Monthly Archives: September 2017


Unfashionable Causes

Most of the states existing in the world – including pretty well all of Africa bar Ethiopia, much of Asia, and the former Soviet Union – achieved independence in my own lifetime. In virtually every case, it was – almost by definition – illegal at the start of the process for the country to break away. All of the most famous liberation campaigners did jail time. Within the European Union, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia did not obtain Independence by a process negotiated from the start with the Soviet Union. The actions which initiated their Independence were illegal.

So it is a meaningless truism to say that it is illegal for Catalonia to hold a referendum on Independence. The idea that the right to self-determination of a people can be alienated by pre-existing constitutional arrangements, is rejected by international law. It is truly pathetic to see the Establishment throughout Europe hiding behind the miniscule fig leaf of the Spanish Constitutional Court to state that Catalonia cannot secede, and therefore the gross repression in train by the Spanish government is legitimate. The argument that the post-Franco settlement perpetually alienates the Catalan right to self-determination is, frankly, risible. It is simply embarrassing to see media outlets that once had some intellectual capacity, such as the Economist and the Financial Times, fall in behind it.

But the desire of Western governments to accept the brutal muscling aside of democracy in Catalonia by Madrid’s Francoist government, tells us something about the level of insecurity the Establishment feels. Scottish nationalists like myself have an instinctive sympathy for a similar movement in one of Europe’s other ancient nations. But in truth, there are serious differences. The Yes movement in Scotland is essentially socialist and is broadly looking to substantial economic and social reform to be initiated after Independence to create a more communitarian society. The Catalan movement is coming from a different place; of course it contains divers elements, but there is much less challenge to neo-liberalism in it. In fact there is a significant rather unattractive streak in popular Catalan nationalism that feels they are being held back by much lazier and less productive societies in the South. Catalan Independence is not really a threat to neo-liberalism. Yet, so insecure do the Establishment feel about their position in this time of rational popular discontent, any change is to be resisted.

The silence of the international community and the Establishment’s NGO’s on the repression of democracy in Catalonia is shameful.

I am currently in Ghana, and there is in West Africa a liberation movement which is even less fashionable, an oppressed people whose cause nobody espouses – the Anglophone Cameroonians. This week several hundred young men in South West Cameroon have been arrested and taken away by security forces, with real brutality in many cases. I wrote in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo about the torture, discrimination and deprivation of liberty suffered by the Anglophone Cameroonians over decades, about my own visit there and my thwarted determination to focus the FCO on the issue.

Very occasionally, NGO’s pay limited attention to this injustice. The International Bar Association protested against the arrest of a barrister, Agbor-Balla, who was charged with terrorism before a military tribunal for helping organise a human rights demonstration. He was released last month after six months harsh imprisonment, together with other community leaders, but a much larger wave of arrests is now under way, aimed at preventing a pro-Independence demonstration by Anglophone Cameroonians this weekend. There is, of course, an obvious parallel with events the same weekend in Catalonia.

Why has the international community ignored the plight of the Anglophone Cameroonians? Well the UK, as the former colonial power, finds the whole subject embarrassing and has no interest at all in interfering. African governments are notoriously unwilling to call each other out on human rights abuse. Plus the entire colonial legacy of the divide between Anglophone and Francophone West Africa is a neuralgic point in the region, affecting many relationships between rulers and states. Persecution of an Anglophone minority by a Francophone government is an issue that, if raised within the remit of the regional organisation, ECOWAS, would cause a very large can of worms to be opened. Without any powerful voices speaking up for the Anglophone Cameroonians, the United Nations is under no pressure to be involved.

Let me know of any good websites with inside information on events in Catalonia, as we will not get a true picture from mainstream media. I will try and get you a clear picture of the events in Cameroon this coming weekend.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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The Manufactured Smears of the Establishment

Miko Peled, target of the latest Labour anti-Semitism allegations, is a Jewish Israeli, former member of Israeli special forces, son of a famous Israeli general and grandson of a signatory of Israel’s founding Declaration of Independence. You can object to his views, but he can hardly be anti-semitic in any sensible meaning of the term. Nor is he either British or a member of the Labour Party, nor was he speaking at an official Labour Party event.

Given all of the above, in what rational world can Miko Peled said spark newspapers from the Guardian to the Daily Mail to carry, as their lead stories, articles on anti-semitism in the Labour Party, centred entirely on Peled’s comments to a fringe meeting last night?

What Peled is alleged to have said is that discussion of the Holocaust ought to be allowed – with an apparent inference that means discussion of its existence or extent. Now we only have versions of what he said put out by his opponents, so I do not know the precise words he used or their context. I have always banned holocaust denial from this blog, because having had occasion to serve in Poland and both meet survivors and be involved in commemoration events, I have had much closer contact than most people with the overwhelming evidence for what happened. I also find it to be true that those who espouse holocaust denial are often using it as a vehicle for actual anti-Semitism and even for Nazi sympathy. So it is not allowed on this site. But neither do I think it should be actually illegal to hold that view. In context, Peled may have been saying no more than that.

If Peled was saying holocaust denial ought to be a valid subject for party political meetings, I disagree with him very strongly. It also contradicts what he is reported to have said immediately afterwards. He said that platforms are not given to neo-Nazis and were not given to supporters of apartheid South Africa, so they should be denied to Zionists too. I broadly agree with that – but would deny a platform to Holocaust deniers on the same score.

Peled’s remarks have been a great boon to the mainstream media who have had a great deal of difficulty in finding a way to denigrate Corbyn’s leadership sufficiently. They had fallen back on the old “Misogynist” charge related to Laura Kuenssberg, with the BBC’s extraordinary propaganda decision to give her a bodyguard in case she was yet again subjected to joking pantomime hisses.

Which brings me to one of the great unanswered emails of our time:

Jasper Jackson is the Guardian’s assistant media editor who had published a piece on online abuse of Kuenssberg. It seemed reasonable to ask whether he had actually seen any evidence, as I had been unable to find any. He did not reply – and I am willing to assert he did not reply because he had no evidence.

Jackson however is not in the same category as David Babbs of 38 degrees, who lied through his teeth about the existence of misogynistic comments on an anti-Kuenssberg petition. Babbs refused to speak to me but I did manage to interview their press spokesman on 11 May last year, and it is a piece of real journalism of which I am very proud:

Hello Craig

Hello Adam. I hope you are not quite so busy today? Has it calmed down for you?

It is a bit less busy. Well we are very busy on other important things. Did you see the article by David Babbs in the Guardian today?

I did, but it doesn’t really answer my question. I haven’t received the evidence of the abuse connected to the petition which you said you would consider sending me. Are you going to send it?

I don’t really have the time for this

But you must have this evidence. You took a well-supported petition down. You must have the evidence you based your decision on.
There were abusive tweets and comments

Can you send them to me?

