Leave of Absence 1692

I was invited to be on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News this morning – which I always find a great deal more intelligent than the Andrew Marr alternative on the BBC. I declined because I did not want to get up and get a 7.30am train from Ramsgate on a Sunday morning. I had a meeting until 11.30pm last night planning a conference on human rights in Balochistan [I still tend to say Baluchistan], and I have a newly crowned tooth that seems not to want to settle down. But I am still worried by my own lack of energy, which is uncharacteristic. Is this old age?

I also have some serious work to do on my Burnes book, and next week I shall be staying in London to be in the British Library reading room for every second of its opening hours. So there may be a bit of a posting hiatus. I have in mind a short post on an important subject on which I suspect that 99% of my readership – including the regular dissident commenters – will strongly disagree with me.

This is a peculiarly introspective post, perhaps because my tooth is hurting, but I seem to have this curmudgeonly spirit which wishes to react to the huge popularity of this blog by posting something genuinely held but unpopular; a genuine view but one I don’t normally trumpet. The base thought seems to be “You wouldn’t like me if you really knew me”.

Similarly when I wrote Murder in Samarkand I was being hailed as a hero by quite a lot of people for my refusal to go along with the whole neo-con disaster of illegal wars, extraordinary rendition and severe attacks on civil liberties, sacrificing my fast track diplomatic career as a result. My reaction to putative hero worship was to publish in Murder in Samarkand not just the political facts, but an exposure of my own worst and most unpleasant behaviour in my private life.

I am in a very poor position to judge, but I believe the result rather by accident turned out artistically compelling, if you don’t want to read the book you can get a good idea of that by clicking on David Tennant in the top right of this blog and listening to him playing me in David Hare’s radio adaptation.

Anyway, that’s enough musing. You won’t like my next post, whenever it comes. Promise.

1,692 thoughts on “Leave of Absence

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  • Clark

    Technicolour, I don’t want to open this wound any further, but it isn’t healing and it’s still leaking pus. I am far from being the only person who has felt that their statements have misrepresented by you in argument. If you truly respect other people, including me, I suggest that you contemplate just what it might be about your arguments that we get upset about.

  • Mary

    Not Foot AND Mouth Disease but Foot IN Mouth Disease.

    Mitt Romney secret video reveals views on Middle East
    Mr Romney also warns the US could come under attack from Iran

    A new secret video clip has emerged of remarks by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, saying the Palestinians are committed to Israel’s destruction.


  • Jon

    Alright you lot 🙂

    Clark/Tech, I think the nuances that caused problems in the debate that started this disagreement are lost in the mists of time. On rhetorical technique, I think self-examination for everyone is a good idea, but I vote – in a non-mod capacity of course – for not revisiting it. Can we exercise some Buddhist regard for each other, even in a state of frustration, as Suhayl makes a brew and Nevermind offers freshly baked bread?

    @Jemand – not turning a blind eye, no – I just have a different filter. I don’t think it is fair to call Technicolour a liar, but even if it were, it would be counterproductive to do so. I vote, in a non-mod capacity again, to let old enmities drop if you can.

  • Chris Jones

    Well done Paul Flynn – the second time only an mp has stated the truth in the House of shambles against the illegality of these recent wars. Both of them Welsh mp’s incidentally but i won’t make a gloating issue of it (allthough i kind of just have)

    Maybe some of the other cowardly cretins in the House of shambles will now find their moral compass before these buffoons in the cabinet, including the weasel like philip hammond lead us to a third world war. You only need to look at weasel Hammonds face to know he is a liar and a minion.

    As one commentator (or is that commenter!?)puts it “Doesn’t he know it’s against the rules to tell the truth in the Commons?”


  • Jon

    @Mary – indeed. And he managed to suggest that around 47% of American’s are “his” (i.e Obama’s) because they are dependent on the government. That’s going to do him a lot more harm than his ill-judged views on the ME conflict.

