Wednesday 31 May 2017


Baghdad yesterday, and Kabul today.

Aren't you glad that we liberated Iraq and Afghanistan?

Aren't you glad that we liberated Libya?

Don't you feel so much safer?

Theresa May supported all of those interventions.

Highly unusually, Jeremy Corbyn opposed them all.

Pro Mundi Beneficio

The death of Manuel Noriega is a reminder of just how piffling have been so very many of the Greatest Threats Ever Ever Ever.

I cannot find anything that Jeremy Corbyn, who was already an MP in those days and who has always had a considerable knowledge of Latin America, ever said about Noriega.

There might be something, somewhere. But if so, then it is utterly obscure.

That is very much to Corbyn's credit. He feels no desire to prove his Churchillian credentials by taking on this week's latest Hitler.

Scotch Mist

If there were to be a hung Parliament, then what would Jeremy Corbyn need to offer the SNP?

Absolutely nothing.

Unless they fancied going on television and explaining why they had put their own principal (indeed, pretty much their only) electoral rivals into office?

I didn't think so.

Mugs No More

Jeremy Corbyn's appearance at tonight's debate sees off the BBC's silly stitch-up by some work experience girl doing Woman's Hour during the half-term holiday.

But there was no need to kill off the Daily Mail's latest tired attempt to mention immigration. No one had noticed that, anyway.

These days, no one ever does.

The usual claim is that there used to be some kind of taboo against debating immigration. The rest of us must have been in a coma when that taboo was in operation.

But it has certainly not been in operation for quite some years now.

During those years, however, no party, as such, that went on about immigration has ever won a General Election.

In 2010, the Conservatives made their "tens of thousands" pledge and failed to win outright.

In 2015, they merely repeated that failed target and did win, whereas Labour, which actively played up the other side's lack of delivery and which even put "Controls on Immigration" on campaign mugs, was defeated.

And now, the downright contemptuous repetition of the twice-failed "tens of thousands" is the only reference to the entire subject.

It is a matter of record that no one who has sat in the Cabinet since 2010 has ever supported that target in private. No one.

Not that very many people seem to notice.

And not that anyone at all seems to care.

It will not be some imaginary taboo that will make this the last General Election at which anyone even thinks it worth mentioning immigration.

After all, what is the alternative? "No union card, no job." But we couldn't be having that now. Could we?

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Appauling, Indeed

I reproduce this without comment from Laura Pidcock's official Facebook page, Laura Pidcock for North West Durham:

Sunday was a very busy, but productive day.

Sunday started with a visit to BBC Sunday Politics, to discuss the appauling atrocity in Manchester in which twenty two, and seven from our region tragically lost their lives. We also discussed the plight of transport in our region, we receive nowhere near the investment that London and the South do. This must change.

We then went out on the doorsteps to talk with members of the public. I was very pleased to be joined by Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Raynor. She is a great fighter for our people.

I then attended a hustings at Christ Church in Consett. Members of the public put their questions to the candidates. I put forward Labour's positive vision for North West Durham and our nation.

My day ended at 2am this morning. I gained a fascinating insight into Consett's night time economy. I joined the Street Friends as an observer, who's primary aim is to make sure people have a great night that ends safely.

Today, I will be speaking at Pride in Durham and then will be back on the doors to speak to residents.

Theresa The Dead Cat

Lynton Crosby earns his money, I'll give him that.
Last night, we had Paxman asking why this or that was not in the Labour manifesto, rather than about anything that was.
We had some Tory caricature, possibly an actor, pretending to be a disgruntled Labour voter.
We had the Sun smear about Bin Laden, recycled despite having been disproved long ago (or what seems like long ago).
And we had endless banging on about the Olden Days from highly paid hacks who seem to think that it still is the 1980s.
Oh, well, Theresa May was bloody awful. When did you last see a television audience laugh in a sitting Prime Minister's face?
She has never been scrutinised in her life. But she is being scrutinised now.

Monday 29 May 2017

Bomb Sight

Never mind who said what to whom 30 or 35 years ago.
The British politician at greatest risk of being the target of a terrorist attack today is the most outspoken critic of this country's fawning relationship with the financial, ideological and organisational nerve centre of global Islamist terrorism.

That politician is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn.

Theresa May is too busy selling the arms that end up in the hands of al-Qaeda and IS. Why would they want to kill her?

There have been three attempts on the lives of specific Members of Parliament since 11th September 2001.

One has been by an Islamist.

Another, the only one that has succeeded, has been by a Far Rightist of exactly the vintage to have known several members of the then and current Cabinets intimately in the 1980s.

And the third, which received by far the least coverage, has been by a fanatical Zionist.

All three of those have cause to target Corbyn. But none of them has any cause to target May. Quite the reverse, in fact.


As Sir Cliff Richard settles with South Yorkshire Police, remember that it named him in the media before he had been, as he never was, arrested. Not charged. Arrested. Think on.

