In Safe Hands 898

I am in Tbilisi at the moment, where I spent this early morning drinking tea with some of the 2,000 strong Yazidi community. They see their religion as much more closely descended from Zoroastrianism than appears in most accounts I have read.

I very much enjoyed a visit to Tsinandali which was most useful for gaining a Russian perspective of the Great Game. I don’t have my books with me and am suffering a mental block as to whether it was Connoly, Abbott or Malcolm who visited Tsinandali. I had not realised that Griboyedov was married to a daughter of the house, Nina Chavchavadze. The murder of Griboyedov, Russian Ambassador in Tehran, by a mob rates little more than a footnote in British accounts of the Great Game, even though the British had bribed the religious authority to stir up the riots. What revisionist history there has been, has come from the Iranian side and falsely tried to obscure the fact that the refugees Griboyedov was sheltering were runaway slaves from harems.

This is a neglected recurring theme. When Shuja agreed the treaty already negotiated between Macnaghten and Ranjit Singh, the main stipulation he sought to add was that the British would return to him any runaway slave girls. The immediate motive for the ringleader of the attack on Alexander Burnes was that Burnes had refused to intervene to return a runaway slave girl who had sought the protection of another British officer. My fellow anti-imperialist historians have in general been guilty of emphasising rapaciousness by the British in these incidents and overlooking or excusing the slave status of the girls. Both aspects need to be faced squarely to write honestly the full facts of history. Tellingly, it is generally impossible to recover names of the girls involved.

Griboyedov deserves to be remembered for much more than his murder. An accomplished playwright and poet, he was a friend of Pushkin and had links to the dissident groups who attempted revolution in 1825. His murder left Nina a widow at either 17 or 19 by different accounts, and pregnant. She lost the child on hearing of her husband’s death, and never remarried. It is a tragic story which came alive to me in visiting the family home.

Griboyedov had fought Napoleon in the 1812 campaign, but had helped those Napoleonic adventurers Allard and Ventura evade a British blockade and go into service with Ranjit Singh. Griboyedov’s successor as Russian Ambassador to Tehran, Simonicz, had actually fought on the Napoleonic side against Russia, presumably in the Polish Legion. Nina’s sister was to marry a Murad nephew of Napoleon. The political elites of Europe melded quickly after the convulsion.

With which clumsy segue I shall note that the battle against the entrenched political elites of the UK appears to be going extremely well without me. I cannot express without a welling up of real emotion how happy I am that all I have been saying about the stultifying neo-liberal consensus and exclusion of dissent, and appalling burgeoning wealth gap between rich and poor, has found such massive traction between Jeremy Corbyn in England and the SNP in Scotland. I may have gone AWOL for a few days, but the cause of social justice appears in extremely safe hands.

898 thoughts on “In Safe Hands

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  • Resident Dissident


    Just go and read the forums where they comment – I don’t give the oxygen of publicity to idiots.

    “The issues in that manifesto are as relevant today as 40 years ago” – that may be but do you really think the previously rejected solutions should be as well?

  • Resident Dissident


    Perhaps you could also let us know whether you are for nationalising the top 25 or 200 companies – or perhaps the tariff has changed since 1983?

  • fwlster

    How fashions change. In the 30’s it was considered fashionable to be left wing and down right stupid or nouveaux to be right wing. Of course socialism has a strong persuasive appeal and the only problem is our own hypocrisy and deceit. We talk of sharing but usually as a device to deceive and trick. JC has appeal. I don’t know much about him, but at first glance he seems the real deal. Therefore he is attractive. To those who complain that the party is being hijacked by those who are not really labour the obvious retort is that the party was hijacked in the 90s. Nonetheless, we may expect that JC’s unusual sincerity will have a lot of phoneys to contend with. Interesting times.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    Mr Goss

    “Habbabkuk did not think this petition to have Netanyahu arrested for war crimes when he comes to London would have any impact. That was when there were less than 30,000 signatures. Happily the petition has been maintaining an average of 10,000 signatures per day as I roughly predicted. 100,000 signatures are required to make it eligible for debate in the Commons. It has now exceeded 50,000”

    So only 50000 to go, eh.

