Monthly Archives: August 2019


The Queen’s Active Role in the Right Wing Coup

Our obsequious media is actively perpetuating the myth that the monarch can do no wrong, and is apolitical. In fact the monarchy has been active and absolutely central to the seizure of power from the Westminster parliament in a right wing coup. Yesterday’s collaboration at Balmoral between the Queen and Jacob Rees Mogg is only the latest phase.

The monarch appoints the UK Prime Minister. The convention is that this must be the person who can command the support of the majority in the House of Commons. That does not necessarily have to be from a single party, it can be via a coalition or pact with other parties, but the essential point, established since Hanoverian times, is that the individual must have a majority in the Commons.

The very appointment of Boris Johnson by Elizabeth Saxe Coburg Gotha was a constitutional outrage. Johnson may have been selected by Conservative Party members, but that is not the qualification to be PM. Johnson very plainly did not command a majority in the House of Commons, proven by the fact that still at no stage has he demonstrated that he does. I do not write merely with hindsight.

Johnson’s flagship policy was always No Deal Brexit. Contrary to the monarchist propaganda spewed out across the entire MSM, not only is it untrue that the Queen had “no constitutional choice” but to appoint Johnson, the Queen had a clear constitutional duty not to appoint a Prime Minister whose flagship policy had already been specifically voted down time and again by the House of Commons.

The Queen has now doubled down on this original outrage by proroguing the Westminster parliament in conspiracy with old Etonians Rees Mogg and Johnson, specifically so that the House of Commons cannot vote down Johnson.

The monarchy will always be an extremely useful institution in promoting the political aims of the upper classes, not least because of the ludicrous media promulgation of its infallibility. When you have former Prime Minister John Major, senior Tories like Philip Hammond and Michael Heseltine, and the Speaker of the House of Commons himself all talking of “consitutional outrage”, it is plainly preposterous to insist that the monarchy cannot, by definition, have done anything wrong.

The Queen has appointed a Prime Minister who does not have the support of the House of Commons and then has conspired to prevent the House of Commons from obstructing her Prime Minister. That is not the action of a politically neutral monarchy. The institution should have been abolished decades ago. I do hope that all those who recognise the constitutional outrage, will acknowledge the role of the monarchy and that the institution needs to be swiftly abolished.

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Boris Johnson Crosses the Rubicon: We Must React Now

Boris Johnson has crossed the Rubicon today by announcing the suspension of Parliament at this crucial time, no matter how many days the suspension lasts. The United Kingdom has found itself with the most right wing government in nearly two hundred years. I still find it hard to believe that Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Priti Patel hold great offices. Even that minority of those voting who put this Tory minority government in place did not expect that. Now that right wing coup is being doubled down on by the deliberate suspension of the Westminster parliament just as the most crucial and divisive issue in several generations is being resolved.

There is an irony here. Johnson has been able to take over without facing the electorate because of the polite constitutional fiction that it is the same Conservative government continuing and nothing has changed. Yet he justifies the prorogation of parliament by the argument that it is a new government and a new Queen’s Speech is thus needed. Johnson is of course famously in favour of having cake and eating it, but the chutzpah of this is breathtaking.

As countries slip to the far right, the failure of the more decent forces in society to unite and to react with sufficient vigour is crucial. Jo Swinson and others need to stop their caviling and get behind Jeremy Corbyn’s no confidence plans.

Here in Scotland, it ought to be a matter of deep shame if we do not now immediately move decisively to claim Independence. The SNP needs to stop prattling on as if keeping the UK in the EU was the priority. No. The priority is Independence, and Independence Now. If the leadership of the SNP want a referendum, they should move now to hold it within a few months, this year. Otherwise they should dissolve Holyrood and hold a Holyrood election with the declared aim of declaring Independence if there is a majority won for that. It is now inevitable that, if the SNP continues to shilly shally on Independence, a new party will arise in response to public opinion, to outflank and challenge them by prioritising Independence. Hopefully Johnson’s new move will finally kick the SNP to act NOW and make that unnecessary.

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The Alex Salmond Fit-Up

This new report is from a friend of impeccable credentials with whom I am collaborating; it reveals stunning new facts on the Alex Salmond affair:

Begins

I am an investigative journalist who has been researching the Alex Salmond case. I am not alone as there are to my knowledge at least three television programmes doing the same thing. I make no claim to be impartial, partially because of my sympathy towards the independence movement and partially because my previous work has dealt substantially with failings in the criminal justice system. As far as the criminal case against Alex Salmond is concerned I will not be able to publish or comment until it is over. However the expenses settlement last week of Alex Salmond’s successful civil action allows me , without any prejudice, to relate just a few the dramatic and deeply troubling things I have already discovered about the civil case.

This same opportunity for comment was taken up with gusto last week by the mainstream media in Scotland. Their coverage centred on the scale of the legal expenses agreed to be paid by the Scottish Government to Alex Salmond. This was followed up by the Sunday Mail and the Sunday Post last weekend with stories suggesting that Salmond’s lawyers might have been overcharging and blaming the Scottish Government for not having them independently audited.

True to form the unionist press have gloriously and entirely missed the point. The reason that the expenses were an eye watering £512,000 and change is that they were awarded by the Court largely on an “agent and client” basis. “Agent and client” is a punitive award used by the courts when the losing party to litigation has been causing the other unnecessary expense. It means that the victorious party (ie Salmond) is entitled to full expenses as opposed to the normal 60 per cent or so which accompanies victory. Having the expenses audited (or “taxed” in the legal parlance) is a complete red herring. No such process could set aside the decision of the court for that element of expenses which were awarded on an “agent and client” basis.

And so to the real story which is why the expenses were awarded by Lord Pentland in the Court of Session in this punitive manner. The likely reason lies in three equally devastating parts.

First Salmond won the action. The court found on the admission of the Government that the process against him was “unlawful” and “unfair” in that it had been “tainted by apparent bias”. Despite the attempted spin of Scottish Government Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans, that all the mistakes had been an innocent and inadvertent error of process (a “muddle not a fiddle” as someone else famously said in another context) the statements in open court do not point to that nor does the complete collapse of the Government case. We should look rather to Salmond’s senior counsel Ronnie Clancy QC and his comments in open court that the behaviour of the Government’s Investigating Officer, was “bordering on encouragement”. In lay person’s terms it looks like Salmond was being fitted up by officials in the Government he once led with such distinction.

