Friday, September 28, 2007

Oliver Kamm and A Case of Criminal Harassment

Long-standing readers of this blog will know all about the extremely vindictive campaign waged against me by the neo-conservative hedge-fund trader cum-blogger Oliver Kamm, which started when my critical review of Kamm's book appeared in the Daily Telegraph in December 2005. Ever since then, Kamm, his neo-con pal Stephen Pollard and their mysterious pseudonymous associates have done all they could to smear me, with emails, repeating Kamm's libellous allegations, being sent to editors who commission my work. Further details of this campaign can be found here. The campaign has been carried out on several fronts; including on the pages of wikipedia. My page was consistently maliciously edited by a mysterious personage called "Elena Zamm" (including on the evening of 25th December) A little research showed that Ms Zamm edited just two other wikipedia pages (but this time favourably) that of Oliver Kamm and a certain 'Anthea Bell'. Who's Anthea Bell, I hear you ask? Why, she's Oliver Kamm's mother.

In the end the malicious editors, unable to get the lies printed that they wanted, lobbied for my wikipedia page to be deleted. Now, the favoured technique is for untrue and libellous comments about me to be posted on any websites my work appears on, or indeed on any site I leave comments on myself.

Comments such as the ones below have been posted repeatedly on the Guardian's Comment is Free website beneath my articles. As you will see, the format is always the same: the comments are pseudonymous and always provide a link to one of two websites: Oliver Kamm and Stephen Pollard.

GreenCityGoddess
Comment No. 835587
September 27 12:12
GBR
Do you have anything to say about your exposure for fraud on Wikipedia? Clark posted comments praising himself under girlie pseudonyms (GreenGoddess and CityLightsGirl) on Wikipedia and Stephen Pollard's blog. He lied both times by denying he was Neil Clark.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/stephenpollard/89011/neil-clark-hypocrite.thtml

It's good of CiF to give Clark space though, even unpaid. Other papers don't publish him after his expousre for misrepresenting sources. He told the Telegraph his pro-milosevic boilerplate came from the IISS. It actually came from a group of Srebrenica deniers!
http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2007/08/a-humanitarian-.html
[Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
GreenCityGoddess
Comment No. 835587

And here's one from the website of the Green Party spokesperson Derek Wall, posted today. Derek had written to me about setting up an Erich Fromm Party/Society:

Derek, even if you like what he says, be aware that Neil Clark has been exposed for posting booster comments about himself across the web under false names and then lying when he's been caught. It's really funny that now he calls for people to post under their real name!

Neil posted under the name GreenGoddess on Stephen Pollard's blog, always praising himself. He also posted under the name CityLightsGirl on Wikipedia so as to delete any criticisms of himself. Both times he was accused of being Neil Clark and he lied in reply. (He didn't know that IP addresses could show he was lying.) He was banned from Wikipedia and had his entry deleted. Here he is being panned by a Wikipedia administrator for his fraud.

He writes unpaid for Comment is Free because most other places won't publish him. You need to be careful of him too.


Having given the matter much thought, I have this week, passed on all the evidence to the legal department of my union, the NUJ, who have very kindly offered to assist me in this matter. If you read all the material (and follow the relevant links on my blog), then I'm sure you will agree that what I have been subject to only be described as criminal harassment. The perpetrators of this activity have a clear aim: to discredit me in the eyes of those who employ me and prevent me from earning my living as a journalist. They are also perhaps hoping that in the light of their constant, malicious attacks, I will decide that in order to have a 'quiet life', I will quit journalism. They could not be more wrong. Unlike them, my conscience is clear. The malicious attacks have only energised me and motivated me to work even harder to expose the lies and deceit which underpin the neo-con war machine.

Anyway, things are now, at last, coming to a head. Let me make this pledge now: I will not rest until those responsible for such cowardly, underhand, and deceitful attacks are bought to justice.



UPDATE: You really couldn't make this up. 'anonymous' has returned to Derek Wall's site with the following classic:

Glad to hear of all the paying work, Neil. Does that exist outside your imagination?
And in an attempt to prove his case, 'anonymous' links to guess who? Yes, Oliver Kamm!!! (Kamm's words of wisdom are below)

"In the past 18 months he has, so far as I can see, written two articles for The Telegraph - about, respectively, the Edwardian comic writer Saki, and horseracing - and a 200-word contribution for The Times about the World Pipe-Smoking Championships in Poland. I have no doubt that he is competent to write on two of those three non-political subjects. His contributions to The Guardian have been more numerous, and commendably haven't included the relevant factoid. Indeed, the only time I've since commented on Mr Clark's writing has been a quizzical note about The Guardian's publishing, with predictably infelicitous results, a comment on French politics from someone who literally can't read a French newspaper."


The 'infelicitous' (coo, wot a big word Oliver!)result of the article in question was the rejection, by the Guardian's readers editor, of a spurious letter of complaint by a reader who wanted the paper to print a retraction for my claim that the gung ho French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had supported the Iraq war. I don't think I need to tell you who the letter of complaint was from....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Selective Outrage of Lee Bollinger

Well, what did you make of the way Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University introduced President Ahmadinejad on Tuesday?

No, I didn't think too much of it either.

As Khaled Diab writes on the Guardian's Comment is Free website:
"No matter what Bollinger's personal feelings are on Ahmadinejad's ridiculous, insulting and ambiguous stance on the Holocaust and the Iranian regime's human rights record, he broke both the basic rules of decorum and free debate in a disgraceful fashion. A moderator introducing a debate should, as his function suggests, project a semblance of impartiality and give the speakers a chance to express their views, leaving the audience to decide for themselves."


It is to Ahmadinejad's credit that he didn't just walk off after such a disgraceful intro: even the Jerusalem Post, hardly a pro-Ahmadinejad organ, said that Bollinger's introduction set the scene not for a debate, but for a trial.

There may be those of you out there who think the Columbia President is a brave man of principle, who introduced Ahmadinejad in the way he did out of personal conviction. But as the Guardian commenter 'neo conned' points out, Bollinger is man
who can be rather selective in his outrage.

