Tag Archives: David Cameron

what’s the truth about the civil war in Syria?

A week ago [Mon 30th July] the Guardian newspaper published a report entitled “Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria”. The strapline read:

In his latest exclusive dispatch from Deir el-Zour province, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad meets fighters who have left the Free Syrian Army for the discipline and ideology of global jihad

The article begins:

As they stood outside the commandeered government building in the town of Mohassen, it was hard to distinguish Abu Khuder’s men from any other brigade in the Syrian civil war, in their combat fatigues, T-shirts and beards.

But these were not average members of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Khuder and his men fight for al-Qaida.

Continuing:

They try to hide their presence. “Some people are worried about carrying the [black] flags,” said Abu Khuder. “They fear America will come and fight us. So we fight in secret. Why give Bashar and the west a pretext?” But their existence is common knowledge in Mohassen. Even passers-by joke with the men about car bombs and IEDs.

According to Abu Khuder, his men are working closely with the military council that commands the Free Syrian Army brigades in the region. “We meet almost every day,” he said. “We have clear instructions from our [al-Qaida] leadership that if the FSA need our help we should give it. We help them with IEDs and car bombs. Our main talent is in the bombing operations.” Abu Khuder’s men had a lot of experience in bomb-making from Iraq and elsewhere, he added.

And it turns out, at least to judge from Abdul-Ahad’s report, that the alliance with al-Qaeda was just what the opposition was needing. Here for example is the opinion of Osama, introduced to us as “a young jihadi from Abu Khuder’s unit with a kind smile”:

“They were committed,” said Osama. “They obeyed their leader and never argued. In the FSA, if you have 10 people they usually split and form three groups.” The jihadis, by contrast, used their time “in useful things, even the chores are divided equally”.

Osama joined the group. “He [the Saudi commander] is a very good man, he spends his days teaching us. You ask him anything and he will answer you with verses from the Qur’an, you want to read the Qur’an you can read. You want to study bomb-making he will teach you.”

The conflict in Syria, the media constantly remind us, is complicated, which is undoubtedly true, although this situation is totally compounded by the media’s overall lack of responsible coverage – and here I strongly recommend reading Charlie Skelton’s investigative report into the political connections behind some of the main Syrian opposition sources. To begin, however, and since it often helps in understanding complex problems to ask some simple questions (as any scientist will confirm), let’s ask the most obvious and immediate one: just why are America still actively supporting an armed uprising that is increasingly under the control of their arch-enemy al-Qaeda?

Here’s an answer of sorts offered by Abdul-Ahad as a meditative endpoint to his report, courtesy of the words, not of Osama, but “a young doctor working for the revolution”:

“They are stealing the revolution from us and they are working for the day that comes after.”1

Overall, Abdul-Ahad’s article leaves one under the distinct impression that perhaps the Western powers aren’t fully aware of the level of al-Qaeda infiltration amongst the Syrian rebels, and yet as Hillary Clinton had revealed in an interview with the BBC‘s Kim Ghattas as long ago as February:

“We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region: al-Qaeda, Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list to be sure, supporting – claiming to support – the opposition.” [20 seconds from start]

Click here to watch the full interview.

And if ignorance were the reason then surely articles like Abdul-Ahad’s might raise some fresh security concerns. Seeing that the Syrian uprising is in the process of being hijacked, the Western powers would surely be less than unreserved in their continuing support for the opposition forces. Well, here’s what Barack Obama did on Thursday [August 2nd]:

Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorising US support for Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad government, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence finding broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust President Bashar al-Assad.2

The article continues:

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of arming the rebels directly, even though some US allies are.

But US and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by western officials, who previously characterised Assad’s opponents as a disorganised, chaotic, rabble.

It is an assessment that chimes very much with that of Osama, the young jihadi with the kind smile.

Not that Obama made his commitment on Thursday apparently:

Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorisation, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.

The full extent of support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.

Yes, everything is unclear – one might even say complicated.

Meanwhile, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Friday, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I do not ever comment on intelligence matters but I can say that we are helping elements of the Syrian opposition, but in a practical and non-lethal way,” he said.

“We have helped them with communications and matters of that kind, and we will help them more.”

Hague leads us implicitly to believe that the British government would only knowingly support the good rebels and that the West would never intentionally give support to insurgent terrorist gangs, least of all those associated with al-Qaeda. But this is errant nonsense, of course, as former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had famously pointed out in a Guardian article written in the immediate aftermath of the London Bombings in July 2005:

Bin Laden was [though] a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west.3

Click here to read the full article by Robin Cook.

It seems then, that America are back in the business of supporting al-Qaeda. This is not as unusual as it may sound. If you wind back only as far as the Libyan intervention you’ll find that al-Qaeda was leading much of the opposition there too. Indeed, you may recall that back in November, the black flag of al-Qaeda was actually raised over the courthouse in Benghazi – the place where the Libyan revolution had first ignited:

The flag, complete with Arabic script reading “there is no God but Allah” and full moon underneath, was seen flying above the Benghazi courthouse building, considered to be the seat of the revolution, according to the news website Vice.com.

The flag was said to be flying over the building alongside the Libyan national flag but the National Transitional Council has denied that it was responsible.4

Whilst a report from CNN at the end of last year revealed that:

Al Qaeda’s leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials.

The jihadists include one veteran fighter who had been detained in Britain on suspicion of terrorism. The source describes him as committed to al Qaeda’s global cause and to attacking U.S. interests.5

Inevitably, the repercussions for many of the Libyan people have been terrible. Last month’s report released by Amnesty International entitled “Libya: Rule of Law or Rule of Militias?” putting the situation into a humanitarian context:

The militias initially took up arms to overthrow Colonel al-Gaddafi or to fill the security vacuum left after his state collapsed. They quickly accumulated their own caches of weapons and consolidated control over entire neighbourhoods and areas. Many refuse to disarm or join the army or police, and do not answer to the central authorities.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) and the government it appointed have appeared unable or unwilling to confront the militias. Officials frequently cite security concerns and the widespread availability of weapons to justify their approach of negotiating with the militias rather than confronting them, and to explain delays.

