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.

433 thoughts on “My Friend Alistair Carmichael

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  • Bob Smith

    If Alistair does not resign quickly, the seat will be won by the SNP in the inevitable by election. If he does the honourable thing and resigns now, the seat may well remain Lib Dem. The voters of Orkney and Shetland do not identify themselves that closely with Scottish independence, and any by election will be fought on issues of policy and I can see Orcadians and Shetlanders quite liking the idea of maintaining their separate and distinctive voice in Westminster. By hanging on Alistair risks a terrible backlash against his Party.

  • Republicofscotland

    Continuing on the topic of Mr Carmichael he is believe it or not a floating sheriff at Hamilton Sheriff court,appointed in 2013,with a annual salary of £128.000.

    A sheriff of all things what happened to the standard of nemo me impune lacessit.

    I’m afraid Mr Carmichael has no credibility left.

  • vronsky

    Interesting take on this from Derek Bateman: Carmichael will take a bullet to protect Mundell.


    PS (Craig) Have you received a recorded delivery letter from MC?

  • Giyane

    Thank you Mary, John and Becky Cohen for your kind wishes and xxxx.
    I always thought that stuff about controlling your breathing was a bit new age, but now I see that God has powered our portable laptops, i.e. brains on the gas oxygen. Thinking complicated political conspiratorial thoughts makes me hyperventilate. Oh dear I hope the thing isn’t broken completely because with the world of Scottish politics,IS capturing all of Iraq’s brand new weapons, or Ruth’s mafia inside government syphoning from the VAT carousel and excise fraud life is not going to get less devious …. at least in the short term.

    Thank God we have oafs like Charles Crawford to reassure us of the enduring bum security of HM Elizabeth on her throne as well as her increasing raw public cunt power by associating with other dashing royal families who fund the takfiri killing of Muslim by Muslims.
    The royal war cry of ‘chop orff their heads’ is a great deal more striking and interesting than Nicola Sturgeon’s possibly preferring David Cameron, and yet strangely receives less media attention.

  • douglas clark


    You say:

    Continuing on the topic of Mr Carmichael he is believe it or not a floating sheriff at Hamilton Sheriff court,appointed in 2013,with a annual salary of £128.000.

    Are you sure?

    He doesn’t appear on the Guardian list of MP’s earning over £100k per annum in 2014, nor would he appear to have the time. If it is true it would be a sinecure of the first order.

  • Mary

    Good to hear you Giyane and hope you are feeling much better. You beat me to it as I was thinking about you and Robert Crawford today whilst gardening. My advice to fully recover is to try to switch off from all the evils around us. Easier said than done I know. Listen to the birdsong and observe the flowers and insects. They give a perspective. I was looking down at some thyme in flower in the sunshine earlier and was amazed how many honey bees there were at work.

  • Ishmael

    The capacity for self deception with friends is huge. But you’d kind of expect it in an isolated centralized political culture.

    It’s very problematic issue i’m experiencing first hand to some degree getting more involved atm…

    Guess I agree again. Grrr, that most people should all do a bit of politics, not a few people immersed in self congratulatory positions of power. That only seem to fuck things over.

    But of course my language makes my opinion less than equal for most in these fuck it up positions. And this is ok because it’s a toxic set up I don’t want to be a part off in any capacity.

    Ishmael Pierson, Dissident, Separatist, Anti fascist, Anti Capitalist. Green party member, Telford. *sigh*

  • Mary

    Herald Scotland –
    “Carmichael faces ethics inquiry as demands grow for him to quit as MP”, Herald Scotland, 24 May 2015

    Gannett Press own Newsquest whose boss man once at The Scotsman.


    Also there are two Trident stories –

    Trident missile flaw could cause explosions and radioactive contamination, reveals whistleblower 5 hours ago
    An INHERENT flaw in Trident missiles could lead to fires, explosions and widespread radioactive contamination,…..

    MoD under pressure to explain fate of Trident whistleblower William McNeilly
    24 May 2015
    While the Trident whistleblower, William McNeilly, was being mysteriously moved around Britain last week, a massive nuclear bomb convoy trundled along some of Scotland’s busiest roads…..

  • John Goss

    Integrity and politics are hard to marry amicably epecially since the introduction of electoral colleges. Nobody dare say any more what he or she thinks if it does not fit the party line. The trick question Craig was asked to bat off before the SNP selection committee was indicative of what has happened to make Westminster what it has become – an indistinguishable two-party system based on the US model. All challenging parties, like the SNP, have to behave similarly to know that they can rely on every single one of their MPs’ votes and opinions whenever necessary. It looks like Alistair Carmichael may have got caught up in this trap!

