The Slide Down 201

I am today in Izmir. The last time I was here, eleven years ago, I called on the bereaved family of an aid worker murdered by Israel on the Mavi Mamara. A decade later, as witness the case of Shireen Abu Aqlah, Israel is still carrying out blatant public murder of good people; there has been no progress at all. The only thing that has changed is that the suppression of critics of Israel has become much more intense across social media, mainstream media and political debate.

I have in the last 18 years shared a platform with almost every prominent left wing figure in the UK I can think of. Out of all of them, the one I enjoyed listening to the most was Mhairi Black. I was therefore not in the least surprised by the warm social media reception of her speech in the House of Commons on the slide to fascism.

I endorse what she says, and I think that the strongest evidence is the extraordinary collaboration of billionaire and state owned media in forwarding the neo-liberal political agenda. In a situation as complex as the Ukraine, the absence of any nuance whatsoever across the entire mainstream media is simply staggering.

My own position, for example, is that the invasion is indeed illegal and a war crime – but that does not make Ukraine faultless. The tolerance of Nazism, the anti-Russian language and other policies and failure to implement the Minsk agreements were very real problems. The war on Iraq, as just one example, was equally criminal and NATO expansion is foolish. A negotiated settlement is needed.

These cannot remotely be characterised as crazed or outrageous opinions, whether you agree or not. But you will not find anywhere, in any mainstream media newsroom, any of those views beyond “the invasion is indeed illegal and a war crime”. It is not just that the editorial line is precisely the same in every single mainstream media outlet. It is that dissent from the editorial line is not published. This total harmony of state and corporate media in favour of a rigorous pro-war propaganda is precisely of the essence of fascism.

As recently as the Iraq War, opponents of the war were occasionally allowed on to give another perspective. A few years later I was invited on to all new channels to explain why the UK was wrong in claiming British sailors temporarily arrested by Iran had been in Iraqi waters. The Daily Mail a decade ago published a centre page article on why the war in Afghanistan was about hydrocarbons and about the massive increase of heroin production in NATO controlled areas.

Such pathways for dissent have over the last few years become completely unavailable.

To return to Mhairi, the difficulty is that she belongs to a party which is itself highly intolerant of dissent and has no feel at all for individual liberty. I might instance the banning of protest outside the Scottish parliament, the hate speech act, the SNP initiated jailing of Manni Singh for starting an approved demonstration two hours late, the appalling leadership approved pile-on on Joanna Cherry, the creation of a single centrally controlled police force, the incredibly sinister “named person” plan thankfully struck down by the courts, and the political use of the Crown Office for prosecutions.

I have never heard Mhairi dissent from any of this, and I do not know where she stands. The last time I set eyes on her was at the 2019 SNP conference, where I was a delegate. I went over to say hi, and was headed off by a horde of besuited minders. She appeared to me quite literally captured by the system.

A final thought on fascism. Boris Johnson reminds me not so much of Mussolini as Berlusconi. The latter appeared a ludicrous figure to us, with his outrageous financial self-interest, sexual antics and dishonesty. Yet Berlusconi kept winning elections because he appealed to something deep in the Italian psyche which did not care about all those other things. That seems a real parallel with Johnson, who appeals to enough English – and I mean English – people who feel he reflects their worldview. The rest of the world is mystified, and that includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where even the unionists can’t stand him.

It is to me a cause of deep sadness that having ignored the opportunity for Scottish Independence opened by Brexit, Sturgeon is now ignoring the opportunity provided by antipathy to Johnson. In a fascist state the functions of central political control extend through both public and private sectors and all permitted political institutions, including permitted parties. That is a thought worth considering.


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201 thoughts on “The Slide Down

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  • iain

    “Sturgeon is now ignoring the opportunity provided by antipathy to Johnson”.

    I suspect her dream is no longer independence but rather a coalition government at Westminster with NuLabour Nato fundamentalists. Scotland is too small for her to really punch Russia and China. That is clearly what she lives for.

  • Mist001

    I’ve said this to many people before that Johnson is absolutely loved by the majority of English people. They fall for that Norman Wisdom, bumbling act very easily. They probably seem him as some sort of character from an Ealing comedy which kind of ties in with the chest puffing Dunkirk, ‘I am English and proud’ spirit.

    I’ve also said before that I believe the biggest obstacle to Scottish independence is democracy so until someone higher up the ladder than me works that out and does something about it, then we’re stuck with Johnson for a long, long time.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba

      None of the English people I know love Boris Johnson. And I know a lot of English people, both living in the U.S. and the UK. In fact, they all despise him. Of course, my English friends are not capitalists; nor are they wealthy.

    • Ewan2

      Speaking of Ealing Comedy, a quote from Lady Edith D’Ascoyne:

      ‘ …but I have often felt that the atitude of my husband’s family has failed to move with the times – they think too much of the rights of nobility and too little of its duties……..Was Lord Tennyson far from the mark when he wrote:” Kind hearts are more than coronets, simple faith than Norman blood.”

    • Collie Dog

      Norman. Yes.
      Wisdom? Of a dark kind maybe.
      1066 and all that. Maybe as human beings we all fall for our conquerors, one way or another; the first way generally being the Harald way, sadly…

    • Kuhnberg

      If Johnson is popular among the English for his dated comedy chops (not so much Norman Wisdom as Bertie Wooster crossed with Flashman), Starmer also inhabits a comic mould: that of the dull as ditchwater lawyer of unparalleled rectitude who can be relied upon to tell the truth at all times, even when it hurts his own interests. The fact that his apparent rectitude (‘integrity’ is the latest watchword) is about as sound as his equally well advertised dedication to human rights only adds to his comedy value.

  • DiggerUK

    Johnson is popular for what he isn’t and he isn’t fascist or anything like. Scratch him enough and you find that he isn’t that woke, just enough to dodge out of charges that he isn’t.
    Every other political outfit is up to their necks in the climate scam, transgender scam and overblown reaction to Covid (I won’t mention the Ted Heath sulk over Brexit) If I’ve overlooked anything write to me.

    Nobody cares about his cake in a Tupperware box any more than anybody cares about Starmer’s curry night. Let’s face it, we were all ducking and diving around the tyrannical lockdown rules because everybody in power pumping the lockdown was breaking their own rules and the rest of us knew it was a nonsense. Next slide please.

    Support for Johnson is the reaction against a liberal elite, crony chum country telling everybody what they should do …. except themselves …. and doing very nicely for themselves.
    Hell fire, this Chancellor is even richer than Tony Blair and we are supposed to accept they are batting for us with a ‘levelling up’ programme. We aren’t even on a level playing field.

    This country isn’t fascist, it’s just riven with a wealth gap growing by the hour…_

    • glenn_nl

      Johnson isn’t popular. Not even with his own party. People do actually care about his partying while people were dying in lockdown. No, we weren’t all trying to circumvent the rules – only idiots and thr murderously irresponsible were doing that.

      And this country is becoming fascist. No, the government under-reacted to Covid.

      Where do you get your ideas from, No. 10 press releases?

