Monthly Archives: March 2013


Of This I Am Proud

I am proud of the company I was in of fellow Sam Adams winners; but also because in the circumstances I think this was the best speech I have ever made. If you listen from 15 minutes, the enthusiastic and sustained interruption of applause I received from the Oxford Union for my attack on those demonstrating against Julian Assange is remarkable.

It particularly explodes the appalling lies of the Guardian’s shrill hate campaign against Julian Assange, which you will recall covered this event under the headline Julian Assange finds no allies and tough queries in Oxford University talk . It has taken the Oxford Union two months to post this video, and then unlike other newly posted videos it does not appear on the front page of their youtube site.

The students no longer have any autonomy in the the Oxford Union where speakers and videos have to be approved in advance by a solidly and uniformly right wing board of trustees which includes William Hague and Louise Mensch.

It is, however, even at this belated time, a great pleasure to be able again to state and to demonstrate what a vicious little liar Amelia Hill is.

After my point on the Assange demonstration, you could have heard a pin drop for the rest of my talk and I was unsure how the audience were reacting. Unfortunately the video cuts off the peroration, so you will have to take my word for it that the applause was very big and after resuming my seat I had to half stand and acknowledge again. But I had concluded by introducing Julian Assange, so that may have been for him not me – I would be just as pleased.

Let me post this one again so you have the pair of me on consecutive nights in very different moods.

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The Falklanders Have the Right to be Stupid

When there is a 99.8% vote for something, either it isn’t a democracy or it is a very stupid question. Nobody has ever disputed that the majority of the Falkland Islanders wish to remain British. The point of the referendum was simply to annoy and upset Argentina, and that is very stupid indeed.

You cannot escape geography. The trade and communication links of the Falklands should naturally be with Latin America, not with another small island half the world away. Given that Latin America is undergoing an economic, cultural and political resurgence that is truly exciting, while the UK is in an accelerating spiral of decline, that should be a good thing. Unless you are very stupid.

David Cameron is fond of citing individual cases of families in the UK whose benefits cost the British taxpayer over £30,000 per year. But each and every family in the Falkland Islands costs the British taxpayer ten times that – something which Cameron does not detail.

But the first expenditure is motivated by compassion, which enjoys precious little political and media support. The second expenditure is driven by militarism and jingoism, which can never be questioned and enjoy unlimited political and media support.

Britain’s ability to sustain the Falklands will not last forever, not least militarily. With expenditure cuts and every last penny of discretionary expenditure going into the black hole marked “Trident”, Britain would be hard pushed to re-invade the Isle of Man, let alone the Falklands. The inability of the islanders to read the writing on the wall is astonishing. They have all the long term vision of that other island race, the dodo.

But they do have the right to be stupid. Attachment to the rule of international law is central to my belief on how the world should be run, and I am obliged to say that, in international law, Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands is a nonsense. The Argentinians are not the indigenous inhabitants of the islands, nor does the Argentine government represent the indigenous population of the Falklands. The large majority of Argentinians are not even the indigenous population of Argentina. They are simply a rival bunch of colonialists, very many of British descent.

Like Diego Garcia, which should and must be returned to its native population, any genuine indigenous population would have the right to the islands in international law under decolonisation. But there is not one. A rival and defeated colonial occupier does not have the claims of an indigenous population. There is no important rival here to the principle of self-determination in the legal argument.

The Falklanders do have the right to be stupid. The refendum is a prime example of how to be stupid, as it is the opposite of the link-building and cooperation that needs to be done. The potential oil fields have been greatly exaggerated, but what oil there is lies under deep water and is already very difficult; potential conflict blights the possibilities for investment completely. Cooperation is in everybody’s interest.

Were I the Argentinian government, I would smother the Falklands with love. I would completely open all air links and sea routes. I would initiate a regular free postal service to forward on mail through Argentina. I would provide an air ambulance service on permanent standby to whip very serious cases from the Falklands to the mainland for free treatment. I would organise a regular supply ship of subsidised goods and food. I would provide free university scholarships to all Falklanders. I would give a large government subsidy to any company in Argentina which employs a Falklander.

