Thursday, 29 July 2010

Remind me -just exactly who are the terrorists?

'Call me Dave' has upset several Pakistani cheeses. He is not happy at reports of Pakistan intelligence agents helping the Taliban in Afghanistan. He is in India and his remarks have gone down very well with his hosts. Any criticism of Pakistan, a neighbour and a rival to India, is welcomed.

However there is a very different diplomatic event taking place simultaneously in India which has been kept very quiet. General Than Shwe, the Burmese dictator and a front runner in the 'World's Most Horrible Man' contest, is currently on a 5 day state visit. As BBC online reports there will be little fuss about the visit.

"When Than Shwe meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House in Delhi, there will be no press conference, not even a sound bite. Silence will be guaranteed.
After giving its full-throated support to the democratic movement after the 1990 elections in Burma, India has studiously wooed the generals - who first lived in Rangoon and now reside in the new capital of Naypyitaw - for over a decade.
With the one-party state of China by its side already, Than Shwe will be keen to ensure India's silence - and possibly by extension, support - for the elections, which will not see the participation of jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's now disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD).
As China's strategic shadow looms large over Burma, India will allow Than Shwe to pay homage for the second time in six years at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial in Delhi during his visit." 
I wonder what Mahatma Gandhi - an apostle of peace and non-violence - would make of one of the worlds most brutal men paying his respects?
Call me Dave has also been very quiet on this issue.
As Kissinger said, "We don't have friends or allies, we only have interests."

The spin machine rolls on

As the fallout from the Wikileaks revelations continues, government spinners are hard at it putting a gloss on the damaging insights. The Times today blames Wikileaks for putting informers at risk, conveniently ignoring the bigger picture. We pay vast numbers of civil servants, over 4000 in the Home Office alone, to brief journalists, draft ministerial speeches etc, to pull the wool over our eyes. Fortunately there are people who do not swallow this guff. Among them is the comedian Mark Steel, who wrote the following in yesterdays Independent.
"Why are the British and US governments saying the leak of military documents about Afghanistan has "put our soldiers at risk?" It's us who's been kept hidden from this information, not the Taliban. For example, many of the revelations are previously hidden details of civilian casualties, but Afghans in those areas probably already knew about those deaths. I don't suppose local insurgents have said "Well well, I've read the leaked documents, and you know that family whose house was bombed to rubble by an American plane, and the rest of the village arrived and wailed for three days and swore revenge and then there was a funeral that we all went to. Well it turns out they're dead."
One typical story in the documents tells how in March 2007, following an explosion, marines opened fire with automatic weapons as they drove down a six-mile stretch of road, killing 19 civilians including teenage girls in fields, motorists and an old man. But when they made a military report on the episode, they wrote that after the explosion the "patrol returned to base". This was accurate, as far as it went. It just missed out the details in between. 
So the main attack has been the traditional one with a leak, to ignore the lies, disasters and deaths revealed, and instead become furious at whoever exposed it all. If you report a murder to the police, you wouldn't expect to turn on the news later and hear: "The police have said they'll do all they can to catch the sick individual who revealed there had been a murder."
Secrets are essential not because of the danger when information gets to insurgents, but because of the danger when information gets to us. For we might conclude that having an army in Afghanistan for no coherent reason appears to be putting them and the Afghans at a certain amount of risk."
M.Steel Independent 28/07/2010

Monday, 26 July 2010

Wikileaks leaks

"Taken together, the Wikileaks documents give the general public a remarkable insight into a war that - at least up until December 2009 - now appears to have been going worse than we were told." So says Frank Gardner writing in BBC Online today.
The reaction from our esteemed leaders is so predictable. "Putting lives at risk" - not half as much a risk as it is to be an Afghani citizen in their country. "That was old information - it is all so much better now" - of course it is, why would we think any differently? Finally, "Shoot the messenger" - always a favourite this one. 
$300 billion so far and rising. This at a time of global economic crisis. Amazing how we can always find money to kill each other. 
As President Eisenhower warned in 1961, "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Very prescient.
And a hundred times worse now.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


