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Thoughts from Ghana 923

I spent today at the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Bunso and the nearby Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana. Those who have read my memoir The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and other Conflicts I Have Known will know that rural development in Africa has been the abiding passion of my working life. The good news is that for the first time a paperback edition of The Catholic Orangemen should be out in a week or so.

The abiding impression of today was the extent of local awareness of environmental issues and the need to maintain a fragile but wonderful ecology. This faces enormous challenges. I was intellectually aware of the extent of illegal gold mining in Ghana but unprepared for the evidence of its scale. Rivers that provide the drinking water for millions have been transformed into dead sewers of brown sludge. Having known them as live rivers, I was really shaken.

Ghana is looking to develop its bauxite industry and finally bring its aluminium smelters to life. This will impact the precise area I was visiting and I know from Jamaica that the environmental impact of bauxite mining is hideous. It is perhaps the most destructive of all extractive industries. It is a horrid irony that the bauxite scheme should impact the exact area where local traditional leadership (the Okyenhene) has pioneered environmentalism.

I feel conflicted. Our standard of living in the developed world has been based on the destruction of the forests which we conveniently forget once covered our lands. We wish to keep what remains of wild Africa as untouched as possible, because we know that otherwise it impacts us. But we are not prepared to expend serious resources into raising the standard of living of those who would be denied the immediate material benefits of industrial mining. My instincts are all to oppose the bauxite extraction on environmental grounds. But I am not so intellectually dishonest as to pretend that, with all the pollution and illnesses and destruction, the industry would not bring important wealth and employment. It would. I do not feel morally able to lecture poor communities on why they should remain undeveloped when they are excited by rare hope. I suspect many of you will think I am wrong.

On a more positive note, I was inspired by the commitment of the faculty of the University College, their research interests and their ability to deliver a first class curriculum to the students with minimal resources. It struck me how a major improvement could be made to their efforts by the injection of comparatively modest sums into laboratory equipment, for example. I shall be working on this and in the longer term on developing possible academic collaborations.

I loved the new canopy walk at Bunso built to promote eco-tourism.

It has five of these bridges, all of which are high, and one very high indeed as it crosses a valley. It is a great deal more adventurous than the one at Kakum. And yes, I did cross them all.

I am often very critical of the FCO, so it would be churlish of me not to note that Jon Benjamin leaves Accra this summer after an extremely effective and principled tenure as High Commissioner, including playing an effective and helpful role behind the scenes in the third peaceful transfer of power between political parties since Ghana became a real democracy in 2000. The more so since, most unusually, the UK was acting against the desires of the USA, and I suspect Jon was pivotal in that.

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Options for Independence 1377

So what do we do now with Theresa May apparently obdurate on blocking the referendum?

It is important to realise politics are fluid. In a week’s time the situation will not be what it is today. The battle for public opinion is key. The unionist media (ie virtually all of it) are asserting continuously, as a uniform line, that opinion polls say the people of Scotland do not want a second Independence referendum in the timescale Nicola Sturgeon has set out – even though that is not true at all. The serial Tory crooks at You Gove came out with an opinion poll right on cue “showing” that support for Independence is hitting new lows. But I suspect it will not be long before evidence emerges that May’s unattractive diktat has profoundly assisted the Independence cause. That will change the game.

So with a wind of public opinion behind her, what does Sturgeon do if Westminster denies a Scottish Parliament request for a referendum? There are several options:

1) Hold an Advisory Referendum

It appears probable (though not undisputed) that the Scottish government can hold a referendum which is not binding, without Section 30 permission from Westminster. It is hard for Westminster to dismiss the result of an advisory referendum, given that Brexit was only an advisory referendum and May has taken as a matter of faith that it is binding.

But as we saw in Catalonia, a boycott by unionist forces can be quite effective in denying the credibility of a non-binding referendum result. I strongly suspect that would be their attitude to an advisory referendum, and I do not see it as a strong way forward.

2) Call a New Holyrood Election

This is an attractive option in many ways. It would be predicated on the plain statement that a new pro-Independence majority would declare Independence unilaterally. That would be the normal and internationally accepted way for a country to secede – a referendum is very much the exception.

But there are problems with this approach. The first is that it would require a two thirds majority of the Scottish parliament to dissolve it, and the Unionists would in all probability simply block it. Forcing them to do that may be a good move, but doesn’t take us far forward.

The second problem, should parliament dissolve, is the campaign itself. As it would not be a referendum campaign, media coverage would not be balanced on independence, but the unionist parties in effect given three times the coverage of the SNP, assuming the Greens continue to be very poorly treated. But as the “Balance” of the referendum coverage was risible anyway, I am not sure this is so much of a drawback.

More difficult is the uncertainty created by the appalling De Hondt system. There is no doubt that the optimum outcome for Independence would be for every Independence supporter to vote SNP 1 and Green 2. But in practice that will never happen on a significant scale, and what is the best way to utilise your vote to achieve independence is simply not predictable. Risking all on a system so prone to statistical fluke is a problem.

3) Call a National Assembly

In the event that Scotland is being blocked from holding either a referendum or an election, the Scottish Government could move to convene a National Assembly. This might consist of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs and that body could declare Independence. To be clear, that would be a revolutionary act in UK terms, but it is perfectly normal for such an act to be required at the birth of a new state and is no bar to it being accepted in international law as a state through recognition by the United Nations General Assembly.

The argument would run that, having been blocked at every turn from holding a democratic vote either by way of referendum or parliamentary election, the Scottish government had taken the option of convening all representatives democratically elected at the national level – MSPs, MPs and MEPs, and these elected representatives of the Scottish people had made the decision. That is perfectly respectable and entirely analogous to the way many EU members such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent.

To return to my original argument, the possibilities depend very much on how public opinion is seen to be trending. May’s calculation appears to be driven firstly by a desire to play to her Brexiteer base in England – which judging by the rabid comments pages across the media is very successful – and secondly by a desire to further polarise Scottish politics to the benefit of the Scottish Tories. She is more than happy for Independence to be decided on a straight SNP vs Tory field. That May thinks she can win such a battle is an example of staggering hubris.

I have been saying in all of my speeches across Scotland in the last year that the game has changed and we have to be prepared for the idea we may have to achieve Independence without the consent or cooperation of the Westminster government. I am happily no longer a radical outlier in this belief.

