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Support Diego Garcia Football

If you hate the corruption of FIFA and the commercialisation of football, hate the US air base on Diego Garcia, and are ashamed of the British forced deportation of the entire Chagos Islands population to make way for the base, you have an ideal opportunity to do a little good in the world by supporting the appeal to finance the Chagos football team to participate in the Conifa World Cup.

chagos team

This blog makes a point of never asking for money or taking advertising, yet has asked for donations for good causes twice in a fortnight. I apologise but I love this idea, both for the spirit of football and to support the islanders in affirming their right to be considered a nation and to return to their homeland. I have carefully checked it out and this football team – based in Croydon – really does consist of the Chagos community, and it is important to them in helping the young people preserve their identity.

Donate via this page using the “Sport Fund” option. Alternatively you can donate to the UK Chagos Support Group here.

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On the Dangers of Travelling, and on Elections

I have been travelling on business all week, hence the silence. The dangers of travel were brought home to me on Wednesday when, at the White Hart hotel in Lincoln, I inadvertently found myself sitting next to Nigel Farage at breakfast.

I find myself unable to get back home to Edinburgh today and cast my vote, which is frustrating. In Scotland, I do urge everyone who has not yet done so to get out and vote for Independence. I have been slightly downhearted by the tenor of some of the discussion as to whether it is safe to give the list vote to parties other than the SNP. Certainly for any supporter of Independence to give their constituency vote other than to the SNP is Quixotic. But in the entire central belt and in NE Scotland, I am prepared to state boldly – and twelve hours will prove the case – that a list vote for the SNP in those regions is almost certainly wasted, and could rather have helped elect a different pro-Independence MSP.

But I have no argument with the SNP, with Rise, with Solidarity or with anybody else supporting Independence. Differences on how to cast the list vote are largely over calculations of the best tactic, and for that reason some of the hard words and intolerant attitudes I have seen on social media – including on my favourite sites Wings over Scotland and Scot Goes Pop – are not appropriate. We should save our hard words for our enemies, not those fighting for the same cause who may have a different tactical preference. And we should look in future to change the horrible voting system to STV to give voters real choice.

On the Scottish Greens, I should say it very much differs from person to person but I am unconvinced of the strength of their collective commitment to Independence. I am afraid to say I have always found it hard to believe their leader is committed to anything but his own personal advancement. I confess it is not entirely rational, but sometimes I judge people by the feeling I get about them, and in Patrick Harvie’s case it’s “self-serving weasel”.

In England, for the first time in my entire life I find myself wishing well to the Labour Party. This is because the Blairites are self-evidently hoping their own party crashes and burns so they can launch a coup. I hope Labour does well in England because the media campaign against Corbyn has been absolutely disgusting – and because I hate the blue Tories. But even in England, I could never actually vote Labour myself until they expel all the Blairite and Brownite war criminals.

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Fighting Back for the Right to Support Palestine

Last week, Israel bulldozed twelve Palestinian homes in Area C of the illegally occupied West Bank to make way for new illegal settlement building, while two Palestinian minors were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.

This makes it a totally unexceptional week for the Palestinians. It has not however been an unexceptional week for Palestinian supporters in the UK, who have suffered the most vicious coordinated media witch hunt in memory. Two things are happening. The Blairites are trying to engineer a coup against Corbyn by sabotaging Labour in forthcoming elections, while the Israeli lobby seek to discredit all supporters of the Palestinians as anti-semites, including people like me who have no connection to the Labour Party.

The Daily Mail’s Jake Wallis Simons has been at the forefront of this campaign. He implied I am an anti-semite on television. Two years ago in Israel he gave an interview to Haaretz newspaper of which this is a snippet

Screenshot (22)

Now consider if we apply this transposition. It makes plain just how astonishing Wallis Simons’ admission is:

“He and his classmates at his Islamic school would debate which side they would support if Britain and Syria went to war. The consensus, he recalls, was that they would throw their lot in with Syria.”

There is no doubt at all that a Muslim who published this would instantly be arrested and taken for police questioning, to see if their extremist religious indoctrination at school and their fantasies of fighting against Britain meant that they remained a threat. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Islamic school in question would be subject to intense investigation – no matter how long ago the incident was. Almost certainly the Governors would be suspended in the interim and the inquiry extended to similar schools. There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr Wallis Simons’ own Daily Mail would be proclaiming in lurid banner headlines about this Islamic danger.

If the Prevent programme were not in fact purely Islamophobic in both construction and content, action would have been taken against such schools which inculcate anti-British feelings and philosophies. Wallis Simons would have been questioned. But no, it appears some religious extremism is OK, and only some is frowned upon. A Muslim could not publish what Wallis Simons publishes, let alone occupy well paid roles in the UK corporate media.

In the Haaretz article, the Daily Mail’s Wallis Simons expresses regret at having published his anti-British views. But note the grounds on which he regrets. Because it is “too personal” and because people “keep digging it up” when he writes on the Middle East. It “undermines everything”: in other words it reduces his influence in the UK.

He does not say in Haaretz that he no longer holds the same views. Rather he shows concern that, because people can discover that view, the value and influence of his pro-Israeli propaganda is diminished in the UK. It is also interesting that in this article Simons refers to the West Bank as Samaria – the term is only used by those Zionists who claim that all of the West Bank is an integral part of Israel.

At this stage I should very much like, in all fairness, to read the Guardian article referenced by Haaretz to see if in that article he says he has changed his mind and, as someone who was born a Londoner and has lived all his life in Britain, his allegiance is firmly to Britain and not to Israel. I can perhaps understand he would not say that to Haaretz while promoting his book sales in Israel. But I cannot find the Guardian article anywhere online.

JAKE WALLIS SIMONS’ INCREDIBLE VANISHING ALLEGIANCE

The article incriminating Wallis Simons appears shortly after his Haaretz interview to have vanished from the internet, even from the Wayback machine and archive.org. Given that it must have been very controversial, it has left astonishingly little trace. You can find the odd tantalising reference here or there, but the link never works, and not only to the Guardian. Here is but one example of am entry we found:

Jake Wallis Simons (biographical details)
cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/authors.php?auid=59236
This is a biographical profile of Jake Wallis Simons. … When British author and journalist Jake Wallis … they would support if Britain and Israel went to war.

But when you try that link, you cannot get the page, and the same is true of everything else online that looks like it is going to reveal Wallis Simons’ once public declaration.

