Yearly Archives: 2019


My New Year Wishes

1) Scottish Independence
2) Freedom for Julian Assange
3) A genuine, public inquest into the murder of Dawn Sturgess
4) Recognition of the State of Palestine
5) Genuine moves towards a paradigm shift in wealth distribution here and across the globe
6) Radical action on climate change
7) The decolonisation of the Chagos Islands

I obviously do not claim that as a comprehensive analysis of the ills of the world; it contains both individual cases and aspects of the widest scale public policy. It is however an indication of the areas where I expect to be expending my own small budget of energy and activism in 2020. What are yours?

I do hope you are all enjoying family and friends in a refreshing festive season. I know it can be a stressful time; mine has not been. I think the implications of an unbridled right wing populist government in Westminster took us all a little time to process. I feel fully refreshed now, and ready for the fight.

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45 Years of Rebellion

Generally I manage to dig up some recent lecture or published work to post while I am on holiday, on a mission or indisposed. I have a video somewhere of a really stunning symposium on whistleblowing at the University of Newcastle, to which I made a minor contribution, which I intended to use for that purpose today. But out of the blue I received an email this morning which changed my plan.

So here is one I did earlier – 45 years ago.

Dear Craig

Many years ago, as a fellow schoolboy at Paston, I witnessed your remarkable stand against militarism when Gen Sir Ian Freedland (I think it was) came to inspect the CCF. I have vivid memories of you appearing on the top floor of the School House and shouting what seemed to us lesser mortals very daring anti-military views (“Troops Out of Ireland” was one) before your sudden and rapid transit backwards from our sight – due to unknown assailants – and the window being slammed shut. It’s only with the intervening years that I realised what an extraordinary event this was, years ahead of its time, and I have often wondered what became of you. A friend recommended your blog to me very recently and it was then I realised it was the same Craig Murray. I heartily agree with what I have read of your work since, and am very pleased to become a subscriber.

With kind regards, and every good wish for the success of your work in the New Year.

It is very hard to explain to a modern audience how very militarist our school was. The headmaster was referred to everywhere, in school and by wider society, as Colonel Marshall, even though I believe it was a rank he only held in the Cadet Force. My peculiar education was designed to teach you to strip down and reassemble a .303 rifle, whilst explaining the process in Latin.

Funnily enough, after I spoke at the recent St Pancras meeting for Julian Assange, a gentleman introduced himself to me who I did not at first recognise but was Merlin, my co-conspirator in that old school protest, who I was seeing for the second time in 45 years. That made me weep and I fear I looked rather silly.

But receiving that recollection of an event I had almost forgotten, is a reminder of how important it is to be true to your beliefs. Policy views may change with circumstance or experience, but I am delighted that my underlying principles remain constant after getting on for half a century of political activity.

It also made me realise how lucky I am. I have been a career diplomat, a British Ambassador, the Rector of Dundee University, a bestselling author and Chairman of a successful energy company. All that was possible on an entirely state education, including full maintenance grants. And it was possible without ever having dissembled or hidden my personal radical beliefs – including turning down three separate honours from the Queen on grounds of republicanism and Scottish nationalism.

I am not sure that would be possible now. In fact I am pretty sure it would not be possible now. The tolerance of dissent has radically decreased. It is worth saying that in 13 years of working as a civil servant for Tory governments I never had any problems, despite ministers like Malcolm Rifkind and Lynda Chalker knowing very well my personal opinions were very different from the official policy. I might give an example of Nicholas Soames, who when a junior defence minister attended a NATO exercise in Drawsko in Poland which I help to organise. I remember a very interesting conversation when I told him I believed that NATO had served its purpose, that there had never been any Russian intention to invade Western Europe anyway, and that the entire narrative was a device to bolster the profits of the arms industry and budget of the army.

Soames of course did not agree with me, but we had an extremely good and good natured discussion (alcohol was involved) and he did concede that the fall of the Iron Curtain had proven western intelligence estimates of Soviet military capability to have been vastly exaggerated, greatly boosting the interests of the western arms industry, the military and of course the institutional interests of the security services themselves.

But the important point is that while Soames did not agree at all with my broad points, he did not suggest – because he did not think – that it was wrong for anyone holding my personal views to be in an important position in the FCO, and he did not make any stupid jibes about me working for the Kremlin. I fear that kind of tolerance has disappeared from public life now – as indeed has the Tory party’s tolerance of the more broad-minded kind of Tory.

It was New Labour that was responsible for much of the change of culture. If you have read Murder in Samarkand, you will know that while Ambassador my dissent at the policy of obtaining intelligence through torture was entirely internal. I was trying to stop it through the correct Whitehall mechanisms, and all my communications on the subject were classified Top Secret. It was Blair and Straw who decided this internal dissent was unacceptable. I had neither leaked nor blown the whistle when they decided pre-emptively to fit me up with 18 major disciplinary charges.

By 2003 the Foreign and Commonwealth had transformed to a degree where it would not tolerate internal dissent. There is no serious civil service career open to a young radical today. The free education was destroyed long ago, also initiated by New Labour. Meantime, the last general election showed the horrifying unanimity of state and billionaire mainstream media in demonising even moderate social democratic thought.

I would be unlikely to become Rector of a University now either, as UK universities have moved from being centres of free speech to the precise opposite. I very seldom get to speak in universities at all nowadays. Student groups label me a “rape apologist” due to my support of Julian Assange, and University authorities label me an “anti-semite” due to my support of the Palestinians. I am excluded from the places I would most like to discuss my ideas.

I hope you will forgive the rather rambling thoughts that email inspired. It was not easy to dissent then. It is still harder now.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It

Yesterday the Scottish Government published “Scotland’s Right to Choose“, its long heralded paper on the path to a new Independence referendum. It is a document riven by a basic intellectual flaw. It sets out in detail, and with helpful annexes, that Scotland is a historic nation with the absolute and inalienable right of self-determination, and that sovereignty lies not in the Westminster parliament but with the Scottish people.

It then contradicts all of this truth by affirming, at length, in detail, and entirely without reservation, that Scotland can only hold a legitimate Independence referendum if the Westminster Parliament devolves the power to do so under Section 30.

Both propositions cannot be true. Scotland cannot be a nation with the right of self-determination, and at the same time require the permission of somebody else to exercise that self-determination.

I was trying to find the right words to discuss the document. One possibility was “schizophrenic”. The first half appears to be written by somebody with a fundamental belief in Scottish Independence, and contains this passage:

The United Kingdom is best understood as a voluntary association of nations, in keeping with the principles of democracy and self‑determination.

For the place of Scotland in the United Kingdom to be based on the people of Scotland’s consent, Scotland must be able to choose whether and when it should make a decision about its future.

The decision whether the time is right for the people who live in Scotland again to make a choice about their constitutional future is for the Scottish Parliament, as the democratic voice of Scotland, to make.

Yet the rest of the paper completely negates this proposition and instead argues that the necessary powers must be granted by the Westminster Parliament:

The Scottish Government is committed to agreeing a process for giving effect to its mandate for a further independence referendum. When they make a decision about their future, the people of Scotland must do so in the knowledge that their decision will be heard and respected and given effect to: not just by the government in Scotland, but also by the UK Government, by the European Union and by the international community.

For a referendum to have this legitimacy, it must have the confidence of all of those that it would effect. This means not just the UK Government acknowledging and respecting the Scottish Government’s mandate, but the Scottish Government and UK Government seeking to agree the proper lawful basis for the referendum to take place.

We call on the UK Government to enter discussions about the Scottish Government’s mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

I am frequently told that this paper is all just a cunning ploy, and that when the Tory Government rejects – as it will reject – this servile request to grant Scotland the powers to hold a referendum, the Scottish Government will go to court to say it has the right to a referendum.

If that really is the cunning plan, it is the most stupid cunning plan since Baldrick and his turnip. In what way does publishing an official Scottish Government paper which states explicitly that a referendum “must have” the agreement of the UK government to be legitimate, prepare the ground to go to court and argue the precise opposite? Plainly that is not the intent here.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech presenting the paper made the acceptance of a veto from “the rest of the UK” on the holding of a second referendum even more explicit:

It is based on the solemn right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.

The Scottish Government believes that right should be exercised free from the threat of legal challenge.

In line with our values, we acknowledge that a referendum must be legal and that it must be accepted as legitimate, here in Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as in the EU and the wider international community.

We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.

And what does Ms Sturgeon plan to do when Boris Johnson just says no, as he assuredly will? To be fair to Nicola, she could not have been clearer about what she intends to do. Absolutely nothing different.

Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK government’s opposition.

But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter.

We will continue to pursue the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose.

We will do so in a reasonable and considered manner.

So this is the Sturgeon plan: in the short term, we accept Johnson can block Independence. Beyond the short term (how many years is that?) we do nothing except continue in democratic politics as the SNP already is, operating at Holyrood and putting before Scottish voters “the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose”, while accepting Westminster’s veto. This will have the pleasant side effect of keeping Ms Sturgeon living very nicely indeed in Bute House, with her husband picking up a massive salary as CEO of the Party, and the SNP just like the last five years doing nothing whatsoever about Independence other than occasionally blether about it, “pursuing the democratic case”, while very explicitly accepting Westminster’s veto.

The truth is there is no route to a referendum by legal challenge in the UK courts. The UK Supreme Court has already ruled that Westminster, the “Crown in Parliament” is sovereign, that the Sewell Convention has no legal force and that any powers that the Scottish parliament has, and indeed the very existence of the Scottish Parliament, is entirely at the gift of Westminster. The clue is on the tin. It is the UK Supreme Court. To be fair the Scottish Government paper plainly does not anticipate any such pointless legal challenge, though it is not inconceivable that one may be futilely undertaken at some stage to keep the SNP’s pro-Independence activists happy, by pretending to do something and kicking Indy yet a few months further down the road.

Because the truth is, that is the purpose of the current Scottish Government paper. The reason it is schizophrenic is that it is a deeply dishonest document. All the stuff at the beginning, about Scotland’s ancient right as a nation and the sovereignty residing in the Scottish people, is no more and no less than window dressing to keep Scottish Independence activists happy. The actual meat of the paper, that Indyref2 “must have” Westminster agreement or it is not legitimate, sits there like a great steaming turd whose stink cannot be disguised no matter how much the SNP leadership has tried to conceal it under flowers.

I have to say, I am astonished how many very decent people in the SNP have fallen for the trick.

The Scottish Government position is fundamentally incorrect. The Independence of a nation is a matter of international law, not of domestic legislation. The UN Charter enshrines the right of self-determination of peoples, and nobody has argued that the Scots are not a people in the encapsulated sense.

It is perfectly normal for States to become Independent without the permission of the state from which they are seceding. The UK Government itself argued precisely this position before the International Court of Justice over Kosovo. I here repeat a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago setting out the legal position:

BEGINS

The London Supreme Court last week not only confirmed that the Westminster Parliament could overrule at will any Scottish Government legislation, irrespective of the Scotland Act and the Sewell Convention, but it also ruled that Westminster had already successfully done so, by retrospectively passing provisions in the EU (Withdrawal) Act that overruled the Bill on the same subject, within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, that had already been passed by Holyrood.

Not content with that, the London Supreme Court confirmed that London ministers may, by secondary legislation, under the Scotland Act decree laws for Scotland that are not even passed through the Westminster parliament.

Which leaves Scotland in this extraordinary situation. English MPs or English ministers in their London Parliament can, at any time, impose any legislation they choose on Scotland, overriding Scotland’s parliament and Scotland’s representation in the London parliament. Yet, under the English Votes for English Laws rules of the London Parliament introduced by the Tories in 2015, Scottish MPs cannot vote at all on matters solely affecting England.

That is plainly a situation of colonial subservience.

I am firmly of the view that the Scottish government should now move to withdraw from the Treaty of Union. Scotland’s right to self determination is inalienable. It cannot be signed away forever or restricted by past decisions.

The Independence of a country is not a matter of domestic law it is a matter of international law. The right of the Scottish Parliament to declare Independence may not be restricted by UK domestic law or by purported limitations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament. The legal position is set out very clearly here:

5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
State‟s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
which the secession is occurring.

5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
the scope of already conferred power.

That is a commendably concise and accurate description of the legal position. Of major relevance, it is the legal opinion of the Government of the United Kingdom, as submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view, so it is both established law and the opinion of the British Government that the Scottish Government has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of London and completely irrespective of the London Supreme Court.

I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no
prohibition against declarations of independence as such. 1 Whether a declaration of
independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends
not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition
by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs
no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect
to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State
entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

As I have stressed, the SNP should now be making a massive effort to prepare other countries, especially in the EU and in the developing world, to recognise Scotland when the moment comes. There is no task more important. There is a worrying lack of activity in this area. It may currently not be possible to spend government money on sending out envoys for this task, but if personal envoys were endorsed by the First Minister they would get access and could easily be crowd funded by the Independence Movement. I am one of a number of former senior British diplomats who would happily undertake this work without pay. We should be lobbying not just the EU but every country in Africa, Asia and South America.

My preferred route to Independence is this. The Scottish Parliament should immediately legislate for a new Independence referendum. The London Government will attempt to block it. The Scottish Parliament should then convene a National Assembly of all nationally elected Scottish representatives – MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That National Assembly should declare Independence, appeal to other countries for recognition, reach agreements with the rump UK and organise a confirmatory plebiscite. That is legal, democratic and consistent with normal international practice.

There will never be a better time than now for Scotland to become an Independent, normal, nation once again. It is no time for faint hearts or haverers; we must seize the moment.

ENDS

Events since I wrote that have made the case still stronger. With the UK now leaving the European Union, EU states will be extremely eager to recognise Scottish Independence and get Scotland and its resources back inside the EU, while sending out a strong message that leaving the EU can have severe consequences. At the UN, the UK’s repudiation of the International Court of Justice ruling and overwhelming General Assembly mandate over the Chagos Islands has made the UK even more of a pariah state, while senior statesmen in the developing world see Scottish Independence as a wedge issue to open the question of the UK’s ridiculous permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

The claim that to proceed to Independence without Westminster consent is illegal and illegitimate lies at the heart of this truly disgraceful Scottish Government paper. That claim is wrong at every level.

You cannot both believe that the Scots are a people with the right of self-determination, and believe that Westminster has a right to veto that self-determination.

This paper by the Scottish Government is nothing more and nothing less than proof that the gradualists who sadly head the SNP are perfectly happy operating within the devolution system and have no intention of ever paying any more than lip service to Independence.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Indigenous Eurasian Islamic Populations

This blog was defending the human rights of the Uighurs a decade before the neo-conservatives for whom they are now a fashionable cause even knew of their existence. The Uighurs are the closest linguistic and cultural cousins of the Uzbeks, and the populations are contiguous. (China is not contiguous with Uzbekistan but Osh and the eastern Ferghana Valley in Kirghizstan are Uzbek majority areas).

The dynamic spread of Islam northwards and eastwards under the Abbasids, (much less commented that the expansion of its early centuries) and the temporary patronage of Islam by the Mongol Yuan conquerors of China, left very substantial Islamic populations throughout Eurasia, which later became subsumed into non-Muslim polities, including by the expansion of the Chinese and Russian empires. The persecution of the Uighurs is a historic continuation. For decades from the mid eighteenth century they were subjected to one of history’s most sustained and organised campaigns of mass rape of the female population by Chinese occupiers. In a historical perspective, it was the period of comparative tolerance that preceded the current massive attempt at cultural genocide which was the aberration.

I do despair of those on the left who excuse the mass imprisonment of hundreds of thousands and the extrajudicial killing of thousands, because it is China doing it and not a CIA aligned power.

The Uighurs are a people with the right of self-determination. They are not Chinese; their language, culture and religion are completely different. They have a clearly defined territory they have occupied continuously for many centuries. One of the problems with the British is that as an island, we tend to only think of colonies as places you sail to. Colonies you walk to is a concept we have not grasped. That is one of the reasons the left in the UK have such difficulty recognising that China is an Empire and Kashgar is a colony. The other reason is that whole “West Bad, Opponents Good” thing.

It is excellent to recognise that the Western powers have done a huge amount of evil in the world. It is a completely illogical step to assume from this revelation that they have a monopoly on evil. All major governments do evil.

Kashmir is the other pressing issue of a Hindu minority population under pressure. Six years ago I annoyed rather a lot of people when I warned that my personal experience of living among them for some months in India was that it was changing into an an “increasingly oppressive and rabidly conservative Hindu society”. I have viewed the rise of Modi and his Hindu nationalists with great concern, while Western governments have been much more concerned with seeking to benefit from India’s economic boom.

