Clive Ponting, Hero 217

Clive Ponting, doyen of British whistleblowers, anti-imperialist historian and campaigner for Scottish independence has died at his home in Kelso, age 74.

Clive came closer than anybody else to saving British society and industry from the horrors of Thatcherism. There is a danger in history of believing that everything that happened was inevitable. In fact Thatcher’s government after two years in office was extremely unpopular just before the Falklands War. Conservative party support was at 23% in the opinion polls, well behind both Labour and the Liberal/Social Democratic Party. Thatcher’s later popularity was entirely unexpected and based on a tidal wave of jingoism as a result of a short, successful war with Argentina. Without the Falklands War the privatisation of water, rail gas and electricity and the destruction of 90% of British heavy industry may either not have happened or have been short-lived.

The Argentinian dictator Leopoldo Galtieri was as obnoxious as Thatcher, and also a desperately unpopular leader looking to unleash a wave of nationalist support. The Falkland Islands are one of the UK’s most pointless surviving colonies, though unlike most at least are not a tax haven. After Galtieri sent his forces on April 2 1982 to occupy the Falklands, the United States were leading international efforts to broker a compromise agreement, when all possibility of a peaceful resolution was destroyed by the UK sinking the battleship General Belgrano.

It is worth noting that the Argentinians had occupied the Falklands without one single British casualty. On 2 May 1982 when an advanced British nuclear submarine sunk the old second world war cruiser Belgrano, killing 323 Argentinians in the most horrible of fashions, not a single British person had been hurt in the Falklands War.

The claim that the ancient Belgrano was a serious military threat was always spurious. Clive Ponting, a Principal level civil servant in the MOD, blew the whistle on the fact that it was not, as claimed, heading towards the Falkland Islands when it was destroyed, but was in fact steaming away. The truth of the matter is that the decision was never a military one, but was a murderous political decision, to make inevitable the war the Tories wanted so badly to revive their political fortunes. As we have seen with Brexit, imperialist hubris and sheer atavism are very easy to awaken in British nationalist society, steeped in tales of Empire and World War.

Clive Ponting’s revelation put a temporary dent in support for the war but it could not ultimately make any difference to the vast surge of Tory popularity from the easy military victory which ensued. That popularity was used by Thatcher to go on to destroy her “enemies within” – industrial workers – and change British society fundamentally to one based unquestioningly on the notion that the only human motive is private greed.

However Clive Ponting achieved something vital; when he was tried under the Official Secrets Act for his leak, which he heroically avowed, the jury accepted his public interest defence and acquitted him, against the clear direction of the judge. He had made the official secrets act a dead letter. When I blew the whistle on torture and extraordinary rendition, in circumstances very similar to Clive, I too was plainly in breach of the official secrets act. From first hand accounts of friends who were at senior level meetings in the FCO with Jack Straw, I know that the only reason I am not in jail now is that Straw and Goldsmith feared a “Ponting verdict” – that a jury would refuse to convict me for doing good. I believe the same is true of Katharine Gun.

Of course, New Labour were never going to accept that kind of limitation on power, and they instituted secret courts for national security cases, with no juries and where the security services can introduce “intelligence evidence” that the defendant themself is not permitted to see. Clive, Katharine or myself would be quickly in jail, without a jury, if we did our whistleblowing today. And of course the state currently believes it has found another way to jail me without the intervention of a jury. So I fear Clive’s achievement has not outlived him, but his name deserves to be remembered with great honour.

In recent years, Clive became a fairly frequent below the line commenter on this blog, modestly identifying only as “Clive P” and bringing his government experience and academic research into the discussion. Like me, he came to believe that the only way to free British society from ingrained imperialist thought would be to break up the UK itself. Having retired to Kelso he became a strong supporter of Scottish Independence.

I am mortified we never met. We emailed each other quite frequently, and a couple of planned meetings fell through because one or the other of us was unwell. He had to cancel a planned talk on Independence at Doune the Rabbit Hole as his health deteriorated. In June he contacted me aware that his health was failing. He had things he wished to say before he left us, on what he had learnt from his experiences and on the authoritarian tendencies in the British state. I discussed this with Alex Salmond and we all agreed the Alex Salmond Show would be the best venue for this. Clive asked that we wait a few weeks until he had recovered strength from his latest rounds of chemotherapy. Sadly that strength never came back. He deserves to sleep well after a good life lived.


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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations


Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

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

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

217 thoughts on “Clive Ponting, Hero

1 2 3
  • Giyane

    Mrs Thatcher revelled in her role as commander in chief mainly because of her feminism. It cast her as a woman into the spotlight in an egotistical, narcissistic way we have since seen in Donald Trump. In fact her legacy of privatisation has remained intact , it works as well or as badly as socialist alternatives. But ego- tripping works for nobody except the ego tripper themselves.
    She taught the celebrity culture how to do it.

