I Shall Join the Labour Party

by craig on November 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

…on the day that they expel every last war criminal from their ranks and write formally to the Hague to request the prosecution of Blair, Straw, Campbell, Dearlove and Scarlett – just to start the prosecutions.

Thank you for all the very kind enquiries following my last post and the subsequent silence. I came back from West Africa with a fever and absolutely exhausted, and have been recovering my strength. I can see why some of you guessed I was going to join the Labour Party from my last post, but no that is quite wrong. Scottish independence remains my overriding priority.

Down From the Mountain

by craig on November 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

I had been spending the last few days living here in Avatime district while visiting Ghanaian friends nearby. Away from internet, TV and any other distraction, it has given me a chance to ponder what next to do with my life.

This has been a real problem. Have submitted Sikunder Burnes to the publishers, and while there is still editing and proofs, a huge amount of time is now free. My determination to dedicate myself to working for Scottish independence led to my comprehensive rejection by the SNP. This left me confused as to what I might usefully do with my life. I suppose the question I have been pondering is, what good am I?

I have come up with a potential answer, and will out it later this week.

Climate change deniers should come to Ghana. Not only have changing rainfall patterns devastated the hydro-electric system, life has become extremely hard for farmers. The last decade has seen the highly predictable wet and dry seasons become wildly unpredictable. It has been unseasonally raining heavily on me all over Ghana. The situation is extremely difficult for farmers. Mango farmers are now praying for relief from the rain for the next six weeks or the mangoes won’t flower. The continuing rains may already have adversely affected next year’s harvest. Meeting cocoa farmers today. Am now in Kumasi.

Garters in a Twist

by craig on October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

The House of Lords broke no constitutional conventions in referring back Osborne’s vindictive tax credit cuts. The Tories and their media supporters are talking utter garbage on the question. Taking Britain’s appalling “constitution” for what it is, the arcane rules of procedure were not breached.

Ever since David Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith forced, by threat of massive creation of peerages, the 1911 Budget through and with it the start of National Insurance and the demise of the workhouse, there has been a convention that the Lords do not oppose or amend Finance Bills.

But the tax credit cuts were not in a Finance Bill. Osborne instead tried to sneak them through by statutory instrument. This is secondary legislation whereby a Minister signs off laws under powers delegated to him by primary legislation. Secondary legislation gets much less parliamentary time and committee scrutiny. If Osborne had put the tax credit proposals in a Finance Bill, as they certainly should have been – it is Osborne who was breaking parliamentary convention here – rather than sneak them under the table as secondary legislation, the Lords would indeed not have been able to stop them without breaching constitutional convention. Which just goes to show it doesn’t always pay to be a weasel.

Osborne is hoist by his own petard.

Aah, Tories say. But there is another convention that the Lords do not block secondary legislation.

They are making that one up. There is no such constitutional convention and there are plenty of examples of the Lords blocking secondary legislation. There is a huge quantity of secondary legislation, thousands and thousands of laws – ministers continually are signing off legal changes.

But the entire basis of the secondary legislation is that parliament has delegated to ministers, in Acts, powers to sign off uncontroversial matter. This can be, for example, the detail of regulations needed technically to enforce primary legislation, and the occasional updates needed. Only a very low percentage indeed of secondary legislation ever gets queried by the Lords, but that is not because of a constitutional convention. That is because most of it is dull stuff. But when the government abuses its authority and tries to smuggle vital changes through secondary legislation, the Lords not only has the constitutional right to challenge this abuse, it has the constitutional duty to do so.

I wish they would do it more often. For example, when the Labour Party used Westminster secondary legislation to cede 6,000 square miles of Scotland’s sea to England without parliamentary scrutiny.

Finally, there is a constitutional convention that the Lords do not oppose manifesto commitments on which a government has been elected. But the Tories rather carefully did not put tax credit cuts in their manifesto, and indeed in campaigning said they would not do it.

The British constitution is appallingly undemocratic. The fact that an undemocratic chamber has fended off a proposal from an undemocratic executive which gained the votes of only 37% of the voting electors, is not a blow struck for democracy. It is however a temporary victory for human decency in mitigating an attack on the poor.

It is also an achievement for Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody can truly believe that Labour peers would have been organised to do this under Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall.

UPDATE Wings Over Scotland has a very different take on the Labour Party performance. That the Labour Party was not radical enough to go for the “fatal” option I am afraid I find unsurprising. It remains a deeply conservative institution. But I had not previously encountered the argument that 90% would lose the money from universal credit anyway, and it is stunningly cynical. But on close consideration, I cannot work out what it means. Either there must be some additional cut to universal credit, or that those who lost tax credit could have regained it on universal credit anyway. If anybody could explain that one further, I should be grateful.

On Being Ripped Off

by craig on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Been rather busy in Ghana and Sierra Leone, hence not posting. Still much removed from the world of thought, but wanted to get one frustration off my chest. This laptop came with the really horrible Windows 8. I upgraded to the slightly better Windows 10.