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The Disappearing Prime Minister 882

UPDATE

I was delighted by Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today, both the content and the manner of her making it.

I am unsure why she put the window for the referendum as far back as autumn 2018 to spring 2019. Autumn 2018 is fine but spring 2019 is late – Nicola Sturgeon spoke of Scotland needing to declare its choice for independence before the UK actually leaves the EU or very shortly thereafter. But very shortly thereafter is too late. In diplomatic terms, a miss is a good as a mile here and in diplomatic terms at the EU, negotiating to get back in will be much harder than negotiating to remain a part of the EU.

My suspicion is Sturgeon is giving May a ladder to climb down on agreeing the referendum by making it potentially post-Brexit. I see no need to have been so accommodating to May. I am frankly puzzled.

But my major observation is that Nicola’s performance was excellent, the decision sound. Yet what struck me most was the lengthy question and answer suggestion. The mainstream media lackeys laughingly called journalists were not really putting questions. They were emitting deep-seated cries of unionist belief, wild anti-Independence assertions, with the lightest disguise as questions. It is a fair warning of what we have coming.

Even Gordon Brown had a honeymoon period. The temporary popularity of a new Prime Minister evaporates as a morning mist searched out by strong sunlight. The budget tax increases, combined with fierce pre-planned benefit cuts, are evaporating May’s popularity before our eyes. The reality of Brexit debacle will shortly hit very hard, and people will start to notice she is not actually very good.

I have been listening out to determine the extent to which May’s Thatcher voice is a deliberate impersonation, and in consequence have been most forcefully struck by how little we hear her voice. Those packaging her, together with a compliant media, seek to present her as much as possible through silent images. She is repeatedly on television entering places and greeting people, but remarkably seldom is her voice heard. She does not give nearly as many media interviews as David Cameron, because she is not good at them.

Prime Minister’s Question Time has almost vanished from our screens. When David Cameron was causing animal guffaws of genuine delight from Tory MPs roused by his facile debating skills, no week went past in which the BBC News did not show a substantial clip of Prime Minister’s Questions, edited for maximum effect in making Cameron look dominant and Corbyn look out of his depth. I do not believe any reader in the UK can honestly say such an image is not seared on to their mind. But now Prime Minister’s Questions almost never make the news bulletins for more than a very few seconds, because May is hopeless at them and is arguably bested by Corbyn fairly regularly. She has no ability for repartee, no timing and wins mechanical guffaws purely by reading out pre-prepared attacks on Labour and SNP that do not pretend to relate to the questions asked.

How do the broadcast media respond? Prime Minister’s Questions are suddenly no longer newsworthy. Unless you happen to be free to watch live – which rules out almost the entire working population – you would very seldom see May flounder. Indeed, the entire plan for retaining her popularity appears to be based on the public hearing her as little as possible. Personally, I have no doubt her recent Glasgow speech attacking not just Scottish independence but the very notion of devolution, was extremely helpful to the Independence cause. I can understand why the establishment try to avoid us actually hearing her.

Jeremy Corbyn should not now be abandoned. I was saddened to see Owen Jones stab him in the back. Jones appears sadly set on the trajectory typically caused by the salary of a Guardian columnist. He will now increasingly retreat into identity politics rather than the cause of universal social justice. I give it eight years before he spends his entire time attacking the left as having “lost their way”.

I could not disagree more strongly with Jeremy on Scottish Independence or on his approach to Brexit. Nobody would claim quick repartee or even set piece oratory were his strongest suits. He interviews fairly well but is of course handicapped by the extraordinary stream of scepticism and deliberate misrepresentation with which journalists approach him. But the honesty and integrity of his beliefs are why he was elected, and those remain at the core of his leadership. For the English and Welsh voter to be given a real choice, rather than just Blue or Red Tories, has horrified the entire neo-con establishment.

It is most improbable that Corbyn will be able to deliver a Labour Westminster victory in 2020, but it is not impossible. The alt-right spasm gripping England and Wales will diminish by then and Brexit enthusiasm will meet the cold real world. I can assure you the Tories are already considering how to avoid having Leaders’ Debates on television for the next general election. For Corbyn to be able to put a radical message directly to the public, and May’s deficiencies in debate to be so directly exposed, is something they will not want at all. May should be seen and not heard, is their motto.

The European Union has put a fault line through the Tory and Labour parties. The chips have fallen in a way that leaves both parties with leaderships that were more sympathetic to Brexit than they revealed during the campaign, and certainly have no interest in trying to stop it. The 48% who voted Remain are therefore practically unrepresented in England and Wales. As I suspect that 48% will increase – and there is a curious lack of opinion polls – this will become an increasingly acute problem as the body politic recovers from shock.

The Lib Dems would be the obvious beneficiaries, but they will not so soon recover from popular revulsion at the alacrity with which they abandoned all pretence at restraining the Tories, in return for ministerial limousines. They also have the least able and least charismatic leader in that party’s long history. Indeed, possibly in any party’s history, anywhere. The never appealing Brezhnev was more charismatic than Tim Farron even when he was being wheeled out to parades propped up and effectively dead.

The Labour Party is in the abject position that its pro-Europeans are very largely the totally discredited Blairites. That the delusional Blair sees the EU issue as his chance of a political comeback, is only evidence of what a terrible state the pro-EU camp is in. There are plenty of pro-EU Tories but they too are more concerned with personal careers, except the Clarkes and Heseltines whose course is already run.

It is difficult to believe this situation is sustainable. On the biggest issue of the day, which will have a huge impact on future living standards, 48% of the population, the best educated and most politically active 48% of the population, have no effective representation. Only in Scotland have we a coherent pro-EU political force, but circumstances are such this cannot help England.

The democracy of the UK has become severely dysfunctional. I firmly believe that a crisis is coming, and that Scottish Independence will be a trigger for the resolution of that crisis. Not only will it remove Scotland from the subjugation that has sapped its energies for centuries, it will give a profound and much needed jolt to the political kaleidoscope in England and Wales and lead to new and more relevant political alignments. It may also finally break the obsession with being a world power that so damaged British people for so long.

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Why is Melanie Phillips Mainstream Acceptable?