    • Ian Stevenson

      Johnson is there to serve the elite who are not liberal in any sense except the 19th century one of an economic system which tries to be as laissez-faire as it can get away with. Eton and Oxford, Bullingdon club , paid a quarter of a million by the Telegraph ( owned by a tax avoiding billionaire living in the Channel Islands) for indifferent journalism, he is very much one of the elite.
      We saw in the Pandemic, the awarding of contracts to unsuitable companies owned by friends and the loss of billions.
      Brexit, like the Trump campaign, is an exercise in diverting attention from the growing concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands, the stagnation of real income, the growth of private debt and the use of politicians to further corporate interest.
      Some of the most successful methods is a tabloid campaign over many years against hard working migrant workers from the EU, refugees and people with a different sexuality. The campaign is directed at the lowest common denominator bigotry.
      Phrases like ‘transgender scam’ show a considerable ignorance. I worked for years in mental health and followed the debate by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, anthropologists, neurologists and endocrinologists in Europe and America.
      However, one has to admit it works.

      • DiggerUK

        @ Ian Stevenson,
        “Phrases like ‘transgender scam’ show a considerable ignorance”

        ? and claiming that one’s biological sex can be changed is wisdom…_

        • Laguerre

          Nobody’s ever claimed that biological sex can be changed, so why do you start now? That’s real ignorance.

          • davidwferguson

            “Nobody’s ever claimed that biological sex can be changed, so why do you start now? That’s real ignorance…

            That’s a very odd claim to make. If I google “people can change sex” I get more than 400,000 hits, and the very first link I go to that looks like it might be an actual person actually claiming that people can actually change sex turns out to be… an actual person actually claiming that people can actually change sex…

            Daniel Laycock (Ooer Mum!), Green Councillor for Eynesbury:

            “Trans Women are Women and Trans Men are Men.
            Your saying inaccurate truths that is leading to members in the party from not being welcome (sic).
            People can change sex
            Men can become women
            Get over it.”

          • Laguerre

            you quote a sympathiser on twitter who hasn’t got his language right. someone could say on twitter for example that Johnson is a Nazi. That doesn’t mean to say he is, even if he’s detestable.

          • davidwferguson

            That’s a kind of self-serving argument.

            “Nobody’s ever claimed that biological sex can be changed. Apart from all these people who have. But that’s only because they were sympathisers. Who didn’t get their language right. Yeah but no but. Yeah. But no but.”

          • Laguerre

            Nobody who knows anything about it has ever claimed biological sex can be changed. Of course there are ignoramuses who don’t know what they are talking about. Even your quotation only gets one word wrong, in using the word ‘sex’ rather than ‘gender’. ‘Biological’ doesn’t appear.

          • andyoldlabour


            Unfortunately, there are many people who claim that transwomen are women and that transmen are men, it has been stated by many politicians, from Labour, LibDems, Greens, SNP. Lisa Nandy the Labour shadow cabinet member, believes that transwomen (born male) should be housed in women’s prisons.


            Green party candidates unable to answer the question – “what is a woman”


          • andyoldlabour


            There are opf course plenty of deluded people including it would seem Fiona Bruce on Question Time, who think that humans can change sex. The stupid fool said to Professor Winston that there would be people who would vehemently disagree with him on the subject – at around 6:00 in the video.


  • Goose

    The current trend for clamping down on dissent within political parties and online is, paradoxically, a sure sign of weak leadership, not strong – as is often implied by the media.

    For leaders that are intellectually confident in their ideals and beliefs welcome being challenged and grab at the chance to debate any subject openly and respectfully. Only those conflicted by a guilty conscience want dissent shutdown or otherwise stymied in my experience. These are typically politicians who’ve sold out or are fearful of their own behaviour and contradictions being highlighted. I think if you enter public life as a politician, then seek to limit public discussion you’ve misunderstood the nature of the role; namely, you’re there to serve the people, the people aren’t there to serve you.

  • Michael Droy

    Sorry, but Brexit did not open up an opportunity for Brexit. It slammed the door shut on one.
    Establishing trade deals as Scotland around the world would be 100x harder than it has been for Boris.
    While a Scotland in the EU would be 10x the nightmare of Eire/NI – a topic no one seems to want to talk about but which has to be broached long before a referendum can be suggested.

    • Laguerre

      “While a Scotland in the EU would be 10x the nightmare of Eire/NI”

      Scotland in the EU would be a nightmare for England (or the legacy British state, or whatever you would call it), but not for the EU. They’re quite clear that an independent Scotland would be welcomed, but only once independence has happened, the EU not wishing to take part in the independence process.

  • Andrew Ingram

    Mháirí’s right though.
    Margaret Thatcher gutted the UK and sold the low hanging family silver, every regime since has had to stretch further for fruit.
    Mixed metaphors, meá culpa.

    • Shatnersrug

      Judge not a person by their words but by their actions. Any fool can say the right things to appeal to their base, see THE SQUAD in the Democratic Party, lots of blather about socialism and then walk straight in and vote with the government. See also Vince Cable, blathering against austerity and then walked straight in and voted with the government.

      Why do we listen to these people when their actions tell us who they are?

      Mháirí Is for the bin just like Vince Cable, as long as you hang hope on these charlatans you will not see any meaningful change.

  • Fazal Majid

    The almost atavistic forelock-tugging of the English towards their ruling class is something to behold, as is the casual viciousness of their middle class. There’s a reason why the Tory government is so callous towards refugees, including the Ukrainians it pays lip service to: it knows that’s what its voters want, just as Trump’s cruelty is not an aberration but a key part of his appeal.

    The UK’s long political stability was enforced at the point of a gun, there were more soldiers deployed against the Luddites than against Napoleon. As a result you have feudal practices like leasehold where most valuable land is still owned by the same inbred thugs descended from thugs many times over, or an expensive legal system designed to grind down upstarts like Oscar Wilde or our gracious host (which is why oligarchs like it so much in London).

  • BrianFujisan

    It’s Very hard trying to talk to Nicola Fans..Re her Love with NATO.. It hurts.
    and now Finland want WWIII .. .A country with ‘ The Happiest People on Earth ‘ WTF.. I So Hope Turkey Stands Firm on Veto

    Check this from Caitlin Johnstone –

    ‘ The Ukrainian government is quickly learning that it can say anything, literally anything at all, about what’s happening on the ground there and get it uncritically reported as an actual news story by the mainstream western press.

    The latest story making the rounds is a completely unevidenced claim made by a Ukrainian government official that Russians are going around raping Ukrainian babies to death. Business Insider, The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail and Yahoo News have all run this story despite no actual evidence existing for it beyond the empty assertions of a government who would have every incentive to lie.

    “A one-year-old boy died after being raped by two Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday,” reads a report by Business Insider which was subsequently picked up by Yahoo News. “The accusation is one of the most horrific from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but is not unique.”

    At the end of the fourth paragraph we get to the disclaimer that every critical thinker should look for when reading such stories in the mainstream press:

    “Insider could find no independent evidence for the claim.”

    — Caitlin Johnstone – MAY 21, 2022

  • Courtenay Francis Raymond Barnett

    ” The almost atavistic forelock-tugging of the English towards their ruling class is something to behold, as is the casual viciousness of their middle class. “

    Hear hear to Fazal and Mhairi.

