Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Odious Smith Commission

From the warm embrace of passionate citizen activism, Scotland’s future passed to the cold hands of hardened political hacks in closeted rooms. It is a physical impossibility that all 14,000 submissions from the public received by mid-October were even read, led alone properly considered. I am willing to bet most were not even opened.

No, this was the very worst kind of deal-making by callous political operatives, where party interests came first, second and last. I do not give a fig for the result. Income tax devolution is of minimal use if other major taxes are set from London and most income still comes from a Westminster “grant”. Revenue from oil and whisky will still be treated in government accounts as “UK” rather than arising in Scotland. It is far short of the quasi Federal powers which No voters were promised and the Lib Dems pretend to believe in.

Actually, I do not give a fig for the Smith Commission. I want to live in a country where the Westminster establishment does not send our children to fight and die in illegal wars, and which does not harbour weapons of mass destruction. I want a country where governance is decided by citizens and not cooked up the way of this sordid, sordid deal.

That is not to say we should not take advantage of any minor opportunities for increasing social fairness in Scotland that may accrue. But given the continued Westminster stranglehold on overall funding levels, they will be minor indeed.

Nor will I disdain the amusement afforded by the total intellectual mess into which the Labour Party has landed itself. If non-Scottish MPs in Westminster cannot vote on Scottish levels of income tax, it would be absolutely wrong for Scottish MPs to vote on English, Welsh or Northern Irish levels of income tax. That is unanswerable, yet the Labour Party cannot bring itself to acknowledge it. This should be fun.

For those wanting a detailed analysis, we have the excellent Stuart Campbell.

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Gordon Brown the Big Feartie

I do not claim any direct link between my declaration in Kirkcaldy that I was seeking nomination as a SNP Westminster candidate and fancied taking on Gordon Brown, and his subsequent decision to let the media know he intends to stand down and not fight! But it is an act of remarkable political cowardice from a man who so spectacularly promised No voters massive devolution of powers to the Scottish parliament. That Brown promise was given more publicity by the mainstream media than any other event in the entire referendum campaign. The fact that Brown never had any locus to deliver what he was promising was bound at some stage to become acutely embarrassing. He now escapes responsibility for the cynical lies of his pledges, by simply running away.

Brown was always a feartie. He was scared to stand against Tony Blair for leader, scared to call a general election early when he could have averted Labour’s electoral disaster. He was even scared to stick to his guns when for once he got something right and called that dreadful woman a bigot.

Brown contributed directly to the crippling poverty of millions by his disastrous deregulation of the City of London and years of giving the bankers everything they desired. Nor must we allow the mainstream media unchallenged to cement the lie that there was no alternative to trillions of pounds in grants and effective subsidies from taxpayers being given direct to the fatcat bankers, which have crippled the public finances for generations. Letting bad banks go bust and bad bankers go on the dole (or hopefully jump) was a far better option. Contrary to the Brown myth, world recession was not averted. It happened, massively. The only thing saved was the multi-million incomes of the people whose greed and stupidity had caused the collapse.

Brown remains the greatest friend the bankers ever had.

Brown and Darling lead a large phalanx of Labour MPs who realise their best career move is to transit to the benches of the House of Lords while the going is good, and start pocketing their 300 pounds a day allowance for doing nothing but hoovering up comfy directorships.

I fear that they will find that Scottish independence is coming sooner than they think and that gig will soon get cut short too.

As for Brown’s devolution promises, frankly I don’t give a damn about the Smith Commission. Holyrood control of income tax is meaningless if most other taxes are set in London. Fiscal autonomy can only work if Scotland is given all its taxes, including those from hydrocarbons and from whisky. That will never happen. Any tax and spend devolution which reserves oil and whisky taxes to the UK Treasury will be perverted by Westminster, to only result in further public spending cuts for Scotland. Besides, if Westminster can still send our children to fight and die in illegal wars, the money is immaterial.

Which brings us back to Gordon Brown. Remember not only did he first deregulate the bankers then give them huge transfers from poor families’ taxes, he backed Blair to the hilt over the invasion of Iraq. Without Brown’s support, Blair could not have done it, and hundreds of thousands would not have died – nor would we have ISIS and linked chaos now.

Brown is an evil man.

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Save the Fatcats

These are the top salaries at the Save the Children fund.

