Minimum Alcohol Pricing: The Middle Class Sneer at the Unworthy Under-Privileged (Again).

Alcohol Focus Scotland state “Minimum pricing will mainly affect the low cost, high strength drinks favoured by harmful drinkers and younger drinkers.” By which they mean poorer drinkers.

My Chateauneuf du Pape and Lagavulin will be unaffected. The middle classes of Scotland can quaff their claret and Burgundy to their hearts’ content. Not only will the price be unchanged, there is a social message here. Six stiff G and T’s at the golf club is fine. The price won’t go up. The poor guy with his four tins of super strength lager in front of his TV is the problem. His cost will go up.

I cannot find words to express for you my depth of contempt for a measure which – by design – only affects the price of drinks drunk overwhelmingly by the lower socio-economic classes and – horror of horrors – the young! I drank a great deal more at university than I do now, and I consider the pleasures of that time a great boon to my life.

For those who find the hardships of life hard to take, the solace of alcohol can be considerable. It can assist the shy. There is very little social activity that does not carry risk of some kind. We see a determined effort to price the poor, and the poor alone, out of drinking. Should we try to price them out of driving too as that is also a risky activity causing many deaths?

I would object less to the law if the price increase also extended to the drinks of the middle class. I would still be against it, but at least it would not be aimed at targeting just the poor for daring to believe that, no matter how poor you are, you are still entitled to fun. This is worse than nanny state law; it is a law informed by the contempt the bourgeoisie feel for their social “inferiors”. It is despicable.

View with comments

A Tale of Two Airports

The folly involved in the United Kingdom continuing to cling on to tiny relics of Empire is underlined by considering two airports. Firstly we have St Helena, where DFID have famously wasted £250 million of taxpayers’ money on an airport which cannot be used because of wind shear.

st-helena-airport

Private Eye is having some fun at DFID’s expense, on the back of Tory MP Stephen Phillips pointing out that Darwin had described the wind shear well over a century ago. Here is the full passage from Darwin:

“The only inconvenience I suffered during my walks was from the impetuous winds. One day I noticed a curious circumstance; standing on the edge of a plain, terminated by a great cliff of about a thousand feet in depth, I saw at the distance of a few yards right to windward, some tern, struggling against a very strong breeze, whilst, where I stood, the air was quite calm. Approaching close to the brink, where the current seemed to be deflected upwards from the face of the cliff, I stretched out my arm, and immediately felt the full force of the wind: an invisible barrier, two yards in width, separated perfectly calm air from a strong blast.” (from Chapter 21 of The Voyage of the Beagle)

My general criticism of DFID is that they should be doing more infrastructure projects, rather than handing over cash to highly corrupt governments as “budget support”, or channelling funds through the big charities which spend them on massive executive salaries, consultancy fees and housing, air conditioning and Toyota Land Cruisers for their expatriate staff. But now it seems DFID can no longer deliver a large project half sensibly either.

It really is a tragedy for Saint Helena, where the economic prospects could be transformed by an air link to the rest of the world. The island is now far more isolated than it was in the nineteenth century, when it was a vital provisioning stop for vessels. I note in passing that Napoleon’s hat was taken from St Helena by Lord Panmure and now rather incongruously rests in a cabinet in Montrose Museum.

British attitudes to St Helena were for generations of malign neglect, and the recent laudable attempt to improve things has been destroyed by gross incompetence – for which nobody has resigned or been sacked.

By comparison, the equally isolated Chagos Islands have an excellent airport, owned by the British Government, on Diego Garcia. The problem here of course is that the British government brutally uprooted and deported the entire local population, and leased the base to the United States, keeping the previous inhabitants away by force.

diego-garcia

In its regal majesty, the British government has condescended to consider a proposal whereby a tiny fraction of the deported population will be allowed to return to certain outlying islands. The bad faith of the entire approach was underlined by the British declaration of the entire 200 mile exclusive economic zone around the islands as “the world’s first marine protected area” where all fishing is banned. That Britain nowhere else shows an interest in extreme marine conservation, except around a military base from which it has ethnically cleansed the population, we are supposed to believe is a coincidence. To underline the cynicism and deliberate immorality of the move, I need only say it was the work of David Miliband. The International Court of Arbitration at the Hague declared Miliband’s action in support of ethnic cleansing illegal last year, which of course has not affected his £400,000 a year job in “charity” work.

If the mighty British sovereign graciously permits a few of these islanders – who were her subjects before she deported them – to return to their own land, the British government does however have a trick up its sleeve to make sure to prevent a viable economy from being established. The government proposals for “limited return” are specific that regular flights will not be allowed to use the airport.

Personally, I should like to see the US air force removed and the islands demilitarised. But even without that, dual military and civilian use of runways exists in a great many locations all round the world and there is no reason whatsoever why civilian flights could not land. Indeed, passing billionaires are permitted to land their Lear jets already to refuel. But of course, making the islands viable for tourism and a population is not the goal here. The goal is to make them unviable.

So there we have it, a tale of two airports on extremely remote islands. One built at vast expense which cannot be used, and one perfectly viable which the government will not permit to be used. It is a story which sums up the shame, immorality and international criminality of the UK’s continuing Imperial pretensions.

View with comments

Mainstream Media: Don’t Mention Wikileaks

I have been six hours watching “experts” across mainstream channels analyse why their earlier statements were totally wrong. There has been not one single mention of #WikiLeaks – or of social media at all. The clapped out old journalistic hacks are in denial that their mechanisms of control are now irrelevant, and they as greasy cogs in those mechanisms are viewed with contempt. The contrast between the mainstream media political narrative and what people were saying on social media was absolutely stark. People got their information from #WikiLeaks.