Second, we know that Lord Pentland in mid December 2018 granted a “Commission and Diligence”. This is a relatively unusual legal process for forcing the recovery of key documents in a case. Pentland did this having previously warned the Government from the bench that as a public authority it would be expected that they would freely produce all relevant documents. That such a Commission was necessary to secure key documents should be a clear warning to the upcoming Scottish parliamentary investigative committee, already concerned with suggestions that e mails may have been deleted. We have no way of knowing what came out of these hearings except that top civil servants were compelled to appear under oath and be questioned. I do know that Evans appeared before the Commission as did Investigating Officer Judith Mackinnon. I also know that Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, a Ms Elizabeth Lloyd, was due to appear when the Scottish Government suddenly decided to collapse the case on January 3rd 2019. Finally we know that when Ronnie Clancy QC appeared in the Court of Session he had a large folder of killer documents to underline his case. Incidentally all of the expenses for this Commission and all other court hearings are part of the Salmond expenses award.

Thirdly and finally my researches point to a group within the Scottish Government who had been been established to defend the Judicial Review. I know that it either met with, or conferenced called, external legal counsel a minimum of seventeen times between August 2017 and January 2018. It featured key civil servants familiar with the case. It was this group who likely decided to prolong the legal action when they , by definition, must have known that they would lose spectacularly once the compromising information and revealing documents were forced into disclosure through the Commission process. I believe that the aforesaid Elizabeth Lloyd was a member of this group, an absolutely key issue which , when confirmed, will open a range of pointed questions, the most fundamental of which is what on earth a political appointee was doing on a civil service group charged with the defence of a legal action? The further interesting and devastating question will be what exactly did this group, or others taking the key decisions, possibly hope to gain by prolonging a legal action and running up the clock at such gigantic public expense?

Perhaps the full answer to these questions will have to await developments but answers there will have to be. For the moment let us content ourselves with this observation. Regardless of anything else, how on earth can a Permanent Secretary who, by her own admission and a Court of Session judgement , presided over an “unlawful” process still be in her position and who exactly is to be held accountable for the unnecessary loss to the public purse thus far of a minimum of £600,000?

All of my journalistic life I have campaigned for justice and equality including across race class and gender. However, without proper process there can be no justice. And from what I already know, some of which can print, and a lot more I can’t reveal as yet, this entire process against Salmond, already judged unlawful in the highest court in the land, stinks to high heaven.

Ends

The Salmond Affair indeed stinks to high heaven and no aspect of it stinks more than the role in steering the affair, throughout, of Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff. Lloyd is also known to be personally friendly with David Clegg of the Daily Record who published what were claimed to be leaked details of one of the “allegations” against Salmond.

I am not amongst those who has faith in the fairness of the police and prosecutorial system in Scotland. In my view, the centralisation of Police Scotland made it highly susceptible to political influence. I recall the case of my friend the estimable Michelle Thomson, who was announced by the Police as under investigation for mortgage fraud, which “under investigation” status lasted for over two years, until Thomson was obliged to stand down at the 2017 general election. Yet the facts of the case were extremely simple, and would have taken two days, maximum, to clear up if the investigation had been genuine. After two years of being “under investigation”, in which entire time she was never even interviewed, Police Scotland announced there was no case to answer. By then the job was done and she was out of parliament.

Police Scotland put 22 officers full time into trying to dig up historic dirt on Salmond. I have personally seen a statement from a woman who was astonished to be interviewed by Police Scotland after having been seen, years ago, to have a greeting peck on the cheek from her friend Alex at a public function. This has been the biggest, and most maliciously motivated, fishing expedition in Scottish police history.

The Salmond case aside (phrase inserted on legal advice!), it ought to be a public scandal that the procurator fiscal can arraign and parade a person in public and charge them with grievous offences, then delay matters for months and years while attempting to somehow cobble together the pile of mince they have as “evidence” into some sort of case. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Meantime the parties behind the Salmond case can hide indefinitely from investigation on the pretext that it would prejudice a so-called independent criminal process.

There is one question to the Scottish government which from my own certain knowledge (which I cannot publish pending the never-never trial) would bust the entire Salmond affair wide open:
Could you please detail every contact between Liz Lloyd and Police Scotland anent Alex Salmond?
They will refuse to answer the question so long as the so-called “criminal case” is pending. Expect it to be pending for a very long time.

Meantime, as the above account makes crystal clear, we have a judicial ruling that the Scottish Government engaged in a process that was unlawful and had every appearance of bias. They persisted recklessly in that unlawful course of action and eventually cost the Scottish taxpayer over £600,000. Yet none of those responsible for these unlawful actions – Leslie Evans, Judith Mackinnon and Liz Lloyd – has been sacked. That fact is indicative of monumental arrogance right at the heart of Holyrood.

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Jo Swinson Goes A Funny Tinge

My own position on Brexit is more nuanced than is currently fashionable (more below), but I am strongly against a no deal Brexit. Jo Swinson’s successful deflation of Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for a caretaker administration purely to organise a general election, makes no deal much more probable.

It says a great deal about Swinson that she is emphatically in favour of a caretaker government led by arch Blairite Harriet Harman. Let us remind ourselves of Harman’s voting record:

If the Liberal Democrats are refusing to work with somebody, you would expect it to be the person who shared Cabinet responsibility for initiating illegally the death of millions in the Middle East. It is also worth recalling that while Acting Leader of the Labour Party Harman instructed her MPs to abstain on both Tory benefit cuts and Theresa May’s “Hostile Environment” immigration policy.

Yet Swinson actively promotes warmonger Harman as caretaker PM and would refuse to work with Jeremy Corbyn, who is apparently anathema to Liberals because he espouses social democratic economic policies and rejects neo-imperialist aggression abroad. I am confident my old friend Charlie Kennedy would have taken a different view.

Swinson was one of the Lib Dems who was least uncomfortable in coalition with the Tories, and her attitude now is based entirely on the wishes of Chuka Umunna and other actual and potential Blairite defectors to the Lib Dems. Swinson is more interested in playing to the Blairite visceral hatred of Corbyn than she is in stopping no deal Brexit, and it is proof if any were needed that the arrival of Blairite and Tory defectors is moving the Lib Dems still further to the right. I see not a single hint of the party’s old radicalism or principle.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have shown maturity and common sense in welcoming Corbyn’s initiative, with due reservations and caveats. Had the Lib Dems done so too, it would have encouraged Tory rebels to join in an all-party initiatvie. Swinson’s refusal to work with Corbyn, on the grounds that Tory rebels would also refuse, was as she well knew a self-fulfilling prophecy. By making it about Corbyn, Swinson made it impossible for Tory MPs to go along when the Lib Dems had refused.

