Daily archives: December 1, 2015

The Old Etonian Sir Mark Lyall Grant

Sir Mark Lyall Grant was born with so many silver spoons in his mouth it is a miracle he didn’t choke. The National Security Adviser is, surprise surprise, an Old Etonian. He is also one of the nastiest people I have ever met.

In 1999 within the FCO he tried to remove me from my position as Deputy High Commissioner in Accra because, in a speech at an anti-corruption conference, I had stated that British firms too were sometimes involved in corruption. My speech had in fact been cleared in advance by DFID, and I survived. But Lyall Grant was dismissive of my argument that it was intellectually bankrupt to attend anti-corruption conferences and pretend corruption was just something foreigners did. In a very frosty interview, he told me my job was to promote British interests, not promote the truth.

I survived Lyall Grant’s attack only by appealing to the Head of the Diplomatic Service, John (now Lord) Kerr, in a minute in which I complained directly of Grant’s unpleasantly aristocratic attitude towards me, and used Hazlitt’s words about Byron applied to Lyall Grant “This spoil’d child of fortune…”. The entire episode was published in detail in my memoir “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.”

Lyall Grant is now National Security Adviser and made responsible by Cameron for persuading Labour MPs to bomb Syria. A disagreement has arisen tonight over whether he admitted or not that a great many of the “70,000” are “extreme Islamists”.

But one thing that should be very well understood, is that I can personally testify that Mark Lyall Grant has no respect for or attachment to the truth. He directly told me that furthering the British interest is more important than truth. In that case, he was taking the interest of corrupt British companies – especially BAE – as being identical with the national interest.

In the current case, I have no doubt he will be conflating the interest of his fellow old Etonians in government and again of the arms industry with the national interest. I can guarantee nothing will pass his lips undistorted to suit that agenda.

That a truly obnoxious man like Mark Lyall Grant is such a senior official is the most complete proof you could have of the rottenness of the United Kingdom.

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70,000 is the new 45 minutes

Precisely as I reported two days ago, Cameron really is in trouble over the Syria vote due to his patently ludicrous claim of the existence of 70,000 “moderate rebels”. Most MPs are pretty unpleasant people, but they do have a high opinion of their own importance. They will vote for anything they see as in their own self-interest, but not if it means kneeling and licking the floor when they are being treated with very obvious contempt, in public. Well, a great many of them will even do that if it advances their career, and the George Osborne tendency do it in private and pay for it. But not even pretending to take MPs seriously is a risky tactic, and that is what Cameron has done with his foolish ruse of just inventing 70,000 moderate fighters.

Today the government rubbed MPs faces further in the dirt by saying they could not give a breakdown of who the 70,000 are, because it is a secret.

Yes, honestly. The identity of our allies – even just in terms of what groups they belong to – is a secret.

In consequence the Tory majority Foreign Affairs Committee has refused to endorse airstrikes. Cameron will be under real pressure to come up with a more intellectually tenable line by tomorrow. He can hardly enter the debate on the basis that the entire strategy depends on allies whose existence is secret. Or perhaps he can, on the grounds the Blairites are conditioned to support bombing anybody, anywhere, and the Tories are mere lickspittles. He may look down his long Etonian nose with contempt at the Commons, and think “the peasants will do anything I ask”.

It is going to be an interesting 24 hours. The self-respect of the Commons is at stake. I still think Cameron may have overreached.

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The Desolation of Labour

It is universally accepted that the extremely vindictive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and particularly the massive reparation payments, were a major factor in the rise of Hitler and the second world war. Nobody accuses you of defending Hitler, justifying Hitler or hating the UK if you state that.

Yet the entire mainstream media and political establishment is united in shrill condemnation of Ken Livingstone for stating the undeniable fact that the 7/7 bombers were motivated by outrage at the British invasion of Iraq.

Labour is in a mad panic over Ken Livingstone’s fundamental departure from the neo-con narrative. He has had the temerity to point out that when we inflict “shock and awe” on other countries, and massacre from the air thousands of women and children, the result is assymetric warfare which includes terrorist blowback.

We are instead supposed to believe that our enemies are a spontaneous manifestation of pure evil, something that has with no cause arisen from the bowels of the earth to hurt us, like a devil in a horror movie.

The Blairites of course have still never admitted that the Iraq War was wrong, unjustified and had terrible consequences in the Middle East, let alone in the UK. They are desperate to keep bombing and bombing the Middle East until they can prove that Tony and they were right.

Ian Murray, Scotland’s remaining MP, is a particular weasel. He is voting against airstrikes not to alienate his constituents, but is doing so on the grounds he thinks Britain should also send in ground forces – going the “full Blair”. Murray has called for Livingstone to step down as joint chairman of Labour’s defence review, and is brimming with fury and indignation at Livingstone’s departure from a line acceptable to the media. Murray is quite possibly the most weasely and dishonest politician in the Labour Party, but that is a very strong field.

The media are delighted that, instead of querying David Cameron and the Tories on the unbelievable 70,000 moderate rebels claim, they can instead concentrate entirely on the split in the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn has blinked, and the Labour Party goes into the debate as a completely useless instrument, hopelessly split and with members speaking all over the place.

I dislike the whipping system and it is not the free vote that is the problem. It is the fact that a third of Labour MPs are extreme right wing warmongers. That is the problem.

There really is no point in the existence of the Labour Party any more. The best thing would be for the Blairites simply to join the Tories, which would move the Tory Party to the right. Or they could show the courage of Dick Taverne and resign and fight outside the Party. But they wish to try to regain control of the Party’s assets and finances, so this will never happen. Were I a Labour Party member, I would concentrate on the deselection of every MP who votes for bombing. I do not expect that will happen either. The Labour Party has declined into utter irrelevance, its only role being as a punching bag for the corporate media.

It is hard sometimes to be optimistic, but actually it is a good thing that it is now exposed for all to see that the Blairites were simply Red Tories. The loss of a pretend opposition is a necessary step towards establishment of a genuine democracy. It is ever more plain to me that Scottish independence in inevitable. I have real hope that politics in England and Wales will also reform in a way that no longer purely services the 1%.

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