Activist Saturday 81

On Saturday we try to put Hands Around Parliament in opposition to the extradition of Julian Assange. Human chains are being formed in support internationally in many different countries.

It is more important than ever that we stand up for human rights, freedom of speech and the right to oppose US military hegemony and expose its crimes. Threats to the right to protest are multiplying at home, and the war in Ukraine has driven to an extreme degree the regimentation of the entire state and corporate media behind a single and extremely partial narrative.

The total destruction of Julian Assange as a demonstration of the untrammeled hegemonic power of the United States is very much the aim of the political establishment.

We are gathering at 1pm on Saturday at Westminster. Because the Houses of Parliament border the river, a human chain around them involves crossing two bridges of the Thames and a distance of several miles. It is therefore a logistical challenge that will require many thousands of people and a fair amount of patience and getting into position.

There is a real worry that transport strikes – which I fully support as workers have been exploited too long and too easily – will reduce the numbers, so I absolutely urge everybody who can get themselves to Westminster to make a special effort to do so.

Sadly I will now have to miss the simultaneous Yestival event in George Square, Glasgow, which had been rescheduled due to the Queen’s funeral. I do urge everyone in Scotland to get to that; the AUOB event last Saturday in Edinburgh showed the attendance for Independence campaigning is starting to grow again, and it is important that we retain the momentum.

This week saw the death of the great Ian Hamilton KC. I have written before that one of the happiest nights of my life was a dinner at Gordon and Edith Wilson’s home in Broughty Ferry forty years ago, when I sat next to Ian Hamilton and he retold the story of liberating the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey.

They had become adept at smuggling around large heavy broadcast equipment as they ran the pirate radio station Radio Free Scotland, which in those days needed a lot of bulky and heavy gear. They frequently had to shift from tenement to tenement as the police were searching for them to close the station down. So they had lifting harnesses and tackle and were adept at smuggling around boxes much the size, if not the weight, of the Stone of Scone.

The aim, of course, was publicity for Independence, then a fringe cause. None of them particularly believed Westminster housed the real Stone of Scone, which all the early sources describe as black rock and not sandstone. King Edward had been sold a dummy.

The daring and audacity of Ian Hamilton should be an inspiration to us. It is not wrong to break the laws of the colonial power. The London Supreme Court will shortly rule that Scotland has no power to hold an independence referendum. The only correct reaction to that is – well they would say that, wouldn’t they?

No London court can deny the Scottish people their inalienable right to self-determination.

I have spent the entire week in bed with an absolutely horrible cold, and now all of me hurts. This is the first time for four days I could look at the screen to blog without an unbearable headache. I shall however get to Westminster on Saturday, just to be one link in that chain.

I will be flying (which I generally avoid where possible) very early on Saturday morning after with Nadira seeing the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform Saint Saens Symphony No. 3 on Friday night. This is one of my favourite pieces of music. It requires a large orchestra, concert organ and two pianos so is not performed that often.

I have never seen it live. I have been trying for fifty years. On about eight occasions I have had tickets to see it and not been able to get there. I seem to be fated. This has happened to me all round the world including in London, Edinburgh, Warsaw, Vienna and Paris. Funnily enough it has generally been something urgent cropping up in work/activism, rather than illness or family crisis, that has kept me away.

The last time was in Edinburgh, and it was some large Independence event I was invited to speak at, I think during the 2014 referendum, that stopped me using my tickets. I recall telling my friend Hugh Kerr, who was unsympathetic as he’s not a Saint-Saens fan, and infuriatingly he was going anyway!

I don’t generally have this problem. I must have seen Bruch’s first violin concerto, possibly my very favourite, a dozen times. This problem is peculiar to Saint Saens third symphony.

So this Friday nothing is stopping me, even though it means a 6.00am flight the next morning.

When I started this blog it used to be much more personal. Nowadays, with a vastly larger readership, some people don’t enjoy it when I tell something of myself. But I think it is important to emphasise that these articles are the thoughts of a very ordinary person, at this moment feeling pretty rotten, who has a life outside thinking about politics and society. We have, after all, to live in society.


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81 thoughts on “Activist Saturday

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  • Allan Howard

    So I got to where you mention Saint Saens Symphony No. 3 Craig, and that it’s one of your favourite pieces of classical music and, not being familiar with it, opened another tab and went on to youtube and selected one of the results and started playing it. And then returned to your article to finish reading it, and then at the end of it discover that you’ve put a link to the same video!