CEO Justin Forsyth £139,950
COO Anabel Hoult £139,950
COO / CFO & Strategic Initiatives Rachel Parr £131,970
Global Programmes Director Fergus Drake £113,300
Fundraising Director Tanya Steele £112,200
Marketing & Comms Director Sue Allchurch £111,920
Policy & Advocacy Director Brendan Cox £106,029
CFO Peter Banks £102,000
HR Director Paul Cutler £100,980

The UK average salary is 26,500.

StC has just given Tony Blair its “Global Legacy” award. What kind of people like Tony Blair? People who earn over 100,000. I am not sure that if you put money in a tin, or bought from their charity shop, you thought you were paying that many fat salaries. There are also gold plated pensions and other benefits. Justin Forsyth, the CEO, of course worked in Tony Blair’s neo-con policy unit.

As I have written before, very few charities are in any sense independent any more. Save the Children Fund gets 176 million pounds – over half its income – in grants from various governments, including over 80 million from the British government. That compares to 106 million in donations from the public. In 2012 over 70 million pounds was spent by Save the Children UK on its own staff costs. This was reduced on paper to 44 million in 2014 by the expedient of transferring some Headquarters staff from Save the Children UK to Save the Children International. I have an uneasy feeling about some of Save the Children’s accounting presentation. Justin Forsyth’s and Annabel Hoult’s salary of 139,950 sounds a lot better than 140,000 doesn’t it? Rachel Parr’s 131,970 sounds less than 132 grand.

Save the Children’s highly paid and very numerous HQ staff work in a swanky office for which they pay a staggering 6.5 million pounds a year lease. Do they really need their HQ in ultra expensive Central London? I suppose all those high earners have to get home to Islington. Their HQ costs more than all their other premises put together, including all their shops.

I wonder how much all of this is known to the 13,000 good-hearted volunteers who work many hours for nothing to support these people.

I give regularly to charity, by standing order. I am sure so do many who read this blog. If you are giving to Save the Children, I do urge you to re-target your charitable giving.

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May hem

Theresa May announced the security services have foiled forty major terrorist plots in the last decade. They also successfully prevented Rotherham FC from winning the Champions League and the sky from turning into plasticine.

We have had, on average, a major “anti-terrorism act” curtailing vital liberties every 20 months in that period, to the point where it is illegal for me to give a talk in Westminster (see last post). We have security theatre of the absurd, everywhere. Air travel is a misery due to the war on toothpaste, but I can carry two litres of extremely flammable duty free 50% spirit on board a plane. At Waverley Station in Edinburgh a taxi can no longer enter due to “terrorism”, but they can drop me outside and I can take my 60 kg of plastic explosive in two suitcases down the elevator.

The disaster of universities today is corporatism and managerialism. It is not an excess of freedom of speech. Academics dare say very little – they spend their entire time wracking their brains as to how to produce research that will attract finance, and thus meet cash targets and not lead to redundancies and departmental closures. Universities see themselves overwhelmingly as businesses, not as self governing academic communities and centres of intellectual inquiry. In Scotland, every University Principal is on over 300,000 a year and every University Secretary on over 200,000. There are no poets or philosophers on University Courts – bean counting is the only discipline deemed relevant to university governance. A tiny number of eccentric academics are devoted to their teaching, but there is no income stream of any kind dependent on teaching quality.

Now Theresa May is going to make doubly sure no student ever hears anything interesting or inspirational, by giving University administrations – who want nothing but a profitable business – a “duty to protect” students from extremist thought. This idea is so illiberal it makes me physically vomit. The net result will be a cumbersome system of vetting for every external speaker, having to submit texts for approval in advance, to be seen by the University administration. The result will be a firm intention to discourage external speakers from appearing at all, in order to avoid the cost of this bureaucracy.

I speak frequently in universities and certainly am not going to submit my talks for pre-vetting (I always speak off the cuff anyway). In fact, if this legislation goes through, I am going to undertake spontaneous guerrilla lectures in universities, just popping up and starting talking, with no prior approval at all. I hope others may join me. We need a flying squad to preserve the very notion of academic intercourse without political constraint.

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Craig Murray, Criminal

Here I am making an illegal speech to an illegal gathering.

