Tolerance and Tim Hunt

by craig on June 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

You can’t tolerate that which to you is inoffensive. Toleration necessarily implies putting up with people who hold views or exhibit behaviour which you do not like. The hounding of Professor Tim Hunt from his University position is an exhibition of extreme intolerance.

Brilliant scientists – which those who are able to judge say Professor Hunt is – are sometimes not the best socially integrated of people. His joke was offensive, and only very slightly amusing. He maintains views which are not those I hold, and he intends to continue to hold them – as he is entitled to do.

We are all entitled to show disapprobation of his opinions. We are not entitled to insist that he change them. And we are certainly not entitled to sanction him in his work for his opinions. The importance of his work is not pivotal to this argument – I would say the same for a waiter.

If he enforces active discrimination in the work environment that is a different question, but he does not appear to be accused of that and the facts or otherwise of that are not dependent on opinions he expresses.

Tim Hunt is a bit of a twit and a dinosaur. But some of those hounding him are a great deal more dangerous.

Ultimate Bliss

by craig on June 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Through a kitchen accident I have discovered the joy of dissolving tablet in coffee. My life will never be the same.

Theresa May Condemns Majid Ali and Defies Scotland

by craig on June 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

Despite numerous representations and an Early Day Motion signed by the large majority of Scotland’s MPs, Theresa May has ordered that Majid Ali, a Glasgow City College student, be deported back to almost certain torture and probable death in Pakistan in just twenty minutes from now. I attended the demonstration on his behalf yesterday at the Scottish Office.

Majid is a member of the much persecuted Baloch minority. Two of his immediate family have been “disappeared” by the Pakistani military since his asylum application was submitted. There is no doubt that given the numerous MP’s who have raised his case, and the well-supported early day motion, civil servants will have put the decision to May personally. She was however not even prepared to grant a delay for a look at the evidence. May is very likely not merely pandering to the racist UKIP voting electorate – she is on the far right of politics herself. The callous sacrifice of Majid Ali is proof, if any more were needed, that this Conservative administration is nothing to do with Cameron’s purported “compassionate conservatism.” They are the nasty party indeed.

But it also gives a stark example of the meaningless nature of the “enhanced devolution” in the new Scotland Act. Majid Ali’s community and Scotland’s elected representatives all want to keep him here, as an asset to his community and to our country. But even once the new Scotland Act is passed, it still would be Theresa May and the London Home Office who are the arbiters in all immigration and nationality matters.

For me, independence is the answer, and the only way Scotland will be able to operate as an ethical state. But for those Scots gradualists who actually believe in this devolution distraction, the absence of any input in immigration matters is a crucial example of how inadequate the proposed “new powers” are.

The majority of all extant UK statute laws apply equally in England and Scotland, but in Scotland are enforced by different administrative and judicial processes. While the UK is unfortunately a single state, it will have the same laws and regulations on immigration applying throughout. But there is no reason whatsoever that, as with so many other areas of law, the administration, judicial function and discretionary powers under the laws should not be devolved from London to Scotland as regards persons in Scotland.

That this is not so much as on the table shows how sham are the proposed “extra powers”. And that Majid Ali is being deported by Theresa May against universal Scottish opinion, shows the contempt which this Tory government intends to display against Scotland.

Assuming the deportation go ahead, the next useful step is to put pressure on Theresa May through letters to MPs to account for what happens to him after his return. There is a chance that forcing the British Government to make enquiries of the Pakistani Government about him may just keep him alive.

Save Majid Ali

by craig on June 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Glasgow City College student Majid Ali faces torture and death if returned to Pakistan. Majid Ali’s brother and other members of his immediate family have been taken and I am afraid very probably murdered by the Pakistani authorities as part of their relentless persecution of the Baloch people and desire to wipe out Baloch national identity. The UK Home Office intends to deport Majid. The people of Scotland must defend him.

There will be an emergency demonstration at the Scottish office, 1 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh at 13.00 tomorrow. I shall be going along. NUS Scotland are organising a letter-writing campaign to Scottish MPs to get them to put pressure on the Home Office. This is important.

It is appalling that London can seek to rip Majid from a Scottish community which values him, from a nation which respects its immigrant communities and their contribution, as part of Theresa May’s campaign to pander to the corporate media induced racism which regrettably has been introduced into many communities in England. It is a further example of why independence is essential to build a more ethical state.

The persecution of the Baloch has received little attention in the West. Peter Tatchell has done admirable work in trying to raise its profile in the UK, but with little traction. Like so many dreadful abuses, it is a direct result of wrongdoing by the British Empire. Baloch or Beluchistan was formally known as the state of Kelat, which Britain first invaded in 1839, destroying the city of Kelat in 1840 and murdering the ruler Mehrab Khan on the pretext he had given insufficient support to the British invasion of Afghanistan. Britain’s relations with Kelat thereafter were an appalling litany of broken treaties, culminating into the forceful and unwanted incorporation into Pakistan.