Institutional and personal loyalties are very difficult things to shake off. The Tory Party has become a far right movement whose primary policies are motivated by nothing but racist hatred of immigrants. It is extremely hard for decent people like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve to accept that this has happened and it is irreversible.

If Westminster cannot stop hard Brexit and it goes ahead, it will be enabled by Swinson’s ambition, the hatreds of Blairites, and the failure of decent Tories to process psychologically what has happened to their party.

I suspect that the chaos caused by hard Brexit would be much less than generally predicted after three weeks, but that the economic situation caused by no deal would be very much worse than generally predicted after three years. Priti Patel’s announcement that free movement will end on 31 October is a nonsense. Over 80% of lorries arriving at Dover have non-British, EU drivers. Instituting immigration controls would be a physical impossibility.

My own euro-enthusiasm was dealt a fatal blow when the Spanish paramilitaries clubbed grandmothers lining up to vote in Catalonia, and all three constituent parts of the EU – Parliament, Council and Commission – rushed to congratulate the Francoist government in Madrid on upholding the Rule of Law.

I would therefore be content to live in a country which had a relationship with the EU similar to Norway or Switzerland, but was politically separate. I am entirely in favour of free movement, which I believe has been one of the greatest advances for liberty in my lifetime, and I support the single market. I also believe in democracy and am strongly convinced that England and Wales ought to leave the EU, because that is how they voted, while Scotland and Northern Ireland should remain in the EU, because that is how they voted.

On second referenda, I do not believe it is democratic to have one before the result has been respected and it has been tried. Thus the result of the Scottish referendum was respected, continuing in the Union has been tried, and proven not to be what was promised. After five years of respecting the result, it is perfectly legitimate to vote again.

The EU referendum is different. The people of England and Wales voted to leave and have not had the chance to try that for five years and see if it works out. I believe it would be undemocratic to have another vote before the result has been respected. Another referendum in England and Wales after five years out of the EU seems to me perfectly reasonable.

I appreciate none of those thoughts correspond with the generally held and remarkably polarised viewpoints of Leavers and Remainers, or sets of positions you might find from a political party or in mainstream media articles. The entire point of this blog is to ask you to consider different ways of thinking about things. I do not in the least insist or expect you to agree with me. But courteous consideration of the arguments is always welcome, even where opinions sharply differ from mine.

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Electoral Commission Obstructionism on Indyref2 is Just a Foretaste

The Electoral Commission has sought to apply the handbrake to the gathering momentum for a new Independence referendum, by a submission to the Scottish Parliament which is a model of bureaucratic obstructionism. This is simply a foretaste of the attitude of the “neutral” and “independent” organs of the United Kingdom state, such as the BBC and Electoral Commission, in the coming struggle for Independence, in which the British state will be using all possible levers to defend its own existence.

It should not be forgotten that it is the Electoral Commission which insists that the postal ballots be mixed with the ordinary ballots before counting, so there can be no record of any discrepancy between the postal ballot result and ordinary ballots. If the ordinary ballot was 60% yes and 40% no, but the postal ballot was 90% no and 10% yes, this information is deliberately and systematically destroyed by the counting method insisted on by the Electoral Commission. I have for years been attempting to get a coherent official justification for this deliberate destruction of obviously vital information in guarding against fraud, and have never received one. So I openly proclaim I do not start here from a position of trust in the Electoral Commission.

The Guardian is reporting triumphantly that the Electoral Commission’s submission to the Scottish Parliament on the legislation for Indyref2 throws a 2020 date into doubt and requires at least a nine month lead period for the referendum. This is (for once) a broadly accurate report from the Guardian.

In particular the Electoral Commission argues at para 7 of its submission for a period of “at least six months” between the passing of the legislation and the start of the campaign. This is so that campaigners and administrators can learn and thoroughly understand the rules before the campaign gets underway.

This is ridiculous bureaucratic bullshit. In the EU referendum campaign, the period between the legislation coming into force in December 2015 and the vote – not the campaign start, the vote, – in June 2016 was six months and one week. For Indyref2 the Electoral Commission is claiming it needs six months before the campaign even can start. Yet we have already had a Scottish Independence referendum and the rule changes proposed by either the Scottish Government or the Electoral Commission are minor. The main rules are already known, we have done it before and I have understood all of the proposed changes within three hours of studying them – it does not need six months. More fundamentally, since when has legislation come into force with a six month grace period while we get used to it? I don’t recall that happening the last time they lowered the drink driving limit.

The Electoral Commission then at para 11 suggests that the campaign period, following the six month “understand the rules” period, is a minimum of ten weeks. This is preceded by a six week period for designating lead campaigners. It is not quite clear if the Electoral Commission thinks the six week designation period can be during the six month know the rules period, but the implication is not. So it appears the Electoral Commission is proposing a minimum of six months plus six weeks plus ten weeks – ie 10 months – between the entry into force of the referendum legislation and the date of the referendum.

But that is not the limit of the Electoral Commission’s obfuscation. It is demanding the right to change the referendum question, in line with unionist demands. The perfectly straightforward “Should Scotland Be an Independent Country?” – which delivered a result the unionists are loudly declaiming as definitive – was approved by the Electoral Commission. They now “firmly recommend” they should have the power to insist on a new question after 12 weeks consultation with focus groups, opinion polls and political parties, which mumbo jumbo the Commission characterises as “new evidence”, which is an interesting definition of “evidence”. What the Electoral Commission means is that it will insist on a question for which the Tories have long argued, as here:

Had the question been more precisely, “Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?”, the “No” vote would have been much stronger.

I suspect that the Boris Johnson cabinet has in fact made the prospect of leaving the UK a much more appealing prospect, and this much touted question effect may have radically diminished, but the unionists and Electoral Commission wish to try. If anyone is yet unconvinced that the Electoral Commission is deliberately seeking to postpone an Indyref, note that they state they need a period of 12 weeks to consider the question.