As for human rights since the fall of Gaddafi, the AI report continues:

Since March 2011, Amnesty International has visited over 30 places of detention in Libya, including official, semi-official and unrecognized ones. Follow-up visits in 2012 to several facilities confirmed that while treatment generally improves for longer term detainees, new arrivals continue to suffer abuse. In May and June 2012, Amnesty International found evidence of recent abuses, including torture, in 12 of 15 detention facilities where it was allowed to interview detainees in private.

Precisely what “semi-official and unrecognized” places of detention actually means is left unclear, although if Libya were now a country governed by the rule of law then all such detention centres would surely be deemed “illegal”. Inside these black holes torture is regularly meted out. I will not detail the kinds of torture, the methods being all-too familiar in any case, but will return to Amnesty International‘s question regarding what has happened to the rule of law in Libya:

Despite releases and the referral of some suspects to relevant civilian or military prosecution offices, progress in charging detainees with recognizably criminal offences has been extremely slow. Some detainees have been held without charge for a year. […]

The Ministry of Justice told Amnesty International that by June 2012, 164 people had been convicted in common law cases since the end of the conflict. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, by early June, only three trials have begun in civilian courts in relation to crimes committed in the context of the conflict, leaving thousands of people detained without trial.

Click here to read the full Amnesty International report.

Since Gaddafi was ousted the factional fighting between well-armed tribal militias – many linked to al-Qaeda – is continuing. The country appears to be falling apart. Meanwhile, there has, of course, been no direct ‘Nato-led’ military intervention in Syria, which is often given as the reason for the escalating violence. And it’s the Russians and the Chinese who are frequently singled out for dragging their heels at the UN, even in spite of the fact that the Russians, unlike the Western powers, have been consistent in their support of Kofi Annan’s diplomatic UN mission to find a peaceful settlement in Syria.

After Kofi Annan resigned last Thursday, Democracy Now! spoke to Charles Glass, former ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent, and author of the soon to be reissued book on Syria, “Tribes with Flags”. Glass said:

The French, like the British and The United States and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have never supported a negotiated settlement. They demanded a regime change through violence from the very beginning. So, if Annan has been undermined, he’s been undermined by those parties themselves. So, it is not surprising that they accept his resignation with such equanimity, and the logical conclusion being that the Syrian conflict will be resolved by force of arms. And they, along with other Western and Arab powers and the Turks, are supplying those arms to one side, while Russia supplies arms to the other side. In the long run, all of Syria will suffer as a result.

And regarding the British government’s role in the uprising, Glass says:

Prime Minister Cameron, like the Russians and like U.S., has been pushing for a violent solution all along. He had not done anything to encourage Kofi Annan’s mission nor had he done anything to promote dialogue between the opponents regime, which Britain and others are supporting, and the regime itself. The whole impetus of this conflict since it began in March of last year, from the outside and many inside, has been to militarize it and to leave no possibility of a diplomatic solution. It’s not surprising that he’s saying it’s failed, but he is one of those who helped it to fail.

So is the conflict in Syria really as complicated as it is still being presented? With the Western powers “demanding regime change from the very beginning”, and with “Western and Arab powers… supplying those arms to one side, while Russia supplies arms to the other side”.

Surely it’s time for the rest of the media to catch up. To admit that what’s really happening in Syria has nothing to do with humanitarianism, the ‘civil war’ being but the latest proxy war in a Cold War that never actually ended. The superpowers Russia and America locking horns in yet another fight to secure their own geostrategic interests. Certainly this accounts for why Washington is more or less openly supporting al-Qaeda again.

Here is Charles Glass’s assessment:

Well, I think that the opposition groups in The Free Syrian Army and the others who are fighting the war are pleased to have American support, want more American support, and would ultimately like American intervention. Whether in the form of a no-fly zone or an invasion, there are disagreements amongst them.

But for the other opposition, the people who actually started this, people who had done time in prison over the years, who were prisoners of the Assad regime who wanted popular demonstrations, who wanted civil disobedience, who wanted negotiations with the regime, to have a transition — a peaceful transition, in which there would ultimately be free elections in which the regime could win or lose — those people’s voices are being drowned out in the cacophony of artillery and rifle fire all around Syria at this time.

These people, I think they are disenchanted with the United States and see that The United States, or believe that The United States, has a different agenda from theirs. Their agenda is to bring democracy to Syria. They feel the United States agenda is to eliminate a regime which is too friendly to Iran, particularly at a time when Israel and the U.S. are contemplating a potential attack on Iran. It would be better for them to either weaken Syria or eliminate the regime that’s been allied to Iran before any attack took place, and those people in the peaceful opposition do not want to become pawns in a superpower game.

Click here to read a full transcript or watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

As violence in Syria continues to grow, the rhetoric for a more widespread war is being ramped up again. Tragically, the people in the peaceful Syrian opposition have always been the “pawns in a superpower game”, from Washington’s point of view, Syria being little more than a stepping stone in a longer term strategy of waging war on Iran.

Click here to read an excellent overview and analysis of the Syrian crisis entitled “Regime change in Syria by civil war”, written by Sami Ramadani and posted on the Stop the War Coalition website.

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Additional:

Posted on August 6th on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) website:

The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

This is the opening paragraph of an article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s specter in Syria”, written by Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, Ed Husain.

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Update:

On October 30th, the Australian channel SBS discussion show Insight featured a “passionate and at times volatile” debate between those on different sides of the conflict:

Click here to read further details about the show on the SBS website.