A few years ago I met the current Khan of Kelat at his home in exile in Wales and learnt a great deal about the dreadful persecution the Baloch suffer. In the course of my researches into British responsibility for the situation I cam across the crime of the massacre of Kotra. After the killing of Mehrab Khan, fighting continued until a truce was agreed with Mehrab’s 15 year old son Nasir. While the truce was in force, British forces silently surrounded Nasir’s mountain camp at Kotra and attacked before dawn, massacring 500. It is reminiscent of Glencoe, though this was a much larger massacre. In the National Archives of India I trembled as I held the manuscript order for the massacre in my hands.

We should do everything we can to save Majid Ali out of common decency, wherever he is from. But the knowledge of Britain’s historic responsibility for the situation should broaden and deepen our understanding of his plight.

Labour Call Unemployed “The Work-Shy”

by craig on June 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

I just read the Guardian’s account of today’s Labour leadership hustings, and they are not Tory Lite, they are Tory High Octane. Supporting Tory benefit cuts, calling the unemployed “the work-shy”, defending £9,000 a year tuition fees, supporting Trident and falling over themselves to reject autonomy for the Scottish accounting unit. But what I find even more astonishing is that the Fabian Society audience were lining up afterwards for selfies with Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, and according to the Guardian nobody wanted a photo with Jeremy Corbyn, the one decent human being there.

The quite astonishing thing is that Andy Burnham, the man who privatised much more of the English NHS than anyone else including the Tories, is (Jeremy aside) touted as the left wing option. There is a very interesting diversionary tactic in play, all over the media. A meme is being promoted – by Burnham’s corporate media supporters – that “Andy Burnham fears he will be attacked over Mid Staffs hospital”. The events at Mid Staffs hospital, though awful, were clearly not Burnham’s personal fault. This is a fascinating PR play and example of media management, an attempt to divert the focus on Burnham’s NHS record on to Mid Staffs which has widespread public name recognition, and away from privatisation where he is much more vulnerable.

Hug an Orangeman

by craig on June 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

Back in 1979/80 I had an American girlfriend who I was taking to see Stirling when an Orange march (it was some kind of national Orange event) came through town. She had not the first idea what it was about, but she felt terrified and threatened and ended up in tears, despite being a Presbyterian from Illinois. I tell you that story because it is difficult to get over to people who have not experienced it, just how nasty the atmosphere of an Orange march is. The aggressive rattle of the drums, the fierce posturing and apoplectic faces of the participants, the plain enactment of an aggressive territorial possession ritual, and of course the drunken and swaggering followers walking on the pavements forcing people off them or into the shops.

The great John Stuart Mill made the point in On Liberty that it was a perfectly legitimate point of view to express that corn merchants were thieves who made fortunes out of the starving and misery of the poor. But to use precisely the same words shouted to a howling mob bearing torches, outside a corn merchants’ house in the middle of the night, was not legitimate. Even the apostle of liberty held that freedom of speech could not be absolute but must be linked to context and intent.

That Mill’s observation is followed in practice is well illustrated by the Northern Irish practice of restricting Orange marches away from Catholic areas and churches. But the whole question of Orange manifestations raises difficult questions of how to tolerate the intolerant and to deal with mass threat. There is not a simple right or wrong answer.

But what I do know is that it is very wrong indeed that in Scotland in 2015, I had to warn Nadira this morning to be extremely careful as she set off to go to Queens Street station and then on to a meeting in Glasgow Film City in Govan.

As to the legal position, Orange displays are very plainly illegal under the Public Order Act 1936. This has not been repealed or contradicted by subsequent legislation and it does apply to Scotland. It is not otiose – it has been used against striking miners and against Irish Republicans.

Section 1 (I)

Subject as hereinafter provided, any person
who in any public place or at any public meeting wears
uniform signifying his association with any political
organisation or with, the promotion of any political
object shall be guilty of an offence :

The Orange Order registered as a participant in the referendum campaign. It is therefore by definition an avowedly political organisation.

Without any need to get in to the fact it is the only remaining effective part of Scottish Labour and Gordon Matheson’s sole resource on the ground.

If section 1 is not enough for you, and you would have to be a dedicated sophist to claim it does not apply, let me refer you to Section 2b which bans “the display of physical force in promoting any political object”. No reasonable person who has ever seen an Orange march can deny that is precisely what it is. (I do not use their lying term of walk designed precisely to obscure this truth).

Whether Orange street events should be allowed is a difficult question. Whether they are illegal is an entirely different question. They are illegal, and the fact the law is not enforced takes us back again to the subject of the institutional corruption of the Scottish legal establishment. I guarantee you that if I suggested we walk down Sauchiehall Street all wearing black berets in support of independence, we would be in the pokey PDQ.

