Why are the Metropolitan Police not feeling Tory Lord Sebastian Coe’s collar and trawling his hard drives? I blogged recently about his involvement in awarding the World Athletics Championships without a vote to the hometown of his long term paymasters and sponsors, Nike. Plus the £12 million his promotions company made from VIP hospitality packages for the Olympics, the VIP tickets for which were allocated by the Organising Committee of which he was the £600,000 pa chairman.
Now we have this, from the person Coe works closest with in the IAAF and who he has now promoted to head the President’s office since Coe assumed that title:
« Dear Papa,
Following our discussion earlier I have already had some thoughts and believe that we need to do the following, in the strict confidence and control within a small circle of senior IAAF staff only. This must be very secret.
4. Finally, as soon as possible, and ‘unofficially’ PR campaign to ensure that we avoid international media scandals related to the Moscow Championships especially in the British press, where the worst of the articles is coming from. This will require specialist PR skills (working only with me directly) from London, but I believe that if we consider using CSM we can also benefit from Seb’s political influence in the UK. It is in his personal interest to ensure that the Moscow World Champs is a success and that people do not think that the media of his own country are trying to destroy it. We can work extremely hard in stopping any planed ‘attack’ on Russia from the British press in the coming weeks.
5. Finally, I need to be able to sit down with the Anti-doping department and understand exactly what Russian ‘skeleton’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping. I think that the time to have unveiled the various athletes was a long time ago and that now we need to be smart. These athletes, of course, should NOT be part of any Russian team for these World Championships and Valentin should be pressurised to make sure this is the case. If the guilty ones are not competing then we might as well wait until the event is over to announce them. Or we announce one or two BUT AT THE SAME TIME as athletes from other countries. Also we can prepare a special dossier on IAAF testing which will show that one of the reasons why these Russian athletes come up positive is that they get tested a lot !!! In the same way, we can make the point that the WADA laboratory is the responsibility of WADA not IAAF and that if WADA decides there really is a problem, we have a plan B to do the tests in Lausanne instead (Gabriel confirmed this to me yesterday).
Papa, as soon as I have an idea of the price of this unofficial PR campaign I will let you know, but I will do everything in my power to protect the IAAF and the President.
All the best Nick »
So what does the Establishment now wish us to believe?
a) As long-term Vice President of the IAAF, Coe had no idea the organisation was massively corrupt and the President was taking huge bribes to cover-up doping scandals.
b) Coe had no idea his close associate and now head of his office Nick Davies was writing to the son of the President proposing that Coe’s company and Coe’s “political influence” be used to keep doping scandals out of the British media.
c) Coe’s meeting, while Vice President of the IAAF, with executives of his sponsor Nike, to discuss awarding the World Athletics Championships to Eugene, had no bearing at all on the decision of the President of IAAF to award the games to Eugene without a vote.
All that is even less convincing than Sepp Blatter’s declarations of innocence. Yet there is an utter difference in the British media’s treatment of Blatter and of “Lord” Coe.
I have been in Cruden Bay the last few days, where Nadira had been for some time shooting a film she has both written and produced. It is a short drama, a harrowing tale of torture victims who have applied for political asylum in the UK and are now in immigration detention on the “fast track”. The script is based on numerous interviews with genuine torture victims, refugees, lawyers, NGOs and policemen. One of the things the film does is highlight the work of Medical Justice, who do quite amazing work.
The film now enters post-production and I will keep you informed.
It was a bit weird to be in Peterhead in December enjoying the warm breeze. I recall some years ago wondering whether the effects of climate change would really become indisputable during my lifetime. I think I have my answer.
The last thread on the SNP caused a very interesting debate, before it eventually declined into the usual suspects banging on about Freemasons etc. I took from those comments this contribution from Peter A Bell, which is quite thoughtful, apart from the lazy device of starting by stating an argument I had not actually made and then attributing it to me and characterising it as ludicrous. The rest is worth engaging with though, and when I get recovered a bit I shall engage with it. Meantime, fill your boots.
Of all the ridiculous conspiracy theories that roil in the minds of those with a taste for such nonsense few are more ludicrous than the notion that the Scottish National Party is actively engaged in thwarting the aspirations of those who would see Scotland’s rightful constitutional status restored. A pleasing reverie might be one in which these conspiracy theorists are locked in a room with those who just as fervently insist that the SNP is obsessively focused on the constitutional question to the exclusion of all else – there to beat the folly out of one another with rolled-up copies of their comic-book version of the world.
Reality comprises the grey-scale vastness between these two simplistic extremes.
Here is the news! The campaign for independence can proceed in a variety of ways. Some of those ways are more subtle than a chant of, “What do we want? Independence! When do we want it? NOW!”. The independence campaign was undoubtedly much more fun when it was such a distant prospect that we didn’t have to concern ourselves to much about the niceties of the process of becoming independent. It was all so easy when independence was below a far horizon and it was sufficient that we were headed in the right general direction. It’s all got al lot more complicated now that we are close enough for small course correction to matter.
Almost as laughable as the notion of the SNP having abandoned its commitment to independence is the idea that, having successfully navigated to within sight of our destination, we should now start questioning the party’s suitability for the task of completing the journey. Not that anybody has any sensible suggestions as to who might take up the role at this late date. Apparently, we must doubt the SNP simply because we can.
It’s all too easy to imagine Craig Murray as part of a committee inspecting the almost completed artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and debating whether Michelangelo is the right man to finish the job. After all, he doesn’t seem as excited about the job as he was four years ago, talking more now about the practicalities of the task rather than the grand vision. There’s bound to be some enthusiastic youngsters who are itching to have a go!
The practicalities of becoming independent matter. They matter in a way that they didn’t really when I first engaged with the independence campaign half a century ago. The world has moved on. Things have changed. Not the least of these changes is that the British establishment is now engaged with the campaign as well. We are no longer just fighting for something. We are fighting against a massively powerful force utterly determined to preserve its power and status.
