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A former Isis fighter once complained to me that western volunteers who travelled to the so-called Islamic State in northeastern Syria were a burden because they did not speak Arabic, had no military experience, knew little about Islam and had often come because they were bored or unhappy at home. He said that their main... Read More
Socialist writer Nathan J. Robinson, a fixture in the Bernie Sanders movement, has been fired from his job at the "progressive" newspaper The Guardian after authoring tweets criticizing Congress for prioritizing military aid to Israel over COVID relief for struggling Americans. The Guardian prides itself as one of the most left-wing mainstream media outlets in... Read More
Get your retaliation in first,” is a cynical old saying in Northern Irish politics that means you hit your opponent whenever you can without waiting for a provocation. It neatly captures the violent traditions of the province and explains why the political temperature there is always close to boiling over. Imagine then the pleasure of... Read More
Predictions of the break-up of the UK may be reaching a crescendo, but they are scarcely new. In 1707, Jonathan Swift wrote a poem deriding the Act of Union between England and Scotland, which had just been passed, for seeking to combine two incompatible peoples in one state: “As if a man in making posies/... Read More
There was a fascinating online panel discussion on Wednesday night on the Julian Assange case that I recommend everyone watch. The video is at the bottom of the page. But from all the outstanding contributions, I want to highlight a very important point made by Yanis Varoufakis that has significance for understanding current events well... Read More
There was a hope in some quarters after Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled on Monday against an application to extradite Julian Assange to the US, where he faced being locked away for the rest of his life, that she might finally be changing tack. Washington has wanted Assange permanently silenced and made an example of –... Read More
Synchronicity is definitely fond of mirror wonderwalls. The Julian Assange saga seemed to have entered a new chapter as he was, in thesis, on his way to – conditional - freedom this past Monday, only one day after the first anniversary of the start of the Raging Twenties: the assassination of Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani.... Read More
The 10-year campaign by the US government to criminalise reporting critical of its actions has failed in rather peculiar circumstances, with the unexpected decision by the court in London to reject the US demand for Julian Assange's extradition. Judge Vanessa Baraitser gave as the reason for her decision Assange’s mental health and possible suicide risk,... Read More
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The unexpected decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to deny a US demand to extradite Julian Assange, foiling efforts to send him to a US super-max jail for the rest of his life, is a welcome legal victory, but one swamped by larger lessons that should disturb us deeply. Those who campaigned so vigorously to keep... Read More
The view from the top of the Western Heights, the great fortified hill overlooking Dover, has the advantage of taking in many of the key features shaping life in Britain in the age of Brexit and Covid-19. The most important of these is the proximity of the French coast, glittering on the horizon 22 miles... Read More
Fear is at a high point in Britain at the moment and with very good reason. There is much to be frightened of as it turns out that Covid-19 has been quicker to learn from experience than bumbling Boris Johnson and his third-eleven team during a calamitous year in which they have zig-zagged between panic... Read More
I met pleased and gloomy people in the first half of last year when I travelled around the UK writing about the potential impact of Brexit. But by far the happiest of those I interviewed were veteran Irish republicans in Belfast, mostly present or past members of Sinn Fein, who had devoted their lives to... Read More
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The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has run a fascinating long report this week offering a disturbing snapshot of the political climate rapidly emerging across Europe on the issue of antisemitism. The article documents a kind of cultural, political and intellectual reign of terror in Germany since the parliament passed a resolution last year equating support for... Read More
The pernicious punim of Priti Patel, high-T fem-pol
Shakespeare got it wrong. “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” says King Duncan in Macbeth (c. 1606), meaning that psychology can’t be read from physiognomy. But Shakespeare never saw Priti Patel, the British-born Indian Hindu who currently serves as Home Secretary. When you look at Patel, do you see gentleness,... Read More
Robert Fisk, 2010.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mohamed Nanabhay. CC BY 2.0.