"The Foreign Office declines to comment on claims by a former diplomat that it blocked key parts of his testimony to the Iraq Inquiry." BBC Online 25/07/2010

Now why are we less than amazed to hear that the F.O. continues to be less than transparent when it comes to revelations? Would it have anything to do with the slipperiness and evasion of two previous post holders, Jack 'rendition' Straw and David 'collusion with torture' Miliband? What a culture they established. All in the name of National Security. A big lie exposed as such by the recent appearance at the Iraq Inquiry of Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller. The present incumbent at the F.O. hardly inspires when it comes to being frank and honest either.

Deputy Clegg called the war against Iraq illegal last week. It is to be hoped that pressure is brought to bear on the mandarins and officials in the FO to open up their files. Perhaps a few whispers in a few shell-likes about 'obeying orders' being no defence may speed the process?

Saturday, 24 July 2010


There have been a couple of ex-senior policemen interviewed on the Today programme this week. They both spoke volumes, sometimes with guarded responses. For the officer who clobbered Ian Tomlinson not to face a charge is quite incredible and very disturbing.  It follows in a long line of similar events where to simply turn these incidents on their head and ask. "What would have happened if it had been a PC killed by a member of the public?" It is very informative.

It does the police no good. It reinforces the belief that there is one rule for those in charge and another for the rest of us. It does our society no good. Loss of confidence is one thing. Deep animosity and suspicion are something else. Most decent policework is done with the help and support of the public. We are sliding down a slippery slope.

As the Raol Moat case follow up showed, there are parts of this country where the police are seen as the enemy. There are several reasons for this. It does not help the cause when citizens carrying out their right to protest are seen by some officers as criminals or potential terrorists. Individual plods are not to blame - it comes from higher up the food chain. NewLabour had an an appalling civil liberties record. 13 years of trying to look tougher than the tories on Laura Norder.

We need decent leadership, a Royal Commission with a strict timetable to review the decline of policing with consent and political leaders prepared to tackle iniquities and injustice.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Al Megrahi - what a miscarriage.

Here we go again. Call me Dave lands in Washington and promptly puts his foot in it. According to our dear leader, "Megrahi should have died in prison." But that would have meant his appeal being heard with the revelations of just how much political interference there had been in this case. There was a feeling that his conviction would have been overturned. Whoops! By sending him home to die many embarrassing facts stayed buried. Megrahi was the fall guy. But then he goes and spoils it all by not dying.
A lot of heat but little light has been deliberately spread about this awful incident. Anyone wanting to know the extent of the way the enquiry was structured and moulded for political purposes should read the report by Paul Foot. The full (30+pages) are available from the Private Eye website. (lockerbierpt.cfm.pdf)
Six months prior to the Lockerbie explosion the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Straits of Hormuz. 290 passengers and crew died, including 60 children. Following the explosion of PanAm Flight 103, the British and American governments initially blamed the PFLP-GC a Palestine militant group backed by Syria with assistance from Iran. Logically, they felt this was likely to be a retaliatory action for Iran Air Flight 655. However, in a classic piece of real-politic, the rules in the Middle East changed with the first Iraq war of 1991. Syria became a much needed ally. Time to look for another culprit. Enter Libya, at that time a pariah state. Ideal. 
From that point a completely new case was constructed on flimsy forensics, even dodgier eye-witness accounts and much assistance from the CIA. The CIA had crawled all over this case from the moment of the crash. Among the passengers were several CIA operatives with some interesting luggage. Tampering with evidence? Removing items from the crash scene? Pressurising witnesses? You bet.  Thatcher maintained the cringe posture adopted by most UK Prime Ministers in the face of US pressure. It was reported in the US press that both Bush (senior) and Thatcher believed the Iranians were behind the bombing, but both accepted they didn't have the means to do anything about it. One of the first acts Cecil Parkinson did when he was re-instated as a cabinet minister, was to meet with the relatives of the Lockerbie victims. He promised them he would do his utmost to get a full public inquiry into the affair. Thatcher turned him down flat.
Following several contortions and an unbelievably awful 'trial' one of the two Libyan suspects was released and the other found guilty. This was an incredible verdict, as the prosecution case had been built on there being two bombers. They were either both guilty or neither were. 
The UN Observer Dr Hans Kochler  reported after the Kamp Van Zeist fiasco, 
"The international observer may draw one general conclusion from the conduct of the trial, which allows to formulate a general maxim applicable to judicial procedures in general: proper judicial procedure is simply impossible if political interests and intelligence services – from whichever side – succeed in interfering in the actual conduct of a court. We should remember the wisdom of Immanuel Kant who – in his treatise on eternal peace (Zum ewigen Frieden), elaborating on the essence of the rule of law – unambiguously stated that secrecy is never compatible with a republican system determined by the rule of law. The purpose of intelligence services – from whichever side – lies in secret action and deception, not in the search for truth. Justice and the rule of law can never be achieved without transparency."

