A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women 523

On International Women’s Day yesterday Chelsea Manning was imprisoned yet again, this time for refusing to testify against Julian Assange before a Grand Jury. Chelsea has already suffered over seven years of total imprisonment – no American had ever previously spent more than three years in jail for releasing government secrets to the public, in a land which had historically valued free speech.

I am in awe of Chelsea’s courage in refusing to testify, and shocked at a system that imprisons somebody for contempt of court for maintaining dignified silence.

Chelsea has also done a great service in finally stripping away the last vestige of excuse from the figures who refuse to support Julian Assange, pretending that they do not believe he faces extradition to the United States, and that the legal issue is not about Wkileaks’ right to publish.

The potential charges in Sweden – always based on quite ludicrous accusations – were dropped years ago after he was finally interviewed in the Ecuadorean Embassy by Swedish police and prosecutors, and it became very plain indeed there was no viable case against him.

Chelsea has gone to prison for refusing to participate in the prosecution of Wikileaks for publishing materials that revealed war crimes in the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea is a whistlebower, not a publisher. Assange is a pubisher, not a whistleblower. If Assange can be prosecuted for publishing official secrets, then so can every newspaper editor or television editor involved in the receipt of whistleblower material. There is a massive, a fundamental, media freedom issue at stake here. Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe is in jail in Iran for spying for the British. She is certainly not an MI6 officer, and I can’t see that she would have sufficient access to information to make her of much use as an agent (as MI6 calls its informants). That she was involved in training Iranian journalists or citizen journalists in ways the Iranian government did not like is much more probable, but does not amount to espionage. Even if she were some kind of low level informant to MI6 (which I doubt), the Iranian authorities have sufficiently made their point and it is time to let her go.

The British government’s attitude to this case has been particularly interesting and extremely unusual. I cannot criticise them for the things they have done, because they are the things I used to get frustrated with them for never doing. But their handling of this case is truly out of the ordinary.

The UK allows dual citizenship. It has been longstanding Foreign Office policy that the UK does not give consular protection to UK dual nationals in the country where they are also a national. If the other state does not allow dual citizenship, it might not recognise any British standing in the matter. But there is another compelling reason for the standard policy of not assisting in these circumstances.

When working in Embassies, I used to get infuriated by cases where I wished to help people but was not allowed to, because they were dual citizens. It was explained to me, that if in Nigeria alone we accepted as consular cases all the British/Nigerian dual nationals in Nigerian jails, that would already double the FCO’s entire consular caseload worldwide. To accept dual nationals as consular cases everywhere in their other homeland would increase consular work by a large multiple and require a very large increase in FCO resources.

I nevertheless always felt we could do more. That the British government had, prior to yesterday, already done so much to try to help Nazanin Zagahari Ratcliffe, even though she was an Iranian dual national in Iran, was already extremely unusual. That the UK has now “adopted” the case, raising it to the level of a state dispute, is something not just unusual, but which I don’t think has happened since the First World War. Please note this is not the same process as granting Zaghari Ratcliffe herself diplomatic status, which has not been done.

Again, I can’t criticise the FCO for this, because adoption is something I had urged them to do in a past case while I was on the inside, (shout out to my friend John Carmichael), again being told by the FCO it was not possible as we never do it.

Whether the move is effective or wise in this case, is quite another question. It seems to me likely the Iranians will take it as confirmation that she is a spy. I would urge the Iranian government to take this course; they should now declare the the adoption of the case as a state dispute proves that Zaghari Ratcliffe is a spy, and having been proven right before the world, they will let her go as an example of mercy and compassion.

There are two fundamental points here. The first is that Iran has been subjected for years to crippling sanctions and an international campaign of hate spread by western government propaganda and their MSM. Western governments have aligned themselves with Saudi and Israeli sponsored brutal proxy wars against Shia communities across the Middle East, which look to Iran for protection. If the Iranian government is defensive and suspicious, is that really surprising? The week after the British government declare Hezbollah, the political and security organisation of Lebanese Shias, to be nothing but a terrorist organisation, do the Tories really think the Iranians will be looking kindly on them and their demands over Zaghari Ratcliffe?

The second point is that the entire purpose of the state “adopting” a case, is to make available the dispute resolution mechanisms which operate between states. But the UK only a few days ago repudiated the International Court of Justice, the final arbiter of such disputes, over the Chagos Islands. As the UK shows total contempt for international law, this attempt to access its remedies will be met with derision by the wider international community.


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523 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women

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    • Borncynical


      I don’t know enough about this lady or the case against her to comment categorically myself but it is interesting to see that arab news outlets are quoting the judge in the case as saying that she has been sentenced to 7 years in jail (‘5 years for collusion against the system and 2 years for insulting the leader’); no mention of lashings. Her husband was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment in January. Mrs Sotoudeh’s case has gone to appeal.


    • Alex Westlake

      It would certainly be interesting to hear the so called human rights activist’s take on that, and on executions of homosexuals in Iran.

  • N_

    Sterling is plummeting as a result of Geoffrey Cox’s “advice” this morning on last night’s Brexit documents.

    Ideal for the Tories would be as follows:

    * force Labour to back a second referendum
    * have the EU say if you want an extension then it can only be for 21 months
    * let Theresa May resign (which if her deal fails is likely) and let the “left” or “Europhile” or “soft Brexit” wing of the Tory party collapse as the membership get their jackboots on and hail Gove, JRM or even Mophead as the new Leader
    * Tories become the “Britain” party, Labour the “Social Reform and Friendship With People Outside Britain” party – guess who’s got the clearer message in this epoch of utterly moronic smartphone stupidity
    * hold a two-question referendum before 29 March (yes, this is possible)
    * hold a general election, and even do it if somehow a 2-month extension has been arranged
    * watch the pendulum swing to the far right and stay there, because as in 2016 this is all about immigration and xenophobia

    On the other hand, the deal could succeed, either today or in an MV3, and an hour is a long time in politics, so things have may changed quite a lot by the end of today. In any case, the Tories are absolutely sh*tting on this country. That is the bottom line.