I was witness to an extraordinary example of the use of “anti-terrorist” laws to deny democracy. The whole of Parliament Square, College Green and Canning Green were closed off with high Harris fencing, as were other spaces nearby. These were protected by a huge police presence. I counted 37 police vans. All this to counter eighty “Occupy Democracy” protestors wishing to highlight the alienation of the political class from the rest of us. That MPs feel the need to make Westminster look like the Somme 1917, to defend themselves against a few ordinary people, is proof that the concept of “democracy” is now alien to the Westminster system.

Some of this was surreal. There were signs up stating that voice amplification was illegal as was “sleeping equipment”. Just what is sleeping equipment? I have managed to sleep my entire life without such equipment. I just close my eyes and it happens. I didn’t even know you needed equipment to sleep. It is a curious thing that officialdom, when it becomes unreasonable, inevitably resorts to poor use of language. Nobody in normal life speaks of “sleeping equipment”. There is a simple English word, “bedding”. If they mean bedding, why don’t they say so?

The happy band of demonstrators had gathered just outside the entrance to the Supreme Court, in a small unfenced area. I used to sing regularly and seriously. Fortunately this has left me with the ability to speak very loudly at length and still with some modulation. If you consider that video is in an area of very heavy traffic noise and with no (banned) amplification, I hope you are impressed! I started speaking in order to fend off what seemed an imminent move by police to start arresting protestors for breach of the peace. This followed an argument over whether an old sofa and rug constituted “sleeping equipment”. A policeman stated that there were legal rulings that “sleeping equipment” included anything that could be adapted for the purpose of sleeping. I suggested to him that he confiscate my trousers, as these were capable of being rolled up and used as a pillow.

The Police Superintendent had just stated that refusal to give up the sofa constituted behaviour likely to lead to a breach of the peace, when I decided to change the dynamic by giving a talk, which peculiarly led almost all the police to withdraw immediately to about a hundred yards away. If you are interested, you can see something of this, and get a tour of the fencing, from this video by one of the protestors.

I say “if you are interested”, but really you ought to be interested. The fact that in Westminster, people who are obviously very peaceful are not allowed simply to express their political view, ought to worry everybody in the UK very, very deeply. We have slipped away from the fundamental precepts of democracy – freedom of speech and assembly, habeas corpus, freedom from torture. None of those exist any more. Lulled by the mainstream media, most people have not even noticed.

I shall be speaking outside the Scottish Parliament on 29th November, and in Dundee, Perth (and possibly Ayr too if I can work it out) on the 30th. I shall be speaking again in Dundee at the March against Austerity on 6th December.

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The Trident Test

The Rochester By-Election further destroys the intellectual case for the BBC’s decision that only male party leaders who support Trident can debate on TV before the UK general election.

The Greens got five times as many votes as the Lib Dems in Rochester, and are ahead of them in several recent national opinion polls. I do not posit the support of Trident as the criterion for inclusion, in any sense as a joke. Support of Trident stands as a good marker for adhesion to the neo-con establishment consensus. The establishment is simply not prepared for more radical views to be put before the public as a serious choice. UKIP is the chosen right wing vehicle into which disillusion with politicians should be channelled.

The BBC justification for including UKIP is that they have shown a “substantial increase in electoral support”, and the BBC argue that the Greens have not done so. There are two major problems with this argument.

The first is that UKIP’s “massive increase in electoral support” has been massively boosted by a huge amount of publicity given to UKIP for the last two years, especially by the BBC. The BBC is citing the effect of its own propaganda as justification for continuing that propaganda. If the Greens had been given as much publicity as UKIP, the electoral climate would be very different.

The second is that this appears to be a one way argument. If UKIP’s massive increase in electoral support can get them included, surely the Lib Dems total collapse in electoral support should get them excluded? The injustice of including the Lib Dems and not the Greens, when the Greens are beating them not just in opinion polls but in real polls, cannot simply be brushed aside.

We then have the SNP. There is a very real possibility that the SNP will have more MPs than the Lib Dems after the next election. Indeed, one recent opinion poll put them ahead of the Lib Dems in polling across the entire UK, even though all those SNP voters were just in Scotland. For the BBC to push so hard the line that we are “Better Together”, and then exclude the party supported by the plurality of Scots from UK debate, is an irony only the BBC cannot see. That some viewers of a UK debate would have no opportunity to vote SNP, would not remove their very real interest in understanding and questioning the views of what will be a major component of the parliament which governs them.

The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have female leaders and are anti-Trident, a symbol of their broad radicalism. All are, to use that crude measure, to the left of the parties which will be included. To be in, you have to be led by an identikit posh male and support Trident. That is the BBC test.