    En passant, I wanted to tell you that I do rather admire the way you continually clutch at starws but they are straws.

    My prediction would be that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of the Israeli prime minister being arrested on war crimes charges if he comes to London in September (as I believe he will). You will be aware that under current law it is for the DPP to grant leave for the issuance of an arrest warrant and he will not do so.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “Mark Regev will soon be Israeli Ambassador to the UK.”

    Nothing especially surprising about that, surely?

    Older readers will probably remember that Christopher Meyer went on from being chief spokesman and press secretary to John Major and Geoffrey Howe to becoming ambassador in Bonn (briefly) and then in Washington.

  • fwlster

    Older readers will also remember that there have been earlier unsuccessful applications to the City Mags for leave. I think there may have been such an application in connection with the Tom Hurndall campaign team. These things are do with applying pressure and awareness. All sides do them. It may not always be about an immediate win. Petitions and applications (which are perhaps unlikely to succeed) are a sort of Fabian tactic.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    It`s not going to take off i.e. fracking.

    Depends if the oil price pumps itself up again. I was in any case being facetious.

    Oh you mean the one they tried to apply in the Soviet Union and China…

    No, I don’t.

    Despite what some here think I can see rather a lot of alternatives between Corbyn’s Bennism and the Tories. both practically and in terms of ideology – which is probably where the vast majority of the electorate are as well.

    Oh, you mean….? Sure. There’s a continuum of opinion. Which results in a continuing shift of the Overton Window to the Right, as every successive Labour move is intended to close the gap between it and an ever-less socially democratic Tory party, and the Tories continue to present the centre as Marxist. The electorate hardly comes into it, IMO: it can be manipulated, and is. Much of it absorbs anything political the Sun offers, subliminally, as it flicks through to the dirty cartoon and the sports pages.

    Whatever the outcome of this, Labour needs a short sharp reminder of what it was founded for, and who it represents. It needs a loud public platform to counter the unrestricted access of corporate capitalism to the media. IOW it needs its arse kicked. And that is exactly what it is getting. Hooray.

    As to ideology, I am in favour of what works in terms of ending the syphoning-off of wealth by institutions and individuals who are completely unaccountable, subsidised by the state to operate their syphons, and bailed out by the state when their allegedly dynamic entrepreneurial operations go a scam too far and tits-up. I am in favour of enough control of the economy to ensure that 2007 and the seven lean years – at least- which resulted either never happens again or is paid for by the perpetrators. Austerity may or may not be a necessary evil, but to invite its future recurrence (should we ever get out of it) by accepting anything like the status quo is obscene.

    I don’t see the remainder of the Labour candidates offering anything like that. Corbyn does. And if he fails, as he is perfectly prepared to do, he will at least have got the OLD PROBLEM some media airtime. Thanking you for your attention.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    do you really think the previously rejected solutions should be as well?

    Interesting bit of sophistry there, RD. The previously rejected solutions were, er, rejected. By the Labour Right, in fear at one time of the SDP, and under steadily increasing pressure from hostile vested interests. So they weren’t tried. Their effectiveness wasn’t tested in practice. They’re still potential solutions.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Mary, yours at 5.49 is chilling. With Regev as ambassador, Gould’s capacity for damage is enormous. Not that Regev will be much more of a pissant than Taub was. He may be the Comical Ali of Tel Aviv, but he’s still tied to the Israeli government line, and his obvious cynicism and complacency may well play against him.

    Ours in Israel, David Quarrey, has been in place for a month, btw. He is not Jewish, is (married)gay, and has ME experience. Think I asked if Craig knew anything about him earlier – opinion still welcome.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Just so I can say you saw it here first….Lankaweb, while offering no details that the Orifice of Tony Blair has not excreted to all SL papers, speculates that Mr. Tony is setting up the Tamil North to replace Diego Garcia, if the Chagos Islanders win their case and evict the UKUS presence. While the Dear Lv eader is certainly evil enough to do it, this must remain in the realm of fantasy for now.