I have often pointed to Melanie Phillips to illustrate the fact that while left wing radical thought is excluded from mainstream media, you can be as completely mad, raving off the wall right wing as you wish, and yet still get invited onto every BBC panel or discussion series in existence. She still justifies the Iraq War. She thought Saddam did indeed have those WMDs and they were hidden in secret underground chambers underneath the Euphrates.

Less harmlessly, Phillips employs hate speech and was praised by Anders Breivik. Sweeping anti-Muslim Phrases such as “the Islamic enemies of civilisation” come easily to her. I was appalled by this particular example of Phillips’ hate speech four years ago. You can see how Breivik found her inspiring:

Romney lost because, like Britain’s Conservative Party, the Republicans just don’t understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war. In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilisation stand poised to occupy the void.
With the re-election of Obama, America now threatens to lead the west into a terrifying darkness.

I called this out at the time as incitement to religious hatred. Interestingly enough it has now disappeared from Phillips’ own website: http://melaniephillips.com/america-goes-into-the-darkness. But you can’t hide your disgrace on the internet.

Today Phillips spreads the hatred still wider by telling us the Scots and the Irish are not real nations. Only Britain is an authentic nation (behind the Times paywall). Scottish nationalism, she states, is based purely on romance and a hatred of the English. As for Ireland:

The truth is that a large majority of the states in the world achieved independence after 1922. Even if you pretend an Irish nation did not exist until 1922, that still makes it one of the world’s older states. In fact of course Ireland, like most other states, re-emerged into independence following colonial dominance. Nationality is a human construct, not a fact of physics or geography – there never was a state before colonialism with the precise boundaries of India or Nigeria or almost any post-colonial state you can name. But there were autonomous peoples. And very few would describe them as not a nation now.

Even old states change their boundaries from time to time. Norman Davies has a beautiful phrase about Poland emerging again and again into statehood through the mists of history, but never in the same place twice. Yet despite radical boundary changes and having had political autonomy for only 50 of the last 250 years, nobody doubts Poland is a nation state. Nobody doubts Ireland is a nation state either, except Mad Mel. As for Scotland, not only was it a full nation state for hundreds of years until it entered into a voluntary union, it is possible to trace distinct political and cultural expressions of popular nationhood.

Phillips’ hate-filled opinions would be her own affair, were she not given such powerful platforms from which to expound them. I return to where I started. Phillips is evidence you cannot be too right wing for a media platform in the UK, even if you propound actual religious hate. By comparison, nobody as left wing as Phillips is right would ever be given airtime on the BBC or a column in The Times.

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Cover Story

UPDATE

I wrote the below very quickly while dashing out to get ready for a meeting in Montrose this evening. I was in a panic as I had forgotten to prepare. I tweeted about it as I was just about to leave, and received several replies telling me that the meeting is tomorrow (which is why I hadn’t got ready for it earlier).

This is not particularly old age. My friends will tell you I have been this scatty all my life. I can give an hours lecture on Byron’s political views, radicalism among Nottinghamshire stocking weavers or US neo-imperial policy in Africa at the drop of a hat, but ask me today’s date or where I put my spectacles and there is a very slim chance I will remember. All of which is to excuse myself for having couched the below request for help in particularly graceless terms! I fear I was somewhat distracted.

I am bringing out new editions of Murder in Samarkand and The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, both of which are now out of print. They will be available as print-on-demand books on Amazon (I know, sorry). I need a new front cover for Murder in Samarkand, as the art work does not belong to me, and frankly I never liked it anyway. I am inviting those with an artistic bent to submit designs.

The side and back will be plain, so it is front cover only. The size is 8″ by 5″. The image needs to be at least 300dpi. The design should include the title, author’s name and two review quotes:

“A fearless book by a fearless man” – Harold Pinter
“A remarkable achievement” – Noam Chomsky

I should like to offer a prize, but am more than usually skint! I shall be very grateful for anything you can come up with, that reflects the content and themes of the book in some way. The contact button at the top of the blog sends me an email.

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The Scottish Council Elections Are a Huge Test – Subsequent Attempted Backroom Deals Will Reveal the Black Soul of Scottish Labour

Theresa May herself set out to portray the Scottish Council Elections as a test of opinion on a second Independence referendum, and followed that up by an attack on the very principle of devolution and a stark re-assertion of the power of Westminster control. She did so in the – not unreasonable – expectation that the Tories will make gains in Scottish councils from an extremely low base. If the Tories get anything over 22% of votes cast the media will tell us that is a stunning rejection of Independence.

Local councils are important in themselves, but this year’s Council elections will have a much wider significance in giving the SNP momentum to go into the Independence referendum. The SNP will make much greater gains which will at least give the BBC some headache in preparing their “Unionist Triumph” narrative. The Tories will look to advance in Edinburgh. Sadly Ruth Davidson is my constituency MSP, but fortunately my councillor is Alasdair Rankin, Edinburgh City Council’s Finance Convener. This year is the fortieth anniversary of my meeting Alasdair who very quickly became and remains one of my, and my family’s, closest friends. So it will be an unusual pleasure for me to get out and knock on some doors for him.

Scottish elections are conducted under the excellent STV system, which I advocate for all elections. I want to make an extremely important point to all Independence supporters. Unlike the De Hondt system used for Holyrood, under STV it is impossible to damage the chances of the SNP – or your other Independence supporting party of choice – by using all your lower preference numbers for other Independence supporting candidates, and it is essential that you do. James Kelly explains it here.

The Holyrood De Hondt system is so terrible that it is perfectly possible for intelligent people of goodwill to disagree severely over whether voting just for one party or for two will help the Independence cause, and the answer is far from plain even after the vote. I respectfully differ from James Kelly and Stuart Campbell on the question. But none of these problems arise with STV. This is so important I am going to say it again, in super-shouty

IN THE SCOTTISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS IT IS MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO HURT YOUR FIRST CHOICE PARTY BY USING ALL YOUR LOWER PREFERENCES FOR OTHER PRO-INDY CANDIDATES.

So if you have three SNP candidates on your list make them preferences 1, 2, 3, but then be certain to carry on 4, 5, 6 each for other pro-Indy candidates. Or the same principle with your other preferred pro-indy party first.

