Sunday, 19 May 2019

Healthy Discharge Watch: Day 26

It has now been more than six weeks since the jury in my trial, the third attempt at one, was discharged.

The previous day, the star prosecution witness had been sent away to come up with the only piece of evidence, a single email that no one had ever asked to see until then.

As soon as they did, then he never reappeared on his video link from the United States, and the jury was discharged.

More than six weeks later, that email, a perfectly simple thing to find, has still not turned up. It does not exist.

It is no wonder that we longer have even so much as a date for a Case Management Hearing, still less for a trial. There is no case against me. None.

But this post will appear every day until further notice.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Schoolgirl's Record of Achievement Watch: Day 26

It is now more than two years since the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party effectively abolished the Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham by denying it any role in the selection of its parliamentary candidate. It then imposed a 29-year-old who had never set foot here, and of whom next to no one here had ever heard.

Soon afterwards, she lost her seat on Northumberland County Council. I was present when she received that news, at the count for Durham County Council, where she was being introduced as the all-done-and-dusted Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to stalwarts who did not even know her name, but several of whom had already bought me drinks.

For some years by then, certain of them had been introducing me at funerals as, "The man who should have been our MP." Everyone does that now, and there no longer even needs to have been a death. They also call me "Speedboat", as in, "Here's what you could have won."

But I am a generous old soul. So I invite in the comments specific examples of the achievements of Laura Pidcock MP. This post will appear daily until the second anniversary of the 2017 General Election.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Back The Bid

Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno?

Without entering into the specific point at issue in the Swiss referendum, it is worth noting that the Government's plan for Brexit is a greater level of subservience to the EU than Switzerland has ever considered, while Labour's is more or less the same thing.

Switzerland is also a member of EFTA, which is held up as an option by a certain sort of pseudo-Brexiteer. But in any case, EFTA would never let us back in. There are two reasons for that. First, the sheer size our economy would unbalance the whole thing completely.

And secondly, the only point of EFTA is, and has always been, as a holding centre for countries where the Political Class wanted to join the EU, but where enough of the electorate remained sufficiently unconvinced. Britain was the principal force in the creation of EFTA in 1960, when Harold Macmillan's Britain was exactly that kind of country.

To this day, 46 years after we left, EFTA's working language remains British Standard English. In global terms, that still packs something of a cultural punch, but it is now a niche provincial dialect from a commercial or a political point of view, and it is mostly known around the world for its picturesque eccentricities.

That was scarcely less the case in 1960, for reasons fundamental to the Conservative Government's desperation to join what Hugh Gaitskell had denounced as "the end of a thousand years of history", just as the Attlee Government had identified it from the very start as "the blueprint for a federal state", with Herbert Morrison rejecting membership of the European Coal and Steel Community on the grounds that "the Durham Miners would never wear it". Until they would wear it, and Macmillan also later called them "the best men in the world", then there would have to be EFTA.

10 countries have ever been members of EFTA, and six of them, including five of the seven original members, have left it in order to join the EU. Those seven original members used to be known as the Outer Seven, while the members of the EEC were the Inner Six. Neither in intention nor in effect has EFTA ever been an alternative to the EU, still less an equal or a rival. Both in intention and in effect, it has only ever been, and it will only ever be, a preliminary, Outer stage on the road to the eventual, Inner destination.

No country has ever left EFTA except to join the EU. No country ever will leave EFTA except to join the EU. That is exactly what EFTA is for. And no country that had ever left the EU will ever be allowed to join EFTA. That is exactly what EFTA is not for. I do not know why people who do not understand even these basic things are allowed to have a say over them, but another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Simply Teaching People Journalism

Boris Johnson is to blame for the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

If he had any decency, then he would board a plane to Tehran, with his smartphone in his hands. Immediately before landing, he would tweet that he would not be leaving without Nazanin.

The cameras would be waiting, and Nazanin could be brought home. There would then by anything worth hyping about whoever had made that happen.

If I were in Parliament, then I would already have done this.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

And For Those Who Would Like To Know

Perhaps Donald Trump really has had a change of heart about abortion. He must have been responsible for enough abortions in his time, but hope springs eternal. However, his use of the infamous "rape'n'incest" exemption indicates that he still has no connection to the pro-life movement, nor any familiarity with its arguments.

Moreover, "to save the life of the mother" depends on the principle of double effect, whereby the intended effect must be to save the mother's life, not to terminate the pregnancy, but the effect of not performing the procedure would be greater evil of the deaths of both the mother and the child. Of course, in the United States or the United Kingdom in the present day, such situations are mercifully rare almost to the point of being academic.

As for Ronald Reagan, how does that one still do the rounds? Nothing in Reagan's record ever suggested the slightest shift in his position after he had legalised abortion in California. On the contrary, as President, he nominated no fewer than three supporters of abortion to the Supreme Court.

This has not won Trump the vote of anyone who would not have voted for him anyway, having already done so once before. After all, for whom might they otherwise have voted? Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders? Well, there you are, then.

In any case, abortion has not been a major electoral issue in the United States this century, if it ever really was. It has never stopped people from campaigning and voting for Reagan, for the Bushes, for Bob Dole, for John McCain, for Mitt Romney (who had not only legalised public funding of abortion in Massachusetts, but who derived an income from that funding), or for Trump.

In the same way, Nigel Farage is in favour of drug legalisation, and he was in favour of same-sex marriage before either main party came to be so, just as Trump was before Barack Obama or the Clintons. Vote for the Brexit Party on Thursday. But it offers no hope to social conservatives when it comes to voting for the House of Commons. It already contains both Thatcherite and Trotskyist libertarians, which as much as anything else means supporters of absolutely no immigration controls whatever. Tellingly, the fiercely anti-immigration rump of UKIP is going to be wiped off the map, so think on that.

