July 2009

Blogger at the Frontline

North on the war

General Sir Richard Dannatt General Sir Richard Dannatt
Dr Richard North, co-founder of the website EU Referendum, see HERE has anti-EU politics as his 'day job' He also has carved a niche for himself as an analyst of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and runs another blog, Defence of the Realm to deal specifically with this subject.

Tony Blair's wars were always a bit of a hotchpotch and lay somewhere between pure vanity and the evangelical with just a nod to strategy. North concentrates on Iraq and shows that the mistakes in Iraq were not recognised early enough, lessons were not learnt and so there is a risk of them being carried over into Afghanistan.

North's book, The Ministry of Defeat - The British War in Iraq, 2003 – 2009 has just been released and North was invited to the Frontline Club to talk about the subject and take questions. The occasion was supposed to be a proper debate with a full range of speakers, including General Sir Mike Jackson. But Jackson pulled out at the last moment for reasons not made fully clear.

A tale of two extraditions

Abu HamzaAbu Hamza

This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least.. Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

The complexities of our legal system are fast approaching those of countries such as Italy. Cases wend their way at glacial speed the courts, earning the legal profession vast sums. Cause célèbres are printed in our papers for days, then die only to reappear at intervals of several years.

So, we have the cases of Gary McKinnon and Abu Hamza. The former an engaging computer nerd who has hacked into American computers searching for UFOs and hoping to discover a pure power source,used by UFOs, that will save the world. The other a grotesque fanatic, terrorist and killer. Both have been battling extradition to the USA for years.

How are they doing?

Up or down, swings or roundabouts?

Swings Swings
Just in case you hadn't noticed it's been two years since Gordon Brown became PM. Perhaps you also missed the fact that the Tories won another by election recently, it was held in the Norwich North constituency. It's now clear that these two are events are related but that Nulabour would rather you avert your gaze and look away!

When campaigning to be Mayor of New York for the first time in 1977 Ed Koch would go on a 'walkabout' and greet people with his catch phrase, "How'm I doing?". It is said that Brown did not go to Norwich to help the Nulabour campaign. Perhaps he felt he knew how he and his party was doing, so did not need to ask! So, time to examine the by election trends and patterns under Brown's leadership.

Heroine Malalai Joya in the UK

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya

Malalai Joya, has written an article criticising the present Afghan war and tells the story of her life here. She was the second recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award for human rights campaigning (see right). It is instructive to read her views in the same week that David Milliband is advocating talking with the 'moderate' Taliban. Perhaps he should have a chat with her. She writes:

In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.

Gary and Andrew

Andrew SymeouAndrew Symeou

We are told that our Prime Minister might, just might, be considering doing something about the proposed extradition of Gary McKinnon. This is a cause célèbre and highlights the asymmetric nature of the US/UK extradition Treaty. The Daily Mail has highlighted the campaign recently with a string of articles about the case, that has been going slowly through the courts for the last seven years.(And we laugh at countries like Italy and India for their lugubrious legal systems.) Most other papers and many influential people have voiced their unease and distaste at the case of Gary McKinnon.

For once I'm happy if the PM's spouse has an effect, she has had tea with Gary's mother and is a 'good egg' for refusing to eat veal and foie gras at official meals.

However, even if Gary is spared, another British man faces extradition. This time to the EU. To Greece, that fine democratic country with its excellent legal system!

An honourable man

Andrew MacKinlayAndrew MacKinlay

Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay was one of just ten Labour MPs who had the courage to vote for a review of the 2003 Extradition Treaty in the wake of controversy over the case of the Gary McKinnon.

He is standing down at the next election because he is disgusted at the behaviour of his fellow Labour MPs. 74 had previously signed motions backing Mr McKinnon, or demanding an extradition review yet, on the day, meekly followed the party line. See here. In addition to being a moral man, Mr MacKinlay is a hard working MP and his expenses claims are modest.

Both Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg have condemned hypocritical MPs who pledged support for Mr McKinnon's fight against extradition before reneging in last week's Commons vote. Yet, why did the Lib Dem MEPs vote for fast track extradition without trial within the EU?

Appeal judges will deliver a ruling on Gary McKinnon on Friday, 31st July.

The EHRC's own dodgy dossier

Driven by spin

The clique The clique
It all seems so long ago, the time of the EU and local elections this year. If you remember the nation, or part of it, got itself into a frenzy about the BNP. Heat, rather than light, was generated in vast quantities, even so, many people who should have not been fooled were dazzled by the 'success' of the BNP. These people went into overdrive and behaved accordingly.

The smart folk sat back and did some real analysis. This was not so much a case of success but failure; Nulabour and their clique failed totally. The transfer of votes was almost exclusively from Nulabour to the BNP.


Democracy - EU style


The Telegraph reports that Marta Andreasen, the EU's former Chief Accountant and whistleblower, sacked by Neil Kinnock and now a UKIP MEP, was yesterday blocked by the centre-right and socialist MEPs from becoming vice-chairman of the European Parliament's budgetary committee. The European People's Party - which the UK Conservatives have now left - and the Socialists broke parliamentary convention on the allocation of committee posts by demanding a vote by secret ballot to block Mrs Andreasen, who was fired in 2004 after she publicly claimed there was a £172 million discrepancy between two sets of Brussels accounts. She claimed the accounting system was wide open to fraud and said: " I think the shop on the corner doesn't have this type of accounting system." Evidently the secret ballot was unprecedented.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat, attacked the "shameful decision" to hold a secret ballot so the MEPs could not be "held accountable for their actions". He said: "The message it sends to the public is that anyone who speaks out against malpractice in Europe risks being excluded from office."

Ms Andreasen, who will still be a member of the Committee is quoted by PA saying: "What are they scared of?

Spin is back

Nuspin Nulabour

Bouncing ball Bouncing ball
What is going on? Rather like a bouncing ball Damian McBride is back with us. This week there have been articles about McPoison in the: Guardian, Daily Mail, Spectator and on the BBC website. Why should this be?

When it comes to bouncing this is supposed to be the sole province of our PM, Mr McEyebags. He is the one, according to the spinners, who is always just on the verge of being hailed, yet again, by a grateful nation as their saviour. This theory is flawed in that is does not explain, but admits to, the fact that the fortunes of the PM go down as well as up.

In that respect it's like the claim of the PM, ridding the nation of boom and bust, not one but both banished forever. However, all too painfully plain to see, is not only the ex-iron Chancellor, now rusty PM, still with us and flaking away merrily in the mother of all busts, but his nasty little sidekick too.

Von Stauffenberg and democracy


65 years ago today, on the 20th July 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

His son Count Franz Ludwig von Stauffenberg, a lawyer and politician, has helped petition the German Constitutional Court which has ruled to that Germany will have to strengthen the powers of its parliament before it can finally ratify the EU Lisbon treaty. Der Spiegel has the full story.

David Cameron has pledged a European referendum if the Treaty has not been ratified and he becomes Prime Minister.