Wallis Simons complained to Haaretz that “whenever I write about the Middle East, people dig it up”. And yet we have found it impossible to dig up. In fact is appears that very substantial effort must have been put in to expunging from the internet all trace that Wallis Simons ever wrote it. That is really hard to do, and requires a great deal of resources, and probably the collusion of The Guardian.

Obviously to preserve Wallis Simons’ effectiveness as an Israeli propagandist, it was considered worth those resources.

I do hope that by now you have been angry with me for not putting a link to the Haaretz article and only giving you highly selective quotations. I have done this deliberately, just to make plain how entirely unfair it is as a technique. Simons used this technique on me on Sky News by selectively quoting one phrase – not even the whole sentence – out of context to show I was an anti-Semite who sneered at the “tribe” of Israel. Out of context this part sentence was so outrageous I did not recognise it, and I called Mr Simons a liar, in which I was wrong. He then went on twitter to tweet around a tiny snippet of what I had written, causing the expected stream of abusive tweets to come my way.

Screenshot (27)

My response was to republish the entire post, acknowledging that Mr Simons did not lie but putting the phrase in its context. Mr Simons has nevertheless said that he will sue me, and I look forward to that. But unlike Mr Simons – who has still never given a link to my full article from which he took the phrase out of context to misrepresent me – I do not cheat and distort in argument, so his full Haaretz interview is here.

Indeed, could I find anywhere that Mr Simons had said that he retracts his view and that he would not fight for Israel against the UK, I would very definitely publish that too in the interests of fairness. But I simply cannot find it.

PERPETUATING THE DIVIDED LOYALTIES TROPE

What is particularly infuriating about Simons is that “divided loyalties” is indeed a trope that has been used against Jews – and against Catholics and immigrant groups – by racists over the years. By his stupid point about once wanting to fight Britain for Israel, Simons reinforces and perpetuates this trope. This is infuriating to those of us campaigning for a peaceful multicultural Britain, just as infuriating as it is when our efforts against Islamophobia are undermined by the occasional Islamic extremist doing something stupid.

In this context, my article from which Simons extracted one phrase is extremely revealing in its subject matter. He chose an article in which I attacked a statement by Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett. Responding to criticism of Netanyahu by Obama’s White House, Bennett said:

“The prime minister [Netanyahu] is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world. Such severe insults towards the prime minister of Israel are hurtful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews all over the world.”

This statement is completely unacceptable. Benjamin Netanyahu is not the leader of British Jews, and Israel does not lead “the whole Jewish world”. All of the British Jews I know would utterly repudiate, and be horrified by, the idea that Benjamin Netanyahu is their leader. Jewish British people are British, just like Black, Asian or other British people. They are British not Israeli. For an Israeli minister to claim leadership of all Jews in the world absolutely cannot be admitted. But – and this is the important point – it is exactly the same argument as the contention by Jake Wallis Simons that he, a British Jew, would have fought for Israel against the land of his birth.

It is exactly the same argument that Israeli and Jew are synonymous, and therefore to attack Israel is anti-Semitism. It is exactly the same argument that Jew equals Israel so anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. It is exactly the same argument the entire corporate and mainstream media have been drumming into our heads 24 hours a day. And the object is to outlaw any criticism of Israel or active support for the Palestinians. The object is to make Zionism compulsory, at the very least as political correctness, and there are rumblings that anti-Zionism should be made illegal.

It only appears surprising that those of us who have fought all racism – including anti-Semitism – our entire lives, now come under attack. It is not surprising when you look in to the motives of those who lead the attack; they are supporting a racist, apartheid state. We should stop being defensive and shout this from the rooftops. In an appalling article in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff listed use of #apartheidIsrael as an indicator of anti-Semitism. Even more astonishing, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the same newspaper that we are hypocrites for attacking Israel, which is only doing what Australia, Canada and the USA did to their indigenous populations. He did not acknowledge that these were appalling crimes, subject of recent historic apologies and the source of much shame. Nor that the world is supposed to have moved on from Imperialism.

The media onslaught against Palestine is as unrelenting as it is intellectually bankrupt.

To finish with Jake Wallis Simons, he is a major figure in the anti-Palestine barrage. Wallis Simons was the author of the highly tendentious Daily Mail article of 7 August 2015 headlined “Jeremy Corbyn’s “longstanding links” with notorious Holocaust denier and his “anti-Semitic” organisation revealed.” The inverted commas are in the original headline and they are sure signs that the Mail’s lawyers have pointed out something is completely untrue – so they indicate the Mail is only “reporting an accusation”. This article was the origin of the joint Israel/Blairite campaign which has been gathering momentum ever since, up until the current explosion of orchestrated media hatred against Palestine supporters.

Precisely what is happening became much more obvious this week with the revelation that Alex Chalmers, the Oxford student who had made the entirely unsubstantiated claims of anti-Semitism at Oxford University, had previously been an intern at BICOM, the oligarch funded Israeli propaganda outfit (officially the British Israel research and Communications Centre). Possibly the best-funded lobby group in UK politics, BICOM has contributed funding and trips to Israel to many of the Blarities involved in the present propaganda blitz.

160428-chalmers-bicom

Chalmers’ claims have been central to all published accounts of “Labour anti-semitism” and were used by Cameron to attack Corbyn in the Commons. University authorities have found no evidence to back Chalmers’ claims and his main complaint was that there had been an Israeli Apartheid week held by students. In fact his claim depends entirely on the notion that to criticise Israel is anti-Semitism. A theme is emerging here. BICOM is also the organisation which funded Adam Werrity to accompany Liam Fox to Israel, and to which Hillary Benn said shortly before his Syria War speech “we must seek to take on those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel”

Which gives us yet another pointer. The cheerleaders of the current “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt have a 99% correlation with the supporters and cheerleaders of the Iraq war, and their targets are, I believe without any exception, opponents of the Iraq War. This is in part a kind of twisted revenge for having been shown, not least in the last couple of days, to have been hopelessly wrong about Iraq. The wound of being labelled with that monstrous policy failure has fatally undermined the Blairites. Now they delude themselves that they have unanimous mainstream media “vindication”, because all their opponents were just racists all along!

