Craig Murray https://www.craigmurray.org.uk Vauntie Cybernat, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:50:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.7 Beware of Chilcot https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/beware-of-chilcot/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/beware-of-chilcot/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:50:32 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32394 I am worried that the continued delay in the publication of Chilcot’s report is giving rise to expectations that it will be forthright and damning of Blair and his supporters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though Blair plunged us into an illegal war with dreadful long-term consequences, the report has always been designed to be a typical Whitehall fudge. Mistakes made – errors of judgement – all in good faith – lessons learned. You don’t have to wait for it, that is it.

The Chilcot team was handpicked by Gordon Brown – himself up to his neck in guilt for the illegal invasion – and three of the five had been aggressive proponents of the war. The remaining two, Chilcot and Baroness Prasad, are “sound” for the Establishment. Let me remind you of my analysis of the committee members in 2009. Sir Lawrence Freedman was an active propagandist for the invasion while Sir Martin Gilbert (died while contributing to the committee) was so enamoured of the invasion he compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill. Rod Lyne was actively involved in selling the WMD lies and arguably in danger of war crime accusation himself.

None of the committee members had ever expressed the slightest doubt about the Iraq War while 60% had actively promoted it. Of Chilcot himself the eminent international lawyer Phillippe Sands noted:

“Sir John’s spoonfed questions give every impression of being designed to elicit a response from the attorney general that would demonstrate the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.”

The point of the delay is to give the impression Chilcot has been absolutely painstaking and therefore the bucket of whitewash he will throw cannot be hiding anything.

Do not be fooled.

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Down From the Mountain https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/up-from-doune-the-rabbit-hole/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/up-from-doune-the-rabbit-hole/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:15:07 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32390 It is hard to describe why I find DTRH such an uplifting experience. To quote this year’s Herald review “you’d have to be half-mad to dream up Doune the Rabbit Hole. Since 2010, the family-friendly Stirlingshire festival has appeared to shirk any nod to corporate sponsorship or commercialism, in favour of a home-grown hillside hoopla.” The “appeared to” hides nothing – it most definitely does shirk all sponsorship and commercialism, and that is a little it of its charm. Another element is, as Festival Director Jamie Murray put it “It’s only a pop-up community, but it’s a community nonetheless.” Great way with words, that man. Wonder where he gets it from?

It really is a community, and one in which former strangers talk to each other readily and sometimes profoundly. Add to that a delight in the skills of music creation of highly eclectic kinds, and you achieve this happy mix between the cider fair in Far From the Madding Crowd, a hippy sixties commune, and a very peculiar Glasgow night club. Throw in hundreds of very happy children and beautiful tranquil countryside, and you start to get the idea. I always return envigorated and somehow washed clean of the pollution of the corrupt abuses of power I analyse in the other 51 weeks of the year. I don’t pretend this makes sense. It’s magic.

Could partly just be exhaustion of course – I put in one 20 hour shift organising and running the bar, and at one stage had 13 hours sleep in 96 hours. Many readers of this blog were there as volunteers or just soaking it in, and a special shout out to Clark, Nevermind and Bill who all put in an astonishing amount of unpaid labour. It is worth pointing out that none of the directors, organisers or volunteers is paid or remunerated. The bands are.

This nice little video from Stirling Council gives some idea of the daytime atmosphere

While there is a lovely gallery here from the same source.

I love this video, which briefly features a head shaking Nadira and gives a broader perspective:

Finally this little snippet gives an idea of the audience experience in the evening:

The challenge now is to keep its special atmosphere and amateur community nature as the festival gets bigger every year. Part of this is eschewing plastic commercial music acts. The continued involvement of the readers of this blog is another part. Planning for next year has already started. I have just about come down from the experience now, but feel buoyed amidst a sea of troubles.

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The UK Hits Moral Rock Bottom https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/the-uk-hits-moral-rock-bottom/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/the-uk-hits-moral-rock-bottom/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:43:17 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32382 I return from summer break with a shock as the UK hits moral rock bottom. On the day that it is revealed that 2,380 people in three years died within 14 days of being declared fit to work by an ATOS assessment and having benefit stopped, we also have 45 of the most appalling members of the political class elevated to trough it for life in the House of Lords, at a possible cost to the taxpayer of 67,500 pounds per week in attendance allowances alone.

It is worth remembering that it was the Red Tories who brought in ATOS, and Yvette Cooper, to be precise, who ordered the extreme tightening of the unfit to work assessment which has resulted in death for thousands and dreadful stress and misery for hundreds of thousands. Ian Duncan Smith may have also gleefully implemented it, but this particular horror was entirely inherited from the Guardian’s favourite leadership candidate.

The House of Lords appointments are so horrible it is difficult to comment. The most utterly objectionable of all is one of the least known to the public. Stuart Polak becomes a Lord for services to the Conservative Friends of Israel. That you can, unelected, become a legislator of the UK based on your loyalty and service to another state is appalling.

Others are more obviously dreadful. Lord Hogg now has a title that befits the moat of his home, which he had cleaned by the taxpayer prompting much rage in the expenses scandal. Tessa Jowell benefited from hundreds of thousands of pounds of corrupt money from the sordid Berlusconi, claiming she did not read the mortgage documents in which his cash paid off her house, before she signed them, and going through an entirely risible pretence of temporary separation from her husband, David Mills, who escaped a corrupt Italian justice system. David Willetts was rejected by his constituents because of extreme expenses scamming, and walks grinning back into the Lords.

