Reverse Visibility Engineering

There is a lot of money to be made from getting websites visible. Search engine optimisation, I believe it is called. It is a science in itself to get yourself up the top of page 1 of a google search, whether to help a website sell something or attract clicks for an advertising banner. Rumour has it that employing the dark arts of this trade for companies are how the great Tim Ireland keeps bread on the table.

Presumably you can work it backwards. I was working out links between corporate and NGO recipients of government and EU grants in Lancashire and New Labour – which would make a book in itself. There is a statutory duty on political parties to publish lists of party donors, but weirdly a google search will not help you find it.

Google search “New Labour Donors” and you will be overwhelmed by a mountain of journalistic sleaze revelations, but you will have to scroll through pages for months before finding a statutory published list. I am rather proud to say this blog comes top of page 2.

In fact the results give you an amusing and accurate caricature of the parties. From New Labour nothing, zilch, all anal and clammed up. Google search “Conservative Party Donors” and again nowhere will you find the list of Conservative Party donors, but the Tories understand search engine optimisation and right up at items 3 and 4 are Tory website links urging you to make a donation, credit cards accepted. Google “Liberal Democrat” donors and again you won’t find a list, but you will find on the first page two major Lib Dem blogs attacking their own party for corruption!

I presume I will find the lists on the electoral commission website. But it really ought to be easier. In a past age, certain notices had by law to be posted in the church porch or council noticeboard, because that was the easiest place for the public to find them in the technology of the day. You could not post them on the outhouse. But the lists of party donors are on the virtual equivalent of the back of the one-holer.

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Niall Ferguson, Neo-Con Propagandist, Intellectual Charlatan

Madam Miaow has produced a superb dissection of Ferguson’s lowbrow television tirade, and particularly his absence of research.

Ferguson is a man of little learning who wears it heavily. I recently discussed his hateful and lightweight theories on why Muslim societies are in some way inferior. Ferguson is so enamoured of the idea that only our more virile culture really knows how to run places, he has become an apostle of “liberal interventionism”.

Sierra Leone is a charlatan’s dream because the Western public is so ignorant of it, any amount of tosh can be spoken with apparent authority. If you read my book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, you will understand in depth just why the claims are utter nonsense that this was a great success for Blair’s “Liberal Interventionist” foreign policy.

One of the loudest, and the most ignorant, of those making those claims was Niall Ferguson. On p16 of The Catholic Orangemen I write:

The Sierra Leone War of 1898 to 1900 rates not a mention even in Thomas Pakenham’s magisterial survey The Scramble For Africa. Niall Ferguson’s Empire mentions Sierra Leone just twice. He notes its founding in 1797, and next gives us the year 2000 and the views of Tony Blair and his acolyte Robert Cooper on how Sierra Leone justifies “A new kind of Imperialism”. In missing out the intervening years of actual Empire, Ferguson shows the same lack of historical perspective as undermined Blair and Cooper’s analysis. Of course the latter two aren’t pretending to be historians.

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It’s Not Prince Andrew’s Fault

The wave of urgent desire for freedom that has swept the Arab world has its pale reflection in the belated realisation that we have as a nation been complacent in maintaining and indeed supporting hideous dictatorships.

Somehow it all became real to the sheepish British public. We had been complicit for years in flying extraordinary rendition victims in to suffer hideous torture by Mubarak’s security forces. But suddenly a few pictures of torture victims appear on facebook, and television stations for once start giving some young Egyptian torture victims a sympathetic chance to tell their stiry. Suddenly, instead of becoming rag-headed al-Qaida members who deserve all they get, the public sees these are attractive educated dissidents who just want the kind of life we take for granted.

Governments have moved behind public opinion to catch up with the sudden public revulsion at the heartless realpolitik that has been going on for decades, to the benefit of rapacious Arab oligarchs, Western oil tycoons and arms manufacturers, and Israel and its relentless western lobbies.

