Admit it; it’s over

Front page of a Murdoch newspaper two days before the local election campaign launch; what else is there to say?

The Times – Voters tell Blair it’s time to go: Most of Britain’s voters believe that Tony Blair has run out of steam and is destined to achieve little more as Prime Minister, an opinion poll for The Times finds today. The Populus survey suggests a growing polarisation about Mr Blair’s future. It underlines the impatience of the electorate at large about his performance after weeks of turmoil over the loans-for-peerages row. But among Labour supporters there is increasing support for Mr Blair’s strategy of staying on for the foreseeable future.

The latter group should be warned that their support for Blair – if it continues over the next few weeks – is going to cost Labour dearly.

Back to the building…

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Brian Haw needs your support today

The Home Office and Metropolitan Police are appealing against the High Court decision in July last year that Brian is exempt from the ban on unauthorised protest near Parliament brought in by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. The outcome of this appeal has very serious consequences and could mean that Brian is evicted. Click here for details.

UPDATE – I love that this is happening on the day that SOCA is formally launched. Who organises these things? Oh, and is anybody else loving the Big Scary Monster in the SOCA logo?

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On your marks…

Independent – Blair handover: If not now, when?: In the old Nottinghamshire mining town of Kirkby, 30 Labour Party activists sat in a horseshoe-shaped huddle in their modern party offices on Friday night, sipping mineral water. Party stalwarts and councillors meet every six weeks to discuss such staples of grassroots political activity as fundraising for party campaigns. But the agenda for the general committee of the Ashfield Constituency Labour Party last week included an item that was potentially incendiary. Senior members had called for a vote on when the Prime Minister should resign. Towards the end of the meeting, at 8.30pm, hands shot up as the motion went to a vote. Some had argued passionately that the Prime Minister should set out a timetable to quit, to restore certainty to politics and to prepare the ground for an “orderly” handover to Gordon Brown. Others called for calm, and argued against forcing the Tony Blair’s hand. It was this faction that won the day, and the call for a timetable for departure was soundly defeated.

Guardian – Brown and Blair prepare united front for local election campaign launch: Labour officials last night scrambled to ensure that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown share a platform when Labour launches its local election campaign this week, in a renewed attempt to display public unity in the face of factional squabbles in the party.

Well, that’s it; it’s time to correct this beast with a short, sharp pull on the choke-chain.

Quiet, please… man building.

PS – I meant to write a long apology/explanation for Bob Piper this morning… but it turns out that I don’t need to. In the comments under this post he says it himself; “I can understand your reservations on [insert issue here], but your local councillor is hardly to blame. Having said that, every vote for Labour will be claimed by Blair as a vote of confidence in him.”

So all I really need to say is; “Sorry… but you know why this is necessary.”

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Wipe your chin – the bullshit’s dripping

Condi Rice (31 March 2006): “People have the right to protest, that’s what democracy is all about,” Rice told reporters at a British aerospace plant. “I would say to those who wish to protest, by all means.”

Tony Blair (11 November 2003): “I say to those who will protest when President Bush comes: protest if you will. That is your democratic right.”

And we all remember how that turned out, don’t we?

UPDATE – BlairWatch – Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw – The North West Tour Round Up

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Too little too late

ePolitix – MP demands Labour handover plan: A Labour MP has called on the party’s executive committee to begin planning the handover of power from Tony Blair. John Trickett was one of two MPs to use a meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party on Monday night to say the Labour NEC should meet within the next few weeks in the wake of indications from the prime minister that he has a timetable for stepping down in mind. And on Tuesday the Hemsworth MP said the party needed some certainty as to what this was.

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I read the news today (oh boy)

Here’s a little nugget that has passed most people by:

BBC – Intelligence lessons of 7/7: Whitehall officials have told the BBC they are now facing an unprecedented number of terrorist plots in Britain. They say the threat of home-grown terrorism has increased substantially since the Iraq invasion of 2003, and that 50% of recent disrupted plots are home-grown, involving British nationals living in Britain.

Well, there’s a big fucking surprise; irresponsible foreign policy leads to further terrorism.

