Saturday, 26 May 2018

Cross? Indeed, I Am

Oliver Kamm's fingerprints are all over the ongoing, farcical abuse of the legal system to seek to silence me politically, an attempt that is having a spectacular lack of success. In view of the "Philip Cross" scandal, I demand that the whole thing be ended with immediate effect.

Bordering On

The only county to have voted No so far has been Donegal, which contains a large minority of Ulster Protestants. The solidly "Catholic" areas are voting solidly Yes.

If you have a heart attack or what have you in Donegal, then you are taken to the hospital in Derry, and the National Health Service invoices the 26 County State for your treatment free at the point of the need. You won't be able to have an abortion there, though.

Irish Ayes

When the Pope goes to Ireland later this year, then he should visit only Northern Ireland. So much for Catholic schools. But we knew that, anyway. And so much for Catholic Ireland. But we knew that, anyway, too.

The Catholic Church in Britain and the wider English-speaking world needs to stop the cultural cringe to Ireland; tellingly, nowhere else has ever had it, or has ever seen Ireland as anything more than peripheral to the Church.

And people who wish to get on in the Irish Republic need to be told to stop writing made up misery memoirs about nasty nuns and what have you, because no one can any longer be bothered to pretend that Ireland was ever a country in which "the Church controlled everything".

These Things Happen

These things happen. See the Korean Airlines 747 in September 1983. See the case of the USS Vincennes and Iran Air Flight 655 in July 1988. See Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea in October 2001. These things happen, and they are highly likely to happen if you fly over a warzone.

Certain people who resemble teenagers still going on about last year's pop stars are determined to bang on about MH17. But what they are convinced is this matter of geopolitical significance is receiving less coverage than Harvey Weinstein.

Trial Date: Date 32

More than six weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 87

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Friday, 25 May 2018

"And I'm Old Enough To Remember British Rail"

Aren't we all? Rail privatisation did not even begin until 1994, and it was not completed until 1997. You do not have to be the 61-year-old Anna Soubry or Dominic Lawson to remember better days.

"The Best University In The World"?

What, exactly, does that mean? Universities have very different functions in  different societies. The German system, say, or the French, is superlative at its intended purpose. But that has very little international application. And much the same is true of the Anglo-American elite system, too.

Keep In Check The Social Dumping

Prem Sikka writes:

Disgraced electronics retailer Maplin’s descent into administration should focus attention on the duties of directors, corporate governance and protection of unsecured creditors in the UK. Just look at the corporations around you.

You will see not only ownerless companies, where shareholders hold a short-term interest in the them, but also companies where shareholders, while supplying little of the share capital, enjoy 100% of the controlling rights. 

This is indicative of a new kind of social dumping where shareholders are walking away with most of the proceeds of liquidation and suppliers and employees, bearing most of the risks, are left high and dry. 

Maplin, the high-street electronics retailer, entered administration February 2018. It had 2,335 employees at 219 locations. In 2014, it was bought for £85 million by Rutland Partners, a private equity group fronting a variety of investors. 

The amount invested via share was very little. Maplin’s 2017 annual accounts show that the issued share capital was only £420,000. The shareholder investment was mainly through secured loans of £72m through a labyrinth of offshore companies. The loans carried interest rates of 15%. For 2017 and 2016 the charges came to £12.1m and £10.8m. 

The interest payments were added to the original loans and continued to be rolled-over as that offered tax advantages. The remainder of the original finance for investment was provided by banks, which also secured a charge on the company’s assets.

The significance of the secured shareholder loans is that it eliminates the downside risks. In the event of liquidation, shareholders are normally at the end of the queue of the parties to be paid out of the proceeds of liquidation. 

They usually recover little or nothing. However, by investing via secured loans they jump to the front of the queue. This way they eliminate their downside risk or more correctly shift it to unsecured creditors which include suppliers, employees, HMRC and others.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partners were appointed administrators of Maplin and their latest filing at Companies House shows that Rutland Partners will recover £102 million from liquidation.

Wells Fargo, the secured lender will recover £10.65 million to recover everything owed to it. Unsecured creditors are owed around £217 million. This includes £34.6m to suppliers, £6.2m to HMRC and £3.8m for redundancy and related payments. 

PwC estimate that unsecured creditors will receive less than 1p in the pound. Maplin is typical of the private equity business model and should encourage reflections on corporate governance arrangements and protection of creditors. 

One of the arguments advanced by the shareholder lobby is that it should have 100% of the controlling rights because it bears the residual risks i.e. it stands at the end of the queue in the event of liquidation. 

But the Maplin case shows that shareholders invested very little in shares – yet enough to acquire 100% of the controlling rights. Directors safeguarded shareholder interests by enabling them to become secured creditors. At Maplin, the downside risks were borne entirely by its unsecured creditors.

The goods and services supplied by them bolstered the company’s assets which when sold enabled secured creditors to receive their payments. Despite being major risk bearers, unsecured creditors had no say in appointing directors, auditors or choosing time and mode of administration.

There was no automatic Creditors’ Meeting to show their displeasure about administration. To call such a meeting, they would have been obliged to contribute to the cost incurred by the Administrator. 

Even that would have been futile as Rutland and Wells Fargo would have been able to out vote them all. The wealth transfer from unsecured creditors to Rutland and Wells Fargo was presented as fait accompli.

The unsecured creditors include many small and medium-size enterprises, which are unable to bear the loss of the amounts due from major customers. Their losses inevitably trigger further closures and job losses. 

Yet there is nothing in place to enable unsecured to have a say in corporate governance, or to protect them in the event of liquidation of major customer. 

The Maplin case should encourage reflections on directors’ duties. For example, Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006 requires directors to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, but in doing so they are required to have regard for the interests of employees, suppliers and others.

The wording of the Act suggests that shareholders would take action to enforce director duties, but it is hard to see Maplin’s shareholders (who were also directors) taking action to enforce duties which would have resulted in a lower pay-out to themselves. 

Some protection to unsecured creditors can be offered by changing insolvency laws. For example, a substantial percentage of the proceeds of liquidation could be ring-fenced for distribution to unsecured creditors. This would reduce the amounts collected by secured creditors but lead to more equitable risk-sharing. 

Currently, secured creditors, which can be shareholders and/or banks, walk away with almost all of the proceeds from liquidation, leaving a few crumbs for others.

Maplin, like Carillion before it, teaches us that a more equitable form of risk sharing can keep in check the social dumping that is becoming all too common.


"New evidence"? The Ukrainian Government has a veto on what evidence can be released to the public in the case of MH17.

And precisely what solid evidence is there that this latest projectile had anything to do with the MH17 attack?

Trial Date Watch: Day 31

More than six weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 86

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Their Banner The Cross

Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, thy words were once strong
Against Satan's wiles and an infidel throng;
Not less is thy might where in heaven thou art;
O, come to our aid, in our battle take part.

