George Galloway - Daily Record Archive 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


CAP JUST DIDN'T FITZ AT THE WEDDING
March 1st 2010

Oh no, not another camera up the jumper film by Dispatches, the tiresome and fevered Channel 4 documentary strand. At the risk of adding to its viewership by giving it publicity, I'm featured - or rather ,smeared - in it tonight. The programme is a pop by Dispatches at Muslims - like the previous tales they have put out about the supposed enemy within plotting to turn Britain into some rainy and windswept Islamic republic.

Stop chuckling. According to Jim Fitzpatrick, a New Labour minister and, coincidentally, my opponent for the seat in Poplar and Limehouse in the forthcoming election, the Islamic Forum of Europe has infiltrated his party and become a secret party within the party.

A sort of Militant Tendency with the Koran and keffiyehs who believe in jihad and sharia law. Fitzpatrick has a substantial bee in his bonnet about this and a track record, to boot. Last year, he had a much-publicised row with the East London mosque when he walked out of a wedding there after he and his wife took objection to being segregated by sex. As if he didn't know that was custom. Now it seems he wants to alienate the few remaining Muslims who might vote for him in a constituency where they are 40 per cent of the electorate.

A speech I gave in the mosque after my last election victory was secretly taped and has been obtained by Dispatches almost five years on. The IFE were, in fact, one of several groups who helped in my successful antiwar campaign and I credited them for their help - as I did to all of the other groups, from Greens, Liberals, Tories to Trotskyists, who helped my defeat of a pro -war MP.

I don't know who is or isn't a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for, but the organisation has never approached me for help or attempted to influence me. Again, my lawyers are watching.


Is it the most expensive dish?
March 1st 2010

Is it the most expensive dish yet, not to mention the most pointlessly tasteless? A passenger on a Ryanair flight to the East Midlands apparently ate a scratch card on which he had won 10,000 euros after he was told he couldn't claim the money immediately. A true tale, an urban myth or another canny media strike by a man who can match the spin of Max Clifford - Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary?


An app too late for Vern
1st March 2010

I may be the least digitally-savvy person on the planet but a new application, or app, for the iPhone will have me signing up. It's called TigerText, apparently not named after the golfer and serial adulterer. But if you believe that... Anyway, the app erases text messages from the sender and recipient's phones after they have been read, thus ensuring the contents can't be stored, forwarded or sold on.

Unfortunately, too late for Ashley Cole or Vernon Kay. Not, of course, that I could be caught out by sex texting. Believe me, it's for security reasons. The Metropolitan Police have confirmed to me that my phone was tapped by a disgraced and jailed private detective, hired by a wellknown red-top newspaper. Max Clifford, who represents most kiss-andtellers, said he was told his phone was tapped too.

Naturally, my lawyers are on the case.


Why the Tory toffs are being hunted
1st March 2010

A ball hasn't yet been kicked in the political Old Firm match and already the underdog Gordon Brown is almost even with the Flashmen of Cameron's old Etonians. And like the affair at Ibrox yesterday, it's going to turn nasty.

It's an astonishing turnaround which owes much to the smell of Gosford Park about all the Tory wannabes. Their slogan is "change" but the first three cabs off their rank are: Relief for 3000 of their immediate neighbours - and all too close relations - from inheritance tax on big estates. The legalisation of tearing warm-blooded animals to pieces for the edification of tally-ho toffs - making flesh of Oscar Wilde's description of such barbarism, the unspeakable in hot pursuit of the uneatable. And finally, for the time being, the defence of an unelected House of Lords.

I believe it is helped, too, by the rabid personal attacks launched by guttersnipes in the Murdoch Press who have bitten the biter. This started last autumn with the fake ferocity over Brown's handwritten letters to bereaved families of war dead. The more they vituperated about Brown's dodgy eyesight, the clearer people could see this was just unfair, bullying even.

The equally fake furore over the shrinking Blairite violets working at Number 10, allegedly phoning bullying helplines because a PM in the midst of international crises shouted at them, has ended up boosting the standing of the hitherto rather desiccated calculating machine image of Brown.

In the last few days, it has turned even uglier and the Tories have reverted to type as the prospect of an overall parliamentary majority vanishes like sna' aff a dyke. Doorstep canvassers are cranking up the immigration issue with lies and exaggerations and statements which the BNP wished they had copyrighted.

It has the repugnant taint of the 1964 general election campaign in Smethwick in Birmingham when the Labour shadow foreign minister Patrick Gordon Walker was defeated by a Tory racist called Peter Griffiths whose slogan was, "If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Labour".

Above all, the British people are not fools. Blunder, crime and capitulation the Blair-Brown story might be. But people know a Tory government of sleazy, olive Martini lounge lizards and brothel creepers would be much, much worse. I say this to Scottish nationalist readers- nothing could be more irrelevant, in this election at least, than the SNP.

Let's wipe the Scottish Tories out.


How many must die?
8th March 2010

The Tories complaining about Gordon Brown hiding among the khaki is like a ship's captain complaining about the sea. They've obviously hoped that we've forgotten Action Woman Maggie Thatcher driving a tank to surf the "Falklands Factor" in the Eighties.

Besides, they're all doing it. No Prime Minister's Question Time is complete now without all three main party leaders waving the shrouds of the latest batch of young British troops they have sacrificed in their doomed wars. How many more have to shed their lifeblood in Helmand Province - to which none of them would ever send their own children - before the British people overwhelmingly insist that enough is enough?


Let he who is without sin...
8th March 2010

When I first knew Steven Purcell he was a young wannabe on the council, chubby and wed. Since then he's reached high up the political tree, come out as a gay man, divorced and developed a drug and alcohol dependency. And, as the weekend's papers show, he has fallen not just all the way down the tree but into a deep well of despair.

He could have been a contender. Dedicated, clever, articulate, modern - as far from the typical Glesga cooncillor as it's possible to imagine. The blizzard of exposure about his private misery took me aback yesterday and should have done for you too. For there but for the grace of God go us. All of us are sinners and all have weaknesses. Mine are trivial yet real.

I told you I had kicked my cigar habit of nearly 40 years in the making. But I have not. I wake up in a cold sweat in the night about leaving my toddler son fatherless. But I still light up in the morning. I just don't smoke in public places anymore, embarrassed at my failure and at my broken promises. Purcell tried to kill himself, it seems. How shocking thought I, drawing another mouthful of smoke...

Mind you, the stresses of the radio shows are extreme. Forced again to confront the CCTV of little James Bulger being taken away trustingly by his killers, and reading the sanitised version of the crucifixion of this innocent boy the same age as my son, was almost too much to bear. It was compounded, however, by the wave of murderous calls for revenge in kind from hundreds of listeners. Almost 200 paid money to send my show their warped, obscene belief that the two 10-year-old children who murdered James should also have been murdered, by the state putting a rope around their necks and hanging them.

Yes, hanging 10-year-olds in the name of horror at their killing another child. Some, even more obscene, insisted we should have kept them until they were 16 and then hanged them. Others that they should have been boiled in fat, or put in the stocks and had spanners thrown at their heads until they were dead.

Somewhere in the course of the show I began to lose the will to live myself. One listener with the moniker Gerry with the Pacemaker summed it up better than I was able to on the night. Writing about the hordes of hangers he said that they were "medieval barbarians from the filth and squalor of the 17th century, the type who cheered and jeered at the front of baying crowds when a nine-year-old boy named John Dean was dragged through English streets before being hanged for arson at Abbingdon Assizes in 1629". How little we have travelled in the last 400 years. Some people are always on the look-out for a witch to burn. It makes them excited and masks their inadequacies.

It seems that Jon Venables has himself been rattling down over the last few months making multiple confessions about his true identity and plunging into the kind of whirlpool that led Purcell into the depths. In Venables' case, it is clear the mob will not rest until they have found and unmasked him. Then they will surely tear him to pieces. Or a simple-minded fool will do so on their behalf. Lord, what trials you visit upon us.


Tories' threats are real

8th March 2010
We have discovered that Jeremy Paxman will cheer you up if you pay him 25,000. The Victorian Paxo, surely born in the wrong century where the mistreating of one's servants is frowned upon, charges said sum for his public speaking.

This on top of the million pounds plus a year you are already giving the pantomime dame through your licence fee of course. For presenting the little-watched Newsnight - a bit like being forced to read the Scotsman, slowly - OK, it's not as bad as that but you know what I mean.

The BBC still refuses to divulge what we pay these people, even though it's our money. And these same "journalists" fulminate about MPs' expenses? Mind you some politicians are just as bad. Take William Hague. He wouldn't get out of bed to make an after-dinner speech for the peanuts Paxo charges. He was, however, out on Newsnight and the World Tonight on Radio Four. There he issued the clearest possible threat, without even coding the menaces, to Kirsty Wark and Robin Lustig, that they better leave this Lord Ashcroft scandal alone now. Or else, he didn't say, but a moron in a hurry could understand.

The arrogant Tories think they will be in power soon and so they might. The message to the BBC was clear. It's no more Mr Nice Guy, from the people who brought you Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit. A bit of advice guys, free of charge. If the Tories get in, whether you leave the villain Lord Ashcroft alone or not, they're coming to get you.


PORN-AGAIN CANDIDATE
15th March 2010

The Lib Dems, whose predecessors brought us the Jeremy Thorpe affair - all bunnies and Vaseline - are certainly the avant garde of British politics. Their policies on the sex industry, drug legalisation, pornography and so on are certainly not tailored to a conservative electorate. Perhaps they imagine their potential voters won't hear of such things. As in, never know them.

This will be hard to maintain now the Lib Dems have selected a famous porn film-maker, Anna Arrowsmith, as their candidate in Kent. The woman who brought us the likes of Be My Toyboy, Hoxton Honey and other succulently entitled hum-dingers is running alongside Nick "No More Than 30" Clegg to "clean up parliament".

Their campaign is being paid for by convicted fraudster Michael Brown, who gave them 2.4million before being sent to prison for having stolen that money and much more. The Lib Dems refuse to give the money back.

Anna never actually appeared in any of her racy porn flicks. Though she is fairly easy on the eye, as I'm sure the picture editor will make clear.


Freedom? I'm Nat buying it
15th March 2010

'Their complaint is I hate Scots Nationalism, don't want to see this island partitioned and could never encourage folk to vote SNP' I'd be a liar if I said I followed the small print of the SNP's labours like I would if I didn't have other duties, in England and beyond.

When what they are doing is big enough to intrude and it's right, I say so, loud and clear and without fear or favour. Like the release of Libyan patsy Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, framed and his health broken in a Scots prison for something that he never did. Mind you, as usual, that was a view I came to long before most.

Imagine my surprise then to be upbraided by flame-haired Joan McAlpine the other day for failing to notice the Nats 'planning a new approach to short-term prison sentences. In England, 60 per cent of those sent to jail for less than a year are back inside again within 12 months. The cost is up to 10billion a year and the first steps on the road of recidivism. I say prison isn't working, is too expensive and something else should be tried. Community service must be a better bet.

Supervised offenders can be taught a lesson, a visible one, in the very places in which they have offended. It's not a soft option. Work should be hard, hours long, terms strict. Instead of the taxpayer paying out more than it costs to send one's son to Eton to keep each of the thousands of short-term prisoners in jail, we would actually be saving money and getting needed works done.

If Salmond and Co are going to do this here, well done. If New Labour and their chorus are scraping the barrel of right-wing populism to oppose it, shame on them. Though if you have no shame - as they surely don't - then you can do anything at all. But Joan's criticism of me is misplaced, as is that from the Angus Oggs commenting, or rather ranting, on her blog. You see their real complaint is that I hate Scottish Nationalism, don't want to see this small island partitioned and could never encourage folk to vote SNP.

Salmond is head and shoulders abune them a' in Holyrood. There should be a multi-option referendum. Scotland has a right to independence if it votes for it. But if anything should dissuade Scots from the foolishness of separatism, it must be the crash we've been through. If this had happened to an independent Scotland we would be now like Iceland. Without finance, without defence jobs (for which I had to fight London ministers for nearly 20 years to save Yarrows on the Clyde).