The heavily orchestrated front page lynching of Sir Cliff not only made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial, but was possibly the greatest act of playground bullying that this country had ever seen. The cool kids in Fleet Street, on the BBC and on Sky had waited a very long time for that. Longer, in fact, than most of them could remember, or than well over half of them had been alive.

There is a strict canonical text of the history of this country's ubiquitous popular music. To be honest, I generally prefer the canonical acts to the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical ones. But that Authorised Version is incomplete to the point of falsehood.

Look at the charts in any week, month or year since pop music can reasonably be said to have begun. The apostles and prophets of the given period are all there, of course. But so are all sorts of other people, and not as novelty acts: they took themselves entirely seriously, as did the fans who bought their records by the bucket load.

Cliff was originally so cool that when my father, as a curate in 1950s Leicester, was deputed to take the church youth club to see him, they became so excited that they smashed up the theatre and broke my father's arm, which was never right again. In causing my father to be permanently injured, Cliff succeeded where Rommel, Mussolini and the Stern Gang had all failed.

But for most of British pop's history, Cliff has been the towering, the supreme, the definitive uncool act. Even stations dedicated to oldies have written policies of not playing him, bizarrely describing the long-dead as more enduring than a man who still performs live and who continues to record.

His response is to be the single biggest-selling British solo artist ever, and the third biggest-selling act in British chart history, beaten only by the Beatles and by Elvis Presley. He has had more Top 20 hits than any other artist. Only he and Elvis had hits in all six of the first decades of the UK Singles Chart. Only he has had a Number One single in each of five consecutive decades.

In this country, he has sold twice as many records as, say, David Bowie, and well over twice as many as the Rolling Stones. Now, give me Bowie or the Stones any day. But the numbers don't lie.

Moreover, he is only three years older than Paul McCartney, he is only two years older than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and he was born in the same year as John Lennon. Yet he has been famous since well before any of them ever was. Let's face it, we are talking about being seriously famous here. Seriously rich with it, too. All as, and by being, something approaching an unperson to Everyone Who Matters.

Look how a Billy Graham Crusade was dragged into this long-predictable attempt at a takedown. And look how that event, already too ghastly in itself, has managed to surpass even that by being held in Sheffield.

No wonder that it was played out on television. Anyone would assume that it were the script for a work of fiction. One of those ones which are not as clever as they think they are, and which are only about laughing at the common people.

If Sir Cliff had been guilty, then he would have deserved whatever he got from the courts. At least the same is deserved by Bill Wyman. He was 47 when he repeatedly and flagrantly had sex with a girl who, at 13, was probably younger than the alleged victim in this single instance.

Notice how, while the man who had the effrontery to have a hit with Stairway to Heaven featuring a wobble board has been imprisoned and ruined, Jimmy Page himself has never faced any action whatever in relation to his 14-year-old girlfriend of yesteryear. Rolf Harris has rightly been stripped of his CBE; Page was awarded his OBE long after everyone knew about him.

I have often had cause, in relation to a wide range of artists, to wonder whether I can love the music while hating the drugs. I have decided that I probably can. But I am starting to doubt that. The elevation of Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll into a kind of national and global substitute for politics, patriotism and religion has led both to the worship of idols and to the persecution of heretics.


They are clearly grooming Amber Rudd as the next in line.
And yes, it is time for a Prime Minister whose middle name is Augusta.
Theresa May's middle name is Mary, but she went to a comp, even if she does try and deny it.
Amber Augusta Rudd, by contrast, went to Cheltenham Ladies' College.
Of course.

Fluid Issue

"Durham Pride" sounds like a real ale.

But it turns out to be quite a different sort of disturbance to those of us who are trying to work on Palace Green.
For that is where it has started. Neither the Cathedral, nor the Theology Department, has ever seen the like.
Still, you know that you are British when you see the little rainbow wristbands on the machine guns of the armed police.
Severe terrorist threat, indeed. Severe tourist threat, more like.
I have, however, a question for the LGBTs. In fact, I have several.
For example, since when would the Gs have anything to do with the other three? (As I have hinted, I am a Durham graduate in Theology.)
But the main one is this: "What does the B stand for?"
Take as long as you need.

Saturday 27 May 2017

"So, What Did Sweden Ever Do, Then?"

Ask Julian Assange.

As John Pilger writes:

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted.

Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state's collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and "rendition". 

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden.

"It's a laughing stock," said James Catlin, one of Assange's Australian lawyers. "It is as if they make it up as they go along".

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose.

In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch" foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The "mission" was to destroy the "trust" that was WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity". This would be achieved with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution".

Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim. Perhaps this was understandable.

WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as "part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal". 

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined.

Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. 

According to documents released by Edward Snowden, he is on a "Manhunt target list".

Threats of his kidnapping and assassination became almost political and media currency in the US following then Vice-President Joe Biden's preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a "cyber-terrorist".

Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed her own expedient solution: "Can't we just drone this guy?"

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington's bid to get Assange is "unprecedented in scale and nature".

In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted.

This is not easy. The First Amendment protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers, whether it is the editor of the New York Times or the editor of WikiLeaks.

