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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  • Calgacus

    Craig, you are the best of friends. The kind of friend who points out the truth.

    Alistair has no alternative but resignation.

    His political career is over but at least he has something more valuable, a good friend

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Would he be allowed to resign even if he wanted to? He has a majority of 817. The SNP would almost certainly win the seat if there was a by-election. The powers-that-be will not wish the SNP to gain any more validity. I would be surprised if pressure is not put on him to brazen it out. Better a disgraced MP than that the non-SNP representation in Scotland is reduced by a third

  • Peter

    I’ve went from fury towards Carmichael before reading this to pity for him at the end. I do hope he goes and gets everything that is coming his way, but I also hope people remember his admission and apology. If he wants to retain more than that tiny shred of self respect though he has to take that one step further and resign. It’s the decent thing to do.

  • Mochyn69

    Craig, in the light of what you wrote about Frenchgate and the Security Services previously, are you saying Alistair Carmichael is a fall guy?

    Was he set up by the Security Services?

    Can you persuade your good friend to tell us the truth??


  • John Spencer-Davis

    If the enquiry set up to find the source of the leak had not discovered that it originated with Euan Roddin, Carmichael’s special adviser, what would Carmichael be doing now? Would he have declined his Ministerial severance pay and written an apology then?

    Business as usual, presumably: and still lying about it to his constituents and the country, and leaving a cloud of suspicion over anyone else in a position to have leaked it.

    Carmichael breached the 11th Commandment: thou shalt not get caught.

    Kind regards,


  • John Spencer-Davis

    Craig Murray
    24/05/2015 11:44am

    Nope. I’ll believe it when the French Ambassador and the French Consul-General in Edinburgh say the whole thing was a mare’s nest. Which they haven’t.

    Kind regards,


  • Martin McDonald

    Since Alastair Carmichael became Scottish Secretary he hasn’t really come across as a decent person. I don’t buy the thing about blaming the system for the issue he’s been caught out on; these are matters of character and integrity.

    Alex Salmond has been around the system for a very long time and nobody has been able to touch him on anything like this major political scandal.

    Mr Carmichael is disgraced and should become an ex-MP.

  • Abe Rene

    Your stance concerning Carmichael is commendable – standing by him as a friend despite his wrongdoing.

    However I wouldn’t agree with the last few paragraphs and conclusion. For the same human nature is present outside the state as within. Consequently, just as money and power are powerful temptations, so can bitterness arising from genuine grievances distort one’s outlook. Therefore I hope you won’t let what happened to you make you lose your balance!

  • Peter

    Carmichael has to go if the lib dems are to retain any credibility,their silence on this matter does them no credit.
    I do however differ from those who seem to think a by election would be a easy SNP win. And I say that as an SNP member
    It’s traditional lib dem territory and the lib dems have a number of huge names now looking for a seat,some of them very much admired by grass root voters.
    Remember it is also now a known factor that the SNP are not holding the balance of power with labour which the polls predicted during the election.
    Labour and Tory voters are very likely to tactically vote AGAINST the SNP in a one off by election.
    So while the right and decent thing is for Carmichael to go,and he simply must,I actually believe they would retain the seat,much as my politics would love a 57th SNP MP

  • fwl

    All power and countries corrupt. It doesn’t follow that they should all be broken up. All revolutions tend to serious unanticipated and unintended consequences from Russia to the Arab Spring. In essence if you deconstruct the structure you have a power grab on your hands. A violent fight. In Mexico it happened through the ballot box but nonetheless the elite fell and with it the corrupt infrastructure, which simply meant that there was a bloody free for all. The well intended liberal does not usually come as top dog in a dog fight. I am not saying that change shouldn’t happen, the chicken doesn’t emerge without breaking its shell, but if you break up a state what will happen will be unpleasant and unpredictable and unfair.

  • Ruth

    ‘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.’

    Yes. The UK is run by a mafia veiled by the illusion of democracy through Parliament. I believe the mafia runs a secret fundraising economy through criminality which includes the theft of public funds through, for example, VAT carousel and excise fraud. In the 1990s the taxpayers lost over a billion pounds in excise fraud at the London City Bond. This was termed a ‘sting’. Since then billions have disapperared through VAT fraud. I believe the ‘gangs’ which are blamed for the frauds are set up by a division of the intelligence services and the money scooped up by them when it’s sent abroad.

  • Bugger (the Panda)

    Don’t forget the A C rejected that the Holyrood Parliament should be made indissoluble by Westminster. I believe he also watered down some of the other Smith Comm proposals, but cannot be specific.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    24/05/2015 12:11pm

    Thanks very much for this. I was aware of this video, but on watching it again, have seen something in it which is inconsistent with other material in the public domain. I don’t mind being wrong. I will look at this again.

    Kind regards,


  • Luke

    Mr Spencer-Davis,

    No worries. The mainstream media does misreport things a lot. It’s only recently that I’ve realised quite how much they twist things.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    24/05/2015 12:28pm

    I will set out a partial transcript of this video and then compare it with other material I have set out here before, and then leave people to form their own conclusions.

    Kind regards,


  • nevermind

    It would not surprise me if this article is going to be quoted as a lever to make Carmichael resign in Tuesdays newspapers.

    The Lib Dems must ensure that he resigns, or loose their last remnant of trust, their most ardent members will not be able to swallow such back stabbing lie’s.
    Re discovering their Target To Win policy will not be easy if you have no volunteers doing the chaws, newsletters, leaflets, the keeping in touch with voters.

    I have talked to some left leaning unionist yesterday organising an austerity march next Saturday. They are thoroughly fed up with Labour and the unions, they feel betrayed by both, see them as self serving, and its only a matter of time before these activists join the Greens and campaign on their social justice issues.