The Democrats chose the most Establishment candidate possible. Probably the only Democrat candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump was Hillary Clinton. Oh alright then, Weiner could have lost too, but that was about it. All those journalists who WikiLeaks showed contrived with Clinton and the DNC to cheat Sanders, may directly have caused President Trump. All those who contributed hundreds of millions to the Clintons and their “charity” Foundation to buy influence, look at this moment like they wasted their money.

View with comments

The Lesser of Two Weevils

Obama was a massive disappointment. Promise of economic change proved empty. It is difficult now to recall what a big emphasis in campaigning he placed on civil liberties, including ending torture and closing Guantanamo. What we got was the opposite. There was no proper legal process for Guantanamo detainees. Those responsible for the policy of torture were promoted and protected. The only CIA officer jailed over torture was John Kiriakou for blowing the whistle on it. Obama’s War on Whistleblowers has been the fiercest in US history. There is no doubt that in Obama’s USA, Daniel Ellsberg would have gone to jail for a very long time. The surveillance state has extended its reach still further, while execution by drone is so routine as to pass without notice. Between drones, bombs and troops on the ground often as “advisers” or “trainers”, there has not been a single day in Obama’s eight years in which US forces have not killed a Muslim in a Muslim country.

Yet a year from now we are very likely to conclude that things have got much worse since Obama. I fully expect Clinton to be elected. What was for me most interesting about the various WikiLeaks releases was not the mesh of sleaze and corruption. There is no doubt that Hillary was peddling influence in exchange for massive donations to the Clinton Foundation and fees and gifts to Bill and herself, and that the Clintons were able to access the resources of their “Charity” for personal use through a variety of subterfuges, quite probably legal. I knew all of that. Anybody who had not already worked out that the same Saudis who have top western politicians in their pockets are also funding ISIS, is a fool. I have been saying it for years.

No, what particularly interested me was the hundreds of examples, day to day, of the close media collusion with the Clinton camp. The leaking to Hilary in advance in advance of debate questions, and the planting of questions for Trump, was but the tip of the iceberg. What the emails reveal is a huge slew of journalists who are actively in the Clinton camp. Of course politicians and journalists engage in a certain degree of mutual schmoozing – though less than you might imagine. Of course politicians are often sources. But the sense of collaborative purpose in the relationship of the Clinton camp with the mainstream media that comes through the emails is striking.

It is of course a wonderful irony that the mainstream media failed to then report on the WikiLeaks emails in any meaningful or proportionate way. The gulf between the way the election looks on mainstream media and social media is massive – otherwise Clinton would be 20 points ahead. I expect the mainstream media to come out on top on this occasion and get their woman in, just.

Like most people this side of the Atlantic, I prefer Clinton’s slightly more state interventionist approach to health, social care and of course gun control. But abroad she is an extreme hawk, and I genuinely fear she will foolishly push confrontation with Russia over Syria, and could end the détente with Iran. Civil liberties does not register with Clinton at all, and we can expect the security state to redouble.

Trump is of course much harder to read. I suspect in office he would be just as corrupt as Clinton. I fear he would pander to the Republican right on questions of state spending and economic intervention. But there is every indication that in foreign policy he may be a great deal more sensible, reducing the US military profile abroad and attempting a more pragmatic relationship with Russia. There are few votes to be won by his more pacific stance, so I am inclined to think it is genuine, at least at the moment.

But there is much we recognise about Trump – the right wing populism, the battening on the economic travails of the poor caused by neo-liberalism and the vast wealth inequality of society, and shamelessly blaming the poverty on immigrants. This is a nasty, racist trick, which has firmly taken hold in much of England as with Trump supporters. It is unforgivable. Whether Trump really intends to build a wall on the border with Mexico I can’t tell – he probably meant it when he first said it. The border is not exactly unguarded. He seems to have rowed back from the desire to ban Muslims. But Trump’s willingness to appeal to dog-whistle racism ought to disqualify him from serious consideration for high office.

Yet the WikiLeaks emails cast a bright light on the other side of that coin – the Clinton camp’s blatant manipulation of identity politics. This goes beyond the stupidity of the appeal that women should vote for somebody merely because they happen to be of the same sex. The cynicism of the approach to blacks and Hispanics and the manipulation of these voting blocs is chilling to me. The WikiLeaks emails leave you unconvinced that black lives matter to Hillary. Black votes do.

So, by this time tomorrow we will know who the new President will be. Probably Hillary, but either way it will be somebody of whom most Americans strongly disapprove. They are voting on the basis of which candidate they wish to punish most by making them lose. Both options are awful. My advice to my American friends is to refuse to be co-opted into expressing a fake approval of either of these horrors, and vote Green for Jill Stein.