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The Weight of a Death

At least 28 people have been killed in US drone strikes in Afghanistan in November so far. Several of those were involved in tribal fighting against the Afghan government, but at least five were small children and total non-combatants were probably in double figures. These deaths do not go reported at all in western media. Cameron and Miliband both started at Prime Minister’s Questions today by condemning the killings in Jerusalem. No chance they will ever mention the ongoing US murders in Afghanistan, let alone the three Palestinians killed by Israelis lately, including a taxi driver lynched by Israeli illegal settlers.

No amount of “what-aboutery” can distract from the horror of the attacks in the Jerusalem synagogue, and I have no difficulty in condemning those killings unequivocally, too. But the hypocrisy of the Western media and political establishment, in terms of which deaths are important, is breath-taking. The truth is that the causes of these deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and across a swathe of other countries cannot be disentangled from the history of violent western aggression into those countries. But we are urged to forget context, forget cause and indulge in highly selective emotional outrage and indignation.

Some deaths count an awful lot. Some should not be noticed. It is a strange way of looking at the world.

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It Is Racist To Be Worried About Immigration

The wealthy right-winger Yvette Cooper has just been on television intoning Labour’s new mantra “It isn’t racist to be worried about immigration.” This should be challenged robustly at all times. Above all, it is very, very racist for politicians to go around saying “It isn’t racist to be worried about immigration” when they are using it nakedly and cynically to bid for the votes of racists.

I can never recall any by-election that got as much BBC publicity as that in Rochester, not even Hillhead or Warrington. The BBC and media establishment are continuing their massive promotion of UKIP at all times. The Labour Party is responding by pandering to racism. Yvette spoke of the “race to the bottom in the labour market”. The country’s real problem is the race to the bottom in the fascist market.

Promising 1.000 new uniformed border guards as their headline policy initiative is a pretty impressive spurt by Labour in this fascist race.

It shows how sour politics have gone when it takes the Confederation of British Industry to inject some sense from a liberal perspective into the immigration debate. Over 60% of CBI embers say that immigration has benefited their company. Only 3% believe it has hurt their company. Immigration is a tremendous boon to the British economy. Without it we would be deep in recession. Nor is it in the least responsible for the growing wealth gap. The period of highest immigration into the UK coincided with the period when social mobility and social equality were making the most progress.

That people still fall for the old con-trick astonishes me. Don’t blame Britain’s 100 billionaires, multi millionaire bankers or grasping landlords for your poverty – look! blame that foreign-looking poor man over there. He is eating a bit of cheese. He has taken that cheese from the mouths of your children!

It is primal and it is ludicrous, but the appeal to atavism can work and Labour are seeking to profit from it.

The Labour Party’s deliberate conflation of the unrelated questions of corporate, banker and executive rapacity, the exploitation of the workforce, and immigration is deeply, deeply, shameful. There was very little Yvette Cooper said that Nigel Farage would not second. But that, after all, was the purpose of the exercise.

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Scotland’s Constitution

I spoke at the SNP conference fringe on Scotland’s constitution. I don’t claim this was profound but I hope it was interesting.

Independence Live caught me on the way out for the most informal of interviews

Sitting at home in Edinburgh this morning, for the first time for weeks I actually have a few hours when I don’t have to dash off and do something. Hopefully I can de-stress and come up with an interesting blog post.

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Meeting Livestream

The Fringe Meeting at which I am speaking will be livestreamed on Saturday from 12.30 on IndependenceLive.

Meanwhile, Emily has started her own blog.

I had a busy day today moving a lot of stuff to move into my new home in Edinburgh tomorrow. But I must briefly comment on a fascinating opinion poll by IPSOS/Mori tonight, which puts the Tories on 32 and Labour on 29 UK wide – and astonishingly the Lib Dems UK score of 9% only just ahead of the SNP’s UK wide score of 8%, even though the latter is concentrated entirely in Scotland. One reason that SNP figure is so high is that IPSOS MORI weight by certainty to vote, and are predicting a much higher turnout in Scotland than England at the next election.