Lodged In The Mind

Most people in Great Britain have never taken either side in Northern Ireland.

But whereas the IRA was a long time ago, the DUP is now. And they don't like it. They don't like it one little bit. 

They simply do not see it as their own culture in any way at all. Try and imagine an Orange March down your street, and the point is made.

In any case, even the Hard Right now wants rid of Northern Ireland for the sake of Brexit. As we have already seen over the House of Lords, it will pay any price whatever for the sake of Brexit.

Except, that is, break with the Conservative Party, a party that of course exists to conserve the status quo, and which is simply not pursuing Brexit at all.

Post Facts

Those abortion pills through the post, they were not invented for Ireland. Initially, they were not even intended for Ireland.

Women in Ireland happen to have found them on the Internet. But they were there, anyway. Most of their sales are not to Ireland even now. 

So there is absolutely no reason to assume that a Yes vote in tomorrow's referendum would have any effect whatever on their use.

Cast Your Minds

Gavin Havery writes: 

A mining union is supporting campaigners opposed to the creation of an opencast coalmine in North-East countryside.

Protestors gathered at County Hall in Durham on Wednesday morning to demonstrate against the start of extraction operations near Consett, arguing conditions of planning permission are not being fulfilled. 

The Banks Group plans to remove 500,000 tonnes of coal from the Bradley site, but is obliged to create an access road so it can be transported on the A692 from the entrance, which lies between Leadgate and Dipton.

Alan Cummings, secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, said: “The Durham Miners’ Association has opposed opencast mining for many decades and support the locally lead campaign to protect the Pont Valley. 

“It damaged deep mining in the past and now threatens to ruin our environment for no perceivable benefit. Our communities have suffered enough with the decline of the coal industry and they do not need to have more injury added to insult. 

“There are deep mining projects reopening in various parts of England. So, there is little need to rip up the countryside to get coal. We are opposing Banks Group’s destructive and divisive plans to destroy the Pont Valley for its own gain.” 

Planning permission was initially rejected by Durham County Council, but the decision, which was upheld at two public inquiries, was overturned following a lengthy legal battle in the High Court. 

Campaigners, who claim an environmental crime is being committed following the claims there are great crested newts on the site, camped at the entrance to site for almost two months to delay progress on the development. The firm started working the land last week, before the creation of the access road. 

Police, who have arrested 16 people during the ongoing protests, arrested a 23-year-old woman outside County Hall, during the demonstration on Wednesday. She was arrested on suspicion of breaching court-imposed bail conditions by returning to the Banks’ opencast site on Tuesday. 

Stuart Timmiss, head of planning at Durham County Council, has said the ‘necessary monitoring and scrutiny’ had been carried out by the authority to make sure the firm met the obligations necessary to implement the planning permission. 

 Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “Work at the Bradley surface mine is being progressed in strict accordance with the requirements of its planning permission, and all pre-commencement conditions set out therein have now been discharged.”

Still Unanswered Questions

Mary Dejevsky writes: 

80 days after being found with her father, collapsed on a bench near a Salisbury shopping centre, Yulia Skripal has made a near-miraculous reappearance. She was filmed at an anonymous park-like location, reading a handwritten statement about her plight. In substance, what she said added almost nothing to the two statements issued by the Metropolitan Police in her name before. But the whole short recording was crucial in the messages it was designed to send – to the British, Russian and international public. 

It was designed, first, to reiterate the official British version of what happened, at a time when that version has started to fray rather badly. So, she said, she and her father had been the victims of a nerve agent attack; she had been in a coma for 20 days; the medical treatment had been extremely unpleasant in many respects – her tracheotomy scar was visible evidence. She was now much better, but still recovering. She did not wish to “avail herself” of the assistance offered by the Russian embassy.

But there were also conspicuous differences from the official British version. There was no blaming of Russia. There was no naming of the nerve agent. And Yulia Skripal gave no indication that she envisaged her long-term future anywhere other than Russia (contrary to an earlier British official “leak” that she and her father were to be given new identities and resettled in a third country). 

Her appearance seemed, second, intended to quash some of the more extreme speculation flourishing mostly in the social media – that the Skripals were dead; that there had been no nerve agent attack, and that even if the pair were alive, they would never, ever be seen again. 

And, third, there was a message addressed specifically to Russia, countering its charges that the UK had “kidnapped” one of its citizens and was unlawfully refusing consular access. Here was Yulia Skripal – well, let’s presume it was not a hi-tech confection or a “double” – saying, on camera, that she did not wish to meet Russian diplomats, at least not now. 

What we have here, it seems to me, is an attempt by the UK to limit the damage to its own reputation – damage perhaps it never envisaged, because it assumed everyone would “buy” the “wicked Russia” story. And the reason this had to be done, now, or at all, was that the UK’s silence – media blackout? – about the Skripals had become embarrassing; it invited unwelcome questions, and perhaps it also risked the UK’s “triumph” in orchestrating a collective Western expulsion of Russian diplomats. It is worth noting that some of the more persistent questions have come from journalists not in Britain, but in Italy, Germany and elsewhere. 

At least one of the UK’s opening assertions – that Russia was the only country to have manufactured the nerve agent in question – was challenged early, by the head of the government’s own defence research establishment at Porton Down. Since then, it has been shown that the formula was in the public domain from the mid-1990s and that both the Czechs and the Germans had access to the substance and shared the expertise with their western allies. So the presumption of Russian provenance, let alone Kremlin guilt, was always flawed. 

Questions also surround the actual findings of the chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, which sent samples for testing. Not only were aspersions cast on procedures and some actual laboratory findings, but the watchdog hardly enhanced its authority when its head vastly overestimated the quantity of nerve agent supposedly used in a statement that was subsequently corrected.

It is not just details so basic as the nature of the substance, its provenance and the quantity that are still in doubt, however, but a great deal else. Either that, of the information is being deliberately withheld. 

Here are just some of the many other still unanswered questions. 

Precisely where and when were the Skripals poisoned? Sowing confusion is often seen as a typically Russian technique to blindside and divert the enemy. But the Russians have hardly needed to sow any chaos here, because the British have helpfully done it for them. Was the nerve agent a substance or a spray? Was it in their car, in Yulia’s suitcase, in a packet of Russian cereal brought by a friend, or smeared on the front-door handle? What did a Salisbury hospital consultant mean when he wrote to The Times, saying that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning” and only three had suffered “significant poisoning”? 

What could have been the motive for such an attack? Why would the Kremlin (or an aggrieved Russian colleague) have waited eight years to hunt down a traitor who – the Russians are on record as saying – had served his time? Why would the Kremlin have risked staging such an atrocity three months before hosting the World Cup? What of the convention that swapped spies are left alone by the country they betrayed so as not to jeopardise further exchanges in future?

