Parallel Lives - Tony and George


It's a strange world. We've often wondered what the psychological connection between Tony and George is. Certainly it's baffled everyone close to him. This psychic mirroring is also acting out in the real world, they are facing similar problems at home, in their parties and they seem to fall together like siamese twins.

Then we get the case of corruption. Both administrations are riddled with dodgy deals and sharp practice. Like the US we're soon going to have a trial of a key person, Tony's bagman, Lord 'Scooter' Levy. Both administrations will be known for two things; corruption and Iraq. Both are doomed.

We can only hope that the great arc of neo-conservativism is in steep decline and that soon there will be a great demand for a new way of doing politics and build a new system that is not merely democratic but one that fosters representative government, one that actively engages with the public, that involves people.

New Labour can't do this. They have an instinctive distrust of the public, seeing them as an inconvenience at best. A million march in the streets against the Gaberdene rush to war, only proves that Tony is a leader unafraid to make hard choices. A million and a half sign a petition against road pricing. Send out an email telling them that they're wrong and carry on as though nothing has happened.

We have the technology to bring people into the political process. The old way of joining political parties is dead. Killed off by the politicians and their need for secrecy, their 'we know best' mentality and their desire to create elites in government and within their own parties.

The entire political process is in ruins. The parties are our only real choices of government but, in reality they are minority groups with dwindling membership. The National Trust has three times the members of the major parties combined. More people vote in Big Brother than General Elections. This is not sustainable and not just change, but a revolution needs to happen to grab back power from our representatives and give it to the people.

This is what Blairwatch is really about. Blair is just an example of all that is rotten. New Labour is part of the problem. Who is the solution? We are, all of us. All we have to do is imagine a better world and take the practical steps to bring it about. It will be hard. All the power holders will be against it, but it is not impossible.

Politicians live in a Victorian age, one that has failed to adapt, one that can't adapt. (They're still debating hereditary peers for God's sake). Outside the stuffy atmosphere of Parliament, people are radically changing how they work, how they live, how they communicate.

It is in this world that we live in. Whilst they still write the Queen's Speech on goatskin we use laptops, we communicate, network and agitate on a global basis, It may not look like it, but we are in the ascendant. The long term trends are in our favour and we can build a better world, a better way of governing ourselves. We will win.

We're the future, your future.



Can we surmise that Grauniad hacks Martin Kettle and Patrick Wintour aren't speaking to one another...

Tony's Closest Friends Rejoin the Reality-Based Community


Endgame. The days must be passing very slowly for Tony and it gets lonelier and lonelier at the top and he brought it upon himself. After hubris comes nemesis and the vultures are circling.

His closest allies are now openly saying what we all know to be true; Tony's legacy is Iraq. He played with the neo-con fire and got burned, taking his nation with him. Whatever happens in British politics we must change the system that allows one delusional man to drag us all into war.

Previously Britain has been famously reluctant to fight, whenever war was on the horizon we talked up the prospects for peace, but in Iraq, when peace was on the horizon we conjoured up the inevitability of war, the glory of a swift victory. It wasn't so much of saying 'we'll all be home by Christmas',  more 'it'll all be over by Easter'.

We will pay the price of this hubris for decades. That's Blair's legacy. Dragging the nations reputation into the mud. He can also claim to be the most corrupt government we've seen for a century.

Robert Harris nails it, calling Tony an "anxious Jeeves around a rather Texan Bertie Wooster". Yo Blair!

The Safety Elephant Trumpets His Return

The recent news that the elephant formerly known as 'Safety' (a.k.a. Charles Clarke) is making a comeback to mainstream politics simultaneously filled me with both amusement and dread. His most recent escapade, in partnership with the almost as ridiculous Alan Milburn is, of course, the 2020 Vision website, brilliantly exposed for what it is by Chicken Yoghurt and demolished by Ministry of Truth (swear blogging alert). The mainstream media didn't want to miss out on the fun either.

Never in memory have we been treated, however, to such a display of spite and thwarted ambition cloaked in the tattered rags of altruistic concern for party and country as on Wednesday, when the Milburn-Clarke Axis of Irrelevance fired a series of blanks at Gordon Brown while claiming merely to be launching a new website ( for what it's worth; and at most it's worth nothing) designed to provoke debate about the future of government policy.

The General consensus is that this is an all too obvious 'Stop Brown' campaign, something Milburn and Clarke vigorously deny without, it seems, managing to convince anybody. They say they want debate about the future direction of the Labour Party and are warning Gordon Brown to consult with them or else.... What is obvious is that under a Brown government neither of these clowns have a hope in hell of getting any of the plum jobs. Realising this, it seems there is a covert attempt to convince David Miliband to throw his hat into the ring as a Blair successor. The trouble is, he's already said he won't run (so far) and supports Gordon, and at the age of 41 he can afford to wait a little longer.