    Thanks picking this up, why should his lies persist to permeate the media coverage, when there are three entities who state that it was a lie. Surely, if the media is so cock-sure that this election smear of the worst kind was right, they can carry on supporting A. Carmichael and sue the French Ambassador in court.

    Anybody who used this as ‘news’ during the campaign should be made to apologise for perpetuating a lie, on their front pages,and, as for the BBC, they should be forced to apologise in every one of their news broadcast and it should be done by the same reporters who so gloatingly spread these lies, even when they knew they were made up, wrong accusations.

    Another piss poor performance by the media who wants to judge and arbitrate itself. A pathetic show that will loose trust all round. With that I shall go and do some gardening.

    wishing all Canaries the best for tomorrow. Whoever will win will not have to play the other side again for quiet some time.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Peter 24 May, 2015 – 12:05 pm : “I do however differ from those who seem to think a by election would be a easy SNP win.”

    I was one of them, but I am having second thoughts. Your arguments have persuaded me that it is by no means a foregone conclusion.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Sigh. Charles Crawford has put a new posting up on his website regarding this matter, and has also posted a brief reply to my original critique of his two previous articles. All of which I will be replying to in due course. I notice he hasn’t been over here crowing about it, though.

    Kind regards,


  • Iain Orr

    “The UK is evil, corrupt and corrupting” is fine polemics but poor politics and social analysis. The UK and the FCO have produced people with the bravery to criticise inhumanity and corruption both in the UK and overseas (examples include Craig and Alastair Carmichael). The fundamental truth is the well-known one that ALL power corrupts; and it requires constant vigilance to keep that corruption in check by its being made visible. The voting system for the UK House of Commons is not itself corrupt, but it does not provide much help in keeping corruption in check. A system that results in a political party such as the SNP – already with its authoritarian absolutist streak as Craig found when he tried to get on the approved list for possible candidates – having all but three seats throughout one of the UK’s constituent parts does not bode well for either the UK or Scottish institutions. Westminster MPs, even those on the opposition benches, are able to exercise power; and for the Conservatives, Labour and LibDems it is also corrupting that they have only one MP from a Scottish constituency; and for the Greens and UKIP that they have none.

  • Mary

    My comment on ‘Born Kneeling’

    ’23 May, 2015 – 2:01 pm

    The LDs are taking no disciplinary action against Alistair Carmichael ref that memo. The same party were very quick to punish David Ward and Jenny Tonge for speaking up for Palestine.’

  • bevin

    ” The fundamental truth is the well-known one that ALL power corrupts; and it requires constant vigilance to keep that corruption in check by its being made visible.”

    Impotence is even more corrupting than power. And that is the problem here- the government has very little real power because it has ceded it to-in the final analysis-the US oligarchs. It has no power in foreign affairs because it does what the US tells it to do. It has no power in socio-economic matters because it follows the dictates of a ruling class which tells us that there is no alternative and that providence is a neo-liberal with a very callous view of humanity.
    Even at the level of the individual conscience those embroiled in this system have no alternative, save martyrdom and personal ruin (mitigated no doubt by eternal glory) but to go along with rthe murderers, thieves and slavedrivers.
    Britain has become-what its working people always were-part of the underside of the empire and its rulers are, like princelings at a Durbar, puppers of its nation’s enemies.

  • Becky Cohen

    @Craig: “The media is controlled by this corporate state.”

    I get what you are saying, Craig, but sometimes I wonder if it’s the other way round? The media can make or break election candidates and political parties by either adding or withdrawing their backing. It’s no secret that politicians tend to be very scared of getting on the wrong side of the (largely) right-wing orientated media. I often wonder if the media have some deep, dark secrets on politicians that they can use as leverage to manipulate and to all intents blackmail governments to get their way…

  • Kenny

    Craig, I wonder if you agree that we need to take a step back from all of this and just look at the pure facts.

    This story broke the day after Nicola Sturgeon won the leaders’ debate on television, pushing Cameron into second place, 10% behind her.

    The whole episode was a classical “better together” establishment piece, bringing in the usual corrupt unionist politicians, corporate media (Torygraph, Daily Fail) and BBC (James Cook).

    If you stand back and just look at the facts, it was a clear attempt to smear Nicola and the whole SNP cause. It was so much like the whole “better together” campaign and the last five years in Parliament, in which the Tories played the Lib Dems (latter) and the Red Pawns were the usual idiots (former), that I feel this was not the work of Carmichael alone.

    If Carmichael has walked into a trap, then I sincerely hope he sees the light and comes clean. But this was not capable of being pulled off by the Scottish Lib Dems alone. They would never have got the Torygraph to do what it did, for a start.

    The trail for this clearly leads to David Cameron or the civil service elite which really runs the country. It was clear from the very start (to me) that Carmichael was the “source” and that he would be dropped in the dooda by the Tories further down the line. It is what they do.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Alistair was set up to do it.”

    Stop me if,you think I’m a bit to pious,but Alistair Carmichael,is nobodies mug,he’s been around awhile now,and he’s a lawyer to boot,and a one time procurator fiscal depute,to the fair city you now live in.

    So to say he was set up is,at the very least faniciful,he knew fine well the repercussions of such an act.

    But then again with the likes of Sir Nicolas MacPherson,a top civil servant and the calls for his resignation,after the Treasurys impartial stance during the referendum,lacking any fruition.

    Carmichael probably thought an investigation would be kicked deeper into the long grass than the Chilcot report.

    It will take an almighty heave to prise the last limpet LibDem MP from Scotland,Carmichael will dig into his foxhole (unless Cameron fox hunting bill passes) and weather the verbal storm.

    In his defence,his constituents claim he’s a helpful and obliging man.

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