looking for ‘a right to a choice’, the monetary supply and who controls it is the mother of them all. (With support for the banker-created Israel a close second I’m thinking). The rest is just details.
    .
    Otherwise, very good!

  33. O/T – But has any thought been given to the rising tensions between Britain and Argentina over the islands?
    .
    “I am not negotiating the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands with anyone, they are British.” (Margaret Thatcher, Christmas 1984 radio broadcast to the Falkland Islands, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, 27, Dec. 1984 )
    .
    Stirring stuff! British nationalism in the framework of British colonialism – Ah yes, I remember those strong feelings from a wounded national pride over the Argentinian invasion.
    .
    Passion, Pride and rage in the heady days of ZZ Top and Bananarama needed an ‘escape valve’ for a huge segment of Britain and ‘The Sun’ had a field day with “our lads … going to war”.
    .
    Well it appears Steve Hilton, the section 5 public order offense man and agent Cameron’s adviser, is trying to tap into that dormant passion and revive it! (hence the Argy Bargy over ‘Wills’ in the Falklands, the inspection of military installations on the islands by MP’s and a new British warship in the Falklands sound, all nicely orchestrated thank you.
    .
    Can anyone guess what agent Cameron is up to? (Hint – Libya, Syria, Iran.)

  34. “People picked randomly off the street could make better decisions than those self-serving parasites.”
    .
    I don’t know if you meant that as a throw-away line, but it happens to be true. Consider the composition of a parliament elected randomly by lot:
    .
    50% female
    <2% members of political parties
    <1% millionaires
    <7% privately educated
    0% with no experience of employment outside politics
    0% war criminals
    .
    Lots more statistics could be added showing the superiority of chance over our present system of unnatural selection.
    .
    Of course the original Greek idea on democray was election by sortition, or lottery. Perhaps the problem with democracy is voting – it creates continuity of power in the same few hands and this rapidly, even instantly, leads to corruption. Freedom of choice is no freedom at all unless one also has the power to set the options.

  35. @Vronsky: and between 40 and 50% would not have any university degree at all, not to mention a degree relevant to government. I don’t want elected representative with no clues about economics any more than I want brain surgery performed by a baker. Technocracy has its failings, but there’s lots to it also.

    The solution is not bringing ignorance to government, it’s offering knowledge to the people.

  36. Richard Quest on CNN is repeatedly making an historical connection between the Greek settlement and the treaty of Versailles. We all know what happened to Weimar Germany … If Greece does default the main loosers are western financial institutions who stupidly loaned them the cash to fritter away in the first place. I beginning to doubt the wisdom of the EU’s support for Greece. Let them go the way of Iceland? Would it really be such a calamity for the EU of the very unhappy Greek people queuing at soup kitchens.

  37. Ben Franklin, good comments, but I’d advise against sarcasm in text communication; it is too easily misinterpreted.
    .
    Indeed, the price of oil would rise in WWIII, but it’s a double-bind, like hungry men fighting over a basket of eggs. In conflict, extraction becomes very difficult, and armed forces run primarily on hydrocarbons. All sides have to conserve the infrastructure, the reserves of the extracted resource, and the ability to extract more, at the same time as fighting over it. There’s a balance between how fast they can extract it and secure it to their own side vs. how fast they’re consuming it and destroying extraction infrastructure by fighting.

  38. Uzbek in the UK

    16 Feb, 2012 - 9:43 am

    Mary,
    .
    Both WWI and WWII have been the deadliest conflicts in human history. Both Russian Empire and Soviets have suffered the most in human casualties and in material destruction. And yet for VIP foreign visitors to Russia it is not compulsory to attend WWII monuments.
    .
    But casualties in war (even civilian) by moral definition cannot be compared to the victims of Holocaust. This is quantitative comparison but rather normative. Holocaust was killing programme targeting to wipe out particular group of people based on their culture, religion and in some cases ethnicity. This is something that never happened before and particularly in such large scale and in such organised manner. This is shame not only for those who participated in it either actively or passively but for all humans for allowing something like this to happen. For the sake of all of humans and not just Jews we shall all remember Holocaust, we should teach our children and grandchildren so that this never happens again.

  39. Thanks for another great article. I have just re read the befitting CIF piece you wrote before the Guardian was muzzled by its new owners.

    The wretched karma that has landed Blackburn with Jacks Straw’s ‘guile and cunning’ (Barbara Castle’s reasoning for choosing him as her next in line)and with a continuous reign over this Town, has not changed since you stood there.
    His utterance of making Blackburn a City, despite being in Government for 13 years, failed, as did any integration of his multiethnic society makeup in Blackburn, local democracy and provisions. Blackburns once hardworking community is divided and unemployed, a once thriving manufacturing on its knees, it now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

    Rather than advancing the Town for all involved, he plays off ethnic communities, feeding hundreds during election time, and using his City Hall stooges and the police to do the harrassment of other candidates for him.

