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The Glorious Dictatorship of Uzbekistan

A very curious puff piece has turned up in the Guardian for holidays in Uzbekistan, which fails entirely to mention that it is one of the world’s least free countries and most repressive dictatorships. Nor is this irrelevant to tourism, as there could well be serious problems for visiting religious muslims or gays, and it very definitely impinges on everybody’s freedom to move around.

I do not personally oppose people going on holiday to Uzbekistan. But I would advise people to avoid government organised official tours and stay in small private hotels, not government-run ones. And be very careful. Contact with the freer world however is, in general, good for Uzbek people.

But that does not explain the lack of context for the Guardian piece nor the fact that, though there is a comment pointing out the human rights record, two people have contacted me through this website to say they posted comments about it that the Guardian deleted. How many more has the Guardian deleted by people who did not go to the substantial trouble of contacting me to say so?

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Kuenssberg Goes Into Overdrive

170,000 Labour members voted against Jeremy Corbyn in the last leadership election. Any of them can expect to be made briefly famous by Laura Kuenssberg as she deliriously seeks to promote her “Labour members turn against Corbyn” message.

She broadcasts that Andy Slaughter’s resignation from an obscure shadow junior ministerial post is “different”, because he uses the word “comrade”, and is a sign that even Corbyn’s supporters are turning against him.

Let’s consider that a moment. Slaughter’s voting record shows that he is a strong supporter of nuclear missiles and Trident replacement, and voted consistently against an inquiry into the Iraq war. So Kuenssberg’s characterisation of Slaughter is false.

And did Slaughter support Corbyn for leader last time? No. Andy Slaughter actually nominated Yvette Cooper for leader.

But worry not. Kuenssberg has another, killing example that Corbyn has lost it. The former leader of Dudley Council, councillor Dave Sparks, is going to vote against him! Kuenssberg evidently expects this bombshell to move financial markets. And did Bob Sparks vote for Corbyn the first time? Er, no. But, Kuenssberg announces, some other Labour councillors will vote against Corbyn too! Amazing!

Kuenssberg concludes:

But other local council figures are expected to echo Mr Sparks and call for him to go. The wave of enthusiasm he built outside Parliament may be starting to recede.

If so, his confidence that he would win the likely leadership contest may prove to be misplaced.

Are you one of the 170,000 who voted against Corbyn (as opposed to the 225,000 who voted for him)? You don’t have to moulder in the obscurity of a dull office. You don’t have to feel that nobody pays attention to you. You can impress your friends! You can be famous! You might even get laid! Anybody who voted against Corbyn can get their name on the BBC!

Just contact the vile propagandist shill Laura Kuenssberg. Who gets £220,000 a year salary from the license fee payer for producing this cheap stuff for the “neutral” BBC.

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Multiple Crises in Democracy

There is a strong strand of belief among the political class that Boris Johnson has no intention of taking the UK out of the EU. His aim was to see off Cameron and install himself in No. 10, after which he will discover that leaving the EU is proving far too dangerous and call for a second referendum. I suspect that this credits Johnson with a Machiavellian genius he is far from possessing, though as a prediction of future events it is in with a chance. (Personally I am hoping for Theresa May, the reaction to whose elevation will speed up Scottish Independence).

The United Kingdom’s democracy is far from perfect. The massive anachronism of the House of Lords, the vast executive powers based on Crown prerogative, the blatant unfairness of the first past the post system, the lack of a pluralist media… I could go on and on. Referenda are a rare bolt-on to what is already a mess.

The demonstrable public contempt of the public for the political class has been mirrored these last few days by the demonstrable contempt of the political class for the public. This has been obvious in the response to the Brexit vote, and in the Labour parliamentary party’s move against Corbyn. Both are evidence that the political class feel that they should not be directed by a wider public. Alastair Campbell in discussing Brexit effectively dismissed the public as stupid and gullible.

I am not just pro-EU, I am an euro-federalist. But we have a referendum result, and it is not being respected. Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty should, in respect to the verdict of the people, be invoked in weeks not months. For the Conservative Party to view its leadership election as taking priority disrespects both the British people and the rest of the EU, who are kept in uncertainty.

The voters should be obeyed with facility. When there is a general election, the incumbent PM moves out in the early hours of the morning. There is no sign of haste to obey the public here. It is not a good attitude.

However, opinion can change. The truth is that by the time leaving the EU becomes effective in a bit over two years, over 1 million of the electorate will have died and over 800,000 new people will have come on to the electoral roll. If the margin of victory had been 5 or 6 million that would not have been relevant. But as it is the churnaround will be greater than the majority. That is not perhaps in itself sufficient argunent for a second referendum, but if the opinion polls show firm evidence of a switch in public opinion during the next 24 months, it could become important.

The question of when a second referendum on a subject might be held is a fraught one. But however the idea of further public ballots might be described, it is not undemocratic. Which leads me on to Indyref2 in Scotland. The idea is being mooted that Nicola Sturgeon may be able to secure some deal for Scotland with the EU, whereby Scotland is still part of the UK outside the EU but retains its EU privileges.

I have been puzzling over this one. I have a strong background in the subject, having been for four years First Secretary (Political and Economic) in the British Embassy in Warsaw with the specific responsibility for Poland’s EU accession. I cannot for the life of me think of any really substantive such arrangements that could work without Scottish Independence. If Scotland remains in the Union and the UK leaves the EU, there is nothing Scotland can gain by way of special relationship which is other than window dressing.

Besides which, even if a unique bargain could be struck and some special status obtained, it is indisputable that this would still constitute a “material change”. In respect for the mandate on which the SNP were very specifically elected, if the UK leaves the EU, that must still trigger a referendum on full independence.

Indyref2 must now be a given.

The Labour crisis is a result of that party’s lack of internal democracy. In the SNP, every MP and MSP must seek reselection as the candidate for every election. Sitting MSPs and MPS can be and are regularly deposed by party members without fuss.

In the Labour Party, the system has been designed to put in MPs for life. Members have no right to challenge them. An extraordinary number of the right wing MPs were parachuted in from HQ and have no connection whatsoever to the northern constituencies they represent. It is fascinating that two thirds of the Shadow Cabinet members who resigned yesterday ostensibly over Corbyn’s insufficient EU enthusiasm, represent constituencies which voted for Brexit. This might call into some doubt their own campaigning effectiveness.

Everybody knows that the Labour parliamentary party is well to the right of both the membership and the trade unions, and has been itching to get rid of Corbyn from day one. For those who have constantly stabbed him in the back for a year to criticise his effectiveness in fighting their opponents is ridiculous.

For England and Wales, Corbyn represents the only challenge to the neo-liberal values of the political class, which has succeeded in capturing an important institution. Corbyn represents a chance that democracy may have meaning, in the sense of actually presenting alternative views and policies to the electorate. The establishment is now in the end game of removing this “threat” to ensure that the next general election again just gives the English and Welsh a choice of which colour of Tory you want.

Those who see the Labour Party as just a career path (90% of its MPs and employees) really don’t care what it stands for as long as it gets into power. Power means money. Ask Tony Blair.

I do hope Corbyn hangs on. Even if he does lose the general election (by no means a given) he can provide an invaluable service by reawakening the notion that democracy should present the voters with a real choice, not just a change of troughing promoting the same ideology.

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It’s Still the Iraq War, Stupid.

No rational person could blame Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit. So why are the Blairites moving against Corbyn now, with such precipitate haste?

The answer is the Chilcot Report. It is only a fortnight away, and though its form will be concealed by thick layers of establishment whitewash, the basic contours of Blair’s lies will still be visible beneath. Corbyn had deferred to Blairite pressure not to apologise on behalf of the Labour Party for the Iraq War until Chilcot is published.

For the Labour Right, the moment when Corbyn as Labour leader stands up in parliament and condemns Blair over Iraq, is going to be as traumatic as it was for the hardliners of the Soviet Communist Party when Khruschev denounced the crimes of Stalin. It would also destroy Blair’s carefully planned post-Chilcot PR strategy. It is essential to the Blairites that when Chilcot is debated in parliament in two weeks time, Jeremy Corbyn is not in place as Labour leader to speak in the debate. The Blairite plan is therefore for the parliamentary party to depose him as parliamentary leader and get speaker John Bercow to acknowledge someone else in that fictional position in time for the Chilcot debate, with Corbyn remaining leader in the country but with no parliamentary status.