    • Tom Welsh

      Is there any limit to how far “our” government will go to complicate and obfuscate the simple task we gave them: leave the EU?

      • michael norton

        In the last Twelve months sterling was up more than 4% against the Euro, today, after Geoffrey Cox’s “advice”
        it has dropped back a little but is currently 3% up on the Euro, during the last year.

        The GDP of the U.K. in January went up 1/2%
        Compare how the G.D.P. of France, Germany, Spain or Italy or Turkey are doing?

  • Sharp Ears

    [ Mod: From Craig’s moderation rules for commenters:


    Contributions which are primarily just a link to somewhere else will be deleted. You can post links, but give us the benefit of your thoughts upon them.

    This is why so many of your “comments” are being deleted. Same goes for michael norton.

    Regards. ]

    A cover up, assisted by MI5, of child sexual abuse.

    MI5 did not tell police of minister’s ‘penchant for small boys’, inquiry hears
    Security service lawyer says it ‘regrets’ claims against Peter Morrison were not investigated

    • Martinned

      I’ve been thinking about that one: If you’re going to have a security service, what would you want them to do in that circumstance?

      Tentatively, I’m inclined to say that if the security services are going to violate my privacy rights in various ways (tap my phone, bug my house, whatever), I’d expect them to keep what they find out to themselves unless it’s relevant for national security. They shouldn’t be tipping off the regular police, because that would add insult to injury, human rights violation-wise. But I’m open to being persuaded differently.

      • David

        Persuasion: except, once the security services have the secret national-security “dirt” on the individual, lets call her “Miranda”, isn’t there the risk – purely hypothetically – that the security services or one of their shared-database Tiered Pardners might then blackmail “Miranda” into participating in , say , an illegal war in Mesopotamia? I’m speaking historically, obviously Juvenal satirically considered all this stuff.

        • David

          You never know, there may even be future riches promised as well as avoidance of scandal

        • Martinned

          Agreed that the answer might be different for people holding (high) political office. Not sure individual MPs rise to that level, though. (Given how many MPs the UK has.)

  • N_

    I’m watching Geoffrey Cox’s speech to the Commons.

    Of those MPs who aren’t picking their phones like teenagers in a shopping centre, quite a lot are picking themselves. Is their fidgeting a symptom of a few minutes’ smartphone withdrawal, or do they just not bother washing themselves very often?

    • michael norton

      It would seem M.P. Geoffrey Cox is an honourable man, he has said, in Parliament, that his legal advice, has not changed.
      We will be locked into the back-stop.
      He said it is a political choice, accept the Primeminister’s half-baked deal or go for No Deal.
      With this speech he has sealed Mrs.Theresa May’s departure from government.

    • Deb O'Nair

      They’re probably on news websites trying to figure out what their government’s doing.

    • Blunderbuss

      The legal advice might change. I seem to remember that the legal opinion on the Iraq war changed from “illegal” to “legal” in the space of a few days.

    • N_

      Is the Spectator but another branch of HMG?
      Geoffrey Cox’s “advice” to the government he belongs to was also published by the government.

      The Spectator has run articles for SIS but that’s no surprise for the weekly magazine sister of the Torygraph.
      I checked some sources and a few decades ago they were connected to the Garrick club. Dunno whether they still are.
      Not sure whether there’s a Bilderberg connection (as there is with the Economist) but there probably is.
      What line did they take on the fascist coup in Ukraine?
      Their man Boris Johnson’s hair is looking kempter than usual today.

  • Republicofscotland

    So some”dissident” group, and that is indeed the crux of this matter, calling itself the IRA, has owned up to sending explosive packages to Glasgow and various areas in England recently.

    You must take this admission by the “dissident” group in context with the Bloody Sunday decision coming soon, and Ireland holding its ground on the backstop. Only then can see what’s actually going on, and more importantly how the British state works.

  • N_

    It is quite amazing that the party of the prime minister of a country with the world’s 5th largest economy cannot ensure that when she makes a major speech in the Commons there isn’t some idiotic m*****f***** of a colleague sitting behind her picking at its mobile phone. Why doesn’t the said colleague pick its nose and eat its bogies? Or why not go the whole hog and start injecting itself with heroin? What a disgrace to humanity these pillocks are. And how much it says about the country that this is now considered normal and unremarkable.

  • mike

    I wonder how many photos of the Maybot the state broadcaster have used on their website as the top story? There is a new one every day so it must run into the thousands. North Korea couldn’t do it any better. The only time you see Corbyn’s photo is when he is under attack, which is pretty much every too. Nicola Sturgeon rarely figures at all.

    • N_

      Nicola Sturgeon rarely figures at all.
      Be fair, though – nor does any other local politician. Top items of British political news at the state broadcaster are usually about British national politics.

      Nicola Sturgeon probably gets her face on the website’s front page more than two thirds as often as Sadiq Khan gets his, so she should be grateful for the over-representation she gets among Britain’s current stock of local leaders.

      • N_

        But she gets a lot of coverage in local media, which is the best place to follow local politics.