    Being the election agent and campaigns coordinator In Blackburn for Bushra, has drastically turned my views of the election system, it is run by town halls and they use local bylaws as they see fit to twart your every effort. An affidavit served against Jack Straw, for feeding 700, singed by three individuals attending and handed in by Craig, who came up to help for the occaision, was filed and forgotten about. Still today, the City council jobsworth are pursuing Bushra Irfan, the first ever Independent woman muslim candidate in Blackburn, with rigmarole and spite.

    Blackburn should be exempt from postal voting regulations and all voters should be carrying ID, police and City council as well as venues such as the Towns cathedral, where the still serving sacrister physically pushed me against a stone pillar, despite Jack Straws personal police guards standing 2 ft. away, should have Electoral commission staff watching engagements every day. I asked for monitors, citing past records of postal voting fraund and manipulations of the local voters, I pleaded with them more than once, to come and watch this election closely, they refused and said that ‘they trusted City Hall to conduct these elections’.

    Voting day saw regulatiopns broke at five polling stations, inhabited by newLabour thuggies intimidating voters going to the booth, Labours election literature was displayed, against strict rules, within 200 yards of polling stations, on cars and key properties.

    On meeting the leader during an inspection on election day, the leader of the council in charge of the electoral eforts of City Hall, rebuked my question when I asdked whether these displays were within range and reasonable in his views, by saying’ in his opinion they were acceptable’.

    This was the worst election I have ever conducted and organised, the continuous stifling of just about every move one made, was incessant and bordering on the criminal. It was enough to turn you off politics forever, but…..:)????

  40. “between 40 and 50% would not have any university degree at all”
    .
    I’m afraid I can trace no correlation between their education and their results in government – the point, I think, that DownWithThisSortOfThing was making.

  41. Uzbek in the UK

    16 Feb, 2012 - 10:03 am

    Nobody,
    .
    I agree with some you said but not with everything.
    .
    For instance you said: “there’d be no need for any lifeblood-sapping interest and that nation would find itself back on its feet within a few years. If history is anything to go by, that is.”
    I am afraid this is not that simple. Not only interests rates but also way nation conduct its economic activity is important. For instance when USSR collapsed Russia was heavily borrowing from IMF to pay its bills and by the time Yeltcin resignation Russia was in deep debts. But then 9/11 had happened, Iraq war, hike in oil prices and at present Russia has over 250 billion USD in stabilisation fund. BUT is this not due to that Russian economy has undergone significant modernisation this is due to high oil prices. One might think that Russia is off the hook BUT as if oil prices go down so will Russian economy.
    .
    Also you said: “…I think there’s two nations left who control their own monetary policy – North Korea and Iran.”
    Well, interesting point. But what about China? Is not renminbi artificially lowered and US/EU and the rest of the world are trying hard to push China to value its currency by market value? Is not China subsidising its industries with other means, cheap energy, removal of people from places where factories or offices need to be built etc? If you think that China is mastered by Wall street or City then I disagree with you at large.
    .
    As for North Korea, I also disagree that bankers have anything to do with tragedy in which North Korean people are. I think that North Korean regime is to be blamed and hopefully will one day be hold responsible.

  42. Uzbek

    I agree with your response to Mary. Also the point can be made that state visits involve following protocol’s and procedures that ask respect for the sovereignty of the state and try and show off something of what that state sees as important symbols of its sovereignty. The Israelis are entitled to create whatever protocols they like and a visit to Yad Vashem is no worse or better than any others in that respect: reviewing troops, paying visits to the queen etc.

  43. I repeat, we should be going after the banks, investors and speculators – it is their actions (unhindered of course by governments who should have known better) which have brought about the current ongoing crisis.

  44. Well written, Craig.
    .
    Still, the democracy you propose seems to forget that 95 (or rather 99) percent of voters are dumb, or at least, by having no idea about governing a country, get easily manipulated into voting decisions. Tricks of social psychology are extremely simple, you can trick 95% of people into doing anything (even killing others if you wish). Leaving too much power in the hands of people, while sounds nice, is dangerous.