'Call me Dave' needs to bear the above in mind when he considers his decision to launch an inquiry into torture using a compromised Judge. We have had enough of this sort of crap. We need transparency. The relatives of the Lockerbie victims deserve a frank, transparent and rigorous inquiry  - as do all the victims of torture and rendition. 
A final thought - the US never apologised to Iran for shooting down their airliner - nor were any US service personnel held to account. In fact, they received medals. Odd that.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Stooge, Compromised or Stupid?

The ex Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) attacked Clive Stafford Smith on the Today programme this morning. Dr Howells thought it, 'disgraceful' to attack the appointment of Sir Peter Gibson to run the inquiry into collusion with torture. He also thought it was typical of organisations like the one run by Stafford Smith to use smear tactics to help get their clients off. 

His vehemence was quite astonishing and totally over the top. Whatever was behind his outburst? Methinks he protesteth too much. An article in the Daily Mail today provided a clue. 

"In a letter to the judge, Clive Stafford Smith, a director of Reprieve, said there was a danger of bias that could wreck the inquiry.
He told the Mail: 'In an inquiry that is meant to assess the adequacy of past policies, Sir Peter Gibson should be a witness before it, rather than its judge.
'He needs to consider whether he can continue to act with the confidence of both the public, and the alleged victims of complicity in torture, with independence and impartiality.'
David Cameron made Sir Peter head of the inquiry earlier this month, saying his familiarity with the issues made him the best man for the job.
He will sit on a panel with Dame Janet Paraskeva and former journalist Peter Riddell.
The Reprieve letter details Sir Peter's close links to the security services during four years in which allegations of complicity in torture have mounted.
Most serious is the suggestion that he has already conducted hearings in private, suggesting he has prejudged the issues.

At a hearing in February, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger ruled that members of MI5 had a dubious record on the mistreatment of detainees and 'an interest in the suppression of such information'.
But during his four years as Intelligence Commissioner, Sir Peter drew no such conclusions  -  at least not in the very brief published versions of his annual reports to Downing Street.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Sir Peter claimed he had 'experienced the fullest possible co-operation' from British spies, who he concluded were 'trustworthy, conscientious and dependable'. In his letter, Mr Stafford Smith said: 'The allegation that you will have to rule on is that you were either asleep on your watch or were hoodwinked.'

In his letter to Sir Peter, copied to the Prime Minister, Mr Stafford Smith wrote: 'You cannot now conduct a further independent inquiry having already reached conclusions on some or all of the issues.
'A fair-minded member of the public would see that as acting as a judge in an appeal against your own decision.' D.Mail 20/07/2010

Seems reasonable. However Dr Howells thought it disgraceful. Why? Has he been got at? Having been a left-wing firebrand in his youth perhaps there are skeletons which the spooks have dug up? Or maybe there is another reason? Dr Howells was a junior Minister at the Foreign Office when many of these alleged abuses occurred. So is this bluster and rage based on the fear that 'Hail Fellow Howells' is in fact soiling himself at the prospect of a full and rigorous inquiry? New Labour had an appalling civil liberties record. Just how bad is becoming clearer by the day. Among Ministers who were responsible were the egregious duplicitous Straw and Miliband the elder. They have fought tooth and nail to stop information coming out. Are we to add Howells to this infamous list?

