Terrorism and Nuance

by craig on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is no question to which the answer is to wander round killing people. It takes a few words or keystrokes for any right thinking person to condemn the killings in Paris today. But that really doesn’t take us very far.

It is impossible to stop evil from happening. Simple low tech attacks by individuals, a kind of DIY terrorism, cannot always be pre-empted. If you try to do so universally, you will end up even further down the line we have gone down in the UK, where people are continually arrested and harassed who have no connection to terrorism at all, often for bragging on websites. These non-existent foiled terrorist plots are a risible feature of British politics nowadays. Every now and then one hits the headlines, like the arrests just before Remembrance Day. Their defining characteristic is that none of those arrested have any means of terrorism – 99% of those arrested for terrorism in the UK in the last decade – possessed no weapon and no viable explosive device.

In fact the only terrorist in the last year convicted in the UK, who possessed an actual bomb – a very viable explosive device indeed, was not charged with terrorism. He was a fascist named Ryan McGee who had a swastika on his wall and hated Muslims. Hundreds of Muslims with no weapons are locked up for terrorism. A fanatical anti-Muslim with a bomb is by definition not a terrorist.

I am assuming that the narrative that Charlie Hebdo was attacked by Islamists is correct, though that remains to be proved. For argument, let us assume the official narrative is true and the killings were by Muslims outraged at the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

It is essential to free speech that it includes the freedom to offend. That must include the freedom to offend religious belief. Without such freedoms, the values of societies would freeze. Much social progress has caused real anguish and offence to some people. To have stopped Charlie Hebdo by law would have been wrong. To stop them by bullets is beyond any mitigation.

But that doesn’t make the unfortunate deceased heroes, and President Hollande was wrong to characterise them as such. Being murdered does not make you a hero. And being offensive is not necessarily noble. People who are persistently and vociferously offensive are often neither noble nor well-motivated. Much of Charlie Hebdo‘s taunting of Muslims was really unpleasant. That they also had Christian and other targets did not make this any better. It is not Private Eye – it is a magazine with a much nastier edge. I defend the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it wants. But once the shock dies off, I do hope a more realistic assessment of whether Charlie Hebdo was entirely admirable or not may be possible. This in no way excuses the dreadful murders.

The ability to say things that offend is an important attribute of a free society. Richard Dawkins may offend believers. Peter Tatchell may offend homophobes. Pussy Riot offended Putin and the Orthodox Church. This must not be stopped.

But that must cut both ways. Abu Qatada broke no British laws in his lengthy stay in the UK, but was demonised for things he said (or even things newspapers invented he had said). Most of the French who are today in solidarity for freedom of expression, are against people being able to express themselves freely in what they wear. The security industry who are all over TV today want to respond to this attack on freedom of expression by more controls on the internet!

I condemn, you condemn, we all condemn, and so we should. But the amount of nuanced thought in the mainstream media is almost non-existent. What will now happen is that conservative commentators will rip individual phrases from this article and tweet them to show I support terrorism. The lack of nuanced thought is a reflection of a general atmosphere of anti-intellectualism which has poisoned public life in modern western society.

Berwick Upon Tweed

by craig on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am considering standing for Berwick upon Tweed on the platform of the constituency joining Scotland. This boundary adjustment would give the people access to free personal care, free prescriptions, no university tuition fees and the many other advantages of Scotland’s more society friendly government. It would give Scotland some thriving new communities and a more favourable future North Sea boundary.

I realise no Independent has been elected in modern times unless they were a sitting MP, or major parties stood down in their favour. In fact the 5% I obtained in Blackburn was the best showing since 1945 by an Independent where those conditions were absent. I realise this is a rather Quixotic reaction to my rejection by the SNP hierarchy, and would result in loss of time, energy and money. On the other hand, I understand quite a lot of people in Berwick wish the constituency to be in Scotland and it would be good to give them the chance to express that. As the seat is a Tory/Liberal marginal the alternatives are hopeless.

I think my friends really ought to talk me out of this.

Charles Masson and Freemasons in Afghanistan

by craig on January 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

Edward Stirling was one of the most intrepid of Afghan explorers and certainly the most ignored by Great Game historians. The motive for his epic journey in disguise is unknown. On retirement, he built a great house named “Stirling Castle” on the Isle of Wight, and incorporate a major Freemasonic Temple inside it, replete with Masonic and oriental themes. Alexander Burnes claimed, in a speech to St Peter’s Lodge in Montrose, to have discovered relics of “ancient Freemasonry” in Afghanistan and is almost certainly the true model for Kipling’s Danny Dravot in The Man Who Would Be King. Could James Lewis/Charles Masson have been telling something in his adopted surname?