The ground on which the constitutional battle is being fought has also changed. In many ways, to the advantage of the independence campaign. Tactics must be adjusted accordingly. Never losing sight of the fact that the battle has to be won within the territory of the British political system. We need to fight clever every bit as much as we need to fight hard.
That is what the SNP is doing. It is fighting clever. Within the context of the British political system, size matters. Electoral clout is important. A massive mandate is a mighty weapon. The SNP must work to gain and hold this mandate in both the Holyrood and the Westminster arenas. It has a dual role as both the party of government and the political arm of the independence movement. It has to succeed in both roles. More than that. It has to succeed on a grand scale. If it is to be the lever which prises the millstone of the British state off Scotland’s back, the SNP needs exceptional political power. The kind of power which, to be perfectly frank, we would be sensibly cautious about handing to any political party. Needs must when necessity drives.
We have to put our trust in the SNP for the simple reason that there is nobody else. The people of Scotland have, by the exercise of their democratic power, chosen the SNP as their agents. There is unprecedented agreement that the SNP is best placed to defend and advance Scotland’s interests. There is not the same consensus about what those interests are. The party must seek to satisfy both those who are committed to independence and those who are not yet persuaded, even though they are happy to accept the party in its administrative role. There is no other party in a position to do this. Quite simply, there is no path to independence on any reasonable time-scale which does not have the SNP taking a lead role.
Once we reconcile ourselves to this hard fact of realpolitik, we start to see the SNP’s manoeuvrings in a different light. If the SNP group at Westminster appears to be “settling in”, maybe it’s because that’s how they have to appear in order to be effective. Bear in mind that they are struggling against the Westminster elite’s quite blatant efforts to sideline and exclude them. Vociferous protests and flashmob-style walk-outs might be great theatre. But does this not simply play into the narrative that the unionist parties and their friends in the media want to create?
As the Scottish Parliament elections loom, is it not appropriate for the SNP to be talking about the reasons voters should continue to trust them to run the country, rather than conforming to the unionist caricature of a single-issue protest party?
If the SNP isn’t saying much about a second independence referendum is that not because that particular ball is now at our feet? Has Nicola Sturgeon not made it abundantly clear that she wants the campaign for another referendum to be lead by the people rather than the politicians?
There is more than a bit of intellectual posturing about sniping at the SNP for supposedly abandoning the fight for independence. The party may not be perfect. But there is no rational reason to doubt its commitment to bringing Scotland’s government home. The lack of any justification makes this look like criticism for its own sake. I have to ask, what’s the point?
I was watching This Week on the BBC last night, and Andrew Neil teased John Nicolson that the SNP had given up campaigning for Independence, and never mentioned it any more. I have known John since student days, and much respect him. He is a very professional man and put in a very professional performance on the show. He can be relied on, despite his arch asides, to follow a party line.
How did John reply to the charge that the SNP had stopped campaigning for Independence? Did he reply, “No Andrew, we remain fully committed to the goal of Independence and that is our number one priority.”?
He said “we have to respect the decision of the electorate”, a line taken straight from Nicola Sturgeon.
The problem with this is that it is exactly the Blairite line. Liz Kendall argued in effect that the electorate voted Tory, so Labour have to be Red Tories to respect the electorate.
It is a trite phrase. Nobody would argue you should disrespect the electorate. But it then elides into a distortion. To respect the verdict of the electorate means to accept your loss on this occasion and the processes of the state proceed on that basis, without any attempt to subvert the democratic decision. It does NOT mean the losing side had to change its beliefs, go quiet, or stop campaigning ready for the next time.
Since the referendum I have spoken on many stages in favour of Independence across Scotland, under the aegis of a whole variety of organisations only a minority of which are anathema to the SNP. Yet it occurs to me that of all the distinguished people I have shared platforms with, I have not witnessed a single one of the SNP’s MPs argue for Independence. To my certain knowledge they have declined many invitations to do so.
The SNP instead is setting out its stall as a kinder and more efficient manager of the governmental institutions of Scotland within the UK. It is elevating managerialism into a cult. Forget Independence and admire John Swinney’s figures. This is reinforced by another managerialist subtext, “the only organised opposition at Westminster.” Opposing the Tories is undoubtedly a good thing. But all this is symptomatic of the SNP becoming over-comfortable within the governmental institutions of the United Kingdom. All the energy expended pointlessly on the glorified local council powers of the Scotland Act while our country is dragged into yet another neo-con war against the will of the Scottish people.
When the media were promoting a narrative of potential ill-behaviour by new SNP MP’s, Tommy Sheppard famously declared “We have not come to act up, but to settle up!” What precisely have the SNP MP’s done that showed a scintilla of desire to “settle up” and end the Union? Where are the Parnellite tactics? A more honest declaration would be:
“We have not come to settle up, but to settle in!”
John Nicolson was led on to discussing his prospects of re-election last night, in response to a joke about Michael Portillo’s defeat. Andrew Neil gently reminded him he was not meant to want to be in Westminster long term. I am willing to bet a million pounds with anybody that the SNP structure is already giving more thought to defending its Westminster seats than to ending the union before the next Westminster election. I think deep down everybody reading this will find they believe that too.
Leadership loyalists will respond with a) more managerialism – we run the country better blah blah blah – and b), the argument that the SNP has to entrench in power before trying again for independence and win trust by – more managerialism. Oh OK, that’s actually the same argument. They don’t have another one.
The problem with this is gravity. In politics no party remains at the heights of popularity forever. Events take their toll. I suspect that what Nicola agreed with Dave this week about extending the extreme surveillance state to Scotland will be a little wave of erosion once we get told of it. The SNP will, regardless of anything I think or write, sweep the Holyrood elections. But that will likely be the high point of their absolute dominance of Scottish politics.