  • Anna

    Someone said to me the other day in response to my own desperate wish for the truth to be voiced: ah, but most people aren’t ready for the truth, it is difficult for people to understand. I told this man that I did not mean anything like that by “truth”; I just meant the opposite of lies. This conundrum, in my opinion, is why we will go further into fascism, as we are, day by day, welcoming well-off, white Ukranian refugees whilst hoping to drown and deport all the others. Because people believe the truth belongs to an elite, and they project truth-knowing onto leaders like Boris Johnson, just like children like to believe their parents know more than they do. For example, I have an important truth to voice (re surviving MKULTRA) but without owning the means of production (media), it is proving nigh on impossible to do this meaningfully as I am blocked at every turn by people, well-meaning or not, who think the truth is not my prerogative. I will, however, always believe that it is, God-given.

    • Fred Dagg

      I’ve only had time to watch the first 20 minutes, up to the point at which SR considers Russia’s failure to cut road/rail links in Western Ukraine and destroy Ukrainian runways capable of hosting NATO re-supply aircraft. This is elementary stuff and should have preceded the first Russian boot crossing into Ukraine. One/many need to be (literally) shot in the Russian “planning” group.

      • Bruce_H

        According to some the Russians at first deliberately caused the minimum destruction, they left most water, electricity and telephone systems intact in order to avoid turning all Ukrainians against them. I don’t know if this is still their policy.

        • Pears Morgaine

          That was Scott Ritter’s view at the time and he was hailing it as evidence of Russia’s ‘softly-softly’ approach. Now, once again, he’s changed his mind as is actually being critical of Russian tactics. He doesn’t come across as being as confident as he was even a fortnight ago.

    • Ian Stevenson

      In Consortium News 11th February 2022 Scott Ritter wrote:

      “that Russia is not going to invade anyone”

      “let no one be fooled by what is happening – NATO is finished as an alliance”

      ‘The Russian military would defeat any force NATO could assemble in a stand up conventional fight”.

      Russia did invade, NATO has responded and two neutrals have applied to join, and the performance of the Russian military has been poor.
      From sampling the video, he pours scorn on the Ukrainian forces. Yet, their inclusion into NATO at some point is ‘an existential threat’.
      Maybe Dr. Fiona Hill would be a better guide to events.

          • Ian Stevenson

            The most Nazi behaviour is what we are seeing of the Russian forces. Wholesale destruction of whole towns. The murder of civilians. The annexation of Ukrainian territory despite the Budapest memorandum.
            The excuse that Ukraine would join NATO at some time. Nato troops and nuclear weapons on their border.
            The other former Warsaw Pact countries opted to join NATO.Their electorates could have stopped it or even left.
            NATO troops are national contingents other than a few integrated battalion units. The only only troops from other countries in the former WP states are training units. No American tactical nuclear weapons are stored there. The idea that NATO is going to launch military operations against Russia is ludicrous. There might be a case for a neutral Ukraine but not in the way Finland had to endure with its foreign policy and book publications subject to Russian censorship until the fall of the Soviet Union.
            Nothing excuses the things Russia is doing to Ukraine.

  • Johnny Conspiranoid

    “In a fascist state the functions of central political control extend through both public and private sectors and all permitted political institutions, including permitted parties. That is a thought worth considering.”

    We should also consider how these things are engineered.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    Aye, I had such hopes for “working class hero” Mhairi. Just another Politics graduate captured by the material comforts of the system. In truth, I’m embarrassed, how could I have been be so naïve?
    Meanwhile, who’s sitting on Mhairi’s direct left? Angela Crawley the SNP’s Shadow Attorney General (a preposterous vanity title). Public accountability, eh Angela? Why isn’t your ten day all expenses paid trip to the States in 2016 recorded on your HoC register of interests? Why don’t your constituents need to know about your wee trip to meet your “handlers” in the State Department?

    • Jimmeh

      > the SNP’s Shadow Attorney General (a preposterous vanity title).

      You’re right – it is preposterous. I didn’t know the SNP claimed to have shadow ministers; only the opposition has shadow ministers, and the SNP is not the opposition.

  • Nick

    “Johnson, who appeals to enough English … people”

    No, No, No. I don’t know anyone who thinks Boris Johnson is a suitable person for the office of Prime Minister.

    The Tories won the 2019 General Election for one reason only: they were the only party pledging clearly, with no “small print”, to get Brexit done. The 2019 General Election was widely seen as a second referendum on Brexit.

    Mhairi Black is a terrific speaker, but her oratory is the only thing impressive in this clip. What’s wrong with the Tories is much simpler. It’s the party of the rich. If your wealth is less than £10 million and your annual income is less than £250,000, the Tories do not give a toss for you. They get their funding from the 0.1% – not even the 1% – and the advertising that buys, the strategists it pays for, persuade the mostly non-political tribal Tories to keep voting for them.
    But even the dyed-in-the-wool Tory stooges in the middle class can now see that Boris is so used to lying that he no longer knows the difference between truth and falsehood. The Tory party will dump him before the next election – or they’ll be toast.

    • DiggerUK

      @ Nick,
      I’m much aligned to what you write, however, I see Johnson as being well placed to lead the Tories in to the next parliament.
      Anybody who can lie to parliament, not simply mislead, and get away with it is a smart operator. I believe he clearly realised that most voters sussed that out as well.
      As I posted previously, nobody cares about ‘partygate’ or ‘beergate’. We were all at it one way or another…_

    • Bob (not OG)

      “.. the Tories do not give a toss for you. They get their funding from the 0.1% – not even the 1% – and the advertising that buys, the strategists it pays for…”

      The problem is, that same 0.1% will just migrate to ‘labour’ when Starmbot is installed. He will welcome them with great enthusiam. The PTB don’t care which party is in – they remain in power, regardless. That is the system.

    • Bayard

      “The Tories won the 2019 General Election for one reason only: they were the only party pledging clearly, with no “small print”, to get Brexit done. The 2019 General Election was widely seen as a second referendum on Brexit.”

      That’s just one way of looking at it. Another is to see that the Tories won the 2019 General Election for another reason, loyalty to the Tory Party. Party loyalty meant that Tory Remainers voted Tory, even though it meant, effectively, voting Leave, whereas Labour Leavers voted for Leave, even though it meant voting for the Tories. The numbers weren’t great, but in a FPTP system, they don’t have to be.

    • Jimmeh

      > What’s wrong with the Tories is much simpler. It’s the party of the rich.

      In terms of policies, it certainly looks like that. But “the rich” can’t command a majority in a General Election. An awful lot of people who aren’t rich must have voted for them; so it can’t be as simple as you suggest.

  • Politically Homeless

    Whilst we’re conjuring with the F-word, just to interject with a bit of common sense here, by far the closest to a true fascist in this whole debate is of course Vladimir Putin. Militarism, a centralized political-economy, merger of church and state, open promotion of reactionary values, wars of conquest, the marketing of the “personalist” autocrat as strong-man. Do I have to go on? What we have in the West is more like technocratic neoliberalism and Boris is basically a modern Thatcher. But he isn’t as fascist as he could be, for example, he could have been far more autocratic in terms of COVID vaccination.