I make not one penny from expressing my views to the public for the purpose of debate. This blog does not even have adverts. I have no official position. There is nothing from which I can be expelled. I am not scared of courts. We face an attempt to make it compulsory to support Zionism. To make it impossible to stand up for the rights of the Palestinians. Yet that campaign is led by a totally self-centred and isolated metropolitan elite, who cannot understand that on Palestine as on so much else they do not represent us. I shall not be intimidated into abandoning my campaigning against apartheid Israel, and nor will many others. The battle for truth is a hard one at the moment, but we will prevail.

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The Pregnant Woman: An Everyday Story from Palestine

Our corporate and state media deliberately fails to report what is happening daily in Palestine. This account from Reuters three days ago was not used in any British mainstream media:

JERUSALEM // Israeli police shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother yesterday at a checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, police and witnesses said.

Israeli police claimed the pair approached the vehicles-only lane at the Qalandiya military checkpoint and tried to carry out an attack. They said the woman was holding a knife and both she and the man walked rapidly towards police and security guards in a vehicles-only lane at the Qalandia checkpoint outside Jerusalem.

Alaa Soboh, a Palestinian bus driver who said he witnessed the incident, said the pair had appeared to be unfamiliar with crossing procedures and were swiftly challenged at the checkpoint.

“As soon as the two crossed, [Israeli forces] started screaming ‘Go back, go back’, and then they began shooting,” he said.

“The first one they shot was the girl, the boy tried to go backward, when they fired seven bullets at him.”

A witness told the Palestinian Maan News Agency that Israeli forces fired more than 15 rounds into the woman’s body.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces denied Palestinian paramedics access tothe woman for medical treatment, the agency reported.

The pair were identified as 24-year-old mother of two Maram Abu Ismail, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim Taha. The siblings were from the West Bank town of Qatuna.

The victims’ family, interviewed by Palestinian media, said that Maram was five months pregnant at the time of her death.

No Israelis were injured in the incident.

The military checkpoint where the two were killed is a main ­access point for Palestinians to cross from the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem and has been the site of a number of alleged, actual, and attempted attacks since October.

In the past six months, Israeli forces have killed at least 193 Palestinians, 130 of whom Israel said were assailants.

Many others were shot dead in clashes and protests.

* Reuters

Frankly I do not believe that the pregnant woman was walking towards the heavily armed soldiers openly wielding a knife from a distance. If she were attempting to stab a soldier, she would have concealed any knife, and not called attention by walking in the vehicle lane. Even if the account were true, I do not accept that a group of soldiers could not defend themselves against a heavily pregnant woman with a knife, spotted at a distance and approaching on foot, in any other way than by putting fifteen bullets into her, even if her sixteen year old brother was with her – and witnesses say he was backing away when he was himself shot.

The truth is that Palestinian lives simply do not matter. They did not matter to the Israeli soldiers who callously shot them dead rather than try to discover what was actually happening, and they do not matter to the British media who do not report this, yet find massive room for ludicrous accusations against British supporters of Palestine. Reuters tells us that 193 Palestinians have been killed in six months. These two will be added to the 130 whom Israel claim were assailants, a very large number of whom were in reality not. But even the Israeli figure admits Israel has killed 63 Palestinians who were not assailants, and many thousands more have had their homes destroyed to make way for yet more illegal Israeli settlers.

An everyday story for Palestinians. A terrible personal tragedy for the murdered woman, her murdered little brother, her unborn child and her surviving small children.

And here is the secret. The British media are frightened that you will care. That is why they do not tell you.

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How the BBC Stole the Referendum

I suspect the next referendum could be much sooner than generally expected. Documenting and spreading awareness of the astonishing state propaganda campaign by the BBC is an extremely important task in advance of that. I urge you to make a donation, however small, to help Alan Knight finish the documentary How the BBC Stole the Referendum. Filming has been completed and I have seen a lot of the edit in progress, which really is excellent. I only play a very small part among a great many more distinguished contributors, but it so happens I feature in the little teaser of completed work they have put out for the fundraising campaign. I think it gives an idea of the professional production standards they are working to.

Please give something, anything. Many a mickle maks a muckle. In fighting the state and corporate media, we have only ourselves, and sometimes that means the change in our pockets too.

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Where Are the Other 10 Million Panama Papers?

When I posted my scepticism that we would be given the full truth about the content of the Panama Papers by the mainstream media outlets who were controlling them, it went viral and became the first individual article to be read by half a million people on this blog alone, and a multiple of that as it was posted all round the web, translated into several languages.

I also attracted some derision from establishment propagandists. I had contended that the fact the papers themselves were not made available, but we were rather fed selected information by the western and corporate state media, would limit and slant what the public was told. The initial concentration on Russia, Iran, Syria etc seemed to confirm this. But it was urged that more was to come, and I should wait, and it was suggested I would look foolish when they finished publishing. “Wait and see” tweeted the editor of the lead newspaper, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, in response to my post.

Well I waited, and what happened? The story fizzled out.

Take the UK. We got the stuff about Putin, Iran and various “baddies”. We got a story about Cameron’s dad that had been public knowledge already for four years. And we got the BBC chasing one bloke who had sold one house in Islington. And that was it.

We learnt that the majority of dodgy companies were registered in British overseas territories. We learnt that the largest number of dodgy lawyers and accountants working with Mossack Fonseca were in the UK. Yet in these millions of documents, not one major British company or individual not already known was implicated. Do we really believe that? And do we really believe the near complete absence of people implicated from the United States?

I have a clue what is going on. A young lady contacted me from Le Monde newspaper. She was one of the journalists working on the Panama Papers. She had been allocated the task of researching a Russian oligarch, and not knowing I had made any comment on the Panama Papers, she contacted me as I had background information on the man. Her email made plain that the “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists” in Washington was closely controlling the process, and that what she wrote would have to go back to them for “checking” before publication. The ICIJ is funded, as I pointed out, by corporate America. Their donors include:

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

So, in one stroke, the argument that the data was not being controlled because it was “shared with hundreds of journalists around the world” falls. That argument was repeatedly thrown at me but it appears not to be true; hundreds of journalists did not have unfettered access to the entire database or free publication of their findings. It was very much a controlled leak.

Of course I am not claiming there is absolute control. It is a matter of degree. As I pointed out, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation made a documentary which directly implicated and challenged Australia’s biggest company, BHP Billiton, and Australia’s biggest foreign investor. But that only emphasises the problem.