        • N_

          Ian Blackford of the SNP is at this very moment sounding off in the Commons about “the London parties”. What a silly sod. I haven’t heard of any London parties. But if any London party exists, it hasn’t got any representation in the Commons.

          • JOML

            N_, the Conservative, Labour and Libdems all have the headquarters in London, hence “the London parties”.
            “What a silly sod” you are, unable to make that connection.

    • Deb O'Nair

      During the days of the Soviet union they had a higher turnover of politburo members than the ‘establishment’ figures who constantly appear on screen. Today I’ve seen war criminal Alistair Campbell and corrupt serial criminal Mandelson getting the ‘elder statesman’ treatment on the news.

      • Ken Kenn


        And like the apparatchicks and the bureaucrats at the time in Russia under the guidance of the p**s artist ( but multi Billionaire ) Yeltsin some benefitted more than others.

        I always say if say Sadaam made a million the suppliers/invaders would make times ten.

        Hello Bill Bruder.

        Poreshenko is ready for the off too.

        Mossack Fonseca came nad went and Carol Codswallop et al didn’t even see it – nevermind cover it.

        Plus ca change.

  • mike

    The state broadcaster has soft-soaped the Maybot from day one. It has attacked Corbyn from day one.

    Attacking the opposition rather than the Government is what the media does in autocratic states.

    • Brian c

      True mike, but they never demonize right wing opposition to a Tory government. Ukip and anti-EU wingnuts in the Tory party never got the Corbyn treatment. In fact, the respect and legitimacy the BBC accorded them for years was a big factor in bringing on all this Brexit bollocks.

  • N_

    Quite amazed to report that Anna Soubry spoke well in the Commons today against racism, against nutcase Tory leavers, and in favour of another referendum.

    She was followed by Tory MP Owen Paterson, a rabid ERG loony who thinks MPs are “rulers”.

    • michael norton

      After Mrs.Theresa May loses tonights “meaningful” vote, she has nowhere to go.
      Either she goes or it’s General Election time.

    • Brian c

      Did she namecheck fellow Tinger Angela Smith as an example of a blatantly racist mp?

      • Ken Kenn

        That’s very unfair – some of my best mates are a funny colour.

        How can you not like David Dickenson or Donald Trump?

        Is it me or does Boris Johnson look drained of blood?

        So – what are you doing tonight Tommy?

        I’m off to the Tanning Centre and then a Curry washed down with a Cobra Lager.

        i might buy a Parka from Ahmed on the Market because it’s a bit parky and then nip down the Paki shop for Twenty American Marlboros and a KFC.

        KfCs’ not foreign food – is it?

        Plankism at its best.

  • Republicofscotland

    As blackouts continue in Venezuela, the democratically elected government of President Maduro is on the verge of expelling US diplomats from Caracas for undermining peace and stability in the country said the Venezuelan Foreign minister Jorge Arreaze.


    “U.S. President Donald Trump asked Monday Congress to cut aid to Latin America but allow the U.S. Department of State to use US$500 million to fund its interventionist policies against the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela which the Trump administration refers to as “democratic transition”.

    Looks like Trump is looking for the approval of a war chest to illegally overthrow the democratically elected president of Venezuela and install a US puppet.

  • Gavin C Barrie

    So N considers Nicola Sturgeon to be a local politician. And what category does May fit into? She never leaves London unless on her futile trips to Strasburg. And heavens to Betsy there’s more of these London parochials. Corbyn visited Scotland and declared that Labour would nationalise Scottish Water, and no need to guess, Scottish Water is a public asset.
    The ineptitude of May and her gallant bunch of arrogant parochials over this Brexit farce is simultaneously funny, but yet an impending tragedy for the less well to do of the UK.
    Poll shows that 66% of Scots prefer independence to any form of Brexit. That’s localism for you.

    • N_

      Scotland is an area within Britain which has about two-thirds of the population of London and about the same population as Yorkshire and the Humber. Theresa May is ~head of the British government and she is based in the British capital. That doesn’t make her a “parochial” Londoner who likes nothing more than a chorus of “Roll Out the Barrel”, “Knees Up Mother Brown”, or “Down at the Old Bull and Bush”. Complaining that a local politician doesn’t get her face on the front page of the BBC’s British politics news site as often as Britain-level politicians such as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn is totally ridiculous and would still be so even if 99% of respondents to an idiotic polling question in Scotland said they preferred independence to Brexit. Nicola Sturgeon gets an awful lot of coverage in local media in the territory in which she runs a minority government, so what’s the problem? She is not an MP or any other kind of Britain-level politician, so why should she get more coverage in that context than say Sadiq Khan?

      It was the majority of Scots who stopped independence, not “London” or any other euphemism for “FEBs”.

      As for London, the British economy is based on moneylending and on the City of London, or on what is denoted by that term which should nowadays also cover hedge funds in St James’s and banks in Canary Wharf. But never mind any of that – just keep on calling British politics “parochial” as compared to Scottish nationalism.

      • N_

        In short, the reason why Nicola Sturgeon Sadiq Khan doesn’t get more photos of her his face published in BBC coverage of British politics isn’t because the English Brits outside of London have got their foot on Scotland’s London’s neck. And thank goodness there isn’t a London Party that asserts otherwise.

        But since when did any nationalists understand “treat others as you want to be treated”?

  • Republicofscotland

    More on the Great Satan, or the self appointed World Police, the hawk, or US Special envoy as Trump likes to calls him Elliott Abrams, has been a busy wee boy. As he attempts to persuade India to stop purchasing 400,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela a day.