This is how Bollinger introduced the military dictator of Pakistan, who harbours and finances the Taliban and signs peace deals with al-Qai'da:

"President Musharraf is a leader of global importance and his contribution to Pakistan's economic turnaround and the international fight against terror remain remarkable - it is rare that we have a leader of his stature at campus."


Unlike Ahmadinejad, Musharraf really is a dictator. And unlike Ahmadinejad he's been financing and harbouring the Taliban and also doing deals with al-Qai-da. But this evidently doesn't seem to bother our oh-so-principled Columbia President too much.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dancing with Dogma: Britain's Railway Madness

Rail passengers on Britain's most overcrowded routes face up to two years of cramped conditions because train companies are refusing to order extra carriages unless their contracts are extended, The Times reports.
"There is a weakness in the system because the Government or Network Rail has to pay compensation when it wants to improve the railways. You see the bizarre situation where a train company is compensated when a station is being upgraded even though the work will benefit everybody.” says Anthony Smith of 'Passenger Focus'

The late Sir Ian Gilmour called the privatisation of the railways 'crazy'. He was absolutely right. Craziness and "bizarre situations" are what you get if you allow extremist "free market" think tanks and not common sense, dictate government policy.
If you're reading this in a country which has been sensible enough not to sell off its railways, then do all you can to make sure your government NEVER follows the British example.

The Persecution of Hungary's Sparticists

On the subject of democracy being under threat, here's my piece on recent undemocratic developments in Hungary, from the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

In which country does a trial just starting of the entire leadership of an opposition political party, not for things they have done, but for things they have said? Iran? Russia? Zimbabwe?

No, the answer is: nice, pro-western Hungary, loyal member of both Nato and the EU.

The persecution of the leaders of the Hungarian Communist Workers party (Munkaspart) is only the latest instalment of an increasingly authoritarian witch-hunt against those who don't subscribe to "free-market" orthodoxy in "democratic" eastern Europe. The entire leadership of the Munkaspart will stand trial in Szekesfehevar after a legal action by the Budapest city court that ruled the proceedings of the party's 21st congress in 2005 to be null and void.

If found guilty, the party's leaders face two years in jail. Officially, they are charged with "a libel made in public" - for claiming that the court's judgment was political and an unjustified interference in the internal democracy of their party. But there's no doubting that the real reason the Munkaspart leaders are on trial (and the reason why the youth wing of the Czech Communist party has been banned) is because of their party's implacable opposition to their government's aggressively neo-liberal, pro-US agenda. (At least the Czechs were more honest: they officially banned the Young Communists for the heinous "crime" of advocating the common ownership of the means of production.)

Like their Czech counterparts, the Munkaspart has been in the forefront of the campaign against the Hungarian government's mass privatisation programme, a programme which, while providing rich pickings for foreign multinationals and western financial institutions, has left the majority of Hungarians worse off. It also opposed the illegal wars of aggression against Yugoslavia and Iraq, enthusiastically supported by Hungary's governing elite, and opposes the country's membership of Nato.

The party's leadership believes their persecution is revenge for the Munkaspart's initiation of a referendum, in December 2004, against privatisation of the health care system (and almost 2 million voters voted against this). But the ruling neo-liberal coalition is also worried about co-operation between leftist groupings like the Munkaspart and the conservative opposition; in the 2004 referendum, the Munkaspart campaigned on the same platform as Fidesz, the country's most popular party.

There will, of course, be those who say that the proscription of communist parties and the trial of their leaders are poetic justice - given the fact that opposition parties were not allowed under communism; and that undemocratic practices in both countries are a legacy of 40 years of one-party rule in which dissent was not encouraged. But is exchanging one form of coercive orthodoxy with another all that the new "democracy", so proudly proclaimed across the region in 1989, amounts to?

Hungary and the Czech Republic are members of the EU, an organisation that purports to be an association of rule-of-law democracies. But putting political leaders on trial and banning their parties is the work of dictatorships, not democracies. You don't have to be a communist to believe that the Munkaspart and the Czech Young Communists have every right to play an active role in their country's political life.

The authorities in Hungary and the Czech Republic should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tony Benn on the Death of Democracy

The BBC reports on Tony Benn's speech on the EU constitution:

"If this goes through Gordon Brown will not be the prime minister of Great Britain, he will be the mayor of the Greater British Authority".
Benn said power should be restored to nation states to opt out of the treaty if their people wanted it.
He said he feared the "death of democracy" in a wider sense - with the increasing dominance of unelected bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and multinational corporations.
Even Labour's own conference, which has voted to end emergency motions proposed by delegates and trade unions, had stifled democracy, he added.


Of course Benn is right. Democracy is under threat everywhere we look. Over the last twenty years or so, more and more powers have been surrendered to unelected bodies, such as the WTO, the IMF, the EU Commission, the World Bank and last, but certainly not least to multinational companies and financial institutions. Restoring these powers back to the nation state is an urgent priority: national sovereignty matters not because we are nationalists, but because we are democrats.

There's more on Tony Benn's speech over at Charlie Marks's excellent blog.

Death of a Decent Breed



As promised, here's my longer tribute to the late Sir Ian Gilmour (above), from the Guardian's Comment is Free website.


"When Bush talks about bringing democratic government to the Middle East, he means the election of Arab governments which will do what Israel and America tell them to do. But why is Europe acting in much the same way? Mr Blair talks a lot about Muslims and denies that they have been oppressed by the west. If he had ever read a book on the subject, he would know what rubbish that is. His neglect of the Palestinians and his aggression against Iraq have endangered Britons both at home and abroad, as well as being directly contrary to British interest and principles."


Who wrote the above words? John Pilger, Robert Fisk? George Galloway? No, they were from the pen of the late Conservative MP and former defence minister Sir Ian Gilmour, who died on Friday at the age of 81.

Gilmour was the last of a dying breed: the humane, thoroughly decent, "one nation" conservative - a man who believed that people were more important than "market forces" and that Britain's best interests were not served by total subservience in foreign policy matters to the US.