  45. Lloyd It is probably best not to continue this particular discussion here but suffice to say that the guilt engendered in people by the continual mention of the Holocaust, now six decades away, has allowed Israel to get away with murder, literally.
    .
    I found this article informative if somewhat long, with many references.
    Liberal Citizenship, not “Jewish Identity”
    by Harry Clark / February 14th, 2012
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/02/liberal-citizenship-not-jewish-identity-2/

  46. Uzbek in the UK

    16 Feb, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Mike Cobley
    .
    No doubt that you are right and I agree with you. But also I think that the rest of us, non bunkers are too be blamed. Why have we spent money that we had not earned? Why did we buy 50inch plasma TV, new car every 5 years, leather sofa etc. And most of all why have we agreed to buy typical 3 bedroom terraced house for over 400K? DO NOT always blame market and only market. Market is there and will grow until WE agree to pay.

  47. There is now a delegation of MPs going down to the Falklands to join HMS Dauntless, maybe a nuclear sub and Prince William. Further aggravation for the the Argentininians.
    .
    This morning Simon Jack was talking to an oil industry expert, Ian McLelland, and it is apparent that there are very large oil reserves (8 billion barrel were quoted) there offshore. 23 mins in here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/b006qj9z/console

    .
    Cannot decide if this is all hype or not.
    {http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/9076530/Falklands-oilfields-could-yield-176bn-tax-windfall.html}

  48. Uzbek in the UK

    16 Feb, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Mary,
    .
    It is probably not too wise to correlate crimes of state of Israel with the victims of Holocaust. If one tries to use denial of Holocaust as defence in his argument supporting repressive nature of state of Israel then this is not just unwise but also slightly arrogant. It might have happened 6 decades ago but this crime was so significant that it would be better if many more generations remember of it and feel guilty of allowing this to happen.
    .
    Holocaust and Zionism are two different issues. Humans should feel guilty of Holocaust and Europeans in particular. But this should not make anyone feel irresponsive towards crimes made by state of Israel.

  49. I interpreted the ‘hype’ as ‘population inducement’ or conditioning for a strike on Iran by Britain Mary.
    .
    Craig has already revealed Britain is preparing for war and our airforce and Navy are busy rehearsing in Argentinian waters.
    .
    I wait for the false-flag strike on a British naval boat in the straits of Hormuz. Remember Britain pleaded with the Yanks to join the US task force in the Gulf. I can see the ‘Sun’ headline already: British boat ‘Mullahed’ in Straits’ – is that a sign of paranoia?

  50. Matthew Gould has not answered three polite requests to intervene in the case of Khader Adnan who is imprisoned by the Israelis and who is on the 61st day of a hunger strike.
    .
    He is obviously much too busy to deal with correspondence.
    .
    British envoy opens first of seven Holocaust survivor clubs in Israel
    By Nathan Jeffay, February 16, 2012
    .

    Matthew Gould (centre) with his wife at the opening
    .
    Praising the British Jewish community’s generosity as “fantastic”, Britain’s ambassador to Israel has opened the first of seven new social clubs for Holocaust survivors funded by philanthropists in the UK.
    .
    Matthew Gould and his wife Celia, together with Israeli Minister for Welfare and Social Services Moshe Kahlon, launched the centre in Hadera on Tuesday.
    .
    He came up with the idea of helping Holocaust survivors soon after becoming ambassador in September 2010. “It struck me how deeply sad it is that people survived the Holocaust and yet live today without friends, family or much human contact, and without much chance to talk to people about their traumas,” he said.
    .
    /…
    http://www.thejc.com/news/israel-news/63680/british-envoy-opens-first-seven-holocaust-survivor-clubs-israel
    .
    Background
    Dear all,
    Thank you all for your effort and support, so far the petition colected over 4000 signatures, it will remain online and an updated copy will be sent to the ICRC soon. Today Khader Adnan is still imprisoned, though he is continuing his hunger strike with an iron will to LIVE FREE and it is very necessery to take farther actions and make more pressure to save Khader’s life, I suggest that you send a letter to the Israeli authority, Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network created a letter form that every one can send to the Israeli authority and it is very easy to use, please invest less than one minute to send the letter. Khader Adnan is in a very critical stage and every step we take could help to save his life.
    .
    It is urgent that Israeli officials hear that the case of Khader Adnan is being followed internationally, and that people around the world support his struggle for freedom and justice, and that of his fellow prisoners. Follow the link below to use the form to send a letter of protest to Israeli officials

    {ttp://samidoun.ca/2012/02/take-action-for-hunger-striking-palestinian-prisoner-khader-adnan/#letter}
    .
    For update about Khader’s medical state please visit the website of Physicians For Human Rights at:

    {ttp://www.phr.org.il}
    .
    For other updates regurding the leagal procces and his reports from his visits please visit Addameer Prisoner Support And Human Rights Association at:

    {ttp://www.addameer.org}

    Thank you
    Anan Odeh

  51. Off-topic – can anyone who is a Twitter user and is also subscribed to Craig let me know if his post alerts are appearing in their Twitter feed? I am not a tweeter, so wouldn’t know – but want to check that these are being received intact by followers. At least all the articles on the front page of this blog should have gone out (and probably more).
    .
    Thanks :)

  52. Posted by the medialens editors. Note the illegality of the US action.
    .
    US ‘expels’ Iranian banks from SWIFT
    .
    Posted by The Editors on February 16, 2012, 2:20 pm
    .
    From: DP
    Sent: 16 February 2012 02:12
    To: Media Lens Editor
    Subject: US ‘expels’ Iranian banks from SWIFT
    .
    There has been a development in the Iran saga the significance of
    which appears to have eluded the British press. Barack Obama is
    trying to expel Iran from the Society for Worldwide Interbank
    Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a place I used to work. SWIFT
    handle any bank transfer over £25 which is more than half the money
    that passes hands globally each day, many trillions of dollars.
    .
    This is a near total financial blockade on Iran and on all Iranians.
    This has never been done before. Not only does it bypass the UNSC, it
    isn’t legal – US banks are individual members of SWIFT, and the US
    government has no jurisdiction over a European based independent
    organisation. They have done it by threatening to arrest the SWIFT
    directors unless they comply. This could also destroy the business of
    SWIFT which is built solely on it’s reputation as a neutral and
    trustworthy third party, and lead the Chinese to set up an alternative
    money transfer system.
    .
    This is huge and no one in Europe seems to have noticed how huge it is
    – to me it seems sure to cause war.

  53. Ah Mr Murray. There exists now a new dimension that will seriously batter any chances for free and fair elections in the future:

    http://kleinonline.wnd.com/2012/01/18/obama-donor-scytl/

    SCYTL. Used by the UK already and now taking over 900 US locations. Add to this the latest report that 2,000,000 deceased Americans are set to vote and I put it to you that effective oversight is ended. Corporate poweres are now free to shoo in any candidate that suits them (to increase their bottom line).

  54. Tweets for Craigs latest blogs are coming through Jon, and Craig has 2330 followers.

  55. Mary, extremely interesting. Has this been published anywhere or it is an insider info?

  56. @ Conjunction,

    ” One of the main problems with western democracy, most especially in the USA, is the funding of the election process.”

    And you have hit the problem squarely on the head. Which is why, since the US is the world’s riches country – it also clearly has – the best “democracy” money can buy.

  57. A remarkable piece in the Daily Mail:
    “Beware the oily diplomacy of U.S. politicians”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2101217/Beware-oily-diplomacy-U-S-politicians.html

  58. “This is huge and no one in Europe seems to have noticed how huge it is”
    .
    “Mary, extremely interesting. Has this been published anywhere or it is an insider info?”
    .
    They have noticed in Europe, on Twitter. And it’s all over the internet:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/16/us-iran-usa-swift-idUSTRE81F00I20120216

  59. Hello Craig , I know you picked up on Sean Hoare’s death at the time so if I may just leave this here with you. Not sure of your opinion on Tom Watson but he is trying to find those who knew TRON and Murdoch is in town tomorrow.

    Many thanks

    http://themurdochempireanditsnestofvipers.blogspot.com/2012/02/sean-hoare-and-tron-history-repeats.html

  60. UN ‘Travesty’: Resolutions Of Mass Destruction – Part 2 – Medialens
    http://t.co/z6Ty1wvc

  61. http://themurdochempireanditsnestofvipers.blogspot.com/2012/02/httpwww_16.html

    Murdoch court case.

    Sorry Craig I missed this link. x

  62. Following a truly awful crash today between a school bus carrying young Palestinian children (at least eight have been killed) and a truck,
    these comments appeared on am Israeli website. What dreadful people to say such things.
    .
    http://abirkopty.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/israelis-on-facebook-celebrating-the-death-palestinian-children/

  63. Re SWIFT An excoriating piece from Pepe Escobar here
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB17Ak04.html
    and I hear Fox News and RT have got it too.

  64. Courtenay:
    “the best “democracy” money can buy”
    Article on TomDispatch.com today going into that in detail:
    Ari Berman, The Politics of the Super Rich
    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175504/tomgram%3A_ari_berman%2C_the_politics_of_the_super_rich/#more
    .
    I am still gobsmacked that ‘super PACs’ can be considered legit in any “democracy”.