I would also work hard on the darker diplomatic arts. I would identify a couple of Falkland Island councillors and put ten million dollars each into numbered Swiss accounts for them, on condition that they facilitate the provision of the free air ambulance service (which is easy to reconcile the conscience to, and an easy way to start). I would put attractive young Argentinian agents into the path of Falklanders, any Falklanders, at every opportunity.

I appreciate that all Argentinian offers would suffer inital rebuff. But Argentina should keep trying. Switch off the rhetoric, and turn up the love. Geography and economic trends are with the Argentines here. The Falklanders do have the right to choose. Argentina’s task is to change their minds.

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Craig Murray in Cotton Corruption Scandal

Criminal accusations of corruption have been made against Craig Murray:

he lobbied so-called businessmen including those from Pakistan willing to get cotton and other state contracts, those people had contacts with different Uzbek clan representatives including Bekzod Akhmedov. Akhmedov was seen many times in Craig Murray and his pseudo businessmen’s company in dens of iniquity of the capital, Bekzod Akhmedov’s favorite venues.

The allegations must be taken extremely seriously because they come from an Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. The lady in question is of course Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the President of Uzbekistan. As is her usual method, she gave an interview to a glossy magazine journalist in Switzerland not given to probing questioning. Even this publication baulked at publishing these extraordinary statements, so she gave the full works on her blog:

For example yesterday in Geneva, on the first day of spring, we had another “support team” visiting us, those who are always ready to work off their payments while not having anything else to do, any other interests, hobbies or a properly paid job. A group of a few people including a cameraman, a lady of Uzbek origin Mutabar Tadjibaeva, who introduces herself as a president of the «Club des Coeurs Ardents» and guess who else? Exactly! Craig Murray – ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, who had been scandalously fired from the British Foreign Office. He lived in Tashkent for a long time and had a relationship and even got married to a strip-bar dancer, he lobbied so-called businessmen including those from Pakistan willing to get cotton and other state contracts, those people had contacts with different Uzbek clan representatives including Bekzod Akhmedov. Akhmedov was seen many times in Craig Murray and his pseudo businessmen’s company in dens of iniquity of the capital, Bekzod Akhmedov’s favorite venues. It seems like the group of people that visited us in Geneva wanted to congratulate us with spring and express their grievance by screaming and as they said they wanted me or my sister Lola to come out. They attempted to sneak inside and walk around the house recording it all on video and we had nothing to do, but call the police and make our own video of this March invasion of “human right defenders” as they call themselves.

It is obvious, that those people mentioned above, a group of bloggers and professional PR firm such as R&R were not catalyzed accidentally. The core of the artificially initiated scandal is lost, constant threats, that someone will say something, someone like Bekzod Akhmeodv who is wanted by Interpol due to his relation to the investigation of MTS activities in Uzbekistan, who from the beginning was under the MTS-Russia protection and requested on January, 9 2013 refugee status with his big family. Also threats came for last three months from lawyers who were stating that they will have newspapers like Financial Times publish all they have, all that Bekzod Akhmedov could compose over almost a year which was accepted with pleasure by MTS lobbyists. Where else could you see such involvement at official level and could this be possible without high-reaching goals, even if it is done in such a straight way?

I might as well state for the record that to my knowledge I have never met or had any contact with Mr Bekzod Akhmedov, I have certainly never been in his social company, let alone on a “den of inquity” (though that does sound fun). I have never met any Pakistani businessmen in or to discuss Uzbekistan and I have never sought any role for myself in trading Uzbek cotton.

I certainly did visit Gulnara’s US $25 million mansion in Geneva, because I wanted to see where the proceeds of forced child labour in the Uzbek cotton fields went. I intend to do so again. I hope lots of people will – its at No. 7, Rue Prevote, Cologny, Geneva.

Gulnara’s peculiar attack on me for the “crime” of looking at her house appears a rather desperate reaction to increasing knowledge of her activities. The Chief Executive of Telesonera, Sweden’s largest telecommunications firm, had to resign recently over corrupt payments to Gulnara. In a decision reminiscent of Blair’s shutdown of the BAE Saudi bribes prosecution, Swedish authorities decided there was no public interest in prosecuting. Gulnara’s Swiss registered holding company Zeromax has been declared bankrupt, owing half a billion dollars to the state in taxes, and its assets confiscated then reprivatised to … Gulnara. Russian Telecoms giant MTS has been kicked out of Uzbekistan, substantially reducing available services there.