Sacked from the cabinet in 1981 by Thatcher for his opposition to her monetarist dogma, Gilmour, "the wettest of the wets", never wavered from his belief that the party's lurch to the neoliberal right in 1975 was a betrayal of its conservative principles.

I first saw Gilmour in person when he addressed my university's politics society in 1984. He held us enthralled for over an hour with his attack on Thatcherism and his defence of the mixed economy post-war consensus: as an unreconstructed "old" Labour socialist I found myself nodding in agreement with everything the tall, wonderfully well-mannered old Etonian baronet said.

Gilmour went on to write a brilliant book, Dancing with Dogma, tracing the Conservative party's takeover by a band of very un-conservative free-market ideologues.

He was wonderfully dismissive of the extremist ideas of the next generation of Thatcherites. In 2005, he wrote:
"The flat tax may well be right for, say, the new economies of Eastern Europe, but in long-established economies like those of the United States and western Europe it would be largely a device for making the rich richer, which is no doubt why it appeals to the neo-cons here and in the US."

He was also a principled opponent of both wars against Iraq. On the eve of the second Iraq war, he told the House of Lords:
"if the war starts, as seems almost certain, it will be, in my view, a war of cynicism, aggression, greed and unpopularity."

Today, few Tory MPs share Sir Ian's visceral hatred of military conflict: instead gung-ho neocons, eager to show their loyalty to the US state department, predominate.
But it wasn't always so. There was a time when, believe it or not, the Conservative party included people who did not believe that capitalism was a religion and that Britain should follow a foreign policy decided in Whitehall and not Washington.

RIP Sir Ian. If only there were more Tories - and indeed Labour politicians - like you today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How Jim Callaghan changed the world


It seems increasingly likely that Gordon Brown will call an autumn election. If only Jim Callaghan (above) had done the same exactly 29 years ago.
Here's my piece on Callaghan's catastrophic misjudgement, from the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Twenty nine years ago this month, a decision was made by a Labour party leader whose consequences still reverberate around the world today. Prime Minister James Callaghan stunned the nation by announcing that he was not going to call an autumn election. Instead, he announced he would carry on until the following year. It was to prove a catastrophic misjudgement.

Suppose Callaghan had called an election in September 1978 and won- as most opinion polls said he would. How might things have been different?

Callaghan has been blamed for introducing monetarism to Britain, but the cutbacks in public spending his government introduced after taking out the IMF loan in 1976, were mild fare compared to the ideologically-driven "rolling back of the state" which Mrs Thatcher had in store.

Although Callaghan's second government is likely to have included rightwing figures as David Owen and Shirley Williams, the presence of socialists such as Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Peter Shore, Judith Hart and Stan Orme would have ensured that the party did not stray too far from a progressive agenda.

In 1978 the economy was rapidly improving. Inflation was down to single figures and unemployment was on the way down too. The great Thatcherite myth that late 1970s Britain was the "Sick Man of Europe" is not borne out by the facts. "The outlook for Britain is better than at any time in the postwar years," was the verdict not of a Labour party propagandist, but of Chase Manhattan bank's chief European economist, Geoffrey Maynard. Under Labour, North Sea oil revenues would not have been squandered on paying people not to work, but spent on industrial regeneration. To ensure that the benefits accrued to the nation, energy secretary Tony Benn had set up the state-owned British National Oil Corporation. Another country in Europe followed a similar statist approach to its oil industry: Norway, now one of the richest countries in the world.

In terms of the Labour party's electoral fortunes, victory in 1978 would have meant the party staying together, avoiding the damaging Gang of Four/SDP breakaway, which by splitting the anti-Tory vote helped keep the party out of power for the whole of the 1980s.

The presence of a strong parliamentary left would have prevented the government adopting too hawkish a foreign policy stance: it's inconceivable that Callaghan would have formed the same relationship with Ronald Reagan as his successor did. Without the Iron Lady's neo-con aggression, it's more likely the cold war would have ended differently, not with the triumph of one system over another, but with the gradual coming together of east and west, within a peaceful, democratic socialist framework. It was not a forlorn, utopian hope - at the time western european countries were becoming progressively more socialist, while communist countries - most notably Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union itself, after the death of Brezhnev in 1982, were becoming less authoritarian.

A Labour government in the 1980s would have carried on the mixed economy model- and probably would have extended public ownership still further: even the 'right-wing' Callaghan had nationalised ship building in 1977. The mines would have stayed open, and large scale de-industrialisation would have been avoided. Yosser Hughes would have found a job and Sheffield steel workers would not have had to become striptease artists.

Defeat for the Tories in 1978 would undoubtedly have meant the political death of Margaret Thatcher. The party's lurch to the right in 1975 had already alarmed many Tory grandees - after an election defeat in 1978 the party is likely to have moved back to the one nation centre, under a more consensual leader such as Jim Prior, William Whitelaw, or Sir Ian Gilmour. Had the party returned to power in 1982/3, it's most unlikely they would have done so on a programme as radically neo-liberal as in 1979.

Of course it's easy to exaggerate the significance of general elections. But Labour's defeat in 1979 really was a watershed: marking the end of the collectivist, mixed economy consensus and its replacement with privatising, pro-big business neo-liberalism. The neoliberal road has led not just to social disintegration and an ever widening gap between rich and poor, but to war: if Callaghan had called an election in the autumn of 1978, it is unlikely that British troops would now be fighting in Iraq.

The victory of Margaret Thatcher - and the triumph of the ideals she represented transformed not only Britain, but the world. The former communist countries of eastern Europe do not follow the progressive, mixed economy model which brought the fastest rise in living standards for ordinary working people in the history of the world, but the rapacious, socially destructive capitalism which Thatcher championed. And when Labour did eventually come to power 18 years later, it did so with a neoliberal programme that owed more to Thatcher than it ever did to any previous Labour party leader.

It's a sobering thought that had Jim Callaghan simply done what everyone expected him to do on that fateful September day 29 years ago, "Thatcherism" is a word the world would never have heard of.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The arrogance of Empire

It seems that the Chinese authorities are not too happy that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held a private meeting with The Dalai Lama.