I have now meandered to the point of this post. In council by-elections every week, we are seeing the unionist party voters transfer their lower preferences to each other. Tory voters are perfectly happy to transfer and support Labour, and Labour voters are perfectly happy to transfer to Tory. This is the most important fact in modern Scottish politics. It is not just the Blairite leadership, it is the dwindling rump of Labour voters who are Red Tories – or probably more accurately Orange Lodgers. Peeling off the remaining decent left wing Labour voters from their Neanderthal colleagues is probably the simpler of the SNP’s electoral challenges.

There is another factor which I do not expect to come into play in time for the Council elections. The Tory triumphalism masks a deep split. Scottish Conservatives have a Fox/Forsyth/Fallon hardline nutter tendency. But they also have a core of traditionalist supporters who are urbane, liberal and strongly pro-EU. May is still in her honeymoon period – if you remember even Gordon Brown had one of those for quite a while – but quite a few of the Tory inhabitants of the leafier parts of Edinburgh feel disquiet at her harsh Brexiteer nationalism and dismissal of devolution.

We only have to check the Tory bandwagon slightly to encourage dissent among those pulling it.

But the key test for Scottish politics will come after the votes have been cast, when the new councillors start meeting in the backrooms of council chambers up and down the country. In effect, the SNP is likely to be the largest group very widely indeed. If SNP supporters have used their lower preferences well, it is very possible that they will be able in many places to form local coalitions with the Greens and other pro-Indy groups and individuals.

But it is also very likely that we will see on a much wider and larger scale, something which has been already seen from time to time in places like Dundee and Stirling. Labour and the Tories will form coalitions together to keep the SNP out.

The truth is that Scotland already has a two party system – the SNP and the Unionists. In Holyrood, in Council Chambers and in council by-election vote transfers, the Unionists act as one party. The backroom deals of Scottish councils after the May elections will define Scottish politics. For a classic example of a failure to stop digging when you are in a massive hole, and a brazen declaration of pro-Tory sentiment, I give you Scottish Labour’s Doug Hothersall on their Labour Hame website:

Labour is not a unionist party. But in stark constitutional times, our commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution means we are right to be firmly a pro-UK party. We should be proud of that stance and those principles. We should not indulge in back-slapping and posturing about never working alongside others who are firmly pro the UK.
If there is a second independence referendum, I will share a platform with any mainstream party which is prepared to work together to fight against nationalism. Our party should grow up and make the same pledge.

In Hothersall’s case, it is not a failure to realise that he is supporting a deeply unpleasant British nationalism. it is that he knowingly supports that British nationalism. That makes him a typical example of the rump Scottish Labour supporter. The evidence from local election transfers if that the remaining Labour voters mostly agree with him. But they are thankfully a small and shrinking group of dull bigots. Also do not forget the corruption, graft and jobs network that Scottish Labour has been. Prising them out of council chambers will be a death blow to that already shrivelled demon of Labour patronage.

I know I should tell you that local elections are important because of schools, pavements and all that important everyday stuff. That is a truism. But I am not into politics because of a deep interest in having sewerage systems and traffic lights properly managed. I want to see a free Scotland that can no longer be forced against its will to participate in illegal wars. I am hugely looking forward to campaigning in the impending Independence Referendum, but do not overlook the importance of the council elections. They are a vital step along the way.

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Theresa May Moves to Replace Devolution with Westminster Control 338

Forget media spin. Read Theresa May’s actual unvarnished words. In Glasgow today she notified Scotland of a specific intention for Westminster to intervene in devolved areas to “improve outcomes” in Scotland. There is no other possible logical analysis of the following long passage:

But the devolution of powers across the United Kingdom must not mean we become a looser and weaker union.
We cannot allow our United Kingdom to drift apart.
For too long the attitude in Whitehall has been to ‘devolve and forget’.
But as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am just as concerned that young people in Dundee get a good start in life and receive the education they need to reach their full potential as I am about young people in Doncaster and Dartford.
I care as much about the dignity and security of older people on both sides of the River Tweed or the Irish Sea.
The economic prosperity of the UK as a whole depends on young people in all parts of the UK having the skills they need to reach their full potential.
And people who have worked hard all their lives and made a contribution to society are everyone’s concern.
It goes back to the fundamental unity of the British people which underwrites our whole existence as a United Kingdom.
We are all diminished when any part of the UK is held back, and we all share in the success when we prosper.
In Government that principle is called ‘collective responsibility’.
We need to build a new ‘collective responsibility’ across the United Kingdom, which unites all layers of government, to work positively together to improve the lives of everyone in our country.
As the Government serving the whole United Kingdom, formed in a Parliament drawn from the whole United Kingdom, the UK Government exercises a responsibility on behalf of the whole UK that transcends party politics and encompasses all aspects of our national life.
While fully respecting, and indeed strengthening, the devolution settlements and the devolved administrations across the UK, we must unashamedly assert this fundamental responsibility on our part.
So in those reserved policy areas where we govern directly for the whole United Kingdom, we will explicitly look to the interests of the Union – both the parts and the whole – in our policy-making.
And in policy areas where responsibilities are devolved, we will look for ways to collaborate and work together with the devolved administrations to improve the outcomes for everyone.

The meaning could not be more clear, especially following a long litany of claims that SNP rule in Holyrood had failed in every area of devolved power. You can read the full text here.

May seems to be suffering an extraordinary degree of hubris; she sees the Tories having achieved very slightly over half of the SNP vote at the Holyrood elections as a sign of mass popularity. She is laying down that Unionism means Unionism just as purely as Brexit means Brexit. Devolution is only represented in her speech as an evil that must be guarded against.

It is perhaps unsurprising that May did not mention anywhere that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and did not mention any possibility for special provision in Scotland’s future relationship with the EU. But that she did not even pay lip service to the notion of devolution as a good thing is surprising, and I am frankly astonished that she boldly asserted an intention for greater Westminster interference in current devolved areas.

This is a colossal act of hubris from a woman confident she faces no serious political resistance. That she adopts in Glasgow the false Thatcher like voice and rhetorical style that goes down so well with UKIP leaning Tories is indicative of the shallowness of her experience and the depth of her misjudgement.

Theresa May’s declaration of war on devolution today will come to be seen as a key moment in our path to Independence.

