Index on Disgrace 215


The second half of my life has been a continual process of disillusionment with the institutions I used to respect. I suppose it started with the FCO, where I went from being Britain’s youngest ambassador to being sacked for opposing the use of intelligence from torture, at the same time having an insider view of the knowing lies about Iraqi WMD being used as a pretext for invasion and resource grab.

I still had some residual respect for the BBC, which respect disappeared during the Scottish independence referendum where BBC propaganda and disregard for the truth were truly shameless. My love of the universities was severely tested during my period as Rector of Dundee University, when I saw how far the corporate model had turned them from academic communities developing people and pursuing knowledge, to relentless churners out of unconsidered graduates and financially profitable research, with nearly all sense of community gone. My respect for charities vanished when I discovered Save the Children was paying its chief executive £370,000 and had become a haven for New Labour politicos on huge salaries, which was why it was so involved in pushing a pro-war narrative in Syria. When Justin Forsyth and Brendan Cox – both massively salaried employees who came into Save the Children from the revolving door of Gordon Brown’s office – were outed over sexual predation, that seemed a natural result of “charities” being headed by rich party hacks rather than by simple people trying to do good. As for respect for parliament, well the massive troughing expenses scandal and all those protected paedophiles…

It has become difficult to hang on to respect for any institution, and that is unsettling.

Which brings me to last week’s annual awards from Index on Censorship. The winners of the awards – from Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras and Egypt – all seem worthy enough, and there is even some departure from the neo-con narrative in recognising a human rights problem in Egypt.

But the Chairman of Index on Censorship is, incredibly, Rupert Murdoch lead hack David Aaronovitch, and he presided over the awards, in the very week in which the newspaper for which he writes produced this appalling attack on freedom of expression:

Inside there was a further two page attack on named academics who have the temerity to ask for evidence of government claims over Syria, including distinguished Professors Tim Hayward, Paul McKeigue and Piers Robinson. The Times also attacked named journalists and bloggers and, to top it off, finished with a column alleging collusion between Scottish nationalists and the Russian state.

That the Chairman of “Index on Censorship” is associated with this kind of attack on freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of research is sadly unsurprising. The guest list of the Index ceremony had a distinct right wing tinge including A C Grayling and Sara Khan, as well as a good smattering of the BBC, which was also represented on the judging panel. The irony of the state broadcaster being part of a panel on freedom of expression is plainly lost.

I realised something was very wrong with Index on Censorship when I contacted them over a decade ago, when Jack Straw attempted to ban the publication of my book Murder in Samarkand, after it had passed successfully through the exhaustive FCO clearance process over a time-consuming year. I tried to interest them again when my second book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo was dropped by my publisher following libel threats from mercenary commander Tim Spicer of Aegis/Executive Outcomes/Sandline. On both occasions I was told that then Chief Executive of Index, John Kampfner, did not regard these attempted book bannings as incidents of censorship. Presumably because they weren’t somewhere like Cuba or Zimbabwe…

The truly appalling Times attack on academics was part of a coordinated and government-led campaign to delegitimise anybody doubting the official narrative on Salisbury and Syria. The BBC weighed in with this horrible effort:

The government then issued a ridiculous press release branding decent people as “Russian bots” just for opposing British policy in Syria. In a piece of McCarthyism so macabre I cannot believe this is really happening, an apparently pleasant and normal man called Ian was grilled live on Murdoch’s Sky News, having been named by his own government as a Russian bot.

The Guardian uncritically published the government’s accusations in full, and astonishingly seemed proud that it had made no attempt to investigate their veracity but had merely published what the government wished them to publish:

The Guardian naturally was just as reliable as the BBC in driving home the message that anybody who doubted the government’s word on Syria was a flat-earth denier of the truth:

Mr Freedland is of course a perfect representation of an interesting fact. Those who are most active in telling us that we must attack Syria, and that anybody who questions the government’s pretexts is insane or evil, are precisely the same individuals who supported the war in Iraq and attacked those who doubted the existence of Iraqi WMD. indeed these people – Jonathan Freedland, David Aaronovitch, Oliver Kamm, Alan Mendoza, Andrew Rawnsley, John Rentoul, Nick Cohen – are the leaders of the tiny, insignificant number of people who still believe that the invasion of Iraq was both justified and beneficial in its result.