All of the above were examples of Gulnara kicking out fellow oligarchs from business interests which she held in partnership with others, to take the lot for herself. That has left a lot of despoiled oligarchs rather rueful. This centralisation of cash prior to a succession battle is a very high risk strategy. It is telling that Gulnara refers to my contact with Uzbek “clans”. In the Uzbek context, this does not mean tribe, but rather something more akin to regionally based mafia groupings, with whom the common people of the region have no identity. Gulnara is in the middle of a major rupture with Gafur Rakhimov, the largest mafia boss whose alliance with Karimov had been central to the regime’s stability.

I do not imagine Gulnara really believes I am connected to any of these rival mafia interests, though it is possible she is really that crazy. But plainly she is very rattled, or she would not be drawing all this attention to her business interests.

Two small points from the above. Firstly, one passage seems to reveal that the “interviewer” from Bilan was a chum of hers.

and guess who else? Exactly! Craig Murray – ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan,

I don’t think an ordinary Swiss journalist would have any idea who I was, let alone know I had called at the house.

This is one of my all time favourite tough journalist questions:

You are leading the list of most popular personalities from Central Asia in 2012 on search engines such as Google and Yandex. You are almost every day active on Twitter where you post many of your photos. How is this all related?

Final point – the first sentence of this post refers to me in the third person not because I have gone delusional, but so it works well as a retweet.

I have every hope the Karimov regime will fall in spring 2015.

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As Big as Terrorism

The BBC are breathlessly reporting this morning, as their lead news story, that antibiotics resistance is now so huge a threat, it is on a par with terrorism.

Let us consider that for one moment:

UK deaths last year from antibiotic resistance: 5,000
Uk deaths last year fron terrorisn: nil

Or:

UK deaths last decade from antibiotic resistance: 33,000
UK deaths last decade from all terrorism: 71

This insistence of the media in ramping the “terrorist threat”, even in completely unrelated stories, is farcical. Today they also have Abu Qatada to follow up as second news story and put terrifying images of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Abu Qatada – oh sorry, there aren’t any – err terrifying images of his obviously terrorist beard on our screens.

Sky News has been running the Qatada story for three days solid, every time introducing Qatada as “the man once called Osama Bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe”. Yet no serious claim has ever been made, anywhere, that Qatada ever met Osama Bun Laden. No evidence has ever been produced that he was in communication with him, and the intelligence services have nothing that indicates that either. I could call Teresa May a hysterical evil populist Muslim-hater, but my doing so would not make it true. However I look forward to hearing “Teresa May once called a …” next time she is mentioned on Sky.

Qatada has lived in this country now for nearly 20 years and there is no evidence he has ever committed any crime in all that time here, no evidence despite his being under intense surveillance. There is no credible, untainted evidence of his having done so in Jordan either. I am perfectly prepared to believe he is somebody who holds unpleasant views. He may well be very unpleasant. Terrorist mastermind he is not.

The actual terrorist threat is at such a low level – much less than so many of us lived through in the 70’s and 80’s – that it needs incarnation to work as a demon of the mind. If Abu Qatada does get deported, the media will have to find someone else with a scarey beard to terrify children into going to bed – sorry, us into giving up our liberties and cash to our “protectors”.

Muslims – more dangerous than E. coli. Give me a break.

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NHS in Meltdown: 31 Week Waiting List To See a Cardiologist

I am afraid this is a personal medical story, but I think it makes a very damning point about the state of the NHS. There is no sensible way to tell it without giving an uncomfortable (I suspect for both of us) level of medical detail about myself.

I had two collapses very early in the New Year, one with loss of consciousness of over ten minutes. On the second occasion we called 999, and the response was superb – a paramedic in less than five minutes and and ambulance in less than ten.