    • Natasha

      “Do I have to go on?” No thanks, your analysis of the ‘F-word’ appears evidence free propaganda, since if it applies at all to Russia, then it far more so applies to the USA and the UK and many other countries too, e.g.:-


      • Jimmeh

        > evidence free propaganda

        How much evidence do you need to support the claims that:
        – Putin is an autocratic strongman
        – The Russian economy is centralised
        – The state and church are deeply entangled
        – The government promotes reactionary values
        – Russia has launched a war of conquest

        These things are, on the whole, not true of the USA or the UK.

        • Bayard

          “How much evidence do you need to support the claims that:”

          How much have you actually got (apart from stuff you found on the internet)?

          “These things are, on the whole, not true of the USA or the UK.”

          The US doesn’t have a very good record on wars of conquest, nor on the promotion of reactionary values, nor yet on the entanglement of religion and the state. It also is worse than Russia in some respects, like the proportion of its population that it has in prison.

        • Yuri K

          Not really.

          1. A Fascist state needs a dictator, not some “strongman”.
          2. So what? Franco, Galtieri and Pinochet were pretty much economic libertarians, yet many believe their countries were Fascist states under their rule.
          3. The state and church are way more entangled in the USA (Russians do not print “In God we trust” on rubles and, unlike the US Senate, Duma does not pray in chorus before every session).
          4. Not reactionary, but conservative values. Nothing wrong with that.
          5. I wonder how Scotland ended up as part of UK or California became part of USA?
        • Natasha

          Jimmeh, The world of geopolitical analysis consists of more than black and white, them or us. Please begin reading this series of 20 in depth articles…

          … and then tell us you still believe your above comment remains well informed. Or is it a reflection of the evidence free propaganda you have been exposed to?

          Rather than “evidence” of ‘Putin Bad’ or “evidence” of anything factually verifiable (when all available data is honestly accounted for) you offer us a list of misappropriations, thus amounting instead to “evidence” you have been ‘brain washed’ by push media.

          Advice: Actively engage with choosing ALL consumed media. In other words turn off ALL broadcast (i.e. push) media. And ALL online push media consumption. Since it appears this is perhaps the source of the list of misconceptions you offer here?

          • Bayard

            “Jimmeh, The world of geopolitical analysis consists of more than black and white, them or us.”

            Sadly, Natasha, to so many people, it doesn’t. Dualism rules.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    Mhairi’s thesis is England’s gradual slide into Fascism. Far fetched? Consider the 1930s. Minister for Agriculture in Chamberlain’s administration was Reginald Dorman-Smith (“Dig for victory” was launched under his watch). Earlier in the 30s Dorman-Smith was a leading light in English Mistery.
    The manifesto of English Mistery was:

    • Abolition of democracy
    • Absolute power to reside with the aristocracy
    • Those of suitably pure Anglo Saxon “blood” to be reduced to serf status
    • Those not of pure Anglo Saxon blood (presumably including rebellious Celts) to be “brutalised and exterminated” to “rekindle the warrior spirit” of the Anglo Saxon serfs.

    Mind you, the Scottish lowland Tories weren’y ony better. Tory MP for Peebles, Archibald Maule Ramsay spent May 40 to Sept 44 in a Nazi internment camp. Also, the Scottish lowland aristocracy were up tae their necks in Rudolph Hess’s wee trip to Eaglesham moor.

    Are we brave enough to contemplate the depth of lunacy that the likes of Mark Francois and Nadine Dorries are capable of plumbing?

    Meanwhile, Scotland’s nascent “fascism” is wrapped in a rainbow (+) flag.
    Mhairi’s “finest moment” consisted to taking a drag artist to a primary school in her constituency. The drag artist’s stage show included (for those of a delicate disposition please turn away now) producing an infeasibly long length of bicycle chain oot his erse.

    • Bayard

      “Mhairi’s thesis is England’s gradual slide into Fascism.”

      It’s not really Fascism that is the problem. The problem is corruption. There is no point in reversing a slide into Fascism, if corruption proceeds unchecked. Would the billions that the Tories hosed at their mates for “Track and Trace” have been more acceptable if it had been a socialist government doing it? Fascism, Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism, this ism, that ism, they are all modern concepts, but corruption goes back to the dawn of civilisation.

  • Franc

    ….. the incredibly sinister ” named person ” plan thankfully struck down by the courts..
    Could somebody please explain to me what the above was all about.

  • St Pogo

    “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”
    – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    I was saying last week to friends that according to Mussolini’s definition of facism we are definitely living in a fascist state. The private / public declarations of partnership by our government and international institutions like the UN and WHO are extremely worrying especially combined with the increased censorship and totalitarian policies.
    Our whitewashing and support for real Nazis in Ukraine and the rhyming of much WW2 history such as the burning of the trade unions in Odessa for one example is outrageous.
    The war on Iraq is not “equally criminal” and someone who is a pacifist and anti war I also see the realism in the details.
    The people of the Donbass such as Inna Kukurudza have been ignored by everyone but the Russians. I’ll never forget watching the video for the first time as she asks the cameraman to call her family. She had just lost both her legs in a Ukrainian strike and died just after. Ukraine, US and the UN blatantly lied about the events and like Odessa blamed it on the Lugansk residents themselves.
    Norman Finkelstein has said he cannot understand those on the left who acknowledge what NATO, Ukraine et all have done, and are doing and also what Russia has done to avoid the conflict and keep Donbass in Ukraine, yet find Russia evil. He asks what was Russia to do? No one has an answer.

  • Giyane

    You could catch a coach from Izmir to Sulaimaniyah in Iraq passing through Konya where I was staying and along the entire border with Syria and not far from Mosul during the ten years of the Syrian war.

    Turkey is a beautiful country with great hospitality and excellent Western style institutions. However, the murder of journalist Jacqueline Sutton in Istanbul Airport on her way to Erbil to write about Islamic State’s abuse of women, has put me off visiting Turkey ever again.

    Maybe that was the purpose of the murder, to deter human rights sympathisers with “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” State terrorism. Prityi Patel us not far behind Erdoğan, exporting refugees to Africa, and introducing the gagging law of lifelong imprisonment for spying.

    I presume this does not mean State spying for the purpose of blackmailing potential dissident voices. But rather means silencing of blogs like moonofalabama that have faithfully delivered the truth about the Russian de-Nazification operation in Ukraine.

    The time will come very soon that innocent travellers who detest fascism or refugees from interventionist wars will refuse to travel to England because of this. But there again maybe that is her exact intention.

  • Lapsed Agnostic

    Whilst the rest of the world may well be mystified over why Boris is so appealing to the English, that might not necessarily be the case in large parts of Scotland & Wales, where he’s more popular than most people think. To wit:

    Tory share of the vote in General Elections over the last 25 years:

    Scotland: 1997-2017 average: 18.2%; 2019: 25.1% – a 37.9% increase with BJ

    Wales: 1997-2017 average: 24.8%; 2019: 36.1% – a 45.6% increase with BJ

    England: 1997-2017 average: 38.4%; 2019: 47.2% – only a 22.9% increase with BJ

    In Wales, Boris was the most popular Tory candidate for PM of the last 25 years, and second only to Theresa May in Scotland. Of course, in 2019, the Tories vote share was substantially less in Scotland & Wales than England, but it’s worth noting that they had to compete with a substantial SNP vote in Scotland and a significant Plaid one in Wales – but only with the Brexit party in England, who didn’t stand in Tory seats – as well as with leftie Corbyn.