Anyway, my knowledge of Northern Ireland comes largely from Graham Norton. So anyone who comes across the Orangemen in Glasgow today, I suggest that you, if you are male, scream out at one:

“Oh Wow! Look at you! You look just Gorgeous! And Orange is SO your colour!!! I had no idea you could be so dominant. I can think of things we could do with that umbrella/flute/drumstick/furry cockade. Anyway I shan’t bother you now in front of your charming butch friends, but we really must do it again sometime. (Mime “phone me”).

If you are female, you can play too, but better use a lower voice and say this:

“Oh wow! You look great. I am so glad I ran into you again. Honestly, I have been wanting to see you to say please don’t worry, it happens to a lot of men. Especially your age. Maybe it would help you if you wore your uniform?”

Go on, hug an Orangeman.

The SNP Membership, Not the Leadership, Must Decide on the Second Referendum

by craig on June 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

The policy of the SNP is that there will not be a second referendum on Independence in the next 5 years unless something material changes, such as UK exit from the EU. Why is that party policy? Because Nicola Sturgeon says it is.

I am only a humble SNP ordinary member, for only four years. But something within me tells me I am allowed to disagree. And I do. Loudly.

I think it is essential that the SNP manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections states clearly that, if a Holyrood majority will support it, a second referendum will be called on Scottish independence before 2020. If elected on that manifesto, something material will have changed. A unique double mandate will have occurred at Westminster and Holyrood for supporters of independence. And that change will have come from where it counts, from the Scottish people, not from extraneous circumstances. The independence I want is absolute, not a product of external factors.

Those who are comfortable with the status quo, plus a few more powers for the Scottish parliament, will argue that we cannot hold the referendum until we are certain to win, that another loss will kill it for ever. But there is a much more important argument – that of missing the key moment, letting the window of opportunity slide by. With a very right wing Tory majority in Westminster immediately imposing fresh austerity in Scotland, and with levels of SNP political dominance historically unlikely to be exceeded in any pluralist democratic system, there can never be a more favourable conjunction. If not now, when?

The biggest danger is bottling it.

Gradualism has taken us so far. I liken it to a long jumper hurtling down the runway. You may be sprinting brilliantly, and achieve fantastic speed and momentum. But if you think “this is going well, let’s not change anything” and don’t alter your action when you hit that white board, you will record six feet and not thirty. Scottish independence is at the white board. Gradualism has had its day. It’s time to soar. Let’s not fail to jump and plunge into the Killiecrankie Leap, no matter how well we are sprinting.

Some genuinely think I am wrong. It is a legitimate argument. But it needs to be a legitimate debate at Party conference, and a vote by members that decides on whether a second referendum is in the manifesto, not a decision by the leadership. I share the popular admiration for Nicola Sturgeon. I think she is tremendous. But were she the Archangel Gabriel, I would not follow her on the “leadership principle”. I do not subscribe to it.

Which leads me to say that I have decided to put myself forward again for vetting to be an SNP candidate, for the Holyrood election. This has not been an easy decision given the leaks to the media and internet abuse I went through last time, and I realise that I open myself to the apparent humiliation of easy rejection.

I should add that if I pass the party hierarchy vetting but fail to be selected by party members in the constituency, I should have absolutely no complaint whatsoever. That is proper democracy working.

But it seems to me that it is now very important indeed that the SNP is a political party that genuinely welcomes internal debate and differing shades of belief of those sincerely attached to Scottish independence, and can accommodate in particular those of an independent frame of mind who will not guarantee always under any circumstance to do what they are told.

The SNP is now in a dominant position in Scottish politics and facing no coherent or effective external opposition. In that circumstance, extreme discipline becomes more frightening than admirable.

Canvassing during the referendum campaign one thing No voters repeatedly told me was that they feared that the SNP was authoritarian and an independent Scotland would have the characteristics of a one party state. I assured them that they were quite wrong. I hope to prove that I was not lying.

My last post was about the excellent Jeremy Corby. Pro-CND, anti-austerity, anti-privatisation, pro-Palestinian, he rebelled against the Labour whip 230 times in the last parliament. Yet the Labour Party – which we characterise as the epitome of machine politics – does not seek to suspend him or stop him representing them in parliament. Many in the SNP will agree that Corbyn is a first class MP. Yet the same people will argue that no SNP representative should ever be able to rebel against their party whip, even once.

I abhor the creed of Democratic Centralism, which has always been associated with Stalinism. The worrying thing is that at present I do not even find the SNP terribly democratic. I have been to two party conferences now and both were glorified leadership rallies without one single genuine policy debate. There are issues which urgently need democratic consideration. The second referendum is top of the pile. The future Scottish currency may be next. I would like to find what the new membership wants on the monarchy and on NATO. The very close NATO vote a few years ago by no means killed off that debate, whatever the leadership may want.

The SNP has shown it can dominate. Now we must show that we can be genuinely democratic.