Sikunder Burnes Master of the Great Game

Signed first editions are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery or £29 for overseas delivery. Ideal Christmas presents!!

sikunder-burnes-3245635-1-2


Delivery
Signing Instructions




For further information about the book and more buying choices please read Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too

View with comments

Sikunder Burnes Signed First Editions Now Available Direct


“Murray’s book is a terrific read” – Peter Oborne –

Signed First Editions are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery or £29 for overseas delivery. Ideal Christmas presents!!

sikunder-burnes-3245635-1-2


Delivery
Signing Instructions




‘Murray’s book is a terrific read. He has done full justice to the life of a remarkable British hero, without ignoring his faults’ — Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

‘An important re-evaluation of this most intriguing figure’ — William Dalrymple

‘This is a fascinating book … his research has been prodigious, both in libraries and on foot. He knows a huge amount about Burnes’s life and work’ —Allan Massie, The Scotsman

‘If you are a fan of the Flashman series of books, you will be gripped by the story of this British spy’ —Hannah Ferret, The Sun

For further information about the book and more buying choices please read Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too


Buy from Amazon

Read Sikunder Burnes – the first 9 chapters for FREE!

View with comments

Not all Americans are Barking Nutters

That should not need to be said, but given the antics of Clinton and Trump it is as well to say it anyway to remind ourselves. Here is Green Party candidate Jill Stein explaining that you do not have to vote for either a “proto-fascist or a warmonger”.

The journalists of course attempt to say that to vote for Stein is to let Trump in. Stein sticks strongly to the argument that the “Queen of Corruption” and “Warmonger” Clinton is not in fact a real choice from Trump. This is of course absolutely true, Clinton is a dangerous extremist – she just happens to support the extremism of the right wing establishment and its poodle media.

I have been fascinated by the apoplexy generated in the pretend left by the notion that people ought not to vote for Clinton. The go-to argument is that not to vote for her is in itself an act of misogyny. I wonder if they will argue the same for Marine Le Pen. The second argument is that a corrupt warmonger is better than the racist bigot Trump. The interesting thing is, close examination reveals an almost 100% correlation between those apoplectic at any lack of support for Clinton, and those who supported Tony Blair. The idea that being an ultra-corrupt warmonger is not a big problem is obviously a fixed principle with these people.

View with comments

Sikunder Burnes and the Blurred Narrative of Real Life

I confess that when I saw that Sikunder Burnes was being reviewed by the ultra conservative romanticist Allan Massie, in the staunchly British unionist Scotsman, I was braced for a broadside. But overall I think the review is both interesting and reasonably fair, making some intellectual points worthy of contention. A review that states “This is a fascinating book”, and praises my research and mastery of the facts, is not a bad review, even if it outlines ways Massie thinks it could have been better.

But the criticism that there is too much detail, and the narrative line is blurred, is interesting because it is something of which I was highly conscious in writing, and discussed as an issue. Though regular readers of this blog, who followed the struggle to cut out 80,000 words from the book, will recognise the criticism that I threw in everything I knew as completely misguided.

Real life is very messy. Individuals sometimes do things that appear completely out of character, or contrary to all their usual motives and inclinations on a subject, and sometimes a couple of centuries later we can’t understand why they did that. And not just individuals – social trends and movements will always throw up inconvenient counter-examples that buck the trend.

Allan Massie is a historical novelist, and a fine one. It is unsurprising he likes his historical characters to move consistently, clearly and at a good reading pace along neatly plotted narratives. But real life is not like that, and thus real history should not be. History cannot elide, or it is not history. Real life is messy, and real biography is obliged partly to reflect that.

To give just one example from Sikunder Burnes, Henry Pottinger was an extremely irascible, indeed bellicose, British imperialist who had no time for Burnes’ interest in local cultures and institutions and desire to give responsibility to Indians. He was gung-ho to annex Mandvi and to attack Sind from an early stage, and was a vicious driving force behind the First Opium War. Yet in 1839 he suddenly had a crisis of conscience over the annexation of Karachi, and stood firmly against the Governor-General on the ground of two inconvenient facts. Firstly it was untrue that Karachi fort had fired on a British warship, and secondly that it was true that the Amirs of Sind had a written contract releasing them from a tribute obligation to Shuja.

This noble behaviour of Pottinger was completely out of character with a career of trampling local rights, which had never shirked from imperial dissembling or brutality. The conflict between Burnes and Pottinger over how Indians should be treated is an important theme of the book. Pottinger’s behaviour here undermines that powerful theme. I did not have to include it. I could have just omitted these letters, and there are not three people in the entire world who would be equipped to notice. It would have made for a shorter book and a clearer, more dramatic narrative. But it would not be intellectually honest, which is my main driver. Plus I have this rather illogical compulsion to be fair to people, even if they are long dead. Indeed a conviction that Alexander Burnes has been treated very unfairly by history is my major motive for writing the book.

I discussed this exact question over drinks in Delhi with the brilliant William Dalrymple. His general advice was that readability is essential, and that small counter-facts are always omitted from any general narrative; which is true. I do accept that Massie has a point – the specific Pottinger case is one of scores of examples, and perhaps I leaned too far towards completeness and had insufficient pity on my readers. William Dalrymple’s books are superbly written with a quality of description I do not even seek to match, and do move along very linear narratives, while not leaving out important detail. I do not claim to be in the same league as a storyteller, but I rest in the hope that others will find the muddle of life as endlessly fascinating as I do.

I confess to checking how online sales are going, and was happy to see that the only historical biography on Amazon outselling Sikunder Burnes is The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf’s life of Alexander von Humboldt. Purely by chance von Humboldt turns up in Sikunder Burnes playing a brief but key role, helping to pluck the convict soldier Jan Prosper Witkiewicz from obscurity in Orenburg.

Finally, I should address the fact that Sikunder Burnes appears to have completely disappeared. Their appear to be no physical copies available anywhere that I have been able to determine. Amazon are selling extremely well, but don’t actually have any. I have received literally dozens of reports of people not being able to get it in bookshops, and not one report of anyone actually seeing it on a bookshop shelf.