Yes, they are that nuts.

If the fault line for the Tories is Europe, for Labour it is the Middle East. Those opposing Corbyn are defined by their enthusiasm for bombing campaigns that kill Muslim children. And not only by the UK. Both of the first two to go, Hilary Benn and Heidi Alexander, are hardline supporters of Israel.

This was Benn the week before his celebrated advocacy of bombing Syria:

Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn told a Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) lunch yesterday that relations with Israel must be based on cooperation and rejected attempts to isolate the country.

Addressing senior party figures in Westminster, Benn praised Israel for its “progressive spirit, vibrant democracy, strong welfare state, thriving free press and independent judiciary.” He also called Israel “an economic giant, a high-tech centre, second only to the United States. A land of innovation and entrepreneurship, venture capital and graduates, private and public enterprise.”

Consequently, said Benn, “Our future relations must be built on cooperation and engagement, not isolation of Israel. We must take on those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel or question its right to exist.”

Heidi Alexander actually signed, as a 2015 parliamentary candidate, the “We Believe in Israel” charter, the provisions of which state there must be no boycotts of Israel, and Israel must not be described as an apartheid state.

This fault line is very well defined. The manufactured row about “anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party shows exactly the same split. In my researches, 100% of those who have promoted accusations of anti-Semitism were supporters of the Iraq War and/or had demonstrable links to professional pro-Israel lobby groups. 100% of those accused of anti-Semitism were active opponents of the Iraq War. Never underestimate the Blairite fury at being shown not just to be liars but to be wrong. Iraq is their Achilles heel and they are extremely touchy about it.

No rational person would believe Brexit was Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. No rational person would believe that now is a good moment for the Labour Party to tear itself apart. Extraordinarily, the timing is determined by Chilcot.

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How the News Agenda is Set

David Cameron gets heckled every day of his life. The media never bother to report the names of the hecklers or the gist of what they say.

Yet a single heckler shouts at Jeremy Corbyn at Gay Pride, and not only is that front page news in the Guardian, it is on BBC, ITN and Sky News.

What makes a single individual heckling a politician newsworthy? There are dozens such examples every single day that are not newsworthy.

The answer is simple. Normally the hecklers are promoting an anti-establishment view, so it does not get reported. Whereas this heckler was promoting the number one priority of the establishment and mainstream media, to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. So this heckler, uniquely, is front page news and his words are repeated at great length in the Guardian and throughout the broadcast media.

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The impression is deliberately given that he reflects general disgust from young people, and particularly gay young people, at Corbyn over the EU referendum. The very enthusiastic reception for Corbyn at Gay Pride is not reported.

Nor is the fact that the incident was not a chance one. The “heckler” is Tom Mauchline, a PR professional for PR firm Portland Communications, a dedicated Blairite (he describes himself as Gouldian) formerly working on the Liz Kendall leadership campaign. Portland Communications’ “strategic counsel” is Alastair Campbell.

So far from representing a popular mood, Mauchlyne was this morning on twitter urging people to sign a 38 Degrees petition supporting the no confidence motion against Corbyn. Ten hours later that petition has gained 65 signatures, compared to 120,000 for a petition supporting Corbyn. Mauchline formerly worked for 38 Degrees, unsurprising given their disgraceful behaviour over the Kuenssberg petition. I am waiting for the circle to be squared and Kuenssberg to report on the significance of Mauchline’s lone heckle.

I find it incredible that the mainstream media are all carrying this faked incident while not one single mainstream journalist has reported who Mauchline really is.

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The Calm Stroll to Independence

Scottish nationals have two supra-national citizenships. One is UK citizenship, the second is EU citizenship. In democratic referenda over the past two years, Scots have voted clearly to retain both citizenships.

Unfortunately it is not possible to respect both democratic decisions of the Scottish people, due to a vote by other nationalities. So where you have democratic decisions which cannot both be implemented, which does democracy demand should take precedence?

It is not a simple question. The vote to retain EU citizenship was more recent and carried a much larger majority than the earlier vote. In addition it was made crystal clear during the campaign that it may require the overturning of the earlier vote. So on these grounds I believe the most recent vote must, as an exercise in democracy, have precedence.

In these circumstances the announcement by the First Minister that she is initiating the procedure on a new referendum for Scottish independence from the UK, in order to retain Scottish membership of the EU, is a sensible step.

But I believe there is another step she should take. The democratic conflict of decisions brings about a conflict of interests between the institutions to which Scotland elects national representatives.

To resolve this requires a supplementing of current constitutional arrangements. The First Minister should therefore convene a National Convention consisting of all Scotland’s elected national representatives – its MEPs, MPs and MSPs united in a single democratic body merged on a one member one vote basis.

This body should draw up recommendations for the independence referendum, including on the future constitution, economy including currency, and international alliances of an independent Scotland, and should oversee negotiations with the EU. The next referendum could therefore present voters with a more definite prospectus for what the new Scotland will look like.

The world has changed radically. We must not be afraid to think outside the UK prescribed box in defining Scottish solutions.

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Brexit live stream with Julian Assange, Brian Eno, Craig Murray and many other guests.

In a first-of-its-kind, live broadcast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and an exciting panel of special guests will discuss the Brexit referendum, its context and its repercussions over the course of six hours on the evening of this historic vote.
Tune in, to see the coverage of Brexit that you won’t see on the BBC.

Live from http://brexitclub.eu/

Replay below.

[Posted by Admin

Craig’s flight from Edinburgh was delayed and he will join as soon as he can]

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The Tories Will Knit Back Together Quicker than Joe Ledley’s Leg

The purpose of the Conservative Party is simply to be in power. The object of power for them is to make sure that nobody else can use the power of the state to counteract the power of the wealthy and curb their excesses.

You will therefore be amazed by how, whatever the result today, the Tory cabinet will next week be smiling together in a show of unity. Because unity is needed for power. That they were calling each other liars, abusers of government funds, racists, unpatriotic or inciters to murder will be heartily brushed off as the rough and tumble of politics. Cameron will sleep soundly in his bed in Number 10.

Here is a thought. In 2005 Philip Green was paid a £1.2 billion pound dividend. The shareholder was, “officially”, his wife Mrs Tina Green, a resident of Monaco, so no tax was paid.

But the company only made profit of one quarter of the dividend payout. The dividend was paid not from profits, but from the company taking out a loan. How can that be legal? The answer is, in our deregulated society, if a casino banker can be found to make the loan, a company can borrow money to pay massive dividends provided that an accountant certifies that the loan can be repaid by future profits.

That is ludicrously improvident. That you can take over a billion against profit your company has not yet made, landing the company with crippling debt and endangering the livelihood of thousands of employees, is wrong on every level.

It also needs corrupt accountants. The devastating effect of taking a 1.2 billion advance out of cashflow had knock on consequences including the starving of the BHS pension fund. Profits came in large part from asset stripping through leverage on the properties, not from retail sales, and those property deals were one off windfalls.

The £1.2 billion pound dividend was paid with earnings from Arcadia Group, a company Green had bought for just £850 million only three years earlier. That is a fair indication of how out of order it was.

I have been looking through Green’s accounts. The £1.2 billion was paid to Green’s wife, Tina by Taveta Investments ltd, his holding company. The Inland Revenue might have acted on the fact that Ms Tina Green is not even listed as a shareholder or director. Her shares are listed under Mr Philip Green “and immediate family members”. Her “ownership” could not be a more blatant tax avoidance fraud.

Two of Philip Green’s companies owned by Taveta Investments were Arcadia Group Ltd and Arcadia Group Brands Ltd. Arcadia Group owned the shops. Arcadia Group Brands operated the shops and paid rents to Arcadia Group. Total revenue of Taveta’s subsidiaries therefore involved double counting as it was the same money transferred internally between group companies. But the real money actually coming in on the high street in 2005 was £1.2 billion. That is sales income, not profit. To take a dividend equal to your total sales income is ludicrous, no matter how cleverly you leverage internal transfers and bank loans.