  • N_

    Many of us have watched footage of the terrifying explosions in Tianjin.

    The Chinese authorities have estimated that the first released energy equivalent to 3 tonnes of TNT and the second, 21 tonnes.

    The largest nuclear warheads have a yield measured in millions of tonnes. The devastation a megaton-range warhead would cause would make the Tianjin explosions look like fireworks.

    And yet nuclear disarmament was taken off the list of important issues a few decades ago. That‘s propaganda power.

  • N_

    And another comparison: the nuclear bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had yields in the range of 10-20 thousand tonnes.

    Yield figures for nuclear weapons break down approximately as follows:

    – 50% blast
    – 35% heat
    – 15% radiation

  • fred

    “Well I definitely agree with you there Fred.”

    I’m glad we are in agreement about something.

    In future years a Corbyn led Labour party decided the right thing to do was to re-regulate transport they shouldn’t be put off it because they receive large donations from the owner of a bus company.

  • N_


    He is to become director of cyber-security at the Cabinet Office in London, a field which, he says, “gives me a very nice excuse to continue the collaboration I have worked on during my time in Israel.”

    And the next paragraph:

    If there has been a hallmark of the Gould years, it has been the building up of ever closer relationships between Britain and Israel in science and technology, security, medicine and trade.

    It cannot be proved, but it’s nonetheless true: Google is Israeli controlled“. Don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.

    Check out AMDOCS, DACS boxes, voicemail and Promis for some background.

    (I am not going to answer hasbaranik scumbags on this.)

    Any guesses for what proportion of the adult western population Google knows the location of, to within say 10 metres, at any given time?

    You’ve got to count practically everyone who carries a “smartphone”. Most big “apps” are owned and operated by Google.

    Once upon a time there was a court challenge to Microsoft for using its strength in the operating system sector (Windows) to build up strength selling web browsers (Internet Explorer). Google has had hardly any problems spying on everyone, sending a camera team up everyone’s street (the SAS in Hereford had a bit of a whimper in 2010 but it led nowhere), muscling into mobile phones, national libraries, etc.

    “Smart”phone? Absolute total fuckwit phone, more like!

  • Mary

    Like schoolyard bullies, the gangers up against Jeremy Corbyn multiply.

    The Cabbage Patch doll, Burnham, joins in this morning, following Cooper and Kendall yesterday. Lance Price, the war criminal’s spin doctor, was at it yesterday and last night on Sky News, some creep called Alex Belardinelli, who was Balls’ SPAD joined in. See Medialens Message Board for links and videos.

    •Burnman, Cooper and Kendall … – Today, 10:05 am

    •Watching “The Wright Stuff” on C5 with Matthew Wright calling Corbyn “the bearded left-winger” – Today, 9:58 am

    •The politics of neck-ties: Corbyn, Burnham and Cooper speak – Today, 9:18 am
    ◦Re: The politics of neck-ties: Corbyn, Burnham and Cooper speak – Today, 9:33 am

    •Lance Price, Labour’s former Director of Communications joins in the denunciation of Corbyn…. – Today, 8:20 am ◦
    Re: Lance Price, Labour’s former Director of Communications joins in the denunciation of Corbyn…. – Today, 8:50 am

    •Andy Burnham outlines why voters should pick him over Jeremy Corbyn – Today, 7:30 am

    •Latest Sky Press Preview: further smears & derisions of Corbyn as “too extremist for even Labour… – Today, 6:28 am
    ◦Re: Latest Sky Press Preview: further smears & derisions of Corbyn as “too extremist for even Labour… – Today, 7:35 am
    ◾quite right GR -essentially the thought police at work NOM – Today, 9:07 am

    •newspapers construct reality – hat tip Russell Brand – Today, 6:12 am

    •Now the Mirror reveals its ideological loyalties and endorses Diet Tory Andy Burnham over Corbyn – Today, 5:26 am
    ◦Andy Burnham is a man of principle and integrity?…. – Today, 5:38 am
    ◾Re: Andy Burnham is a man of principle and integrity?…. – Today, 7:43 am

    and so on.