The last 48 hours of broadcast news have been giving graphic detail of torture in Libya. Do people not realise that Gadaffi’s torture rooms were always extremely busy, at the same time that he and Blair were hugging each other so warmly and BP were getting those oil contracts?

Government now picks and chooses its advocacy of democracy by the criterion of media, and thus public, attention. Democracy in Libya has become an urgent necessity worth our servicemen’s lives. Recent government killings of pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen go unmentioned by the UK government, as does the ban on all public assembly in Saudi Arabia. While the Uzbek dictatorship, so essential to our Afghan war, is still strongly supported. The British government will continue to support those allied tyrannies it can get away with.

One interesting sign of that public revulsion has been a sudden wave of remorse by those who had private dealings with the Gadaffis. Howard Davies has resigned from the LSE, which is an accidental boon for higher education from events in Libya. Nelly Furtado has given back her fee for a private Gadaffi family concert. This wave of public revulsion laps gently on this website, as we have this week hundreds of new visitors to an old page about Sting’s private performances for the Karimov family in Uzbekistan.

Oh Sting where is thy death?

But the strange thing is that Prince Andrew has become the lightning rod for our revulsion at the deep collaboration with horrible dictators by the British government, longstanding but brought to its highest pitch by Tony Blair in his “War on Terror”. British and US ministers and heads of government embraced such monsters as Karimov, Aliev and Mubarak, and there are whole banks of the civil service engaged in arms sales to them.

Prince Andrew’s role is plainly a sympton of our national and governmental complicity with dictators, not the cause of it. He is a victim of an accident of birth – he might have lived perfectly happily and usefully as a heating engineer or something if he had been born in less degrading circumstances.

Prince Andrew makes a useful lightning rod for outlets like the Guardian, staunch supporters of the New Labour war criminals who warmly endorsed the relationship with (in this case) Aliev which they complain about. It is the personalised trivialisation of a national disgrace.

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They got the wrong person

There are many thousands of people imprisoned in Uzbekistan alone who should not be imprisoned and who suffer much worse conditions than even the genuine horrors of Wandsworth being visited on Julian Assange. But the Assange case has implications for ever deteriorating Western freedoms which should not be overlooked.

Then there are many war criminals who ought to be in jail and who are not. Most prominent of these are Bush, Blair, Cheney, Straw and their crew. A minor figurewho ought to be in jail is Anna Ardin. Here are two tweets she published after being “raped” by Julian Assange:

‘Julian wants to go to a crayfish party, anyone have a couple of available seats tonight or tomorrow? #fb’

‘Sitting outdoors at 02:00 and hardly freezing with the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing! #fb’

She subsequently deleted and tried to expunge those. I doff my hat to Rixstep:,01.shtml

For another avowed feminist trying to bring Assange down, analyse the use of language in this article by the Guardian’s useless Helen Piddle. For a worm like her to use words like bizarre and raggle-taggle in relation to John Pilger really defies rationality.

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Prince Andrew Not Solely Despicable

The problem with the wikileaks method of releasing the documents through mainstream media outlets, is that they are then interpreted for the public by a lazy and incompetent group of “Journalists” whose arses have grown plump on the rewards of retailing spoonfed propaganda.

So the mainstream missed the underlying stories and context, simply because they are too lazy and stupid to know the facts. The Prince Andrew story is a typical example. The Guardian reports that the US Ambassador disapprovingly notes his jolly (and stupid) remarks about corruption:

“In an astonishing display of candour in a public hotel where the brunch was taking place, all of the businessmen then chorused that nothing gets done in Kyrgyzstan if President [Kurmanbek] Bakiyev’s son Maxim does not get ‘his cut’.