You can search for them yourself online

I have done so. But you must have the evidence?

Look yourself online

This is a big story. In all the national press. You must have kept the evidence on the basis of which you made the decision?

You said yourself you had seen misogynistic comments

I said I could find a single one – very unpleasant but only one – out of hundreds of comments I read

So you did see misogynistic comments

One.
Search yourself online. There were tweets.

So far I have been able to find one. That is one comment and one tweet. Have you seen more?

There were misogynistic comments and tweets

More than two? Out of thirty five thousand signatories? How many have you seen?

There was misogynistic abuse

How many have you seen. You personally Adam. You said yesterday you had seen the evidence. Have you, personally, seen more than two?

If you are going to start shouting at me

More than two? Simple question, yes or no?

I don’t expect you to be impolite and abusive towards me.

How much evidence did you see?

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Is that more than two? Is that more than two? That’s a very simple question.

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Have you seen more than two things? Have you seen more than two things? That’s a very simple question. I am recording you. Is that more than two things?

You can record if you like. We had sufficient evidence.

Is that evidence more than one tweet and one comment?

I could…I have got to go I have things to do here

Do you have more than one tweet and one comment?

Hangs up.

It is also worth stating that there was no evidence at all the two nasty comments – out of 35,0000 signatures – aimed at Kuenssberg had any connection to Corbyn supporters.

To threaten someone with violence is very serious, a crime. The police act on such complaints. Stuart Campbell of Wings over Scotland has been harassed by police over his non-threatening tweets. If there was serious abuse and threat made towards Kuenssberg, there would be police investigations and people would be appearing in court. Where is the evidence for all of this happening? There remains a complete dearth of evidence, yet that did not stop the Guardian alone from running five articles about the Corbynite threat to Kuenssberg this week – every single one of which was 100% evidence free.

That was before they diverted on to the story of the Jewish, ex Israeli Special Services veteran being an anti-Semite.

I do not doubt Kuenssberg receives some abuse. Everyone in public life does. I receive abuse including threats of violence. But if there is evidence that there is a genuine and unusual threat to Kuenssberg, that evidence has never ever been shown. God knows, I have very genuinely tried to access that evidence (I have also asked Kuenssberg if I can see it – she did not reply either). What does exist is a huge volume of complaint about her obvious right wing bias. The established media is desperate to portray this kind of challenge to their authority as illegitimate.

I am obliged to conclude that both the “anti-Semitic Corbynites” meme and the “misogynist Corbynites” meme are Fake News. They are Establishment media concoctions designed to protect the interests of the Establishment from political radicalism. I also conclude that the BBC gave Kuenssberg a bodyguard, not because there is any danger at all she will be assaulted by Corbynites, but in order to boost that propaganda.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Francoist Clampdown in Catalonia

I have received an email appeal from the Candidaturas de Unidad Popular in Barcelona to say that their party HQ is under siege by the Guardia Civil and that its leaders are resisting arrest.

There is a peculiar reluctance in the British and other European mainstream media to state the truth about the very real Francoist origins of the Spanish government. The current government of Spain are the direct political heirs of Franco and that many of their ministers have personal and family connections to his rule. Rajoy, Spain’s current Prime Minister, started his political career in 1981 by joining the People’s Alliance, a party founded in 1979 and led by 7 of Franco’s ministers to carry on the Francoist legacy. The People’s Alliance became the major component in the now governing People’s Party. It is a directly Francoist party.

The fascist instincts of the Madrid government when faced with the entirely legitimate desire for a democratic vote on Catalonian Independence are therefore part of the very political DNA of the ruling party. It is a truth which it is more convenient for the Establishment to avoid, particularly in Britain where it is feared Catalan Independence might encourage Scottish Independence.

The European Commission has shown commendable rectitude in warning both Poland and Hungary in strong terms of the consequences of their right wing lurches away fro democracy. It would be good to see the Commission and European governments warning Spain now, for actions which are a bigger threat to democracy than the Polish or Hungarian right have so far dared. But that would not suit the agenda of the neo-liberal ruling Establishment, so do not hold your breath.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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A Sense of Proportion

The Establishment is fast losing its grip on the loyalty of the populace. That decline in the respect of the population for their masters has coincided with the rise of the importance of the internet and social media, and the corresponding decline in consumption of traditional print and broadcast news and current affairs media. It is a little more complicated than simple cause and effect – at precisely the same period the income gap in western society has opened out massively, and the palliative protections of the masses, particularly trade unions, have been rendered impotent. But the overall impact is that respect of the people for their “betters” is vanishing. Indeed, very few people would accept anybody in the political class as their “better” today.

There have been a number of Establishment reactions to this development. One is the cry of “Fake News” and desire to find excuses for censoring the internet and re-establishing control of the narrative. The “Fake News” alarm is perhaps too transparent a device to work in this respect, but they will keep mining away at the national security/paedophilia/terrorism excuses for ending this period of unprecedented freedom in mass communication.

Another device continuously deployed is for wealthy and/or powerful members of the Establishment to use identity politics to claim that they are themselves under attack. Hillary Clinton’s defeat is continually explained by her acolytes as due to “misogyny”. We had the entirely faked up story that the anger at Laura Kuenssberg for being blatantly anti-Corbyn was also misogyny. There is not a single Blairite female Labour MP who has not repeatedly claimed that political opposition from the left is conditioned by her gender.

Now we have a new meme, where MPs are complaining that their children are being verbally attacked at school. Now it is very wrong that any child is ever bullied or made unhappy. If Bob Stewart was telling the truth of his child facing adverse comment from a teacher, that is bad. But life is not without its troubles, even for children. I suffered some veiled taunts from one particular teacher about the fact my father was absent from the home. When I was going through my very high profile dispute with the Foreign Office, people said things to my children. Stuff happens – I don’t want any child to be unhappy, but MPs’ children have pretty charmed lives and manage to do often “surprisingly” well at getting their first job.

Today we have Hanna Flint in the Guardian apparently traumatised by a teacher asking her when she was 13 if her mum, Caroline Flint, would vote for the war in Iraq. Again I am sorry if that upset Hanna. No child should be upset. But there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children a very great deal more traumatised by having close family members blown to pieces in the Iraq conflict, thanks to the hardened and nasty right wing piece of work that is Caroline Flint. I imagine their trauma is rather worse. There are plenty of Iraqi children who got maimed themselves. There are plenty of Iraqi children who, unlike Hanna, never got the chance to grow up at all, thanks to Hanna’s warmongering mum. I am sorry for your childhood pain, Hanna, I really am. I hate to see any child unhappy. But forgive me if you are not first in line for my sympathy.