Michelle Mone is rewarded for her opposition to Scottish independence. The woman sold out the workforce who made her fortune by expensively covering her crotch and now comes out as a Tory knicker saleswoman. Darling also is ennobled for services to the union, after being too cowardly to face the electorate in May. The Lib Dems get more legislators today than they could manage at the general election. That is simply astonishing.

The conduct of the political class is utterly shameless. Meantime they indulge their fantasies of stripping workers of all protection and of stopping aid to the needy, and while the politicians gorge and gorge, the poor are quietly being slipped away to die.

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Kezia Dugdale Got Just 5,217 Votes https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/kezia-dugdale-got-just-5217-votes/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/kezia-dugdale-got-just-5217-votes/#comments Sat, 15 Aug 2015 11:17:30 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32372 The Labour Party is being remarkably coy about releasing the actual result of its Scottish accounting unit leadership election, giving only a percentage. The entirely complacent unionist media is complicit in what amounts to a deception. The stunning truth is that in a one person, one vote election among the entire membership of the Labour Party in Scotland plus trades union supporters, Dugdale won with 5,217 votes (out of a claimed electorate of 21,000, many of whom do not exist or could not be arsed to choose between two right wing numpties).

UPDATE: A second Labour figure just rang me to assure me my information – which was from a good source – is wrong. She would not give the actual figure and only said it was “higher”. I offered to take down the post and publish an accurate figure if she would give it, but this was declined.

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Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/jeremy-corbyn-and-the-snp/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/jeremy-corbyn-and-the-snp/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 19:36:09 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32370 Today on my first full day back in Scotland (and only my fourth day in the UK in the past 8 weeks) I went to Jeremy Corbyn’s rally in Edinburgh. I have shared platforms with Jeremy, particularly for Stop the War, fairly frequently and had a number of conversations and email exchanges, but I would not claim to be a friend. I have the impression he is quite a private man.

I was impressed by Jeremy’s talk and by the energy in the room. Jeremy was at his strongest when referring to the need for basic human decency and respect in our treatment of those in need for aid from the state, including the homeless and refugees. His basic human empathy and compassion really shone through. He was contemptuous of austerity, marketisation and the neoliberal consensus. His denunciation of Iraq and of Trident galvanised the room. He can talk with a genuine moral authority. He is certainly not a great orator, but sincere and fluent.

All that you already know. But what to me was really interesting was the lack of focus on Scotland. Many (including I think Iain MacWhirter from a brief conversation afterwards) interpreted this as lack of interest in Scotland. I read it very differently.

Despite being surrounded by the most tribal of Labour cliques (including Katie Clark and Neil Findlay on the platform) Jeremy Corbyn said not one word – not one word – in favour of the union. His only mention of the SNP (not by name) was complimentary, in reference to their opposition to Osborne’s welfare cuts. He contrasted this with strong condemnation of the Labour establishment’s failure to oppose the welfare cuts. He then went on to call for united opposition across parties at Westminster, and suggested it would be great if working with other parties and a few Tory rebels, the first act of a reinvigorated opposition would be to halt the benefit cuts which would so damage the vulnerable. In short, Corbyn was plainly taking the hand proffered by Mhairi Black.

In looking for votes from Scottish Labour, I am not surprised nor concerned that Corbyn did not refer by name to cooperation with the SNP, but he could have meant nothing else.

Jeremy has for his political life been a strong advocate of a united Ireland and a doughty campaigner against the injustices heaped upon Republicans by the state. He is in no sense a unionist. He is certainly not a British nationalist. Doubtless he would prefer a left wing Scotland to help forge a socialist state within the United Kingdom, but I have no doubt whatsoever that he respects those of us who see Scottish independence as the same anti-Imperial struggle that motivates Irish republicanism.

In short, I am hopeful that a Corbyn leadership will moderate the tribal hatred between Labour and SNP which poisons Scottish politics. Whatever else you may think of Jeremy, he certainly is not a Red Tory. Whether he will be able to clear out the Red Tories who control Scottish Labour is a fascinating question. But I must say, that I am deeply saddened by some of the partisan attacks on Jeremy by fellow SNP members which I see online. Jeremy Corbyn is a good man. In the fight to end the obscenity of the extreme and burgeoning gap between rich and poor, to counter the dwindling of public provision and public ownership, Corbyn is on the side of the angels. As we would put it when I was young, we are on the same side of the barricade.

I still believe Scottish independence remains the key to social regeneration, and indeed had not the SNP shown you can defeat the neo-liberal consensus electorally, then the Corbyn phenomenon would never have happened. But I still claim Jeremy as my comrade, and am proud to do so.

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In Safe Hands https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/in-safe-hands/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/08/in-safe-hands/#comments Sun, 09 Aug 2015 07:14:43 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32365 I am in Tbilisi at the moment, where I spent this early morning drinking tea with some of the 2,000 strong Yazidi community. They see their religion as much more closely descended from Zoroastrianism than appears in most accounts I have read.