Having been told effectively to put up or shut up by Peter Hain, Brown supporter and contender for the deputy leadership, this raises the prospect of Alan Milburn or Charles Clarke trying their luck in an attempt to stop Brown or prevent John McDonnell or Michael Meacher getting on the ballot. Alan Milburn may just do it but as a loyal Blairite he supports the same policies that make Blair so unpopular.

Charles Clarke is described as a political heavyweight but his performance in the various positions he has held suggest that the 'political' should be dropped from that label leaving us with just the 'heavyweight'. As Education Secretary, he said that "education for its own sake" was "a bit dodgy" and that he would "not be much occupied" if the study of classics were to die out altogether in Britain. He also made remarks about the study of medieval history being merely "ornamental" and not worthy of taxpayers money. As Home Secretary he surpassed the incompetence of his predecessor David Blunkett and and set things up nicely so his successor, John Reid, could continue the tradition. It was Charles Clarke who famously said that the July 7th bombings came "out of the blue", something we now know was not the case. We also know that his people skills leave a bit to be desired which has made him the object of such ridicule. Last month Clarke suggested that Labour should consider extending charging to more areas of the NHS.

The very thought of Safety running for the Party leadership (however unlikely) brought to mind this old tune from my distant childhood.

The Return of the Dodgy Dossier


The dossier that just won't go away. New Statesman journalist, Chris Ames, has been digging very seriously and the latest issue has the results of his investigation and his hopes for the imminent release of the first draft, something that is expected to demolish claims that the 45 minute part was in from the beginning and show that the document was indeed 'sexed up'. Chris is right, this is an important day for truth seekers, not only because of the new site examining the document in incredible detail, sourced detail.

2020 Vision


Chicken Yoghurt at his best :

This ‘2020 Vision‘ website/debate/anti-Brown astroturfing thing is probably of limited interest to most people and little will probably said about it here after this. Things get the attention they deserve and 2020 Vision is, after all, largely about two damaged egos, previously found wanting, gasping for the oxygen of publicity.


Charles Clarke, a figure so ridiculous that, while Education Secretary, he had to be kept away from initiatives on childhood obesity and exercise. An hulking, authoritarian figure, nursing an impotent grudge of thwarted ambition larger than his famed double dinners.


And it’s a constant source of huge disappointment to me that Milburn is not held in wider ridicule than he is. He’s like a little known comedian who deserves to be huge. An in-joke that only a handful get. Consider his ridiculous bouffanted hair, geordie sneer, and casual, old school sexism (his description of Harriet Harman as ‘fucking hopeless‘ almost endears you to the woman).



Help Get Tony Blair into the Top 10 Now!


Via Stop the War Coalition:

Thousands of protestors on yesterday's magnificent TROOPS OUT / NO TRIDENT demonstration used their mobile phones to buy the Tony Blair spoof record WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR.

We need your help. Join the many thousands who have already bought WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and we can get it into the Top 10. Buying the record is extremely simple. There are two methods:

If you have a mobile phone, all you have to do is text PEACE1 to 78789. This will charge £1.50 to your mobile phone bill and you will immediately get a text message explaining how you will receive WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

To buy the record online, go to and follow the instructions for downloading WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

For just £1.50 you can get a prime minister into the charts with a song for peace, but of course we want to do more than embarrass Tony Blair. We want his warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan to end immediately. We want to help stop plans to attack Iran. We think Tony Blair should be held accountable for war crimes. Getting the spoof Blair record into the Top 10 can play a part in publicising the anti-war message, which represents the view of the majority in this country who oppose the Bush-Blair wars.

Please buy WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? now and encourage as many people as you can to do the same.

1) Mobile Phone text message PEACE1 to 78789
2) Download at

Murdoch's Man Talks Balls

Irwin Seltzer, Murdoch's consigliare, the man who told Tony to hold a refendum on the EC Constitution has pronounced on the Brown government. Interestingly it was only after Guardian Editor, Peter Preston mentioned David Milliband as a future Chancellor that Irwin trots out to endorse Ed Balls.

So, that's Gordon told.

Britain's Involvement In The Coming War With Iran


Tony Blair might be saying that there are no plans for an attack on Iran but we all know by now how much of a pinch of salt we need when listening to him. That there is an American build-up of fire power in the Persian Gulf is beyond dispute now and it's being widely reported. Britain, however tepid its support for war is, seems to be playing a similar game to America. Outwardly it is demanding tough sanctions on Iran and Blair never misses an opportunity to ratchet up the hate. But then we get stories of British fears about an attack on Iran and the claims that there are no plans to attack and how important diplomacy is.

"Nobody is preparing for military action and nobody wants military action," he told the Today programme.

"I think what is important is to pursue the political and the diplomatic channel. I think it is the only sensible way that we are going to get a solution to the Iranian issue.