China earlier this month summoned Germany's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, a typical diplomatic way of expressing displeasure.
On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing expressed "our solemn position to Germany" over the Dalai Lama's visit, claiming he was using religion to further his political agenda and denouncing "his splittist activities."


What tommy rot. China illegally invaded Tibet in 1950 and has no right to harangue the leaders of other countries for meeting the country's exiled spiritual leader. This blog has always taken a consistent line against arrogant, imperialist attitudes and it does so regardless of whether the arrogant imperialists are American, British, Chinese or any other nationality.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rogue State

Is it time the peaceful nations of the world imposed sanctions on France for international warmongering?

Sir Ian Gilmour R.I.P.





Some very sad news: the anti-Thatcherite, pro NHS, pro-mixed economy, anti-war Tory Sir Ian (Lord) Gilmour (above) a member of our Dream Peace Cabinet, has died at the 81. I'll be posting a full tribute to Sir Ian later, but in the meantime, I'd like to pass on my sincere condolences to members of Sir Ian's family on this sad occasion.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Denis, the Neo-Con Menace

In today's Daily Telegraph, the neo-con Labour MP Denis McShane, a signatory to the principles of the notorious Henry Jackson Society, calls on France to rejoin the military wing of NATO.

"Is the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, prepared to be as bold as de Gaulle and say the time has come for France to re-enter Nato? It would send the clearest signal possible to the enemies of democracy that the new totalitarianism, to use Fischer's words, will not pass. Nato with France reintegrated can shape a European dimension to a new security policy aimed at helping the elected governments of Afghanistan, Lebanon, and in due course, Pakistan - even Iraq - to defeat their external enemies."


Hang on a minute Mr McShane -or should I say Mr Matyjaszek- (despite his constant exhortation to Britons to be more 'European', McShane prefers not to use his Polish moniker)- wasn't NATO supposed to be a mutual self-defence pact set up in 1949 as a defence against possible Soviet expansionism in Europe?

Since when did it morph into an organisation "aimed at helping governments....defeat their external enemies" in Asia?

I was going to post a few lines regarding this truly execrable piece of neo-con propaganda in the comments section, but Adam Garrie has said everything I would have said:

NATO has degenerated from an erstwhile anti-Stalinist military block into a feckless waste of time and money. The most effective military alliances are ones that arise out of a genuine need to combat a genuine threat. When military alliances are formed on a permanent basis they will seek military conflict on a permanent basis.


Quite. If you want endless war, then by all means propagandise for a greater global role for NATO, as the loyal Henry Jacksonite Denis McShane is doing. If you want peace, campaign for NATO to be wound up, without further delay.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How the Empire reacts to an olive branch

Earlier in the week on the 'Bernard Kouchner- Warmonger' post, commenter 'Neal' remarked:

"It seems to me that if war is to be averted, the Iranian leadership ought do something more than speaking out of both sides of the mouth, one side bellicose and the other side denying that very belligerency.
One would think, if the Iranians do not want a war, the government would go on a true peace offensive. "


Well, Neal, Iran has just done something peaceful and conciliatory, but their olive branch was refused with snarling aggression from those who only want war.

No, Neal, the Empire respects just one thing: military strength. Iran's best chance of avoiding Shock and Awe is not to offer to lay wreaths at the site of the Twin Towers, but to make the Empire fear them just as much as Iran fears the Empire. Bullies only attack those who they think are weaker than themselves-and neo-con bullies are no different.

Hungary's undemocratic "democrats"



Tomorrow in Szekesfehevar, the entire leadership of the
Hungarian Communist Workers Party (Munkaspart) will stand trial after a legal action by the Budapest City Court which ruled the proceedings of the party's 21st Congress in 2005 to be null and void. If found guilty, the leaders of the Munkaspart face two years in jail. Officially they are charged with "a libel made in public"- for claiming that the court's judgement was political and an unjustified interference in the internal democracy of their party. But the real reason the Munkaspart leaders are on trial (and the reason why the youth wing of the Czech Communist Party has also been banned) is because of their implacable opposition to their governments' aggressively neo-liberal agenda.

There will be those who say that the proscription of communist parties and the trial of their leaders is appropriate given the fact that opposition parties were not allowed under communism. But is this what the new 'democracy' so proudly proclaimed across the region in 1989 amounts too?

Hungary and the Czech Republic are members of the E.U.- an organisation which purports to be an association of rule of law democracies. But putting political leaders on trial and banning their parties is the work of dictatorships- not democracies. You don't have to be a communist to believe that the Munkaspart and the Czech Young Communists have every right to play an active role in their country's political life. The authorities in Hungary and the Czech Republic should be ashamed of themselves.

If like me you feel strongly about this blatantly political witch-hunt, then please take a few minutes to contact the Hungarian authorities to register your disgust. Keep the emails/letters courteous, but firm: Hungary has no right to label itself a democratic nation unless the trial of the Munkaspart leadership is cancelled immediately.
The contact details for the Hungarian Ambassador in London are below (I'll be posting contact details of how to contact the Hungarian government shortly)
And if you're around Eaton Place today, there is a demonstration outside the Hungarian Embassy. (nearest tube station is Victoria)

Her Excellency Borbola Csako,
Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary,
35 Eaton Place, SW1X 8BY, London
email: office.lon@kum.hu
Tel: (00 44) 20-7201-3446
Fax: (00 44) 20-7823-1348


UPDATE: You really couldn't make this up. Yesterday, warmongering French President Nikolas Sarkozy, who is half-Hungarian, addressed the Hungarian Parliament saying that France and Hungary are "fraternal" and originating from a "mutual commitment to freedom"! Freedom? Gyurscany's Hungary? You must be having a laugh, Nick.

Above is a pic of the two new best pals.
What do you think Feri Boy is saying to Nick? "Hey, why don't you try putting the leadership of your left-wing opposition parties on trial. It's great fun!" Or perhaps: "Can we join in the attack on Iran too! We'd love to get involved in another illegal neo-con intervention!"