    Psychic, or what!

    One of my favorite pieces is the first movement of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf’s Sinfonie No.4 in F Major (best played in a darkened room in the early hours of the morning):

    Hope you make it this time!

  • Grhm

    I hope you are fully recovered from your cold. If not, for the sake of the other concert-goers please do remember to take plenty of cough sweets!

  • Laguerre

    At least John Bolton is an unlikeable and poor advocate for US hegemony, and putting Assange in jail. Put him on air, and many will turn off – mentally if not physically turning off the telly. It is not surprising that his career never really took off, though he was given posts by several Republican presidents. Too wooden, too unthinkingly hawkish. So quite a good choice by Piers Morgan, as everyone will prefer Stella’s version.

    • T

      He’s not put on air all the time because TV producers think he will discredit US imperialism. They support Bolton and his worldview with all their heart.

  • Roger

    There are a lot of unpleasant people among US neocons, but John Bolton is more dangerous than most because he’s articulate and intelligent. A lot of people label evil people “stupid”, the classic mistake of underestimating the enemy; Bolton, unfortunately, is far from stupid.

    Bolton is gung-ho for the Wolfowitz Doctrine (every non-American should read about the Wolfowitz Doctrine). US politicians say in public that it isn’t policy. But if you look at their actions, it obviously is. They want hegemony over the entire planet, and they’ll take risks to get that. Even the risk of all-out thermonuclear war, killing all of us.

    • T

      This is why Bolton is invited to air his opinions so regularly on BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 News. They want to indoctrinate their viewers with a fanatical US imperialist outlook.

    • mark golding

      John Bolton is of course Zelensky’s handler:

      Ukrainian President Zelensky meets with Trump advisor Bolton (AFP News Agency, 28 Aug 2019) – YouTube, 0m 58s

      Recently, Zelensky called on his Western masters to deliver a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia which he denies. However we all remember how Zelensky declared in January Ukraine’s intention to acquire nuclear weapons. Apparently, this idea has long been stuck in his mind.

      I am certain that RAND corps is pulling strings in Ukraine and the bottom-line, the imperative is identifying ZELENSKY as a fool, willing to apply Rands filthy Ukraine conflict intensification influenced by the strategy of the late Albert Wohlstetter, the mate of war-monger Wolfowitz.

      Rands most visible contribution may be the doctrine of nuclear deterrence by mutually assured destruction (MAD), developed under the guidance of then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and based upon their work with game theory. Chief strategist Herman Kahn also posited the idea of a “winnable” nuclear exchange in his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War.

    • Laguerre

      “John Bolton is more dangerous than most because he’s articulate and intelligent.”

      Nah, he’s a sort of Rees-Mogg. he’s never made a go of his career. He’s often given a post, because he fits ideologically. But it never works out. He was only something at the end of Trump’s presidency, because Trump had run out of other candidates (more competent figures having had a row with Trump and resigned). He’s like a piece of wood with a monotonic message.

    • john

      Yea Roger, I have seen him interviewed twice, first time was with Tucker Carlsen. Tucker’s honesty really highlighted the pathological dishonesty and arrogance of Bolton, as they discussed American interference in Syria at the time. That was before I warmed to Carlsen, but still, I felt really sorry for him having to deal with such a complete turd.

      Second time was just today, in an interview hosted by Piers Morgan, where Stella Assange debated him.
      In the short space of a few minutes he demonstrated the same pathology, but in addition towards the end he actually menaced the Wapo and NYT for daring to speak of journalists’ 1st Amendment rights.
      What an utter c*nt!!

  • SA

    Lovely symphony and brings back lots of memories from a different age. The organ in the last movement is so monumental and elevating.

  • Fat Jon

    Here’s wishing you a full recovery; but my paranoia leads me to wonder if it is wise to reveal detailed information about your travel arrangements to those who get paid to read your blog?

  • Cliff Moore

    Hope to see you tomorrow, Craig. I’ll be there though I usually avoid demos and such like. This one is vitally important. I also come from Harlow Essex where Hugh Kerr used to live. I was there on the night he was elected an MEP.

  • john

    In Norway today the globalist circle jerk nominated one Belarussian and one Russian for the Nobel Peace Prize.
    Naturally, opponents of the “regimes”.
    Julian Assange didn’t make it.

