Monthly Archives: February 2014


Goosestep Foot Forward

“Security state” fruitcake Rupert Sutton of the ultra neo-con Henry Jackson Society has an article on the puzzlingly named and indescribably dull Zionist blog Left Foot Forward, in which he attacks Moazzam Begg.

Sutton displays precisely the mind-set of the security state, that led GCHQ to intercept the webcam chats of 1.4 million completely random British people, in the hope of finding Islamic terrorists. (They didn’t find any terrorists, but they did look at over 100,000 people masturbating).  Sutton states that Begg must be a terrorist because  “a convicted Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) supporter identified as ‘D’ ” had used Begg’s bookshop.  And he calls me “conspiratorial”!  The poor man must see terrorists everywhere.  The fact that Moazzam Begg is now detained again, had been detained for years, has had everything belonging to him searched microscopically, and nothing has ever been found to justify a criminal charge of any kind, means nothing to witchfinder Sutton.  That anti-Muslim bigot is plainly convinced of Moazzam Begg’s guilt, though as he has not been charged, of what is unsure.

I strongly suspect Sutton supports the torture and extraordinary rendition which Begg was investigating in Syria.  If Sutton opposes torture by the state, all his pontificating on how to counter terrorism has never mentioned such opposition to torture.  Sutton manages not to mention what Begg has said he was doing in Syria at all in his article.

You may wonder why a blog called Left Foot Forward is giving space to an odious warmonger like Sutton.  All becomes clear when you realize that Left Foot Forward was founded by Will Straw, the son of Jack Straw, the enforcer of Britain’s torture policy, and the subject of Moazzam Begg’s researches into British complicity in torture.  Will Straw has succeeded to his father’s hereditary Labour candidacy for Blackburn.  The most recent article on Left Foot Forward attacks Venezuela’s socialist party and supports the CIA funded Venezuelan opposition.  Will is plainly a chip off the old block.

Release Moazzam Begg National Protest
Saturday 1 March: 12 Noon
Outside West Midlands Police Headquarters
Lloyd House, Colmore Circus Queensway
Birmingham B4 6NQ

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Tories Campaign Against Scottish Independence (Shock)

Keith Skeoch, Executive Director of Standard Life, is on the Board of Reform Scotland, the neo-conservative lobby group which wants to abolish the minimum wage,  privatize the NHS and pensions and restrict trade unions further.

It is difficult for Tories openly to campaign against Scottish Independence as everyone in Scotland hates them, so they do it with their corporate hats on.  This is most of the board of Standard Life:

Keith Skeoch, Executive Director, right wing political lobbyist

Crawford Gillies, Non Executive Director, Chairman of Control Risk Group, of London, the “security consultancy” of choice heavily peopled by ex MI5 and MI6 officers

Garry Grimstone, Chairman, “lead non-executive” at the Ministry of Defence, London

Noel Harwerth, non-executive Director, Director of “London First” – [Honestly, I am not making this up]

David Nish – Chief Executive, Member of the “UK Strategy Committee” of “TheCity UK”. “TheCity UK” being a body of the City of London.

John Paynter, non-executive Director, was vice chairman of JP Morgan Cazenove until the 2008 crash

Amazing that lot oppose independence, huh?

Standard Life also threatened to leave at the time of the devolution referendum and gave out no campaign materials to staff.  “Leave” of course is a relative concept – the above bunch just pop up from London from time to time to check on how the serfs are doing.

 

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Moazzam Begg a Political Prisoner Again

I first met Moazzam Begg in 2005 when he came to support my campaign in Blackburn against Jack Straw.  I was immediately struck by how gentle he is.  For somebody who has been through Guantanamo Bay and suffered torture and injustice, he is free of bitterness and rancour to a degree I find quite astonishing.  It is an extraordinary spiritual quality, comparable to that of Nelson Mandela.  He does not hate.  That impression has only been reinforced every time I see him, and comes over well in his book.

What the British state did to me for opposing their torture programme was bad enough, but nothing to what Moazzam suffered.  Yet he is much less embittered than I am.

The fall of Libya further revealed the terrible truth about the extraordinary rendition programme and undeniable evidence of British complicity in torture.  This included of course the appalling case of the Belhadj family, orchestrated by criminal torturers Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen.  As Assad’s Syria was even more involved than Libya in the extraordinary rendition programme as a supplier of torture for the UK and US intelligence services, Moazzam sensibly concluded that evidence may now be available there to be recovered from the chaos.  He has been to Syria to that end.

Last week my friend Ray McGovern called on Moazzam and discussed Syria.  Ray briefed me on the conversation, and Moazzam’s take was one of great regret at the bloodshed and despair at the ferocity of inter-Muslim rifts.  It was the opposite of violent partisanship to support one side.

Moazzam Begg has not been arrested for terrorism in Syria.  He has been arrested to stop him digging for further evidence of complicity in torture by senior politicians and civil servants in the UK.

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Why Should Ukraine Not Split?

There had never been an Ukrainian nation state until the last twenty five years.  The boundaries of the old Soviet Socialist Republics were never intended to define nation states, and indeed were in part designed to guard against forming potentially dangerous cohesive units.  The Ukrainians are a nation and f they wish are certainly entitled to a state, but that its borders must be those defined, and changed several times, by the Soviet Union for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic is not axiomatic.

It is not true that there is a general desire for secession for Ukraine on the linguistic and broadly West East split.  It is true that key political attitudes do correlate closely to the linguistic split, with Russian speakers identifying with the ousted government, and favouring closer ties with Russian over closer ties with the West, while Ukrainian speakers overwhelmingly favour EU integration.  But that does not translate into a general desire by the Russian speakers to secede from a Ukraine that goes the other way.  The key to this is that two thirds of Russian speaking Ukrainian nationals view themselves as ethnically Ukrainian, not Russian.  Only a third of Russian speakers, a sixth of the general population, regard themselves as ethnically Russian.  It does appear to be true that among those who view themselves as ethnically Russian, there is a significant desire for union with Russia, and that there is probably a majority in some Eastern provinces for that idea, probably including Crimea.  But the area involved is far smaller than the linguistically Russian area.