Clive Stafford Smith sticks up for the victims of government abuse and has been right throughout this sorry tale to date. He is a trusted figure. Dr Howells on the other hand….. 

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Back in May 2009 there was a brief programme on Radio 4 about the Privy Council. It featured the plight of the Chagos Islanders who were kicked off their island home to make way for an American airbase in one of the most sordid deals ever perpetrated by a Labour Government. Although not party to the original  decision, Jack Straw used the Privy Council to avoid having the matter discussed in Parliament. The following letter was duly sent to the Honourable Mr Straw.

 "I listened with increasing anger to your contribution to the ‘Privy Council’ programme on Radio 4 this morning. The Chagos Islanders situation is one of the most shaming episodes in our history. Your explanation as to why you chose to avoid Parliament fitted the image I have of you to a T. 
You come across as very plausible, sincere, thoughtful and reasonable. The reality is somewhat different. You have not one ounce of principle in your whole body. You will do and say anything that is expedient and which will keep you in power. You use your skills to come across as a consummate politician yet a study of your record reveals you to be a loathsome human being. 
Your avoidance of the democratic process for the Chagos Islanders, your part in contributing to the decision to go into the Iraq War and your part in the erosion of our civil liberties will not be forgotten. 
You are a disgrace to our democracy.  
That we are supposed to address you as ‘Right Honourable’ beggars belief."
Oddly enough, there was no reply! 
Now to add more ammunition to the case that Straw is a 'loathsome human being,' there is evidence revealed in the ongoing court case brought by the six Guantanamo inmates. 
As a Guardian leader article said yesterday, "Every prime minister says that the first duty of government is to protect its citizens. If only. Just 900 of a potential trove of 500,000 official documents have been released as a result of civil proceedings brought by six Guantánamo inmates – and they illustrate a government that sometimes could not be bothered about the safety of its own passport-holders.
Among the many revelations contained in these papers are the following: Downing Street blocked Foreign Office attempts to seek consular access to the six held in Guantánamo; the then foreign secretary Jack Straw told the British ambassador in Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, that the rendition of UK nationals from Bagram to Guantánamo was "the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objective"( he subsequently claimed he had no knowledge of any British involvement in rendition);" Guardian 16/07/2010 
Now fancy that! Honest Jack being less than straightforward - again!  As Baron Mandelson's memoirs have confirmed this week, what is said in public rarely resembles what is going on behind the scenes. 
A lesson for us all from the late journalist Louis Heron, who said that before any interview with a legislator he had in mind the following, "Why is this lying bastard lying to me?"  
He must have met Straw. 

Friday, 16 July 2010

Sex abuse on a par with ordination of women says Vatican

After perpetrating years and years of cover up, secrecy, criminal collusion and downright evil, the Vatican issue a decree about sex abuse. Catholic leaders have singularly failed in their task of protecting the faithful. The decree tries to bring the practices of the Roman Catholic church into the late 20th century. There are some moves to get rid of abusing priests quicker but - and it is a big but - there is no acceptance that all cases of abuse are to be reported to the civil authorities. So too little and far too late.

But just to show that it really really doesn't get it, the men in frocks use the same decree to place the ordination of women into the priesthood as an evil on a par with sex abuse. Why on earth do any self-respecting Catholic women listen or pay any heed to this rubbish? As John Hooper reported, "It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women's groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.
The change put the "offence" on a par with the sex abuse of minors.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called the document "one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made for a very long time. Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain part of an organisation that regards their full and equal participation as a 'grave sin' is a mystery to me."
Vivienne Hayes, the chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre, said the decision to raise women's ordination to the level of a serious crime was "appalling".
She added: "This declaration is doubly disempowering for women as it also closes the door on dialogue around women's access to power and decision making, when they are still under-represented in all areas of political, religious and civic life. We would urge the Catholic church to acknowledge that women's rights are not incompatible with religious faith." Guardian online 15/07/2010
It appears that misogynistic Catholic men in frocks are sending a message to misogynistic Anglican men in frocks to come and join them. To paraphrase Wilde, the unspeakable in pursuit of the detestable.
Anyone with Catholic female friends could run the Terry Sanderson quote past them, "Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain part of an organisation that regards their full and equal participation as a 'grave sin' is a mystery to me."
 Ask them what they think about what this decree says about their position in the church- and more importantly - what are they prepared to do about it?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Baron Mandelson - neither noble nor honourable.

