Monday 6 March 2023

Small Boats, Indeed

There has been almost no coverage of the latest wheeze about the small boats. We all know to believe in these things when we see them, and to have no expectation of ever doing so. Tony Blair's close associate, Paul Kagame, has already had hundreds of millions of pounds from Britain, but no flight to Rwanda has ever taken off. Anyone would think that it were easy to outwit Priti Patel and Suella Braverman.

Matt Hancock, who is no longer even in receipt of the Conservative whip, is considered more newsworthy than whatever the purported Home Secretary may have come up with this time. But those of us who believed the doctors have nothing for which to apologise, and those who thought that they knew better based on no medical training whatever have no room to gloat. At best, they got gruesomely lucky.

And now, they are trying to bring back Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister of the lockdowns. Of Stonewall, and Net Zero, and the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the war in Ukraine, where the split between the Russian State and the Wagner Group is now taking shape in earnest. Having taken possession of the vast salt mines at Soledar, will Yevgeny Prigozhin give up control of the territory that his private company, largely staffed by dregs, had captured from NATO in Ukraine, where it was casually admitted in December that British troops had been for a year, since long before the Russian invasion? There is also gypsum in the area, and with Soledar is coming Bakhmut. Captured, not by the Russian Army, but by a private military company.

These men's statues will one day be torn down, because their statues will have been put up. As the French and French-backed non-governmental organisations are expelled from Mali, Wagner Group arms and ammunition, up to and including four Mil Mi-17 helicopters, have arrived there. A base has been built near the airport of the capital, Bamako, a city of 2.8 million. The Group has also taken over the former French bases at Gossi, Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu.

Africa has been Wagner country for quite some time. The Group provided bodyguards to several candidates in the 2018 Presidential Election in Madagascar, even including the winner who had been favoured by China and the United States, thereby guaranteeing the Russian takeover of Kraoma, Madagascar's national chromite producer. The Wagner Group had also been guarding the chrome mines themselves. Its involvement in Mozambique has been extensive. Its participation in the never-ending Libyan Civil War remains so. Ignore anyone who tells you that that war is over.

More than anywhere else, however, the Wagner Group's African operations have been, and continue to be, in the Central African Republic. Again, that is in the French sphere of influence, although the Group originally went in there, in 2018, to fill the security vacuum that had been left by the French military withdrawal, in 2016, following the loss of three quarters of the country's territory to rebel control. By all accounts, it is guarding the diamond mines in regime-controlled and rebel-controlled areas alike, as it also takes a great interest in the diamonds, gold, uranium, and thus government of Sudan.

There has lately been an operation to take down cryptocurrencies, not that I am any fan of those, after the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in the CAR had posed a threat to the CFA franc, itself pegged to the euro and so on. The CAR is a front line in the Great Game as it is being played in the present age. There are anything up to 2000 Wagner Group personnel there, if not more, and it has a firm grip on a number of government institutions, including the General Staff, such that it supervises or directly commands most of the units of the Armed Forces, including at least one EU-trained battalion. Known as Black Russians, hundreds of Centrafricans, former UPC rebels who surrendered, are now fighting for the Wagner Group in Ukraine, or are awaiting deployment there from Russia.

All this, and Soledar and Bakhmut, too. Shades of the British and Dutch East India Companies. Or of the Crusader military orders, one of which still exists as a sovereign entity 924 years after its foundation, even without the territory that the Wagner Group is coming to control. We have no side between that and Svoboda, Pravy Sektor, the National Corps, C14, the Azov Battalion, the Aidar Battalion, the Donbas Battalion, the Dnipro-1 Battalion, the Dnipro-2 Battalion, the Kraken Regiment, or any of the rest of those.

Yet there is a move to bring back Johnson, and the spycops are already so convinced that one of their own, Keir Starmer, is going to win a General Election in December 2024 that they are openly staffing his office at the very highest levels in the person that brought down Johnson the last time. The opinion polls bear no resemblance to Labour's abysmal electoral performance under Starmer, so ask yourself how the spooks could possibly be so certain. Yet they are. Think on. Even while laughing yourself silly that Sue Gray was apparently not a member of the Labour Party, meaning that it cannot find anyone in its own ranks who is capable of being Starmer's Chief of Staff.

But when I say that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank unless the thing is simply rigged. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I say again that the opinion polls bear no resemblance to real votes cast, and even the Labour poll lead has halved since Sunak took over. Halved. The Labour vote has gone through the floor at all but one by-election since Starmer became Leader, with one of those recording Labour’s lowest ever share of the vote. Council seats that were held or won under Jeremy Corbyn have fallen like sandcastles, taking control of major local authorities with them. That is the bread and butter of the party's right wing, who are not the most employable of people.

With nearly two years still to go until the next General Election, Starmer's personal rating is negative not only nationally, but in every region apart from London, and it is still in decline. Starmer's dishonesty is becoming a story. He lied to his party members to get their votes, so he would lie to anyone else to get their votes. Unless there is straight ballot-rigging, then we are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.


  1. They crow over the return of Mike Gapes but you're the man who should be on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

    1. There is always one non-spook on that, but they would draw the line at me.