    • N_

      Thatcher was not the commander-in-chief. But you are right – she LOVED the Falkands war. The Sun’s vile “Gotcha” headline when the Belgrano was sunk was Thatcherite through and through.

      Ursula von der Leyen would love a war too I think.

  • N_

    RIP Clive. His acquittal was a great moment for the jury system as well as of course for him personally and for all who favour the exposure of the British state’s murderous crimes.

    Worth remembering that Tory voteshare was lower in 1983 than in 1979 and the only reason the Tories got such a large majority in 1983 was because the SDP-Liberal alliance – the SDP having been created in 1981 by pro-US scumbags who had previously been in Labour – took votes from Labour. Labour’s manifesto in 1983 under Michael Foot was superior to any other until the sadly all too short time of the Jeremy Corbyn epoch. (Well in fact it was better. No crap about “a million climate change jobs” for example. And a promise to scrap Trident. True, there was also a pledge to leave the EEC but this was before the single market so had it happened it wouldn’t have been the same “cliffedge” as Brexit.)

    • Goose

      “Losing the election was heartbreaking. But the party losing its sense of purpose is a tragedy” – Jeremy Corbyn

      Saw this, found out this wasn’t his, alas, but I wish it was.

  • Dungroanin

    The passing of Clive P, from here at least, is a great loss.

    I have had some interaction with him on the boards, not much but always educational.

    Often I would scan the comments for his appearance and take on events – it really was always worth reading.

    Maybe a Clive P page can be put together with his contributions in one posting for posterity sake?

    RIP one of the first civil servants who put the people ahead of the bought politicians and bankers. And I hope he has left some further writing that will see light.

  • Bruce

    Secret courts where the prosecution can introduce evidence that the defence is not allowed to see. Sounds a lot like the IMT (nuremburg) trials after WW2. At least “modern day” whistleblowers dont have the sh*t tortured out of them before their trial.

    • Dungroanin

      Err .. Assange? Looks like torture to me.
      As did Manning. As do any number of ‘foreign’ journos and whistleblower who are never noticed by the bleeding heart Amnesty International DS run chariots.

  • Rosemary+MacKenzie

    I was very sorry to read of Clive Ponting’s death. He was, as you say, a hero. He is also a loss to the world and the independence movement. Thank you for your write-up on him. You are, as always, eloquently right.

  • CasualObserver

    I read the late Mr Ponting’s book 1940 Myth and Reality many years ago, it was maybe an introduction for me as to how any nation state will massage the opinion of its citizens. I’d recommend it as a good read, although by now I’d think its long since out of print.

    Concerning the Falklands ‘War’, I’d suggest that there was never going to be any other outcome than that which transpired. The British Lion may well have been sclerotic by 82, but there was no way it was going to back down to a tin pot minor dictatorship. To have done so would have destabilised British society at a time of when it had already been weakened by the collapse of the Butskel Consensus.

    Which leads to Thatcher. Clearly a polarising personality, and gets the blame for what in all probability was unavoidable. Consider, the ‘West’ had been struggling badly since the oil crisis of 73 which led to the emergence of the so called Looney Left, and Inflation that had been in double figures for some years, There was no sign that the corrective medicine would be anything other than bitter in the extreme.

    We can all mourn deindustrialisation and the transformation of western societies into burgeoning Chav’O’Rama’s, but its a phenomenon that has occurred in all of the advanced nations of the world, and the fact remains that the unleashing of the potential for growth fuelled by debt has increased the comfort of all of us. For those who are too young to have lived through the period, I recommend a viewing of a few episodes of the early 70’s sitcom, On the Buses, although it may seem like a joke, it does give a very valid picture of what life was like for the average working man before the enforced change that gets hung squarely on the shoulders of Thatcher 🙂

    • U Watt

      I believe Germany is sometimes considered part of the advanced world. Albeit not as advanced and comfortable as places like Youngstown, Greenock, Merthyr, etc.

      • CasualObserver

        Even Germany has had the Snicker Snee put about amongst its ‘Old’ industries. Probably the reason they still esteem production is the absence of companies having been bought by foreign interests ? For example, BMW is still essentially owned/controlled by the Quant family ? In contrast, we in Britain have been only too eager to see foreign companies carry the load of production, whilst the ascendency return to the old ways of ‘Mercantilism’ which of course is shorthand for making one’s money from the sweat of those who will work cheapest (abroad) and the ongoing dumbing down of those regarded as the consuming class.

