A Woodworm Off the Old Block 230

I used to discuss foreign affairs with Tony Benn over tea in his kitchen in Holland Park when I lived a short walk away. I get a mention in his later published diaries in this regard. I was therefore saddened to hear his son, Hilary, at Labour Party Conference today align himself with the establishment in a way much more in tune with their aristocratic ancestors.

Benn was sending out neo-con friendly signals like there was no tomorrow. The first came from the very start, when he paid unnecessary and fulsome tribute to the really horrible wee Dougie Alexander who had “served his constituents extremely well”. That really was a pathetic lie. Wee Dougie paid no attention whatsoever to his constituents and took them entirely for granted. Labour’s lack in Scotland of any foundation in the people was what made it so easy for us to topple the Labour monolith.

Benn went on to advocate the “Responsibility to Protect”, the Blairite code for supporting United States military and especially bombing missions abroad. The thesis that Western bombing improves and stabilises countries appears tested well beyond destruction, but the neo-cons stick with it because of the corporate interests it does so much to boost.

Benn disgracefully then called in the body of little Alayn in argument for bombing Syria. He even noted that Alayn had fled Kobani, which “the BBC had reported as almost completely destroyed”, without mentioning – as the BBC did not mention – that some of that destruction had been caused by repeated American bombings of Kobani.

I am sorry that Tony’s son turned out to be a vicious, warmongering, lying, neo-con bastard.

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230 thoughts on “A Woodworm Off the Old Block

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  • Mary

    Macky I know he’s a hero to many.

    Over 400 people had signed this letter.

    Letter to UN and UK Attorney General

    On 7th December 2005 Tony Benn and forty three others, including Rose Gentle, Reg Keys, Harold Pinter, and Michael Mansfield QC, sent a letter to The UN and to the UK Attorney General asking them to investigate breaches of The Nuremberg Charter and Geneva and Hague Conventions during the Iraq War, and to bring those responsible to account. The UK is obliged as a Signatory to The Conventions to investigate these charges. STOP THE WAR asks you to join as supplementary signatories by e-mail, or post. We want these signatures to be without end or time limit, and, as citizens of the UK, to make it clear, that the Attorney General must fulfill his obligations. Alternatively we risk these Conventions being torn up, and in the words of Harold Pinter, we will have “torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder”, without cease. We want to restore dignity, and humanity to our country, not the rule of Abu Ghraib, the dog lead, and Fallujah.

    If you agree with the Tony Benn Submission which follows, can you please send your name to the Stop The War e-mail site (office at stopwar.org.uk), or by post to Stop The War, 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP, where it will be recorded and passed to the UN and Attorney General.


    This is what he said in his diary on Friday 13 January 2006:

    ‘Lindsey German and Nicholas Wood came to see me about the next stage in the campaign on the war crime question, about how we could advance the cause of the letter. There’s been no coverage in the press, although Kofi Annan has replied. We went on to discuss the whole question really of whether we were demanding a war crimes tribunal.

    My view is that you shouldn’t do that. I think it’s a complete waste of effort trying to put Blair and Bush on trial : (a) it won’t happen; (b) it’s so negative: ( c) it’s all about personalities.’


    And I believe he did telephone canvassing for BLiar in 2005.

    Where were his principles then?

  • Mary

    The excellent Robert Stuart continues in his quest for truth.

    Ofcom rules on RT “napalm bomb” programme
    27 September 2015

    Ofcom has ruled that a March 2014 RT programme which included allegations that scenes in the 2013 BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria’s Children were fabricated breaches the regulator’s broadcasting code.

    The RT programme in question – The Truthseeker: “Media ‘Staged’ Syria Chem Attack” – is here.

    Ofcom’s decision is here (pp 22 – 49).

    The website OffGuardian notes some “rather important caveats” in Ofcom’s finding:

    ..Ofcom does not regulate BBC licence fee funded services in respect of accuracy and impartiality and Ofcom has not undertaken an assessment of the accuracy and/or impartiality of the BBC Programmes in reaching this Decision….” – OfCom’s Broadcast Bulletin p. 33 fn.11

    …Ofcom is not a fact finding tribunal and is not able or empowered, therefore, to establish the truth or otherwise of such allegations and to make findings of fact. Accordingly, it was not possible or appropriate for Ofcom to attempt to prove or disprove the allegations made [by RT] about the BBC in the Programme. Similarly, Ofcom had no statutory jurisdiction to assess the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC Programmes. Rather, our concern in this case was solely whether, taking account of Section Seven of the Code, the Programme had resulted in unfairness to the BBC. – op. cit p. 115


  • Micah (Habbabkuk's alter ego)

    Mary / Macky

    The following extract from Mr Benn’s diary:

    “My view is that you shouldn’t do that. I think it’s a complete waste of effort trying to put Blair and Bush on trial : (a) it won’t happen;”

    seems to me to be a surprising sign that Mr Benn was capable of the occasional realistic judgement.

