Lewes 312

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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312 thoughts on “Lewes

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  • Geoff Huijer

    I think the Lewes effigy burning was offensive not simply because it
    was Alex Salmond (as you say, other politicians have been ‘done’) but
    because ‘Nessie’, the Saltire and the ‘45%’ sign suggested it was not
    two fingers to simply a politician but to an entire nation (or region
    if you are one of the Proud Scot Buts).

    I wonder what would happen if I burnt an effigy of the Queen along
    with a Union flag & a St George’s cross flag outside Holyrood or
    Buckingham Palace.

    I would, no doubt, be arrested.

    But it’s only the Jocks so that’s ok then…

  • craig Post author


    I wonder what would happen if I burnt an effigy of the Queen along
    with a Union flag & a St George’s cross flag outside Holyrood or
    Buckingham Palace.

    I am game to try if you are!

  • John Goss

    Good luck in your new home!

    Another significant blogpost. I have never met Norman Baker but I have read The Strange Death of Dr Kelly. I too am convinced that there needs to be an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, especially the fact that before the chief pathologist had arrived on the crime scene Tony Blair was arranging, through his friend Lord Falconer, to have an independednt inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death. That turned out to be the Hutton Inquiry. There is an iconic image of Tony Blair when asked shortly afterwards if he had blood on his hands the prime minister, never normally lost for words, gave us eleven seconds of shameful silence.


    Thanks for keeping this issue in the public spotlight. Thanks too for supporting the million masks demonstration.

  • gerry parker

    There’s an excellent train service between Edinburgh and Glasgow Craig, hope to see you through here now and again.

  • Phil

    “a vivid reminder to us in Scotland that there is a native radical tradition in Southern England, deep underground and waiting to be rediscovered”

    Hilarious. Those of us who have been fighting the good fight for years, when Murray was an enthusiastic bureaucrat for empire, are apparently “deep underground” waiting to be rediscovered by…Craig Murray.

    Craig, you are an arrogant arsehole sometimes.

  • Phil

    “I wonder what would happen if I burnt an effigy of the Queen”

    People were arrested and charged for setting fire to an effigy of Boris Johnson last night. Maybe you haven’t “uncovered” that yet.

    But I applaud the sentiment and encourage you to go ahead and do it.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    I was always amazed that he got the job at all after writing the David Kelly book. I read it as soon as it came out and assumed it was career-suicide for him. He’s got balls and that’s another thing that counts against him.

  • Leslie

    You’re better off in Scotland Craig. Though it should be seen as a retreat. And a reversal. But you’ll be happier there – ending your days in pursuit of a forlorn cause. I wonder how long it will be before you end up in some sort of internecine dispute. Not too long I guess. Of course, in your own small way, you’ll damage your cause. You might even be going slightly mad with your effigy burning. This is what defeat does to people.

  • Taranaich

    ” I think my fellow Scottish Nationalists who got very upset about the potential Salmond burning were perhaps overreacting.”

    As with Geoff, I think it’s more what Salmond represents than Salmond himself (a spoon with 45% on it, a Yes badge, and of course Nessie in the Tam O’Shanter). For the past two years, we’ve been bombarded with the equation of Alex Salmond and independence. “Blow for Salmond,” “Salmond’s Dream in Tatters,” “Salmond’s Hopes Dashed,” and so on; Labour for Indy & the like presented as an SNP front; SNP as Salmond’s cheerleaders. Every step of the campaign, the media, establishment and Unionist politicians have relentlessly pushed the Salmond = Independence meme.

    Therefore, after so much of this, it’s not difficult to see how burning an effigy of Alex Salmond with a Yes badge, a 45% spoon, and Nessie in a Tam O’Shanter MIGHT be interpreted as a symbol of the entire movement, rather than simply Alex Salmond the individual.

  • craig Post author


    I am afraid you are long past avoiding being bitter. Why is it the side who “won” the referendum who are so damn miserable?

  • Neil


    In you talk at Cardiff, you mentioned, among other things, that Kelly was very unlikely to have committed suicide because his daughter was very shortly due to get married, and dads don’t usually top themselves just before their daughter’s wedding. But this point is not something that’s mentioned in Baker’s book.

    This has puzzled me for a long time. Any explanation?