In short, the auditors who signed off for Green’s £1.2 billion dividend were corrupt. They were Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Every single financial scandal you can think of – Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, Lehmann Bros, BCCI, Bernie Madoff, Robert Maxwell, Enron, Polly Peck, the list goes on an on – had a major accountancy firm signing off as auditor on their immoral and illegal moves right up to the moment they went bust, impacting the livelihoods of in total many millions of decent people. The fundamental feature of the capitalist system whereby the company chooses and pays for its own auditor urgently needs revolutionary reform.

Public anger at bankers is richly deserved. But they could not operate without the institutionally corrupt accountants who support them.

The system needs a fundamental reform. Auditors should be appointed not by the company, but by the government. Auditors already have an obligation to flag up unsafe financial practices, it is just they never exercise it as their mouths are stopped with gold. If their pay does not depend on their dishonesty, the ethics of the profession might change. Finally, there should be a direct link between the amount of tax a company pays and the remuneration of its auditors.

I highly recommend this 2005 paper, Taming the Corporations, by Austin Mitchell and Prem Sikka, which gives a very similar analysis of the problem. Mitchell of course was despised by Blair and Brown, who adore Philip Green. But Mitchell was an MP, and the chance does exist that one day a parliament will seek seriously to check the rampant greed of the bankers and asset strippers.

The purpose of the Conservative Party to make sure that nothing like this ever happens, that there is no bar to the most extreme greed of the super-rich. They need to be able to block serious curbs on banker bonuses, to block genuine curbs on Tina Green style tax-dodging, to block transaction taxes that would calm derivative trading, to block rent controls, or anything else that might tend to social justice. The Conservatives will re-form, they have interests to defend. They will reunite to fight for the one thing they truly love. Their money.

There has been a tactical division between them about how best to defend their money. The Boris Johnson wing remember the EU’s heritage of social and economic regulation and wish to escape its residual effect and the potential for future EU social democratic activism. The Cameron wing believe the EU is now fully committed to neo-liberalism and can itself be used to further the laissez-faire agenda. But both come from a judgement call on how the EU is trending, which is why both Cameron and Johnson can and do change their minds on the EU from time to time. It is not a fundamental division.

The unexpected prominence of the SNP, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and numerous movements throughout Europe are merely reflections of a popular mood of discontent with the increasingly remote and increasingly wealthy elite. UKIP is in its way a reflection of the same thing, with the discontent cleverly misdirected at foreigners.

These are, from a Tory point of view, not calm times. The plebs seem a bit restless. They will very quickly come together to put us in our place.

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I Will Vote Remain Because I Love My Mum

After voting tomorrow I shall fly down to take part in an alternative online referendum results programme from the Ecuadorian Embassy with Julian Assange, to give you a chance to hear a discussion of the results without having to listen to yet more neo-liberal spokesmen spouting establishment propaganda.

It is no secret I am an enthusiast for the EU. However as an ardent Scottish nationalist it has of course crossed my mind that it might be a plan to vote tactically for Brexit, to provoke a new independence referendum.

I have decided against this for two reasons. First, there is no way the Establishment is going to allow Brexit to happen. And second, I love my mum, who is English and moved back from Inverness to Norfolk following the death of my father a decade ago. I wish England and the English nothing but well. It would be wrong to wish harm on the English to further a tactical gain for Scottish independence – which is coming anyway.

I cannot vote Leave in the hope that England will leave and Scotland remain, believing that would harm England. Besides, an independent Scotland inside the EU would be disadvantaged by having its only land border with an ailing England outside the EU.

Having successfully kept the EU debate off the blog, I think for the last day we can fill our boots. I like the EU because it has in truth burnt internal national borders. I like the EU because we cannot control EU internal immigration. I love all the vibrant Europeans who have moved here, and the fact I can leave whenever I wish and settle in Lodz or Naples. Without the EU immigrant influx, the UK would have experienced zero economic growth for the last ten years.

There is one anti-EU argument I detest worse than anything Nigel Farage has ever said. It is the “left wing” argument that immigration depresses wages for British workers.

This argument is pure racism. It presupposes that the chance that a British worker might get £10 rather than £9 an hour, is more important than giving a Romanian worker moving here the chance to get £9 an hour rather than £3. Just because one is British and one is Romanian. Racism, pure and simple.

There is of course a much more sophisticated argument about the massive economic boost given by migration increasing demand in the economy, including for labour. If migration harmed an economy the United States and Germany would be the poorest countries in the world, yet they are not.

But I prefer to point out the inherent racism of the Little Englander wages argument, because it pricks the “left-wing” credentials of those who make it.

I am a strong internationalist and I view the EU as the most solid achievement of internationalism to date. The danger of the EU has always been that its internal freedoms would be accompanied by barriers to the world outside, but that is decreasingly true in the economic field as trade barriers have fallen radically, especially to the developing world. It is only an increasing problem in the migration field with the EU reacting to the refugee crisis – whose acuteness is a direct result of neo-con war policy destabilising the Islamic world.

The EU has great supra-national institutions. These are broadly politically neutral. They are used for neo-liberalism at the moment because at the moment most European governments, including the British one, are neo-liberal. But neo-liberalism will not prevail forever. Its consequences in terms of economic insecurity for the many and an exponential increase in extreme wealth for the few, are already undermining popular consent. As only a few diehard economists cling to trickledown theory, the obvious consequences for social stability have started to undermine the intellectual confidence of the elite and their propagandists.

To put that another way, the cleverer rich (ie not Philip Green) have started to realise that if things go on this way, they will be decorating lamp-posts.

The pendulum swings back towards social democracy. Trade treaties with clauses demanding the breaking up of state ownership will fall into abeyance for a few more decades. They are in any event by no means confined to the EU. Banking regulation will, bit by bit, strengthen. Action on tax havens will accrue incrementally.

The EU is a powerful potential force for economic regulation, and we will see it being put to that proper purpose again, with a little patience.

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Not the Chilcot Report

Peter Oborne is everything Chilcot will not be: concise, honed, forensic and devastatingly logical. Oborne’s Not the Chilcot Report is the most important book that will be published this year. I strongly urge you to read it. Anyone who doubts the continued relevance of what Tony Blair did then, to Britain today will be left in no doubt of the poison still pumping around not just the British political system but the entire Middle East.

Oborne’s book is a tremendous example of how much information can be made digestible in a short space by excellent writing. Oborne presents the clearest of accounts of the history of the Iraqi weapons programmes and the very clear knowledge that Britain and the international community had of them.

Where Oborne is at his best is skewering the guilty men by pinpointing the key lies and distortions. In so doing, he is able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the major figures acted dishonestly and with deliberation. Here for example is a phrase from a minute of 15 March 2002 by John Scarlett, then Head of the Joint Intelligence Committee and later Head of MI6, discussing what to release to the public:

“You will still wish to consider whether more impact could be achieved if the paper only covered Iraq. This would have the benefit of obscuring the fact that, in terms of WMD, Iraq is not exceptional.”

Oborne has seized on the phrase that proves that Scarlett was knowingly engaged in deliberately misleading the public, in order to promote an aggressive war. Do not expect anything so acute from Chilcot.

Oborne sets out the unanswerable case that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 could not “revive” the authorisation of military action against Iraq under UN Security Council Resolution 678, as it specifically stated that any further breach of Iraq’s disarmament obligations would “be reported to the Council for assessment”, not trigger military action. That assessment never happened. Oborne also points out the more overlooked argument that 678 itself only authorised military intervention for the purpose of securing Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait anyway, so it could not be “revived” unless Iraq again occupied Kuwait.

Oborne sets out in cogent and consecutive detail how Lord Goldsmith both held and set out this self evident fact, and that this was hidden from the Cabinet. Oborne highlights the evidence from Chilcot that every single one of the Foreign Office’s stellar department of Legal Advisers held this same view, that to invade Iraq would be illegal. And he skewers in every detail Goldsmith’s servile behaviour in flying to Washington to be given, and adopt, the Bush lawyers’ logically impossible position that it was open to any individual UN member to make the unilateral determination of whether Iraq was in material breach of the disarmament obligations.

Nothing here the cognoscenti did not know – but to read it set out so squarely still sends a chill down the spine.

