Sy Hersch With The Latest From La-La-Land


Department of Blowing Shit Up, Summer 2007:

During a secure videoconference that took place early this summer, the President told Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, that he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British “were on board.” At that point, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interjected that there was a need to proceed carefully, because of the ongoing diplomatic track. Bush ended by instructing Crocker to tell Iran to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution.

Hang on, early summer?  How to clean up after a house fire of any magnitude . Blair went end of June, we're fairly confident he would have been 'on board', the sacking of Jack Straw as Foreign Sec. is generally taken to be a slap down to suggestions that attacking Iran was off the agenda.  I sincerely hope that any risk of the British being 'on board' with another engineered, illegal Middle East war died with the late Premiership.  Did it?

Of course, if Blair promised Bush British support *again* without bothering to consult Parliament, can the Labour Government please stop pretending we've learnt from Iraq and prosecute the bastard?  How *is* that Middle East peace mission going, Tony?  Anyone trust you yet?

1-2-3 What Are We Fighting For? [not the right to protest, it seems]

Disturbing news if true, from the Stop The War Coalition:

On Monday 8 October the Stop the War Coalition will be marching
from Trafalgar Square to Parliament calling for all troops in
Iraq to be brought home immediately.

After a series of relatively co-operative meetings, the police
now say they have been instructed not to allow the march to take
place and that all demonstrations are banned within a mile of
Parliament whilst in session.

This is a new development which threatens our democratic rights.
When Gordon Brown became prime minister he promised to liberalise
the laws on protest, saying that one of his principles would be,
"civil liberties safeguarded and enhanced". Government ministers,
including Gordon Brown, have lined up to support the right to
protest in Burma. It is important that these same ministers also
defend the rights of people in this country to protest

We are determined to march to make our views known to parliament
on 8 October, when Gordon Brown will make his long awaited
statement on Iraq. We urge everyone who opposes the war policies
of our government to join the call for all British troops to come
home immediately and to help defend our civil liberties now under
attack. We have produced a petition calling on the authorities to
review the decision to ban the march.

SIGN THE PETITION ONLINE aimed at defending our right to protest
peacefully. You can do this here:

Collect as many signatures as you can and send filled petition
sheets to Stop the War Coalition, 27 Britannia Street, WC1X 9JP
Download for printing here:

Please spread the word as widely as you can about the
demonstration on Monday 8 October (full details below)


I'd be interested to know under what legislation they can stop it - SOCPA I seem to recall was a kilometre, not a mile, so it's possible the cops are just making it up as they go along, like they do with anti-war protester numbers.

Well, it Worked for Major

It's hard not to feel sorry for David Cameron. I'm sure he is a nice bloke and does seem to be genuinely interested in dragging his party kicking and screaming out of the Victorian era. He does however, have one major problem - his members. To put it bluntly the membership of the Conservative party is old and bonkers.

We shall see this in the conference hall, whilst the party tries to drag anyone under 40 to the cameras and platform, as the camera pans over the delegates in the hall it will look like a cross between a neglected bingo hall and night of the living dead. These people are the core of the membership of a party that is literally dying.

These are the people who threw away any chance of electoral success for a decade when they chose Duncan Smith over those two political lightweights, Portillo and Clarke. The people who weren't trusted to choose a decent leader by the party hierachy and it wasn't until Davis agreed not to stand that Howard could stick the knife into Duncan Smith and take the crown, in the knowlege that the membership wouldn't be involved.

In the next election, Davis blew it so badly at conference that even the tranked up hoards spotted a loser and that nice boy won.

But how can Cameron make any progress in getting his party in any shape to be fit to govern? The right keep sticking the knife in, knowing the members are with them. Will Dave do a Hague and lurch to the right? Will he carry on and lead a party that has had it's manifesto plagiarised by Gordon?

Well, the signs aren't good for Dave and his somewhat ineffectual advisors: It's Back to Back to Basics!

Well, send in the clowns and let the sport begin.

How To Spot An Extremist - One Tell Tale Sign

While it's perfectly in order to worry about the rise of conformist, technological surveillance societies in the West, it's a bad idea to channel this worry into violence and start sending letter bombs.  Not least because they tend to injure or kill perfectly inoffensive low wage people who are just doing a job of work, and no doubt a very boring one, but also because it makes it so much easier to paint people like you and me with legitimate, thoughtful concerns as wacky nutjob extremists.  The end result is what's seen in US blog politics, where centrist Democrat bloggers wondering why the people they voted for haven't ended the war yet are portrayed as frothing communists by right-wing loonies who, usually in the next breath, advocate bombing Iran.

The response conviction of Miles Cooper, therefore, is a timely reminder that this can happen anywhere - the BBC are, I'm sad to say, at it:

When he was interviewed by police it also emerged he had written to the House of Lords in protest at proposals for ID cards.

Well, that's pretty conclusive, isn't it? No one but an angry, dangerous extremist would get so worked up about politics as to actually *write a letter*, would they?

On a related note, my MP's office have been in touch to say a reply to my enquiry about the Iraqi employees is in the post. No rush, guys.

A New Revelation From David Miliband


After more than four years of war in Iraq with 170 British soldiers killed, 3,800 American casualties and up to 1.2 million Iraqi deaths, David Miliband tells us that there was "never a military solution" to Iraq.