Let me put it this way. It is definitely a possibility that the coming real domination of both MPs and MSPs will never happen again. If the SNP do not even try to use that dominance to deliver Independence, then what is the point of the SNP?
Oh sorry, I forgot. They manage the institutions better, and are an effective opposition at Westminster. That apparently is the point. But not what I joined for.
Yesterday’s revelation that Prince Charles sees Cabinet Office memoranda denied to most ministers did not spark as much public outrage as might be expected. Part of that is because of the view that, by and large, Charles is a fairly decent old stick with some surprisingly progressive opinions.
The problem is, of course, that with a monarchy you have no choice what you get. The defence deployed yesterday across all media was that this is a longstanding practice, in place for many decades. What they did not tell you is that it was instituted at the insistence of the Prince of Wales who was the future Edward VIII, and at the very least sympathetic to fascism. Strange how the media omitted that bit, don’t you think?
I am given to understand that William has very much the private political opinions you would expect from an extremely rich and not very bright person educated at St Andrews University, that strange foreign neo-con enclave perched on the Neuk of Fife. The only university with not one but two professors on the board of the Henry Jackson Society.
Jack Straw continues to lie about his involvement with torture. On Sunday, Alex Salmond told Alex Marr on the BBC that an inquiry must discover what Straw and Blair knew. On Monday Straw responded in the Guardian:
Straw said Salmond’s comments were completely untrue. “The British government was never complicit nor condoned torture or other ill-treatment of detainees wherever they were held,” he said.
I can offer absolute and definitive proof that Straw is lying (redactions made by FCO):
The Foreign Secretary was Jack Straw. Simon MacDonald was his Private Secretary in the FCO.
It has been a source of astonishment to me that journalists are prepared to continue to publish Straw’s denials of involvement in torture, when there is indisputable documentary proof that he is lying. I offered these documents to the Guardian years ago, but was not surprised when that Blairite rag refused to publish.
I was however surprised by this. When Straw criticised Salmond on Monday, I immediately offered these documents to the National as proof that Straw was lying. The National too refused to publish. Firstly they said that they had to consult their lawyers about whether the government would sue them. Then they said they could not work out how to condense the information into a short article (which begs the question why it had to be short). They then said they were too busy.
The reason I did not post for a week was that I was extremely dejected to receive an instant rejection, without interview, for the post of Chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission. This is an appointment of the Scottish Parliament and the decision is made by a committee of Scottish MSPs. It is a job for which I undoubtedly meet all the published requirements. I lecture regularly on human rights all round the world, and have been called to give evidence in person to the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. I have a great deal of senior level public sector management experience, also a requirement.
When I published a few weeks ago that I had been considering my future while in Ghana, it was because I was considering applying for the job on the Scottish human rights commission. That would have entailed going back to being a public servant and ceasing political activity, including giving up this blog. I certainly can do this – for the 21 years I was in the FCO, nobody except those close to me knew my political views. I decided eventually that the chance to work on human rights in a positive way might enable me to do more good in the world than I am achieving as a campaigner. I definitely did not expect to get the job, but could not apply honestly without interrogating myself as to whether I really was prepared to meet the conditions.
I did not however expect an out of hand rejection for a position for which I was not only qualified but which was also junior and less well paid than previous public appointments I had held.
I did not necessarily expect to get the job, but to be refused without being interviewed is not something I expected, and it hit me hard. As a whistleblower you become a non-person. That is why the media publishes Straw’s denials of all knowledge of torture despite the existence of these documents. It is unpleasant to be a non-person, who cannot even be interviewed for a job for which they are abundantly qualified.
The SNP plainly have a major problem with me as a member. Before the SNP Conference in Aberdeen, I was approached by the Embassy of Ecuador. They wished to have a meeting with the SNP on behalf of the alliance of seven South American states including Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia who have a broadly anti-imperialist stance and were interested in learning about the Scottish independence movement with a view to possible cooperation in international fora. It so happened the Spanish acronym of this group is ALBA! The Embassy know me through Julian Assange and I was their only contact in the SNP, so they asked me to arrange the meeting. I emailed every suitable SNP contact I could think of, and made a number of phone calls, over a four week period. I eventually received a one line rejection, and had to host the Ambassador myself (apart from a short reception the SNP hosted for the diplomatic corps, to which I was refused entry).
Taking all these things together – my repeated rejection as a candidate, the refusal to meet ALBA, my out of hand rejection (by a SNP led committee) for the human rights job, the National’s refusal to run my evidence of Jack Straw lying, I feel not just rejected but despised by the hierarchy of the Independence movement. As I have moved back to Scotland with the sole motive of carrying on the campaign for Scottish independence, I really have this last week been looking hard at myself and considering what the future may hold. I suppose I was naïve to imagine that the hospitality and exclusion shown to whistleblowers in Whitehall would not be mirrored in Holyrood.
Which leads me back to the minutes above. When I objected to, and tried to stop, the policy of getting intelligence from torture, I knew I was probably blighting my future in the FCO. But I did not fully appreciate that it would lead on to me being backlisted by the establishment – including the Holyrood establishment – for my entire life. It is rather a hard cross to bear. Fortunately I have much else in life to be thankful for.
I am involved quite extensively in the making of what I believe to be a valuable independent documentary. It is based on George Ponsonby’s excellent book London Calling, and has the working title How the BBC Stole the Referendum. We have already done a few hours filming of my contribution.
The film is being directed by Alan Knight. It still requires some finance, having raised over £12,000 so far from crowd sourcing. If any readers of this blog can make a contribution, it would be gratefully received. I vouch for the good faith and commitment of the production team, though I am not in any sense connected with the management or finances.