The revocation of the autonomous status of Kashmir and Jammu was a reckless and aggressive act of centralisation that was grossly insensitive to both the population and the history of the region – and I write in full awareness that there have been not only Muslim but also many Sikh victims of intercommunal violence over the years. The incorporation of Kashmir into India was a dreadful British error, semi-apologetically enshrined in its special constitutional position, now destroyed by Modi. It is only the statesmanship of Imran Khan which has averted a hideous war.

The Supreme Court of India’s firmly anti-Muslim ruling in the Ayodhya dispute, and the new immigrant citizenship law excluding Muslims (which has outraged the remnants of liberal India), are evidence of intercommunal policy which is all pushing in an anti-Muslim direction. Modi has been portrayed in the West as a moderniser. This is a fundamental error – he is just a populist in the Trump and Johnson mode who succeeds by stirring up feelings against the “other” in the population. The situation in India is destabilising and I fear more violence against the Muslim population is bound to ensue.

The Muslim populations of Central Asia now live in autonomous republics, none of which has transitioned to effective democracy, all of which have been more or less looted by oligarchs, all have continuing serious human rights problems, and all are increasingly under the economic sway of China (which is not, in itself, a bad thing). China remains something of an enigma. Its economic success continues to be staggering, if severely pollution creating. As I frequently assert, there has never been a power in the world of such economic dominance which has shown such a comparatively tiny appetite for military dominance. If you compare China to the USA in this regard the difference is striking. China has very few military bases outside China, the USA has eight hundred.

But the Central Asian “stans” only contain a minority of the Muslim colonies in Eurasia which Russia acquired in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, simultaneous with the expansion of the British Empire. Many of these colonies, with their overwhelmingly Muslim populations, remain part of the Russian Federation which – make no mistake about it – is still an Empire.

The Tatar are the most widespread of the colonial peoples within Russia. Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Cherkessa, Kabardino Balkaria and Karachai are all areas of Russia where I believe the original Muslim population, absorbed into the Russian Empire by conquest, will in the fulness of time achieve independence, in addition to the better-known Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. The astonishing brutality of the Russian repression of the perfectly justified Independence movements of the latter countries cannot hold back the tide of decolonisation forever. Crimea, of course, should belong to the Tatars who were deported from their land by Stalin. Not Russia, not Ukraine, but Krim Tatar.

As I said earlier, even though Russia’s colonies were colonised contemporaneously with the British ones, and even though the indigenous populations are Muslim, we in the UK have difficulty perceiving them as colonies because they are contiguous with Russia by land and have been institutionally absorbed into the metropolitan. It is also worth noting that, largely but not entirely as a result of the Soviet period of running its Empire, Russia did a much better job of providing education, health and other public services to its colonies than the British ever did.

It is important to state that these colonised peoples are not Russians but separate peoples in the sense of the UN Charter, with very distinct cultures, histories, languages and religion, and thus they do have the right of self-determination. I do not deny that at present, outside the colonies of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, there is little evidence of separatist desire. But I expect that to change over historic time.

It is of course a personal irony that I am very often accused of being a Russian agent because I debunk ludicrous anti-Russian scares like the fake Skripal narrative, or the totally unfounded narrative that Russia has any desire to attack Western Europe. These scare stories about Russia are of course essential to the profits of the western military-industrial-security complex, and I debunk them because they are nonsense, and because of their propaganda power in controlling western populations. But while I have a deep-seated love for Russia, its culture and people, I know of no other commentator who calls for the Russian Federation to be divorced of its internalised colonies, an opinion the Kremlin would find outrageous.

The Eurasian Muslim populations were overtaken by history from around the seventeenth century and, Islam having expanded itself in Eurasia by conquest, the Muslims were generally themselves absorbed into larger Empires by conquest. In Central Asia they have in the last thirty years regained a kind of independence, but are still dominated by foreign imposed institutions and the colonial subordinate administrative and political class. In China and India the conditions of Muslims are worsening markedly. In Russia the brutal crushing of Independence attempts in some areas has led to the current position where the colonial status of the Muslim sub-polities within the Russian Federation is shunned by the entire world as a Pandora’s Box.

This is of course not in any sense a comprehensive survey. But sometimes it is useful to step back and try to see current events in a broader perspective, both historically and geographically. I do hope this gives some food for your own thoughts. I do hope that some of those thoughts are more profound than the notion that Russia and China, as diplomatic opponents of the West, are beyond criticism.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Alternatively:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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The Difficulty of Gender Issues

It should go without saying that an important part of the approach to this debate should be not to hate anybody, on any side of the argument. Looking through the comments below I am very surprised that several people seem unable to do this.

I write as somebody who has spent virtually his whole life doing things other than think deeply about the rights of transgender people. The subject has however inserted itself centrally into Scottish political debate and particularly preoccupies sections of the leadership of the Independence movement. With the banning of the twitter account of Wings Over Scotland for what are judged by Twitter to be “transphobic” tweets, and the same day publication of the new Gender Recognition Reform Bill by the Scottish Government – and the coincidence of those two happenings worries me – I need to set down rather more coherent thoughts on the subject than I have previously.

To start from first principles, I believe that people should be treated as they wish to be treated. If somebody wishes to be treated as female I will treat them as female. That seems to me good manners. It seems the height of bad manners to do otherwise. If I meet someone who tells me they are a woman, I would not dream of querying them or demanding evidence. I would treat them as female. In my life so far, that is how I have always in practice dealt with people I have met whom I suspected might be transgender or transvestite. I treat them as the gender they present themselves as. (I do not care in the slightest for the latest fashion in politically correct jargon for these things). The same also obviously applies to people who wish to be treated as male.

I therefore support the principle of self-declaration that appears to be the basis of the Scottish government’s new bill. People should be what they wish to be, not what a doctor or psychiatrist tells them they are. Please note possession of genitalia does not factor in my thinking at all, in normal social situations.

We then come to the difficult bits. It appears to me plainly daft for a man simply to be able to declare themselves a woman and then to compete in elite sport in women only events. Men have natural competitive advantages from the effects on physique of testosterone. That is simply true, although I do find it rather ironic that feminists are now so insistent upon the fact, as it is precisely to adopt the arguments of Bobby Riggs against those of Billie Jean King. In non-elite, mixed ability sport – which is 99% of all sport that actually happens – I can see no reason why people cannot participate as the gender of their choice, and indeed I do not know why non-elite sport is gender specific at all. I am yet to play the woman who cannot beat me at squash. I suspect our cat could beat me at squash.

The attitudes towards these things change over time. When I went to primary school we had a segregated playground. There are still plenty of old Victorian schools around Edinburgh where the marking for boys’ and girls’ entrances survive in the brickwork. Though while talking of schools, I would add that I think gender re- assignment of children under 16 should almost never be allowed, as they are over-susceptible to adult influence.

Having lived so much of my life abroad, I have never quite understood the British obsession with gender segregated toilets anyway.

When it comes to prison, I have no doubt that Chelsea Manning should be in a female prison and treated as a female. Equally, there was a case highlighted on Wings over Scotland some months ago of a man convicted of sexual offences who had obtained admittance to a women’s prison after claiming female gender, who proceeded to carry out sexual assaults there. Plainly a convicted male sexual assailant ought not to be put in a women’s prison, even if they now claim gender re-identity.

So I quite accept that the right of self-declaration cannot be absolute and there are situations – highly unusual situations like prisons for violent offenders – where authorities should decide on its applicability in gender segregated areas. There are two things to say here. The first is that the entire debate so far elevates dogma on both sides above commonsense. The second is that to make law from extreme examples is foolish. We don’t make building codes for the general population on the basis of specifying the banning of the methods of Fred and Rosemary West.

Personally, I quite accept the view that a woman who arrives at a beauty salon ought to be able to refuse to have her intimate parts waxed by somebody she does not feel comfortable is the same sex as her, without being accused of “hate crime”. Others might not object at all and trans people ought not to be banned from working in beauty salons. These problems seem to me best solved by societal interaction and minimal intrusion of the state.

I realise that both sides of a currently heated debate will find my folksy take on this, based on empathy and tolerance not on rigid application of first principles, to be entirely wrong. Some will object to my lack of the latest PC jargon. One side will insist that being male or female is a simple physical thing and choice does not come into it. Some argue that men are violent, dangerous creatures from whom women need loads of safe spaces into which they can securely retreat, without fear of infiltration by “pretend women”. Others argue that identity is an entirely personal matter that nobody else can decide, and that the law should compel society to accept self-declared identity in every circumstance, and to do otherwise is a hate crime.

My own view is that, irrespective of whether gender is a binary divide, the question of how we treat trans people ought not to be a binary divide. It is a question of complex social interactions at a time of changing mores, and different factors are crucial in different situations. The safety of women is a crucial factor in the case of the male sex offender declaring themselves into a women’s prison. But the safety of women is not in imminent danger in the large majority of social interactions. The large majority of people, including the large majority of trans people, are decent and kind. Let us order relations on that basis, with safeguards in place for the unusual.

For what it is worth, in general the Scottish Government’s proposals do not seem to me a bad stab at these difficult questions. Self declaration should be the basic rule, and then there should be specified rules to cover unusual situations where problems might arise from aberrant behaviour, which may be exhibited by either party.

Finally, less than one per cent of the population have prosthetic limbs. If I were writing about the subject I would not feel the need to refer to everyone who does not have a prosthetic limb as “organics” or some such antonym. The idea we have to refer to everyone who is not trans as cis deserves to be ridiculed. The truly pathetic intellectual level of what passes for academic or expert led debate on these questions is a matter of some concern. I blame deconstructionism as the root of much trivial thought.

This whole issue is one of those subjects where I am aware that I need to duck for cover after writing.

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Resolution

It is very difficult to collect my thoughts into something coherent after four hours sleep in the last 48 hours, but these are heads of key issues to be developed later.

I have no doubt that the Johnson government will very quickly become the most unpopular in UK political history. The ultra-hard Brexit he is pushing will not be the panacea which the deluded anticipate. It will have a negative economic impact felt most keenly in the remaining industry of the Midlands and North East of England. Deregulation will worsen conditions for those fortunate enough to have employment, as will further benefits squeezes. Immigration will not in practice reduce; what will reduce are the rights and conditions for the immigrants.

Decaying, left-behind towns will moulder further. The fishing industry will very quickly be sold down the river in trade negotiations with the EU – access to fishing (and most of the UK fishing grounds are Scottish) is one of the few decent offers Boris has to make to the EU in seeking market access. His Brexit deal will take years and be overwhelmingly fashioned to benefit the City of London.

There is zero chance the Conservatives will employ a sizeable number of extra nurses: they just will not be prepared to put in the money. They will employ more policemen. In a couple of years time they will need them for widespread riots. They will not build any significant portion of the hospitals or other infrastructure they promised. They most certainly will do nothing effective about climate change. These were simply dishonest promises. The NHS will continue to crumble with more and more of its service provision contracted out, and more and more of its money going into private shareholders’ pockets (including many Tory MPs).

The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Johnson’s bombastic promises. The Establishment are not stupid and realise there will be an anti-Tory reaction. Their major effort will therefore be to change Labour back into a party supporting neo-liberal economic policy and neo-conservative foreign (or rather war) policy. They will want to be quite certain that, having seen off the Labour Party’s popular European style social democratic programme with Brexit anti-immigrant fervour, the electorate have no effective non-right wing choice at the next election, just like in the Blair years.

To that end, every Blairite horror has been resurrected already by the BBC to tell us that the Labour Party must now move right – McNicol, McTernan, Campbell, Hazarayika and many more, not to mention the platforms given to Caroline Flint, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann. The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton style right wing ultra capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.

Northern Ireland is perhaps the most important story of this election, with a seismic shift in a net gain of two seats in Belfast from the Unionists, plus the replacement of a unionist independent by the Alliance Party. Irish reunification is now very much on the agenda. The largesse to the DUP will be cut off now Boris does not need them.

For me personally, Scotland is the most important development of all. A stunning result for the SNP. The SNP result gave them a bigger voter share in Scotland than the Tories got in the UK. So if Johnson got a “stonking mandate for Brexit”, as he just claimed in his private school idiom, the SNP got a “stonking mandate” for Independence.

I hope the SNP learnt the lesson that by being much more upfront about Independence than in the disastrous “don’t mention Independence” election of 2017, the SNP got spectacularly better results.

I refrained from criticising the SNP leadership during the campaign, even to the extent of not supporting my friend Stu Campbell when he was criticised for doing so (and I did advise him to wait until after election day). But I can say now that the election events, which are perfect for promoting Independence, are not necessarily welcome to the gradualists in the SNP. A “stonking mandate” for Independence and a brutal Johnson government treating Scotland with total disrespect leaves no room for hedge or haver. The SNP needs to strike now, within weeks not months, to organise a new Independence referendum with or without Westminster agreement.

If we truly believe Westminster has no right to block Scottish democracy, we need urgently to act to that effect and not just pretend to believe it. Now the election is over, I will state my genuine belief there is a political class in the SNP, Including a minority but significant portion of elected politicians, office holders and staff, who are very happy with their fat living from the devolution settlement and who view any striking out for Independence as a potential threat to their personal income.

You will hear from these people we should wait for EU trade negotiations, for a decision on a section 30, for lengthy and complicated court cases, or any other excuse to maintain the status quo, rather than move their well=paid arses for Independence. But the emergency of the empowered Johnson government, and the new mandate from the Scottish electorate, require immediate and resolute action. We need to organise an Independence referendum with or without Westminster permission, and if successful go straight for UDI. If the referendum is blocked, straight UDI it is, based on the four successive election victory mandates.

With this large Tory majority, there is nothing the SNP MPs can in practice achieve against Westminster. We should now withdraw our MPs from the Westminster Parliament and take all actions to paralyse the union. This is how the Irish achieved Independence. We will never get Independence by asking Boris Johnson nicely. Anyone who claims to believe otherwise is a fool or a charlatan.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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A Very Difficult Night

Quite possibly the most ungracious speech I have ever heard from Michael Gove. So much for uniting the country. Five years of vicious triumphalism and denigrating opposition loom.
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The SNP vote share in Scotland is just higher than the Tory vote share in the UK. So if Johnson has just been given a resounding mandate for Brexit, then the SNP has just been given a resounding mandate for Independence.
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Banff and Buchan was the constituency held by the Tories which means Johnson is now definitely over the line with a majority. One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that the duped fishing communities will be sold down the river completely when serious negotiations with the EU on trade get going next year.
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I normally manage to find some sympathy for MPs who have lost their job, on a purely personal level. But it is hard to believe that their Tory replacements can actually be worse than Caroline Flint and Ruth Smeeth.
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Astonishingly, after results from all kinds of Scottish constituencies, the SNP is currently at over 50% of the popular vote itself. With the news from North Belfast, it looks like Boris has got his Brexit and lost the Union. This is vital; the break up of the UK is the only way to break the weird imperialist delusion that feeds this extreme English nationalism.
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The BBC, in case anyone isn’t feeling bad enough about Boris Johnson’s triumph, now bring out war criminal Alastair Campbell to lecture us.
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Seeing the back of the inane Kirstene Hair in Angus was particularly welcome. Putney was cheerful and gave hope for Uxbridge. In Scotland the SNP getting swings of about 5% from both Unionist parties.

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It is hard to doubt the basic accuracy of that exit poll now the Conservatives have taken the Blyth Valley. If the Conservatives sweep to power in England, then we have to move very early – and I mean within weeks – on Scottish Independence.

I am extremely sorry for all my friends in England who have no such escape route from the Conservative Party. I am much more impacted by this result than I have ever been before, because it brings a still more right wing Conservative Party to untrammeled power, and because I genuinely feel the electorate which has swung are fueled by anti-immigrant racism. I am not vehemently opposed to Brexit itself, funnily enough, but the ending of freedom of movement and single market access I view as crazed xenophobia.

I am also unhappy with the campaign itself, which seemed to take media bias to new levels in ways I have documented, particularly from the BBC. We saw the same in 2014, and the entire experience has been a reminder of how difficult to fight any new independence referendum will be.

If the SNP takes 50 seats in Scotland I shall be delighted. Scotland is of course a Remain area. I am for the next glass of Lagavulin clinging to the idea that Remain leaning areas in England may cause trouble for the Tories too.