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1 From an article entitled “Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria – In his latest exclusive dispatch from Deir el-Zour province, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad meets fighters who have left the Free Syrian Army for the discipline and ideology of global jihad”, published by the Guardian on July 30, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/30/al-qaida-rebels-battle-syria

2 From an article entitled “Obama signs order supporting Syria’s rebels, reports say – US government source acknowledges that US is collaborating with a secret ‘nerve centre’ operated by Turkey and its allies” from Reuters published in the Guardian on August 2, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/02/obama-order-supporting-syria-rebels?newsfeed=true

3 From an article entitled “The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means: The G8 must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of such atrocities”, written by Robin Cook, published in the Guardian on July 8, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development

4 From an article entitled “Libya: Al Qaeda flag flown above Benghazi courthouse: The black flag of Al Qaeda has been spotted flying over a public building in Libya, raising concerns that the country could lurch towards Muslim extremism”, published by The Telegraph on November 1, 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8861608/Libya-Al-Qaeda-flag-flown-above-Benghazi-courthouse.html

5 From an article entitled “Al Qaeda sends fighters to Libya”, written by Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank, published by CNN on December 30, 2011. http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/30/al-qaeda-sends-fighters-to-libya/

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Filed under Afghanistan, al-Qaeda & DAESH / ISIS / ISIL, Charlie Skelton, Iran, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, USA

Don’t attack Iran – public meeting on Friday 25th May in Sheffield

MEETING REARRANGED
The meeting has now moved to Monday 23rd July.
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Sheffield Stop the War Coalition have called a public meeting on Friday 25th May, 7.30pm at Workstation (next to Showroom) Paternoster Row S1 (£2.00 admission).

The astonishing comments by two UK army majors serving in Afghanistan, that the war is lost and politicians are “trading soldiers’ lives for votes”, only reflects the views of most people in this country.

The government is continuing to wage the war knowing that the overwhelming majority of people in Britain want the troops brought home now.

In addition, the government is pressing for increased Western intervention in Syria — almost certainly as a stepping stone to a military attack on Iran. David Cameron is clearly no different from Tony Blair in his slavish support for America’s wars without end.

These war policies are making the world ever more insecure and unstable. It is vital that the anti-war movement mobilise the widest possible active opposition to the warmongering of our political leaders.

Don’t Attack Iran: we can’t afford another war.

The growing threats against Iran in recent weeks have been backed up with increased sanctions. As we know from Iraq, these are a prelude to war, not an alternative to it. There are signs of covert intervention already in Iran, as there are in Syria. Stop the War opposes all military intervention from the west in the region, for which there is absolutely no justification.

Invited speakers are:

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Al Abutaleb NUS Black Students Campaign

Maxine Bowler Sheffield Anti Cuts Alliance

with other speakers to confirm.

Sheffield Against the War Coalition:-

Mobile: 07522 706236

Sheffield@stopwar.org.uk

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a depression by any other name: so what is anyone doing about it?

News that the British economy has now entered a dreaded “double-dip recession” is being greeted with surprise from the government, when it ought really to have surprised no-one. That the government’s own dismal failure is immediately reworked into the justification for imposing more ‘austerity measures’ and more quickly, is, again, something we might all have expected.

David Cameron apparently said that the figures were “very, very disappointing”, whilst adding only that the government would stick with its plans and do “everything we can” to generate growth.1 Everything, that is, aside from tackling the real cause of what is actually a worldwide economic depression, by, for instance, re-regulating our own financial markets and also criminally investigating the banks that are responsible for the crisis. And everything except for making significant investments in infrastructure projects and government services that would actually generate useful jobs at union wages.

Austerity isn’t simply cruel, from a national perspective it is suicidal. Just ask the Greeks… or the Italians, or the Irish, or the Spanish, or for that matter, the Argentinians and the Chileans.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the figures were “catastrophic” and asked Mr Cameron what his excuse was.

“This is a recession made by him and the chancellor in Downing Street. It is his catastrophic economic policy that has landed us back in recession,” Mr Miliband said.

From the same BBC news article.

Fair enough, but where are Labour’s alternatives? During the last general election, the choice was between hardcore austerity meted out by the Torys, or softcore austerity from New Labour. How about no austerity! How about closing down the offshore tax-havens and thereby forcing the major corporations to stump up for the deficit. I don’t hear you, Mr Miliband.

The people are very slowly getting wind of what is really going on here. They increasingly see that the bankers have far too much power and influence over our elected representatives. Indeed, Goldman Sacks have blown their cover completely with the dictatorial appointments of Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti in Greece and Italy respectively, not to mention the more recent appointment of Mario Draghi as President of the European Central Bank (ECB). Yet there remains an almost total political vacuum in this country, with no mainstream party prepared even to question, let alone challenge, the steady ‘technocratic’ takeover of our societies.

So I see every reason to repeat an earlier plea for the urgent formation of a new political party. The party I envisage stands for human rights and social justice. It stands for the people and against the established elite. It says defiantly that enough is enough.

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Economist Michael Hudson spoke about the reasons for the deepening financial crisis on yesterday’s Keiser Report on Russia Today.

In the interview with Max Keiser [part 2 of the show: 13 mins], he explains why the bailouts have failed and, in their current form, must continue to fail. He also points out how there are plenty of alternatives for solving this crisis other than the deathly hammer of ‘austerity’.

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Here is a previous post, written last summer, which breaks down why ‘austerity measures’ will fail to rescue the economy, whilst presenting a few ideas for alternative measures that would genuinely help to turn the country around.

1 According to a BBC news article entitled “UK economy in double-dip recession”, published on April 25, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17836624

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the secret world of Lord Ashcroft

For a close-up look into the murky world of offshore business, I recommend yesterday’s Panorama investigation of Tory bigwig Lord Ashcroft’s Caribbean connections:

Secrets of the Tory Billionaire — Panorama

broadcast on BBC1 at 8:30pm-9:00pm on Monday 30th January
Editor: Tom Giles
Producers: James Oliver, Andrew Head

Declan Lawn investigates the extent to which Michael Ashcroft has been truthful about his business empire. He’s donated more than £10 million to the Conservative Party and his cash helped put David Cameron into power. So how truthful has Lord Ashcroft been about the extent of his business empire? Panorama investigated his links to a controversial construction company in the Caribbean which has gone bust with debts of some $30 million.

Click here for link to BBC iplayer

Available on BBC iplayer until 8:59pm on Tuesday 29th January 2013.