I have one further point to make that has been picked up by neither the Scottish Government’s proposals nor the Electoral Commission’s proposals. That is the restriction on who can fund.

Why is that the UK and not Scotland? The only people who can vote are residents of Scotland. Surely this is a Scottish democratic exercise and the same people should be allowed to donate who are allowed to vote? Why should English residents be permitted to fund and sway the campaign in Scotland? For the purposes of this referendum, England is as foreign to the process as anywhere else, and if English residents can fund a campaign, then why ban French, German, Spanish, American or Russian residents?

The United Kingdom routinely holds its General Elections in five weeks from dissolution of parliament to the new PM moving into Downing Street, and occasionally in less than a month. Those elections feature long and complex manifestos containing myriad policies, generally published about three weeks before the polling date. The notion that a second Scottish Independence referendum would require ten months, and that it would require a new question, is nonsense that further calls into question the motives of the Electoral Commission.

We have become used to the brazen anti-Independence bias of the BBC. It is hard to live with the cognitive dissonance that comes from distrusting the institutions we have been brought up to respect, but we should treat the Electoral Commission with no more trust than the BBC.

There will not be a repeat of 2014. The British Establishment were fairly relaxed about that Independence referendum because they did not believe they could lose – remember Yes started around 30%. They had the fright of their lives, and we saw the ramping up of BBC bias, the breaking of purdah rules with “the Vow”, and some peculiar postal vote turnouts in response. This time all that will be much exaggerated and we will definitely see a far higher presence from the UK government’s online covert players – 77th Brigade, GCHQ, Integrity Initiative etc. We will see more activity from security services including by agents planted inside the Independence movement which could include agents provocateurs and false flag incidents. And we will see state institutions like the BBC and Electoral Commission acting in an increasingly biased fashion.

That is why it is essential that, if we go the referendum route again, we have international observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who will monitor all of these aspects, crucially including media monitoring. I hope to announce a new initiative on this shortly on which I will request your assistance.

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FCO Speeds Up Planning to Move UK Embassy to Jerusalem

Following US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s talks with Boris Johnson and his ministers in London last week, FCO officials have been asked to speed up contingency planning for the UK to move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with an eye to an “early announcement” post Brexit.

The UK is currently bound by an EU common foreign policy position not to follow the United States in moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. As things stand, that prohibition will fall on 1 November. FCO officials had previously been asked to produce a contingency plan, but this involved the construction of a £14 million new Embassy and a four year timescale. They have now been asked to go back and look at a quick fix involving moving the Ambassador and immediate staff to Jerusalem and renaming the Consulate already there as the Embassy. This could be speedily announced, and then implemented in about a year.

Johnson heads the most radically pro-Israel cabinet in UK history and the symbolic gesture of rejection of Palestinian rights is naturally appealing to his major ministers Patel, Javid and Raab. They also see three other political benefits. Firstly, they anticipate that Labour opposition to the move can be used to yet again raise accusations of “anti-semitism” against Jeremy Corbyn. Secondly, it provides good “red meat” to Brexiteer support in marking a clear and, they believe, popular break from EU foreign policy, at no economic cost. Thirdly, it seals the special link between the Trump and Johnson administrations and sets the UK apart from other NATO allies.

Bolton also discussed the possibility of UK support for Israeli annexation of areas of the West Bank to “solve” the illegality of Israeli settlements on occupied territory. My FCO sources believe this is going to be much more difficult politically for the Cabinet to agree than simply moving the Embassy, due to lack of support on their own backbenches.

This is an insight into the future of British foreign policy if the Johnson government, and the UK, both survive. In the massive defeat of the UK at the UN General Assembly two months ago over the illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands, the UK was in a voting block with only the USA, Israel, Australia, Hungary and the Maldives, against the rest of the world. The Maldives had a particular maritime interest there, but the leadership of the others – Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Scott Morrison, Benjamin Netanyahu and now Boris Johnson – constitute a distinct and extreme right wing bloc. These are very worrying times indeed.

This article was updated to add the third point above after my source alerted me that I had missed it.

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The Devolution Trap

For the many who expressed kind concern at the bureaucratic impasse involved in Cameron starting his new school, I should update you with the good news. Cameron was able to start on time in the local school, and I am very happy to say that both staff and pupils have been extremely friendly and helpful. Which does not obviate the daftness of the system which makes it impossible to get more than a day’s notice of acceptance, but we are getting over the problems that caused.

But I have also to say that I am genuinely shocked that Cameron took the 33rd place in his class, which is now full. Class size is a very major factor in pupil achievement and I am perplexed to find these Victorian levels of pupil/teacher ratio still surviving in 2019.

This is illustrative of the trap that is devolution within the UK. The SNP devotes the large majority of its resource as a party to attempting to manage vital services within the UK settlement through government in Holyrood, and does so with competence and professionalism. But a decade of austerity and budget squeeze, and still more the profound economic malaise caused by the sucking out of Scottish capital and human resource by London over centuries, make it an impossible task.

Within the UK, Scotland will never have the economic resources at the disposal of its government which will enable it to provide public services of the standard its people ought to expect.

If you look at nations comparable to Scotland, these are the primary school pupil teacher ratios

Denmark 10.7
Sweden 12.1
Norway 9.01

The reason the devolution trap is so deadly is that it seduces the SNP into expending its energies in genuinely well meaning attempts to mitigate the disastrous public sector climate of Tory UK. It is very easy in these circumstances for Scottish ministers to become over-proud of tiny achievements in making life better for people, and miss the big picture.

The big picture is that within the UK Scotland will never escape the drain on its economic resources and subsequent impoverishment, and will never fulfill its economic potential. Meanwhile, in trying to run public services within the context of Tory austerity, those services are simply bound to be inadequate and the SNP ends up taking the blame for failures created deliberately in Westminster.

Devolution has run its course. There is no devo-max solution that will make things better. It is time to forget all ideas of making the UK less disastrous, and to concentrate all energies on one thing and one thing only: 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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Assange Must Not Also Die in Jail

The highly dubious death of Jeffrey Epstein in a US maximum security prison is another strong reason not to extradite Julian Assange into one – particularly as many of the same people who are relieved by Epstein’s death would like to see Assange dead too.