I should like to ask for a couple of other bits of help as well. Can anybody find the BBC footage of the appalling Gavin Esler puff piece for the “Vote No Borders” PR campaign. The BBC broadcast it repeatedly on every TV news programme on 2 May 2014, but seem to have managed to erase all trace of it from the internet. It might also be useful if somebody could take a little video footage of the company nameplate of Acanchi Ltd at 24 Chiswell Street, London, EC2Y 4YX. Footage of the nameplate, the street sign and a little of the surroundings, just to visually establish it is in London. The technical quality of that little bit of video is not terrifically important.
See Gill R’s comment below. The company may be at Unit 311 Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH. If anyone can easily get to either address and see what they can film it would still be helpful.
Given that the election court had just found that he told a “Blatant lie”, Alistair Carmichael struck absolutely the wrong note in his statement after the case. He could have said:
“I did tell a lie, and it is something I deeply regret. I apologise to my constituents, to my family and to the people of Scotland for all the trouble my lie has caused. I have learned from it. I am grateful to the court for giving me aother chance, and I have now learned never to indulge in that kind of bad behaviour again.”
Instead, with extraordinary arrogance, Alistair said this:
“I am pleased with the decision of the court.
Although I was always confident of winning the last few months have been a difficult and stressful time for me and my family.
We have been enormously grateful for the tremendous levels of support received from local people, in both Orkney and Shetland, regardless of which political party they normally support…
This case was politically motivated. It was a deliberate attempt by nationalists to remove the last Scottish Liberal voice at Westminster, and is a mark of the unhealthy polarisation of Scottish politics since the referendum.”
Co-ordinated statements were put out by Willie Rennie and “Bomber” Tim Farron saying much the same thing. So the utter lack of any humility must have been deliberate. This is an orchestrated act of arrogance.
You will recall that I predicted that there was no way that Scotland’s deeply conservative and unionist judiciary would find against Carmichael. The reasoning behind their judgement is intellectually risible. They say that Carmichael only lied in denying a specific leak; he was therefore not making a false claim about his general character. If he had specifically stated that he never leaked he would have been making a false claim and disqualified.
Here is the pathetic “reasoning” of the judge Lady Paton:
They explained that if a candidate made a false statement that he would never leak an internal confidential memo, no matter how helpful that might be to his party, as he regarded the practice of leaking confidential information as dishonest and morally reprehensible, and he would not stoop to such tactics, when in fact that candidate had leaked an internal confidential memo containing material which was inaccurate and highly damaging to an opponent, they would be likely to conclude that the candidate had given a false statement “’in relation to [his] personal character or conduct” because he would be falsely holding himself out as being of such a standard of honesty, honour, trustworthiness and integrity that, in contrast with what others in Westminster might do, he would never be involved in such a leaking exercise.
“In the present case, when speaking to the Channel 4 interviewer, the first respondent did not make such an express statement about his personal character or conduct,” Lady Paton continued. “We are not persuaded that the false statement proved to have been made was in relation to anything other than the first respondent’s awareness (or lack of awareness) of a political machination. Accordingly we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the words used by the first respondent amounted to a ‘false statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct’. It follows that we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an essential element of section 106 has been proved.
There are several glaring errors in this reasoning. The first is that if I denied knowledge of a murder I had in fact committed, I would be making a false statement about my general character whether or not I had added a condemnation of the morality of murder.
The second is that Lady Paton ignores the “conduct” in “false statement in relation to his character or conduct.” In denying knowledge of a leak he had in fact made himself. Carmichael was beyond any reasonable doubt making a false statement as to his conduct, even if we accept Paton’s argument it did not go to his character. Note that there is no reference to his “general” or “usual” conduct.
This is the judgement of a woman justifying a pre-determined stitch-up.
Despite al this, I would not be tremendously concerned about the result if Alistair had the decency to be a bit chastened by it. It is only because of our ridiculously undemocratic electoral system that representation is so skewed. You didn’t ought to get over 95% of the seats on 52% of the votes, and I am not sure what is gained by magnifying that other wrong. But any mixed feelings I have on those grounds are dispelled by the utterly inappropriate triumphalism the Lib Dems are displaying, as though to be found a blatant liar by a court is something to be proud of. The brass neck of it all is sickening.
On Saturday I shall be speaking at a conference in Edinburgh on the changing face of racism, and how Islamophobia is now not only mainstream but actively promoted by government.
Donald Trump’s remarks have brought appropriate condemnation, but the Henry Jackson Society got there first. In February 2006 Douglas Murray, Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society, stated :
“It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop. In the case of a further genocide such as that in the Balkans, sanctuary would be given on a strictly temporary basis. This should also be enacted retrospectively… Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition.”
Yet the politicians who pretend to be outraged by Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from the US, line up to support the man who declares “All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.” Not only Jim Murphy, but a role call of top Blairites sits on the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society – Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant, Gisela Stuart etc. All of course enthusiasts for bombing Syria. It astonishes me that the Labour Party is now complaining about “infiltration” by groups on the left when a large number of very senior figures can belong to an organisation which is avowedly neo-conservative, is linked to the US and European far right and is funded by the CIA.
The Henry Jackson Society is the go-to organisation for broadcasters looking for comment on Islamic affairs. I was both pleased and surprised to see the Henry Jackson Society named two days ago in a Guardian article on the mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Pleased because the maximum exposure is necessary to make people understand what people are getting when they see “independent” HJS staff interviewed on the BBC and Sky, and surprised because the Blairite controlled and US marketed Guardian doesn’t usually run this kind of stuff anymore.
I tucked it in to the back of my mind until I came to write this article. Guess what? The Guardian Editors have now excised all mention of the Henry Jackson Society from the article on the mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Interesting that, isn’t it?