There is no doubt at all that the two largest parties in the next Parliament will be Labour and the Conservatives, probably in that order, but certainly as good as evenly matched. Five years on again, and any "Brexit realignment" moment will be long gone. I have been hearing about supposedly imminent realignments of British politics for as long as I can remember. But however badly the two main parties did at the recent local elections, they still did a lot better than anyone else.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

The Whole World Is Entitled To An Inquiry

Peter Hitchens writes: 

A huge international news story broke last week, but I doubt you will hear about it anywhere else [oh, some of us did, but never mind]. 

It seems very likely that the decision we, France and the USA made in April 2018 to bomb Syria was based on a mistake as big as the fictional weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body which examines alleged incidents of the use of poison gas, has just confirmed to me that a devastating leaked document from its Dutch HQ is genuine.

The document, written by one of the OPCW’s most experienced investigators, shows that it is highly unlikely that gas canisters found at the scene of an alleged poison gas attack in Douma, Syria were actually dropped from helicopters – as has been widely believed and claimed.

The claim is crucial to the case for bombing Syria. A copy of the leaked document can be found on the Peter Hitchens blog. 

Yet the OPCW’s official report on the event made no mention of any such doubts, which it surely should at least have referred to.

What is going on at the OPCW? It is a valuable organisation, containing many fine people, with a noble purpose, but has it been placed under pressure, or even hijacked, by political forces which seek a justification for military intervention in Syria? 

Given that a decision between war or peace, affecting the whole world, could one day hang on its judgements, I think the whole world is entitled to an inquiry into what is happening behind its closed doors.

The Stakes In This Electrifying Power Struggle


If anyone still doubts just how dangerous war with Iran would be, they should listen to yesterday’s warning from General David Petraeus, a former head of the American military’s Central Command and a past CIA Director. 

Such a venture, he said, would be perilous – and he is right. Iran, remember, bears little comparison with Iraq, which collapsed so readily in the face of British and American troops. Iran is four times bigger than its neighbour. 

It is a major nation with 80 million people, 450,000 battle-hardened troops and a huge stockpile of weapons, not to mention heavily armed regional proxies such as the Hezbollah militia on the Lebanese border with Israel.

And with the oil-supply route from the Persian Gulf at obvious risk, the effects of conflict would be felt right around the world. America has already declared economic war, reimposing sanctions designed to choke off crucial oil exports. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted from 2.8 million to one million barrels a day. 

And now there is talk of a shooting war, with the Pentagon reliably said to be preparing for conflict. The US recently sent four B-52 strategic bombers to the region. An American aircraft carrier heading for the Gulf has been told to speed up its voyage. As yet, the guns have remained silent, but with tension rising by the day, America and Iran are enveloped in the sort of fog that leads to open warfare should bluffs be called or mistakes made. 

There is no shortage of pretexts. Just last week, four empty oil tankers – three Saudi Arabian and one Norwegian – were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates as they loaded up. A major Saudi oil pipeline designed to bypass the Strait of Hormuz was attacked by drones carrying explosives. The House of Saud claims Iran was to blame, but without any evidence. It seems just as likely the attacks were conducted by forces actively seeking to engineer a showdown.

America has drawn up a colourful charge sheet against Iran, including claims that the ruling mullahs are close to developing nuclear weapons, that the regime sponsors world terrorism and that it actively threatens American troops in the region. Just a few days ago, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency alleged that Iran is planning strikes against US bases in neighbouring Iraq. None of this bears scrutiny, however. 

Take, for example, the claims about Iran’s nuclear programme. The international community was aghast when the White House unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 deal, a major agreement which brought an end to international sanctions in return for Iranian guarantees it would not develop nuclear weapons. Trump described the treaty as a ‘disaster’. Yet Iran had stuck to its side of the bargain, a point confirmed 13 times by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Then, when it comes to terrorism, America has ignored the fact that Iranian-directed Shia militias and Iran’s militant ally Hezbollah have been bulwarks against the Islamic State, fighting in parallel with coalition troops in Iraq and Syria. Iran’s secret service has also played an important role in combating the Afghan Taliban. Even so, Trump has designated the entire 125,000 strong Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – an arm of the Iranian state itself – as a terrorist organisation.

As for the Israeli claims that Iran is menacing American soldiers in Iraq, the US Congress has demanded to see proof. The Iraqis themselves dispute the Mossad claim, as does the British deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Major-General Christopher Ghika. 

What, then – or who – is behind this reckless series of threats and actions? While the American President is certainly complicit, the real blame lies elsewhere. Trump is against going to war, and especially in the Middle East. While it is true that he makes a great deal of noise when it comes to foreign affairs, much of it aggressive, he was elected by American voters who were sick of the blood and treasure squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead, the driving force is an unlikely alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the support of John Bolton, Trump’s 70-year-old National Security Adviser. The Saudis and Emiratis want to crush Iran, which they see as the major danger to regional stability.

These autocratic Sunni monarchies feel menaced by a Shia Islamic republic, which not only promotes a rival brand of Islam, but whose tentacles now reach into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are engaged in a long-running and bloody insurgency.

Israel, too, regards Iran’s theocratic regime as a threat, and points to the hostile presence of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Above all else, the Israelis have sought to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. Before the 2015 nuclear deal, they used cyberattacks – notably the Stuxnet virus – to cripple Iranian nuclear plants, and they assassinated key Iranian engineers and scientists.

Now Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the whole of Iran’s civilian (and entirely legitimate) nuclear infrastructure in their sights. They wish to destroy it altogether. But for that they need the help of US air and sea power as Israel lacks the aerial refuelling tankers needed to conduct long-range raids against multiple targets. And in American National Security Adviser John Bolton they have a true friend. 

Bolton, a Vietnam draft-dodger like Trump, is an ultra-hawk on most foreign policy questions. He loathes international organisations and insultingly describes Europeans – including us – as ‘Euroids’. Attacking Iran with sanctions is not enough for him: Bolton wishes to overthrow the regime, just as his fellow neoconservatives were able to do in Iraq.

