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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  • Ba'al Zevul

    Take other animals or birds for example. If they cannot find a sustainable environment they move on.

    …and instantly find themselves in competition to the death for finite resources at their new location. Whether they succeed or not is wholly dependent on the ability of the native population to keep them out.

    We need:
    1.Fewer people everywhere.
    2.Radical action on climate change.
    3.Much greater investment in resolving conflicts, and a refusal to start them.
    4.Much more sustainable lifestyles in the West.

    Failing these, and they’re failing, the road from here on is steeply downhill.

  • MJ

    Corbyn was in Dundee yesterday. As in England and Wales, overflow rooms were needed to accommodate the enthusiastic crowd.

    “Our solidarity does not end at national borders”, he said. “We need to stay together and work together”.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Shouldn’t think so. Buggalugs lives in Wolverhampton and is almost certainly celibate. Kittmer lives in Greece and is openly gay. What have you got against him, Mary?

  • Here's what the Tories are

    @Fwlster

    In the 30’s it was considered fashionable to be left wing and down right stupid or nouveaux to be right wing

    In 2015, the small number of people I know who are either rich or from rich backgrounds, and who are not nouveau, view the Tories as despicable amoral spiv arsewipes.

    Not stupid, just despicable amoral spiv arsewipes.

    They’re right.

  • N_

    Scottish general election, 2016.

    Cue Labour landslide and SNP wipeout?

    Then they brush Corbyn out of the action before 2020? Push him down some steps or make his beard fall out or something?

  • N_

    It’s going to be interesting if some of the enthusiasm of those who backed YES in the indyref gets transferred to the Labour party, which in Scottish terms is not nationalist.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Mary
    14/08/2015 2:14pm

    Really? I’ve met James Arbuthnot in his capacity as MP. Very pleasant man, face to face. One day I will talk about the circumstances, as it is quite a story.

    His wife might have been with him at the time. Very forceful woman if so. Perhaps it was his secretary though.

    Kind regards,

    John

  • Republicofscotland

    “It’s going to be interesting if some of the enthusiasm of those who backed YES in the indyref gets transferred to the Labour party, which in Scottish terms is not nationalist.”
    ______________

    Thankfully the Ken and Kezia comedy duo are about as exciting and inspiring as, trigonometry on a wet Tuesday afternoon.

    Once Corbynmania blows over in Scotland, it will hopefully be business as usual.

  • Mary

    Friday, 14 August 2015

    Time to boycott and exit the Guardian

    Political and media pundits are often fond of the term ‘tipping point’. Well, maybe we’ve reached a very important one with regard to withdrawal of support for the Guardian. With its intense efforts to prevent Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership contest taking it to a new gutter level, isn’t it time to respond accordingly?

    As documented by Media Lens (see here and here), readers have been bombarded for weeks now by leading columnists like Polly Toynbee, Martin Kettle and Andrew Rawnsley, using every kind of loaded appeal and patronising warning to reject Corbyn.

    Crucially, that assault been backed up by a cosy circle of ‘political correspondents’, Patrick Wintour, Rowena Mason, Nicholas Watt and Andrew Sparrow, assisted, as ever, by the ‘fatherly’ Michael White, churning out every kind of slanted and negative ‘news’ angle on Corbyn’s campaign.

    The ‘stop Corbyn’ message has also now been openly confirmed by the paper’s editorial endorsement of Yvette Cooper. The tortured leader piece starts from a patronising ‘recognition’ of the Corbyn phenomenon:

    /..
    http://johnhilley.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/time-to-boycott-and-exit-guardian.html

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The World at One had an ‘expert’ Prof Martin Atkins to talk about the chemicals involved in the explosions. He said sodium metal was the main constituent.

    Must have been a hell of a lot of it, and in powder form (it’s normally stored under oil, which could account for the smoke colour and a fuel-air explosion, I suppose). My money’s on old, hot, badly stored butanone forming peroxides. That goes off without warning.

  • MJ

    “Once Corbynmania blows over in Scotland, it will hopefully be business as usual”

    If Corbyn wins the leadership it will indeed be business as usual, with the SNP eventually reduced to about 5 MPs in Westminster. Incidentally, enthusiasm for Corbyn is not a form of madness.

  • fred

    “Then they brush Corbyn out of the action before 2020? Push him down some steps or make his beard fall out or something?”

    He’s 66 now, he’ll be 71 in 2020.

    We’ve never had a Prime Minister starting a term of office that old, eldest was 70 in 1855.

  • Republicofscotland

    A retired High Court Judge has given evidence on behalf of a man who is on trial for raping a 13-year-old girl.

    Baroness Butler-Sloss told Exeter Crown Court she had 34 years experience of dealing with child abuse cases.

    She gave character evidence on behalf of Philip Chard, 44, on trial for rape and sexual abuse of the girl.

    The baroness was appointed in July 2014 to lead an inquiry into allegations of historical child abuse but stood down before the inquiry started.

    Butler-Sloss just can’t help herself, when it comes to defending the indefensible.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-33914740

  • MJ

    “Time to boycott and exit the Guardian”

    A lot of people boycotted and exited the Guardian years ago.

  • glenn

    @John Goss: “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.

    No need for apologies – nobody’s obliged to respond to anything. I’m trying to think this situation through myself, which is why I’d like some discussion on it.

    Quite – the reason some are fleeing their own countries is almost entirely our fault, we created anarchy when we destroyed their government. Not all migrants are refugees, of course. Despite all this “Broken Britain” talk, there are vast proportions of the world that would prefer life here than wherever they happen to be at the moment – quite understandably. Make it a simple case of “Welcome aboard!” and huge numbers are going to be arriving, right up until Britain really is broken, and other places start looking more attractive.