I very much enjoyed a visit to Tsinandali which was most useful for gaining a Russian perspective of the Great Game. I don’t have my books with me and am suffering a mental block as to whether it was Connoly, Abbott or Malcolm who visited Tsinandali. I had not realised that Griboyedov was married to a daughter of the house, Nina Chavchavadze. The murder of Griboyedov, Russian Ambassador in Tehran, by a mob rates little more than a footnote in British accounts of the Great Game, even though the British had bribed the religious authority to stir up the riots. What revisionist history there has been, has come from the Iranian side and falsely tried to obscure the fact that the refugees Griboyedov was sheltering were runaway slaves from harems.

This is a neglected recurring theme. When Shuja agreed the treaty already negotiated between Macnaghten and Ranjit Singh, the main stipulation he sought to add was that the British would return to him any runaway slave girls. The immediate motive for the ringleader of the attack on Alexander Burnes was that Burnes had refused to intervene to return a runaway slave girl who had sought the protection of another British officer. My fellow anti-imperialist historians have in general been guilty of emphasising rapaciousness by the British in these incidents and overlooking or excusing the slave status of the girls. Both aspects need to be faced squarely to write honestly the full facts of history. Tellingly, it is generally impossible to recover names of the girls involved.

Griboyedov deserves to be remembered for much more than his murder. An accomplished playwright and poet, he was a friend of Pushkin and had links to the dissident groups who attempted revolution in 1825. His murder left Nina a widow at either 17 or 19 by different accounts, and pregnant. She lost the child on hearing of her husband’s death, and never remarried. It is a tragic story which came alive to me in visiting the family home.

Griboyedov had fought Napoleon in the 1812 campaign, but had helped those Napoleonic adventurers Allard and Ventura evade a British blockade and go into service with Ranjit Singh. Griboyedov’s successor as Russian Ambassador to Tehran, Simonicz, had actually fought on the Napoleonic side against Russia, presumably in the Polish Legion. Nina’s sister was to marry a Murad nephew of Napoleon. The political elites of Europe melded quickly after the convulsion.

With which clumsy segue I shall note that the battle against the entrenched political elites of the UK appears to be going extremely well without me. I cannot express without a welling up of real emotion how happy I am that all I have been saying about the stultifying neo-liberal consensus and exclusion of dissent, and appalling burgeoning wealth gap between rich and poor, has found such massive traction between Jeremy Corbyn in England and the SNP in Scotland. I may have gone AWOL for a few days, but the cause of social justice appears in extremely safe hands.

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Aaronovitch Blusters to a Well of Silence https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/aaronovitch-blusters-to-a-well-of-silence/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/aaronovitch-blusters-to-a-well-of-silence/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:52:30 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32356 Why Rupert Murdoch considers it worth his while to pay David Aaronovitch a large six figure sum for such puerile antics as tweeting that I am insane, is a conjecture I find difficult to resolve. Today this exchange occurred on twitter:

David Aaronovitch: This suggestion that if elected Corbyn could be quickly ousted is utter bollocks. Democracy allows Labour to commit Hara Kiri.

Mark Doran: @DAaronovitch I hope everyone is watching how these servants of the micro-elite try to paint “attracting popular support” as “committing suicide.”

Mark Doran: @DAaronovitch Craig finds the elite-serving contortions every bit as funny as I do

David Aaronovitch: @MarkJDoran I tend to find Craig Murray unpersuasive on the grounds of him being unhinged. I can see why you like him, though.

Mark Doran: Says the man who managed to find Bush and Blair credible. I can see why you liked them, though.

It is remarkably ironic that on being referred to an article which argues that views outside a very narrow neoliberal establishment narrative are marginalised and ridiculed by the media, the Murdoch hack’s response is that the author is unhinged. Aaronovitch could not have more neatly proved my point.

But something else struck me about the twitter record. Aaronovitch’ twitter account claims to have 78,000 followers. Yet of the 78,000 people who allegedly received his tweet about my insanity, only 1 retweeted and 2 favourited. That is an astonishingly low proportion – 1 in 26,000 reacted. To give context, Mark Doran has only 582 followers and yet had more retweets and favourites for his riposte. 1 in 146 to be precise, a 200 times greater response rate.

Please keep reading, I promise you this gets a great deal less boring.

Eighteen months ago I wrote an article about Aaronovitch’s confession that he solicits fake reviews of his books to boost their score on Amazon. In response a reader emailed me with an analysis of Aaronovitch’s twitter followers. He argued with the aid of graphs that the way they accrued indicated that they were not arising naturally, but being purchased in blocks. He claimed this was common practice in the Murdoch organisation to promote their hacks through false apparent popularity.

I studied his graphs at some length, and engaged in email correspondence on them. I concluded that the evidence was not absolutely conclusive, and in fairness to Aaronovitch I declined to publish, to the annoyance of my correspondent.

Naturally this came to mind again today when I noted that Aaronovitch’ tweets to his alleged legion of followers in fact tumble into a well of silence. I do not even tweet. The entire limit of my tweeting is that this blog automatically tweets the titles of articles I write. They are not aphorisms so not geared to retweet. Yet even the simple tweet “Going Mainstream” which marked the article Aaronovitch derided, obtained 20 times the reactions of Aaronovitch’s snappy denunciation of my mental health. This despite the fact he has apparently 10 times more followers than me. An initial survey seems to show this is not atypical.