I have now picked up a computer virus, as I am afraid happens very frequently when I visit West Africa, must be through the local servers or hotel wifi connections. I had not previously noticed that in upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 10, my Kaspersky Pure Crystal anti-virus programme had disappeared.

I therefore went to the Kaspersky website and found a helpful page indicating this was normal, and giving decent instructions on how to update Windows 10, remove all vestiges of the Kaspersky Pure Crystal Product, and replace it with Kaspersky Total Protection 2015. Only when all was completed did I notice that the replacement Kaspersky product is a one month free trial of a limited version, after which I have to pay for the thing.

Given I had paid a lot of money for the Kaspersky Crystal Pure protection quite recently (and I think it was on an automatic renewal) I feel pretty ripped off. Am I being reasonable, or is it my fault for changing the operating system?

The Great Kowtow

by craig on October 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

The dreadfully stultified pageantry of the British state has been on full display the last couple of days, all mouldy ermine, fraying gold braid and musty velvet. But forms which evolved as a vibrant display of Imperial might have transmuted into rituals of obeisance, as the nonogenerian Prince Philip stumbles behind the Chinese President along lines of men wearing decaying bears on their heads. The sickness of Britain’s monarchical system was never more bluntly revealed than by the rictus grins of the aristocratic clowns balancing their tiaras at the state banquet.

The Chinese are the imperial masters now. Cameron begs them to build a nuclear power station for which the British state guarantees it will pay double the market price for electricity produced, for twenty years. And a government which has just announced the extension of thought crime to the expression of non-violent or anti-violent thought deemed “extreme”, has no locus to talk about human rights, a concept at least as alien to Teresa May as it is to the Chinese Communist Party. Britain has its own war criminals like Blair and Straw running around, immune and very wealthy.

The British state is an immoral entity which I view with disgust. That is what drives for me the imperative to early Scottish Independence to be rid of it. Every day as a British citizen is like bathing in sewage.


by craig on October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have enormous respect for the work of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. They work in conflict regions to teach the basic principles of journalism to local journalists, including citizen journalists. They really do get right in to the most difficult situations, and have access to knowledge on the ground that western media organisations often lack. I worked closely with their office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where Michael Andersen did a great job.

The fact that IWPR accesses direct first hand knowledge of what really happens during conflicts, almost certainly holds the key to the death of Jackie Sutton. She was killed for something she knew. The official Turkish story that she killed herself in the airport in despair at missing a connecting flight, is risible.

I cannot claim to any idea at present what it was she knew that caused her to be killed. It follows from that I do not know who killed her. But the speed of the Turkish authorities to promote a suicide narrative must in itself raise suspicions.

A Nazi Welcomed by the British Establishment

by craig on October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

As readers know, in general I am opposed to the lazy characterisation of Ukrainian nationalists as Nazis, fascists or racists, because in general it is untrue. But some of them are, and one who undoubtedly fits the bill is the anti-Semite Andriy Paribiy, founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine.

Paribiy will be speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall on this Friday, 23 October, at 11am. The meeting is described as open to all. I do hope people will be able to express their opinion of him freely.


This is the party symbol of Paribiy’s Social National Party, in case anybody doubts me. It is perfectly clear what Mr Paribiy stands for. That the Royal United Services Institute invites him to spread his views in the heart of Whitehall, says a great deal about the position of the right wing British establishment. Today, the British government proposes new legislation to close down mosques and bookshops deemed extreme, even if they advocate against violence and do not break the law. These are dangerous times – and the danger is from the right.

Ancient Wit

by craig on October 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

It is my birthday! I had a celebratory dinner last night in the home of very dear friends from student days. whom I had not seen for decades. We regaled each other with stories of those long ago times, and for a while were young again.

I heard again how I forgot about one of my finals and had to be helped, too drunk to walk, into the examination room but still got a first. Absolutely true but I had forgotten it until reminded. I did remember the tales of Clement Freud’s sleaziness while Rector in his advances on female students. There was one story in hearing which I took a shamelessly big-headed delight, of when we were at a Clement Freud speech in a formal university occasion. Rather pompously, he said: “You know when you are doing the job of Rector properly when the University Court thinks you are on the students’ side, and the students think you are on the Court’s side”. I interjected loudly “Two-faced bastard” and brought the house down.

If you live long enough you will make some jokes worth retelling.

But I haven’t changed in one respect. Just as I managed to miss the start of a final exam, I managed today to miss my speech to SNP conference by not being in the hall when called. I simply misread the programme, though to be fair to myself the programme is not plain whether the resolution would be in the 10am resolutions session or the 11.30am session. I am annoyed with myself nonetheless.

The motion was on the BBC Charter and I had wished to move a reference back on the grounds that it was not radical enough in its treatment of the BBC. SNP activists are continually accused in the media of being against journalistic freedom in their “attacks” on the BBC. I intended to say that, after a great deal of professional experience monitoring state propaganda organisations around the world, I know one when I see one. To oppose the propaganda output of a state propaganda organisation is not to oppose media freedom, it is to promote it. I missed out on the applause this would have got in the hall. You can applaud now.