  65. Uzbek,
    .
    Just quickly since I have to run, on the subject of North Korea as authors of their own misery: how would your country (my country, whichever) cope if they were placed under a complete trade embargo? No exports, no imports, nothing, a complete shutout. How long would it take before that country ground to a halt and was reduced to the direst of poverty?
    .
    And then there’s the repression. Have you ever read any William Blum? Were you to do so you’d find that the Berlin Wall wasn’t built to keep people in but to keep the saboteurs of the West out. Don’t scoff. So complete was the CIA-sponsored destruction of East German infrastructure (power stations, water, sewerage, etc.) that their agents were reduced to blowing things up twice.
    .
    How would your country, any country, cope with that? Would they roll over and play dead? I expect not.
    .
    Have to run. Ciao.

  66. @crab – thanks. I see they’re on Craig’s feed, but if they are also going to followers’ feeds, then it’s all good. I might be a techie, but I’m not a Twitter/Tweeter (yet anyway) so still figuring it all out!

  67. Part II of the latest Medialens Alert
    .
    UN ‘Travesty’: Resolutions Of Mass Destruction – Part 2
    http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=666:un-travesty-resolutions-of-mass-destruction-part-2&catid=25:alerts-2012&Itemid=69

    .
    Part 1 {http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=665:travesty-un-resolutions-of-mass-destruction-part-1&catid=25:alerts-2012&Itemid=69}

  68. A date NOT to put in your diary.
    .
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/shop/events/7607663/spectator-debate-immigration-enough-is-enough.thtml
    aaronovitch, kamm, raab, field et al.
    Motion for debate:Immigration. Enough is Enough.

  69. @ Nuid,

    Thanks for that link.

    Methinks:-

    A. Too much money buying the politicians.
    B. Too much warmongering via the politicians being bought; and
    C. This is a video with a message to the politicans and warmongers:-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TnRstgt7WcU

    The people are ( or should be – by now) totally – fedup.

  70. Jon – ive not been twittering either i just signed up to have a look! So i cant confirm if followers get the tweets yet. However i expect if you follow someone then twitter surely assures that you get fed when they tweet… we shall see.

    Nobody – Not heard that about the Berlin Wall but seems sadly plausible.

  71. @JimmyGiro,
    You ask:-
    “In a free state, any individual can vote according to their choice. But what mechanisms, if any, exist to stop a democracy devolving into the tyranny of a fascist state?”
    I see things slightly differently.
    A. I believe that there are indeed freedoms within the UK governmental and political systems that are worthy of preservation.
    B. The “free state” in the UK is dominated by the parties, and when the parties dominate, they are supplicants to moneyed interests, which are not reflective of the majority and best interests of the populace. The use of the word “best” begs a much larger debate, but take it at face value for now ( otherwise we are into another huge debate, which will need a thread all of its own).
    C. Once the viable chances for success at the polls become delimited to one or two or even “liberal democrat” ( three) realistic choices of parties – why is this any true expression of democratic expression?
    Now, Cameron wants to keep Scotland this side of the ( political ) border. So, why is a referendum not the true “democratic” option? But, is that not in a certain way, similar to the politics of dominance? So long as a power can dominate the political process, then the process is sanctioned and sold to the public, through the corporate media, as a desirable and acceptable expression of a (the?) “democratic” process.
    P.S. “devolving into the tyranny” ( quote adumbrated) – and, thus your pun unintended – but now identified – and of special relevance to Scotland.

  72. Russia and China have voted against a General Assembly measure calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and strongly condemning human rights violations by his regime, along with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and others who heeded Syria’s appeal to vote “no.”

    Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari warned that the resolution will send a message to extremists that “violence and deliberate sabotage” are acceptable and will lead “to more chaos and more crisis.”
    .
    It seems to me the multinational New World Order, led by the Anglo-American axis and Israel (spearheaded by the UN), are preparing a final conquest of the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, with nuclear world war implications.
    .
    Russian military drafts options for responding to attack on Iran.
    .
    http://www.worldnewstribune.com/2012/02/15/russian-military-drafts-options-for-responding-to-attack-on-iran/
    .

  73. @Mary Good reason to stay away – Jenni Russell – the most boring writer ever. Re Syria – as with Libya “has not been independently verified”. Code for lies and fakery. But good for massaging the Guardian reading sheep.

  74. alan campbell

    17 Feb, 2012 - 1:03 am

    With thanks to Private Eye. That draft SNP independence question in full:

    A) Do you, my fellow Bravehearts, want Scotland finally to throw off the yoke of our brutal English overlords who have raped and pillaged our proud land for centuries, as we reclaim our stolen heritage and restore pride to this great land?

    or

    B) Would you prefer to bow and scrape at the feet of spineless Old Etonian Sassenachs, who wreak poverty and despair across this proud Scottish land?

    Answer either “Och Aye” or “The Noo.”