Something remarkable even by the usually dismal standards of the stenographic media blue-tick brigade has been happening in the past few days. Leading journalists in the corporate media have suddenly felt the urgent need not only to criticise the late, much-respected foreign correspondent Robert Fisk, but to pile in against him, using the most outrageous... Read More
Making political sense of the world can be tricky unless one understands the role of the state in capitalist societies. The state is not primarily there to represent voters or uphold democratic rights and values; it is a vehicle for facilitating and legitimating the concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. In... Read More
I recently published in Middle East Eye a detailed analysis of last week’s report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into the question of whether the UK Labour party had an especial antisemitism problem. (You can read a slightly fuller version of that article on my website.) In the piece, I reached two main... Read More
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The newly published report on anti-Semitism in the British Labour party couldn’t be more damning. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) spoke to dozens of witnesses as it investigated how Labour had repeatedly and remorselessly betrayed Britain’s Jewish community. Once the party had been their natural home; now it had become their sworn enemy.... Read More
I was in Baghdad in 1998 during US airstrikes, watching missiles explode in great flashes of light as they hit their targets. There was some ineffectual anti-aircraft fire, the only result of which was pieces of shrapnel falling from the sky and making it dangerous to step outside the building we were in. To my... Read More
The battle against Covid-19 is often compared to real war. The analogy encourages a “we are all in it together” solidarity and suggests that it is unpatriotic to criticise or oppose government decisions. Yet the comparison should not be entirely dismissed as self-serving bluster by political leaders because a war and a pandemic have many... Read More
Faced with a barrage of criticism from some of his followers, George Monbiot, the Guardian’s supposedly fearless, leftwing columnist, offered up two extraordinarily feeble excuses this week for failing to provide more than cursory support for Julian Assange over the past month, as the Wikileaks founder has endured extradition hearings in a London courtroom. The... Read More
The silence of journalists in Britain and the US over the extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is making them complicit in the criminalisation of newsgathering by the American government. In an Old Bailey courtroom in London over the past four weeks, lawyers for the US government have sought the extradition of Assange to... Read More
I was six years old in 1956 when my parents decided to return to Ireland from London, though a polio epidemic was in full swing in Cork city thirty miles from where we lived. They thought we would be safe in our house deep in the countryside and were encouraged by the fact that there... Read More
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Julian Assange is not on trial simply for his liberty and his life. He is fighting for the right of every journalist to do hard-hitting investigative journalism without fear of arrest and extradition to the United States. Assange faces 175 years in a US super-max prison on the basis of claims by Donald Trump’s administration... Read More
Twenty years ago, a novelist went to see his publisher to discuss his proposal to write a dystopian novel set in Britain in 2020 when newspaper columnists have taken power and are running the country. These opinion-makers, sometimes called the Commentariat, had for years been expressing outrage at the failings of the government and everyone... Read More
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Court hearings in Britain over the US administration’s extradition case against Julian Assange begin in earnest next week. The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms. A journalist and publisher has been deprived of his liberty for 10 years. According to UN experts, he... Read More
Plumbing the Colonials
This admirable column gets a modest trickle of mail from European readers, for some reason chiefly in France and Italy but some from the Nordic realms. While these correspondents are intelligent and thoughtful, and sometimes translate my maunderings into their languages, they do not give a comprehensive view of what Europe thinks of the United... Read More
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It is simply astonishing that the first attempt by the Guardian – the only major British newspaper styling itself as on the liberal-left – to properly examine the contents of a devastating internal Labour party report leaked in April is taking place nearly four months after the 860-page report first came to light. If you... Read More
When I got polio on a farm in the middle of the Irish countryside in 1956, an Irish Health Ministry official visited our nearest neighbour, a farmer called Dick Cunningham, the next day. He told him what had happened and advised him to keep his children at home. Other farmers in the area, none of... Read More
The new Cold War launched by the West against China and Russia is escalating by the day. In a single week, the Kremlin has been unmasked trying to discover the secrets of Britain’s pursuit of a vaccine against coronavirus and revelations are promised about covert Russian interference in British politics. Boris Johnson made a U-turn... Read More
When Voltaire on his deathbed was asked by a priest if he renounced Satan, he responded: “Now, now my good man. This is no time to be making enemies.” Britain may not yet be on its deathbed, but it is politically and economically sick and this might be a good moment to follow Voltaire’s example... Read More