"Get your retaliation in first," a quote from a British Lions rugby tour to New Zealand, has been taken to heart by Baron Mandy. He has won the race to get out his version of the end of New Labour. We await with little interest the 'Tome from Tone' giving his sanctified view of events. Then there is wee Gordie, reported to be scribbling furiously to give the authoritative view of how he saved the world. 
Having been pleasantly surprised that their election defeat was not a lot worse, there has been a period of calm in the Labour party. All that is about to change as the principal players hit the booksellers. 
Very little that has emerged this week is a revelation. As this blog reported in February, in a piece entitled, 'Bullying Brown' much was known about the problems at the heart of government. 
"Only when Brown became PM did the stories emerge of his temper, his rages, and his penchant for throwing objects around. Labour MPs who supported his coronation and derided those who opposed him have a lot to answer for. They knew. They suppressed the knowledge until it was too late. They colluded with madness."
"They also sent a message to every tin pot office tyrant and chief exec that swearing and shouting at junior staff is acceptable. For that alone they should hang their heads in shame."
"They were aware of the depth and bitterness of the feud between number 10 and number 11 Downing Street. They must have known that it can only have done harm to the country. Still they did nothing." 
The piece concluded, "The Labour Party went through colossal soul-searching in the aftermath of their ’79 defeat. That will be as nothing compared to what is likely to come next." 
Mandelson has lit the fuse. Vast swathes of the populace will regard the fuss as irrelevant and of little consequence. Many Labour members and supporters will have a different view. Many Labour MPs will carry a burden of guilt that they colluded with the collective madness. Others will be saddened by the many wasted opportunities.  
Then there are those of us who care deeply about the way our democracy works, the sort of values we hold dear, and the way we get through this financial crisis, in part created by small men with giant egos sucking up to avaricious city leeches.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Talking Balls

Why is it impossible to listen to Ed Balls without wanting to give him a good smack? Listening to his interview with John Humphries on the Today programme this morning was a reminder why New Labour and its political class became so despised. His well-worn chant of NewLabours 'successes' grates when the bigger picture is analysed. His playing down of the conflict between Blair and Brown (of which he was a principal player) defies accepted truth. For the two great offices of State to exist in a condition of outright hostility, with briefing and counter-briefing, undermining crucial policy decisions, can only have done untold harm to our national interests. Throw the slimy Mandelson into the mix and what a nest of egotistical vipers we had running the country. 

Yes there were many good things achieved but there will be many who regret the thirteen years of wasted opportunity:-
  • to reduce the gap between the haves and have nots; 
  • to regulate big business and the banks;
  • to promote civil liberties and rein in the powers of the state;
  • to reform our democracy;
  • to make our transport system fit for the future;
  • to reform our disgraceful libel laws;
  • to reform our criminal justice system;
  • to curb ridiculous salaries in both the public and private sectors;
  • to reduce the amount of non-jobs in quangos and consultancies; 
  • to make our education system fairer and more coherent and remove charitable status from public schools and finally,
  • to not be so subservient to the Americans and not get involved in illegal wars. 

There are other issues which readers may think of. As the Leadership race warms up there ought to be some real soul-searching among Labour supporters. An honest and frank exchange of views would help the process. 