The seas are rough out there. Getting out of a liner and into a Para Handy puffer on the storm-tossed seas just for the pleasure of shouting "och aye the noo" as loud as we like doesn't strike me as all that smart. How about you?


Policy on refugees falls flat
15th March 2010

Speculation swirls about the role of the Home Office in the family of Russian asylum seekers who jumped 15 stories from the Red Road flats. It is impossible to get asylum from Canada as this family tried because, by definition, Canada is not capable of oppressing its citizens.

But that's not true, any more than it's true of our own country. In this case, however, the father had mental health issues. His claim that the Canadian authorities were beaming radiation at his house gives a clue to his state of mind. So, in this case, my gripe is not with the immigration agencies but with the social services and health service in Glasgow who had a duty of care to this family.

But it's a raw, unforgiving wind which howls around the Red Road flats. Some local people's hearts there have been hardened by poverty. But most of them have not, which is something of a miracle. Because successive governments failed to make refugee dispersal from London a win-win situation for locals and asylum seekers. And the policy has come tumbling down. The best epithet for this failure and this tragedy will be bringing the flats down too.


THEN there's the meanness of...
15th March 2010

Then there's the meanness of spirit of nationalism. Its tendency to define itself against "the other", in Scotland's case England, in the case of the equally repugnant British nationalism, Europe. On my last Question Time appearance I said I hope England win the World Cup. Why not? Scotland and Ireland aren't in it. I've lived in England, happily, for 30 years. I follow the English Premiership. My children and grandchildren are born in England...what reason could I have for NOT wanting England to do well? I promise you Iam STILL receiving abuse from super-patriot Scots who consider it treachery. I just don't buy it. I'm outta here.


SWEET AND SOUR MADNESS
22nd March 2010

The sharing of birthday cakes is forbidden now and hundreds of schools, and thousands of pupils, have been told that they can no longer bring in home baking to raise muchneed money for charity.

Five councils have interpreted a two-year-old Act banning sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks from vending machines to encourage healthy eating to include a ban on scones and cakes, millionaire shortbread and anything else which has come into the orbit of the sugar bowl.

South Ayrshire banned "cakes of any sort" and Clackmannanshire Council have told parents to find "alternative ways of celebrating birthdays and special events". Meanwhile, chip and burger vans park outside schools to shovel out fatdrenched carbohydrates to pupils.


CIA plot to send Fidel on a trip
22nd March 2010

For centuries Pont-Saint-Esprit, a sleepy village in the south of France, was noted for nothing remarkable. But in 1951 its 4000 people were infected by a communal madness. Some ran through the streets, screaming they were being pursued by demons, at least five people died and dozens were driven insane.

The official explanation was they had been inadvertently poisoned by a baker whose flour was contaminated by ergot, a fungus almost identical to LSD. A book by US journalist Hank Albarelli points to a crazy CIA experiment carried out by renegade agent Sidney Gottlieb. According to Albarelli, Gottlieb dosed the flour with the actual drug. Fanciful? Well, one of the CIA's plans was to drive Fidel Castro mad by infiltrating LSD into his beard.

click HERE for more info about this story.


Byers needed for failed ministers
22nd March 2010

When I first knew Stephen Byers, he was a Trotskyist, his fingers stained with ink from copies of The Militant, the paper of his entryist group into Labour. Now his palm is open for any passing bung from companies trying to wrest deals for business from the Government.

He describes himself as like a cab for hire - although, for 5000 a day, you'd have to travel from Land's End to John O'Groats a few times in the back of a black taxi to run up that kind of bill. Two other former ministers for hire, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, are a bit cheaper at 3000 a day. Actually, to be fair to Byers, he may have got his sums wrong - as he famously did when he started his ministerial stint as schools minister. When asked to multiply seven by eight, he came up with 54. Betrayal of any principle, snouts in the trough - isn't it too achingly familiar? These mouthpieces are promising access to government and the ability to warp legislation and degrade politics. No doubt Downing Street will claim these three are relics of the Blair era.

Byers was a failure as a minister and, caught soliciting funds for influence, he makes a hopeless and rotten lobbyist. Who, then, would want to hire him or, indeed, another discredited minister, Scotland's former first one? The Tories, that's who.

Jack McConnell, the emissary to Malawi, part-time Motherwell and Wishaw MP and the first Labour leader to lose a national election to the SNP, has been talking to the Cameronians about some kind of international role in a new Tory Government. He has clearly given up on believing New Labour can win and has given up, like Byers, on everything he once believed in.


ACTRESSES get jogging...
22nd March 2010

Actresses hoping to find a part in the new Pirates Of The Caribbean film will have to strip off and jog to detect whether or not their breasts are enhanced. The director Rob Marshall insists they "must have real breasts". Penelope Cruz replaces Keira Knightley, who is so natural that in publicity posters for King Arthur her chest was digitally enhanced. Johnny Depp plays Jack Sparrow. In its natural state, the sparrow seldom grows larger than four inches.


Flying into the BA flak
22nd March 2010

Whenever I see BA's Willie Walsh on TV, I instinctively move to cover my child's eyes. That messianic glare, the bulging jaw muscles, the venom from his mouth... It's clear that he doesn't want to settle this dispute on anything other than his terms. Anyone who accuses probably the least militant trade union members in the country, the BA cabin staff, of trying to destroy the company - as he did - isn't on the calm pills.

The right-wing newspapers have been as virulent. And Gordon Brown, with Unite political director Charlie Whelan allegedly sharing his desk, has been only slightly less damning. It's worth recalling that two years ago BA was making 1 billion profit. Its strategy of relying on bankers and executives in business class flying long-haul crashed with the recession.

Walsh then embarked on his vendetta against some of the lowestpaid and hardest working staff, the trolley dollies. Whoever wins this fight, BA will be the losers. The buck stops with Walsh.


Funny old world for ex-Trot on the make
29th March 2010

Schadenfreude, the German word meaning pleasure in another's misfortune, is the only way I can describe my feelings at breakfast yesterday. Coming under fire in the newspapers, suitably adorned in a tin helmet, was former armed forces minister Adam Ingram, the latest retiring minister pimping his services and his "network of friends" to a fictitious American PR company.

His clients were in fact undercover TV and newspaper journalists. For 2500 a day the East Kilbride man is ready to fight to the last drop of filthy lucre. His colleague Stephen Byers, like Ingram a former Trotskyite, had earlier been caught in the same ambush. Though his fare for his services as a 'cab on the rank' was 5000 a day, making Adam a kind of mini-cab driver.

Readers with a long memory will know he and I go back a long way. When I first knew him he was a young Orangeman who went out on the parades marching behind the flute bands. And when I revealed this fact in my autobiography I'm Not The Only One he took my publisher Penguin to the High Court in Edinburgh seeking to injunct publication. But it was a charge of the light brigade ending in abject failure with the judge quashing his manoeuvre. The Orangeman metamorphosed into a red, becoming a member of Gerry Healey's extreme left sect which eventually became the Workers Revolutionary Party.

Mind you, few workers were in it unless you count Vanessa Redgrave and the police spies who proliferated within. The former fact may have been helpful, at least in some quarters, in his role as Northern Ireland minister. The latter was probably rarely mentioned as he sat on the rank plying for hire.

An astonishing proportion of the New Labour apostates are previous communists of one of the 57 varieties or other. Dr John Reid was a hardline comrade for many years. I wonder if he has told Dermott Desmond, the plutocrat who owns Celtic? Alistair Darling was a bearded Trot when I first met him pressing Marxist-Leninist tracts into the hands of bewildered striking railwaymen outside Waverley Station in our lovely capital city.

Byers was a Militant. Milburn, a member of the International Marxist Group running a bookshop called Days of Hope - though known locally as Haze of Dope. I could go on but I would drown you in an alphabet soup. Suffice to say that everyone of them at one time in my youth regarded me as a backsliding, milksop reformist which, believe me, was one of the worst charges in the lexicon. Now some are for hire to American businessmen who can afford the fare. As Mrs Thatcher once said, it's a funny old world.


Just Jack it in, Kiefer
29th March 2010

In the days before I was banned from Canada I met and was entranced by the actress Shirley Douglas, mother of Kiefer Sutherland. Shirley is a textbook liberal, as is, apparently, her boy Kiefer. So what on earth he's doing as his alter ego Jack Bauer in the series 24? The stories have Bauer routinely saving the world from a cast of villains, always of an ethnic disposition, and usually employing extreme torture.

It's rabid, right-wing nonsense and fortunately it's coming to an end soon. Shirley said she'd introduce me to Kiefer - I just hope this piece doesn't put his back up, as I did to John Malkovich. He said he wanted to kill me. I challenged him to a square go and I'm still waiting. If there's a promoter out there...


It's a bit like hitting...
29th March 2010

It's a bit like hitting a barn door with a football, I know, but Gordon Brown has been missing so many open goals for so long it's still encouraging to see some hit home. The vapid five pledge card launched at the weekend by New Labour may not frighten the horses or the markets but won't set a single pulse in the land a'racing. Brown's great good fortune is that people in this country - nowhere more so than in Scotland - fear and hate the Tories. If I'm in the hung parliament, which looks increasingly likely, I'll vote to keep Brown in power - though on condition that he starts acting like the Brown Bomber Joe Louis rather than Primo Carnera, the big palooka with a glass jaw and no heart.


A 30k Curry's too hot
29th March 2010

Another Tory David Curry, has been forced to pay back to the Commons almost 30,000 claimed for a honeysuckle and roses cottage in which his former lover was ensconced. He still claimed it on expenses as his second home.

Both Dismore and Curry were once pillars of the Parliamentary Standards watchdog, which - when you think about it - is entirely appropriate.


Sock it to them
29th March 2010

The gap continues to narrow in the opinion polls. And PM Gordon Brown, who it seems increasingly looks like Frankenstein's famous monster, has got off the table and broken free. His big clunking fist is at last beginning to land some telling blows on the tailor's dummy that is David Cameron. And even more so on the Jimmy Clitheroe, Gideon (for that is his name, I wonder why he suppresses it?) Osborne.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Galloway's Daily Record blog has stopped (it ended in August 2012 by the looks of things) I'll just post the content for now and tidy it all up later, as it's bound to go offline at some point.


Israelis getting weaker
5 Apr 2010

Happy Easter, Jesus of Nazareth is risen. The Palestinians he left behind however are not. The are entombed by occupation and siege. But deliverance is nearer than they think. Their occupier has never been weaker. Their conquest, using Western weapons, against the Arabs, who had Soviet arms, in the Six Day War in 1967 proved their perfect positioning in the Cold War. No more.

They are now, in the words of the US military commander general Petraeus, a "strategic liability" for the US. Sure they've got the hundreds of nuclear weapons we foolishly helped them to gather - having failed to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein right to the end. But those will be of little use in the end. The Masada example - of national suicide - doesn't appeal to most Israelis who really only settled there for a pleasant life by the Med, not to replay the Old Testament and the battle of Armageddon.


IN KNICK OF TIME FOR M&S
5 Apr 2010

Danni in M&S knicks and pyjamas as part of the new advertising campaign will surely help the store. Alongside the past adverts featuring Twiggy and Mylene and - my favourite - Noemie Lenoir - the ad campaign of the high street warhorse has begun to get it back on its feet. A good thing too. Their food is ace, their underwear terrific value. But their ads are marvellous. Take a look on YouTube.


Posted missing in a dirty war
5 Apr 2010

Whoever decided to "attack" David Cameron by putting him on the bonnet of a 1980s Audi, loosening his tie, and likening him to Gene Hunt from Ashes to Ashes, has made a right mess of it. The 80s were cool, as in their own way were the 90s. Gene Hunt was cool. David Cameron, the public school Flashman presiding over a shadow cabinet with more Etonians than Sir Alec Douglas-Home had in his real one in 1963, is definitely not cool.