In logic, I can only see two possible explanations. The first is that my correspondent was right and Aaronovitch fakes twitter followers like he does book reviews. The second is that he has a vast army of followers, nearly all of whom find him dull and uninspiring, and who heartily disapproved en masse of his slur on my sanity. I opt for the second explanation, that he is just extremely dull, on the grounds that Mr Aaronovitch’s honesty and probity were never questioned, m’Lud.

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Going Mainstream https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/going-mainstream/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/going-mainstream/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 07:23:23 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32353 For a decade, this blog has argued that democracy in the UK is dysfunctional because an entrenched party system offers no real choice. The major parties offer political programmes which are virtually indistinguishable. As I put it in lectures, if the range of possible political programmes were placed on a linear scale from 1 to 100, the Labour and Conservative parties offer you the choice between 81 and 84.

This exclusion of political possibility is reinforced by a corporate media structure, led by the BBC, in which ideas outside the narrow band of establishment consensus are ridiculed and denigrated. Therefore even political ideas which have the consistent support of the majority of the population, such as nationalisation of railways and other natural monopolies including utilities, simply cannot get an airing. Of all the broadcast coverage of the Iraq War, less than 3% gave time to anti-war voices, despite a majority opinion against the war.

This phenomenon explains why a large majority of both Conservative and Labour MPs are members of the Friends of Israel when public opinion consistently sympathises more with Palestine. It also explains the quite extraordinary media onslaught against Scottish independence.

I pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in the TV leadership debates was the first major airing of an anti-Trident argument on broadcast media in England for a decade. Actually hearing anti-austerity arguments led to a huge surge in support for the SNP in England as well as Scotland.

Now Jeremy Corbyn, having obtained a platform where on occasion he has been able to have his views broadcast direct without media mediation, is experiencing a massive surge of support. Ed Miliband’s lasting achievement is that he managed to put the ordinary people who marched against the Iraq War in charge of the Labour Party, not the careerist Blairite committee manipulators. The result is stunning.

The sheer panic gripping the London elite now is hilarious to behold. Those on the favoured side of Britain’s enormous wealth gap are terrified by the idea that there may be a genuine electoral challenge to neo-liberalism, embodied in one of the main party structures. This is especially terrifying to those who became wealthy by hijacking the representation of the working class to the neo-liberal cause. The fundamental anti-democracy of the Blairites is plainly exposed, and the panic-driven hysterical hate-fest campaign against Corbyn by the Guardian would be unbelievable, if we hadn’t just seen exactly the same campaign by the same paper against the rejection of neo-liberalism in Scotland.

I think I am entitled to say I told you so. Many people appear shocked to have discovered the Guardian is so anti-left wing. I have been explaining this in detail for years. It is good to feel vindicated, and even better that the people I have repeatedly shared platforms with, like Jeremy and Mhairi, are suddenly able to have the genuinely popular case they make listened to. Do I feel a little left behind, personally? Probably, but I would claim to have contributed a little to the mood, and particularly my article on the manufactured myth that the left is unelectable has been extremely widely shared – by hundreds of thousands – in the social media storm that is propelling the Corbyn campaign.

There has been very little comment on the impact a Corbyn victory would have on the SNP. Indeed, despite being unbendingly unionist, the Scottish media have been unable to avoid representing by omission the fact that the Labour leadership contest is taking place almost entirely in another country with another political culture. But there is no doubt that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would be more attractive in Scotland than the Tory lite version, although the paucity of Labour’s Scottish leadership would be a constant factor. Much would depend on the wider question of how the careerists who make up most Labour MPs and MSPs would react to a Corbyn victory.

At Westminster, I can see no reason at all why Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and their like cannot simply cross the floor and become Tories. Cameron is astute enough to find junior ministerial positions for them and the Tory ranks would be elated enough to swallow it. But most of the careerists will look at their new constituency members and suddenly discover left wing principles. It will be less bloody than people expect.

In Scotland, a Corbyn victory will bring some swing back to Labour from the SNP, but most of the old Labour demographic have now set their hearts on independence. Should Corbyn actually look set to win a UK general election in 2020, that would very possibly dent the enthusiasm for independence at the margins. It would in no sense reduce my own desire for independence, but even I would feel it less urgent. A Corbyn led UK would not cause the same feeling of moral revulsion. All of which is a good argument for having the next referendum early.

Should Corbyn not win the Labour leadership, the effect will be opposite. The SNP will be boosted by the death of the last hope that the Labour Party might actually mean something again, rather than be a vehicle for soulless careerists spouting management-manual jargon. If Corbyn loses, the Labour Party in Scotland really might as well wind up. The cause of independence will be furthered.

So what do I want to happen? I want Jeremy to win, of course, deeply and sincerely. I am an internationalist and not a Machiavellian. I want the chance of a just society and an ethical foreign policy for England and Wales. Like me, Jeremy wants to see Ireland eventually united. I have never discussed Scottish independence with him, but I am quite sure his opposition is not of the Britnat imperialist variety.

You can be sure that the security services are heavily targeted on the Corbyn campaign. Allow me one last “I told you so”. I came in for much ridicule when I stated, from certain knowledge, that MI5 were targeted on Scottish Nationalists (I had actually been shown the tasking). This comes into the category of obvious truths which the media and political consensus seeks to deny. The ridicule even came from some within the SNP – which, like any other organisation deemed a threat to the UK, is itself penetrated by the security services. Well, now that truth has become mainstream too. I do not anticipate any apologies.