The Henry Jackson Society seconds staff to the Quilliam Foundation. This extraordinary organisation is a career vehicle for “reformed jihadists” to milk huge salaries and luxury lifestyles from government money, in return for fronting an organisation run by the security services. Quilliam specialises in denouncement of Muslim organisations and talking up the Jihadi threat, offering “expert advice” on the government’s anti-free speech strategy. At the same time, it seeks to maximise the income of its directors. One interesting collaboration to make money was its collaboration with the current head of Pergida UK, and former head of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Alias Tommy Robinson).
Quilliam have received millions from the taxpayer for their dubious “work”. But their application for Home Office funding to split with Yaxley-Lennon remains an episode beyond belief. Several of Quilliam’s staff are “lent” by the CIA-funded Henry Jackson Society.
Do come along to the meeting on Saturday. Methodist Church, 25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9BX.
I wish a speedy recovery, both physically and mentally, to the people stabbed at Leytonstone tube station. It must have been horrifying.
The following comments are in part predicated on a presumption that the media reports of the incident are broadly true. This comes with a serious health warning. At this stage after another tube station incident, we were universally assured that various official “sources” and “eye-witnesses” had affirmed that Jean Charles leapt the barriers and ran through the tunnels, wearing a bulky jacket with wires sticking out. All of those turned out to be absolute lies deliberately spread by the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office.
But assuming this time the account of his shouting about Syria is not lies, what we can see from video is that a single man in a very silly hat, armed with a very small knife indeed, can carry out a vicious terrorist attack with apparently no need for planning at all. Not even planning enough to get a less tiny knife from his kitchen.
Because, sadly terrorism is easy. As I stated recently, if I were crazed enough to want to kill somebody tomorrow, and did not care how I did it, who I killed or if I died myself, I could kill a few people without too much effort or planning. That is why the continual propaganda about “seven foiled ISIS terrorist plots” or “4,000 active Islamic terrorists in the UK” is quite simply untrue. If all those terrorists existed, they would not be so entirely unproductive. What the authorities do catch continually are fantasists, often children, boasting and “plotting” online about being terrorists. That is quite a different thing. It is worth noting that nobody has been charged over any of these seven foiled ISIS plots. Strange that, isn’t it?
As for the man in the silly hat, I fear he is mentally unstable. That is no comfort to his victims. The truth is, of course, that it is always the little people who get hurt. None of the 1% who foment, promote and profit from war have ever set foot in Leytonstone Tube Station. But their agenda is forwarded today. By its continual acts of violence and repression, the neo-con state eventually goads a mentally unstable person into a nasty, vicious and pointless act. They then use that act to justify more wars and repression.
For the security and armaments industry it is a very profitable cycle.
I just thought I would report that swing because, for the first time in 50 years in an English by-election, the BBC nowhere reported the swing between the two major English parties.
I wonder why?
I have a lifetime of memories of Bob McKenzie, Peter Snow and others saying “now here is the swing between the two main parties”. This was invariably followed by “Now then, let’s just for fun extrapolate from that swing to what the House of Commons would look like if that swing were repeated in a general election. This of course comes with a health warning, by-election swings are not a good guide”.
This time, even on election night, nothing at all, zilch, nada. In fact at no stage, then or after, did the BBC mention the swing between the two main parties. I don’t think the word swing was used at all. Nor was “collapse” or any other word that would describe the disappearance of the Tory vote – from 23 to 19 to 9% in the last three elections, in what was within my own adulthood a Tory constituency. The BBC by-election coverage with Andrew Neil in fact concluded 45 minutes before schedule, presumably because they had to bin all the pre-records on the demise of Corbyn, and stand down Umunna.
We are nowhere near mid-term. Any good psephologist will tell you, that while by-elections are a very poor guide to future events, to attain an 8.4% swing against the government only six months after a general election, the opposition is doing very well (and the government doing very badly).
The Times today carries an article on ISIS’ oil interests, Syria and Turkey. Nowhere does it inform its readers that the owner of the newspaper, Rupert Murdoch, has a vested interest in this subject through his role and shares in Genie Energy, an Israeli company granted oil rights in Syria by the Israeli government. Dick Cheney and Lord Rothschild are also shareholders.
No, they really are. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a conspiracy.
That Israel should grant oil rights within Syria is of course a striking example of contempt for international law, but then that is the basis on which Israel normally operates. Of course Genie’s share value will be substantially boosted by the installation of a neo-con puppet regime in Damascus which can be bought to underwrite the oil concession granted by Israel. Contempt for international law has been the single most important defining characteristic of neo-conservatism, and the need to uphold international law the recurring theme of this blog. I never thought the UK government would make the withdrawal of its support for the concept of international law explicit, as Cameron has done by removing the obligation to comply with international law from the Ministerial Code. That is truly, truly disgraceful.
But to return to Murdoch’s oil interests in Syria, it seems to me a fundamental flaw that when Fox News, Sky News, the Times, the Sun and Murdoch’s numerous other media outlets bang the drum for Western military action in Syria, there is no requirement for the consumer of this propaganda to be told that the outlet is pushing a policy in line with the financial interests of its owner. Even for those actively seeking information, there is no register of the interests of media proprietors.
It is a wonderful irony that there is a register of the interests of the board members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, but no register of the interests of media proprietors!
This is not an accident. The Leveson Inquiry did receive evidence and questioned a witness – Dr Rowan Cruft of the University of Stirling – who suggested that a proprietor’s financial interest in a story should be revealed. Robert Jay, QC to the counsel asked:
This is on your page 8, our page 00885. You say:
“First of all, the code could do more to require proprietors, editors and journalist to declare their financial and also their political interests and to declare these to readers as well as editors.”
I don’t think the code does anything to require proprietors, editors and journalist to do that.
Dr Rowan Cruft
Robert Jay QC goes on first to suggest any duty to declare financial interests should only apply to specifically financial journalists. He then moves quickly on to discuss the implications of declaring political interests of proprietors. Robert Jay QC is a clever man and he managed to avoid any discussion of the financial interests of proprietors whatsoever. Shortly after the Inquiry concluded, he was promoted by the Government to be a High Court Judge.