The New Labour poster is their offering in the attack-dog stakes. Newly re-united with Saatchi and Saatchi, the Tories do dirty fighting so much better. I Doubled The National Debt, Vote For Me - that sort of thing. Engorged with the proceeds of Lord Cashcroft's tax-free millions the Cons are embarked upon a blizzard of expensive posters.

They may have fired them off too early, time will tell. But my feeling is the election is there to be won, or at least not lost by Labour. If it's a hung parliament, and I'm in it, I'll never support a Tory government. But I have conditions for the support of the other MPs - latest polls, by the way, indicate just a difference of two seats between Brown and Cameron. They are: An emergency house-building programme of at least the size achieved by Harold Macmillan the Tory grandee in the 1950s. A date for the withdrawal of British forces from the overseas Bush wars. A 100billion savage cut in public expenditure - cancellation of Trident - thus saving vital public services from butchery. Action against the bankers bloating on public funds while putting small firms out of business by calling in loans and cancelling overdrafts. Trust me, they will thank me for it in the long run.

Oh, and just one more thing Gordon. On the last day before the election campaign started you introduced one of the most shameful measures of the New Labour era, and that's really saying something. It costs the government 272 to process a visa application by an overseas visitor. They charge 575. Worse, its non-refundable if your application is turned down. From tomorrow, the cost will almost triple - to 1680.

Yes, 1680, just to apply for a visa to visit Britain. And, of course, it's non refundable. Given that Bangladeshis, for example, have a 31 per cent chance of having their application turned down, and that most visitors come as man and wife, some of the poorest people in the world who want to visit their families here - maybe for the last time before they die - will have to risk the loss of thousands of pounds. And that's more than five years wages in Bangladesh - absolutely shameful. So, Gordon, include the scrapping of these fees, which I intend to show are in any case, unlawful, as another of my conditions for sending you back to No10 Downing Street.


Business revolt is sickener for Gord
12 Apr 2010

Hold the front page. Millionaire businessmen are backing Tory plans to, er, save themselves a right few quid. I don't know why Labour didn't come out fighting when Tory toff David Cameron staged his businessmen's revolt against the National Insurance rise. Well, I do really. It's because they are reluctant to admit big business, which once tangoed with them, has decided to return to their true love - the moneybags Tories. But it's the truth.

The gutter-snipe Murdoch - and his phone-hacking low-life journalists who were given scoops, tax and regulatory breaks by the Blairites - are now of course even more powerful and have launched an assault on Gordon Brown which sickens you somewhere in the pit of the stomach. The dragooning - presumably in exchange for considerations - of VC winner Johnson Beharry saying he had wanted to assault the prime minister and that Gordon hadn't been able to "look him in the eye" plastered over Labour like grape-shot in the campaign's opening days.

Nobody said that Gordon has difficulty looking anyone in the eye because he has a glass eye and has problems in the other. Nobody made the more important point that the day soldiers begin to attack their elected governors will be the day that democracy dies. And that a "newspaper" trumpeting seditious tripe must be, well, owned by a tax-avoiding multiple passport-holding serial patriot who should have been cut down to size when his new victims had the chance to do so. "Ah didnae ken, ah didnae ken," used to say the late, great Duncan Macrae cowering before the vengeance of the Lord. "Well, ye ken noo," came the answer with a smite.

It's partly through their control of the media that the rich and the powerful have successfully turned a debate about the budget deficit - caused by the virtual collapse of THEIR banking system and having to be bailed out by OUR money - into one in which the main parties vie with each other over who will cut our public services more savagely, more "like Margaret Thatcher" and how quickly.

But stupidity helps. All week long I've heard fools with their proverbial back-sides hanging out of their trousers hurl abuse on phone-ins and the like at other working people for their plight. For some it's that there are "too many people working in the public sector". Well they are providing the public services you'd soon miss if they were destroyed. For others, it's Johnnie Foreigner coming here taking our jobs - which we don't actually want ourselves - and also taking our women etc.

Imagine my surprise in my own campaign yesterday when a well-turned out Scotsman in an, admittedly, over-filled salmon-pink golfing sweater, in the East End of London the told me to "go home". Lest you think that he just felt my own country needed me, I should say that he added what will certainly become my epitaph. It is the insult about which I will always feel most proud. mean counts, whips has swooned It will appear - though not yet, I might add - on my political gravestone. "You... you," he ranted. "You only care aboot them that's got f*** all".

Guilty as charged, M'Lud.



STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU GOOD PEOPLE
12 Apr 2010

At the last election me and my kids were locked in a room by Islamist fanatics who threatened to hang me for urging Muslims to vote when, according to their interpretation, voting is forbidden in Islam. It got really frightening and violent. Those that did it got the living daylights battered out of them when my friends (whose names I've forgotten M'Lud) arrived to rescue us. A little faster than the Old Bill arrived I must say.

The group were then called Al Mahajaroon - The Immigrants. Since then they've been banned but re-emerged under another name. And they haven't changed their methods either. Just 20 minutes after being assailed by the pink-clad foul mouthed Scotsman for caring only about the immigrants, me and my kids (more plentiful now by the Grace of God) and supporters were again attacked for the same sin by the same group. This time the Old Bill were there like a shot and arrested three extremists who have now been charged with public order offences.

So, there we have it at the end of the first week. Salmon pink Scottish clowns to the left of me, black clad Bin Ladenists to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.


LET'S hope the parliament elected...
12 Apr 2010

Let's hope the parliament elected on May 6 is at least one that's is worthy of the name. I hope to be in it. And I hope it's hung. Not by the neck of course. No, I mean a parliament in which every speech counts, every vote counts and in which the whips are powerless because each measure has to be won by argument. Nancy Dell'Olio swooned when I called for a hung parliament at a gig we did last week. She is thinking of standing for parliament herself. She thinks there are too many foreigners in the country - no I'm not making that last bit up. Still, I bet she'd get the vote of Mr Salmon Pink .



House is full of toadies
12 Apr 2010

It's nearly a quarter of a century I've sat in that House now. When I went in, the web hadn't been invented, or fax machines, or mobile phones. Life was simple. Immigration minister Phil Woolas and cabinet minister John Denham were my employees. Dr John Reid, chairman of Celtic (for now), was my ex-employee. Gordon Brown, Donald Dewar et al sat under my chairmanship of Scottish Labour. Wee Wendy Alexander was my researcher and babysitter and great at both she was too.

The title Labour MP was something to have then, especially for a man from a cooncil house in Dundee who didn't go to university and started out making ZX radials in a line of presses for Monsieur Michelin. The Labour bit I lost along the way, though I like to think the loss is mainly theirs. Much of the prestige of being an MP has gone too. Not just because hundreds of them were caught filling their pockets with secretly claimed expenses which they tried to the death to avoid publication of. It started long before that.

When I first entered the hallowed halls, which I shall have to leave today for maybe the last time, there were a great many people of independent mind in all parties. The House filled up when they rose to speak. You knew they believed in what they were saying. They hadn't been hired to say it or bullied into it. It has now become a House of toadies, cowards, charlatans. It is beyond the time it should begone.



'Chris' Nicked debate
19 Apr 2010

Of course the real winner in the debate was the man whose name I pretended not to know just a few months ago. 'Chris' Clegg, I said, looked and sounded like a mannequin who'd fallen out of Claude Alexander's (note to younger readers again - a down-market tailor in my youth). He's still no great shakes (how I wish I could have been in that debate myself) but in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Or not in this case. Clegg was king because he was bold. Because he wasn't in a straitjacket lashed around prevailing orthodoxies of war, nuclear weapons, public service cuts. Because he was prepared to propose a mansion tax which has proved to be surprise, surprise, er, popular with everyone except mansion owners.

When I said I hoped for a coalition of the centre-left after the election, that didn't quite mean what it would have meant just a few years ago. It's not Labour that's on the left in British politics today. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a more conservative Labour party led by a more conservative leader on a more conservative platform than this lot. It's just lucky for them the country hates and fears the Tories with a bristling, instinctive and brilliantly intuitive clarity.



Why Tories are ripe for scandal
19 Apr 2010

Let me tell you a story about the Tory party that will make your hair curl - and every word is true. May it serve as a warning that with them comes trouble. In the early Sixties, Tory PM Harold Macmillan was known as Supermac - though not by his wife Dorothy. She was openly conducting an affair with Aberdeenshire Tory MP Bob Boothby, a friend of Winston Churchill and bisexual lover of East End gangster Ronnie Kray.

Boothby was said to have fathered the prime minister's youngest daughter, Sarah, who is now dead. Macmillan's war minister (they were honest about titles in those days) John Profumo was having an affair with prostitute Christine Keeler. So was the Soviet military attache in London - at the same time. Profumo denied his affair to the PM and to the House. He had to go - in those days lying to parliament was a no-no not qualification for office.

In 1963, Macmillan ordered MI5 to place bugging devices in No10 (to catch Boothby and his wife in flagrante presumably) and also in the cabinet room (perhaps Bob and Dorothy were fond of a table-ender). He was trying to keep a lid on an unprecedented level of scandal that threatened to undermine his Tory government and confidence in the British establishment. Secrets he kept included the identity of the 'headless man' in sexually explicit photos produced in the Duchess of Argyll's messy divorce.

At the divorce hearing, a photograph of a naked man standing beside Her Grace at the posh candelabra'd dinner table was introduced (I promise you I am not making any of this up) and much speculation ensued as to whose head might be attached to said appendage. Actor Douglas Fairbanks was high on everyone's list as was Churchill's son-in-law and British foreign minister Duncan Sandys. Macmillan was terrified the secrets of his safe would be plundered, another reason for bringing in the spooks.

There had been spies in the Admiralty - John Vassal, a civil servant, convicted of giving thousands of documents to the KGB after being caught in whatever the gay equivalent of a honey-trap is, had just been exposed as a traitor. The FO was still reeling from the defections of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean - three of its most senior operatives who were all secretly working for the USSR (note to our younger readers, that's the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).

Why do I mention all this? As I looked at Cameron in the leaders' debate, over-rouged and over-rehearsed, I couldn't help imagining him in his bow tie and dinner jacket, cigarette holder protruding from a glass jaw. Between them, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg can now blooter Cameron out of the election over the next two weeks. Then they can form a coalition government of the centre-left and change the voting system to proportional representation - so everyone in the country's vote can count equally. And the idea of another Tory government will seem as distant a memory as the Rabelaisian romps of Boothby, Reggie, Keeler and Co.

The Tories will hardly be able to complain. The current voting system is going to put Gordon back in Downing Street with his party in third place. Which is more than it deserves, in fact.



Election battle is all shook up
26 Apr 2010

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog ... the PM might well have been saying to posh boy Cameron as he shimmied with Britain's Elvis at the weekend. Politics is certainly All Shook Up, the Camerons are checking into Heartbreak Hotel, some are crying in the chapel, but the hard-faced men with the wooden hearts who've forked out the millions are already asking "Dave" how he's blown such a Blue Moon and thrown it all away? The polls say the Tories are going to win most votes, sure.

But with New Labour going for an unprecedented fourth term with the country insolvent and the best it can do to show Britain's Labour Government's got talent being Eddie Izzard and wee Doogie Alexander, that's hardly surprising. The Tories would have a right to shout about the unfairness of the system in which you can win more votes yet lose the election - if they weren't the only party in this election still supporting that system.

As I said in what turned out to be my last speech in the last parliament, in these islands there is a massive anti-Tory majority. It's just split several ways. If you add Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalists, Greens, etc, you see that two-thirds of us are anything but Tories. What is needed - and what Labour could have delivered over a decade ago, in which case we wouldn't have to have a little more conversation about it - is a voting system whereby we list our preferences in declining order.

That way - proportional representation - means that every vote, whether you live in a leafy marginal or a rock-solid heartland, counts and counts equally. If you get 33 per cent of the vote, you get a third of the seats in parliament - no more, no less. That means you have to agree a programme for government with other parties to take you up to a majority. What's wrong with that? The Liberal Democrats must make that the price of a pact with Labour.