    I’m not sure he should resign. Many worse rogues have been caught in even more unsavoury shenanigans and still clung on. A week is a long time in politics to throw a cliche into the pot. It will all hinge I suspect on whether the media, also governed by a collective unrepresentative will, decides to continue pursuing him, or whether they let the matter fizzle out. As Craig wrote: “The media is controlled by this corporate state.”

    I wish the media would give some air space to the genocide and breaches of international law perpetrated by the Kiev government on a daily basis against the people’s republic of Donbas in contravention of Minsk I and Minsk II agreements which Poroshenko signed. Following their visits to Russia John Kerry and Victoria Nuland have publicly instructed ‘Porky’ to abide by the latest Minsk protocol. Poroshenko has called the agreement he signed a ‘pseudo’ agreement. Our media chooses to ignore this almost completely.

  • Mary

    Just one thing wrong with Bill Blum’s latest Anti Empire Report. There is no mention of Blair when he writes of the Iraq War.

    ‘Such discussions always leave out a critical point. Why did millions of Americans, and even more millions abroad, march against the war in the fall of 2002 and early 2003, before it began? What did they know that the Bush brothers and countless other politicians didn’t know? It was clear to the protesters that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were habitual liars, that they couldn’t care less about the people of Iraq, that the defenseless people of that ancient civilization were going to be bombed to hell; most of the protesters knew something about the bombings of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Yugoslavia, or Afghanistan; and they knew about napalm, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, etc. Those who marched knew that the impending war was something a moral person could not support; and that it was totally illegal, a textbook case of a “war of aggression”; one didn’t have to be an expert in international law to know this.

    Didn’t the Brothers Bush, Hillary Clinton (who voted for the war in the Senate), et al know about any of these things? Of course they did. They just didn’t care enough; supporting the empire’s domination and expansion was a given, and remains so; no US politician gets very far – certainly not to the White House – questioning the right of American Exceptionalism to impose itself upon humanity (for humanity’s sake of course).’

  • Republicofscotland

    Are you sure?

    He doesn’t appear on the Guardian list of MP’s earning over £100k per annum in 2014, nor would he appear to have the time. If it is true it would be a sinecure of the first order.”

    Douglas Clark.

    And here:

    As Craig once said to me you can’t believe a word the Guardian newspapers prints.

    In saying that,the Telegraph,Daily Mail and the Express are but a few of the nationals,that easily surpass the Guardian,for unionist propaganda.

  • Je

    Its not the institutions, its the whole culture. Narcissim, being self-interested, self-serving. Wealth is seen as a virtue. Integrity isn’t. In any uncomfortable situation, the first thing the British reach for is a lie. Its possibly the same across the whole of Western culture – but I’m not travelled enough to know.

  • Anne Devlin

    This is a really powerful, insightful article. Heard your speeches for “Yes England”. The amount of people that fell for the Middle East lies included myself. The spin, lies, contrived media involvement, mainstream media bias and total lack of respect for a fellow party member in a political campaign defies believe. It’s too close to “Yes Minister” or “In the Thick of it”, to laugh, due to the other big issue. Yes his voters were duped, and his fellow campaigners misquoted and wronged. No longer trustworthy on any level. But what about the expense. Thus far £1.4 million to expose the leak, but not the teams complicit in his fraud. UK party leader, deputy in the Scottish Office aka Mundell, and the civil servants who were encouraged and supported to smear our First Minister of Scotland. The saddest thing of all is the endemic corruption. The amazing SNP MP’S give me hope for a great future for Scotland. Wonderful CV’s and not there to “play Goldilocks and the 3 bears”, with 83 year old MP’s that forgotten it’s a job, not a club for their other “old boys”.

  • Mark P-I

    Excellent article and comments confirming the “rotten state” of the UK and opening up many more questions as to who actually instigated the pathetic and inept leak and who else in powerful positions knew about it. It was the small pieces of a large jigsaw that brought down President Nixon and this could hopefully have similar consequences for our corrupt elite.

  • Suzanne

    I have a question that arises from a reading of both Carmichael’s letter of apology and the official report of the inquiry.

    The media are squawking their heads off, waving the report that suggests the memo still implies Ms Sturgeon did say those things, meanwhile deliberately ignoring the letter of apology from Carmichael.

    Carmichael, in his letter, admits to knowing the contents were untrue. Did he check with those present at the meeting and not reveal that fact? If he did check with the attendees, why did no-one mention that he did? Or was the memo subsequently “revised”?

    How and why did Carmichael know that the contents of the memo were not correct?