Yet these people of proven terrible judgement, they and others of their media class, are the arbiters who are allowed to dictate the terms of what is and what is not an acceptable public utterance on the situation in Syria.

When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the opposition, one of two things had to happen. Either the Overton window had to shift to allow for the reflection of views held by the leader of the official opposition and his myriad supporters, or the leader of the opposition had to be castigated and humiliated as an unreasonable lunatic. Corbyn’s rational scepticism on British involvement in the conflict in Syria is a key moment in this process. Despite the fact Corbyn’s scepticism is supported by a wide swathe of diplomatic and military opinion within the UK, it has to be portrayed as fringe, extreme and irrational.

We thus have the extraordinary spectacle of a coordinated government and media onslaught on anybody who doubts their entirely fact free narratives. Those who were demonstrably completely wrong over Iraq are held up as infallible, and given full control of all state and corporate media platforms, where they deride those who were right over Iraq as crackpots and Russian bots.

Meanwhile public trust in the state and corporate media hits new lows, which is the happy part of this story.

————————————————————————

Finally, a change of policy on this blog.

For thirteen years now it has operated with a policy of not accepting donations, except for occasional legal funds. It has now reached a size and cost, not least because of continual attacks, that make income essential. It is also the case that due to change in personal circumstance I am no longer in a position to devote my time to it without income – the need to earn a living caused the blog to go dark for almost five months last year, and the last six weeks this journalism has stopped me doing anything else to pay the rent. So, with a certain amount of pride swallowed, here is your chance to subscribe:

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215 thoughts on “Index on Disgrace

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  • Wolsto

    Hi Craig. I’ve been reading this site for, dunno, 10 years? Maybe more? I rarely get involved in the comments as your regulars a bit of an odd bunch, and I don’t always agree with your viewpoints, but it’s well worth a few quid a month to help keep you going. This is one of my most regular and favourtie online reads, and my week would be a lot poorer for its absence.

  • rich

    Craig, have you applied to get your blog under Google’s Project Shield?

    It’s a free service to protect journalists that are being kicked off the internet by DDoS attacks, like Brian Krebs for example.

  • Baalbek

    A clip of economist Mark Blyth on Brexit, the EU and Scottish independence. What he says at 1:10 is interesting…

    • Morton Subotnick

      Yep. Nice crisp summary of the Trump/Brexit phenomena, explained at greater length by Wolfgang Streeck in his article ‘The Return of the Repressed’ in the March/April 2017 issue of New Left Review (https://newleftreview.org/II/104/wolfgang-streeck-the-return-of-the-repressed).

      One of the interesting side effects of these ‘populist’ movements has been the way in which they have revealed the reactionary, liberal nature of sources such as Democracy Now!, CounterPunch and their ilk who have breathlessly embraced the “Trump is a fascist”/”Anyone who voted for Brexit is a racist” mainstream ‘narrative’, just in a putatively more ‘intellectual’ way than, say, MSNBC, the BBC, the Washington Post or the Guardian.

    • Geoffrey

      Yes,Baalbek, very interesting what he says at 1.10 ie that the centre left regard the bottom 30% of the population as something to be locked up in housing estates and policed. Spot on,and probably the cause of Brexit in that those 30% are not quite so stupid as thought and got a bit rebellious. So I suppose in that sense it is about Brexit. Never heard of Mark Blythe before, will read more of him.