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Mob Morality Again https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/mob-morality-again/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/mob-morality-again/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:27:40 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32350 Nobody has more contempt than me for the House of Lords or for cronies of Tony Blair. But I shall not join in the pillorying of John Sewel over his private life. If he wants to take cocaine and spend time with prostitutes that is entirely his own business. Britain’s periodic outcries over private morality are contemptible. There is no legitimate reason why the activities of consenting adults in their own homes should be of concern to the rest of us. Not the least unpleasant aspect is that those journalists and politicians who whip up such witch hunts are for the most part hiding secrets about themselves. That in 2015 we still have not come to terms with the most ordinary sexual desire or formulated a more rational policy response to use of narcotics, is unfortunate.

I expect if I dug around I could find a lot of things to dislike Sewel for, in terms of the policies he has supported. But to attack political opponents over their private lives – assuming the necessary factors of adults and consent – is low.

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Something to Read in the Meantime https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/something-to-read-in-the-meantime/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/something-to-read-in-the-meantime/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 11:39:01 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32348 I have returned after a stressful and hard-working, though ultimately successful, period in Ghana, in serious need of recuperation.

I very much enjoyed reading this from the Belfast Telegraph.

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Embarrassing Pasts https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/embarrassing-pasts/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/embarrassing-pasts/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 23:35:23 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32341 It says a huge amount about the confidence of the royal family, that they feel able to respond to their Nazi home movie with nothing other than outrage that anybody should see it. They make no denial they were giving Nazi salutes, no statement that the royal family did not support the Nazis. Of course the young children had no idea of the implications. But the adults most certainly did. The missing figure is the cameraman, future King George, who was filming his wife and brother displaying the family sympathies.

The royal family were of course German themselves – completely so. Since George I every royal marriage in line of succession had been conducted in strict accordance with the Furstenprivatrecht, to a member of a German royal family. The Queen Mother, who was of course not expected to feature in promulgating the line of succession, was the first significant exception in 220 years. She was evidently trying hard to fit in. But I am not sure German-ness has much to do with it. Nazi sympathies were much more common in the aristocracy than generally admitted. Their vast wealth and massive land ownership contrasted with the horrific poverty and malnutrition of the 1930’s, led the aristocracy to fear a very real prospect of being stood against a wall and shot. Fascism appeared to offer social amelioration for the workers with continued privilege for the aristocrats. It is completely untrue that its racism, totalitarianism and violence was unknown in 1933-4. They knew what they were doing.

Happily fascism was defeated. The royal family is of course only the tip of the iceberg of whitewashed fascist support – without even starting on industrialists, newspaper proprietors, the Kennedys, etc. etc. But the Buckingham Palace option of outrage that anybody should ever remember is very sad – still more sad that such a position gets such popular support.

We never did get round to shooting the aristocrats.

I am an optimist in politics. My experience of life has taught me that altruism is a far stronger human urge than selfishness. Modern political fashion is based on the denigration of the urge to cooperation, and I do not believe will survive.

Which leads me to believe we are now living in an embarrassing past. Future generations will look back at the massive and exponentially expanding gap between rich and poor, at the super state security services and near total surveillance, at the violent wars waged in ill-disguised annexation of resources, and be amazed that people could support it. I also think that enormous shame will attach to all those who support the excruciatingly slow genocide of the Palestinians. That will be part of our embarrassing past.

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Doune the Rabbit Hole https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/doune-the-rabbit-hole-3/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/doune-the-rabbit-hole-3/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 07:31:50 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32337 This year’s Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival will be at the Cardross Estate near Port of Menteith again from 21-3 August. As our long-term readers know, while there is no formal link between this blog and Doune the Rabbit Hole, and the festival has no political view, the general tone, tenor and atmosphere of the event is one likely to appeal to people who enjoy this blog, and I shall as ever be running the bars.

dounefun

I can’t quite describe what makes this little festival more appealing than others. It has an extraordinary sense of community and idealism, and I always find it seriously refreshing and uplifting, with confidence in my fellow human beings restored. The bands are very eclectic, and a reminder that great live music is made all over Scotland by people that largely you have never heard of. A particular selling point is that it is very family friendly, and it is not just that there are one or two examples that enable you to say the age range is 9 weeks to 90, it really is like that.

To say that it is a not for profit event is an understatement. We need people to buy tickets, and you can do so here. If you can afford it, you really will have fun. For those short of cash or free to enjoy hard graft (and it is quite tough), readers of and commenters on this blog make up a high proportion of the volunteers who are needed to make it happen at all.

I do hope many of you will come again this year, either as guests or volunteers. Lifelong friendships are forged, and it is great for me to meet you in real life rather than virtually, though I am more free to pull you a pint than engage in profound discussion. The bar – the Whistleblower’s Arms – will have an even wider range of superb local ales and ciders. I can taste it already.

I am happy to tell you that a month’s consultancy work has mended my personal finances, and I shall be back from Africa next week. We shall therefore avoid the need for a donate button to keep the blog going after all, rather to my relief. I should have been at Julian Assange’s birthday party in the Ecuador Embassy today, and am sorry to miss it. Happy Birthday, Julian. There is a good exposition of the state of his case here, for those interested in fact rather than derogatory mainstream media slogans. Julian, Chelsea and Edward have done so much to improve human understanding and resist the powers of the corporate state, and each has had a normal life denied them.