    Prime Minister Støre admonished the Russians thusly:

    “I hope the Russian authorities read the Nobel Committee’s reasoning and take it to heart.
    In the jury’s reasoning, it is stated that the prize winners have made an outstanding effort in documenting war crimes, violations of human rights and abuse of power.”

    It would have been SO much more honest to award Julian Assange the Nobel Peace Prize based on these criteria, and of course, admonish the American authorities thusly.

    Not gonna happen of course.
    Reminds me a bit of a skit from the ’60s on our class system.
    Ronnie Barker plays Støre.

    • Jimmeh

      > It would have been SO much more honest to award Julian Assange the Nobel Peace Prize based on these criteria

      Nice point, well-made, I haven’t read about those Nobel awards yet. I’m scratching my head to think of the last Nobel Peace Prize award that wasn’t hard to explain. The ones that leap to mind are Kissinger, Aung Sang Suu Khyi, The EU, Barak Obama, and Shimon Peres/Yitazakh Rabin/Yasser Arafat. [Yes, I picked out bizarre ones]

  • Republicofscotland

    More power to you, however I doubt a ring of bodies around parliament will change the minds of those who want to extradite Assange, a million plus didn’t stop the illegal war in Iraq, and the corporate media will be scathing if the ring doesn’t meet at both ends.

    As for the Yestival its cancelling by Police Scotland and whoever else further up the chain of command, so as not to draw attention away from the Ruritanian bollocks that was the royal state funeral, is another sign of what’s more important to the House Jock gatekeepers in Scotland.

    Nice piece of music, I’m more of a Carnival of Animals (The Swan) man myself.

  • dearieme

    I doubt that protesting at the abysmal treatment of Assange will achieve much. What you need is some “material” that might be used to persuade the US Feds to back down. The obvious possibilities include undeniable evidence of (i) Biden’s personal corruption, or (ii) vote-rigging in the last presidential election that changed the result, or (iii) proof that it was the USA that punctured Putin’s pipelines.

    In other words you need some bargaining material. Is there really no whistle-blower anywhere who might provide the required info?

    It sounds a very long shot but I wonder whether Donald J Trump has anything useful in his presidential papers.

    • Stevie Boy

      Unfortunately the fact is that Biden could appear on TV biting the heads off babies and it wouldn’t affect things one jot. It’s obvious that he has mental issues, it’s obvious that with his son he’s corrupt, how much evidence do we need ?
      It was exactly the same with Boris Johnson – they can do what they want as long as the establishment is protected.

      • Lysias

        Garland Nixon was on George Galloway’s show today. He (Nixon) seems to expect a Republican landslide in next month’s midterms, partly because of gasoline prices, but also because of recent developments having to do with the war in Ukraine. Americans were apparently spooked by recent comments by Zelensky and Biden about nuclear weapons. And now Trump has called for negotiations to end the war.

  • RT Happe

    If the concert is going to be recorded, your cold might enable you to sneak in a cough or sneeze marking that special moment permanently. Needless to recommend pianissimi for that purpose since those seem to be respiratory irritants all by themselves.

  • JeremyT

    not important enough (me, that is) to fly, no trains.. so I’m surrounding Parliament from 300 miles away, wearing my ‘Assange is a political prisoner’ T shirt and attending local media events.
    I might try watching Collateral Murder in solidarity but I can’t get much beyond the first burst of gunfire that trashes the Reuters photographers nowadays. I imagine there are some in that outfit working to get today’s message out.
    Thoughts with Julian today.

  • Funn3r

    I feel somewhat mean-spirited for bringing this up but symphonies and stuff were what I was force-fed as child and I still thoroughly hate them. Growing up as poor Northern England working class I had of course never heard of St. Saens and his mates but it was made clear to me in the back row at school that classical music was the real deal and although I was obviously too thick to appreciate it I should still grit my teeth and listen through the dirges to their completion.

    Music hundreds of years old and requiring large orchestras is by definition “rich people’s music” as only they could afford all those instruments. My preference for a few scruffy guys with guitars was straightforward evidence both of my artistic and financial poverty, and of my allocated stratum in society.

    Having got that “off” my chest (it sits too heavily ever really to be lifted) I would like to wish Craig well on his trip and to wish well on the event overall, and upon Julian personally. Sadly I was on a train from London yesterday, which was not a strike day, and even so there were significant delays, so I have little confidence in large numbers attending today.