Remember, if your mum was not a Blairite MP, a young journalist as bland as you would be most unlikely to get an article published in the Guardian. See, its not all that bad. being in the Establishment.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Lidl Terrorism

Everyone has seen the photo of the plastic bucket in the Lidl bag which contained the Parson’s Green bomb. The typically dubious Islamic State clam of responibility conjured amusing images of ISIS shopping at Lidl. The event was no joke however for the few people who were burnt, and the lesson yet again is that even the most amateur “terrorist” can kill or maim if they put their mind to it. Which is one reason why we should always be entirely sceptical of security service claims to be monitoring thousands of terrorists and foiling dozens of plots. Terrorism is physically easy – anyone who can wield a knife, drive a vehicle or put flammable liquid in a bucket can do it. Many entirely amateur terrorists manage to be a lot more deadly than these ones. In practice you cannot physically prevent all crime from occurring, without changing society completely by the most fundamental abolition of civil liberties. A certain low level “terrorist” risk we just have to live with. If we shun attacking other countries, we will obviously reduce that risk.

To create an effective blast, you need some sort of pressure vessel containing the explosive. There is no sign of this in the photos of the Parsons Green bomb and plainly there was no “blast” as such from the condition of the bucket. Some kind of fire event was rather created. If the police are arresting the right people, it is teenagers from social care backgrounds who did this. That is of a piece with what we know of so many recent attacks, where psychiatric health appears to be the cause of an interest in nihilist ideologies – as opposed to the other way round.

We are entering a phase where we can expect the deep unpopularity of the government to worsen. Real wages continue to fall, and that is going to continue. Despite this and the massive mountain of personal debt, the Bank of England seems determined to raise interest rates in the next few months, which will put an even larger squeeze on the living standards of the poor. In particular, an increase in interest rates will not just cause the struggling and overly indebted to have higher repayments, in the Tory buy to let economy it will feed directly into higher rents.

The government therefore needs an alternative narrative to distract the bulk of the population from their increasing penury. The Tory government will continue to use the Brexit negotiations, not to obtain the best outcome for the UK, but in order to manipulate events to highlight the issue of immigration and seek to further scapegoat immigrants as the cause of popular economic hardship. But they will also undoubtedly try to play up the “security” narrative. Expect more legislation to restrict civil liberties, and particularly expect amber Rudd to spearhead a coordinated media campaign to promote major censorship of the internet. That is the next major fight where we will have to stand up to the Tories.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Crowdsourcing My Libel Defence – Web Detectives Needed

On 29 and 30 April 2016 Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail Online, wrote a series of tweets about me which have since been deleted. These feature in my libel defence and it would be extremely useful to be able to recover them. His twitter stream on those days also included several of his followers falsely calling me an anti-Semite and other awful stuff, and it would be most useful to recover those too.

More generally there was much evidence in Mr Wallis Simons’ twitter stream in the months and years prior to 29 April 2016 of he or his followers making allegations of anti-Semitism widely. Any of that which could be recovered would also be extremely helpful.

The date when material was deleted is extremely important – perhaps even more important to me than the recovery of the material itself. Mr Wallis Simons now has an app which deletes all his tweets at a 2 month cut-off date. I need to discover when that app came into operation on his account and material started to vanish.

For the record, I have directly asked his lawyer these questions, twice, in writing, and have received the reply that these questions are irrelevant to the case against me.

Nothing in the above or the rest of this article imputes any wrongdoing, ill motive or illegal activity to Dr Wallis Simons or to his lawyer, Mr Mark Lewis. His lawyer, Mr Lewis, has bad luck because in another recent high profile libel case, Monroe vs Hopkins, he also found that his client, Ms Monroe, gained an unwanted advantage from installing a twitter deleting app that was at least similar in operation. Interestingly she installed this after Mr Lewis had started advising her. This led to para 84 of the judgement:

84. The second point is that there have been difficulties over disclosure especially on the claimant’s side, of which others should take note. The deletion of the First Tweet, at Ms Monroe’s request, meant the Twitter Analytics were unavailable. And Ms Monroe’s Twitter records were extensively deleted. I am not able to attribute responsibility for that on the basis of the evidence, and I do not. What I can say is that this highlights in the Twitter context the responsibility of a litigant to retain and preserve material that may become disclosable, and the responsibility of a solicitor to take reasonable steps to ensure that the client appreciates this responsibility and performs it.

I can never think of libel without thinking of poor martyred Oscar Wilde. As Oscar might have said:

To lose one client’s tweets may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

Any evidence you can find me of the content of the deleted tweets and when they vanished, as outlined above, would be very helpful. I am often struck by the astonishing variety of skills possessed by readers of this blog, and I am sure we will find that internet forensics are among them. It is also interesting how often people happen to screenshot things which interest them.

More than 4,000 people have to date contributed to my defence fund and I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I am by gratitude.

Feel free to post your discoveries in comments below but please avoid possibly libellous assertions. It would be helpful if you could in addition send me potentially useful material through the contact box top right of the blog.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Rally For Independence Tomorrow George Square

I am speaking tomorrow at the Independence Rally at George Square in Glasgow. It is more than ever important that we mobilise the Yes movement now and step up campaigning for Independence, as the Establishment are keen to pretend that we are beaten down and cowed. I am also very pleased to note that there are more than the usual number of identifiable SNP activists supporting this rally, and hopefully we are learning that for the Judean People’s Front to boycott the People’s Front of Judea is no way to win your freedom.

The event starts from 11am. I shall be speaking shortly after 1pm, contrary to what it says in the programme.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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The Benefits of the Union

Following today’s completion, for a mere £14.8 billion, you will now be able to get on a train in Reading and get off it in Southend, something I thank God I am unlikely to do, in either direction. According to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling this is going to be “a massive driver of economic wealth across the whole of the UK”. The citizens of Scotland, who have stumped up £1.5 billion of the cost of this project, I fear would have a very long wait before they saw their money back in extra economic growth. Meanwhile Scotland’s railways are mostly not even electrified yet, and the A1 not even dualled for long stretches, both South of Edinburgh and North of Newcastle. Ho hum.

Mind you, Crossrail was a snip at about 5.5% of the cost of Trident renewal. Crossrail was described as “Europe’s biggest construction project.” It does rather put things into perspective, that Trident costs almost twenty times Europe’s biggest construction project.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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The CIA Review Sikunder Burnes

Perhaps ironically, the most thorough review of Sikunder Burnes to date has just been published by the CIA, in cataloguing it for the CIA’s own library. I presume that they would not mind me reprinting it:

Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game, by Craig Murray. (Birlinn, Ltd, 2016) 437, endnotes, bibliography, photos, maps, index.

The “Great Game,” a term popularized but not originated by Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim, refers to 19th-century intelligence operations between Britain and Russia when the former saw a threat from the latter. Alexander Burnes was a British military intelligence officer, a gifted linguist, and an active participant in the Great Game. Sikunder Burnes tells his story.