Desertion was an extremely serious offence, and to desert on active service, as Lewis did before Bharatpur, carried the death penalty. It was universally held that it was essential that desertion always bring speedy retribution, lest it become infectious in the ranks1. The actions of British officials in turning a blind eye to Lewis’ status as a deserter are almost unprecedented. Indeed, the only way to pardon a deserter was by a grant direct from the King of England himself, and extraordinarily Masson received this signed in person by William IV, the only pardon for desertion granted by that King2. The explanation usually given is that they wished to make use of Masson to gather information from Central Asia. But they already had native agents reporting regularly, and Masson added little of real value. Furthermore, in the exactly contemporary case of Edward Stirling, his career was destroyed for the infinitely lesser sin of returning from leave three weeks late – his explorations of Afghanistan were not thought to compensate for that misdemeanour. It is highly improbable that Masson’s would compensate for his capital offence.

The future treatment of Masson was even more puzzling. In addition to a substantial government salary arranged for him, Burnes, Pottinger, McNeill and Wade all frequently and repeatedly sent him major sums of money, amounting to thousands of pounds, both from government sources and from their own pockets, and the bulk of these payments related more to his antiquarian researches than to any intelligence work. They continued despite his repeated failure to account for any official monies received. When Masson finally was taken into custody in 1841 as a suspected Russian spy, a charge of which he was, as we shall see, almost certainly guilty, he yet again was let off by the British authorities on a second capital offence. The relevant papers had already disappeared from the Lahore archives by 1929. Plainly the British officials had some powerful motive for protecting Masson – were they supporting him and his work in Afghanistan as a fellow freemason? William IV, the King who received both Alex and James in audience and pardoned Masson, was a fervent mason. Was the motive behind Masson’s antiquarian researches displayed in his choice of pseudonym?

[Sikunder Burnes is being edited down fro 260,000 to 180,000 words. Snippets of material I am editing out which strike me as interesting are being posted here. James and ALexander Burnes played a major role in inventing the myths of ancient Freemasonry and both the Alexandrian and the Knights Templar connection. In investigating what they did, I am not endorsing these myths, quite the opposite.]

Jim and Severin

by craig on January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Like star-crossed lovers hugging as they plunge into an abyss, Severin Carrell whispers sweet nothings to Jim Murphy. The Guardian has given up all pretence of balance in not just its commentary but also its news coverage of Scotland. Carrell’s puff piece is the seventeenth Guardian article on how Jim Murphy will save Scottish Labour, and is based on nothing but an advance copy of a Murphy speech.

Carrell fails to ask any of the obvious questions. Murphy claims Labour are to contact 190,000 Labour voters, mostly elderly male and Glaswegian, who voted Yes. They will do this by “personal letters” and phone calls. This begs the question of how they identify these voters, and who will do the work. The Labour membership in Scotland is now tiny. My source in a Labour MSP’s office tells me the paid up individual political membership – excluding social clubs – stands just shy of 8,500. I find that believable. Largely thanks to Carrell that figure is similar to Guardian sales in Scotland. It is also interesting that a significant proportion of those dwindling Labour members are there because, one way or another, they are on the payroll. Councillors, council officials in “hidden” political posts, MPs and MSPs and their staff, HQ staff, union officials etc.

Labour were far from a full canvass in the referendum campaign. The ballot was (hopefully) secret. They simply cannot identify those hundreds of thousands of ex-Labour SNP supporters. Are these “personal” letters and phone calls just going to anyone who seems mature, male and Glaswegian? The entire claim of a targeted Murphy “campaign” is plainly a simple nonsense. It stands not a moment’s journalistic analysis. Only a brain-dead Labour acolyte like Carrell could promote it.

Hacks (Both Types)

by craig on January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

That North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack is the most improbable bit of US propaganda of 2014. There is ample forensic evidence that the hack was an inside job, while the evidence that it was North Korea is … secret. Not one of my myriad contacts who are present or retired security service officers believe it. But geek stuff aside, there are many adjectives that apply to the North Korean regime, most of them unpleasant. Sophisticated is not one of them.

A hack that didn’t destroy anything but released online a horde of exceedingly dull and mostly trivial commercial documents is scarcely the style of the totalitarian North Korean state. The media struggle to big up the non-story has put a cost of US$100 million to Sony on the hack – but that is largely the cost of improving its IT systems, not damage from the event itself.

The US response to sanction North Korea and temporarily to shut down its internet has been daft. Isolation is the problem in North Korea, not the solution. One thing we can be 100% sure of is that, even were North Korea behind the hack (which is extremely improbable), it was not physically initiated within North Korea.

