My Friend Alistair Carmichael 433

It is no secret that Alistair Carmichael is a friend of mine. Not least because he told parliament so in 2005:

“The Government’s signals to the Uzbek regime have not always been helpful. I am thinking especially of their treatment of my old friend, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who has done us all a great service in graphically highlighting the appalling human rights record of the Uzbekistan Government.”

Alistair was one of very few MPs who raised the dreadful human rights abuses in Uzbekistan even before I got there. He has a genuine interest in human rights worldwide, and had a much better motivation in going into politics than the large majority of politicians. He was never anything like a diehard unionist in personal conviction. I felt quite proud for him when he was asked during the campaign what would his role be in negotiating for the UK the conditions of separation after a Yes vote. He replied that he was Scottish, and he would be on the Scottish, not the UK side.

I have never chosen my friends by my politics, and I am not one of those people who is only happy in the company of those who agree with me. I am happiest with a few drinks and a good argument in intellectually challenging company. I also do know that all human beings are flawed, and I don’t expect perfection. So I have no intention of ending friendship with Alistair.

All of which makes it hard, but I have to say that I really do think he needs to resign as an MP, and to do so immediately.

It was not just a mistake to leak that memo, it was wrong. It was even more wrong because he himself believed it was written in error and did not give Nicola Sturgeon’s true opinion. But in an election in which the Scottish Lib Dems faced wipeout, he saw the advantage of playing this trick. That was wrong on many levels. I would add that I feel very confident that Alistair would never have done it without consulting Clegg first. Clegg should resign too. And instead of the usual Cabinet Office stitch-up, there needs to be a real inquiry into the whole history and production of that extraordinary minute, and whether Alistair was set up to do it. The Scottish Government needs to be an equal partner in constituting that inquiry.

Alistair has no alternative but to resign because he then repeatedly lied about what he had done. It is much better that he goes now with a full and frank apology to everyone, especially his constituents. When you have blatantly and repeatedly lied about something, you cannot expect people to give you their trust again. That it even seems a possibility is an example of the erosion of ethical standards, of which Tony Blair is of course the greatest example as liar, mass murderer and multi-millionaire.

But we should not lose sight of the real lesson. The corrupt and rotten structures of the UK state are so insidious that they can take a fundamentally decent man like Alistair and lead him to behave so badly. There is something within the rotting organisms of UK institutions in their decline from Imperial power and dependence on corrupt banking and corporate systems, that infects almost all who enter them. While I worked for the FCO I saw really nice colleagues, decent men and women I worked with, go along with organising what they knew to be illegal war in Iraq, and with facilitating the torture and extraordinary rendition programmes. Because that was what paid their mortgage, looked after their children, and above all gave them social status as high British diplomats.

Westminster gives untramelled executive power to a party with just 23% of the support of the registered electorate. The majority of parliamentarians are unelected Lords a great many of whom are themselves mired in corruption – and some much worse. The organs of state power are used to facilitate the flow of money from the poor to the very wealthy, which is the actual cause of the deficit in public finances. The rewards of being on the inside are sweet; those outside are measurably dispossessed of wealth, and measurably alienated in politics. The media is controlled by this corporate state.

Alistair Carmichael’s story is not the story of a bad man. It is the story of what happens to a good man who buys in to UK power structures. The real lesson of the sad story of this period in Alistair’s life is that the UK is evil, corrupt and corrupting, and that the UK state needs swiftly to be broken up.

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433 thoughts on “My Friend Alistair Carmichael

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  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    Good post at 21h54 yesterday evening!

    I note that it touched a very raw nerve with its subject, Baal Zevul, whose Olympian mask slipped for a moment as he came back with his rather feeble ad hominem “response” half an hour later.

    Doesn’t like criticism, our friend Baal.

  • Villager

    28 May, 2015 – 12:23 am
    Ach, it’s not ‘Zionists’, that nonsense is utterly reductive and inflammatory.”

    Another bigot flushed, I rest my case.