Oborne is perhaps at his strongest on the disastrous consequences of the Iraq War. This is where neo-con revisionists in the mainstream media have worked hardest – the narrative window is that perhaps the war was based on an untruth, but the consequences were good.

Oborne shows that the security services predicted before the war that to invade Iraq would increase the terrorist threat in the UK. He shows conclusively from evidence to Chilcot including from former MI5 head Eliza Manningham Buller that the invasion of Iraq had indeed increased the terrorist threat to the UK and had directly caused the radicalisation of young British muslims with consequences including the 7/7 bombings.

Manningham Buller told Chilcot that it was beyond doubt, and measurable, that the Iraq invasion greatly increased the terrorist threat to the UK, and to counter the arguments of those who deny this – particularly Tony Blair – she pointed out that immediately following the invasion, Blair had agreed to an unprecedented doubling of the budget of MI5 – the domestic security agency.

The consequences of the invasion of Iraq in terms of Middle East instability and lives lost have been incalculable. In simple terms of deaths in Iraq alone, Oborne explains more clearly than I had ever seen that Iraq Body Count only includes fatalities confirmed in two separate English language sources, and therefore this is a major underestimate. 1 million dead is probably a more realistic estimate.

As battle rages around Fallujah for at least the fifth time since the invasion, as the population still starved of work, electricity, education, sanitation and health services rises up in Iraq and periodically attacks the luxury enclave of the Green zone, as the Daesh phenomenon looks to transmogrify into its latest manifestation, attempts to distance these consequences from Blair’s destruction of the Iraqi state are pathetic, yet widely disseminated in mainstream media. Oborne conclusively yet concisely explains why this propaganda is wrong.

The one area where I think he Oborne a little too kind is in his description of Chilcot and his team. Oborne rightly explains no great expectations of the Chilcot report should be held. He has told me privately that he expects that Chilcot will seek to “spread the blame widely and thinly”, rather than hone in on Blair and the really guilty parties. This is my information also; from the criticisms individuals have seen in the “Maxwellisation” process I learn a lot of the blame is to be shifted to the military.

But I don’t think Oborne really nails it on the extent to which Chilcot is a pre-arranged whitewash job. Chilcot was himself a member of the Butler Inquiry, an earlier whitewash covering much the same ground. Oborne points out the interesting fact that now Lord Butler is a free agent in the House of Lords, he has much more squarely accused Blair than anything he said in his report. But Oborne has only gently referred to the point that the Inquiry members were almost all very active cheerleaders for the Iraq War. Only one, Baroness Prashar, is arguably neutral. Not one of the numerous distinguished former Ambassadors, Generals or academics who opposed the war was selected.

The Chilcot Inquiry is a put-up whitewash with membership personally approved by Gordon Brown. It will not be worth reading. This short book by Oborne tells you everything you need to know. Read it instead.

Here is an excerpt from Oborne’s conclusion:

“In the decade after 9/11 the United States spent more than $3 trillion and squandered the lives of 7,000 American and allied soldiers. The consequence of these wars has been the destabilisation of Iraq, the emergence of Islamic States, and a failed state in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the reputation of America and its Western allies has been gravely damaged by the rendition, torture and detention without trial of terror suspects, and other cases of western brutality, such as Abu Ghraib.

…trust in the state was shattered by the Iraq War, and its gruesome aftermath. We have learnt that civil servants, spies, and politicians could not be trusted to act with integrity and decency and in the national interest. This discovery was shattering because it calls into question the moral basis on which Britain has been governed for the last hundred years or more.”

The truth is, these consequences were not unforeseeable. Indeed as Oborne notes on 14 February 2003 Dominique De Villepin, French Foreign Minister, had predicted to the Security Council exactly what the consequences would be:

“…the use of force is not justified at this time. There is an alternative to war; disarming Iraq through inspections.

Moreover, premature recourse to the military option would be fraught with risks… Such intervention could have incalculable consequences for a scarred and ravaged region. It would compound the sense of injustice, would aggravate tensions and would risk paving the way for other conflicts.”

It was an aggressive war on the basis of lies, for which people still die today, all over the world.

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Moderation Rules for Commenters

I am reposting the rules for commenting, as they were last set out exactly a year ago. I have been most disappointed by the degree of personal insult flying around the comments thread in recent weeks. In general, there is no need at all to address other commenters in your remarks. You can address their arguments, but that is different. Avoid referring to the person of other commenters, whether by name or by any other means of identification.

Address the argument, not the person. To do otherwise will be an immediate warning flag for deletion. Any reference to any commenter which is not courteous will lead to the comment being immediately deleted. This is an expansion of the way we will enforce the “fair play” rule below.

Here are the rules:

This is essentially a free speech forum… There is an important distinction between my writing, and the comments section. The proportion of readers who leave comments is well under 1%. I cannot know what percentage of the readers read comments, but I suspect it is not terribly high.

In social media I find establishment hacks – particularly journalists and Labour Party functionaries – dismiss my thoughts by referring to the comments section. “Craig Murray – have you seen the tinfoil hats comments on his blog!” being a genuine and very typical example. Well, if people wish to damn me by association with the views of other people, that is sadly an example of the low intellectual standards of the British nomenklatura of our time. The only views on here which are mine are those which I write.

I cherish the diversity of the comment threads and am fond of our little community, most of whom I have never met. I do not value people by the standard of how close their views are to my own. I am sometimes saddened by the personal animosities which arise between people.

We state some rules from time to time. This is the current set, which I just made up:

No racism. Any comment which is racist will simple be deleted immediately. The biggest problem we face is anti-Jewish comment, which I will not tolerate. We are not in the business of stigmatising anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish, but there are quite frequently distinctly anti-Jewish comments. I deleted one just an hour ago.

Similarly, no holocaust denial. I do not believe it should be illegal (I am against thought crime) but I do not wish to have it on my blog as those associated with it often have very unpleasant sympathies. That is not to say the subject of the holocaust can never be mentioned – it will never be possible to ascertain the precise number who were killed, and it is important we remember not only the Jews but the Poles, gypsies, gays, freemasons and numerous others who suffered. But the basic facts are not in doubt. It is surprising how often people attempt to insinuate holocaust denial.

Sockpuppetry.

It is in practice impossible to outlaw sockpuppetry without a formal registration system, which I do not want. But the adoption of multiple identities within the same thread is not to be allowed, nor the creation of identities of which the purpose is to ridicule, attack or insult another contributor.

Fair Play. Play the ball, not the man. Address arguments, not people. Do not impugn the motives of others, including me. No taunting.

Relevance

Attempts to keep people on topic are hopeless, but do try.

9/11

We don’t discuss 9/11. There are plenty of places on the web where you can do that. It tends to take over threads.

Contribute

Contributions which are primarily just a link to somewhere else will be deleted. You can post links, but give us the benefit of your thoughts upon them.

No explanation.

Enforcing these rules is necessarily arbitrary and needs judgement calls. Moderators are precluded from explaining decisions online. If you want to complain use the contact button.

Moderators

We have, and have had, excellent moderators over many years. But almost all have found it not only time consuming but also surprisingly emotionally draining. If you are interested in volunteering and are willing for me to know both your real and online identity, please get in touch using the contact button.

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Only Muslims Are Terrorists. It Is Now Official

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The “anti-semitism” witch-hunt that accused so many human rights advocates for supporting Palestine, has weirdly come to a dead halt when confronted with an actual anti-semite. Thomas Mair has been judged competent to be charged by two doctors, yet the right throughout both new and old media still hide behind his mental illness as an excuse to avoid the issues of right wing terrorism. As a bipolar person, I find a great deal of the comment around mental health deeply insulting.

Let me avoid hypocrisy. I do not think Thomas Mair should be charged with terrorism because I do not think anybody should be charged with terrorism. I have held that the law-making orgy of new “terrorist” offences was legally unnecessary and purely political propaganda. Murder and conspiracy to murder always were perfectly adequate offences and that is what terrorists ought to be charged with. Murder is the same sordid murder whatever the motive, and to have terrorist murder as a separate offence imbues it with a nobility it does not deserve.

But now terrorism has been created as a separate offence, the blatant discrimination in non-application of terrorist charges to right wing terrorists is indefensible.