Experience tells us Ed Balls is genetically incapable of being either honest or frank.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Well I Nether(land)

What a pile of overhyped crap. Far too many games failed to inspire or delight. FIFA are one of the most corrupt organisations in the world (which is saying something). Don't take my word for it, go to  a website devoted to exposing Blatter and his bent cronies. A further (tax free) £2billion has been squirrelled away by FIFA. It is no wonder that so much modern football sucks. The Dutch tonight were appalling - a showpiece for role models? Hardly, unless you want lessons in thuggery and whinging. Chest high tackles anyone? The nation who brought us 'total football' must be ashamed and stunned by the descent into barbarity. 

Admired the German counter-attacking play, which at times was exhilarating. Intrigued by the car crash that is Maradonna 'managing' Argentina. Respected the Spanish midfield who can confound any opposition into impotence by sublime passing and movement - but it isn't thrilling. 

A very disappointing world cup. Maybe it is time to move on from football and all the greed and gubbins that goes with it? 

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Crisis? What Crisis?

It is good to have an alternative view to current orthodoxy. The Herald is a Scottish paper with a declining circulation but it does have good insightful columnists. One of these is Ian Bell who earns his crust writing op ed pieces as well as sporting (mainly football) columns too. His most recent is worth looking at.
"No public spending cuts are needed. None. Public spending cuts are stupid, dangerous, and intended to stuff the throats of the rich. A fraud.
But how could I say such a thing? Didn’t the latest Chancellor call his Budget “inevitable”? Doesn’t that woman on Radio Four’s Today programme speak, morning upon morning, of the cuts “we all know are coming”? And don’t Sir John of Humph and Lord Jim of Naught murmur the chorus?
Crap. The people who live where I live could elaborate. The “crisis”, as we are daily schooled to call it, is an excuse – Ms Naomi Klein may deserve the label’s prize – for the largest transfer of wealth from the public realm to the private sphere since the self-invention of the pickpocket. B******s.
I defer to an old colleague, William Keegan, of The Observer, for this. Last week, Bill remembered an ancient, budget-cutting Government, the one that tossed a whole generation onto the Depression’s midden because debt, in 1932, was 177% of GDP. Today’s figure – less than half of Japan’s – is 61.9%. In Neville Chamberlain’s day, debt interest was running at 40% of state spending. Today, the number is 6.3%.
Keegan had more. The “average maturity” – when the bills come due – of Britain’s current sovereign debt is 14 years hence. The equivalent figure for the United States and Germany is nine years. No-one is calling time, I think, on German rectitude. Yet as Keegan calmly said, “it shows how hysterical the debate in Britain has become”.
Stocks are falling, hilariously, because “the markets” think little George Osborne has taken deficit-slashing beyond agreeable limits. He is his own little crisis. To wit: if the tiny toff destroys the sucker of last resort – you and me, usually – who will stand good for capitalism’s latest cock-up?" Herald on Sunday 11/07/2010
And where does this leave the LibDems? In Islay we are plagued in the summer by Horse Flies which gather anywhere there are animals and, unlike mossies, which are sneaky little critters, bite you openly and with great gusto. They also bring about huge itchy sores. Here's the nub though. They are known locally as 'clegs' and with as much benevolence as can be mustered, it has to be asked,"what on earth are clegs for?" 
Which brings us nicely back to the LibDems and their role in propping up this bunch of slash and burn tories.   

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bazza Prezza

What a hypocrite! All his life he rails against flunkery and subservience - and at the earliest opportunity he grabs the chance to become Baron Prescott of Humbuggery. 

It is alleged to satisfy his wife's wish to be Lady Prescott. Tough. 

Lots of decent women in the UK never become Lady Muck or Lady Nettles. And are none the worse for that.

What a shallow little creep. 