The very notion of free speech is described as America's " founding virtue" or, as Thomas Jefferson called it, "our currency". 

Faced with this hurdle, the US Justice Department has contrived charges of "espionage", "conspiracy to commit espionage", "conversion" (theft of government property), "computer fraud and abuse" (computer hacking) and general "conspiracy".

The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Assange's ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret.

In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the "national security" investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was "active and ongoing" and would harm the "pending prosecution" of Assange.

The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show "appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security".

This is a kangaroo court. For Assange, his trial has been trial by media.

On August 20, 2010, when the Swedish police opened a "rape investigation", they coordinated it, unlawfully, with the Stockholm tabloids.

The front pages said Assange had been accused of the "rape of two women".

The word "rape" can have a very different legal meaning in Sweden than in Britain; a pernicious false reality became the news that went round the world.

 Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation.

She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying, "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, "There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever." 

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a highly contentious figure in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden's imminent general election.

Within days of the chief prosecutor's dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in Gothenberg. 

This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well, personally and politically.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily [it must be nice to be given that option] and answered the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter.

Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case.

At a press conference, Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed.

The reporter cited one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, "Ah, but she is not a lawyer." 

On the day that Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden's military intelligence service - which has the acronym MUST - publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled "WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers [under US command in Afghanistan]". 

Both the Swedish prime minister and foreign minister attacked Assange, who had been charged with no crime.

Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be "cut off" if Sweden sheltered him. 

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the renewed "rape investigation" to take its course. 

The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq "War Logs", based on WikiLeaks' disclosures, which Assange was to oversee in London.

Finally, he was allowed him to leave.

As soon as he had left, Marianne Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol "red alert" normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals.

Assange attended a police station in London, was duly arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement.

Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court. He still had not been charged with any offence.

His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned in London, by video or personally, pointing out that Marianne Ny had given him permission to leave Sweden.

They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard commonly used by the Swedish and other European authorities for that purpose.

She refused.

For almost seven years, while Sweden has questioned forty-four people in the UK in connection with police investigations, Ny refused to question Assange and so advance her case.

Writing in the Swedish press, a former Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all impartiality.

He described her personal investment in the case as "abnormal" and demanded she be replaced.

Assange asked the Swedish authorities for a guarantee that he would not be "rendered" to the US if he was extradited to Sweden.

This was refused.

In December 2010, The Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US. 

Contrary to its reputation as a bastion of liberal enlightenment, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA "renditions" - including the illegal deportation of refugees. 

The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and in WikiLeaks cables. 

"Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers that faced Assange, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights.

"There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."

The war on Assange now intensified.

Marianne Ny refused to allow his Swedish lawyers, and the Swedish courts, access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police had extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the "rape" allegations. 

Ny said she was not legally required to reveal this critical evidence until a formal charge was laid and she had questioned him.

Then, why wouldn't she question him? Catch-22. 

When she announced last week that she was dropping the Assange case, she made no mention of the evidence that would destroy it. 

One of the SMS messages makes clear that one of the women did not want any charges brought against Assange, "but the police were keen on getting a hold on him". 

She was "shocked" when they arrested him because she only "wanted him to take [an HIV] test". She "did not want to accuse JA of anything" and "it was the police who made up the charges".

In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been "railroaded by police and others around her".

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, "I have not been raped." 

The women were manipulated by police - whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they, too, are the victims of this sinister saga. 

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

"The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction... 

"The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. 

"Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?" 

Assange's choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety.

Supported by most of Latin America, the government of tiny Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington.

The Labor government of the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, had even threatened to take away his Australian passport - until it was pointed out to her that this would be unlawful.

The renowned human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:

"Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions... it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence.

"Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged." 

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised.

In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew "only what I read in the newspapers" about the details of the case.

In 2011, in Sydney, I spent several hours with a conservative Member of Australia's Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull.

We discussed the threats to Assange and their wider implications for freedom of speech and justice, and why Australia was obliged to stand by him.

Turnbull then had a reputation as a free speech advocate. He is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

I gave him Gareth Peirce's letter about the threat to Assange's rights and life. He said the situation was clearly appalling and promised to take it up with the Gillard government.

Only his silence followed.

For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder.

There are few precedents.

Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.

That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious.

I would call it anti-journalism.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. 

People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

The previous editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years". 

Yet no attempt was made to protect The Guardian's provider and source. Instead, the "scoop" became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper's cover price. 

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. 

The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a "damaged personality" and "callous". 

They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. 

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh". 

Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of "fake news" is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects. 

The presumption of innocence was not a consideration in Kirsty Wark's memorable BBC live-on-air interrogation in 2010.

"Why don't you just apologise to the women?" she demanded of Assange, followed by: "Do we have your word of honour that you won't abscond?"

On the BBC's Today programme, John Humphrys bellowed: "Are you a sexual predator?" 

Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.

"Would even Fox News have descended to that level?" wondered the American historian William Blum.

"I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: 'You mean including your mother?'"

Last week, on BBC World News, on the day Sweden announced it was dropping the case, I was interviewed by Geeta Guru-Murthy, who seemed to have little knowledge of the Assange case.