Will the Iranian regime fall as Saudi Arabia hopes and Bolton privately predicts? Will it come meekly to the negotiating table? Of course not. Trump’s threats and sanctions have shown every sign of rallying ordinary Iranians to their flag. The response will be quite different. Iran is now likely to abandon the nuclear restraint it agreed in 2015, making the world a more dangerous place as a result. 

It will no doubt attempt to draw Russia – an ally in the Syrian conflict – into this dangerous standoff. Russia’s President Putin has explained to Iran that he can’t act as a firefighter in every single conflict, but it is worth noting that many of Iran’s nuclear technicians are from Russia. Will Putin install his impressive S400 missile defence system to protect Russian citizens there, not to mention his own regional influence? The Iranians will certainly hope so. 

Then there is the question of Hezbollah. Time and again, Israel has shown itself capable of containing missile attacks launched across the border from Gaza by Hamas. But missiles fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah – a large, professional army with up to 150,000 missiles – would be a very different prospect. In the event of war between America and Hezbollah’s Iranian paymasters, few doubt that such attacks would follow.  

The stakes in this electrifying power struggle are high for all of us, not least the hard-pressed citizens of Iran. War would bring chaos to the Persian Gulf, the world’s most important shipping route for oil, and send the price of crude shooting through the roof. It rose by more than a dollar a barrel after last week’s sabotage on the UAE coast. Global recession would soon follow. 

I have rarely seen such a blatant example of foreign powers determining US policy as in these despicable attempts to push America into firing on Iran – or of aggression towards a state that has successfully dismantled a nuclear weapons programme.

Here in Britain, we should recall the wisdom of Harold Wilson who correctly defied Lyndon B Johnson and refused to get involved with the disastrous adventure in Vietnam. It is time for Trump to call a halt, to end this slide towards potentially catastrophic conflict and give warmongering Bolton the boot.

Nothing To Assist Or Encourage


In 2003, Baha Mousa was beaten to death in an illegal interrogation facility operated by the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. He was found to have 93 sites of injury on his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. No one has yet been held to account for his death. 

At the public inquiry, Sir William Gage said his death “was avoidable and preventable and there can be no excuses. There is no place in our armed forces for the mistreatment of detainees. And there is no place for a perverted sense of loyalty that turns a blind eye to wrongdoing or erects a wall of silence to cover it up.” He added that it was “a very great stain on the reputation of the British army”. 

This stain, however, could be wiped away by the new secretary of defence, Penny Mordaunt. She is proposing granting immunity from prosecution to all those members of the armed forces who “turned a blind eye to wrongdoing and erected a wall of silence to cover up the crime”, so long as a decade has elapsed. In the light of the Mousa case alone, this proposition seems wholly indefensible as no one has yet been held accountable for his death.

However, there is another part to the proposed immunity that has been carefully shielded from public view. The vast majority of allegations against the UK submitted to the international criminal court (ICC) concern interrogation. The techniques used by the British army are a matter of public record. In Iraq in 2003, interrogators first used the five banned techniques. 

These techniques, which had been declared inhuman and degrading by the courts in 1978, were hooding, stress positions, sleep and food deprivation and white noise. After this was challenged, a policy of “harshing” was introduced and in 2011 publicly endorsed in the House of Commons by the then secretary of state for defence, Liam Fox. This was little better, often inflicting violence and sexual and religious denigration on the prisoner. 

Despite being repeatedly advised by military lawyers that the techniques were illegal, the government persisted. No one has ever been held to account for this “institutional error” and now these same people will potentially benefit from this amnesty. In other words, if you breach the Geneva conventions and stall for long enough, then the Geneva conventions no longer apply.

However, there is a potentially more serious example of these institutional “failings”. In last year’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) report, Dominic Grieve made it clear that UK forces not only colluded in the abuse of prisoners but were implicated in rendition. In the context of an international armed conflict, rendition is a grave breach of the Geneva conventions.

As with “authorised” interrogations, it is no fault of the soldier on the ground if they are ordered to detain and spirit an individual out of the country. However, it is the responsibility of the chain of command, including civilians, to ensure they were acting lawfully. Now this potentially grave breach could also be time-barred. We run a serious risk that those implicated in rendition in Iraq and Afghanistan are never held to account.

It also sends the message to those considering such actions in the future that they don’t have to worry too much so long as the truth remains covered up for long enough. Obstruct the investigation, as with the ISC, and you are home and dry. 

Northern Ireland remains difficult because of the amnesty for terrorists and apparent double standards. However, the recent article on “Soldier F” by Douglas Murray in the Spectator suggests that a similar situation to Mousa has presented itself once again to the courts. According to the article, although the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday offered immunity from prosecution for those who told the truth, “1 Para were intent on spurning this last effort to get to the truth of what happened”. 

Just like Mousa, if those under investigation keep quiet, they can run down the clock. Mordaunt’s proposed amnesty lacks coherence. It throws up potential legal results that are utterly indefensible and does nothing for the victims of such crimes or their families. It potentially shields the wrongdoer and, once again, allows the government to hide its nefarious activities from view.

The British army is a professional army that must meet the highest standards under international and domestic law. Nothing less will suffice and this proposed amnesty does nothing to assist or encourage this aspiration. 

Lt Col Nicholas Mercer was senior military legal adviser to the 1st Armoured Division during the Iraq War of 2003. He is now an Anglican priest.

Henig Watch: Day 184

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Healthy Discharge Watch: Day 25

It has now been more than six weeks since the jury in my trial, the third attempt at one, was discharged.

The previous day, the star prosecution witness had been sent away to come up with the only piece of evidence, a single email that no one had ever asked to see until then.

As soon as they did, then he never reappeared on his video link from the United States, and the jury was discharged.

More than six weeks later, that email, a perfectly simple thing to find, has still not turned up. It does not exist.

It is no wonder that we longer have even so much as a date for a Case Management Hearing, still less for a trial. There is no case against me. None.