“Prince Andrew took up the topic with gusto, saying that he keeps hearing Maxim’s name ‘over and over again’ whenever he discusses doing business in this country. Emboldened, one businessman said that doing business here is ‘like doing business in the Yukon’ in the 19th century, ie only those willing to participate in local corrupt practices are able to make any money … At this point the Duke of York laughed uproariously, saying that: ‘All of this sounds exactly like France.'”

But the delicious irony of this, as regular readers of this blog will know, is that the US government was, fully knowingly, the greatest source by far of corrupt funds straight into the pocket of Maksim Bakiyev. He was awarded the supply contracts for the US base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and he ripped off more than US $60 million from the fuel supply alone.

This is part of a deliberate US government policy of bribing and propping up Central Asia’s corrupt and dictatorial regimes in order to secure their support for US troops in neighbouring Agfhanistan. Indeed, the monies taken by Maksim Bakiyev from the Pentagon pale in comparison with the huge sums funnelled by the Pentagon to dictator’s daughter Gulnara Karimova in Uzbekistan for ground supply services to US troops.

None of which detracts from the boorish stupidity of Andrew’s remarks. It is a fascinating glimpse into the world in which Blair gave our biggest weapons company BAE immunity from prosecution for massive corruption. To the senior establishment, the idea of the rule of law is simply to be laughed down when they feel far away and unobserved, or gravely put aside in the public interest when they are on the record at home.

You can learn more about Kyrgyzstan than the entire staff of the Guardian has ever known in my brief posting here:

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Bilderberg – It’s About Screwing Black People

Africans have yet to see much economic benefit from the policies espoused by the apostles of globalisation. Not exactly many black faces among the delegates either. Scroll through all the Guardian’s pictures here.

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David Laws Does the Decent Thing

I am genuinely very sorry for David Laws, but he has done the decent thing and avoided a horrible protracted media exposure. He plainly broke the rules on not paying rent to a partner, and trying to hide behind quibbles on what constitutes a partner would not have helped.

Laws has now shown that he has a great deal more commonsense than many of the commenters on my earlier post and pretty well all other Lib Dem bloggers.

Indeed the knee jerk tribalism of Lib Dem blogs this morning was pretty disgusting.

This resignation sends out a good signal that any doubt on personal probity will not be tolerated. The parliamentary investigation into Laws’ claims will go ahead. I can think of no reason why there should now be any further public interest in press intrusion into his private life.

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David Laws Must Resign

I am among those who has been very impressed by David Laws’ performance in his brief ministerial career. And I have read carefully the Lib Dems blogs – which seem universally to be defending him, like this.

The difficulty is that the Commons rules stated quite unequivocally that an MP could not claim to rent a room in a home owned by their partner. In 2006 a specific amendment was made to make that crystal clear. Laws does not deny he broke the rules, and is paying the money back.

The point made by Lib Dems throughout the blogosphere is that, if Laws and his partner had owned the homes jointly, he could have claimed the mortgage payments. That is of course true. But Laws did not do that, and the rules are explicit that the alternative of paying rent to your partner is not allowed.

Laws’ explanation for his behaviour is that he did not wish to come out as gay. That is his right. Had he therefore not made any second home expenses claims, he would have forfeited £40,000 and deserved great sympathy for the sacrifice made to his domestic privacy. Nobody would have launched an investigation into why the very wealthy David Laws did not make a second home claim.

To “protect your privacy” by making taxpayer funded rent payments to your partner against the rules, was always going to be counter-productive. It also involved what I presume (and I do not know) is a further little lie to the Commons that he was renting a bedroom in his partner’s house, when it is surely more likely that they share one.

It is, to say the least, extremely unfortunate that this revelation about David Laws should come out at this moment – and the Telegraph’s timing opens a whole raft of other questions. And what Laws has done is less bad, for example, than Michael Gove’s second home flipping. But there is no point to the Liberal Democrats if we do not aspire to higher standards than Labour and the Conservatives, and it is deeply disappointing to see the LibDem blogs’ tribal rally around Laws.