The Leveson Inquiry totally ignored the real rot in Britain’s media – the massive concentration of media ownership and its subservience to other corporate interests. The revised Code of Conduct which was its result does not contain any reference to proprietors’ interests even in the very limited context of writing about stocks and shares. A financial journalist has a duty to declare any interest which he or his family have in a company he writes about, but no duty to declare any interest of his proprietor – the person who is paying him to write.
If you think this is an accident, you are extremely naïve. It is just a tiny glimpse into one aspect of the UK’s extraordinarily dense web of elite corruption,
Ms Stella Creasy is offended by this article. At 8.14am this morning 5 December she tweeted:
“This is just an offensive and wrong article and I hope Mr Murray retracts.”
Nothing in it is wrong to the best of my knowledge, but if anything is, I should be most happy to retract it. Nobody has indicated anything is factually wrong so far. I have changed the title of the post to be literal rather than sarcastic, because that was the only thing about it that was “wrong”.
But offensive? Really? She must be a very shrinking violet indeed.
Given that the whole point of this article is to suggest that Ms Creasy believes she should be above criticism and above democratic accountability, for her to describe the criticisms in this article as “offensive” purely proves my point. It is not offensive. It is legitimate criticism of somebody who lives off my taxes.
For me, the inevitable conclusion is that a woman whose Wikipedia page states “Creasy has aristocratic family connections on her mother’s side, including with the Howards, Earls of Carlisle (through whom she is related to Polly Toynbee), the Cayzer family and the present (9th) Viscount Gort who is her fourth cousin” believes she is not answerable to the hoi polloi.
If she regards this article as “offensive” and something that should be retracted, and given she described the extremely polite vigil in the video below as “intimidation”, I think we can all form our own view of Ms Creasy and her sense of entitlement to rule.
For the benefit of the media, she is currently organising a “public meeting” with in fact a highly selected and vetted audience to be seen to be “open and democratic” and justify to her constituents her decision to blow up Syrian children. Expect wall to wall media coverage of stooges coming out saying she convinced them.
The original article of which she complained starts here:
There is a very natural temptation for members of the SNP to laugh without sympathy at the universal media hostility faced by Corbyn and his supporters. That is because we faced an equally massive and equally unrelieved torrent of biased media propaganda during the referendum campaign, and then the entire Labour Party, including its left wing, not only did not condemn the biased media but actively sought to promote it.
On top of which the corporate media is in utter confusion in Scotland, and still largely under instruction to boost Labour, it being at least unionist. The peculiar result of this is that an alien landing in Livingston and following the media would come to the conclusion that John McTernan must be leader of the country, given his ubiquity on media and the extreme deference shown to him, especially by the state broadcaster.
I am however of a peculiarly forgiving disposition, and take the view that two wrongs don’t make a right. What is by any standards fascinating is the way that the media use precisely the same tactics against Corbyn they used against the SNP. First you have the expressions of scorn, of incredulity that such a view could be held, the dismissive body language of presenters, the comment of “unelectable” presented as fact.
When all that does not work, you get the portrayal of anybody putting forward a view outside the neo-con consensus as fanatic, desocialised and violent. We experienced precisely this with the massive “cybernat” campaign of the mainstream media, in which independence supporters were presented as hideous thugs and bullies. This is precisely the narrative which is now being relentlessly deployed on all media for the last 24 hours against the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. The narrative is reinforced by promoting a celebrity “victim”, preferably female and blonde. Step forward J K Rowling the first time, and Stella Creasy now.
Here is a shocking video of the hate-filled mob which besieged Ms Creasy’s constituency office, with the result that her staff dare not go to work and she herself felt intimidated.
Terrifying, wasn’t it? The truth is this was an extremely polite and quiet bunch organised in fact by the local vicar Stephen Saxby, who writes in Red Pepper:
This week I took part in a vigil with a wide section of the local community. I am deeply saddened by the misinformation about the vigil which has circulated in the media, and grateful to Sue Wheat for correcting the misreporting of the vigil.
I am also surprised that some in the party appear to be overly influenced by irresponsible coverage in the media, such as the Mail’s description of the peaceful people on our vigil being called ‘Hard-left hate mobs’ and the Mirror stating ‘Vicars, imams and net trolls target MPs’.
I am shocked by Tom Watson’s statement on Radio 4 today that ‘any Labour members on that demo should be removed from the party’.
At the same time as I condemn intimidation of MPs or their staff, I reiterate that the vigil was not intimidation, and condemn those who seek to portray democratic, peaceful actions as such. This is also is a form of intimidation.
For my part, I shall not be intimidated into not speaking on issues about which I am passionate and alongside others within and beyond the Labour Party.
I refute the erroneous allegations about me and about our peaceful vigil, and look forward to continuing to support Stella Creasy as MP for Walthamstow, and the campaigns to elect Sadiq Khan as mayor and Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.”
It is astonishing that Tom Watson says that anybody in that video should be expelled from the Labour Party, and that the entire mainstream media has described it as “intimidation”. There really is a genuine attempt to delegitimise even the concept of dissent from the neo-con war agenda.
In truth, we all know that social media abuse does exist to a certain extent, just as abuse exists in every other form of human communication. But the one thing we learnt for certain from the Scottish referendum campaign, is that the media will report constantly any abuse allegedly from the anti-establishment camp, but will ignore the at least equally bad and quite possibly much worse torrent of abuse from supporters of the other side of the argument. The absolutely false connection of social media aggression uniquely to anti-establishment politics is an organised media propaganda trick as morally disgusting as it is pernicious.