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The Most Crucial Constituencies and How You Should Vote in Them to Block the Tories

Below is a list only of constituencies where I think the result will be close, and the Tories will be one of the parties in contention to win it. I recommend how you should vote to keep the Tory out.

It is my judgement that Brexit will guarantee against a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. Johnson’s Tory Party is not Cameron’s Tory Party. Besides, the Lib Dems lost 90% of their MPs from their last coalition with the Tories, and are unlikely to be keen to repeat the experiment. Your vote is yours and you must vote with your conscience. But to block a far right government with media control and serious anti-democratic tendencies, this is my recommendation of which are the really key constituencies where your vote might change the future. I do implore you to consider abandoning your first choice and following my recommendation in these seats.

I expect this election to be very close. A few thousand tactical votes in key seats can really make a serious difference.

This is a much larger list than would normally be sensible. Generally not that many seats are in doubt in our grossly inadequate electoral system. But the Tory campaign to go after broadly northern working class Brexit votes at the expense of broadly southern liberal voters, has put many more seats in doubt. This is my personal selection of where you might make a real difference – it is my list and I have compiled it with great care and without consulting any other such advice out there. My list is informed not just by polls (and my own interpretation of those polls), but on data from the ground and so includes more Tory seats than other lists, as I believe the Tories will lose quite a few. Tomorrow night will be very exciting because so many individual results are uncertain.

Aberconwy – Vote Labour
Aberdeen South – Vote SNP
Ashfield – Vote Labour
Aylesbury – Vote Labour
Ayr Carrick and Cumnock – Vote SNP
Banff and Buchan – Vote SNP
Basingstoke – Vote Labour
Bassetlaw – Vote Labour
Beaconsfield – Vote Independent
Bedford – Vote Labour
Bishop Auckland – Vote Labour
Blackpool South – Vote Labour
Bolsover – Vote Labour
Bradford South – Vote Labour
Brecon and Radnorshire – Vote Lib Dem
Bridgend – Vote Labour
Broxtowe – Vote Labour
Buckingham – Vote Lib Dem
Bury North – Vote Labour
Bury South – Vote Labour
Camarthen East – Vote Plaid Cymru
Camarthen West – Vote Labour
Canterbury – Vote Labour
Carshalton and Wallington – Vote Lib Dem
Central Ayrshire – Vote SNP
Ceredigion – Vote Plaid Cymru
Cheadle – Vote Lib Dem
Chelsea and Fulham – Vote Lib Dem
Cheltenham – Vote Lib Dem
Chesham and Amersham – Vote Lib Dem
Chingford and Woodford – Vote Labour
Chipping Barnet – Vote Labour
Cities of London and Westminster – Vote Labour
Clwyd South – Vote Labour
Clwyd West – Vote Labour
Colne Valley – Vote Labour
Corby – Vote Labour
Coventry North West – Vote Labour
Crewe and Nantwich – Vote Labour
Croydon South – Vote Labour
Dagenham and Rainham – Vote Labour
Delyn – Vote Labour
Dewsbury – Vote Labour
Don Valley – Vote Labour
Dudley North – Vote Labour
Dumfries and Galloway – Vote SNP
East Renfrewshire – Vote SNP
Eastbourne – Vote Lib Dem
East Devon – Vote Independent
Eastleigh – Vote Lib Dem
Esher and Walton – Vote Lib Dem
Filton and Bradley Stoke – Vote Labour
Finchley and Golders Green – Vote Labour
Gedling – Vote Labour
Gloucester – Vote Labour
Gordon – Vote SNP
Great Grimsby – Vote Labour
Guildford – Vote Lib Dem
Hastings and Rye – Vote Labour
Harrow East – Vote Labour
Hazel Grove – Vote Lib Dem
Hendon – Vote Labour
Hitchin and Harpenden – Vote Lib Dem
Hyndburn – Vote Labour
Ipswich – Vote Labour
Keighley – Vote Labour
Kensington – Vote Labour
Lanark and Hamilton East – Vote SNP
Leigh – Vote Labour
Lewes – Vote Lib Dem
Lincoln – Vote Labour
Loughborough – Vote Labour
Maidenhead – Vote Lib Dem
Mid Dorset and North Poole – Vote Lib Dem
Milton Keynes North – Vote Labour
Milton Keynes South – Vote Labour
Monmouth – Vote Labour
Moray – Vote SNP
Morecambe and Lunesdale – Vote Labour
Newbury – Vote Lib Dem
Northampton North – Vote Labour
North Norfolk – Vote Lib Dem
North West Durham – Vote Labour
Norwich North – Vote Labour
Ochil and South Perthshire – Vote SNP
Oxford West and Abingdon- Vote Lib Dem
Penistone and Stockbridge – Vote Labour
Peterborough – Vote Labour
Perth and North Perthshire – Vote SNP
Preseli Pembrokeshire – Vote Labour
Pudsey – Vote Labour
Putney – Vote Labour
Reading West – Vote Labour
Redcar – Vote Labour
Richmond Park – Vote Lib Dem
Romsey and Southampton – Vote Lib Dem
Rother Valley – Vote Labour
Runnymede and Weybridge – Vote Labour
Scunthorpe – Vote Labour
Sedgefield – Vote Labour
Shipley – Vote Labour
Southampton Itchen – Vote Labour
South Cambridgeshire – Vote Lib Dem
South East Cambridgeshire – Vote Lib Dem
South Swindon – Vote Labour
South West Hertfordshire – Vote Independent
South West Surrey – Vote Lib Dem
St Albans – Vote Lib Dem
St Ives – Vote Lib Dem
Stevenage – Vote Labour
Stirling – Vote SNP
Stockton South – Vote Labour
Stoke on Trent North – Vote Labour
Stroud – Vote Labour
Surrey Heath – Vote Lib Dem
Sutton and Cheam – Vote Lib Dem
Taunton Deane – Vote Lib Dem
Thornbury and Yate – Vote Lib Dem
Truro and Falmouth – Vote Labour
Uxbridge and South Ruislip – Vote Labour
Vale of Clwyd – Vote Labour
Vale of Glamorgan – Vote Labour
Warrington South – Vote Labour
Watford – Vote Labour
Wells – Vote Lib Dem
West Aberdeenshire – Vote SNP
West Bromwich East – Vote Labour
West Bromwich West – Vote Labour
Westmorland and Lonsdale – Vote Lib Dem
Wimbledon – Vote Lib Dem
Winchester – Vote Lib Dem
Witney – Vote Lib Dem
Wokingham – Vote Lib Dem
Wolverhampton North East – Vote Labour
Wolverhampton South West – Vote Labour
Worcester – Vote Labour
Workington – Vote Labour
Worsley and Eccles South – Vote Labour
Wrexham – Vote Labour
Wycombe – Vote Labour
Ynys Mon – Vote Plaid Cymru

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Largest Vote Swings in British General Election History Censored Out By the BBC and Mainstream Media

This election is seeing the largest vote swings in British political history. But that truth has been hidden by the largest media distortion in British political history.

Let me prove these claims. Certain constituencies have featured again and again in media coverage of the election, to reinforce the dominant media narrative, corresponding precisely to the government’s preferred election strategy, that working class Labour voters are deserting the party because of Brexit.

But if you look at the YouGov constituency model, conducted on a scale 100 times greater than most national opinion polls, and comparatively accurate in 2017, the bigger story is much more breathtaking.

Dudley is a case in point. As I posted a few days ago, Dudley North has been continually featured in vox pops as typical of a Labour seat being potentially lost because of Brexit. According to BBC vox pops, a large majority of the population of Dudley is deserting the Labour Party over either Brexit or allegations of anti-semitism by its ex-MP, Ian Austin.

Yet the YouGov constituency poll shows a swing from Labour to Tory in Dudley of 4.9%. Substantial, but not massive, in a seat where Labour only had a majority of 22 anyway. 41% of the population of Dudley still plans to vote Labour, which makes the balance of the BBC’s vox pops remarkably unrepresentative.

DUDLEY NORTH

Now compare that with this:

WOKINGHAM

Unlike Dudley, Wokingham has not featured in any of the BBC’s vox pops. In safe Tory Berkshire, close to Johnson’s own Uxbridge constituency, John Redwood the MP for a generation, surely there is nothing to draw the BBC to Wokingham?

Except YouGov shows a swing from Tory to LibDem in Wokingham of 20.35%. Let me say that again, 20.35% swing from Tory to Lib Dem. That is one of the biggest swings in general election history (excluding freak circumstances like brand new parties). To give a comparison, Blair’s 1997 landslide, the benchmark for modern seismic general election movement, was achieved on a Tory to Labour swing of 9.7%. What is happening today in Wokingham is on a scale with the massive swing to the SNP in Scotland in 2015 following the devolution referendum.

The Lib Dems need another 2.5% swing to take what is now a marginal seat. They may well achieve it by polling day.

Yet how many vox pops have you seen from Wokingham? What is happening there is perfectly plain. Brexit, the expulsion of moderate Conservative MPs and the hard right Tory stance on immigration and social services has caused a revulsion among liberal Tories from Johnson. In the UK as a whole, the swing against the Tories by liberal former Tory voters is every bit as large as the swing to the Tories in Brexit seats – hence the Tories are on almost exactly the same percentage overall as in 2017. For every racist dullard voting for Johnson’s dog whistle racism, there is an urbane Tory in Wokingham or similar towns refusing to vote for him for the same reason. Yet our televisions and radios have for a month been crammed with literally hundreds of selected representatives of the former group and virtually nil of the latter group.

This is not an accident nor is it unimportant. The media – and the BBC have been most guilty of all – know very well what they are doing. It is deliberate reinforcement of the government’s campaign message. Featuring stream upon stream of working class voters saying they will vote Tory normalises the idea and plays to the popular desire to join the winning team.

Just imagine for one moment that every time the broadcast media had shown a man in a high vis saying he was deserting Labour to “get Brexit done”, they had balanced it with a doctor’s wife from Cheam saying she was deserting the Tories over NHS funding. It would have challenged the entire government narrative. But the media have not done this. They have instead chosen to tell only the pro-government side of this story of electoral swings. This is probably the worst period of concerted state and billionaire controlled media propaganda in the modern history of the “democratic West”.

Ask yourself this simple question. The Tory vote has not increased since 2017. Have you heard that simple fact stated on the broadcast media and is it the impression the broadcast media have been giving?

Let us look at another pair of constituencies. Massively reported Grimsby. Here the swing measured by YouGov from Labour to Conservative is only 3.6%, yet I defy anyone to say they have not seen or heard media reports of how the Brexit supporting people of Grimsby are deserting Labour in droves, with people vox-popped to say precisely that.

GREATER GRIMSBY

PUTNEY

Putney has the same swing as Grimsby, with Labour expected by YouGov to take the seat from the Tories on a swing of 3.5%. Yet has Putney been swarming with TV cameras? Have you had enough of hearing Putney accents on the TV explaining why they are switching from Tory to Labour? Again, the counter-narrative is totally ignored.

The exception to the rule has been Esher and Walton, where there has been some brief media mention of the anti-Tory surge purely because it makes Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, a possible loser. But again I have not seen one single vox pop from there with voters explaining why they are deserting the Tories. And again the swing is absolutely massive, with YouGov measuring a 19.6% swing from Tory to Lib Dem in voting intention and only another 1% swing needed to get rid of Raab. This is much higher than any of the fabled swings against Labour in Northern England.

Compare that to Rother Valley, where the BBC had an extended vox pop feature showing only voters switching from Labour to Tory. While YouGov do predict a substantial swing from Labour to Tory in Rother Valley, of 6.3%, it is on nowhere near the scale of under-reported swings from the Tories elsewhere. And how much of that swing has been produced by the BBC reporting telling people there is a swing and vastly over-representing local anti-Labour voices? 36% of the Rother Valley voters still intend to vote Labour, but the BBC could not locate any.

Remember this. The Tory vote has not increased. It is the same level as 2017. But the media has vastly over-represented, in vox pops and in debate and panel audiences, those switching from Labour to Tory.

More importantly, the YouGov constituency poll of over 100,000 interviews was conducted from 3 to 10 December. The momentum was already against the Tories, and the large majority of its responses were from before the Boris Johnson phone snatching interview and NHS child on the floor scandal, which I suspect has put off more prospective Tory voters. So it was a snapshot of voting intent mostly several days ago, not today, let alone tomorrow when we vote. Remember also the evidence of 2017 is that after a time the highly controlled, slogan-led campaign wears on voters. People who were quite impressed the first time they saw Boris Johnson say “Get Brexit Done” are less impressed when they have seen him say that and nothing else for four weeks. They are inclined to conclude he is an empty slogan parrot, as they did with Theresa May and “strong and stable.”

The final reason to believe that the Tory lead will narrow from the YouGov constituency model poll is that they themselves reported this. Their poll was taken over seven days; at that start of that period it was showing an 11 point lead to the Tories, by the last day it was showing an eight point lead. I see every reason to expect that momentum to continue. Finally, remember that YouGove are an extremely Tory friendly pollster.

Most importantly it shows the number of ultra-marginal constituencies to be substantially more than the predicted Tory overall majority, and all of them susceptible to tactical voting. Scotland and Wales are particularly important. Ultra marginals in Scotland and Wales alone can wipe out the projected majority if the go the right way. There are no Tory/Labour marginals in Scotland, only Tory/SNP marginals and I strongly urge everybody in Scotland who wants to stop Johnson to vote SNP.

I will post some thoughts on key seats in England and Wales in which to vote tactically later. But I already feel confident Johnson will not get his majority.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Invisible Tories

UPDATED Good Morning Britain trumpeted its latest poll today showing a net increase in the Tory lead since last week of four points, to 45% to 31% over Labour.

As you know, opinion pollsters do not just take the raw figures provided by respondents, they weight those respondents to provide a representative sample by age, gender, location, past voting history etc.

But when you drill down into the headline results from the weighted samples, they make no sense at all. For example Survation in this poll have the Conservatives sweeping up Labour in London by 46.8% to 41.2%. In 2017 the Conservatives got hammered in London by 33.1% to 54.5%. Survation are showing a swing from Labour to Conservative in London of 13.5%. That is absolutely massive, and nobody believes that is happening on the ground. The Tories could well lose several more seats in London.

Similarly in Scotland, Survation show the SNP vote down nearly nine per cent compared to 2017, at 33.2%. Again, nobody believes for a moment the SNP vote is really as low as that.

Of course I understand that the sub sample for each area from which these results are calculated is very small. But expecting that a number of sub-samples, which at the regional level are self-evidently nonsense, chance to balance out into an accurate national picture when you add them all up, is ludicrous. I am only looking at one poll here, and not particularly picking on Survation for any reason. But I hope this demonstrates that opinion polls should be viewed with extreme scepticism.

Original Post:

I live in a marginal constituency, where the excellent Joanna Cherry of the SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 over the Tories. If the most recent opinion polls are correct, the parties’ standings at this moment are similar to the result last time, the momentum is with the Tories and this should be a key Tory target. Yet I have not received one single Tory leaflet (and I live on one of the main residential streets) nor have I seen one single Tory campaigner, including when I have been out delivering leaflets for Joanna Cherry myself. Nor have I seen one single Tory poster in a house.

It is not just on TV that the Tories have been skipping interviews and debates, they seem to have eschewed any semblance of a ground campaign too, in what presumably is a key target seat for them. Boris Johnson is not popular with any of the local residents I have spoken to, and there is no enthusiasm at all for Brexit in this part of Edinburgh. In short, I am absolutely unable to square the opinion polls with the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

What is your experience?

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Truth About this Election

UPDATE Andrew Marr seemed to have a moment of contrition, much too late. In the “paper review” agenda-setting section at the start of his programme, he actually pointed out that the large majority of the papers are Conservative supporting, the first time I have heard this noted on the BBC. He then promised that today the paper review would be “balanced” by a look at social media.

This balance turned out to be a 15 second reference to the billionaire owned Huffington Post, the rabidly neo-con internet “news” site which is NOT social media. The content of this “balance” was rabidly anti-Corbyn Brexiteer ex-Labour MP Gloria Del Piero (who was herself the BBC “balance” to the Daily Mail’s ultra-Tory Brexiteer Sarah Vine, wife of Michael Gove), praising Angela Rayner for saying to the Huffington Post she understood why so many Labour voters were leaving the Labour Party.