Are we really supposed to believe that in Australia the biggest economic players were involved, but in the UK – where far more lawyers and accountants were implicated – it was just Cameron’s dad and a slightly dodgy geezer in Islington?

The corporate media still claim there are legitimate reasons, apart from avoiding tax and jurisdiction, for using companies like Mossack Fonseca. They will therefore – again contrary to a widespread claim – only be publishing a small minority of the actual documents for the public to search. “The application will not be a ‘data dump’ of the original documents — it will be a careful release of basic corporate information” says the ICIJ. Their words, not mine.

So the fundamental question is, do you trust the corporate media to give you a true picture? By passing the data to the corporate media the leaker has put us back to a pre-WikiLeaks world. My instinct is not to trust them, and the promised revelations that would prove me wrong are yet to appear.

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My Anti-Racist Comments on Israel

I was accused on Sky News of making comments attacking the Jewish tribe. Ripped from its context, the remark appeared so offensive I could not conceive I had ever made it. I find now that in fact I did say it, but in the context of a specific remark by an Israeli minister making a claim that the Israeli Prime Minister leads all Jews worldwide. My remark was part of a post attacking all racism. They could equally well have taken the quote “I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people” out of the post.

To be absolutely open, I repeat the post here:

Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett has claimed of Binyamin Netanyahu that “The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world.” Really? Netanyahu is the leader of all the Jews in London, or California, or Ethiopia, who may never have set foot in his state?

This extraordinary remark by Bennett lays bare the fundamental flaw in the very concept of Israel. It is not a modern state, defined as a territory and comprising all the various citizens of whatever descent who live within it. It is rather a vicious racist construct, defined absolutely by race, refusing territorial limits, and with an aggressive theocratic overlay that claims tribal superiority over the entire rest of the world.

Here is a picture of the New Zealand cricket team. In the last twelve months, New Zealand cricket teams have fielded payers including Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Colin Munro, Dean Brownlie, Ross Taylor, Rob Nicol, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne and Mark Craig, not to mention the McCullum brothers. But if I told you that Alex Salmond was the leader of all Scots around the world, including the Black Caps, you would quite rightly call me a nutter.

We would not tolerate the level of racism in any other country that we tolerate from Israel. There was a huge outcry against Labour MP Paul Flynn who dared question whether it was sensible to send a strongly professed Zionist Jew as British ambassador to Israel, but when the Israeli government itself proclaim the political leadership of all Jews all over the world, it is a logical impossibility not to ask the question.

I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people, but by their increasingly hardline racialist approach, their unceasing encroachment on Palestinian land and their rigorous adoption of all the racist mechanisms of an apartheid state internally, I fear that the window of opportunity for a peaceful future for those Jewish people living in what is currently Israel is closing fast.

It must be universally proclaimed: there is not a single racial group in the whole world from whom worldwide racial claims of political allegiance, or an internal racially based legislative order, are acceptable. Bennett’s remarks are beyond the limit of civilised political discourse.

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Where Angels Fear to Tread

I have accepted an offer from Sky News tomorrow to discuss anti-Semitism in the UK, where I shall argue that opponents of Israeli policy are being tarred with anti-Semitism in an witch-hunt.

I do this with some trepidation, because the media hype has become so hysterical that I am certain to face accusations of anti-Semitism myself for daring to question the narrative that has gripped the corporate media and political elite. But witch-hunts succeed because not enough decent people have the courage to stand against them; I imagine Sky contacted an awful lot of people who refused to do it before they worked all the way down to me.

Nor am I expecting to get a level playing field from the Murdoch media on which to argue my point. As I doubt I shall get a chance to put my case without interruption, this is what I am going to be trying to say.

Real anti-Semitism does exist and is to be deplored without reservation. Thankfully it is much rarer in the UK than in many other European countries.

There is a deliberate ploy by Israel to brand Palestinian sympathisers and critics of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic, in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel, as the settlements programme makes any two state solution completely non-viable.

Support for Israel is a clear dividing issue between Corbynites and Blairites. The Blairites are hopeless and defeated, so are seizing on the meme that critic of Israel equals anti-semite as a means to undermine Corbyn and create a leadership crisis

They have the tool to amplify this as the corporate media, like the political “elite”, are massively more pro-Israel in their sympathies than the great bulk of the population.

I think the chances of my getting to say much of that on air are pretty limited!

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Compulsory Zionism

In view of the current outbreak of compulsory Zionism, I thought that I might make certain my own position is quite clear, as delivered to an audience of 250,000 people a few years ago

gazademo

UPDATE The Blairite witch-hunt of Palestinian advocates has of course accelerated since I posted this. I am quite certain that Ken Livingstone is no racist of any kind.

However the subject of any collusion between certain Zionists and Nazis had been a banned topic on this blog for years, because it is a subject of no modern relevance, and is attractive to actual anti-semites who I do not wish to have making comments. If you wish to discuss whether or not Ken Livingstone was factually correct, please do it somewhere else.

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On Revolutionary Attitude

evil bastards

The news that Philip Green systematically asset stripped British Home Stores of hundreds of millions of pounds, and that these were paid to his wife in Monaco so there was no tax, is simply an everyday story of the society we live in. Not only will there probably be 10,000 redundancies, a much larger number will see their company pensions disappear due to the unexplained hollowing out of the company pension fund. Meantime Green is buying a new £100 million luxury yacht.

more evil bastards

yet more evil bastards

I am willing to predict that Cameron, Blair and Clinton all find their way on to Philip Green’s new yacht. I am willing to bet that no ex-employee of BHS ever does.

Green's New Yacht Lionheart - He Already Has Two Others

Green’s New Yacht Lionheart – He Already Has Two Others

Outrage is muted because we are just so used to it. Modern capitalism makes Gordon Gekko look like a philanthropist. The bankers’ bailout used the state to effect a mass transfer of wealth from us all to the super rich on an unprecedented scale. But the entire system is skewed to facilitate, every second, the sucking of wealth into the hands of the “elite”. The finance industry is deregulated and extraordinarily lightly taxed, when other areas of activity are heavily taxed. The large majority of transactions ordinary people undertake are subjected to major sales tax – VAT within the EU – while the financial juggling of Mr Green is not taxed at any stage. State activity which involves spending is now channelled through private providers, or involves totally unnecessary layers of financial intermediaries, in order to divert yet more money from the people to the rich. Concentration of capital and deregulation of labour markets have all tipped the balance of economic power decisively away from ordinary people.