  • Martinned

    It seems like a no-brainer to me how you could get this site funded. Just keep writing what you’ve been writing, and send the bill to uncle Vlad. If you’re going to bend over backwards to only ever write the the pro-Russia version of every story, you might as well get paid for it. (It’s not like it would hurt your credibility, because everyone reading this blog either already thinks you’re getting paid by the Russians, or doesn’t care.)

    • Rory Wood

      Craig should consider monetizing via Patreon. A lot of bloggers are now making a living from it.

    • Stating It

      Martinned its amusing how for folks such as yourself “pro Russia” has become euphemism for reality. Also its not “version of story” its called facts and another fact which is that you are unable to process even very elementary things that require minimum of logical thought does not invalidate those facts. But to be fair can you point which specific “pro Russia version of story” in this article you have in mind given that everything Craig said is backed in the very article with evidence but it is also not a “version” as all things are as they are stated; UK government lied and accused two twitter accounts of being Russian bots and both were confirmed to be neither bots nor Russian. Fact. UK media then repeated these claims without checking though debunking them would require a minimum journalistic effort. Fact. Most of the same people, named in Craigs article, who advocated for invasion of Iraq and killing and displacing millions which in return also created ISIS based on lies also advocate for invasion of Syria despite proven record of being constantly wrong while lecturing others. Fact. So what exactly do you have in mind? Specify

      • Sergei

        In a world where the mainstream media pushes Russophobic narratives 24/7, having a neutral, non-prejudiced attitude towards Russia is considered “pro-Russian”.

        • Lestek

          No kidding here, Sergei. In Poland you are just a ‘Russian spy’. No way you could here publicly express anything positive about Russia. Or about basic common sense – for example it’s better to live with big neighbour in good relationship or that Russia is huge market and we can get huge benefits trading with this country.

          Let me tell a story. There is a guy, dr Mateusz Piskorski. His politcal ideas are… generally lets say he’s Slavic nationalist. He called for good relationships with Russia, from time to time he expressed his opinions in Polish edition of Sputnik. He established very small political party ‘Zmiana’ (‘Change’). A few members of this party were going to protest (I mean banners etc., no violence) during NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016. But before summit, in May 2016, Piskorski has been arrested as ‘Russian and Chinese spy’. At the moment he’s been jailed for two years, but! there was no trial. In Poland exists legal contruct called ‘temporary arrest’, which usually starts from 3 months. And this sort of arrest may be extended five times, ten times or one thousand times. No limits here. What means you may be doomed in jail without trial forever. So, whenever Polish state can’t prove accusations (and wants to see you behind the bars) it uses ‘temporary arrest’.

          This is so called ‘democracy’, ‘free speech’ and ‘human rights’ in action. I just love those ‘western values’.

          • Jo Dominich

            Lestek, we haven’t quite got to that here yet but I am sure it’s on the horizon as this Government continue to remove our civil liberties. If my understanding of international news is correct, and it might not be, is it not the case that the Polish Government is so far right wing it has essentially become a Fascist Government as it has brought the Judiciary and the Press under total Government control now?

      • Sergei

        Lately, simply having an opinion on a certain issue that just happens to coincide with what some Russian said somewhere is also considered “pro-Russian”.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          If the Russians are anything like the Brits, they too have a wide variety of opinions…

        • Martinned

          If that happens once, twice, you might call it a coincidence. Fifteen times in a row is definitely not “just happens to coincide”…

          • RogerDodger

            No matter the subject, below dozens and dozens of articles on which you’ve commented, I have literally never seen you say anything that wasn’t an attempt to rebut or undermine Craig’s position or point.

            Of course, because I have a little faith in humanity, I’m completely willing to believe that it really is a remarkable coincidence that you’ve so consistently found what Craig has to say disagreeable, and thus that, time and time again, you’ve commented to advance nothing other than the conclusions you’ve arrived at via an open-minded consideration of the facts.

          • kweladave

            “Fifteen times in a row…”

            Your keeping a list? What other lists are you keeping?

            Have you considered that Craig was factually correct each time?