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In the Conference Hall or on the Pavement

I shall be speaking in Leeds today either in the conference hall or on a nearby pavement. The meeting entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” is due to take place at 6pm in the Conference Auditorium GM 01, which I am told is the big building behind The Edge sports centre. Do come if you are within reach. I shall be leaving for Leeds shortly.

Apparently the trustees of Leeds University Union will decide during the day whether I should be permitted to speak in a university building this evening. Being a polite sort of chap, I spoke with a very friendly lady for a considerable while this morning clarifying my views on Israel. I remain appalled by the process, but believe the outcome is likely to be positive. I expect the meeting will go ahead. This is the email I sent yesterday evening in response to the demand to pre-vet my speech:

This is very difficult as I do not write speeches in advance. I always speak off the cuff. I object to this procedure on principle, and have just posted this on my blog:

I am giving a talk entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” in Leeds University tomorrow. I have just been told by Leeds University Union I will not be allowed to speak unless I submit what I am going to say for pre-vetting.
I am truly appalled that such a gross restriction on freedom of speech should be imposed anywhere, let alone in a university where intellectual debate is meant to be an essential part of the learning experience. I really do not recognise today’s United Kingdom as the same society I grew up in. The common understanding that the values of a liberal democracy are the foundation of society appears to have evaporated.
As regular readers know well, I do not write speeches in advance but always speak extempore. My opinions on Israel and Palestine are very well documented on this blog and elsewhere. I want to see a single, unitary state in Israel/Palestine, encompassing everyone who currently lives in those territories, as a secular democracy blind to ethnicity and religion. This includes an acceptance that further forced large population movements by anybody are not desirable and the Palestinians should receive more compensation than restitution. If I am not permitted to express this view within a University, I find that truly shocking.
I should be equally shocked if anybody who held views very different to my own were not permitted to express them.
I think that if people like me are now being prevented from speaking, society has crossed a very dangerous line indeed.
I attempted to contact Leeds University Union before posting this, but was told by your after hours help desk that they have no means of contacting any person in a responsible position out of hours, not even to pass on my phone number. I find that extraordinary.

Let me state at the start that I have spoken in many scores of Universities, all around the world, including Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard etc and several times each at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions. I have never at any time encountered any violence, disruption or even heated dispute at any of my hundreds of talks, anywhere. There has never been any risk to anybody present. I always encourage discussion and positively welcome the polite expression of contrary views.

As I said, I do not write speeches in advance. But this is the outline of what I intend to say.

While I dislike agreeing with Donald Trump, he was quite right in dismissing the idea that there is an unquestionable two state solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine. For many years now a two state solution has been impractical. The Palestinian territories are separated, overcrowded and devoid of natural resources, most tellingly water.

As a younger man I was in charge of the South Africa (Political) Desk of the FCO. The grand plan of apartheid was that the white population would have unique right of residence in most of South Africa, with the black population corralled into crowded and resourceless Bantustans, many commuting into the white areas as a cheap labour force. These Bantustans were, according to the masterplan of apartheid, to be recognised as Independent states. The FCO had a current struggle to head off Mrs Thatcher’s desire to indeed recognise the first of them, Bophutatswana, as independent after apartheid South Africa recognised it.

The parallels between the Bantustan plan and the “two state solution” are obvious and the high profile supporters of the “two state solution” are insincere. In 2002 Blair and Bush announced in the Rosa Garden they were jointly proposing the “two state solution”. Their motivation was precisely the same as Thatcher’s in pushing for support of the proposed state of Bophutatswana – to allow the formal marginalisation of the indigenous population from their land. The “two state” Palestine was never intended to be viable.

If the neo-con supporters of two states really believed what they pretended, why did they never recognise a Palestinian state? The timing and motivation of the Bush/Blair announcement was a figleaf for Saudi support of the invasion of Iraq a few months later.

The truth is that the massive injustice done in the removal of the Palestinian peoples from their lands must be addressed. Peace in the Middle East will not be possible otherwise. The Israeli people will never achieve security through intransigence.

I was also once Head of Cyprus Section of the FCO and heavily involved in UN negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus. I see many parallels between the situations in Palestine and Cyprus and believe elements of the proposed UN Cyprus peace talks might provide a blueprint for Israel/Palestine, particularly in its federal and security aspects.

I shall then move on to wider questions of Middle Eastern policy, along the lines of this talk I gave to the Edinburgh SNP Club a couple of weeks ago. You can see that here

I shall then address troubling aspects of the British/Israeli governmental relationship, including over drone killing policy, drawing on the talk I gave to the Noam Chomsky symposium at University College London last week. I attach a brief abstract of that talk. I shall also refer to the recent Al Jazeera documentary “The Lobby” and the Shai Masot case.

I do hope that is all helpful to you. I appreciate it is probably not your fault you occupy for this moment the role of thought police, but hope you realise how very wrong and undemocratic this all is. I have complied with the request to outline as best I can what I am going to say purely out of courtesy to you and Leeds University Union. It is not open to debate or negotiation.

Craig Murray

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Leeds University Union Threaten to Ban My Speech on Palestine

I am giving a talk entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” in Leeds University tomorrow. I have just been told by Leeds University Union I will not be allowed to speak unless I submit what I am going to say for pre-vetting.

I am truly appalled that such a gross restriction on freedom of speech should be imposed anywhere, let alone in a university where intellectual debate is meant to be an essential part of the learning experience. I really do not recognise today’s United Kingdom as the same society I grew up in. The common understanding that the values of a liberal democracy are the foundation of society appears to have evaporated.

As regular readers know well, I do not write speeches in advance but always speak extempore. My opinions on Israel and Palestine are very well documented on this blog and elsewhere. I want to see a single, unitary state in Israel/Palestine, encompassing everyone who currently lives in those territories, as a secular democracy blind to ethnicity and religion. This includes an acceptance that further forced large population movements by anybody are not desirable and the Palestinians should receive more compensation than restitution. If I am not permitted to express this view within a University, I find that truly shocking.

I should be equally shocked if anybody who held views very different to my own were not permitted to express them.

I think that if people like me are now being prevented from speaking, society has crossed a very dangerous line indeed.