I wish I could give you a proper explanation, but obviously with the book already reviewed by the Mail, the Sun and the Scotsman, its lack of sales visibility is a major blow to me. I think part of the explanation is that Birlinn, who have produced an extremely handsome volume of which I am very proud, have just been taken aback by the high level of demand. They promise me there will be stock widely available imminently.

The second and much larger problem is that very few bookshops appear to have ordered the book in for their shelves. For example three different readers of this blog have reported ordering it at the same Waterstones Birmingham store, but that Waterstones has not ordered it for stock. I have been told that Foyles, who sold many dozens of my Murder in Samarkand, have not ordered in to stock. Yet the prominent tables of Waterstones and Foyles are stacked high with books which Sikunder Burnes is massively outselling online, even though listed as currently unavailable. I think part of the reason for this is the problems of an excellent but independent publisher in this corporate world, and partly that it is conceived as a Scottish interest book (the situation is rather better in Scottish bookshops).

Anybody with the time and inclination would do me a huge favour by attempting to persuade your local bookshop, chain or independent, that they should have it on their shelves. I do not think there are many books given a prominent review by the Daily Mail which are never stocked. And Murder in Samarkand was a bestseller. I need somehow to get this book visible.

Read a free sample: Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game – by Craig Murray



Or Buy Kindle ebook £6.64
Or Buy Google Play Books £6.99

View with comments

Evil Russian Propaganda from the Evil Russian Invaders

If you would like to listen to some evil Russian propaganda, here is my new interview on Sputnik News.

The BBC World Service was founded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and funded by them directly for six decades, until a cosmetic change last year. Its specific purpose is to spread British values and the British view of the world abroad. It specifically, on its dozens of different national services, gives an opportunity to dissident voices who cannot get on their mainstream media. The Americans spend hundreds of millions annually on outfits like RFE/RL to do the same. Yet when the Russians do precisely the same thing on a much smaller scale, for example by enabling you to listen to me, this is portrayed as evil propaganda.

Fortunately we have the Henry Jackson Society to defend you from it. The Henry Jackson Society, supported by Liam Fox, Jim Murphy and pretty well every other right wing enthusiast you can name, is of course a great believer in free markets. And its sense of the market has detected that its old product of a constant stream of Islamophobia is becoming dated, and currently buyers want Russophobia. Whatever your phobia, the Henry Jackson Society will have some to sell you, so here we have their new Manual of Russophobia.

Written by Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of the Henry Jackson Society’s so-called Centre for Russian Studies, has by brilliant research exposed the fact that Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne, Tommy Sheridan and Colin Fox have all appeared on Russia Today television. And that a tiny group of left wingers I have never heard of once met in a pub with some Russian nationalists from the Ukraine. Funniest of all is the contention that CND is funded by the Russians.

Given that the Henry Jackson Society is, and always has been, financed by CIA money laundered through American New World Order supporting private foundations, this is rather amusing. This pathetically thin hate manual is now on the desk of every Conservative and New Labour Progress Group MP.

It is of course no coincidence that the overt security service operations operate in close co-ordination with the supposedly covert ones. The same day that the Henry Jackson Society paper was released, the head of MI5 gave an interview to the Guardian about the Russian threat. The Russians are not just coming, they are here! You can’t see them because they are inside your laptop, where the Russian government apparently want to steal all your secrets. Our security services don’t like the competition. That is their job.

Apparently the Russians are out to steal Britain’s industrial secrets, like how the Nissan Qasghqai is built or how the Chinese and French build Hinkley Point. I hope they don’t get the blueprints of the new Dyson. Andrew Parker has of course to work hard as MI5 to find a new enemy. While he has yet again repeated the ludicrous claim that there are 3,000 Islamic terrorists in the UK, he must realise people will query the low productivity of these terrorists when it comes to killing anybody.

Russophobia has of course peaked in the US with Clinton’s claims that it is Russia which is revealing her gross corruption and all her opponents are servants of Russia. She wants to face down Russia in Syria, in order to give it to the Islamic terrorists of whom Andrew Parker worries we have 3,000 in the UK. Clinton’s claims of Russian involvement in hacking her entourage are totally unfounded, hence the lack of evidence. I am however surprised there have been no serious attempts to fabricate some.

Who benefits from this ratcheting up of anti-Russian rhetoric to hotter than cold war levels? Why the armaments and security industries, of course. Expect more donations to politicians and their foundations, and more pesky corruption investigations to be dropped by prosecuting authorities.

The truth is that Russia is not our enemy. There is no chance that Russia will attack the UK or US. It has never happened and it never will. Nor is it remotely likely that Russia will attack any EU member state. The only thing that can make such a contingency even a 0.1% possibility, is the continuing gross anti-Russian rhetoric and propaganda and continued forward stationing of NATO assets. History from WWI to the Gulf shows that military build-up can in itself cause conflict.

The danger to the world is us.

New Book: Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game – by Craig Murray

Liked this article? Please share using the links below. Then View Latest Posts

View with comments

Podesta Congratulated on Nevada Fraud

This Clinton circle email has been highlighted because of its injunction that “Bernie needs to be ground to a pulp.” But actually the last phrase might be more significant – “congrats on Nevada.”

screenshot-152

Nevada was of course one of the most blatant examples of all of the Democratic National Committee rigging the election against Sanders. Firstly the caucuses featured casino owners bussing in coachloads of employees with firm instructions to vote for Hillary. Even with this, Hillary was struggling. Next the Democratic party machine announced to the media on 21 February that Hillary had won, despite it being by no means clear if that were true.