    He has to go. The voters of Shetland and Orkney deserve an MP they can trust.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Luke et al
    24/05/2015 12:28pm

    Apologies in advance for the length of this posting.

    For the benefit of the forum I will set out, again, as I have more than once before, the reason why I am so stubborn in believing that the memo the civil servant produced was at least partially accurate. However, I will also add evidence from the video you posted that appears to contradict that position, and then people can choose for themselves what to believe.


    Politics, Journalism etc
    Personal blog by Paul Hutcheon, Sunday Herald Investigations Editor
    Sunday, 5 April 2015

    French connections

    THE general election in Scotland has become dominated by a bizarre row over what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon allegedly said to a French diplomat.

    According to a leaked memo obtained by the Daily Telegraph, Sturgeon told France’s UK Ambassador Sylvie Bermann that “she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM”.

    If true, this would have been hugely embarrassing: the First Minister has said publicly she wants Cameron out of Downing Street and Ed Miliband in.

    The story unraveled after Pierre-Alain Coffinier, France’s consul general in Edinburgh, as well as Bermann’s spokesperson, both denied the Cameron claim.

    The original newspaper report wasn’t helped by the fact that the memo was written by an official in the Scotland Office who wasn’t even at the Sturgeon meeting.

    However, the memo also noted the First Minister saying she “didn’t see Ed Miliband as PM material”.

    So, are the French diplomats also denying this part of this document?

    When the Sunday Herald spoke to Coffinier yesterday, he repeated his denial about the Cameron claim, but was far more uncomfortable being quizzed on the Miliband section.

    Here is the exchange with Monsieur Coffinier:

    Shown the section of the leaked memo regarding Sturgeon’s views on David Cameron and Ed Miliband, he said: “Well, yes, that is not accurate.”

    Asked if any of it was accurate, he said: “I’m not going to disclose that. My comment is very clear. There has been no preference expressed regarding the outcome of the elections.”

    Pressed on whether Sturgeon said Ed Miliband was not Prime Ministerial material, he said: “No, I’m not going to answer. No comment… I don’t want to answer that. I don’t want to answer that.”


    Now here is what Pierre-Alain Coffinier was earlier interviewed as saying on that subject, by Sky Television (10 am, 04/04/2015)

    3m 16s

    Sky interviewer: Did they discuss the suitability of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, was that the subject of discussion?

    Pierre-Alain Coffinier: No, no, no…it wasn’t, no.



    Contradictory. Finally, here is what the Guardian had to say about this matter two days ago.

    “Although Sturgeon and the French embassy have always denied that she said she favoured Cameron as prime minister, other parts of the conversation recorded in the memo – including her saying she had no idea “what kind of mischief” Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader, would get up to at Westminster – have not been denied.”

    You will see that that is very specific about what has been denied. The French embassy denied that Sturgeon said she favoured Cameron as prime minister. That is not the same thing as saying that the French embassy denied that Sturgeon said that she did not see Ed Miliband as Prime Ministerial material.


    I leave it up to each member of the forum where they think the truth lies in among all this.

    Kind regards,


  • MBC

    Craig, there is more to this than meets the eye.

    Yes, Alistair was behind the smear. Yes, he lied about it afterwards. And thus misrepresented himself to his constituents. Yes, he caused an enquiry reputed to be costing £1.4 million in time of austerity all the time knowing who was behind the leak – himself. All of which tears his reputation to shreds and the public trust in him.

    But Alistair also admits the memo was inaccurate.

    Moreover, he admitted he knew it was inaccurate at the time. But he released it all the same. Now why would he do that? Did he only realise it was innaccurate shortly after the release, when Coffinier and Sturgeon robustly refuted it? Or did he release it in order to damage an opponent in the full knowledge it was a lie?

    But the biggest question of all is – how come such a seriously inaccurate minute was produced in the first place?

    It really leads us to one of two conclusions – that Alistair’s department was out of control. I which case, he was inept.

    Or the much worse conclusion that he is corrupt, and deliberately instigated the sort of ‘false flag’ smears you warned us over.

    Or else he is taking the rap for somebody else who did.

  • Republicofscotland

    Douglas Clark.

    It seems that you’re correct afterall,digging a bit deeper a matching up the evidence it clearly show that Mr Carmichael IS NOT a sheriff at Hamilton Sheriff court.

    Apologise all round.

    I know it’s not the LibDem thing to do admit you’re wrong,before you’re found out.

  • Clydebuilt

    Great analysis Craig.
    There are two MSP’s in Carmichaels constituency. The Liberals have to evaluate what’s more important keeping a damaged MP or trying to retain the two MSP’s. Keeping Carmichael may see the death of the Liberals in Scotland.

