Assange, and why I’m a Left malcontent.

This is maybe not the best title, as I’m in reasonably good company: Tony Benn, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, and Julian Assange’s fellow countryman John Pilger. (I should also mention George Galloway and Craig Murray, although the issue was never going to make this their finest hour! Sunny Hundal points out).

This article is a good summary of the attacks by the common media on Assange and with an important commentary on this and the detail, added. Although anonymous, the details can be verified easily enough.

Much of the controversy has been boiled down to: he’s accused of rape, he should go back and face his accusers. Sounds fair enough! But. It does not actually reflect the detail of the case. It especially avoids the context, and glosses over the likelihood of Assange ending up somewhere else for a very long time indeed.

In the intelligence world, if you can’t attack someone’s message then you attack their credibility. Sexual compromising has long been such a tool. Look at the huge range of debate on Assange here. It certainly makes a change from debating the pros and cons of the US military… The latter won’t mind the distraction…

As for the alleged rape, it really does matter if the women concerned are pursuing charges. Not the position, to the best of my knowledge. There are no charges. Rather it’s the state, which had ample time to pursue it previously, and which is still being offered opportunity to pursue its questioning here (something it has done before but declines in this case, for some reason). All this gives ample impetus to Assange to suspect a different fate awaits. Billy Bragg (via Facebook) is wrong to reduce it to avoiding allegations in Sweden. Even Ecuador gets the point!

In Britain, where rape is often poorly dealt with by the police, under-prosecuted and underreported, and where 9 rape crisis centres have closed since 2003 with many more facing that possibility, reinforces the position, widely shared by many who have thought about the subject, that Assange should simply return to face the music. (Update: remarkably, the UK rape conviction rate is 58%, a lot higher than many think).

Our rape statistics remain shocking with 80,000 women suffering rape every year, and with 85% of rapists known to their victims. But, pursuing Assange, in all these particular circumstances, will do nothing for our national rape problem nor the victims. Naomi Wolf has been quite scathing over the apparent zeal that international police have suddenly adopted over these allegations, unknown in her years of working with rape victims. Naomi Klein points out that “Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women’s freedom was used to invade Afghanistan.”

Surely it is unfair of us to judge his guilt in the first place? Many are already calling him a rapist, just from details in the press. Others are calling the case trumped-up, looking at other details. Despite this, the large variety of detail already available implies no real case, as far as I can see. So what do people want? An arrest, a deportation, a trial? Which then collapses?

This means, rather, that this is foremostly and transparently an attempt at a political prosecution, the result of which could mean Assange is locked up for life for doing the world a great public service, spilling the beans on the American miltary.

The facts matter, as does the context, as do the likely consequences of what we support.

Seamus Milne writes more persuasively than I in the Guardian today.

Lindsey German too makes a valuable contribution.


Nations of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

First they issued promissory notes, and I did nothing…*

Then they leveraged many times their assets, and I did nothing…*

Then they made the US$ the world reserve currency, and I did nothing…*

Then they abolished the gold standard, and I did nothing.*

Then they repealed Glass-Steagall, and I did nothing.*

Then they liberalised financial markets paving the way for massive financial speculation and the creation of many and dubious loan packages – actually I was sceptical of the massive credit boom – but still I did nothing.

Then they created debt so huge it was many times the total amount of real-asset backed money in the world, $560TRN.  But by this time I’d joined a political party (for other good reasons) warning of many runaway factors including high finance, I’d cut up my credit card, and moved to an ethical bank.  I’ve stood for Parliament, aghast at the craven supplication of existing politicians to the sacred cows of City banking, who exploded the world, got millions in bonuses, trillions in bailouts, and those elected who refuse to re-regulate finance especially to separate commercial banking from casino banking, and likely to let those who fixed the LIBOR international trading rate get off free!

Now the predictions continue: it will all happen again, 2008, bankruptcies, foreclosures, jobs and homes lost, until the banks own everything there is to own.

Now the vast majority of money is (uncollateralised) debt. That means it has no value of its own! It’s only valuable to the banks, as and when we, as individuals or nation-states, pat it back!

Nations of the world unite! Nationalise all your banks. Put people first. You have nothing to lose but your overdrafts!

[*…Hey it was hundreds of years ago and I probably wouldn’t have had any gold anyway. How was I to know it was important, no-one teaches this stuff at school! So the US gets a free ride for decades while slashing freedom globally. I still wasn’t born.]

Craig Murray on Julian Assange

America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

by craig on Aug 16th in Uncategorized



I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission. 2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. 3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.


Something really special – Humber Street Sesh this Saturday

“I think the Humber Street Sesh Festival on Saturday will be something really special!” says Martin Deane of Hull and East Riding Green Party.
“It’s a real community tribute to Mark Page, the organiser, who’s celebrating 10 years of The Sesh music night on Princes Ave. The Humber Street Sesh on Saturday will be a tremendous local community initiative celebrating Hull’s creativity and originality, its artistry and musicianship. There’ll be oceans of live music with about 140 acts playing on 7 stages around Humber Street. 
“It’s a first event of its kind and size for Hull with its crowd-sourced funding where literally thousands of pounds was raised by ordinary people across Hull. Within 10 days they had reached their initial target of £5000 and reached £12,000 in donations and funding.
There will be a pop-up 24ft cinema. There will also be a silent disco too where people will be dancing wearing headphones to be fed by 3 DJs an hour – 36 DJs over the 12 hours, organised by the Residents’ Association (a monthly Adelphi dance night).
“I think the day will be a milestone in Hull’s musical history.”
“I’ll be there supporting my favourite bands!”
“Just look at this list!!”