Why the on-off searches and decontamination of parts of Salisbury? Why was the policeman, Det Sergeant Nick Bailey, affected, but not the doctor who administered first aid? Why has nothing been heard from either? Did the policeman, as some have hazarded, belong to Special Branch and was his task to tail the Skripals? Where were they when their GPS was switched off that morning?

Why is there no suspect, beyond “Russia”? Why was there no national or international hunt for the culprit? There was a fleeting suggestion that an individual might have fled on the same plane he arrived on; then a flicker of an intelligence intercept from Switzerland that was so general as to mean nothing. Then silence. When the national security adviser, Sir Mark Sedwill, appeared before MPs three weeks ago, he said there were as yet no suspects. That is an extraordinary – hardly credible – admission. So high-profile an attack, such an international rumpus, and still no one, no one, in the frame?

What had Sergei Skripal been doing with his time in Salisbury, aside from joining the Railway Club? Had he done something to upset the Russians, or, indeed, British security? Had he perhaps – and this is the conspiracists’ favourite theory – maintained any connection with his former MI6 handler and neighbour? More to the point, did he have any connection, via his handler, with the ex-MI6 agent, Chris Steele, his Orbis security consultancy and the anti-Trump dossier?

Nearly three months on, and still so many questions and so few answers. Through these clouds of uncertainty let me hazard just three considerations. First, the Kremlin was not involved: the Russians were as surprised by what happened as anyone; Moscow was on something of a charm offensive in advance of the World Cup. There was no Russian interest in spoiling the international atmosphere. Could it have been a security or rogue Russian operator? Who knows.

Second, Yulia, because of her security connections (via her fiancé) in Moscow and her regular travel to and fro, may have been a tempting target for recruitment by MI5/MI6. Was an attempt made? Did it go wrong? At least, it would seem from Yulia’s reappearance this week, that making a visiting Russian disappear forever is, thankfully, a step too far for UK intelligence today. Holding her against her will, however, could be another matter.

And third, I rather suspect that both the UK and Russia know more than they have told. This would help to explain both the relatively mild diplomatic response from Moscow in the last few weeks and the recent summary halt to the UK’s anti-Russian invective. Alas, we may be no closer to the truth than this.

2020 Visions

If you believe Toby Young's "two letters" story, then you will believe absolutely anything. It ranks alongside the laughable account of how Sedgefield selected Tony Blair that appears in both of the official hagiographies and in his own so-called memoirs. Young did not have the grades for Oxford, but his achingly well-connected father made a phone call, so he got in. That's it. That is the whole story.

Now, if you need Toby Young to defend you against a charge of racism, then you are in very serious trouble. He, of course, is a stalwart of the London Conference on Intelligence, along with the circle around the Ulster Institute for Social Research and the Mankind Quarterly, and along with Emil Kirkegaard, that advocate of the rape of drugged children.

Young himself is a published eugenicist, as well as being a self-confessed sexual assailant and supplier of Class A drugs. Since his media friends are trying to worm him back into public life, it is time to revisit the possibility of his prosecution for sexual and drug-related offences.

Today, David Lammy tweets that, "A lucrative market worth £6bn a year is worth fighting over. Simon Kempton @PFEW_HQ is right to draw the direct link between middle-class people buying cocaine and young, poor foot soldiers dying in turf wars in places like Tottenham. The truth hurts."

Add that to his work on Grenfell Tower, on which he is right; on Windrush, on which he is right; and on university admissions, on which he is so much more right than wrong that the other side has been has been reduced to wheeling out Toby Young; and Lammy's bid for Mayor of London is coming along nicely.

But what's this? On this week's Sputnik will be none other Ken Livingstone, by some distance the most successful Mayor of London to date, and once again free of all party constraint. Will he be making The Announcement?

Of course, just as it was perfectly possible to give a first preference vote to George Galloway and a second preference to Sadiq Khan (although Lammy or Diane Abbott would have been better), so it would be perfectly possible to give a first preference vote either to Livingstone or to Lammy, and a second preference to the other.

A contest in which each needed to win the second preferences of the other's supporters is a contest that London needs to have for its own sake, for the sake of the country, and for the sake of the world.

House of Hypocrites?

If it is hypocritical for Labour people to accept peerages, then it has been hypocritical for Conservatives to do so for longer,  since their party has been in favour of an elected second chamber for more than 20 years now, whereas Tony Blair used to pour scorn on the very idea of such a thing.

The Liberal Democrats, who maintain a very considerable presence in the House of Lords, have only ever been in favour of an elected second chamber, as the SDP was throughout its existence, and as the Liberal Party was throughout the twentieth century.

In any case, wanting to abolish something is not the same as pretending that it does not exist. While the House of Lords is there, then someone is going to be in it. Make sure that it is the right people.

Tony Benn said that you could have the House of Lords, or you could have Brexit, but you could never have both. He is being proved right. People invest the pre-Blair House of Lords with the mythology with which they also invest the monarchy.

They should snap out of it by joining the call for the lieutenancy areas to be made the basis of a new second chamber, to which the powers of the House of Lords would be transferred, with remuneration fixed at that of the Commons. In each of those areas, each of us would vote for one candidate, and the top six would be elected, giving 594 Senators in all. Ministers would no longer be drawn from the second chamber; instead, all of them, including the Prime Minister, would appear before it regularly. Its term of office would be six years, while that of the Commons would go back down to four.

But in the meantime, Her Majesty knows where I am.

A Healthy Dose

Ann Pettifor was on fine form on The Daily Politics. If there was the money to bail out the banks, then there is the money to fund the NHS.

That is in any case funded by weekly gilt issues on the international capital markets, from which are created the taxpaying jobs of the Health Service's workers.

"Jeremy Corbyn Has Annoyed Everyone In Northern Ireland"?

The people saying this never objected when Margaret Thatcher upset everyone in Northern Ireland. Upsetting everyone in Northern Ireland probably means that you are doing something right.

In any case, who is this "everyone"? In a short speech, Corbyn has annoyed every party in Northern Ireland, not at all a difficult thing to do. But there is no reason to assume that he has annoyed anyone else. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Shot Down

Is Russia trying to bury the MH17 story with its hoaxing of Boris Johnson, a story that Guido Fawkes is pitifully trying to spin in Johnson's favour? No, not really. It is just that, like the Skripals, no one is very interested in MH17 anymore.

Now, if the Russian State tried to murder Yulia Skripal and her father, or even if she merely believes that it did, then why does she want to go back to Russia eventually?

Trial Date Watch: Day 30

More than six weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 85

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Ireland and the "Ensoulment" Myth

On May 25, Irish citizens will vote on a referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. The Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion except when the life of the mother is at risk, is the last vestige of Catholic Ireland to be enshrined in law.