  • Mary

    Jeremy Corbyn launches ‘Standing to Deliver’
    August 14, 2015

    Today (Friday) Jeremy Corbyn has chosen to formally launch his ‘Standing to Deliver’ plan in Glasgow as part of a series of rallies and events in Scotland, coinciding with the dispatch of the Labour leadership ballot papers.

    His plan is being posted to all Labour Party members to arrive as the ballot papers drop early next week.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a fairer and more successful Britain is a mix of his main policy commitments and a set of core values to map out a new direction for Labour.

    His principal commitment is “a new kind of politics: a fairer, kinder Britain based on innovation, decent jobs and decent public services.”

    His ten points that he is standing to deliver are:

    •Growth not austerity – with a national investment bank to help create tomorrow’s jobs and reduce the deficit fairly. Fair taxes for all – let the broadest shoulders bear the biggest burden to balance the books.

    •A lower welfare bill through investment and growth not squeezing the least well-off and cuts to child tax credits.

    •Action on climate change – for the long-term interest of the planet rather than the short-term interests of corporate profits.

    •Public ownership of railways and in the energy sector – privatisation has put profits before people.

    •Decent homes for all in public and private sectors by 2025 through a big housebuilding programme and controlling rents.

    •No more illegal wars, a foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance. Replacing Trident not with a new generation of nuclear weapons but jobs that retain the communities’ skills.

    •Fully-funded NHS, integrated with social care, with an end to privatisation in health.

    •Protection at work – no zero hours contracts, strong collective bargaining to stamp out workplace injustice.

    •Equality for all – a society that accepts no barriers to everyone’s talents and contribution. An end to scapegoating of migrants.
    •A life-long national education service for decent skills and opportunities throughout our lives: universal childcare, abolishing student fees and restoring grants, and funding adult skills training throughout our lives

    Speaking ahead of the launch, Labour leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “I have chosen Scotland to set out the values and policies I’m standing to deliver, on the day the ballot papers are sent out, because Scotland is one of several examples of how Labour has become disconnected.

    “Labour cannot win in Scotland without change; and Labour cannot have a path back to power that fails to speak to Scotland.

    “This plan of the values and ideas I’m standing to deliver are intended to speak to all parts of Britain, not setting one against another as the Tories have done.

    “Combined they are a new kind of politics: a fairer, kinder Britain based on innovation, decent jobs and decent public services.”

  • Ba'al Zevul

    At least she didn’t get away with it.

    She would have done if she hadn’t resigned first. Is Craig a neonazi?

  • fred

    “She would have done if she hadn’t resigned first.”

    Yes she did the decent thing. Some party’s supporters would have just said “but she was exonerated”.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Some party’s supporters would have just said “but she was exonerated

    I think I can see qhat you are oh-so-subtly getting at there, Fred. She was the subject of an enquiry, which exonerated her, but required endorsement after the recess. She didn’t want the hassle hanging over her, so resigned.

    OTOH “some party”s leader awaited the outcome of the enquiry into alleged malpractice, was unequivocally exonerated, and remained. How unprincipled. How utterly nazi. Is Craig a neonazi too?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “He (ie, Mark Regev)may be the Comical Ali of Tel Aviv, but he’s still tied to the Israeli government line,”

    Yes, it’s funny, that – Ambassadors usually are.

    (Cue “but Craig wasn’t”. I know. Hence the word “usually”)

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “Ours in Israel, David Quarrey, has been in place for a month, btw. He … is (married)gay..”