And for those toying with the idea of ditching the ageing rocker Gordon Brown for young lounge crooner David Miliband after the polls, I say beware. The installation of another Labour leader who has never faced election will cause dangerous instability. It will inevitably lead to yet another General Election in just a few months. I don't know about you, but I just left the building at the very thought of that.



Why pick on the Church?
26 Apr 2010

Don't you think the open season on the Catholic Church is getting rather out of hand? I declare an interest, but I can also recognise a witch-hunt when I see one. Carruthers of the Foreign Office circulates spoof memos with obscene jibes at the Church and its beliefs. The British establishment anti-Catholic ... who'd have thought it? Left-wing idiots call for the Pope's arrest when he comes to Britain on the grounds he's supposedly an accessory after the fact of child abuse. Apart from the fact that he isn't, this mass hysteria over sex and the Church is reaching Witches of Salem proportions.

Sexual abuse of children is to be found everywhere. I know, I was one of the victims. In my case, it was the Army Cadet Force. It's a vile and pernicious aspect of the sinfulness humans are capable of. Why is the Catholic Church being singled out in this sea of sin? It's true that in the Sixties, Seventies, even Eighties, attitudes towards bringing such matters to court were different. In all institutions. It's true, too, that some in the hierarchy - though not the Pope - more than mishandled miscreants. But the vast majority of priests, then and now, were doing God's work, and well.

It's time to cut the Catholics some slack. And time for the faithful to speak out and say so.

BEST A GEORGE CAN GET . .
26 Apr 2010
London's Metro named me last week as one of the all-time top 10 Georges. Mind you, I was in some rum company. The mad King George, community service order Boy George as well as some rather more photogenic Georges - Clooney, Best, right, and Orwell. All in all, I was quite chuffed. Dundee boy makes good.
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GIVE CAMERON'S ACT THE THREE RED BUZZERS
3 May 2010

We could do the whole election thing on Britain's Got Talent in front of Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and whoever got the pretty blonde gig that season. MPs could shamble on to the stage like those two plump girls on Saturday night. Amanda Holden could break our hearts, telling us one could go through while the other shuffled off. Our job is to think, analyse, argue the toss, convince others of our point of view, steer the ship of state clear of rocks and into calmer waters.

But should we be chosen by our three minutes as a song-anddance man? If it's to be that way, Cameron will get the nod on Thursday. But, trust me, it won't be long before we're sorry. If you think there's a chance you're going to be old or sick or poor or out of work, if you think you might need a helping hand at some stage - be afraid, be very afraid.

Hardie's boy will triumph
3 May 2010

In my own contest in East London, two Scotsmen are slugging it out to represent the cockneys old and new. As usual, New Labour claimed that voting for me could let the Tory in but there hasn't been a Tory MP here since they used to push children up chimneys and deny women, and many working men, the vote. In fact, it's a battle between two versions of what Labour should be. I am in the tradition of the Scotsman James Keir Hardie, who won the first-ever Labour seat here in East London more than 100 years ago. I've even got the beard!

My opponent, Jim Fitzpatrick, stands in another equally Scottish Labour tradition, that of Ramsay MacDonald, who betrayed everything that Labour stood for and left the working people of Britain sunk in the Great Depression without champions and without a voice. I am winning - even the bookies acknowledge that - and I hope to address you next week as the parliamentary leader of three MPs in a hung Parliament.

Who knows? - three could be the magic number.


Come on Gordon, you're only human
3 May 2010

The loneliness of the long-distance runner has nothing on the agony of being Gordon Brown. I first met him when he was student rector of Edinburgh University, already destined for stardom on the political stage. That was more than a third of a century ago. He has been running for Prime Minister ever since. By the time he breasted the tape, several things were already clear.

His one-time pace-maker Tony Blair had enjoyed almost all the best of it, largely thanks to the booming economy engineered by Brown. The Iraq War, and the infatuation with George W Bush which underpinned it, had destroyed something fundamental in the Labour soul. And, I say this sadly, for all of his gigantic talents, Gordon Brown always lacked the quintessential political skill of being able to handle people.

First of all, Gordon is a very, very shy person. He could never be a "gameshow host", as he devastatingly dubbed Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. The powdered Flashman of the upper-sixth, David Cameron, can plunge gamely into any melee and be out again, leaving just a whiff of the disreputable. Gordon is awkward, thrawn, serious.

Electioneering contains perils for all of us. The baby you kiss who bursts into tears. The voter you hug and talk to for ages, who then tells you he lives in another constituency altogether. The handshake offered and snubbed when the press photographer is poised. The low-lying branch or, worse, bridge, when you're campaigning on top of a bus. The sudden realisation that a group of your campaigners could give the passer-by the impression you were doing a remake of that boat excursion in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Then there's that woman advancing towards you with a point of view. And you've got a lapel microphone on. Lights, camera, action ... The whole encounter with Gillian Duffy would have been excruciating for Gordon Brown - and should never have happened. It should not be a qualification for prime ministership that you hang around on a pavement waiting for passers-by to abuse you for the edification of the salivating Murdoch journalists trying to destroy you at their master's bidding.

We have a PM to take the biggest decisions about war, peace, the economy, to engage in international diplomacy with other heads of government - not to be a skilful patter-merchant selling a short time on the pavements of Rochdale. As it happens, Mrs Duffy was not a bigot. There is no racism involved in complaining about Poles - people of the same race as ourselves. It's just stupid, that's all. A million Europeans have come to live here and a million of us have gone to live there. Get over it.

Poles are fine people - well-educated, skilled, hard workers. They fought alongside us in the war. The churches were full of them yesterday. Most will one day go home. They came here to work hard and better themselves. Virtually none of them is on benefits.

The chat with Mrs Duffy did not go nearly as bad as Gordon thought it had. By his standards, it was a successful encounter with the human race. If he hadn't had a microphone belonging to a deadly enemy on his lapel. If his staff had the competency to remove it. If he hadn't breathed the "B" word. If he hadn't put his head in his hands in front of the photographers. If he hadn't over-reacted and driven back to Rochdale. If he hadn't come out of her house grinning and calling an old lady by her first name ...

So many what-ifs. For me, the whole story is a nonsense from A to Z. This is not what parliamentary government is about. Our MPs are not supposed to be local councillors. Our Prime Minister should not be being tested to destruction on things absolutely nothing to do with his job. The political class in Britain has to recover some sense of itself - some dignity.


It was an honour to serve you.. and I never sold out
10 May 2010

My 23-year stint in the House has been ended. I was well beaten by a man you've never heard of, which makes it even more painful, and I doubt you'll hear much of him in the next Parliament either. I started out beating the late, great Roy Jenkins in Glasgow Hillhead. After my expulsion by Tony Blair over the Iraq war, I became the first left-of-Labour MP elected in England in 60 years, snuffing out Blair Babe Oona King's career.

At this election, we tried to win by creating a three-constituency "microclimate". It proved unsuccessful, although we did poll nearly 30,000 votes. Perhaps I should have quit while I was ahead. Or maybe I'll be back, somewhere, somehow. Only God knows. I'm back on Press TV Thursday and Sunday nights (Sky 515) and back on Talksport radio soon, too. And of course, I'm here in the Record every Monday. I'm speaking in California at the weekend, my son turns three, more children on the way, Godwilling, too. So don't feel sorry for me - it's been marvellous!

Nothing became Gordon Brown's election campaign like its ending. He hit his stride only in the last few days - as he would put it, he was at his best when he was at his most "Labour". His "old-time religion" preaching a couple of days before the election is how he will want to be remembered. Perhaps it would be churlish to point out that the young girl sobbing about her mother's struggle to live on the wages of a cleaner in central London, which so moved Gordon, was actually cleaning his own Treasury office.

New Labour has lost millions of voters and hundreds of thousands of members since 1997, and almost 100 Westminster seats last week. I don't need to rehearse the reasons - you have heard them from me often enough. It is a measure of people's fear of the Tories that the losses were not even worse. In London, in Scotland, and other traditional fastnesses, Labour folk circled the wagons hoping they could stop the Tories. Alas, it appears it was not to be.

The two public school toffs, Clegg and Cameron, are, as the Americans say, "making out", and later today may achieve full coitus. It is a grisly, peculiar tango. One wants to join the euro, the other to "Save the Pound". One wants to give an amnesty to more than a million illegal immigrants, the other leads a party deeply infused with racist anti-immigration instincts. One wants to abandon Trident-based nuclear weapons. The other loves the Bomb, in the words of Ike and Tina, "like a schoolboy loves his thing".

Vince Cable, says an emergency budget and immediate "savage cuts" are "dangerous and irresponsible". Gideon Osborne considers it an article of free market faith. A fair voting system, that sacred cow of liberalism for 100 years, looks like being butchered in exchange for, er ... what exactly? To paraphrase St Thomas More: it profiteth a man nothing to sell his soul, even for the whole world. Are the Lib Dems really going to do it for a "Pupil Premium" and the Chief Secretaryship of the Treasury? The new Tory-Lib Dem government (how strange it feels to write those words) will try to make you pay for the sins of others, too.

The turmoil in Greece, where workers are revolting at the idea of paying for something they didn't do, may be the cloud no bigger than a man's hand which heralds great storms. The "PIIGS" - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain - could start to collapse like dominoes and create an economic Tsunami. Not being in the Eurozone will not protect us if it happens. Some of you may stand up against such an injustice. If you do, you'll always find a friend in me.


ALAS poor Gordon, I knew him well
17 May 2010

Alas poor Gordon, I knew him well. It doesn't half make you feel old when somebody you knew so young has been and gone as Prime Minister, I tell you. Nae luck, Gordie. You got the gig with just a few minutes to go and not enough of us cared to call you back for an encore. You did many good things, which will be more noticeable when the Tories come to take them away from us. You could have done better but you were twice the man you succeeded. Well, now you're done in - and so are the rest of us. I wish you well, big man, but I wish you had done better.


Cannes you help me find Ed Norton?
17 May 2010

If you haven't seen the latest Roman Polanski movie, Ghost Writer, you really should. Written by Blair and Mandelson cronie Robert Harris, it is a thinly veiled account of what should be the trials of Tony Blair. It tells the tale of a hunted British Prime Minister, in lavish exile in America, struggling to finish his $10million memoirs, ghostwritten of course. I won't tell you much more but the International Criminal Court begins to close in on the ex-PM over his sins in Iraq. Like all of Harris's books, it's a great story. And, like all of Polanski's films, it's even better on the silver screen.

I'm in the US drumming up support for my own movie project, Occupation Of The Sun, which will tell the story of the Palestinians through my efforts to get solar panels into Gaza. I'm looking for the actor Ed Norton - the world's most eloquent advocate of the solar path to energy. If he happens to read the Record while he's in Cannes, or someone who knows him does, get him to give me a call. It will be worth the trouble.


A Boult from the Sky blue
17 May 2010

I have few reasons to lament the passing from the national stage of Alastair Campbell. Readers of my book, I'm Not The Only One, will know in bone-crushing detail about my long struggle with him. If you haven't already done so, go to YouTube and see his confrontation with panto dame Adam Boulton, who is puffed up, floridfaced and desperate to please a master, Rupert Murdoch, that had bet the ranch on a Cameron prime ministership.

Boulton, like the other Sky dame Kay Burley, had been becoming more and more out of control. And who knows, Ofcom might just have something to say about it? Before the Tories abolish it, of course. With Campbell, who handles himself impeccably, Boulton simply blows his top. His mask slips, and the raw arrogance of the Tory media is let rip. It's ironic, of course, as it was under New Labour that the monster of Murdoch power was reared.


I ONCE WAS A RANGER FAN
17 May 2010

Johnny Depp is set to play Tonto in a new Lone Ranger picture. I saw the Lone Ranger once - and Silver, his trusty steed - clattering through the baroque splendour of Dundee's Green's Playhouse. He even signed a picture for me, which hung on my bedroom wall until I was, well, 21!