Author and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, learned of Sir Alexander Burnes while studying history at the University of Dundee. A great-nephew of the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, Sir Alexander had an impressive record of his own: as a 15-year-old cadet, Burnes arrived in India on 31 October 1821 and before his death in Kabul just 20 years later, he would enjoy audiences with British monarch, be knighted for service to the crown, honored by the Royal Geographic Society, and write a best-selling, three-volume account of his travels from India to Bokhara and another book about his service in Kabul during the First Afghan War.[7]

Ambassador Murray acquired the details for his book by visiting long unexplored archives in India, Afghanistan, and London that revealed documents discussing Burnes’s travels on intelligence missions throughout India, Afghanistan, and neighboring regions. He often traveled in disguise while in unknown territory using the name “Sikunder Khan” (“Sikunder” is Persian for Alexander). Facilitated by his gift for linguistics, Burnes met with tribal officials on nominally political matters while collecting military and geographic intelligence. His reports included hand-drawn maps and fortress details that were sent to London and contributed to his growing reputation.

Perhaps the most surprising result of Murray’s research was his discovery of Burnes’s portrait in the Mumbai Asiatic Society archive; the portrait is included in the book. Burnes’s books featured a frontispiece of him in a turban, but this was not his true likeness: he had insisted on a distorted rendition to protect his anonymity. (128–129)
Burnes was not a solitary intelligence officer: Murray introduces the reader to a number of his espionage colleagues, while describing their often contentious relationships, exploits, and awkward communication methods.

Of his many assignments, Burnes’s mission to Kabul as liaison to the Afghan leader Dost Mohammed was the most challenging. He “recruited spies in the Afghan court” (204) to monitor the threatening alliances contemplated and formed with the Persians, Russians, and the region’s many factions. When the Indian government decided to replace Dost, rejecting Burnes’s recommendation to support him, Burnes reluctantly agreed and his friend Dost was replaced by a British surrogate. The result was the first disastrous Afghan war and Burnes’s violent death and that of his younger brother Charles, who had followed him to India, in the courtyard of Burnes’s home. Some historians concluded Burnes was killed because of sexual affairs with native women, but Murray explains that Burnes observed the Afghan rules about such matters and traveled with his own harem. (170)

There are two interesting sub-themes in Sikunder Burnes. In the first, Murray find parallels with his own foreign officer career and, from time to time, points them out in the narrative, which interrupts the flow a bit. Then there are his digressions concerning Alexander and his brother, James—a doctor, also in India for a while—and their connection with the myths that link the Knights Templar and Scottish Freemasonry. Murray ponders whether this connection supports the conspiracy theories of “Da Vinci Code.”

Sikunder Burnes is the first biography of Burnes’s extraordinary life. Whether, as some historians have claimed, there was no genuine Russian threat to India at the time, it is clear the British thought there was. What they did to counter it will confound those who follow events in Afghanistan today; there are many analogous mistakes. A fine and important book that reveals how intelligence was practiced “back in the day,” and, to some extent, how the practice continues.

Sadly the CIA appear not to have learned from the book the folly of occupying Afghanistan. But it would be delightful if they had learned that it would be helpful to send each of the 4,000 extra troops they are sending out with a copy of Sikunder Burnes in their back pocket, to increase their chances of survival.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Boris Johnson and the Relics of Empire

Boris Johnson is flying in to the hurricane ravaged British Caribbean territories to play benevolent colonial master. Hurricane Irma plays in to the fantasies of the Tory Brexiteers – Britain as world-bestriding Empire, with great interests around the globe. Hurricane Irma caused death and huge deprivation to local people.

Individuals were cowering behind furniture and preparing for emergency flights out. These latter were the ultra-wealthy in London who were terrified that the rooves would be torn off company registries and their tax haven secrets scattered abroad by the hand of God.

Despite having all the Tory fantasy elements of patrician benevolence, warships, colonies, subjects and soldiers, the Tory instinct of meanness remains overriding. Some of the British overseas territories in the Caribbean have suffered enormous damage to their infrastructure, with power, water, hospitals and schools out of action. But the British government response so far has been to provide a paltry £32 million in aid of which it claims £28 million is already spent.

You cannot help but feel that some parts of the Tory Imperial vision are more valued in the Tory hierarchy than others. What do you think the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar would have been given if they had suffered massive losses of power, water, health and education infrastructure? There is a definite hierarchy of colonies in Brexiteer eyes, depending on their place in military jingoism and (whisper it softly) the skin colour of the inhabitants.

Britain has sent 500 squaddies to assist. Cuba, despite itself suffering terrible damage, has managed to send 1,000 extra doctors and nurses to other Irma hit islands. The much maligned government of Venezuela has sent more aid than the UK. But of course they have not sent Boris Johnson on a publicity seeking trip. I am sure Boris is much more valuable than a repaired school or a tent to live in or the other boring stuff the Venezuelans are doing.

A constant theme of my writing has been the deliberate blindness of the Western establishment and media in ignoring the long term causes of conflicts, and instead choosing sides as “goodies” and “baddies”, as though large groups of human beings are suddenly motivated by nothing but spontaneous evil. The tribal divisions which beset Kenyan policies today were largely caused by British seizure of the best farming land for white settlers, and displacing the inhabitants onto the lands of other tribes. The root of the civil wars in both Sierra Leone and Liberia owed much to the transplantation of large colonies of freed slaves, who came to form the basis of a coastal elite that dominated trade, politics and corruption. The Rwandan genocide was in large part triggered by a CIA sponsored Tutsi insurgency.

None of this excuses, in any way, individual or mass acts of violence, oppression, looting or depravity. But it must be understood that events have causes. The appalling massacres of Rohingyas in Burma can in no sense be excused. But they are a direct result of the British Empire. The British deliberately imported the bulk of the Rohingyan population during the 19th century to increase the pre-existing Muslim population and provide a local class that would be more “dependable” than the native Burmese, who were extremely difficult to subdue militarily and culturally resistant to the “benefits” of British Imperial rule. Rohingyans were a key component in British occupying military forces, in which for long periods (including World War II) other Burmese were not entitled to enlist.

None of this makes the current attacks on the Rohingyas any less of a crime. Nor does it lessen the responsibility of Aang San Suu Kyi to restrain her military and prevent attacks. But it is essential background. This is yet another conflict caused by the British Empire. It is most improbable the mainstream media will tell you that.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated.





Craig Murray Defence Fund

On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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Racism and Authoritarianism Reach Climax Together in the Brexit Bill

There is in practice a link between racism and authoritarianism. You don’t get many racist anarcho-syndicalists. You don’t get many anti-racist fascists. It doesn’t just work at the extremes – the “Alf Garnett” caricature of a devotion to the monarchy, strong central authority and the military, accompanying racism is a recognisable truth.