Jeremy Corbyn

by craig on June 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have shared a platform at anti-war and pro-Palestinian events with Jeremy Corbyn on dozens of occasions over ten years. We have also worked together where Jeremy has been extremely helpful asking parliamentary questions on matters including Britain’s stance on Palestine at the UN, and the Liam Fox/Adam Werritty/Matthew Gould relationship. I would not call him exactly a friend because we have never spent purely social time together. But he is certainly someone for whom I have the highest personal regard.

I am delighted that he is going to run for the Labour leadership and give voters a real alternative, compared to the minute differences between the neo-con puppet candidates. I shall be most pleased if this, like Nicola Sturgeon in the general election, gives a chance for anti-Trident and anti-austerity arguments actually to be heard in the corporate media.

But I fear this won’t happen. The BBC have been deluging the airwaves with the right wing identikit candidates, not only in items relating to the Labour leadership election, but inviting them on to any conceivable programme to blether on any topic. I am willing to bet a large sum the same media access is not granted to Jeremy Corbyn. If you don’t say “aspirational”, you don’t get on.

The media dismiss any argument outwith the bounds of their narrow, manufactured corporate consensus as marginal and irrelevant. For example, never mind the fact that a clear majority in the UK has for years supported renationalisation of the railways. The very fact of its popular support makes it imperative to the BBC and other corporate media that it must not be voiced. Jeremy is very likely to voice it. Watch as he is carefully marginalised, patronised and excluded.

The difficulty which the corporate media and political classes have is that we in the SNP have just driven a coach and horses through the argument that the radical case for social justice is marginal and has no popular support. The Labour membership, outside the London millionaires and focus group organisers, can see this too. The problem is that party is riven between Blairites, who only ever joined for personal career and position and don’t believe in anything except a vague attachment to Thatcherism, and actual believers in social progress, who have spent years in pathetic befuddlement wondering what happened to their party.

The idea that Andy Burnham – who privatised the English NHS at a much faster rate than the Tories – is in any sense at all a left wing candidate is utterly risible. It is typical of non-free “democratic” systems that they give electorates a pretend alternative, just as Ed Balls was no different to George Osborne. Sounding marginally more northern does not make you more left wing, and Burnham isn’t. He has just won the prize for the most obsequious arse-licking of Prince Charles, beating even the egregious Tony Blair. Anybody who signs a letter “I remain, Your Royal Highness, Your most humble and obedient servant” should not just be debarred from politics, but should be sniggered at by everybody they encounter for the rest of their life.

I am afraid I expect that enough Labour Party members are Thatcherites anyway, or open to persuasion by the media that Jeremy stands outside “respectable” opinion, that he will not be able to mount a serious challenge. And I am afraid we won’t see much of his views on wasting public money on weapons of mass destruction given air time. But fair play to him for running, and I sincerely hope I am wrong.

My personal political priority remains to achieve Scottish independence as I believe only the break-up of the UK can change its rotten corporate controlled political system. The kaleidoscope needs a kick, not a shake. To achieve that, I am committed to support of the SNP. But the lack of any credible or worthwhile opposition in Scottish politics is deeply worrying. I would welcome the kind of Labour Party that Corbyn would lead as a healthy democratic development. Sadly I don’t expect it.

Ludicrous Feminism Against Salmond

by craig on June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

That the Tories and Unionist establishment would attempt to land a sexist smear on Alex Salmond for calling a woman a, err, woman, is unsurprising. That they are joined by a number of ludicrous feminists is unsurprising too.

It is probably the case that it is a more frequent use in Scotland and Northern England than in Southern England to add “man” or “woman” after an injunction, but anywhere from Grantham northwards “Behave yourself, man!” or “Behave yourself, woman!” is a perfectly unexceptional expression. That the use of “woman” in this sense is sexist is absolute nonsense. “Behave yourself, human” would not be a normal expression. The idea that Salmond calling Soubry “demented” was in some way anti-woman is even more ludicrous. Women have no monopoly on demented behaviour. In fact it is a rather anti-feminist idea that women should be protected from robust verbal exchanges when men should not.

None of which will stop the feminist nutters from having a go at Salmond. Feminism appears unique in breeding acolytes who have no notion whatsoever of wider social questions. They are therefore perfect tools for the establishment to turn against anybody who threatens authority. The feminist stampede to condemn Julian Assange on the basis of quite ludicrous charges orchestrated by CIA asset Anna Ardin is one example where feminists delight the hearts of the powerful. Their turning on Tommy Sheridan was another. Now they fly at Alex Salmond. They are, men or women, stupid, and the most useful of idiots to the forces of wealth, power and privilege.

Poetry and the First Afghan War

by craig on June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I am still pruning back Sikunder Burnes to reach the publisher’s target of 180,000 words (which to be fair is more generous than modern publishers generally are). It is a difficult process, and it feels like deadwood and weak branches went some time ago, and sap is now flowing with a vengeance.