    • Ian

      There was absolutely plenty of completely avoidable things which Thatcher implemented under your complacent, apologist, lazy and excuse of ‘things had to change’, as other countries demonstrated. Things change all the time, and politicians have to manage that change, but to suggest that the destructive, ideological, fundamentalist change under Thatcher, many of which effects we are still feeling and experiencing now, was necessary or inevitable is absurd, feeble and classic Neoliberal conservatism.

      • CasualObserver

        yes that was the story put about by Michael Foot after Labour went into meltdown. The result was just the same as we saw with Labour under Corbyn, what should have been Labour’s core support decided to vote Blue. That just left those whom Orwell described as being more willing to be seen stealing from a church poor box, rather than standing for the National Anthem, voting for the illusory Utopia.

    • Laguerre

      “We can all mourn deindustrialisation and the transformation of western societies into burgeoning Chav’O’Rama’s, but its a phenomenon that has occurred in all of the advanced nations of the world, “

      You are right to some extent – in France similar events happened at about the same time. What was wrong under Thatcher was the unnecessarily aggressive attack on the working class, creating a bitter cleavage between classes, and recalling the harshness of the class relationship in the Victorian times of the industrial revolution. It could have been so different. In France deindustrialisation passed without major disturbances (nothing in France ever happens without protests). In Germany, the level of cooperation between unions and industrialists has meant that Germany is still an industrial power. In Britain though, Thatcher wasted all the North Sea oil wealth on paying the dole to the unemployed (Norway by contrast invested its own), and we have nothing as a result.

      • SA

        The deindustrialization of France has not been as deep as that in UK. Also France still has an extremely healthy local farming and food production and food self sufficiency than UK. The French are not as reliant as the Brits on service industries and tax havens and ponzi schemes.

    • Dungroanin

      The Loony Left was a DS creation to bring about the end of the post war covenant between the aristos and the ‘lowest classes’.

      Red Robbo then , ‘Tommy’ Robbo now.

      The never ending Great Game and centuries of poking the bear by the banker masters and ancient Pathocracy is FINALLY about to end – even as the Ancient City tried to rabble rouse it’s traditional proxies into destroying themselves again by setting them against the great bear.

      The Germans areny dancing this time and neither will the French (regardless of the new mini Napoleon/ sun king chimera Macaroon -who will disappear at the next election) and it looks as if the Danes have seen the light finally, leaving. Trying to wind up the Pacific flank with the Japanese psychos with further Manchurian/ Russian plunder is the latest straw grasping.

      What’s left? The 5+1 eyed Gollum stretched across the planet? Brittannias rule of the Seas?

      Yeah – the BRI has addressed that conundrum and the remaining Commonwealth flunkies will soon attain a real independence of the Empire with that choice.

      The Empire is dead dead dead!

      Long live the new Empire.

    • J

      ^Simply more of the same Thatchers TINA nonsense, a talking point to mask the transfer of wealth, that’s all it ever was. Somewhere along the line you moved from “There Is No Alternative” to “There Was No Alternative” with no lessons learned in between.

    • mickc

      Yes, Ponting’s book about 1940 is very good indeed.

      And yes, blaming Thatcher for all the ills just means an acceptance of the “Great Man” theory of history. I don’t believe it works like that. After all, it was Callaghan who told the Labour conference that things had to change. As I recall, Sid Weighell warned of the consequences of not accepting Callaghan’s advice.

      Further, I don’t believe the British people are imperialist; they dislike being told what to do. The current popular reaction to Covid is a prime example. They no longer believe what they are told by the rulers…elected or not.

  • Roger Ewen

    It might be worth while noting, the following:- Col H Jones was awarded the VC after his own soldiers shot him! And Pebble Mill at One reported Argentina was going to invade the Malvenas one month before they actually did invade! Thatcher wanted to wrap herself in the Union Jack while UK soldiers butchered by bayoneting 17 year old kids! I know the soldiers that did so, and how they are struggling to live with themselves!

    • Laguerre

      It’s pretty well known that Wilson-Callaghan sent ships to the Falklands in 1976 to discourage an impending Argentinian invasion. But Thatcher did nothing when similar intelligence came through. The question of why not is at issue here: was it Johnsonian style inaction when faced with COVID, or all a dastardly plan? It’s evident that many here prefer the conspiracy theory version.

      • Gary Littlejohn

        I have no idea what motivated Thatcher’s failure to respond to the advance warning that Argentina was likely to invade the Falklands/Malvinas if the protection vessel was withdrawn as part of the defence cuts, but the implication was also drawn on Panorama in November 1981. (I did not see the Pebble Mills warning.) Lord Carrington resigned as if this was somehow a failure of the Foreign Office, but surely it should have been Barber who was responsible for the defence cuts.