    Having people forced to go abroad to send money back doesn’t help our economy much either (although it will help keep inflation down somewhat), and does little for family life.

    Certainly, we can disagree, but we can probably gain a better understanding of the situation by giving it some thought, instead of just denouncing our own country for trying to enforce the law as it stands. “All aboard!” is simply not practical, and a limit would have to be imposed at some point – I wonder what you think that point might be.

  • Republicofscotland

    “If Corbyn wins the leadership it will indeed be business as usual, with the SNP eventually reduced to about 5 MPs in Westminster. Incidentally, enthusiasm for Corbyn is not a form of madness.”
    ________________

    MJ, as I stated on several occasions and on this thread I hope Corbyn does well down south, he seems to have stoic character, that people can relate to.

    However in Scotland the two stooges Ken and Kezia have about as much charisma as a turd in a swimming pool, both are completely devoid of endearing qualities, and the polls reflect that.

  • N_

    [ Mod: Stuck in spam queue, timestamp updated from 13:12 –> 16:00 ]
    —-

    Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 points contain a lot of waffle

    One example: “A lower welfare bill through investment and growth not squeezing the least well-off and cuts to child tax credits” I’d prefer welfare spending to increase – so that for starters nobody would have to rely on food “banks” and “payday loans”. Seriously, who does he think will be scared off if he says that? The CBI?

    Another: the absolutely meaningless “Equality for all“.

    Get an editor, mate!

    But I like these points (which I have rewritten into English):

    – renationalise rail

    – renationalise energy

    – build council houses

    – control rents

    – unilateral nuclear disarmament (I think that’s what he’s saying, and he should add “don’t allow foreign nukes here either”)

    – reverse health privatisation (is that what he’s saying?)

    – abolish student fees and restore grants (good, but what about housing benefit?)

  • Republicofscotland

    The knives are out for Corbyn no matter how old they are.

    Jeremy Corbyn, a Parliament member who is on track to become the head of Britain’s Labor Party, wrote a letter in support of a priest who claimed that Israel and wealthy Jews were behind the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

    Corbyn defended Rev. Stephen Sizer, who in February posted an article on Facebook blaming Israel for the attack on the New York landmark, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

    In a letter to Anglican Church leaders after they decided to ban Sizer from using the Internet for six months, Corbyn wrote in February that Sizer was unfairly “under attack by certain individuals intent on discrediting the excellent work [he] does in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian Israeli situation.”

    Corbyn has surprised many by leading in the race for Labor chief in polls of party members this summer.

    http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/319084/british-labor-leader-backed-pastor-who-blamed-9-11-on-israel/?utm_content=daily_Newsletter_BreakingNews_Position-1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Daily%202015-08-13&utm_term=The%20Forwa

    I wonder if that old reprobate Habb was one of the individuals who attacked him.

  • MJ

    “I hope Corbyn does well down south”

    I hope he does well in the north, east and west also.

    “in Scotland the two stooges Ken and Kezia”

    Who?

  • RobG

    Janner’s brief appearance in court today was a wonder to behold. I don’t believe it was caught on film, but from what eyewitnesses have said, Janner and his handlers should be nominated for an Oscar.

    Janner’s lawyers have been arguing for the last few days that he wasn’t well enough to appear in court. The magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, threatened to have Janner arrested if he didn’t appear. This is major stuff, albeit from a minor figure in the legal hierarchy.

    What with the recent Ben Fellows trial, in which Fellows was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice (with his allegations against Kenneth Clarke), and all the Ted Heath stuff that’s surfaced in recent weeks (despite the fact that police investigations into Ted Heath started more than ten months ago), I believe it shows a major shift happening within the police and judiciary. They’re finally going after these scumbags.

    And of course they’ll also go after those who have been involved in the massive cover-up of the aforementioned scumbags.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/14/lord-janner-makes-first-court-appearance-over-child-sex-abuse-claims

  • John Goss

    “Certainly, we can disagree, but we can probably gain a better understanding of the situation by giving it some thought, instead of just denouncing our own country for trying to enforce the law as it stands. “All aboard!” is simply not practical, and a limit would have to be imposed at some point – I wonder what you think that point might be.”

    I wasn’t proposing that the UK alone had no border policy. One of the good, even great things that happened, when Europe became Europe was all those border crossings that were so painful previously due to long queues which subsequently disappeared. It was great. I felt European.

  • nevermind

    now which one reacts most violently when doused in water, Ba’al?

    Apparently the main damage was done once the fire brigade tried to extinguish the first fire.

    Once again, my offer stands, A pint of your best ale in the comfort of your house/local pub in exchange for any technical/personal/ logistical data on Habbakuk.

  • YouKnowMyName

    The French news today was speaking of Calcium Carbide [CaC2] and around 700 tons of Sodium cyanide [NaCN] being involved in the Chinese deflagration. The carbide, as any spelunker knows, produces Ethyne gas [Acetylene C2H2] when wet. (Carbide can be used in the fruit ripening process)

    The acetylene could have given the enormous bang when the first-responders tried to extinguish the first small fire, and the particulate cyanide would explain why CBRN chem-weapon teams are assisting

    Not nice!.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    “I don’t think anyone who hasn’t lived through those years can understand how different they were from the hopelessly divided and aimless Britain of today. Certainly men and women were dying abroad and in the Blitz, but there was an extraordinary feeling of unity, a common aim which was not only to win the war but to create a juster society after it was over. Now no one can talk of a juster society without being first asked how much it is going to cost and then greeted with almost universal derision.”

    John Mortiner, Murderers and Other Friends, 1994

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