Mair is not an isolated case. Ryan McGee – who built a nail bomb to attack Muslims – and Pavlo Lapshyn – who murdered a Muslim and bombed mosques – were not charged with terrorism either. Mair, McGee and Lapshyn would all, beyond any possible shadow of a doubt, have been charged with terrorism if they were Muslims. The decision is made by the Crown Prosecution Service, which has also recently decided that Tony Blair, Jack Straw, John Scarlett, Mark Allen et all will not stand trial for extraordinary rendition and complicity in torture, despite overwhelming evidence presented by the Metropolitan Police, including my own.

There is a dark cloud of Islamophobia hanging over the Crown Prosecution Service. Given the totality of these decisions, there has to be.

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The Sad Death of Jo Cox, and What is Terrorism?

Obviously the human tragedy of the death of Jo Cox, a mother of young children, is rightly uppermost in our mind after today’s appalling murder. There has been much random killing lately that appears broadly “terrorist” in nature, including in Orlando and Tel Aviv, and the human stories are always tragic; every violent death carries a dreadful freight of grief and loss.

But the Jo Cox death has caused immediate and fierce debate as to whether it was “terrorism” or not. This follows closely a similar and interesting debate over the Orlando killings. The questions raised over Omar Mateen, who undoubtedly had mental health issues, and was himself perhaps gay, complicated the question of his motivation, beyond his own declaration of loyalty to ISIS. It is to the credit of the US political establishment that their reaction reflected this complexity, Trump aside.

There is however a stark contrast in the UK. On the one hand we have the treatment of the Leyton tube knife attack and of the murder of Lee Rigby, both of which were unequivocally presented as Islamic terrorist incidents despite the obvious mental health problems of the perpetrators. On the other we have the media treatment of the Jo Cox murder, which there is a reluctance to call out as right wing terrorism. That the man is reported as yelling “Britain First” is apparently much less relevant to terrorism than if he had shouted “Allahu Akbar”.

The investigation is not being led by the counter-terrorism police. Simply put, if Tommy Mair were a Muslim, it would be.

Similarly, when Gregoire Moutaux was arrested ten days ago returning from Ukraine to France for Euro 2016 armed with five Kalashnikovs, two anti-tank grenade launchers, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, 100 detonators, and twelve kilos of high explosive, the media storm would still not have abated today if he had been a Muslim. There was more publicity for the Muslim who owned some fertiliser in a garage, or the Islamic “liquid bomb” plot which owned no detonators, explosives or suspicious liquids, or the Islamic “ricin plot” which owned no ricin.

It is a fact that the only terrorist arrested in Britain in this century who actually possessed a viable bomb and intended to use it was named Ryan McGee. He was a soldier, had a swastika on his wall and intended to kill Muslims. He was convicted – but not of terrorism with which, not being a Muslim, he was never charged. Many Muslims on the other hand have been jailed for terrorism for internet fantasy or boasting which had nowhere near reached the stage of preparation McGee had attained.

Terrorism has not officially been redefined as a crime of violence committed by a Muslim, but it might as well be. Just as the “Prevent strategy” has not officially been redefined as the control of Muslims not fully signed up to neo-liberalism, but might as well be.

Nobody has more consistently opposed than me the appalling use of racism to divert the attention of ordinary people from the cause of their poverty, which simply put is the vast wealth gap to the burgeoning stinking rich. I abhor UKIP, I abhor right wing politics.

I hold that the fashionable slogan “it is not racist to be concerned about immigration” is a lie.

Yet I do not accept in the least the argument put forward by Alex Massie in the Spectator that it is the rhetoric of Johnson, Hannan and Farage that caused the climate in which Jo Cox was murdered. Massie’s article is being much applauded by the Remain camp across political parties. Yet the only place where emotions have been whipped into a frenzy by the referendum campaign is precisely in the right wing Conservative milieu that Massie inhabits. Indeed Massie’s article is precisely proof of that very fact; it is a vicious and underhand blow in the bitter internecine battle within the Tory party. However much I dislike Johnson, Gove et al, to claim they inspired the murder of Jo Cox is wrong. They couldn’t inspire a souffle to rise, let alone the masses. The referendum campaign is more likely to induce a catatonic state than rage. What Massie is doing is giving vent to the vile hatred of Conservatives for each other that is rending the Tory Party apart.

It should be applauded because it is good to see Tories tearing each other apart, but not because Massie is right.

In a move that shows the fuddy-duddies of the Spectator haven’t actually quite understood the internet yet, they have taken down Massie’s initial article and replaced it with a version in which the names of all the Tories he accuses are removed and the new article blames only Farage. The link I give above is to the original captured by archive.org.

It is sad that Jo Cox’s tragic death becomes discussed by everybody – myself included – in political terms so quickly. That does not mean that I, or even Mr Massie or the many mainstream media journalists involved, do not genuinely feel for her family. It seems to me very probable that Tommy Mair was motivated by hatred of immigrants when he reportedly shouted “Britain First” and killed Jo Cox. But that hatred of immigrants has been fostered over many years by the right wing in the UK – including virtually the entire Conservative Party, not just the Brexiteers. Stoking of racist emotion has been a deliberate long term ploy to provide a focus of blame for the victims in society of the consequences of neo-liberalism.

As I have argued so often, terrorism is unfortunately easy. Even a misfit like Thomas Mair can carry out a successful terrorist attack if they really want to do it. Almost everybody reading this blog could kill somebody tomorrow if they really wanted and were careless of their own life. That is why I have never believed the official nonsense about the thousands of totally unproductive Islamic terrorists we are harbouring, and the scores of plots the security services have brilliantly and secretly foiled. There is not more political death because fortunately the impulse to such killing is an extremely rare pathology.

Horrible things happen in a complicated and unfair world. Unless we see a truly revolutionary social change which fundamentally addresses the distribution of work, reward and wealth and the ownership of enterprises, societal coherence is going to continue to deteriorate. One brand of Tory versus another and Brexiteer versus Remainer are fluff, and not relevant to the current tragedy.

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Clement Freud, My Part in his Downfall

Commenters on this blog directly caused the exposure of Clement Freud in the ITV story. I published an anodyne obituary in 2009 giving my memories of Freud. One commenter wrote:

He was a notorious old goat and his pursuit of young women could verge on the sinister. I met one of his young ‘victims’ who told me about a job interview with him turning into a very traumatic experience.

And a second wrote the startling

Writing as one of his 1000s of sexual ‘victims’,
still surviving, terrified as I write for fear he is not yet quite yet dead – the man was an evil, conniving,
ruthless user for his own bottomless ego of all he came into contact with.
Our children – boys and girls are all that much safer for his demise.
And that is just the tip of an iceberg of political and media dirty dealings that reaches into the heart of the broken Britain he has left behind him.
His family will now, unfortunately, reap the rage and revenge of those he destroyed and their much needed justice for his many heinous – still untold – actions.

Six years later I was contacted by a journalist working for ITV who had leads on Freud and looking for more evidence. He had dug up those comments on my blog. Using the magic of the internet, I was able to trace the last commenter and put them in touch, with their permission, with the ITV team.

I also told them an anecdote I myself recalled. I was a young First Year Rep on Dundee University Students Association Council while Clement Freud was Rector. One day the then President of the Students Association, Ian Morris, came out of his office in a terrible mood after a phone call from Freud, saying that Freud had asked him to line up female students for him and was trying to use him as “a pimp”. This was not paedophilia but it was unpleasant – Freud was 35 years older than the students he was targeting.

It then all went quiet for a year before ITV contacted me this morning to tell me the story was running.

It is hard to know what to make of Freud owning a holiday villa close to where Madeleine McCann disappeared. Clement was apparently not in Portugal at the time. When you add in the fact that the McCanns’ sleazy “spokesman”, Clarence Mitchell, works for Freud’s son Matthew, the coincidences do add up. I am not jumping to any conclusions at present. But I found the following fascinating.

Clement Freud assured Kate McCann she had nothing to fear from the cadaver dogs giving a positive response inside the McCann’s hire car, hired after Madeleine “disappeared”. They had no evidential value. “So what are they going to do? One bark for yes, two barks for no?” asked Freud.