        Galtieri was more than obnoxious. I was living in Mozambique from Dec 1981 to Dec 1983, and as the British force was sailing to the Islands we Brits not on the UK embassy staff held a series of meetings with Argentinean refugees in Maputo. One opposition group had lost about 5,000 people killed by the Galtieri regime, As well as the ‘disappeared’ lots of peole were tortured. When I eventually got to Port Stanley over 20 years later, I noticed that one Argentinean had stayed on there and was running a fish & chip shop. I am a little surprised that more former soldiers did not stay on, at least for a while, because the fascists were still in the armed forces after Galieri left office.

        • Coldish

          Re the resignation of Foreign Minister Carrington: did he ever explain his reason for resigning? I wondered at the time whether he might have resigned because he disagreed with the aggressive policy of his boss Mrs Thatcher, but out of loyalty didn’t make this disagreement public. Maybe Craig has a view on this.

      • Shatnersrug

        Laguerre, we are talking about Tory politicians here, it’s quite possible that it was a big conspiracy AND complete incompetence. In order for tories to I rich their donors and the establishment, they merely have to screw everything up, which they do splendidly.

        Come election time they say, it was all labour’s fault and the British public (including nearly half of Scotland) go “OK” we really do deserve this awful mess.

      • andyoldlabour

        A lot of strange claims in some of these posts.
        To compare Thatcher to Galtieri is just unbelievable IMHO.
        The captain of the Belgrano stated in 2003, that he was not sailing away from the combat zone, he was manouvring, and had been given orders to engage any UK naval craft. He considered that Conqueror had acted within the rules of war. The UK was also supported by the US, France and New Zealand.

        • Bob+Smith

          Andyoldlabour- I often despair at some of the posts on this blog. I am sure Clive Ponting, as a talented historian, would also be dismissive of some of the ‘a mate down the pub told me’ type evidence that appears.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        It’s the talk o’ the steamie on Para Regiment chat rooms. Has been for years. Obviously nae bdys going to stick their hands up and say “it wis me what pulled the trigger”. Jones’ own valet has gone on record on a documentary to say that Jones had no business to be where he was, doing what he was when he was shot. A commanding officer’s place is at the rear directing events, not fucking about trying to win medals.

  • Mary

    The genes lived on in Mr Roberts’ granddaughter. She produced a documentary entitled ‘Mummy’s War’.

    ‘In 2007, Carol Thatcher travelled to the Falkland Islands and Argentina for the documentary Mummy’s War, in order to explore the legacy of the Falklands War. Whilst receiving a positive reception from the pro-British islanders (who regard her mother as a heroine), her reception in Argentina provoked protests and demonstrations (including the cry “Your mother is a war criminal!”). During her stay in Argentina, she met a group of mothers who lost their sons during the conflict and stated, “We were fighting a war; we won, you lost,” and reminded them that it was their country that invaded the islands, thus initiating the conflict. The interview ended with one of the women claiming that “God will punish her (Margaret Thatcher)”.’

    If you read on, you can read about her calling Tsonga, the tennis player a ‘gollywog’.
    She now lives in Klosters with her partner, a ski instructor.

    Her twin brother, now a baronet!, has lived in seven countries and was involved in the Al Yamamah arms deal. Very mobile and expert in acquiring assets and taking a cut..'%C3%A9tat_attempt

    • Laguerre

      Funny how Thatcher’s descendants no longer wish to live in the country their mother so jingoistically fought for.

      • Antonym

        The über rich, fed on globalist stock market gaming tend to turn their backs on the nations that gave them a passport at birth and become jet set gypsies. They can support any convenient party in any convenient country, Tory, Labour, Democrat or Republican. Money corrupts and they know it to the utmost.

        Clive Pointing was of a totally other caliber and will therefore live on in History, while those “worth” many zeroes will vanish into footnotes.

      • Laguerre

        A xenophobe cannot claim to be one of the ‘we’. It’s the only reason you’re making that comment.

  • N_

    Perhaps someone can post a short review of Clive Ponting’s book “A Green History of the World”?

    • Mary

      Some linked here –

      A Green History of the World: The Environment & the Collapse of Great Civilizations
      by Clive Ponting
      3.95 · Rating details · 664 ratings · 64 reviews
      A study of world civilizations, from Sumeria to Ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire of pre-Columbian North America and tiny Easter Island, that argues that over and over again, human beings have built societies that have grown and prospered by exploiting the Earth’s resources, only to expand to the point where those resources could no longer sustain the societies’ population …more

  • Carl

    Ah yes … the glory days of pounding teenage conscripts (something poor old Andy could not let go of). A steep decline since for the “world’s most professional fighting force” (TM), lately tested beyond its limits in Iraq and Afghanistan by peasant insurgents wearing sandals. Naturally no amount of military humiliation has stopped Britannia’s leaders from ostentatiously threatening the PLA and the red army from behind Sam’s back. In their little heads it is forever 1820.