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Major Miliband and the Inquiry of Doom

When the PM announced an enquiry into collusion with torture by the security services there was one senior Labour politician more concerned than most. As Foreign Secretary in the last regime, Milimajor had this tricky issue to deal with. We know from evidence submitted to the Baha Moussa enquiry that Civil Servants make it clear to Ministers whenever they foresee political problems ahead. As the allegations gathered momentum, with increasing credibility from several courtrooms, there would have to have been a strategy meeting at the FO. The options were limited:
  • Come clean and launch a transparent and open investigation.                                                       [A complete non-starter - this was New Labour remember- who utilised 'National Security' as a smokescreen for all kinds of nefarious skullduggery whenever and wherever possible].
  • Outright denial  - "Nothing to do with us squire." Attack the messenger - another well worn tactic of the sofa cabinet as fostered by Alistair Campbell.
  • Alternatively "I know nothing of any wrongdoing." Those familiar with their James Bond will be aware of 'deniability.'
  • Kick it into the long grass - with a general election coming up, the last thing Milimajor and his Cabinet collegues needed was to see his name and NewLabour linked with torture on the news stands. To do this properly entailed using every legal twist and turn, every device and delaying tactic available to the finest legal brains. Every revelation was to be contested and challenged. At the same time Ministers would parrot that the UK did not do torture. This was not the contention. 
  • A combination of these last two with a touch of attack thrown in. From observation and analysis, this seems to have been the chosen strategy.
  • Milimajor's difficulty was to either appear a fool for not knowing what was happening on his watch; or to appear a knave for running a campaign of denial, deception and obstruction. To this observer, Milimajor is not a fool.

Cameron's announcement is not as rigorous as it could have been. The Investigator is well known to the security services. The Inquiry will not take place until the last of the court cases has been settled, 'probably November/December'. This will inevitably be an unrealistic start time as each resolved case will encourage others to add their names to the growing list. All of this will no doubt be a great relief to Milimajor as by the time the Inquiry begins he could be well established as the new leader of the Labour Party. 

The clincher - no-one to be charged. Victims to receive 'compensation'.  This stinks. Any member of MI5/MI6 knowingly utilising the results of torture should be in jail. Any Minister who sanctioned such actions should be sharing a porridge spoon. Yet again we have one law for the masses and another for our political class. Imagine the outcry from the tabloids if this were to become the abiding system of justice in the UK? Robbers and burglars admonished but free to commit further offences - victims compensated for being robbed. Mmmm.

Anyone reading this who is entitled to vote in the Labour leadership election should bear all of the above in mind before placing their cross. Anyone reading this who is not entitled to vote should lobby those who are. 

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Bundesliga 4 Sweet FA 0

Following the 'golden generation's' abject display at the world cup, is it not time to look elsewhere and see how others do it? In this weeks Observer there was an article by Jamie Jackson about the Bundesliga and how the German equivalent of the FA reacted to a poor showing in the 1998 World Cup. 

"Christian Seifert, the Bundesliga's chief executive, told Observer Sport how that failure, which followed a 3-0 quarter-final defeat by Croatia in the 1998 World Cup, forced a major rethink about the development of young players.
The new structure, implemented in 2002, has resulted in a resurgent German side - their youngest team ever, with an average age of 24.7 years. Last Sunday in South Africa they beat England 4-1, and Argentina 4-0 yesterday. They will go into Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine among the favourites.
Seifert said that the national team's stark improvement was a direct result of the overhaul of Germany's academy system, with all 36 clubs in the two Bundesliga divisions now obliged to operate centrally regulated academies before being given a licence to play in the league. Of the 23-man national squad now in South Africa, 19 came from Bundesliga academies, with the other four from Bundesliga 2 academies.
The most significant change, said Seifert, was insisting that in these new academies at least 12 players in each intake have to be eligible to play for Germany.
"That was the key difference," he said. "Fifa's 6+5 rule means only that players must have grown up in the club. For example, Cesc Fabregas was developed at Arsenal, but is Spanish. In Germany, our academies must have 12 in each group able to play for Germany."
Since that restructuring, the proportion of Germany-qualified players in the Bundesliga has changed significantly.
"In 2003-4 we had 44% from foreign countries," Seifert said. "Right now it is only 38%. So 62% are able to play for the national team." In England it is the other way around, with an approximate 60/40 split of foreigners and nationals.
Seifert emphasised that essential to the system's smooth operation was the unity between clubs and the German FA, achieved in part through the stipulation that no single entity can own more than 49% of a Bundesliga club.
"This way you don't have a foreign owner who doesn't really care for the national teams," said Seifert. "The clubs have a very strong relationship with the FA: we are all engaged in discussions [about youth development]."
"That is in stark contrast to England, where infighting between the FA, the Premier League and the Football League resulted in the Professional Game Youth Development Group being disbanded last year after just a year of operation. Since then, no single body has been in control of youth development in England. Instead, the power has rested with Premier League clubs."
Richard Caborn, the ex-Sports Minister declared the FA, "unfit for purpose" this week. What took him so long? Ever since the Premiership began, the FA have behaved like one-legged men at an arse-kicking contest. Unless and until there is such a clamour for reform along the German model then England will continue to slide into mediocrity. 
The Premiership as presently constituted, actively and wilfully undermines the national game in the name of greed. While fans continue to collude with this madness nothing will be done to rein these avaricious onanists in.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Isn't Scumbag Capitalism brilliant?