Where Roman went wrong


Here's my latest piece on the turmoil at Chelsea, from today's First Post.

As predicted on The First Post yesterday, Jose Mourinho's three-year-reign as Chelsea manager is at an end. The dire 1-1 home draw with Rosenborg in the Champions League on Tuesday night proved the last straw for the club's billionaire chairman, Roman Abramovich.
After a board meeting which stretched into the night, the club issued a statement today to say that the 'Special One' had left by "mutual consent". Mourinho's successor is the club's Israeli sporting director, Avram Grant, a personal friend of Abramovich.
But though Mourinho (above)- the high priest of defensive football - is gone, Abramovich's ambition to turn Chelsea into an entertaining side will be hard to fulfil. The Russian wants goals, which are in short supply in Premier League football, and it's unlikely Grant, whose elevation is due rather to shrewd networking than a dazzling CV, will make much of a difference. Stultifying defensive tactics, with the use of a lone striker, predominate; even Manchester United have netted only four times in six league matches.
The only top side that is scoring goals - and playing the kind of sexy, attractive football that Abramovich so desperately wanted from Mourinho - is Arsenal. Abramovich could try to coax away Arsene Wenger - he'd have to cover Wenger's newly signed contract, but he can afford it - or he could just buy Arsenal.
The truth is that Chelsea was never the right club for a man of Abramovich's huge ambitions: prior to his arrival they had won only one league title in their history. Historically, Chelsea's attendances have never been high: last night 60,000 saw Arsenal defeat Sevilla at Asburton Grove - compared with 24,973 at Chelsea on Tuesday, leaving the stands half empty.
Arsenal have a fantastic new stadium, a great manager, a massive fan base - and could be open to offers. What more does Roman Abramovich want?

Its time up for Jose

Harold Wilson once said a week was a long time in politics. Well, a day is a very long time in football.
Here's my piece from yesterday's First Post, predicting that Jose Mourinho would very soon be sacked by Chelsea. I didn't have time to post it here last night: and lo and behold, we wake up this morning to the news that Mourinho has left the club 'by mutual consent'.
Which proves once again: if you want to read the news before it happens, you really have to read The First Post! (and this blog too, if its author is able to post everything in time!)

Is Jose Mourinho's three-year spell as manager of Chelsea about to come to an end? Despite winning two Premiership titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup (twice), Mourinho's position at Stamford Bridge looks increasingly precarious after a series of poor performances, culminating in last night's humiliating 1-1 home draw with Norwegian minnows Rosenborg in the Champions League.

Mourinho blames injuries to key players for his side's lack of form. But it's an excuse that is unlikely to cut much ice with Chelsea's billionaire chairman Roman Abramovich.

After their much publicised fall-out last year, Mourinho promised the Russian oligarch that his side would play more expansive, attacking football. But the change in style simply hasn't happened and Ambramovich feels betrayed. In the sleep-inducing 1-0 victory over Portsmouth in August, the Russian showed his disgust by marching into the Chelsea dressing room after the match, to inform his manager and players that the performance was "shit". What he thinks after last night's draw with a side lying in fifth place in the Norwegian league is anyone's guess.

Abramovich's ambitions for Chelsea are clear: he has said he wants his team to win the Champions League at least twice in the next six years. But after last night, that dream seems as far away as ever: a side that can't defeat Rosenborg on their home ground can hardly be expected to mount a serious challenge to the likes of Milan and Barcelona.

Chelsea are no longer the winning machine they once were: they have won only four of their last 14 games. The club's supporters are starting to express their discontent too: the stadium was nearly half empty for last night's tie.

Sacking Mourinho could cost Abramovich £15m. But compared to the potential £70m reward for winning the Champions League, he may decide it's money well spent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Support democracy: Support Bob Wareing

Sad, but predictable news, given the way New Labour operates. Bob Wareing, the anti-war 'old' Labour MP for West Derby has been deselected in favour of the pro-war, pro-privatisation former junior minister Stephen Twigg. Bob's great "crime" was to carry on being a socialist, and voting against un-socialist measures, like privatisation and illegal wars of aggression against Yugoslavia and Iraq. But Bob, to his enormous credit, is not going to go away quietly and give the New Labour bully boys a victory: he has vowed to stand against the warmongering Twigg in the next general election as an independent candidate.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who will be giving him support. A victory for Bob Wareing in Liverpool West Derby will be an embarrassing blow to the privatising war-mongers of New Labour. We must do everything we can to make Bob's victory a reality.

UPDATE: The Exile gives his thoughts on Bob's deselection and its significance, here.

A Tale of Two Tories

In the Victorian age it was loss of religious faith that kept people awake; now it is the loss of a nest egg. Such materialistic thoughts only added shame to my fear.
Possessions should not have been allowed to loom so large.
Yet they do. Dread of impoverishment in this world has taken the place of dread of eternal damnation in the next, to the point where financiers, who protect our riches, have assumed the importance of priests who once took care of our souls.
Never again, therefore, will I flick through those financial pages. Ask not for whom those City bells toll, they toll for thee!


Perry Worsthorne, authentic voice of 'old' 'One Nation' Toryism.

The market would have sorted out Northern Rock. That it was not allowed to do so has dealt a blow to capitalism, a creed on which we all rely for such prosperity as we have, from which we shall take a long time to recover.
If only we had a serious opposition party to embrace, champion and uphold the vital values of capitalism, the cure might come far faster, and be far more durable.


Simon Heffer, authentic voice of neo-liberal, Thatcherite, Toryism

Of the two, I know which creed I find the more attractive. How about you?

President Bush's new canine friend



There's only one Steve Bell. What a pity.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bernard Kouchner: Warmonger

Back in May I warned:

there's no doubt that in the offices of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, Kouchner's elevation will be celebrated. But for those who believe the best hope for peace and human rights is respect for international law, the news from Paris is bleak indeed.