The government’s controversial Prevent programme aims to stop individuals becoming terrorists, but it would be much more effective if it taught British political leaders not to engage in wars that become the seed-beds of terrorism. Consider the case of Khairi Saadallah, the suspect in the killing of three people in a park in Reading who... Read More
Britain is failing to cope with the Covid-19 epidemic as well as other countries in Europe and East Asia have. Out of 62,000 excess deaths in the UK, says former chief medical officer Sir David King, “40,000 excess deaths could have been avoided if government had acted responsibly”. The failure is devastating: on a single... Read More
China's coming National Security Law, which will give the mainland the right to engage in counter-espionage against foreign intelligence operatives organizing riots in Hong Kong, has been met with indignation by the governments of America and the United Kingdom. The irony is especially rich in Britain's case. During the country's 2019 general election, UK intelligence... Read More
The US and UK are the nation states that have performed worst in the world in coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Americans and Britons make up more than a third of the 300,000 people worldwide who have died from Covid-19. They have paid the ultimate price for their governments’ slow and incompetent response to the... Read More
In the summer of 2011, riots erupted all over London and television screens and newspapers were filled with pictures of blazing buildings and looted shops. People swiftly noted that among those not present in the capital was the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who was with his family in a camper van in the Canadian... Read More
UK Labour's election of Keir Starmer, a self-described Zionist with close familial ties to Jewry, is a drastic establishment repudiation of Corbynism. The elements of the Judeo-Left who did everything in their power to betray their own party and cause Jeremy Corbyn to lose through their bully pulpits at publications like The Guardian are licking... Read More
The film-maker’s crime – like Corbyn’s – wasn’t antisemitism but recalling a time when class solidarity inspired the struggle for a better world Ken Loach, one of Britain’s most acclaimed film directors, has spent more than a half a century dramatising the plight of the poor and the vulnerable. His films have often depicted the... Read More
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Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has had very little media coverage. Even The Guardian and The New York Times barely mentioned it, though these newspapers made a fortune publishing Assange-provided cables. Unless you had been looking for it, you wouldn’t even know that on February 24 to 27, the first stage of Assange’s extradition hearing was... Read More
Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate... Read More
The inept course of what passes for United States Foreign Policy continues, with the Trump Administration now going after the nation’s second oldest friend, Great Britain. With Trump having serially insulted America’s oldest ally France last year, it should only have been expected that the Brits would be next on the list, joining the other... Read More
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If there is one issue that denotes the terminal decline of Labour as a force for change – desperately needed social, economic and environmental change – it is not Brexit. It is the constant furore over an “antisemitism crisis” supposedly plaguing the party for the past five years. The imminent departure of Jeremy Corbyn as... Read More
On Thursday night, the Jewish charity, Campaign Against Antisemitsm (CAA) declared that it would “be selecting a number of future dates on which to picket the 606 [jazz] club over its decision” to present a jazz performance by yours truly. With this threat, CAA crossed the line. This time it wasn’t just going after me... Read More
Suppose a hungry donkey was placed exactly midway between two identical piles of hay. Could it choose one of the piles to eat or would it hesitate, growing ever weaker, until it starved to death? This was the question posed in the medieval problem of Buridan’s ass. “And so on…” It might seem an esoteric... Read More
Earlier: Rule Britannia, by Derb, A Personal Note On Brexit, by Peter Brimelow, and "I Won’t Lie, I Did Cry." A Briton Rejoices At BREXIT's Triumph, by Adam Young, all from June, 2016, when the vote was held. Across the Pond in the Mother Country, today—Friday the 31st—is Brexit Day. The U.K. officially leaves the... Read More
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If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then the British Labour Party is institutionally insane and beyond recovery. Labour’s leadership candidates didn’t learn a thing from their Party’s humiliating electoral defeat last month. Instead of returning to universal anti racist politics consistent with so-called ‘Labour values,’ the... Read More
Historically, a popular coup against an opposition party is rare. In the last General Election Corbyn’s Labour provided us with just such an exceptional spectacle. Labour managed to alienate its voters. Its leader turned his back on its strongest allies including, among others, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson. For some reason Corbyn’s Labour turned itself... Read More
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In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence. Developed by... Read More
Nationalism in different shapes and forms is powerfully transforming the politics of the British Isles, a development that gathered pace over the last five years and culminated in the general election this month. National identities and the relationship between England, Scotland and Ireland are changing more radically than at any time over the last century.... Read More
I constantly receive such letters; letters which repeat, again and again, year after year, basically the same thing: “If only we would have an opportunity to vote out our damn system!” Such letters, emails and messages keep coming to me from the United States, but also from the United Kingdom. Particularly, after certain events, like... Read More