In A & E, I had an ECG and x-ray and was told there was an indication of minor heart failure. I then collapsed again and had entered major atrial fibrillation. I was rushed up to the critical conditions unit, where the condition responded to injections. I was kept in for the next six days. The diagnosis was paroxysmic atrial fibrillation. I was discharged on a dose of 1.25mg of Bisoprolol a day, 2 x 50mg of Flecanide and 2 x 150 mg of Pradaxa. The bisoprolol, even at that low dose, puts me into bradycardia at about 50 beats per minute, but the fibrillation immediately returns without it – that was the conclusion of the six days admission.

All these drugs were new to me.

I was slightly concerned that in six days in hospital, my total face time with a cardiologist was about three minutes – one sighting of two minutes and two of about thirty seconds. In virtually none of that three minutes did the cardiologist address me, but rather the junior doctors and nurses. There was no echocardiogram done.

On discharge the cardilogist told his team that he needed to see me again in six weeks to assess my progress on the medicines. I was discharged on 10 January and therefore was surprised to receive an appointment for 7 May. I telephoned to query this, and the cardiologist’s secretary told me that she knew six weeks was requested, but that 7 May was the first available appointment. I asked if she realised that was 17 weeks not 6, and she replied that was within the allotted NHS target time.

Unfortunately I have been feeling constantly ill since starting on these medicines. Dizzy, faint and nauseous, with severe palpitations. I get very tired very quickly, and fall asleep instantly on putting my head down at any time of day or night.

On discharge from hospital the consultant also ordered a 24 hour ECG (3 week waiting list) and contrast echocardioram (8 week waiting list). Having now had these investigations, I have no idea what the results were and apparently will not be told until I see the cardiologist.

I have twice been to see the G.P. to explain how ill I am feeling. The G.P. said he would write to the cardiologist to see if the 7 May appointment could be brought forward.

Then yesterday I received a letter giving a change of cardiologist appointment – to 17 July! That is a 32 week wating list. It is exactly 26 weeks – half a year – after the date at which the cardiologist said I should be seen again!

In the meantime, I have no idea whether I feel so ill because of the drugs, or because of progressive heart failure. I have no idea what were the results of my tests. I have no idea of the prognosis. I have no idea as to the cause of the paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in the first place.

I have to say that my experience of the NHS in London was entirely different to this. When I had heart problems in 2004, all apponitments and tests and an eventual procedure were carried out extremely promptly – within days – and I at no stage felt left in the dark.

Is this an extreme example of a postcode lottery, or has the NHS declined so drastically in the last few years (or both)? My strong suspicion is that NHS resources are more freely available in more affluent areas, and that being treated out of the QEQM hospital in Margate is probably as bad as the NHS gets (I know those outside S.E. England may find this hard to believe, but Margate is a centre of serious poverty and social deprivation).

Please print this article out and keep it. In the event my heart packs in before I see that cardiologist, please douse it in petrol and stack it against the door of No. 10.

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Oh Dear! New Labour’s Control of BBC Scotland Must Be Curbed

Beyond doubt, a significant number of Scottish citizens are disturbed at what they perceive as a systemic bias in the BBC against Scottish independence. I have read some sixty internet articles to the same effect in the last 24 hours. There is a citizens internet revolt against the mainstream here.

That BBC bias is displayed in the selection of which news stories to present related to independence, in the selection of guests on programmes, in the selection of which facts to highlight within the selected stories, in the comment provided by BBC journalists, and in the treatment afforded to guests, the way guests are presented, the respect they are or are not given and the opportunity they have to present their arguments.

Yesterday’s coverage of the official, civil service prepared GERS report indicating that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK’s public finances brought these matters to a head.

The BBC’s own journalists presented the report solely as indicating Scotland had a fiscal deficit, without the BBC commenters saying that Scotland’s finances were much better than the rest of the UK – despite the fact that the determination of the comparison is the avowed main purpose of the report.

The BBC subordinated the GERS report to a commentary by the Fraser of Allander Institute allegedly indicating Scotland’s economy was too weak to sustain independence. They ran the story all day but did not reveal once that the Fraser Institute is a New Labour “think-tank”, and its head is the husband of Wendy Alexander, failed New Labour leader, and brother-in-law of shadow Foreign Minister Douglas Alexander. Fraser has an appalling forecasting record, having issued dire and completely wrong forecasts on growth ever since the SNP came to power in Holyrood.
[My dad used to work for Hugh Fraser, a total bastard incidentally]. It is, in short, not a real economic institute at all but another New Labour device to fund undeclared political contributions in effect to the party (cf the Smith Institute).