Read the rest of this article, written yesterday, to understand why this is so stunning:

This is the most vital fact to understand what has happened so far in this election. There is a striking consistency across the opinion polls that the Tories have stabilised around 42%. That is just less than they achieved at the 2017 election.

So how can the Tories be slightly below their 2017 vote, when every single news and current affairs programme on TV and radio for the last three weeks has included vox pops or audience members switching from Labour to Conservative over Brexit?

The undeniable truth is that almost precisely as many voters have deserted the Tories as have switched to them. Hence they are on the same percentage. As the media have lovingly documented, and as is the accepted narrative of the election repeated to us ad nauseam, there are a substantial number of working class Leave voters switching from Labour to Tory over Brexit. They tend (and it is a simple matter of fact) to be less educated, older, and from deprived areas that have suffered most from a finance sector led economic policy.

But an equal number of voters have deserted the Tory Party. They are mostly pro-EU, better educated, more liberal and horrified by the change of the Tories to a hardline far right populist party. Their existence is hardly a secret, and they have an extremely impressive, ultra high profile leadership in John Major, Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Phil Hammond, Dominic Grieve etc. Yet the liberal Tories abandoning the party in droves have been almost completely unrepresented in broadcast media coverage.

Here is the zinger. I have been keeping a tally of vox pops and audience members declaring they are abandoning their allegiance on broadcast media.
I have tallied 57 vox pop/audience members saying they are deserting Labour, because of Brexit/Corbyn. I have tallied 1 – yes ONE – audience member (and zero vox pop) saying they are abandoning the Tories over Brexit/Johnson.

Even though, with the Tory vote stable, we know in the real world both groups are the same size, and Major/Heseltine/Clarke/Hammond/Grieve are not friendless and uninfluential.

Now this is not a count of the entire coverage, but of those news and current affairs programmes I have watched during the campaign. It is weighted towards the BBC with less of Sky and ITN, and very little radio apart from the Today programme. But is is a pretty good sample, and while I would welcome a more scientific study I do not expect it would show anything significantly different. I don’t think anybody reading this can claim their own experience of the coverage is different.

How is this achieved? Mainly, of course, because the media pre-set the narrative that this election would be about Labour voters in the North switching to Brexit, having been heavily briefed to that effect by No. 10. They then concentrated almost exclusively on this narrative. Deliberately choosing vox pop locations to suit the narrative has been a key part. Dudley, Hartlepool and Grimsby; not Putney, Bath and Bristol. There is also then editorial choice of who is selected to speak.

What is undoubtedly true is that the broadcasters have colluded, by massive, repeated and deliberate acts, in pushing and reinforcing the No.10 strategy of seeking working class Leave votes, in an effort to normalise the idea that working class northern English communities can vote Tory. And it is undeniably true that they have massively under-reported the equal movement of liberal Tory voters – and former Cabinet ministers – deserting their party.

Nowhere has this been more obvious than in the comparative treatment of Ian Austin and John Major.

Austin was a Labour Parliamentary Private Secretary, the most junior of all ministerial ranks, for just eight months. When he urged people to vote Tory, it was the first headline on every BBC News broadcast all day. Austin had 15 minutes unchallenged on the Today programme to spill out bile against the Labour Party, before going on to eight minutes unchallenged on BBC Breakfast TV, and a similar appearance on Good Morning Britain, all of which from the timings and travel must have been pre-organised, especially as he left from there to a pre-prepared giant poster launch, carried by all the print media.

But Austin was a comparative nobody. Yesterday John Major, seven year Tory Prime Minister, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary, urged people not to give the dangerous Johnson a Tory majority. He was backed up by former Tory Deputy PM Michael Heseltine and former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke. On any rational measure, this is a far, far bigger story than Ian “nobody” Austin giving the opposite message.

Yet unlike Austin, Major was not the lead story on any major news channel. He did not get 10% of the total broadcast time devoted to Austin. Because the narrative of moderate Tories not voting for Johnson is comparatively suppressed; to the extent that the only possible explanation is the active connivance of broadcasters in securing a Tory government.

So who do we vote for?

The Tories are stuck around 42%. That means tactical voting is essential to knock them back. You need to look very, very carefully at who can beat them in your own constituency.

In Scotland, it makes no sense to vote anything other than SNP. There are no Labour/Tory marginals. There is nowhere that a SNP vote risks letting the Tories in. There are however plenty of constituencies where voting Labour risks letting the Tories in. In Scotland do not overthink, just vote SNP.

In England and Wales, it is complicated. Firstly you need to research who can best beat the Tories locally. Then you may have to hold your nose and support a near-Tory Lib Dem or, and there are still a good few of them as Labour candidates, an even-nearer Tory Blairite. The majority of people who need to abandon their natural choice and vote tactically against the Tories are Lib Dems. I urge you to do what needs to be done, because we have to work within the stupid electoral system we have at present. In probably 85% of English and Welsh constituencies the answer is to vote Labour. Elsewhere, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, Green or Independent. Please check carefully.

In Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, I urge people to vote for Dominic Grieve. He was chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and treated me extremely well in enabling me to give my evidence on torture and extraordinary rendition and reflecting it in the very fair – and damning – report. In Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy vote for Neale Hanvey, who has been badly treated.

In Northern Ireland I generally support Sinn Fein, but just this time in safely Republican areas I would prefer people to vote SDLP, as having votes available at Westminster may be vital.

That Tory strategy of going for right wing populism has changed the demographic of their vote in a way that has reduced its geographic concentration. That can be a disadvantage under First Past the Post and the Tories may end up losing seats in Scotland, London and parts of Southern England, and piling up votes in northern England, without achieving enough there to actually win the seats. This election is not a foregone conclusion by any means.

But to stop Johnson people sweeping the board on 42% people have to vote smart.

I do not condemn anyone who instead votes with their conscience for their preferred party. But I believe the country faces a lurch to the genuine far right, and just this once I urge you not to. Vote to stop Johnson, whatever it takes.

Note: This post very briefly said 87 not 57 due to my inability to read my own handwriting. A transposition error in para 2 has also been corrected.

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Violence and the State

The state rests its power on a monopoly of violence. Indeed, in the final analysis a state is nothing but a monopoly of violence. Even when a state does good things, like tax to provide healthcare, it ultimately depends on its ability to employ violence to enforce the collection of the tax. Arrest and imprisonment is, absolutely, violence. We may not recognise it as violence, but if you try to resist arrest and imprisonment you will quickly see that it is violence. Whether or not blows are struck or arms twisted to get someone there, or they go quietly under threat, confining somebody behind concrete and steel is violence.

I use the case of tax evasion and healthcare to show that I am merely analysing that the state rests on violence deliberately. I am not claiming that the violence of the state is a bad thing in itself. I just want you to recognise that the state rests on violence. Try not paying your taxes for a few years, and try refusing to be arrested and go to court. You will, ultimately, encounter real violence on your person.

John Pilger gave a harrowing account of the everyday application of state violence at the Free the Truth meeting at which I spoke last week. Here is an extract from his speech describing his visit to Julian Assange:

I joined a queue of sad, anxious people, mostly poor women and children, and grandmothers. At the first desk, I was fingerprinted, if that is still the word for biometric testing.

“Both hands, press down!” I was told. A file on me appeared on the screen.

I could now cross to the main gate, which is set in the walls of the prison. The last time I was at Belmarsh to see Julian, it was raining hard. My umbrella wasn’t allowed beyond the visitors centre. I had the choice of getting drenched, or running like hell. Grandmothers have the same choice.

At the second desk, an official behind the wire, said, “What’s that?”

“My watch,” I replied guiltily.

“Take it back,” she said.

So I ran back through the rain, returning just in time to be biometrically tested again. This was followed by a full body scan and a full body search. Soles of feet; mouth open.

At each stop, our silent, obedient group shuffled into what is known as a sealed space, squeezed behind a yellow line. Pity the claustrophobic; one woman squeezed her eyes shut.

We were then ordered into another holding area, again with iron doors shutting loudly in front of us and behind us.

“Stand behind the yellow line!” said a disembodied voice.

Another electronic door slid partly open; we hesitated wisely. It shuddered and shut and opened again. Another holding area, another desk, another chorus of, “Show your finger!”

Then we were in a long room with squares on the floor where we were told to stand, one at a time. Two men with sniffer dogs arrived and worked us, front and back.

The dogs sniffed our arses and slobbered on my hand. Then more doors opened, with a new order to “hold out your wrist!”

A laser branding was our ticket into a large room, where the prisoners sat waiting in silence, opposite empty chairs. On the far side of the room was Julian, wearing a yellow arm band over his prison clothes.

As a remand prisoner he is entitled to wear his own clothes, but when the thugs dragged him out of the Ecuadorean embassy last April, they prevented him bringing a small bag of belongings. His clothes would follow, they said, but like his reading glasses, they were mysteriously lost.

For 22 hours a day, Julian is confined in “healthcare”. It’s not really a prison hospital, but a place where he can be isolated, medicated and spied on. They spy on him every 30 minutes: eyes through the door. They would call this “suicide watch”.

In the adjoining cells are convicted murderers, and further along is a mentally ill man who screams through the night. “This is my One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he said.

When we greet each other, I can feel his ribs. His arm has no muscle. He has lost perhaps 10 to 15 kilos since April. When I first saw him here in May, what was most shocking was how much older he looked.

We chat with his hand over his mouth so as not to be overheard. There are cameras above us. In the Ecuadorean embassy, we used to chat by writing notes to each other and shielding them from the cameras above us. Wherever Big Brother is, he is clearly frightened.

On the walls are happy-clappy slogans exhorting the prisoners to “keep on keeping on” and “be happy, be hopeful and laugh often”.

The only exercise he has is on a small bitumen patch, overlooked by high walls with more happy-clappy advice to enjoy ‘the blades of grass beneath your feet’. There is no grass.

He is still denied a laptop and software with which to prepare his case against extradition. He still cannot call his American lawyer, or his family in Australia.

The incessant pettiness of Belmarsh sticks to you like sweat.

You can see John give the speech here:

Assange’s “crime”, of course, is to reveal the illegal use of force by the state in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the state feels the need to employ such violence against somebody who has never practised violence, is a striking illustration that violence constitutes the very fabric of the state.

Just as we are not conditioned to recognise the violence of the state as violence, we do not always recognise resistance to the state as violence. If you bodily blockade a road, a tube station or a building with the intention to prevent somebody else from physically passing through that space, that is an act of physical force, of violence. It may be a low level of violence, but violence it is. Extinction Rebellion represents a challenge to the state’s claim to monopolise violence, which is why the Metropolitan Police – a major instrument of state domestic violence – were so anxious to declare the activity illegal on a wide scale.

Ultimately civil resistance represents a denial of the state’s right to enforce its monopoly of violence. The Hong Kong protests represent a striking demonstration of the fact that rejecting the state’s monopoly of violence can entail marching without permission, occupying a space, blockading and ultimately replying to bullets with firebombs, and that these actions are a continuum. It is the initial rejection of the state’s power over your body which is the decision point.

Just as I used the example of tax evasion and healthcare to demonstrate that the state’s use of violence is not always bad, I use the example of Extinction Rebellion to demonstrate that the assertion of physical force, against the state’s claim to monopoly of it, is not always bad either.

We are moving into an era of politics where the foundations of consent which underpin western states are becoming less stable. The massive growth in wealth inequality has led to an alienation of large sections of the population from the political system. The political economy works within a framework which is entirely an artificial construct of states, and ultimately is imposed by the states’ monopoly of force. For the last four decades, that framework has been deliberately fine-tuned to enable the massive accumulation of wealth by a very small minority and to reduce the access to share of economic resource by the broad mass of the people.

The inevitable consequence is widespread economic discontent and a resultant loss of respect for the political class. The political class are tasked with the management of the state apparatus, and popular discontent is easily personalised – it concentrates on the visible people rather than the institutions. But if the extraordinary wealth imbalance of society continues to worsen, it is only a matter of time before that discontent undermines respect for political institutions. In the UK, once it becomes plain that leaving the EU has not improved the lot of those whose socio-economic standing has been radically undercut, the discontent will switch to other institutions of government.

In Scotland, we shall have an early test of the state’s right to the monopoly of force if the Westminster government insists on attempting to block a new referendum on Independence, against the will of the Scottish people. In Catalonia, the use of violence against those simply trying to vote in a referendum was truly shocking.

This has been followed up by the extreme state violence of vicious jail sentences against the leaders of the entirely nonviolent Catalan independence movement. As I stated we do not always recognise state violence. But locking you up in a small cell for years is a worse act of violence on your body even than the shocking but comparatively brief treatment of the woman voter in the photo. It is a case of chronic or acute state violence.

Where the use of violence by a state is fundamentally unjust, there is every moral right to employ violence against the state. Whether or not to do so becomes a tactical, not a moral, question. There is a great deal of evidence that non-violent protest, or protest using the real but low levels of physical force employed by Extinction Rebellion, can be in the long term the most effective. But opinions differ legitimately. Gandhi took one view, and Nelson Mandela another. The media has sanitised the image of Mandela, but it is worth remembering that he was jailed not for non-violent protest, but for taking up violent resistance to white rule, in which I would say he was entirely justified at the time.

To date, the Catalan people and their leaders appear firmly wedded to the tactic of non-violence. That is their choice and their right, and I support them in that choice. But having suffered so much violence, and with no democratic route available for their right of self-determination, the Catalans have the moral right, should they so choose, to resist, by violence, the violence of the Spanish state. I should however clarify that does not extend to indiscriminate attack on entirely innocent people, which in my view is not a moral choice.

All of which of course has obvious implications should a Westminster government seek to block the Scottish people from expressing their inalienable right of self-determination following the election. Which fascinating subject I shall return to once again in January. Be assured meantime I am not presently close to advocating a tactic of violence in Scotland. But nor will I ever say the Scottish people do not ultimately have that right if denied democratic self-expression. To say otherwise would be to renounce the Declaration of Arbroath, a founding document of European political thought.

As western states face popular discontent and are losing consent of the governed, one of the state’s reactions is to free up its use of force. Conservative election promises to give members of the UK armed forces effective immunity from prosecution for war crimes or for illegal use of force, should be seen in this light. So also, of course, should the use of agents not primarily employed by the state to impose extreme violence on behalf of the state. The enforcers of the vicious system John Pilger encountered were employed by Serco, G4S or a similar group, to remove the state one step from any control upon their actions (and of course to allow yet more private profit to the wealthy). Similar contractors regularly visit strong violence on immigrants selected for deportation. The ultimate expression of this was the disgusting employment by the British and American governments of mercenary forces, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, to deploy brutal and uncontrolled violence on the local population.

The pettiness of the election campaign, its failure to address fundamental issues due to the ability of the mainstream media to determine and manipulate the political agenda, has led me to think about the nature of the state at a much more basic level. I do not claim we are beyond the early stages of a breakdown in social consent to be ruled; and I expect the immediate response of the system will be a lurch towards right wing authoritarianism, which ultimately will make the system still less stable.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Free the Truth – A Short Speech

This is the speech I came down to London to give.

I have had a fascinating few days catching up on many people. It is an interesting fact that one of the suite of rooms where the great ones gather for their sparkling wine and snacks before and after the Cenotaph ceremony on Remembrance Sunday is literally my old office, from when I was Deputy Head of the Africa Department of the FCO. It has always interested me that the grand people of British society, particularly those born to it, overlook the “little people” and forget they have agency. People like Boris Johnson do not see janitors, cleaners, cooks, drivers and waiting staff as anything but cyphers. They however see him, and I can tell you with certainty that the reason he messed up the Cenotaph ceremony, starting backwards and forward at the wrong time, laying the wreath upside down and generally stumbling around looking like an unmade bed, is that he was drunk. You could smell it off him. He arrived in that condition.

I am working on a longer and more thoughtful piece about the morality of the use of force. I hope to post that tomorrow. Am on the train back to Edinburgh.

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Interfering with Laura Kuenssberg

Last night the BBC was reporting on the Conservative manifesto. This is a document whose most striking pledge is to fill in some of the potholes in roads that have proliferated due to massive cuts in local authority funding, and to give free hospital car parking to those visiting a terminally ill relative. Just think of the last one. How do you prove your relative is terminally ill? What if there is a chance they might get better? The administration of this system is going to require people to have some form of certificate or token that all hope is now lost. For the car park. The Tories are all heart.

As the News continued, Laura Kuenssberg told us that the battle lines between the parties are now clearly drawn, and the major division is over how much the government “should interfere in the economy”.