Yesterday, we got the joyous union of both tendencies, as Westminster passed the Brexit Bill which simultaneously promised to keep pesky foreigners out of Britain and remove centuries of equally pesky checks on executive power.

There is no motivation for Brexit other than racism. I still have never had a conversation with anyone – including here on this blog – in which their motivation for supporting Brexit did not come down to stopping Eastern Europeans from coming here. Those who consider themselves “left wing” like to frame this racism as a desire to protect British workers from wage competition – a peculiarly nationalistic concern for the working class of one nation only, with the chance for working class people from other places to better themselves completely ignored.

This is an extremely wealthy country. Yet many people are terribly poor. The extremely rich have through mass media promoted right wing populism diverted the blame away from the 1% who suck out all the wealth, and on to poor immigrants. The 1% are chuckling at the gullibility of much of the population they have kept in deprivation and propaganda-fed ignorance. Fortunately new media opens the possibility they may not chuckle long.

As I have repeatedly said, it is indisputable that immigration grows the economy and this effect is positive for wages, vastly out-weighing any short term effect from increased labour supply. If immigration damaged wages, the USA and Germany would have the lowest paid workforces in the world. The argument is plainly a nonsense. Not only does immigration in itself inject dynamism into an economy, EU immigration is linked to free flow of capital and goods from which the UK economy has vastly benefited.

If you do accept that immigration from Poland to the UK decreases wages in the UK because of increased labour supply, then you must in logic accept that it also increases wages in Poland due to decreased labour supply. It is a peculiar kind of socialism that objects to wage levels being raised in the country where they are lower. It is a “socialism” which values the working class in one country only. It is, to use the precisely correct term, national socialism. Which is why its going hand in hand with last night’s vote to remove all caps on executive power, is of a piece.

Popular racism is the only glue May has to hold together some kind of support after her dismal election performance. That is why she attempted to shore it up by the official “leak” of the Home Office draft document on how to implement a ridiculously hard-line anti-immigrant policy and strangle the economy. The government spends billions on security and today every printed or electronic copy of a classified government document bears secure and hidden signs that show its full provenance. They have extraordinary tools at their disposal to catch the “leaker”, but I guarantee you will never hear any more on this one.

Evidently pandering to the racist vote was more important to the Tories than success in the Brexit negotiations. Indeed, I concluded long ago that the most likely explanation of the Tories’ extraordinary approach to the Brexit negotiations is that they wish them to fail. Nothing I have seen since has caused me to reconsider. Having been clearly told “no cherry-picking” by the EU, the British government has replied it wishes to remain in science and education, trading standards, intelligence-sharing, defence and foreign policy mechanisms (to name but a few), and to retain its market access and open borders, while ending free movement of people and having its own exterior trade deals. This is the most unrealistic negotiating position it is possible to imagine. FCO diplomats are utterly baffled, and rigorously side-lined.

So having ramped up the racism, last night we had the authoritarianism.

Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament (including amending this Act).

That is one of the quite astonishing clauses that MPs last night voted through in surrendering the entire legislative power Parliament gained over 600 years, to the Executive. If the Act is held to limit the scope of that executive legislative power in any way, the government can simply make a provision to amend the Act to remove that limitation.

In decades to come, society will have recovered and historians will be scratching their heads over why decent people failed to stop this madness at this very obvious tipping point. To which the answer is, because they were bewitched by the attraction of simple xenophobia. They supported it as long as this “strong government” promised to reduce immigration. The axis of racism and authoritarianism once again attracted the weak-minded to be manipulated by the psychotic.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated.





On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to donate by card without logging in.

For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address.

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The Disintegration of the American Body Politic

These are extremely dangerous times for the world. North Korea is exposing the futility of deterrence theory and causing nuclear weapons all over the world to be dusted down, at a time when a maverick outsider in the White House has been captured by a bunch of Generals who make Dr Strangelove look rational. Anybody who thinks sending occupying troops into Afghanistan is ever going to work is clearly certifiable.

The febrile state of the American political system has resulted in a peculiar McCarthyist witch-hunt against Russia, in which people who you would presume must have some capacity for rational thought, such as the editors of the Washington Post and New York Times, have abandoned that rationality in favour of anti-Russian hysteria.

As a British diplomat I cultivated contacts with Ken Saro Wiwa and his circle in Nigeria as they pushed against the tyrannical regime of President Abacha and the environmental destruction of their region, most notably by Shell. I cultivated Alexander Kwasniewski as a young opposition leader who eventually defeated the great Lech Walesa. I cultivated John Kufuor, opposition leader in Ghana, who like Kwasniewski went on to be President. I cultivated Mohammed Solih’s people in Uzbekistan. The later stages of all this are covered in my books The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Murder in Samarkand.

As a diplomat it is your job to have relations not only with those in government, but to prepare in case the government changes. It is also your job, where you can get away with it, to push the political landscape in the direction your own government wishes. That is of the very essence of diplomacy.

If the Russians – and every other major government – had not been putting work into cultivating Trump and his circle, they would not have been carrying out the functions of diplomacy in the way they are carried on by every single country in the world – and by none more than the United States. For every contact between any Russian and anyone connected to Trump’s circle, now to be dredged up one after another and conflated into some master plot by Putin to take over the whole world, is complete nonsense. It is not just nonsense but dangerous nonsense because it is pumping up international tension between nuclear powers beyond cold war levels, and there is no shortage of potential flashpoints where things could go horribly wrong.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both reflected disillusionment at the massive exploitation of ordinary people by the ruling Establishment, though unfortunately the American people were cheated – most instrumentally by Clinton, the DNC and the rigged primary contest – into getting Trump rather than Sanders. The political system has still not adjusted to a new reality. Radical change is coming in both the US and the UK, but in both countries the Establishment for now still controls enough of the legislature and judiciary to hold the line. But I do not anticipate the demand for greater social justice will die down. The successful diversion of the revolutionary impulse by the Establishment media to the cause of the alt right in the United States and of racist Brexit in the UK, I believe will prove a temporary phenomenon.

But when so much bad blood is rushing around the body politic, the odd boil will erupt through the skin. One such boil is Louise Mensch, the former British Tory MP and multi-millionaire now recast as anti-Russian cheerleader in the United States, where she is given an astonishing amount of mainstream media space for her crazed theories.

Yesterday I got Louise Mensch all excited:

The tweet that made her say “On my God” was this one. We got not just an “Oh my God” out of Louise but also a “Christ!”:

Precisely what Mensch’s new God-fearing chums make of her choice of expletives I know not. But a rational person may wonder what about these tweets could cause such ecstasy in Ms Mensch.