The scenario leading straight to independence – a Tory/UKIP coalition at Westminster and a crushing SNP victory in Scotland – is looking increasingly probable. One thing I do not rule out at all is a unionist Con/Lab coalition in Westminster after the next general election. There are almost no real policy differences between them, and if coalition becomes the swiftest way to satisfy personal ambition for power and money on both sides (the only thing that drives both parties), I so not think it is in the least improbable. We have seen Lab/Con coalitions against the SNP in Dundee and Stirling Councils, and they were extremely happy together during the referendum campaign. I do not yet see a Lab/Con coalition as the most probable outcome of the next Westminster election. But it is entirely possible.

Speech at 13 mins 30 secs in

Interview at 9 mins 30 secs in.

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More Establishment Hypocrisy

Those suddenly concerned about the European Arrest Warrant in Westminster last night were notably silent when it was used against Julian Assange, with a case that had more holes in it than a condom torn by Anna Ardin, the noted CIA agent.

Not only was the evidence against Assange not tested, the Supreme Court accepted that a Swedish prosecutor with a screaming political agenda was a “judicial authority”, despite her being neither a judge nor a court. That extraordinary ruling was itself dependent on two even more extraordinary false premises, directly stated in Lord Phillip’s judgement.

1) That the French term “autorites judiciaires” has a “wider meaning” than the English term “judicial authorities”. That is simply untrue.

2) That the French language version of the treaty is “authentic and original” and to be preferred to the English version. That is absolutely untrue – the different language versions are explicitly equal. That is a fundamental rule of EU (and UN)treaties, both of which I have personal experience of negotiating.

The bottom line being, if the Establishment wants to get you, it will, irrespective of the letter of the law.

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The Russian Menace Made Simple

There is currently a major propaganda blitz by arms and security industries to convince us was are in a “new cold war”, and therefore should be spending even more ludicrous sums of money on weapons of mass destruction. Here are a few simple facts.

a) Russia is not a great power. Its total GDP is about the same as Spain’s – and Spain is pretty knackered. Russia has even less economic clout as a basis for world domination than the UK.

b) Russia’s economy is not diversified. It is over-dependent on raw commodity production and export. Its distribution of wealth is even worse than ours, although the Tories are doing their best to catch up. We have a totally false popular impression of Russian wealth because a few oligarchs have most of the money – and export it straight to the West. Capital flight is a huge problem for the Russian economy.

c) Russia is no threat to the UK and never has been. Centuries of Russophobia are entirely baseless. The idea of a defensive posture against Russia is ludicrous as there is no threat. Churchill, incidentally, asked Truman to nuke Moscow. A nuclear attack would be the only realistic way Russia could attack the UK – and the only thing that could make that possible are the mad calls for cold war and more weapons currently being heard in the West. None of which is to say it would be militarily sensible to attack Russia, as history shows. But Russia’s aggressive potential is very limited indeed. It will not be long before Poland plus the Baltic states are economically stronger than Russia.

None of this is to say Russia cannot continue to bully those very weak states which neighbour it. I have no time for Putin’s aggressive nationalism. But his position is fundamentally weak and his powerbase very limited. Neither the left nor the right in the UK (and in this comments section) want to hear this. The right constantly exaggerate Russia as a threat to boost their political interests and military funding. The left want desperately to believe in Putin as a strong counter to the West, as indicated by the ludicrous analyses that the Syria conflict was all about Russia’s decrepit and worthless Black Sea Fleet.

How to handle relations with Russia is not quite as much of a conundrum as it sounds, as Putin’s vaulting ambition is severely limited by his economic constraints. He is feeling that severely now, and it is nothing to do with the token and pointless economic sanctions. Russia desperately needs economic and political form – but Putin’s hand is only strengthened by the bellicose nonsense which enables him to appeal to the powerful atavistic strand in modern Russian social culture. I remain of the view that internationally supervised, genuinely fair referenda in Eastern Ukraine should be the way forward. That should include a new and properly conducted referendum in the Crimea, including free campaigns. It should be made plain that there will be a fast track into the EU for the Ukraine at the end of that process, after the secession of any districts that wish to join Russia.

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SNP Conference Perth

I shall be speaking at a fringe meeting on Saturday at the Salutation Hotel at 12.30, chaired by Linda Fabiani, on the need for a written constitution. I am available and willing to speak at any other fringe meetings. I am particularly keen to emphasise the need to be focused on independence and not allow excessive energy to be side-tracked either into fruitless pretend “Devo-Max” proposals or the temptations of self-important managerialism. Obviously I should be happy to speak on defence and disarmament, foreign policy, human rights, higher education, maritime boundaries or any of my other specialist areas also.