Those paragons of virtuous capitalism, Goldman Sachs and their Wall Street cronies, continue to shock. Back in 2006 there was a sudden spike in food prices around the world. Wheat went up 80%, Maize 90% and Rice 320% within a year. As ever, the poorest suffered most. People starved. To death.

Only now is it becoming clear what happened. Johann Hari writing in the Independent explained the process in, 'How Goldman gambled on starvation'  (2/7/2010). As the sub-prime market went into free-fall, companies like these put their money into the derivatives market. "A market in 'food speculation' was born. Farmer Giles agrees to sell his crop in advance to a trader for £10,000. But now (thanks to deregulation) that contract can be sold on to speculators, who treat the contract itself as an object of potential wealth. Goldman Sachs can buy it and sell it on for £20,000 to Deutsche Bank, who sell it on for £30,000 to Merrill Lynch - and on and on until it seems to bear almost no relationship to Farmer Giles's crop at all. 

"So while the the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose - which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began."

"So it has come to this. The world's wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won…..What does it say about our political and economical system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?"

"If we don't re-regulate, it is only a matter of time before this all happens again. …In Britain, where most of this 'trade' takes place, advocacy groups are worried that David Cameron's government will block reform entirely to please his own friends and donors in the city."

"Only one force can stop another speculation-starvation-bubble. The decent people in developed countries need to shout louder than the lobbyists from Goldman Sachs. The World Development Movement is launching a week of pressure this summer as crucial decisions on this are taken: text WDM to 82055 to find out what you can do." 

Go to it decent people, and lets rein these scumbags in.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Wanted:Tony Bliar

Quietly and without too much attention, a little bombshell was dropped under Mr Bliar last week. it emerged at the Iraq Inquiry that documents released by the Cabinet Office proved that the then Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, had made it very clear that the UK did not have the legal right to wage war on Iraq. As Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College London, put it, "(the new paperwork) lays bare the fact that Lord Goldsmith effected a 180-degree change of direction in less than a month, and that he did so in the total absence of any new facts or legal consideration." Well dang my do-dads. 

There is a strong allegation that Goldsmith was buttonholed by two senior Labour figures and given such a verbal lashing that he wilted and changed his advice. Goldsmith has always denied this. He would probably rather be thought a confused fool than admit to being a coward who betrayed his office.

Mr Bliar had already given his word to support Bush (who had planned to attack Iraq way before September 11). Goldsmith's repeated advice that the war would be illegal was an inconvenience. Parliament could be taken for granted thanks to the many warlike Bufton-Tufton tories and New Labour apparatchiks. The millions who marched could be ignored and Goldsmith could be 'persuaded.' 

Mr Bliar has lied repeatedly  without any remorse. He is currently about to receive the Liberty Medal in the states, along with £100,000. This sum could be used to pay something towards the expenses of his excessive force of bodyguards which is paid for by us, the taxpayer.

Even better, he could be arrested for war crimes and placed in a high security jail. Now that would be excellent use of taxpayers money. 

And while we are turning over the stones - how about looking a bit more closely at the Dr Kelly case?