But this post will appear every day until further notice.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Schoolgirl's Record of Achievement Watch: Day 25

It is now more than two years since the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party effectively abolished the Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham by denying it any role in the selection of its parliamentary candidate. It then imposed a 29-year-old who had never set foot here, and of whom next to no one here had ever heard.

Soon afterwards, she lost her seat on Northumberland County Council. I was present when she received that news, at the count for Durham County Council, where she was being introduced as the all-done-and-dusted Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to stalwarts who did not even know her name, but several of whom had already bought me drinks.

For some years by then, certain of them had been introducing me at funerals as, "The man who should have been our MP." Everyone does that now, and there no longer even needs to have been a death. They also call me "Speedboat", as in, "Here's what you could have won."

But I am a generous old soul. So I invite in the comments specific examples of the achievements of Laura Pidcock MP. This post will appear daily until the second anniversary of the 2017 General Election.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

A Marginal Figure

Boris Johnson has single-handedly turned his own seat into a marginal. So much for the idea that he is popular. Popular with the nine remaining members of the Conservative Party, perhaps. But not with anyone else. Make him Prime Minister, and then watch the Prime Minister lose his seat.

A proper Leadership Election would destroy Johnson. Audiences would be shouting "Heard it" and "Taxi for the comedian". Britain is famous for its sense of humour because it is fundamentally a serious country. There are joke countries, and they are not remotely funny to live in. This is not one, so it does not want a joke Prime Minister.

In any case, for 39 years and counting, no one has become Prime Minister without some sort of endorsement from Michael Heseltine. So Boris Johnson can go whistle. Heseltine's stated view of Jeremy Corbyn is, "We have survived Labour Governments in the past and we could survive that one."

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Henig Watch: Day 183

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Healthy Discharge Watch: Day 24

It has now been more than six weeks since the jury in my trial, the third attempt at one, was discharged.

The previous day, the star prosecution witness had been sent away to come up with the only piece of evidence, a single email that no one had ever asked to see until then.

As soon as they did, then he never reappeared on his video link from the United States, and the jury was discharged.

More than six weeks later, that email, a perfectly simple thing to find, has still not turned up. It does not exist.

It is no wonder that we longer have even so much as a date for a Case Management Hearing, still less for a trial. There is no case against me. None.

But this post will appear every day until further notice.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Schoolgirl's Record of Achievement Watch: Day 24

It is now more than two years since the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party effectively abolished the Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham by denying it any role in the selection of its parliamentary candidate. It then imposed a 29-year-old who had never set foot here, and of whom next to no one here had ever heard.

Soon afterwards, she lost her seat on Northumberland County Council. I was present when she received that news, at the count for Durham County Council, where she was being introduced as the all-done-and-dusted Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to stalwarts who did not even know her name, but several of whom had already bought me drinks.

For some years by then, certain of them had been introducing me at funerals as, "The man who should have been our MP." Everyone does that now, and there no longer even needs to have been a death. They also call me "Speedboat", as in, "Here's what you could have won."

But I am a generous old soul. So I invite in the comments specific examples of the achievements of Laura Pidcock MP. This post will appear daily until the second anniversary of the 2017 General Election.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

After Shotley Bridge Hospital

A number of people have been in touch with me in my capacity as one of Derwentside's elected Public Governors of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The first major campaign in which I was ever involved, including my first ever appearance on television, was in defence of Shotley Bridge Hospital. More than 20 years later, my view remains fundamentally unchanged.

That site is coming to the end of its natural life. These things happen. But the proximity of the Lanchester and Langley Park areas to Dryburn, and the relative proximity of the Stanley area both to Dryburn and to Chester-le-Street, mean that at least the same range of services must be relocated within the Consett area.

As the Member of Parliament for North West Durham, I would refuse to support any Government unless, among other things, it did in fact promise and deliver that at least like-for-like replacement of hospital services in Consett.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Call Security

The presence of Nia Griffith as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence has prevented the cutting through of what would otherwise be one of the most popular aspects of Corbynism.

I refer to the retreat from international adventurism, and from the cultural militarism that appeared out of nowhere from the Blair years onwards. 

On the latter point, Britain was less like in the 15 years after the War, when National Service and much of the Empire still existed, than it has become in the last 20 years. It is all very alien.

But then again, Secretary of State for Defence is now largely a titular position. It has become one of those historical relics whereby certain people are brought into the Cabinet for party management purposes, like Lord Privy Seal, or Lord President of the Council, or Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The real power lies with the unelected National Security Adviser who peremptorily sacked the last Secretary of State for Defence, and who rules through a National Security Council with no statutory basis for its existence.

Britain is crying out for a Shadow National Security Adviser, and that position is crying out for Charles Shoebridge. He would be welcome to do the job from my office as the Member of Parliament for North West Durham. The sitting MP has made no such offer.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Criminal Responsibility

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has found that a thousand children have been sexually abused in custody in Britain between 2009 and 2017, and has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised. 

The two are connected in various ways, one of which is the bizarre situation whereby one might legally be a sexual assailant before one might lawfully engage in consensual sex.

We need a criminal offence of sexual activity with any person under the age of 18 who was more than two years younger than oneself, with a maximum sentence equal to twice the difference in age, and with abolition of different rules for “positions of trust” and for one sex rather than the other.

Then we need to rule out the legal possibility of being a specifically sexual assailant below that age of consent of 18. One might be an assailant below the age of consent. But a sexual assailant? How, exactly?

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

A Healthy Future

The privatisation of the NHS is not within the power of MEPs. Very little is, in fact. 

Nigel Farage's views on NHS privatisation, which did not even exist as a concept until New Labour, are no small part of why he is a seven-times failed parliamentary candidate.

In any case, the EU, the bits of it that really do decide things, aggressively want to privatise the NHS, too. Remember TTIP, for example. Brexit is the best way of saving the NHS. 

The Brexit Party is not a long-term project, nor is it intended to be. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. 

