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Saturday, January 28, 2006


I will admit my opinion of Ming is severely influenced by his position on (wait for it) Yugoslavia. This is not unreasonable, indeed in his email calling on us to vote for him he said that his opposition to the recent war & respect for international law were reasons to support. He must expect questions on his respect for law, or otherwise, during the Yugoslav war. Indeed I have emailed him with precisely that question & will let you know if he, or more likely, some follower, cares to answer.

The problem is his was very much on the "otherwise" front. I own the Hansards for the 2 debtes on the Kosovo war on 25th March 1999 & 19th April 1999. Throughout the entire Yugoslav wars he was entirly supportive of the NATO position. During the first debate he said that
a humanitarian tragedy that has arisen not by accident of nature, but as a result of the persistent & calculated actions of Serbian forces in deliberately targeting Albanian citizens
& in the second that starting the war was justified because Milosevic was guilty of
the most brutal & despicable ethnic cleansing
. These were said to the House of Commons & were said for the purpose of encouraging a war that killed thousands which, if they were untrue, was a criminal act worse than simple murder.

It is not merely that these statements have been proven, in a 3 year "trial" to have been untrue, or at least totally unsubstantiable, the fact it is that Mr Campbell knew, at the time, that he was lying. 2 Months before the outbreak of war Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, told Parliament that it the majority of those killed were not Albanians killed by the Yugoslavs but Serb civilians killed by our KLA allies. Every MP (including Mr Cook) must thus be understood to have known that it was our KLA friends who were deliberately targeting civilians & that consequently the war was being fought quite deliberately to assist, in not to prevent, genocide. Only Tony Benn was sufficiently impolite to remind Cook of his statement.

Ming lied deliberately about Serbian atrocities before the war (also during the war).

He lied deliberately to the Commmons.

He lied deliberately for the purpose of assisting in a war crime.

He lied deliberately to assist an organisation (the KLA) whom he specificly knew to be terrorists currently engaged in genocide, in conscious imitation of the policy of Adolf Hitler.

All these things are undeniable. I will grant there is an argument that everybody supported genocide back then, or at least a lot of people & that most of those who spoke that day also lied because the Commons wanted to be lied to (I'll do a post giving more qotes sometime). Nonetheless I submit that being a corrupt war criminal assisting in genocide should disqualify one from leadership of a decent political organisation.

I will put another personal point here since I should distinguish such matters. When I pushed the Scottish Lib Dems into passing a fairly reasonable motion on Yugoslavia (it called for war crimes trials to be non-racial & to include Clinton & Kohl) I wrote to him to draw his attention to it. I got back a prepinted postcard. You can say, correctly, this put my nose out of joint but it also seems to me that this showed a major disrespect for the decisions of his party conference.

Other points against Ming:

He is too old. If the Lib Dems got rid of Charlie partly because they panicked at the thought of Cameron being younger & more photogenic, then Campbell is a flawed choice.

In conversation, last Sunday down the pub with a journalist friend, he asked me if I had ever met Ming. When I said no he said he had and
"He's an arsehole, with no ideas of his own."
I cannot confirm this I merely report it but it seems a bad sign for a leader.

This one comes with a warning. It is taken from Iain Dale's Diary & he (unlike our local Iain Dale) is a Tory who, despite his professed sympathy for the Lib Dem's problems is clearly fishing in troubled water. Nonetheless, if this is even close to true it is a problem that makes him considerably less able to lead than Charlie was.

This is from a doctor. When reading it, bear in mind that Sir Ming says he has fully recovered from a form of cancer known as Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.

"There has been a lot of sanctimonious bottywipe talked about poor old Charlie. His mistake was not being a lush, but not coming clean about it earlier. Had he done that, he could have got away with it. Look at President George W. Meanwhile, Ming is taking full advantage of Charlie's health problems. But Ming is telling porkies too. He has not "beaten" cancer as the press delight in saying. He is (I hope) in remission. Frankly, looking at him as a doctor, I have my doubts about his health. He looks pretty emaciated to me - he is beginning to resemble Sir Alec Douglas Doom. We need a declaration from Ming's oncologists that he is fit to become leader. We need to know what the odds are that he will alive/fit to fight the next election. I am not a bookmaker. But medically I would say less than 50%."