    Rosneft the Russian oil company has also fell foul to the Great Satan’s illegal sanctions for doing business with Venezuela’s PDVSA. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State for the US and another US warhawk, has turned his gaze on Cuba, issuing threats of sanctions if they don’t stop aiding the democratically elected president of Venezuela.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I make this single point. If a true BREXIT is not delivered on time on 29th March, then I am never going to vote again, as there would be absolutely no point.

    I believe in Democracy. The wrongs and rights of BREXIT are completely irrelevant, with regards to whether you think it is a good idea or not.

    If the majority of people, had voted to stay in The EU – then fine – I would have gone along with it,

    But the majority of people – including all my family, voted to leave the EU, not for most of the reasons publicised, but even our reasons are irrelevant.

    The vote was taken, and a majority voted to leave.

    If the Democratic decision is not implemented, then it is quite clear we live in a Globalist Fascist Dictatorship controlled by The USA – who have spent the last 100 years creating complete mayhem across the World, as if they are still running The British Empire, which most of us older British, thought we had given up.

    There will no longer be any point in voting.

    You cannot vote out a Dictatorship.


    • Tom Welsh

      Exactly, Tony. I completely agree with you.

      We voted to Leave the EU. Had the referendum contained more questions, or even one question with multiple answers, there would have been a little wiggle room.

      But it didn’t, and there isn’t. The UK electorate’s unequivocal mandate to the government – and the political class as a whole – is simply “Leave the EU”.

      Not partly. Not just a little bit. Not leave this and stay in that. Certainly not dilly-dally for year after year until everyone has (they hope) forgotten how it all began.

      If, after 2.5 years, the entire resources of HMG have been unable to decide how it will be arranged, we should choose the “No Deal” option: cut the cables and sail away.

      To use another appropriate analogy, if a spider – by some incredible stroke of good luck – gets free from a spider’s web, it shouldn’t hesitate or look back. Just jump up and fly away like hell.

      • Clark

        The spider gets out of a web? Highly appropriate Freudian slip. Yes, your neoliberal government might escape the neoliberal EU; what a triumph for the people that would be!

        • Tom Welsh

          Touche, Clark. The penalty for typing faster than one thinks… and I type very slowly.

    • Clark

      There was never a majority for Brexit; there was just a thin majority among those who voted. The issue had not been properly debated, and the way the media presented it to the public was inept and dishonest.

      The thinnest of majorities voted for a political impossibility. The UK needs to break up before Brexit can happen, because that would solve the Irish border problem.

      • Borncynical

        “The UK needs to break up before Brexit can happen, because that would solve the Irish border problem”

        I was amused to see you say this. In the minds of some people it happened some while ago. I was watching the TV quiz “Tenable” yesterday. A group of four young professional people (anyone under 55 is young in my eyes!), who must have been in their mid to late twenties so would have been eligible to vote in the 2016 referendum, were asked in turn to name the first ten EU countries if they were listed alphabetically. First answer “Austria”. All good so far. Second answer “England”. I despair sometimes.

        • Clark

          Unfortunately a very common attitude among the English.

          Brussels seems to have become a swear-word. I wonder which country they think it’s in?

          • Borncynical

            I dread to think. I also recollect a person in their twenties being asked on another quiz some while ago (yes, quizzes are an obsession of mine) to name countries beginning with certain letters, P being one of them. Answer? Paris. I kid you not.

          • Clark

            There’s a similar problem with “America”. Maybe they didn’t notice that enormous continent with an isthmus in the middle.

          • Tom Welsh

            My favourite was the guy who insisted that “Wisconsin is the capital of Chicago”. Nothing could shake him on that.

      • Loony

        Why not try, just for once, to embrace something approaching the truth.

        For example it is true that in the history of the UK the vote in favor of leaving the EU was the largest vote ever achieved for anything at all.

        Why not tell people that the UK claims to require immigration in order to support an aging population and that you achieve this by destroying other countries. Take the example of Bulgaria – 2.3 million Bulgarian workers in Bulgaria and 2.5 million Bulgarian workers outside of Bulgaria. Why not be honest and admit that the EU hates and despises Bulgarians and that the overarching idea is that the rich get richer while the poor get crushed..

      • Some Random Passer-by

        For every 1000 that voted remain, 1074 voted out.

        And can you see honestly see any politician of any ilk saying the election they just won should be rerun because they only won by 2%?!?!

        Why is it so hard to grasp that millions see no value in membership of “the club”? Especially when the European government is so susceptible to lobbyists…

      • Dave Lawton

        March 12, 2019 at 21:16
        Go do some research Check what the Encounter magazine was up to at the time.Operation Mocking Bird.
        Norman Reddaway who headed the IRD during the run up to the 1975 referendum
        and he was one of the worlds greatest propagandists and liars and brainwashed the British people to vote to stay in the Common Market using the BBC as a mouthpiece.

        • Clark

          “Go do some research… brainwashed…” (and from below) “The EU is a dictatorship…Only seen by those who are awake…Only Muppets obey orders”

          Ah, I recognise the language of a conspiracy theorist, a superior thinker with access to secret knowledge. Conspiracy theorists all go on like that. Everything that’s happening now is determined by some big plot that’s been going on half a century, and everyone but a select few are too stupid to see it.

          Oddest bloody dictatorship I’ve ever seen. They usually impose rigid borders, work people like slaves, and torture or execute any dissenters, not pass legislation to limit working hours, keep communication costs down and make sure everyone’s chargers fit each other’s phones.

      • Andyoldlabour


        I don’t give a monkey’s about the people who didn’t vote, their apathy counts for nothing.
        We had a huge turnout for the referendum vote – 72%, when was the last time a general election had that sort of turnout.
        Perhaps your idea of democracy is when we have the Tories with 42% propped up by the DUP telling the majority what to do?