      • Stevie Boy

        For the rock fraternity, the entry path would have to be progressive Rock: Yes, Pink Floyd, even Deep Purple. For Guitar based fans try Flamenco (eg. Paco De Lucia) or Classical Guitar (eg. Segovia, Williams, Bream). You can also distract yourself with some eye candy (Khatia Buniatishvili comes to mind).
        Classical music is so much more than dirges and pretentious prats.

        • RT Happe

          By the way, conductor Paavo Järvi from the Saint-Saëns clip above started out drumming in the 1980’s Estonian prog rock band In Spe. As an album release blurb puts it:

          Paavo Järvi and Erkki-Sven Tüür first met in the 1970’s in Tallinn, becoming firm friends with a shared passion for percussion. In 1979 Tüür founded the progressive rock band In Spe, and invited the then 17 year old Paavo to join the band. But Järvi’s budding rock career was thwarted when his family emigrated to the States in 1980 where he went on to study conducting at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute with Leonard Bernstein. Back in Estonia Tüür’s band became a national success in the Soviet Union, alongside which he studied composing with Jaan Rääts (at the Tallinn Conservatoire) and Lepo Sumera (privately) and then went on to pursue his interest in electronic music in Karlsruhe. By the late 1980’s Tüür had embarked wholeheartedly on his path as a composer and is today widely regarded as one of Estonia’s leading composers, alongside Arvo Pärt. It was not until after Estonian Independence that Paavo Järvi was able to return to his homeland and since that time, the two friends have collaborated on numerous projects both at home and abroad.”

          That’s suit & tie rock, though, not really the scruffy kind.

    • Crispa

      The true ancestor of rock and roll is J.S Bach. Bill Halley, Elvis Presley and all that followed are variants. Solidarity of course with Julian Assange. Evidently the encirclement of Parliament was completed easily by the numbers present. Jeremy Corbyn as ever to the fore.

    • Observer2016

      Music hundreds of years old and requiring large orchestras is by definition “rich people’s music”

      A huge amount of classical music is available to everyone for free on youtube.

      • Bayard

        “A gay parade on a rainy day would gather 100 times more people. Do not expect a miracle.”

        Happily your gloomy prognostications were unfounded.

        • Yuri K

          On the one hand, I am glad I was wrong; on the other hand, if there were 1,000 or 2,500 or 5,000 people, this is still not enough to have any effect on the outcome. The COVID-19 protests in London gathered way more people but did they play any role? The protests began in April of 2020 and continued, most of the restrictions were finally lifted only in July 2021.

          • glenn_nl

            Sure, but…. Assange is a real person, banged up for no reason in an actual jail.

            Covid denialists were (and are) a bunch of total freaks and nutcases, fantastists and deluded morons who deserve nothing but pity and contempt, at best.

            Do you really not see the difference?

          • Bayard

            The positive effect of a successful demonstration may not be great, but the negative effect of an unsuccessful one can be huge. Hence, perhaps, Reuters reporting the number attending as “hundreds”. Instead of just ignoring it and looking biased, like the BBC, perhaps they realised that it was better to report it, but try to imply it was a flop and that only a few fanatics cared about Julian Assange.

  • Jon


    I came to London yesterday on a coach from the Midlands, some three-quarters full of Julian supporters. The mood was good on the way, but, like Craig, we had worried somewhat that the media blackout on Wikileaks had largely hidden the demo (and the wider issue) from view. Furthermore, there was only a skeleton train service from Birmingham, which was risky for people who needed to return on the same day. National Express coach availability was poor due to service overload.

    We need not have worried about attendance. Although some liberal papers reported that “hundreds” of supporters had turned out, there must have been several thousand. Initially there was some disorganisation as we wondered how to join in, so for a while we watched the friendly scrum of people around Jeremy Corbyn, and the gentle to-and-fro at the head of the demo. Several folks were there to give out police “crime scene” tape featuring the words “journalism is not a crime”. Strips of branded, numbered wristbands were available too. After some delay we were directed by demonstration organisers to follow the existing chain anti-clockwise, until the end was found.

    We followed the line for perhaps a kilometre, through the park, until a gap was found. The camaraderie was excellent, and activists would happily chat with the next person in the line, having only just met them. Many children and dogs were undoubtedly exhausted on the day. The spirit was excellent, and was reminiscent of the height of the UK antiwar movement from 15 years ago. We did several “chain joins” hand-in-hand, though it probably wasn’t very synchronised over such long distances! There was chanting and break-outs of applause.