She persisted in referring to the "charges" against him.

She accused him of putting Trump in the White House; and she drew my attention to the "fact" that "leaders around the world" had condemned him.

Among these "leaders" she included Trump's CIA director. I asked her, "Are you a journalist?"

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act in 2014. 

"His case has been won lock, stock and barrel," Gareth Peirce told me, "these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit." 

In other words, he would have won his case in the British courts and would not have been forced to take refuge. Ecuador's decision to protect Assange in 2012 was immensely brave. 

Even though the granting of asylum is a humanitarian act, and the power to do so is enjoyed by all states under international law, both Sweden and the United Kingdom refused to recognise the legitimacy of Ecuador's decision. 

Ecuador's embassy in London was placed under police siege and its government abused.

When William Hague's Foreign Office threatened to violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, warning that it would remove the diplomatic inviolability of the embassy and send the police in to get Assange, outrage across the world forced the government to back down.

During one night, police appeared at the windows of the embassy in an obvious attempt to intimidate Assange and his protectors. Since then, Assange has been confined to a small room without sunlight. 

He has been ill from time to time and refused safe passage to the diagnostic facilities of hospital.

Yet, his resilience and dark humour remain quite remarkable in the circumstances.

When asked how he put up with the confinement, he replied, "Sure beats a supermax." 

It is not over, but it is unravelling.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - the tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations - last year ruled that Assange had been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. 

This is international law at its apex.

Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. In previous cases ruled upon by the Working Group - Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran - both Britain and Sweden gave full support to the tribunal.

The difference now is that Assange's persecution endures in the heart of London.

The Metropolitan Police say they still intend to arrest Assange for bail infringement should he leave the embassy.

What then? A few months in prison while the US delivers its extradition request to the British courts? 

If the British Government allows this to happen it will, in the eyes of the world, be shamed comprehensively and historically as an accessory to the crime of a war waged by rampant power against justice and freedom, and all of us.

NATO: AL-Qaeda's Air Force In Libya

John Wight writes:

With another terrorist atrocity erupting in a European city – this time Manchester in the UK – the extent of Britain’s role in the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and its connection to the awful carnage that has just ensued could not be more damning. 

NATO’s intervention in Libya from March to October 2011, culminating in the savage murder of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, by an armed mob, turned a functioning state, considered a highly developed country by the UN Development Program in 2010, into a failed state governed six years on by three competing authorities. 

Today, Libya is rife with armed militias where chaos is the new normal, evidenced in a refugee crisis that has seen countless men, women, and children perish while making a forlorn and desperate attempt to flee the country across the Mediterranean in ramshackle boats and barely seaworthy craft. It is a country in which ISIS and other Salafi-jihadi groups now have a significant presence

Contrary to the claims made by the British, French and US governments at the time, the uprising in Libya, which began in the country’s eastern city of Benghazi in February 2011, was not spearheaded by Jeffersonian democrats whose objective was the establishment of a liberal democracy in the country, but instead Islamists intent on instituting a caliphate on foundations of religious extremism, sectarianism, and intolerance. 

Drawing on the analysis of two French think tanks, John Rosenthal reveals in a June 2011 article how “jihadists have played a predominant role in the eastern-Libyan rebellion against the rule of Muammar Qaddafi, and that 'true democrats' represent only a minority in the rebellion.

“The report, furthermore, calls into question the justifications given for Western military intervention in Libya, arguing that they are largely based on media exaggerations and outright disinformation.” 

NATO’s air campaign to topple Gaddafi, using UN Security Council Resolution 1973 as justification for regime change, has guaranteed the Western military alliance a cold place in history, exposing its self-appointed mission as a guardian of democracy and human rights across the world as a sham.

In Libya between March and October of 2011, NATO operated as a de facto air force for Al-Qaeda and in the last analysis ISIS, the groups that benefited most from Gaddafi’s overthrow.

Even more damning, in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack, are new revelations exposing the existence of a nefarious relationship between Britain’s security services and anti-Gaddafi militants of Islamist persuasion living in the UK, who were allowed to travel from the UK to Libya to join their cohorts in the campaign to topple the government in 2011. 

Among those militants was Ramadan Abedi, father of Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the aforesaid Manchester terrorist atrocity, which killed 22 and injured 159, many of them children, at a pop concert in the city. 

Abedi Snr is known to have been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an Al-Qaeda affiliate committed to Gaddafi’s overthrow. 

It is revealed that Abedi Snr lived in the UK for some years before returning to Libya to take part in the 2011 uprising. 

His son, Salman, was born in the UK in the 1990s and is known have visited Libya just before returning to the UK to carry out his suicide attack. 

Both Abedi Snr and Salman’s younger brother, Hashem, have been arrested in Tripoli in connection with the Manchester atrocity, with the latter reportedly admitting that he had foreknowledge of his brother’s plan to carry out the suicide attack in the UK. 

It is also alleged that Hashem has links to ISIS. 