But the people you really have to worry about are the protestors…

BlairWatch – Condi Rice Protest Press Coverage: The national press are still talking up the threat of trouble, though where they are getting their stories from is anybody’s guess…

(Much, much more on the Condi visit can be found here.)

War brings peace. Peace protestors are violent. Black is white. Up is down.

Meanwhile… remember those rendition flights that Jack ‘see no evil’ Straw claimed to be unaware of?

Bloggerheads – When are we going to kick this bastard out?
Bloggerheads – Jack Straw is a lying weasel (and other facts about torture)

Well, as it turns out, when we’re not actively surrendering British citizens for rendition, we’re turning a blind eye…

BBC – Europe ‘knew about’ CIA flights
BBC – Rendition report adds to terror debate

And the reaction of that great humanitarian Jack Straw? Well, there’s en established pattern of denial, and a criminal lack of curiosity. In fact, the only question he appears to have asked Condi lately is; “Do you want to come back to my place?”

And on that note, we go back to Liverpool (a place I really wanted to be this morning)…

BBC – Protests at start of Rice UK tour: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has started her two-day visit to the north-west of England. She is due to go on to visit a school in Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency, where some protestors have gathered.

No doubt the protestors will be guilted into thinking they should keep their distance. Or, failing that, they’ll be gently encouraged by riot police.

When Bush came to town, he and Blair also used school-children as a form of human shield, which is fucking disgraceful behaviour in my opinion.

(Sites to watch today: BlairWatch, CondiWatch and UK Indymedia)

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The lying liars are lying to you about their lies and their claims that others are lying to you

Clear so far? Good.

Independent – The US propaganda machine: Oh, what a lovely war: A week after the US Defence Secretary criticised the media for ” exaggerating” reports of violence in Iraq, The Independent has obtained examples of newspaper reports the Bush administration want Iraqis to read. They were prepared by specially trained American “psy-ops” troops who paid thousands of dollars to Iraqi newspaper editors to run these unattributed reports in their publications. In order to hide its involvement, the Pentagon hired the Lincoln Group to act as a liaison between troops and journalists. The Lincoln Group was at the centre of controversy last year when it was revealed the company was being paid more than $100m for various contracts, including the planting of such stories… Criticising the media last week, Mr Rumsfeld said: “Much of the reporting in the US and abroad has exaggerated the situation… Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side…. The steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists.”

WebProNews – Bush Recommends Blogs: “Our major media don’t want to portray the good,” said a woman in the audience. “If the American people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict.” … “One of the things that we have to value is that we do have a media,” answered the President. “There’s blogs, there’s Internet, there’s all kinds of way to communicate which is literally changing the way people get their information. So if you’re concerned I would suggest that you reach out to some of the groups that are supporting the troops, that got Internet sites and just keep the word moving.”

Short version: It’s the evil leftist media that is lying to you, not the Bush administration. The evil leftists wish us to fail in Iraq. The evil leftists wish the terrorists to succeed. The Bush administration has such poor control over the media that they need you to help them show the people the truth! Or the terrorists will win!


Meanwhile, in Fantasy Land, the fun continues…

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ID Cards – please excuse the link-dump:

Spy Blog – The final vote on the Identity Cards Bill 2005 – Ayes 301 (including the Conservative front bench) Noes 84
NO2ID – ID Cards bill passes
BSSC – Official: It’s Compulsory – Anyone who opts out is foolish
BlairWatch – ID cards – now the lunacy is unleashed
Spy Blog – Identity Cards Bill betrayal in the House of Lords
NO2ID – Lords 29th March 2006, 17:00: Conservative treachery
Chicken Yoghurt – Our list of allies grows thin
Make My Vote Count – Lord have mercy
A great letter from yesterday’s Indy: The Labour manifesto commitment on ID cards was: “We will introduce ID cards … backed up by a national database and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports”. The present Bill, however, would compel people to apply for an ID card when they renew their passport. In their attempts to link the Bill to the manifesto, the Government have come up with some shocking statements, such as “passports are voluntary documents”, “applying for a passport is matter of free will” and “this is not compulsion by stealth”. Far from blocking the Government’s manifesto pledge, as ministers claim (report, 29 March), the Lords have consistently attempted to amend the Bill to make it consistent with the manifesto. It is the Government’s heavily-whipped majority in the Commons which is being obstinate and unreasonable here, in refusing to accept any amendment whatsoever to the Bill. The Identity Cards Bill is an illiberal, arrogant, unnecessary piece of legislation. It grants enormous powers to the Home Secretary: but we are expected to believe the Government’s assurances that these powers will be used reasonably. The Government’s behaviour in attempting to railroad this Bill through shows what value we should place on these assurances.