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The Mainstream Discovers Mhairi Black https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-mainstream-discovers-mhairi-black/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-mainstream-discovers-mhairi-black/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 18:07:42 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32334 Having spoken alongside Mhairi at a few meetings, and much admired her, it is rather strange to find her in danger of becoming an object of cult veneration. Just as with Nicola Sturgeon, it seems the shock of seeing the coherent and intelligent articulation of views outside the narrow consensus manufactured by the corporate media and political class, really does strike home to people. They almost never get to hear such views put; Mhairi is being given a hearing because of her youth in her position, but the marginalisation and ridicule will soon kick back in. Above all, Mhairi should remind us of how the Labour Party has completely sold out those they used to represent, and abandoned the task of proposing an intellectually compelling alternative to trickledown.

Jeremy Corbyn and the small group around him are of course an honourable exception.

You will recall that I managed to fall asleep on the platform in Perth while Mhairi was answering a question, embarrassingly revealed when the chairman passed the question to me! It really was nothing to do with Mhairi, I was exhausted. The question, as it happened, was asked by Joanna Cherry, who also just made a first class maiden speech.

The Labour Party has finally woken up to oppose something the Tory Party is doing, in the new draconian and unnecessary anti-union legislation. This is not because they really want to protect workers; the only thing that has motivated Labour to action is a threat to their own funding.

The Tory anti-union proposals are shocking. Criminalising peaceful secondary picketing is an infringement of the right of free expression and undoubtedly open to challenge under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposal that not just a majority of those voting, but 40% of the qualified electorate must vote yes for a strike to go ahead, is beyond belief, coming from a government who have an absolute majority on the basis of the votes of just 23% of the electorate. The hypocrisy is absolutely stunning.

The part of the proposed legislation I do support is on party political funding by unions. It should be by opt-in not opt-out. A majority of members must vote for a donation to a political party. That seems to me absolutely right and fair.

Precisely the same principle should be applied to company shareholders, of whom a majority should specifically have to endorse a political donation by the company. Where a shareholder is institutional, that shareholder must too base its vote only on a vote taken by a majority of its own shareholders specifically in each case, or its members if a mutual.

So if Tesco wants to donate to the Tory party, that must be specifically approved by a majority of Tesco shareholders. If Aviva is one of those shareholders, Aviva can only vote for Tesco to donate, if a majority of Aviva shareholders vote to do so. And so on down the chain ad infinitum.

That would be entirely fair and strike a massive blow at the corporate state/political party nexus. Then more real people like Mhairi would be able to become prominent in public life.

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Iran Breakthrough https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/iran-breakthrough/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/iran-breakthrough/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:21:21 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32332 I am really very pleased at the agreement reached with Iran. Coming as it does against a background of widespread and Western exacerbated Sunni/Shia conflict, it is one of very few hopeful recent international developments.

Liberalisation of Iranian society continues to go forward at an achingly slow pace. The human rights situation, role of the military and theological power structure remain, frankly, appalling. But insofar as there is movement, it is for improvement. Normalisation of its international situation will certainly help.
Taking the long view, Iran is the classical case of a great culture perverted to destruction by western power interference and the reaction to it. But I believe the enormous potential of the Iranian people will now start to reassert itself.

The danger of course is the Zionist militarists in Congress and the US media who will do all in their power to scupper any peaceful move. But for once, Bush’s extension of executive power might do some actual good. There is a parallel danger in Iran. The Iraq War was totally unjustified and illegal, but Saddam Hussein might nonetheless have evaded it had he boxed a bit more cleverly and allowed some foolish inspectors to wander around his palaces prodding at the teaspoons. Yes the inspections regimes will be galling, even humiliating. But patience will have its rewards. There is real danger though that the hardliners on the Iranian side will be able to muster sufficient local points of power to hamper inspections, thus giving the US and Israeli hardliners an opportunity.

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The Embargo on the Truth About the Iranian Arms Embargo https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-embargo-on-the-truth-about-the-iranian-arms-embargo/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-embargo-on-the-truth-about-the-iranian-arms-embargo/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:35:57 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32330 The corporate media in both the UK and US are attempting to portray the Iranian desire to have the arms embargo lifted, as a new and extraneous demand that could torpedo the nuclear deal. This is an entirely false portrayal.

The issue has been included in the talks since, quite literally, the very first Iranian position document. And there is a reason for that. It is absolutely part and parcel of the issue and in no way extraneous to it. If there were any real journalists employed by the corporate media, that is obvious right on the face of UN Security Council Resolution 1747 of 2007 which imposed the arms embargo. The sole and exclusive reason given for the arms embargo is Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. And it specifically states that, once the nuclear proliferation issue is resolved, the embargo will be lifted.

Paragraph 13 reads:

(b) that it shall terminate the measures specified in paragraphs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
and 12 of resolution 1737 (2006) as well as in paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above as
soon as it determines, following receipt of the report referred to in paragraph 12
above, that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant
resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of
Governors, as confirmed by the IAEA Board;

It is the United States, not Iran, which is introducing extraneous factors, banging on about Yemen, Iran and Hezbollah, which are nowhere mentioned in the Security Council Resolutions.

The way this is being reported in the media is the exact opposite of the truth. The United States is attempting to welch on a deal which was not only open, but forms the very text of the security council resolution. None of the BBC’s highly paid analysts, reporters, or guest commenters is capable of noting this basic fact.