  • Clark

    Jon, this time, Technicolour has smeared Jemand as a Nazi supporter or apologist. This is not going away until Technicolour fixes it. It is divisive. Technicolour’s shit-list of contributors is long, and it grows every time Tech decides to employ ad-hominen instead of engaging with arguments.

  • technicolour

    Clark, once again repeating your accusations about my ‘honesty’ – pretty serious stuff, if it wasn’t so baseless. I notice, in your choice of what to quote from an exhausting and exhaustive thread you didn’t post your original analogy which prompted my response. In it you suggested that immigration was the equivalent of 250,000 people a year having their houses confiscated, being thrown out of their jobs, and having their assets confiscated too.

    I could see that you don’t like that analogy being questioned. I can still see why, as it is nonsensical. And the people who come to this country from all over the world and settle here and contribute to our economy and culture don’t deserve it. I’m sure my German friends would be pretty shocked to think that by simply existing in this country they have confiscated someone’s house, thrown them out of their job, and confiscated their assets, for example. Your subsequent attempt to explain that it was the concentration of immigration which was the problem (which you also leave out) resulted in my using Barking as an example, where people who were living in just such an area resisted the suggestion that their problems were down to ‘immigration’.

    I couldn’t, as my tone makes clear, understand why someone I consider to be generally reasonable and well-meaning would not only swallow such stuff, but regurgitate it. But I repeat, this does not make you racist, or ‘a racist’. It means that you got your facts wrong. It suggested that you had been reading too many Daily Mail lies, of the type in the headline linked to approvingly in that discussion. Again, this does not mean a person is a racist or racist. It means they are being lied to.

    Is that now clear? I am quite upset at being attacked by you, then apologised to, and then attacked again with the same insinuations.

  • Jemand

    @Jon, that sounds very reasonable. But we didn’t win both world wars, the war on terror and drugs and olympic gold medals by being ‘reasonable’, did we? Say, you’re not a “nice guy” by any chance?

  • Sunflower

    @Scouse Billy “I started to watch your ex-CIA, ex-NSA, General Hayden’s Rosenthal Lecture”

    I linked it since it is a blatant example of misinformation. I’m familiar with Webster Griffin Tarpley, nice speech. The point about “drills” is well taken. Yes, expose 911 and the rest will coming down with it.

    @Techie I understand where you are coming from, I don’t share your world view.

  • Jon

    @Jemand – is ‘nice guy’ code for feminist, or just for the unwitting man caught up in the feminists’ traps? Yes and no respectively, if that makes a difference 🙂

  • Mary

    Ref immigration, there is now a bounty on the heads of the 170,000 overstayers which is being given by St Theresa’s Border Agency to Crapita. That will cost £40m. Nice work if you can get it. I would think the neo liberals in the ‘Koalition’ should have learnt a lesson from the G4S debacle.

    ‘But it was claimed by MPs that the company will be “laughing all the way to the bank” as its four-year contract does not specify how many people it has to remove.’

    I did not know that they had their fingers in these pies.

    ‘Capita, which provides services for Government including Criminal Records Bureau checks and TV Licensing, declined to comment as the contract has not yet been signed.’

  • Mary

    This is coming too. We will be back to the world of Downton Abbey soon. Will the ConDems bring back 3rd class tickets on the railways where the poor are robbed to give to the rich?

    ‘High Value’ Air Passengers May Get Fast-Track Passport Checks

    ‘The UK Border Agency has disclosed that it is working on plans for fast-track passport lanes for rich travellers at Heathrow and other British airports so they can avoid any repeat of the two-hour queues seen this year.

    Brian Moore, the departing head of the UK Border Force, told MPs that “high value” people who were considered valuable passengers by the airlines or valuable to the British economy would be given priority treatment at immigration control under the plans.

    It would be an extension of a priority queueing system trialled this year at Heathrow, under which passengers from Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand and other, mainly “old Commonwealth” countries who do not need a visa to enter Britain would be fast-tracked.

    Moore told the Commons home affairs select committee: “It is an idea that officials are discussing with port operators. It will then go back to ministers for them to consider whether and how it is going to be progressed. It is an idea that is being pursued.”