There is also the question of to what extent Ming stabbed Charles in the back, or at least failed to give him the support a leader is due. This is a very important point, as anybody who understands Shakespeare knows, but while I cannot ignore it I have no knowledge or conclusions which are not already current so I will leave it at that.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Can Simon Hughes be the credible successor to Charles Kennedy. I think not. The problem is that we were repeatedly told that Charlie's problem was not just that he drank but that he had lied on this personal matter. Well Simon has lied on this personal matter. The homosexuality itself is not disabling in the way that drinking may be (it used to be said that it made people a security risk, a self fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one, but that is no longer credible) but lying, in the particular circumstances of being Charlie's heir won't work.

He could have come out years ago. Indeed he no doubt wishes Matthew Parris had outed him at the same time as he did Mandy but that didn't happen. He could even just have refused to answer questions on the subject. If he had been outed 6 months ago he could probably have got by but not today.

A lot of the problem is that he got his seat by running against Peter Tatchell on not being the bender & this looks a bit hypocritical now. It is not entirely so because Tatchell was not merely homosexual he was & is an intolerant homosexual which, not unreasonably, pissed off his potential electorate. Last year I heard him on the BBC radio invited on as a guest to discuss some Catholic prelate who had refered to homosexuals as "perverts". Now quite obviously, in biblical terms for those interested in such things, this is nothing but the truth. Nonetheless despite this & despite the fact that a poll had shown that a very large number of people agreed Tatchell's argument was entirely the assertion that such a word was "unacceptable". The arrogance of this dismissal of the right of even a majority of people to hold contrary opinions was breathtaking. Looking back on it Labour must be very glad they lost that by-election since he would have done immense harm to their image in Parliament. Anybody really interested in alternate world stories (I am) could imagine a situation where a militant gay faction, in alliance with Militant, did so much damage to Labour that they went into the next election campaign 5% down & the Liberal/SDP Alliance 5% up & thus Labour got eclipsed - but I digress.

The point is that as a leader, at this point in time, Hughes would not be credible. I will admit that I think him to much of a "social inclusion" liberal & not enough of a classic liberal so I may be biased but I don't think so.
Tomorrow I am going to take a few hearty swings at Ming so I had better mmention Chris Huhne now.

Like everybody else I had never heard of him before he announced he was standing but:

1) He is widely thought to be running a very good campaign, which is after all what we are looking for.

2) According to the Wikipedia entry the day he declared, when he was an MEP he pressed for sunset clauses to be put into a lot of EU legislation & often succeeded. That impresses me - anybody who understands that it should be easier to get rid of government regulation than to keep it understands more about government than 80% of politicos.

3) He is new - a la Cameron.

4) He is more of a classic liberal (though this is a personal thing & is a disadvantage for most activists)(on the other hand it is probably an advantage for most Lib Dem voters & potential voters)

5) He has his own hair. This is a cheap shot - nonetheless it is true. William Hague, widely agreed to be extremely capable, lost heavily from being prematurely bald. I wish the media age we live in didn't require such nonsense but this is the world we live in & we must accept facts.

6) The one against. The Sun has been responsible for getting rid of 2 of his rivals - I have said earlier I am worried about their keeping scandal stories on file for use to distort democracy & the Hughes story is clearly one they have had for years.

I don't like being played like a fiddle but nonetheless I hope Chris wins.
The only possible good side to this is that when talk of getting rid of Charlie first came up I wrote against it here partly on the grounds that an assassination would divide the party for years as happened after Thatcher. With the 4 leading figures in the party gone we might have got all our trauma over at once.


Sir Ian Blair has been forced to apologise to the press for saying that race was a factor in the amount of coverage they gave to Soham.

Of course it was. it was one of a nmber of factors which made this story sexy. So far as I can see the major factors were
living in a middle class
in the silly season when Parliament is in recess

each of those quadruples the amount of coverage the media give it.

I don't suppose there is any way to make the media purely objective, for a start there is no objective definition of "objective", in how they report things but at least it should be possible to mention that there is a problem. I have not previously been much of a supporter of Sir Ian & no doubt he is as aware as anybody that had the CCTV of Menendez being killed not been lost it would have been a much bigger story, but he has been forced to apologise for telling the truth & that is quite wrong. It may be an inherently insoluble problem but anything you don't discuss is immediately insoluble.

I dislike the media playing us like a fiddle.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


There is a very interesting article on innovation & the scientific wealth of nations which compares the number of refered to (ie useful) scientific papers per capita with each nation's wealth. This is on Albion's Seeddlings 20th Jan there is also a graph on there which I think is well worth looking at.