Finally at the delegate conference, Hillary acolyte and DNC member Roberta Lange in the chair called the state for Clinton on the basis of the most dubious delegate vote imaginable – and denying any recount. What is more, the Clinton camp scored a double whammy by portraying, throughout the controlled corporate media, the precise scenes you see in this video as a violent riot by Sanders supporters. I do ask you to watch this video through and see what you think. It may just change your entire mind on what is really happening in US “democracy”.

When I posted on this back in May, establishment trolls called me a “tinfoil hat” and “conspiracy theorist” for suggesting that the NDC was fixing the primary election against Sanders. In the six months since then, Wikileaks has released the emails and there is now no doubt whatsoever that I was telling the truth. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had to resign in ignominy for gross corrupt behaviour, and her successor Donna Brazile has been sacked in disgrace by CNN after being revealed to the world as a liar and a cheat who rigged the debates against Bernie Sanders – yet has not resigned as chair of the DNC. That fact is in itself sufficient evidence that Hillary was comfortable with the debate rigging.

There are other candidates than Trump and Clinton available. I cannot see how, either in logic or in conscience, a single Sanders supporter can bring themselves to vote for Clinton.

New Book: Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game – by Craig Murray

Liked this article? Please share using the links below. Then View Latest Posts

View with comments

Dundee Screening of London Calling 5 November; Kelty 4 November

There will be a screening of the documentary London Calling – How the BBC Stole the Independence Referendum – at the Steps Theatre, Dundee on 5 November at 1pm. It will be followed by a discussion including Mark McNaught and myself.

The event is ticketed, but tickets are free here.

The previous evening, 4 November at 7pm, there will be a screening of London Calling by Yes Kelty at the Moray Institute, Main Street, Kelty. I shall be speaking alongside the film’s director Alan Knight. I do not believe this is ticketed but look here for updates.

The evening before that, 3 November (I have no idea why I am strangely working backwards) I shall be speaking to the Yes Pentlands group. This is not a screening, rather one of my talks on Independence. UPDATE This will be in Tanners lounge bar, 459 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, EH14 5BA. Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start on 3 November.

I am available, free of charge, for such events, with or without a screening of London Calling. I may attempt to make a sneaky signed book sale or two on the side! Do not hesitate to contact me via the button at the top of this blog if you wish to invite me for your group.

View with comments

Boring or Annoying Things We Have to Know

I have always glazed over at any mention of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The USA is not my country, and it seemed like a rather boring argument about classifications and document security. I also had a natural resistance to anything that appeared to promote the interests of Donald Trump. I now realise that is how a complicit media was deliberately presenting it, and my lack of interest was the desired effect. They are still presenting the issues in a manner which I hope I will be able to prove to you is entirely tendentious. So this weekend I request you to grit your teeth, set aside your disinterest and read through this article. Please.

Those Hillary server emails are largely a separate thing to those which WikiLeaks has been releasing. What the WikiLeaks release of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary campaign chair Podesta emails has proved beyond any reasonable doubt, is the extent of Hillary’s corruption. Both in terms of the fixing of the primary election against Bernie Sanders by the people who were supposed to be organising it, and the vast sums of money the Clinton family were receiving personally through Clinton Foundation and consultancy activity linked to State Department access, decisions and activity.

Before Clinton handed over her private email server to the FBI investigation into her handling of classified material, she scrubbed over 30,000 emails and had drives physically treated to ensure permanent destruction. It is obviously very likely that many of those emails referred to the kind of nefarious activity we are now seeing from the DNC and Podesta leaks.

It is also of course a fact that those 30,000 emails all had recipients, as well as Hillary as a sender. We can be sure that a major effort will have been undertaken to make sure recipients deleted them too. But from time to time some are sure to turn up. That is what has just happened and prompted yesterday’s announcement of a renewed investigation. In the course of an unrelated investigation into alleged paedophile grooming, the FBI has come across some of Hillary’s deleted emails on the device of a close political aide.

The FBI has a plain duty, every time they come across emails that were sent from Hillary’s private server but deleted and not given to them, to look at this new material. The very fact it was deleted, makes it rather more probable that it is relevant, than the carefully selected harmless material that was given to them. This is going to go on for years, because undoubtedly from time to time copies of some of those deleted emails will turn up. That is going to be very interesting if, as I expect, Clinton is elected President. It will necessitate a Presidential pardon from Obama to clear it up. I am assured by a DC source that an outgoing President can pardon people for crimes they may have committed but haven’t been convicted of yet. I find that somewhat mind-boggling.

It is also very much worth noting that the fact that the received versions of deleted emails were found on a device of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s political aide, makes it very improbable that they were deleted because they were purely personal and family affairs. Clinton stated thaht the only emails she deleted were personal and family. Hmmm – so why to a political aide?

You will not get a clear analysis of these issues from the mainstream media. That is because they are of course part of the money/power nexus in which Clinton is intimately connected, and they expect Clinton to win. I think their fear of Trump is exaggerated. He and Clinton are two plutocrat candidates in a system laughingly labelled democracy. They move in the same social and financial circles.

My favourite fact of this election remains that Trump actually paid Clinton a large fee to attend his wedding. In slightly differing ways, that says a huge amount about how disgusting each of them are.