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Give Generously and Give Freedom Wings

I urge anybody with the remotest interest in fairness and justice to donate to the Wings Over Scotland fundraising appeal. Against the biased BBC and a 97.5% rabid unionist media, against DFID money fed in through Acanchi and the entirely fake No Borders campaign, against Saudi money fed in through the Ulster bigots of the DUP, Wings Over Scotland really is the most effective, wide reaching and important media of communication available to the Scottish Independence movement. Anybody who can afford something, and agrees that in a democracy both sides of a ballot ought to be heard, should donate. The second Independence referendum is indeed coming.

To be plain I have no connection at all to Wings Over Scotland and do not stand to receive anything from this appeal. I am donating myself.

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Tory Election Expenses Fraud

I want to commend this amazing resource which a dedicated investigator has collated on Tory Election Expenses Fraud, covering no less than 57 MPs. A huge amount of data is available locally and this is the best central repository I have seen. It repays hours of browsing. As the evidence builds it becomes plain that massive cheating was a key element of the Tory victory. That there is no chance at all that Britain’s corrupt electoral, police and legal institutions will do anything about it is, sadly, equally certain.

But hats off to Michael Crick for continuing to try at Channel 4. He did a fantastic doorstep today of Nick Timothy, a May adviser in 10 Downing Street who was one of many Tories whose party paid expenses in weeks of campaigning in South Thanet were not declared. It was also quite incredible work by the cameraman. If anyone can find a copy I could embed here…

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Brexit Will Lower Wages

It has surprised the naïve that in the last two weeks Tory ministers have been lining up to assure employers that there will be no reduction in the flow of immigrant workers into
the UK after Brexit.

There are two things that infuriate me about the “left wing” argument that EU immigration lowers wages in the UK through importing labour. Firstly it is not left wing at all, it is narrowly nationalist and founded on the protectionist premise that the condition of the worker in say Poland – who would benefit both from opportunities in the UK and from international labour competition elevating wages there – does not matter. The “left wing” proponents of the protected national labour market are actually just ill-disguised racists.

The second criticism of these “left-wing” people is that they are extremely stupid. Anybody who believes that the plutocrat paymasters of UKIP, the Tories and the corporate press, supported Brexit in order to raise wages, is certifiable.

That is why the Tories are making plain there will be no reduction in the labour supply from the EU. That will keep coming. But there will be one essential difference.

EU workers will no longer be in the UK as fellow EU citizens with exactly the same rights as UK EU citizens. In future, the EU workers will be here on work visas, probably two or five year renewable. These will be awarded through sponsorship by their employer. That will put them at the absolute mercy of employers and make them terrified of complaint or even standing against gross abuse and illegality. The conditions at the Sports Direct warehouse will seem good compared to what is coming in workplaces throughout the UK, once people like Mike Ashley can simply have “troublemakers” instantly deported.

All workers will of course lose more formal rights and protections, like the maximum working week and strict health and safety regulation. EU citizens in the UK will also lose the citizen’s right of address by political participation and voting.

Brexit will lower wages. It will be the biggest license to exploit ever handed back to predatory capitalists, at a time when the wealth gap between the super rich and the poor is at its widest, and notions of social responsibility among the wealthy at their weakest.

Brexit is a disaster for the working woman and man. Yet so many of the so-called “left” are too blind to see it.

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Gerald Kaufman

When I was just a junior diplomat organising a trip for a group of parliamentarians, Gerald Kaufman MP, then a shadow cabinet member, nipped into a shop and bought me a snack because he knew I had missed my breakfast. I was tied up trying to sort out a replacement bus for them. His was a tiny but surprising act of kindness. You perhaps learn more truth about public figures from such behind the scenes moments than their public life. I may be wrong, but I doubt Tony Blair spent or spends much time worrying whether junior functionaries have eaten.

He always seemed one of the most intelligent figures in British politics, and I am sorry for his death, albeit at a good age.

I am still more sorry because Kaufman became a victim of the current ludicrous, but media-supported, campaign to whip up accusations of anti-Semitism against any critic of Israel. In one extraordinarily horrible manifestation of this, Tal Ofer, Labour Progress member and a member of the board of Deputies, sought to have Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish MP, excluded from the parliamentary Channukah celebrations. That seems to me extraordinarily graceless and unpleasant and the polar opposite of Kaufman’s own kindliness.

In the last year of his life Kaufman, whose grandmother was shot in her bed by the Nazis in Poland, became one of the victims of the fake extreme zionist charity “The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism”, which is now rather belatedly under investigation by the Charity Commissioners for England. As the chairman of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, made his career as an extreme pro-Israel propagandist, and is a former trustee of both the ultra neo-con Henry Jackson Society and the Anglo-Israel Association, I do not hold out much hope for this investigation.

I am sure there are still many people in the British Jewish community who admired a man as intelligent, able and honest as Gerald Kaufman. But that such a prominent and generous-minded Jewish man could be accused of anti-Semitism by pro-Israeli activists, would I hope serve to give pause to those in the mainstream media who amplify their views (except of course this campaign has gained such a media boost purely as a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn).

I am sorry for Gerald Kaufman’s death. Please do him the honour of listening to this short speech in parliament, as a remembrance of a decent man. It will not feature in any mainstream media obituaries.

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I shall be quite busy speaking in the next few weeks:

Friday 24 February 8pm in The Elephant and Castle, Lewes, Sussex. The Headstrong Club (entry £3). I shall be attempting a wide ranging radical analysis of world events encompassing Trump, Brexit, Putin, Corbyn, China and where ordinary people stand as the world order changes. I love Lewes, which has the most fascinating radical tradition dating back to Thomas Paine and beyond, and still retains that vibe in an extraordinary way.

Saturday 25th February 1pm to 7pm, Gustav Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London. Conference on “Noam Chomsky’s The Responsibility of Intellectuals, 50 Years On.” Speakers are Neil Smith, Nicholas Allott, Chris Knight, Craig Murray, Milan Rai, Jackie Walker, Kriszta Szendroi, and Noam Chomsky himself (by live video-link). The event will be broadcast live here.

I had to send an abstract of my talk for Chomsky to see so he will be able to respond, which makes me feel like a worried schoolboy. I am scheduled to speak at 4.20 for 35 minutes. Chomsky will be speaking at 5.15.

Thursday 2nd March Leeds University Palestine Solidarity Group and Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Talk entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution?”. Venue and time details to follow.