    • Bayard

      Coincidence is not causality. Just because the Tories won more votes under Boris does not mean that he, personally h,ad anything to do with it. Indeed the reverse could be true and the Tories might have got more votes under a different leader. After all, with his fridge-hiding antics and refusals to be interviewed, he didn’t cut a very impressive figure. Despite what the MSM would try and make us believe a GE is not a presidential election. People mostly voted for parties and policies, not for the leader. They were voting for Labour, for the Conservatives, for or against Brexit, or even for their local candidate. Very few were voting for Johnson or Corbyn, except in those MPs own constituencies.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Bayard. The Tories have had seven different leaders in the past 25 years – but have never received a higher share of the vote in a General Election than with Boris1 (though, to be fair, IDS never made it to one). The point is that, whatever you or I might think of him, many people in England, Scotland & Wales like both him and his policies which, for want of a better term, can be described as right-wing populism. UK General Elections are more about party leaders than ever, with the televised leaders’ debates now forming the centrepieces of the election campaign and drawing large audiences.

        1 The Tories’ share of the vote under Boris was higher even than Labour’s was in the Blair landslide in 1997 (43.6% vs 43.2%).

        • Bayard

          “The Tories have had seven different leaders in the past 25 years – but have never received a higher share of the vote in a General Election than with Boris* .”

          That still isn’t evidence that it wasn’t a coincidence. There is no control experiment, so we do not know how i) the Tories would have fared under a different leader (just the same is my guess), nor ii) how Johnson would have fared with a different platform (not so well). The Tories’ masterstroke was to realise that enough Labour Leavers would vote for Leave before they voted for a Labour party at war with itself and that few enough Tory Remainers would vote for Remain before they voted for the Tories to give them a majority.

          “many people in England, Scotland & Wales like both him and his policies”

          They are not his policies, they are the policies of the Conservative party. The people who liked them would still have liked them under another leader.

          “UK General Elections are more about party leaders than ever, with the televised leaders’ debates now forming the centrepieces of the election campaign and drawing large audiences.”

          Exactly, the MSM want the GEs to be a gladatorial contest between the party leaders, which is why their coverage of the GEs is so biassed in that direction. That doesn’t mean that a large number of the electorate are actually persuaded by it.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks again for your reply Bayard. The 2019 general election was emphatically won by the Tories due to a combination of their right-wing populist policies and Boris’s personal popularity. Personal likeability is important for politicians1, not least because policies can change in an instant, and explains more than anything why Starmzy isn’t doing far better in the polls.

            Obviously I’ve no way of proving this, but I firmly believe that if Boris had become PM in 2016 instead of Theresa May (and I’m still confused as to exactly why he didn’t) and gone to the polls in 2017, he would have got sufficient majority to have delivered a soft Brexit shortly after, whatever shenanigans Starmzy & co were trying to pull. But he didn’t – so here we are.

            1 In normal life too, if you’re a likeable, fun guy, you can come out with all sorts of shit and people will make excuses for you. It’s just how (most) human beings work – you don’t have to do control experiments, you just have to pay attention to what’s going on around you.

          • Bayard

            “Personal likeability is important for politicians*, not least because policies can change in an instant, and explains more than anything why Starmzy isn’t doing far better in the polls.”

            Unfortunately for your argument, Johnson wasn’t facing Starmer in the last GE, he was facing the far more popular Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn had much higher popularity ratings than Johnson but he still lost.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks again for your reply Bayard. Boris may have been less popular in December 2019 than Corbyn was in June 2017, but he was more popular than Corbyn was in Dec 2019 when it mattered:


            Anyway, my point is that Corbyn was popular *because* of his left-wing policies – and leftie reputation in general. If he was just another figure on the Labour right, he’d have been a bland no-mark.

          • Bayard

            “but he was more popular than Corbyn was in Dec 2019 when it mattered:”

            No, you, and the Sky News article are conflating personal popularity with votes. Just because lots more people voted for Johnson’s party in the 2019 GE than voted for Corbyn’s party does not mean that Johnson was personally more popular than Corbyn. Voters vote for party, policy and candidate in that order. Personal popularity of the leader comes somewhere in that list, but not anything like consistently at the top, no matter how much the MSM, which have their own agenda, might want to persuade us is the case.

            “Anyway, my point is that Corbyn was popular *because* of his left-wing policies – and leftie reputation in general. If he was just another figure on the Labour right, he’d have been a bland no-mark.”

            No, he had personal popularity as well. Starmer with the same policies would not have done half so well as he (Starmer) has no charisma. In any case that argument cuts both ways. You can’t logically argue that people voted for the Tories because they liked Johnson, but voted for Labour because they liked their policies and that Corbyn had nothing to do with it. There is the small matter of Brexit to be taken into account.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks again for your reply Bayard. The Sky News article was specifically concerned with party leader popularity ratings, not GE results. According to their polling, Boris was a lot more popular than Corbyn in Dec 2019. Of course, most people vote for party above all else – that’s just tribalism – but the leader’s popularity is important and can make the difference between winning or losing an election. Here’s an example. Look at the national poll of polls chart for 2021/22:


            From Dec 2021 to Feb 2022, the Tories fell from 37% to 32%. That was entirely due to Partygate – in particular the photo on the No 10 terrace emerging – which at that time was believed to involve no senior Tory politicians other than Boris. The Tories’ policies hadn’t changed during that time. So that’s at least 5 percentage points of the Tory vote that can be directly attributed to Boris’s popularity. (Some of their earlier decline in the second half of 2021 can be attributed to Carrie Antoinette’s ‘Wallpaper-gate’ saga, which again affected Boris’s popularity.)

            If Starmzy was – or had remained – a leftie and been voted Labour leader in 2015, he’d have been just as popular as Corbyn was, and maybe more so. Of course he has no charisma, but then did Blair really? Can you think of one amusing or witty thing Blair has ever said?

          • Bayard

            “From Dec 2021 to Feb 2022, the Tories fell from 37% to 32%. That was entirely due to Partygate – in particular the photo on the No 10 terrace emerging – which at that time was believed to involve no senior Tory politicians other than Boris.”

            That was a poll, not a vote at a GE. As many party leaders know to their cost, the two are not the same. I would agree that things like personal popularity make a difference in opinion polls, but that doesn’t mean it translates into votes.That’s the problem with opinion polls, people lie.

            “If Starmzy was – or had remained – a leftie and been voted Labour leader in 2015, he’d have been just as popular as Corbyn was, and maybe more so. “

            Quite possibly, but if Starmer was a leftie, he wouldn’t have come within spitting distance of the Labour leadership. Corbyn was seen as a change away from party leaders being Establishment puppets. Basically you are saying that if Starmer was Corbyn, he would have been as popular as Corbyn. Even then, given his history, I doubt it. Corby is at his best addressing a crowd. I have yet to see any evidence that Starmer is.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks again for your reply Bayard. In terms of predicting vote share opinion polls are pretty accurate. It’s harder for them to accurately predict small overall majorities versus hung parliaments due to the intricacies of the first-past-the-post system. The 5% fall in predicted Tory vote share from Dec 2021 to Feb 2022 is almost certainly real – even if some ‘shy Tories’ are lying to pollsters, why would a lot more of them suddenly start lying in 2022? Starmzy won the Labour leadership by pretending to be a bit of leftie, so why wouldn’t he have won it if he actually was one? Corbyn is at his best addressing a *supportive* crowd – as are almost all politicians, including Sir Keith.