    • Republicofscotland


      Speaking of teenage conscripts, the UK is the only country in Europe and Nato that allows direct enlistment into the army at the age of 16. One in four UK army recruits is now under the age of 18 according to the BMJ.

      In 2019 the UK continued to send child soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite pledging to end the practice. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, has expressed deep concern, at the UK’s recruiting policy and recommend that armed forces age should be raised to 18.

    • nevermind

      my sincere condolences to Clive Ponting’s family for their loss. There is not much left to say after all these supportive comments, except, hat another much valued voice of reform and modernisation is now silent. His voice for Independence will be sorely missed. RIP

  • Rolf Norfolk

    ‘The Falkland Islands are one of the UK’s most pointless surviving colonies.’ I don’t think that’s quite right, economically speaking – the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Falklands and South Georgia are enormous and there is, I believe, big potential in fishing and mineral rights.

    Coincidentally I thought of Ponting several times recently, apparently for no reason. Brave man.

  • Gary Littlejohn

    I am really sorry to read this news. It is true that whistleblowers would now go to jail, and that has made it a lot easier for the British state to gaslight the electorate,as the latest Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee [ISC] report makes clear. The ‘independent’ experts giving evidence were mostly stooges such as Christopher Steele and it was effectively an exercise in the inteligence services marking their own homework. The only critical material (about the London laundromat) was already available on mainstream TV current affairs programmes some time ago.

    I sincerely hope that Craig Murray is not sent to jail, and that Julian Assange is freed to sue the UK government for attempting to frame him. The fact that the DNC servers were not hacked, as admitted by the head of Crowdstrike to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, is vindication for both Craig Murray and Julian Assange.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Granted the ISC report was largely a dud. The only point worth noting was confirmation that MI5 and GCHQ did an Admiral Nelson and “saw no ships” regards Russian interference in the Brexit referendum.
      The real meat on the bones is Dr. Julian Lewis gaining Chairmanship of the committee. Why would a Tory MP engineer a Palace coup knowing that he would immediately have the whip withdrawn (ending any political career beyond the next GE)? Who put him up to it? Think Vauxhall Cross and St. Antony’s College, Oxford and you’ll not be far off the mark.

      • Goose

        @Vivian O’Blivion

        For what reason? Why would Lewis be preferred over an establishment toady like Grayling?

        Julian Lewis is quite the parliamentary maverick, therefore, seems to me it’s perfectly reasonable to think this wasn’t actually planned.

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Failing Grayling was indispensable to Theresa May apparently due to his absolute loyalty. Presumably Johnson thinks this is transferable.
          Johnson and Cummings make the SIS nervous. From last summer, regarding Johnson’s time as Foreign Secretary, quoth the BBC; “It is understood Theresa May and some in the intelligence community had worries about Mr Johnson’s ability to keep information confidential.” Too right!
          Cummings has recently been “demanding” access to the UK’s most top secret sites. Cummings has apparently only just been granted enhanced security clearance after a protracted tussle with the SIS & MOD.
          Johnson and Cummings are the issue. For the SIS, having “their man” chairing the ISC must be of some comfort. Johnson is a liability and entirely expendable (and don’t start on Cummings). Leaving aside many areas where Johnson can reap havoc, Johnson is ideally suited to earning the historical title of “the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom” (with all that entails to Faslane).

          • Goose

            Wouldn’t it be something if Johnson & Cummings achieved that which has eluded transparency campaigners like Craig and Clive Ponting. By bringing SIS and the London-Washington, Neocon-Zionist cabal under some semblance of political control?

            Most senior politicians probably know the situation is completely messed up, hence Jon Ashworth confiding to a ‘Tory friend’ during the campaign , that he believed civil servants could keep sensitive security stuff from Corbyn if he’d have become PM. Great admission eh, a shadow govt deciding foreign policy objectives with no oversight or accountability keeping it from the PM.

          • Goose

            Interesting how all the intel agency heads + Cabinet Secretary have been replaced(ousted?) or retired.

            This, along with Cummings’ touring security establishments seems highly unusual. Can you imagine the outcry if the heads of GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and National Security Adviser and Cabinet Secretary were all replaced in short order by a Corbyn administration. With Seumas Milne touring these establishments with top-security clearance? The Telegraph and Mail , BBC ,Sky + PLP would be apoplectic. Cummings was found in contempt of parliament for refusing to appear before a HoC committee remember.