The GERS report was also subordinated in news bulletings to a “leaked” report about Scotland’s future spending choices. The apocalyptic tone of the BBC reporting of this bore no relation to the report’s contents. They continually showed the report with a graphic of a cover stamped Top Secret – an entirely false graphic actually made by the No campaign and circulated by them with a press release. This leaked report was the number one news story, and television guests invited to discuss it in the course of the day were unionist to nationalist in the ratio of 17 to 3.

Just one day, but part of an unbroked pattern of behaviour by BBC Scotland.

Broadcast media does have a real impact on public opinion and voting intentions. BBC Scotland is particularly influential as there is limited alternative broadcasting which reflects across its output Scots culture and interests.

Fairness in an election campaign is a much wider concept than the process of voting, and fairness of access to broadcast media is an extremely important component of that. It is plain that, as things stand, the referendum campaign will not be free and fair.

Action must be taken now. That necessary and urgent action is for Alex Salmond and the Government of Scotland to approach the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and request that the subordinate Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR, ponounced Oh Dear!) deploy immediately an election monitoring mission to cover the referendum.

I have witnessed ODIHR monitoring operations in action, and once had a job interview in Warsaw to be Head of ODIHR. In this, the pre-campaign period, ODIHR will immediately despatch a small team to Scotland of which the principal task will be media monitoring. They will be guided by this ODIHR media monitoring handbook.

This details what they analyse, including these criteria:

Were election candidates and political parties given equal opportunity to present their campaigns and platforms to the electorate through the media?

Did election candidates or political parties have equal or equitable access on a non-discriminatory basis to public/state media?

Were the relevant types of television programmes, such as news programmes or debates, unbiased?

Yes, ODIHR can and does monitor referenda as well as elections – the guidelines are easily followed mutatis mutandi.

It Salmond asks for an OSCE observation mission, I have no doubt it will be granted – there is a strong presumption in favour of missions within the OSCE, and member states like Russia repeatedly complain there should be more monitoring of the West, not just the East. It is hard to see on what grounds the Unionists can oppose international election monitors. They could not in practice stop it. Russia and Ukraine, for example, hate OSCE election observers in their country but have been obliged to accept them. To refuse would likely mean expulsion from the OSCE.

I believe the reason international observers have not yet been requested is a false understanding of their brief, ie that they only check the balloting and counting. That is not true at all – they monitor all the issues around fairness in a holistic way. Their brief is much wider than that of the UK Electoral Commission. The referendum already having been announced, we are already in the designated pre-campaign period. The OSCE observers would come immediately.

The clock is ticking. Alex Salmond must ACT.

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Propaganda against Scotland

A particularly sickening trick from the BBC a few weeks back raised my blood pressure whilst in hospital and almost finished me off. A French Euro MP was asked for “the French view” on Scottish independence. She said that France would oppose it and the French government takes the view that an independent Scotland would be outside the European Union. I was absolutely astonished that the BBC had managed to find the only French person in the entire world who is against Scottish independence, and that she was telling an outright lie about the position of the French government.

Then I realised who she was – the former research assistant (and rather more) of New Labour minister and criminal invoice forger Denis Macshane. She worked for years in the UK parliament for New Labour, in a Monica Lewinsky kind of way. All of which the BBC hid, presenting her simply as a French Euro MP. There are seventy million French people. How remarkable that the one the BBC chose to give the French view of Scottish independence was a New Labour hack!

Today the news came out that Scotland contributes a net £3.6 billion a year to the UK government finances. Scotland’s fiscal deficit is an extremely respectable 2.6%, compared to 6% for the UK as a whole, or 6.3% for the rest of the UK excluding Scotland.

But even that is not the full story. These figures are based on a geographical allocation of oil revenue – but that geographical allocation is based on New Labour’s incredible gerrymandered 1999 England/Scotland maritime border which gives eight major Scottish oil fields to England, including two North of Dundee.