  75. No time to read all the comments so apologies if some have said this already. Free and fair elections do not a democracy make. But of course the majority have been duped to think that, including it seems, Craig Murray.
    .
    Party politics is an ultimately corruptible process, and therefore corrupting. Evidence is all around the world – name one ‘democracy’ in your sense of the word that you consider to be delivering real choice to its people.
    .
    Issue politics is clearly the democratic process that would get around the corruptibility of party politics. There is only one known practical means of implementing issue politics on the scale of a modern nation-state – Initiative and Referendum rights. It is the basis of the political system in Switzerland for over 150 years, and Uruguay more recently.
    .
    Mustn’t forget the media either, but again, the definition of free has to change from the Orwellian ‘free to be owned and controlled by an unrepresentative minority’. Because all that means is that the media are free to voice prominently opinions that do not make the owners, advertisers and other controlling interests uncomfortable, i.e. not much of consequence to the 99%.

  76. Nobody:
    .
    Just quickly since I have to run, on the subject of North Korea as authors of their own misery: how would your country (my country, whichever) cope if they were placed under a complete trade embargo? No exports, no imports, nothing, a complete shutout. How long would it take before that country ground to a halt and was reduced to the direst of poverty?

    .
    North Korea was repressive from the very beginning. It also chose to invade South Korea and continue waging war long after it could no longer possibly win. It received lots of food, fuel and material aid from the Soviet Union, China and even Cuba, yet it is still a basket case. It IS the author of its own misery and the author of the misery of Koreans who were duped into returning there from Japan. Also, I would imagine that the mystical “they” who rule world finance and world affairs are as interested in North Korea having its own “money policy” (and for what it is worth, I don’t think the government in North Korea controls the only economy which matters to most people there – the underground market) as they are in Antarctica or the Moon having its own money policy.

  77. Cross posting from medialens.
    ~~~~~~~
    UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office : “Reaffirming the UK’s commitment to Libya”
    .

    http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=731073982
    .
    “Reaffirming the UK’s commitment to Libya : 16 February 2012 : Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced further UK support for Libya, a year on from the uprising. Speaking today the Foreign Secretary said: “One year ago the Libyan revolution began on the streets of Benghazi. Libyans across the whole country can be proud of how much they have achieved and the hope they have given to others around the world living under the oppression of brutal regimes. Tangible progress has already been made in the transition to a peaceful and stable country. Libya’s future is far brighter than it was a year ago, but there are challenges ahead.”…”
    ~~~~~~~
    How much more crazed can Hague become? I am reminded of Pinter’s ‘It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.’

  78. North Korea was repressive from the very beginning. It also chose to invade South Korea and continue waging war long after it could no longer possibly win.
    .
    This is relevant to NK’s problems today? You’re talking about the late 40s and early 50s, but NK’s economy was more advanced than the South’s well into the 1960s if not later. Besides, North Korea owes its very existence to the need of the USSR (and later China) to establish and maintain a buffer against the US encirclement via military presence in Japan (and SK). If it weren’t for the insatiable power-hunger of the Yankee Pigfuckers Korea need never have been divided; or if divided could have developed amore benevolent system in the North and in due course re-united.
    .
    If you don’t believe encirclement is a deliberate US policy look at Iran.

  79. I wonder if this thing takes Japanese script? Let’s give it a burl.
    .
    アグリー? そうだな!
    .
    Ha ha ha, a Japlish pun, very good! You get it I’m sure.
    .
    Otherwise, how refreshingly dull you remain, Ug. But gags aside, I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Is it that were your country put under a total trade embargo – no oil, no fertilizer, no spare parts, no plastics precursors, no koltan, no computers, no technology exchanges, hell, I could go on and on really – (and for decades mind you!) that it wouldn’t revert to some kind of third world? That’s a neat trick. How would you do it?
    .
    I’m thinking that with knowledge like that, clearly you should be in charge of a large Western nation, as opposed to, you know… teaching English down at Nova or somesuch. But never mind, baby steps and one day, who knows? You could be it. Keep up the good work.

  80. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    17 Feb, 2012 - 8:10 am

  81. 48 page pdf
    .
    Government Response to pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation on Individual Electoral Registration and amendments to Electoral
    Administration law
    February 2012
    http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm82/8245/8245.pdf
    .
    Any opinions?