I reserve a special contempt for those journalists and politicians who support Clinton on the apparent grounds that a female corrupt plutocrat is better than a male corrupt plutocrat. Indeed, the entirely cynical exploitation of identity politics by the Clinton campaign, in terms both of its faux-feminism and its cynical manipulation of black and Hispanic voters, is one of the most chilling things about the leaked emails.

With two such appalling candidates, there is a major problem. Many people are voting Trump to stop Clinton, even though they don’t like Trump. Many others are voting Clinton to stop Trump, even though they don’t like Clinton. Both Republicans and Democrats fear that if they support a third party candidate, they will let the other in. This is a kind of lesser of two extremely evil evils approach.

Sam Husseini has come up with Vote Pact. It enables pairing – a Republican and Democrat who trust each other should agree both to vote for a third party candidate. Both Trump and Clinton have therefore lost one each, and you can vote third party with no fear of having contributed to letting the greater evil in. It is a neat concept. Of course it will not catch on and will have no overall effect. I note it as an aid for those struggling with their conscience.

I expect Hillary to win, but Trump to do a lot better than expected. There are many “shy Trump” voters out there.

View with comments

The First Review of Sikunder Burnes, by Peter Oborne.

The Daily Mail has published the first review of Sikunder Burnes, and I am happy to say it is extremely good. An extract:

By Peter Oborne

His latest book is a rollicking life of Alexander Burnes, the British adventurer, diplomat, warrior and spy, whose life was straight out of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels.
A great-nephew of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns, Alexander was only 16 when he signed up for the private army of the East India Company.
A brilliant linguist, he was soon dispatched on a series of secret missions through Persia, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the Punjab and Sindh in modern Pakistan. He often travelled in disguise, taking incredible risks.
Murray identifies with his subject, perhaps not least for the way that Burnes inveigled himself into the harems of the rulers he visited along the way.
However, there was a deadly serious purpose to his travels. The British were convinced the Russians planned to send an army across the Khyber Pass to conquer India. The aim of Burnes’s exploration was to survey the terrain and assess tribal alliances in order to combat the Russian menace.
Burnes argued that Britain should ally with Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad Khan, in order to create a barrier against Russia.
However, his bosses overruled him. They believed the only way of stopping a Russian invasion was by getting rid of Khan altogether and replacing him with a puppet ruler supposedly loyal to Britain.
In 1839, with many misgivings, Burnes agreed to play a leading role in a military expedition to overthrow Khan, a man he liked and admired.
At first, the British Army met with success. Kabul fell, and by the summer of 1840, British forces were in occupation of the Afghan capital and the puppet ruler was duly installed.
However, deposed Khan proved an astute enemy and his Afghan tribes combined to rise up against the invader.
The story of Burnes ends with him being hacked to death by a tribal mob in his home in Kabul — the prelude to a grisly period which saw the expulsion of all British soldiers from Afghanistan. He was only 36.
The parallel with Britain’s 21st-century overseas misfortunes are astonishing.
Murray shows how Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston, architect of the Afghan invasion, deliberately misrepresented Burnes’s advice to persuade MPs of the case for invasion.
The comparison with Tony Blair and Sir John Scarlett’s dodgy dossier ahead of the 2003 Iraq invasion is even more mind-boggling.
Like Blair and Scarlett, Palmerston paid no price for his deception, rising to become one of Britain’s most celebrated prime ministers.
It is also remarkable that nearly 170 years after Burnes’s death, British forces were once again dragged into Afghanistan.
Tony Blair’s calamitous decision to send British troops to Helmand Province in the south of the country led to a similar uprising to that by the very Afghan tribes which did for Burnes in 1841.
And today, just as in 1841, the British military and political establishments are convulsed by Russophobia.
Apart from its scholarly merits, Murray’s book is a terrific read. He has done full justice to the life of a remarkable British hero, without ignoring his faults.
M urray shows, for instance, how in Burnes’s final months he grew arrogant, aloof and brutal as his personality was warped by the fatal decision to invade Afghanistan.
Yet Murray challenges the established view, accepted by all modern historians, that Burnes inflamed Afghan opposition by taking liberties with the native women.
He certainly does not challenge the notion that Burnes was a womaniser, but he shows that, alive to the danger of alienating Afghan pride, Burnes brought with him to Kabul a harem of beautiful Kashmiri women to cater for his needs.
For all his failings, Burnes remains one of the great heroes of the British imperial adventure, and Murray has done him proud.
Apart from anything else, this splendid book contains all the ingredients for a truly magnificent movie.

View with comments

Why I Need Alexander Burnes, and You Do Too 281

‘Murray’s book is a terrific read. He has done full justice to the life of a remarkable British hero, without ignoring his faults’ — Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

‘An important re-evaluation of this most intriguing figure’ — William Dalrymple

‘This is a fascinating book … his research has been prodigious, both in libraries and on foot. He knows a huge amount about Burnes’s life and work’ —Allan Massie, The Scotsman

‘If you are a fan of the Flashman series of books, you will be gripped by the story of this British spy’ —Hannah Ferret, The Sun

This blog has been going for over ten years now and has never asked for money or taken advertising. In that time I have continually campaigned on a whole variety of issues, though chiefly human rights, Scottish independence, against war, and on the need for a profoundly more equal society. I have travelled the length and breadth of the UK and around the world to speak at literally hundreds of public meetings, and have appeared in numerous videos and documentaries. My primary purpose has always been as much to promote debate and the ability to think well outside the increasingly narrow box which society prescribes, as to convert to my own precise views.

