Fox Covert

It’s time to leave Alistair Carmichael alone or, to put it another way, let him swing in the breeze. The hot pursuit of terrified prey to the blast of the horn is exhilarating but never dignified. Time to call off the hounds.

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To the claim that he can’t be allowed to get away with it, comes the reply: He hasn’t. Having smelled the breath of the pack and have the hair go up on the back of his neck, he is left bloodied and torn, gasping for life…wounded and chastened. The rest of his tenure will be shadowed by shame and there will be no shortage of willing reminders of his cunning and mendacity. He can no longer make righteous speeches at conference nor berate opponents’ opportunism under the studio lights. There will be those in the winding streets of Lerwick and Kirkwall who cannot meet his eye. He will know why.

This is not justification of a ham-fisted, dirty little wheeze accompanied by an abuse of office with a consequential contempt for constituents. His attempts at explanation have revealed him to be laughably inept at subterfuge or craft and the craven inaction of the party executive has confirmed to all how senile and remote Lib Dem leadership has become. Today’s error-strewn interview with Malcolm Bruce added incendiary fuel to his plight. To save Carmichael’s skin, we are informed that not only two-faced Al but all ministers – nay, all Members of the House – lie through their teeth. As endorsements go, it has the same effect as an invite to a patio party at Fred West’s.

Fox hunt

There is a process which looks likely to lead to suspension from the Commons – meaningless to any unfortunate sanctioned by the DWP perhaps, but humiliating in his own terms.

The Nationalist movement does not need another scalp – if they were war trophies the Westminster haul would already fill an Apache village. There is a point at which relentless hounding becomes unreasonable and loses wider support. The only people still justified in the hunt are the islanders themselves who can shame him into a re-run. The SNP is already occupying virtually the entire constituency land mass of Scotland and dissent is a small, still voice. Snuffing out one of the last remaining squeaks achieves nothing. And with too much central belt agitation behind it, a campaign to oust him might provoke a Lib Dem backlash. How would it look if Carmichael won again, on a reduced turnout?

I can’t see what harm his continued presence does tactically for the SNP. It is surely a perverse bonus having one each of the opposition as reminders of the election outcome – the fox’s brush momento.

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The handling of Memogate has turned election gambit into slapstick and left Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur with a single major issue to contend with next May – the shadow of Carmichael whom they may both wish to body-swerve from now on.

The recollection of some BBC staff who had to deal with Carmichael is of a demanding and pompous individual and I’ve suffered myself from his scabrous tongue. But he’s done his bit for the islands, offered himself for public service and generally acquitted himself honourably. I fear he has undone much of it and will now carry the burden into the inevitable oblivion. Let him free to walk there alone.

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Mr Chris Deerin

At the weekend on Twitter I described Chris Deerin of the Daily Mail as a bigot. That was inaccurate and inappropriate. It was unworthy of him and of myself. It was said in haste and I regret it. I offer him my sincere apologies.

What I meant to say, but couldn’t fit in, was that he is intolerant, unreasonable, incorrigible, one-eyed, zealous, doctrinaire, cunning, dogmatic, artful, partisan, ingenious, and Scotophobic.

Sorry.

 

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Dim and Dimmer

I’ve just spent two hours rifling through the outpourings of revulsion about modern Scotland expressed by ‘respected’ journalist Chris Deerin. What a way to start a Bank Holiday. It’s like looking for a £10 note in the rubbish bin and getting covered in squidgy, smelly goo.

From the Mail to the Telegraph, from the Spectator to the Guardian, with stops in between at right-wing websites and marketing magazines, his bile appears, pulsating with insult, denigrating our politics, sneering at our political leaders and crawling on hands and knees to ‘beautiful’ Britain.

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It would take the National Library to archive this compendium of malevolence and spite and no doubt they would file it under Bigotry – anti-Scottish. I don’t advise you to follow my example as it’s enough to give you the dry boak. It’s difficult to know if this is a contrived persona designed to provoke or an intellectually genuine worldview – that half your own people (at least) are variously a bit thick, gullible, violent and narrow-minded. Since I don’t regard the Daily Mail as a newspaper and don’t read it, I only come across Deerin through Twitter which led to today’s garbage trawl…and when you read it in a single sitting you get the impression of a clever man with writing skills who just can’t stop his loathing from creeping through. He derives pleasure from belittling, in a kind of cruel torment for those who don’t share his Moonie-esque adoration of Britain – a country for whose documented failings he has profound myopia. This is Katie Hopkins does Scotland. We are his cockroaches.