To be perfectly honest, I should be especially pleased to be invited to any fringe meetings on Friday as I can’t find any other way to get in!! I move in to my new home in Edinburgh on Thursday, but previously as a non-resident was not eligible to be a delegate.

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The Resonance of History

As Catalonia today fights for its freedom, it should not be forgotten that the current government of Spain are the direct political heirs of Franco and that many of their ministers have personal and family connections to his rule. Rajoy, Spain’s current Prime Minister, started his political career in 1981 by joining the People’s Alliance, a party founded in 1979 and led by 7 of Franco’s ministers to carry on the Francoist legacy. The People’s Alliance became the major component in the now governing People’s Party.

That is the essential background to the extreme Spanish nationalist dislike of freedom for Catalonia, and far right nationalist moves to declare the Catalan referendum illegal.

This is a good day to think of Euan MacColl’s updating of Jamie Foyers, to remember those Scots who fought alongside the Catalans against fascism at the Battle of the Ebro.

Faur distant, faur distant, lies Foyers the brave
Nae tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
For his bones they lie scattered on the rude soil o Spain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle wis slain

He’s gane frae the shipyaird that stauns on the Clyde
His haimmer lies idle, his tools laid aside
Tae the wide Ebro river young Foyers has gane
Tae fight by the side o the people o Spain

Thair wisnae his equal at wark or at play
He wis strang in the Union till his dying day
He wis grand at the fitbaa, at the dance he wis braw
Young Jamie Foyers wis the flouer o thaim aa

He cam hame frae the shipyaird, took aff his warkin claes
O, A mind the time weill in the lang simmer’s days
He said, “Thinknae lang, lassie, A’ll come back again”
But young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

In the fight for Belcite, he was aye tae the fore
An he focht at Gandesa till he couldnae fight more
For he lay owre his machine gun wi a bullet in his brain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

Faur distant, faur distant, lies Foyers the brave
Nae tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave
For his bones they lie scattered on the rude soil o Spain
An young Jamie Foyers in battle was slain

When the BBC was smugly quoting the current Francoist government of Spain as the bar to Scotland’s entry into the EU, I was longing for somebody to give just a little of this historic perspective. But of course, the mainstream media never did.

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The Way Forward

As I told The Way Forward conference in Kirkcaldy today, I am submitting my application to the SNP to join their list of approved candidates. They may not want me, and then I have to find a constituency that wishes to adopt me. So the tweets tonight that I am standing as an SNP candidate are a little optimistic. I am also very keen indeed not to come in as a carpetbagger where a hardworking local activist wishes to stand – I had (and I am being very open here) thought my natural target would be Dundee West, where I lived for seven years and was elected University Rector. But a very good man I know is going to be seeking that one, so I shall not.

Ideally I would love to take on Gordon Brown, Dougie Alexander, Jim Murphy or one of the other great dinosaurs – and war criminals – and bring some truths about them, and about what the unionist parties have done to Scotland, home to the people they “represent”. I won 5% of the vote in the 2005 election standing as an Independent candidate against Jack Straw in Blackburn, a constituency with which I had no connection at all. If I can bring a 3 or 5% personal vote to add to the soaring SNP vote, all kinds of things become possible.

I was asked if I would consider standing, after my speech at today’s conference. In replying that I was applying to be accepted as a qualified candidate I was not intending to start all the hares I have started. I must say I was really touched by the enthusiasm and applause that greeted my response. In clarifying what I am thinking, I am aware I may seem very presumptuous. I should be delighted to hear from any constituency seeking a candidate; otherwise I am going to be living in Scotland and still working flat out for independence, irrespective of whether I hold any position or not.

I expect my speech today will be online shortly. My essential argument was that we should concentrate single-mindedly on the goal of independence and not be sidetracked by the Smith Commission or any other “devo-max” initiative. These were never honest or genuine and will come to nothing worthwhile. Scotland will get nothing from Westminster: we have to take power ourselves if we are to build a more just and equal society.

All the talk of Scotland keeping and spending its own tax revenue is illusory as the unionist parties always exclude vital revenue sources including the revenues from oil and from whisky, which are somehow “UK”. Westminster will make sure that any new settlement gives Scotland less, not more, money. The mood towards Scotland in Whitehall is entirely vindictive. In addition to which, given the UK’s record on extraordinary rendition, torture and a long succession of aggressive and illegal wars, any settlement which leaves Scotland still subject to Westminster foreign and defence policy is absolutely unacceptable and immoral.