The article is written from an American point of view about increasing the US relatively low level of per capita innovation compared to us intellectual Europeans but it can also be seen in reverse - that the UK, Israel, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden & Finland with very high scientific references are failing to reach the income predicted on the curve. Since the US & Ireland are the only significant countries outperforming the curve in income terms you will see where I am going.

Yes the countries whose income is to the left of the curve are (except for Isreal & Switzerland) ones with a high proportion of government spending & high business taxes. Those to the right of the curve are defiantly free market.

This is not to underplay the importance of a very good scientific establishment, particularly at the top end & if I was American that is what I would be pushing for, but our main lack is clearly the lack of a lack of overbearing government.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The party executive were to make their final vote on my expulsion on Saturday - not only has it been put back a month but, more importantly, I will actually get to defend myself (in writing).
Dear Mr Craig,
I am writing to inform you that the Executive Committee of
the Scottish Liberal Democrats decided at its meeting today, 21st January
2006, to continue consideration of expelling you from membership of the
Party to its next meeting on Thursday 2nd March 2006.
I was also instructed to make available to you on a
confidential basis the submission made to the Executive Committee on 3rd
December 2005, which led to the Committee's decision (nem con) to move to
your expulsion.
Furthermore I am to make this document similarly available
to Glasgow Kelvin local party for their consideration and comment.
You may, in the light of this, wish to make a further
submission in your defence to the Executive Committee and I should receive
this no later than Friday 24h February 2006.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. Derek A. Barre
(Chief of Staff,Scottish Liberal Democrats)________________________
To which I replied:

Dear Dr Barrie,
Thank you for your response. I confirm that I will be making a reply to the allegations of 3rd December. I am confident that I can make a robust case that I have adhered to provably liberal principles though I accept that whether liberalism remains consistent with membership of the Liberal Democrats must remain in the party's hands.

I confirm that, while I would prefer to be open about this, I will adhere to your request that the executive's document about me remain confidential, conditionally on this document being exactly as originally presented by Mr Fraser. My response will naturally, in light of my insistence on clearing my name of the allegation of being "illiberal", be public.

I note that I will not be able to vote on the leadership election, on the other hand that means I do not have the consequent responsibilities.
Yours Faithfully
Neil Craig


A very short Scotsman letter today. Indeed the last sentence was removed entirely which I think unfortunately deprived to multitudes of a witty use of PC terms even if it does require so knowledge of history.
I regret the use of political newspeak to redefine concepts. A case in point is Maureen Moore's call today for train drivers to be "supported" in not smoking in the "enclosed public place" of the cab. "Supported" should mean assisted to do what one wishes, thus having a different meaning from "forced".[ Presumably we must now believe that Stalin supported millions of people to relocate to Siberia to occupy affordable housing & develop politically correct ideas in a challenging sustainable environment.]

The letter was a response to one from the Chief executive of Ash, the anti smoking group - it is here but entirely predictable in claiming that smoking doesn't improve drivers concentration that much so for safety's sake they must be stopped. A fuller reply also appeared today :
In reply to Maureen Moore (Letters, 23 January), I don't want to travel on a train where the driver is suffering from nicotine withdrawal, and given the driver's compartment is separate from the public space on a train, I couldn't care less whether he or she smokes or not. I want drivers to be cool, calm and collected and if smoking helps them to concentrate, that's fine by me.

Ms Moore is becoming an irritant more likely to cause high blood pressure than any amount of cigarettes, and her assertion that drivers who smoke are more likely to have a crash than non-smokers strikes me as ridiculous.

Well said. There remains no survey which has found evidence outwith its own limits of statistical error of passive smoking killing. When Jack told parliament that his bill would save 1,000 lives a year it was a deliberate lie & everybody in Hollyrood knows it. But it was a politically correct lie - like Stalin's.

Monday, January 23, 2006


This article from the Scotsman today makes horrible reading. The earlier figures that 1/4 of our employment is in the public sector was wrong. It is actually 1/3rd - this includes stealth employees like GPs & quangoists - the latter rising fast.
Businesses have shed 17,000 jobs over a period where the government and its various agencies have hired 24,000 more staff - the exact reverse of the trend promised by Jack McConnell, the First Minister.
........An unpublished survey of Scotland's labour market by the Office for National Statistics has found 707,000 people are now employed by the government - almost one in three jobs in Scotland. Such a ratio is rarely seen outside Scandinavia.