Louise has taken up online with one of the crazed self-styled security experts who is jumping on the anti-Russian bandwagon in the United States, named Chris Nethery. Mr Nethery believes and has convinced Ms Mensch (so far as I can judge) that Sarah Kendzior, Uzbek opposition leader Mohammed Solih and I are members of a Russian intelligence cell which is undermining America. Those tweets appear to the rather strange mind of Ms Mensch to prove compelling evidence of this.

Ms Kendzior is a journalist. About seven or eight years ago she did some excellent academic work on Uzbekistan which I praised on this blog. I may have met her at that time but do not recall doing so. I have certainly not heard from her since. I have no emails from her. But still more hilarious is Nethery’s evidence that Mohammed Solih is a Russian agent. Mohammed is in exile in Turkey and like many opposition figures would be rather likely to be handed over for execution to the Uzbek regime should he come into Putin’s clutches. The Russian “expert” Nethery’s evidence of Solih being a Russian agent is that “Solih participated in the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968”.

It is not a secret that Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union. In 1968 Mohammed Solih was 18 years old and would have been compulsorily conscripted into the Soviet armed forces. Nethery’s accusation is ludicrous. It is like blaming the vets for the Vietnam war.

The Trump White House is dysfunctional and that clearly indicates the rottenness of the American political system. Xenophobia has become the rule. The anti-immigrant xenophobia of Trump’s supporters is mirrored by the equally irrational anti-Russian xenophobia of Trump’s opponents. Laughable figures like Mensch get to write columns in formerly great newspapers. I did not expect to see the United States decline so quickly.

SAVE CRAIG MURRAY

I face a libel suit in the High Court in England brought by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of the Daily Mail Online, and his lawyer Mark Lewis. The judge has approved over £100,000 in costs for Mr Lewis and £40,000 damages are sought in addition. I have been directly threatened with bankruptcy. All help against England’s draconian anti-free speech laws is much appreciated.

DONATE TO THE CRAIG MURRAY DEFENCE FUND





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Save Craig Murray

UPDATE 07/09 12:00 The Craig Murray defence fund has just sailed serenely past £50,000 in electronic donations in almost precisely 24 hours, even before any of the cheques have arrived. It is a perfect illustration of the grossly disproportionate threat to freedom of speech that is the English libel system, that this is not sufficient and we have to persevere with the appeal.

2,080 people have donated an average of £24. The largest single donation is £4,000. There are also hundreds of £3 and £5 donations which do really add up. I am absolutely stunned by the outpouring of kindness I have experienced – though in fairness I should mention the significant minority who say they are motivated by despisal of the Daily Mail.

ORIGINAL POST
I am being sued for libel in the High Court in England by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of the Daily Mail Online. Mr Wallis Simons is demanding £40,000 in damages and the High Court has approved over £100,000 in costs for Mark Lewis, Mr Wallis Simons’ lawyer. I may become liable for all of this should I lose the case, and furthermore I have no money to pay for my defence. I am currently a defendant in person. This case has the potential to bankrupt me and blight the lives of my wife and children. I have specifically been threatened by Mr Lewis with bankruptcy.

Mr Wallis Simons boasts on his website:

In 2015, I published a series of articles exposing Jeremy Corbyn’s links with anti-Semitic figures, and this led to what is now known as the “Labour anti-Semitism scandal.”

It was my Sky TV appearance on this subject which led to this libel action against me.

It is my view that English libel law remains an international disgrace, a device by which the wealthy and those with wealthy backers, and only they, can stifle freedom of speech. Contempt of Court laws – with a penalty of two years imprisonment – even prevent poor defendants like me from putting their case openly before the public in order to appeal for a public defence fund. I am extremely limited in what I can tell you.

How can it cost just one party six times the average annual national wage to litigate a five minute TV broadcast? The libel system, with its in-built advantage to the wealthy and those backed by the wealthy, is a complete disgrace. Andy Wightman, the brilliant Scottish land reform campaigner, has been going through the same Hell.

I find I am obliged to beg you for funds to help me defend the case. I need to ask every single person who reads this blog to find it in their heart to make at least some contribution, as much as you can afford. The scale of this thing is such that I need to ask those of you who are comfortably off to make a far larger donation than you might normally consider. In practice we are going to need to include some four figure donations to make the ludicrous amounts required. But every single penny mounts up and please do give something.

If you have ever enjoyed this blog – join the fight. If you dislike this blog but support freedom of speech – join the fight. If you support the right to defend Palestine without being labelled ant-Semitic – join the fight. If you despised the anti-Corbyn media campaign – join the fight. If the Daily Mail sickens you – join the fight.

Every donation, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. The case will be heard in the High Court on 7 November. In the event of victory, after costs are met (even a costs award does not cover all actual costs) excess donations will be returned pro-rata unless you specify they should be applied to the future of maintaining the blog.

This is a question not only of the continued existence of this blog, but of the future well-being of my young family. It is unfair on you for me to place all of that in your hands, but that is the situation into which I am forced.





UPDATE 06/09 20:00 In just 8 hours we have received £21,790 in donations to the fighting fund. This is a fantastic start. 836 individuals have donated, making the average donation £26. The largest donation received is £1,000 and the smallest are £3. I am incredibly humbled and grateful that we are starting to have a chance. There have been so many kind messages, of which “you cast a lot of bread upon the waters helping others, Craig” made me greet for a bit. I have particularly enjoyed those from people who declare they agree with almost nothing I say but support free speech! About 60% of donations are from Scotland, but so far we have 22 different countries.

I really cannot express my gratitude enough.

On a practical point, a number of people have said they are not members of Paypal so could not donate. After clicking on “Donate”, just below and left of the “Log In” button is a small “continue” link which enables you to pay by card without logging in. For those who prefer not to pay online, you can send a cheque made out to me to Craig Murray, 89/14 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8BA. As regular readers know, it is a matter of pride to me that I never hide my address. A surprising number of people have asked for a Bitcoin option and we are working on it.

I found this interview by the lawyer who is suing me to be particularly interesting. I may say no more than that without danger of contempt of court.

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The Appalling Pottingers

One wealthy family through generations has been a pillar of the British establishment, and at the same time responsible for an astonishing amount of harm. Yet you have probably never heard of the Pottingers. Their history can almost make you believe in Grand Guginol stories that a capacity for evil can be genetically inherited. The Bell Pottinger scandal in South Africa, where the PR firm has been found to have deliberately exacerbated racial tension in collusion with corrupt billionaires, is only the latest episode. Here is a glimpse into the astonishing story of the Pottingers.

Purely by chance I have stumbled in three entirely different ways on the activities of the Pottingers in different generations, which is how I can tell this story, and nobody else can.