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Intus Si Recte Ne Labora?

For 39 years and counting, no one has become Prime Minister without some sort of endorsement from Michael Heseltine. So Boris Johnson can go whistle.

As Lord Heseltine often points out, he has no vote for the House of Commons. But no one doubts that he will be voting Lib Dem at the European Elections (so Change UK can go whistle, too), and his stated view of Jeremy Corbyn is, "We've survived Labour Governments in the past and we could survive that one."

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Tarnish This

Poor old Ian Austin's suggestion on This Week that right-wing Labour MPs needed to set up a breakaway party would have been the funniest thing yesterday. 

But it was easily trumped by Heidi Allen's assurance that Tony Blair would be refused membership of Change UK because he was too "tarnished". 

There is not a word about that on Oliver Kamm's Twitter. Why ever not?

Still, I look forward to Kamm's candidacy, for Change UK or otherwise, here at North West Durham. Either that, or he is too scared.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Henig Watch: Day 182

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Explosive Stuff


The final report actively concealed evidence that the chemical attack there was staged by the jihadis whom we support.

Or, at any rate, whom most Labour MPs, practically all Conservative MPs, and the Lib Dems all support.

Just as they all cheered on the bombing of Syria in what was supposed to have been retaliation for that attack.

Even Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of being as robust as he should have been against that madness, just as he is now unduly subdued about Iran.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Healthy Discharge Watch: Day 23

It has now been more than six weeks since the jury in my trial, the third attempt at one, was discharged.

The previous day, the star prosecution witness had been sent away to come up with the only piece of evidence, a single email that no one had ever asked to see until then.

As soon as they did, then he never reappeared on his video link from the United States, and the jury was discharged.

More than six weeks later, that email, a perfectly simple thing to find, has still not turned up. It does not exist.

It is no wonder that we longer have even so much as a date for a Case Management Hearing, still less for a trial. There is no case against me. None.

But this post will appear every day until further notice.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Schoolgirl's Record of Achievement Watch: Day 23

It is now more than two years since the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party effectively abolished the Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham by denying it any role in the selection of its parliamentary candidate. It then imposed a 29-year-old who had never set foot here, and of whom next to no one here had ever heard.

Soon afterwards, she lost her seat on Northumberland County Council. I was present when she received that news, at the count for Durham County Council, where she was being introduced as the all-done-and-dusted Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to stalwarts who did not even know her name, but several of whom had already bought me drinks.

For some years by then, certain of them had been introducing me at funerals as, "The man who should have been our MP." Everyone does that now, and there no longer even needs to have been a death. They also call me "Speedboat", as in, "Here's what you could have won."

But I am a generous old soul. So I invite in the comments specific examples of the achievements of Laura Pidcock MP. This post will appear daily until the second anniversary of the 2017 General Election.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Take It To The Wire

In what country could it possibly be controversial that either the National Grid or the Probation Service should be in public ownership?

Why, in Britain, of course. And not only on one side of the House of Commons.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Huawei Is Not The Worst Way

When was the Today programme taken over by the Henry Jackson Society? It also seems to have its feet under the table at Spiked, greatly damaging the standing of that site as an anti-war voice.

Forget the hysteria about Huawei. Silicon Valley's pillars of the American liberal Deep State are already spying on us all the time, as we now know that so are so are their close Israeli associates at NSO, who are likewise hand in glove with the House of Saud for whom Hillary Clinton openly promised to nuke Iran as long ago as 2008.

The regime in China is bad, but it does not drag us into its wars. Look at the situation in relation to Iran. Look at the very need, real or perceived, for amnesties in relation to Afghanistan and Iraq. Hasn't the EU done a grand job of keeping this country at peace? And not only this country, either.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

What A Mess Is “Muslimness”

The self-appointed “community leaders” were allowed to define anti-Semitism, so now the self-appointed  “community leaders” want to define Islamophobia, too. And having already sold the pass, who can gainsay them?

You would already be labelled an anti-Semite if you criticised kosher slaughter, or Jewish religious dress codes, or halakhic menstrual taboos, or Jewish ritual circumcision, or anything that the State of Israel ever did, including the funding of rabbis who taught that Palestinian women could be raped by soldiers for relief, that Palestinian boys could be hunted for sport, and that there was a religious obligation to burn down churches.

Object to any of that, and you would be liable to everything from expulsion from the Labour Party to prosecution by the Crown Prosecution Service, which, in this as in so many areas, is merrily making up its own law, in this case in the service of a foreign state. Well, sauce for the goose, and all that.

“There is no such thing as Islamophobia, because anyone may convert to Islam”? The kind of remarks that are showing up in the Conservative Party, such as the comparison of brown people to dogs, are quite clearly about brown people. Making them about “Muslims” is the way of saying it without saying it. “Anyone can become a Muslim” is nothing more than the cover story, and it is barely even that. So yes, this is about racism.

Anyone may convert to Judaism, too, so that Jews are no more a “race” than Christians or Muslims are. As my friend, the late Rabbi Lionel Blue, once said to me of the Jews, “You only have to look at us to see that we are all the descendants of converts.” Therefore, anti-Semitism is a form of religious bigotry, and not, in itself, a form of racism. That Hitler thought otherwise is not an argument. But has anti-Semitism been bound up with various forms of racism? Of course it has.

Just as the struggles for economic equality and for international peace are fundamental and integral to each other, so the anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggle, which is indivisible in itself, is fundamental and integral to each and both of them. The class oppression in these Islands goes back to the Norman Conquest, while our particular form of capitalism was shaped by the slave trade, so that they both have racist and imperialist roots. Similar things can be said about several other European countries, about our respective former Empires, and about the United States.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

The Blond Leading The Bland?

In the unlikely event of a Conservative Leadership Election at all, then it would be between the top two choices of the party's MPs. 

Boris Johnson would stand no chance of being one of those. And he is not a real Brexiteer, anyway. He is not a real anything.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Getting Our Withdrawal In First

In anticipation of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, make the European Elections the referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement. Make sure that no Conservative Party candidate whatever is elected. 