    Would that many of his other actions, views and judgements had been similarly realistic!

  • Ba'al Zevul

    She is also owned by Victor Pinchuk,I wonder which piece he has? Top half or bottom half ?

    The threesome is unimaginable.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Big prize offered to anyone who can cite an occasion when Ofcom acted in the interests of the consumer rather than the industry it is supposed to be regulating.

    Ditto Ofgem.

    Ditto Ofwat.

  • Macky

    Mary; “Where were his principles then?”

    With the examples you cite, you are ironically highlighting his principle of refusing to engage in personal attacks, which was always the thing that I felt was a self-defeating handicap that always greatly held him back; there are times when you need to fight fire with fire, and with some honest calling out people for what they are.

    Is it really rational to disregard the value of a life time of selfless campaigning for the common good, simply because somebody wasn’t 100% flawless ?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    29/09/2015 12:55pm

    I’d like to back Mary up on this. Robert Stuart is remarkable in his tenacity on this subject. I don’t really claim to know where the truth lies, but he is an exemplar to all activists in his persistence and refusal to be fobbed off.

    Reporter Ian Pannell claimed in News at Ten on 29th August 2013 that the Aleppo bombing occurred on Monday, 26th August 2013, transmitting harrowing footage of the incident captured by his cameraman Darren Conway. The footage underlined claims that the Syrian government was willing to use incendiary weapons against its own citizenry. This reporting took place at the precise time that the House of Commons was waiting to vote on the Government’s motion calling for military intervention in Syria.

    Still photographs of the incident, some used by other media to call attention to the subsequent Panorama programme of 30th September 2013, were uploaded on the Demotix photojournalism website dated 25th August 2013, one day earlier than the alleged date of Aleppo. When Robert Stuart pointed this discrepancy out to the BBC, Ian Pannell’s official BBC response was to deny that the photos related to the same incident. The date of the Demotix photos was then changed to 26th August 2013. After that, the BBC suddenly discovered that the photos did in fact relate to the Aleppo incident after all. Then they asked Mr Stuart to supply evidence that the photographs in fact related to 25th August 2013, if he had any. I kid you not. All this is documented on Mr Stuart’s website, along with much more evidence of hopping on alternate feet by the BBC, such as fabricated translations, substituted footage, etc. – go and see for yourself.

    The footage and photographs are in fact terrible to look at and it is hard to maintain objectivity in the face of such tragic and emotive material. It is to Mr Stuart’s credit that he has continued to require explanations for the discrepancies he has uncovered. This story is not over yet.


    Kind regards,


  • deepgreenpuddock

    I want to reply to Mary’s post on tony Blair and the Stop the war campaign.
    First of all let me make clear that I am completely convinced that laws were broken by Blair and others in the British government. I also have not particular sympathy towards Tony Benn, although I do remember a comment from a senior civil servant many years ago that the best minister he had come across in terms of diligence, actually being available, and and trying to achieve results based on policy was Tony Benn. This was after the end of the Callaghan government.
    Anyway, I have to say that I agree with tony benn vis a vis a prosecution of Tony Blair.
    He s right in saying that a prosecution just would not happen. For many reasons but primarily for the technical ones related to bringing any prosecution i.e. the development of sufficient evidence. I am certain that tony blair has not left a traceable paper trail or record of his actions except in the most general sense. He was simply too good an executive and lawyer to be so remiss.
    Partly related to the above, many aspects of the process of governance and especially in matters of war, it is accepted that the final decision is in the gift of the highest elected individual. That is actually his purpose -to make difficult judgements on matters that are not entirely predictable.
    Although it would be ‘incompetent’ not to seek additional opinion and enter discussions with a wide range of qualified individuals it would probably not be treasonable or contrary to the legal principles that relate to the processes of being the prime minister.

    The other aspect of this is that provided he has not acted treasonably it is accepted by a wide range of people that many activities of government require behaviour that involves stretching and bending truth and providing a rhetorical narrative that satisfies public opinion. What has changed recently is the availability of information and the testimony of witnesses, not the principle of a final arbiter making his or her own decision ( i.e. not following a consensus)