  • Dave

    I was standing in Dundee’s Baxter Park last night wathching the fireworks and thinking that rather than celebrating the foiling of the ‘gun-powder’ plot, to me the 5th of November represents a celebration of the spirit of anarchy. By that I mean true anarchism – a non-violent challenge and holding to account power….

  • Vronsky

    I read Baker’s book and thought that it was a ‘long stop’ – something set in place as damage limitation if the fact of Kelly’s murder became undeniable. “Yeah, he was topped, but it wasn’t us guv, honest.”

    Perhaps I’m being unfair, but if Kelly was murdered by anyone other than the British ‘security’ services then why was there no inquest? I’m afraid cui bono points in only one direction. I wonder how many potential whistleblowers ducked for cover after that little episode.

  • craig Post author


    I do understand what you mean, but I think you have to bear in mind that the effigies were not constructed by Alan Rubridger or Boris Johnson but by very ordinary people. When I was a boy, Nessie featured often in the Beano, and probably still does. I really think this should be taken as a good natured jibe – which seems to be how Alex is taking it – at a carnival event which always references politicians and recent events. Not everything in life is to be taken in dead earnest. Lewes is very definitely not a hotbed of anti-Scottish racism and I don’t think you’ll find UKIP getting a big vote there.

  • craig Post author


    No, I don’t know. The extreme reticence of the family has been interesting. Different people react differently to grief, but even on the official version Kelly was victim of great mistreatment and, in my limited observation, a crusading spirit among the family of victims of injustice is much more the norm than this extreme withdrawal and acceptance.

  • Leslie


    Actually, I think ‘miserable’ is the wrong word. The Scottish Labour Party is in disarray. Its writ no longer runs. The SNP have moved Left. But they will never move far enough left for you. Scottish Conservatives will rise over the coming years. Meanwhile the energy of the referendum is now showing consequences in England. The English debate is the real one now. Beware the rise of the North, Scotland. Manchester was happy to take over Edinburgh as the second banking capital of the UK. There’ll be more of that. And you’ll be in the wrong place to see it Craig.

  • Vronsky

    I wasn’t offended by the Lewes thing. I thought it silly, but not malicious.

    Look forward to welcoming you to Scotland, Craig. Membership of our local branch SNP has increased tenfold since the referendum. Total membership of the Labour Party in Scotland is probably roughly equivalent to three constituencies worth of SNP branches. It may even be less than that – they don’t really like discussing their membership. Here’s Margaret Curran aswering a question on it.

    In practical campaigning terms we could probably 100% canvass the entire constituency (a major central-belt town and surrounding villages) in about one week.

  • andreas w mytze

    yes, Baker’s book on Kelly is a MUST READ. Buy it at Amazon today!
    probably for peanuts, there is a lot on other “wet operations” as well quoting CIA, Mossad,S.African and many private sources (some from the UK “Establishment”). Highly “entertaining” book! And dangerous.
    By the way, exactly one year ago, Danny The Fink in THE TIMES tried
    to ridicule Baker – because of that book! a vicious circle?
    Take care, Norman! And Craig, of course (don’t walk on the Scottish highlands on a wet day)

  • Neil


    What you say is true as far as the family is concerned, but what puzzled me is why Baker’s book doesn’t make more of the point, if it’s true. Maybe I should e-mail him.

  • YouKnowMyName

    Mainstream Media, is a fully conscious activity partner and part of ‘the current information war’, this includes the non-reporting of potentially viral ‘local’ Occupy, whilst distracting attention with something foreign!

    I just read an informative article on the BBC, which makes complete sense, indeed more-so, when the compass cardinal points are flipped exactly 180 degrees. Even though I’m no Putin supporter, I try to keep equidistant between the power blocks, and naively I like to read/hear truth being spoken between nations…

    it’s another Bridget/BBC 90% true, 10% false story!
    parenthetically, could someone tell us if Bridget is actually serving in MI6 or does the BBC no longer explicitly require this for their foreign/diplomatic correspondents?
    ….or is it terrrism to even ask things like that?


    whilst it’s nice of her to let us know that the current 2014 “information war” is officially called “hybrid warfare” by those in the know, including all BBC journalists,
    everything that she says

    such as

    All activity in the shadows or below the radar, accompanied by a barrage of anti-Western messages in the pro-Russian media – what has become known as “hybrid warfare”, where propaganda and provocation take centre stage.

    could be completely true also when reversed in meaning!

    such as

    All activity in the shadows or below the radar, accompanied by a barrage of anti-Russian messages in the pro-Western media – what has become known as “hybrid warfare”, where propaganda and provocation take centre stage.