        • Clark

          You’re assuming I’m keen on the EU. I’m not, particularly, but Brexiteers are ten times worse. The constant whingeing about “dictatorship” and their 1.9% “democratic mandate” is an absolute pain in the lughole.

      • Tom Welsh

        None of your points has any validity, Clark.

        1. “There was never a majority for Brexit”. Au contraire:

        United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
        National result
        Choice Votes %
        Leave the European Union 17,410,742 51.89%
        Remain a member of the European Union 16,141,241 48.11%
        Valid votes 33,551,983 99.92%
        Invalid or blank votes 25,359 0.08%
        Total votes 33,577,342 100.00%
        Registered voters and turnout 46,500,001 72.21%
        Voting age population and turnout 51,356,768 65.38%

        Source: Electoral Commission

        2. “There was just a thin majority among those who voted”. Contradicting your previous assertion that there was no majority. And the turnout was famously the biggest for any democratic vote ever in the UK.

        3. “The issue had not been properly debated…” That can be alleged about any vote on any issue. The losers may always claim that, had they been given longer to persuade everyone that they were right, they would have carried the day. But elections, and referendums, are held on a day set well in advance and widely publicized.

        4. ” The way the media presented it to the public was inept and dishonest”. That’s really funny, given that most of the mainstream media in the UK and elsewhere in the West are heavily pro-EU. If you had said that the way the media presented UKIP, Nigel Farage, and the case for leaving was inept and dishonest, you would have been right on the mark.

        5. “The thinnest of majorities voted for a political impossibility”. A majority of 3.78% (about 1.25 million votes) is hardly “the thinnest”. And a majority of one is still a majority. That’s our system; you may not like it, but it’s the one we have. As for “a political impossibility”, that’s nonsense. “Politics is the art of the possible”, remember? The only reason Brexit has seemed close to impossible is that most of our politicians and civil servants don’t want it to happen. How do you explain that, when they are supposed to represent the people?

        6. “The UK needs to break up before Brexit can happen, because that would solve the Irish border problem”. That sounds like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. At worst, the UK could allow Northern Ireland to become part of a united Ireland, which would be logical but hugely unjust and irresponsible. The argument usually offered is that, should the “open border” be closed, terrorists would start blowing people up again. Do we really want our country’s future to be decided by a handful of vile, murderous terrorists? In WW2 my parents, and millions of others, faced the threat of individual death and national extinction to maintain our freedom and our way of life. Are we so much more cowardly and unprincipled than they were that we should give way to a few vile killers?

        • Clark

          Closing the Northern-Republic Irish border would disrupt the lives of the entire Irish population, and would be hugely resented. Any violence would be merely a symptom of that.

          Still, good to know where you stand; your beloved Brexit is worth reigniting the Troubles. And you’d do that (point 5) for a pro-Brexit majority of one person. Cool.

          “The only reason Brexit has seemed close to impossible is that most of our politicians and civil servants don’t want it to happen”

          No. Putting salt on chips is much, much easier than removing it again.

    • alexey

      Many people voted on the basis that 350m per week would go to the NHS.

      The 2016 referendum was a travesty of democracy. The campaign was corrupted, even that fact that one person could make the biggest donation in UK political history should at least send warning signals, the promises (either 350m to the NHS or 70m Turks will arrive), that no-one had any idea what “Leave” actually meant, non-discussion of the border issues…. Its not possible to do. Might as well have a referendum to move to Mars.

      • Some Random Passer-by

        Forgot about Cameron and world war three? Forgotten about Osborne and the emergency budget? Forgot Tusk and the collapse of Europe?

        Both sides told lies. The media could have informed us, but instead focused on rutting Tories whilst ignoring Corbyn like sulking kids.

        Leave means leave. Do you think everyone except yourself is illiterate? What else could leave mean exactly?

          • Some Random Passer-by

            Why do that when we can lead the world from where we sit now?

            Rebuild our manufacturing and engineering, think out of the box with natural packaging to replace the scourge of plastic (no pun intended)

            The yanks can jog on!

          • Some Random Passer-by

            Clearly unfamiliar with how the European Parliament is infested with lobbyists…

          • Clark

            No, that’s one of my criticisms of the EU – not that Westminster isn’t. But they only lobby; the government could still stimulate manufacturing – if we ever get a decent government.

        • nevermind

          ‘I believe in democracy ‘ he said, failing to mention that 3 million people of EU countries who choose to make their lifes in a Europe that once had ideals, did get a sticky plaster over their mouth, but not a vote on their future here….

          YCNMIU talk about engineering consent…

          • nevermind

            This is directed at all those who are trying desperately hard here to explain their vetsion of democracy.

            Why did EU citizens get the vote in local elections, but not a say in a poxy referendum that is almost a 50/50 draw?

            The problem is duffing your cap to just about anyone, without realising that you never had a democratic representative system that serves voters, but have have been led by an establishment and a clan of hangers on and their collective minions in finance and the media. Sorry, one must not forget the considerable input of the MI’s in this story of enslaving a nation.

          • Iain Stewart

            What was even more elegant was forbidding the vote of British citizens who have been abroad in Europe for more than 15 years, and (who knows?) might just have had a little more informed and direct personal interest in the issue than some of the superannuated bumpkins who declaim their ignorance tirelessly on these pages.

      • Clark

        “Might as well have a referendum to move to Mars”

        That’s the best way of putting it that I have encountered. “Short on details” doesn’t cover it.