The greatest growth in history of wealth inequality in has occurred these last three decades and it is not an accidental occurrence. It is a result of these policies designed to achieve that effect. When first initiated by Reagan and Thatcher, there was no attempt to deny these policies boosted the super-rich. It was rather claimed crumbs would accrue to everyone through trickledown. Nobody believes that any more.

President Obama held a meeting with young people in London last week and sold them his big lie, that change is possible within the present system. He told them not to be “pessimistic”.

The truth is that there is very little hope for young people in the UK. They are saddled with massive tuition fee debt as they leave a commoditised education system in which University Principals are paid £300,000 a year plus. They move in to a market which does not provide nearly enough graduate level jobs for the number of graduates produced. Work they do find leaves them at the mercy of their employers with very few rights or benefits. They will normally live most of their lives in private sector rental, where each will be a small part of the astonishing 9 billion pounds per year the taxpayer gives to private landlords in housing benefit – yet another direct transfer by the state from ordinary people to the rich. Indeed, for a great many tenants, every penny they pay in tax goes in effect to their landlord in housing benefit.

The value of derivatives bets in the City of London I have seen estimated at anything from 30 to 100 times the annual GDP of the United Kingdom. Real economic activity – buying and selling actual goods and visible services – has become almost irrelevant to money and its ownership.

Obama is wrong. There is no hope within the existing system. The extent of social and economic change which is needed is as revolutionary as that undertaken by the Russian and French revolutions. That does not mean to say it needs to be as bloody. The world has changed. When children were executed for stealing handkerchiefs, executing those who had battened off the poor did not seem such a big thing. We are more civilised now and I don’t advocate killing Philip Green.

But we do need a revolutionary mindset when it comes to certainty of the justice of the cause. I upset people by my urging us to disrespect Tories, including ordinary Tories, in my last article. But I fear this is necessary. Society is so obviously broken to the disadvantage of the many, that to indulge those who, from self-interest or media brainwashing or nostalgia, support the status quo is not helpful. People have to be shocked out of their complacency and made to see the ugly truth behind the mass propaganda. Unionists, Blairites, Tories, we should stop according them all respect. It is uncomfortable of course, but otherwise nothing will change.

Voltaire put it best when her wrote “it is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” I would contend that the best way is to call out in public “Look at that f***ing fool! They’re wearing a chain!”.

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The Tories Are Disgusting

Albania Andorra Armenia Austria Azerbaijan Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Malta Moldova Monaco Montenegro Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Russia San Marino Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom

Do you know what those countries have in common? It is the membership of the Council of Europe, and also the signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a Council of Europe instrument.

The Convention – which was initiated and championed by the British government – seeks to guarantee human rights to all Europeans, and is of course based on the notion that national governments cannot always be trusted not to maltreat its own citizens and thus peer review and oversight by a supranational court are desirable.

Note that Russia and Turkey are members and are prepared to be held to these standards. The only eligible countries which are not members are the Vatican and the dictatorship of Belarus.

Basic human rights are under greater attack in the UK than in any other member state. We have more communications surveillance, more video surveillance, more organised government informers under “Prevent” and more secret police per head of population than either Russia or Turkey.

It is therefore not surprising that it is in the UK that the responsible Minister – Theresa May – is today calling for the UK to leave the European Convention of Human Rights. It is indeed complete affirmation of the truth of what I have been saying about the police state the UK has become.

Tories are now prepared openly to argue that we should refuse to accept basic human rights protections which Russia and Turkey accept. To resile from the Convention would result in our being booted out of the Council of Europe and put in the same category as Belarus.

The Council of Europe remains an extremely valuable body for controlling East-West tensions – now as important a role as ever – and keeping a dialogue going, on a footing of equality, on questions of security and rights all across Europe.

The Tory party’s innate racism has been shown up recently in its attitudes to child refugees, and Cameron and Johnson comments on Sadiq Khan and Barack Obama. Theresa May is flaunting its fascistic streak.

There is a parliamentary election on in Scotland at the moment. Tories should not just be spurned and treated with disdain. They should be reviled and derided in public with open expressions of disgust, all of them, voters as well as activists.

UPDATE I should clarify that the Council of Europe is not the same as the European Union, it is a much wider body with the above membership.

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Trans-Gender, Non-Binary and Related Issues

Today I thought I might blog on a subject I understand nothing about. (Cries of “no change there then” echo around the internet). For the life of me, I have not been able to absorb what the controversies around transgender and non-binary actually are. I can think of no vaguely sensible reason why people ought not to be allowed to be what they wish to be. I am astonished there should be arguments about public bathrooms, and cannot understand why people cannot use whichever of these they wish to use too. There must be more to it than this, or people wouldn’t keep writing newspaper articles about it or asking POTUS. But the nature of the controversy is to me entirely mysterious.

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The New McCarthyism – The “Anti-Semitism” Hysteria Gripping the UK

Tony Greenstein has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. Tony is 100% Jewish from an Orthodox family. But he is also one of the founders of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and in the current hysterical witch-hunt, being pro-Palestinian rights is sufficient indication of anti-Semitism. Just as making herbal medicine used to make you a witch.

The catalyst for the campaign is that one of the clearest dividing lines between Blairites and Corbyn supporters is Israel. Blairites are unanimously, unequivocally pro-Israel and prepared to defend even the most blatantly disproportionate Israeli attacks on Gaza, land grabs or checkpoint shootings as self-defence. Corbyn supporters unanimously have more sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and are critical of what they view (and I agree) as the apartheid state Israel has developed.

Because of the dreadful persecution of the Jews in the 20th century, anti-Semitism is the most emotionally charged of all political accusations. As it should be. Anti-Semitism is an appalling racism, and while all racism is evil, recent history makes anti-Semitism especially charged.

The background is that the Blairites are in utter political disarray. They and the rest of the Right are struggling against popular revulsion at the massive wealth inequalities fostered by their extreme neo-liberal policies these past four decades. There are very few things they can say which gain any popular traction. So they reach for the dread accusation of anti-Semitism.

The other meme of the right which gains popular support is the massive exaggeration of the threat of “Islamist” terrorism, again fuelled by natural popular revulsion at events like Paris and Brussels. Government programmes like Prevent are designed to further inculcate Islamophobia. All these issues can then be merged as a symplistic lie that Muslims hate Jews, therefore those defending Muslims from Islamophobia are also anti-Semitic. The witch-hunt spreads further.