            Wonder what caused so many sudden exits? Did Johnson demand some truth, perhaps?

  • nevermind

    my sincere condolences to Clive Ponting’s family for their loss. There is not much left to say after all these supportive comments, except, that another much valued voice of reform and modernisation is now silent. His voice for Independence will be sorely missed. RIP

  • Goose

    Like me, he came to believe that the only way to free British society from ingrained imperialist thought would be to break up the UK itself.

    Isn’t becoming the junior partner propping up US global hegemony is the real cause of these continued delusions of empire in London and among our security elite? Were the UK a truly independent power, it’d simply have to be a lot more realistic view about our role in the world.
    The UK is like the bully’s loathsome sidekick. The attraction for UK elites of being bound to the US hyperpower with its 800 military bases in 70 countries; its sinister worldwide surveillance network sweeping up the world’s communications, is obvious. Without consultation, and in an almost treasonous series of moves, they’ve bound us at the hip to US, so tightly, the straps are digging in. To question this UK/US relationship, depressingly, is politically off limits too. As if a country subjugating itself so completely is normal.

    The true test of Scottish independence,if it ever happens, will be its relationship with the US.

    • Goose

      Quote :

      Within the email, Smith MP makes suggestions for changes that he deems to be “concrete changes… urgently needed.”

      Smith MP further said the Equalities brief expanding to around a dozen people was “of course important… equalities are close to my heart, but not as close as independence.

      “I am not alone in thinking that too much of the Party’s oxygen has been taken up by discussions of peripheral issues like GRA (Gender recognition act) reform with a small but vocal number of NEC members focusing on these peripheral issues, however worthy, to the exclusion of all else.”

      – Brig Newspaper

      He’s basically saying what Craig et al have said. Alyn Smith was the focus for much criticism, but this suggests a rethink may be in order.

  • J Galt

    Callaghan saw the Argentinians off in 1977 (Operation Journeyman) without bloodshed, by acting on intelligence.

    Thatcher again acting on intelligence basically invited them in so she could have a bloodbath.

  • Steven Kurtz

    As an American-Canadian Green Conservative (shrink, not grow population and throughput) my only knowledge of Ponting was his book, A Green History of the World. I see that an updated version was published. He deserves praise for this work which I now know was not his primary field.

    • Aidworker1

      Wow TVG!

      I thought I had a boring evening watching snooker. Now my Saturday evening is sorted! Great link


        • TVG

          Dull? Really? Well, I guess a lot depends on how much of the show you watch (it rarely took off until later on). Remember it was live (actually live, not what gets called live these days) and not faked into what you might find “entertaining”.

          I have watched about half of this so far and find it riveting: the subject, the people and their freedom to say what they actually believe rather than what gets virtue points. Amazing this was killed off for Big Brother (now that was what I call dull).

    • Fwl

      TVG – thanks for that link. That was a great episode of After Dark. We really need that sort of programme today. There was a passing comment on the programme that nothing that has been said here was not already known, but I learnt quite a few things and it was fascinating to see Ponting and Wallace debate. In fact they were all great contributors.

  • Phil Espin

    Sorry to hear of Clive’s passing. He was a hero to me as a young direct entrant civil servant in the mid 80s. I remember the disgust expressed by an older colleague finding me reading Clive’s “The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the Belgrano Affair (1985)” during my lunch break. “The mans a traitor” was his reaction. All I can say is he brought out the best in the British justice system. His acquittal was a high point of the 80s. People with his and Craig’s sense of decency are harder to find in public service these days.

  • Kenneth+G+Coutts

    I hope Clive Ponting left notes and a folio.
    I remember that time, and now clear that the media buried
    All there was, wall to wall English nationalism, bulldog breed and all that.
    Remember the French supplied excocets to the Argentinians
    The services never expected the sinking of warships.
    You would probably know for sure what made the Argentinians
    Invade, I had the idea, that the English ordered the survey ship and the warship on station down there to leave , prior to any invasion.
    There’s OIL!!
    Thatcher , so friendly with Pinochet.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I remember exactly the day his acquittal occurred, as we rolled back to our Cambridge college for lunch after a morning of lectures and practical work. My room was directly above the ‘Junior Common Room’, which in effect served as a place to read the morning papers and for the more football-oriented of us to watch the 1984 European Championship finals and the 1986 World Cup.

    The TV news was on as we walked in and there was only one story in town: Clive Ponting being acquitted. Large numbers of students were visibly uplifted by the news, perhaps feeling that folks like us, were we to sit on juries, could actually do some good in this world.