This extraordinary non-story succeeded in knocking the Feinstein Report into CIA torture off the top of the World news agenda. It will also be repeatedly cited as justification for NSA snooping and moves to state censorship of the internet. The willingness of the entire mainstream media to run with this obviously false story has been alarming. I think we all knew by now you can’t unquestioningly believe anything on the BBC, but really…

Hague Redemption

by craig on January 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am delighted that Palestine has finally applied to join the International Criminal Court. It is over three years since I blogged in recommendation that Palestine do this, and I have been somewhat baffled as to why it has taken so long to take a step which much of the international legal and human rights community has been so long urging. My own contacts into PLO circles (which do not rise above middling level) indicated simply that the leadership view was that “the time was not yet right”.

This delay was but one indicator of the powerlessness of the Abbas position, obliged to pay lip service to a US-led “peace process” which he knows to be an utter sham, and bullied by Blair and Obama into comparative quiescence by the threat of cutting off international lifelines to the beleaguered Palestinian people. But there should never have been any doubt that quiescence would result in continuing but deadly sure, slow strangulation. Intelligent pro-activity, such as joining the ICC, is a far better option.

For Obama to describe Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court as “provocative” is ludicrous. How can it be provocative to seek to come under the jurisdiction of international law? It is US and Israeli exceptionalism that is a standing provocation to the international community.

We will now see what the ICC actually is. As a strong supporter of the rule of international law, I was reluctant to join the criticism of the ICC which notes it is active only against those condemned by the West. But the ICC’s inaction over the illegal invasion of Iraq remains inexcusable. It’s African trials conveniently ignore the colonial context. For example, the root cause of the ethnic violence in Kenya was white appropriation of the best farming land which evicted indigenous tribes into the territory of other tribes, causing resource conflict which still echoes. The ICC’s interest in Africa also carefully avoids the West’s preferred dictators and mineral grabs.

The ICC has already failed a key test where it declined to take action over the murderous Israeli assault on the Mavi Mamara on the grounds that the scale of the war crime was insufficient to reach the bar of the Court’s attention. That was not an incorrect legal argument, but an activist court could have gone either way.

The illegal Israeli settlements and murderous invasions of Gaza cannot be ruled inconsequent. Now the ICC has a chance to show whether it really is interested in the rule of international law, or whether it is simply a tool of neo-conservative hegemony.

The World is watching. Can The Hague redeem itself?

Happy New Year

by craig on December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is my last comment for the year as we are off to spend Hogmanay as the guests of an Ambassador in Paris. Out of deference to my family, who have had the brunt of it these last few days, I am definitely not taking the laptop, so I will no longer be able to take part in the popular new bloodsport of proving your loyalty to the SNP by being nasty to Craig Murray.

My parting thought is that, as every year of my entire life, it has been a disastrous one for the Palestinians. Yet more land occupied, settlements built, homes destroyed, olive trees uprooted, shipping vessels sunk and yet another murderous onslaught on Gaza.

I warmly recommend this rare public appearance by Col. Larry Wilkerson, ex-Chief of Staff to Colin Powell and a fellow recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity. His brief musings here on Israel and Syria come from a deep store of knowledge and a razor-sharp intellect.

Do have a wonderful celebration. The future will be good. We are closer to a transformational change in society than you may realise.

Missy M’s Sin of Omission

by craig on December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ambitious SNP Westminster hopeful Gillian Martin seeks to bolster her standing within the party by a peculiarly snide attack on me, in which she continually reiterates how much she likes me but…

Among the buts is this story about the Yes campaign meeting Gillian and I both addressed in Insch:

One thing that jarred very much with me as we took questions from our very mixed audience of Yesses Nos and Undecideds on that night of the panel we shared, was the way Craig responded to a genuine question from an undecided person in the audience. He effectively called her and her question ignorant. She left straight afterwards. I know this because she is a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in ages and had wanted to say hello after. But she was gone. She had been rubbished and presumably left angry and humiliated. Given a kinder response she may have stayed and may even have been persuaded to vote yes. I don’t know if she did, but no matter.

I actually recall the incident very well. The questioner asked how an independent Scotland could possibly afford all the infrastructure of central government that currently existed in London, by way of ministries etc.

I replied that Scotland was already paying for 10% of all that infrastructure in London. With that same money, we could pay for the infrastructure of central government in Edinburgh, the difference being that the net drain on the economy as our taxes left for London would be stopped, and that this money would now be spent in Scotland. Undoubtedly there would be initial start-up costs on infrastructure but these should be seen as capital spending stimulating demand in the economy, not as loss. The view that such spending was a loss was the ridiculous Thatcherite fallacy of economics.