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Taking the Paracetamol https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/taking-the-paracetamol/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/taking-the-paracetamol/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 00:41:42 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32326 When I was a student, an appalling toothache on a Sunday led me to take too much paracetamol. I didn’t take vastly too much, and only two tablets at a time, but over 24 hours about twice the recommended dose. I am pretty certain it would have done me no harm, but I was sharing a flat with medical students and they insisted on rushing me to Ninewells. There the staff acted on the presumption that it was a particularly ineffective suicide attempt, which it most definitely was not, and instead of doing something useful about the toothache they lectured me about paracetamol.

My long introduction was simply to set the scene for that lecture, which has remained vividly with me, because the picture it painted was horrible in an Edgar Allan Poe sort of way. The doctor said that when people try to commit suicide with paracetamol, they generally wake up a few hours later in hospital and find they are not dead. Most of them are pretty happy about that. But then the hospital has to tell them that they are going to die anyway. Paracetamol has destroyed their organs and in five long days they will be dead. There is nothing the hospital can do to save them. Usually they are distraught.

I have no idea if that is true or just the doctor’s way of improving my views on toothache management. But I certainly never forgot it. It led me to wonder whether today’s statement by Harriet Harman that the Labour Party will not oppose Tory benefit cuts is the equivalent of taking that last bit too much paracetamol. The frank admission that the purpose of the Labour Party is to discern what wins the election and then support that, should finally drive away anybody with any interest in principles from that party. I was not joking when I said that Osborne’s budget outflanked Labour to the left. That is true, even though it was the most unabashedly right wing budget of my lifetime.

The parliamentary opposition to the benefit cuts will come from the SNP, Plaid and Greens, but it will not be allowed much time or given much publicity. The great question remains where the great mass of the abandoned people, with their left wing views, find political expression in England. I should love to believe that horror at Harman’s position will bring a surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn. But you only have to read Guardian and Labour List comments columns to see that the majority of Labour members swallow the line that you have to be right wing to win a general election – a myth carefully fostered by the corporate media but which I comprehensively demolished here.

It was at least as unthinkable that Labour would lose Glasgow as that they could now lose Darlington or Liverpool or Newcastle. But, with Clegg having moved the Lib Dems a long way right, there is still no sign of a challenging party that can emerge other than UKIP and their racist panacea. I find it hard to see what will happen in English politics. But Labour are going to wake up shortly and find they are facing a rapid and inevitable demise.

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The SNP’s New MPs https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-snps-new-mps/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-snps-new-mps/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 09:58:58 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32324 There is a good and balanced article in the Guardian on the SNP MPs by Carole Cadwalladr. Thank goodness Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks must have been unavailable. I am struck that of those she chose to interview, Tommy Sheppard (my MP), Mhairi Black, Chris Law, Michelle Thomson, John Nicolson, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh are all people I am on first name terms with and almost all of whom I have shared platforms with. It is quite a small community (though until the selection panel I hadn’t seen John Nicolson for 30 years).

Cadwalladr’s worry that the MPs will become seduced by Westminster has worried me too. But I don’t think it will happen. These are exceptionally strong characters and there is a self-reinforcing group of them, and they have a very active base of supporters with eagle eyes.

Naturally Cadwalladr’s article relays as fact ludicrous Labour claims that the SNP in Scotland does not implement progressive social policies (ignoring no tuition fees, free prescriptions, free geriatric personal care, land reform etc). Given it’s lack of control of fiscal and benefits policy, they could hardly do more. But the general tone of the Cadwalladr article is so far away from the simplistic “SNP evil” line which we normally see from the Guardian, that I shall hope for a while that the departure of the Blair-worshipping clown Rusbridger and his wig may see the paper return to some kind of journalistic values.

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Same as the Old Boss – Alexis Tsipras https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/same-as-the-old-boss-alexis-tsipras/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/same-as-the-old-boss-alexis-tsipras/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 07:30:18 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32318 Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Alexis Tsipras, and we do get fooled again. If you will forgive me I should like to crow a little about the accuracy of my predictions on Greece in the last week or so. Now comes the bit where they stay in the Euro there is another fudge, the bankers get hold of more cash and more state assets, and nothing much changes.

We have to find what enjoyment we can in life, and I was writing yesterday about stuffing a duck. I give you another evocative little snippet from Sikunder Burnes which I rather enjoyed writing.

The next morning Burnes slept in late, hungover. Argoud woke up, and passed Percival Lord, who was sitting in the hall performing taxidermy on a duck. Argoud, still not sober, then crashed into Burnes’ room:

“That officer was not yet dressed, on which M. Argoud called out: “Why sare, the battle of Wagram was fought before this hour, and you are still in deshabille? Will you take wine with me?” “No,” said Captain Burnes, “I never take wine before breakfast.” “Then sare,” said Argoud, “You insult me and I demand satisfaction.” He ran out and soon reappeared with his small sword and asked Burnes to send for his rapier.”

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The Attraction of EVEL https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-attraction-of-evel/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/the-attraction-of-evel/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 00:39:15 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32316 George Osborne has just proved that absolutely anybody can outflank the modern Labour Party to the left. Given that Labour were pledged to at least match Tory benefit cuts, Osborne’s raising of the minimum wage for over 25s, and tempering of the excesses of non-doms and buy to let landlords, make him look like Leon Trotsky when compared with Cooper, Burnham or Kendall. But then Donald Trump looks like Leon Trotsky when compared to Cooper, Burnham or Kendall.