    • Dave Lawton

      March 12, 2019 at 19:20
      Spot on Tony The EU is a dictatorship and always has been.Only seen by those who are awake.
      Only Muppets obey orders.
      “They must go on voting until they get it right.”
      (Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission)”

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Tony Opmoc;
      we may live in a global dictatorship but that doesn’t mean there is no point in voting. Your consent matters to a dictatorship or else nobody would go to the trouble of manufacturing it. You should vote for any minor candidate you can stomach as this would encourage them to remain active and encourage others to vote for them. If enough disgruntled people did this instead of just not voting it would cause some trouble. Not voting tacitly signals consent.

    • nevermind

      ‘I believe in democracy ‘ he said, failing to mention that 3 million people of EU countries who choose to make their lifes in a Europe that once had ideals, did get a sticky plaster over their mouth, but not a vote on their future here….

      YCNMIU talk about engineering consent…

      • Ken Kenn

        That’s the problem with a new referendum.

        Who is going to set the criteria?

        What’s the question(s) on the ballot slip?

        How old do you have to be when you vote?

        Can overseas voters have a say?

        Do I have to be accompanied by my Grandparents – dead or alive?

        These things at the moment are down to a Tory government.

        You have to realise as do the MSM and any other commentators that May and her mates are in charge of legislation.

        so, the question is: How do we and Parliament take all these decisions out of the Tories hands?

        The next 16 days may – or may not give us an answer.

    • Dungroanin

      Y Not Compo?
      True Brexit = True Lies.
      Strawman to discourage people to vote just as the beloved TB ( the man, not disease, though hard to tell) did by turning millions off. Makes it easier to parachute Invaders in on the proles!

      Brexit banker bullshitters managed to turn that trend round – nearly 73% turnout. A year later in GE dropped to 68% – a fraction above that and May would have been out and the Red Lines would have been Labours, the WA agreement would have been sensible for almost all except the very very few brexit banker bullshitters and hard core, hard brexit, trolls.

      If my response sounds a bit harsh – i don’t apologise – I have decided that it’s time to have a spring clean and finally take out the trash – a good declutter is in order!

      No More Mr Nice Guy (GSV)

  • Sharp Ears

    I have had an unsolicited e-mail today from the Torygraph! asking me whether I think Theresa May and the Tories are doomed.

    The Brexit deal vote is under way currently.

    The result – Ayes 242 Noes 391

    Theresa lost her voice today. Very croaky. Trust that Philip is on hand to console her.

    • giyane

      Sharp Ears

      Mrs May is insane. They voted against the deal because Mrs May is doing what Trump wants and MPs are doing what the British people want. Divide and Rule. Make Europe weak so he can kick them around more easily and simultaneously make Britain weak so he can kick us too.

      Trump’s advice to take the EU to court over Brexit is the specific advice of Divide and Rule.

      In fact it’s very surprising that the HoC has this much backbone , and it remains to be seen tomorrow whether they will capitulate to May’s Withdrawal Bill or Vote against No Deal. IMHO tomorrow they will crawl into Trump’s trap rather than face the rage of the great unwashed because No Deal = No Brexit.

      It is vaguely possible they will wonder why they are being forced to obey a foreign power who is bonkers, manipulative, ignorant, uncivilised and a professional liar. And who likes to do politics through the barrel of a gun.

      I hope they will realise that once in Trump’s trap they will never get out again. They have to reject No Deal, reject May’s Deal and elect Jeremy Corbyn unless they want the UK to be one of Trump’s porns.

      • Tom Welsh

        “…they will wonder why they are being forced to obey a foreign power who is bonkers, manipulative, ignorant, uncivilised and a professional liar. And who likes to do politics through the barrel of a gun”.

        I hope you realise that all US presidents in living memory – and good deal further back – were just as bad. At least as bad, and some much worse. Generally speaking, the greater their pretence of humanity and altruism, the worse men they were and the greater harm they did.

        The only difference was they were “whited sepulchres”, who concealed their filthy deeds and revolting callous cynicism behind masks of concern and civilization.

        “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged”.

        – Noam Chomsky, http://www.chomsky.info/talks/1990—-.htm

        Give me an honest butcher any day.

        • Blunderbuss

          “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged”.

          I can’t find that quote on the linked page.

          • Tom Welsh

            Thanks for pointing that out, Blunderbuss. However Google search finds it instantly; I’m slightly surprised you didn’t try it.

            The correct URL is https://chomsky.info/1990____-2/

            Apparently Dr Chomsky’s Web site manager has rather cavalier ideas about maintaining permanent URLs. What seems to have happened is that the original page overflowed, so he just put the new stuff on that URL and created a new overflow page for the older stuff. Extremely bad practice.

            Flagrantly ignoring Tim Berners-Lee’s canonical declaration: “Cool URIs don’t change”


  • Jack

    Incredible that the parties cannot manage the Brexit.
    There was a vote by the people, if this is how the politicians handle a referendum we are in big trouble.
    Theresa gets a lot of heat but it is not her that keeps voting down what people voted for, I think this is very serious.

    I am at the same time not necessarily talking about the UK, we see this going all over the west where peoples’ vote is not recognized.

    • Jack


      That is also a typical antidemocratic attempt to smear people who want to defend democracy.
      I am open to arguments, do you have have any? If not – please keep quiet.

    • Clark

      The politically inept English voted for the politically impossible. The UK needs to split up before England and its subsumed colony Wales can leave the EU.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Incredible that the parties cannot manage the Brexit”.

      It would be incredible if it were true. But in fact they just don’t want to.