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My Metropolitan Police Evidence on Torture and Extraordinary Rendition

This is a transcript of the evidence I gave, at their request, to the Metropolitan Police. I published scans of the witness statements yesterday, and a commenter has kindly transcribed them to make them web searchable. I was interviewed by the Police both at my home and at their headquarters, and it was made very plain to me that not only Sir Mark Allen, but Tony Blair, Jack Straw and numerous officials in the FCO and the Security Services were in the frame. I confess I therefore always expected the Establishment would have the case dropped despite overwhelming evidence.

I first offered this evidence to the Gibson Inquiry, I was treated by that Inquiry as an important witness and Judge Gibson ordered the FCO to give me full access to all documents I saw while Ambassador, to refresh my memory. No. 10 panicked at this and other evidence that Gibson was doing a genuine job, and the Gibson Inquiry was closed down by Cameron with the active complicity of Nick Clegg. I was then told by the Gibson secretariat that the Metropolitan Police were taking over aspects of that inquiry. I was then contacted and interviewed by the Metropolitan Police and gave this evidence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions having corruptly closed down the criminal case, the matter is now purportedly under investigation by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament – consisting entirely of “trusties” of the security services. They have continually and repeatedly refused requests by me to give evidence. I last heard from them on 15 December 2015, a simple acknowledgement of a receipt of a communication.

As nobody can claim my evidence is untrue due to the amount of documentary report, the Establishment simply ensures it does not get heard by any inquiry or court. When the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee had hearings into extraordinary rendition, they directly asked seven different witnesses – including Jack Straw – whether I was telling the truth, but they refused to call me as a witness or to accept written evidence from me.

WITNESS STATEMENT
CI Act 1967. 3.9: MC Act I980. ss.5A(3)(a) and SB; Criminal Procedure Rules 2005. Rule 27.1
Age if under 18 Over 18 (if over I3 insert ‘over 18’) Occupation: Development Consultant

This statement (consisting of pages each signed by me) is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything in it which I know to be false, or do not believe to be true.

I joined the Foreign Office in 1984 direct from University in the ‘fast stream‘ process. I held a number of posts including second secretary in Lagos, then Head of the Maritime section in London and the Cyprus section. Around 1992-l993 I was also head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) embargo surveillance section both before and after the first Gulf War. Its role was to monitor Iraqi attempts of weapons procurement. I then served in Poland as first secretary in the Embassy and returned to London as deputy Head of the Africa Department, and thereafter in Ghana as Deputy High Commissioner. I was security cleared to Developed Vetted level and because of my earlier work in relation to Iraqi arms embargo l was given extra security clearances enabling me to view other sensitive intelligence material up to including various extra codewords over and above Top Secret. I have never worked for either the Security Service (SYS) or Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). I speak both Polish and Russian.

In August 2002 I took up the role as Ambassador, at the Embassy in Uzbekistan. I was given very little formal pre posting briefing by the FCO and met the outgoing ambassador Chris INGRAM only for about half an hour during which we only discussed a staff issue regarding an embassy member called Chris HIRST. Ihe staff at the Uzbekistan Embassy included a Defence Attache, an assistant, a Deputy Head of Mission, a third secretary, a management officer, consular ofiicer and assistant. My number two was an acting second secretary called Karen MORAN. I didn’t have many staff or much ability to discuss matters with them.

After my arrival in Uzbekistan as part of my role I viewed certain intelligence material originating from Uzbekistan. This material came to me from SIS in London and was sent to them by the CIA via the CIA Headquarters in Washington. It was sent to me if SIS thought it appropriate information I should be aware of. The only person security cleared to see such telegrams were I and Karen MORAN in her role as Deputy Head of Mission (DHM).

I was aware even before I arrived in Uzbekistan that the Uzbekistan security services had a terrible reputation for torture that included for example using boiling water on individuals as well as electrocution. I never whilst in Uzbekistan ever had direct involvement with the Uzbekistan security services, SIS officers came out on liaison visits but I don’t recall who they were or who they met.

Page 2 of 5

Continuation of Statement of Craig MURRAY …………………………………………………………………………………….. ..

In my new role I was proactive in meeting local Uzbekistan people and I had only been there a couple of weeks when I attended a trial of dissidents accused of terrorism. More than one witness tried to change their original account claiming it was made under torture. I found them credible that they were tortured to give a false account. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture came out to Uzbekistan to do a special report and we arranged for torture victims to see him.

The intelligence that was sent to me by SIS at this time concerned me on two grounds; firstly it showed how systematic the torture was by the Uzbekistan security services as the intelligence was coming from tortured detainees. And secondly the quality of the intelligence was inaccurate. I knew these from my first hand experience in Uzbekistan and I knew individual facts could be shown to be false.

I came to these conclusions after about three to four months of being in Uzbekistan. This was due to the fact I had been doing some work around tortured Uzbekistan detainees and I could see links with the intelligence I was seeing. Most of the intelligence didn’t name the detainees but it had similar trends such as Al Qaeda (AQ) membership or attending AQ training camps which wasn’t true. I was aware that my defence attache Colonel RIDOUT had been to one training camp location that was cited in the intelligence reports and found they did not exist. I knew that Uzbekistan was getting money and arms from the United States and I believed the Uzbekistan government were exaggerating the AQ threat in response. I believe this was a view shared by colleagues in the Embassy.

My concerns revolved around the intelligence and the cooperation between the Uzbekistan security services and CIA. I was uneasy about what the US were not doing to stop the torture. I decided something was going wrong and London (the FCO) must have not known about the torture. I asked Karen MORAN who had regular meetings with the US mission in Uzbekistan to ask the US about the intelligence flow from torture and to confirm from the US mission that it in fact was not from torture. Karen told me that the US response she received was that the intelligence was from torture however it was justified in the ‘war on terror‘. This response was possibly from the US Mission political counsellor.

On about 17th December 2002 I wrote a telegram back to London setting out my concerns. I have obtained a redacted version of that telegram under a Freedom of lnformation request I made I produce a copy of which as CJM/l telegram number I47 of I7/I2/2002 at 0345. It was addressed to the permanent under secretary (PUS) Sir Michael JAY as he was the head of the Diplomatic Service and Michel WOOD the Foreign Office legal advisor as it dealt with legal issues. I also sent it to relevant UK Missions (UKMIS) who had interest/deal in torture policy, these included New York, Geneva, Vienna and ‘Organisation Security and Cooperation in Europe‘ (OSCE) of which Uzbekistan is a member. lf you send a telegram on policy it is practice that it is also sent to other UK Missions who have an interest as with this telegram.

I don‘t know how I received a response but I got a message back stating that I could discuss the matters with William ERHMAN during an Ambassadors conference that l was due to attend in London in January 2003. I believe this message originated from Sir Michael JAY and I believe it is back referenced as telegram 323 of 2002 which appears on the next telegram I sent.

In January 2003 I returned as planned to London for a few days and could not get hold of William ERHMAN so the conversation I intended never took place with him. I subsequently returned to Tashkent, Uzbekistan and it was around this time I was aware public concern had just started regarding detainee issues in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. I seemed to be the only person within the FCO who was worried about it. I had never done this before by that I mean flagged up these kinds of issues/concerns.

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Continuation of Statemait of Craig MURRAY …………………………………………………………………………………….. ..

On 22nd January 2003 I sent another telegram this was addressed to William ERHMAN again I produce a redacted copy that was supplied to me under a Freedom Of Information request I made as exhibit CJM/2 on it there is the back reference 323 which I believe was the response originating from Michael JAY that I previously referred to. ‘The telegram essentially states the same as my first. I did not receive a response to any of the points: this is unheard of because if an Ambassador writes a telegram in relation to a policy matter there is always response. I was frustrated and could not understand why there was no written reply on this policy on torture.

Shortly after this I was asked back to London to discuss the issues I had raised. I can’t recall what method this summons was communicated to me. I believed I was coming back to London to see Sir Michael JAY however I never did see him.

I thought I was in trouble due to the nature of the recall to London and I suspected I was going to be sacked. I returned to London on 6th March 2003 I don‘t recall what dictated the timing but it was two weeks before the war started in Iraq. At that time, with the ‘dodgy dossier‘ going around supporting the war and my concerns regarding the inaccurate intelligence I had seen, the atmosphere was not good at the FC0. It was not the best time to be saying openly that our intelligence was not reliable. A retired ambassador had stated that we should not go to war as the intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was not reliable. From evidence subsequently given in the Chilcott enquiry I believe Sir Michael WOOD had advised Jack STRAW at the time, it was not legal to go to war in Iraq. So all this was going on around my return to London.