I was fortunate in that for the whole of my twenty years in the FCO I had staff working for me who could organise me. Tell me where I was supposed to be, take me there, and make sure I didn’t forget my coat, briefcase or wallet. Without this structure around me, life is a constant struggle against my own impracticality.

Oh well, I have got through 57 years of this. If the next forty are even slightly as enjoyable, I have much to look forward to.

Doh! Wrong Again!

by craig on October 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am of course immediately proved wrong :-) The Conference just remitted back a motion supporting the Scottish Government’s land reforms on the grounds they are too timid. There is life in this Party after all.

The Art of Party Management

by craig on October 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

Am now blogging direct from the Conference Hall. We just had a fascinating insight into party management. The proposer of the motion on fracking, on behalf of Leith constituency, stated in her speech that their motion as submitted called for a complete ban on fracking, but that the text had been amended by the Standing Orders Committee to delete a ban and insert support for the Scottish Government’s temporary moratorium. She added that many constituencies then submitted amendments for a complete ban, but they were all rejected by the committee. Nonetheless, she stated we should support the bowdlerised motion to “show trust for the Scottish Government”.

A remit back was proposed on the grounds that the resolution was insufficiently radical. This was defeated 550 to 420. There could be no clearer illustration of the grip of the party leadership over the conference and the unswerving loyalty, even in plainly indefensible circumstances, of the bulk of the delegates.

I see that we are not to have a referendum in the next five years, but we are likely to have unconventional coal gas extraction or some other variant on fracking.

A Day in Aberdeen

by craig on October 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

I thought I would give you the high and low points of the SNP Conference for me on Thursday. The high point was the debate on nuclear weapons, and the unanimous vote on show of cards for unilateral nuclear disarmament. That was all heartwarming enough. But what really made my day was watching at close quarters the facial expression of arch Blairite Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer during the debate. He went from incomprehension, as though everyone were speaking Gaelic, to a kind of rictus of disgust, and then his corded neck and cheek muscles started positively twitching in hatred. I feared for a moment it was apoplexy. Priceless, and well worth the cost of the rail ticket.

To say something nice about the media for a change, after that debate I saw Jon Snow helping his crew by carrying some of their very heavy equipment the considerable distance from the hall. Can’t imagine Gavin Esler, Laura Kuenssberg or any of the “stars” at the BBC doing that.

My next highlight was listening to Phillippa Whitford talking about the NHS. She radiates confidence and competence, and it is sadly unusual to hear a politician who really does know the subject on which they are talking.

I greatly enjoyed a chat over a Guinness with the new Ecuadorean Ambassador, Carlos Abad. We discussed the prospects for Scottish Independence and, both being diplomats by profession, agreed heartily with each other that the key to eventually achieving Independence is recognition by other states.

The SNP really could and should do more in promoting the cause to the wider international community. The group of broadly socialist countries of Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua) is called ALBA, an acronym of the Spanish name of the group. We should definitely cooperate with ALBA!

Which brings me to the low points of the day. The Ambassador had never been to Scotland before, and he had come straight from Aberdeen airport to the conference centre. I was ashamed and desperate to convince him what a lovely country Scotland is. The AECC is the ugliest building in Scotland – genuinely world class in the ugly buildings league. It is even more horrible inside than out. Whoever designed a conference centre with no bar is exceeded in stupidity only by whoever decided to hold the SNP conference in a centre with no bar. There is a bar in the adjoining Holiday Inn, itself as drab and dispiriting as a cheaply built hotel can be, but the hotel bar is far too small to serve as a social hub for the conference. And as the conference centre is outside the city in the middle of nowhere, there are no nearby bars to pile into – the conference lacks any kind of social heart.

Equally annoying, the rooms available for fringe meetings are too small. I tried to attend fringe meetings on TTIP and on excessive executive pay, but simply could not get into either.

The fringe meeting on the timing of a second referendum was cancelled, without explanation. There can be no doubt whatsoever that Nicola Sturgeon has moved decisively in the last 48 hours to kick the next referendum further into the long grass. She was ten minutes ago on BBC Breakfast doing precisely that and positioning the SNP as a party of governance within the Union. Delegates here including me, have no opportunity at all to express our opinions on this. That is not a good feeling, and I suspect in the long term not good party management, however smart it may feel to the leadership at the moment.

Nicola Sturgeon is Wrong: Let Unionists Vote for Unionists

by craig on October 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am at the SNP Conference in Aberdeen and you may not be surprised to learn that I find myself in immediate and fundamental disagreement with the party leadership.

Nicola Sturgeon in her opening address, as in media interviews yesterday, made a point of stating that she did not only want Independence supporters to vote SNP in the Holyrood elections, she wanted unionists to vote SNP too, on the grounds that the SNP were the most competent Holyrood government.

I disagree fundamentally. When we have the clear mandate for Independence of overwhelming election victories at Westminster and Holyrood elections, why muddy the waters and undermine the mandate for Independence by arguing that a vote for the SNP can also be a unionist vote? It is stupid tactics.