Ethnicity is of course a less tangible concept than linguistic identity, and has little claim to objective reality, particularly in an area with such turbulent history of population movement.  But it is futile to pretend it has no part in the idea of a nation state, and is best regarded as a cultural concept of self-identification.

The historical legacy is extremely complex.  Kievan Rus was essential to the construction of Russian identity, but for Russia to claim Kiev on that basis would be like France claiming Scandinavia because that is where the Normans came from.  Kievan Rus was destroyed and or displaced by what historical shorthand calls the Mongal hordes, almost a millennium ago.  Ukrainian history is fascinating, the major part of it having been at various times under Horde, Lithuanian, Polish, Krim Tartar, Galician, Cossack Federation, Russian and Soviet rule.

Still just within living memory, one in seven Ukrainians, including almost the entire intellectual and cultural elite, was murdered by Stalin.  An appalling genocide.  Like Katyn a hundred times over.  That is the poisonous root of the extreme right nationalism that has rightly been identified as a dangerous element in the current revolution.  Pro-western writers have largely overlooked the fascists and left wing critics have largely overlooked Stalin.  His brutal massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Krim Tartar is also relevant – many were forcibly deported to Uzbekistan, and I have heard the stories direct.

Having served in the British Embassy in Poland shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I regard as blinkered those who deny that membership of the European Union would be a massive advantage to Ukraine.  In 1994 there was very little difference in the standard of living in both countries – I saw it myself. The difference is now enormous, and that really means in the standard of living of ordinary working people.  Poland’s relationship with, and eventual membership of, the European Union has undoubtedly been a key factor.  Those who wish Ukraine instead to be linked to the raw commodity export economy of Putin’s Russia are no true friends of the working people. Ukraine’s accidental boundaries include, of course, the great formerly Polish city of Lvov.

Ukraine is an accidental state and its future will be much brighter if it is a willing union.  It needs not just Presidential and Parliamentary elections, but also a federal constitution and a referendum on whether any of its provinces would prefer to join Russia.  That can give an agreed way forward to which Russia might also subscribe, and defuse the current crisis.  It would suit the long term interest of both the Ukraine and the West.  I fear however that the politicians will be too macho to see it.

 

 

 

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Cameron’s Prime Aberdeen Angus Bullshit

David Cameron is peddling bullshit of the premium Aberdeen Angus kind today.  At today’s oil prices, recoverable North Sea oil is worth a minimum of 1.2 trillion and a maximum of 2.4 trillion dollars.   Cameron is claiming that potential will not be released without government subsidy of 24 billion dollars, and that only the UK government’s “broad shoulders” can raise this.

It is nauseous to dive into such bulllshit to analyse it.  To knock a few noughts off, Cameron is saying that it is impossible to raise £10 investment if you have a guaranteed return of £5,000 and possibly £10,000.  Salmond’s counter that Norway manages these things is perfectly valid.

Am I the only one who wonders why the taxpayer, under Cameron’s plan, the taxpayer – ie you and me – should fund $20 billion to decommission oil platforms when the oil companies made, at today’s values, over $400 billion in straight profit from those platforms?  That payment to the oil companies constitutes 83% of the money from the UK which Cameron claims an independent Scotland would miss out on.  The money would not actually go to Scotland at all – it would go to British Gas, BP, Shell, Exxon and other such needy people, to compensate them for polluting us (sic!).

Finally, the taxation revenue to Scotland from the oil and gas after independence will be a minimum of $240 billion and a maximum of $500 billion more to the Scottish taxpayer if Scotland were independent, than the share Scotland will get within the UK.  Purely in terms of government revenue, Scotland will still be at least US 216 billion better off in taxes even if it pays the precious 24 billion Cameron is harping on about today.

Finally, the Cabinet is in Aberdeen and discussing vital revenue and investment questions, but where are they hiding George Osborne?  Have they hidden him behind a curtain with a bucket on his head?  Come on, we want George! Bring out your Family Trust Fund Public Schoolboys!!

 

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The Security State Crushes Ever Tighter

The disgraceful judges of Britain’s High Court – who have gone along with torture, extraordinary rendition, every single argument for mass surveillance and hiding information from the public, and even secret courts – have ruled that it was lawful for the Home Office to detain David Miranda, a journalist as information he was carrying might in some undefined way, and if communicated to them, aid “terrorists”.

Despite the entire industry, both private and governmental, devoted to whipping up fear, it is plain to pretty well everyone by now that terrorism is about the most unlikely way for you to die.  A car accident is many hundreds of times more likely.  Even drowning in your own bath is more likely.  Where is the massive industry of suppression against baths?

I had dinner inside the Ecuadorian Embassy on Sunday with Julian Assange, who I am happy to say is as fit and well as possible in circumstances of confinement.  Amongst those present was Jesselyn Radack, attorney for, among others, Edward Snowden.  Last week on entering the UK she was pulled over by immigration and interrogated about her clients.  The supposed “immigration officer” already knew who are Jesselyn Radack’s clients.  He insisted aggressively on referring repeatedly to Chelsea Manning as a criminal, to which Jesselyn quietly replied that he was a political prisoner.  But even were we to accept the “immigration officer’s” assertion, the fact that an attorney defends those facing criminal charges is neither new nor until now considered reprehensible and illegitimate.

As various states slide towards totalitarianism, a defining factor is that their populations really don’t notice.  Well, I have noticed.  Have you?

 

 

 

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