    The other aspect of this is that a trial-in the extremely unlikely event of it going ahead -would have poleaxed the government of this country and possibly undermined the general processes of government, perhaps even making practical administration impossible, stalling countless essential projects, policies and processes. the knock-on effect of a stalled political system, regardless of its deficiencies, would potentially be economically catastrophic.
    OK you may counter that ‘administrative activities’ would have continued, but it is a hell of a risk to take. The reason is that, by prosecuting the highest authority in the country, it would mean that the whole notion of prime ministership and cabinet government would be undermined.No-one would be prepared to submit to the risk of being prosecuted for decisions made in good faith.(yes you can say ‘not in good faith’ bit you can never prove that).
    I am reasonably sure that Tony Blair made the judgement that to separate the country from the actions of the US government-even if these are of questionable quality, would have not been in the interests of this country and he was probably right in that respect The US is overwhelmingly the most powerful country in the world and the alliance with the US is critical in many ways-in many ways that are deeply uncomfortable. i suspect that the alliance is not just on strategic and military matters but in many other economic and financial ways. I am pretty sure thare are means to place the UK in great economic difficulty in the event of non-compliance. The UK is an unquestioned junior partner.

    Although we can be angry and frustrated at the behaviour of politicians the reality s that they are essentially impregnable except for the most gross and overt misconduct.
    as for the ‘personalities’- it is the same old problem that we hear so much about in relation to Corbyn. It s about ‘staying in the game’. Canvassing for blair makes some sense because it keeps you in the game,especially then.
    Of course the situation has changed.
    Blairism has been deeply undermined by the erosion of support, and the defections to SNP UKIP and Greens since then and Jeremy Corbyn may yet change the game even more to our satisfaction but even Jeremy is concerned to ‘remain in the game’, otherwise he would have simply have joined the Greens or tried to form another party or whatever.
    i guess we are somehwat stuck with the current status quo. there is the possibility of movement over the next few years towards something that is more recognisable as democratic but it will require many incremental changes before we can detect much difference.
    I see no reason to criticise Tony Benn’s principles or his judgement.

  • Mary

    Each man to his own.

    Why did he sign that letter in the first place seems to be the obvious question?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    29/09/2015 1:51pm

    I’m going to put this as briefly as I can.

    If Tony Blair felt that it was in the interests of the UK to ally itself with the US in attacking the Saddam Hussein administration and bringing about regime change in Iraq, then he should have said so. He should have stood up and told us all the truth.

    Instead, he gave the House of Commons, which means he gave me, and you, through our representatives in Parliament, a lot of bullshit about weapons of mass destruction, which he knew was bullshit. It wasn’t his business to do that. It was his business to tell the people he represented the truth, and let them decide, take it or leave it.

    He took you, and me, and every other citizen of this country, for mugs, because he thought he knew better. In doing so, he allied himself with the US in a crime of aggression, because Iraq was no danger to the US or the UK.

    That’s what he needs, ultimately, to account for. And even if it proves impossible, that’s no reason not to try to get him to account for what he did.

    Kind regards,


  • deepgreenpuddock

    thanks for putting the point.I pretty much agree. I too am convinced that we were treated as fools/duped and fed a load of bullshit by Blair and his cronies. I think there is a very good question in your comment. I have often asked myself the same one. Why did he not just come clean and state the case. Well I think they must have judged that public opinion would not have been amenable to a bald statement of the truth. We hold on grimly to our idea of ‘independence’ and national agency but the reality is that our ‘independent’ pound has been in a close technical relationship with the dollar for many years, and our military and defence systems are closely linked with the Americans.
    It isd well known that the Trident system cannot be deployed without a senior american input. However we are still fed the idea of our Trident fleet being able to respond independently in the event of some crisis.In reality the British missiles would not be deployed if it was not to the convenience of the US. However I wonder how many people want to swallow that. If he’d been seen to capitulate as a very junior partner to the USA-I think it would have cost electorally and even if the Tories had known the truth about the Blair position they would have worked it to their great advantage. There may be other reasons of course. Primarily, I think the situation where Saddam was doing cut price deals with other places. Was Chirac not up to his neck in dealing in oil with Saddam/or at least turning a blind eye to French entrepreneurs? So he I think it more likely that that was the reason for Bush junior saying it was unfinished business from the his daddy;s 1st gulf war. That must have seemed intolerable. I remember Blair saying ‘it isn’t the oil’ but that is easily countered by saying- why on earth would a country such as ours NOT take account of the effect on oil supply and price. It would be madness to just invade a country without giving great thought to the effect on the single most important commodity in the world.
    so to answer your question: : the deception was necessary to 1. preserve the mystique or sense of national significance /dignity
    2. Avoid the appearance of pursuing commercial gain through an offensive war,which would have triggered a huge response, both at home(even bigger than the response to the deception) and within the United Nations.
    Wars are always traced back to resources and power but they are always proposed to the pub lic as essential for our defence. People will agree to that, or can be deceived into agreeing to it.