Gillian Martin may consider that “I effectively called her and her question ignorant”, and I suppose that is one possible analysis. But I promise you the question and answer were as I just related. I had no doubt the question was asked as a unionist sneer and if my answer rubbished it, so be it.

But here is the important point. As the young lady did indeed rather ostentatiously leave the meeting after my response, I asked some of the meeting organisers what that had been about. They told me that she was very well known in the community as an active Conservative and that an immediate family member of hers held some position in the Tories.

Now Gillian Martin claims the woman was a friend of hers whom she had wanted to greet. In which case Gillian Martin must know that she was a Tory. In which case, her omission of this most relevant of facts from her account of the event is a deliberate ploy aimed at discrediting me.

I don’t think I have met Gillian Martin apart from that meeting, and she struck me as perfectly nice. But ambition does unfortunate things to people. I do hope the brownie points were worth it, Gillian.

May I offer as an antidote this conversation I had yesterday with that most thoughtful and perceptive of Scottish interviewers, Derek Bateman.

The Depth of Anti-Scottish Racism

by craig on December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

An obnoxious D list celebrity seeks publicity by jibes about “sweaty little jocks” bringing ebola to England, in response to the plight of a selfless healthcare worker. Beneath our notice. But what is not only notable but cries out to be most carefully considered is the existence of thousands of readers in the Daily Mail comments section piling in to register their support, not for the stricken nurse but for the racist “celeb”. Look at the comments here and sort them by “best rated”. The result is staggering.

The comment “I’m not surprised, sounds like she’s speaking the truth” has 3,619 recommends and is the most popular comment.

It is an appalling reflection of English society today. Just as the kowtowing of the mainstream media and political parties to the UKIP agenda has returned “respectability” to casual racism, so the unionist referendum victory has emboldened popular anti-Scottish racism, which manifests itself in even the most tasteless of imaginable circumstances.

The Myth of the Last Man

by craig on December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

As the UK completes another military and political retreat from Afghanistan, it is time to revisit one of the most potent myths of the British Empire: the arrival at Jalalabad of Surgeon Brydon, wounded and on a shot-up dying nag, as the sole survivor of the Army of the Indus. It is a romantic scene that has been lovingly painted by scores of historians – and of course in a famous painting by Lady Butler.

The Remnants of an Army 1879 by Elizabeth Butler (Lady Butler) 1846-1933

But behind the myth, and never properly recorded by historians, is a disgraceful story of British officers leaving their men to die.

It is now generally understood and widely recorded that the army was not wiped out as completely as myth represents. So the retreat from Kabul saw the destruction of the Kabul force, not the Army of the Indus. One third of even the Kabul force survived, including at least 118 Europeans (Allen’s 117 plus Dr Brydon). In addition to this at least two European survivors of the Kabul force were to be killed by the British, fighting on the Sikh side in the British annexation of the Punjab. Their stories are not known. The high casualties of the Kabul force were not the result of a deliberate policy of extermination by Akbar Khan, but of vicious cold and the attacks of local tribesmen. The massacre was not a complete extermination for precisely that reason; undisciplined forces rarely kill everyone on a battlefield left hors de combat; it is hard physical work. Really thorough massacres of survivors are carried out by forces with a very disciplined command structure, like Henry V at Agincourt in 1415, like the Hanoverians at Culloden in 1746, or the Uzbek army at Andijan in 2005.

But if we dig deeper into the confusion and squalor of the retreat from Kabul, we find a very dark episode indeed. The escape of Dr Brydon was the result of a considered decision on the evening of 12 December of the mounted officers to desert their infantrymen – who were still fighting – leaving them to die while they made a break for Jallalabad on horseback. That is not to say the group of mounted men who abandoned the rest were exclusively infantry officers – some were cavalry, including sowars, horse artillery or staff officers – but many were infantry officers. The eyewitness accounts of this make it plain that the mounted men rode off despite specific pleas from the infantry not to desert them.

This can be discerned from the account of Dr Brydon himself:

“The confusion now was terrible; all discipline was now at an end, and the shouts of “Halt!” and “Keep back the cavalry!” incessant. The only cavalry were the officers who were mounted, and a few sowars…Just getting clear of the pass, I with great difficulty made my way to the front, where I found a large body of men and officers who, finding it perfectly hopeless to remain with the men in such a state, had gone ahead to form a kind of advance guard; but was we moved steadily on, whilst the main body was halting every second, by the time that day dawned, we had lost all traces of those in our rear.”

Even Brydon’s rather self-serving account states that there were calls for the horsemen to halt. This is much more graphic in the account of Sergeant-Major Lissant of the 237th Native Infantry, who was of course one of those abandoned on foot.