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the secret life of Dr Fox and Mr Werritty – a scandal that almost went missing

With so much happening right now – multiple wars, revolutions, civil unrest, mass public protests and general strikes, not to mention the never-ending tragedy at Fukushima juxtaposed by our own government’s efforts to push ahead with the construction of more reactors, or the votes in parliament that further the deconstruction and sell-off of the NHS – there is just so much that is happening that the scandal surrounding the relationship between the Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, and businessman, Adam Werritty, has mostly been passing me by. In the bigger scheme it barely seemed newsworthy…

An eternal triangle involving a politician, his closest buddy and filthy lucre was surely just one more example of the kinds of backslapping cronyism we’ve come to expect. And with Fox resigning from office on Friday, the whole sorry spectacle appeared to have come to its inevitable, if rather speedy, conclusion. But it transpires that there’s more, much more, to Liam and Adam’s fall from grace than immediately meets the eye –

“To many, it always appeared an unlikely friendship. When Liam Fox met Adam Werritty, one was a middle-aged politician well-established in public life and the other a student just starting out in adult life.”

was the strapline to The Telegraph Political Correspondent, James Kirkup’s delve into Fox and Werritty’s friendship from a week ago [Oct 10th].

They’d met by chance at Edinburgh University. Fox the guest speaker, and Werritty, a student with big ambitions. In 2002, after their friendship had developed, Werritty moved to London, and took up residence in Fox’s London flat. He moved out again in 2003, but by then their friendship was firmly cemented. And then, in 2005, Werritty was chosen to be best man at Fox’s wedding. So that’s the background for anyone who doesn’t already know it, but of course there’s more, much more:

[Werritty’s] first business interest was health care, and he registered both UK Health Group Ltd — in which Dr Fox once owned shares — and UK Health Supply Services Ltd. By coincidence, Dr Fox was the Conservative shadow health secretary between 1999 and 2003, writing his party’s health policies and influencing national debate. […]

As Dr Fox settled into married life, Mr Werritty’s business empire grew. One of the companies he subsequently registered was Security Futures, a defence consultancy. By another coincidence, Dr Fox in 2005 became his party’s defence spokesman.1

And this was just the beginning. Kirkup continues:

It was in that role that Dr Fox’s friendship with Mr Werritty appeared to spill over into his professional life as a leading politician.

Yes, Fox and Werritty were soon travelling everywhere together. Meetings with security think-tanks in Dubai (2007), at high-level conferences in Israel (2009), as well as trips to Sri Lanka the same year, officially to help out with the peace process after the country’s civil war. Not that Werritty had ever actually been appointed by Fox to work in any official capacity, as his special adviser; Werritty was never more than ‘a friend’. But the story gets much stranger again:

Some details of their friendship remain unclear, but it is known that Mr Werritty visited the Ministry of Defence’s secure Whitehall headquarters 14 times in 16 months. He has also visited the minister’s official residence in Admiralty Arch by Trafalgar Square.

Still, Dr Fox has insisted that their friendship has no official dimension. “Mr Werritty is not an employee of the MoD and has, therefore, not travelled with me on any official overseas visits,” he told MPs last month.

Click here to read James Kirkup’s full article.

But my own interest in the story was really piqued when I came across a post on Craig Murray’s blog from Thursday [the day before Fox announced his resignation]. Intriguingly, it began as follows:

This information comes straight from a source with direct access to the Cabinet Office investigation into Fox’s relationship with Werritty.

Murray then goes on to outline how Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary – a man who apparently prefers to be called by his initials: GOD – “has fixed with Cameron” to narrow the investigation, by only considering, as Murray puts it, Werritty’s “little grubby money-making for introductions to Fox”, and entirely overlooking something “much worse and much more serious”. So what could O’Donnell and Cameron be trying to keep under wraps? Murray, who draws a direct comparison to the Profumo Affair in the 1960s, says he knows:

The answer is that Werritty is paid by representatives of far right US and Israeli sources to influence the British defence secretary. It has been discussed within the MOD whether Werritty is being – knowingly or otherwise – run as an agent of influence by the CIA or Mossad. That is why the chiefs of the armed forces are so concerned, and why there is today much gagging at the stitch up within the Cabinet Office.

This has parallels to the Christine Keeler case but is much, much worse.

That the British Defence Minister holds frequent unrecorded meetings in the Ministry and abroad with somebody promoting the interests of foreign powers is much, much worse than a little cash-grubbing. That the person representing the foreign powers is actually present, apparently to all as a ministerial adviser, at meetings of Fox with important representatives of foreign nations is simply appalling.

Click here to read Craig Murray’s post entitled “The Real Werritty Scandal”.

By Friday [the day of Fox’s resignation] some of the mainstream media were catching on. Here is a report in the Guardian, which mentions claims that Fox was “conducting what a senior Whitehall source called a ‘maverick foreign policy’”, and that “what government officials are stressing is what they call Fox’s separate – “maverick” – foreign policy interests”, and that:

Officials expressed concern that Fox and Werritty might even have been in freelance discussions with Israeli intelligence agencies.2

Craig Murray adding in a post, also on Friday:

As I have been explaining, the real issue here is a British defence secretary who had a parallel advice structure designed expressly to serve the interests of another state and linked to that state’s security services. That is not just a sacking offence, it is treasonable.

Murray, in his efforts to get the story out, had also managed to get a short slot on Peter Oborne’s Radio 4 show “Week in Westminster”.

Click here to listen (Murray is about 9 minutes in) — Back in his blog, Murray says of the broadcast:

Incidentally my single sentence reference to Mossad was edited out, but I think my meaning remains clear.

Then yesterday, just a day after his Radio 4 interview, as Murray put it himself, the mainstream media finally woke up:

A week late, but the mainstream media has finally learnt (not least through my telling them) that it was the Mossad link that was really worrying Whitehall about Fox.

Click here to read Murray’s post.

Indeed, The Independent on Sunday actually ran with a front-page ‘exclusive’ : Werritty ‘plotted with Mossad to target Iran’:

Mr Werritty, 33, has been debriefed by MI6 about his travels and is so highly regarded by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad – who thought he was Mr Fox’s chief of staff – that he was able to arrange meetings at the highest levels of the Israeli government, multiple sources have told The IoS. 3

And the Mail on Sunday granted Murray space to present his own account.