It is also nonsense. There is no significant unionist vote for the SNP. Ever since the referendum, opinion polls have without a single exception found support for the SNP and support for Independence to be almost identical, within the margin of statistical error. There is no well of unionist SNP supporters.

Furthermore, analysis of numerous Scottish council by-elections (see Scot Goes Pop passim) shows that unionist voters will happily transfer preferences between the unionist red, blue and orange tories but not to the SNP. Unionists will not vote SNP in significant numbers.

But assuming I am wrong and unionists flock to Sturgeon’s call and start to vote SNP, that raises major questions about the whole purpose of the SNP. If the SNP is a party which unionists can support, then plainly Independence must, by definition, no longer be the defining purpose of the SNP. That is the route Sturgeon is taking.

This is the danger of managerialism, about which I have written before. The SNP becomes so convinced by our own propaganda about the unique competence of our administration and the unique beneficence of our paternalism, that we come to believe that just having the SNP in charge in Holyrood and representing Scotland in Westminster is a good in itself. The fact that this also leaves the SNP establishment in very comfy high paid jobs with their feet well and truly under the UK establishment table is no disincentive to believe this.

Thus the motion after Sturgeon’s speech was about non-delivery of The Vow and called for the Smith Commission to be fully delivered in the Scotland Bill. I do not give tuppence for whether the Smith Commission is implemented in full, in part or not at all. It still leaves Scotland subservient to Westminster, without a voice in international organisations and subject to being dragged in to illegal war, not to mention the new cold war with Russia and renewed arms race which the UK establishment is preparing.

If Sturgeon gains more unionist votes, and in consequence the SNP had 55% rather than 51% of the Holyrood vote, and thus 65% rather than 60% of the Holyrood MPs, what precisely has been gained other than more jobs for the boys and more feet under the establishment table, at the price of abandoning a clear platform of Independence. A terrible trade-off.

If we abandon the idea of a referendum within the next five years, on the stupid grounds that we might lose, then the chance of Independence may vanish. At the moment we have a hated Tory government in Westminster, a Labour Party in utter disarray and SNP dominance in Scotland. There will never be a more favourable conjunction. Why mess it up by starting to spread doubt about the SNP’s commitment to Independence – which is suddenly less important that its commitment to Having Power.

It was the realisation that Scottish Labour cared more about Having Power than principles that put paid to that party. Sturgeon seems to want to replace Scottish Labour in every sense. The SNP may be dominant now, but if we put Power before Independence – as any analysis of Sturgeon’s speech today can only conclude she does – then we should not be surprised if many for whom Independence is the primary objective start to look at other vehicles to attain it.

Political Economy

by craig on October 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am watching the debate on Osborne’s Fiscal Charter live on the Parliament Channel. The barracking and baying at Caroline Lucas by roaring Tory MPs making that weird public school hawing noise was quite astounding. She was making an entirely sensible point about the viability of government borrowing to fund productive investment.

Listening to George Osborne speak, I find it hard to believe that it is seriously expected by the commentariat that this man will win the 2020 election and become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If ordinary people find him an acceptable human being, let alone leader, I really do not understand what has become of society.

I hardly know where to start to deconstruct his speech, but one fact stands out. Osborne purported to give an overview of Britain’s economic crash and “recovery”, without making a single mention of the banking crisis or bankers’ corrupt and greedy practices as the cause of the crash, of vast banking bailouts by the taxpayer and the rapid contraction of the economy. That banker behaviour was of course accelerated by Gordon Brown’s extreme banking deregulation, but that was Brown’s great blunder, not the levels of public spending.

The Self-Appointed Elite

by craig on October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am an unrepentant enthusiast for the European Union, indeed a European Federalist. I think the freedoms of movement of people and goods within the EU are the most profound political achievement of my lifetime, and have made the world a very much better place.

I am therefore flabbergasted by the group of unpleasant elitist bastards who apparently will lead the pro-EU campaign for the referendum. How could anybody wishing to win a vote believe that a Board including Peter Mandelson and Danny Alexander is going to help? While the appointment of Lord Rose seems to confirm belief in the “Michelle Mone theory”, that selling knickers grants universal expertise.

Most egregious of all, the Executive Director is Will Straw, whose main qualification is that his father is a war criminal. Founder of the rabid anti-Corbyn website Left Foot Forward and every bit as Atlanticist as Liam Fox, Will Straw is as insanely pro-United States hegemony and as ultra-Zionist as only an extreme Blairite can be. He really is a deeply unappealing figure.

I have no doubt they will be flooded with corporate money. But what I want to know is this. If this referendum is supposed to be a democratic exercise, where every citizen is equal, what grants this self-serving sample of the metropolitan elite the right to nominate themselves as the In campaign? I don’t see how any decent person can have anything to do with them. Having had a lot of respect for Caroline Lucas, I must say if she really is going to work alongside Will Straw then my respect for her is going to plummet.

Our Enemies Lie Before Us

by craig on October 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

William Wallace did not turn to Andrew Murray at Stirling Bridge and say “I am not fighting alongside you, I hear you’re hard on your tenants.”