Had I room I would have added a section on poetry. For those of you who are not Great Game aficionados, the dramatis personae here will be obscure, and make a note to come back to this after you have read the book. But in a tale of adventure, exploration and ruthless conquest in British India, I have been constantly surprised by the connection of almost all the leading characters to poetry, and how closely the poetic was woven into their lives.

Alexander Burnes’ grandfather was of course first cousin to Robert Burns. Alex continually quotes Burns in his correspondence, but not only Burns. He was very fond of and frequently quotes Thomas Moore, and Alex’ correspondence with Moore and meetings with him in London are accounted an influence on his poetry. Alex also frequently quotes Fergusson, Ramsay, Byron, Milton, Shelley and often passages of poetry I cannot place. He also had a real passion for the Persian classical poets, who he regularly quotes in Persian.

The Burnes family were stationed at the cantonment in Bhuj, Cutch for 13 years. Their first chaplain in Bhuj was James Gray, himself a noted poet, editor of Fergusson, Hogg’s brother-in-law and one time teacher of Robert Burns’ children.

The President of the Board of Control, John Cam Hobhouse, had been Byron’s closest friend and companion. The Secretary of the Secret Committee working under him was the poet Thomas Love Peacock. (I digress from poetry to note the Secretary of the Political Committee was John Stuart Mill). Alex’ friend and colleague Darcy Todd was the son of Coleridge’s muse Mary Evans. Henry Torrens, Auckland’s secretary, was a minor poet of some merit and in addition to his original work translated the Thousand and One Nights, on which even the apparently unpoetic William Hay Macnaghten worked (a sadly bowdlerised affair). Surprisingly, Mohan Lal reckoned Charles Masson a “great poet”, very probably in the Persian language, though I have been unable to find his poetry among his papers in the British Library. Lal was himself a poet. Shah Shuja was reputed a fine poet. Mehir Dil Khan of Kandahar, a key participant in Burnes’ Kabul negotiations of 1837, led an important revival in Afghan courtly poetry.

There is much more. I was not in any sense considering poetry as a theme when I started research, but have been struck by the way that poetry was interwoven into daily life, and a poetic sensibility was part of the world view of the administrators of the British imperium in India in the 1820s and 1830s. I did not expect that at all. How their world views were reconciled with imperial aggression, exploitation and even atrocity (and individual reactions were very different) is a major part of the study.

Serial Convictions

by craig on June 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

For the second time in six months Edinburgh City Council has been to court and obtained a summary warrant against me for non-payment of Council Tax. On neither occasion was I given any notice of proceedings or any opportunity to defend myself. On both occasions, I had actually paid the tax before the warrant was issued, but – without telling me – payment had been refused by Edinburgh City Council.

I moved in to my new home in Edinburgh at end November 2014. It was a somewhat tumultuous period in my life and I confess it was after New Year before I got round to sorting out the Council Tax. When I did this, I phoned up and paid by credit card, entering my reference number and the payment amount electronically. There was no warning this had not gone through.

I was therefore astonished to discover that, after I had made this payment, Edinburgh Council went to court and obtained a summary warrant against me. This was because my payment had been refused not by the card but by Edinburgh City Council – unbeknownst to me – as it had been referred to the grandiloquently entitled “Sherriff’s Officers”, Scott & Co. The payment had to be made to them and their exorbitant fees had vastly increased the amount due. The “Sherriff’s Officers” are, of course really bailiffs, or licensed bullies and enforcers.

That was infuriating, but I paid up, even though I am very dubious indeed about the system. It seems to me entirely unethical for the body owed the debt to refuse to accept payment for it, and then go to court for non-payment.

Having eventually paid the Council Tax plus the large fees of Scott & Co, I found myself financially embarrassed just as 2015/16 Council Tax now became due. I therefore delayed until 25 May when I paid this year’s council tax, 50 days late. I am this evening astonished to find that on 28 May Edinburgh City Council again went to court and obtained a judgement against me for non-payment, three days after I paid. Again I had no notice of the court case or that payment had been refused. I today – eight days after I paid – received a letter stating that my payment had been refused because it had not been made through Scott & Co. I had received no letter indicating I had to pay through them. When I paid – online this time – everything seemed to go through and I got a reference number and confirmation.

It is astonishing to me that under two months late is considered a sufficiently late payment for the Council to go to court for summary judgement for debt recovery. I know of no other council, public body or utility that acts in such an ultra-draconian manner. Is that really the norm here in Edinburgh? That seems to me astonishingly harsh in a period of austerity where people are struggling financially.

I confess I am not in a comfortable financial situation, but there are a great many people much worse off than me. Piling extra court and bailiffs’ costs upon them so quickly and brutally seems to me astonishingly lacking in compassion. My personal situation was initially caused more by forgetfulness and pre-occupation than lack of money. But it has made me realise just how, in these times of austerity, the financial pressures on people can snowball out of control so quickly, and how much despair must surround us unseen.