  82. O/T
    Afghan drug war debacle: Blair said smashing opium trade was a major reason to invade but 10 years on heroin production is up from 185 tons a year to 5,800 !!!!!
    David Williams
    17th February 2012
    .
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2102158/Heroin-production-Afghanistan-RISEN-61.html?ITO=1490

  83. I agree ‘Louie Louie’ thank-you, encirclement and trampling on anyone and anything in a relentless pursuit of the long term economic interests of Britain and the United States of America.
    .
    Soon after the inauguration I asked President Obama by letter to publicly offer remorse, a sincere regret for the lies and deception by the previous Bush administration that resulted in the Iraq war. I spoke of atonement for the immense loss of young life and the ongoing misery of maimed, paralysed and mutilated young bodies left scavenging to survive or die of malnutrition or treatable disease.
    .
    Since that time we have witnessed slaughter of the Bahraini people, the crushing of dissent and intimidation by Egypt’s ruling military council, massacre in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa by President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s thugs backed by Saudi Arabia, the carnage by rebels in Libya leaving a country in ruins, the murderous push for regime change by foreign intervention in Syria and the illegal embargo on Iran, effecting allied world trade, especially Russian exports. Last but not least we sit back and watch Palestinians slaughtered and their land stolen by Israeli settlers. All this while the world moves closer to nuclear war.
    .
    Why does Britain still deny it’s holocausts? The empire is no more and we must learn from the mistakes of the past…
    .
    The suppression of the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya, the Tasmanian genocide, the use of collective punishment in Malaya, the bombing of villages in Oman, the dirty war in North Yemen, the evacuation of Diego Garcia – these are the atrocities of empire burnt into intelligent inquiring minds providing reason and contention, resistance and opposition to the West’s modern day undemocratic agenda.

  84. Louie Louie: This is relevant to NK’s problems today? You’re talking about the late 40s and early 50s, but NK’s economy was more advanced than the South’s well into the 1960s if not later. Besides, North Korea owes its very existence to the need of the USSR (and later China) to establish and maintain a buffer against the US encirclement via military presence in Japan (and SK). If it weren’t for the insatiable power-hunger of the Yankee Pigfuckers Korea need never have been divided; or if divided could have developed amore benevolent system in the North and in due course re-united.

    .
    In some ways you are quite right. The Yankee Pigfuckers are to blame for the division of Korea. If it wasn’t for them then Kim Il-sung’s Soviet-backed army would have swept through the entire peninsula and everyone there would be living in abject poverty.
    .
    But you have already said that going back to the forties and fifties is illegitimate, in some way. Rather, we should talk about the sixties or, perhaps, the seventies. Any reason for the arbitrary-looking dividing line?
    .

  85. Nobody: アグリー? そうだな!
    .
    Ha ha ha, a Japlish pun, very good! You get it I’m sure.

    .
    このギャグはちょっとわからへん! ugly? agree? ugly so da na? 説明して下さい!

    おれはNOVAの教師ではないよ!

    I’m thinking that with knowledge like that, clearly you should be in charge of a large Western nation, as opposed to, you know… teaching English down at Nova or somesuch. But never mind, baby steps and one day, who knows? You could be it. Keep up the good work.
    .
    I don’t aspire to be “in charge of a large Western nation” but presumably you do or you have some dazzling qualifications that you want to amaze us with. If not, what is your point?

  86. British private security companies, confirmed by my contact working out of Dubai are providing training to the FSA in Syria. This is now been officially confirmed by agent Cameron and sadly I will soon be ‘punished’ for leaking that information here.
    .
    [Second Link]British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs, according to an Israeli website known for links to intelligence sources.
    .
    http://rt.com/news/france-uk-syria-advisors-569/
    .
    {http://rt.com/news/britain-qatar-troops-syria-893/}
    .

    I have asked Prime Minister Putin in Russia to also supply ‘advisers’ to give diplomatic support and help to human rights groups in documenting alleged atrocities by the Free Syrian Army.

  87. Mary, your quote edited for accuracy:
    .
    “Afghan drug war triumph: Blair said restoring opium trade was a major reason to invade and 10 years on heroin production is up from 185 tons a year to 5,800. Job done!!”

  88. Some readers following the modern Greek tragedy may like to read an open letter from Theodorakis.

    http://www.infowars.com/mikis-theodorakis-an-open-letter-on-the-truth-about-greece/

  89. Nobody
    asking Uzbek “Have you ever read any William Blum?” adds nothing to the credibility of your nonsensical claim “that the Berlin Wall wasn’t built to keep people in”. I have not heard of Blum but have lived in Berlin for too long to be impressed by your mindless repetition of the official East German propaganda line, concocted in 1961, and never had I met a “Berliner”, as JFK so nicely pronounced, who would believe this nonsense. To refresh you memory. West Berlin was Stalin’s present to the allies (i.e. USA, UK and France) but soon after became a hole in the iron curtain erected around the eastern block. About 3 million East Germans used it to disappear and uncounted number of Poles, Czechs an Hungarians. That the wall served its purpose is documented by subsequent easing of travel restrictions to East Germany for citizens of other “friendly” nations.