The fact that it has survived so long is testament to the strength of the Church’s foundations in that verdant island. The Catholic Church has so totally conditioned attitudes toward abortion in Ireland that in order to smash the Eighth, abortion proponents have had to construct a parody Church—complete with false but plausible doctrine and a false but plausible history.

A false account of the Catholic Church’s historic stance on abortion has been in circulation for decades. There is an astroturf anti-Catholic organization, “Catholics” for Choice, funded by plutocratic foundations, dedicated to its dissemination. Legislators use its briefings, news programs interview its spokespersons, and advertising campaigns carry its expensive posters. A devious blend of fact and fiction, the false history of the Catholic Church and abortion goes like this:

The Catholic Church has not always totally condemned abortion. In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas speculated that male embryos became ensouled at 40 days and female embryos became ensouled at 80 days. The Church came to prohibit abortion only in the nineteenth century.

This lie is peddled frequently by Patsy McGarry, the religious affairs correspondent for the Irish Times. McGarry has written: “The Catholic Church’s current position on abortion was established only 143 years ago, in 1869[, when] Pope Pius IX outlawed abortion from the moment of conception.” 

On another occasion, McGarry wrote: “For the greater part of its 2,000 year history until 1869, [the Church] taught that no homicide was involved if abortion took place before the foetus was infused with a soul.” 

Again: “Some of the greatest theologians in the Christian tradition … taught that ensoulment took place at ‘quickening,’ when the mother detected the child move inside her womb for the first time.” All this sounds plausible. But it is a tissue of half-truths and falsehoods.

The Catholic Church’s total and constant prohibition on abortion dates back to its earliest days. The Didache, which dates from the first century, contains a stern admonition never to murder a child, born or unborn.

As to the notion that abortion before “ensoulment” was considered licit by the Church: The notion of delayed ensoulment was based on the erroneous biology of Aristotle and a mistranslation of the Old Testament (Exodus 21:22). And no one in Aquinas’s day considered it an argument in favor of early abortion.

Aquinas, like Sts. Augustine and Jerome before him, opposed abortion without exception. Lacking modern medical knowledge, these doctors of the Church did not construe abortion before animation as homicide in the strict sense—but they condemned it as a grave wrong and as akin to homicide.

At the heart of the false history of the Church is the appeal to medieval speculations about the ensoulment of the fetus. This is the reddest of herrings, for ensoulment has never been a teaching of the Church. The utility of the theory in canon law was a matter of separating a gravely sinful action—early abortion—from an excommunicable sinful action—later abortion.

Hence, from 1591 until 1869, the penalty of excommunication applied to abortions procured on an “animated foetus”—that is, a fetus more than 40 days old in the case of males, more than 80 in the case of females. 

In 1869, Pius IX imposed the penalty of excommunication for abortions procured at any point, from conception onward. Prior to 1869, however, abortions procured prior to 40 or 80 days had still been considered gravely sinful. As St. Basil put it, “the woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder; with us there is no hairsplitting distinction as to its being formed or unformed.” 

The “ensoulment” myth is an example of false history and one well suited to our times—disseminated by the mendacious and relied upon by Catholics who want to have their cake and eat it too. Its persistence tells us a great deal about modern preoccupations, and nothing at all about the past.

Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT

Craig Murray writes:

It was happy to see Yulia alive and looking reasonably well yesterday, if understandably stressed. Notably, and in sharp contrast to Litvinenko, she levelled no accusations at Russia or anybody else for her poisoning.

In Russian she spoke quite naturally. Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago. 

“I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round. Also that rather than translate what she said in Russian themselves for the subtitles, Reuters have subtitled using a British government script they have been given.

It would of course have been much more convincing had Sergei also been present. Duress cannot be ruled out when he is held by the British authorities. I remain extremely suspicious that, at the very first chance she got in hospital, Yulia managed to get hold of a telephone (we don’t know how, it was not her own and she has not had access to one since) and phone her cousin Viktoria, yet since then the Skripals have made no attempt to contact their family in Russia.

That includes no contact to Sergei’s aged mum, Yulia’s grandmother, who Viktoria cares for. Sergei normally calls his mother – who is 89 – regularly. This lack of contact is a worrying sign that the Skripals may be prevented from free communication to the outside world. Yulia’s controlled and scripted performance makes that more rather than less likely.

It is to me particularly concerning that Yulia does not seem to have social media access. The security services have the ability to give her internet risk free through impenetrable VPN. But they appear not to have done that. 

We know a little more about the Salisbury attack now:

Nobody – not Porton Down, not the OPCW – has been able to state that the nerve agent found was of Russian manufacture, a fact which the MSM continues to disgracefully fudge with “developed in Russia” phrasing.

As is now well known and was reported by Iran in scientific literature, Iran synthesised five novichoks recently. More importantly, the German spying agency BND obtained novichok in the 1990s and it was studied and synthesised in several NATO countries, almost certainly including the UK and USA. 

In 1998, chemical formulae for novichok were introduced into the United States NIST National Institute of Standards and Technologies Mass Spectrometry Library database by U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command, but the entry was later deleted. In 2009 Hillary Clinton instructed US diplomats to feign ignorance of novichoks, as revealed by the last paragraph of this Wikileaks released diplomatic cable.

Most telling was the Sky News interview with the head of Porton Down. Interviewer Paul Kelso repeatedly pressed Aitkenhead directly on whether the novichok could have come from Porton Down. Aitkenhead replies “There is no way, anything like that could…leave these four walls. We deal with a number of toxic substances in the work that we do, we’ve got the highest levels of security and controls”.

Asked again twice, he each times says the security is so tight “the substance” could not have come from Porton Down. What Aitkenhead does NOT say is “of course it could not have come from here, we have never made it”. Indeed Aitkenhead’s repeated assertion that the security would never have let it out, is tantamount to an admission Porton Down does produce novichok. 

If somebody asked you whether the lion that savaged somebody came from your garden, would you reply “Don’t be stupid, I don’t have a lion in my garden” or would you say, repeatedly, “Of course not, I have a very strong lion cage?”. Here you can see Mr Aitkenhead explain repeatedly he has a big lion cage, from 2’25” in.
  So the question of where the nerve agent was made remains unresolved. The MSM has continually attempted to lie about this and affirm that all novichok is Russian made. The worst of corporate and state journalism in the UK was exposed when they took the OPCW’s report that it confirmed the findings of Porton Down and presented that as confirming the Johnson/May assertion that it was Russia, whereas the findings of Porton Down were actually – as the Aitkenhead interview stated categorically – that they could not say where it was made. 

The other relatively new development is the knowledge that Skripal had not retired but was active for MI6 on gigs briefing overseas intelligence agencies about Russia. This did not increase his threat to Russia, as he told everything he knows a decade ago. But it could provide an element of annoyance that would indeed increase Russian official desire to punish him further.