“The rear kept calling on the men in front to halt, while the officers were urging the expediency of pushing on and losing no time, as they said could we reach Gandamack by daylight we should be safe.

This continued for some time, some of the men halting, others pushing on as requested, till the cries from the rear became more loud and frequent to halt in front. The men in front then said, “The officers seem to care but for themselves, let them push on if they like, we will halt till our comrades in the rear catch up.

From this point, some of the officers went on, as all regularity seemed at an end; every man determined to act for himself”

This puts a very different complexion indeed on Dr Brydon’s “heroic” ride to Jallalabad. The fact that the officers who tried to save their lives by abandoning their men mostly failed, does not make this any less a stain in the records of the British army.

It is a fascinating fact that the abandonment of their men by the mounted officers was observed by the Afghans, and the knowledge has survived down to modern times, forming part of the underlying Afghan tribal dislike for the British which caused so many difficulties in the current long occupation. In 1973, collecting folklore stories of the First Afghan War, the ethnographer Louis Dupree was told near Gandamack: “But they did not all die on the hill, because many of the officers on horseback rode away from their men.”

It is also worth noting that, despite his being adopted as a hero by Victorian politicians and media seeking to spin a glorious national myth, a pall of suspicion hung around Brydon in India for decades. His biographer John Cunnignham records that but fails to give the full facts as to why.

The Kabul retreat was not in reality unprecedented. Monson’s repeat before Holkar in 1804, with Brown’s related retreat to Agra, caused about the same number of casualties among British troops. In that retreat too the mounted British officers simply deserted their men. As James Skinner recorded:

“I saw about 1,500 men march into camp with colours flying under the command of a British sergeant, with a great number of soobhadars and jemadars of native corps. These heroes had kept their ground after all their officers had left them. The poor sergeant was never noticed.”

[I am currently going through the heartbreaking process of reducing Sikunder Burnes from 260,000 to 180,000 words for publication. I am posting some of the more interesting bits that have to be shed on to this blog. Skinner, Like Burnes, was from Montrose. William Brydon was from Fortrose].

The Aldi SNP

by craig on December 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

There is one particularly worrying mindset among some fellow SNP members which has repeatedly recurred across social media, particularly Facebook, in response to my observations. It is what might be seen as the apotheosis of political corporatism.

I take these comments from my last post to illustrate the point, though the same meme can be found in hundreds of comments this last couple of days on many sites and tweets:

“Perhaps it would have been better just to accept you didn’t get the job.”

and

“If the guy can’t even handle a very polite rejection for a job without blogging about it for 3 days, then he shouldn’t be near politics. Period.”

And most tellingly:

“This is the retail equivalent of going for a job interview at ALDI, being unsuccessful and then deciding to set fire to the store on the wayout.”

There is something very worrying – and I really do mean very worrying – about people who believe that a corporation hiring staff is the correct comparator for somebody seeking to enter a democratic process. I was not asking corporate managers acting on behalf of shareholders to give me a position as an employee.

A political party is not a company. It is not owned by shareholders. Its members are supposed to be, within the party, on an equal, democratic footing. I was seeking to put my view of the correct direction for the SNP before the members of the party in a constituency, where I had spoken and been questioned at four hustings meetings. The members in the constituency could then take a democratic vote on whether they thought I was the best candidate or not. I was prevented from remaining in that democratic process and my name was removed from the ballot, due to a decision at HQ. Had I been selected I would have wanted to put my vision of an independent Scotland – consistent with the programme of the SNP – before the electorate as a whole, and conduct a most vigorous campaign and debate.

The idea that this exercise in democracy is a job interview at Aldi clearly is inappropriate. The people who put that idea forward have no feeling for liberty or democracy. For them, seats at Westminster are jobs for the boys in the gift of party managers, and the ordinary members have no more say in it than the staff do in the policy of Aldi. I find some of these attitudes genuinely worrying. I was concerned that the SNP contains a very strong democratic centralist tendency, which we members must guard against. I now see I was wrong. I should have deleted the word democratic from that sentence.

Clarification

by craig on December 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

A few points:

1) Contrary to Margaret Curran, it was entirely plain to me that the Westminster deal “loyalty test” in the SNP vetting process related entirely to a possible deal with Labour. There was no discussion of any possible deal with the Tories.
Personally I am just as opposed to the Red Tories as the Blue Tories and their extremely similar austerity agendas.

2) It has been widely circulated that the reason for my disqualification from the approved candidates’ list was articles written on this blog or speeches made during the Yes campaign. At no stage during either the vetting or appeal process was there any mention of this blog or of anything else I had ever said or written. So if that was indeed the reason, they failed to address it with me.