I owe veteran Scots journalist Peter McKay - the doyen of all columnists - for this great joke... The Lone Ranger comes upon his faithful mercenary on all fours, his face pressed against the dirt track. "Ten bad men just passed this way, travelling fast, in a big wagon," says Tonto. "That is amazing," says the Lone Ranger. "How did you work that out?" "They ran me over." says the injun.


Beware Cameron's Tonto sent to fool us
17 May 2010

Greetings from sunny California... Sacramento at the time of writing, where Governator Arnie Schwarzenegger has managed to steer the richest place in the world to bankruptcy. "I'll be back", as he used to say. Well, not in elected office he won't, given the terminal Horlicks he and his voodoo economics have made of the place. That's the thing, you see, about anti-government-privateenterprise-is-king propaganda - it's all rubbish.

The only economy that is working is China, where government is top dog in the economy. The more in thrall to the Anglo-American model of finance capitalism an economy is, the more it is in deep doo-doo. That's why Vince Cable was right when he described Gideon Osborne's plans for a savage cut in public services within 50 days as being "crazy and dangerous" - just before he agreed to help implement it.

It profits a man nothing to sell his soul - even for the whole world, as Sir Thomas More reminded us. But for a recall Toyota Prius ministerial motor? And who is Scotland's new Governor-General Danny Alexander, anyway? Secretary of State for a fantasy Scotland in which the Tories have a right to rule, that's who. They have no right to rule Scotland, which decisively rejected right-wing government by the Thatcherites. Scots parliamentarians, and the Scottish government, should shun him and insist on dealing directly with David Cameron - Kimosabe - rather than this Tonto who has been sent to fool the natives. More fool us if we let him.

Scotland is certainly going to be run over now, and Wales, and the north-east and west of England, indeed all the post-capitalist wastelands where voodoo economics were tested to the destruction of the industrial base last time the Tories lorded it over us. Not by the 6billion in cuts so far announced, but not described, but by the 66billion in cuts coming down the track in the big Thatcherite wagon. All in the name of "deficit reduction", to which the mercenary Liberal Democrats are now hitched.

Our deficit is more than it should be only because the economy would have collapsed altogether if Gordon Brown hadn't run it up trying to save the free-market banking system. And it's less than the one we somehow struggled through the 1940s and 1950s with, whilst building the National Health Service, hundreds of thousands of council houses and keeping full employment. So "bankrupt" is the British economy left by Brown that last week's gilt auction of Government bonds was heavily over-subscribed. People were falling over themselves to lend money to UK plc.


NICK CASHING IN ON NEW PARTNERSHIP
24 May 2010

So Labour were throwing cash around like water, according to posh Nicholas Clegg. Not that he said so at the time. Every time he rose at Prime Minister's Question Time, it was to demand Gordon Brown spend more.

Conscious his twin leader in the coalition David Cameron is to throw thousands of people on the unemployment scrapheap as a consequence of "savage cuts" - his words - which are to be made, Clegg is covering his back by blaming it on the Eurozone. A Eurozone which, if he had his way, we would be a member of. The Con-Dem's governor-general Danny Alexander will have a hard job explaining that to the natives of Scotland over whom he stands astride like a midget.


Shining example of terrible lodgings
24 May 2010

Whatever it was which made Milwaukee famous, it certainly wasn't the hotel in which I'm ensconced as I write this. Think Jack Nicholson's The Shining without the creature comforts. I'm in the "vice-presidential suite", although I reckon the vice-president of Auchinleck FC would turn his nose up at this joint. Breakfast is served in polystyrene cups with plastic forks like in the Bar-L. Although I say "served", there is the fact there's only one member of staff on duty in the entire hotel - and she's a wee timorous beastie sitting at reception.

I say that because me and Scots journalist Ron McKay have just had to quell an outburst of gangsta rap. The menaces exploded from the blinged form of a man mountain clad in dayglo orange long shorts and an unfortunately horizontally striped orange T-shirt that would have kept the workforce at Govan shipbuilders employed for a week. Fellow "diners" cowered as we were forced to threaten him with a pair of Glasgow kisses. But we beat the retreat when we realised we could not be clear if that was a pistol in his pocket - although he clearly wasn't pleased to see us.


Labour are in a right mess
24 May 2010

Diane Abbott, who threw her hat into the ring in the fight for the Labour leadership, has a long history with me. We entered parliament on the same day, at exactly the same age, although we were both considerably slimmer at the time. We've been pals ever since. As long ago as 1991, many wars ago, Diane literally stepped in to stop the rearrangement of the features of Celtic chairman "Doctor" John Reid, who, at the time, was both a thirsty frontbencher - the deputy to the Labour spokeswoman on children in Neil Kinnock's shady Cabinet - and a belligerent advocate of war in Iraq.

Looking back, it was the beginning of his long march from residual supporter of Irish republicanism and countries behind the Iron Curtain to, well, wherever he is now. In the "no" lobby, one sun-dappled afternoon, swaying gently in the nonexistent breeze, Reid breenged at me, a breenge answered with one of the sweetest Glasgow kisses of my career.

Reid blundered on and I, having the benefit of being as sober as he is now, shaped up to give him the mother of all thrashings but we both reckoned without Big Di. The Labour left-winger no doubt sympathised with my side of the argument - about the first Iraq war - but she was not going to watch blood spilt in the Mother of Parliaments.

Physically interposing herself, and in so doing knocking Dr Reid to the floor, Abbott imposed an armistice which has lasted between Reid and me ever since. Fewer words are required to dispose of Ms Abbott's challengers. Someone called Andy Burnham, about whom the nation knows nothing, other than that he's quite good looking, has thrown what purports to be a flat cap into the ring.

He has discovered New Labour was too relaxed about the filthy rich - something he hadn't noticed in the Cabinet until lately. Toothy Ed Miliband emerges from the pages of Andrew Rawnsley's epic study The End Of The Party as a sherpa of the early Brown period. An egghead and policy wonker he may be, a credible Prime Minister he is not. Brother "Dave", banana toting gunman for the notorious Tony Blair gang, is scarcely more so. An elegant, spectral presence, he has risen without trace.

If it hadn't been said already - Churchill of Mr Attlee - I'd put it this way: an empty recalled Toyota Prius ministerial car drew up at Westminster and Mr Miliband Major got out. The only man with a fight in him is born-again, anti-war Ed Baws, as we know him in Lanarkshire. He has at least had the courage to tell the truth about the Iraq war, that it was a mistake, that it shouldn't have happened because there was no evidence for it, while Burnham and Miliband try to argue that while the past is another country, ravaged and brutalised, it shouldn't be revisited. Baws bears a facial resemblance, at least to me, to the late, great Nye Bevan. Unfortunately he can't speak like him. But he's a bruiser rather than a cipher, which must make him favourite among the trade unionists, who will cast a third of the votes in the contest, the remaining party members, if not the among the ranks of the more effete Labour MPs who cast the balance of votes.

The left, among whom Ms Abbott is the only credible challenger, will be lucky to even get on the ballot, such are the absurdities of New Labour's gerrymandered election rules.


JOCK TACTICS FROM JOSE
24 May 2010

He really is the Special One. Handsome Jose Mourinho, like Jock Stein, below right, before him, has shown that his success is the absolute antithesis of the footballers' favourite sneer of "show us your medals, boss". Like Jock, Jose was no great shakes as a player and he partially owes his rise to fame to the late Bobby Robson, for whom he was a translator. He has the ability to make his men believe they are world-beaters, as they turn out to be. It's football's X Factor. He's the greatest Portuguese since Vasco da Gama, who stood on top of the world once, too.


Greed led to the breaking of Laws
31 May 2010

Claiming 40k of public money for rent is more than a little bit rich when so many of our politicians are already millionaires The devouring of Lib-Dem Treasury minister David Laws by the Tories and their press could not have been more salutory and is a sign of things to come. The story was simple enough and known to many in the village of Westminster but not much beyond.

Laws was a closet gay living with Paddy Ashdown's speech writer. He could have claimed MORE public money than he did if he'd been honest about his sexuality. But he kept it secret even from his own family. He had to claim he was a lodger in his partner's house, and claimed 40,000 in reimbursed rent, which has now sunk him. Many politicians have been similarly sunk.

There are two morals to this story, well, at least two. first is that no one in this day and age who is a member of the Cabinet can possibly keep secret something as fundamental as being homosexual. If the papers don't get you, the internet will. at's just a fact. So come out or get out. Second, and here is something more controversial. the liberal media are coming across all melancholy, telling us that Mr Laws was so rich he couldn't have made such a mistake for the money. True.

But why was he claiming public money for a room in a house if he was so rich? is I have failed to understand about the likes of Cameron, too. Why, if you were a millionaire married to a multi-millionaire, would you bother to fill out an expenses claim for public money to reimburse you for having the wisteria cleared from the walls of your baronial country home like the PM did? Or New Labour's Shaun Woodward, a millionaire married to a billionaire heiress to the Sainsbury fortune, who owns eight houses and runs a butler and a Bentley, and who actually sat down and constructed a claim form so the taxpayer could repay his mortgage, which he didn't need in the first place. I have the melancholy duty to inform you of the reason.


Alas, it's too Late to meet star Craig
31 May 2010

If someone gave you a film script describing the life of Craig Ferguson, you'd probably say it wasn't credible. Nobody could come from the mean streets of Cumbernauld (voted second to Hull as the most awful place in Britain) to fame and fortune in Hollywood having made his name as, er, Bing Hitler.

I've never met Bing, or Craig as he prefers, nor seen him in action, which is odd. We're not far in age. He played lots of benefits in Scotland, for miners and so on, shows I must have been at as a speaker at least once. He was a waiter in the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow's West End, which I represented in parliament for nearly 20 years (and wish I still did). He made his breakthrough in showbiz in the Tron Theatre, in which I was oft to be found. But I never met him.

Then I spotted a book entitled American On Purpose by Craig. Skimming through, I soon realised this Ferguson is more famous in the US than any other British Fergie. He is host of the Late Late Show and heir to the throne of David Letterman. If he gets that gig, he will be the biggest man on US TV. at's something to be, especially as he started life in sectarian street fights after Old Firm games. He spent most of the next stage of his life in the gutters of drug and alcohol addiction. en erupted at the Edinburgh Festival as a comedy star (sleeping in the Photo-Me booth of Waverley Station because he couldn't a ord a hotel).

If you throw in being saved by a TV exec who sent him to rehab, three wives and a son, Hollywood breakthroughs and fall-outs, he's one hell of a Scot. His book is one of the best I've read. It is moving, inspiring and funny. I'd like to go for a drink with him but, of course, neither of us ever would.


HACK ATTACK
31 May 2010

The other Fergie didn't open the email I sent her four years ago. It contained two pictures of the "fake sheikh" who stung her in New York and who your columnist became the first to outwit. Or maybe she did. But when he offered her thousands for the company of Andrew it was not the man in front of her she saw but the cash. But, I declare an interest. This week, my lawyers will serve the lawyers Farrers, who represent the Queen and the News of the World, with my legal claim against Mr Murdoch's empire.


HOPPER RIDES INTO SUNSET
31 May 2010

Dennis Hopper didn't have an easy ride. Pursued down the highways of life by the old familiar Hollywood demons, he squeezed in more than a few memorable moments, though. I'm in America - and the roads and the vastness here seem to have been designed for the Harley Davidson. People who know more than I say there are many better motorcycles than the Harley. But none of them look as good. Few looked cooler astride one than Dennis Hopper, the easy rider who has just roared off into the sunset.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Changing Scheme of things
click here to watch the series
7 Jun 2010

The Scheme could have been made anywhere in Britain at any time. The BBC hit show is accused of traducing Marvin Baird and others in the Onthank estate in Kilmarnock. I've never been there, so can't say if they've been unfair or not. But I was brought up in a scheme 50 years ago.