Click here to read it.

Back on his own blog, Murray has again called on Matthew Gould, British Ambassador to Israel, to answer the questions he has put to him. After all, the real scandal is only beginning to be uncovered.

And Murray also takes a sideways swipe at the news media, writing:

The Indie on Sunday story of a Fox-Israel plot against Iran is a great deal more credible than Obama’s announcement of a plot by Iranian used car salesmen to employ the Canadian Mounties to assassinate Justin Timberlake outside the Won-Ton Chinese restaurant in Champaign-Urbana (I may have got some of the details of Obama’s fantasy wrong, but what’s the difference?)

So congratulations to Craig Murray on finally turning the mainstream media’s attention to such important revelations. It takes some doing these days, because unless a story is officially sanctioned, as was the case with Obama’s Won-Ton restaurant fantasy (see my previous post), it seems they just don’t want to know.

Click here to read more from Craig Murray.

1 From an article entitled “Liam Fox and Adam Werritty: an unlikely friendship” written by James Kirkup, published in The Telegraph on October 10, 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/conservative-mps-expenses/8817267/Liam-Fox-and-Adam-Werritty-an-unlikely-friendship.html

2 From an article entitled “Rightwing Tories rally to Liam Fox’s side” written by Patrick Wintour, Rupert Neate and Richard Norton-Taylor, published in the Guardian on October 14, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/13/rightwing-tories-rally-liam-fox

3 From an article entitled “Revealed: Fox’s best man and his ties to Iran’s opposition” written by Jane Merrick and James Hanning, published in The Independent on Sunday on October 16, 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-foxs-best-man-and-his-ties-to-irans-opposition-2371352.html

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Iranian assassination plot could be straight out of Hollywood

The US secretary of state has called for a “very strong message” to be sent to Iran, after allegations of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US.

Hillary Clinton said Washington was preparing new penalties against Iran, which is already subject to a variety of international sanctions.1

Click here to read full BBC report.

This was the big story from Wednesday [Oct 12th] that was plastered all over the mainstream media:

We had reports in the Daily Mail of how “an extraordinary terrorist plot has been foiled”:

Agents of the Iranian government reportedly offered $1.5 million to a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination of Adel Al-Jubeir in a busy Washington DC restaurant.

The terror plotters — who also planned to set off blasts at the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the city – told their Mexican contact they could provide ‘tons of opium’ to his gang.

But their contact, to whom they allegedly wired a $100,000 down payment for the killing, was in fact an undercover U.S. informant.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ‘stranger than fiction’ plot ‘crosses a line’ in Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and will further isolate the Islamic republic.2

The Independent reported that:

Two men, including a member of Iran’s special-forces unit, the Quds, were charged with orchestrating the plot. One of the duo, Manssor Arbabsiar, has been arrested and appeared in New York Federal court last night, wearing blue jeans and a dress shirt. The other, Gholam Shakuri, is still at large.

The allegations will dramatically ratchet-up tension between the US and Tehran. They represent the first time in recent history that the country, a member of the so-called “Axis of Evil”, has been accused of sponsoring attempted terrorist activity on US soil.3

Yes, it seems that those evil-doers at the “Axis of Evil” are up to no good again; the Guardian also covering the news of the bomb plot along with “a worldwide travel alert for American citizens, warning of the potential for anti-US action.”:

“The US government assesses that this Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States,” it said in a statement on its website late on Tuesday. 4

Meanwhile, the British and French governments have already indicated that they are ready to support any US measures against Iran:

“For France, this is an extremely serious affair, an outrageous violation of international law, and its perpetrators and backers must be held accountable,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in Paris on Wednesday.

Britain would support “measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions,” said a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron.5

Reuters, which had released the story the previous day, reported that Obama was calling the plot a “flagrant violation of U.S. and international law”, with Saudi Arabia saying it was “despicable.” Perhaps more interesting, however, was the statement of FBI Director Robert Mueller:

At a news conference, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the convoluted plot, involving monitored international calls, Mexican drug money and an attempt to blow up the ambassador in a Washington restaurant, could have been straight from a Hollywood movie.6

Indeed it seems to have been a plot so Hollywood, or so much ‘stranger than fiction’, as Hillary Clinton put it, and so – what’s the word? – incredible, that even as the story was breaking some were already doubting its credibility:

United States officials said they were exploring several theories why the Quds Force, which supplies and trains insurgents around the world, would plot an attack in Washington against a close adviser to the Saudi king, relying on an Iranian-American used-car salesman [Manssor Arbabsiar] from Texas who, they said, thought he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug gang.7

From a report in The New York Times, also published on Wednesday, and entitled “U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism”. The same article begins:

The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to reconcile what it said was solid evidence of an Iranian plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with a wave of puzzlement and skepticism from some foreign leaders and outside experts.

Senior American officials themselves were struggling to explain why the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, would orchestrate such a risky attack in so amateurish a manner.

Click here to read the full article.

And here is a report from Reuters yesterday:

An Iranian-born Texas man accused of an elaborate plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington was a heavy drinker and flighty businessman who did not fit the profile of a cunning agent, according to people who knew him well.

They say they are stunned by the charges against him.

“Everybody was like, ‘What, Jack?'” said Mitchel Hamauei, a friend who runs a Corpus Christi Mediterranean market and deli that Manssor “Jack” Arbabsiar frequented. […]

He got his nickname from his penchant for swigging Jack Daniels whiskey, friends said.

“No way was this guy the master of this plot,” said former roommate Tom Hosseini, who has known Arbabsiar for 30 years. “Iran has 75 million people, and they cannot find a better guy to make a plot like this?”8

Click here to read the full report.

There are many who have also questioned the story. Most dramatically, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer claims that an FBI insider informed him that the plot was entirely manufactured by the Obama administration and that no information regarding the plot even exists.

On Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Fox News show, Shaffer said, “It does not smell correctly”:

The FBI’s had a record lately and I did talk to one of my inside guys and he is saying he thinks the same thing, you know why, because he can’t find any real information and he’s got a clearance — so that tells him that there’s something going on that’s extraordinary by the fact that he’s an inside investigator, knows what’s going on and yet, I’m gonna quote here, ‘There’s nothing on this within the DOJ [US Department of Justice] beyond what they’ve talked about publicly’ — which means to him that there’s something very wrong with it.”


Pepe Escobar, a journalist based in Brazil and correspondent for the Asia Times, put the whole issue into context in an interview on Russia Today, pointing out that there is no evidence linking the plot to the Iranian government and explaining how the story simply “doesn’t make sense”:

If you target an ambassador, he’s going to be replaced by another ambassador – the foreign policy of the country you’re targeting is not going to change if you kill ten ambassadors in a row… And if they wanted to kill a Saudi ambassador they could do it in the Middle East – it’s very easy – they have Iranian agents all over the Middle East… Why would they bother to mount such a sophisticated operation on American soil, knowing that everything in the US is intercepted by American Intelligence?

…It doesn’t make sense at all.

Follow the money and follow the interests – who profits? Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud, so they can divert attention from the fact that they are the Mecca of the counter-revolution in the Arab Spring. They smashed the Arab Spring in the Persian Gulf… and the Israeli lobby, because they need to go back to ‘Iran is an international threat’ and ‘we need to do something’ before the next elections…”


Of course, in the event of the story ever being reworked as a Hollywood film then there’s likely to be a disclaimer. Something to the effect of:

“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

Given the recent history, with the “yellowcake forgeries” and the other lies about Saddam’s WMD, it might be helpful if the news media started to apply a similar disclaimer of their own; especially whenever Washington starts up with stories of the latest threat from ‘the axis of evil’.

1 From article entitled “US to pressure Iran over ‘plot to kill Saudi envoy’” published by BBC news on October 12, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15269348

2 From an article entitled “U.S. condemns Tehran after foiling plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on American soil using a Mexican drug hitman” written by John Stevens, Oliver Tree and Lee Moran, published in the Daily Mail on October 12, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2048138/Iran-terror-plot-US-foils-plan-assassinate-Saudi-ambassador-using-Mexican-hitman.html

3 From an article entitled “US accuses Iran of bomb plot to kill Saudi ambassador in Washington” written by Guy Adams, published in The Independent on October 12, 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-accuses-iran-of-bomb-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador-in-washington-2369220.html

4 From an article entitled “US issues travel alert after Iranians charged over bomb plot” published by the Guardian on October 12, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/us-issues-travel-alert-bomb-plot

5 From article entitled “US seeks Security Council support for Iran action” published by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on October 13, 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gR7JgD6nBBVFODzZfeiH-Sde-ecg?docId=CNG.31489099dea4e6b34171e1a5ec101a16.bc1

6 From a report entitled “Iranians charged in U.S. over assassination plot” written by Jeremy Pelofsky and Basil Katz, published by Reuters on October 11, 2011. http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE79A5E020111011

7 From an article entitled “U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism” written by Eric Schmitt and Scott Shane, published in The New York Times on October 12, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/us/iran-sees-terror-plot-accusation-as-diversion-from-wall-street-protests.html?pagewanted=all

8 From a report entitled “Accused Iran plotter in US lacks cunning, friends say” written by Kristen Hays, published by Reuters on October 14, 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/14/us-usa-security-iran-arbabsiar-idUSTRE79D5UH20111014

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greetings from England

“Travellers are advised to exercise special caution, to immediately pull back if confronted with any signs of disturbance, and to especially follow advice given by security forces,” the German foreign ministry said in its online travel advisory.

In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes… this is advice to German citizens, provided by their own government, for those considering embarkation to our own green and pleasant land. Tuesday’s message from the travel advisory adds:

“Travellers should also look to the media to keep themselves informed about the latest developments and act in an appropriate fashion locally.”1

Which is perhaps not the best advice under the circumstances, given that the local fashion is for looting and arson.

Like many people in England, I am appalled. Appalled by the wanton destruction. Appalled at the copycat dumb-ass materialism and gang culture imported from across the Atlantic. Appalled at the thirty years of neo-liberal economics that has already impoverished us socially, culturally and, dare I say, spiritually, in the lead up to, as well as the cause of, a global economic depression that is now in the process of ruining us materially.

I am also appalled at the lack of a police response. How on earth could a few kids kicking up a commotion create the sheer mayhem we have seen during recent nights? Were the police ordered to stand down and simply observe, as some are claiming? What kind of a police force fails to take action when confronted by acts of mindless vandalism and violence? But now, as a direct consequence of those operational failings, we have calls for the use of baton rounds, CS gas and water cannons.

So to summarise all of this: a marginalised but substantial portion of Thatcher’s grandchildren, possibly in gangs which they have joined because they can’t think of anything better, have thrown a temper tantrum, and the only answer will be more surveillance and the further militarisation of our police force. Words fail me. How has it come to this…?

And then I switch on the news and there is Cameron puffing himself up, and Clegg running away with his tail between his legs, and “Mini-Me” Miliband trying to look like a grown-up, not to mention Boris Johnson, the clown prince of mayors, blathering as only Johnson can, and… and… I am exasperated.

But listen, this is England. The thugs have taken to the streets, quelle surprise. And whereas the Spanish have los indignados, we have only the ignoramuses (or rather, lost ignoramuses); people with no knowledge of anything beyond the corruption they see all around. And yet, the alienation of this growing underclass is real enough, and so these eruptions, mindless as they have been, are nonetheless, an ugly symptom of an entirely cancerous system.

The politicians, who are now politely leaning on one another’s shoulders, speaking platitudes in these times of national need, are just one small part of that system. The media, with its rolling repetition and empty speculation, is yet another part. These are just the products, quite literally, of the free market madness that has invaded every corner of our society and lives. Our whole rotten society has been infected, not to the core, but from the core, which is why there is little in the way of any real and effective opposition.