  • Goose

    The pandemic seems to have been leveraged by the party control freaks to further their power grab. Nicola Sturgeon appears to have become the archetypal ‘Ivory Tower’ politician; surrounded by fawning sycophants. She occasionally talks about independence – supposedly the party’s raison d’être – but it’s truly a bizarre strategy if they’e serious about pursuing a 2nd referendum, this planning to go from a cold start to the chequered flag without so much as a formation lap.

    On wider establishment control. The recent court revelations than dozens of Covert intelligence (CI) officers working closely with domestic spy agency MI5, monitored the minuscule, irrelevant Socialist Workers Party (SWP) from 1982-2007 (10 years under New Labour note). Dedicating all those resources to – a perfectly legal party, with as far as I know, no history of violence – is hard to fathom or justify.

    That they’d do such a thing to a harmless little political party with zero chance of exercising any political power, raises the question: what resources and effort would the establishment commit to a party like Labour – a party almost certain to get their turn in power at some point?

    Our so-called democratic choice could be a complete sham. Little wonder the likes of Blair, Mandelson, now Starmer and Reeves don’t support proportional representation for Westminster. How would the establishment infiltrate & control politics under a potentially multi-party PR system where post-election horse trading was the norm? No doubt they see any subverting of democracy via interference in our two-party system, as being ‘for the greater good’?

    • Bayard

      ” Nicola Sturgeon appears to have become the archetypal ‘Ivory Tower’ politician; surrounded by fawning sycophants.”

      Perhaps there’s something in the name – which other leader springs to mind?

  • Lapsed Agnostic

    Whatever the Hate Mail thinks – or thought a decade ago – can we finally put to bed this idea that the US invaded Afghanistan for its (tiny) gas reserves, or so that Unocal could build a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan (which still hasn’t been built 20 years on)? In reality, the US invaded because Al-Qaeda had recently flown two airliners into the twin towers killing nearly 3000 people, and the Taliban wouldn’t hand its figurehead Osama bin Laden over to them. In the words of William of Ockham, things shouldn’t be needlessly complicated.

    As for massively increased Afghan heroin production this century, this was largely due to tens of thousands of hectares of former desert land in the southern provinces becoming available to the burgeoning population for poppy cultivation because of the drilling of wells and use of diesel pumps to access ground water, as well as a much increased number of labs in Afghanistan itself – all made possible by an open, growing economy with substantial aid flows. NATO didn’t have the resources to eradicate it, and if they had, would have been faced with numerous insurrections – as will the Taliban if they attempt to enforce their recent ban during the main planting season later this year.

    • T

      “the Taliban wouldn’t hand its figurehead Osama bin Laden over to them”

      It’s been known for many years now that isn’t true. They offered to hand him over but for some reason the offer was refused.

      Not only was it a needless, pointless war, but the Americans have responded to their defeat by deliberately starving millions of innocent Afghans.

      Doesn’t matter though cos NATO Good, Putin Evil or something.

      • Goose

        Cummings is being accused of echoing Russian talking points by Nick Cohen, in an eviscerating piece in the guardian.

        “As it turned out, Cummings was the bullshit that was dispensed with. Luckily for Ukrainians, Johnson fired him.”

        A far cry from the brave, ‘wise’ Cummings that paper was hailing very recently, when Cummings was busily laying into his old boss over ‘partygate’. Cohen even squeezes in one of his routine attacks on his bête noire, Corbyn, over his perceived overly cautious response to the fantastical events in Salisbury.

        Actually starting to respect Cummings as a truly independent political observer and commentator. For if anyone thought he’d been coopted into being a tool of the anti-Johnson wing of the establishment, then these off-message views on Ukraine put that belief to rest. He calls things as he sees them, which, whether you agree with him or not, is refreshing.

        • Laguerre

          I was surprised to discover from google just now that Nick Cohen was born in Britain. I had always thought from his writings that he was a typical New York Jew, transplanted to UK. Nothing local in his thoughts.

          • Goose

            I find the guardian’s political stance baffling these days. They clearly despise Johnson in the same way Trump is hated by US liberals. But quite what change they think Starmer represents?
            Many of their readers seem to have projected onto Starmer progressive values; seeing him as a leader who’ll work with other parties to usher in proportional representation, or rejoin the EU customs Union and single market. The reality is he’ll do nothing of the sort.

            For Starmer hasn’t got a progressive bone in his body, he’s a right-wing reactionary conservative. Seemingly put into play to stymie any meaningful change in this country. The sooner the guardian columnists and their readers wake up to this fact, the better for everyone.

          • Peter


            “I find the guardian’s political stance baffling these days.”

            It’s really not hard to understand.

            The Guardian, like the BBC and (Sir) Keir Staliner, is a tool of the Establishment.

            That’s all you need to know.

          • Goose


            I think many of the columnists and readers, the ‘Starmer Stans’ – reference to the Eminem song about a fictional obsessed fan called Stan – some of those people really do believe Starmer shares their progressive values.

            That’s what I find so baffling and depressing. They don’t seem to understand that Starmer’s near zero impact in the two years plus he’s been Labour leader, isn’t strategic, it reflects his lack of imagination, his valueless politics.

          • Peter


            I do think people are waking up to the reality of Staliner. There is much talk of removing him in the Labour Party, though the alleged favourite to succeed him – Wes Streeting – would be little different or better.

            Also, I think Staliner’s role has been very carefully crafted and is entirely strategic. It’s just that winning the next election is not his primary aim. Some believe he is actually out to destroy the Labour Party. If so, he could hardly be doing a better job. Other’s would say he is just out to smash the left and seeking to ensure that they never achieve power again. He is clearly out to do that, and again, he could hardly be doing a better job.

            Following the Establishment’s revulsion at the experience of Corbyn, Staliner is simply carrying out their wishes.

            Some time ago you and I had an exchange here about whether or not the Labour left should stay in the party or leave to form a new party. At the time I recall, I think, that you were in favour of a new party whilst I argued for staying in, saying that our Syriza moment had not yet arrived. But things in the Labour Party are getting so bad now that I am increasingly moving to the view that there is a need for a new party.

            You may be aware that Oliver Eagleton has recently published a political biography of Staliner. He gives a very good interview about the book and Staliner here:


          • Bayard

            But things in the Labour Party are getting so bad now that I am increasingly moving to the view that there is a need for a new party.”

            The problem about forming a new party, as the SDP discovered, is that you lose all the “red ribbon round a monkey” votes.

          • Bayard

            “Farage seemed to manage it.”

            How many MPs did UKIP get elected to Parliament? What Farage managed was to take enough votes from the Conservatives that he was a threat to them. He did that because his was a single-issue party. No-one knew where UKIP stood on any policy apart from membership of the EU and no-one was really interested. The SDP demonstrated the futility of having a breakaway party attempting to appeal to voters over a full-spectrum platform.