A declaration of interest. At the SNP conference in Glasgow in March I was feeling very down. Having been rejected at candidate vetting by the SNP leadership, and the fact leaked to the press with resulting brouhaha, I was effectively cold-shouldered at what was a very managed loyalist mass rally. I spent a lot of time on my own and people I knew were positively walking away to avoid me.

As regular readers know I am bipolar, and I know that when I am severely depressed my perception can be wrong. But in the SNP club a few weeks later a very sensible gentleman told me he and his wife had been appalled at the way I was treated at the conference. I am pretty confident it was not a distorted perception.

Anyway, I was sitting on my own in the conference hall when Michelle Thomson came and sought me out, sat with me and chatted to me. I have no doubt that her motive was simple personal kindness. I should add that the next day Chris Law did much the same.

In Scotland we have had five days of Michelle being treated by the media as though she were the Yorkshire Ripper. The BBC, who never once managed to ask Jim Murphy about the Henry Jackson Society, have been on 24 hour Thomsonwatch, including aggressive doorstepping a la Sky News.

I am not going to set out the detail of the case here, but highly recommend that you read Wings on the distortion of the issues, and Lallands on the legal position. Both are excellent, but to me neither quite clearly delineates the most essential point.

To preface that point, let me restate that Michelle is not under investigation, and her own role is unclear.

The key point is that at no time was any vendor selling their house ripped off. This is not a case of distressed people dispossessed, and the attempts by media and politicians to make it appear that way are tendentious.

The worst that allegedly happened is this. A and B are in cahoots. Mr Smith sells his property to A for an agreed market price. A then sells to B for market price plus 20 grand. The bank gives a mortgage for this, but A quietly gives the extra 20 grand back to B under the table.

The fraud is on the mortgage company which has been tricked into giving a higher mortgage than it otherwise would have. The fraud in no way harms the original vendor. The fraud does not even harm the mortgage company provided the mortgage is paid – and there is no accusation of default. What the mortgage company has lost is that it has as security an interest over a property with a false value.

But again, unless there were a default, it has actually helped the mortgage company too as in the weird world of banking its larger loan is an asset not a liability on its books.

So it is a fraud, but not one perpetrated on poor vendors. It is a trick played on the ludicrous banking system. Clever, dishonest but not morally outrageous. I repeat again, there is no evidence or even legal accusation that Michelle Thomson was involved in any of this. But in any case it is nowhere near as immoral as starting an illegal war with consequent deaths of millions of people. Lets get a grip.

I have never claimed to be perfect. All of us have done things wrong in our past. For me the Independence referendum campaign transcended all that. It was a millenarian movement, a time when people envisaged a world renewed and more just. That phrase about living in the first days of a better nation carried enormous resonance. It was the defining moment of my own life despite coming in its Autumn. Those of us in the frontline of the Yes campaign underwent a kind of emotional rebirth. Sins were wiped clean. It was a sacramental experience, and will lead on to that better world in an Independent Scotland in short time.

It sparked England’s chance for change with Corbyn.

I don’t care what mistakes people made before the Yes campaign. By dedicating themselves to that social movement, they wiped the slate clean.

Which leads me on to Tommy Sheridan. Neither Tommy nor Michelle will thank me for lumping them together, given the very different circumstances. But the continued shunning of Sheridan by pro-Independence organisations from Rise to the SNP is ludicrous.

Most ludicrous of all is the language parroted by the left about Sheridan, that “A space containing Tommy Sheridan is not a safe space for women.” You find it here in the comment by Edward Bonobo. You find it in this article by Tommy Ball. I have had it repeated to me several times.

One answer to this is that it is even more dangerous to be in organisations that teach members to parrot catchphrases, as opposed to think.

In what way precisely is proximity to Tommy Sheridan dangerous to women? If it were true that he has a Svengali like irresistible sexual appeal – which appears to be the nub of the accusation as far as I can make out any sense from Tommy Ball’s article – then surely there is not a woman in Scottish politics not warned against it by now? Is it not rather demeaning to women to argue they would not be capable of protecting themselves from Tommy Sheridan? What precisely about being in the same “space” as Tommy Sheridan is unsafe for women? What does “space” mean in this context? Room, meeting, city? The argument about “safe space” is clearly a nonsense.

I do not know the truth about the sexual shenanigans of which Tommy was accused by Murdoch. Nor do I in the least care if they were true. I have done all that kind of stuff. Often before tea. I do know that Sheridan was jailed for perjury, and that Coulson lied in court at the same trial but the judges ruled that it was OK for Coulson to lie, but not for Sheridan. I know there are allegations that Sheridan pressured other people to lie for him. I do not know if it is true, but I have had so many friends – of both sexes – ask me over the years to give them an alibi for marital infidelity I am not shocked by that. I am afraid to say that in my younger days I have asked that myself.