On a realistic maritime boundary, which an independent Scotland would undoubtedly win from the International Court of Justice, Scotland would actually have a budget surplus of £1.9 billion. Hurray, boys and girls, we are in the black! Remember I was Head of the FCO Maritime Section and I personally was involved in negotiating most of the UK’s maritime boundaries, including with Ireland, France, Denmark and Belgium.)

I know it is hard to believe, but that really is the England/Scotland maritime boundary which the revenue figures in the GERS report are based on. That is why England’s oil revenues are surprisingly high in the report – and Scotland’s surprising low.

But even on that boundary, the GERS report shows beyond any argument that Scotland’s public finances would be much better outside the Union.

Yet this morning the BBC choose to present the report as showing that because Scotland has a fiscal deficit, an independent Scotland would not be viable. Despite the fact that deficit percentage is less than half that of England. Despite the fact that every country in the Western world has a budget deficit.

The BBC have simply become addicted to the Big Lie when it comes to Scottish Independence. Talking of big lies – now they are even wheeling out Blair!

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Chavez

The BBC just said that Venezuela is a dictatorship, and the election will be close between left and right. They missed the irony. The incongruity and imbalance of the Chavez demonisation is ridiculous. Sky News did a five minute piece in which the evidence of him being evil and demented was that he called George Bush a devil and declared the age of imperialism over; he did however reduce poverty and improve housing, they added. I am not sure they left their audience with the same certainty as their presenters that he was a bad thing.

There are valid criticisms to be made of Chavez’ attitude towards those who honestly disagreed with him. A dictator he was not. I am not going to detail the legitimate (there is some) criticism, because the airwaves are full of neo-conservatives doing that full time.

Chavez’ overwhelming achievement was to apply succesfully in a developing country the international law doctrine of a state’s inalienable right to its mineral resources, as declared by the UN General Assembly in 1968. One of the fundamental reasons that the developing world is so poor is that states have been unable to take a reasonable share of the economic benefit from exploitation of their mineral resources. The main reason for this is that multinationals have bribed corrupt politicians for the rights at little purchase cost and low taxation and resource share.

I know Ghana best. Newmont, the world’s biggest gold mining company, has revenues of 1.5 billion dollars in Ghana and pays no corporation or revenue tax. Not one penny (or rather pessowa). And causes vast environmental despoilation and social dislocation. That is how the sytem works, throughout the developing world.

The doctrine of alienable right enables states to simply cancel such scandalous deals, and that is exactly what Chavez did in Venezuela’s oil sector. Cancelled them and imposed fairer arrangements. He applied the huge increase revenues to massively succesful poverty alleviation via social programmes, housing and education.

The western states of course do everything to stop developing countries doing this, on behalf of the multinationals who control the politicians. They threaten (and I am an eye-witness) aid cancellation, disinvestment and trade sanctions. They work to make you a political pariah (just watch the media on Chavez today). They secretly sponsor, bankroll and train your opponents. The death of such “dangerous” leaders is a good outcome for them, as in Allende or Lumumba.

Chavez faced them down. There are millions of people in Venezuela whose hard lives are a bit better and have hope for the future because of Chavez. There are billionaires in London and New York who have a few hundred million less each because of Chavez. Nobody can deny the truth of both those statements.

Now which group owns the mainstream media and politicians who are spitting bile against the dead man today?

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Collateral Damage: Vince Fean the Wrong Target

The physical hassling of Vince Fean by Palestinian student activists is a mistake. Vince is not only an extremely decent man, but his private views are of horror at the occupation, and as Consul-General he refuses to deal with the Israelis in the West Bank.

Anger at William Hague is perfectly understandable, I feel it myself. As is anger at Matthew Gould’s repeated and uncalled for declarations of commitment to zionism. But I urge all Palestinians not to attack Vince; he is doing his best and on your side.

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In Praise of Palmerston

It is impossible to read this without warming to Palmerston.