Sir Henry Pottinger 1789-1856 Protagonist of the Opium War – Tiberius Like Imperial Ruler Steeped in Sexual Exploitation

In researching Sikunder Burnes, I encountered Sir Henry Pottinger, pillar of the British establishment and Burnes’ boss, who features prominently throughout the book. As a very young man Henry undertook one of those heroic journeys in disguise that were a staple of Raj exploration, across the Baloch lands to Persia. But he developed into an extremely bellicose imperialist, craving the annexation of the territory of modern Pakistan. He also developed a pathological hatred of Burnes. This caused him to contradict Burnes’ advice to disembark Sir John Keane’s Bombay Army at Karachi in 1839, instead choosing a completely unsuitable beach. He also overruled Burnes’ personally reconnoitred supply line through the Thatta desert. Both decisions were wrong and based on intense jealousy of Burnes, and caused major delays and losses to the army.

Henry Pottinger found the outlet for his Imperial aggression in the Opium War, as breathtakingly immoral a war as any in the history of all Empire, in which Britain forced China to accept the flow of opium from the East India Company. After killing Chinese with brutal efficiency, Pottinger was responsible for the forced cession by lease of Hong Kong as a UK colony. He became the first Governor of Hong Kong.

The history books are coy on the circumstances which led to his tenure of Hong Kong being cut short, and this being beyond the scope of my Burnes book I did not get into manuscript research on it, but it involved a dispute with the British merchants and involved both Henry Pottinger’s personal money-making schemes and his relationship with “pretty Mrs Morgan.” Removed to South Africa as Governor of Cape Colony, the history books are more explicit about why he did not last long there. G M Theal’s History of South Africa recounts:

No other Governor of his colony ever lived in such open licentiousness as he. His amours would have been scandalous in a young man, in one approaching his sixtieth anniversary they were inexcusable… a cold, calculating, sneering, unsympathetic demeanour prevented men of virtue being attached to him.

Eldred Pottinger 1811-43 Imperial Fraud

Henry’s nephew Eldred became famous to Victorians as “The Hero of Herat”. It is a great story of the British Empire. On shooting leave, Eldred Pottinger was indulging in the favourite heroic occupation of exploring the North West Frontier of the Raj in disguise. He chanced to be in Herat when this Afghan city came under lengthy siege from a Russian-officered Persian army. The cowardly Afghan rulers would have been overwhelmed but fortunately the lone plucky Brit in the City organised the defences and held the Russian hordes at bay, preventing their marching on India. Famously, at one point when Persian troops had breached the defences, Pottinger drove the cowardly fleeing Wazir, Yar Mohammed Khan, back to fight with the flat of his sword.

Except it is all utter bullshit. Surviving manuscript letters of Alexander Burnes make plain Pottinger was in Herat on Burnes’ orders, and Burnes explicitly states that Eldred Pottinger’s presence in the city being “on leave” was a ruse because Britain was breaking its explicit treaty obligation to be neutral in a conflict between Afghanistan and Persia. Yet no British historian has ever published this until I published Sikunder Burnes – even Peter Hopkirk and William Dalrymple repeat the lie of Eldred being there accidentally.

Furthermore the idea that the Afghans were cowards inspired by a true Brit is total nonsense. Pottinger was by no means the only European involved in the city’s defence. The entire story of the “Hero of Herat”, including the bit about driving the Wazir to the breach with his sword, was concocted by the Raj’s great Victorian propagandist, Sir John Kaye. The only evidence for it was said to be in Pottinger’s own journals, which were “accidentally” destroyed in a fire in Kaye’s study. To be fair to Eldred Pottinger, Burnes (who knew the Wazir well and doubted the story) records that Eldred never spoke of his famous exploits, and became embarrassed when they were mentioned. Eldred Pottinger survived captivity in the First Afghan War but died during the Opium War, possibly by suicide.

Sir Frederick Pottinger 1831-65 – Australian Villain

Henry Pottinger’s son Frederick occupies a position in Australian folklore akin to the Sheriff of Nottingham in England, as the ruthless enforcer of harsh British rule and enemy of the Bushrangers. While the latter are unfairly romanticised, there is no doubt Fred was a nasty piece of work.

Eton educated, Frederick whored and gambled his way through much of the family estate, and although his father was a senior Imperial governor, Fred was cut off and sent to a lowly position in the New South Wales police. All of Henry’s ruthlessness in the Opium War was displayed by Fred in law enforcement in Australia. In March 1863 a young boy accused of being a gang lookout died in detention under Fred Pottinger and his notoriety spread. In 1865 Pottinger was dismissed for his violent conduct in pursuing fugitives, and died shortly thereafter in a gun accident, again possibly a suicide.

William George Pottinger 1906-98- Scotland’s Corrupt Civil Service Chief

The Pottingers continued right at the heart of the British political establishment, and I skip several generations – but assure you it is the same family – to come to William Pottinger. The most disgusting example of a modern corrupt civil servant imaginable, William was right up there in the monarchical pecking order, awarded by the Queen as a Companion of the Royal Victorian Order and Companion of the Order of the Bath. While Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Office, Pottinger corruptly handed the architect George Poulson a contract to design the Aviemore Centre. Poulson’s bribes to Pottinger included £20,000 cash, cars and Savile Row suits. William Pottinger was sentenced to seven years in jail, reduced to four on his flashing his royal awards and establishment connections. Oh sorry, I meant on appeal.

This was the second time I came into contact with the baleful Pottinger story, my own father having a relationship with Poulson and Pottinger through T Dan Smith, my father serving for years as a manager at the Aviemore Centre where I also worked throughout my teens.

After jail William published, under his middle name George Pottinger, execrable biographies of his ancestors Henry and Eldred Pottinger, which elide pretty well all I have told you here.

Piers Julian Dominic Pottinger 1954-present – Right Wing Propagandist

The son of the disgusting criminal William George Pottinger is Piers Pottinger, and I wish to make plain that I do not believe that psychotic behaviour can be inherited and that in no way is this blog intended to imply that Piers Pottinger, Chairman of MySquar Ltd registered in Tortola in the entirely respectable British Virgin Islands, is in any way connected with anything dodgy. Mr Pottinger is a highly accepted pillar of the British establishment just like all his ancestors.

Piers currently chairs the Asian wing of Bell Pottinger, which he co-founded with Tim Bell. They were famously propagandists for Thatcher and also Tory Party donors. Until the current massive corruption scandal in South Africa led to suspension of operations, Bell Pottinger had represented an entirely respectable slate of clients including:

Dictator President Augusto Pinochet of Chile
Dictator Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus
The vicious torturing monarchy of Bahrain
Oscar Pistorius
Kate & Gerry McCann
Rolf Harris
Trafigura
Coca Cola

I could go on.

This current manifestation of this “remarkable” family was the subject of my third personal stumbling on information. In about (from memory) 2006, Uzbek opposition leader Mohammed Solih visited Britain, after I had helped campaign to get him a visa. While here, one businessman took him to a meeting in a grand board room in the City of London. There an astonishing presentation was made to him, and an astonishing proposition put.