I was called into a meeting on the 7″‘ or 8″‘ March 2003 with Linda DUIFFIELD who was the Director Wider Europe (DWE) and my counter signing manager. This meeting took place in her office and she told me Sir Michael JAY wanted to see me but was too busy. With her at the meeting were Michael WOOD and Matthew KIDD who I believe was from MI6 (SIS), he was introduced as being Permanent Under Secretary Department (PUSD) which is a liaison department that deals with SIS. It was a two part meeting with either a private discussion between Linda and myself and then a gmcral discussion with everyone present or the other way around I can’t recall now. She told me that ‘JAY was not pleased I had put things in writing, things like that should not be in writing.‘ In the general meeting with all three she stated Jack Straw had seen my telegrams (CIM/l and CIM/2) and they ‘troubled him and he lost sleep at night over this‘. Also that he had met ‘C’ Sir Richard DEARLOVE and discussed whether, in relation to the ‘war on terror‘ should intelligence from torture be used. Also that Jack Straw made the decision that I should not send over ‘emotional and melodramatic’ telegrams like these and that intelligence and torture were ministerial decisions.

In the general meeting Sir Michael WOOD stated he had looked at the United Nations convention on torture and that it was his legal position that if we didn’t ask someone to be tortured but got intelligence from torture then we were doing nothing illegal.

I asked him about complicity in torture and Article 3 and 4 of the UN Convention on torture. Sir Michael WOOD stated that he didn’t know but Article l6 allowed us to get intelligence from torture but it could not be used in court. Mr KIDD went on to add that intelligence coming from Tashkent was useful to SIS. I told him the intelligence wasn’t true. He disageed with this.

A formal response to my telegrams was read out to me by Linda with everyone present and she told me the response would not be sent as these things were best not put in writing.

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Continuation of Statement of Craig MURRAY …………………………………………………………………………………….. ..

I produce a copy of the minutes of this meeting again supplied to me under a Freedom of lnformation request I made which 1 exhibit as CIMI3. I do not accept the minutes as a full and accurate account of the meeting. it was not sent to me in draft afierwards for ‘signing off‘ which was practice. It also mentions l was given a revised telegram which I was not. I was shown it but not to keep and it was never sent to me.

Afler this meeting I went back to Tashkent. Later in 2005 I obtained a message dated l4/3/2003 supplied to me under a Freedom of lnfonnation request I made which I exhibit as CJM/4. This indicates Jack Straw saw the minutes of the meeting referred to in exhibit CIM/3. There were hundreds of meetings at the FCO each day and it would be very rare for minutes to be seen by Jack STRAW unless he had previous documents regarding the matter i.e. my original telegrams and an explanatory briefing from Sir Michael Jay or another oflicial. Simon McDONALD was Jack Straw’s number 2 private secretary and Alan CHARLTON was Head of Personnel.

Whilst in Tashkent l was concerned my career was ruined. I had upset my line managers and I decided I wasn‘t going to say anything else as I was extremely concerned about my future.

I was then told that my third secretary Chris HIRST had attacked a blind person in the street with a baseball bat. I had been told by my predecessor that he had been accused of doing something similar before, but that my predecessor had supported him, this was the staff issue I referred to earlier in this statement. I personally had witnessed his verbally violent outbursts in a local bar before. I knew that as a result of this baseball bat incident that he had to go, which he did. After this I then found papers regarding Chris HIRST that had been hidden from me by his partner Karen MORAN and I learnt she had destroyed other similar documents. As a result of this Karen had to go as well.

At this time I was not receiving any replies from London and asked them why they were ignoring me but got no response.

In June 2003 Colin REYNOLDS from the Foreign Office arrived in Uzbekistan ostensibly to find out what was happening at the Embassy with the sudden departure of Karen and Chris. He had been sent out by Alan CHARLTON. All the Embassy staff was seen by Colin and the staff told me that in fact he was asking them not about Chris & Karen as they expected but things about me such as my drinking habits and whether I used prostitutes. The staff were confused and surprised. I let Colin finish the interviews of staff and then l asked him what was going on as it seemed to me that he was investigating me. He told me not to worry and that he had been instructed to investigate allegations raised about me. He would not tell me what those allegations were. He later as I understand reported back to London that the staff supported me and there were no issues. I obtained a copy of his findings dated 26/6/2003 supplied to me under a Freedom of information request I made which I exhibit as CJM/5. This confirms he reported that all the staff supported me. The report has been ec‘d to amongst others Harvey BOWYER of the FCU. This is the internal audit section called the Financial Compliance Unit (FCU) l did‘t know where this fitted into the investigation by Colin REYNOLDS. However a few months later a team fiom the FCU internal audit came to the embassy to go through all our accounts. All they found at the end of their audit was that I owed about $20 for a lunch for which I lost the receipt, this I repaid. It appeared to me that they were plainly out to get me and I thought I had survived: the only criticism of me was the handling of the HIRST matter.

In July after Colin REYNOLDS left I then went on holiday. London then sent out Dominic SCHROEDER from the FCO political Eastern Department who came and interviewed the same staff as Colin Reynolds again after which he came up with some 18 discipline offences against me.

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Continuation of Statement of Craig MURRAY …………………………………………………………………………………….. ..

In August I was called back from holiday in Canada to London to see Howard DRAKE the personnel department director. Present at this meeting were Tessa REDMAYNE of the personnel department and Kate SMITH who was my union representative. At this meeting Howard DRAKE asked me to resign and I declined this is detailed in a report he completed dated 27/8/2003 that was sent to me for ‘clearance’. I produce a copy as exhibit CJM/6. During this meeting l was told that if I forgot about Tashkent that I would be offered another ambassadorship, but I declined this. It was at this meeting that I first became aware of the allegations albeit Colin REYNOLDS had previously told me they were nonsense. The source of the allegations was never disclosed to me.

All the disciplinary allegations were false and around this time my security clearance was up for review. My security clearance reviewer contacted me to state my clearance had been passed by him but it had then been sent back to him and he had been put under pressure not to clear me. He said that he was sticking by his recommendation and my clearance was renewed.

l was suspended for four months and sent back to Tashkent and told not to speak to anyone about the outstanding allegations. l was banned from entering embassy buildings and the stress of it all caused my health to collapse. I suffered severe heart and lung problems as a result.

After four months of investigation l was cleared of all l8 allegations: there was a formal hearing in relation to two matters only. These related to being seen with a ‘hangover’ by a local member of staff in Tashkent and secondly misusing an embassy car, l was cleared on both counts and the evidence against me was shown to be rubbish or non-existent.

l was however found guilty of telling someone about the existence of the allegations when I returned to Tashkent for which I was given a final written warning in January 2004.

Later in June 2004 one of the initial telegrams l had written was somehow leaked to the Financial Times newspaper and the Times printed sections of it. This was not done by me and although I denied it I was suspended as a result and in February 2005 I resigned from the Civil Service. I was given six years early retirement severance pay.

I firmly believe that the allegations against me were knowingly false or grossly exaggerated,. and were concocted against me deliberately to silence me after l was the only senior civil servant to enter a written objection to the policy of collusion in torture. As a consequence my career was destroyed and my health permanently damaged.

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Corrupt Crown Prosecution Service Bins Action on Extraordinary Rendition and Torture

Anybody who is in any way surprised at today’s announcement that nobody will be prosecuted for extraordinary rendition and torture, is in deep denial about what a corrupt and rotten state the United Kingdom is.

Among the many documents the Metropolitan Police (who are genuinely furious) handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and which now lies in a bin, is my own sworn evidence of the complicity in torture of Jack Straw and senior FCO officials. I therefore now publish the statement I made to the Metropolitan Police.

I should explain this is not my language. The Metropolitan Police officers interviewed me for two days at my home and then wrote the statement which I signed. This is not the signed copy because I did not have a photocopier at my home. Two copies were printed off on my printer, one of which I signed and gave to them. This is the other copy, and is exactly the same as the signed copy.