But the fact he was still very much active has a far greater significance. The government slapped a D(SMA) noticeon the identity of Pablo Miller, Skripal’s former MI6 handler who lives close by in Salisbury and who worked for Christopher Steele’s Orbis Intelligence at the time that Orbis produced the extremely unreliable dossier on Trump/Russia. The fact that Skripal had not retired but was still briefing on Russia, to me raises to a near certainty the likelihood that Skripal worked with Miller on the Trump dossier.

I have to say that, as a former Ambassador in the former Soviet Union trained in intelligence analysis and familiar with MI6 intelligence out of Moscow, I agree with every word of this professional dissection of the Orbis Trump dossier by Paul Roderick Gregory, irrespective of Gregory’s politics. In particular this paragraph, which Gregory wrote more than a year before the Salisbury attack, certainly applies to much of the dossier.

I have picked out just a few excerpts from the Orbis report. It was written, in my opinion, not by an ex British intelligence officer but by a Russian trained in the KGB tradition. It is full of names, dates, meetings, quarrels, and events that are hearsay (one an overheard conversation). It is a collection of “this important person” said this to “another important person.” There is no record; no informant is identified by name or by more than a generic title. The report appears to fail the veracity test in the one instance of a purported meeting in which names, dates, and location are provided. Some of the stories are so bizarre (the Rosneft bribe) that they fail the laugh test. Yet, there appears to be a desire on the part of some media and Trump opponents on both sides of the aisle to picture the Orbis report as genuine but unverifiable.
The Russian ex-intelligence officer who we know was in extremely close contact with Orbis at the time the report was written, was Sergei Skripal.

The Orbis report is mince. Skripal knew it was mince and how it was written. Skripal has a history of selling secrets to the highest bidder. The Trump camp has a lot of money. My opinion is that as the Mueller investigation stutters towards ignominious failure, Skripal became a loose end that Orbis/MI6/CIA/Clinton (take your pick) wanted tied off. That seems to me at least as likely as a Russian state assassination. To say Russia is the only possible suspect is nonsense.

The Incompetence Factor 

The contradiction between the claim that the nerve agent was so pure it could only be manufactured by a state agent, and yet that it failed because it was administered in an amateur and incompetent fashion, does not bother the mainstream media. Boris Johnson claimed that the UK had evidence that Russia had a ten year programme of stockpiling secret novichok and he had a copy of a Russian assassination manual specifying administration by doorknob.

Yet we are asked to believe that the Russians failed to notice that administration by doorknob does not actually work, especially in the rain. How two people both touched the doorknob in closing the door is also unexplained, as is how one policeman became poisoned by the doorknob but numerous others did not.

The explanations by establishment stooges of how this “ten times more powerful than VX” nerve agent only works very slowly, but then very quickly, if it touches the skin, and still does not actually kill you, have struck me as simply desperate. They make May’s ringing claims of a weapon of mass destruction being used on British soil appear somewhat unjustified. Weapon of Upset Tummy does not sound quite so exciting.

To paint a doorknob with something that if it touches you can kill you requires great care and much protective gear. That no strangely dressed individual has been identified by the investigation – which seems to be getting nowhere in identifying the culprit – is the key fact here. None of us know who did this. The finger-pointing at Russia by corporate and state interests seeking to stoke the Cold War is disgusting.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

No News Today

According to the Today programme, the biggest story in Britain was admissions to Oxford, the biggest story in the world was the death of Philip Roth, and the biggest story after those two was the financial health of Marks and Spencer.

At nine o'clock, Radio Four changed the order of priorities from Oxford, Roth, Knickers, to Roth, Knickers, Oxford. But it still left in fourth place the fact that the Government was planning to limit each household's permitted consumption of water.

Labour fought the 1979 General Election on a commitment to introduce a National Grid for water. What Loony Leftism, as I am sure that you will agree. In the meantime, hasn't privatisation turned out wonderfully?

I still support a National Grid for water. Do you want someone to make that case in the coming hung Parliament? My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Although with public services like the BBC, who needs privatisation? Tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of SNP supporters have not paid the licence fee in years. They receive nothing worse than snotty letters. But for its insight into the priorities of our lords and masters, this morning's Today programme was worth the licence fee on its own.

Foreign Interference

The existence of "troll factories" and what have is accepted as a given by our hysterical media, but it is not the Russian Embassy that now dictates the very membership of the Labour Party.

Then there are the publicly funded student unions that are paying to send their members home to the Irish Republic to vote in favour of abortion. One such is at Oxford, which probably admits more people from what will turn out to be the Yes-voting parts of that depopulated country than it does from the great swaths of England and Wales that voted both for Brexit and for Jeremy Corbyn. It undoubtedly admits more from those parts of the United States which voted for Hillary Clinton. (Not that that should put anyone off applying, or accepting a place. Quite the reverse, in fact. Get in there.)

There are also places, and one in particular, that voted both for Corbyn and against Brexit. Oxford's failure to admit very many candidates from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds should be seen in the light of the ease with which it admits them from London, where BAME people are a very high proportion of the population, especially among the young.

Corbynism is the most left-wing mainstream political movement in the Western world, yet it has very rapidly become hegemonic in one of the richest cities on the planet, and it has done so in the face of furious hostility from that city's monolithic media. Only one small ethnic group, and not even all of that, is really holding out. It is doing so on behalf of the Government of a tiny foreign state. That Government's political roots are in viciously anti-British terrorism within living memory, including on the streets of London. And that, pretty much, was where we came in.

Trial Date Watch: Day 29

Six weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 84

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Low Tone

Today, Tony Blair refused to apologise for his role in the case of Abdel Hakim Belhaj. My parliamentary candidacy is not endorsed by Tony Blair. Is Laura Pidcock's?

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email instead, and that address accepts PayPal.


Probably not, but there will be something. At 72, Ken Livingstone is younger than people whom we have all known try and fail to retire from politics. Why anyone imagines that this is the end of him, I have absolutely no idea.

Come What May

In relation to the Manchester Arena attack, do not mention the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, of which Manchester was made the global centre by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May.

And in relation to Grenfell Tower, do not mention Gavin Barwell, who is now the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Down Under

The conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson was gleefully reported by the Today programme. But what would have been the BBC's attitude to sex with a 15-year-old in 1976? 

Even today, the only person who could be so much as charged with sex with a 15-year-old girl, never mind convicted of it, would be a professional footballer, and even then only one from the "wrong" club.

And even today, the only person who could be so much as charged with sex with a 15-year-old boy, never mind convicted of it, would be a Catholic priest.

Meanwhile, in all other circumstances, the media depict such activity as normal, natural and healthy. One really does have to wonder why.

Not Beyond Our Ken

The second parting of the ways between Ken Livingstone and the Labour Party was probably inevitable. The first one never did him any harm. And he was the wrong colour to go so far as to expel as part of the fever about anti-Semitism, the renewed whipping up of which suggests that another General Election is on the way.