As I hope I just made clear, I am not saying that this was a left wing budget. The continued wage freezes on low-paid public employees and the cuts and freezes to tax credits and other benefits (of which the details are smuggled in Sir Jasper’s cloak) will hit those already in difficulty hard. And if there is one thing of which we can be absolutely certain in modern Britain it is this. The cut in corporation tax will not result in increased spend on research and development or plant and equipment. It will go straight into executive salaries, perks and bonuses and shareholder dividends.

I am particularly sad at the final ending of student maintenance grants for the poorest. I was educated on a full maintenance grant, and would not have been able to write this blog otherwise. Of this I am sure. Taken together with the major reduction in inheritance tax, the abolition of maintenance grants is extremely retrograde and will help ensure that the poor are kept in their place and gilded youth, as Osborne, Cameron and Johnson were, well and truly advantaged through life, as though that needed further reinforcement.

When I was a very young man, proper socialists (of which I was not one) used to argue about palliatives a lot. Did measures like welfare benefits which apparently helped poor people, postpone the crisis of capitalism and the inevitable revolution? Should they therefore be opposed as unhelpful? Perhaps in darkest Salford there is an SWP branch still earnestly discussing this stuff.

But funnily enough I find myself continually rehearsing in my mind the same arguments in relation to Scottish Independence. I sometimes have to kick myself not to rejoice at the open cruelty of the Tories, which I have no doubt is making Scottish Independence not only inevitable but imminent. Real vulnerable people are going to be hurt by benefit cuts. We have to devise what mitigation through social action that we can. And in England, people don’t have the prospect of a different political system to anticipate.

My answer to the last point is that Scottish Independence will kick the UK establishment so hard that it is the best prospect of shaking up Tory domination of English politics. But the main point remains. I always predicted that the Tories would be back in power after the general election, though I expected it would be in coalition again. My wanting it or not was irrelevant to the fact it was pretty obviously going to happen. But I regarded the alternative prospect of a SNP/Labour coalition as a disaster, because it was the only outcome which realistically might put back Scottish Independence.

I was guilty of not saying that too openly during the election. Furthermore, English Votes for English Laws is entirely what I want to achieve, except that as a slogan it typically ignores the Welsh, Northern Irish and Cornish. The sooner there are no Scottish MPs at all at Westminster the better.

The incredible arrogance of the Tories in enacting EVEL, a major constitutional change, through amendments to standing orders is breathtaking in its audacity.

How far could they theoretically take this? For example, could standing orders say that male MPs can’t vote on certain issues? Or MPs under 50? Or urban MPs be excluded from voting on fox-hunting? The idea that fundamental constitutional change is simply a question of regulations on voting procedure is plainly intellectually indefensible. That it is happening is startling evidence our democracy is dysfunctional.

But it is all gryst to the mill of Independence. The more appallingly the Tories behave, the sooner Independence is coming. They could not possibly be doing more to promote Independence if they tried. I don’t think more than a tiny number of Tory MPs would like to see the back of Scotland, but I do wonder whether there is sub-conscious conditioning at work, as many of them believe England will be permanently Tory.

I don’t quite buy the SNP argument against EVEL that public spending decisions in England affect spending in Scotland through the Barnett formula. Or rather while it is true, I really can’t care overmuch. It comes back to those palliatives. I would much rather the Tories were just Tories, and isolated the Scottish MPs into the second class at Westminster. It will bring Independence sooner. When the Tories rejected every single amendment to the Scotland Act against 95% of Scottish MPs, solely by the massed votes of English MPs, while at the same time proclaiming EVEL, I was thrilled by their blatant hypocrisy. It will bring Independence sooner.

You see I don’t give a fig about the Vow or the Smith Commission. I don’t care who maintains the sewers or designs the road signs. I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars. I want my country to be free.

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Zionism is Bullshit https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/zionism-is-bullshit/ https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/07/zionism-is-bullshit/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 09:51:03 +0000 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?p=32312

Zionism is bullshit. Three thousand years ago my Celtic ancestors were casting sacred swords into the lakes of Switzerland. Can I go back and claim Switzerland? No. Of course not. It’s nonsense.

I am rather proud of that critique, which still seems to me a short and elegant refutation of the basis of Zionism. I have never seen it answered with anything approaching intellectual success. I am especially proud as it came to me in a moment of inspiration, in the final 12 seconds of an allocated three minute speech to a crowd that stretched further than I could see.

A Ghanaian came up to me in an Accra hotel yesterday and said “Craig Murray. Zionism is bullshit. I miss London.” He then dashed off. It reminded me what a small and interconnected world we live in, as well as leading me to dig out the reference.

I have another motive in posting it. This blog now has a much larger regular readership than it did a few years ago. In particular, following the referendum campaign, it has a much larger readership in Scotland. Since I returned to Scotland to campaign in the referendum and than decided to stay until we achieve independence, which I am determined will be before I kick the bucket, a number of voices have been raised to query who I am and where I come from, in the wider sense of the latter. Sometimes those voices have been hostile or suspicious. I shall therefore give the odd riffle through the back catalogue. You could of course buy my autobiography Murder in Samarkand, thus helping us to eat.

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