At the time of the alleged ‘open door’ policy of the British government, allowing Libyan exiles living in the UK, some with connections to Islamist groups, to travel to Libya to take part in the uprising against Gaddafi, the UK’s current Prime Minister Theresa May was the country’s home secretary. 

This means she was responsible for the country’s internal security, including counter-terrorism and immigration, thus raising the question of whether she knew of the open door policy vis-à-vis Libya and was the one who authorized it?

The wider issue is the complicity of the British establishment in advancing the objectives of Islamist extremism in Libya, however wittingly or unwittingly, and with it the terrorist attacks that have emanated from the North African country since 2011.

In 2015, it should be recalled, an ISIS-inspired gunman who’d received military training in Libya murdered 38 tourists as they lay sunbathing on a Tunisian beach. 

Thirty of his victims were British citizens.

It was an act of mass murder, which along with the recent act of mass murder in Manchester, stands as a withering indictment of UK foreign policy and London’s role in the destruction of Libya in 2011. 

Under Gaddafi there was no ISIS in Libya and no Salafi-jihadi terrorist networks planning and preparing terrorist attacks against British citizens.

On the contrary, Gaddafi was an unflinching enemy of Islamic extremism, which is why groups such as the LIFG and the Muslim Brotherhood were committed to his overthrow, which would not have been possible without NATO’s military intervention.

As the full extent of the perfidy and mendacity of UK foreign policy comes to light over the part it has played in facilitating the rise of Islamist extremism and terrorism in Libya; there is only one conclusion to be drawn:

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”


There was great fun to be had on Channel 4 News last night.

Michael Fallon was humiliated when he denounced a quotation about Iraq War blowback because he thought that it had been uttered by Jeremy Corbyn.

In fact, though, it had come from Boris Johnson.

One might add that it has also long been the publicly stated view of MI5, and that it remains so.

Johnson is a shameless, utterly unprincipled chancer who hides behind the persona of an incompetent, bumbling buffoon.

Fallon, who lied through his teeth to Parliament when a Trident was accidentally fired at Florida, is an incompetent, bumbling buffoon who hides behind the persona of a shameless, utterly unprincipled chancer.

He is so bad that the voters of Darlington once actively preferred even Alan Milburn to him.

Why was either of them ever appointed? How and why has neither of them been sacked? Precisely what hold do they have over Theresa May?

Those are not rhetorical questions.

The Source of The Vile

Out of Andrew Neil's own mouth last night, the attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn by reference to the IRA depends on the claims made by Sean O'Callaghan.

Funnily enough, however, Neil did not tell that to the BBC's viewers.

Friday 26 May 2017

"I Have No Concerns Whatever About Your Mental Health"

With those words, the relevant professional shook my hand at the door yesterday.

I had been referred to him by the dear old forces of what passes for law and order here in the 1950s theme park of Poulson County, Alabama.

They had arranged for my first hearing to be held at Peterlee, an extensive and a fairly expensive trek from Lanchester for a disabled person who was dependent on public transport.

The obvious intention was that I should not turn up, and thus be in the cells that night.

But never mind. Better luck next time?

Apparently not. Next time was yesterday, and I left, not committed as they had clearly hoped, but in what is presumably the rare position of having been certified sane.

Those who have been calling me mad for many years, people who can hate others for supporting the wrong football team or for not hating those who support the wrong football team, maybe it's you?

Or, to put it another way, it is you. You are the ones who are dangerous lunatics, and who ought never to be allowed anywhere near the running of anything.

You hold your positions only by the permanent fear of your physical violence if anyone tried to dislodge you, a state of affairs in which you can see absolutely nothing wrong. You are psychopaths.

That is, if you do hold any position, of course. One of you is no longer even allowed to sign the papers nominating candidates for the Parish Council that he used to chair.

Still, that is the attempt to use the mental health system against me out of the way. And today, I received a letter granting me that rarest of things these days, Legal Aid.

That letter came from Birmingham, but the one in England. Anywhere outside the 1950s theme park of Poulson County, Alabama, the shenanigans of its Good Ol' Boy network are held in open contempt.

That network is now laughed at and spat upon by the mental health system, laughed at and spat upon by the Legal Aid authorities, and laughed and spat upon by the general public that comes up to me and shakes my hand morning, noon, and night.

Yet, being thick and psychotic, George Wallace and Bull Connor are pushing on with their rather un-English demand for a pound of my flesh even though I was not elected this month and I am not a candidate next month.

It all rather recalls Jimmy Goldsmith's lawfare against Private Eye, or the management style of Don Arden, or the bombardment of entire West Bank towns if they produce a single stone-throwing youth.

I suspect that the fact that I am both mixed-race and a Catholic is doubly offensive to our very own Governor Wallace.

Those of you who would have us believe that you were veterans of the Left, did Tony Blair's Chief Whip ever ban you from being a District Council candidate because you were mixed-race and left-wing, in that order?

Has the Blairite Right ever tried to murder you, as happened to me when I was even younger than Laura Pidcock is now?