    Keith Vaz, the committee chair, pressed Moore as to whether it meant the super-rich would have a fast track into Britain. Moore said it would cover people who were “valuable to the economy and were valued by the airlines”. He said the move was intended to demonstrate that Britain was “open for business”.

    The plan is likely to be seen as highly divisive, especially if there is any repeat of the two-hour queues at passport control earlier this year and in the runup to the Olympics.

    Even at normal times, passengers from outside the European Union are expected to queue for up to 45 minutes to get through passport control at Heathrow. The airport has a target to keep passport queues below 25 minutes for passengers with EU passports.

    Moore said similar fast-track schemes were already in operation in other countries around the world, with some airlines offering first-class ticketholders speedy passport checks.’


  • Clark

    Technicolour, you have completely misinterpreted my analogy, but you didn’t even question enough to understand it. You proceeded on your assumptions.

    My analogy – no job, no home, limited assets – describes the state that immigrants start off in when they arrive, not the effect their importation has upon the population that is already here.

    You are a teacher. I seriously worry for those pupils of your classes that you disagree with. They could be seriously disadvantaged by your insistence upon making assumptions about people’s beliefs and opinions.

  • technicolour

    “Technicolour has smeared Jemand as a Nazi supporter or apologist”


    “Tech decides to employ ad-hominen instead of engaging with arguments”


    And, extraordinary, not one word about direct insults like ‘harpy’ and ‘shrew’ (amusing in one sense, since I’ve never confirmed a gender here). As for a shit-list, I certainly seem to be on yours, Clark. Your attacks are feeling curiously personal.

    Chris Jones: Paul Flynn is a hero for this and lots of other reasons. And yes, I heard Ban Ki Moon and thought that this was getting serious.

  • Jemand

    @Jon, well I guess it could be but, in this case, no. If you can bring yourself to watching the video that JimmyGiro posted, you will know what kind of “nice guy” I mean.

  • Clark

    Technicolour, on the matter of honesty, saying what you think you believe is the easy bit. Developing the self-knowledge of what attitudes and feelings result in one’s own beliefs is a challenge most people never undertake.

  • Clark

    Technicolour, you wrote:

    “Not so strange that someone who slips an approving comment about the Nazis into his contributions would rejoice in this peculiarly resilient misunderstanding. “

    That was directed at Jemand, was it not?

  • Jemand


    “My analogy – no job, no home, limited assets – describes the state that immigrants start off in when they arrive, not the effect their importation has upon the population that is already here.”

    Internal migration in places like China and Indonesia also causes problems as local residents experience a massive influx of outsiders chasing work and a better life. Restrictions are often placed on these internal migrants but bribery fixes that obstacle. Then the economy dives and you have unrest. Greece looked like a flashpoint at one stage between locals and migrants. The flipside is the drain on communities who need more people but cannot compete. Does anybody still live in Romania?

  • Scouse Billy

    Thanks, Sunflower – I admit I hadn’t understood exactly where you were coming from prior to your above clarification.

  • technicolour

    Clark, although you didn’t correct what you now say is my mistaken interpretation at the time, if I did misinterpret it, I of course apologise. However, this would leave your analogy suggesting that of the 250,000 immigrants it refers to, all of them arrive in this country homeless, jobless and without assets, since in the analogy the assets have been confiscated.

    I am not ‘a teacher’. I object thoroughly to your suggestion that I would allow a child in my care to suffer in any way. No vulnerable person in my care has ever suffered from the fact that I object to lying, prejudiced, violent adults. They would be the people on what you refer to as ‘my shit list’. Otherwise this is an adult board for adults and for political discussion and I am quite appalled by the personal nature of your tone and your continued accusations.

  • Clark

    Jemand, and whoever else it, I request you not to start a debate about immigration at present. Until the matter of Technicolour’s argument technique is addressed, it will merely result in an ugly row.

  • Jemand

    @Clark – Ok, I’ll leave it for another thread. Maybe the one where Craig outs himself as the new store manager of his local McDonalds and starts complaining about French customers.

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