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Time to Strike For Independence

If a second Independence referendum were called now, who would lead the official No campaign? A serious and important question. Not enough attention has been paid to the utter disarray of the unionist camp.

Last time, the Tories were by and large content to hide behind Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Jim Murphy and let Labour do the bulk of the heavy lifting. At that time, Labour were still a massive force in Scottish politics, with the large majority of Scottish MPs and a formidable numerical (if not quality) presence at Holyrood, plus an awful lot of urban councils.

Now the landscape is utterly changed. The Tories, following the Holyrood election, see themselves as taking over the leadership of the Unionists from Labour with whom they are engaged in a neck and neck struggle for distant second. The Tories will not agree to play second fiddle now, while for their part Scottish Labour will not rush to complete their suicide by again sharing platforms with the Tories. The Electoral Commission will have to make a choice between two “No” campaigns, just as it had to choose between UKIP and Tory Leave organisations in the EU referendum. I suspect it will again choose the Tories.

The media adulation of Ruth Davidson after the Tories managed the “stunning result” of just over 20% in the Holyrood elections was astonishing – in fact it was about the same level as the media adulation of Jim Murphy when he became Labour Party leader. But still only one in five Scottish voters in that election, and one in nine of the registered Scottish electorate, actually voted Tory, and I am prepared to bet that was a high water mark. As the reality of Tory rule, and the prospect of still more Westminster Tory rule, is reinforced, then a straight choice between the Tories and Independence, with no Gordon Brown media-hyped pretence there is something inbetween, is precisely the situation in which I would like to campaign for Independence.

Support for Independence rose by over 15% during the course of the referendum campaign, after rising only very slightly for the previous decade. Since the campaign it has gone back to rising slightly and slowly again. The difference is that now we only need a very small improvement to go over the winning line, and I have no doubt whatsoever that once again during a campaign we will see a major advance in support for Independence. If however we wait for the “natural rise” to take its slow effect and set a bar of 60% in opinion polls before we call a referendum, there is a real danger we will lose the moment. Indeed without a campaign, I doubt 60% will happen in my lifetime. With a referendum campaign, we will hit it.

That moment is now. Our opponents have never been weaker and never been more divided. Nationalists have become too inclined to gaze at their navels, and are failing to look up and see the complete and utter disarray, the total shambles, in the opposing camp. We should strike before they recover.

I still do not expect to see Brexit. If we did see Brexit, I would argue for Holyrood MSPs and Scotland’s Westminster MPs to meet together as a National Assembly and declare Independence, to be followed by a confirmatory referendum, the object of the Delcaration being to maintain the rights of Scots as EU citizens. There would be a great deal of international sympathy for that, and as I have continually explained, as a matter of firm and indisputable international law you achieve Independence through recognition by other states, not by any arrangement or otherwise with the residual UK.

But assuming Brexit does not win the Tory Leadership Referendum, the Greens’ idea of a million person petition to trigger a new referendum is a good one. Sooner rather than later. I suggest 2018 for the vote – stripping Labour of their corrupt local council resource next year must be a key stepping stone.

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UK Illegally Harasses Russian Submarine Engaged in Lawful Passage of English Channel

Contrary to Article 44 of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, to which the UK and Russia are both party, the UK has engaged in extensive illegal harassment of a Russian naval submarine engaged in fully lawful transit of the Dover Strait.

A Russian naval vessel en route between the Baltic and Black Seas is fully and specifically entitled under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Articles 37 and 38 to the right of passage through the strait. This is in addition to the general right of passage through the territorial sea at Article 17. The Russian navy was in full compliance with the provision at Article 20 that, while in territorial waters, the submarine must be on the surface and displaying its flag, and in compliance with Articles 29 to 32 on warships.

Not only does the Russian Navy have every right to sail through the Dover strait on passage, it has been exercising that right – along with many other navies – for over a hundred years. The decision of the British government now to employ military harassment and threat is not only illegal, it is a gross and entirely deliberate act of provocation designed to sour international relations and disturb the atmosphere of world peace.

The author of this article, Craig Murray is a former Head of the Maritime Section of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and former Alternate Head of the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He is a retired British Ambassador.

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Listen to Leanne Mohamad. Listen to Everybody.

Leanne is a schoolgirl who gave a talk about something she believed in for a school speaking competition. But she spoke outside the right wing comfort area, and thus her speech got attacked online and then pulled. The Speakers’ Trust charity stated that “Following vile and hateful comments posted online during this Bank Holiday weekend Speakers Trust removed the video of Leanne’s speech.” It has since been reinstated.

The current aggressive campaign against anybody who speaks out for Palestine is gathering force. It’s most obvious manifestation lies in the ridiculous claims of “anti-semitism” against many left wing or radical campaigners who have worked against all racism their entire lives. As the establishment becomes more desperate to portray any thought or expression outside their neo-con orthodoxy as illegitimate, the related attack on supporters of Palestine becomes increasingly shrill.

It is very possible to plot the demonisation of radical thought in stark and recent examples. It brings to mind the demonisation of the Chartists as violent revolutionaries. For example, those in the openly left wing campaign for Scottish independence were repeatedly and regularly accused by the mainstream media of vicious online abuse. Bernie Sanders supporters were quite falsely portrayed throughout the mainstream media as violent after the Nevada Democratic Convention, even though widely available video evidence showing what really happened was totally contrary to what was reported. The 38 Degrees petition against the Tory bias of Laura Kuenssberg was withdrawn as “misogynist”, a charge echoed by the entire mainstream media, even though there is virtually no evidence of any associated misogynist abuse. Similarly the very slight three second mocking of Kuenssberg by the audience at a recent Corbyn event was, again with total absence of evidence, portrayed throughout all mainstream UK media as anti-woman rather than anti-Tory. The right wing meme that left wing Corbyn support is anti-female recurs almost daily in the mainstream media.

On the positive side, the establishment’s patently shrill demonisation of radical opposition is a reaction to a very definite upswell against the results of neo-liberalism. There is no denying that the SNP, Corbyn and Bernie Sanders phenomena on the one hand, and the Trump and UKIP phenomena on the other, represent a significant upsurge of popular discontent with the status quo. The Trump and UKIP side of that movement reflects a deliberate attempt by the Establishment to use the mainstream media to divert the focus of discontent away from the exploiters and burgeoning billionaires, and focus it on “foreigner” scapegoats.

The popular momentum is linked to intellectual momentum. Thomas Piketty and others proved the glaringly obvious, that neo-liberalism vastly increased wealth disparity in society. The recent IMF Research Department paper on the consequences of neo-liberalism made quite a splash. It agreed that neo-liberalism had caused a vast and growing wealth gap, and made a very significant apercu that “Increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustainability of growth.” This is a vital challenge to neo-liberal orthodoxy. Simply put, if Mike Ashley has billions while his thousands of harassed agency workers are struggling to survive, there is less money actually circulating in the economy buying goods and services from local business and providing balanced and sustainable economic growth. Massive inequality does not drive economic growth, it damages it.

There seems to be a reluctance to accept that the Sports Direct story of massive degradation and exploitation is the inevitable consequence of the neo-liberal bonfire of workers’ rights and attack on the trade unions. Compulsory proper employment contracts with protection from dismissal and compulsory recognition of union representation are safeguards vitally needed to redress the imbalance between the fat-cats and those desperate to make a living. A minimum wage – even a living wage – is of little use if you are soiling yourself because you are scared to take time to go to the toilet, and can be dismissed on a whim of your employer.

A great many of the population now realise that they work in declining conditions and with declining means, to make an elite ever more super-rich. The mainstream media are the tool by which the population is to be controlled. Bernie Sanders’ heroic fight is drawing to a close for the present. I am hopeful that the appalling non-choice which Americans face for President will serve to fan popular discontent further and prove a Pyrrhic establishment victory over Sanders. The examples of demonisation of anti-establishment people with which I started this article all have one thing in common. They are attacks on people putting over radical views by means outside the mainstream media – social media and citizen journalism, or old fashioned standing up at meetings or organising together. The inspirational combination of new media and old fashioned community campaigning has been the hallmark of the Scottish independence, Corbyn and Sanders campaigns. It is the methodology that must give a blueprint and hope for the future.

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