And is the Far Right mafia that runs the Labour Party in County Durham trying to send you to prison for an offence that it is not clear was ever committed in the first place, having in the meantime tried to send you to the Serbsky Institute?

If not, then you are nothing approaching my equal, no matter how many newspapers you have ever sold on the streets, or how many pro-Corbyn links you have ever posted on Facebook.

Alas that Labour remains in control of Durham County Council, there to beat the Teaching Assistants into the ground, because the Teaching Assistants listened to you middle-aged adolescents instead of listening to me.


So much for the Prevent Strategy up to now, then.

Yet another attacker who had been pretty much on the security services' Christmas card list. When are they ever not?

Thank goodness for Jeremy Corbyn's magnificent speech today.

It really has come to something when the purest of common sense, the blatantly obvious, is considered remotely controversial.

Although, controversial to whom?

When this Election was called, the Conservatives had a lead of 24 points. But the polls today put this country in hung Parliament territory.

Grammar Technical

There was no ban on setting up new grammar schools for the first 40 of the 50 years during which no one has attempted to do so.

That ban itself was enacted as a tidying up exercise, with little or no coverage or controversy.

If the policy of lifting it were remotely likely to make any real difference to anything, then it would be receiving wall to wall coverage.

But instead, it is receiving practically none.

That fact speaks for itself.

An Address of Convenience

The following letter appears in the latest edition of the Lanchester Village Voice:

Many people want to know if an election candidate is local. However political parties have their own agenda.

The Conservative party candidate in the forthcoming General Election comes from Hastings on the south coast. I do not take issue with this as it is clear to the electorate.

However the Labour candidate was a councillor in Cramlington until she was defeated on May 4th. Her home was given as Oxford Avenue, Cramlington.

I understand that she has now declared on her election submission she lives in Lanchester in a property that appears to be a flat over a shop.

I recall the UKIP leader being hauled over the coals for using an address of convenience in a recent by-election.

It appears to me the Labour candidate is playing the same game in order to get a local address on the ballot paper.

Name and address withheld on request

Thursday 25 May 2017

God Is Gone Up

Allelúja, allelúja. Ascéndit Deus in jubilatióne, et Dóminus in voce tubæ. Allelúja.

Except that, for yet another year, we have to endure the Biblical disobedience, the international eccentricity and the ecumenical humiliation of pretending that this is not Ascension Day.

There are ecclesial bodies in this country, including within the boundaries of this diocese, that variously ordain women, allow divorce and remarriage practically without limit, perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, and allow people with no ministerial status whatever to preside at Communion services.

Yet they all manage to keep Ascension Day on the correct day. 40 days after Easter, it says in the Bible. So 40 days after Easter, it is. The question does not even arise. 

Any more than it arises for the Pope, who most certainly does not move it to the nearest Sunday.

In the United States, bodies closely related to the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church manage to maintain this even while blessing abortion facilities.

But in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, it is, apparently, beyond us.

All of those bodies also join the Pope in keeping the Epiphany on 6th January, so that they have something called the 12 Days of Christmas. 

More of them than one might think also keep Corpus Christi, invariably on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, the day on which, again, it is also kept by the Pope. 

Speaking of Trinity Sunday, the downright bizarre practice has very recently crept in, of using the Apostles' Creed rather than the Nicene Creed at Mass, for no better reason than that it happens to be a couple of seconds shorter.

It is almost physically painful to try to explain why such use is historically, liturgically and theologically illiterate. If anyone has to ask that question, then there would seem to be little point in telling them the answer. 

To use the Apostles' Creed at Mass on Pentecost or Trinity Sunday is to recite an incomplete account of the doctrines to which the day bears witness, since ... well, if you have ask, then there is no point telling you. 

The same is in fact true of every Mass, as such. 

Our separated brethren would never do this, because they do not give the impression of being run by people who, rather like footballers, gave up formal education at a very early age in order to pursue something else entirely.

The Pope would never do it, because he is the Pope.

None of this, none of it, would ever arise if there were proper catechesis in Catholic schools.

As things stand, 16-year-olds are taken away from quadratic equations and from Shakespeare in order to spend an hour of each day colouring in pictures of nothing very much, while learning by some sort of osmosis that Christianity is about being a nice person, since Jesus gave such wise advice for practical living that people started calling him "the Son of God" as a kind of nickname.

But, of course, if they were taught Doctrine and Scripture instead, then they might start asking why their parishes were keeping the Ascension on the wrong day.

The Grown-Up Candidate

I am delighted that their campaign has transformed the Durham Teaching Assistants from political novices into dedicated activists.

But I do not resile from my criticism that they have allowed themselves to become overly dependent on gurus and mentors who were, in reality, barely more experienced at proper politics than they themselves were.

As a result, due to the failure to declare explicitly for the re-election of all non-Labour members of Durham County Council, and for the defeat of all Labour candidates without exception, that party has managed to retain overall control of that authority.

Therefore, it is necessary to punish Labour in County Durham by other means, namely by re-electing Grahame Morris while defeating all other Labour candidates in this county at the forthcoming General Election.