The object to delegitimise a political view – be it Scottish Independence or Corbynism – is taken further in the current example. There is a concomitant media campaign to portray as an affront to democracy the idea of MPs facing reselection by party members – to portray the idea that an MP should have a lifelong right to the party nomination as norm.
This is a complete inversion of truth. The idea that MPs should be subject to reselection by members as the candidate at the end of the term for which they were chosen, is obviously in reality the more democratic. Should an MP be deselected, they have the democratic option to stand as an independent if they truly believe the voters were electing them, and not the party.
A final word on Ms Creasy. She has belatedly come out and denied the false reports all over the media that demonstrators gathered outside her home – though anyone who thought the Porsche Cayenne driving, Oxbridge Ms Creasy lives in a terrace in Waltham is very naïve. She is a fanatic supporter of Trident missiles and of any bombing opportunity going, and is precisely the sort of MP everybody should be trying to get rid of. Here is Andrew Neil exposing her for a shallow careerist fool:
Eight days ago I published a leak from an MOD source that the MOD’s Defence Intelligence Service fundamentally disagreed with Cameron’s “70,000 moderate rebels claim” and were incensed about. Today the Murdoch Press – the Times and the Sun – publish as massive front page exclusives exactly what I published eight days ago.
Interesting isn’t it that they didn’t publish it before the parliamentary debate on Syria?
As I constantly point out, this is not just a blog of commentary. It is a source of news the mainstream media does not choose to print (or chooses to delay).
On 26 November I published:
There is a very interesting parallel here with the claims over Iraqi WMD. The 70,000 figure has again been approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee, with a strong push from MI6. But exactly as with Iraqi WMD, there were strong objections from the less “political” Defence Intelligence, and caveats inserted. As the Head of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Michael Laurie, told the Chilcot Inquiry:
“we could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was clear to me that pressure was being applied to the Joint Intelligence Committee and its drafters. Every fact was managed to make the dossier as strong as possible. The final statements in the dossier reached beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.”
The truth is the military tends to be much more honest about these matters than the spooks. Rather than make the same mistake again, parliamentarians should be calling Laurie’s successor, Air Marshal Philip Osborn, to ask him the truth about the nature, composition and availability of the 70,000. I happen to know that signals of dissent from Osborn’s staff – quite probably with his blessing – are reaching not just me, but many Tory MPs.
I want to make an important point about the Walthamstow demonstrations against Stella Creasy’s enthusiasm for bombing. There are videos of the demos here on Guido but I can’t get an embed code off them, nor can I find them on Channel 4. Can anyone help me find a way to post them, with my observations?
The true story of the Oldham West by-election is a massive collapse in the Tory vote, which fell from 19.0% to 9.3%. The Tory vote share halved.
The Tory vote in Oldham West was not tiny and statistically insignificant. In 2010 it was 23%. The national media has been plugging a narrative about the political dominance of the Tories for months, which bears no relationship to people’s experience in real life. Tens of thousands of words of utter bilge have been written about the Conservatives “Northern powerhouse” strategy and how it will enable them to win in the North, and especially in precisely this Greater Manchester region. This is revealed as complete and utter nonsense. This by-election shows the Tories are deeply unpopular.
The media were also doing everything possible to talk up UKIP’s chances, in the hope of damaging Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, my own contacts in Oldham had been telling me for weeks that UKIP were struggling to hold up their percentage vote, and that proved to be the case. This leaves the Blairites of the Guardian looking particularly stupid, having produced a whole series of articles predicated on UKIP gaining ground as a protest against Corbyn.
The media’s last resort in spinning this result goes thus:
a) Do not mention at all the collapse in the Tory vote
b) Emphasise it was a personal vote for a local man, Jim McMahon
c) Portray McMahon as a Blairite
This formula is being universally followed in the state and corporate media. The difficulty with the McMahon angle is that his predecessor was a very popular long term MP, Michael Meacher, who also had a big personal vote. And McMahon declared both last week and tonight that he would have voted against bombing Syria, so no Blairite.
We are nowhere near mid term yet and already the Tory vote is collapsing. People are not nearly as stupid as the media wish them to be.
Emily Benn inherited her grandfather’s physiognomy.
She has come to fleeting attention by criticising Alex Salmond for saying that Tony would be “birling in his grave” at Hilary Benn’s warmongering.
During the Westminster elections, I received a text from the SNP asking members living in the centre of Edinburgh to nip down to the Mound for a photocall with Nicola Sturgeon. I looked out of the window at a cold Edinburgh morning, rain driving horizontally, and decided against it. Nadira remarked “If it was Alex Salmond you would have gone.” This is true. If it were Alex Salmond, I would have gone if it had entailed attempting to cross a river of molten lava.
It is therefore with consideration that I say that on this occasion I think that while Salmond was absolutely right that Tony Benn would fundamentally have disagreed with Hilary’s speech, the expression was perhaps over-colourful. I did not really get to know Tony until 2005 on, when the great chasm of Hilary’s support for the Iraq War already loomed between them, but Tony’s parental affection and pride were undimmed. There would be something really wrong with you for your opinion of your children to be conditional on their sharing your political opinions. So probably not birling.
But equally, I am quite sure Tony would not have felt Alex had anything to apologise for, and would have much admired Salmond’s own contribution on Syria.
UPDATE Several commenters have formed the impression that I object to the phrase “birling in the grave” as offensive. I do not, it is a perfectly ordinary phrase. My point is rather that there was no family split in the Benn family despite some radically different political opinions, and that seemed to me in fairness worth noting. I describe “birling in the grave” as over-colourful purely as a description of the Tony-Hilary relationship, not as an offensive phrase. Tony certainly is birling in his grave over the Syria vote.
Hilary Benn is very serious about his power grab and has been laying the ground for it very carefully. On 18 November BICOM – the British Israeli Communications and Research Centre – published this:
Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn told a Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) lunch yesterday that relations with Israel must be based on cooperation and rejected attempts to isolate the country.