  90. Sarkozeee has gripped Cameron by the throat, cancel that, by the arm in greeting. They are carving up a deal for EDF to construct nuclear power stations in the UK. 1,000 jobs will be created. WOW
    .
    The waste therefrom will be deposited in a field next to Cameron’s home in Oxfordshire. Only joking.
    .
    I hear that they are also discussing co-operation on construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle. Why?
    .
    Press conference just started on news channels.

  91. The drone.
    .
    Feb 16 (Reuters) – France and Britain will unveil plans on Friday for a joint project to develop a next-generation unmanned stealth aircraft, or drone, following a cooperation accord signed in 2010, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
    .
    President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron, who are set to meet on Friday at a bilateral summit in Paris, will announce a non-binding letter of intent, with the project to be headed by France’s Dassault Aviation and British defence contractor BAE Systems.

    .
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/16/france-britain-drone-idUSL5E8DG2L820120216
    .
    PS Cameron looks sweaty. They are congratulating themselves on their Libyan adventures.

  92. Sarko must have put something in Cameron’s cafe au lait. Cameron is now bright red. Or perhaps he is going through the menopause

  93. This was not referred to in the press conference.
    .
    Cameron and Sarkozy agree to speed up joint military HQ
    Nicolas Sarkozy greets David Cameron before their talks in Paris
    .
    Continue reading the main story
    Related Stories
    UK and France sign nuclear deal
    UK ‘proud’ of Libyan revolution
    UK nuclear subsidies ‘unlawful’
    .
    The UK and France have agreed to speed up creation of a joint control and command centre for military operations.
    .
    Prime Minister David Cameron said the deal was “a real breakthrough” which would boost both nations’ capability.
    ;
    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17075043

  94. Good form Mary – I needed a laugh.
    .
    UA or Unmanned Aircraft
    .
    If the aircraft weighs less than 20 Kg then it requires no insurance, no airworthiness, no collision avoidance and I can fly one over your garden and video you bathing in the nude. I can also fly over your allotment and check whether your pumpkin is bigger than mine!
    .
    http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP722.pdf
    .
    These are the only rules I must follow:
    .
    Small unmanned surveillance aircraft
    .
    167.—(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.
    .
    (2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are—
    (a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
    (b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
    (c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft; or
    (d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
    (3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
    (4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
    (5) In this article ‘a small unmanned surveillance aircraft’ means a small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.

  95. Large military plane (Hercules?) flew at tree height across the cornfields just south of Stirling today – nosed up, just scraped over the top of our factory (looked as if it was coming into the canteen for a moment, nearly dropped my roll and sausage) then somehow managed to bank and miss the Wallace Monument. Cameron Plan B for keeping Scotland in the Union?

  96. “Cameron Plan B for keeping Scotland in the Union?”
    .
    Very possibly. Might even be Plan A. Better make sure you’re well stocked up with military gear and ammo before you start talking about evicting those nuclear subs. It’s a jungle out there.

  97. A friend spotted this on the Israeli Embassy website.
    .
    About Us
    .
    Welcome to the Embassy of Israel in London, the home of the State of Israel’s official mission to the United Kingdom, over which it has jurisdiction.
    http://www.embassyofisrael.co.uk/about-us/
    ~~~~

    How true. How very very true.

  98. Read this moving letter to the EU’s Catherine Ashton about her response to the plight of Khader Adnan who, on the 62nd day of his hunger strike, is reported to be near death.

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david/few-weasel-words-eu-adnan-nears-death?utm_source=EI+readers&utm_campaign=b48201792f-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

  99. I’m greatly attracted by Vronsky’s highly economical suggestion (at 7.09 am on 16 Feb)of being legislated for by one’s peers, chosen by lot. Rather similar to how we enforce the rule of law in serious cases by turning to twelve good people and true. Maybe thew idea should be tried out on an experimental basis in a small country – what about Scotland? A much more sensible social/ political experiment than the poll tax.

  100. DownWithThisSortOfThing

    18 Feb, 2012 - 6:35 am

    Interviewed by the Daily Telegraph, William Hague said if Iran developed nuclear weapons then “other nations across the Middle East will want to”.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17082433
    .
    And what if Iran were to build a Death Star in Earth’s orbit? These are the two most important, hypothetical, non-reality based issues the world faces.
    .
    US defence secretary Leon Panetta stated categorically two days ago that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program but that they could ‘deiced’ to have one at anytime. Just like they could decide to build that Death Star. Pesky Iranians and their evil schemes to destroy the world.

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