None of which explains the sheer hatred and bile poured out at Sheridan. This is a man who liberated poor families from the destitution and humiliation of warrant sales, who led the anti-poll tax campaign, who sparked the Murdoch phone-hacking revelations and has been repeatedly arrested and even jailed outside Faslane – trying to make the world a “safer space” for everyone. This tribute is undoubtedly true:

You supported individuals in the community; both in parliament and in the street, you were able to use your undoubted powers of oratory to press home your cause; you led the Scottish Socialist Party to considerable electoral success; and your contributions to the anti-poll tax campaign and the abolition of warrant sales will become part of the fabric of Scottish social and political history.

It was said by Lord Bracadale as he sentenced him to three years in prison for perjury in the Murdoch case.

Tommy Sheridan proclaims his innocence, but in any event he has undoubtedly made mistakes in life. But his achievements are very important, and the continued vindictiveness of the sex-negative feminists and their followers on the Left is extreme. Tommy has been to jail. Is offender rehabilitation only something the political classes claim to believe in because they don’t actually expect to meet any ex-convicts in their sphere of life? The attempt to dress the vicious vindictiveness up as warding off a present danger to women from Tommy Sheridan is intellectually ludicrous.

I shared a platform with Tommy Sheridan at Caird Square, Dundee on Sunday. I was not asked to speak until the gloaming, when 95% of those attending had gone home, but I accepted that and got on with it because I will do anything, anywhere to promote the cause of Independence. The SNP boycott of the event because Tommy was there cannot possibly be helpful if Independence is really the aim.

The Independence movement has a vast and powerful army arraigned against us. The entire British state, their corporate masters, the transatlantic neo-cons, both state and corporate media, the security services. For God’s sake, we need to be absolutely united if we are to reach our goal.

We need all of us. We must value all of us; as people, not robots. We should not be trying to project some corporate media image of a totally fake and hypocritical groomed perfection.

We have tremendously powerful enemies. We only have each other.

Our enemies lie before us. We should not look askance at our allies.

NATO: Crazed and Dangerous

by craig on October 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Precisely why Russian action against Saudi Arabia’s proxy militias of fanatics is against western interests is something which nobody in the western elite seems to believe it is necessary to explain. That Russia is bad and evil and must be opposed is another one of those axiomatic beliefs of the governing elite, which they can’t bring themselves to believe the public do not wholeheartedly share. Equally they cannot quite understand why we the people do not see the necessity of backing the Saudi regime.

I am a stern critic of Russia’s democratic deficit, human rights record, and gangster dominated economy and government. But on all these counts it is still a thousand times better than Saudi Arabia, and I am quite certain that 99% of Europeans would be happier living in St Petersburg than Riyadh.

If the Russians turn back CIA and Saudi-backed rebels I for one shall be delighted.

Russian activity in Syria is nothing whatsoever to do with NATO. The Syrian rebels under attack by Russia are not members of NATO. Russia is not attacking Turkey and there is no chance whatsoever that Russia would deliberately attack Turkey. So the suggestion of NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg that NATO will send forces to protect Southern Turkey is absolute madness. In the Iraq War, two of the United States “pinpoint accurate” cruise missiles aimed at Baghdad actually hit Syria. At some stage Russia is going to accidentally hit something in Turkey, it is the nature of war. It is like playing football in the garden – it is inevitable the ball will go over the neighbours’ fence at some stage, however careful you are.

Increasing the amount of military hardware in Turkey – which is already extremely militarised and already full of US forces – just increases the political temperature and chances of something going disastrously wrong, with no possible gain except making the stupid western countries who messed up the Middle East feel less envious of Putin.

NATO countries have caused the crisis in the Middle East through their disastrous and criminal invasions. Russia is not and could never be strong enough to launch an actual attack on western Europe even if Russia wanted to – which Russia most certainly does not. Just like Trident missiles, NATO was no use to the United States on 9/11 and is no use against any actual challenge we face in the world. It exists to perpetuate the dominance of a neo-con elite and ensure massive income to the arms industry.

NATO’s attempts to build up forces around Syria and around the Baltic show that NATO’s over-activity poses the only viable threat of a disastrous world war. Ask yourself this question. Why does the USA, a country which faces no risk of invasion from anybody, account for 44% of the military spending of the whole world? NATO exists solely for client states to assist the projection of US military power abroad. Every decent European should be campaigning for their country to leave NATO.

Leon Brittan vs Julian Assange

by craig on October 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Young children are unlikely to recognise senior politicians. When young children are living in institutionalised “care” and suffering traumatic physical, sexual and emotional abuse they are likely to have only a very fuzzy recollection of places to which they were taken or the identities of people who were hurting them there. Thirty years on recall will be even more difficult. On top of which, people who have suffered institutionalised abuse are likely to be emotionally shaky and easily influenced.

Those are my words but I believe them to be a very fair summary of the argument which last night’s Panorama on the “VIP Paedophile Ring” was attempting to make. It was very bad journalism, with little cogent argument, merely an attempt to build up a picture that those alleging abuse are flakes. One example was the treatment of retired social worker Chris Fay who is evidently elderly and struggling in a number of ways. The camera showed his tawdry flat and furnishings and zoomed in to a tight close up shot of an apparently filthy container in which tea-bags were stored. It was a classic propaganda technique to undermine the image of a man and what he was going to say. Just an old duffer who can’t even clean his flat.