For us, the scheme was the paradise which came after the slums we were born in. Today, the scheme is the slum. All the men worked. There was some drunkeness but in today's schemes, drink is the least of it. Huge levels of drug addiction make our drunks pale by comparison. Virtually all households were two-parent homes in our scheme. Today's scheme is a constantly changing sea of familial misery, one parent, multiparent, drugged-parent households where children don't know who's who or who'll be here tomorrow.

How did we get here? It's best I make a series out of the answer. First, family break-up. Fathers abandoning their kids was virtually unheard of in my scheme. "Just you wait till your father gets home", was the last line of one's mother's defence. That implied your father was at work while your mother was looking after you. That could be afforded in my scheme. A man's wages could keep his family without his wife having to work full-time.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think it was better that way. To be continued ...


DESPERATE TO JOIN FAN CLUB
7 Jun 2010

Some unlikely folk are coming out of the woodwork as fans of Desperate Housewives. Ed Miliband, the toothy pretender to the New Labour leadership, is just one who likes to wander down Wisteria Lane of a Wednesday night. Or at least he thinks there's votes in saying so.

As you know, I'm the real deal. I was there from the start, suffering the jeers of those who now fawn at the feet of Gabriella and Susan. Or lick their lips at the lascivious lesbian potential as Katherine is seduced by lodger Robin. And Robin is no chap I can tell you. In her lingerie, there are few she couldn't seduce. If I ever went on Mastermind, Desperate Housewives would be my specialist subject.

Miliband, who lived in the warrens of Downing Street during the Great Blair-Brown War, might find light relief on the Lane. It's a long way from my scheme but it's right up my street.


One last push to end Gaza siege
7 Jun 2010

Israel is the most unloved country in the world. The siege is shaking. Our mighty land aid convoy will finally knock it over In the past 10 days, I have been in Miami, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix. I have been in New York twice, Dublin twice, Istanbul and London, where I rose in the middle of the night, twice, to speak by Skype to rallies in Detroit, Michigan, and Washington DC. Just as well the wife didn't believe me when I told her losing my seat in parliament would have some upsides - like being able to spend more time at home.

It has, of course, been 10 days that shook the world. All has changed, changed utterly, since Israeli commandos murdered at least nine international aid workers in international waters. For which Israel must pay in the courts as well as the court of public opinion. The Emir of Qatar - one of the world's richest and most honourable men - is paying for all the legal cases against Israel which result from this Israeli piracy, so we will be going all the way.

The compensation for the lives, the wounds and injuries, the false imprisonment, the stolen property - even the underwear of the prisoners was stolen by their Israeli guards - will run into billions. Let the legal actions begin. For those shot in the back of the head at a distance of 45cm, compensation is meaningless. All the dead in the hijacking of the aid ship by the rogue state of Israel were shot at close range. One was shot five times in the face from a one meter range. All were unarmed.

The Israeli lie machine tried to paint our ship as a terrorist lynch mob, even al-Qaeda, an assault craft bristling with weapons and probably Iranians too. But all the dead were ours. There were no Iranians on board. There were no weapons. No Israeli was lynched or suffered more than bruises. And there were no terrorists of any kind, or they would not have all been released within 72 hours of their capture. Israel won the battle on the high seas against unarmed civilians but it has lost the war.

"Sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone," said Chairman Mao, "only to drop it on its own feet." Israel is now the most unloved country in the world and is running on empty. Even the US has tired of it, with the White House saying that the blockade of Gaza is "unsustainable". David Cameron and William Hague condemned the pirates and said the siege on Gaza must end immediately. The EU said the same. So did the UN. The siege is crumbling, shaking, tottering. That's why, yesterday, I launched an initiative to finally knock it over.

On Sunday, September 12, Viva Palestina UK will lead a mighty land convoy from London bound for Gaza. On the same day, an international sea flotilla will set sail around the Mediterranean bound for Gaza too. By the time we get there with this pincer, it should be the longest aid column in history. If the siege has been lifted by then, there will be no problem. If it is not, and Israel seeks to board not six ships but 60, there will be a very big problem. The clock starts ticking now.


Reid it and weep...
14 Jun 2010

One man highly rated by Alistair Campbell in his Diaries is fellow former drinker "Dr" John Reid, now Chairman of Glasgow Celtic FC. Now I am second to none in my appreciation of Reid's heroic struggle against the drink, or for that matter of his tremendous ability to persuasively advocate the very opposite of what he once stood for. In fact, I have found it dumbfounding over the years. When I met "Dr" Reid - he's the holder of a Phd in the Marxist Economics of the former African State of Benin - he was an Irish Republican, Communist supporter of the USSR, who thought it had all gone downhill since Stalin. He metamorphosed of course into the mirror-image of all this.

"I used to believe in Santa Claus, too," Reid now says by way of explanation. That's true John, but not when you were a 30-year-old Phd. I mention him now that he's gone from Government because it's time Reid - and Gordon Brown for that matter - took a game in Scottish politics. If things continue the way we're heading, separatism will become unstoppable in our country.

New Labour in Scotland is too small to stand up to the remorseless disenchantment with life in Con-Dem Britain over the next few years. They need big figures to return to the fray. Why doesn't Gordon Brown become Labour leader in Scotland? Brown against Salmond would be a fight worth its salt. Scotland deserves it. And Reid could be the organiser of victory as he once was before.


WHAT A THANDIE GIRL TO KNOW...
14 Jun 2010

At the weekend I watched 2012, the movie made by the team who did the Day after Tomorrow. Starring John Cusack - one of my favourite actors - and tasty Thandie Newton playing the (very) grown-up daughter of an heroic Black US President, it tells the story of well, pretty much the end of the world. Using amazing special effects, it shows the world slipping into meltdown due to the melting of its core and the consequent jelly-like instability of the land mass with tsunamis the size of mountains and, well, you get the picture. Behind the scenes however, and purely in the interests of preserving the gene-pool you understand, the world's leaders (and their spindoctors) have constructed arks like Noah's, but made of indestructable iron (would have kept Govan Shipyard in work for a decade!) and each the size of Hampden Park. Into the Leviathans the leaders go two by two. I won't spoil it by revealing how it all ends. But Thandie survives for the benefit of gene-poolside beauty. Incidentally, Noah is buried in the same cemetry as St George in the mountaintop Jordanian city of Karak. But that's immaterial.


I'm backing England all the way... nearly
14 Jun 2010

As the great-grandson of the only woman in the entire 19th century to emmigrate FROM New York TO Dundee, I had more of an excuse than most Scots to be rooting for the US in England's World Cup opener. With American blood coursing through my veins, I could have said I was supporting my own kind. But I was not. Which makes me, I guess, pretty unusual. I have lived mostly in England for nearly 30 years and have met nothing but hospitality.

My children and grandchildren have been born there. My neighbours are English. English people picked me up after Mr Blair had expelled me over the Iraq War and my Glasgow constituency was abolished just in case. English people put me back in parliament more prominent than ever before. I watch the English Premiership every week and admire so many of their players. It would just be, I think, bad manners and churlish small mindedness for me to join the anyone-but-England brigade.

But I will be cheering on Algeria against them. I am rather popular in Algeria and the Arab world. It would break the hearts of my supporters there if I emerged under the banner of St George (a Turk buried in Jordan who never set foot in England) against Algeria, the land of a million martyrs whose heroic struggle against French colonialism is one of the most inspiring in the whole anti-Imperialist lexicon.

When it comes to their game against Slovenia, however, England can again count on my wholehearted support. Confused? You might be, I am not at all.


A dangerman back in the day
14 Jun 2010

Filming this week for a BBC documentary about my impending legal case against the Murdoch empire over alleged phone tapping, I happened upon a long forgotten by-line in the Maxwell-era Daily Mirror. I was showing the Beeb's Scots programme-maker Ross Wilson round my house when he got excited about my framed front page from nearly 20 years ago.

I had accused Maxwell of betraying the Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who then spent 18 years in solitary confinment for telling the world about Israel's illegal stock - well mountain really - of nuclear weapons, among other things. Maxwell had boomed (so testified the paper's then deputy editor and my friend David Seymour) "piss all over Galloway" across the newsroom.

Among those rushing to release their flies, and pour the required torrent of abuse, was one Alistair Campbell, chief political correspondent. Of course, just a few days after they slandered me at the fat man's request, he was dead in the Atlantic, all my claims had been vindicated and the slanderers realised their owner had stolen their pensions. In fact, Robert Maxwell turned out to be the greatest British thief of the 20th century, and the paper had to buy me a house.

I leafed through Campbell's sub-literate Diaries the other day, now re-issued as a suitably Maxwellian sized tome. Those who buy them will find rather a lot about my long history with the coat-carrier Campbell, so loyal to Maxwell that he broke the nose of the Guardian's parliamentary correspondent when the latter was insufficiently grief-stricken at the pension-thief's demise. Most of it is explicable by Campbell's alcohol addiction and his history of mental illness - yes, dear reader, sitting in the Chair of the joint intelligence and spin doctors committee driving the world to the cataclysmic Iraq war, you couldn't make it up.

However, I was struck by a passage involving a conversation between Campbell and Tony Blair about me. Campbell recounts Blair - long before the Iraq war, indeed before the New Labour landslide in 1997 when I was a well ensconced Labour MP - as describing me as "one of the most dangerous men he had ever known, oddly charismatic, who would be a menace when we were in government".

Admittedly Blair got to know quite a few dangerous men after that so I don't know if I'm still, you know, up there. But I'm intrigued as to what it was exactly that Mr Blair found then so "dangerous" about me. I am proud of the fact that they considered me so, but still, perhaps either will enlighten us?


Making a name for himself
21 Jun 2010

It's exactly five years since I myself bestrode Capitol Hill in what many think was my finest hour. Millions watched live, millions more on the internet, as I got in about the ribs of the now ex-senator Norman Coleman. It helped that I was innocent of the charges. And that, far from being afraid of the Yanks, I had flown thousands of miles at my own expense and insistence, demanding to appear before them.

So rushed with the triumph was I that I lit up a Havana cigar inside the Capitol, breaking both the blockade and the no smoking rules. When I got home, the Cuban ambassador delivered a message from my friend Fidel Castro. I imagined it would be another note of congratulations, but it read: "Comrade Galloway, 20 years ago I ordered you to give up smoking and I saw live on CNN that you had defied me."

Once, Fidel and I were watching CNN in his office in Cuba when Bill Clinton came on screen jogging wearing a Malcolm X baseball cap. "If you had told me 40 years ago" he said, "that a US President would one day wear a Malcolm X logo I would have said that you were mad". Malcolm - the black American revolutionary hero who was gunned down during the turbulent Sixties - was " a great man" said Fidel. "But a little bit ... dangerous".

I told this story in Miami, Florida the other week, to 25-year-old author Malcolm Shabazz - the grandson of Malcolm X and just as commanding charismatic and handsome a gure. No less than publishing giants Simon and Schuster are about to publish his memoirs, called Footsteps. He showed me the cover of the book which includes the famous picture of Malcolm in Harlem, ri e in hand, looking tentatively out the curtains of his hotel room. Trust me - you are going to hear a great deal about young Malcolm Shabazz.


I'm in Libya
21 Jun 2010

I'm in Libya and will probably meet Tony Blair's new best friend Colonel Gaddafi tomorrow. I will tell you all about it next week.


A REEL SPORTING INSPIRATION
21 Jun 2010

Another of my favourite films got a showing last week the night before the Algeria-England World Cup match. The Algerians watched Pontecorvo's magnificent Battle of Algiers - which tells the story of the brutal French occupation of their country and the heroic armed resistance, called terrorists by the occupier of course - who rose up and freed them from the colonial yoke. It must have inspired them. England -with only songs of Empire to sing in response were absolutely humiliated by the Arabs. But as we say in Glasgow, so sad, too bad, never mind.