Anything else, even the return of Daniel Hannan to the tenth seat in the South East, could be spun another way. But "no Tories at all" could not be. That entails actively voting for other parties with any realistic chance of getting in.

Labour is already safe in its customary second place. So, for us Leavers, that means the Brexit Party. And for Remainers, it means the Lib Dems. Do it. Wipe the Conservative Party off the map, and kill the Withdrawal Agreement before the Withdrawal Agreement Bill has even been introduced.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Henig Watch: Day 181

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Healthy Discharge Watch: Day 22

It has now been six weeks since the jury in my trial, the third attempt at one, was discharged.

The previous day, the star prosecution witness had been sent away to come up with the only piece of evidence, a single email that no one had ever asked to see until then.

As soon as they did, then he never reappeared on his video link from the United States, and the jury was discharged.

Six weeks later, that email, a perfectly simple thing to find, has still not turned up. It does not exist.

It is no wonder that we longer have even so much as a date for a Case Management Hearing, still less for a trial. There is no case against me. None.

But this post will appear every day until further notice.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Schoolgirl's Record of Achievement Watch: Day 22

It is now more than two years since the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party effectively abolished the Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham by denying it any role in the selection of its parliamentary candidate. It then imposed a 29-year-old who had never set foot here, and of whom next to no one here had ever heard.

Soon afterwards, she lost her seat on Northumberland County Council. I was present when she received that news, at the count for Durham County Council, where she was being introduced as the all-done-and-dusted Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to stalwarts who did not even know her name, but several of whom had already bought me drinks.

For some years by then, certain of them had been introducing me at funerals as, "The man who should have been our MP." Everyone does that now, and there no longer even needs to have been a death. They also call me "Speedboat", as in, "Here's what you could have won."

But I am a generous old soul. So I invite in the comments specific examples of the achievements of Laura Pidcock MP. This post will appear daily until the second anniversary of the 2017 General Election.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Inherent Resolve

Three cheers for Major General Christopher Ghika. If we seriously want to defeat the so-called Islamic State that we created in Iraq and Syria, then Iran is an ally. The question is whether we have any such seriousness. And then we are in good old "follow the money" territory.

Iran is not nice. But was Stalin nice? Yet we would not have defeated Hitler without him. Notice, in fact, that "They won the War for us" is used to give the Americans a free pass, but not to give one to the Russians. No such pass ought to be given to either of them.

As the scandal of Pegasus, NSO and WhatsApp makes clear, even at the highest and deepest levels of intelligence and security, Israel courts Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which do not officially recognise that Israel exists, because they are where the real power and money are.

Saudi Arabia pretty much is the so-called Islamic State, the UAE also has very serious questions to answer, and Israel is important, insofar as it is, because they say that it is.

There is an Israel Lobby, but it is a small affair compared to the politicians and others who are drinking from the same cash tap as irrigates the bombing of the streets of Britain. Some of those politicians and others are the people running Israel. To mix metaphors, Israel is a cog. The wheel is Saudi Arabia.

Another such cog is the ever compliant British ruling element. But another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

In The Pipeline

Plans are afoot in the United States to sanction companies that participated in the construction of Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany that both countries want and for which neither of them is asking anyone else to pay. I am tempted to suggest that we express our solidarity by asking for it to be extended along Germany's short northern tip and then across the North Sea to Britain.

But no, the backbone of our own "all of the above" energy policy needs to be civil nuclear power and the exploitation of Britain's vast reverses of coal, returning to our position before the Miners' Strike as the world leader in clean coal technology. Around that would be built wind power, wave power, tidal power, solar power, and so on.

The electricity thus generated would power the trains that, like the wind turbines, were made of the steel that the coal had made it possible to smelt. Those trains' tracks would also be made of that steel. As would be the electric cars. That is the argument for electric cars: we can run them on our own electricity, not on imported oil. 

The car plants might not be in public ownership, although they would be subsided as they are now, let the likes of Nissan take note. But the mines, the power stations, and all the rest would be in public ownership, as would be both the trains and the tracks. All of them would be well and truly protected, and of course that would depend on being outside the European Single Market and the Customs Union.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Forward To Basics

At Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May decided to have a strop about the Universal Basic Income. On that as on so much else, she knows that she is beaten. 

The only people who are really opposed to this are the two men and a dog who are going to vote for Change UK. It is very un-Blairite, whereas the arguments against it could have come from the very lips of Tony Blair, and sometimes have done.

Either the next Government, of either party, is going to introduce the UBI, simply because it is so much cheaper, or the next Official Opposition is going to adopt the policy, meaning that it will happen by crossparty consensus in the Parliament after next. Either way, though, it is coming.

Ask the Adam Smith Institute, which is right behind it, so to speak. The momentum, so to speak, is unstoppable. That was true of the NHS in the 1940s (most people forget that that was in all three manifestos in 1945), and it is true of the UBI now. Like the NHS, everyone will love it once they have it, and they will all deny that they had ever entertained any doubts at all about it.

There will have to a parliamentary fight in the meantime, of course. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Time For Some Red Dust

From the constituency that contains Consett, look at what has become of British Steel. Isn't privatisation grand? Isn't deregulation? Isn't globalisation? Isn't the EU?

Services are all well and good. But you can't service nothing. The stuff itself has to come from somewhere. Refusing to make our own goods, and to protect those industries, is how we have ended up in the middle of a trade war between China and the United States, which do still make things, and which do still protect their manufacturing base. It is also what has destroyed our steel industry, without which a modern country simply cannot function, and in which we once led the world.

This is all lost on the Thatcherite-Blairite rump that makes up most of the House of Commons. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Withdraw Your Support

Labour always comes second at European Elections. It is about to do so for the fifth time in a row. But the Conservatives' only hope of one seat is that it might scrape one in 10 of the votes cast in the South East. Keeping saying that until it quite sinks in.