Today, Bernard Kouchner, like the good warmonger he is, sought to heighten the tension on Iran, saying we must 'prepare for the worst'.As I've said many times before, we will NEVER have peace, so long as warmongers like Kouchner are anywhere near the corridors of power. What a perversion of democracy that Kouchner, alone in members of the French Socialist Party in supporting the illegal Iraq war, should be rewarded by becoming the country's Foreign Minister.

The choice open to us is a clear one. Work together to remove the warmongers from all positions of power or authority- or prepare for Armageddon.

There really is no 'third' way.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The world of Steven Wright

Many thanks to regular reader Bob Taylor for sending this in. They're all good, but I particularly like Nos 9, 13, 16 and 19.......How about you?


If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he's the famously
erudite scientist and comic who once said:"I woke up one morning and all of my
stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates." His mind sees things differently than most of us do, to our amazement and amusement. Here are some of his gems:


1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
3 - Half the people you know are below average.
4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 - 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 - A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 - A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 - If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 - All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand.
10 - The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 - I almost had a psychic girlfriend. ... but she left me before we met.
12 - OK, so what's the speed of dark?
13 - How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
14 - If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked
something.
15 - Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 - When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
17 - Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 - Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
19 - I intend to live forever..... .so far, so good.
20 - If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 - Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
22 - What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 - My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn
louder."
24 - Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
25 - If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 - A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 - Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
28 - The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 - To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is
research.
30 - The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 - The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.
32 - The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on
it.
33 - Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.
34 - If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights
work?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lieberman the Liar

How do you know a neo-con is lying? His/her lips move.
Anyone who still has their doubts, should ponder the case of Senator Joe Lieberman.
Lieberman, who you may recall was the man who once claimed a propos of the drug-smuggling terror group the KLA:

"[The] United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles ... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values."


Lieberman was also a strong supporter of military action against Iraq. Yet in last year's Senate election, Lieberman, as Michael Tomasky relates in his excellent Guardian piece, repeatedly told voters that "no one wants to end the war in Iraq more than I do,". A year after getting elected, Lieberman is talking like the authentic neocon hawk he is, praising the 'surge' and calling for the bombing of Iran. Lieberman holds the Democrat's Senate majority in his hands; his election effectively means the death of hundreds more American soldiers than would otherwise have been the case.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there will never be any peace in the world until warmongering neo-cons like Lieberman are removed from all positions of power.

And those who believe that if Al Gore had won the Presidency in 2000 things might have been a whole lot different ought to bear one thing in mind.

The KLA-loving, Shock and Awe enthusiast Joe Lieberman was his running mate.

UPDATE: Here's more on Lieberman's duplicity from David Sirota in the Huffington Post.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why Iran is next in line

'Wars, conflict- it's all business', sighs Monsieur Verdoux, the cynical anti-hero of Charlie Chaplin's classic film. Well, he certainly wasn't proved wrong when it came to Kosovo. And he certainly wasn't contradicted by events in Iraq either, as Naomi Klein's brilliant new book The Shock Doctrine details.
Both the illegal aggression against Yugoslavia and the equally unlawful attack on Iraq were wars of plunder: wars that were waged for economic, not humanitarian reasons.
And the next war that the neo-cons have planned, against Iran, is a war for corporate profits too. Forget the claptrap about Iran attempting to develop nuclear weapons- which is a neo-con fiction as false as the non-existent 'genocide' in Kosovo and the mythical WMD in Iraq: the real reason why 'regime change' is so important in Tehran is that Iran still operates a predominantly state-owned economy. It is a little known fact that around 75-80% of the Iranian economy is in some form of public ownership: meaning that there's some very rich pickings in store for western capital, should a privatising, puppet government be imposed.

The countries the neo-cons have targeted have in many ways been very different. Yugoslavia, under President Milosevic, was a European multi-party democracy. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a secular dictatorship. And today's Iran is a Islamic republic, whose head of state is an Ayatollah.

But Yugoslavia, Iraq and Iran, for all their differences, had one thing in common. A large state-owned economy, which was not fully 'open' to western capital.

It really is no coincidence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tough on Crime?

This piece of mine appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Nick Cohen is right.

It's not a sentence I often write, but it's true all the same. No, don't worry, I'm not referring to Nick's wholly misguided support for the invasion of Iraq, but his Observer article on the government's complacency towards violent crime.

In the piece, Nick takes schools minister Ed Balls to task for trying to play down fears on rising juvenile crime and for claiming that "every generation has always had kids that get into trouble."
Balls' complacency reminded me of the line taken by Joe Bullman's recent Channel 4 series, The Seven Sins of England, which claimed that "binge-drinking, rudeness, violence, hooliganism, slaggishness, consumerism and bigotry" were not modern phenomena, but an ancient and integral part of our national heritage.
But the truth is that things were not always as bad as they are today. For most of the 20th century, Britain was a peaceful, law-abiding country, noted by foreign visitors for the gentle behaviour of its inhabitants. The introduction of a modern police force and an efficient criminal justice system, the extension of compulsory state education and the strong moral guidance provided by institutions such as Sunday school, had all made an impact on reducing lawlessness by the late 19th century.

Things got even better in the 1940s. Social conservatism was combined with economic socialism and produced a genuinely cohesive, unmaterialistic society, where people could walk the streets at any time of day or night without fear of attack. Murder, when it did occur, was so rare that it was invariably front-page news, as were armed robberies: in 1949, there were just 28 armed robberies in the whole of the Metroplitian police region.

The main reason why so many media pundits and politicians are so complacent regarding violent crime is because, by and large, they do not live in the inner-city areas where crime is such a problem. Neither are they from the social class most affected by crime.
Rather than acknowledge the extent of the problem, sections of the liberal-left instead peddle the increasingly unsustainable line that violent crime is a figment of the Daily Mail's imagination. But as Nick Cohen says, if anything, with 300 murders a year more than in the 1970s, the media can just as well be accused of ignoring crime, as whipping up unnecessary fear.
The liberal-left's head-in-the-sand approach fails the very people the left is supposed to represent: the working class. It also prevents discussion - and implementation - of some of the socialist, soliarity-building measures that could be introduced to reduce crime: most importantly, the urgent need to rein in today's rapacious turbo-capitalist system, which, by encouraging selfishness and materialism, has done so much to destroy the camaraderie that once existed.