Katie Hopkins

His loathing of all things Yes (and therefore popular) is persistent, as if today’s Scotland was a script that had gone wrong and he was incapable of stopping it. When it’s the world that’s wrong, not you, the usual diagnosis is madness. Indeed he seems to be infected with the Thatcher elixir that neo cons still find so exhilerating. The Iron Lady is one of his reference points, as it is for Michael Forsyth, accompanied by a disbelief that anyone could think this wasn’t normal.

He can’t help himself. When the hashtag I’m SNPbecause went up his tweet said: I’m ‪#SNPbecause I’m disappointed with the way my life has turned out, I’m angry and I blame everyone else, especially the English. Innocuous? Witty? Maybe, except when you take in the rest of his body of work you realise the idea that this is cheeky chappie having a chuckle evaporates in the miasma of bitterness.

If bigotry is intolerance of another view, we have here a new trophy to mount alongside Tom Gallagher, Bruce Anderson and Max Hastings. But sneering at Scots, even by Scots, has a long and ignoble history. If it isn’t us, it’s the Irish.

So why am I bothering with another deranged Thatcherite? After all to Clever Chris I’m one of these… ‘The Nats are aided by useful idiots in the Scottish media and cultural elite. From comfortable middle-class pads in the less affordable parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh, these socialist tub-thumpers promise that a left-wing tartan utopia is within grasp, and that a ‘yes’ vote can save the grimy-faced, honest-as-the-day-is-long Scots toiler from exploitation by effete Tory thieves in London. They advance the idea of Scots as being nicer, fairer, more attached to the brotherhood of man. What little divergence there is comes down to a mix of rather obvious things — the cultural hangover of anti-Thatcherism, which keeps the Tories at a low ebb north of the border; a political culture that, since devolution, has become inward-looking and self-obsessed to an unsettling degree; an elite that relentlessly claims Scots are more compassionate, more egalitarian, less racist and kinder to babies than the English. And for all its superficial modern sheen and tactical excellence, Scottish nationalism continues to be what it always has been: ugly, divisive and insular.’

Nice, eh? I love the idea that a polemicist working for the Telegraph and the Mail accuses anyone – anyone – of being divisive and insular. Maybe he’s not so clever after all…

No, the reason I’m putting myself through this is an invitation on Twitter from thoughtful and (unlike me) sensitive Nationalist Andrew Wilson to follow Deerin apparently so that I could be irked or provoked etc. by him and would add to his Twitter following. I, bluntly, said No Thanks. This to me is all part of the chattering class cartel, the cosy clique that says no matter how revolting, insensitive and divisive your writing, you’re still a nice middle class fellow and therefore one of us. This is the same groupthink that produces the Press Awards in which Deerin is hailed as a genius and the Record is Paper of the Year. Talk about living in a bubble.

The idea is that whatever you say about Scotland and the Scots, it’s all just a game of no consequence, especially when the guys get together at the bar for a self- congratulatory drink. Punters are suckers. Who cares so long as we all make a living?

The trouble with this is that these cynics have been rumbled, not just by cybernats, but by the those same ‘slightly dim’ Scots. How else could a sizeable chunk of Daily Record readers vote SNP if they didn’t read and reject the blatantly anti-SNP smears it prints? The public now laugh at the clever dick commentators who warn them of disaster and bankruptcy. The General Election was a wholesale rejection of the Too Wee, Too Stupid mantra of the Deerin tribe. Throughout the post war period the media has played a game of belittling Scotland to the point it became an obsession, a default setting telling us we were second class and not good enough. You still hear it today – We can’t be independent, we’re not good enough. Deerin’s rants are triumphant expressions of exactly that mentality telling us we can’t do it, that we’re not worthy. The big change, one he’s clearly missed, is that we’ve broken out of the trap. It isn’t just an SNP surge we’re experiencing – that’s just the chosen vehicle. It’s a release, a freedom from restraint, a re-discovery of self. We didn’t wait to be led by a party – like the goons he paints – we went out and did it ourselves, on doorsteps and keyboards. We found solidarity of spirit and ambition. We researched and challenged. We saw through the crippling cringe of Deerin and his like and left him behind in a previous Scotland in which Yes voters like Tom Devine or Crawford Beveridge or Philppa Whitford are somehow cranks, mindless dupes or thugs.

The bit that fascinates me though is how this carefully-crafted virulent anti-Yes image squares with Chris Deerin’s day job – as a member of Charlotte Street Partners, a company that ‘helps businesses, organisations and individuals create and deliver strategies for communicating with their customers, staff, media, investors and financial markets, employees, politicians and regulators.’ He creates communication strategies?