Attack sometimes best form of defence
21 Jun 2010

None of this would have changed BP's guilt or done anything for their share price If BP had asked me for some advice before sending chief executive Tony Hayward in front of a US Senate Committee I probably wouldn't have taken the gig. But if I had, whatever they paid me would have been less than they lost as a result of his disastrous appearance.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4 just before Hayward was slaughtered like a lamb, I made the point that it can't be helpful that the company are guilty as charged - and with a liability already accepted at 20 billion dollars the charges are serious. But some kind of defence could still have been offered - even if it might have felt like an attack. He could have made the point that the US is no stranger to environmental catastrophe - it's just that these are usually delivered by US corporations on other people's countries. He could have said he was ready to face the music unlike the Union Carbide executives who corporately massacred thousands of people in Bhopal, India - and whom the US government refused to extradite to face charges of manslaughter, the dead being merely Indian citizens after all.

He could have thrown in the Piper Alpha disaster, where 167 men died as a result of US oil company negligence. He could have made the point that America's greed for oil had created many disasters - reminding his audience that they represent five per cent of the world's population yet guzzle 25 per cent of the world's oil. This helped cause the drive to war in Iraq with consequences far worse than the Gulf oil spill.

He could have asked the senate why, if they were so concerned about the environment, they had so long blocked the US government signing the Kyoto Treaty. He could have said he regrets the damage to the life of the Gulf coast, though making the point that the US had drowned Vietnam in an ocean of chemical weapons. They dropped their Agent Orange chemical bombs as a DELIBERATE act of defoliation, and children are still being born deformed today, thirty five years after the war as a result. The US Senate have never apologised for this crime.

None of this would have changed BP's guilt nor have done anything for their share price. But it would have been a more creditable performance than the stumbling, shambling sheep-like sleep-walk to disaster Hayward took instead.


MAID ME FEEL RE-INVIGORATED
21 Jun 2010

I went to see Robin Hood last week and a great yarn it is too. Robin Longstride - his real name - was the very best of Englishmen even if he is played (really well) by Russell Crowe. Maid Marion too, though no maid and also (well) played by Cate Blanchett, was the best of English women.

This version of the story is a million miles more political than the Richard Greene affair I watched as a kid. This is the real thing. Returning from the Crusades, where he hoped to steal Jerusalem from its inhabitants, Richard the so-called Lion Heart is killed. Robin, haunted by the "Lion's" massacre of Palestinian women and children in Acre, steals the identity of one of Richard's knights. Later, he is given his lands by the knight's father and takes his wife, who goes willingly, and turns out to be "Maid" Marion. The rest is history. But you don't half leave the cinema feeling up for the fight! In Sherwood Forest I found new political wood.


Elton's Israeli shame
28 Jun 2010

While the coolest cats grooved at Glastonbury, Elton John broke the growing boycott of Israel. Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, The Pixies and Gil Scott-Heron were the latest to declare that as long as Israel occupies Palestine, to besiege Gaza and to attack aid workers trying to relieve the siege, they could not consider playing there.

Twenty-five years ago, no self-respecting artist - which excludes of course Linda Ronstadt, Shirley Bassey and a very few others - would play Sun City in apartheid South Africa. Today, the rainbow nation of South Africa is free, a carnival of colours, a festival of joy at this World Cup. All roads lead to free South Africa, while Israel languishes in the cold shadow cast by its own system.

Only when Israel-Palestine is free, when Jews, Muslims and Only when Israel-Palestine is free, when Jews, Muslims and Christians live as equal citizens, will that shadow be lifted. After the massacre on the aid ship on Bloody Monday, Israelis face a stark choice: a future of Elton John or full participation in the international community.


LABOUR MUST HAVE BALLS TO SUCCEED
28 Jun 2010

Ed Balls did well on Question Time and it's reported he clashed with Tory Philip Hammond in the Central Lobby after the cameras stopped rolling. The splendid spat between the two men, with Balls reportedly coming close to banjoing the Tory fact-fiddler, showed at least Ed has, well ... cojones.

The least convincing of the Labour leadership candidates is the one most closely identified with the Blair era - David Miliband. He is simply bananas to continue defending indefensible wars and bankrupted nostrums which cost Labour four million votes between 1997 and 2005 - the good years in the British economy - and more than half their members (including me). If Labour chooses Blair-lite Miliband, it seems to me it will be extremely difficult to go toe-to-toe with the Tories and their former SDP g leafs and come out on top.


THE 40th Glastonbury has...
28 Jun 2010


The 40th Glastonbury has been a glut of genius. Saved from the horrors of U2 by a slipped disc for Bono, festivalgoers got instead an eclectic epiphany, the peak of which was surely Lou Reed, Damon Albarn, half of the Clash, Bobby Womack and Shaun Ryder. Plus a Syrian string section! The first time I heard Lou Reed sing about the "colored [sic] girls go doo, de de", was after the 1981 Brixton riots. Lou wouldn't get away with those kind of lyrics nowadays. And neither will the Eton Rifles Cameron, Clegg and Osborne get away with their bonfire of Britain.

The 40th Glastonbury has been a glut of genius. Saved from the horrors of U2 by a slipped disc for Bono, festivalgoers got instead an eclectic epiphany, the peak of which was surely Lou Reed, Damon Albarn, half of the Clash, Bobby Womack and Shaun Ryder. Plus a Syrian string section! The first time I heard Lou Reed sing about the "colored [sic] girls go doo, de de", was after the 1981 Brixton riots. Lou wouldn't get away with those kind of lyrics nowadays. And neither will the Eton Rifles Cameron, Clegg and Osborne get away with their bonfire of Britain.


Cannon fodder for Cam's Eton rifles
28 Jun 2010 00:00
Vatman and Robbin' are back. The Con-Dem government's budget has stolen the future from the poorest families in Britain. Statistics show the poorest 10 per cent of families will be hit six times harder than the richest when the savage cuts in public expenditure are added to the smash and grab raid by Gideon Osborne and his ward Danny Alexander.

Having campaigned against a Tory "VAT bombshell" and the immediate cuts in public spending which would precipitate a double-dip recession, the Lib Dem traitors have now helped the Old Etonians to ravage Scotland's poorest. ey will never be forgiven. The latest opinion poll shows as much as half of their voters may now abandon them, reducing them to the rump they became after the rise of Labour a century ago. They are the back end of a pantomime horse government that won't raise many laughs.

The Tory budgets of 1980 and 1981 plunged Britain into a recession and the inner cities into riots. The wicked witch Margaret atcher was saved at the subsequent election by the fake jingoism of the Falklands War and the treachery of the then SDP breakaway from Labour, which became, via merger and acquisition, today's Lib Dems. No such options remain. War has gone out of fashion in Britain, what with our soldiers dying like flies on the Afghan plains and no end in sight.

Cameron says we will be out of the bloody imbroglio in five long years. Given that Obama plans to start withdrawing next year, our government presumably intends on a thin red line of British soldiery holding Helmand alone like some throwback to Rorke's Drift. If you want to know what that will look like, imagine the lm Zulu, but without the happy ending. Thatcher had revenue from North Sea oil to meet the Giro bill of the mass unemployment she created. Cameron has no such largesse.

Watching the formerly saintly Vince Cable on Question Time literally shaking with the angst of it all was like watching a man with a pearl-handled revolver and a large glass of whisky preparing to blow his brains out. e Lib Dems have made a fatal error. Nick Clegg ought to have known that the fate of junior coalition partners on the continent has been to take the bullets for their masters and to die for a cause which was not theirs.

The Tories will wade happily like pigs in the brown stu through the misery they plan to visit on us. It's going to be a walk on the wild side all right. Hold on to your hats.
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Leaving no Stone unturned
5 Jul 2010 00:00

Oliver Stone, the legendary Hollwood director, was in touch at the weekend.

Oliver Stone, the legendary Hollwood director, was in touch at the weekend.

He has just made a cracking biopic on Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president who, despite being called a dictator by the likes of Fox News, is actually the most elected politician on the Earth.

Stone's new film, South Of The Border, is up there with the best of his work and is a must-see.

Unfortunately, he had never heard of Dusty Spring field, so the search goes on.

He is interested in another film idea of mine, however, and so Hollywood beckons once again in September.

Now that Larry King is retiring early after a mere 53 years conducting 50,000 interviews on television and radio, there seems to be a vacancy there.

Maybe I can follow in the goose-steps of Scotland's own Bing Hitler, Craig Ferguson. Hail Hail.


Two Eds better than one
5 Jul 2010 00:00

Last Week, I said that I thought Ed Balls was showing real cojones in taking the fight to the Tories and their Liberal Democrat fig leaves - and so he has continued.

Last Week, I said that I thought Ed Balls was showing real cojones in taking the fight to the Tories and their Liberal Democrat fig leaves - and so he has continued.

The other Ed - Miliband - too is showing he's a spirited colt. I caught him on Newsnight, debating with Simon Hughes the Lib-Dem deputy leader (the party "conscience" - or, rather, the g leaf of the g leaves) and Peter Bottomley the Peter Pan of the Tory benches.

Milie-Minor wiped the floor with them both.

And he did so from a remote studio, which is never easy.

Overall, I'm impressed with the cohesion and energy of the Labour frontbench so far.

Its like a heavy weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

I wonder who he could have been?



COMMONS TOUCH
5 Jul 2010 00:00

I stopped outside Parliament a few days ago to pick up a friend of mine, a former Labour MP. Despite entreaties, I refused to go in. My mentor, former Kilmarnock MP Willie McKelvey, once told me that there is nothing so "ex" as an ex-MP. The only way I'd re-enter that building would be in triumph,having been elected. Some interesting offers are arriving in that regard. I'll keep you posted.

I stopped outside Parliament a few days ago to pick up a friend of mine, a former Labour MP. Despite entreaties, I refused to go in. My mentor, former Kilmarnock MP Willie McKelvey, once told me that there is nothing so "ex" as an ex-MP. The only way I'd re-enter that building would be in triumph,having been elected. Some interesting offers are arriving in that regard. I'll keep you posted.



What have I done to deserve this?
5 Jul 2010 00:00

Spending a lot of time on the road now. I'm the last man buying music on CD, it appears. When I was a kid, my father had a stack of brown paper-wrapped 78RPM records.

Spending a lot of time on the road now. I'm the last man buying music on CD, it appears. When I was a kid, my father had a stack of brown paper-wrapped 78RPM records.

Younger readers may never have seen one. they were hard, brittle, and made a delightful sound on the turntable.

Many were made by His Master's Voice, which today's youngsters know as HMV without a clue of the source of the acronym.

They also contained alcohol and a down-and-out of my aquaintance, a former boxer named Joe Bannon, used to melt them over a hot stove for drink.

I made weekly trips to Largs Record Store in Lochee to buy a single 45RPM for 6s and 8pence (old money), having listened to it in the shop first using a new-fangled thing called headphones in a kind of booth.

Each record purchased was an event. Sometimes, in the Sixties, it was embarrassing to ask for a record, so silly was the name. I still blush as I recall trying to buy Donovan's Goo Goo Garabujakal.

I still believe the Sixties and Seventies were a golden age for popular music. But there was dross, too. Scanning the depleted music shelves in a motorway service station last week, I happened upon a compilation priced at 8 for a four-CD pack of oldies. I scanned the best of them - and snapped it up.

Some songs stood the test of time but others, sheer rhapsody to me at the time, fail it.

I used to lie under the covers listening on a small black and silver transistor to Radio Luxembourg (intermitent as it was, even in the course of a threeminute record) and Radio Scotland - not the douce choochter news station it is today (with the exception of course of Janice Forsyth and O the Ball) but then a devilishly exciting pirate station a oat in the North Sea whose star presenter was a cool Scot called Stuart Henry.

One night, it must have been in 1967, I heard a song which swept me away to the then distant far o Atlantis called San Francisco. It sang of the summer of love there and though it, too, was an embarrasing buy (the band were called e Flower Pot Men - though that name had a hazy logic beyond me then)I tracked it down in Dundee.

Last week, on the Sixties complilation, I heard Let's Go To San Francisco again for the first time in 40 years. Like much else on the four CDs, it's simply awful.

The star who shines brighter than all the rest on this trip down memory lane is Dusty Spring field - as fresh today as a spring field should be. And, as it happens, one of the many projects on which I'm working - with Scots writer Ron McKay - is a stage Musical, eponymously entitled Dusty.