But there is every reason to fear Assange is already in danger, in Belmarsh maximum security prison, where he is currently incarcerated. As the great journalist John Pilger tweeted six days ago:

Do not forget Julian #Assange. Or you will lose him.
I saw him in Belmarsh prison and his health has deteriorated. Treated worse than a murderer, he is isolated, medicated and denied the tools to fight the bogus charges of US extradition. I now fear for him. Do not forget him.

There is no official explanation as to why Julian’s health has continued to deteriorate so alarmingly in Belmarsh. Nobody genuinely believes him to be a violent danger, so there is absolutely no call for him to be imprisoned in the facility which houses the hardcore terrorist cases.

Assange is fighting major legal cases in the UK, Sweden and the United States, yet is permitted visitors for only two hours per fortnight, inclusive of time spent with his three sets of lawyers. All of his visitors have been alarmed by his state of physical health and many have been alarmed by his apparent disorientation and confusion.

It is because of Assange’s draconian one year sentence for “bail-jumping” on claiming political asylum that he can be kept in such harsh conditions and with so little access to his lawyers. That is why his sentence was so unprecedentedly stiff for missing police bail. Otherwise, as a remand prisoner awaiting extradition hearing his conditions would ordinarily be less harsh and his access to lawyers much better. The Establishment has conspired to reduce his ability to defend himself in court. I am not convinced it is not conspiring to destroy him.

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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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Epstein’s Death Must Be the Start, not the End, of the Investigation

There are a number of royal palaces and grand residences of former Presidents and Prime Ministers where the inhabitants have a little bit more spring in their step following the death of Jeffrey Epstein. The media is rushing to attach the label “conspiracy theory” to any thought that his death might not have been suicide. In my view, given that so many very powerful people will be relieved he is no longer in a position to sing, and given that he was in a maximum security jail following another alleged “suicide attempt” a week ago, it would be a very credulous person who did not view the question of who killed him an open one.

There has been a huge amount of obfuscation and misdirection on the activities of Epstein and his set. To my mind, the article which remains the best starting point for those new to the scandal is this one from Gawker.

Two days ago a federal court unsealed 2000 pages of documents related to the allegations against Epstein. Of these the most important appears to be a witness statement from Virginia Giuffre alleging that while a minor she had sex at Epstein’s direction with Senate Majority leader George Mitchell and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, plus a variety of senior foreign politicians.

Epstein’s sexual activities and partying with young girls were carried out in full view of key friends, his domestic and office staff, his pilots and of course the participants. There is no shortage of potential witnesses. Several of these really ought to be taking great care – though if I were them I would certainly eschew any protection involving US security services or law enforcement. Ghislaine Maxwell might take heed of her father’s fate and avoid swimming for a few years.

(I am probably not the only one old enough to compare the many similarities between Robert Maxwell’s asset stripping career and that of Philip Green. The progress of society after thirty years of Thatcher, New Labour and returned Tories meaning that Green by contrast got no criminal charges and much bigger yachts.)

In the UK, Ms Giuffre’s alleged relationship with Prince Andrew has been mentioned in the media. In fact the evidence that she had a relationship with Prince Andrew of some sort is overwhelming. Here is some of the actual evidence from the court documents.

The age of heterosexual consent in England is 16 and there is no indication that Prince Andrew is doing anything illegal in this photograph in which Ms Giuffre is 17. Nor is the photo in itself evidence of sex, though it certainly is intimate. The notion however that Ms Giuffre was “lent out” to Andrew may have legal implications as she was flown into the country, allegedly for the purpose.

No satisfactory alternative explanation has been offered as to what might have been happening here, as Ms Guffre’s lawyers noted.

No further details appear in the documents to amplify Ms Giuffre’s claim that she was forced to have sex with a “well known Prime Minister”, other than to repeat the claim. But what is plain is that her tale is not entirely invention. Just how much more did Epstein know, and who might he have taken down with him?

The truth is that sexual abuse by the rich and famous transcends all political boundaries. Bill Clinton was very frequently on Epstein’s plane and Epstein joins the very long list of those connected to the Clintons who died in dubious circumstances.

Two coincidences – the first being the bruise marks on the neck sustained in Epstein’s first “suicide attempt” in jail – remind me of the case of John Ashe, the senior official very close to the Clintons who died with bruise marks on his neck, when he accidentally dropped his barbell on his throat while bench-pressing alone at home.

Ashe was charged and awaiting trial for receiving corrupt funds from businessman Ng Lap Seng while Ashe was serving in the USA’s turn as President of the UN General Assembly. Ng Lap Seng, a six time visitor to the Clinton White House, had previously been accused of making very large illegal donations to Clinton campaign funds, and was subsequently arrested while entering the USA with over US $4 million in cash. Unlike the Clintons, Ashe was charged with taking Seng’s money and rather like Epstein may have had an interesting song to sing while going down, had he not conveniently dropped the barbell on his throat.

I said that the first thing that jogged me to link the Epstein/Clinton and the Ashe/Clinton cases was the bruise marks on the throat. The second is that both stories have been debunked by self-proclaimed “conspiracy-busting” website Snopes – in a manner which shows that Snopes has no regard for the truth whatsoever.

In the case of John Ashe, Snopes wrote an utterly tendentious piece of “myth-busting” which stated that it was a myth that Ashe’s death occurred shortly before his trial and that he was not due to testify against the Clintons. Snopes failed to mention that Ashe, a very senior Clinton appointee, was charged with taking corrupt money from precisely the same man who had been very widely accused of giving corrupt money to the Clintons. And while it was true his trial was not imminent, his pre-trial deposition was.

In the Epstein/Clinton case Snopes wrote a piece debunking the notion that this is a photograph of Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private jet.

Snopes sets out to prove that this is not Epstein’s private jet but that of another billionaire, and that the girl is not Rachel Chandler. For the sake of argument I am prepared to accept what they say on both counts. But is the sensible reaction to that photo to say “Oh that’s OK it’s another billionaire’s jet” or to say “Why is Bill Clinton on a billionaire’s private jet in an intimate pose with a worryingly young female”? As with the Prince Andrew photo, although it has been circulating for years no alternative innocent explanation is on offer.

And the fact that this is another billionaire’s plane should open again the much wider question of networks of the rich and the powerful indulging each other’s passion for sexual exploitation of the young. It is a great shame that in the UK, the Establishment has been able to characterise the falsifications of Carl Beech as discrediting the entire notion of historical child sexual abuse. It is as though one person making up stories about a Bishop would mean there was never child exploitation in the Catholic Church.