This is the background to David Cameron’s extraordinary parliamentary attack on Sadiq Khan. Less attention has been paid to an even more appalling parliamentary exchange yesterday as allegations of anti-semitism were thrown around with gay abandon:

– Matthew Offord: Just weeks after the co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour club stepped down, saying that a large proportion of both the OULC and the student left in Oxford “have some kind of problem with Jews”, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be incredulous to hear that students who attended the National Union of Students conference in Brighton yesterday debated boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day and then went on to elect as its president someone who described the University of Birmingham as “something of a Zionist outpost” in British higher education. May we have a Minister come to the Dispatch Box to set out measures that the Government will take to counter the rise in anti-Semitism that is being fomented on university campuses?
– Chris Grayling: That is simply unacceptable in our society. The views expressed yesterday are not acceptable. The shadow Leader of the House was absolutely right when he talked about anti-Semitism in his own party. All of us from all political parties should work to stamp it out across our society, as it is simply unacceptable.
– Bob Blackman: Further to the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Dr Offord), it is ironic that the Holocaust Educational Trust was holding a reception and information session in this place at the same time as the National Union of Students was debating a motion to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day, and that speakers in favour of that were applauded for saying that Holocaust Memorial Day was not inclusive enough. Clearly, there is a great deal of work to be done on education to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism, so may we have a debate in Government time on what action we are going to take to root that out once and for all among all political parties and among all sections of society?
– Chris Grayling: My hon. Friend is right. We are seeing that happen time and again—statements about the Jewish population in this country, statements about Israel, that are unacceptable in a democratic society. Of course, there are legitimate debates to be had about the future of Israel and Palestine and the peace process, but some of the anti-Semitic views that are appearing in our society are simply unacceptable. [Interruption.] Labour Members mention Islamophobia. I have stood at the Dispatch Box time and again and condemned Islamophobia in this country, but that is not a reason for not paying attention to the issue of anti-Semitism, which is becoming more and more of a problem and must be addressed head-on now by all those in public life, including the Labour party.
– Barry Sheerman: [excerpt] After the unfortunate remarks by the Leader of the House about the Labour party being riddled with anti-Semitism, may I ask, as someone who has fought anti-Semitism in the Labour party and in this country all his life, whether we can have an early debate about that issue? That is so important on a day when the people who want to take us out of Europe have invited Marine Le Pen to come here and speak.
– Chris Grayling: On the issue of anti-Semitism and the Labour party, I would encourage Labour Members to have a debate. The shadow Leader of the House is absolutely right to have written the article he did, saying that anti-Semitism is not acceptable, but, of course, his words have to be turned into action by the Labour party.

I frankly find it very difficult to believe that anti-Semitism is rife in Oxford University, and find the prominence given to the unsubstantiated claims of one single extreme pro-Israel activist rather extraordinary. The attack on new NUS President Malia Bouattia is a truly horrible piece of witch-hunting. But it is useful in one thing; it makes the witch-hunt’s primary method, the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, absolutely explicit.

Daniel Clemens, the president of Birmingham J-Soc, said her response was “completely unsatisfactory”. “There is quite a bit of uproar among the wider campus and student community,” Clemens said. “I think that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are two and the same thing. Zionism is the belief that Jewish people should have a homeland to live in without threat of annihilation or war. This stems from a Jewish belief. So when someone attacks Zionism they’re indirectly attacking Judaism as a religion, because the two go hand in hand.”

The idea that the religious belief of entitlement to the land of the Palestinians, is such that it is racist to deny the land to those who hold that belief, is frankly crazy. But that is the entire intellectual basis of the current witch-hunt, which operates solely on conflating the anti-Zionism of Tony Greenstein with anti-Semitism. It is a constant theme in the media, led of course by the Blairite cheerleaders at the Guardian. I called out Nick Cohen on his hate speech a few weeks ago.

Andrew Gilligan in the Daily Telegraph even completely fabricated a story that DFID had withdrawn funding for the charity War on Want because it organised “anti-Semitic” conferences. I personally contacted the DFID spokesman, who said that no funding had been withdrawn at all. But more disturbing is that, again, Gilligan seeks to portray simple anti-Zionist statements as anti-Semitic. He objects to:

“At another rally – sponsored by War on Want – a speaker said that British government policy was created by “Zionist and neo-con lobbies”.”

That is a statement which I – and millions of others – would heartily endorse. But we are not anti-Semites. Unsurprisingly, Gilligan calls in precisely the same Oxford University student to back up his wild accusations.

Anti-Semitism does exist. In a membership as large as that of the Labour Party, there are bound to be a handful around, and if they can be identified they should indeed be expelled. I have seen a couple of examples quoted – people who talk of “big noses” and “jewish bankers”. Certainly such people must be shunned. In my lifetime’s experience, anti-Semitism is more prevalent on the right than the left, but fortunately does not infect a significant proportion of the population in the UK. I have yet to encounter any in Scotland.

But to conflate anti-Semitism with opposition to the apartheid state of Israel is to demean the very meaning of anti-Semitism. If they really had respect for its victims, they would not seek to do that.

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UK Killing Civilians for Oil Again in the King Salman Canal Project

The UK government insists on continuing the massive supply – £2.8 billion since the start of the attack – of high tech weapons for Saudi Arabia to use against civilians in Yemen, despite opposition from the EU Parliament and every major human rights group. Furthermore UK special forces are operating inside Yemen in support of the onslaught. Thousands of civilians have died as a result, including many children.

Given this is not exactly popular in the UK, and that after the law takes its tortuous course there will very probably be embarrassment for the government down the line, the prize which Cameron perceives must be great. Of course, western elite support for the appalling Saudi regime is a given, because Saudi cash pumps primarily into banking, armaments and high end property, the three areas most dear to the interests of the 1%.