As for the bailiffs of Scott & Co. (in fact a private partnership owned by a husband and wife whose connections to the City Council could well merit close investigation), these parasitic scum disgust me, living high on the misery of the poor.

Coulson Lying is OK by Judge – to Maintain Sheridan Conviction

by craig on June 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Andy Coulson lied under oath, repeatedly, in the Tommy Sheridan trail. He has not been acquitted of lying. He has been acquitted of perjury, by the judge, Lord Burn who ruled that whether he told the truth or not would not have affected the outcome of the Tommy Sheridan trial. It is very important to note it was Lord Burn who took that decision – he dismissed the jury who were given no chance to have their say. So Coulson is protected from a stretch in Saughton pokey, and more to the establishment’s purpose, the conviction of Tommy Sheridan stands.

Coulson lied about phone hacking in the Sheridan trial. Coulson has form. “Lord” David Burn also has form. He was part of the Megrahi “defence” team of advocates who failed to ask a score of glaringly obvious questions about the holes in the prosecution case and payment of witnesses in the fit-up of the century. The Scottish legal establishment is a sewer.

UPDATE

Here is a step by step guide to how the scam was pulled by the excellent Gordon Dangerfield:

Charlie Kennedy

by craig on June 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have known Charlie since about 1979. He was, and always remained, a brilliant, witty and very gentle man. His weaknesses were of the gregarious kind, one of many things we had in common. We first met on the universities debating circuit and in student politics. He became President of Glasgow University Union and I of Dundee University Students Association. As we both ran as Liberal Democrats that was uncommon. By one of life’s quirks, a generation later he was Rector of Glasgow University and I was Rector of Dundee University. We both shared a horror of the marketization of universities and an urgent desire to return to the old Scottish tradition of democratic governance, and we worked together with other Rectors to institute regular Rectors’ meetings and try to make the office of Rector relevant.

Charlie had come under the most enormous pressure not to oppose the Iraq war. The entire force of the British establishment bore down on him, including from former party leaders and from Ming Campbell, though he denies it now. Charlie showed tremendous courage and spirit in resisting the pressures to which almost everybody in authority in the Westminster power structure caved in.

Charlie told me the story of how, as party leader, he was invited by Blair to Downing Street to be shown the original key evidence on Iraqi WMD. Charlie was really worried as he walked there, that there really would be compelling evidence as Blair said, and he would then be unable to maintain the party line against the war. When he saw the actual intelligence on which the dodgy dossier was based, he was astounded. It was incredibly weak and “totally unconvincing”. Blair was not present while Charlie saw the reports, but he saw him afterwards and told Blair he was quite astonished by the paucity of the evidence. Blair went white and looked really rattled, and resorted to a plea for patriotic solidarity. He then reminded Charlie he was not allowed to reveal what he had seen. Charlie felt bound by good faith – he had been shown the intelligence in confidence – not to publish this. Not I think his best moral judgement.

Charlie was very definitely not an enthusiastic supporter of the coalition and, though a federalist not a nationalist, generally kept his distance from the Better Together campaign. He seemed to me to have lost self-confidence through the exposure of his struggles with alcohol, and probably underrated his influence. Charlie was consistent in both his faults and his principles. As President of Glasgow University Union, he was inclined to hands off sybaritism; his expenses and use of taxis became an issue, and that epicurean streak never left him. In his presence I always felt an inferior talent, and those of us who knew him 35 years ago I think all expected him to rise even higher than he did. But he never had the sociopathic streak that makes a dominant political career, and he was at base a very decent and kind man. That is how I shall remember him.

Corruption Welcome in London

by craig on May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

The FBI had somebody wearing a wire at the London Olympics to capture the FIFA corruption taking place in the margins. What were the British authorities doing? Nothing.

Britain prides itself as having in London the world’s leading financial centre. Substantial assets, both financial and real estate, from FIFA corruption are located in London. But Britain has taken over the crown from Switzerland as the major financial destination which will always protect ill-gotten wealth.

Alisher Usmanov played a major role as bagman for the corrupt Russian World Cup bid, particularly with delegates from FIFA’s Asian Confederation. His place as Britain’s third richest resident is very obviously based on extreme Russian corruption and he rose to power and wealth solely with the use of gangster muscle and contacts he gained and expanded while serving a prison sentence for blackmail. But he is a billionaire and beloved by the City of London so there is no danger of him ever being investigated in the UK.

That a key figure in FIFA corruption over Russia’s World Cup bid, is undisturbed in his large shareholding in Arsenal FC, says everything about the complicity of the British establishment.

Usmanov’s friend Gulnara Karimova is a startling example. She is now under formal investigation in Switzerland, France, Sweden and the Netherlands over the glaringly corrupt origins of her billions. Only a fake house arrest by her father has prevented her real arrest. Yet in the UK, where she has three homes including one in the No.1 Hyde Park criminals’ hangout, where she shops regularly and her son is at university, there is no move against her whatsoever.