    I’d rather believe the fact: We are all in the same boat. I don’t need silly books and mythologies. I am a human being. It is incumbent on me to figure it out for myself; original not a second-hand mind.

  • Enoch

    A real friend would have discussed this privately.
    But it’s all about you, isn’t it,, and how good you are?

  • technicolour

    Giyane, thanks for your reply: much appreciated.

    “the proposal that the less powerful are now so relatively weak that they might as well give up all aspirations to their rights.”

    Indeed, and in most places you mention, accept slow, or instant, murder. Whether the name is Zionism, or facism, or Friedmanism, whether the House of Saud or the Chinese princlings, it is a universal evil. That’s why I found the trailer for We Are Many (haven’t managed to see the film) profoundly emotional: it reminded me again that most people, unlike their ‘leaders’, stand in decent solidarity against these criminals.

  • Evgueni

    John Goss,

    I suspect you of Communist leanings because the other explanations for your affinity towards “Russki Mir” ideology are even less flattering.

    As for Eric Draitser, he appears to have a particularly nasty case of leftist verbal diarrhea, making sweeping statements about fascist coups, state-organised massacres and so on without any substantiating evidence. It’s just so depressing – reading that sort of drivel..

  • John Goss

    Evgueni 28 May, 2015 – 2:06 pm

    “As for Eric Draitser, he appears to have a particularly nasty case of leftist verbal diarrhea, making sweeping statements about fascist coups, state-organised massacres and so on without any substantiating evidence. It’s just so depressing – reading that sort of drivel.”

    The difference between Eric Draitser and you is that he backs his arguments with sources whereas, in this last comment of yours at least, it is you who are showing your prejudice and giving nothing to substantiate it. And he is prepared to write under his own name. You on the other hand are not. The assassinations and removal of opposition writers he documents are traceable. That is what fascists do. You have tried to make out there is no opposition to Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk by ignoring the links I have given and just providing a single photograph of the gallows.

    I suspect you of being an asset of some power (US, UK, Israel, Canada perhaps). I suspect you would like to do business in Ukraine on behalf of your masters (like Jo Biden’s son). But speculating about it without proof is pointless.

    So if you have any “proof” of my communist affiliations I should like to defend myself. But I certainly prefer communists to capitalists, and most who I have met have been decent and sincere people. 🙂

  • John Spencer-Davis

    John S Warren
    24/05/2015 9:20pm

    [JSW 2]: I thought you might ask that question. I used brackets to separate the names, and intended the exclusive ‘or’; as far as I am aware only the Consul-General referred to Ed Miliband. I accept my wording could have been more clearly expressed on this point,

    [JSD 2]: In my opinion, your deliberate intention in phrasing your sentence in that manner was to mislead the forum. Anyone without particular knowledge of the matter would interpret your sentence as expressing two distinct ideas:

    “All have denied that anything was said about the suitability of David Cameron to be PM”, and, “all have denied that anything was said about the suitability of Ed Miliband to be PM”.

    That is the plain sense of your phrasing, and it’s false. You say this does not matter. I say it does matter. If it merely confused the issue, that would be one thing: but it just happens to bolster the argument you are making very much in your favour. That leaves your motivation open to question. You seem obsessed with questioning my motivation. I am happy to do so in return.

    [JSW 2]: nobody present at the meeting has suggested any other interpretation of what happened;

    [JSD 2]: That is irrelevant to whether or not your phrasing gives a deliberately misleading impression of the known facts as they now stand. It is also irrelevant to the point that I have made, that Coffinier has been directly reported as having given inconsistent answers to the questions that have been asked of him, and that the nature of this inconsistency casts doubt upon the statement of Nicola Sturgeon that the Telegraph story about her was “categorically, 100% untrue”.

    [JSW 2]: save only a leaked report that is itself of questionable reliability, and is in any case a soenwhat ‘over-exposed’ second-hand source.

    [JSD 2]: No-one, not even the report’s author, would claim that it is not of questionable reliability. Whether or not the report is wholly reliable is not the issue we are discussing. Although it is worth mentioning, in this context, and also because I will be taking the matter up later, that the Cabinet office inquiry statement issued on 22 May 2015 concluded that “senior officials who have worked with [the author] say that he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.”