    I also remember well reading his book on his trial and acquittal from cover to cover more than once. It was an unparalleled insight for a 21-odd year old into what really went on inside Whitehall, Westminster and the MOD. It highlighted with objective clarity the difference in values and objectives of honest civil servants and career politicians.

    Throughout the book, the obvious ethics that Mr Ponting had about how a civil servant should or should not behave shone through.

    One can only hope that the odd civil servant with such values still remains with what is now an overtly politicised and often self-serving community.

    More than anyone else in this country, Mr Ponting showed me as a young man what making sacrifices for your principles entails.

    After all, unless you have to sacrifice things to uphold your principles, they cannot be that important in the bigger scheme of things, can they?

    • Laguerre

      You must be another manifestation of Habbie – only comments of personal abuse.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        All hands to the pumps at the troll farm. Smbdy must have hit a nerve. All ad hominem stuff. Can’t buy decent help these days.

  • frankywiggles

    He was a brave man. The Falklands war had unleashed a carnival of reaction in Britain, unreplicated in its ferocity until the last few years. By revealing the truth Clive Ponting knew he would be subjected to a hatefest from the British establishment and battalions of boiling orcs. His victory in the courts flabbergasted and humiliated them. Good man, Clive!

  • Mark Golding

    Rest in Peace Clive; much love and hats off to Katherine Gunn, David Kelly, Brian Jones, Craig Murray, and others.

    As Craig describes, before Clive’s trial, a jury could take the view that if an action could be seen to be in the public interest, that might justify the right of the individual to take that action. As a result of the OSA 1989 modification, that defense was removed, and here lies the rub, after this enactment, it was taken that ‘public interest is what the government of the day says it is,’ thus my tribute and gratitude to whistle-blowers reporting in the said public interest.

    In memory of my best mate ‘Eggy’ killed during the Falklands War on a defenseless RN frigate that was acting as a decoy west of the task force.

    • Goose

      RIP Clive.

      Ultimately, it’s a failure of political representation that forced these brave individuals to speak out. And what a heavy price they’ve paid for having a conscience.

      The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection) Bill 2019-21 doesn’t include intelligence agencies – it seems designed merely to illustrate failings in public services and especially the NHS , there being a political, [Tory] ideological motivation behind its provisions & disclosure protections. MPs generally are way too lax in asserting their(our) rights to information, taking the attitude of what they don’t know about, they don’t worry about. MPs seem happy with a situation whereby the first they’ll know about some disastrous operation, will be when they see it on the news.
      Just watched a TV report…

      So Hezbollah run the port in which the explosion happened… hmm, starting to make more sense.

      At the risk of being called a Russian bot by Ben Nimmo et al, doesn’t this Beirut blast scream, cui bono?

      Trump keeps referring to it as ‘an attack.’

        • Goose

          There seems to be as western media focus on the idea they do control it. And on the fact their leader Hassan Nasrallah was subject of a mock hanging by masked protesters, using his likeness, again covered by western media.

          Some will shout ‘crank’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’ at the idea it was anything other than a tragic accident, but really this is the ME we’re talking about, how can anyone be sure? There seemed to be (stored) munitions exploding right before the major blast.

          Netanyahu( or someone using his his account) made threats against Hezbollah on Twitter, literally hours before it happened. No one can claim Israel and the US would be anything but delighted by any backlash against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

          • Goose

            Trump stated he’d [just met] “some of our great generals, and they just seem to feel that it was. This was not a — some kind of a manufacturing explosion”.

            Trump then added: “They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.”

            He has since repeated these claims, leading to Lebanese authorities seeking urgent clarifications, as they start investigating whether external forces were involved.

          • Goose

            I don’t know, and I ‘m not claiming anything. But as a rule :

            Anywhere else in the world : tragic accident

            This particular port, at a time of heightened regional tensions and mass Israeli protests against the Netanyahu’s govt, only an idiot would entirely dismiss the idea of foul play being involved.

        • Goose

          Live Science carried an interview with John Goodpaster, who researches explosives at Indiana at University-Purdue University Indianapolis. After the crude attack attempt in New York using fertilizer, some ten years ago in 2010.

          He stated : “This compound(ammonium nitrate) is not found in its pure form in the common fertilizers that are commercially available. And, even in its pure form, ammonium nitrate by itself is not explosive. Beside the fertilizer it requires a detonator and a fuel. The fertilizer must be mixed with a fuel in an exact ratio, and the detonator must be able to generate sufficient energy.

          The energy of the detonation wave causes the ammonium nitrate in the fertilizer to vaporize – the solid fertilizer becomes a gas in an instant. The ammonium and nitrate molecules break down, and a large amount of oxygen gas is suddenly formed.