And I have been paid for almost none of it. I do it entirely because I believe in it. I have never asked readers for cash to keep this blog going. I have never asked for a fee to speak in a good cause.

51-xuncjf4l

But I do ask you, now, to buy my book. I ask you to do this to get the book itself (and buy more for Christmas presents!) but also as a recompense to pay for any of my work you have enjoyed on this blog, or elsewhere, over the past decade. Sikunder Burnes is the result of eight years of unfunded hard work, and manuscript research in England, Scotland and India. It is, I believe, worth every penny it costs. I appreciate it is expensive, and I have no difficulty whatsoever if you prefer to buy the electronic version which is a great deal cheaper.

It is the story of the fascinating life of a man both caught up in, and attempting to shape, an astonishing period of Scottish, British, Indian, Pakistani, Kalati, Afghan, Uzbek, Iranian and Russian history. As I hope you would expect from me, it even bursts out from such a broad canvass into all kinds of unexpected intellectual directions, many of which surprised me too!

My preference would be for you to buy it from a bookshop if you can, because bookshops need support. Otherwise you can order it from thehive.co.uk (where it is currently cheaper) or from Amazon. Doubtless other online options are available. Unfortunately we live in a country where some people cannot afford a book, and in that case you would much oblige me by asking for it from your local library.

To tax your patience further, I should be most grateful if you could do a couple of other things. Firstly, once read leave a review of the book, on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other available forum. Please note that I am not asking you to puff the book – I should be very grateful if you could leave completely honest reviews.

Secondly, it would be very helpful if you could leave comments below on your experience of buying the book. If online, was it in stock, how quickly did it come and what did you pay? If in a bookshop, did they have it on a shelf, did they appear to have heard of it, did it have to be ordered in and how long did that take etc.? Library feedback is also most welcome. We will keep this page permanently available for comment on the blog, renamed The Sikunder Burnes Page. Your views on the book are also very welcome here.

Frankly, I do need the revenue from the book to keep going because at the moment finances are very tight. But it means more to me than that, in that it represents a step towards a new career direction where a shunned whistleblower might be permitted to work.

Please do buy, and enjoy, Sikunder Burnes.

Read Sikunder Burnes – the first 9 chapters for FREE!



Buy Amazon Hardback
Or Buy Kindle ebook
Or Buy Google Play Books
Or Buy Kobo ebook

Signed first editions are now available direct from this blog! You can leave a message naming the dedication you want. Sold at cover price of £25 including p&p for UK delivery or £29 for overseas delivery. Ideal Christmas presents!!

sikunder-burnes-3245635-1-2


Delivery
Signing Instructions




Liked this? Please share using the links below. Then View Latest Posts

View with comments

Independent Scotland Will Need a New Capital

This is going to annoy a good many traditionalists, but here goes…

Edinburgh is already the wealthiest and economically most successful city in Scotland. For the first time in 200 years it has overtaken Glasgow in population. Its housing is becoming prohibitively expensive for ordinary citizens. A two bedroom flat carved out of a converted house goes for £250,000 in a “normal” area. Three bed family homes are well over £350,000 in much of the city.

In any state, the capital sucks in economic resources from the rest of the country, because that is where the centre of government services lies. London currently absorbs an awful lot of Scottish taxpayers’ money, and the Treasury counts projects such as crossrail as a UK, not just English, benefit – a fact worth remembering when you look at GERS figures.

An independent Scotland will need new ministries of foreign affairs, defence, and immigration/security, and a much bigger ministry of finance. It will need a central bank. On top of which it will receive at least 60 foreign embassies and also, and often forgotten, about the same again in national offices of international institutions like the EU, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, etc. That also comes with an economic boom to supply all the needed accommodation and infrastructure.

But that is by no means all. Edinburgh is already a huge international finance sector. Insurance companies, fund managers and banks based in Edinburgh manage more assets than are held in the Paris, behind only London and Frankfurt in the EU. If the rest of the UK plunges out of the EU while Scotland stays in, where will be the obvious bolthole for financial institutions wishing to headquarter in a location which gives continued free access to EU markets, while minimising dislocation effects and need for new languages? Edinburgh.

That is not the only benefit which a Scotland still in the EU will gain from the new situation. The astonishing xenophobia south of the border is dictating a severe reduction in numbers of overseas students. If Scotland is independent and still in the EU, which English speaking destination with superb universities will those students go to instead? The continued expansion of the University and of student accommodation is already out of hand in Edinburgh city centre – this will get worse.

The truth is, post independence the economic boom which will hit Edinburgh will be more than the city can physically handle. It will be much more sensible to remove the public sector element – the functions and accretions of a capital city – to another destination.

This will shock traditionalists, but Edinburgh will always have its history and the tourists that come with it. There are older capitals available. Dunkeld of the Picts probably does not have enough available land. But Perth does, close to the ancient installation site of the rulers at Scone. Scone Palace would be a magnificent residence for Scotland’s President after Lizzie is given her marching orders.

Many countries have moved to brand new capitals. My own choice of capital would be Dundee. The railway, road and airport connections already exist and the Caird Hall could be converted to a magnificent parliament. The seat of Scottish government is currently Ruth Davidson’s constituency – surely it would be much better to move it to Yes City.