Laws has just announced a public sector pay freeze. He is the man who would have to announce cuts next year that will inflict very real pain upon public sector workers, benefit recipients and public service users. Having a millionaire to do that is already difficult. Having a millionaire, who broke the rules on expenses claims and trousered £40,000 he had to pay back, to do that is simply untenable.

Laws should do the decent thing now.

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Cameron Could Be Britain’s De Gaulle: So Don’t Vote For Him

Bruce Anderson is becoming a caricature of the golf club saloon bar bore. After his enthusiastic espousal of torture, he now gives us this piece:

Actually I agree Cameron could be our De Gaulle: a posturing, arrogant mountebank with a cult of personality, repressive right wing views and an overweening sense both of his own importance and of his country’s true place in the world.

Only genuine nutters like Anderon would see that as a reason to vote for him.

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YouGov: A Clarification

Before the debate starts, I wish to make one thing crystal clear.

The CEO of YouGov PLC, “Stalwart Stephan” Shakespeare (whom I may have earlier called “Sleazy Stephan” by typographical error), is a business associate, close personal friend and former campaign manager of Mr Jeffrey (formerly trading as “Lord”) Archer.

Any suggestion that “Stalwart Stephan” would ever have any truck with anything dodgy would therefore plainly not be worth wasting time to weigh the merits.

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Mike Whellans – A Really Stylish Protest

There are few recent protest songs that you would listen to for the sheer musical pleasure of it. But here is one from bluesman Mike Whellans – and that’s the great piper Mike Katz on guitar.

For more of both Mikes:

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The Price of Ermine

I see that “Lord” Alan Sugar, the unpleasant bully of employees, has donated four hundred thousand pounds to the New Labour campaign. All part of why New Labour will never give us a democratic upper chamber. Having promised it three times in their election manifesto and broken the promise every time, i am stunned they have the temerity to offer it again.

Jack Straw is of course in charge of Lords “reform”. Probably the most corrupt man in the House of Lords – and one of the few to be suspended for corruption – is Straw’s bagman, “Lord” Taylor of Blackburn, the “parliamentary consultant” to at least ten big defence firms including BAE. Another is “Lord” Adam Patel, chief organiser of postal ballot abuse in Straw’s Blackburn constituency, immortalised in the famous blog “Postman Patel and his dog Jack”.

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Let Blair Pay For His Own Protection

The newspapers today carry the unsurprising news that Blair’s business affairs are routed through a multiplicity of companies operating in tax havens. He is raking in over £5 million per year, aside from his official job of chief Zionist – sorry, I mean Middle East Peace Envoy.

But I was more struck by the information in Michael White’s Blair puff piece that, before his arrival in the Sedgefield constituency yesterday, six policemen blocked off the roads around the venue with trafic cones.

Why? I am not making a petty or petulant point, I mean it. Why? This was a Labour Party event, not a government event. Blair holds no executive office in this country. The election has not been called. Even if it had been, he is not a candidate. Why do the police cone off the roads for a Blair New Labour speech?

How much did the six policemen cost? And they were just the bottom of the pile, the road coning bobbies. Blair arrived in a huge entourage of cars, at least some of which were taxpayer provided. There was a large police car and motorcycle escort. Not to mention the close protection officers. How much did all that cost?

Thatcher and Major move around with no blues and twos and a single close protection officer when required. The Duke of Edinburgh moves around privately with much less security than Blair. As a taxpayer I object fundamentally to footing the bill for protecting this war criminal. He should get a single close protection officer and fund anything else himself. He can certainly afford it.

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The Incredibly Talentless Patrick Wintour

It is amazing just how far you can get with the right family connections plus a slavish devotion to licking the arse of the powers that be. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Patrick Wintour, as talentless a piece of servile scum as ever disgraced the once fine profession of journailsm.

Here we have quite possibly the worst piece of political journalism in British history. Even given that it is supposed to be a puff piece by someone as openly critical of New Labour as Himmler was of Hitler, it is pathetic. What information precisely is it meant to convey?