"I personally think that you will never have a situation where you can say that there are no set of circumstances in which you could ever conceive of anything different to that.

"I can't think that it would be right to use military action against Iran." [My Links]

Compare this with US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates' recent statement:

“For the umpteenth time, we are not looking for an excuse to go to war with Iran. We are not planning a war with Iran.” [My Links]

So, seeing as our government cannot be believed, it's worth looking at what Britain is actually doing in the Persian Gulf and on its military bases. A few clarifications first. British involvement can take a variety of forms, from purely 'moral' support to full participation in a bombardment and/or invasion. The latter seems unlikely due to the poor shape of Britain's overstretched military. It should also be noted that just because Britain has military assets in the Persian Gulf doesn't necessarily mean it will use them. However it's a pretty good indicator. And allowing America to use British bases to attack Iran counts as participation in that attack. That said, it is interesting to note that there is increased activity on American bases in Britain. Air refueling tankers have been seen heading through these bases. And in the Persian Gulf, Britain has doubled its naval presence.

Britain’s senior naval officer in the Persian Gulf has revealed that Royal Navy deployments in the region have doubled since October in a build-up that matches the rapid escalation of American maritime firepower.


The additional Royal Navy vessels sent to the Gulf include HMS Cornwall, a type 22 frigate, two mine sweepers, HMS Ramsey and HMS Blythe, and a vessel from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

If we hear of British aircraft carriers and submarines in the Persian Gulf that will be yet another strong indicator of British involvement in an impending conflict. A while ago I suggested (somewhere) that a withdrawal of British troops from Iraq might be another indicator of an attack on Iran... hmmm! It really is about time the Government clarified its position on what it will do in the event of war breaking out. So it's a pity that our opportunity to question the Foreign Secretary on these issues has been postponed.

The Iran Strike


Although Tony doesn't know of any plans to attack Iran, the rest of the world seems to be talking about it. The attack is not certain to happen as there is a debate going on between the White House, Pentagon and elsewhere. Condi seems to be out of the loop, possibly feeling how Colin Powell did, just before he resigned.

There is growing concernt hat the situation in Iraq is going to grow into a regional conflict, and also one between Sunni and Shia. At the moment the US is blaming Iran for supporting Shia militias who are attacking US forces.

But, the US and Saudi Arabia are supporting Sunni forces in Iraq. The Saudi's are providing funding to bypass scrutiny from Congress and Senate.  Some of the people being funded have deep links to al Qaeda.

Seymore Hersh has an excellent article, The Redirection giving the background to this and a revealing interview on Crooks and Liars
The planned assault on Iran is terrifying a great number of people, indeed many US Generals are threatening to resign and the UK military will be in open revolt if Blair tries to order them to join in the strikes.

On the other hand, if an attack on Iran goes ahead, Blair will either be immediately removed from office or will be there for a full term.

Anti-War March Liveblogging *UPDATED* *UPDATED*


With one thing and another (mainly my missus being in bed with a hangover and me having the childminding job) I didn't get down for 12pm at Hyde Park Corner.  However, I've just spoken to Davide Simonetti ( who's met up with Rachel) and he's just, 2 hours after arriving, started moving.  This is big, people.  Murdoch's minions at Sky News are still reporting 'hundreds' demonstrating, so we'll be hoping to refute that.  We'll try and get some pictures sent up here to the orbiting Star Wars Blairwatch mission HQ and I'll put them up as the afternoon goes on.  At least until the rugby starts.

UPDATE - Rachel has sent me two photos which after some Bluetoothing and an application of the GIMP, are below:

Glowing skeletons and a man in a mask

What Sky News calls 'several hundred people'

15:08 (if Rachel stops sending me new photos!)

*UPDATE by Davide

I just thought I'd post a couple of videos which I've put up on YouTube. One is George Galloway speaking, the other is Mark Thomas. For more photos (some at a higher resolution), visit my Flickr site. You can see the BBC coverage of the protest here. For what it's worth, I estimated the turnout at somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand people (based on previous demos rather than maths). I heard that the police are saying that 10,000 people turned up and that the organisers are claiming 60,000. Bit of a discrepancy as usual.

Mark Thomas

You can see the video of George Galloway . Special thanks to Rachel for being such a star with the photos when I was having difficulties with my camera phone, and for being such good company.

Stop The War Demonstration - London Saturday 24 February


For more details see the Stop The War Coalition website.

Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire


Blair tried to spin his announcement of a reduction of British troop levels in Iraq as some kind of victory by telling us that the situation was now safe enough for a handover to Iraqi control. Obviously this is contrary to the evidence coming out of Basra where troops seem to be largely confined to base and liable to be attacked as soon as they venture out.

In a comment entitled "The British Defeat in Iraq" the pre-eminent American analyst on Iraq, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, asserts that British forces lost control of the situation in and around Basra by the second half of 2005.