The Conservative Party's lead candidate in the South East is Daniel Hannan, so that, even in that event, no supporter of the Withdrawal Agreement would have been elected. With 73 seats to fill, and using Proportional Representation, still not a single supporter of the Withdrawal Agreement would have been elected.

But that one Conservative seat would not be spun like that. It would be a case of, "See, we did win somewhere after all." In anticipation of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the Conservative Party must not secure even so much as one in 10 of the votes cast in the South East. And this time, it really might fail to do so.

Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Presumption

Just before the last General Election, huge numbers of records relating to Northern Ireland were destroyed. Preparation was being made for a Corbyn Government.

In the same vein, Penny Mordaunt is proposing amnesties in relation to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were nominally waged by the other party in the days before the summer of 2015, back when Britain was a one party state. Whose one party state that was is evident from the decision to exclude Northern Ireland from that amnesty. The Americans would never have stood for that.

None of this is about protecting squaddies. Considering quite how many of them there were, then they were always very unlikely to be charged, and they were almost certain not to be convicted. No, this is about protecting the members of the gang in this, the original gangster state and still the best, going strong for 953 years and counting.

Most Labour MPs are, and will remain, members of that gang. In 2017, the General Election literature of the present MP for North West Durham featured the name, the face, and the words of endorsement, of the Government Chief Whip at the time of the invasion of Iraq. Whereas I am not a member of the same political party as Tony Blair, and in fact I am actively pursuing a complaint to the Police about him in relation to his complicity in torture, as exposed by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

A Chambers and Partners Band 1 legal practice is now on standby to pursue an action to bring about a Coroner's Inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, an action before the International Criminal Court against those who had brought slavery back to Libya, and an action before the High Court of Justiciary of Scotland inviting it to exercise its declaratory power against Blair and his accomplices in the aggression against Iraq in 2003. All of these actions are to begin immediately upon my election to the House of Commons.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Don't Take Too Much Heart

The new abortion law in Alabama would be superb. Not least, having been written by veterans of the pro-life movement, it criminalises the abortionist but not the woman. We experienced pro-lifers never advocate that one. We leave that to erstwhile donors to Planned Parenthood such as Donald Trump. But this would never survive the Supreme Court. Something less pro-life might have done, although probably not. But this? No chance.

Place not your trust in Brett Kavanaugh. He was unknown to the pro-life movement, which had submitted the names of dozens of potential nominees, all of which were rejected by a President who, say it again, had previously been a major donor to Planned Parenthood. Republican Senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh after he had promised Susan Collins that he would uphold Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Obergefell v. Hodges. They gave Collins's speech a standing ovation.

Thus did they secure a Justice with the most egregious record on torture, Guantánamo Bay, mass surveillance, workers' rights, consumer protection, environmental responsibility, treaties with Native Americans tribes, and healthcare for people with preexisting conditions. On any one of those issues, Kavanaugh could have been blocked, with all Democrats and enough Republicans voting against him. But the Democrats chose to make it about #MeToo instead.

The confirmation of Kavanaugh will be the only lasting legacy of the #MeToo phenomenon. But that is another story. Or at any rate, it is a different chapter in the story of the baleful decline of both main political parties in the United States. Neither of them deserves a free pass. Or very much else at all.

Henig Watch: Day 180

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Did The UK Steal The Chagos Islands?


A vitally important discussion of the infallible barometer of being inside or outside the British Establishment.

They invited me to be on it, but I am having technical problems. The continuing theft of the tools of my trade until a provenly baseless prosecution has officially been discontinued is genuinely scandalous.

Anyway, on the issue itself, and on what one's side indicates about one's position in general, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

In The Bag No More?

There is a serious possibility that Naomi Long of the Alliance Party is going to win the third European seat in Northern Ireland, since a vote for Alliance is purely and simply a vote to Remain, with no other baggage.

That is completely extraordinary, since on almost every other occasion in Northern Ireland the baggage has been where the votes have been kept. Hence the very small number of votes for Alliance. But here, quite possibly, we now are.

When The Gloves Come Off

From The Guardian to the Daily Mail, as you fail to lay a glove on Nigel Farage, then understand that this is also why you have failed to lay a glove on Jeremy Corbyn. In either case, you would never have voted for him no matter what. Nor would the people for whom, and to whom, you are speaking. So who cares what you think? 

Your own preferred parties, respectively Change UK and the Conservatives, are going to win no seats and possibly one seat, the tenth in the South East, which would thus go to Daniel Hannan, no friend of your beloved Theresa May or her beloved Withdrawal Agreement, and in many ways a more extreme version of Nigel Farage.

In similar vein, of the attacks that have been made on Corbyn, every one of them could be made against Claire Fox, only even more so. Spiked and its predecessors have rightly opposed every war of the last 30 years, and they have been a great deal more forthright in the style of their opposition than Corbyn has often been. Spiked has been more sceptical, to put it mildly, than Corbyn has been in public about Russia-bating over Salisbury and other things.

"Marxist" and "Trotskyist" are thrown at Corbyn by people with little understanding of the first word, and with none of the second. But Claire really is a Marxist, and specifically a Trotskyist. Ask her. She'll tell you. Unlike Corbyn, Claire opposed the Good Friday Agreement because it was still not the 32 County Republic. I remember her telling Melanie Phillips on The Moral Maze that "I do not accept Israel's right to exist," a statement that Corbyn has never made, or we would certainly have heard about it by now. And so on.

Claire is going to enter the European Parliament for the party for which the people who had lapped up and regurgitated the attacks on Corbyn are going to have voted. Such lapping up and regurgitation will therefore no longer be possible, or at least not with any moral, intellectual or political consistency.

Next week's triumph ought also to win the Brexit Party the Peterborough by-election, but in itself it is not a long-term option once these Elections are out of the way. What matters is what comes next. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Coming Soon: The Great Universal Credit Deception


How to sell the unsellable? How to pretend utter chaos is a plan coming together? How to persuade the public, who just refuse to buy it, to at least keep on paying for it?