I am delighted to see the moves against FIFA. But to me they illustrate very plainly what a corrupt stinking hole London has become.

Flunkies

by craig on May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

They were too extravagant to be buttonholes. The SNP’s MPs wore elaborate corsages. The unextinguishable impression is that they were going the extra mile in dressing up as particularly obsequious flunkies chuffed to be appearing before Her Maj, herself bedecked with the Koh-i-Noor and other jewels gained by the rape of conquered peoples, and enrobed in the furs of butchered rare animals.

Even if the white rose really were a symbol of Scotland – and a single allusion by Macdiarmid does not make it so – I would not want it used to make us look like the class creeps on a Royal visit. Much has been made of the battle for Dennis Skinner’s seat. But at least that awkward old man has repeatedly had the guts to make plain he does not approve of all the ludicrous flummery of faded but still vicious power – still vicious as the snooper’s charter and attacks on coastal Libya will shortly make clear. The SNP looked like a very determined set of entries for the toady of the year competition.

We should leave this loyalist monarchical crap to the unionists. An independent Scotland should not be a place where you dress like a florist’s advert before some fur-draped billionaire pensioner.

My Friend Alistair Carmichael

by craig on May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

It is no secret that Alistair Carmichael is a friend of mine. Not least because he told parliament so in 2005:

“The Government’s signals to the Uzbek regime have not always been helpful. I am thinking especially of their treatment of my old friend, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who has done us all a great service in graphically highlighting the appalling human rights record of the Uzbekistan Government.”

Alistair was one of very few MPs who raised the dreadful human rights abuses in Uzbekistan even before I got there. He has a genuine interest in human rights worldwide, and had a much better motivation in going into politics than the large majority of politicians. He was never anything like a diehard unionist in personal conviction. I felt quite proud for him when he was asked during the campaign what would his role be in negotiating for the UK the conditions of separation after a Yes vote. He replied that he was Scottish, and he would be on the Scottish, not the UK side.

I have never chosen my friends by my politics, and I am not one of those people who is only happy in the company of those who agree with me. I am happiest with a few drinks and a good argument in intellectually challenging company. I also do know that all human beings are flawed, and I don’t expect perfection. So I have no intention of ending friendship with Alistair.

All of which makes it hard, but I have to say that I really do think he needs to resign as an MP, and to do so immediately.

It was not just a mistake to leak that memo, it was wrong. It was even more wrong because he himself believed it was written in error and did not give Nicola Sturgeon’s true opinion. But in an election in which the Scottish Lib Dems faced wipeout, he saw the advantage of playing this trick. That was wrong on many levels. I would add that I feel very confident that Alistair would never have done it without consulting Clegg first. Clegg should resign too. And instead of the usual Cabinet Office stitch-up, there needs to be a real inquiry into the whole history and production of that extraordinary minute, and whether Alistair was set up to do it. The Scottish Government needs to be an equal partner in constituting that inquiry.

Alistair has no alternative but to resign because he then repeatedly lied about what he had done. It is much better that he goes now with a full and frank apology to everyone, especially his constituents. When you have blatantly and repeatedly lied about something, you cannot expect people to give you their trust again. That it even seems a possibility is an example of the erosion of ethical standards, of which Tony Blair is of course the greatest example as liar, mass murderer and multi-millionaire.

But we should not lose sight of the real lesson. The corrupt and rotten structures of the UK state are so insidious that they can take a fundamentally decent man like Alistair and lead him to behave so badly. There is something within the rotting organisms of UK institutions in their decline from Imperial power and dependence on corrupt banking and corporate systems, that infects almost all who enter them. While I worked for the FCO I saw really nice colleagues, decent men and women I worked with, go along with organising what they knew to be illegal war in Iraq, and with facilitating the torture and extraordinary rendition programmes. Because that was what paid their mortgage, looked after their children, and above all gave them social status as high British diplomats.

Westminster gives untramelled executive power to a party with just 23% of the support of the registered electorate. The majority of parliamentarians are unelected Lords a great many of whom are themselves mired in corruption – and some much worse. The organs of state power are used to facilitate the flow of money from the poor to the very wealthy, which is the actual cause of the deficit in public finances. The rewards of being on the inside are sweet; those outside are measurably dispossessed of wealth, and measurably alienated in politics. The media is controlled by this corporate state.

Alistair Carmichael’s story is not the story of a bad man. It is the story of what happens to a good man who buys in to UK power structures. The real lesson of the sad story of this period in Alistair’s life is that the UK is evil, corrupt and corrupting, and that the UK state needs swiftly to be broken up.

Born Kneeling

by craig on May 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

What comes out to me from the “Black Spider letter” correspondence of Prince Charles published today is how utterly obsequious Tony Blair and New Labour ministers were to him. No sign whatsoever of radicalism from the former “People’s Party” as they fell over to ingratiate themselves with the heir to the throne. I rather enjoyed Charles quite sharp tone to Blair.