      • Sharp Ears

        [Mod: For the record. Please refrain from impugning motivation, addressing arguments, not people, and playing the man and not the ball. This comment would normally be removed altogether. It will be retained as evidence of obsessive stalking by someone banned from the site.]

        Comment deleted.

        • polonium

          [Mod: Habbabkuk sock puppet 9:14 am 23/04/2018 comment directed at Sharp Ears under first false name.
          Habbabkuk is banned from this website and was warned weeks ago on Squonk to cease his obsessive pursuit
          of Sharp Ears, which went both there and to The Lifeboat News. Screen shots of this posting will be
          retained by moderation as evidence.]

          Comment deleted.

          • Cyrus

            [Mod: Habbabkuk sock puppet 9:16 am 23/04/2018 comment directed at Sharp Ears under second false name.
            Habbabkuk is banned from this website and was warned weeks ago on Squonk to cease his obsessive pursuit
            of Sharp Ears, which went both there and to The Lifeboat News. Screen shots of this posting will be
            retained by moderation as evidence.]

            Comment deleted.

    • SA

      If you read carefully what Craig wrote you may even consider yourself either brainwashed or a shill.

    • Spaull

      Yeah, well, you see, on Skripal and Syria, facts and reality have an inconvenient pro-Russia bias.

      If our Government did not keep telling us lies, people telling the truth would not look pro-Russian.

    • Tatyana

      @Martinned
      I’m Russian. What’s wrong with being Russian or pro-Russian?
      People and opinions are different, it is always useful to know facts from both sides before making any judgements.
      ———–
      Mr. Murrey, I’m happy to subscribe, please keep writing.
      Best regards from Russia 🙂
      Tatyana

    • Neil Robinson

      Quite tiresome to read comments from people who only seem to think that two sides to a story means either the western side or the Russian side. No Martinned, it’s about the truth and not about taking sides.

  • Morton Subotnick

    The mechanics of censorship in a “democracy” have been surgically revealed by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in numerous pieces over the years, most notably in ‘Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edward-S.-Herman/e/B000APBH1G/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1524437489&sr=1-2-ent) and its ‘film’ version ‘Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media’ (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Manufacturing-Consent-Noam-Chomsky-Media/dp/B001IO151K/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1524437679&sr=1-1&keywords=Manufacturing+Consent+-+Noam+Chomsky+and+the+Media).

    For the skint, the former is available at the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/pdfy-NekqfnoWIEuYgdZl) and the latter on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAxeCKajwL8).

  • Old Mod Jon

    Finally, the chance to donate! I think I might have harped on about that before 🙂

    Craig, would you be willing to publish your account number and sort number in this post? I don’t think there is much of a security risk in doing so, and that will allow folks to set up standing orders via their bank.

    • Neil

      Agreed, Old Mod Jon.

      I refuse to use PayPal, partly because I think the cut they take is too high, but I also have other reasons.

      Craig, could you please either publish the Account name, sort code, account number openly, or if you’d rather not take the risk, email me the details please, so that I can set up a Standing Order.

      • Old Mod Jon

        Fair enough Kempe, thanks for the link.

        I don’t buy Clarkson’s suggestion that the Data Protection Act stopped a fraud investigation – the police have wide exemptions on the DPA. Still, he’ll have gotten his money back – the DD guarantee promises a refund in case of error (and presumably fraud as well).

    • PVC

      There is a direct debit mandate option on the payment options at the end of the blog post.

      • Neil

        No, D/D is merely one of the options for funding your Paypal payment(s). Paypal still gets its cut.

        I have a strong instinctive dislike of middlemen (and women, I suppose) who cream off cash they haven’t earned.

  • IM

    People (propagandists) with no foresight… So what are all of these post-modernist “version”-of-truth mouthpieces are going to say when the reality sets in, or are they still going to claim alternate reality? At one point the truth surfaces, then what?!

      • IM

        They can’t seriously think that with so much dis-information people are just going to forget, can they? Just a reality check really!