As a consequence this country has lost all hope and all direction. It is not alone. But the big issue – the colossal elephant in the room – is that we also stand on the verge of being driven into debt slavery because of the criminality of a depraved financial elite. In this we are also not alone. Greece is going the same way, Spain too, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, America, and now even France is beginning to enter into its own death throes. The German travellers were well advised to stay at home, but those who are awake must recognise the near-certain probability that their own country will soon enter into receivership too.

When times are tough, the temptation is always to kick down and to lash out, because this is the easiest and most cowardly way to vent your anger. In the coming months and years, we must unfortunately expect to see still more of what we’ve witnessed already this week. But those with greater understanding and better conscience, and who can see beyond the parochial evils, need to spread the awful message before its too late. This country is going to the dogs, so let’s not get too distracted by the fleas.

*

Additional: for an alternative perspective on the underlying cause of the riots, I recommend Peter Oborne’s article entitled: “The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom”, published in today’s Daily Telegraph. Click here to read the full article.

Oborne says:

“[But] there was also something very phony and hypocritical about all the shock and outrage expressed in parliament. MPs spoke about the week’s dreadful events as if they were nothing to do with them.

“I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.”

Overall, Oborne provides a thoughtful and generally fair analysis of what the riots really show about “Broken Britain”. The only pity being, that he focusses so much on the petty cash scandals of our parliamentarians, whilst failing to mention what amounts to a grand larceny being carried out by a banking elite.

“Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain”, Oborne says, but then why stop at Britain (or rather, England). Something is going horribly wrong across Europe and throughout the developed world, and the underlying cause is rather obvious. The really significant difference being, that in Britain (as in America), the programme for dismantling our society was begun a little earlier, in fact, about two decades earlier.

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Murdoch: scandal and the pursuit of profit

The following recently broadcast documentaries about the unraveling News Corp scandal and Rupert Murdoch’s iron-grip on the main political parties are both recommended:

Dispatches: How Murdoch ran Britain

broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday 25th July at 8:00pm-9:00pm
Director Tom Porter

Journalist Peter Oborne has been consistent in raising the alarm over the “dark arts” employed by the tabloid press to get their stories by any means. Here, he also looks into the world of the Rupert Murdoch and the influence and political power he has held in the UK.

Murdoch: The Mogul who Screwed the News

broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday 27th July at 10:00pm-11:00pm

The incredible story of how Rupert Murdoch used celebrity scandal to bankroll his expanding media empire, before scandal ultimately engulfed the News of the World itself.

Jacques Peretti talks to everyone from Hugh Grant to Murdoch insiders to find out how the world of celebrities, cops and politicians first cosied up with, and then turned against, the world’s most powerful media mogul.

Click here for link to 4OD

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privatising the NHS thanks to New Labour

The government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill, ostensibly giving GPs more control over NHS budgets, is about to open the door for a huge private sector takeover. This week, with the government plans still on hold (and supposedly in a “listening” phase), the House of Commons held a debate to challenge the proposed reforms to the NHS:

“During the debate on Monday, shadow health secretary John Healey called for the government to shelve the plans, warning they were “high risk, damaging and unjustified”.

He told MPs: “This is setting up the NHS as a full-blown market and that is the wrong prescription for the NHS.”

And he added such a move would lead to hospitals being ‘driven to the brink’.”

Others, including some within the government, are also questioning the proposals. Nick Clegg says he intends to block the health bill unless it is altered:

[Clegg] said getting the NHS reforms right was “now my number one priority” and called for guarantees there would not be “back-door privatisation”.

He also vowed to be a “moderating” influence on the Conservatives on issues such as the NHS – a marked change in tone from the early days of the coalition government.”

Whether or not Clegg actually keeps to his promise we shall have to wait and see of course. Meanwhile, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have sent a 26-page analysis to the Prime Minister’s office which explains how the changes risk “unravelling and dismantling” the NHS:

RCGP chairman Dr Clare Gerada told the BBC the changes needed went far beyond any modest alterations.

She said: “I would hope that during this pause the government will reflect on what we’re all saying and will rewrite the part of the bill that is actually risking the NHS and risking the NHS being unravelled irreversibly for ever.”   1

Unfortunately, the previous government’s record on NHS reform is very far from exemplary, and so during the debate “Tory MPs attacked what they said was hypocrisy, pointing out that Labour had invited the private sector into the NHS while they were in power.”

According to Colin Leys, co-author of The Plot against the NHS, in this regard at least, they are perfectly correct. These are the opening remarks to a lecture he gave at Goldsmith’s College on 8th April:

“The common view of the changes proposed in the government’s Health and Social Care Bill is that they would be the most radical changes ever made to the NHS. In one way this is correct: the changes do mean replacing a comprehensive, universal system of care with a US-style healthcare market, consisting of providers, all governed by the bottom line. There will be a limited, ‘basic’ package of services for everybody, funded by the state; and better-quality treatments, on payment of a fee or co-payment, for those who can afford to pay.

But in another way the common view is wrong: the changes that were made under New Labour were more radical. A simple consideration makes this clear. If Mr [Andrew] Lansley had taken office last year facing an NHS as it still was in 2000 his project would be unthinkable. In 2000 there were no foundation trusts; no payment by results for hospital treatments; no private health companies already providing NHS acute care and GP services; no independent regulator of the healthcare market (Monitor). Without all these changes, and many others, what Lansley’s bill now proposes would be unthinkable.”2

In fact, New Labour began to tinker with the NHS almost as soon as it came into office, with promises “to overturn the Conservatives’ internal market structure, vowing to replace it with a more collaborative, quality-based approach”.

It wasn’t too long, however, before it began “pushing towards a more market-orientated strategy: a patient choice-led approach to hospital funding, the removal of ideological barriers preventing the use of private health providers to carry out NHS work, and the devolution of management and budgetary control from Whitehall to local NHS organisations”.3

Following its “Agenda for Change” initiative of 2004, the New Labour government then, in 2006, installed a new chief executive, David Nicholson, whose role was to carry out reforms of the NHS “to tackle its debt crisis.”4

In his first interview as chief executive, Nicholson told The Guardian that:

“It is his NHS pedigree that has made him determined to push through reforms even faster than before.”