I'm sure that if there were more working-class representation in parliament and the media, things would be different. Contrast the comments of the middle-class New Labour minister Ed Balls (son of an academic and civil servant, educated at Nottingham High School and Keble College, Oxford) with those of Bob Wareing, the working-class "Old" Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, in whose constituency the family of Rhys Jones, the recently murdered 11-year-old, lives. Responding to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's calls for a gun amnesty, Wareing said:
"Does she honestly believe the people capable of perpetrating this terrible crime are going to hand over their guns? Of course they're not. We need far more resources for the police. If you walk around Croxteth, you will hardly see a policeman. We need to see them on the ground because we have got to crush this gang culture".
Wareing went on to call for new curbs on violent films that glorify gang culture, and said that Conservative leader David Cameron was right to focus on the need to tackle Britain's "broken society".

In the past, the Labour party was full of MPs like Bob Wareing (a local man, the son of a lorry driver, educated at state school, with an extra-mural degree from London University). Today, it is full of people like Ed Balls. Therein lies the problem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let's build a network

Below is a viral link list. If you want to join in the fun, all you have to do is copy it, add your name to it, and post it on your blog (adding the links in the usual way), and we'll build a network!

The Money Blog-The Exile-Martin Meenagh-Neil Clark-

Monday, September 10, 2007

The 51st State

Brigadier James Bashall, the commander of 1 Mechanised Brigade, has told the Daily Telegraph that British troops could have come out of Basra Palace in April, had there not been intense U.S. pressure on them to stay in the exposed outpost. The five month delay cost the lives of 11 British soldiers: a further 62 have been wounded in months of intense fighting.
It's clear that a tiny, unrepresentative group of neo-cons in Washington, none of whom have ever served in the military, determine not only when British armed forces go into action, but also when they are allowed to withdraw from action.
Clearly, Britain is no longer an independent country. But as serious as the loss of sovereignty to the EU and its institutions is, it pales into insignificance compared to the way we have allowed our foreign policy to be decided in Washington.

Time for some Propaganda......

Suzanne Freitag, singer with the wonderful 1980s German group Propaganda, turned 50 last week.
To mark the occasion, here's some fantastic footage of Propaganda appearing on 'The Tube' in January 1986, performing 'Disziplin', and 'Dr Mabuse'.
Enjoy!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Jimmy Perry: King of Comedy

Jimmy Perry, the king of British television comedy- the co-writer of Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M'Lord, is 84 today.
To celebrate here's a classic clip from Dad's Army, with Frazer in full flow.......

A real cliff-hanger

A man was walking along a cliff top, slipped, fell, grasped for anything that might take his weight and found himself hanging on to a crevice, scrabbling for some hold that might take his feet. He was not a religious man, but this was no time for the consideration of niceties. He looked up into the heavens, his fingers turning white and shouted: "Is there anyone up there?"
A huge voice came from above: "What is it my son?"
"Help me; tell me what to do."
"Trust in Me and let go."
"Is there anyone else up there?"

(as related by Sir Clement Freud in yesterday's Racing Post)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What is wrong, and how it can be put right

The journalist and author Peter Hitchens (the Hitchens brother who's got the brains) has a penned a thought provoking article on what is wrong with today's Britain and how we can put it right.

The basic problem is that in the last forty years Britain has overdosed on both social and economic libertinism.
Social libertinism begets economic libertinism and vice versa: Roy Jenkins and Margaret Thatcher may have been political opponents, but were really two sides of the same coin.
Today, the millions of Britons who are moderate social conservatives, but who don't believe that 'market forces' should rule every aspect of our lives, are effectively disenfranchised. What is needed is a new mass movement/political party, which combines moderate social conservatism (emphasis on the family, personal morality, prioritising on social cohesion above economic 'growth', tougher prison sentences, bans on the sale of violent video games/violent rap music), with measures to rein in the pernicious effects of turbo capitalism.

We need to combine all that was good and decent about the 'old', sovereigntist left, with all that was good and decent about the 'old' sovereigntist right. We urgently need to restore our country's independence and work on a commonly agreed popular programme of national, democratic renewal. Such a programme would include such sovereignty-restoring measures as withdrawal from the EU, NATO and WTO; bringing public transport and the utilities back into public ownership, drastically reducing the gap between rich and poor, and re-introducing capital punishment for murder.

Back in 2003, I wrote of the urgent need for an old left-old right anti-war alliance. But it's not just to stop the neo-cons and their 'liberal' interventionist allies that we need such a realignment. We need it to save our society too.

UPDATE: David Lindsay comments on Peter Hitchens' proposals here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Moment of Truth has arrived



Just five hours to kick off........
Here's my preview of the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup, from today's First Post.

The chances of another man in a white shirt lifting the Webb Ellis trophy in Paris on 20th October may be remote, but we've still got a feast of world-class rugby to look forward to.

The Great Neo-Con Rewrite of History: No 768

"More controversially, Mr Howard has committed Australia's armed forces to participate in the American-led coalition's campaign against Islamic terror groups.
Australian special forces were in the vanguard of the 2001 military campaign to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Australian troops helped to overthrow Saddam's regime in Iraq."


writes 'Neo' Con Coughlin in today's Daily Telegraph.

Now, it could be argued, on account of the fact that Osama bin Laden had been based in Afghanistan, that the 'military campaign to overthrow the Taliban' was part of a 'campaign against Islamic terror groups'. But the attack on Iraq?

At the time, I seem to recall our political leaders telling us the invasion was an urgent necessity because of Saddam Hussein's terrible 'Weapons of Mass Destruction', which could be assembled within 45 minutes. No one said anything about 'a campaign against Islamic terror groups'.

Oh well, perhaps I was dreaming.....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti 1935-2007

"After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music".
Aldous Huxley.