The astonishing thing is that the completely intellect free Wintour is actually the political editor of the Guardian. I get so angry about the Guardian because it was once – within my lifetime – truly a great newspaper.

I offer £100 cash to anyone who can show me a piece of genuine journalism by Wintour – and to make it fair, commenters on the blog can vote whether it is genuine or not. On the debit side, allow me m’lud to enter this atrocious Blair apologia:

Tony Blair to tell Chilcot inquiry: war stopped Saddam building WMDsFormer PM expected to tell inquiry that without military action Saddam would have built WMD using the team of scientists he had assembled for the task

Not a single word of scepticism about the bonkers Blair narrative from Wintour.

In fact, I should be fascinated to know if anyone can unearth any evidence that lickarse Wintour has ever asked any New Labour politician a sensibly critical question.

Why precisely is Wintour’s £220k a year salary and expenses paid by the C P Scott trust and not by New Labour?

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Hoon Kicked Out of NATO

Not only were MPs lining up to sell their parliamentary influence to the highest bidder on the recent Dispatches programme. Geoff Hoon offered to sell to defence companies inside knowledge of future defence trends from his insider position as a member of a NATO advisory committee – and to help US defence companies take over European ones.

It is modestly comforting to see that Hoon has now been unceremoniously kicked out by NATO.

The problem of course is that this kind of corrupt influence peddling goes on all the time, and will in general be neither delayed nor dented. Our politics are deeply sick – Hoon is but a particularly repulsive symptom.

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Pat O’Donnell Jailed

The jailing of Pat O’Donnell in Ireland for seven months for “obstructing a Garda” seems an appalling attempt to end local environmental opposition to a massive Shell pipeline project. Having seen so much of Shell’s appalling bullying of local communities in the Niger Delta, I did not really expect to see the same behaviour in Ireland.

A few months ago masked thugs attacked Pat and his brother and sank his fishing boat, thus ruining his livelihood. The Garda did nothing. Now they have arrested him for demonstrating, and a complicit judiciary has given a sentence for peaceful opposition activity that belongs in Uzbekistan, not in Ireland.

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A national newspaper has put in a Freedom of Information request to the University of Dundee for the expenses claims of Court members over the last three years – precisely the period I have been Rector. Now why might they want to do that?

Personally, I only submitted any calims in the first six months when I was on my uppers and needed to claim travel and accommodation costs. Since I could afford it, for the last 30 months I have borne all expenses from my own pocket. So if anyone’s hoping for a scandal from me, they will be deisappointed.

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Another Stupid Rambling Nutcase

Rod Liddle. With an acknowledgement to Sunny for all his work, I like Will Straw’s post best for the simple isolation of Liddle’s acknowledged comments on Auschwitz. Just these crass statements alone are enough to put Liddle beyond the pale.

Liddle would be at home at the Independent. We get so dazzled by Fisk we forget the dross of the rest. Liddle would sit well with saloon bar bore Bruce Anderson or MI6 tool Dominic Lawson, not to mention the inane Mary Dejevsky.

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New Labour Steal From the Starving Millions

With thanks to Old Holborn via Subrosa Blonde.

In the past, my anger with DFID has been focused main;y on its channeling through CDC of funds to private companies benefiting senior New Labour hacks. But this news makes me even more angry.

Returning to CDC, I would like to think that the Tories will sort it out. My expectation, however, is that the companies it subsidises have already started recruiting senior Tories as directors.

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Suddenly I Feel Much Better

I have been foolish sometimes, but I will never, ever write anything as stupid as this:

White is of course no ordinary fool, but one of the very nastiest reptiles on the nexus of political power and media control of the people. He is fully complicit in New Labour’s war crimes and assaults on civil liberties. This piece of pathetic hagiography exposes him to deserved ridicule.

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