94 Picadilly
Oct 31, 1857

Rt Hon Sir B Hall
[Commissioner for Public Works, a cabinet post]

My Dear Hall,

I cannot agree with you as to the principle on which you think the grass in the park should be treated. You seem to think it is a thing to be looked at by people who are to be confined to the gravel walks. I regard it as a thing to be walked upon freely and without restraint by the people, old and young, for whose enjoyment the parks are maintained; and your iron hurdles would turn the parks into so many Smithfields, and entirely prevent that enjoyment. As to people making paths across the grass, what does that signify? If the parks were to be deemed hay-fields, it might be necessary to prevent people from stopping the growth of the hay by walking over the grass; but as the parks must be deemed places for public enjoyment, the purpose for which the parks are kept up is marred and defeated when the use of them is confined to a number of straight gravel walks.

When I see the grass worn by foot traffic, I look on it as a proof that the park has answered its purpose, and has done its duty by the health, amusement and enjoyment of the people.

In the college courts of Cambridge a man is fined half a crown who walks over the grass plots, but that is not a precedent to be followed

Yours sincerely

PALMERSTON

It is impossible to imagine a Prime Minister writing like that today, or any politician in power coming down on the non-authoritarian side of any argument.

Palmerston would have been absolutely furious at the government’s new secret courts, regarding them as fundamentally un-British. And he would have been quite right. I absolutely cannot believe the “Liberal Democrats” are doing this.

In judging the character of people, it is essential to take into account the environment in which they develop. There is no more convinced anti-monarchist than me, but I did not join in some unkind comments on this blog about the Queen’s recent illness, because I have spent some time with her and think she is a good woman. It is not her fault she was born as she was, and had I been I may well have behaved worse.

I appreciate Palmerston was not a socialist anti-colonialist. But it would have been very strange if he was.

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Fascist Switzerland Strikes back

Switzerland will still go to any lengths to protect the ultra-rich dictators and mafia who flock there. Mutabar Tadjibaeva – multiple rape victim, survivor of repeated torture and still dogged human rights activist, is wanted for questioning by Geneva Police for the crime of ringing the bell of Gulnata Karimova’s 25 million dollar house and asking to speak to her.

That is absolutely all she did. I know, as I was there and did it too. We both left our visiting cards, took some photos from the streets so the children of Uzbekistan could see where the profits from their slave labour in the cotton fields went, and then we left on the bus, as we came.

Uzbekistan is the World’s sixth most corrupt country according to Transparency International. I doubt one in ten of the houses in Cologny is bought with earned money. This is Gulnara’s 25 million dollar home, with the cranes then building a massive extension at the back.

I can understand that Gulnara does not want people to know she lives at 7 Rue Prevote (both e’s have acutes), Cologny, Geneva. A weird, weird village that also houses Gulanara’s sister Lola and the children of the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Armenia, among others. There are lterally thousands of CCTV cameras. At this time of year none of the homewoners are there, just security guards in Adidas wear. The only noise is the barking of guard dogs. The 4 wheel drive Porsches, Range Rovers and Mercedes G wagons are sat still and cold on the drives.

That a speaker at the FIDH human rights film festival is harassed in this way is bad enough. But Mutabar was also there to give formal depositions in human rights cases to the United Nations. That dictatorships can use the Geneva police to harass dissidents visitng the UN is scarcely healthy.

Switzerland attempted to clean up its image as the repository of illegal cash by adopting anti money-laundering legislation. But that legislation specifically exempts real estate – you can buy your Cologny mansion without having in any way to declare how you got all that cash. The ever corrupt Swiss exempted it because Switzerland makes money from it. Outbreaks of democracy on the streets of Cologny are liable to be bad for property values – hence the interest of the Geneva police, in the world’s best disguised fascist state.

I wonder in I can interest Occupy and the human rights groups in an annual summer camp for activists at Cologny? Let’s give the Geneva police some more difficult field of anti-democratic harassment than a small torture victim.

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The American Dream

Here am I spreaking at the Oxford Union, in entertaining mode.

You can see the other speeches in the debate. The Motion “This house still dreams the American Dream” was defeated.

The following week the motion “This house believes that Israel is a force for good in the Middle East” was also defeated. I hear Peter Tatchell was excellent.

I don not think the format of such debates is antiquated and irrelevant. It helps get students thinking, and you get a range of opinion denied an airing elsewhere. I can never get to say those things on the mainstream media.

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