One of those candidates walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally, a Rally that had given a standing ovation to the two non-Labour Councillors for Consett North, both of whom have since been re-elected, and one of whom is now that walker out's Liberal Democrat opponent for Parliament.

But she, Laura Pidcock, is exceptionally close to the gurus and mentors who think that a quarter-century of demonstrating and newspaper-vending on the streets, noble and important in themselves but hardly the be all and end all of grown-up politics, is in itself enough to qualify them as seasoned politicians.

Therefore, there are those among the TAs who even appear to be supporting Pidcock against Owen Temple, who is, with Alex Watson (one of my own Campaign Patrons), one of the two County Councillors to have done the most for them, as they rapturously acknowledged at their own Solidarity Rally.

Seated right next to Owen and Alex, I participated fully in that rapture.

While disagreeing with almost everything in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, while agreeing with almost everything in the Labour manifesto, and while aching for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, I am proud to be a mere fortnight away from voting for Owen to serve as my MP.

But then, my formative and ongoing political experiences have been and are as a Parish Councillor, as a governor of two schools, around even if never quite on the old Derwentside District Council, as a member of the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner's Community Panel, and as a governor of the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

I have no background in, nor have I the slightest affinity with, that which Lenin called "an infantile disorder".

Hence, one of my Campaign Patrons served for many years as the Leader of the Derwentside District Council of which he always said that I ought to have been a member (but my Branch preferred pure blood Aryan pretty boys who knew about football and pop music, no matter how unelectable they were), chairing the North East Regional Assembly and earning himself the OBE.

While my other Campaign Patron was first elected to Parliament 30 years ago, has been the MP for four constituencies in three cities, is on course to add a fifth seat in a fourth city, and is one of the most immediately recognisable politicians in the English-speaking and several other worlds.

As a grown-up, backed by grown-ups, I am telling you that Owen Temple is the grown-up candidate in North West Durham, and the only true friend of the Teaching Assistants on the ballot paper here.

Provisional, Indeed

Ultimately Risking National Security

Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly asked about Police cuts.

First David Cameron, and then Theresa May, have simply abused him in response.

And now, we have troops on the streets.

Two years ago, while she was Home Secretary, May accused a delegate at the Police Federation's conference of "scaremongering" and "crying wolf" when he warned that those cuts "run the risk of letting communities down, putting Officers at risk, and ultimately risking national security."

Inspector Damian O'Reilly was from Manchester.

Heading Our Way

One of my Campaign Patrons, whose election at Manchester Gorton equals in urgency the defeat of all Labour candidates in County Durham apart from Grahame Morris, George Galloway writes: 

Salman Abedi was neither a refugee nor an immigrant.

His family were anti-Gaddafi exiles given sanctuary in Britain, and the child-killer Abedi who massacred so many innocents in Manchester on Monday night was born, raised, and expensively educated here. 

In the warped way of things, the child-killer and his family cheered on David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy as they bombed Libya into pieces.

Then he bombed us.

Nobody should ever forget the role that Cameron played in the overthrow of the absurd Gaddafi regime.

And achieved a result few could have thought possible, making Libya an even worse mess than it was under the Colonel.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee rightly slated Cameron’s role in this grisly imbroglio.

But by then, like a thief in the night, the ignominious Mr. Cameron had slipped away into the deserts of Panama.

Far from learning the lessons as Sir John Chilcot might have put it, of the Iraq catastrophe, Cameron, Sarkozy and Gaddafi’s closest European counterpart, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, repeated it all over again.

With grimly predictable results, predictable at least by all but those we pay to govern us.

And their obeisant hookers in the mainstream media who hang on their every word.

Metaphorically, of course. It is others who hang as a result. 

We were treated to the full playbook of the ‘Demon Must Go’ propaganda script.

Gaddafi was going to “kill his own people”, not something which much troubled us when Jack Straw and other not-ables were conniving in the kidnap of anti-Gaddafi dissidents and their return with black bags over their heads to the dictator’s torture tables.

I will remember forever the solemn BBC news reports which informed us that Gaddafi was dishing out Viagra to his soldiers to encourage them to rape women in Eastern Libya.

The Colonel’s barely existing army was said to be going to fall on Benghazi and murder every last person in it, house to house.

“Something must be done” was the familiar cry which arose. And something duly was.

The rest is history.

“We came, we saw, he died,” laughed (oh, how she laughed) Hillary Clinton when Gaddafi was sodomised with a length of lead piping before being hacked to death by a frenzied mob.

Nobody is laughing now.

Libya is a non-state, broken into fanatic cantons each ruled by mutually antagonistic militias.

There are three governments and four Prime Ministers; it would take too long to explain.

Its gates to the rest of Africa to the south, and to the Mediterranean and Europe to the north, blow open like an abandoned Wild West saloon door. 

Tumbleweed rolls where big Western businesses used to make plenty from Libyan oil and largess, some of it shared by Western political leaders.

I never met Gaddafi or any of his family. Blair, Mandelson, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and others were not so fortunate. 

The destruction of Libya by the globalist gang of NATO warriors may turn out to be on a par with the disaster in Iraq.