        • Spaull

          This is why I think the MSM has just committed collective suicide.

          I think the blatant propaganda, and suppressing of any voices asking pertinent questions about the official line, has brought us to a tipping point. They can never recover their credibility after this.

          • BarrieJ

            Agreed, the BBC in particular is finished; my sister and her husband in their 80s are disgusted with it, my wife and I refuse to watch it, our adult children see no reason to and their teenage children hardly know what it is or what it’s for.
            Impossible to see how they can recover; are they privately concerned or does their overwhelming arrogance and contempt prevent them from being so?

          • Jo Dominich

            Just a note about the BBC, I too am appalled at their coverage of Skripals and Syria. However, i am an avid listener of the Radio – namely 3, 4 and 4 Xtra. Couldn’t do without it! I

  • Hatuey

    Craig, I want to address your pessimism. Of course, you have every reason to be pessimistic. Sometimes I wonder if we could possibly make a bigger mess of our world.

    But I discussed the hopelessness of it all with a Palestinian back in 2001. I helped him put together a website aimed at publicising the sort of problems they experienced over there living in places like Gaza.

    Anyway, he said something I won’t forget. He said he understood the hopelessness I felt but he assured me that the little we did over here in the west made such a big difference to lives over there.

    He expressed a real fear that our support would stop and people would lose interest, leaving the assailants of his people to act with complete impunity and disregard.

    I was ashamed in a way to hear this but it inspired me to do more.

    We could and should all do more, but you have certainly done more than most, Craig. You gave up a very privileged career because you refused to compromise on principle. For that you have my deepest respect and I know there are many in Uzbekistan to this day who continue like me to hold you in the highest regard.

    Sincerely.

  • Clark

    Ian56 is quite clearly a normal British citizen and NOT a “Russian bot”.

    How on Earth did my government become this incompetent? It would be hilarious but that these idiots are actually in power!

    • craig Post author

      I agree Clark. It seems to me astonishing they obviously did no kind of checking at all, or assumed he would never be heard. also think there is an element of hubris here – the media professionals assume they will be able to bamboozle and humiliate the dissidents if they can get them on live TV.

      I also wonder whether the use of Skype isn’t a device to disadvantage or show guests as low status. Both Ian and I were interviewed by Sky over Skype, though in my case I made strenuous efforts to propose ways to do it in a studio or with an outside broadcast camera.

      • WJ

        “I also wonder whether the use of Skype isn’t a device to disadvantage or show guests as low status.”

        This is absolutely the strategy. It was more apparent in the interview w Ian56; after all, you *are* an ex-ambassador and widely known author and public intellectual. I think they were hoping to make Ian56 look like a ridiculous crank. I think it backfired the moment he aggressively rejected their facile assumption that “pro-British” equals “pro-British government.”

        • Michael McNulty

          Somebody said (perhaps a few hundred years ago?), “A patriot is one who acts in the interests of his country, even if that means acting against the interests of his government.” When the two are the same it’s a one-party state, and with the Blairites behaving like Tories and sometimes worse, that’s where we’re headed.

    • SA

      Begs the question as to whether the government based thier information on algorithms devised by bots.

  • Hieroglyph

    I’ve noted a thing recently. Attractive women who go against the state propaganda are a particular target, and get vilified and smeared with a high level of aggression.

    I have a theory on this. Women are useful propagandists, because they are deemed more trustworthy and, let’s face it, us blokes like a pretty lady. So the flip side is, when female journalists go against the propaganda, they are subject to attacks, even more so if they are telegenic (and know what they are talking about). Further investigation required, but it’s not just Sarah Abdallah.

    And humble blog writers are entitled to earn a living, either via contributions, or book sales. I don’t think any pride requires swallowing. I remember once though, Glen Greenwald – best-selling author, and earning good money writing for the Guardian – did his yearly call-out for contributions, as though he were still a blogger; what a greedy tool, I thought. Craig’s situation very different, I’d think.