3) The same is true with regard to those claiming the circumstance of my divorce ten years ago was the reason. There was no mention at all of my personal life at any stage.

4) I have been given no other explanation in writing or orally other than an email with the single sentence:

“While you showed excellent qualities, you could not give a full commitment on group discipline issues, and for that reason the Panel could not recommend approval.”

So to those saying they wish to hear both sides of the story; so do I. I have told you all I know. I am I think entitled to the assumption that the reason was the one stated, rather than the myriad alternative reasons people are putting so much effort into promoting.

Ruminating on this Row

by craig on December 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I gather the Scottish newspapers are going big on the story tomorrow. The Independence Live interview recording is available here and gives the opportunity for a much more reasoned and expansive view of developments.
[it has since been put up on Youtube and I have been able to embed here]

http://new.livestream.com/IndependenceLive/CraigMurray

But it is worth reiterating the point that I only went public on this issue after I was phoned at 8am Saturday morning by The Scotsman (or their sister paper Scotland on Sunday). The Scotsman had already been alerted to the story and been briefed in some detail from within the SNP, in a manner plainly hostile to me. Exactly the same had happened, with the same Scotsman journalist, when I first started to pursue my candidacy a few weeks ago. I therefore decided to get out what had happened from my perspective, using social media.

I had written on 26 December an email to the SNP suggesting we develop an agreed media line to get out the fact I had been rejected as a candidate in a way that did as little mutual harm as possible. I had contacted Derek Bateman with a view to breaking this through his programme. I never received a reply to that email to the SNP. Instead someone in the SNP briefed The Scotsman against me.

That the corporate media would use this episode to damage both me and the SNP was entirely predictable. But it was not me who called the media in, and it is not in my nature to kow-tow humbly when I am being attacked.

UPDATE

I am adding into the text a comment I made below in response to people who refuse to take on board simple facts which they do not like.

1) I did not talk to the Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday. They phoned me at 8am and they had already been briefed and recounted to me a great many facts down the phone that could only have come from within the SNP. They did not say “Oh, Hi Craig, any news?”.

2) I said nothing to the Scotsman other than to confirm it was true I had been refused at assessment, and that I was very disappointed. I said nothing else.

3) It was not the first time someone had briefed the Scotsman on this and they had contacted me. It happened a few weeks ago too. The motive was very plain – to get the Scotsman to print disobliging things about me being a vicious cybernat (which worked- eejits keep happily quoting the same out of context phrase the Scotsman used in these comment threads, and throughout the blogosphere).

Live Interview

by craig on December 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Doing a live interview on Independence Live in 10 minutes and answering questions from viewers.

http://new.livestream.com/IndependenceLive

Disbarred

by craig on December 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Upset and depressed after being barred from the SNP candidates’ register by the hierarchy for “lack of commitment to group discipline”.

I was asked at assessment whether, as part of a Westminster deal with another party, I would agree to vote for the bedroom tax if instructed by the Party. I replied “No.” End of SNP political career. Problem is, I really believed we were building a different kind of politics in Scotland. I also knew that a simple lie would get me in, but I couldn’t bring myself to utter it.

I had very, very strong support from ordinary members to be the candidate in Falkirk or in Airdrie, and had 17 requests to stand from other constituencies, several from branch meetings. I wonder what the SNP new membership will think of this?

I had intended to keep this a private grief if possible, but I was phoned at 8am this morning by the Scotsman, who had plainly been briefed in some detail from within the party hierarchy. I was also phoned by the Sunday Herald, who were coming from a different direction, having picked up a whiff of Tammany Hall about the SNP selection process in several constituencies.

In the interests of full openness, these are the complete communications I have been sent regarding my rejection as a candidate:

Craig
Thanks for coming along to the Assessment Day on 6 December and apologies for not being able to get back to you before now.
I’m afraid to say that the Panel did not feel able to recommend you for approval as a potential parliamentary candidate at this time. While you showed excellent qualities, you could not give a full commitment on group discipline issues, and for that reason the Panel could not recommend approval.
There is scope to appeal this decision, and if you wish to do so then contact my colleague Susan Ruddick – (email address deleted) – who will be able to put that process in train.
Best wishes
Ian
Ian McCann
Corporate Governance and Compliance Manager
Scottish National Party

Then:

Dear Craig,
Thank you for attending the Appeals Panel yesterday.
Unfortunately your Appeal was not upheld.
I wish you luck in your future endeavours.
Sue

That is it. I have asked for more detail of why I was refused, but been given none. All I have is “you could not give a full commitment on group discipline issues”, and the only question to which I gave an answer that could possibly be interpreted that way, was the one above on the bedroom tax. There was, incidentally, no corresponding question designed to test the loyalty of right wing people.