Yemen of course has very little oil of its own. But where the West gets involved in conflict, it is almost always at base either about oil resources (eg Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Iraq) or oil routes (eg Afghanistan, Georgia, Balkans). It turns out that Britain’s unflinching military support of Saudi Arabian aggression in Yemen is about oil routes.

hormuzcanal

Last year the Saudis announced a plan to drive a ship canal through Saudi desert, Oman and Yemen to the Gulf of Aden, bypassing the straits of Hormuz. This would reduce ship journeys by approximately 500 miles, and limit any potential physical threat to shipping from Iran. It is worth noting that Iran has stated it will not block the strait of Hormuz, and is a signatory to the UN Law of the Sea Convention which would make that illegal. Iranian control of the strait of Hormuz has long been the nightmare of the American right.

The canal project is moving forward in the Saudi governmental system and has now formally been assigned to the Ministry of Electricity, after an internal royal family wrangle as control of the mega project will obviously bring massive opportunities for self enrichment. It is now to be associated with the construction of nuclear power plants, which it is difficult to believe are unrelated to Saudi desire for nuclear weapons. It is to be called the King Salman canal.

Oman would probably welcome the canal, but Yemen is much more problematic. There would need to be a Yemeni government not only willing to agree, but both able and willing to enforce security on the canal. And given that the eastern Yemeni regions through which it would pass are predominantly Shia, this is a major problem for the Saudis. A problem that could only be resolved by taking effective military control of Yemen.

The United Kingdom is supporting yet another war for oil. But don’t worry about it, the corporate media is full of the Queen’s birthday! Stop thinking and shout hurrah!

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The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns 292

I have a confession to make. Back in 2014 I posted that I was going to write something further on the subject of the McCanns. In the end I did not, because I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I received, from a number of decent people, who were enraged that I might be prepared to write something not to the McCanns’ advantage. But I regret being so pusillanimous, particularly as so much discussion has been suppressed by the extremely aggressive stance taken on threats of libel action on this story.

So in the full knowledge that some decent people will be outraged, here it is.

This week there have been two more developments. The Home Office has announced that it will fund still further the police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, on which £10 million has already been spent. Plus the appeals court in Lisbon has overturned the libel verdict against the Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral, who led the case and formed his own firm convictions at to what happened. The 500,000 euro libel award to the McCanns is now cancelled.

None of these sums of money would matter in the least, and practically nobody would grudge any expense, to have Madeleine McCann alive, safe and happy. There can be nothing worse for a parent than the loss of a child, whatever the circumstances. If the McCanns genuinely do not know what happened, that must be agonising beyond belief. My grandparents had a nineteen year old son, an uncle I never knew, missing in action in World War 2 and the pain never left them, even when his fate was resolved.

And yet, and yet… It is because our children are so precious to us that we treat them as such. I recall an incident on Jamie’s first birthday, which we spent in a hotel in Italy. I was in the room with Jamie. My then wife had gone out to the car. The birthday cake was delivered to reception and had to be paid for. Jamie was fast asleep. I dashed out of the hotel room, down two flights of steps to reception, literally threw the money at them and ran back up the stairs. I was away under two minutes but have never experienced such adrenalin, nor would wish to again. An overwhelming instinct had kicked in telling me I had done wrong in leaving the baby unattended, even so briefly.

I find the McCanns’ behaviour indefensible. There appears to be a disconnect in the public mind in the UK which prevents people from realising just how far the McCanns were from their children. This is a useful graphic just to see the layout, (do not worry about the other info on it).

maddie2_09_map

The McCanns could not actually see their apartment from the tapas bar due to the wall around the pool. To get back there, they had to use the gate and walk around that wall, which made it a 75 yard hike. And the apartment had double doors onto the street on the opposite side of the block from that facing the pool.

I do not see how anybody understanding this geography can consider that it was normal parenting for the McCanns to leave two one year olds and a three year old, alone in the apartment in these circumstances – for hours, and repeatedly several days running. It is something I would absolutely never dream of doing with my own children. If nothing else, had any of the children been crying and in distress – and the chances of that with three tiny children are pretty high – there was no way they could hear them.

The claimed abduction is not the only thing that could have happened. Cholic. Vomiting. Sore nappies. Coughing. Choking. Bad dreams. Overheating. All kinds of thing can distress children. So far as I can judge, it is not that I am weird in my own views, rather it is absolutely accepted in British society that you do not leave 1 year olds without care of an adult. Why are the McCanns an exception?

Which leads me on to the question of why they received such exceptional treatment from British authorities, directed straight from No. 10, to the extent that Blair and Brown eventually gave them a PR representative? I used at one stage to be Resident Clerk in the FCO, a now abolished post effectively of night duty officer. I can tell you from horrible personal experience that the FCO deals with gut-wrenching cases of lost or dead children abroad frequently. I spent one of the most terrible three hours of my life, through to a cold dawn, on the phone with a hysterical bereaved mother desperate to explore any avenue that might give a possibility that the boy who had just drowned in Brazil was misidentified as her son. On average, I am afraid such tragedies get substantially less than 1% of the public resources that were devoted to the McCanns.

I am going to come straight out with this. British diplomatic staff were under direct instruction to support the McCanns far beyond the usual and to put pressure on the Portuguese authorities over the case. I have direct information that more than one of those diplomatic staff found the McCanns less than convincing and their stories inconsistent. Embassy staff were perturbed to be ordered that British authorities were to be present at every contact between the McCanns and Portuguese police.

This again is absolutely not the norm. On a daily basis more British citizens have contact with foreign authorities than the total staff of the FCO. It would be simply impossible to give that level of support to everybody. Plus, against jingoistic presumption, a great many Brits who have contact with foreign police are actually criminals.

The British Ambassador in Portugal, John Buck, had been my direct boss in the FCO. he was Deputy Head of Southern European Department when I was Head of Cyprus Section. He and his staff were concerned by contradictions in the McCann’s story. The Embassy warned, in writing, that being perceived as too close to the McCanns might not prove wise. They demanded the instruction from London be reconfirmed. It was.

I know of people’s misgivings because I was told directly. But material was also leaked to a Belgian newspaper confirming what I have said. It was published by the Express, but like so much other material which is not supportive of the McCanns, it got taken down. Fortunately that last link preserved it. It also shows that the FCO continues to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the material on the interesting grounds that it might damage relations with Portugal.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do not believe there was a high level paedophile ring involved. I make no such argument. Nor do I claim to know what happened to Madeleine McCann. But I do believe that the McCanns were less than exemplary parents. I believe that New Labour’s No.10 saw, in typical Blair fashion, a highly photogenic tragedy which there might be popularity in appearing to work on.