This is far higher than the official 577,000 figure published earlier this month by the Executive. But the ONS study includes people like GPs and quango staff - who are technically independent, but work only for the state.

The number of private-sector jobs, which had been rising after devolution, albeit slower than in England, fell from 1.73 million in August 2004 to 1.71 million last November - a rate of 50 jobs a day.

Iain MacMillan, head of the CBI Scotland, said he was shocked but not surprised at the news. "The public sector in Scotland is too big, and it's still growing," he said. "It's harder for the Scottish economy to grow because the public sector is taking up so much of the economy."

.........The Scottish National Party said that an independent country would feel the pain of the private sector - but there is no link in Scotland between tax collected and government money spent.

"Jobs losses in the private sector do not impact on the Scottish Executive because it did not collect the tax and won't pay the unemployment benefit," said Jim Mather, the SNP economics spokesman.

"For as long as Scotland's economic nervous system is not properly wired up, we will have this imbalance and the Executive will continue not to care about competitiveness."

The Scottish Executive issued a defence last night, saying that the private sector had grown since devolution in 1999 and that the extra jobs were for important tasks like the National Health Service and education. "These are frontline staff, and we make no apology for investing in them," said a spokeswoman. "A strong economy means investment in the public sector."

Mr MacMillan said the Executive should understand that "all the extra public-sector workers may be worthwhile, but they are making no contribution to GDP".

The SNP has long called for Scotland's spending to be fixed to its tax haul, after including a certain share of North Sea revenues. This, it said, would both boost accountability and government spending.

But unionist parties have said that government agencies in Scotland have long spent far more than its business could generates in tax, even taking oil into account.
Jim Mather makes a very good point about Scotland not having a feedback system that encourages the Executive to actually think about the economy. It is worth pointing out that in the 8 years since devolution not once have the Scottish Lib Dems debated a single purely economic motion [they did have one entitled SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY but it was an environmental motion not remotely aimed at growth]). The problem is how do we get from here to there - if we only spent all the tax we raise, including North sea oil, we would be about £4 billion down. If we don't think about this it is inevitable that some day England will.

By comparison to call the Executive response complacent would be an insult to complacent people. That the real economy has "grown" in the last 7 years is not an achievement. The world has been in the longest economic boom in history, driven by the information revolution & in my opinion likely to continue wherever politicians let liberal economics work. The Chinese economy has doubled since devolution & these numpties are proud that ours has grown a miderable few per cent.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


One question which strikes me about the Mark Oaten affair is when did the News of the World find out about this. Quite often when an MP decides to see more of his family it is because they know a story is liable to break but it appears Mark Oaten pulled out of the leadership race for the simple reason that he had little support.

This leads to the conclusion that the News of the World were not sniffing around about it last week which in turn suggests that either it just dropped into their hands yesterday or that they have had it on file for ages waiting for a "suitable" moment to use it. I find the latter more credible.

A third option would be that the fact that he was running for leader meant that the civil servant in charge of the security services found it necessary to bring Oaten's file to the attention of somebody who would know what to do with it (if you have seen the episode of Yes Minister where both other parties running for PM are forced to pull out you will understand). I find this slightly, but only slightly, more reassuring.

I think the NOTW have been sitting on this in the hope that Mr Oaten would rise to the leadership & when his star was obviously waning decided just to unload it. Remember that it was just before an election that the Sun published the story about Ashdown's adultery, which again had nothing current in it. In fact the Ashdown story did him little harm because it proved how manly he was & like this, was not new news.

Nonetheless, if this is the case, it raises the question of exactly how many other stories these people have in their files & what use they intend to make of them. J Edgar Hoover was a secret power in the land for nearly 50 years partly because he would regularly inform Congresscritters that he had been able to hush up some scandal & they could trust him to keep the hegatives in his files. Is Murdoch playing a similar game (& perhaps other newspapers) or are they "just" keeping stories to fix elections. Had Oaten been leader & it was released just before an election it would certainly have affected the result & the fact that Murdoch employees have the power to publish or withhold this makes rather a joke of democracy.

I think we should be told - on the other hand I don't know what can be done.

One point I have made before is that we should not insist that politicians be plaster saints. Financial peccadilloes & multiple murder & lying about such things should be treated very seriously. Shagging shouldn't.

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