As an aside, Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Caroline Lucas and Sylvia Hermon should have voted against an early dissolution of Parliament last year, and they ought to vote against one this year. Tell Theresa May to get back to work.

Now, someone needs to make a serious television programme about the failed deal between the Nazis and the Zionists, because it is a fascinating historical curiosity. And especially after today, Labour needs to expel Tony Blair, as much as anything else to see whether anyone would go with him. It is practically certain that no one would, and that in turn would make a vitally important point.

As to those who have imported the Liberal Establishment's branding of uppity black activists as anti-Semitic, be careful what you wish for. If you want the racial politics of your beloved New York, then you can have the racial politics of your beloved New York.

To Add To The Mysteries

Craig Murray writes:

Mike Barson, keyboard player of the great ska group Madness, had his Wikipedia entry amended by “Philip Cross” to delete his membership of Momentum and interview with The Canary.

This apparently trivial incident raises an important question. How does the “Philip Cross” Wikipedia monitoring operation work? “Cross”’s systematic attack on Momentum and The Canary is a matter of record, and his Twitter feed proves it is motivated by a visceral hatred of the anti-war movement. But how would “Cross” discover that a reference to Momentum had turned up somewhere as improbable as the page of a member of Madness? 

To get this by Google just would not work – try it yourself if you don’t know it relates to Barson, to Madness, or anything about them. To do a daily Wikipedia site specific Google search for the word Momentum might get you there after hours of effort. Are there tools within Wikipedia itself that could alert “Cross” to this sort of reference being added anywhere on Wikipedia, and if so are they available to the general public? 

A number of people have opined in reply to my posts that the time spent to make all of Cross’s daily edits, as per the number of keystrokes, is not great. That ignores the colossal effort that goes into research and above all monitoring of Wikipedia by the “Philip Cross” operation.

Finally, this is an excellent example of the bias of Wikipedia. The information about Barson is totally true. He is a proud member of Momentum. It is also quite interesting and an important bit of his life. But according to Wikipedia’s pro-MSM rules, “Philip Cross” can indeed delete it because the information is not from an MSM source. In the unlikely event of the Times or Telegraph ever writing about Barson’s Momentum membership, it would of course be in a hostile attack to which “Philip Cross” could then link. 

I hope you are understanding the Jimmy Wales methodology by now. 

So, to add to the mysteries of how “Philip Cross” works every waking hour, never takes a single day off and is followed on Twitter by few people but including half of Fleet Street, we can add the mystery of how he has omniscience of left-wing references appearing in unlikely places on Wikipedia. Go figure.

Trial Date Watch: Day 28

More than five weeks after I had again been due to stand trial, I now no longer have a trial date, even though it is rightly a criminal offence to fail to attend one's trial.

Had I been tried, as expected, on 6th December, then, even had I been convicted, I would already have been released, since I would by now have served three months even of a wildly improbable six month sentence.

The legal persecution of me, which has been going on for over a year, was initiated only in order to deter me from seeking public office or to prevent my election to it, and its continuation is only to one or both of those ends. Amnesty International is on the case.

Until there is anything to add to it, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Libel Watch: Day 83

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the sacked Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Both A Product And A Feature

Topped and tailed by my left and right hands (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?), this has been submitted unsuccessfully to numerous national and local media over the last month. The sitting MP, who is a tabloid caricature of a left-winger and who is surrounded by MI5, is clearly very well-protected indeed:

Dear Sir,

Here in North West Durham, Labour holds fewer than half of the County Council seats, the Conservative parliamentary candidate won 34 per cent of the vote last year, the Liberal Democrat candidate cut the Labour majority in half in 2010, and an Independent kept his deposit both in 2005 and in 2010. Wear Valley was controlled for a time by the Liberal Democrats, who remained numerous on it until its abolition. Derwentside was in practice controlled by an alliance between the Independents and that section of what was then the local Labour Party which now supports the parliamentary candidacy of David Lindsay.

David Lindsay is both a product and a feature of this political pluralism. He has undertaken that, as the Member of Parliament, he would appoint an Independent, a Labourite, a Conservative and a Liberal Democrat in each of the County Wards, ideally including at least one person in each of the former District Wards, to communicate the concerns of local people to him, and then to work with them and with him to address those concerns. All past, present and aspirant Independent Councillors, and all former Labour Councillors, ought to join us in signing David Lindsay’s nomination papers. 

Yours faithfully,

James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Norman Bolton, Consett, County Durham
Michael Parker, Crook, County Durham; @Michael45759951
Adam J. Young, Going Postal (personal capacity); Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

All of this is, of course, perfectly correct. Furthermore, I have undertaken, that, in the hung Parliament that is the most likely outcome of the next General Election, the price of my support for any Government would be the necessary support for a number of projects in each of the former District Wards equal to the former number of District Councillors, together with justice for the 472 Teaching Assistants whom Durham County Council had deprived of 23 per cent of their incomes.

My Campaign Patrons are Councillor Alex Watson OBE, who was the Leader of Derwentside District Council during the period described, and Davey Ayre, a legendary local trade unionist. Both are stalwarts of, among many other things, the Teaching Assistants’ campaign. By contrast, the sitting MP has appointed as her Political Advisor the man whose political advice has reduced the TAs to their present, sorry state. 

My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Black Out?

Martha Osamor is the sixth, sixth, black anti-racist campaigner to have been accused of anti-Semitism by those who formed themselves into a lynch mob and marched to demand the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party.

The Klansmen had no idea who Wadsworth was or why he mattered, and they have no idea why Osamor is or why she matters. In the world of the clothing range Hope Not Hate, anti-racism began with Tony Blair as surely as everything else did.

For that is what Hope Not Hate is. It should be known as Jack Wills. Imagine, just try and imagine, the Hope Not Hate lot fighting the EDL or its predecessors on the streets. You just laughed out loud reading that, and I just laughed out loud writing it.

Ruth Smeeth, Jess Phillips and John Woodcock all abstained on Windrush. Perhaps someone should hold a march against them? Someone experienced in such campaigning? Someone like, oh, I don't know, Marc Wadsworth?

But the recent failed attempt by David Miliband to re-enter British politics reminded us of where all this was coming from. In New York, when a black activist becomes too uppity for the liking of the wealthy Liberal Establishment, then he or she is branded an anti-Semite and, for the most part, never heard of again. New York New Labour expects the same tactic to work here.

Ho, hum. It looks as if Labour might not expel Ken Livingstone after all. Well, he is the wrong colour for that. So Ruth Smeeth and those who marched with her can then leave the Labour Party at that point. Or they can shut the hell up.

You Crossed The Wrong Man

Philip Cross's principal target on Wikipedia has been George Galloway. But Galloway's Wikipedia article has now been locked, so that it cannot be edited.