I am fundamentally opposed to the existence of the monarchy. It will hopefully be replaced by a better system, but no human system is perfect. Given that we have a monarchy at present, you will perhaps be surprised to learn that I do not see anything wrong in Charles’ letters, which put forward views which are much what we would have expected him to hold. Of course there is interaction between the monarchy and government, and of course we should get rid of this hereditary element. But Charles’ lobbying is hugely less damaging and pernicious than the corporate lobbying I witnessed throughout my Whitehall career. At least Charles is not lobbying them for corporate advantage and giving large political donations at the same time.

While in my view he did nothing wrong in writing the letters, he and government are both very wrong in arguing they should be private. It is when it is secret that such attempts to wield influence between two branches of government – and monarchy is a branch of government – can be most simply perverted to ill ends. That such publication will not occur again because government has legislated to keep it secret, is an example of the privileged arrogance that prevents this from being a genuine democracy.

Altogether not that big a story and it gives Rusbridger and the Guardian the chance to pose as radical. I find the fact that what is published is so anodyne and unobjectionable rather suspicious – what has not been published? Rusbridger is of course the editor who complied enthusiastically with a GCHQ instruction to smash the Snowden hard drives. The existence of other copies does not justify this any more than it justifies book-burning.

By coincidence, a very worthwhile article by Michael Gillard that had been excised from the net has recently been republished, setting out how Rusbridger in 2002 conspired with Andy Hayman of the Met to bury an investigation into police corruption, including the burglary of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. By a further coincidence I was having a pint with Laurie Flynn in Sandy Bell’s four days ago.

Hayman went on to be the promoter of the stream of lies about the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes and the publicist of numerous fake terrorist plots, before having to resign in a scandal involving nubile police officers at public expense in tropical islands.

Rusbridger and his extraordinary wig go on and on as a pretend opposition outlet, their reputation much dented by recent hysterical unionist output which exceeds the Daily Express. But Rusbridger’s continued usefulness to the establishment is not in doubt. The pose of publishing the most harmless of Prince Charles’ letters does little to help a threadbare disguise.

Update: Striking Hypocrisy

by craig on May 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

A government elected to absolute power by 23% of those entitled to vote, legislates that just to go on strike will require the support of 40% of those entitled to vote.

Update

I find further explanation is necessary. The government proposal is that not only must a majority of those voting cast their ballot in favour of a strike (which is democracy), but in addition that the number voting for the strike must also amount to 40% of those who were eligible to vote. Yet we have no such provision in a general election, where not only did the government get only 37% of those who did vote, it received under a quarter of the votes of those who were eligible to vote. the government is asking for a high

The right to withdraw your labour is the difference between a free man and a slave. Anybody who believes that the British economy has a problem with too many workers’ rights is very far right indeed. The gap between rich and poor had expanded massively in both private and public sectors, as the gap between workers’ pay and bosses’ pay grows ever wider.

In fact the first focus of the Tory government is on removing rights that protect ordinary people from their betters, be they human rights or employment rights.

Vicious Tories

by craig on May 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

We do not have a parliamentary system which can hold a government with an absolute majority to account, even when that government only gained 37% of the vote. This is a salutary video for all of us, but particularly my fellow SNP members who think that being on House of Commons committees will make a big difference. Watch it from 16.32.30 where Paul Flynn starts to explore the links between Liam Fox, Adam Werritty and Matthew Gould. As he threatens to uncover hidden truths, he is shouted down by Tory MP Robert Halfon and forbidden from speaking by Tory committee chair Bernard Jenkin.

The Tories will be even worse in this parliament.

Halfon has today been promoted to Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and given a seat in the Cabinet. He is a really nasty piece of work whose political career has been sponsored and financed by a very sinister figure named Poju Zabludowicz, who works closely with Mossad. It is appalling that Zabludowicz should be able to place his puppet into the centre of government, and shows yet again that money can buy power at Westminster, every time.

It is amusing that Cameron has been forced to put David Mundell into the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Scotland. Also interesting that in the present state of opinion Cameron was not able to put in a colonial governor from the Lords or an English constituency. But whatever else may be said in Mundell’s favour, nobody has ever described him as highly intelligent, I suspect not even his mum. So it will be interesting to see how he manages his extraordinarily sensitive brief.

Labour equally had no choice but Ian Murray – which means as a shadow cabinet member he will have to stop pretending he is opposed to Trident. As anti-Trident rhetoric was the thing that saved Murray (plus disgraceful media attacks on his SNP opponent), by forcing him to become pro-Trident Scottish Labour will make a strong bid to have no MPs at all.

Edinburgh

by craig on May 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

holyrood

Who would live anywhere else? Nadira took this literally a five minute walk from our flat.

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