‘Hi. I’m Chris. I’ll be handling your account. You want to invest in Scotland? Oh dear. You do know the Scots are a bit dim, don’t you? They like to boast about education but it’s been left to rot. There’s no ready-made workforce anymore. Haven’t got the brains. It’s why they open the door to immigrants. The health service here is flabby. Scots are soft and sappy people, narrow minded and can’t think independently for themselves. Don’t look for innovators here. That’s all gone. And don’t look for support from the government. They’re dangerous nutters encouraging conspiracy and orchestrating smears, like a one-party state. These are ugly divisive people incapable of seeing when they’re well off and with hair-raising socialist tendencies. May I suggest you try Ireland? Anything else I can help you with?’

No wonder Andrew is trying to rehabilitate him. I don’t care about the politics of the people I work with because I don’t need to know. But if I run a company and he wants my business am I not entitled to wonder if it’s a good idea to be associated with someone who fills the media with tirades so hate-filled, so extreme and so out of public favour? I might even agree with Deerin’s views but is that the image I want my customers to see? Do I really want them to know I think they’re thick and bit backward? I truly wish success to Charlotte Street Partners but I’d be amazed if potential customers don’t share my revulsion. Is insulting the nation now a communications strategy?

My last word goes to this true and sane judgement on the Unionist nutters from writer Ian Smith. ‘And finally, this guff is self-defeating.  The more that commentators in the Sun, Express, Telegraph, Mail and so on fulminate about all things Scottish and chuck insults around about Jockistan and Alba-bania, the more likely Scottish people are to say in response: F**k them.  And then go off and vote for the SNP.’ Now that’s what I call a communications strategy.

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A Small Merci

Is there another layer to the Frenchgate saga, one that carries much more danger for the British government and the credibility of the state? Politically, the defenestration of Carmichael costs the current government nothing, but if it were the new Scottish Secretary dangling from an open window, the Tory mandate in Scotland really would be threatened.

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David Mundell, still the sole Conservative member, was deputy to Carmichael at the time. There are only two of them in the Scotland Office and in the absence of colleagues, they necessarily spend a lot of time together sharing office accommodation in Melville Crescent in Edinburgh and at Dover House in London as well as the Commons.

Do they communicate? Of course they do. They fought together during the indyref and their parties combined to form the Coalition. Apart from normal professional exchanges, they were pulled together by their beleaguered status in Scotland. They have an amicable relationship.

You see where I’m going…is it credible that Mundell was kept in ignorance of the memo and the leak and can therefore be absolved of all culpability? I’m not asking for the usual partisan get-into-them approach but a detached rational perusal of events.

The FM met the Ambassador in February. The leak occurred at the beginning of April, a period of at least five or six weeks – allowing a few days for the memo to be compiled – in which the toxic package was kept locked in a government safe (at least metaphorically).

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Carmichael, and the Civil Servant who wrote it, as well as the special adviser, all knew this. Did Mundell? Or did all three deliberately keep him out of the loop for weeks on end, even as the intrigue of the election gripped them and dominated their departmental discussions? In a moment over coffee or on the flight south, did Carmichael never reveal anything and instead bite his lip to keep secret his plot to release the memo during the actual campaign? If so, why? If it was a damning blow against the SNP, why not share the contents? Indeed, how likely is it that a report on a fairly important issue of SNP relations with a foreign government wouldn’t naturally cross Mundell’s desk as a matter of course? What else is there for them to do all day?

It is to me inconceivable that the only two politicians in the Scotland Office didn’t share this crucial piece of political intelligence since it suited them both to a tee. It is my firm belief that for the last five years the source of leaks to the Scottish media from ‘government sources’ has been David Mundell, so he is well versed in the dark arts of feeding out material to the Press. He may even have advised using the Telegraph whose Scottish political correspondent Simon Johnson is the classic London toady (so much so that, like his boss Cochrane, he didn’t exercise basic journalistic practice by checking with the principals for their reaction).

At the very least, knowing of the memo, if he was unaware of the plan to leak, Mundell would most certainly have known the source once it appeared in the Telegraph. Yet he did, and said, nothing. That is complicity.

The role of Mundell is ignored in the Heywood inquiry and probably for a very good reason – he is guilty of being party to the leak. If his thumbprints were discovered, he would be toast…the last Tory MP and the only credible candidate for Scottish Secretary discredited and facing political ruin…a calamitous event for a government already devoid of mandate in Scotland. An English Tory might stand in or perhaps the newly ennobled Thatcherite chancer Dunlop could step in – both ruinous moves for the British credibility.