    The issue we are discussing is whether there is any basis at all for the Cameron/Miliband material present in the memo: and I have cited evidence to show that that is possible: if the report I have cited is to be believed, even likely.

    As for the memo being a second-hand source, of course it is; as for it being ‘over-exposed’, that is hardly the fault of the memo or the author; and it is in any case irrelevant to whether or not there is any truth in the memo. You’ve just put the word in to bias the readers of this exchange against the memo. You do this quite a lot, and I will be pointing out every example of it that I notice in your subsequent postings.

    [JSW 2]: Candidly I am not convinced that any of the British journalistic sources pressing this issue are inherently more reliable sources that those who actually attended the meeting;

    [JSD 2]: If there are in fact any British journalistic sources now pressing the issue, I am not aware of them. Otherwise, that is a perfectly reasonable statement, provided it includes the word ‘inherently’; it may be that two of the three principals in the matter had strong circumstantial motives for being as economical as they could with the truth at the time, and I will be discussing that reasonable possibility in due course. Evaluation should be based on evidence, not on who people are.

    [JSW 2]: and it really does not help the journalistic case that none of the British journalist sources attended the meeting.

    [JSD 2]: That’s quite true, if somewhat obvious.

    [JSW 2]: Given these facts I am at something of a loss to understand what purchase this whole matter has on reality; I suspect that if this, probably politically motivated boot was on ‘the other foot’, the argument would not ever have seen the light of day in the ‘mainstream’ media;

    [JSD 2]: The Cabinet office inquiry statement concluded that there was no evidence of political motivation in the writing of the memo. Whatever you may think of that conclusion, it is another piece of evidence which the readers of this forum are entitled to see and consider when reaching their own decisions on this matter. Given the existence and leaking of the memo, it is hardly surprising that the ‘mainstream’ media thought the matter worth reporting on.

    [JSW 2]: I doubt if it would survive a single editorial meeting, setting any media-outlet’s agenda; it is wastepaper-basket material.

    [JSD 2]: You are entitled to your opinion, but yours is not the only opinion in the world, and the matter is wholly speculative anyway. The fact is, it didn’t end up in the wastepaper basket, and the readers of this forum are entitled to see any available evidence which assists us to explore why.

    If you see this and are minded to respond, you should be aware that I am now working chronologically through your postings, and I will not see any further responses that you post that are dated after 25/05/2015, as I will not be reading the blog again until I am done with those. I do not wish to be distracted.

    Kind regards,


  • Evgueni

    John Goss 28 May, 2015 – 8:02 pm

    “The difference between Eric Draitser and you is that he backs his arguments with sources”.

    To demonstrate how credible this guy is. He writes:
    “Activists and ordinary Odessa citizens had been taking part in a memorial service for the victims of the tragedy when the demonstration was violently dispersed by armed men in either military or national guard uniforms (see here for photos). According to eyewitnesses, the military men instigated violence at the gathering and broke it up, all while both local police and OSCE monitors stood aside and watched.”

    But when you follow his “source”, this link:
    You will find that the text and photos on infocenter website convey a very different story. There was a meeting to commemorate the tragedy of the year before, the army was there to prevent violence – soldiers stood between potentially violent opponents. The soldiers’ actions are not mentioned in a negative light. The OSCE monitors’ presence is simply noted, without negative connotations of ‘standing aside not getting involved’.

    I other words, Eric Draitser is a shameless liar who takes assorted useful idiots for a ride. Whether the useful idiots are communists is by the by.

    I have wasted enough of my time on this crap.

    I have just checked my passport (UK) and my name is spelt Evgueni in it. I couldn’t care less if you suspect otherwise.

  • John Goss

    Evgueni, I would not like to have been your university supervisor if you look at an article then nitpick about whether the armed forces broke up a demonstration or not when the main thrust of the article is about the arrests and assassinations of opposition journalists and others not compliant with the new Nazi regime in Ukraine. And then to try and belittle the article based on photos in the link (which neither prove nor disprove what Eric Draitser wrote). The key phrase is “According to eyewitnesses . . .” Or did you miss that?