Interfere. Not intervene. Not regulate. Interfere. It is a very deliberate choice of word. Let me turn to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Interfere

1) Prevent from continuing or being carried out properly
2) Handle or adjust without permission
3) Become involved in something without being asked
4) Sexually molest

Words matter. Kuenssberg chose a word with powerful negative connotations and no possible positive meaning, to describe the alternative to the Tories. Kuenssberg talking of government interfering in, rather than intervening in, the economy is in itself a very strong and explicit declaration of Kuenssberg’s belief in an Ayn Rand, “Britannia unchained”, free market, ultra neo-liberal world view. To explicitly frame the choice in the election as between the Tories and “interfering” is just another example of the way the BBC slants their election coverage, permanently.

Now I started to draft an article three days ago, before that particular Kuenssberg propaganda masterclass.

Here is what I wrote as a draft three days ago:

“Maybe I am just unlucky. I have had television news bulletins transport me to hear vox-pops featuring former Labour voters in Dudley who now want to vote Conservative to GET BREXIT DONE. I have seen vox pops in fishing wharves in Peterhead and Grimsby, in dismal cafes in Hartlepool, in bingo halls in Yarmouth, in pubs back in Dudley, on high streets in Wakefield, in a shopping mall in Thurrock, in hardware stores back in bloody Dudley again. The country is full of people who want to GET BREXIT DONE, and who will NEVER VOTE LABOUR AGAIN.

The strange thing is that I have not seen a single vox pop from Richmond, featuring an educated woman who is switching from a lifetime of Tory voting because they have become a far right party and are going to crash the economy with hard Brexit. But there are many people like that in Richmond, and indeed all over London, and throughout much of southern England. They exist but are not worth vox-popping, apparently. Because they are not the broadcasters’ chosen “narrative”.

The BBC, ITN and Sky will doubtless defend the very obviously targeted demographic and destination of their “vox-pops” on the grounds that this is the “narrative” of the election. But that is a self-reinforcing prophecy. The public are relentlessly being told that what ordinary people want is to “GET BREXIT DONE” and to vote Tory. But that is actually only what about 40% of the people want. We just aren’t being shown the other 60% as the broadcasters focus relentlessly on areas with the highest leave vote, and on vox pop subjects with the least possible education.”

While that passage was atill on the stocks, last night, alongside the Kuenssberg analysis, the BBC gave us a vox pop from the Rother Valley that fitted perfectly the above description. It came from a Yorkshire Labour seat that voted Leave. It featured Labour voters who will now vote Conservative. The ladies interviewed were perfectly primed with precisely the main Tory slogans. A lady told us she wanted Boris so we could “get Brexit done and get on with domestic reforms”. Another ex-Labour voter told us she would vote for Boris because “he may not be trustworthy, but I like him”. Trust and likeability are two factors the pollsters regularly measure. It is important for the Tories that voters prioritise likeability over trust, because Johnson’s Trust numbers are appalling. How fortunate that the BBC happened to find a little old lady in the Rother Valley who could express this so succinctly!

Or maybe it is not so surprising. With the mainstream media as such a reliable echo chamber of public slogans, perhaps it is not surprising to find the public just echo them too, as they do in North Korea. The state media in the UK is of course not the only propaganda outlet. Billionaires control 87% of print news media by circulation, and are aggressively Tory for obvious reasons of self-interest.

This leads to the incredible circularity of the “Newspaper Reviews” that take up such a high proportion of broadcast news output. The broadcasters “review” the overwhelmingly right wing print media. And who do they invite to do the reviewing? Why the billionaire employed journalists of the overwhelmingly right wing print media, of course! So we have the surreal experience of watching journalists from the Times and the Spectator telling us how great an article in the Daily Mail is, about how Corbyn is a Russian spy and Scotland not really a country at all.

If that was not bad enough, we then get deluged by “commentators” from “think tanks” which are again billionaire funded, like the Institute of Economic Affairs and scores of others, sometimes with money thrown in from the security services, like the Quilliam Foundation and scores of others. It is a never-ending closed circular loop of propaganda.

The truth is that it largely works. Social media is overwhelmingly sceptical of the government narrative, but we still live in a society where the power of mass broadcasting and even print retains a remarkable amount of influence, particularly on the old and the poorly educated. It is no coincidence that it is precisely the old and the poorly educated that are the targets of Cummings’ “Brexit election” strategy. If it comes off, Kuenssberg and her fellow hacks will have proven that the power of the mainstream media is as yet unbroken.

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Do Not Despair of This Election

I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless. Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries. That encapsulated for me the current far right political climate in England, dominated by boorish, selfish stupidity. I do not come from a left wing political background and I have never subscribed to the romanticisation of “the people”. Years living in the UKIP heartland of Ramsgate made me realise that “the people” en masse can be very unpleasant and racist indeed. I have always for that reason eschewed direct democracy and subscribed to a very Burkean view. That however falls down when, as now, you have a political class who are becoming even more base and vicious than the most unpleasant mob. But the growl of that studio audience, infuriated that Corbyn cared about the foreign poor, is a warning klaxon of the state of English society.

A close second despair-inducing moment was Jo Swinson’s interview following the debate when, asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”. As I reported last week, when asked at the Lib Dem campaign launch why she would not put Corbyn into Downing St in any circumstances, she had instantly replied that he would not be prepared to instruct submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons.

The woman is deranged.

I come from a Liberal tradition. Probably the two books which most influence my thinking are On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and Imperialism, A Study by J A Hobson. The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them. That the Lib Dems had moved economically so far to the right was already worrying me. Their completely illiberal opposition to Scottish Independence upset me still further. But that the party to which I belonged for 30 years and which was once led by my friend, the gentle and wise Charlie Kennedy, could now be led by an arm whirling, narcissistic, female version of Dr Strangelove, is beyond my wildest nightmares.

Let me go back to that ITV Debate. It was enormously dispiriting that of a 50 minute debate, 25 minutes were devoted to the subject of Brexit, compared to just one minute on the question of climate change. The Brexit discussion was completely unenlightening, with Johnson booming out “Get Brexit Done” at every opportunity, and even when there was no rational opportunity after the discussion had finally been moved on to other subjects.

I thought Jeremy was slightly under par. There was one point where I think he made a definite mistake. When Johnson claimed the last Labour government bankrupted the country’s finances, Corbyn failed to come back and say that it was the bankers who bankrupted the country’s finances. He could have gone on to add that banking deregulation had been the cause of a decade of global misery and Boris Johnson’s plans for Singapore on Thames would be banking deregulation on steroids.

It is not the first time this election that Labour have failed to point out it was the bankers who crashed the economy. I am not sure why. It may be a desire to seem City-friendly. Corbyn may be held back because, like me, he believes Brown was completely wrong to bail out the bankers with taxpayers’ money, and Corbyn therefore thinks it best to avoid the whole topic for the sake of party unity. Either way, to let Johnson say that Labour spending ruined the economy is to miss an open goal – the bankers are still massively unpopular.

The other point is one where Jeremy actually annoyed me. I cannot tell you how infuriating it was, as a Scot, to see Johnson repeatedly stating that Scotland would not be allowed an Independence referendum, and Corbyn making no effort at all to stand up for the Scottish right of self-determination. Given SNP exclusion from the debate, it was demeaning to see our masters discussing our future with no pretence of giving a hearing to the Scottish point of view.

Corbyn has to tackle this. The Johnson “Labour will give you two referendums” attack line is not being sufficiently countered. For Corbyn to ask Johnson whether he accepts that the Scottish people have the right of self-determination would be a killer question, and Jeremy could ask it quietly and effectively. A large majority of English people are actually perfectly happy for Scotland to have an Independence referendum.

Corbyn has tied himself in knots to accommodate the bitter cabal of Blairites and Orangemen that constitute the majority of the rump Scottish Labour Party, while its membership and voters have defected en masse to the SNP. 40% of the remaining Labour voters support Independence anyway. Rather than put himself in a false position for the sake of hopeless colleagues who have crashed Scottish Labour from domination to 12% of the vote, Corbyn should state his support for the right of the Scottish people to decide – something which I have no doubt he personally believes in, deeply.

The good news is that Johnson made an ass of himself in the debate, constantly repeating “Get Brexit Done”, and Corbyn’s insistence on discussing more important issues than Brexit cut through. You Gov’s verdict of a 51 to 49 victory for Johnson was very dubious indeed. But even that would be a major advance for Corbyn given the constant barrage of unfair media demonisation to which he has been subjected in the last five years. Almost seven million people watched the event live, a significant audience. Parity with that audience is a very good start for Labour. I suspect it really went better than that. YouGove have a long and dishonourable history as Tory push pollsters.

There are similarities here to the 2017 election. The chance for both Corbyn and Sturgeon to be seen in election coverage directly by viewers, each arguing their own case, will improve the standing of both with the electors, compared to the unmitigated vilification of normal media. (Sturgeon is being unfairly excluded from key debates but her Dundee speech today was extensively covered).

The Tory campaign of closed workplace addresses, artificial set-up encounters and a constant simple soundbite slogan is repeating the formula that failed so spectacularly in 2017. “Get Brexit Done” is going to annoy voters as much as “Strong and Stable” did, especially if Johnson continues to deploy it whatever the question asked.

I strongly expect we will see the first signs of the opinion polls starting to tighten shortly. I am half-English myself and have no desire to see Johnson inflicted on the population of Newcastle or Liverpool. But I confess I am also comfortable in the certainty that should Johnson win the election, it will precipitate Scottish Independence very soon. Nobody should despair yet. But it is certainly more comfortable to watch this from Edinburgh than from Manchester.

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Boris Johnson Must Waive Any Claim of Immunity for Prince Andrew

Contrary to the Establishment line, Prince Andrew does not automatically have diplomatic immunity for statutory rape charges in the USA: and if he does, the UK Government can waive it.

Any British diplomat facing investigation for under-age sex in the USA would, beyond doubt, instantly have their immunity waived by the UK government. There is no reason why Prince Andrew should be different.

That is even if he has diplomatic immunity in the first place. The children of a Head of State do not have immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is generally accepted that they do often enjoy such immunity, but this is not contained in any international treaty and most experts in public international law do not even think it reaches the bar of customary international law, rather reaching the lower standard of comity – what states usually do in friendly co-operation. Comity can be argued in an international court, but it is the weakest form of international law below treaty law and customary law. Comity in this case boils down to no more than the notion that Donald Trump would not want Andrew in the dock in Florida, because he would want Ivanka to be protected from ending up in the dock in London.

A UN Commission considered this subject:

128. The doctrine reflects the various viewpoints. It is noted in Oppenheim’s International Law that a comparison of the status of members of the family of a Head of State with the position of the family of a diplomatic agent indicates that members of the family of a Head of State forming part of his household enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of the host State. The fact that members of the family of a Head of State and Head of Government are protected by immunity is also acknowledged by P. Gully-Hart. In the view of A. Watts, the immediate family of a Head of State may enjoy immunity, but on the basis of comity and not of international law. This view is endorsed by S. Sucharitkul. The view that, if the members of the family of a Head of State are also granted immunity, it is on the basis only of international comity and not of international law was supported in the resolution of the Institute of International Law.

Even then, it is universally agreed that children of a Head of State would only be covered by immunity if they were part of the head of state’s household. Now it is important to note that the word “household” here, in international law, does not necessarily have the same precise application as it does in UK domestic political parlance. In the UK, Prince Andrew is part of the “Royal Household”, which is why he troughs a massive £280,000 a year for doing very little. But in international law the provision is much more likely to be interpreted in the common meaning, as in dependent family living together in a single home. Dependent children might include adult students but does not stretch to 60 year old millionaires.

The USA of course has a habit of ignoring international law when it so wishes under the doctrine of “exceptionalism”. However it would need British agreement not to claim diplomatic immunity for extradition proceedings in the UK to go ahead. It is sickening that Julian Assange is in a maximum security prison awaiting extradition for publishing the truth, while Prince Andrew is in some mansion having his feet massaged.

There is a further argument that Prince Andrew had immunity while on his visits to Epstein because of his status as “International Trade Ambassador” for the UK. That is a possible argument, although just like immunity for children of the Head of State, the situation on temporary visiting envoys is not firmly established by treaty. There is a UN Convention on Special Missions, but only about 30 countries ever ratified it, and neither the UK nor USA has ever done so. If Andrew was in the USA in that capacity, and if the State Department had received a formal Diplomatic Note indicating he was visiting on official business, customary international law would tend to support the view he had a claim to immunity. This quote from the German Federal Supreme Court is given in a very interesting paper on the subject in the European Journal of International Law:

irrespective of the [UN Special Missions Convention], there is a customary rule of international law based on State practice and opinio juris which makes it possible for an ad hoc envoy, who has been charged with a special political mission by the sending State, to be granted immunity by individual agreement with the host State for that mission and its associated status, and therefore for such envoys to be placed on a par with the members of the permanent missions of State protected by international treaty law.

However, it is not plain that on all occasions when he partied with Epstein, Andrew was in the States on an official basis, and even if he was, the UK government can still waive his immunity. The media are attempting to fix in our minds the idea that his immunity is immutable and nothing can be done. Far from it. It is conferred by the sending government and agreed by the receiving government. The sending government can simply waive or revoke it at will. This is frequently done.

All of this might be entirely academic because of the extraordinary inaction of the FBI on the case. It beggars belief that Ghislaine Maxwell has not yet been arrested or interviewed about the overwhelming evidence of her role as a procuress or pimp. It further beggars belief there has been no interview under caution of Prince Andrew in either the United States or the UK. The problem is, of course, that any number of very powerful people are going to be implicated in any serious investigation. In particular, the Clintons still have an astonishing amount of influence over senior staff of the FBI.

Only the power of public outrage is ever going to force any action, and this will be difficult to mobilise and focus; doubtless the mainstream media will shortly seek to close the matter down. But we can do a little to push things forward by insisting on a declaration from Boris Johnson that Prince Andrew’s bogus claim to diplomatic immunity will be denied or waived.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Roger Stone – Wikileaks – Russia Hoax

As ever, the Guardian wins the prize for the most tendentious reporting of Roger Stone’s conviction. This is not quite on the scale of its massive front page lie that Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But it is a lie with precisely the same intent, to deceive the public into believing there were links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. There were no such links.

The headline “Roger Stone: Trump Adviser Found Guilty On All Charges in Trump Hacking Case” is deliberately designed to make you believe a court has found Stone was involved in “Wikileaks hacking”. In fact this is the precise opposite of the truth. Stone was found guilty of lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee by claiming to have links to Wikileaks when in fact he had none. And of threatening Randy Credico to make Credico say there were such links, when there were not.

It is also worth noting the trial was nothing to do with “hacking” and no hacking was alleged or proven. Wikileaks does not do hacking, it does “leaks”. The clue is in the name. The DNC emails were not hacked. The Guardian is fitting this utterly extraneous element into its headline to continue the ludicrous myth that the Clinton campaign was “Hacked” by “the Russians”.

It is worth noting that not one of those convicted of charges arising from or in connection with the Mueller investigation – Manafort, Papadopolous, Stone – has been convicted of anything to do with Wikileaks, with anything to do with Russia or with the original thesis of the enquiry.

Astonishingly, in the case of Stone, he has been convicted of saying that the Mueller nonsense is true, and he was a Trump/Wikileaks go-between, when he was not. Yet despite the disastrous collapse of the Mueller Report, and despite the absolutely devastating judicial ruling that there was no evidence worthy even of consideration in court that Russiagate had ever happened, the Guardian and the neo-con media in the USA (inc. CNN, Washington Post, New York Times) continue to serve up an endless diet of lies to the public.

Randy Credico was the chief witness for the prosecution against Roger Stone. That’s for the prosecution, not the defence. This is the state’s key evidence against Stone. And Credico is absolutely plain that Stone had no link to Wikileaks. The transcript of my exclusive interview with Randy has now been prepared (thanks to Sam and Jon) and follows here.

I spoke to Randy yesterday to clarify one point. The first conversation Randy ever had with Julian Assange was on 25 August 2016 and it was on-air on Randy’s radio show. There was no private talk off-air around the show. That was Randy’s only contact of any kind with Julian Assange before the 2016 election. His next contact with him, also an on-air interview, was not until Spring 2017, well after the election. He could not have been in any sense a channel to Wikileaks.