    I am sure that Julian’s visitors will report to him the events of the day, and though his circumstances are dire, I hope the news brings him some joy. Several times our group commented on the tirelessness of Julian’s wife Stella, who is an impressive fighter.

    Finally: it was a pleasure to bump into Craig, who was found wearing out substantial amounts of shoe leather! It was good to see you, Craig.

    • nevermind

      Thanks for your excellent report of what really ocured in London yesterday, Jon , much appreciated.
      Not surprising that the gate keepers working in the media fail to realise that they are in the crosshair the moment they write real truthful articles and opinions.

      cowards, the lot of them. I hope Craig managed to get to enjoy the concert that he missed for decades.

  • T

    Not one word on BBC News last night about the protest and human chain for Julian Assange, but rolling coverage of protests in Iran 3,500 miles away. Another day on Normal Island.

    • Roger

      It’s funny, in a sick sort of way. Talk to people and you find:

      “I don’t watch Fox News because it’s far-right”

      “I don’t read the Morning Star because it’s far-left”

      But they both give fairly decent reports of the event, while the BBC etc. sweep it under the carpet.

      • DiggerUK

        News is news. Stella was interviewed by Piers Morgan on his show don’t forget. Peter Hitchens of the DailyMail regularly speaks out against Julian’s extradition.

        You can’t make a fool a bigger fool by giving them foolish things to read.
        You can’t make a wise person a fool by giving them foolish things to read.
        But you can make both wiser by letting them read whatever they want…_

      • glenn_nl

        Read a pretty decent book by Alex Brummer, financial correspondent for the Mail a couple of years back, ‘Britain for sale’. He denounces the asset stripping of UK institutions and infrastructure, in a manner unique to the UK. Not to mention the anathema of the country itself owning any of its own assets to Tory governments, even though foreign governments are quite welcome to own our railways etc.).

        Most of his arguments were totally sound, it was quite unlike anything one might have expected given the source.

        • Roger

          If you’re in the UK, Franc, you should be able to get to it. I read (and by using a proxy located in the UK. If my proxy can reach, you should be able to.

          It’s possible that your ISP has blocked its customers of its own accord, but UK law does not require it to. If it really is restricting what its customers can do, a complaint would seem to be in order. Or changing to a better ISP if a choice is available in your area.

      • Bayard

        “Thanks to Brexit, you can go to that link directly.”

        The UK is right with the EU on this one, Brexit or no Brexit. Mutual beneficial trade and travel arrangements, pah! What really matters is censorship.

  • DiggerUK

    Arrived back home last night from the Free Assange chain around parliament. We had stayed with friends of long standing in London and had a good visit.
    I’m pleased to have been part of the action on Saturday, not just to say I was there, but to see the good turnout.

    The conversations with others demonstrating was quite revealing, the first being that none of them had heard of Craig Murray or this blog. In fact talking to each other it was amazing how diverse were the news sources they relied on to find out about Julian. Twitter seemed ubiquitous.

    I should first set the scene. It was a fine sunny day and our group were all white, 30+. The international flavour in our section was mainly British, seasoned with Austrian and Mexican. Everybody was either living and/or working in the UK.

    The conversation had certain themes in ‘agreement’. One that gladdened my heart greatly was that we could not have any sort of energy policy with zero fossil fuels. Normally I am the lone denier in a crowd of climate alarmists. This time was the first time it was different, but swallows and summer for now.

    There was however a level of pessimism about the extradition being reversed, which was counterposed by a faith in the jury system to find him not guilty if we fail to stop him ending up in America.
    Following the lack of guilty verdicts in Alex Salmond’s case, despite him being a handsy sleazebag, I also view it as a real hope.
    But juries is, as juries duz.

    Brexit wasn’t mentioned and I saw no reason to agitate for a debate on that score. But what came out clearly was a disbelief in how the EU, US and UK is handling the current problems of securing energy supply and the war. The Mexicans and me got on fine with our ‘stop the war, negotiate’ position, most others were of a more anti-Putin position.

    Such is life…_

  • Ben

    Delighted to meet you there on the day Craig. Shame there were no speeches afterward. I saw Jeremy Corbyn in the crowd but missed Stella Assange somehow.

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