"Mum said to me, on 'er deafbed," tweeted Oliver "Del Boy" Kamm two years ago. Or words to that effect, "Last thing Christopher Hitchens ever said to me was to urge us to keep on Galloway's case."

As another sitcom catchphrase of yesteryear would have it, "Oh dear, how sad, never mind."

A New Charge

No, not against me. Against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. And therefore from Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Again I say that a deputation of British politicians needs to board a plane to Tehran, unannounced, with their smartphones in their hands so that one of them might tweet immediately before landing that they would not be leaving without Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Abbas Edelat.

But they won't. They haven't yet, and they won't. Tulip Siddiq hasn't yet, and she won't. Emily Thornberry hasn't yet, and she won't. Sadiq Khan hasn't yet, and he won't. Jeremy Corbyn hasn't yet, and he won't.

In which case, who will? My crowdfunding page has been taken down without my knowledge or consent. But you can still email instead, and that address accepts PayPal.

Fair Winds

Boris Johnson has arrived in Buenos Aires to the realisation that the enemy with which he has to deal is in London, in the same Cabinet as himself. But they are all as one in supporting the erstwhile enemy's friend.

My friend Hernán Dobry is the author of a groundbreaking book, Operation Israel: The Rearming of Argentina During the Dictatorship, 1976-1983, on Israel's arming of Argentina during the Falklands War. He owns all of the rights, because his publisher in Argentina has decided against a second edition. But he has updated it based on new research.

Its publication in Britain would significantly alter the debate on Israel among those who have become the staunchest British supporters of the current Israeli Government. I am therefore seeking to arrange simultaneous publication in Spanish in Buenos Aires and in London, and then the same of an English translation as soon as possible thereafter, with a preface or a foreword by someone at once distinguished and marketable; obviously, we already have someone specific in mind. 

Hernán maintains that his English is not up to translating his text, and my Spanish is certainly nowhere near that good, so we do need to find someone. A major London publishing house is interested, but the question is that of the translation costs, which would be in the region of £5000. Anyone in a position to help in any way, please email Very many thanks.

Courting Couples

Have the Commissioners been sent in to Kensington and Chelsea yet? If not, why not? They ought of course to be sent in to Durham, too. Although whether we could get Stormzy as one of ours, who knows?

Stormzy embodies the awakening cultural and political giant, especially but not exclusively in London, that is the Black Church. The Black Church that has so prominently blessed the latest Royal marriage. 

Stormzy is also Prince William's gym buddy, as well as a major figure in getting out Jeremy Corbyn's core vote from the urban black streets to the white teenage bedrooms of suburbia and the countryside. 

Welcome to the new Court Party.

Do Not Weep For Bernard Lewis

Peter Oborne writes:

It is customary to speak well of the dead. I refuse to observe this convention in the case of Bernard Lewis, a historian of Islam and the Middle East, who died over the weekend aged 101. I can think of no modern scholar who has perpetrated half as much harm. Lewis was intellectually a towering figure. This meant he had the ability to do great good.

Instead, he became the intellectual high priest for the calamitous wars which have caused such bloodshed across the Middle East, while doing unlimited damage to the standing of the United States.

A racist approach

Lewis's influence continues to this day. US Secretary of State and former CIA boss Mike Pompeo declared on 20 May: "I owe a great deal of my understanding of the Middle East to his work." Regime change in Iran was one of Bernard Lewis’s political projects and, inspired by his intellectual hero, Pompeo may be about to have a go at achieving it.

We have been here before. Lewis was the moral leader of the small group of intellectuals who argued for the Iraq invasion of 2003. Within days of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, he was agitating for the downfall of Saddam Hussein, expressing opinions which delighted the neoconservatives pressing for military action in the Middle East. 

He later deceitfully claimed that he had been against the Iraq invasion. This is rubbish. He was directly involved. Even before 9/11 he'd pressed for regime change in Iraq, and after the attack he seized his chance. Lewis was there when the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board held its notorious meeting to consider military action against Iraq at the end of September 2001. Lewis told the board that the United States should support so-called democratic reformers in the Middle East, "such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalabi". 

As one of the world's leading experts on Islam, Bernard Lewis had no excuse for falling for Chalabi, the charlatan who led the Iraqi National Congress.   Yet he did - hook line and sinker -  with terrible consequences that the Middle East lives with to this day.

Lewis's mistake over Iraq was just one manifestation of a hideous world view that included a nakedly racist approach to the Middle East. He told Vice President Dick Cheney: "I believe that one of the things you've got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick. They respect power." 

Intellectual justification for war 

Lewis expanded on this view in a series of books and lectures that painted a backwards-looking Muslim world seething with hatred against a modernising and virtuous West. It was him, and not Samuel Huntington, who coined the phrase "clash of civilisations".  

"We are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them," observed Lewis in 1990, adding: "This is no less than a clash of civilisations, the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both."

This view that Islam and the West are embroiled in an existential battle for survival has proved hugely influential on both sides of the Atlantic. It shapes official thinking to this day. Yet it is laden with contradictions. If the world is facing a war of civilisations, why do states remain the powerful actors in world affairs? If Islam is at war with the West, then why are the large Islamic states (Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc) for the most part Western allies?

A propagandist against Islam 

Lewis was also guilty of a disastrous intellectual reductionism. To put it mildly, the world's estimated 1.8 billion Muslims do not all think the same. Lewis often wrote as if they did.

No one person can or should be blamed for all the death and destruction we are witnessing in the Middle East. But Lewis bears his share because he provided the intellectual and moral justification for bigotry and war. Not that you would know this from reading today's newspapers. The Wall Street JournalThe TimesThe Daily Telegraph and many other outlets carry long obituaries full of praise for one of the great sages of our age.

More than 30 years ago Lewis was engaged in a furious series of exchanges with the Palestinian literary critic Edward Said. Both great scholars struck heavy blows in this debate, but I believe that Said was onto something important when he argued that "Lewis simply cannot deal with the diversity of Muslim, much less human life, because it is closed to him as something foreign, radically different, and other."

At the heart of Said's attack on Lewis was the assertion that he was less an objective scholar and more a propagandist against Islam and the Arab world. The controversy still rages but my guess is that history will agree that Said was right. In the meantime, as another war looms again in the Middle East, this time with Iran, Lewis's influence and standing remains as high as ever.

You Get The Circle?

Craig Murray writes:

High Tory [well...], ex Daily Telegraph and Murdoch, expensive private school, Emma Barnett is BBC Politics’ rising star and stood in as host of the BBC flagship Marr programme on Sunday. She was there rude and aggressive to Labour’s Barry Gardiner. The “highlight” of her career so far was during the general election when on Radio 4 Women’s Hour she demanded instant, top of the head recall of complicated figures from Jeremy Corbyn, a ploy the BBC never turns on the Tories.