Solih could be made President of Uzbekistan in a year. Substantial money would be invested upfront to undermine President Karimov. Key named leaders in the Uzbek security services and defence forces would be bought up. The media narrative to the Uzbek public would be secured. Financial sector activity would isolate Karimov’s access to his money in the UK and Europe. A revolution could successfully be procured. In return, all Solih had to do was to sign contracts to deliver Uzbekistan’s oil, gas, gold and uranium to certain Western companies – special purpose vehicles which disguised who really would benefit.

Solih was astonished. “Just who are you?” he joked “are you MI6 or the Illuminati?”

No, came the reply, we are Bell Pottinger.

Solih of course refused to sell his country down the river. The story sounded amazing when he first told me, but in the light of what we now hear from South Africa it makes perfect sense.

The Pottingers. A key cog in the evil ways of the British establishment, down the centuries. Understanding the history of this family gives an essential glimpse into just how the British establishment really works.

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The Shock of Panorama on G4S Abuse of Security Detainees

Every now and then BBC Panorama can still come up with a truly shocking investigation that can prick the public conscience. Today’s report by the excellent and brave Callum Tulley on the appalling physical and mental abuse of immigration detainees was so atrocious it may result in action other than the sacking of low level employees which appears to be in train. I do urge you strongly to watch the programme if you have not done so before.
The BBC failed dismally in their duty to explain that Theresa May is personally responsible for the abuse having supported the system throughout her long period as Home Secretary. We do not have similar undercover footage for the females held in Yarls Wood detention centre, but levels of physical abuse by staff are similar there and it is a matter of undisputed public record that they have included rape and sexual abuse.
Incredibly, Theresa May as Home Secretary blocked a United Nations Special Rapporteur from entering Yarls Wood to investigate. That is perhaps the second single most damning fact I know about the entire UK political system. The first most damning fact is that the BBC have never reported that fact.
The extreme brutality has undoubtedly been exacerbated by privatisation. The system is milked for maximum profit and the simple truth is that brutality is cheaper than care. That is the underlying cause, and another lesson the BBC failed to draw.
Nadira’s short film, Locked In, is based on real cases which took place in similar Category B detention centres but did not include violence against the detainees. It emphasises the extreme cruelty of locking up in this fashion asylum seekers who have been the victims of dreadful torture in detention in the country to which the Home Office is seeking to deport them. Here is the trailer:

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Deterrence Believers Shoud Cheer the North Korean Bomb

If the theory of nuclear deterrence holds true – and it is the only argument the supporters of WMD have got – then we should all be cheering the North Korean bomb. The logic of nuclear deterrence is that it is much better that every state has nuclear weapons, because then we can all deter each other. It is demonstrably true that possession of nuclear weapons is not a deterrent to other nations acquiring them. But it is supposed to deter other nations from using them. In which case, surely the more the merrier, so we can all deter each other.

The madness of the argument is self-evident. We are borrowing hundreds of billions we cannot afford for Trident, yet in all the reams of analysis of what to do about North Korea, Trident never gets a mention. It is a system entirely useless even in the one situation in which it was supposed to be effective.

How did we get here? In the 1950s the USA dropped 635,000 tonnes of bombs on North Korea including 35,000 tonnes of napalm. The US killed an estimated 20% of the North Korean population. For comparison, approximately 2% of the UK population was killed during World War II.

That this massive destruction of North Korea resulted in a xenophobic, American-hating state with an obsession with developing powerful weapons systems to ensure national survival, is not exactly surprising. The western media treat the existence of the Kim Jong-un regime as an inexplicable and eccentric manifestation of evil. In fact, it is caused. Unless those causes are addressed the situation can never be resolved. Has any western politician ever referenced the history I have just given in discussing North Korea?

This has so often been my despair. My book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo recounts my frustration whilst Deputy Head of the FCO’s Africa Department, at failing to get the Blair government to pay attention to the massive historical and continuing grievances that underlay the horrific violence in Sierra Leone. Politicians prefer a simplistic world of enemies who are “evil” for no reason. Newspaper editors prefer it even more. It justifies war. The truth is always a great deal more complicated.

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The EU Sails Serenely Past the Wreck of the United Kingdom

The disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has accused the EU of “blackmail” in the Brexit talks. This puzzles me. The disgraced former Defence Secretary has repeatedly asserted that the EU is desperate for a trade deal with the UK, and that German manufacturers of Mercedes and BMWs will insist that the UK leaving the EU brings no interruption in free trade, with no concomitant requirements for the UK to comply with EU practice.

But if the UK’s hand is so strong, and the EU’s hand is so weak, then the EU surely is in no position to “blackmail” the UK?

The disgraced former Defence Secretary has never struck me as a man of great intellect. It is perhaps unsurprising that it has not occurred to him, that to accuse your negotiating partner, in the most public manner possible, of blackmail, is not a tactic designed to inculcate the cooperative spirit necessary in any complex negotiation. Worse than that, “Blackmail” is a cry of “please don’t hurt me, I am weak on this one”. Fox contrives to be both insulting and inept all at the same time. It really is quite astonishing that a man who is both entirely incompetent, and has the corruption and inanity of the Werritty affair permanently inscribed on his record, is in office.

But the most incredible thing of all is that, standing in Japan next to Theresa May, the disgraced former Defence Secretary looks competent and assured by comparison. The collapse of the UK is not a pretty sight.

Meanwhile, Brexit has one positive side – for the EU. Just as national parliaments have done through history, the EU Parliament has been increasing its power incrementally over decades, thus eating away at the EU’s democratic deficit. Officially, on Brexit the Commission negotiates, and the Council (of national governments) decides, while the Parliament is only consulted. But plainly the role played by Guy Verhofstadt, the Parliament’s Brexit rapporteur, is more substantive than that and in the real world the EU Parliament will need to be carried along in agreement. That is a good thing for EU democracy.

Secondly, allow me to crow yet again at the detractors of the Euro. The Euro is arguably the most astonishing economic project in the history of the world, a currency union replacing dozens of existing currencies in the world’s largest and most mature economic bloc. Its success is, on any rational analysis, far more notable than the inevitable teething troubles, pretty well all of which can be ascribed to countries joining at too high a rate allowed to their former currency. I have always advocated that the UK join the Euro and that independent Scotland simply adopts it. Commenters invariably rejoin by echoing the ludicrous prognostications by the Mail and the Express of the Euro’s collapse. I look forward before Easter to the Euro decisively overtaking the pound in value.

The EU will go from strength to strength. An independent Scotland will remain within it. The rump UK will subside with alarming speed, comforting itself with its imperial delusions and xenophobic pride at “controlling its borders” and keeping out those pesky foreigners, who kept blackmailing it.

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