      Anyone who has watched “Yes, Minister” will understand how those things are done.

      • Jack

        ” But in fact they just don’t want to.”

        Indeed, it looks like that. In your opinion, why is that?

        • Trowbridge H. Ford

          Thank goodness that Theresa May is being thrown on the dust bin of history for her long career of doing dirty deeds.

        • Tom Welsh

          Jack, I think it is because the interests of those who rule the UK are wholly different – and in many ways the polar opposite of – those of the people.

          Of course that implies that the pretence of democracy is just a thin facade.

      • Andyoldlabour

        Tom Welsh

        I agree Tom, and I have always maintained that having a remainer as PM in charge of the so called negotiations, is akin to having a Trojan Horse in charge.
        I never believed May wanted to leave the EU, and to be honest I would like to be a fly on the wall during her meetings with Juncker, Tusk, Barnier and the rest.
        This is like Hotel California – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

        • N_

          It’s not like Hotel California. Britain has checked out. If it doesn’t exercise its right to check back in, and if it doesn’t successfully beg the hotel management to allow it to wait in the foyer for a period, it will be shown the door at 11pm in 16 days’ time and its bags will be thrown after it into the street.

  • Clark

    Map of political ineptitude in the UK – the darker, the more inept:


    Asked if they wanted a slightly improved voting system, the vast majority (of those who voted at all) voted against. Yes, the UK population voted against increasing the power of their own votes, by more than two to one! But the list of who voted for is a list of the brainiest and best educated parts of the UK: Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh Central, and some parts of London. And Glasgow Kelvin:

    “All three of Glasgow’s universities are here as well, making it supposedly the most educated constituency in Scotland”

    The resemblance to the Brexit map is striking.

    • Loony

      You are likely confusing a number of things here.

      Take Dr, Dr. Rasch as an example. He was a leading Nazi with earned doctorates in both Law and Political Economy. None of this fine education prevented him from active participation in the massacre at Babi Yar.

      “Educated” people in the UK offer no hope at all. If there is to be any nope then it will come from the dispossessed and the vast masses of the former working classes. Anything that educated people have to say should be treated with the highest levels of suspicion – and they should be made to explain how what they they think is a product of education and not a product of indoctrination.

      That they resist such questioning at all costs most likely provides all that is required in terms of answers.

      • Ian

        You’re not one for grandiose sweeping statements with no basis of evidence. Are you, Loony? No, not at all. And while you’re at it, chuck in a Nazi reference, just to sound even more pompously comical. All unrelated to the point being made. lol.

        • Clark

          Cherry picking doesn’t get any more selective, unless he’d picked Dr Strangelove’s left armpit or something.

      • Clark

        The map is the evidence. AV overcomes the distortion whereby vote-splitting promotes policies with minority support, and gives independent candidates with popular policies a chance to displace candidates from established parties. Some populations understood that. The others presumably regarded the rating of candidates into order of preference as too intellectually demanding.

    • Andyoldlabour


      The people wanted a vote on Proportional Representation, but we were never given that choice by the corrupt politicians.

    • N_

      What someone should make if they have got the time is a map showing the difference for each district between the 2011 Yes to AV voteshare and the 2010 LibDem voteshare in the general election.

      Many academics at Oxford and Cambridge think they are so clever, “Britain’s brainiest” and so on, but those who supported Labour or the Tories and then went out and voted for AV were pretty stupid. A case of “will you tell them or shall I?”

    • Adrian Parsons

      “Because 100% of those eligible to vote didn’t, it is not possible to say that a majority were in favour of leaving the EU.”

      “The pre-vote campaign was of a risible intellectual quality which ipso facto invalidates the result qua “democracy.””

      “The areas that voted to remain within the EU coincide with those of highest educational attainment.”

      Or, put another way:

      “The result didn’t coincide with my class interests.”

      “The result didn’t coincide with my class interests.”

      “The result didn’t coincide with my class interests.”

      • Clark

        You’re replying to me, so you’re making an assumption about my class status. You’d probably be surprised.

        No, I’m just calling out the gross stupidity I’m surrounded by. Brexiteers sound as intelligent as a football mob.

        • Iain Stewart

          Now Clark, only the other day someone was making an insulting comparison of inept British political leaders with harmless amœbæ, and now you’re demeaning sharp-witted football mobs. No doubt someone is going to start making disparaging remarks about Brexiters being about as bright as Neanderthals (1).

          (1) OK, straw caveman argument. But Neanderthals invented Art (rather than the art of self-delusion).

          • Clark

            “Goal!” “Hooray!” “Foul!” “Boo!” “Penalty!” “Bloody ref!” “We are the champions!”

            Er, trading agreements with scores of nations? Hundreds of pieces of complex legislation? The rights of millions of people who have migrated, either way? Honestly, I despair.

          • Iain Stewart

            — “Goal!” “Hooray!” “Foul!” “Boo!” “Penalty!” “Bloody ref!” “We are the champions!”

            Yes, that is indeed the general level of pro Brexit argument in a nutshell, but what would a football mob say?

    • N_

      “The posters are the work of the new Yashar party, which is running on a platform that includes giving citizens the ability to influence lawmakers’ daily decision-making through a smartphone app.”

      “Yashar” means “Straight” or “Direct”.

      Media gobs have said they won’t make the 3.25% threshold, but they seem to have got themselves a lot of publicity for their poster. To judge by the absence of Arab names on their list, they seem to be another settler-supremacist party.