The programme built up to a climax of bad journalism with an interview of a very obviously damaged abuse victim, his voice replaced by an actor. The victim was pushed by very leading questions to say that he may have been led falsely to identify Leon Brittan. The fact the victim had apparently correctly described the birthmarks on Brittan’s face, which had led to the production of the photo he identified, was skated over. What the journalist did certainly prove is that a vulnerable victim can be led to say anything: the victim was doing it before our eyes, pushed by the BBC. But the police are expert in questioning so as not to lead, and were not pushing an agenda.

Panorama however was pushing a very obvious agenda indeed.

What was most notable was what was missing from the programme. Not all victims are such poor witnesses. There are also some other very compelling witnesses – policemen who were told to drop investigations because of VIP involvement. Panorama did not interview any of those. Nor did they interview Tom Watson, despite continually referring to his “political interference” which they implied was the only cause of the accusations. There was also a peculiar absence of Greville Janner from the story.

Nothing can excuse this amazingly biased programme. But the BBC do have a point. Those accused of sexual abuse are entitled to the presumption of innocence, and those making the accusations should not be exempt from scrutiny of the credibility of their allegations.

Except that the BBC adopts the precisely opposite principle in the case of Julian Assange. The BBC believes it would be absolutely wrong, disrespectful of the “victims” and potentially prejudicial to a trial for there to be any questioning or scrutiny of the allegations against Assange. They take an absolutely opposite view of how to treat Assange and how to treat establishment VIPs.

Indeed, the BBC has decided that, given the accusations against Assange are so risible, it would be wrong for any detail at all of the accusations to be given out. Therefore the BBC has never reported the fact that the allegation they describe as “rape” is that, during the act of consensual sex, Assange allegedly tore a condom with his fingers whilst wearing it (of which I doubt the physical possibility). The second sexual molestation accusation is that again consensual sex took place, but after they fell asleep in each others arms, Assange awoke and initiated a repeat of the sex act without requesting permission again.

Despite the fact that Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen have given press conferences in Sweden promoting their allegations, the BBC has made no attempt to interview them. The BBC has not reported that, the day after the condom splitting “rape”, Anna Ardin hosted a crayfish party for Assange and tweeted her friends from it that she was with the coolest man in the world. The BBC has not reported that Anna Ardin had invited Assange to share her flat and her bed. The BBC has not reported that Anna Ardin produced a torn condom to police but police found it had no trace of Assange’s DNA – a physical impossibility if he used it. The BBC has not reported that Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen only made accusations after the two of them got together and cooked up the story. The BBC has not reported that Stockholm’s chief prosecutor dismissed it as no case to answer, and that Ardin then took it, as Swedish law allows, to another prosecutor, Marianne Ny who has a campaigning feminist agenda.

The BBC has not reported any of that because it would be quite wrong to doubt the word of victims of sexual abuse. It would be wrong to put them under pressure, or look sceptically at the evidence for their stories, both direct and circumstantial. It would be quite wrong to prejudice possible legal proceedings.

It would be quite wrong if the accusations are against Julian Assange. But it would be absolutely right if the accusations are against Westminster VIPs.

I do so much look forward to the Panorama on the Assange sexual abuse allegations. When do you think we will see it?

The Disgraceful Far Right “Journalist” Stephen Daisley

by craig on October 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

I shall blog about last night’s Panorama shortly. But first I should like to draw attention to STV’s disgraceful Stephen Daisley, who I last mentioned joining in a mainstream media Twitter hatefest against me for revealing that MI5 were targeted on the SNP.

Well Daisley has been at it again, this time with a seriously nasty tweet about the mysterious murder of Hilda Murrell. It was sent to Murdoch shill David Aaronovitch, to whom Daisley tweeted

Yep. “Hilda Murrell. How the State silences dissent one elderly rose grower at a time.”

Whatever you believe about the Murrell murder, it is not something Daisley – a broadcast journalist – should be making jokes about. It is also fascinating that both Daisley’s tweet about me and his tweet about Hilda Murrell were both in defence of the security services and both sent to David Aaronovitch.

Aaronovitch found the Murrell joke so hilarious that he retweeted it at 3am on 25 September. Which is a pity for Daisley, as he apparently woke up, remembered he was a broadcast journalist, and deleted it. At any rate the retweet is on Aaronovitch’s twitter stream but the original not on Daisley’s.

It is however instructive to look at Daisley’s twitter stream. It is amazing to me that a supposed “journalist” working for a broadcaster would be so completely open about their anti-SNP, unionist, anti-Corbyn and far right agenda. Daisley is only very small beer, a stinking, sweating foot-soldier of the forces of reaction. But if you can stand it, the way the unionist establishment interacts and thinks is revealed very clearly from a study of his twitter feed. Messages are exchanged with Aaronovitch of Murdoch, Nick Cohen of the Guardian, with John McTernan of the Blairites and with J K Rowling of the 1%, and a great many others. The SNP and Corbyn are smugly derided by all. These well-paid state supporters live in a cosy Panglossian paradise and have contempt for anyone who is not “in”.