I should note that I was astonished by the hostility of the appeals board, chaired by Ian Hudghton MEP and flanked by two MSPs. They could not have been more personally unfriendly towards me if I were Jim Murphy: their demeanour was bullying. They were less pleasant to me than was Jack Straw or anybody in the Foreign Office when they were sacking me for blowing the whistle on extraordinary rendition and torture. It was a really weird exercise in which these highly taxpayer paid professional politicians attempted to twist every word I said to find an excuse to disqualify me. I found it a truly unpleasant experience.

My analysis is that those in the SNP who make a fat living out of it are terrified the energy of the Yes campaign may come to threaten their comfy position. I think there is an important debate here on how the 80% of the SNP who are new members can affect its existing gatekeeping structures. No new members were involved in deciding if I was a fit candidate, and the 1500 new members in each of Falkirk and Airdrie were denied any chance to vote for me as their preferred candidate.

This also makes a complete nonsense of the SNP’s much publicised move at the Perth conference to allow non-members to stand as SNP candidates in an “opening out” to the wider Yes campaign.

I do worry that the idea of Whitehall ministerial limousines in a coalition is of more interest to some in the SNP than independence. I also am really concerned that the SNP has become, like other parties, a source of lots of taxpayer-funded careers. A significant proportion of those that do pass the vetting process are Special Advisers or work in SNP MP’s, MSP’s or MEP’s offices. The SNP is developing its own “political class” which is the opposite of the citizen activism of the Yes campaign. It became clear to me that a lot of SNP insider thought around the selection process is not about furthering independence, but about jobs for the boys (and girls).

Every candidate for selection is allowed a 350 word statement including cv to be given to members with their ballot paper. This is the 350 word statement which I had submitted to HQ for distribution to SNP members in Falkirk, prior to my disqualification. It has never been distributed, but I would like every SNP member to read it. If you know one, send it to them:

My aim is to achieve Independence.  The Smith Commission shows we will never be given the control of our own economic resources required to achieve our aims of social justice, or to stimulate the economy, within the Union. 

I think we have to avoid the trap of managerialism – of being just another political party but a little more competent and fair.  We should maintain a firm thrust towards the goal of national freedom.

I will vote with the SNP group, but my voice within the party will be against any coalition agreement with Labour or Tories.

I want to defeat Labour, not sustain them. I want to end the Union, not to run it.

Within the SNP we must guard against success leading us to develop our own careerists. Professional politicians in Westminster have become a parasitic class with interchangeable beliefs, out for themselves. There are too many of them – Special Advisers, research assistants etc. The number of politicians paid for by the taxpayer has quadrupled in 30 years.

The best MPs contribute from a wide variety of life experience.

I want the dynamic citizen activism we saw in the Yes campaign to lead to a new kind of politics in Scotland. Bubbling up from ordinary folk. And I want that energy from the people to defeat the forces of the mainstream media and the unionists here in the coming election.

Together, we can do it.

If selected as our candidate I will immediately move my family home to Falkirk and begin campaigning. Once elected MP, my home will become my constituency office and open to all, and no MP will work harder for his constituents. No Scottish MP will have lower expenses. I shall regularly attend the Commons and speak in debate.

Craig Murray
Writer, Human Rights Activist.
Chairman, Atholl Energy Ltd
Rector, Dundee University 2007-10
Honorary Research Fellow, University of Lancaster School of Law 2006-10
British Ambassador Uzbekistan 2002-4
HM Diplomatic Service 1984-2005
MA 1st Class Hons Modern History

Declined LVO, OBE and CVO as a Scottish nationalist and republican

Maybe that statement is what really got me disqualified?

Droning On

by craig on December 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

It turns out that the CIA has realised for years that drone attacks are of very limited utility. Like so many of the injustices of the “War on Terror”, they are in fact a driver for armed hatred of the West, not least because they kill more civilians than targets.

But of course, the “war on terror” is very much about boosting the standing of politicians who are “fighting terror” on behalf of their citizens, and about boosting the ever-inflating powers – and budgets – of the security services. SO counterproductive measures are, paradoxically, the most attractive to those whose aim is not to obtain peace, but rather to maintain the concentration of power and finance consequent upon an eternal state of phoney war.

Rusbridger The Worst Editor in the World Part 233(a)

by craig on December 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

The incredible disappearing Jim Murphy. At 18.50 on the front (home) page of the Guardian, top left, appeared a story by Libby Brooks entitled “Scottish Labour Leader Criticised Over Proposal to end Football Alcohol Ban”. I clicked and read the story briefly, in which domestic abuse organisations and the police were criticising Murphy for proposing to allow alcohol at football again. I saw the article a minute after it went up, and as yet there were no comments.