          • Peter


            Firstly, let me be clear, I am no supporter or admirer of Farage, although I did vote for Brexit and remain pro-Brexit.

            However, Farage formed a new party, the Brexit Party, and won a national election – the 2019 European Election – within six months. MPs or no MPs that’s not to be sniffed at.

            Syriza was formed in 2004 and together with Tsipras won the national election in 2014, smashing the two-party duopoly and transplanting Pasok, the centre-left party which by then was little different from the centre-right party, as the main centre-left party.

            Since (Sir) Keir Staliner has been elected leader of the Labour Party there has been an ongoing discussion, in the media and elsewhere, asking ‘what does the Labour Party stand for?’. There ought to be no doubt about what the Labour Party stands for but there is because Staliner is eviscerating it of all it should stand for. He is in the process of Americanising the party and taking it to the war-mongering right of the Tories.

            You may have noticed what a nauseating mess American politics has become. If the (former?) Labour Party continues in that direction there will be a gaping hole and a desperate need for a new party in British politics. A hole and need that would open the way for a new party, with competent leadership (which, I’ll grant you, is pretty hard to find) to be as successful as Tsipras and Farage have been previously.

            I said I was moving in that direction, I’m not there yet, but if the Labour Party continues in this direction with no sign of a change I soon will be.

          • Bayard

            “However, Farage formed a new party, the Brexit Party, and won a national election – the 2019 European Election – within six months. MPs or no MPs that’s not to be sniffed at.”

            Sorry, I’m going to sniff at that. Almost no-one in the UK gave a toss about EU elections. It would have been more impressive if UKIP had taken control of a medium-sized local authority.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply T. The Taliban initially only offered to put OBL on trial in their courts if the US supplied evidence of his involvement in 9/11 – of which it’s likely the US had none, seeing as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was its mastermind. A few days after the invasion started, they said that they would allow him to be put on trial in an unspecified third-party country if the US would call it off. The US rejected this offer, presumably because it was in full swing and was going well for them, and they thought that OBL would soon be killed or captured. The US had also initially demanded that al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan be closed and made available for inspection by US observers, but the Taliban made no response to this request.

        Agree with you about the US’s recent treatment of the Afghan people: $40 billion for Ukraine, nothing for Afghanistan. If anyone wants to help them, here is the DEC website:

        • Laguerre

          The US has never offered proof of its claims. We have to take them as presented. MH17 was the best case. No proof of who bombed it, just we have to accept what we’re given.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Laguerre. Flight MH17 wasn’t bombed; it was hit by a Buk surface-to-air missile, fired from a launcher in the east, whilst travelling over separatist-held territory. This was all determined by a Dutch-led investigation team who visited the crash-site shortly afterwards, and strongly indicates that it was the separatists who were responsible – probably accidentally.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply, andy. I can answer that simple question: it was because, unlike now, very few people in the West cared about what was happening in eastern Ukraine on 17th July 2014, which undermines anyone who claims that it’s been trying to start a war (proxy or otherwise) with Russia for over a decade. Anyway, for anyone who’s interested, here’s a good Twitter thread on what happened on that fateful day:


          • Bayard

            “Nobody has answered this very simple question – why was a civilian airliner allowed to fly over a warzone? ”

            Never underestimate the power of incompetence.

      • Bramble

        I’d question the term “figurehead” too, He was a guest. There are rules about hospitality, or were once upon a time. And they did offer to hand him over – if evidence of his guilt was produced and to a third country. Bush’s response was: “There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.” The same arrogance we see in the refusal to negotiate with Russia, and for that matter in the demand that Mr Assange be extradited. (This was written back in the day before the Guardian became a total tool of the secret “intelligence” services.)

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your reply Bramble. I meant that OBL was a figurehead for al-Qaeda, not the Taliban. I’m aware of the Pashtun tradition of offering hospitality and asylum, which they call Pashtunwali. I’m also aware that Americans sometimes shoot first and ask questions later – if at all. None of this means that the War in Afghanistan was about oil & gas.

          • Bramble

            Oh, definitely a figurehead for al-Qaeda. Agree. Hospitality used to be a widely accepted norm far further afield than Afghanistan. Western attitudes to immigrants and refugees suggest it has totally corroded away in these nations today.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks again for your reply Bramble. We’ll never know for sure, but I’d have put money on OBL not even being aware of the 9/11 plot until after the twin towers had fallen.

    • Jen

      I’m pretty sure the US invaded Afghanistan b/c the country was sitting on something like US$3 billion (at least) worth of rare earth and other minerals. Plus the Taliban had the temerity to ask the US during negotiations some months before 9/11 for some hundred million greenbacks to help with building infrastructure if the US wanted access to all those Afghan minerals: the reply was something along the lines “we will carpet you in bombs” at which point the Taliban broke off negotiating.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply Jen. Afghanistan may well be sitting on $3 billion or more’s worth of rare earths etc, but they’re not worth anywhere near that much in the ground1. Even if they were, the US has spent about $1 trillion on the War in Afghanistan (over 300 [THREE HUNDRED] times more) – and will have to spend another $1 trillion in pay-outs for injured troops.

        Do you have a source for the “we will carpet you in bombs” remark?

        1 For example, Scotgold’s Coronish gold mine contains nearly 200,000 ounces of confirmed gold reserves – plus it has prospective mines elsewhere in Scotland. An ounce of gold currently changes hands for about $1800, but Scotgold’s market value is nowhere near $360 million (200,000 x $1800). This is because it costs a lot of money to get gold (as well as other metals) out of the ground.

        • Jen

          The source for the “carpet of gold / carpet of bombs” is a book published in France, “Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth” by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in November 2001.

          “… Further light on secret contacts between the Bush administration and the Taliban regime is shed by a book released November 15 in France, entitled Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth, written by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie. Brisard is a former French secret service agent, author of a previous report on bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, and former director of strategy for the French corporation Vivendi, while Dasquie is an investigative journalist.

          The two French authors write that the Bush administration was willing to accept the Taliban regime, despite the charges of sponsoring terrorism, if it cooperated with plans for the development of the oil resources of Central Asia.

          Until August, they claim, the US government saw the Taliban “as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia.” It was only when the Taliban refused to accept US conditions that “this rationale of energy security changed into a military one.”

          By way of corroboration, one should note the curious fact that neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban regime. Such a designation would have made it impossible for an American oil or construction company to sign a deal with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

          Talks between the Bush administration and the Taliban began in February 2001, shortly after Bush’s inauguration. A Taliban emissary arrived in Washington in March with presents for the new chief executive, including an expensive Afghan carpet. But the talks themselves were less than cordial. Brisard said, “At one moment during the negotiations, the US representatives told the Taliban, ‘either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs’.”…”

          : Patrick Martin, “US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11” (WSWS, November 2001)

          See also this CNN news transcript that refers to the book.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks very much for your reply Jen, and for providing the source. So some former French secret service agent – the US & French security services being well-renowned for their close co-operation – who had a book to sell, claimed that unnamed US representatives made the remark. Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele claims that Putin was controlling Trump with kompromat – so that must be true as well, despite the fact the Putin chose to invade Ukraine during the Biden presidency.