  • Chris Barclay

    The Julian Assange case is a warning about how the removal of juries from rape and other sexual assault trials will be used to silence political dissent. Organisations such as End Violence Against Women (a noble aim) are campaigning for rape trials in the UK to be heard by a judge and ‘experts’ instead of a jury. Trial by an Establishment judge and useful idiots would be used as a threat to silence political dissidents. The result would be that no one will be able to question US and UK foreign policy and that women abroad will suffer far more violence due to the endless wars and our alliance with regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

    • Anthony

      If they think it’s a strategy that can work they will deploy it ruthlessly. We see that from the libelling of anybody who questions the actions of Israel or who threatens to end government on behalf of the 1 percent. There are no depths to which they will not sink.

    • Ken Kenn


      I’ve asked Martinned the same question and I’ll ask you – because I don’t genuinely know.

      The alleged rape charged was dropped by the Swedish.

      So, how can you jump bail; on a dropped charge?

      The US extradition is a separate issue dependent on where the US and the UK thinks the alleged ‘ crime ‘ occurred.

      If the alleged crime occurred in the UK isn’t it the general rule that wherever the crime is committed that is where you would stand trial?

      Where does a crime in the US crime come in?

      Was the alleged crime committed in the USA?

      i’m not having a pop at you – but what crime has Assange committed – someone explain?

      Can’t be treason he’s not a Yank.

      Donald is – but Assange isn’t.

  • Sharp Ears

    I expect the croaky voice aroused the sympathy for the Maybot. People forget her appalling record and inhumanity when she was Home Secretary let alone during these last three years. She has had a good run and should go, now.

    From Another Angry Voice (9 hrs ago)

    “I’ve already had two people try to tell me that they ‘feel sorry’ for Theresa May after her latest self-inflicted humiliation because she’s apparently ‘done her best under difficult circumstances’.

    This pity narrative is freakishly absurd, and it’s a demonstration of how servile and subservient the mainstream media have been towards Theresa May and the Tories that people actually ended up spouting this absolute ridiculousness.

    What Theresa May needed to do after the Brexit vote in 2016 was to establish a national Brexit Commission to decide what Britain actually wanted. The Brexit Commission should have included representatives from all major political parties, the devolved governments, UK businesses, trade unions, charities and the voluntary sector, civic society, academics and experts, experienced trade negotiators …


      • Sharp Ears

        That was sent before I said that GG does not mention the need for a general election. He talks about cooked geese and so on instead, He even says that the Tories should provide another PM. No way GG.

        ‘The more you think about this the more obvious it is that the Conservatives simply must get rid of Theresa May. A new Conservative prime minister just might be able to wring further concessions from the European Union not least because they would not eschew leaving with no deal at all indeed would quite likely be amongst those voting for it tomorrow night.’

      • Ken Kenn

        i think George is a star but a Khaki Election smells of patriotism of the wrong kind.

        If you want Tommy and his mated prancing up and down the local High streets then be my guest and no doubt George would fulminate against that and quite rightly.

        The danger is the from the right in the Eu and anything that stirs up that sentiment is playing with fire.

        I do understand that the austerity fuelled (or should I say dampened ) EU like many other western nations have failed to deliver
        any resultant growth to the masses but Nationalism ( read retreat ) is not going to cut it I’m afraid.

        There is no chance unless Jeremy has around a cool 10 Trillion plus ( yes you read it right ) to revive British shipbuilding – steel works – mining etc and the revival of Cool Britannia of the UK selling a sausage to the rest of the world.

        Making an aircraft for example would cost hundreds of billions and yes you could make loads of them but the globalised markets makes loads anyway. what would be special about them – the Union Jack?

        Unfortunately Corbyn cannot do the same – there is no going back – the world has moved on and all the UK can do is choose its trading bloc.

        There is a mountain of talent waiting in the Uk no doubt but to tap into that and utilise it requires investment.

        Briitish capitalists are not investing so the State should step in and take a share in the investment of said untapped talent and the innovations they come up with.

        Problem :the robots will do our jobs for us.

        That’s fine by me as long as the human race gets its share but capitalism doesn’t work that way so the future is not about building ships etc – the future is – if robots build the ships how do I get an income from that?

        Robots don’t spend or buy – humans do and pay retail prices ( inc VAT) so how do we give humans enough to buy what the robots make?

        That’s the challenge for humanity.

        Of course the capitalists could give it away but that would make them redundant and capitalism too.

  • Rob Royston

    When I saw the Sky Brexit countdown clock was set to end on midnight CET, 11pm our time, I thought it just showed that the boot was on the EU foot.
    Now I wonder if it’s to leave the Bankster’s a “Happy Hour”.?

  • Freddy Freeloader

    While we’re talking about incarcerated women, let’s not forget Aafia Siddiqui, stuck in the bowels of Nero’s empire.

  • Sharp Ears

    Chris Hedges on the plight of Chelsea Manning.

    March 18, 2019
    Chelsea Manning and the New Inquisition
    The celebrated U.S. Army whistleblower has always insisted her leak of the classified documents was prompted solely by her own conscience and she has refused to implicate WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange

    There is this appeal for funds for her.
    ‘Chelsea Manning has been summoned to appear and give testimony before a federal grand jury. While the exact nature of the grand jury is unknown, signs indicate it is related to her 2010 disclosures of information about the nature of asymmetric warfare to the public. Following in the footsteps of scores of other activists, Chelsea is challenging the grand jury subpoena, and therefore risks being placed in jail for for up to 18 months if she is found “in contempt” of court. Chelsea risked so much for public good, and has been through a lot of hardship. Let’s show her solidarity together and let the State know their punitive harassment won’t be tolerated. ‘
    dated March 7, 2019

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