Addressing senior party figures in Westminster, Benn praised Israel for its “progressive spirit, vibrant democracy, strong welfare state, thriving free press and independent judiciary.” He also called Israel “an economic giant, a high-tech centre, second only to the United States. A land of innovation and entrepreneurship, venture capital and graduates, private and public enterprise.”
Consequently, said Benn, “Our future relations must be built on cooperation and engagement, not isolation of Israel. We must take on those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel or question its right to exist.”
It is worth reading the next article BICOM published. Brigadier General Michael Herzog, head of strategy for the Israeli defence Force, sets out a strategy for Israeli interests in Syria which dovetails precisely with what Benn and Cameron were pushing in the Commons. Note that Herzog says an overall diplomatic solution is not realistic and rather de facto partitioning of Syria suits Israel’s interests. Therefore there should be no waiting for diplomatic progress before western military action.
With his abandonment of any pretended concern for the slow and agonising genocide of the Palestinians, and his strident support for Trident, Benn is embracing the Israeli establishment and the British military and political establishment. In return, the Tories roared his speech to the rafters, while the media, and especially the Genie Energy linked media, are boosting him to the Labour leadership.
The United Kingdom has, temporarily, an opposition leadership which is not controlled, Zionist, neo-con and in the pocket of the arms industry. Benn has positioned himself very carefully to offer himself as the vehicle for the entire establishment to move to correct this aberration.
In general I am not a fan of the power of the state, and take a Rumpolesque view of the justice system. But I think nevertheless that justice has been well served by today’s Supreme Court verdict in the Pistorius case. Plainly, at the very least, he intended murderous violence towards whoever was locked in the toilet, and that person could not in any rational sense be said to have been posing an immediate threat to him.
I happened to watch the entire original trial – I cannot recall what on earth was going on in my own life then that I could find the time to do that. Today’s Supreme Court judgement was not allowed to query the finding that Pistorius did bot know it was Steenkamp in the toilet, but I must say I had thought that finding to be astonishing given the evidence. The Supreme Court’s ruling that in any event Pistorius murderously was aware he was killing someone, could be reached without questioning that.
I have no doubt the original Judge Maripa acted conscientiously and was motivated by consideration of making every possible allowance for Pistorius’ disability and its effect on his state of mind. I would much rather judges are too susceptible to compassion than the opposite. But the signals sent – about violence towards women and about the implied right of the wealthy to shoot to defend their property even when obviously not threatened – were awful. This was a much needed correction.
With over 50,000 sorties already flown by allied aircraft against ISIL, it added nothing substantial for a tiny number of British jets to fly instantly after the Westminster vote to hit an oilfield in Syria. It was purely war porn, to provide all those pictures of jets taking off to excite the public and continue the propaganda. Worth noting that none of the mythical magical missiles that don’t kill civilians was used last night, just high explosive freefall bombs. The target is also a useful reminder that, as always, oil features prominently in neo-con foreign policy. MPs spoke openly in last night’s debate of breaking up Syria, which will be music to the ears of Genie Energy and Messrs Murdoch and Rothschild, and the Israeli government which astonishingly has already issued oil licences within Syria.
If we actually wanted to bomb the oilfields that fund ISIL, we would be bombing Saudi Arabia.
Scotland is being dragged into a war it voted near unanimously against. 96.5% of Scotland’s MPs voted against the airstrikes in Syra. On platforms all up and down this country, I argued that I do not care a damn about how strong powers are given to Scotland’s parliament in domestic affairs, it we are not a sovereign nation and can still be taken to war against our will. I was proud of Alex Salmond last night for expressing contempt at the notion that civilians are not killed in British airstrikes, a big lie nobody else directly challenged.
I am reassured that last night’s events must be yet another step along the road to independence, and will have invigorated SNP hearts against the temptation of being too comfortable at Westminster.
I don’t know how many oil engineers, or people who cook and clean for oil engineers, we incinerated last night, but the triumphalism of the Blairite warmongers over it is not a very edifying sight. It says something for the strength of the delusions entertained in the Blairite bubble that the fact that Hilary Benn’s speech led to the rafters echoing with Tories making HWOAR HWOAR noises, is taken by them as a massive sign of imminent triumph within the Labour Party. The 28% of Labour MPs who supported Cameron – which they did with explicit attacks on their own leader and on Labour members who were opposing the Tories – will be experiencing the shock of hangover as the heady moment of triumph seems a lot less clever the next day.
UPDATE: I have withdrawn a statement about British aircraft intercepting Russian aircraft, as my informant has been in touch to say they were in fact referring to an incident several days ago.
There is a very extraordinary meme which Blairites keep raising in the Commons debate, that it is “abusive” or “undemocratic” for Labour MPs to face deselection by their members.
In the SNP, there is never any automatic reselection for anybody. You are selected for one term and have to be renominated for another term, where you can be opposed. Indeed deselection happens quite often in the SNP without drawing any comment at all. If the members aren’t happy with your performance, they will get in someone else.
It is remarkable that Labour MPs feel that they should have a job for life, whether the constituency members are happy with your performance or not. If Labour party members decide they do not want an extreme right winger like Stella Creasy or John Mann to represent them, why is it “undemocratic” to get rid of them at the end of the term for which they are elected? Individuals do not own the party, and nobody is stopping them from running as independent candidates or joining the Conservative Party.
This goes to the heart of the Blairite cause. It is apparently not “undemocratic” for them to take legal advice on whether they can keep Jeremy Corbyn’s name off the ballot in a future membership ballot. It is not “undemocratic” to discuss deselecting the Leader, but it is a heinous offence against democracy to consider deselecting an MP. The odious Blairites are the most self-centred, selfish and indeed sociopathic group ever to have a serious presence in the UK parliament.