    So no, Eric Draitser is not a liar. I ask you to look inwardly about your deliberate misrepresentation with the aim of misleading. Tell me then. Do you believe that Ukraine is a better place since the coup? Have things improved since Yakunovich left and Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk came to power?

    This gagging of the opposition has spread to the west as regards Ukraine with nobody telling the truth anymore.

  • John S Warren

    Mr Spencer-Davis
    28th May, 9.56pm

    Your methodology aspires to logical rigour, and I commend the care, time and effort invested; but I think you tend to lose perspective and descend into mere logic-chopping.

    I have acknowledged careless wording in my original piece, and made clear that I was unsurprised by your response. I was unsurprised; you may not like it, but there it is. Going beyond my observation, you are seeking motivations that are not there. I do not think your arguments are well-founded, but the only matter which I confess does irritate me is the gratuitous accusation that I sought to mislead. I did not. I reject the calumny and I am disappointed that you resort to it.

    I am reasonably comfortable with being wrong, and if I pursue a case it is because I believe it has substance. I do not believe the FM committed the blunder of which she has been accused, by politicians and journalists who are quite obviously anxious to undermine the credibility of the SNP, for reasons we need not rehearse. I think the problems under which Mr Carmichael is currently sinking demonstrate that proposition quite convincingly. The defence being made on his behalf in the media is the slightly problematic approach of accusing others of lying.

    You endeavour to turn everything into an issue of meaning, but your problem is a matter of evidence (the methods of physics over logic). The difference between us, I suspect, is that I am inclined to give slightly greater credence to the statements made by the only people who attended the meeting, over the opinions of those who did not attend. Second, I am inclined ‘a priori’ to give equal weight to the statements of the FM, the Ambassador’s office and the Consul-General, to that of the British Civil Service. In this case that makes my conclusion fairly decisive that for whatever reason, the Civil Service report was wrong. I do not find the carefully ambiguous, if not Delphic wording of the Civil Service inquiry either informative or confidence inspiring. You appear to invest the UK Civil Service with an intrinsically higher Truth-value; to advance that thesis you will require a great deal more evidence than you have offered. Their Frenchgate inquiry is not a good place to start, if you wish to advance the case. I do not have to suggest that anyone is lying to reject the reliability of the Civil Service; I am content to rely on error, confusion or bad judgement.

    You have suggested that I have made too much of the journalism; but in fact I simply dismissed all of it, for it was obviously politically motivated, presumably to induce a sense of scandal and outrage; yI notice in your detailed points that have chosen to accept journalism where it suits your case, and reject it where it proves inconvenient. I invite you to read your through your detailed points where you refer to journalism, which on inspection possess much less of the abstract impartiality which your method seeks to convey. Ultimately, you are not offering an exercise in logic or close reasoning, but rhetoric.

    Finally and to ‘cut to the chase’; I do not believe it at all likely that the FM would offer an opinion on either Cameron or Miliband’s suitability as PM at the ‘Frenchgate’ meeting. It is a gaffe that seems improbable, based not least on the FM’s already established non-confrontational, negotiation-seeking approach to political dialogue at Westminster (listen to Tommy Shepherd MP’s carefully crafted maiden speech in the House of Commons for a good idea of the SNP line). Why would she offer such a crass hostage to fortune or gossip in a discussion with a foreign diplomat? Who would be impressed? What purpose could it possibly serve, save to provide her despairing political party opponents with free ammunition (she would have been throwing a lifebelt to drowning political parties in the middle of an election, just as she was making an impact on UK politics)? My judgement, for what it is worth, is that the FM is a great deal ‘cannier’ than the typical Westminster politician, even if you choose to disbelieve her. The whole ‘story’ is I think built out of mere froth. Hence, I think, the peculiarly convoluted subtlety of some critics who suggest that she must have said it: because she must have thought it. Please!

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