      • Hatuey

        She’s a keeper.

        Interesting what she said about Saudi women demanding the sort of rights that Syrian women have in terms of education, etc. That’s the sort of political power that Iran and Syria have in the Middle East, and its the main reason Saudi Arabia hates them.

  • Dr. Ip

    “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

    The present isn’t yet fully under control, but it’s getting there. Craig and a few others are slowing down that process. That’s why the attacks are getting more vicious and more frenzied. Once the present is fully under control, the past will be changed to fit, and the future will proceed as planned. The level of ignorance about the past in the general public is extremely high, and especially in the “United States of Amnesia”, as Gore Vidal referred to his home country. Strangely enough, there are actually swathes of young people who are illuminated enough to know they are being herded, but sadly not illuminated enough to opt out of the electronic world they are being tracked in. Encryption is growing, but if it gets too a critical mass of dissatisfied citizens, the Pinochet solution could very well be implemented. That’s when the test will really come. And if there is an exodus to New Zealand by the 1%, then you know that bloodshed is imminent.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    Craig.

    You should also offer the option of one time donations. Some of us are not happy setting up recurring.

    Regards.

    Carl.

    • Hatuey

      I concur but it’s only £2 per month… it’s hassle setting these things up but if I had a blog I’d let people donate however much or little they choose as a one-off payment.

      • Codcarton

        However “only” it is, it’s still not right not to give people that option.

  • Lea

    In France, we have a saying, « toute peine mérite salaire », meaning all work deserves to be paid. I think I know what you are thinking, that as nobody commissioned you to write, as you do it because you want to do it, why should people pays for your whimsy?
    But, what about the fact you bring invaluable experience and a sharp mind where it’s most needed? What if we are in the middle of a bona fide information war and we need all the brains and honesty we can get? I am French, I keep a blog where I translated some of your pieces. Those were unfailingly reposted by major websites, up to a French politician, François Asselineau, who reposted it on his party’s website (anti-EU, Frexiter, neither right nor left wing). When one is that influential, one should be paid. Your work is useful, it dispels confusion, it’s needed – much, much more than the ‘work’ of well-paid shills who nobody needs, but who pollute our landscape.
    Money doesn’t always mean corruption, not when you carry the voice of the people. It simply means you can devote more time to the task.

    • Sohail

      It isn’t pay, it is support – not moral support though that is implied, but material support.

      Face it, Craig is not going to get rich via subscriptions, but he is likely to get poorer by continuing his work without them. Reality is that a person is forced to allocate own resources as per that which is sustainable in material terms, so if you appreciate his writing then it is a kind gesture to help him arrange the space to go about that endeavour.

  • Charles

    I will consider contributing Craig but first can you clarify some of your other income interests;

    When does / did your pension kick in?

    Do you still have potential / real financial benefits from your African Oil / Gold Other? interests?

    Is your book income inconsiderable?

    • Robyn

      Charles, of what relevance are Craig’s ‘other income interests’? Even if Craig were filthy rich, his work warrants remuneration. This is one of the few places where readers can find honest articles and (mostly) intelligent comments.

      • Charles

        I totally agree if Craig wishes to turn this blog into a paid job then that is up to him.

        But if he is asking for money to help to pay his rent it is reasonable to enquire what value he puts on his time, commitment, skill set and experience he brings to the blog.

        eg a pensioner on £200 / week may feel that the enjoyment, interest and information they get from the blog is well worth 1% of their income however if they learnt that Craig, himself, doesn’t feel its value warrants putting any of his own money towards it that may colour the aspiring patron’s judgement.

        Had he not said he needs it to pay the rent. I shouldn’t have asked.

  • Cesca

    Craig, i seriously appreciate what you do to make sure the truth is out there, have a serious issue with not wanting to create a PayPal acct to subscribe or donate tho. Any chance you could make it possible to donate thru them, without creating an acct, as some sites do?