Here is the unedited interview from 10 November:

RC: Hello.
CM: Hello there, Randy. Hello, can you hear me OK?
RC: Yes, perfectly.
CM: Yeah. I’m good, I’m very good indeed. OK, let’s do it like this, shall we, it seems …
RC: Now listen, before you start, you can ask me anything you want, and this is the only interview I’m going to do. I’ll be in town with—like, all day long—with people asking me to talk about this and I just want to get it out of the way and move on. All right?
CM: No, I quite understand. And that’s very sensible. Now, let’s start then … let’s start … before we get into the substance, let’s start then with some of the atmospherics. How did it feel to you, you know, to be you … to be Randy walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, when I, when I … first of all, for the last eight months I knew this was eventually going to happen. So I’ve been on needles and pins, a lot of anxiety that … Wait a second … Hold on, hold on … can you start and do that again?
[aside] Bye, everybody. … I’m doing an interview with somebody here.
Hi, Craig. Hi, Craig.
CM: Yep. Yep. I’m here.
RC: Hello. All right. Start going. Start … start again.
CM: OK. Before we get into the substance, Randy, let’s talk about the atmospherics. How did it feel to be you? How did it feel to be Randy Credico walking into that courtroom?
RC: Well, you know, all of my life … I got into show business when I was 18 years old and I really was pursuing fame and notoriety and, you know, I finally got it, and this is “be careful what you wish for”—because this is certainly not something that I was relishing. For the past eight months, when Mr Stone was indicted, I have been suffering from heavy anxiety, having to appear as a witness under subpoena. And then when it finally happened, eight months went by quickly, and I got to tell you something, going into that courtroom, and anticipating it the previous night in which I couldn’t sleep was not a very comforting feeling. I walked in and, you know, it wasn’t the traditional way where you walk in from the back. You had to walk through the very front of the courthouse, past the defendant, past his family, past his friends, past his supporters, and then get on that witness stand right next to the jury, and begin answering questions. So after a while I was OK with it, but I knew it was going to be a long session; I knew I was going to have to come back the next day and continue and then I was going to have to go through the cross-examination. So it was just nothing but anxiety going in, and there was some relief when it was over but it was a different kind of a feeling because I felt bad for the defendant at the end of the testimony.
CM: Yeah, no, I’m sure you did. Did you catch his eye at any slight stage while you were … while you were talking?
RC: Yeah. You know, I tried not to. I didn’t think that was fair, so I did look at him. He was very morose looking, very sullen looking … and, you know, but for the grace of God, there goes I. I could’ve been in that seat, in that situation at some point in my lifetime, and the weight of the federal government with the vast resources in a case like that, and the defendant, he had … he had a lot of attorneys, but I didn’t think they were … they were really sufficient. These were not great barristers, you know what I mean? They were not good. And I found out they weren’t really that good because I had known earlier the way they were cross-examining previous witnesses that they just weren’t up to the job.
So, you know, you go in there and you’re under a lot of stress, and you’ve got to tell the truth and at the same time the truth is going to hurt the guy who’s sitting there … you know, just 25 or 30 feet away from you, and it could put him in prison. I mean—who wants to be in that position? All of my life, I have worked to get people out of prison. I’m a prison reformer. I’ve extricated people out of prison through clemency and changes of laws in the State of New York. And other activism that I have done like in Texas, I got 46 people out of prison. So this was a very bizarre, ironic situation that I was in at that particular point.
So yes, I caught his eye; I did catch his eye. You know, it’s such loose strings—it’s someone that you’ve known. I’ve known the guy for 17 years. And people say “How were you ever friends with this guy? You know, you’re an extreme left-winger, the guy is an extreme right-winger”. Well, I have no regrets meeting him, because I met him in 2002, after I had been working 5 years, visiting prisons, organizing families of prisoners who were subjected to New York’s racist and draconian Rockefeller drug laws. They were called the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. I was working with him, organizing, visiting their loved ones in prison, and we were moving forward to getting some substantial change in 2002, but we were at loggerheads with the government. So because Roger Stone was running the campaign of a third party candidate—a billionaire, a real maverick individual, who had some great ads that I saw—I went to Mr Stone because the Democrats and the Republicans in the race were not addressing the issue. Mr Stone actually not only agreed with my position there, but he spent … had his candidate spend … millions of dollars doing ads to repeal New York’s racist Rockefeller drug laws. And that was a very key moment in the historical run of this movement. Within a year and a half, the laws had changed, and each year there was major building blocks. We got the public to support us; we were getting politicians to support us. In 2002, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer—our two Democratic Senators—were not on board. And so, this guy Tom Golisano was on board and he did rallies with these families, he put them on television, and he, like I said, spent millions of dollars on ads. And if it weren’t for Roger Stone, that wouldn’t have happened. And so because of that within a year and a half, these families that I had worked with, there was retroactivity when the laws were changed within a year and a half, and that was a key component. And Mr Golisano stayed with it for another year, he continued to work with us.
So, something like that. Even though Mr Stone had screwed me over, had done some very nasty things over the next 17 years, there was still that soft spot for him because, when I look at those families and I remember their faces when they get reunited with their loved ones—he played a role in that.
So that’s the dilemma I was facing when I was on that witness stand. I was an aggrieved person. This could’ve been done, by the way, in a civil court, you know, my grievance against Mr Stone because, for me—for me—my position was I was kind of smeared by being associated with the Trump campaign with these bogus allegations of being the back channel to Wikileaks—which we’ll get into. There was never any back channel to Wikileaks—that was all hocus pocus! So, answering your question, it was … it was a very bizarre, uncomfortable experience undergoing those {inaudible} in that highly publicized and media-covered circus that was going on. Not a circus, but whatever was going on there, it was something that I would not want to go through again. And, look, I’ve performed in front of a million different audiences; I’ve worked strip joints when I was in air force bases; I’ve done vigils, rallies; I’ve worked the worst toilets in the room over a 45 year period in show business, but I still wasn’t prepared for that kind of atmosphere.
CM: Yes, I can imagine. Is it a fair characterisation to say that you, Randy, you’re on the libertarian left of politics, whereas Roger’s on the libertarian right, and you both met because there were some issues such as drug decriminalization on which you agree and on which he then did good work in decriminalizing communities in New York. Is that the basic analysis?
RC: Yes, I would say I once ran on the Libertarian party line in 2010. A lot of their positions I don’t agree with … but I’m on the left, he’s a libertarian right. He’s not like one of these people—when I met him he was not the ideologue that he was portrayed to be in the media in 2002—a far right Jesse Helms type or a far right John Ashcroft type. He was a libertarian, he smoked pot; you know, we had the same views on music. He actually was advocating for the pardon of Marcus Garvey, who was framed, who was a leader of Black Nationalism in the 20s, on these bogus mail fraud charges. So, you know, he’s kind of a sphinx, you know, politically. He’s not, like I said, a hard-core right-winger. He was not for the war in Iraq back in 2003. So, you know, I don’t even know what the right and the left is sometimes. You know, I really don’t know what that means. I mean Tony Blair’s supposed to be a Labour guy, but he’s as bad as George Bush is, and always has been. So does he really support Labour, is he a leftist? No. So, you know, these labels are a little confusing to me. But like I said, Stone—you know—he’s a showman. He’s a showman; he’s an exhibitionist. That’s what got him in trouble here. The poor guy is … you know, he’s a megalomaniacal showman. Just like I am. I’m in show business, why? Because I’m like him—I like to get laughs, and I want to be recognised. That’s him.
I said he’d done a lot of bad things to me but politically we were, you know, we coincided on a few major issues, and one of them was drug law reform in the State of New York. Now, mind you, 97% of the people that were subjected to the Rockefeller drug laws in the State of New York were black and Latino. And still are—they have been modified, not completely changed. But, you know, they were subjected to harsh punishment; they were getting 15 years to life. I know one kid by the name of Terence Stevens, paralysed from the neck down—from the neck down—with muscular dystrophy, and that guy was doing all of this time for possession on a bus! They ascribed it to him for possession! And he had done 10 years in prison, in the medical ward of a real dank prison—it was called Green Haven—for possession. And that was not like the exception to the rule. There were thousands of people in similar circumstances that were there that were just mules, or addicts that were doing this time—and Stone actually was very sympathetic to it. It wasn’t like it was a—you know, what would you call it—flash in the pan type of a push. He continued afterwards, he even wrote some op-ed pieces; but, like I said, he did some bad things to me over the years, but I’m a good natured guy, and I overlooked it. I let him get away with it.
CM: The astonishing thing about all this is … is that it all comes out of the Mueller inquiry, and the so-called Russiagate scandal, and yet none of these charges relate to Russia. And let’s be quite plain, to the best of your knowledge and belief—or to the best of your knowledge anyway—Roger Stone has no link to the Russian government that we’re aware of, and he certainly has no link to Wikileaks that we’re aware of. Is that your understanding?
RC: Well, actually what he had was … Look … Roger Stone … Here’s what happened. In 2015, Trump hired him. He lasted one month. Why? Because every time he did an interview it was more about him than it was about Trump; and Trump got frustrated with him and dumped him. And he may have given Trump advice here and there because, you know, he was the one who got Trump to run 30 years earlier; it was his idea, he kept pushing Trump. So he was kind of unceremoniously kicked out of the Trump camp.
Flash forward to 2016, he’s kind of hanging around the Trump campaign, he comes up with one of these Super PACs. And so he’s trying to ingratiate himself back into the Trump orbit there. And what he did was he, like, looks at Wikileaks and he sees what’s going on with Wikileaks, and he’s trying to get information. He’s going to guys like Jerome Corsi. You know, Jerome Corsi is a complete lunatic, you know, beyond the pale of conspiracy freaks … and he got hoodwinked by that guy. And this is my estimation, this is my analysis. He gets hoodwinked into thinking that he’s got a back channel. Right.
So he is showing, you know … First of all, the whole idea of a back channel is ridiculous. Julian Assange does not telegraph what he’s going to put out. He never has. He doesn’t compromise his sources and he always puts out that his whole M.O. is the element of surprise. So there was no reason for him to give it to Roger Stone, of the kind of preview of what he was doing. Why would he do that? When everything that he was doing, he was doing carefully, and he was selecting the time and then he’d put it out. There was no reason for him to give anything to Stone. No, Stone was playing the role of someone that had the inside information from Assange. Now, you know Assange, he’s very careful. He’s not going to … if he wanted to he would just give it directly to Trump, you know, but he didn’t. He never did. He didn’t need to go through Stone. But Stone was pretending that he had some kind of access to Wikileaks, and he was selling that to the Trump campaign—that he was able to get something in advance, he knew what it was. And so they didn’t think they were going to win, and they were looking for Hail Marys and this was one of them, and they brought him into the orbit and Stone was thinking that whatever this guy Corsi was giving him was accurate, possibly, and then … then me. All right? So, there was nothing there.
And then, the following month, in August 25th, after Stone had said a few weeks previously that he had direct contact with Assange, and he modelled at that to get a back channel. I had never met Assange, never had any conversation with Assange. In fact, I never ever even met him until the following year. So, on August 25th, through my friend, through someone then that worked with Assange got him on my radio show … on August 25th. And so, I was … it was a big fish for me. I had just gone from one day a week with my show to three days a week, and two of those days were prime time—5 o’clock drive time—and I let Stone know that I had Assange on my show. He didn’t even respond to that. I let him know. So I was kind of one-upping him. And Assange was on the show—we even talked about it: “Do you have a back channel with Roger … ?” And he laughed at it. You know, Stone was on my show on the twenty … two days previously … and I asked him about it, and he said that he had a back channel and he really couldn’t disclose what it was. And then Assange was on. So there was no back channel there, with me.
I went to London a few weeks later. I went to London to see a fellow by the name of Barry Crimmins, who is a left wing comedian, who I had known for 30 years; and we were in London together performing there back in 1986. It was the 30 year anniversary. He was working at the Leicester Square Comedy Club in London. And somebody underwrote my trip to see him. Three days. I hung out with him for three days.
I also had a letter from the General Manager from the station to give to Julian Assange, or someone that works with Julian Assange, with a proposal that he do a radio show out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, with an IFB, and do it over the Pacifica network, and it would be his show. But at that time remember in September he was preparing obviously putting stuff together, collating it, or whatever, and putting it together, for the eventual day that he was trying to put it out, which was on October 7th. Now, the date that he put it out they say it was to coincide with the Access Hollywood tape. Now, anyone, talk to Stefania Maurizi, she will tell you that they were planning to put that out a day or two earlier on the 7th. That was the day they were going to put it out. She was the one that knew, she never told anybody, but she did afterwards. And last year she said she knew they were going to put something out on the 7th, because she worked with Assange. She was one of the few journalists that he trusted, and rightly so.
But I never got in to see him. They didn’t, they didn’t see me, because Stone found out on the 27th, he knew that I was flying to London to see my friend Barry Crimmins, so … and possibly see Assange. He wanted me to find out from Assange, because he put somebody on my radio show—Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President—he put him on my show on the 9th of September, and I owed him a favour and the favour was to find out if this email from Hillary Clinton to somebody existed regarding the situation in … in Libya, and sabotaging the peace talks with Gaddafi. Well, I never did that, I never gave it to Assange. I wouldn’t dare ask him.
I’ve been in that Embassy three times since, after that year 2017 when I spent some time with you and John Pilger in London and Edinburgh. That’s when I saw him. I never once asked him about his business. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t ask him how they did things … nothing. The stuff was so general. We talked about dogs, we talked about him running for Senate, and the Green Party, we talked about food. We talked about general things. And that was it. I never once saw … There was no way I was going to ask him to confirm if this email existed. In fact, I told Stone that if it existed, it would be on the Wikileaks website.
All right, so that happens; that happens, and nothing happens. I did say, I did predict, and I put it on Facebook after standing outside that Embassy on the 29th, I dropped the letter off. There was a guy from either MI6, MI5, or a metropolitan police department outside that building with a headphone on, or an earplug, and he was listening: you could tell, these guys are so obvious. And I dropped the letter off. I was in for less than 20 seconds. I knocked on the door on the left; a hand came out; I dropped the letter off from the station, and left; I went through Harrods and I was followed. So I extrapolated from that, that something must be coming up. I put it on Facebook: “Here’s a picture of me, look at this guy behind me. I got a feeling the guy inside’s gonna drop something this week.”
Two days later I said the same thing to Stone. So now, he’s going to use me as—well, I mean, well, he has to—as the back channel. Supposedly he had a back channel for months. But the whole thing was ridiculous: I mean, there was no back channel; there never was a back channel. This was Stone just blowing himself up as, you know, as an important person to impress. As you said yesterday in your tweet, that he was looking to make money, and he did, he did ask the family for some money when he said that this was coming out, and that in fact did justify his luck that it came out on the 7th, and they thought that Stone had the inside information; he had no inside information. All right, so that’s where we were back … that’s where we are back then, up until October first or second or third. So I had no back channel. I had no information; Stone had no information—but he continued to sell himself as a person that did.
And then the, then the … I think that Correa shut down this internet for a while after he got pressure from John Kerry at that meeting in Bogota of the OAS [Organization of American States]. And so I said to Stone at a dinner, the only time I saw him in 2016 was at a dinner on October 12th or 13th, and I told him that, that was information that I got from about 20 people that there was pressure—it was even in the paper. So that was it. So now we go a year later, Stone testifies. Are you with me there, Craig?
CM: Yes, I am with you.
RC: OK. Do you want to ask a question, or should I continue?
CM: No, you carry on. Go with the flow.
RC: I shall. You go forward. The following year, Stone testifies, he testifies to confirm, not to Mueller, but the House Intel Committee—they had opened up an investigation right after this whole Russia stuff—and I was totally against it. I thought the whole thing was a ridiculous thing, chasing down you know Russians being behind it. Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. Julian Assange did not send a map to the Clinton campaign of every school in Michigan and Wisconsin … all right. So she lost. She was a horrible campaign….
I was a big Bernie person. I was supporting … I did a four day howler marathon for Bernie to get out to vote just prior on the day before the New York primaries. So I was still pissed off at Hillary because she had taken it away from Bernie. Her and her cohorts at the DNC had taken it away from Bernie. And if Bernie had won that primary, had won that nomination, he would have beaten Trump … I believe. But Hillary …
CM. Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of polling evidence that says that, I think.
RC: Yes, I think, I think … I really do think that Bernie would have won that election. So I was really furious! I was furious that he was out of it. I’m still furious. I ended up voting for Jill Stein that day. And I went to Jill Stein’s party on November 8th 2016. I think I had you on the show with Jill Stein just prior to that. And I had her on the show that day and I went to her party and Trump won, and I was very depressed about that … not that I supported Hillary, I mean she didn’t have any chance at all so it’s fine …
Now going forth, let me get back to 2017. He voluntarily—voluntarily—goes before the House Intel Committee. They didn’t subpoena him, they didn’t ask him to show up but he voluntarily goes up and it’s behind closed doors. Simultaneously he releases a 47-page screed that he’s about to read on YouTube, he reads it on YouTube, and then his opening statement. Forty-seven pages he reads to them chiding the whole process and slamming Schiff and everybody, putting this whole Russiagate thing out there. And then at the end they ask him if he had a back channel, and he says “Yes, it’s a journalist but I’m not supposed to say who it is”.
Now, the next day, I’m trying to reach him. I’m thinking he’s going to say that I was now, because I had sent him those text messages, he’s gonna say …. And then he sends me a text message saying “Look, just go along with this, don’t worry about it. You’ll get a lot of press out of this. They’re not going to believe you, Credico; they’re going to believe me.” So, look he was covering up his attempts; he had no connection. And by the way, this is not helping Julian Assange out, having Roger Stone and Trump and all these people out there saying that they’re connected to Wikileaks. This is not helping his cause—all right—because Roger Stone is radioactive. Julian Assange knows that he’s radioactive. He doesn’t hate Stone; he finds him to be some kind of showman, you know, an exhibitionist; but he had nothing … he’s smart enough to know that you don’t go there, and he didn’t go there. But, so … now, he’s got himself in a bind here: he has said he’s got a back channel, he’s gloating about it, you know, he’s showboating … and a few days later, he lets me know that he’s gonna name me as the back channel. And that’s gonna go public! He said, “Look nobody’s gonna believe you, Credico. And better that, uh … better that I name you than go to jail.” So he doesn’t mention this guy Corsi, who was the back channel that wasn’t the back channel.
CM: OK. Can you just hang on a second, Randy? He said “better he names you than go to jail”. What was he thinking: that having claimed to have a back channel to the committee, he had to try to substantiate it or he’d be in trouble for lying? Or was there was some other risk of jail?
RC: If he says … If he says that they … He didn’t even get a subpoena! In other words, they didn’t subpoena him. Adam Schiff said, “We’d like to know who that back channel is.” And you have to get a full vote on the committee to get a subpoena. Without even getting a subpoena, he went and named me. I said “Well, why are you naming me?”. He says “Why should I go to jail for you?”. Now this is a cocked hat situation for me at that particular point. You know, here I’m being named for something I didn’t do, but he can circumstantially say that I did, because I had told him that I had a connection with Assange on my show: Margaret Ratner Kunstler. You know, but she …. And that was it. When I asked her to get him on the show, she was furious that I even asked her. So, you know, I had a show for a year prior to that and I never asked her. I did not want to get involved and bring her into this. And so I gotta get my own guests. But now I had it three days a week, and so I asked her gingerly and she did get him on the show. But by telling him that, putting that name out, now he’s got her name. Right?
And now I told him on October 1st that something’s coming out which I had already announced, extrapolating on public comments by Assange saying that something is coming out; I think Sarah Harrison may have said that something was coming out; everyone knew that something was coming out. And so since I never was able to get that thing, and never tried, on the Libyan connection with Hillary Clinton—and … what’s his name? … Gaddafi—I felt obligated to get something. And by the way, this is coming from the Heathrow Airport, where I was at the duty free bar there, and I was getting free drinks, because I got a couple of bottles there, and it’s the only duty free store I’ve ever been in where they’ve got like three or four portable bars where you could drink. Instead of spending money at the bar, you know, twelve pounds per ale, I was getting all of these different booze samples that they had and then I was buying a couple. And so when I’m waiting around at the gate, you know, I’m just texting him too along with other people “Something’s coming out”. I’m gonna go back to 2017. So he’s going to name me, he says he’s gonna name me, and just to go along with it. And he’ll go to jail … I don’t know how he could go to jail by not answering the subpoena, or not giving up the name. He could always just take the Fifth Amendment. He could, like I did later on; I took the Fifth Amendment. For a variety of reasons I took the Fifth Amendment. So now he’s put me in a jam … all right, he names me, he names me as a back channel.
And there’s a ton of papers, a ton of stories out there in the newspapers and the electronic media that Randy Credico’s the back channel. Now everybody on the centre left hates me. People connected to the Clinton people think that I helped Donald Trump win, I facilitated it, and I got myself in a big jam right there. Now what do I do? Do I go up there, when I get the letter from the House Intel Committee, and contradict Roger Stone? If I do, then he’s in trouble legally and then he could go to jail for perjury. So I had to think about that. Even though he put my reputation on the line there I feel like … Look, people lie to Congress all the time, to Congressional committees; and, you know, it leads to wars; it leads to mass surveillance; it leads to … appointments to the Supreme Court federal bench. And so those are big lies that are never investigated and they get away with it. So his was a small lie except for it was about me though; that was the only problem. I don’t mind that he lied to Congress, because everybody lies to Congress.