I accept that the SNP may need to appear to participate in the Devo-Max negotiations, if only ultimately to expose the total lack of seriousness and good faith on the unionist side. However the great bulk of the Yes movement should continue to spend its vast reserve of creativity and popular energy exclusively on the goal of independence, pure and simple. This may come sooner than people think.

It is more than likely that the Tories will be back in power in Westminster after May 2015, and very possible that 2016 will see a UK vote to exit the EU. National independence is not in fact a domestic concept, but rather a status in international law. The key to being a nation state is the recognition of the large majority of other nation states. A UK EU exit may be a propitious moment to declare UDI on the basis of the right of Scots to maintain their EU citizenship, and to gain the immediate support of other EU states for so doing. We should keep our options open on the future route to independence, but it is not so distant as some think.

There was a great deal more detailed discussion on other policy issues in reply to questions, and I will try to set some of that out tomorrow. I move in to my new flat at 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh on Thursday. People are always aghast that I publish my address, but I believe that a gentleman does not hide where he lives. Besides, my enemies will certainly already know, so its best my friends know too. If you were to surmise that the address shows where my long term ambitions lie, you may not be entirely wrong!!

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I was about to go into my box at the Lyceum Theatre last night when I received a text that there was a pro-independence demo on at Holyrood. So I abandoned my hosts (I did not feel quite as bad about this as I had stood for pre-theatre supper), fled the theatre and positively jogged down to parliament. I passed most of the demonstrators leaving on their way home, saltires draped over shoulders and Guido masks on top of heads. But there were still a few hundred there when I arrived, listening to unpractised speakers telling their very real stories: the independence cause continues to be a genuinely popular movement. One young demonstrator told me how proud they had been as they marched down the Royal Mile, with pedestrians homeward bound after a day’s work spontaneously stepping off the pavement to join the march, and the bars emptying. I then watched the fireworks bursting over Edinburgh.

I said a while back that if we won independence, I would move back to Scotland. Well, independence is now so inevitable I am indeed moving back, and have been flat-hunting. This is now an Edinburgh blog, and I hope from this weekend will have its Edinburgh home.

Lewes has been much in the news lately. Yesterday they were going to burn an effigy of Alex Salmond, and then didn’t. It is a conundrum why a town which genuinely retains the most radical popular political traditions in England, also is the most fervent place of practice of the reactionary art of catholic effigy burning. They vary this now by burning protestants, too. Cameron and Clegg have been done. I think my fellow Scottish Nationalists who got very upset about the potential Salmond burning were perhaps overreacting. The mistake of the members of the Lewes Waterloo Society was to fail to realise that Salmond is not merely another self-serving member of the political class; the selection was not based on race.

The tradition of burning Guy Fawkes reflects the undeniable fact that there used to be a genuine popular enthusiasm for parliament, which was seen as a bastion against Papal despotism, even long before the large majority of the population had a vote. Nowadays Parliament has become a very different kind of symbol. It symbolises an highly oppressive, authoritarian, narrow political class which shamelessly makes money at our expense, while furthering the interests of vast corporations which enforce the low wage economy and astonishing, ever growing, wealth gap.

The natural instincts of most people today lie with the man who tried to blow up parliament.

It is truly remarkable that, while the BBC and rest of the mainstream media gave hour by hour coverage of the democracy movement protests in Hong Kong, there was virtually no coverage of the violent and brutal treatment, over days, of the Occupy Democracy protest in Parliament Square in London. Nor any mention that there was far less democracy in Hong Kong under British rule than Chinese.

In Lewes, I once spoke to a flourishing political society which claims a direct descent from one founded by Thomas Paine himself- a vivid reminder to us in Scotland that there is a native radical tradition in Southern England, deep underground and waiting to be rediscovered. Lewes also has as its MP Norman Baker, one of the most decent men in politics, who recently resigned as a junior minister over the government’s entirely illogical “war on drugs” – illogical not least because of the drug habits of so many MPs. My current host, Hugh Kerr, when an MEP once made a speech in the European Parliament where he pointed out that many members were voting against drug liberalisation with whom he had personally participated in drug taking. An example of the excessive honesty that led to Hugh being forced out of the Labour Party.

