45 Years of Rebellion 409

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

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

Dear Craig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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409 thoughts on “45 Years of Rebellion

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  • Martin Elvemo

    “Student groups label me a “rape apologist” due to my support of Julian Assange….” -that can’t be representative of UK students in general? Is that the climate?

  • penguin

    Craig my lad. If you don’t want people to accuse you of spreading fake news and tinfoilhat conspiracies when you are telling the truth then it is wise to admit to your mistakes and not double down when caught out passing on mis-information.

    Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 1998. Street party road closures started at Chambers St, Victoria St, Johnston Terrace, South Bridge and the Cowgate on the South and went all the way to Thistle St on the North. The entire length of George St was closed, and on Princes St from S Charlotte St all the way out along Regent Road to the mini roundabout at the old High School. Your calaims that this year the area was extended is clearly false and yet you have not publicly apologised for your lie or informed the people repeating your lie to stop doing so.

    That is a far larger area than this year, covered an area where people actually live, and prevented anybody gathering at the Tron should they have desired.

    I work for the council and they are a gang of clueless cunts. But you don’t beat people by spreading lies.

    If you had been on Princes St in 1996 then you would know why people can’t be left to gather in large crowds.

  • Mary

    More on the multiple rape charges in Cyprus.

    The 12 alleged attackers with friends in high places: How arrest of Israeli youths over British woman’s gang rape accusation in Ayia Napa was followed closely back home
    Mayor of Jerusalem is father to one of the Israeli youths accused of gang-rape
    He visited Israel and showed interest when British victim said she was ‘coerced’
    Admitted Aiya Napa behaviour was ‘morally wrong’ but claimed son’s innocence
    Israeli minister for regional cooperation was a close friend to two lots of parents
    He was ‘under the impression’ most of the boys were ‘seriously wronged’
    By Inderdeep Bains In Cyprus
    22:58, 1 January 2020

    No longer a main item of interest on the BBC. Move along. Nothing to see here etc

    • N_

      The victim should consider naming herself and all of the perpetrators. She doesn’t have to rely on Facebook or Twitter or Paypal to do that – just put the information out there. Allowing Raab and Johnson and the British foreign office and media managers to control her probably isn’t worth it. The message she and her family were trying to put out wearing the masks with an image of a sewn-up mouth hasn’t got out well. The obvious question is what is she being deterred from saying. Whatever it is, say it. F*** the authorities. Once it’s out, it’s out.

      • N_

        Look how Bobby Fischer resisted the US government from a Japanese prison cell and won. Use what channels you’ve got. Had he not publicised everything on his own terms, he may well have lost.

        So don’t trust those snakes at the British Foreign Office, Ms X!

        • N_

          I’ve now listened to the victim’s mother and I feel even more strongly that the raped woman and her supporters in this conflict are running their side of it badly. Her mother is complaining about the British vice-consul, her MP, and the EU. Listen, f*** all of those scumbags! Don’t expect any of them to be anything other than snakes, the same as the Cypriot and Zionist authorities. Publish your OWN side of the story, do it now, do it on your OWN TERMS, and keep it current. That will really put the sh*ts up the other side, and that is what you need to do. That’s precisely what the Cypriot judiciary and executive, the Zionists, the Greek government, the gangsters and drug-dealers who run Ayia Napa, and the British foreign office and its diplomatic service DON’T WANT. Do it, and that’s how you WIN. Tell the truth and make your points using your own channels. Don’t even tip them off beforehand. Don’t have your face pixelled out or covered by a mask, and don’t rely on the Daily Mail to get your message out! Your lawyer is probably in awe of the stinking Foreign Office and in the unlikely event that she isn’t there is no reason to think she has any nous whatsoever where a conflict like this is concerned. Summary: be such a thorn in the authorities’ flesh until they reverse the sentence, apologise, let you go, and pay you compensation too, because that’s what’s easiest for them. You don’t have to read Clausewitz but it helps: in war, each side lays down the law to the other.

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