The other thing that comes out of the feed is this peculiar obsession with Israel. Of all the media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s “anti-Semitic connections”, Daisley’s attack is the most astonishing. STV should be deeply ashamed to carry this; it breaks every rule of good journalism. It is a bizarre hotch-potch of mostly deliberate lies and misrepresentation, and crucially there has not been a single attempt to contact any of the people named to obtain their side of the story.

To tackle just two of about sixty wild inaccuracies. Daisley accused Raed Saleh of a “blood libel” which Saleh has repeatedly denounced and stated that he has never said, and which a British court found there was no evidence that Saleh has ever said. Nonetheless Daisley regurgitates this Israeli propaganda.

Daisley quotes Paul Flynn as questioning the loyalties of Matthew Gould, appointed as British Ambassador to Israel. But this is gross misrepresentation by Daisley. What Flynn queried was Gould’s avowal that he was a “committed Zionist”, not his ethnicity. Would we appoint an Ambassador to Cuba who declared himself an avowed communist?

Daisley also perniciously omits what Flynn had said at the start of his remarks which sets the entire context, which was that Gould had held eight secret meetings with Liam Fox and Adam Werritty, of which the FCO refuses to disclose the subjects discussed and who else was present. Daisley knows that, and his censorship of that context is inexcusable as it completely distorts what Flynn was saying in order to portray Flynn as an anti-Semite.

The last few paragraphs of this attack on Corbyn beggar belief in their lack of balance. There is no nod whatsoever to the plight of the Palestinians, the illegality of the Israeli settlements he names, or the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The Israeli government itself would not dare publish anything so unsubtle and totally one sided. That STV should do this, in the context of an attack on Jeremy Corbyn, is absolutely incredible.

I know Daisley is a very, very insignificant figure. But the humdrum media enforcers of the establishment are vital to their ability to keep the 99% working for the 1%. That such a hate-filled and crazed right-winger as Daisley should be employed by mainstream broadcast media says a huge amount about the society we live in.


As if to confirm the thesis outlined below, at 10.57am today, Duncan Hothersall, Labour’s New Media Czar in Scotland, retweeted Stephen Daisley’s approving tweet of an extract from Tory Secretary of State David Mundell’s Tory Conference Speech:

Good Stat: More people voted No in Indyref than have ever voted for any party in any election in Scottish history.

The tweet carried the Conservative Party Conference hashtag, so there is no doubt Red Tory Hothersall knew he was spreading Blue Tory Propaganda. The seamless web of Red and Blue Tories and mainstream media functions as usual. It is delightful to be proved so completely right so quickly:

Racism Works In the Tories

by craig on October 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

In every Tory leadership election since Thatcher, the bookies’ favourite has lost. And while you cannot easily discern where the winner would come from on the economic left/right scale, the authoritarian/libertarian scale is absolutely significant. In every single case the winner has been the Tory of the most authoritarian views, and the losers – think Ted Heath, David Davies, Ken Clarke, Michael Portillo – have been on the socially liberal side of conservatism.

Our political “journalists” only think left/right. So Cameron’s victory was a Tory move to the “left”. In fact it was not about that at all. David Davies, the favourite defeated by Cameron, has described the new Tory anti-trade union bill as “Francoist”. He opposed control orders, stop and search, detention without trial and the banning of protest from around Westminster. That is why he lost – the Tories have a dog whistle reaction to follow authoritarian figures. Cameron’s Old Etonian patrician authoritarianism is what they wanted.

That is why Theresa May is going today to give a bloodcurdling speech attempting to stir up racism against immigrants by saying they are making us poor and making our society less cohesive. She will even pander to the ludicrous notion that an economy is of a fixed size no matter how many people are in it, with a fixed number of jobs, so “they” are taking “our” jobs. Doubtless she will also outline yet more definitions of thought crime and new reasons to lock up young Muslims.

She may be vicious and dangerous to our society, but she is not stupid. It is the way to become Tory leader.

Nobody ever lost money overestimating the viciousness of the Tories. In fact the arms and security industries and the bankers, the private health companies, the hedge funds and the private agencies enforcing government policy make fortunes out of it every day.

Death Race 2015

by craig on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Just between 2003-5, US forces killed 15 journalists in Iraq, the majority either Westerners or working for Western news agencies. The figure is from the mainstream American Journalism Review. 94 aid workers died in the Iraq conflict, according to Reuters. I don’t have a figure for how many of those were killed by the US forces, but many. Journalists and aid workers have been among the 2,540 people killed in “collateral damage” of drone strikes since Obama became President. Now the US has just killed medical staff and aid workers in Kunduz.

I do not want to downplay the horror and cold-heartedness of the grisly ISIL executions. But the United States military has killed more journalists and NGO employees than ISIL ever will. An inconvenient fact you will never see reported in the mainstream media.

Some of those US killings of journalists were not deliberate targeting. That is of little comfort to the dead people and their loved ones. Some were not accidental.

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