    Here’s a fitting anagram

    Ach it’s clear I’m a liar.

  • Miriam LANDOR

    I too think of AC as a friend, have had a lot of liking and respect for him and most of all for his family, and I too think he should resign. If only he had resigned immediately he would have left with a measure of sympathy and respect in the eyes of his constituents (of whom I’m one). And I bet he would have been able to come back in a few years time…. If he waits till he’s made to resign through mounting public pressure, or clings on till 2020, he will have lost credibility and respect for ever. I feel very sad on a personal level, but as a citizen and voter very angry….

  • fred

    “I do however differ from those who seem to think a by election would be a easy SNP win. ”

    Oh I don’t know, Baron Danus George Moncrieff Skene SNP might get away with it as long as nobody finds out he was educated at Eton.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Baron Danus George Moncrieff Skene SNP might get away with it as long as nobody finds out he was educated at Eton.

    Is that what happened to Baron John Archibald Sinclair?

  • John S Warren

    I am a little perplexed by Mr Spencer-Davis’s contribution. The only people who can confirm or disconfirm what was said in the relevant interview have all denied that anything was said about the suitability of David Cameron (or Ed Miliband) to be PM.

    The “contradiction” amounts to a series of speculations by journalists who were not there. This, I respecfully suggest, is not very persuasive; unless your interpretation of what would amount to accessible, decisive, primary evidence is generous to the point of vacuity. The “leaked” report even referred to the so-called damaging ‘facts’ potentially having being “lost in translation”; which, I suggest, should have been a red hazard-warning light, even for a bold spin-doctor. Do the current writers of this new ‘spin’ intend to return to the French Ambassador with more questions; on what we may fairly call a “fishing-expedition” for some hoped-for careless word or inaccurate memory? Is this really the way forward for Mr Carmichael, or anybody?

    At this point most (wise, balanced) critics would be inclined to give-up fishing. The Telegraph and other media do not give up, presumably because they believe pressing this (at best unresolvable) issue will sell newsprint, or it has political purchase to inflict political damage on those they identify as opponents (whether it can be proved or not), or it distracts attention from the failings of the acknowledged culprit who leaked the memo and made certain claims about his knowledge in the immediate aftermath.

    At the time of the leak Mr Carmichael was a member of the Coalition Government, although a nice point of law is now being made by the same press about his Parliamentary status when the report was leaked, that would offer him some protection from efforts to remove him. It is notable that these arguments are advanced by journalists or insiders, and not his constituents. It is extraordinary what the media, politicians and Westminster commentators choose to focus on, in such cases; and not on Mr Carmichael, the Government of which he was part (and their activities – including spending £1.4m on what should have been a quite needless inquiry in the circumstances); but rather are ‘making smoke’ by digging-up a comprehensively ‘dead’ side-story that merely makes all involved look a little like 18th/19th century resurrectionist grave-robbers.

    The simple fact is; Mr Carmichael is the unfortunate (but self-inflicted) story, and with him, it should not be forgotten, the coalition Government he represented (certainly from the perspective of the Scottish public), whatever Westminster or the media would like it to be. I do not suppose this same media will soon be demanding a journalistic “fishing-expedition” around senior coalition members, complete with microphones, regarding who knew/said what, where, when to whom regarding the Carmichael-leak.

    Mr Rennie (Scottish LibDem leader) has suggested that Mr Carmichael deserves a “second chance”. Perhaps he does, and I respectfully suggest that redemption of this kind is to be found by Mr Carmichael resigning now, and fighting his seat again with spirit and dignity.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    John S Warren
    24/05/2015 8:37 pm

    Mr Warren,

    Many thanks for your thoughtful contribution. Please could you clear something up for me? You say that “The only people who can confirm or disconfirm what was said in the relevant interview have all denied that anything was said about the suitability of David Cameron (or Ed Miliband) to be PM.”

    Please could you present any evidence that you are aware of that Sylvie Bermann has denied that anything was said about the suitability of Ed Miliband to be PM?

    Many thanks,


  • Suhayl Saadi

    It reeks of typical hard state/political elite dirty tricks – the ‘WMD in Iraq’ dynamic distilled into a single memo. The hard state has material on most, if not all, elected politicians, so one wonders about that. But it might just be simpler; oit may be that no complusion at all was required and that it accorded with the Unionist parties attempts to trying to discredit the SNP during a General Election. It would be most important to learn who originiated it. Who was in charge of this event? Who precisely was involved? And was there more of this? I think he will almost certainly have to resign. There will be a by-election and the SNP will win it. So it’ll have rebounded totally – and it serves them right!

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