  • Ken2

    That’s what a £800,000 legacy does to you. The instinct to protect it. Jr Benn did pay the Inheritance tax. Benn was no friend to Scotland, that good old hypocrite Socialist. Buried the McCrone Report for thirty years .Kept the subsidised myth going while secretly and illegally off shoring the equivalent of £Billions to be spent in LondonS/E on Tilbury Docks, Canary Wharf and the pozzi banking sector. Thatcher left over 3Million unemployed and interest rates at 15%. Scorched earth Scotland. Illegal Wars, tax evasion and banking fraud. Creating £1.5Trillion of debt. Changed the sea boundaries just before Devolution and kept Faslane going 30 mins from Glasgow. Like father like son.

    Any major catastrophe will happen miles from their address in London S/E but they will still get the blow out. ‘Press the button’ , the button will be gone. There will be no time to make the phone call. Even the Military and the Americans don’t support it. McMillan had no business siting it there in the first place without
    any consultation. It was going to be sited at Fort William but the US didn’t agree. Scotland wants it as a Navy base as there are no ships to protect the coast. The defence is trawlers/fishing boats on Facebook/twitter. The RAF were criss crossing over Scotland recently trying to stimulate the Rusian in International air space.

    Just when there was talk of talks to make a difference in Syria/region. Russia piles in. Why do politicians, the Military and other folk keep on doing the same thing over and over an over, when it doesn’t work. Trade and give Aid, do not invade but try and help desperate people. The monies would be better spent.

    Mr Benn and the Unions are suitable deluded about the Union. Stuck in a reactionary out of date rhetoric
    when everyone has moved on. They don’t want the Nuke base at Plymouth or the Thames. Why not, if it makes them ‘safer’ The only thing they don’t want out of Scotland. Starving and sanctioning the vulnerable is the official UK policy. Instead of less austerity which is driving the economy down.

    Why has Cameron run off to Jamaica and the Caribbean. The first sign of a quitter. Travel the world to try and deflect when their is trouble at the coal face. Porkie lie face. Pig sick with embarrassment. Get on the expenses s wine trail. To escape the pig tale.

  • Ken2

    How can the BOE be Independent when the Chancellor(appoints) pays his wages and decides the fringe benefits. The ‘piper calls the tune’. The Chancellor doesn’t have to take the advice. Gordon Brown was delusional. Eddie George etc gave the advice but the Chancellior ignored it. The Banking sector was not regulated properly. Thatcher demutualised the BuildingSociety owned by their members,allowing the Banks (the Tory Party backers) to take them over.The pozzi scheme started funded by the Mortgage books the Banks had acquired. The Bank of England is printing money at the Chancellor’s request. Driving down living standards especially for the vulnerable. Add in illegal wars, tax evasion and banking fraud. The Laws not being enforced by Westminster and you get £1.5Trillion of debt. It has increased since the Tories cartoon power. Labour were raising £600Billiin in taxes in the UK and borrowing £150Billion a year = £750Billion.

    The Tories have cut taxes. The Tories raise £466Billion in taxes and are borrowing £90Billion a year = £556Billion. They are not raising enough in the rest of the UK to pay for essential public services – NHS/Education and pay off the debt. The debt has increased from £1.Billion to £1.5Billion. They have taken monies from the vulnerable (£1000 a year) and given the wealthy (them) tax cuts. (Millions a year).

    Sciotland raises £54Billion+ but only gets £50Billion- back, (covers all Scottish expenditure – (UK) pensions/benefits) under Westminster spending plans. Scotland could raise more and spend less by a tax on ‘loss leading’ drink. No illegal wars, no Trident, an Naval base at Faslane, no £4Billion loss to
    Westminster. This would grow the economy. . Scitland would be £10Billion better off in surplus which could eradicate poverty and be better spent on social care/education/NHS which would create and stimulate the economy.

    The Oil sector is still being taxed at 55% despite the Oil price falling. That is why people are losing their jobs. If the tax was reduced there would be no job losses. The Oil sector was taxed at 70% when the Tories came to power. The ConDems increased it 11% in the 2011 Budget. 80%. The Oil companies stopped exploration (drilling holes). Scotland lost £4Billion a year. (£16Billion in total). The Oil price has nearly halved but the tax has remained higher. If the Oil price has lowered, the tax should drop simultaneously. Ie it should work in unison. The tax should be 30/35%. Workers would not be losing their jobs. Thousands of jobs have gone. The Unions are a waste of time. The Union leaders often collude with the bosses/ employers/government against the members interest. There is a history of it. Line their pockets with large remunerations.

    Helicopters falling from the skies. UK Health and safety guideline/Laws not being followed. The UK Gov Transport minister refused to hold an Inquiry, despite the recommendation of the UK gov Transport Commitee. The Helicopter firm sold out, privately, 2 years later for £250Million.

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