I believe I have found the answer. It comes in the form of an internal memo from the Department for Work and Pensions that somehow floated past my desk. 

Published on the staff intranet just a few days ago, on 2 May, it is signed by three of the department’s most senior officials, including the DWP’s director of communications and Neil Couling, its head of universal credit.

And it is that toxically controversial benefit which is its subject. Addressed to the department’s employees, the letter sympathises: “We share your justified frustration when our hard work – in particular our work on Universal Credit – is portrayed incorrectly and/or negatively in the media.” 

The circular condemns this “negativity and scaremongering”, and blames it for putting people off even applying for the benefit.

It was said that Steve Jobs could conjure up a “reality distortion field”, bending facts into a parallel universe to spur on Apple designers to achieve the impossible. I can only assume that the DWP’s overlords are creating their own distortion of reality, because I cannot think of a single bigger policy failure this decade than universal credit.

After years of ministers pretending otherwise, Amber Rudd, the DWP secretary, now admits universal credit’s introduction has left people so short of cash that they have resorted to food banks. 

What Iain Duncan Smith hailed in 2011 as a transformation of welfare has turned into something grotesque, with massive delays and huge flaws both of administration and design, repeatedly damned by MP select committees. 

The independent National Audit Office judges that universal credit has neither saved public money nor helped people into work. But it has left thousands of vulnerable claimants penniless, while others starve and even lose their homes. 

In a House of Commons debate last summer the London Labour MP Catherine West recounted how one of her constituents had “fallen off benefits” and ended up “sleeping in a tent in a bin chamber” on a housing estate. 

Such are the horrors whose very documentation by journalists the DWP letter dismisses as “unfair”. Rather than halt universal credit, as demanded by so many groups, the department’s managers now say they will respond “in a different way … very different to anything we’ve done before”. 

What follows is an elaborate media strategy to manufacture a Whitehall fantasy, one in which the benefits system is running like a dream while a Conservative government generously helps people on the escalator to prosperity.

It begins at the end of this month with a giant advert wrapped around the cover of the Metro newspaper; inside will be a further four-page advertorial feature. This will “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC”. 

What’s more, “the features won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding … We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC uncovered’ investigation.” 

Not only is this a costly exercise, with a Metro wraparound going for a headline rate of £250,000 (of your money, let’s not forget), but the Advertising Standards Authority will doubtless be interested in that description of the feature. 

Its guidelines stipulate that“marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications”. Two and a half million adults pick up a daily copy of the Metro freesheet, and they will see these advertorials every week for nine weeks.

Meanwhile the secretary of state, Amber Rudd, will invite “a wide range of journalists at regional and national publications … to come [to a jobcentre] and see the great work we do”.

Doubtless, the Jobcentres will be carefully chosen and everything will be arranged so that when the dignitaries descend, all will be as precisely ordered as the innards of a Swiss watch.

Perhaps it’s not too indelicate to mention here that the Tory party is weeks into an unannounced leadership contest, during which plummy columns commending Rudd for turning round a failed service do no harm to her prospects.

Then comes the letter’s grand reveal: BBC2 has commissioned a documentary series, which is “looking to intelligently explore UC” by filming inside three jobcentres. “This is a fantastic opportunity for us – we’ve been involved in the process from the outset, and we continue working closely with the BBC to ensure a balanced and insightful piece of television.” 

Wading through such adjectives, one remembers how the most important of the letter’s signatories, Neil Couling, told Holyrood parliamentarians that the rise of food banks was down to “poor people maximising their economic opportunities” and that “many benefit recipients welcome the jolt that … sanctions can give them”. 

When the BBC’s Panorama last November went to Flintshire in north Wales and found single, elderly men being made homeless as a result of universal credit, and the local council in meltdown, the DWP criticised the corporation for its “lack of balance”, even complaining that the interview with a minister was “unfairly cut”. A Tory backbencher was wheeled out to declare the investigation “fake news”.

No such danger with this three-part series, which is driven by access rather than led by a reporter. When the civil servants’ trade union, the PCS, found out about the filming, it asked if staff could talk frankly to the crew, only to be told no: they would still be subject to the civil service code, which demands complete impartiality.

Perhaps this explains an internal PCS note on the BBC series I have seen, which remarks that staff are unhappy about being identified on screen. At one of the nominated jobcentres, in Toxteth in Liverpool, “It is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming.”

The risk is that any staff who do participate toe the management line, making the film an advert for universal credit. The PCS briefing also reports a senior universal credit manager telling union reps that “the DWP would have access to the film before transmission”. The BBC confirms that is the case, although it says it has “editorial control”. 

When I contacted the DWP it refused to answer even the most basic of questions, advising me to submit them via a freedom of information request.

It’s not uncommon for the Ministry of Defence to use newspapers to recruit soldiers, nor for government departments to grant TV crews access to their workings. What is very unusual is to see a car-crash policy damned even by the Archbishop of Canterbury airbrushed with vast public resources into a triumph.

After reading the documents, I spoke to Jennifer Jones of Sheffield Stop and Scrap Universal Credit. Severely disabled, she is awaiting transfer to the benefit, a move that she believes might deprive her of nearly £400 a month.

She showed me Facebook posts of others, who have already lost out under universal credit, and told me how after her autistic son goes off to school she neither heats the house nor cooks, in order to save money.

What would she do with the £250,000 that the government may spend on a single newspaper advert? “I’d make sure there was enough on the gas and electric, that we had food in the cupboards and new school uniforms,” she said. “Then I’d see about the neighbours.” I weighed up the smallness of her wants, against the DWP’s planned extravagance.

So what did Jones make of the government’s PR campaign? “They’re taking money off the public, to lie to us about how well universal credit is working. They could be spending that money on us, but they’re spending it to con us,” she said. “It’s scary our government doing that.”