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Carmichael of course will know how much of this is true and keeping it confidential may be his price for retaining broad official support. Don’t think the Civil Service won’t work a deal to keep Mundell in the clear – after all it took until after the election to reveal the truth (at Carmichael’s insistence?) and it came out on Bank Holiday Friday. And here’s another thought, supposing the leak hadn’t caused an international incident in which a friend and ally had to be appeased with a body…would the entire incident have been elided away by official obfuscation?

Carmichael may be forming a human shield for Mundell and what remains of the Union.

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They’re All Jimmy Greaves, Guv

Some dodgy geezers get together and meticulously plan a daring heist which will make them fabulously wealthy by plundering the riches of others – people they will never meet nor know, so who cares? Then they get caught, the callous crooks, and they’ll pay the price of crime by getting banged up for 25 years. Throw the key away, more like. It’s all they deserve…sweeney

Only they won’t end up in Wormwood Scrubs sharing a cell and counting off the long years. The crooks I’m talking about will retire to the sun with the millions they’ve accumulated and get together for a laugh when the row has died down. Some might even repeat their crimes for another mob. They are the traders who manipulated the foreign exchange to defraud investors and international trading companies so they could pocket huge profits for themselves.

This global scam came up in the same news bulletin as details of the Hatton Garden safety deposit box heist which involved a gang breaking into a building, climbing through the lift shaft, drilling through the wall and emptying boxes of untold valuables…a daring and premeditated large-scale criminal conspiracy. So far eight have been arrested and, if convicted can expect to live the next quarter of a century without their freedom. Compare and contrast with the revered financial Masters of the Universe so beloved on the British Tories and the British Labour Party, all of whose leadership candidates so far declared adhere to the get-rich capitalist model that spawned the crooked traders.

In a ‘brazen display of collusion,’ according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, traders in the largely unregulated, $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign exchange market colluded in you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours forms of plotting. This is a description of a criminal cartel in which a confidential digital chat room was designed to allow them to converse secretly in code and agree how to rig a market that is supposed to be competitive in order to provide the best deal for clients. This required detailed planning – malice of forethought, as the courts would have it – a naked contempt for the rules, disregard for the interests of others, conspiracy, a voracious personal greed and criminal intent. Is it any different from a gang staking out a building, stealing an industrial drill, abseiling through a lift shaft and pocketing the profits of others?

The traders’ conspiracy wasn’t a one-off like the heist. It went on for five whole years, distorting the markets and cheating legitimate businesses while pouring profits into traders’ accounts. Countless numbers of people have been affected, not a couple of dozen who may even have had ill-gotten gains in the security boxes.

‘Currency traders at multinational banks formed a group dubbed The Cartel,’ Lynch said. ‘It is perhaps fitting that those traders chose that name, as it aptly describes the brazenly illegal behavior they were engaging in on a near-daily basis.’

The prices the market sets for currencies influence virtually every sector of every economy in the world. The traders’ actions inflated the banks’ profits while harming countless consumers, investors and institutions around the globe – from pension funds to major corporations, and including the banks’ own customers.

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Clearly the banks involved failed in their corporate duty to monitor their own staff and have been fined – as if they cared. But while they take responsibility and pay out the largest corporate fines ever levied, what happens to the individuals who committed these worldwide crimes? So far one bank has said eight people will lose their jobs. Otherwise there will be ‘disciplinary action’ against others. Not one person will be held personally responsible. Not one person will spend a single night in prison.

Jimmy Gurulé, a former US Treasury official, questioned whether this would produce meaningful change in bank activities.

‘Once again the actual perpetrators and criminal architects of the fraud scheme will avoid criminal liability. While the payment of these large fines may help to reduce the federal deficit, such penalties will do little to change the pervasive culture of corruption that currently exists in the banking sector. Real change will only occur when corrupt bank officials are indicted, convicted and sent to prison for their crimes.’ It’s more likely the London crooks will be freed from jail before that happens.

The Sweeney

The truth is that the Hatton Garden blaggers with their old-fashioned artisan replay from the Sweeney aren’t just on the wrong side of the law – they’re on the wrong side of Establishment Britain which mocks them as social scum while falling on its knees before the ‘respectable’ criminals of the City.

When Labour scratch around for reasons why they lost public opinion, they might to want the factor in the disgust British people now reserve for the corrupt Westminster and London-centric governing model they insist on preserving.

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