Now he tells us!

Lord Goldsmith Lands On His Feet


It looks like the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, who showed himself to be such a disgrace to his profession by changing his advice on the legality of the Iraq war at the behest of the White House and by halting the SFO investigation into BAE, has landed himself a cushy job with an American law firm.

In a statement, Martin Frederic Evans, presiding partner of the firm, said: "His unique experience and reputation as one of the UK's most prominent ... QCs, and as the top government law officer will be a distinctive asset to our international offering, both in Europe and globally."


Downing Street en Espanol


Hey there, it's blogenfreude from across the pond.  Gordon Ramsay was on Larry King last night (it was ugly), but we've no time for that now.  Spain has done what your government won't.  Behold - the Spanish Downing Street memo:

In February 2003, the president was insistent that he hoped to find a peaceful solution to his standoff with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and would work with and through the United Nations to resolve the conflict. At least, that was what he was saying publicly.

According to a new report published today by El Pais, Spain’s largest daily newspaper, Bush told then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the time that he was going to invade Iraq no matter what happened. Spanish speakers can read the transcript of their discussion — I’m a little rusty — but E&P has a report on the revelations.

Bush purportedly said he planned to invade Iraq in March “if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not…. We have to get rid of Saddam. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March.”

He said the U.S. takeover would happen without widespread destruction. He observed that he was willing to play bad cop to British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s good cop.

According to the transcript, Aznar asked Bush to be more patient and emphasized the importance of a U.N. resolution. The president said he was out of patience. Aznar said he was worried that Bush was overly optimistic about what would happen. Bush reportedly said, “I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself.”

Yeah, yeah ... we all knew it anyway, but it's nice to have more evidence.  Can I come live over there?  I'll learn to drive on the wrong side of the road and everything, I promise.

Rules Of Game In 'Not Changed At All Actually' Shock

The frantic row back from Blairism (into what waters we're not quite sure yet, a kind of Christian Stalinism, possibly, an uneasy mix of Bible bashing and Father Of His Nation paternalism) continues apace at Chairman Brown's first Party Rally.  Latest in the 'what *were* we thinking' confessional is old lag and serial Home Office muppet Tony McNulty, who would like to apologise for the last couple of years of kneejerk Sun-pleasing counter-productive counter terrorism and ask for several offences of talking to the Muslim Council of Britain to be taken into consideration.  Good start, Tony, but we want action, not apology.  However, it's a start, and even an apparently minor change of emphasis is of great significance when it involves Government ministers talking openly about human rights instead of hiding from the wrath of the Sun.  I note that Shami Chakrabarti is evidently of similar mind, and she has an excellently tuned bullshit detector.

Mr McNulty told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth: "I think we have made mistakes since 7/7."

He said one of these mistakes was Mr Blair's argument that people must be ready to accept reductions in their civil liberties in the fight against terror because "the rules of the game have changed".


It is pleasing for petty small minded Blair-haters like ourselves to note how Big Tone has been completely airbrushed from history. There are some jobs you really need a Stalinist for, they do have a certain style when it comes to erasing backsliders.

Tom Wise MEP Speaks On Usmanov


Recording here.  Not often we have a good word to say for UKIP, but there you go.

The Return Of Tim Ireland

He's back and he's mad.

Welcome Back Tim, it'll take more a dodgy billionaire to shut him up.

Headline of the Year

More Problems for Usmanov


It couldn't happen to a nicer guy could it? From England Expects:

Tonight, during the Saryusz-Wolski report "Towards a common European foreign policy on energy" the Euro realist MEP Tom Wise will use parliamentary privilege to spell out the allegations against Alisher Usmanov. He has been talking to Craig Murray to ensure that the allegations are accurate and to the point.

The purpose of the debate is to discuss the creation of a single energy policy for Europe controlled by an European Energy Minister (or in Eurocratese a "High Official").

As Mr Usmanov is in the words of Murray [the man who] "ordered the cutting off of supplies to Georgia earlier this year" this is extremely relevant to the debate.

Under the rules governing parliamentary privilege, any news organisation can repeat what has been said in the Parliament chamber, allowing the MSM to circumvent the legal threats being thrown about by Usmanov's lawyers Schillings.

Let the fun begin.

I think I can hear the sound of toys being thrown out of prams.

Bloggerheads is Back

...sort of. Worth keeping an eye on, this isn't over yet.

The Marching Monks

We have been watching the protests in Burma growing day by day. 20,000 on Saturday, 30,000 on Sunday, 100,000 today. Soon the Junta is going to decide; to crush or be crushed. In a large part, this will be decided by China, a nation with a less than spotless record on peaceful protest.

The UN is gathering in Washington and this is a good time to let them know that we support the peaceful demonstrations and reasonable demands of the Burmese people.

It's time for regime change, only this time it is peaceful protestors that are providing the shock and awe. It takes a great deal of courage to confront the vicious thugs in Burma.

As you would expect, there is the petition, to be presented to Chinese President Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council, sign it and add your voice.

If anyone has any ideas on more concrete support we could offer, please get in touch through the Contact Us page.

Usmanov Out Petition

Mainly for Arsenal fans, actually.