    Occasionally, she does show some mild balance, she puts forward Moscow’s version of things, (with an implication that these are propaganda)

    In fact, while the West reports a pattern of heightened Russian military and intelligence activity on Nato’s eastern borders, Moscow argues the opposite:

    • There is no proof of a Russian submarine in Swedish waters
    • The Estonian official charged with espionage was on the Russian side of the border
    • Russian military activity in the Baltics is routine and always in international airspace or waters

    And what is more, says the Kremlin, if there is any hybrid warfare going on, it is a propaganda campaign inspired and orchestrated by Western governments and led by the US, in order to paint Russia as the enemy.

    for example , take the strange case of the very top Estonian KAPO (secret service agent) Eston Kohver, that Bridget briefly mentions as bullet-point 2

    He was found, armed, deep in a desolate forested bit of no-man’s-land exactly on the confusing border between NATO & the Bear with €5000 in small change in his wallet, whilst strangely a small ‘window’ of the Estonian high technology border-surveillance systems were turned off. The US Website linked below, (for some reason, in Italian language, extracts given in translation) claims that:

    “A meeting with an informant?
    Hard to think that this Estonian intelligence officer , who received President Ilves eagle-cross decoration for his merit in the secret service, was on a routine anti smuggling border patrol, as claimed by the Estonian services.

    More likely, according to unofficial sources, was that Estonian Kohver that was in that area to await the arrival of some informant from the Russian border, to whom he would deliver the 5000 Euros, which the Russians found in the pocket, in exchange for valuable information.

    Someone has betrayed him?
    The suspicion is then that someone has informed the Russian intelligence services of the Kohver meeting either directly the man who had an appointment with him, which made ​​the double-cross, or the more serious case to the Estonians, that someone within the Estonian intelligence services , leaked knowledge of the Kohver plans…in recent years have been discovered two Estonians agents who were double-crossed by the Russians.

    The Russians would then have exploited the situation by organizing a real raid, hard to say whether inside Estonia or inside Russian , with the use of stun grenades and blocking of radio communications, to kidnap Kohver , giving a message of intimidation to the secret services of the Baltic countries and eliminate one of the most dangerous agents for the Kremlin in that area.

    But this reconstruction, as at the moment the most likely, is regarded with suspicion by some in Estonian intelligence . An officer contacted the Latvian IR magazine , anonymously, argues that meet at that wild point on the frontier was the most dangerous way to pass information and the choice of Kohver would look strange, especially for an officer of his experience.”


    So , Yes, Bridget/BBC – we don’t know why 007 (sorry, “The Estonian official”) charged with espionage was on the Russian side of the border, or not.
    Do you want us to analyse everything else that you’ve said from a realistic & accurate world point-of-view, surely can’t you bring yourself to do that?

  • KingofWelshNoir


    ‘Perhaps I’m being unfair, but if Kelly was murdered by anyone other than the British ‘security’ services then why was there no inquest?’

    I always assumed it wasn’t the UK State that murdered him, but that they knew who did (Mossad?) and covered it up. That would explain why no inquest, and the elaborate pantomime of the Hutton inquiry, wouldn’t it?

    I have to say the Hutton thing was a masterly piece of misdirection by the deep state. They spent the whole time arguing about Gilligan and the BBC instead of the issue of whether it was murder or suicide. You have to hand it to them sometimes, they know how to organise a cover-up.

  • Melissa Murray

    Hi Craig,
    Thrilled to hear you are moving back to Edinburgh. Marchmont is a great area, and very convenient for the city centre. I love this city. Look forward to having you here.

    Regarding, the Effigy burning. As an American, I find the whole “celebration” a bit to reminiscent of the KKK in the USA. I know it’s far more innocent. As far as the burning of Salmond, I too thought folk were overreacting till I say a photo of people with their kids leading the big Salmond effigy. Something about that image struck me as very anti-Scottish. The whole thing seems like something the Orange Order would do after one of their parades. Poor taste.

    Good luck flat hunting.

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