And I believe there is a genuine danger that the high profile support from the top of the British government might have put some psychological pressure on the Portuguese investigators and prosecuting officers in their determinations.

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Media Pretend Not To Know About British Boots on the Ground in Libya

Yesterday Philip Hammond, UK foreign secretary, visited a naval base in Tripoli to be shown docking facilities for British military vessels. The authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly published that the 150 strong amphibious Special Purpose Task Group of commandos and special forces is in the Mediterranean on the amphibious warfare vessel Mounts Bay. Obviously purely a coincidence with Hammond’s visit!

Just as in Syria and in Yemen it will not be admitted that British forces are in combat. In classic Cold War fashion, they are “military advisers and trainers.” There is a specific development which disconcerts me in Yemen, where the SAS operatives supporting the devastating Saudi bombings of the Houthi population have been seconded to MI6. There is a convention that military operations are reported to Parliament and MI6 operations are not, so the sole purpose of screening the SAS as MI6 is to deceive the UK’s own parliament.

That of course only adds to the utter immorality of British support of the appalling Saudi bombing campaign. Britain’s supplying the arms to the Saudis and lending direct military assistance amounts to complicity in war crime.

Saudi Arabia pursued the overproduction of oil initially to force out high cost US fracking producers. That objective has largely been achieved with a subtantive fall in US production. But Saudi strategists have now been struck by the potential for continued low oil prices to cause pressure for the Russian budget. This was a key factor in the Saudi decision to block any moves towards OPEC production curbs. The Saudis are now obsessed with the notion of full Sunni control over Syria, and aim to pile economic pressure on Russia to achieve this. But it is by no means clear that the level of pain which would be required to force Putin to end military support for Assad, would not also put so much strain on the Saudi budget that it would risk destabilising the Saudi regime itself.

Just what could cause western elites to acknowledge that Saudi Arabia is the largest single problem in the Middle East, and that continued support of the House of Saud is entirely counterproductive, it is difficult to envisage. The problem of course is that what is bad for the world can be very profitable for the 1%.

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Lies and the Koh I Noor Diamond

Quite extraordinarily, the Indian government has just claimed the Koh I Noor diamond was voluntarily gifted by the Sikh ruler Dulip Singh to the British government.

Now while I quite understand that the Indian government is seeking to avoid a confrontation with the British government over the diamond, that cannot justify the telling in court of such an outrageous lie.

My biography of Alexander Burnes will be out in August. It includes an extremely vivid account of a party hosted by the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at which the British officers and their Sikh hosts got uproariously drunk and played catch with the Koh I Noor. The recipient of Burnes’ letter, Major General Ramsay, was the same man who as Lord Dalhousie was to take the Koh I Noor from Dulip Singh – a child prisoner just ten years old – after the Sikhs were defeated by the British in a bloody war of conquest. To describe this as a “gift” is absolutely preposterous.

Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.

It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.

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The Surveillance State Should Be Targeted on Cows

British citizens are now watched by Big Brother more closely than any other people in the world. All activity by British people on the web or on the phone is now monitored and stored. The British government employs more secret police – GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and SO15 – per head of population than Russia. Let me repeat that. The British have more secret police per head of population than Russia. British people are watched on closed circuit television more often than any other people in the world. Under the Prevent programme, “radicals” like me can only speak in universities under monitoring so intense and conditions so onerous that organisers give up, as I can personally witness.

The Prevent strategy provides for informants in every governmental institution who report any expressions of dissent. The UK has effective levels of surveillance – and a far higher volume of intelligence reports on their own citizens – than were ever achieved by the Stasi in Eastern Germany.

But of course, it is all “essential” to protect the citizens from the “threat” of Islamic terrorism, which is a fundamental threat to our existence, right?

So how big a threat is Islamic terrorism?

Since 2000, 57 people have been killed in the UK by Islamic terrorism.
Since 2000, 74 people have been killed in the UK by cattle.
So cows are actually a more potent threat to our personal society that terrorism.

Or more seriously – since 2000, 15,612 people have been murdered in the UK. Of whom only 57 were murdered by terrorists. You have in fact almost a 300 times greater chance of being murdered by someone else than by a terrorist. Indeed you have over 200 times a greater chance of being murdered by your partner, a family member or a close friend, than a terrorist.

The surveillance state has fundamentally changed society in response to a “threat” which is statistically miniscule.

It has greatly increased the power of the state, at a time when the state is both facilitating and protecting the greatest growth in wealth inequality in human history.

That is not a coincidence.

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The Telegram Criticising Bush That Got Me Sacked

As this blog is now read daily by tens of thousands of people who had not heard of me before, some idea of where I come from might be in order. After a diplomatic career of rapid promotion (senior civil service age 36, my first Ambassadorship in Uzbekistan age 42) my opposition to Bush/Blair’s immoral and counter-productive foreign policy got me sacked.

This telegram (diplomatic communications are called that; cable in the USA) I am with retrospect very proud to have sent. To have made at the time the observation that the Bush/Blair policy of invasion, oppression and torture would not suppress fundamentalism, but would create it, was prescient. I should say I understood very well I would be sacked. Some things are worth being sacked for.

On provenance, after being kicked out I typed this up from my handwritten draft which I had in my briefcase; hence it does not carry the identifiers it would gain when sent. I assure you it is genuine, and by now I expect it should be obtainable under a Freedom of Information request. If someone makes one I would be grateful – the date on it is the day I wrote it, it might have got sent a day or two later, so give them a range.

Confidential
Fm Tashkent
To FCO
18 March 2003
SUBJECT: US FOREIGN POLICY
SUMMARY
1. As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focused on democracy or freedom. It is
about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a
ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.

DETAIL
2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it
military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime
has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of
speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of
assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures
on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval
serfdom.
3. Uzbekistan’s geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of
Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future
Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here,
and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the
buildings from ten to twenty five years.
4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a
long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no
intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid –
more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as
opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level
references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov’s vicious regime
as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism.
When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a
beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?
5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human
Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in
Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this
cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights
in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply
have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I
understand at American urging).
6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values.
Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American
policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of
Iraq and “dismantling the apparatus of terror… removing the torture chambers and the rape
rooms”. Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be
treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international
fora. Double standards? Yes.
7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our
serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan.
MURRAY

For the full story, read my memoir Murder in Samarkand (Dirty Diplomacy in the US) which your local ibrary should be able to get.

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