I then returned to the home page to see what else was in the paper, and my eye was caught by the normally welcome absence of Jim Murphy. Within three minutes of being put on the front page, the story had been taken off. By clicking back I could get to it again; it was still there. But there was no link to it any more on the home page and no way to find it if you did not know it was there.

There are two points here. One is The Guardian, which with the BBC has been telling us for a week solid that Jim Murphy is the Messiah, could not have a story revealing what a plonker Murphy is, up for three minutes, without burying it.

The second point is Murphy’s dangerous populism. He has already announced he would repeal the Scottish Parliament’s anti-sectarian measures. He now wants to reintroduce alcohol fuelling of football rivalries. It seems that Murphy has correctly identified the level of core Labour support and is pandering to it. The efforts to rectify some of the more glaring social problems in Scotland have been politically brave in the past few years. For a nasty lowest common denominator rabble rouser like Murphy to start trying to drum up Neanderthal appeal, is deeply unedifying.

The EU Is Lost

by craig on December 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Peter Mandelson, Danny Alexander and Kenneth Clarke have been appointed to head the pro-EU campaign in the run-up to the probable referendum. Did Nigel Farage make the selection? (I have always had a regard for Ken Clarke, but his willingness to defend vicious Tory cuts is changing my mind fast).

Hiatus

by craig on December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is not a tactical break, this is flu. Twice this year already. Aaagh!

Weasel Words

by craig on December 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Independent have Jack Straw well and truly cornered:

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Craig Murray, who was sacked as UK ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2004 after alleging that Britain used intelligence obtained by the CIA under torture, said he attended a meeting at the Foreign Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and claimed this policy came directly from Mr Straw.

The former Foreign Secretary said: “At all times I was scrupulous in seeking to carry out my duties in accordance with the law. I hope to be able to say more about this at an appropriate stage in the future.”

I hope so too, and I hope that the appropriate time is either at the Old Bailey or The Hague.

Straw has climbed down a bit from his days of power and glory, when he told the House of Commons, immediately after sacking me, that there was no such thing as the CIA extraordinary rendition programme and its existence was “Mr Murray’s opinion.” He no longer claims it did not exist and he no longer claims I am a fantasist. He now merely claims he was not breaking the law.

His claim of respect for the law is a bit dubious in the light of Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. Wood said that as Foreign Office Legal Adviser, he and his elite team of in-house FCO international lawyers unanimously advised Straw the invasion of Iraq would be an illegal war of aggression. Straw’s response? He wrote to the Attorney General requesting that Sir Michael be dismissed and replaced. And forced Goldsmith to troop out to Washington and get alternative advice from Bush’s nutjob Republican neo-con lawyers.

Jack Straw did not have any desire to act legally. He had a desire to be able to mount a legal defence of his illegal actions. That is a different thing.

Should any of us live to see the publication of the Chilcot Report, this will doubtless be clear, though probably as a footnote to page 862 of Annex VII. That is how the Westminster establishment works.

The SNP has weighed in on the side of the angels:

Revelations by the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan of the UK’s knowledge and acceptance of torture must see those involved answer questions on what happened.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Murray reveals that he attended a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he was told that “it was not illegal for us to use intelligence from torture as long as we did not carry out the torture ourselves” and revealed that this policy came directly from Jack Straw.

Mr Murray also reveals that “there was a deliberate policy of not writing down anything… because there should not be evidence of the policy.”

Craig Murray also states that “for the past year the British Ambassador in Washington and his staff have regularly been lobbying the US authorities not to reveal facts about the UK’s involvement in the CIA torture programme” and claims that is one of the reasons the full Senate report has not been published.

The SNP has called for a full judicial inquiry to be set up as a matter of urgency to get to get to the truth of who knew what and when.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said:

“Mr Murray’s revelation of the attitude taken by then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw only adds to the urgency with which we need a full judicial inquiry.

“Craig Murray’s article lifts the lid on the UK’s role in the human rights abuses that the US Senate has reported on and there can be no more attempts to avoid answering the tough questions that have been posed.

“Clearly answers are needed just as much from the politicians who led us at the time as from those directly involved in what was going on. The need for an independent judicial inquiry is now clear for all to see.

“It is also long past time that the findings of the Chilcot inquiry were published and there can be no more delays to that report being made public.

“There needs to be a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of the UK’s involvement in rendition flights that passed through UK territory and the UK’s wider knowledge of the abuses that the Senate has revealed.”

Craig Murray’s revelations can be viewed on page 25 of today’s Mail on Sunday

But with Malcolm Rifkind being promoted everywhere by the BBC to push his cover-up, it remains an uphill struggle.

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