Bloggerheads (June 15 2005): (T)he Act gave ministers the power to draw up an exclusion zone anywhere up to one kilometre from the Palace of Westminster. The map of the zone reveals Home Secretary Charles Clarke has used his new power to the full extent. To. The. Full. Extent. Remember that the next time someone speaks reassuringly about ID cards.

And now, a few words from the Sun, the only newspaper that continues to back ID cards, which laughingly begins by downplaying their role as the Downing Street Echo these past 9 years…

The Scum – Good ID: Charles Clarke often catches it in the neck over crime and illegal immigration – usually from The Sun. But the Home Secretary is entitled to be pleased after a breakthrough in the fight against both. The marathon battle over ID cards ended yesterday as the bill became law. There may be genuine fears about a scheme which, despite government denials, will eventually be compulsory. But whatever detractors claim, ID cards will help the fight against terror and organised crime. And by the time it’s up and running, every major country in the world will be following suit. We may even be able to stop evil sadists like Latvian murderer Viktor Dembovskis getting into the country.

UPDATE – – New ID cards agency set up after Queen approves bill: The government has wasted no time in starting work on the controversial ID card scheme after the bill became law this week, and has set up a new agency that will be tasked with introducing ID cards… Home Secretary Charles Clarke has already announced that the Labour government will make the scheme compulsory if it wins the next general election and a new agency to issue passports and ID cards has already been set up.

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Hot Water

Don’t you find it a little odd that Mary Creagh, the Labour MP who is worried that we all might burn ourselves has never formally objected to a government that approves of boiling people alive? Perhaps she thinks that if she looks after the boo-boos, the murders will take care of themselves.

Meanwhile… the battle over ID Cards is hotting up and push is about to come to shove. (It would pay to keep an eye on the news, NO2ID and SpyBlog today and tomorrow.)

Meanwhile… I’ve heard back from a few people who have written to their MPs about Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, and there are two stock replies; supporters seek to reassure us that controls are in place (while wilfully ignoring the fact that the proposed bill is of the self-amending variety), and opponents tell us that they are indeed worried about the bill but don’t have any actual plans to fight it. (More here if you need it.)

Meanwhile… the parliamentary investigation into the loans scandal has been delayed by the police investigation.

Meanwhile… Non-Brownite Labour MPs with a brain/conscience scramble to find their testicles.

Meanwhile… our government’s involvement in Guantanamo bay looks deeper and sleazier by the day and Jack Straw plans to spend the weekend chumming up with a key player in the Bush administration. (They have a special relationship based on selective perception; Jack can read a memo entitled “Receipt of Intelligence Obtained Under Torture” and see no sign that torture is being used for our ‘benefit’ and Condi can read a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States” and see no sign of a potential threat.)

Meanwhile… yet another uncomfortable moment in our government’s relationship with the Bush administration, heightened by the impending visit by one of their officials, has resulted in the release of a nasty little beastie that hasn’t enjoyed free reign since Bush came to town…. read Chicken Yoghurt on the ‘anti-American’ gambit – oh, and BlairWatch (and be aware that the ‘threat of violence’ and/or ‘protestors side with terrorists’ arguments cannot be too far behind).

Meanwhile… the slug in charge of the Home Office – the chap who thinks you should be detained without trial for up to 90 days so the police can ask you ‘a few questions’ and cynically uses victims of terrorism to justify such measures – has graciously allotted 10 minutes for a victim of terrorism, but only to diffuse the situation he created by being too sensitive/important/regal to answer questions himself.