For Europe, perhaps more so.

For there are many more Salman Abedis, and not many goodies, heading our way.

The Unpalatable Truth

The great Neil Clark writes:

There are reports that Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, returned from "Daesh stronghold" Libya just days before he carried out his horrific attack.

The question we need to be asking is: who turned Libya — which as recently as July 2010 was being lauded in the British press as one of the top six cruise ship holiday destinations — into an "Daesh stronghold", and a training ground for terrorists like Abedi?  

It's not a question that the West's political elites and their media stenographers want us to be asking. And that's hardly surprising. 

Because it was they, and the military alliance they support, who transformed Libya from a modern progressive country which acted as a bulwark against Salafi-jihadism, into a haven for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. 

Let's cast our minds back to March 2011.

NATO's "liberation" of Libya during the so-called "Arab Spring" was cheered on by "liberal interventionists," regime-change obsessed neocons and most of the mainstream media.

The "evil" Gaddafi was going to carry out a "Srebrenica style" massacre of civilians in Benghazi, the likes of David Cameron and William Hague told us. 

We simply had to intervene to stop the dictator "killing his own people."

Gaddafi's warnings that many of the so-called "rebels" were actually fanatical extremists linked to al-Qaeda were haughtily dismissed by the West's endless war lobby as the ravings of a madman.

But — as I later wrote: "It wasn't the 'mad' Gaddafi who was telling lies in 2011, but the regime changers in suits."

At home, those of us who warned that forcibly ousting the long-standing Libyan leader would greatly strengthen al-Qaeda — and give them and affiliated extremists a base on the Mediterranean — were shouted down as "apologists for dictators'"by the Euston Manifesto brigade. 

When I wrote a comment piece for the Daily Express newspaper on July 27, 2011, calling for UK to end its involvement in the Libyan war, my obsessed neocon stalker Oliver Kamm of the London Times newspaper attacked me the same day for saying that Gaddafi had given Libya stability and higher living standards. 

But I — and others who opposed the NATO action — were right and the serial "regime changers" were wrong — once again. 

Libya is now a failed state. 

The country that had the highest Human Development Index in Africa in 2009, has seen the return of slave markets. 

Stability? In place of Gaddafi there's utter chaos.

There is no unitary government authority — in fact, there are competing governments. 

The main beneficiaries of the NATO "intervention" have been Daesh and al-Qaeda, who established a presence in the country that they never had before.

"Libya today is a bewildering chaos of competing militias and jihadi groups broadly following IS, al Qaeda and affiliates such as Ansar al-Sharia, and the Muslim Brotherhood in several guises and shadowy forms" writes Robert Fox in the Standard.

Yet just seven years ago, before NATO got going, it was a perfectly safe place for Western tourists to visit.

The instability in Libya has spilled over into neighboring Tunisia — with deadly consequences for Western tourists. 

In June 2015, 38 people, including 30 Britons, were massacred on the beach at Port El Kantaoui. 

The gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, was reported to have trained at a Daesh base in Libya

A base that — it must be pointed out — did not exist when Muammar Gaddafi was running the country. 

While the consequences of NATO's Libya intervention have been so catastrophic, and so far-reaching, those responsible have never been held to account. 

Quite the opposite: those who helped turned the country into a jihadists playground and in doing so greatly increased the terror threat to Europeans are positively thriving. 

The politicians who ordered the bombing of Libya are raking it in on the conference circuit. 

Earlier this year it was revealed that David Cameron, British Prime Minister in 2011, was paid a mind-boggling £100,000 (US$130,000) for one speech to Morgan Stanley Investment Management. 

This is after a damning report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons which declared: "the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence." 

Like Iraq, Libya was a war sold to us on a lie. 

Yet even after the destruction of Libya, the deceit goes on. 

The same bunch of warmongers who voted for and cheer-led the military action to topple Gaddafi are hell-bent on toppling another secular Arab leader who's fighting the very same people who have claimed responsibility for and celebrated the horrific bomb attack in Manchester.

The serial regime changers want Bashar al-Assad's head on a plate, so they can then move on to Iran. 

Again, the main beneficiaries of this policy will be Daesh and al-Qaeda.

It's worth nothing that British Prime Minister Theresa May not only voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but also for the bombing of Libya in 2011 — and for Syrian government forces to be bombed in 2013.

Had David Cameron got his way then, it is quite probable that Salman Abedi's co-ideologists would be in control of all of Syria today. 

At the time of writing, there are also reports that Abedi himself may have been in Syria, too.

Once again, he'd be on the same side of the neocons — i.e., working for "regime change."

The unpalatable truth is that very people who claim to be making us safe, have in fact greatly increased the terror risk to ordinary citizens on account of their criminally reckless regime change operations against governments that acted as a bulwark against the jihadists.

And unless we have a proper, grown up, no-holds-barred debate on Western foreign policy double standards, and ask who it was who turned Libya from a top cruise ship destination which was getting praise in the Daily Telegraph, into a "Daesh stronghold," the nightmare will only continue.