CM: Yeah, I must say to that point I mean he hadn’t done anything. He’d boasted a bit; he’d tried to work an angle by claiming he had a contact he didn’t have; he’d then maintained that by telling the Intelligence Committee that he had a contact he didn’t have. But then, that’s a fairly harmless lie.
RC: You … you … you know what it is? It’s a fender bender. But it turned out to be a 21 trailer tractor pile-up. It was a fender bender. It was no big thing to tell them that. I kind of laughed at his 47-page statement. It was kind of entertaining. You know, he was putting on a show there. But when he put me in there …. Look, if it was anybody else, it’s fine. And it’s not like it was a major transgression to say that he had a back channel that he didn’t have. Right? That’s not a major transgression. When you lie about weapons of mass destruction—that is something that cost millions of lives, and people got away with that. People got away with lying to Congress about that, lately. You got guys who lie about not being spied on—there’s no domestic spying—that was a lie, they got away with that. All right? That’s the kind of stuff that affects them. This doesn’t affect, you know, anything. But he did lie to Congress, he did it five or six times, he kept lying; and there are five or six times that he lied in there and said that I had been providing him information from, like, early June all the way through October third or fourth or fifth. So … which is totally ridiculous, you know! And nobody else provided him with that, because Assange does not tip his mitt. You know what I mean?
So he was building himself up, ingratiating himself with the Trump campaign, which he had been disaffected from … thrown off the campaign. So he was clawing himself back on, and this was his way … and he was fishing around. Wikileaks had rebuffed him, told him “Stop saying you’re connected to us! All right? That’s not true.” They put that out there. They sent them a direct mail that “we had nothing to do with Roger Stone”. And all that was doing was hurting them, by saying that, you know, he was one of the most despised person in the US, whether it’s true or not the reasons why, but he’s a despised person in the US by a lot of people. And traditional right-wingers don’t like him, and the left doesn’t like him, because he’s a dirty trickster and he’s been connected … remember, he was connected to … with Mobutu, he helped out Mobutu do PR work; he helped out Marcos do PR work; Savimbi … did PR work for Savimbi; he was a big fan of Pinochet. So he doesn’t have a clean past. All right? He made a lot of money, made millions of dollars working with some of the most odious dictators in the 80s. And he and Manafort, and a few others, they had a PR firm and that’s who they worked for. All right? So let’s not say Roger Stone is an angel here. You don’t make money … maybe if this is the ghost of Lumumba, the ghost of Aquino, of Victor Jara, coming back to haunt Mr Stone. You know, but we just push that aside, we push that aside.
Getting back to Wikileaks: they rebuffed, they publicly said they did not have anything to do … and you know that was true: they did not. He did not have a back channel. He invented himself in, he insinuated himself into the Wikileaks orbit, as if he was like, you know, some part of it. And that wasn’t good for them, you know, because they were going to release that stuff.
Now Assange has material there. He’s got the material. Either he can not put it out there and possibly help out Hillary, or he could put it out there and help out … whatever it was, that wasn’t his decision. His decision as a journalist is: he’s got material and so his ethics as a journalist: you put it out there. You can’t hold back material. That’s the way he looked at it. And he put it out there. Because he had it. He got a big scoop there. And he had to put that out there. If he had a similar scoop on Trump, he would’ve put that out there. He does not compromise his ethics. He is a journalist, and he operates as a journalist in the best tradition.
CM: To move the story on now, though: next, Stone does get nasty and he gets nasty towards you because you won’t play along with his story and you won’t say you were a back channel when you weren’t, so he starts to threaten you.
RC: Well, here’s what happened. I went there back to London—and I don’t think I saw you this time around, I think there in November, and I knew I put it out, and I was covering for Pacifica the case of … the case that Stefania Maurizi had against the Crown Prosecutor Services over the emails that were suppressed by them, between them and the Swedish Prosecutor. So I went to that proceeding and … {inaudible} … and spent three or four days in London. I got to see Julian a couple of times and, you know, that was the last time I saw him, by the way. But I was still … I didn’t know what to do at that particular time.
I got the subpoena when I got back and I really thought that they were going to ask me about my communications with Assange, the House Intel Committee. So that was one of the reasons that I said, “Well, here I can go and use my First Amendment rights”, and my lawyer said “No, you can’t; you can use your Fifth Amendment rights.” And then, you know, Stone was hanging over my head that he was going to bring in Mrs Kunstler, and drag her through this. And, you know, he and I both come from Italian-American families and it’s chauvinistic but we don’t drag the women into it; that’s a tradition—you don’t bring the women into the mud here. But he was going to do that, he was going to bring Mrs Kunstler’s name into to it. She’s this woman with a pristine past; she’s done nothing. Her husband was the greatest civil rights attorney; he liked the fanfare, he got a lot of publicity, but he did incredible work. She did incredible work throughout her life, and she did it quietly. She does not like the trash …. She’s lived this humble life, and just done all of the grunt work legally, and I did not want to drag her through this, this entire quagmire. I didn’t want her name, and the fact I even broached her name to Stone, that was … I was an asshole for doing it. And for Stone to hang that over my head, that was one of the reasons why I took the Fifth Amendment when I did … and to the very end I had no idea what I was going to do. I was trying to do this—do you remember the Wallendas, you know, the tightrope specialists? I was trying to walk this line there where I could say I wasn’t the guy, wasn’t the back channel, without pissing off Stone, and to do that, say that I wasn’t the back channel, but like I said, without giving them information, without going before the Committee. But if I … the thing is once I took the Fifth Amendment, everyone assumed that I was a back channel and was helping out Stone. That’s just the way people think.
And then, the … I was working for this millionaire guy who was going to run for Governor. I was working throughout 2018; I had, like, a one year contract. He decided … he’s such a nice guy, rather than … rather than fire me, he decided to drop out of the race. OK, I worked with him for the previous year, OK, because he was a big shot with the liberal Democrats—he was like probably a billionaire—and he was a big finance guy who just couldn’t be seen at that point with me because I was now radioactive being associated with Stone, but I played it that way—I did take the Fifth Amendment but, like I said, people just assumed, and I started doing television shows, trying to explain myself; I couldn’t explain myself. And then I finally said … and he was getting upset that I was even out there, contradicting, gainsaying what he had put out there in front of the House Intel Committee. And why? Why was he upset? Because he didn’t want it to get out that he had been calling up Trump with this bogus information that he had gotten from this guy Corsi and somebody else. He had been calling up Trump, he had been calling the family, he had been calling up everybody, to get back in there, weasel his way back in there with this back channel claim that he didn’t have. And so he didn’t want to get that to be exposed. He got so furious with me that he started saying nasty ….
Now, I understand: he’s in a bad situation right now. He’s in a bad situation: he lied to Congress! Now he’s saying things about me, and he’s, like, saying nasty … now, look, going up to the … before I took the Fifth, he was sending me text messages to take the Fifth and not to talk. All right? And he’s text messaging this … in broad daylight! You know, we live in an age of mass surveillance … why would you be doing that, text messaging someone: “Don’t talk. All right? If you talk, you do this, do that!” And … but, you know that’s not the reason why. The only reason, the main reason was that I was worried that she would be dragged into this, because he could somehow circumstantially, you know, say that this is the … and I didn’t know he had these prior discussions with other people.
So now we’re going through … getting back to 2018, and what … I’m in a quandary here: what do I do? Big dilemma. Do I come out? And I finally said, “Look, I wasn’t the guy; this is all a complete lie.” And then he started sending out some of the text messages and emails—the one about … {inaudible} …, and all of that—to make it look like I was … {inaudible} …, you know, a war—a public battle between the two of us. And thing is … is that I don’t know why he did that. He’s escalating it. He’s getting stories planted about my character … he’s smearing me, and then … he’s threatening me. But the threats I never took seriously. All right? If I took them seriously, I would gone to the police department—911, and would’ve called up 911—”Somebody had threatened … “. I never took those seriously. It was a guy that was desperate now; he was acting in a desperate way. And he didn’t know what to do. Look, I’ve seen … the guy is sending these things out at two o’clock in the morning … you know, the guy, you know, he gets toasted. All right? He’s not doing it on a sober level. He’s sending out some very nasty things. And so when I … I got so sick and tired of him saying these things about me publicly, that I took the private emails, and I said when … when they got so bad … the smear job had got so bad … it was what was called a ‘brushback pitch’. I gave them to somebody in the media and said “Here, here’s what he’s saying to me in these emails.” And then that’s what … that’s what dragged in the Mueller people when they saw them. I wish I had never put them out, but he escalated it, and I put it out; and the next thing you know, they show up; they’re looking for me, and I’m kind of laying low. I did a show at the …{inaudible} …, my first public performance, and they’re there … they’re there, and they asked me to cancel it; I wouldn’t testify, and then I got a subpoena a couple of months later, and I have … Mow, when you go before them, the first thing they tell you is you can say anything you want, you just can’t lie. All right?
CM: Yep?
RC: Are you there?
CM: Yeah, I’m with you.
RC: You can’t lie to them. You just can’t lie to them. So I sat there and I told them they had all of our emails, they had subpoenas, they had the text messages, and you know, Stone was … Stone put himself into that situation. You know, when they were doing this broad investigation with the Mueller people … these are the best lawyers that exist in the US prosecutors. So like, some top level attorneys and FBI people assigned to it. And they found everything, and so now, now I have to go before the Grand Jury. And in fact I went before the Grand Jury, and I had to answer “Yes” or “No”, and I had the … I was there with my book Sikunder Burnes, by the way, which everyone was interested in … if you recall?
CM: I do. I recall the photos very well.
RC: So now I go before them. Nothing’s happened and months go by and Stone starts dripping out more text messages that were recently found. These were text messages I didn’t have: 2016 and 2017. He selectively cherry-picked some messages, dropped them out there and so they want to know. They call me back into DC, I gotta go back to DC and go over hundreds of pages of text messages with Stone. And the next thing you know, the following January 25th, Stone had lied and he had threatened … you know, I didn’t take the threats seriously. Like I said, I would have said something to the authorities, you know. But, you know, he did put it out there and he did try to get me to change my testimony. So … you know, you gotta be careful, you can’t do things like that. And so he got arrested, and now you know, he gets arrested and now the onus is on me. I know that I’m gonna be … I looked at those charges, seven … he had seven charges and five of them were related to me.
I’m in a real box right now. I felt terrible. But eventually, hopefully, the guy pleads out or he gets a pardon or whatever. He didn’t. He didn’t get a pardon. In fact, he hasn’t pardoned any of the people connected to this. And you would think that this guy would have gotten a pardon. I felt terrible, like I said, about having to testify, but if I don’t testify then I’m in contempt and can spend two years in jail on contempt charges. Plus, they already had the goods there, they had the goods, they had the text messages, and Stone was … you know, indiscreet, putting those things out there. Can you imagine Assange putting something out there like that? Would you do something like that, in the open? You know that everyone can see your Gmail. If you’re a follower of Assange, you don’t put in things in Gmail, because it’s like graffiti on a train: it’s hard to get off, you can’t wash it off, it’s there forever. And so … so he never had a back channel, though. Stone never had a back channel.
CM: Don’t you think there’s a tremendous irony here, because the Mueller inquiry set out to prove Hillary Clinton’s claims that the Russians had hacked the DNC and had then conspired with the Trump campaign and Wikileaks to take the election from her, and they couldn’t find any of that because it’s nonsense: it’s just not true, so …
RC: He wasn’t charged.
CM: So they found …
RC: He wasn’t charged. I repeat, Julian Assange was not charged here.
CM: No, precisely. And they end up … they end up doing the opposite: they end up actually trying Roger Stone because he was claiming that that original thesis was true, in fact. You know, he was claiming to be a link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and fact there was no link between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks; so they end up taking someone to court for the opposite reason from what they tried to prove in the first place.
RC: Obviously, he did not have a back channel. Obviously, what he did was … he disrupted an investigation and threw everybody off. All right? So you step on toes when you do something like that. If he had just been hon… Look, all he had to do, Craig, for himself … all right, very easily … was go before that House Intel Committee, if they ever were even going to call him, and say “Look, I tried. I did not have a back channel. Nothing ever happened. You know, I was bluffing the Trump campaign … if he had just said that and just been honest …. He put himself in a bad spot all because of this narcissism or this megalomania, this need for attention. You know, the guy, like I said, is not everyone’s favourite character, and … you know …. Look, there was no back channel to Wikileaks, ever! You’re right, there was no back channel … I mean, that’s my opinion. I don’t see a back channel to Wikileaks. And I said that, that I don’t think … you know … if they have something they’re going to show at the rest of this trial. Maybe there was, but I didn’t see it. I don’t … so far, I don’t see anything. And why would Assange ever, ever, ever give up … you know, he doesn’t give up the source—A; and, B—he doesn’t tip what he … you know, tip his mitt, as it were. So that is where Stone got himself into trouble, with lying to Congress five times and then they couldn’t … and so the whole time they want me, you know, all … I got three subpoenas and Congressional committees—from the Senate, the House … two from the House judiciary, the Senate Intel—and I rebuffed … I said no to all of them. I didn’t want to get involved in that circus, that political circus between the Democrats and Republicans—I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. But from the Mueller people, they have the subpoena, and I was compelled, and … like I said there was nothing there that I did; but if people think that, you know, well maybe I was BS’ing Stone, you know, I was just trying to satisfy what … you know, the guy wanted something for the Gary Johnson … all because of this whole Gary Johnson, getting him on my show, and me trying to reciprocate it and I never did try. I’d never … He wanted me to get Assange on his show; that was the first request for getting Gary Johnson. I didn’t do that. So, look, this whole thing could have been avoided. All he had to do was, when he went in front of the Intel Committee, when he volunteered, to say that he didn’t have a back channel, that it was all BS, you know, that he was just bluffing, that he was trying to get in good with … you know … with the Trump campaign. So now, he’s facing … the biggest charge against Stone right now is guess what? Jury tampering, I mean, witness tampering. So the other things carry a couple of years; but the witness tampering carries 20 years, and I’m the witness that he tampered with! Now I told …. They did such a bad job, the defence attorneys yesterday. What he said was “Mr Stone … “. One charge was that he’d steal my dog! And I never took that seriously that he was gonna steal my dog. I volunteered, I said: “Stone likes dogs. Stone likes dogs, he’s got dogs, he loves dogs, he wasn’t gonna steal my dog”. I was never worried about him taking this dog of mine. All right? It was hyperbole of the highest order, and it was out of frustration, and probably juiced up on Martinis when he said it. I didn’t take it seriously, at all.
CM: And you were able to say that in the witness stand. That’s what you said, yeah?
RC: I said it. I literally witnessed … I said in the witness stand. You know, I can’t say that he didn’t try to get me to change my … to get me to take the Fifth Amendment. That was … He was one person that had advice. Everyone … I think I even asked you about it! I asked a hundred people what should I do—I had no idea! I’d never been in that situation before! Now what do I do? I knew what the cost was going to be: if I took the Fifth Amendment, people were going to wonder; and if I had not taken the Fifth Amendment, and testified, then Stone would have been charged, and he would have been guilty and possibly do some time in prison. So I was basically saving him then, and … Look, ironically he is now facing prison time.
CM: Yep. You did ask me. I advised you not to take the Fifth, I said you should go in there and tell, tell the full truth … was my advice.
RC: That’s right. I did ask you. I may have asked you on my show; I may have asked you by phone—but I remember you were the one of the few people that said “Don’t take the Fifth Amendment!” You were one of them. And a few others said the same thing: Ben Weiser said “Do not take the Fifth Amendment!” And Glenn Greenwald told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. So there were three people who told me … wise people told me not to take the Fifth Amendment. And lo and behold I did anyway, and all it did was create some problems. But Stone could have taken … that’s the thing, Stone could have taken the Fifth Amendment…. He could have done that and it would’ve been over with…. And now it’s dragged on, he’s put himself in harm’s way. You know, I did say that I wasn’t worried about this, but they didn’t ask me. The other threats about I’m gonna die … because there was a lot of things he said, but was I worried about that? No, I wasn’t worried that he was going to kill me! You know what I mean.
CM: The thing I take away from this is that you … plainly you forgive him for his bluster against you, which you never took that seriously in the first place, and I mean, I think it goes to your nature as the very kind and caring person you are, Randy: you’re more concerned now for Roger Stone … you know, you’re worried what’s going to happen to him, about him going down to jail, being in an awful situation. So despite everything, your main worry now is for him.
RC: I worry about that! I worry about the guy. Look, he’s 67 years old. He’s got a wife, he’s got friends, he’s got kids … you know, I don’t want to be the guy that’s responsible for him doing time in a US prison. US prisons are terrible … you know, that’s why, you know, we’re vying so hard to keep Julian from coming over here, and Lauri Love from coming over here, because of conditions of US prisons. That guy wouldn’t last a minute with a Nixon tattoo on his back, so I feel terrible that he put himself in this situation. Like I said, if his lawyer had asked me—his lawyer closed up, it was like “My God, this guy should have asked me some more questions … that I did not feel threatened by Stone personally.” You know what I mean? He made this threat, but I didn’t … I didn’t … I told him I’d never felt threatened by that. The thing is, that he had not emailed, telling me to take the Fifth, to stonewall all of this—he should have never done that! You know what I mean? I didn’t ask him for his advice on that. I asked people who were … legal people, people like yourself who know the legal system, what to do—and I got a mixed bag. At the end of the day, I ended up taking the Fifth Amendment. And, like I said, as bad as he’s been to me … I don’t want to see …. Look, jail is for people like Hannibal Lecter … people like … people like Rudolf Hess … and people like, you know … that commit the heinous crimes … people that get us into wars. Tony Blair, I’d like to see in prison. Pinochet, I’d like to see in prison … you know, before he died. Those are the kind of people that should be in prison—people that cause bodily harm, torture people—whoever tortured those loyal people in Uzbekistan … those are the people that should be in prison. But I am not … I had a father that did ten years in prison, OK? It ruined the kids … we all became hard-core alcoholics. You know, it was long before I was born. So I heard the horror stories of the prison that my father spent ten years in on the … on the … he was a male nurse on the tuberculosis ward. Ninety-nine percent of the people on that ward were black. All right? So he had an Italian … first generation, second generation Italian … that’s there, and you know they’re not good on race. My father was always good. That was the … that was what I took as a takeaway. But I always worked on prison reform because of I went through as a kid, listening to my father’s horror stories. So prison is not good for anybody. Now, Stone should do something like get probation or something. I don’t want to see the guy—at 67, 68 years of age—you know, the fact that he’s a broken man now, a broken-down man right now … he spent all this money. Look, I have a grievance against him—he has done some rotten things to me over the years; but, you know, forgiveness is a cardinal virtue, and I subscribe to having … you know, to forgive. I forgive. I forgive … and let it go. You know what I mean?
CM: Yes.
RC: The stuff that he did back in the 80s, that’s … he’ll have to deal with his maker on that … with those dictators … so he’ll have to deal with his … I don’t know how bad he is, what he did, I don’t know. But as far as me, I can forgive somebody. I don’t want to have resentment, I don’t want to carry resentment around. And I will be in a very bad spiritual way … a very bad spiritual way if in fact he goes to prison. It’s going to do a number on me to see that guy actually go into a maximum security prison, or any kind of prison. It’s not something that I want to see, personally. It’s not up to me … but believe me, it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders right now. And I don’t want to see anybody go to prison. It’s just not … it’s not the answer. Putting people in prison is not the answer. There has to be alternatives to incarceration. There are so many bad things that go on the world, and we spend a hundred thousand dollars here to put Roger Stone in prison. You know, it’s going to be a heavy burden for me to carry for the rest of my life, if he does go. And I, you know … I’m sorry that I’m in this …this … you know, I … right now, Assange is in a prison … and that kills me, every day that he’s in that prison. This bright … as you say, he’s the brightest person you’ve ever met. And I say, he’s the second brightest—you’re the brightest person I’ve ever met. But Assange is right behind you. And this brilliant individual is there, suffering. The people that put him through this should be in prison. The people that have been … the people on the CPS that conspired to put him there … and the politicians and the judges that put him there. Remember, when Garibaldi liberated San Stefano prison in 1860, you see, the first thing he said to one of the inmates was “Show me the judges!” And that how I feel: show me the judges. Who are … who’s doing this to Julian Assange? Just show me who the judges are! Show me those who are conspiring in the judiciary to destroy this young man, this brilliant young man, this great journalist. Show me who those people are. Those are the ones that should be behind bars.
CM: Yep. No, you’re absolutely right: there’s much more evil done by the State and those in a position of power in the State than there is by, unfortunately, the actual criminals (as the state sees them). Anyway, Randy, we ….
RC: You get these people, they’re so … the blacks and Latinos that go through the criminal justice system. It creates a lot of jobs for the bailiffs, for the lawyers, for the bail bondsmen, the jailers … you know, for the prison guards. Everyone’s got a piece of pie. But you need low-level so-called criminals; but the big criminals—the ones that start wars, the guys like Tony Blair and people like Jack Straw—they’re walking the streets.
CM: Yep. No, I quite agree. Well, we’d better wind it up, Randy. That’s been a long ….
RC: It was a long conversation … it was a long, a long … the end is in sight … and I’m sorry it was so garrulous there, but …
CM: No, that was excellent. And it’s very good that you got that off your chest, if you like, and, you’ve got the record set absolutely straight now for people to hear, which is superb.
RC: It’s the only interview I’m doing. I told you that I needed to get this off. Believe me … I’m getting calls all day long, to be interviewed. I did the one interview. It’s over—I’m not doing another one. So thanks very much for bearing with me … it was like going to a shrink, right now, and I got this off my chest. OK?
CM: It’s a new career for me. All right. I’ve got to go now, Randy, and get that processed. All right?
RC: Thank you very much. You know it’s the first time I’ve been interviewed by you. I’ve interviewed you 45 times over the years.
CM: Yes, it’s quite fun doing it the other way round.
RC: And give my best to Cameron and to Nadira. OK?
CM: I will do. Thank you very much. Thank you.
RC: All right. Thank you. Bye bye.