    As indeed is our man in Athens.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    All change. Fatah and the PA used to be the patsies Blair used to facilitate Israel’s facts on the ground. With Abbas reluctant to challenge Israel’s activities, Blair was safe enough talking to him. And boosting some quisling Palestinian businessmen in the Occupied Territories, as well.

    But Blair has recently remembered that talking to all sides offers a splendid opportunity for dividing what he and Israel see as the opposition, and as chair of the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation (prop: Israel) has been holding talks in Qatar with Hamas. And see An Apology.

    With this result:

    Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said that Blair does not hold any official title, “since he was fired by the Quartet.” Qawassmeh accused the Briton of playing a “suspicious role” by trying to forge a long-term truce agreement between Hamas and Israel.

    “Blair is acting as a broker to obstruct matters and we don’t know what his intentions are,” the Fatah spokesman said. He urged Hamas to stop dealing with Blair and halt all negotiations with Israel. The spokesman said that Hamas should coordinate directly with the PLO.

    That’s cuddly old *Judea-Samaria* Fatah speaking, not evil Gaza terrorists Hamas. Wow.

  • N_

    Also if he’s talking about tax avoidance and evasion, could he please specifically mention the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Be specific. Otherwise you just sound like another arsehole politician.

  • Mary

    Janner has just arrived at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Deputy Judge Emma Arbuthnot has not been thwarted in her determination to have him appear in front of the bench. Earlier, she told his Defence counsel to ‘stop messing about’ when attempts were made to move the court to other locations!

    Her husband is James Arbuthnot, the retired NE Hampshire MP, chairman of the Defence Committee and is/was chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

    His opinion on Janner will not be revealed.

  • John Goss

    “Are you not bothered by the fact that cheap, easily exploited labour doesn’t do these immigrants much good, and certainly softens our own jobs market? The investor class loves this sort of thing. Sorry, “just open the flood-gates” is a simplistic solution which creates at least as many problems as it solves – especially for the working class who end up paying for it in numerous ways.”

    Apologies Glenn, I should have responded to this. It does bother me if workers are exploited, wherever that occurs and whatever their nationalities. When you ‘open the floodgates’ as you call it, people will only come here or go elsewhere according to whether the standard of living is sustainable. Take other animals or birds for example. If they cannot find a sustainable environment they move on. I believe in no borders because borders are a man-made obstructions to social integration. If I was in a war-torn country I would want to live elsewhere. Perhaps the reason for people living in war-torn countries needs addressing. Many immigrants in this country do help those left in their native lands by sending money back. We are going to have to beg to differ on this one Glenn.

  • Mary

    Pickles is now the chair of CFoI. A whizzy website and a big set up. Boasting of 2,000 members Even a female to arrange the sponsored trips/inductions to Israhell.

    I thought I was on the BICOM site by mistake.

    Little Chloe Smith Norwich N is on the list of officers.

    Polack is its director.

    What evil here.

    Double role of a top Tory lobbyist
    The head of Conservative Friends of Israel also represents an arms firm
    21 October 2012

    Stuart Polak, with David Cameron and William Hague, lobbied for increased MoD spending on helicopter safety

    Stuart Polak, centre, with David Cameron and William Hague (John R. Rifkin)

    THE director of an influential Conservative party organisation is also a partner in a consultancy that lobbied parliament — successfully — on behalf of a foreign defence company.

    The two roles of Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), have emerged as a result of this newspaper’s exposé last Sunday of “generals for hire”. He denies any impropriety.

    As well as heading CFI, a significant party donor, Polak is a key figure in The Westminster Connection (TWC), a political consultancy.

    Clients of TWC include Elbit Systems, Israel’s defence electronics giant.

    Retired Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, Elbit’s British chairman, boasted of his own and TWC’s role in lobbying MPs on behalf of Elbit when he was secretly taped for last week’s report.

    He claimed that the consultancy could gain access “from the prime minister down”. Applegate was seeking an increase in British spending on helicopter safety, one of Elbit’s specialisms…… paywall

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