New Book Out: Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game – Craig Murray

View with comments

On Personalities, Politics and Liking the Wrong People

In general, I don’t like or dislike people for their politics. This is sometimes worrying. I was, rather strangely, on a Christian radio show with Zac Goldsmith once, and we chatted afterwards, and he seemed a really pleasant and genuine person. I was surprised by the stuff he allowed in his name during the London mayoral election.

Similarly I went out drinking with David Aaronovitch after a debate in Dublin and we got on famously. I seldom agree with him, and therefore attack him often on my blog, but I have to admit I like him in person.

But I am very happy to say, that the only time I ever met Toby Young, when I lived in Acton, I had to be physically restrained from a desire to attack him with a wine bottle. Even I have my limits.

View with comments

How the British Brexit Economy Works

1) A containerful of shoddy training shoes are produced in China, shipped to UK, sorted by lowly paid British zero hours workers and put on shelves of High Street sports shop.
2) While this is happening, sterling plunges 25%.
3) Coachload of Chinese tourists visit sports shop attracted by collapsed pound sterling. They exclaim “Wow Western trainers! And so cheap”. They buy them to take back to China as gifts for family members they don’t like that much.
4) Declare a Brexit sales boom!

The expert among you will have noted this economic model is not very sustainable.

View with comments

Blanket Corporate Media Corruption

It is disconcerting to be praised by a website whose next article warns of a “plague of sodomites”. Sometimes truth-telling is a difficult act because truth is a simple matter of fact; who might seek to exploit that truth is a different question. I almost certainly have little in common with the anti-gay people who chose to commend me.

It is however incumbent on those who know truth to reveal it to the best of their ability, particularly if it contradicts an untruth being put about widely. The lie that WikiLeaks is acting as an agent of the Russian state is one that needs to be countered. Wikileaks is much more important than a mere state propaganda organisation, and needs to be protected.

Political lying is a sad fact of modern life, but some lies are more dangerous than others. Hillary Clinton’s lies that the Podesta and Democratic National Congress email leaks are hacks by the Russian state, should be countered because they are untrue, and because their intention is to distract attention from her own corrupt abuse of power and money. But even more so because they recklessly feed in to a Russophobia which is starting to exceed Cold War levels in terms of open public abuse.

Clinton has made no secret of her view that Obama has not been forceful enough in his dealings in Syria, and within her immediate circle she has frequently referred to the Cuban missile crisis as the precedent for how she believes Russia must be faced down. It is her intention to restore US international prestige by such a confrontation with Putin in Syria early in her Presidency, and perhaps more to the point to restore the prestige of the office of POTUS and thus enhance her chances of getting her way with a probable Republican controlled senate and congress.

The problem with a game of nuclear armed chicken is we might all end up dead. The Americans do not read Putin well. As my readers know, I am in no way a fan of Putin. He believes he has a personal vocation to restore Russian greatness and has been ever more consumed by a religious devotion to the Orthodox Russian Church. It seems to me highly improbable Hillary can make him back down over Syria. I am no more a fan of Assad than I am a fan of Putin. Nevertheless to risk nuclear war over a desire to replace Assad with rival swarms of vicious disjointed Saudi and Al-Qaeda backed jihadist militias, scarcely seems sensible.

Is Trump any less dangerous? I don’t know. I simply fail to understand the cultural background from which he springs, and what I do understand, I dislike. Were I an American, I would have backed Bernie Sanders and I would now back Jill Stein.

It is worth noting that Hillary’s claim that 17 US Intelligence Agencies agree that Russia was the source of the leaks is plainly untrue. All they have said is that the leaks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed attacks.” Under extreme White House pressure to state that the Russians did it, that extremely weak statement was the only thing that the US Intelligence chiefs could cobble together. It is very plainly an admission there is no evidence that Russia did it, but the appalling corporate media have reported it as though it “proves” Hillary’s accusation of Russia is true.

Bill Binney is like myself a former recipient of the Sam Adams Award – the World’s foremost whistleblowing award. Bill was the senior NSA Director who actually oversaw the design of their current mass surveillance software, and Bill has been telling anybody who will listen exactly what I have been telling – that this material was not hacked from Russia. Bill believes – and nobody has better contacts or understanding of capability than Bill – that the material was leaked from within the US intelligence services.

I was in Washington last month to chair the presentation of the Sam Adams Award to heroic former ex-CIA agent and whistleblower John Kiriakou. There were on the platform with me a dozen or so former very senior and distinguished officers of the CIA, NSA, FBI and US Army. All now identify with the whistleblower community. There were speeches of tremendous power and insight about state abuse, from those who really know. But as usual, not one mainstream media outlet turned up to report an award whose previous winners and still active participants include Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

Similarly my statement of definite knowledge that Russia is not behind the Clinton leaks has caused enormous interest in the internet. One article alone about my visit to Assange has 174,000 Facebook likes. Across all internet media we calculate over 30 million people have read my information that Russia was not responsible for these leaks. There is no doubt whatsoever that I have direct access to the correct information.

Yet not one single mainstream media journalist has attempted to contact me.

Why do you think that might be?

View with comments

Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

I have just finished giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament on torture and extraordinary rendition. I am dashing off now and will give a fuller account later of what I said only. But I will just say that I was very happily surprised by how genuine the committee were, by the acuity of their questioning and by what was revealed of the general trend of their thinking. I perceived no hostility at all. I rather hope, and believe I have grounds to hope, that their eventual report will contain more of both truth and wisdom than is generally expected.

View with comments