The deeper question is why such a significant proportion of the rich and powerful have a propensity to want to assuage their sexual desires on the most vulnerable and powerless in society, as opposed to forming relationships among their peers. I suspect it is connected to the kind of sociopathy that leads somebody to seek or hoard power or wealth in the first place.

It is not necessary to develop that idea further, to understand that the Epstein case had given us a glimpse of criminal sexual behaviour which beyond doubt involves many powerful people. It is essential that the threads that can be grasped are now worked on assiduously to uncover the entire network.

I am afraid to say I suspect the chances of that actually happening are very slim indeed.

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The Unanswerable Case

Simon Jenkins gets it with this simple and unanswerable argument.

Scots are now very significantly poorer than the Irish, the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Icelanders or any of their obvious comparators. Every one of those nations is in the top 10 of the UN Human Development Index. The UK is not, and Scotland is below the mean for the UK. It is not because Scots are stupid or feckless, it not because of climate and it is certainly not a lack of natural resources. It is because of the draining away of human and physical resource by London over centuries.

Against that fundamental fact, the cloud of stupid obfuscation around the minutiae of transition is a mere distraction, and a deliberate one at that. Countries which are far poorer than Scotland successfully run on their own currencies – scores of them. Why would people believe Scotland is unique among nations in being incapable of having a currency? Yet such pathetic shibboleths are pounded out by the media, and particularly the BBC, on a daily basis to make a significant number of Scots believe that what is possible for every nation that has tried it, is uniquely impossible to them.

It is particularly galling to see those that have made us poor tell us we cannot be independent because we are poor. Particularly when the entire system of government accounting has been manipulated over decades to ascribe Scotland’s revenue to the wider UK, to ascribe a portion of infrastructure projects in SE England such as Crossrail as Scottish expenditure, and to present an entirely distorted picture of the Scottish fiscal position.

I am entirely at the end of my patience. It really is time that we claimed our Independence and stopped this slavish adherence to the laws of the Imperial state which seeks to continue its leeching out of our resources.

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40% of Scottish Labour Voters Support Independence

The headline from the major new Ashcroft poll of Scottish public opinion is that Independence now has 52-48 majority support, and that is excellent news. Ashcroft himself is a Machiavellian Tory but his polling effort involves much larger samples than regular newspaper polls and has a generally good record. For me, the most interesting point in his new Scottish poll is that fully 40% of Scottish Labour voters in 2017 now support Independence.

This has important repercussions. The Labour leadership will no longer be able to portray Independence as beyond the pale for decent thinking people, or to portray Scottish nationalism as akin to Viktor Orban, without alienating a huge swathe of its own support. It certainly ought, at the very least, to encourage the Labour Party in supporting the Scottish people’s right to a new referendum, against Tory attempts to block it.

But it also has ramifications for how the SNP and wider Yes movement conduct ourselves, particularly online. Nationalists must stop automatically writing off Labour supporters as unionists. There remains a Blairite rump still powerful in Scottish Labour who are rightfully despised, but we need more readily to acknowledge how much we have in common with a great many ordinary members of the Labour Party, both in terms of supporting Independence and in terms of the more socially inclusive Scottish state we wish to build.


The dates in brackets indicate that the affiliation refers to how people voted in the election or referendum of that date.

It is not surprising that many more Labour voters are looking to Scottish Independence as a reaction to a historically extreme right wing government in London. But as I blogged at the time, already in 2017 25% of Scottish Labour voters supported Independence and a significant number who had voted SNP in the 2015 General Election had reverted to Labour in the 2017 General Election. The reason for this was simple – the SNP showed little sign of pushing on with Independence anyway and our dreadful, lacklustre 2017 GE campaign was conducted entirely on the basis of “don’t mention Independence and deny we are pushing for it whenever the Tories bring it up.” No wonder some Indy supporters drifted away.

As ever I looked to the estimable James Kelly for his interpretation of the latest poll, and found that I had beaten him to it. I did however find his last article touching on precisely the subject of whether the SNP should put Independence at the forefront of their campaign in the likely event of an early General Election. As James puts it:

“But we’ve all heard the mood music from the SNP leadership: in a snap pre-Brexit election, they’re more likely to emphasise their plan to stop Brexit, albeit with a pledge to hold an independence referendum.”

I too have picked up that mood music, and I have also picked up the massive groundswell of discontent with it. The SNP must put Independence right at the forefront of a general election campaign, and I entirely endorse the Angus MacNeil option of declaring the general election a de facto Independence referendum if the Tories persist in their refusal to countenance a formal one.

For the SNP yet again to put Independence on the backburner and to lead their campaign on Brexit would be a massive mistake. Firstly the surest way for Scotland to remain in the EU is to become an Independent country. It might end up with more SNP MPs at Westminster, but for those of us whose object is to have Scotland out of the UK and no SNP MPs at Westminster at all, the SNP is looking more and more like an organisation over-interested in its own institutional strength and in highly paid UK jobs for its highheidyins.

In short, Tommy Sheppard’s brilliant 2015 quote “We came to Westminster to settle up, not to settle in” is in danger of turning Tommy – for whom I have high regard – into a liar if they don’t rediscover the sense of urgency that quote conveyed.

Secondly it is not our right to keep England and Wales in the EU if they wish to exit. If we genuinely believe Scotland should be an Independent country, we have to accept that we have no right to interfere in English politics and no right to force them to stay in the EU, against the democratic wish of English voters, just as they have no right to drag us out of the EU, against the democratic wish of Scottish voters.

The SNP seems to have its heart set on being heroes on the UK stage and beloved of the Guardian and Alastair Campbell by thwarting Brexit for the UK. Well, bugger that. I want to destroy the UK and I want Scottish Independence. The rest is detail.

Whether England remains or leaves the EU is a decision for the residents of England, not for me.

Thirdly, an all out bid for Independence will attract back to voting SNP many of those Independence supporting 40% of Scottish Labour voters, many of whom voted SNP in 2015 but not 2017. I can see no especial reason they should change their vote if the SNP does not look a great deal more serious about Independence than it does today.

Finally, if you can’t achieve Independence while Boris Johnson and his bunch of ghouls are lurking around No. 10, when can you? Forget waiting for a better time.