The most interesting fact about Emma Barnett is that her exclusive private education was funded by her parents who were pimps and brothel keepers on a large scale, for which both were convicted. I know of no compelling evidence as to whether Barnett was, or was not, complicit in her parents’ activities, which financed her education into adulthood. But that this background is interesting and unusual is not in doubt. 

However the MSM’s image protector, “Philip Cross”, has been assiduous in, again and again, deleting the information about Barnett’s parents from Wikipedia. Not only has Cross deleted the referenced information of her parents being brothel-keepers, he has repeatedly inserted the ludicrous euphemisms that her father was a “businessman” and her mother a “housewife”. 

Cross has also deleted references to Barnett – who wrote for the Telegraph and then for Murdoch’s Times, being “right-wing”. He has instead inserted claims that criticisms of Emma Barnett following her aggressive Corbyn interview were “anti-Semitic”, in a classic Cross move to undermine any left-wing point. Naturally he had references from The Times and The Guardian – evidence free articles – to back up these claims – and naturally from journalists whose Wikipedia pages Cross curates. 

You get the circle? On 21 June 2017 editor Alfonz-kiki complained that Cross’s continual whitewashing of Barnett’s entry was by “paid PR”. He pointed out that he had references on her parents’ brothels from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Alfonz-kiki is one of scores to have separately noticed and complained of Cross’s activities over years, but Cross has been defended by Wikipedia again and again and again. 

Barnett is demonstrably right-wing from her Murdoch and Telegraph columns. Her expensive private education – which got her where she is – was undeniably paid for by the proceeds of prostitution and by the trafficking in persons that led to the operation being closed down. But Philip Cross makes sure you can see none of that on Wikipedia. 

In case you are saying that Cross is justified, Barnett’s parents activities were not her fault and ought not be on her Wikipedia page, let me remind you of one thing. The same “Philip Cross” edited my own Wikipedia page to state that my wife Nadira used to be a stripper, sourced to the Mail. Cross abuses family information, as all other information, to defame dissidents or to burnish Establishment defenders, not according to a moral code. 


“Philip Cross” has just 200 Twitter followers, but has more MSM journalists following him than are to be found among my 42,300 twitter followers. Despite the fact a large majority of “Philip Cross’s” tweets are mere retweets, with Oliver Kamm and Nick Cohen most frequently retweeted. “Philip Cross” has never broken a news story and the few tweets which are not retweets contain no gems of expression or shrewd observation. 

In short, his Twitter feed is extremely banal; there is literally nothing in it that might interest a journalist in particular. Do not take my word for it, judge for yourself

Why then does James Le Mesurier, founder of the “White Helmets”, follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does ex-minister Tristram Hunt follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon, follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why then do so the following corporate and state journalists follow “Philip Cross” on Twitter? 

Oliver Kamm, Leader Writer, The Times
Nick Cohen, Columnist, The Guardian/Observer
Joan Smith, Columnist, The Independent
Leslie Felperin, Film Columnist, The Guardian
Kate Connolly, Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian/Observer
Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit Correspondent, The Guardian
James Bloodorth, Columnist, The Independent
Cristina Criddle, BBC Radio 4, Today 
Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times
Iain Watson, Political Correspondent, The BBC
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor, The Sunday Times
Jennifer Chevalier, CBC, ex-BBC
Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday 

Prominent Freelancers: 

Bonnie Greer (frequently in The Guardian)
Mason Boycott-Owen (The Guardian, New Statesman)
Marko Attilla Hoare (The Guardian)
Kirsty Hughes
Guy Walters (BBC)
Paul Canning 

Let me recap, The official story is that “Philip Cross” is an obscure and dedicated Wikipedia editor who edits every single day for five years. His Twitter feed has never contained any “news”. Yet among the 160 followers he had last week before the media spotlight was turned upon him, were all these MSM journalists, many more than follow anyone but the most prominent individuals, more than follow an activist like me. Also big figures like Sarah Brown, Tristram Hunt and James Le Mesurier. What does this tell us about who Philip Cross is?

The largest single category of Philip Cross’ historic 160 followers is anti-Left and anti-Corbyn twitter accounts, especially those that specialise in making accusations of anti-Semitism against left wing or anti-war figures. These include: UK Media Watch “promoting accurate coverage of Israel”; ALT Putin’s Capitalist Wealth “@medialenswipe”; Antinat; Jeremy Corbin Prime Minister; Jewish News; Anti-Nazis Utd [which thinks I am a Nazi]; Labour Against Anti-Semitism; Jews Against Jeremy Corbyn. 

A very much larger number of individual followers of “Philip Cross” have twitter streams which predominantly consist of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn or the anti-war Left in general, and of vociferous support for Israel. Of personal interest to me, there are at least seventeen of Philip Cross’s supporters who have made utterly unprovoked attacks on me on social media over the last twelve months. 

So let us recap what we know. “Philip Cross” spends a quite astonishing amount of time on Wikipedia making malicious edits to the entries of anti-war or anti-corporate media figures, while at the same time polishing and protecting the Wikipedia profiles of corporate and state media figures. “Philip Cross” had done this obsessively for 13 years, and not had a single day off, even at Christmas, for five years. 

“Philip Cross” is not very active on Twitter, mostly just retweeting, and as you would expect has therefore not had many followers. But an extraordinary percentage of that very limited number of followers are MSM journalists or senior Establishment figures. There is absolutely no reason on the face of his Twtter stream why Philip Cross would attract this particular type of following. His retweets are mostly of Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm, and his followership is concentrated in The Guardian and The Times, which nowadays have very similar neo-con agendas.

“Philip Cross”‘s own Twitter stream makes no effort at all to hide the fact that he has the strongest of neo-conservative biases, hates the Left and anti-war movement, and strongly supports Israel. “He” is part of an active social media network trolling these views. The purpose of “his” continual Wikipedia editing could not be clearer. I suspect strongly that this particular Philip Cross Twitter follower gives us a clue:

That is a Twitter account founded by a collective of Guardian writers to attack MediaLens, whose Wikipedia entry “Philip Cross” has edited over 800 times. I suspect “Philip Cross” is a similar collective effort, which may hide behind the persona of a real life individual called Philip Cross. The intention of this effort to denigrate and demean alternative media and anti-war figures through their Wikipedia entries, and at the same time to burnish the Wikipedia entries of mainstream media figures, is proven without doubt, as is the continued complicity of Wikipedia in enabling and defending the long-term operation.

Analysis of “Philip Cross” tweets.

FOOTNOTE Since Philip Cross’a activity was brought into prominence throughout social media a few days ago, his Twitter followers have increased, mostly by people who dislike his activity wishing to keep an eye on him. I have disregarded these new followers, and it in no way diminishes my argument for trolls to point out that he now has left wing followers as well.