Norman Baker was the subject of many vicious pieces in the mainstream media following his resignation. The crime of daring to think outside the box on drugs, and even worse crime of disagreeing with right wing nutjob and media darling Theresa May, meant that Baker had to be thoroughly monstored. But the most disgraceful and cowardly of all these attacks came from the Guardian of state stooge Alan Rusbridger. This is simply an appalling piece of journalism.

I have met Norman Baker a couple of times, and had a very entertaining conversation with him about Murder in Samarkand on Lewes railway station. The subject of UFO’s never came up. Indeed, if you google “Norman Baker, UFO” you get hundreds of media stories, all of them put out following Baker’s resignation and very evidently put about by Theresa May, for whom the Guardian is but a sounding board. In fact Norman Baker did once suggest in parliament that UFO cases deserved proper official investigation, which seems a perfectly rational view – and as the British government has, over decades, amassed thousands of files on UFO sightings, a view clearly widely held.

Baker’s other great sin is to believe David Kelly was murdered. Well, I think it is very probable indeed that David Kelly was murdered, and so, I suspect, do a very large percentage of the population. If the establishment is truly so confident that David Kelly was not murdered, it is remarkable that they refuse to have an inquest and allow a jury to decide the question in the normal way.

Norman Baker’s true crime was not to be a fully paid up member of the political class. He had never been a special adviser or political assistant. he had some hinterland, other interests, and did not confine his thinking within the tiny sphere of neo-con orthodoxy beyond which the corporate media will declare you a nutter. Politicians must all look the same, and Theresa May and Nigel Farage are now the only acceptable templates.

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CPS Cover-Up in Progress

I was told by a member of the Metropolitan Police Operation Lydd team that they believe there are grounds to prosecute Jack Straw, but that the Crown Prosecution Service will bury it. That was over two years ago when I gave my own sworn evidence to the investigation.

That cover-up by the CPS is now underway – and it is extremely unsubtle. The mainstream media barely reported that the first file has been passed to the CPS on Operation Lydd. You would think that a massive police investigation into criminal activity by Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, among others, would merit more of a splash, but not in our corporate controlled media. The timing was auspicious because, in the parallel civil case, the Court of Appeal has rejected the Government’s defence of “National Security” to prevent the case from even being heard. This after Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen arranged the kidnap and deportation to torture in Libya of Mr Belhadj, his pregnant wife and children – only one of hundreds of such crimes in which the British state was deeply involved.

Infamously, the British Embassy in Washington had been lobbying the US authorities relentlessly to prevent the publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on extraordinary rendition, specifically on the grounds that this would weaken Jack Straw’s defence. That defence rests on the grounds that details of kidnap and torture would annoy the United States and thus damage Britain’s security interests. As a blanket license for state involvement in torture, it only takes a second’s thought to realise how astonishingly dangerous that doctrine is. The High Court swallowed it. Thank God, the Court of Appeal did not.

So the Courts having ruled against Jack Straw, there are now two lines of defence between Straw and Sir Mark Allen, and a long spell in the pokey. The first is that the Government is appealing to the Supreme Court in London to have the case kicked out once again on “National Security” grounds. The second line of defence is the Crown Prosecution Service.

I can give you very substantial evidence that a cover-up is in progress within the CPS. Astonishingly the Lydd file has been passed within the CPS not to the serious crime division, but to the Counter-Terrorism Division. Yet terrorism is not the alleged crime here. The crimes are Gross Misconduct in Public Office, Conspiracy to Torture, Conspiracy to Kidnap and Abduct. We might relate them rhetorically to terrorism, but they are not that legally.

The incredible truth is that the file has been passed not to the Division which deals with the crimes allegedly committed by the perpetrators, Messrs Straw, Allen et al. It has rather been passed to the Divison which deals with the crime falsely alleged against the VICTIM of the case, Mr Belhadj. That simple fact tells you all you need to know about the attitude of the CPS to Operation Lydd.

In fact, the Counter-Terrorism Division of CPS works on a daily basis with public servants and security service functionaries who are themselves deeply implicated in the crimes being uncovered by Operation Lydd. A cover-up is certain.

The British Establishment really does stink.

Footnote: I phoned the CPS Press Office to give them a chance to respond. I got through to a spokesperson and left details and my number. They have not come back to me.

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