Stick with the cloth cap, Bob




RMT leader Bob Crow is a man who knows the time of day. A staunch opponent of privatisation and the illegal aggression against Iraq, (and a supporter of capital punishment for murderers) his political views can't really be faulted. But I must admit his choice of headgear is rather puzzling. Although he has been known to wear a traditional cloth cap (above), Bob seems to have developed a rather worrying penchant for wearing a baseball cap. Come on Bob! You can't rail against globalisation (no pun intended..) yet wear the uniform of globalisation. I've no problem with Americans wearing baseball caps: baseball is a part of American culture. But it's no part of Britain's culture and to see a anti-globalisation trade union leader wearing a baseball cap is disappointing to say the least.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Iraq: It's time for a reckoning

"The withdrawal of British forces from Basra Palace, ahead of an expected full withdrawal from the city as early as next month, marks the beginning of the end of one of the most futile campaigns ever fought by the British Army.
Ostensibly, the British will be handing over control of Basra to Iraqi security forces. In reality, British soldiers control very little in Basra, and the Iraqi security forces are largely run by the Shia militias.
The British failure is almost total after four years of effort"


writes Patrick Cockburn in today's Independent.

The Iraq war has been the most calamitious foreign policy disaster in living memory.
Nearly a million people, including 168 British troops, have lost their lives. Billions of pounds of taxpayers money- money that could have been spent on old age pensions or hospitals, or in renationalising and modernising our railway network- has been wasted. And the world is an immeasurably more dangerous place than it was in March 2003.

Yet, incredibly there are those whose who think that we should just carry on as if nothing has happened. "Let's not be too harsh on those who planned and acted as cheerleaders for this disastrous war" they say- "they were acting out of the best intentions". What utter tripe. Iraq was attacked not because our leaders thought it possessed WMDs, but because they knew damn well it didn't. The whole war was a deceitful sham, a colonial resources grab dressed up as a 'humanitarian' intervention to 'liberate' the Iraqi people from a dictator the west had helped put in power in the first place.

Those responsible for taking our country to war against Iraq must be held to account. And those who acted as cheerleaders for the illegal invasion should either show some contrition for the death and destruction they have helped cause or retire from public life.

The war in Iraq, is, from a British perspective, all but over.

Now it's time for a reckoning.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bob Wareing: Honourable Member



Regular readers of this blog will know that its author has a fairly low opinion of members of the British parliament. The sad truth is that most MPs are- let's not beat about the bush- careerist creeps, who pursue their own interests and not those they are supposed to represent. There are however one or two exceptions. Bob Wareing (above) the Labour MP for West Derby is one of them. I met Bob for the first time at a Houses of Parliament meeting to commemorate the anniversary of the illegal NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.
Bob not only opposed that illegal war, but also the similarly unlawful attack on Iraq four years later.
Listening to Bob reminded me why I once joined the Labour Party. A principled opponent of military aggression and a life-long socialist, Bob supports public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and strongly opposes everything that the 'New Labour' neo-liberals stand for.
And in common with the author of this blog, Bob believes that a moderately conservative stance on social issues, far from being inconsistent with socialism, actually complements it. For Bob, socialism is not defined by support for reducing the homosexual age of consent, or for making divorce and abortion easier; but by one's position on public ownership and redistributive economic reforms.
Bob's social conservatism derives from his background. He is a member of a dying breed-the geniunely working-class Member of Parliament. The son of a Liverpool lorry driver, Bob was educated at council school, before taking an economics degree, extramurally at London University.
This weekend Bob showed once again how in touch he is with public opinion with his attacks on Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's ludicrous idea to create a network of "drop-off ones" for people to hand in illegal firearms, in the aftermath of the horrific murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, whose family live in Bob's constituency.

"Does she honestly believe the people capable of perpetrating this terrible crime are going to hand over their guns? Of course they're not. We need far more resources for the police. If you walk around Croxteth you will hardly see a policeman. We need to see them on the ground because we have got to crush this gang culture",
Bob said.
Bob went on to call for new curbs on violent films that glorify gang culture- and said that Conservative leader David Cameron was right to focus on the need to tackle Britain's broken society. Contrast Bob's comments with those from the New Labour hierarchy- and from the party's middle class apologists in the media, who have been telling us all week that rising violent crime is a figment of the tabloids' imagination.

The Labour party used to be full of people like Bob Wareing. Working-class, decent and most importantly of all, in touch with the views and opinions of those they were supposed to represent.

It isn't anymore.

Which is why I am no longer a member.

A week of classic films (and Ellery Queen too...)

British television viewers have got a real treat in store this week with some great films showing on the terrestrial network. If you love film noir set your VCR for BBC2 at 12.45 tonight, (or rather 12.45 on Monday morning), for Fritz Lang's Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, an ingenious thriller whose solution will leave you gaping with amazement (I won't give any more clues away...). Then on Tuesday night on BBC2 there's Bryan Forbes' brilliantly absorbing WW2 prison drama King Rat. On Wednesday night, there's the wonderful 1944 Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger film, A Canterbury Tale, in which Dennis Price had his first starring role. And on Thursday afternoon at 1.45pm C4 are showing Otto Preminger's Laura, a film which in the words of Tony Sloman "encapsulates what film noir is all about".
As if all these cinematic gems were not enough, BBC2 is also showing, on Wednesday at 10.55am, "The Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley"- a classic episode of Ellery Queen.

Whatever you do this week, make sure you've got a good stock of blank video tapes!

William Hague: Part of the problem, not the solution

Criticism of US policy in Iraq from retired British generals strengthens the case for a full-scale inquiry into the war and its aftermath, according to shadow foreign secretary William Hague. "Very crucial mistakes have been made. Understanding those and making sure they are not repeated in the future is one of the reasons we have to have that inquiry", says Hague, a strong supporter of the military intervention of four and half years ago.

There is a simple, sure-fire way to make sure that the 'very crucial mistakes' Hague refers to are not repeated. Don't embroil our country in any more illegal wars of aggression against sovereign states.

I wonder if Mr Hague and his fellow neo-cons in the upper echelons of the Conservative Party are prepared to adopt that position as their foreign policy?