If the SNP fails to strike all out for Independence now, and gets further distracted by the effort to stop Brexit for the whole UK, I shall not be alone in wondering how many of the 8% of SNP voters in the Ashcroft poll who do not support Independence, are at or near the top of the party.

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In the World of Truth and Fact, Russiagate is Dead. In the World of the Political Establishment, it is Still the New 42

Douglas Adams famously suggested that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. In the world of the political elite, the answer is Russiagate. What has caused the electorate to turn on the political elite, to defeat Hillary and to rush to Brexit? Why, the evil Russians, of course, are behind it all.

It was the Russians who hacked the DNC and published Hillary’s emails, thus causing her to lose the election because… the Russians, dammit, who cares what was in the emails? It was the Russians. It is the Russians who are behind Wikileaks, and Julian Assange is a Putin agent (as is that evil Craig Murray). It was the Russians who swayed the 1,300,000,000 dollar Presidential election campaign result with 100,000 dollars worth of Facebook advertising. It was the evil Russians who once did a dodgy trade deal with Aaron Banks then did something improbable with Cambridge Analytica that hypnotised people en masse via Facebook into supporting Brexit.

All of this is known to be true by every Blairite, every Clintonite, by the BBC, by CNN, by the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. “The Russians did it” is the article of faith for the political elite who cannot understand why the electorate rejected the triangulated “consensus” the elite constructed and sold to us, where the filthy rich get ever richer and the rest of us have falling incomes, low employment rights and scanty welfare benefits. You don’t like that system? You have been hypnotised and misled by evil Russian trolls and hackers.

[Whether Trump and/or Brexit were worthy beneficiaries of the popular desire to express discontent is an entirely different argument and not one I address here].

Except virtually none of this is true. Mueller’s inability to defend in person his deeply flawed report took a certain amount of steam out of the blame Russia campaign. But what should have killed off “Russiagate” forever is the judgement of Judge John G Koeltl of the Federal District Court of New York.

In a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and against Wikileaks, and against inter alia Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Julian Assange, for the first time the claims of collusion between Trump and Russia were subjected to actual scrutiny in a court of law. And Judge Koeltl concluded that, quite simply, the claims made as the basis of Russiagate are insufficient to even warrant a hearing.

The judgement is 81 pages long, but if you want to understand the truth about the entire “Russiagate” spin it is well worth reading it in full. Otherwise let me walk you through it.

This is the crucial point about Koeltl’s judgement. In considering dismissing a case at the outset in response to a motion to dismiss from the defence, the judge is obliged to give the plaintiff every benefit and to take the alleged facts described by the DNC as true. The stage of challenging and testing those facts has not been reached. The question Koeltl is answering is this. Accepting for the moment the DNC’s facts as true, on the face of it, even if everything that the Democratic National Committee alleged happened, did indeed happen, is there the basis for a case? And his answer is a comprehensive no. Even the facts alleged to comprise the Russiagate narrative do not mount up to a plausible case.

The consequence of this procedure is of course that in this judgement Koeltl is accepting the DNC’s “facts”. The judgement is therefore written entirely on the assumption that the Russians did hack the DNC computers as alleged by the plaintiff (the Democratic National Committee), and that meetings and correspondence took place as the DNC alleged and their content was also what the DNC alleged. It is vital to understand in reading the document that Koeltl is not stating that he finds these “facts” to be true. Doubtless had the trial proceeded many of them would have been challenged by the defendants and their evidentiary basis tested in court. It is simply at this stage the only question Koeltl is answering is whether, assuming the facts alleged all to be true, there are grounds for trial.

Judge Koeltl’s subsequent dismissal of the Russiagate nonsense is a problem for the mainstream media and their favourite narrative. They have largely chosen to pretend it never happened, but when obliged to mention it have attempted to misrepresent this as the judge confirming that the Russians hacked the DNC. It very definitely and specifically is not that; the judge was obliged to rule on the procedural motion to dismiss on the basis of assuming the allegation to be true. Legal distinctions, even very plain ones like this, are perhaps difficult for the average cut and paste mainstream media stenographer to understand. But the widespread failure to report the meaning of Koeltl’s judgement fairly is inexcusable.

The key finding is this. Even accepting the DNC’s evidence at face value, the judge ruled that it provides no evidence of collusion between Russia, Wikileaks or any of the named parties to hack the DNC’s computers. It is best expressed here in this dismissal of the charge that a property violation was committed, but in fact the same ruling by the judge that no evidence has been presented of any collusion for an illegal purpose, runs through the dismissal of each and every one of the varied charges put forward by the DNC as grounds for their suit.

Judge Koeltl goes further and asserts that Wikileaks, as a news organisation, had every right to obtain and publish the emails in exercise of a fundamental First Amendment right. The judge also specifically notes that no evidence has been put forward by the DNC that shows any relationship between Russia and Wikileaks. Wikileaks, accepting the DNC’s version of events, merely contacted the website that first leaked some of the emails, in order to ask to publish them.

Judge Koeltl also notes firmly that while various contacts are alleged by the DNC between individuals from Trump’s campaign and individuals allegedly linked to the Russian government, no evidence at all has been put forward to show that the content of any of those meetings had anything to do with either Wikileaks or the DNC’s emails.

In short, Koeltl dismissed the case entirely because simply no evidence has been produced of the existence of any collusion between Wikileaks, the Trump campaign and Russia. That does not mean that the evidence has been seen and is judged unconvincing. In a situation where the judge is duty bound to give credence to the plaintiff’s evidence and not judge its probability, there simply was no evidence of collusion to which he could give credence. The entire Russia-Wikileaks-Trump fabrication is a total nonsense. But I don’t suppose that fact will kill it off.

The major implication for the Assange extradition case of the Koeltl judgement is his robust and unequivocal statement of the obvious truth that Wikileaks is a news organisation and its right to publish documents, specifically including stolen documents, is protected by the First Amendment when those documents touch on the public interest.


These arguments are certainly helpful to Assange in the extradition case. But it must be noted that the extradition request has been drafted to try to get round the law by alleging that Wikileaks were complicit in the actual theft of documents by Chelsea Manning. Judge Koeltl does not address this question as he was presented with no evidence that Wikileaks had contact with the “hackers” prior to their obtaining the documents, so the question did not arise before him. In the extradition request, the attempt is to argue that Assange encouraged and abetted Manning in obtaining the material. This is supposed to be a different argument.