Meanwhile… as anxiety over upcoming local elections builds (and signs do not look good), preparations are underway to cynically use the plight of hard-working local councillors who – in David Blunkett’s words – “are trooping the streets night after night in the endeavour to persuade people to vote Labour”… but we all know that a vote for these ‘innocent bystanders’ will be used and portrayed as an endorsement of Blair.

I’m sorry, but I’m not having any of it (and I’m not expecting the earth to be split asunder by the following announcement, I’m just letting you know where the line is for me).

Labour bods have until this weekend to rid us of this dangerous, abusive, self-serving, lying and murderous regime by any legal/democratic means possible.

If Monday does not bring a clear signal of their intention to deal with this problem with the urgency it requires, then – as far as I’m concerned – it’s all-out war on Labour during the local elections… starting *from* Monday.

No prisoners. No exceptions.

This shit must end.

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Was it a mistake?

Was it a mistake, or was it part of the plan? I’m going to ask that question again in a few moments, but first, this:

Blair and Howard are using their wagons to form a very small circle; “We must stand firm on Iraq.”

Jack Straw contributes with a new strategy document due for release today, which will maintain that the No. 1 threat we face is international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

So not the current culture of torture, abuse and corruption that fuels and/or enables international terrorism, then?

Independent – Britain ‘complicit’ in human rights abuses at Camp Delta: All the detainees in the report consistently testified that UK authorities were aware of their plight and unwilling to intervene despite the knowledge that they were either at risk of torture or said they had been tortured. There is no suggestion British authorities played any part in torturing the detainees but the report does argue consistent co-operation between the US and UK has led to an “international chain of abuse” that flies in the face of the British government projecting itself as a leader in the field of human rights.

That report is here.

As for weapons of mass destruction… well, again, you’ll just have to wait for the question… and, again, we have a minor ‘distraction’ to get past first:

Y’see, the New York Times has more on the 2003 memo

NYT – Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says: During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons… The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment. The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation… “The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.” It also described the president as saying, “The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam’s W.M.D,” referring to weapons of mass destruction. A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Kevin Drum puts the latter points in perspective here; “Yes, that’s the president of the United States talking about deliberately faking a UN overflight in order to provoke a phony confrontation with Saddam – or if that didn’t work, trotting out a defector to lie about Iraqi WMD. Honor and dignity, baby, honor and dignity.”

There’s also Bush and Blair agreeing that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups” to deal with. I’ll give you a moment to reflect on that and Blair’s clearly stated position that he would do the same thing again if faced with the same circumstances.


All done? Good.

Me, I want to backtrack to this: The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq.

And if they couldn’t find any in time, they would simply get a defector to lie about their existence.

It casts new light on this, does it not?

Guardian – Blair caught in Iraqi arms row (Feb 5 2004): Tony Blair’s credibility over his use of intelligence before the Iraq invasion came under fresh assault yesterday when he said that at the time of the war he was personally unaware that Saddam Hussein did not have the ability to fire long-range chemical and biological weapons… Mr Blair made clear that at the start of the war he had had no knowledge of the fact that the government’s infamous claim that Iraq could mobilise its banned weapons within 45 minutes of an order referred only to battlefield, as opposed to long-range, arms.

Remember what the Sun – the mouthpiece of Downing St – sold the public? That the weapons referred to in the carefully-massaged dossier could be launched on our troops in Cyprus. In 45 minutes. Amazingly, Geoff Hoon claimed that he had known the intelligence only referred to battlefield weapons but did nothing to correct media reports at the time because he was out of the country and therefore unaware of what Downing Street’s primary propaganda rag was printing.

So now it’s finally time for a repeat of that question:

Was it a mistake, or was it part of the plan?

To put it another way; was Blair incredibly incompetent or did he deliberately mislead Parliament?

A full and independent inquiry might finally provide an answer, but neither is a good one.

Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | 3 Comments