Tuesday 7th March in the Black Abbott, Borrowfield at 7.30 pm talk to Montrose SNP Branch on the Next Independence Referendum. I understand they will be inviting other SNP branches in Angus.

Thursday 9th March 6.30pm Talk to Motherwell and Wishaw Rotary Club on Lessons from my Diplomatic Career.

Saturday 11th March 11am, Tigh Na Sghire, Portree, Isle of Skye screening of London Calling and discussion of BBC Bias. London Calling – Skye (PDF)

And a few longer term but interesting ones:

Sunday 26 March, Pacific Quay, Glasgow, BBC Bias Protest

Saturday 15 April, Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera Forum. Speaker on “State Crisis and the Middle East.”

Thursday 11 May 2.30pm Upper Room Town Hall, Chipping Campden. Sikunder Burnes, Master of the Great Game. Chipping Campden Literary Festival tickets £7.

As I constantly repeat, I am very disorganised so if you are inviting me do keep nagging if I don’t reply, and once confirmed do keep reminding me!

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BBC Announces New Anti-Scottish Channel

The BBC is to launch a major new unionist propaganda channel in time for the next Independence referendum. There will be 80 new unionists employed as journalists. Close relatives of senior Labour party figures are particularly welcome to apply, and in a new broadening of BBC Scotland employment policy, a larger percentage of Ruth Davidson fans will also be recruited. The news of the new job opportunities is especially welcome to the large number of Labour Party hacks who will be unemployed following the Scottish council elections in May.

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BBC Glories in Death

The BBC appear enraptured by the apparent death of Ronald Fiddler in Mosul fighting for Islamic State forces. Fiddler was a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay, so this “vindicates” the War on Terror. The BBC are leading every news bulletin and giving us full spectrum security services propaganda. We have MI6 mouthpiece Frank Gardner, the discredited neo-con chancers of the Quilliam Foundation and the far right professional supporter of military attacks on the Middle East, Afzal Ashraf, all giving us their views every half hour on the BBC.

It has never been disputed that Ronald Fiddler was tortured in Guantanamo, which is partly why he was paid substantial compensation by the British government. It does not seem to have occurred to the BBC as worth any consideration that the fact Fiddler emerged from Guantanamo and apparently became a supporter of violent Islam, does not in any sense prove that he was a violent islamist before being tortured in Guantanamo. Yet that Guantanamo was the cause of his extreme alienation is on the surface highly probable.

The BBC did not interview Moazzam Begg or Clive Stafford Smith or anybody who might have something thoughtful to say on the subject. Instead they went solely for self-reinforcing voices of the right wing establishment, the most pro-invading the Middle East voices that could possibly be found.

750,000 civilians face the assault on Mosul in the next few days. The rebel forces being attacked have precisely the same religion, precisely the same philosophy, and in a significant number of cases belong to precisely the same organisations as the rebels who were driven out of Aleppo by Assad forces and the Russians. Yet the assault on Mosul is apparently a wonderful thing, to be cheered on by the propaganda of embedded journalists, while the precisely analogous assault on Aleppo was an appalling and irresponsible massacre. It must be very strange to stretch your conscience to work in the BBC; a peculiar and remarkable kind of talent.

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The Edge of Reason

Until the time, not too distant, when we achieve Scottish independence and a moment of political flux where we can attempt to build a fairer nation than the one in which we now live, I am entitled sometimes to get depressed by the appalling injustice and inequity against which I see people struggle daily. Sometimes that depression binds my typing hands and prevents me from writing for days on end. I have been feeling this lately rather acutely.

A couple of days ago I was buying some coal with my son Jamie and reminisced about the days when I worked on a coalyard, shovelling coal into hundredweight sacks. I then explained to him a hundredweight was (strangely) 8 stone or 112 pounds, and tried to express a hundredweight in kilos. By chance it was a fraction over 50 kilos. As we were straining to carry 25kg sacks, I was puzzled how at age 16 I had dealt with 50kg ones. Harder times.

The memory of this conversation led me this morning to decide to write a satirical piece about crazy Little England Brexiteers now being able to bring back Imperial weights and measures and get rid of these awful foreign kilos and metres. Then a little research this morning told me that, about the time I had the conversation with my son, a conservative Minister was mooting exactly that.

You just can’t out-crazy the Tories at the minute.

I was visiting England over half-term and was truly shocked to hear the experience of an Italian friend of mine who lives in London. She had been buying vegetables at a stall and had asked for zucchini. The vendor had replied “They are called courgettes. Use the proper English word or I am not serving you.” She decided to take this as a joke, smiled and said “sorry, courgettes” but the man then said that he couldn’t wait for Brexit when she would be kicked out of the country.

After a couple of days, she decided to report the incident to the police as the upset had not died down. The police were ostensibly very friendly and offered to take action, but they impressed on her the matter was very serious and would lead to the man being arrested and put in the cells. I was, from her account, dubious whether the police had not been emphasising the nuclear options to persuade her to withdraw the complaint while ostensibly doing the opposite, ie taking her complaint at its most serious. They did not outline other possibilities, ie a good talking to and a caution on his record. Not wanting to risk sending the man to prison, she withdrew the complaint.

This is only one piece of anecdotal evidence. I am not yet convinced by evidence that Brexit has created more racists. But that it has socially empowered racists and brought racism into mainstream political discourse is undoubtedly true. That is likely to create still more racists eventually.

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Boris Johnson – an Ethics Free Zone

The total absence of even a shadow of an ethical dimension to UK foreign policy is nowhere better illustrated than its continued relationship with the appalling Uzbek dictatorship. There is competition of course for the role of most unconscionable British policy. The support for the vicious tyrant of Bahrain and the suppression of the Bahraini Shia majority, the secret British military presence on the ground in Saudi Arabia assisting the bombing campaign that has killed thousands of children, these are sickening examples of Britain’s true role in the world.

But for sheer hypocrisy, the continued military support of a dictatorship universally recognised as having no equal in repression outside North Korea, takes the prize. Here are some truly vomit-inducing passages from a speech today by the British ambassador to Uzbekistan:

The Ambassador stressed the great importance of the defence relationship between the UK and Uzbekistan and expressed his gratitude for Uzbekistan’s assistance and longstanding support for transit arrangements that facilitate UK military operations in Afghanistan. Defense cooperation between the two nations has been steadily increasing over the period and is continuing to develop in a mutually beneficial manner. Among many other notable achievements, the British Embassy is proud that the UK was the first nation to sign a defense education agreement between our military academies.