    Understand if that should turn out to be too pricey an option but is subscribing thru Patreon another possibility? I’ll look in later on today to see if you have any ideas.

    • Hatuey

      You don’t need an account to pay through PayPal though, it gives you options to pay by card without a PayPal account.

      • Cesca

        Cheers for trying to help Hatuey, appreciated, been thru all the payment methods tho and all want a PP acct created. I just can’t do that but so want to support Craig with his seriously important work

        • Hatuey

          Cesca, when I click the donate button I am presented with a screen outlining the cost and on the bottom right there is this;

          “Don’t have a PayPal account? Pay using your debit or credit card”

          • Codcarton

            Hatuey, people are continually misunderstanding this (perhaps partly by design by paypl) That option only works if the payer is invoiced through skype. If not, the “Don’t have a PayPal account? Pay using your debit or credit card” option still (if you follow it) requires you to sign up.

        • flatulence

          sometimes apple devices have a problem with paypal, at least on my website, showing the same symptoms you describe, so try using another device, may sort the problem.

  • squirrel

    Thanks for giving me the chance to support your work Craig.

    I expect you may have more disillusionment to come. I’m reading your list of corrupted institutions and thinking, is that all?

    Here is a quote commonly misattributed to Plato.

    “Strange times are these, in which we live, forsooth ;
    When young and old are taught in Falsehood’s school:–
    And the man who dares to tell the truth,
    Is called at once a lunatic and fool.”
    — George Francis Train

  • LeeJ

    Us socialists have been aware of this state of affairs for many years Craig. Now you are awake!

  • Jm

    Craig….So very surprised it took you quite so long to fully wake up to The Horror of it all.

    Anyway…better late than never.

    I shall donate later in the week

  • Ian

    Couldn’t find a way to increase the monthly subscription amount. Guess I’ll have to order some more books on top of the subscription. Would at least like to be able to provide you with a pint each month. Money well spent.

    • Ian

      I’m stupid. Just saw the drop down menu. Now I’ll have to look into to canceling my subscription so that I can resubscribe at a higher amount. May eventually purchase some more books anyways. They make good gifts.

    • SA

      Yes , Murder in Samarkand is a powerful book. I wonder what it would have been like if it was not partly censored?

  • Sohail

    Here is a local piece written on the Skripal event by Ms. Kirsty Hayes, a fellow Scot and current UK Ambassador to Portugal, who also shares an interest in history, as well as serving as first secretary in the US during the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

    https://www.publico.pt/2018/03/22/mundo/opiniao/o-que-aconteceu-em-salisbury-pode-acontecer-em-lisboa-1807505#

    In short, judging from the few comments, it was not fully appreciated, especially that she stated similar could occur in Lisbon.

    She is actually quite talented a person, so it is a shame to see her caught up this way.

    For those that are here to criticise Craig’s journalism, be aware that you are not defending the UK. Outside of the Anglosphere there exists a very heavy skepticism on UK attitude over the last two decades, where UK credibility is being undermined on many fronts. The kind of reporting Craig does actually helps to rectify that slightly, counterintuitively – because a large portion of the foreign population already have a strong opinion on lack of UK credibility, and no amount of controlled western press release is going to change their point of view.

    Does that matter ? Well yes, because the UK still hopes to deal with the rest of the world in future, and whether you are an expat or tourist, it is still nice to know that the smiles you receive are genuine.

      • Sohail

        In Spain that is quite a prevalent attitude now also, but was not always so. It is hard to place exactly why, there are a lot of economic and social pressures that have built up more recently, as well as a shift in society away from more traditional values towards “self”, and where traditional values remain they often have become more nationalistic . To me over-all it looks like locals view Brits as unfairly privileged , though obviously there are also very kind people, now fewer and further between.