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“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”.

This leaked off-air recording of ABC News anchor Amy Robach is much more revealing than anything the BBC is going to air about Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Buckingham Palace has been “threatening” journalists to bury the story for years – which is all very reminiscent of Jimmy Savile, who was of course, ahem, popular at the Palace. Robach also states they were scared of losing interview access to folically challenged William Saxe Coburg Gotha and his underweight wife. She does not explicitly state that was one of the “threats” Buckingham Palace employed, but it does follow directly as her next observation.

Amy Robach very probably realised this “unguarded” moment would get out to the public, and we should be grateful to her for lifting the lid on how the protection of the crimes of the powerful operates, on a global level. Alan Dershowitz, whom Robach mentions, was not only a Lolita Express passenger, he is the celebrity lawyer who defended the CIA‘s use of torture as legally and morally justified. One might speculate on the psychological parallels of torturing the defenceless and inflicting sex on the young.

There is overwhelming evidence that Virginia Roberts Giuffre was trafficked into the UK by Epstein for sex with Prince Andrew. There are flight logs. There is that compromising photo in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat. Both are entirely consistent with, and strongly corroborate, Virginia’s own testimony. This instance occurred in the UK.

It ought to be a matter of deep national disgrace that neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor “Prince” Andrew has been questioned over by the Metropolitan Police over this sex trafficking. That Virginia was over 16 is not the issue. She was sex trafficked into the UK and not legally adult. Why is there not a massive media clamour for Scotland Yard to investigate?

Amy Robach has the answer to that question.

Hat Tip to projectveritas

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Fragile Boris Johnson

I find election campaigns in which the Prime Minister addresses scrubbed, smug Tory audiences, filmed by the BBC in close shot to conceal the sparsity of their numbers, deeply disturbing. I find the speeches in factories to employees even more chilling. The sullen compliance of employees, too cowed to show discontent before their bosses, should disturb any right thinking person. This may bore millennials, but back in the 1970s it was inconceivable that a politician of any stripe could address a factory floor without some robust reaction from the workforce. In those days, workers had rights, their employment was protected, and they could not be dismissed on a whim. I have no doubt that the rise of the North Korean factory style meeting in British politics relates directly to the destruction of workers’ rights. Johnson did one in a electric taxi factory a couple of days ago and it was a staple of May’s appalling campaign.

Politicians only give speeches nowadays for them to be carried on electronic media, and the camera angles are considered more thoroughly than the content by their managers. The idea of a political meeting was that a politician would hire a public hall and invite the general public to come and listen to their attempt to win their vote, and engage in discussion with people. That idea has almost died, in favour of the outright propaganda model.

To his great credit, yesterday in Dundee Jeremy Corbyn did hold a relatively open meeting at the Queens Hotel, and he was heckled by Bob Costello. As it happens I know both Jeremy and Bob and have a lot of time for both of them. Bob’s heckle was the perfectly reasonable “I’m interested in what you’re going to do about the will of the Scottish people in relation to Section 30”. Section 30 in this context is Westminster’s agreement to an Independence referendum.

Heckling is a good thing. I do not hold for a moment with the notion that politicians must be heard in a respectful silence and questions reserved to the end. I almost always start my individual talks by encouraging people to interject if they have a burning desire to disagree. This was proper democratic politics as it ought to be conducted. Half decent politicians relish hecklers – they have the microphone and the platform and ought to have no difficulty in dominating the exchange if they are any good at all.

I would add that I have fierce contempt for the “security” argument for hiding politicians from their constituents. Far too often robust disagreement is falsely portrayed as threat. Another friend of mine, Nigel Jones, was when an MP attacked in his constituency office and left with permanent injuries. Public life carries risks. I have received a number of actual death threats over the years since I quit the FCO and started campaigning (often originating in Florida, for some peculiar reason). I doubt any MP has genuinely received significantly more than I. But I still hold perfectly open public meetings. I am in the phone book and on the open electoral register. My address is in Who’s Who. I find the continued bleating by politicians about their security insufferable. I faced the same nonsense in the FCO, when I was advised at various times under the FCO “Duty of Care” not to travel around the Ferghana Valley and around Sierra Leone and Monrovia – all of which I had to do in order to do my job properly. I ignored the advice, telling the FCO that if personal safety were my goal in life, I could have been an accountant.

I am surprised that the Tories feel the need to keep Johnson almost as wrapped in cottonwool as May, because Johnson is a better campaigner. His veneer of chummy bonhommie hides his menace effectively enough to fool most people most of the time. Where he is not good is under detailed, forensic questioning and I shall be surprised if the Tories let Andrew Neil at him. The broadcaster’s decisions on participation in debates are entirely governed by the Tory agenda. The Tories calculate that a sustained campaign of vilification has damaged Jeremy Corbyn to the extent the public will not listen to him, so the Tories are happy to debate Corbyn. They are determined to stop Sturgeon from interacting with Johnson, as she is an excellent debater. The Lib Dems are a major threat to Tory seats, which is why they want to keep Swinson as marginal as possible, although she is not a threat in debate.

By standing down candidates in 300 odd Tory constituencies, Nigel Farage drastically reduced the amount of time the broadcasters will give the Brexit Party. That is so fundamental, I simply do not believe it was done without a hidden Farage/Johnson understanding. The current “spat” between them over other candidates standing down is simply window dressing.

This is a fascinating campaign. I have not undertaken any quantitative analysis, but I have never before in a UK general election felt that, once a campaign was actually under way and the broadcasting rules in force, BBC bias continued quite as blatantly as it does at this moment. It is still my prediction that Cummings’ strategy means that vote spread will heavily disadvantage the Tories under FPTP and they will not get a majority. If they do, that can only hasten Scottish Independence and I will not personally suffer it for too long. But I feel very worried for the millions who would live under boot of the 1% in the conditions of deregulation a Tory victory would unleash.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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