And Nicholson’s credentials are noteworthy enough to be detailed in the same article under the heading early baggage (the “second stage” of his career, which I’ve highlighted in italic, being of particular interest):

“Nicholson has been with the NHS for 29 years. He joined as a graduate trainee in the same year he joined the Communist party…

Nicholson drifted away from the Communist party and abandoned his membership in 1983. But he has stuck with the NHS in a career that has spanned three phases. For the first 10 years he worked in mental health, mainly in Yorkshire…

For the next nine years, Nicholson moved into the acute hospital sector. He was chief executive of Doncaster Royal Infirmary, one of the first wave of NHS trusts to break free from Whitehall control under Margaret Thatcher’s policy of NHS reform. That “liberating” experience taught him the benefits of independence and the need to mobilise support for reform among clinical staff. “Once you engage them and gain their trust, there is nothing stopping you,” he says.

The third stage of his career, which has led him to the top of the NHS tree, was in regional and strategic health authority management. It was there, he says, that he learned how to deliver change on a grand scale by getting all the bits of the system pointing in the same direction.”5

In a speech delivered behind closed doors back in 2009, it was Nicholson who told health service finance directors that a new programme of reforms was needed to deliver between £15 billion and £20 billion [which equated to 6% of the total budget] in ‘efficiency savings’ over three years from 2011 to 2014. In response, Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association council, warned that if efficiency savings went ahead on such a scale “there is a real danger that patient services could be threatened”.

We also learn from the same article in The Telegraph that previous reforms, such as Agenda for Change, had in any case made almost “no difference” to efficiency:

“The PAC [all-party Public Accounts Committee] report on Agenda for Change, to be published on Thursday, will show that one such drive – called Agenda for Change – has made almost no difference to the amount the NHS pays out in salaries every year.

The reforms to NHS pay structures were introduced following an agreement in 2002 between trade unions and Alan Milburn, the then-health secretary, who called the package “a good deal for Britain’s NHS”.

The changes, described as “the biggest job evaluation and implementation scheme on the planet”, were introduced between 2004 and 2006, with new salary bands and job descriptions to standardise the pay and conditions of over one million health service employees.

The Department for Health predicted at the time that the new pay system would save taxpayers at least £1.3 billion over five years, as well as ensuring a significant increase in staff productivity.

However, MPs were told by the National Audit Office (NAO), the Whitehall spending watchdog, that ‘for 2007/08 the £28 billion NHS pay bill is broadly similar to what it might have been if the programme had not been implemented’.” 6

What had started with Thatcherism, and then continued under Blair and Brown, has now reached a critical phase under Cameron. To understand how this relentless drive towards privatisation on the basis of “efficiency savings” has been maintained by successive governments, I recommend an excellent short documentary put together by Tamasin Cave and David Miller at spinwatch.org.

As Colin Leys said in his lecture at Goldsmith’s College:

When you have seen [the video] you understand a lot more about Andrew Lansley and where his ideas are coming from.”

Leys concluded his lecture as follows:

But just in case you are not convinced of the design behind this, and don’t think it’s fair to call it a plot, let me add just one item. In January there was a discussion on Radio 4 between Matthew Taylor, who was once Blair’s chief of staff, and Eamonn Butler, the Director of the Adam Smith Institute, where Tim Evans also works – same Tim Evans who negotiated the concordat with Milburn and looked forward to the NHS becoming just a kitemark.7  They were asked if they thought the NHS was really going to be ‘a mere franchise’. Butler replied, quite casually, ‘It’s been 20 years in the planning. I think they’ll do it.”

Click here to read a full transcript of the lecture.

The Plot Against the NHS by Colin Leys & Stewart Player is published by Merlin Press Ltd for £10. Click here to go to Merlin Press website.

1 “Government fights off Labour challenge to NHS plans” from BBC News on May 9th 2011. Click here to read the full article.

2 From a lecture given by Colin Leys at Goldsmith’s College on April 8th 2011 based on a book also entitled “The Plot against the NHS”, by Colin Leys and Stewart Player, published on April 14th. Click here to read a full transcript.

3 “NHS reform: the issue explained – Labour has promised to create an NHS for the 21st century, investing record sums to try to achieve its vision of a dynamic publicly-funded, consumer-driven health service.” Patrick Butler reports for The Guardian, Wednesday 7th May 2003. Click here to read the full article.

4

“The government today appointed a new head of the NHS whose first job will be to tackle its debt crisis.

David Nicholson, currently chief executive of NHS London, where some of the current financial problems are most acute, replaces Sir Nigel Crisp, whose sudden departure in March provoked a fierce political row.

Announcing the appointment, the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, said: ‘David’s challenge is to ensure that the NHS continues to achieve better results for patients, while restoring financial balance.’”

Taken from “New NHS chief appointed” by Matt Weaver, published in The Guardian on Thursday 27th July 2006. Click here to read the full article.

5 From an article entitled “Right on with reform: In his first interview as the new NHS chief executive, David Nicholson says the health service should brace itself for more upheaval. ‘Tough decisions’ on failing hospitals are high on the agenda, he tells John Carvel, from The Guardian, Wednesday 13th September 2006. Click here to read the full article.

6 From an article entitled “NHS chief tells trusts to make £20bn savings: The head of the NHS has told senior managers to plan for spending cuts even more drastic than those already thought to be on the way.” by James Ball and Patrick Sawer, published in The Telegraph on June 13th 2009. Click here to read the full article.

7

“The story begins for me in July 2000. Alan Milburn was the Secretary of State for Health and was in the middle of negotiating a so-called concordat with the Independent Healthcare Association. The concordat said that from now on the NHS would take advantage of private sector healthcare providers on a regular basis, not just exceptionally, as for example in the annual winter beds crisis. The Independent Healthcare Association’s chief negotiator was Tim Evans. I interviewed Tim Evans at the time. He told me that his vision was that the NHS would be just ‘a kitemark attached to the institutions and activities of a system of purely private providers’.

Click here to read a full transcript of the lecture.

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