In fact this attempt to undermine the First Amendment has no merit. Cultivation of an insider source is a normal part of journalistic activity, and encouraging an official to leak material in the public interest is an everyday occurrence in such cultivation. In the “Watergate” precedent, for example, the “Deep Throat” source, Mark Felt of the FBI, was cultivated and encouraged over a period by Woodward. In addition to which, Manning’s access to the documents could not be characterised as “theft”. Leaking of official secrets by an insider is a very different thing to a hack from outside.

And in conclusion, I should state emphatically that while Judge Koeltl was obliged to accept for the time being the allegation that the Russians had hacked the DNC as alleged, in fact this never happened. The emails came from a leak not a hack. The Mueller Inquiry’s refusal to take evidence from the actual publisher of the leaks, Julian Assange, in itself discredits his report. Mueller should also have taken crucial evidence from Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, who has explained in detail why an outside hack was technically impossible based on the forensic evidence provided.

The other key point that proves Mueller’s Inquiry was never a serious search for truth is that at no stage was any independent forensic independence taken from the DNC’s servers, instead the word of the DNC’s own security consultants was simply accepted as true. Finally no progress has been made – or is intended to be made – on the question of who killed Seth Rich, while the pretend police investigation has “lost” his laptop.

Though why anybody would believe Robert Mueller about anything is completely beyond me.

So there we have it. Russiagate as a theory is as completely exploded as the appalling Guardian front page lie published by Kath Viner and Luke Harding fabricating the “secret meetings” between Paul Manafort and Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But the political class and the mainstream media, both in the service of billionaires, have moved on to a stage where truth is irrelevant, and I do not doubt that Russiagate stories will thus persist. They are so useful for the finances of the armaments and security industries, and in keeping the population in fear and jingoist politicians in power.

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Boris Johnson’s Fake Radicalism

We hear much about Johnson coming to power as an iconoclastic figure willing to cut a swathe through the ranks of the Establishment and especially the Civil Service, aided by blue skies thinker Dominic Cummings.

In fact nothing could be further from the truth. There has never been a Prime Minister more entrenched in and deferential to the London Establishment than Boris Johnson.

It may seem strange that Johnson’s very first executive decision on coming in to 10 Downing Street was to cancel the long delayed judicial inquiry into UK involvement in torture and extraordinary rendition. On the face of it, there were political attractions for Johnson in pursuing the issue. The policy of complicity in torture had been established by Tony Blair and Jack Straw, with as ever the active collaboration of Alastair Campbell. A judicial inquiry would hold them to account, and given they are not only New Labour but a leading Remainer posse, you would think Johnson would have pushed forward with the chance to expose them. Plus he likes to pose as something of a social liberal himself. So why was Johnson’s urgent priority to cancel the torture inquiry?

The answer is that scores of very senior civil servants were deeply implicated in British collusion in extraordinary rendition. Those directly guilty of complicity in torture include Sir Richard Dearlove, Sir John Scarlett, Sir William Ehrman, Lord Peter Ricketts and Sir Stephen Wright. It was Johnson’s fellow old Etonian, Sir William Ehrman, who chaired the series of meetings in the FCO on the implementation of the policy of getting intelligence through torture.

I testified on this subject, with documentary evidence, before the Intelligence and Security Committee of the House of Commons in secret session. The Committee’s report commended me because without my evidence that series of meetings, which at Ehrmann’s instruction were held without minutes or record, would never have come to light.

130. This was not unique to the Agencies. Their sponsoring Departments appear to have adopted the same approach. We heard evidence from a former FCO official, Craig Murray, who suggested that “there was a deliberate policy of not committing the discussion on receipt of intelligence through torture to paper in the Foreign Office”.
In July 2004, when he was Ambassador to Tashkent, he raised concerns about the use of Uzbek intelligence derived from torture in a formal exchange of telegrams with the FCO. Mr Murray drew our attention to FCO documents from the same time, which we have seen, one of which referred to “meetings to look at conditions of receipt of intelligence as a general issue”. He told us that the meetings “specifically discuss[ed] the receipt of intelligence under torture from Uzbekistan” and “were absolutely key to the formation of policy on extraordinary rendition and intelligence”.
Mr Murray told us that, when he had given evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee about this, they sought the documents from the FCO which replied that the “meetings were informal meetings and were not minuted ”. He went on to say:
“the idea that you have regular meetings convened at director level, convened by the Director of Security and Intelligence, where you are discussing the receipt of intelligence from torture, and you do not minute those meetings is an impossibility, unless an actual decision or instruction not to minute the meetings has been given.… Were it not for me and my bloody-mindedness, … you would never know those meetings had happened. Nobody would ever know those meetings had happened.”

131. We note that we have not seen the minutes of these meetings either: this causes us great concern. Policy discussions on such an important issue should have been minuted. We support Mr Murray’s own conclusion that were it not for his actions these matters may never have come to light.

It was not concern for Blair and Straw that led Johnson to cancel the judge led inquiry. It was the knowledge that Establishment insiders like Dearlove, Ehrman and Ricketts would be forced to give public evidence of their wrongdoing and could be liable to criminal proceedings. The judicial inquiry was promised by Cameron but both Cameron and May blenched at the shockwaves it would send through the ranks of the mandarins who run the country. Johnson has now used the opportunity of his advent, when nobody was paying much attention to anything but Brexit, to try to bury the subject completely and protect the Establishment.

It is essential to the health of our society that the full and shameful truth of this disgraceful episode is told and the guilty are held to account. I hope that once this unconstitutional Johnson regime – which has no majority in the House of Commons for its major policy and was appointed by an abuse of monarchical authority – has fallen, the subject will be brought back both by a Corbyn government at Westminster and in Holyrood by the government of Independent Scotland.

I got sacked for opposing torture and extraordinary rendition. Of those that supported it and abetted it, Lord Peter Ricketts is now Strategic Adviser to Lockheed Martin, so reaping the cash from his role in promoting wars that killed millions of innocents. Sir Stephen Wright is Senior Adviser to Mitsui & Co. Sir John Scarlett is a senior executive for Rupert Murdoch. Sir Richard Dearlove is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of London and a member of the far right Henry Jackson Society, among other things.

The wages of sin appear not bad at all. As the only civil servant to have entered at the time a written protest against UK complicity in torture, I remain unemployable.

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