Ambassador Allan spoke about the many positive results achieved over the 25 years of UK-Uzbekistan bilateral political relations. He mentioned the visit of the first President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, HE Mr. Islam Karimov, to the United Kingdom in November 1993, which gave a powerful early stimulus to the development of the relations between two countries. Fittingly, last year – the 25th Anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence – was a particularly important one for bilateral relations in the political sphere. In April 2016, Tobias Ellwood, Deputy Minister at the Foreign Office, visited Uzbekistan to further deepen the bilateral relations between the UK and Uzbekistan. And in December 2016, Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, also visited Uzbekistan. Minister Duncan was privileged to be the first foreign dignitary to congratulate President Mirziyoev on his inauguration in person. The visit of His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulaziz Kamilov, to Great Britain in November 2013 marked an important step in enhancing relations between the two countries and the UK hopes to welcome His Excellency back to London during the course of this year.

You may wish to compare and contrast these extracts of a speech which I wrote and delivered while British Ambassador to Uzbekistan:

Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy. The major political parties are banned; parliament is not subject to democratic election and checks and balances on the authority of the executive are lacking.

There is worse: we believe there to be between seven and ten thousand people in detention whom we would consider as political and/or religious prisoners. In many cases they have been falsely convicted of crimes with which there appears to be no credible evidence they had any connection. Reputable Human Rights groups such as Human
Rights Watch and Amnesty international have brought to our attention specific instances where the same crime is used serially to convict a number of people. There appears to be a belief that such persecution of an individual can be justified by labelling them as an “Islamic extremist”.

Now, with the US and other allies, the British government remains in the very forefront of the commitment to the war against terrorism. And we are most grateful for the invaluable assistance rendered to the coalition by the government of Uzbekistan in respect of operations in Afghanistan. We acknowledge that we face the same global
threat.

Nobody should seek to underestimate the genuine security concerns of the government of Uzbekistan and the difficulties it has faced in countering those who seek to use religion and the problems of poverty to promote terror. Uzbekistan’s strategic situation has put it in the forefront of countries struggling to deal with problems such as terrorism and narcotics trafficking.

But let us make this point: no government has the right to use the war against terrorism as an excuse for the persecution of those with a deep personal commitment to the Islamic religion, and who pursue their views by peaceful means. Sadly the large majority of those wrongly imprisoned in Uzbekistan fall into this category.
But it is not only Muslims who suffer; the British Embassy yesterday observed the trial of a Jehovah’s Witness, being prosecuted for pursuing his beliefs. It should not be a crime to practice your religion, nor to tell others about it. And a number of those imprisoned are ethnic Russian human rights defenders, colleagues of some of my audience. I would like to say at this point how deeply I admire you on a personal level. I am very conscious that I stand here in a very privileged position, in the literal sense. You on the other hand daily risk persecution to stand up for the rights of your fellow citizens. You have my deepest respect and one day your countrymen will be in a position to show you their gratitude.

Uzbekistan is to be congratulated on a good record of ratifying key UN Conventions on human rights; unfortunately there appears to be a gap between obligation and practice.
World attention has recently been focussed on the prevalence of torture in Uzbek prisons. The terrible case of Avazoz and Alimov apparently tortured to death by boiling water, has evoked great international concern. But all of us know that this is not an isolated incident. Brutality is inherent in a system where convictions habitually rely on signed confessions rather than on forensic or material evidence. In the Uzbek criminal justice system the conviction rate is almost 100%. It is difficult not to conclude that once accused by the Prokurator there is no effective possibility of fair trial in the sense we understand it.

Another chilling reminder of the former Soviet Union is the use of commitment to lunatic asylums to stifle dissidents. We are still seeing examples of this in 2002.
Nor does the situation appear to be getting any better. I have been told by people who should know that there are significantly more political and religious detainees now than there were this time last year. From my own meetings with human rights groups from across the country there appears to be a broad picture of a reduction in the rate of arrests in the first half of this year, but a very substantial increase around August. Just last week saw another highly suspicious death in police custody in Tashkent. There is little sign of genuine positive change in Human Rights.

And that is what we want to see; genuine change. By that I mean change which actually increases the liberty of Uzbek citizens in their daily lives.

Among the classified documents I leaked when I blew the whistle (for which under current legislative proposals I would get 14 years in prison) was the correspondence with the FCO in which I cleared this speech for delivery. I think this has gained rather than lost interest over the years and you can read it here.

I do not pretend to be surprised that my tenure as Ambassador did not feature in Ambassador Allan’s account today of the 25 years of British/Uzbek diplomatic relations. He rather outlined a catalogue of British arse-licking. I am however quietly content that so many decent people see my efforts as rather more worthy and substantive than the current shameful policy. Twelve years after my resignation, I still hear from Uzbeks fighting for freedom every single day of my life. In twelve years time nobody in Uzbekistan will recall the name Boris Johnson.

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Irish Union on European Agendas

I was speaking with a Polish friend who is a Member of the European Parliament. He confirmed that Brexit had led to very wide support for Scottish Independence in the Parliament, across many political and national divides. He also made the interesting point that the cause of Irish reunification was again mentioned in the bars of Brussels.

This of course makes perfect sense. With the personal and economic freedoms and common rights of EU citizenship, a sense of both the Republic and the North being inside a much wider union took the edge off some of the grievances of Irish nationalists, at least to the degree that this was a contributing argument for ceasing to pursue reunification by violence. It is a commonplace that Brexit undermines the intellectual and emotional basis of the Good Friday agreement – it certainly does. I hope Brexit will not result in renewed violence, but that it will result in a strongly renewed demand for Irish reunification I do not doubt – and I will support that demand.

The sympathy that demand for Irish union will invoke in Europe post-Brexit is but one example of the extreme diplomatic isolation of the UK under the Little Englanders. Boris Johnson and Liam Fox will have no mates abroad, other than Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi and Gulf tyrants; while Trump’s words of praise for Brexit will be backed by no trade or policy concessions whatsoever.

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