            Of course Unocal, who had some links to US powerbrokers, had expressed an interest in co-operating with the Taliban to build the pipeline. That was scuppered when al-Qaeda bombed the US embassies in Kenya & Tanzania in 1998, but if aim of invading Afghanistan was to enable it to be built, why didn’t that happen at some point from 2002-2005 when the Taliban had mostly fled and Afghanistan was relatively peaceful?

  • Enness Hay

    I wonder how much money is being made by ‘OUR’ death dealers here in Britain ? It’s ”’quite a lot”’ in the U$A. Checkout the yt video ‘Weapons 4 Ukraine (& Military Industrial Complex)’ by Matt Orfalea. It also shows their media’s blatant pushing to extend the war !!!

      • Goose

        Probably much truth in that.

        When inventories of missiles, bullets, bombs etc become full, you need to either use it (or as with so-called ‘lethal aid’ – give them away). The alternative being to close production lines and lay off skilled workers at these manufacturing plants. There’s this ugly necessity for continuous wars to facilitate the continual replenishment cycles; keep the production lines running and to justify ballooning govt budget expenditure on defence. The military industrial complex is real and it’s true for Russia and China too, no doubt, albeit to a lesser degree. China hasn’t really flexed its military muscle…yet. But it seems inevitable at some point they will.

        • Pears Morgaine

          The other alternative is that the munitions stockpiled become obsolete and have to be replaced with the old kit either being scrapped, passed onto reserve units or sold.

          • Goose

            But even obsolescence is problematic.

            The US is certainly trapped in a vicious circle of needing continuous wars and exaggerated new ‘ emerging threats’ to justify defence expenditure to the population. As a result US citizens are the most propagandised in the Western world.

            They spend more than the next 11 countries combined on defence, while their domestic infrastructure; bridges and schools etc crumble or lag behind the best in the world. They can’t even provide free healthcare to their citizens.

  • Crispa

    As Orwell thought the question “What is Fascism? unanswerable, and how the “F-word” word is used makes it virtually meaningless, are we not continuing attempts to find an answer only likely to make the question more unanswerable?

  • Fred Dagg

    This is all getting rather repetitive, to the point that one has to ask: “Is this blog a mirror-image of the SNP’s studied reluctance to go for independence?”. By which I mean that in each post all the right boxes are ticked but the logical conclusion(s) are never drawn.

    As I posted six months ago:

    “You are correct in all your critiques of the State, both UK and worldwide, and in the more particular cases of Julian Assange, media corruption, the rights of dispossessed peoples around the world, etc. And yet in your recent online discussion with John Pilger, Roger Waters and others on the subject of JA, there was exasperation at what further action could be taken to widen concern with the situation outside the ‘activist bubble’. It was almost as if Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?” had not been read by anyone present…and, of course, it hasn’t because all good liberals are not only “not really Socialists” but also generally vehemently anti-Communist.

    So what? Well, the disavowal of mass, structured resistance to the mass, structured reaction of the capitalist State and its apparatuses means that your various critiques are as ‘powerful’ in the wider world as peas bouncing off the armour of a Tiger tank.”

    The ‘hard shell’ of liberal ideology, from your philosophical idealism/empiricism downwards, is blocking your political progress, determining that, at its core, your belief system is only separated from those you criticise by a patina of virtue. Basically, you need to ask yourself whether this blog is merely a means of earning a living or a real contribution to overturning “the system”. One is either for or against Capitalism, there is no ‘middle ground’, and if one is “for it”, then most of your output is merely ‘pissing into the wind’. Sorry, but it has to be said.

    • Anna

      Very well said, Fred. The problem is how to resuscitate the alternatives to capitalism and I expect Craig Murray doesn’t know how and so his focusing his energies elsewhere.

    • Bayard

      “One is either for or against Capitalism, there is no ‘middle ground’,”

      Only true if you are unable to rationalise anything outside an extreme Dualistic framework. In the real world, neutrality is always an option.

      • Fred Dagg

        The two fundamental characteristics of the capitalist mode of production are:

        1. that the natural resources of the world are held as private property by (capitalist) individuals/corporations;
        2. that, as a “wealth-creating” system, it is based on the theft of labour-power.

        Some things are binary, the most fundamental one being whether one is alive or dead (pedant alert 1: I am fully aware that technology can now keep dead people “alive”). Similarly, the question of whether the natural resources of the world should be held as private or communal property has no ‘middle’ position. Finally, while on the surface the theft point may seem to be one only of morality and thus not amenable to scientific study, as I have posted before in relation to over-production, the “logic” of capitalist theft leads precisely to the permanent (unsuccessful) struggle of the system to avoid crises. The notion of “neutrality” on all these questions is meaningless.

        Pedant alert 2: I am fully aware that the term Socialism describes the transition period between Capitalism and Communism and could therefore be regarded as a ‘middle position’. However, since it represents a period of constant class struggle (one only has to look at the post-revolutionary histories of the USSR and China), no rational person would desire it as their “end of history” (which begs the question “Why do the Labour Party want it?”, but that is a question for another day).

        • Bayard

          “The two fundamental characteristics of the capitalist mode of production are:

          1. that the natural resources of the world are held as private property by (capitalist) individuals/corporations;
          2. that, as a “wealth-creating” system, it is based on the theft of labour-power.”

          That’s a fairly Humpty-Dumpty definition of capitalism. A more commonly-accepted definition is (Merriam-Webster)

          “Definition of capitalism
          : an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”

          or, (

          “an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.”

  • john

    Meanwhile in Turkey, it appears that annualised consumer inflation is somewhere between 70 – 150%, depending on whose figures you believe.

    Would make interesting reading if Craig would report from “the street” on this, since Erdogan clearly regards this issue as existential in regard to next year’s elections.

    (Disclaimer: being a coward in regard to the authorities, I wouldn’t dare to do this, life is too short as it is ;- )

    • Giyane

      Inflation in Turkey is created by USUK currency markets as a punishment for Erdoğan profiteering from the Syrian war in a very conspicuous way. USUK gets infuriated when its minions expose their criminal operations to the daylight of public knowledge. A continual line of Tankers of stolen oil out of Mosul was photoed by Russian planes. Hence the planned revenge against Russia in Ukraine.

      When in a hole, stop digging. Defeat in Ukraine is going to drive the already apoplectic Biden administration into Dalek Emergency Emergency mode. 101 USUK Poodles are switching allegiance to Russia and China to get away from Cruella de Vil.

  • Ewan Maclean

    Russia has employed a version of the legal argument NATO used to bomb Serbia. Russia is condemned for a lawless act. Does anyone know the legal ins-and-outs? I think the ICJ found NATO’s actions “illegal but justified” or some such formulation.

  • joel

    As regards NATO expansion, we’re told to believe that every know-nothing in British politics and media has a better take than all experts on the issue going back to George Kennan. As you say, the problem is they now allow literally no opening to challenge them. The mediocrities monopolize all public discourse, speak with one voice and demonize all dissent. They know that when there is not a sliver of alternative argument allowed in the mass media or Parliament they become right by default.

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