        In other words, if you meet locals at their level, which is admittedly a challenge, you find that they are “just people” with their own ways and views, but if you go expecting them to serve you according to your own views and ways, firstly they don’t know or understand them well, and secondly respect is quite a fragile concept between two strangers, based as much on the wider impersonal understandings of nation or past experience than any immediate trust.

        Brits are funny, very polite organised and disciplined ( too much so for the likes of some) , but also rowdy and troublemakers sometimes too, e.g.

        http://portugalresident.com/riot-police-fire-shots-to-break-up-brawl-among-young-brits-in-albufeira

        So when the UK reputation gets (self) damaged at international level, there goes one more line of respect, one more point of good encounter, and instead an uncertainty is introduced.

  • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

    A paysafe account would be ideal for me and others of my ilk as paysafe cards are easy to buy in most countries, and allow one-off /erratic online payments,which fits my current nomadic existence on wildly-fluctuating/non-existent income flows.

  • slorter

    Amazing how the left fall very much in line with the mainstream when it comes to neoconservative foreign policy!
    It is also interesting how they shut down reader commentary online when people like Cohen write an article!
    Always look forward to your insights!

    • RogerDodger

      The only way they qualify as ‘the left’ is because the rest of the permitted spectrum of commentary exists to the right of them. There isn’t a social democrat among them, to say nothing of actual socialism, for evidence of which you need only look at the unending smear campaign against Corbyn that stretches back before he was even elected.

  • Xavi

    For the past several years the professed humanitarians of our political and media class have been desperately trying to deflect from the huge paedophile scandal at the heart of their beloved establishment.

    The public are asked to connive in the fiction that these politicians and journalists care about innocents in Syria, Iraq, Libya,etc, when they have shown no interest in the vicious sexual abuse of children by groups of this country’s most powerful people.

    Everybody saw how this country’s PM repeatedly try to sabotage the paedophile inquiry when home secretary. But we must forget we did and instead unquestioningly buy the official line that she, along with Trump and Macron, is the world’s moral conscience.

  • Antony

    About financing: the BBC is financed by compulsion affecting all UK inhabitants owning a TV, so without effectual feedback mechanism from viewers: Orwellian.
    The Guardian was relying on warping the John Scott’s Trust intentions, tax breaks and investments (in Auto Trader!), but lately had to resort to begging viewers to pay for misleading them as they are spending more than making. The CIA should help them out as they became a voluntary(?) PR branch of it.

    Overseas newspapers like the Indian “Hindu” blindly copy and paste a lot of stuff from the Guardian and vise versa, so a lot of spin echos around the globe. Luckily after, Iraq, Libya, Syria or their reporting regarding the Indian subcontinent this fodder got more unbelievable, so fewer readers swallow it. These brands are in a tailspin.

    • Hatuey

      “Overseas newspapers… blindly copy and paste a lot of stuff from the Guardian and vise versa, so a lot of spin echos around the globe.”

      That’s one thing of the biggest problems we have. It happens inside states too with one channel basically copying another’s lead, then smaller channels and news agencies follow suit on the basis that if the big guys are all saying it then it must be true.

      It’s kinda like the weather forecast. Very few news agencies have meteorologists out there actually assessing things so they all rely on whatever The Met says.

      • BarrieJ

        I think it’s fair to say that few media outlets actually employ journalists any longer (as in people who expose what others want kept secret), instead almost all ‘news’ is syndicated from shared sources, the rest made up from press releases, government propaganda, spin, political gossip and lies, ‘a source close to the Prime Minister’ etc., etc.
        Everything else is opinion pieces from favoured contributors, often with little to say of any relevance but unwilling to admit to it as long as the cheques keep coming.
        All those named above by Craig fall into the latter category and I’d include the Guardian’s Hadley Freeman too.

        • Jo Dominich

          Barrie J – this is truly the case as can be seen now. However, it is also prevalent in book and film reviews – I did an exercise over two weeks and looked at all the review in the MSM of four films and four books – it’s almost as though they hadn’t seen the film but copied someone’s else’s review with one or two changes.

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