          The gas released from the decomposing fertilizer is what drives the explosion. The rapid release of oxygen, along with the energy from the detonation wave, ignites the fuel. When the liquid fuel ignites, it rapidly combusts, and even more gas is released.

          “All that gas is generated in a very short amount of time,” Goodpaster said. “That’s what causes the pressure waves of the explosion.”

          The pressure waves travel at the speed of sound, about 1,100 feet (343 meters) per second, and can damage nearby structures or even kill bystanders if the waves are strong enough, Goodpaster said. Heat is also released during the combustion, and it may be enough to set a car on fire, but most of the damage from such explosions is due to the pressure waves.

          But a Perfect mix is needed

          The fertilizer and the fuel have to be combined in a just the right proportions, Goodpaster said, or else nothing will happen.

          “If they’re not mixed the right way, the detonator could go off, but there will be no explosion. It would just burn,” he said.

  • Smiling Through

    Thank you for that tribute, Craig.

    I have just read Clive’s biography of Churchill – a welcome challenge to current Winstonia.

  • Goose

    And my, do we need these whistleblowers.

    We’re the most centralised, secretive and arguably least democratic country in Europe: unrepresentative FPTP for HoC elections; an unelected, part hereditary/part appointed HoL; An Official Secrets Act …no first amendment protections for the press – a media no doubt heavily infiltrated and fed stories by intel agencies(see Guardian). No public interest disclosure defence; the DSMA-Notice system; Secret courts/secret evidence; mass surveillance apparatus used to spy on human rights groups and transparency campaigners; threats to drop the ECHR(basic rights) from our law and leave the ECtHR & Treaty provisions altogether.

    Mention this stuff and someone will be along here to label you unpatriotic, disloyal to the ‘British way’ of doing things. When Snowden talked of the US being at the ‘precipice of turnkey totalitarianism’, the UK seems a far more likely candidate.

  • Goose

    Exit poll declares 79.7% victory for Lukashenko.

    Did he hire Idox to count the postal votes?

    • Goose

      Actually, joking aside, there may be a real scandal here. Read:

      In 2019’s GE the postal vote was 38% of all votes, some 12.2 million votes.

      Quote : In previous elections, the postal vote never got out of the teens… The postal vote was, in many areas, ‘managed’ by a private company that donated to the Conservative & Unionist Party. Private company Idox, who till 2018 had a Tory peer on its board, used a wholly owned subsidiary Halarose, to manage Postal votes in 12 Dec 2019 and yet Halarose is already listed on or before 19th December 2019 as being ‘dissolved on 24 Dec 2019’. This seems too convenient.

      Postal voting rose up by 19% in England and only 1.2% in Scotland.

      Quote : I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist but a 19% increase in postal voting against a 1.2% [rise]in Scotland is – shall we say – most unusual.

      The Telegraph has reported that postal voting fraud is easy, yet surely 12 .2 million postal votes is absolutely remarkable

      • giyane


        Algorithm say 12.2 million fake votes change -20 seats to + 80.
        That 100 seat lead is to compensate for the likelihood of future unpopularity.

        • Goose

          Kim Sanders-Fisher, has been trying to raise this issue here, and I was too dismissive, apologies for that.

          Looking at the incredible numbers involved and how Halarose was quickly dissolved post election, it’s certainly worthy of further investigation. Not that our media or Starmer’s Labour will be interested mind, both are probably content with 2019’s result.

        • Goose

          Some more stats:

          UK postal votes by year:

          2015: 16%
          2017: 18%
          2019: 38%

          Blackpool South 32752 votes of which 13,537 were postal 41%
          Blackpool North & Cleveleys 38804 of which 16,769 were postal 43%

          In Sefton on Merseyside Postal was about 20%

        • Goose


          No one is suggesting all 12.2 million were ‘fake votes’, many people do vote by post – that is a fact. It’s a % of those in excess of previous years i.e., the +20% jump:

          2015: 16%
          2017: 18%
          2019: 38%

          There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation. Hence why I said it’s merely worthy of further investigation.

          • Goose


            I.e the extra 6.42 million votes, if you use 18% as a guide or assumption of what it should normally be..

          • Tom74

            I agree with you, Goose. The jump in postal votes makes little sense, especially as the election was called at such short notice. It would be interesting to know where the extra postal votes were registered. Sadly, we have a media that are never going to ask awkward questions and an official Opposition that won’t either. The Labour Party seems to have this role in ‘the system’ where they valiantly lose and then find reasons why they or their leader were to blame – they never challenge the result or the media’s bias.

1 2 3

Comments are closed.