Now we are hearing of another reason for the proposed troop reduction. Yep, they're going straight to Afghanistan. 1,600 soldiers leave Basra and more than 1,000 are off to Helmand for the Taliban Spring offensive. So how much of a victory does Basra look like now? Tony, of course, is still in denial about military overstretch despite what his generals tell him. Presumably it's just a coincidence that these two announcements came within 48 hours of each other.

Afghanistan is turning into a meat grinder for British troops with 48 killed since their deployment. And let's not forget that just under a year ago John Reid as Defence Secretary told us that:

"We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction."

There is an interesting video piece with Keith Olbermann talking to MSNBC Political Analyst Richard Wolffe about the British troop reductions in Basra, amusingly entitled The Blair Ditch project (via Chicken Yoghurt). The neo-cons are being characteristically ridiculous over the news of a partial pullout of Iraq by Britain. Condoleezza Rice is insisting that the coalition of the willing is still intact, stressing that some British troops will remain and neglecting to mention that Denmark is also abandoning the sinking ship and Lithuania too is looking for the life jackets. Australia is still loyal to the cause and Dick Cheney went over to remind them that:

The notion that free countries can turn our backs on what happens in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other possible safe haven for terrorists is an option we simply cannot indulge...

We are determined to prevail in Iraq because we understand the consequences of failure. If our coalition withdrew before Iraqis could defend themselves, radical factions would battle for dominance over the country.

This is, of course, one day after the news broke of British troop reductions when he said:

Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well...

In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels.

The spin never stops.

Are There Any Blair Loyalists Left?

Another day, another rat leaves the sinking ship. This time it's Tony's Stepford Wife, Hazel Blears who is announcing her bid for the deputy leadership, and the story has the delicious tag line: Former ultra Blairite heaps praise on Gordon Brown.  Like a teenager she describes her new crush as "incredibly strong and clever". She spins on a sixpence as she embraces her latest set of principles:

"I have never been a believer in a strong central state, and I am heartened by Gordon's recent statements that the days of pulling the central lever are behind us."

And so are your days, we hope.

Meacher or McDonnell - Which one has the best chance to stop Brown?

Michael Meacher's decision to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership tells us a couple of things. Firstly it tells us that there is an alternative to the New Labour agenda that we are constantly told is the only direction the party can go in. It also tells us that the traditional 'Old' Labour camp has more than just John McDonnell as a contender. By entering the race, Meacher will bring attention to the alternative policies that are overlooked by the media and raise the profile of the left of the party, so in that respect Meacher's challenge is welcome news. The problem, of course, is that now the left-wing vote is split and unless one of them stands down to make way for the other the only victor will be Gordon Brown. Hopefully one of them will give way nearer the time of Blair's departure. As it is, both contenders are standing firm and neither of them has the necessary 45 signatures from Labour MPs to get on to the ballot.

John McDonnell says he has the support of about 22 MPs and Michael Meacher is claiming he has support from about 30 Labour MPs. These numbers may of course rise once any challenge gets under way, but it will be an uphill struggle for both of them. So the question is, who will blink first? Both MPs have reasonably good left-wing credentials although I would say John McDonnell definitely has the edge by not voting for the Iraq war and campaigning against it and also against the . More on his voting record here. On the other hand Michael Meacher did vote for the Iraq war but says:

The biggest political mistake of my life was over the Iraq war. I believed the prime minister when he said there was a growing and imminent threat,

However, he also voted against investigating the war. Meacher also voted for ID cards. Ironically, his voting record might make Meacher the more attractive candidate for those MPs who see John McDonnell as being too radical.

Michael Meacher says he is for a new direction on foreign policy, which should be "based on fundamental British interests, not subservience to the US". He also wants the scrapping of Trident nuclear weapons, huge investment in renewable energy, curbs on City bonuses, re-nationalisation of the railways and the national minimum wage raised to £7 an hour. John McDonnell is calling for: the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the end to privatisation of public services, an increase in the Basic State Pension from £84.25 to £114 a week, the restoration of trade union rights and civil liberties, the abolition of student tuition fees and, like Michael Meacher, a green energy policy based on renewable power sources and the raising of the Minimum Wage to £7 an hour.

Both of these candidates offer a departure from the failed policies of Tony Blair and New Labour and their policies are likely to be very different to those of Gordon Brown, (when he gets around to telling us what they actually are instead of presenting us with the anodyne statements we've had so far). However, the chances of either John McDonnell or Michael Meacher winning the leadership contest are still very slim but Brown's victory is also far from certain. If either of these contenders can secure enough votes to get on the ballot but still look unlikely to win outright, there is still a possibility that Brown might be forced to make concessions to the left, but as he's an architect of New Labour I wouldn't bet on him doing that.