Angels who read the Daily Record -and I know there are many - urgently required.

It beats working at my old job, of course. e Con-Dem coalition took their own trip down memory lane last week when they asked the public - who elected them (well, up to a point) to do the thinking -to come up with laws they wished to scrap or new laws which should be introduced. is brought back memories of John - Happy Eaters - Major and his traffic cones hotline.

Major's big idea was, yes, a Whitehall hotline on which dissatis ed drivers could report excessive coning-o on motorways and expensive civil servants would patiently explain (after extensive research) why these stretches of road were cordoned off.

It was risable, ridiculous and, in the end, completely irrelevant to the real problems faced by the country - just like the pantomime-horse government dancing before us today.



TIME PEOPLE REALISED COPS AREN'T CSI..
12 Jul 2010 00:00

Csi is the most-watched TV series in the world. Official.

Csi is the most-watched TV series in the world. Official.

And I'm one of CSI New York's most devoted followers.

I like the chemistry of Gary Sinise as the boss Mac and his sidekick Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes).

In the space of less than an hour, the whizz-kids make bewildering use of the new sciences and technology to solve not one but two usually brutal murders without fail.

Folk run up to Mac in police HQ corridors giving him the latest DNA/ blood sample/sweat stain forensic test results, which he grasps and computes to find the killers. Quickly. And there's the rub. The real police suffer by comparison.

In real life, stains are messier, tests less conclusive. Coppers make mistakes, criminals sometimes win.

And above all, things take time.

Criticism of Northumbria Police has been ludicrously over-blown.

If a killer goes underground in the dense foliage and hills of a beautiful rural county like that, all the heatseeking, infra-red technology in the world isn't going to easily find him.

Especially when it's 31C in the shade.

Once, the public understood this.

In these CSI days, people want fast and failsafe finality to crime stories.

Preferably wrapped up in an evening and punctuated by banal TV adverts.



We'll still love her tomorrow
12 Jul 2010 00:00

Aword in the Daily Record and they sit up and take notice around the world. I'm not joking.

Aword in the Daily Record and they sit up and take notice around the world. I'm not joking.

In passing last week, I mentioned Ron McKay and I are writing Dusty The Musical.

We hope to unveil it at the Edinburgh Festival next year.

Within 48 hours, this news was reported in dozens of items - I don't exaggerate - from California to Copenhagen, from Dundee to Durban, from BBC radio to LA XYZ, or whatever they call it.

In fact, three different BBC stations. It tells you something about the enduring appeal of Dusty Springfield.

More than a decade dead, most people's first question to me is: "Why hasn't someone done this before?" And then, why me? Well, they say politics is show-business for ugly people but, hey, what would I know about that? In any case, there is plenty "political" about Dusty.

She was deported from Apartheid South Africa in 1964, for example, for refusing the racial segregation of her audience.

And she was a famous lesbian at a time when the Bible-belting Christian fundamentalists in charge of US radio and TV, like Queen Victoria before them, couldn't quite believe that anything so perverse could really exist.

So Dusty frightened the horses all right.

But as Record readers already know, the idea that I'm some kind of swivel-eyed fanatic with no interest in anything other than politics is quite wrong.

In fact, the real fanatics are always foaming at the mouth at the column inches I devote to, the likes of TV, films and music.

One of the best things about my Talksport radio show - back real soon, by the way - was the brief but glorious musical leitmotifs.

And music doesn't get much more glorious than Dusty.

I Just Dont Know What To Do With Myself, Son Of A Preacher Man, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Waitin' And Hopin', on and on the hits rolled.

Her roller-coaster life backstage will provide the backdrop to what will be a swayin' in the aisles experience, I promise you.

You ain't seen nothin yet... I can let you be the first people to know who will be playing Dusty in our musical, however. She is Ellie Lawson, a 31-year-old south Londoner.

Compared variously to Joni Mitchell and Alanis Morrisette, this singer song-writer and composer is a real class act.

Described live on air by Ellen Degeneres - a famous lesbian herself - in her hit US TV show as going to be a "huge, huge star", Ellie - with the backing of the likes of Ellen - has begun to build a following on both sides of the Atlantic. Something Dusty, sadly, never really did.

We hope to help change that.



Taking a gamble with ads
12 Jul 2010 00:00

Who'd have thought the lasting legacy of Holy Willy Blair and Gordon "Rev I.M. Jolly" Broon would be the infestation of our national life by relentless television advertising of gambling.

Who'd have thought the lasting legacy of Holy Willy Blair and Gordon "Rev I.M. Jolly" Broon would be the infestation of our national life by relentless television advertising of gambling.

It's bad enough the bookies' ads (Ray Winstone's "Bet-in-Play" for example) are as masculine an appeal to the traditional punter as you can imagine.

But something much more insidious is now out there, too. Poker, even roulette gambling pitched at ingenues and women.

People who have never gambled before are being seduced by free offers and glamorous ambience to switch on their computers, get out their credit cards and, er, lose their money.

Unlimited losses, too.

We've gone from no casinos in Britain to a 24/7 casino in your bedroom into which you are relentlessly lured by expensive adverts.

"Gamble responsibly" it says in the small print inserted by the snake oil salesmen on the bottom of the screen below the sly Satanic seduction above it.

So the "industry" and the New Labour ministers who de-regulated it wash their hands of the stains of the blood money they pocket.

A condition of advertising alcohol on television is that the drinking of it should not be "glamourised".

This is not being policed.

The latest Bacardi ad is almost enough to tempt teetotal me into the "lifestyle". And there's an ad involving a beautiful elegant French girl dressing for the evening while her beer is prepared at the boozer. It's the Devil's buttermilk all right, capitalist temptation.



Bringing poverty and deprivation down to the Wire
19 Jul 2010 00:00

Summertime and, for me at least, the living is easy. This is when I watch my box-sets I've bought hopefully throughout the year.

Summertime and, for me at least, the living is easy. This is when I watch my box-sets I've bought hopefully throughout the year.

Last summer, I told you about the HBO brilliance of The Sopranos, which left me sincerely bereft when it finished and the fat lady sang - or did she? This year it's The Wire, with Dominic West, left, which has me tied to the late-night sofa.

Set in Baltimore, this is real-life crime and policing where tight budgets, drunkenness and corruption, malfunctioning technology, adultery and broken families clash with the parasites sucking the remaining blood out of the mainly black under-class who have fallen through the floor of "society".

The Raoul Moat story would have made a great episode of The Wire - except it really happened, here, and still de es the comprehension of our rulers and their media.

Way back in the 19th century, Frank and Jesse James were venal thieves and killers. They lynched black people, massacred captured Union soldiers in the Civil War, murdered men, women and children. Yet they became legends.

The Jesse James gang captured public support because a section of the population hated the state more than they hated them.

They thought the government cared only for the rich, that the law was framed only for the rich.

They felt ignored, abandoned and unrepresented. Nobody spoke for or cared about them. In these badlands, those who seemed to stand up to, defy and, for a short time, confound the forces of the state became heroes. If Facebook had existed then, there would have been quite a tribute page for them, too.

The presence in our midst of a swelling rage and the malignant alienation of poor, white, workingclass people, atomised and voiceless, would be dangerous at any time.

On the brink of a Siberian age of Con-Dem coalition austerity, it's enough to chill the blood. Or ought to be.



A long, deadly conflict
19 Jul 2010 00:00

In 2002, after Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, implied the Afghan War would all be over by Christmas, I told him in the House it would not be over 10 Christmases from then.

In 2002, after Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, implied the Afghan War would all be over by Christmas, I told him in the House it would not be over 10 Christmases from then.

Oh how he laughed, and invited the House to laugh. No one is laughing now.

As I write, four young British soldiers have been killed in 24 hours, hundreds have been slaughtered since Dr John Reid said he hoped that their deployment to Sangin province might not involve "a shot being red in anger", thousands have been wounded and untold numbers have minds damaged in ways we can't yet know.

And that's before we count the dead and damaged Americans, Canadians, Danes, Dutch and all the rest.

We can't, of course, count the Afghans.

Last week, we lost, among others, a company commander, shot dead in his bed by one of his own Afghan mercenaries.

My guess is that the loss of British officers and NCOs in this Afghan War is higher than any conflict since World War I.

Today's papers say we'll be out of there by 2014 showing, as sometimes happens, I understated my case in the exchange with Straw all those years ago.



Mandy's brought this tribe to book
19 Jul 2010 00:00

It's hard to understand the outpouring of rage against Peter Mandelson over his book The Third Man.

It's hard to understand the outpouring of rage against Peter Mandelson over his book The Third Man.

Everybody writes books at the end of a political era, some even before it ends.

Two of Mandy's critics, David Blunkett and John Prescott, published largely unread tripe now not even available in the bargain book basket. At Morrisons.

Alastair Campbell is into his second volume, Tony Blair's book is coming down the track - advance 4.5million - and Cherie's, too, has been and gone.

Mr and Mrs Brown are both writing theirs.

In truth, Mandy's New Labour tribe are on the warpath not about him but about themselves. He has held up a mirror to them and they don't like what they see. Themselves.

When John Smith died in 1994, it was maybe the worst thing that ever happened to Labour.

He was a giant, widely respected, even loved in the country, and he had a double-digit lead over the discredited Major government.

Moderate, sober, steady, elegant, eloquent, funny, a Queen's Counsel, John Smith was scaling the heights of power when we lost him.

If he had won in 1997, as I am certain he would have, we'd now be in the fourth term of a Labour government. And New Labour would never have been heard of.

When the mighty oak that was Smith fell, only saplings and hollowed-out husks were left standing. I was there. In the Commons tearooms, in the corridors of power.

I remember the shock etched on Gordon's face as he realised his helper, Tony, was about to stab him in the back.

That his wizard, Peter, whose love for him had been the stuff of classical legends, was now standing behind his usurper.

"Et tu, Peter?" he seemed to say as he fell to the ground clutching his broken heart.

Gordon's heart never mended. It rendered him unsuitable in all sorts of ways. They should have moved him, never selected him as their leader, removed him once it became so gruesomely clear he wasn't the one for this era.

New Labour itself was a disaster waiting to happen. It required the hollowing out of a great national institution, the substitution of form, spin over content, the betrayal of millions who loved it and needed it, the transformation of the Smith very purpose of Labour, the abandonment of our national interest and supplication of our country to George W Bush.

All that was solid melted into air, all that was sacred was profaned. If I'd been a party to that, I wouldn't like to read about it now, either.



I SEE Mrs Smith has [...]
19 Jul 2010 00:00

I see Mrs Smith has come out for Ed Miliband for the new Labour leader, as has Neil Kinnock and his Mrs, too. They have a point. Balls is sagging and Big Diane surely shot herself in her Manolos when she mocked her rivals as "geeks in suits". Andy Burnham is another likely lad. I noted my admira-tion for him when he took to the pitch to apologise to the Liverpool fans over Hillsborough for failures in the handling of the aftermath. He was brave and eloquent, too.

I see Mrs Smith has come out for Ed Miliband for the new Labour leader, as has Neil Kinnock and his Mrs, too. They have a point. Balls is sagging and Big Diane surely shot herself in her Manolos when she mocked her rivals as "geeks in suits". Andy Burnham is another likely lad. I noted my admira-tion for him when he took to the pitch to apologise to the Liverpool fans over Hillsborough for failures in the handling of the aftermath. He was brave and eloquent, too.



The real scandal about Lockerbie
26 Jul 2010 00:00

Inever saw Alex Salmond as a feartie but that's how he looks after his refusal to appear before the Senate foreign relations committee to explain the reasons behind the release of the Libyan prisoner Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Inever saw Alex Salmond as a feartie but that's how he looks after his refusal to appear before the Senate foreign relations committee to explain the reasons behind the release of the Libyan prisoner Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

He has let Scotland down, allowed us to be con ated with the hatred felt in the US against oil giant BP, and at a stroke cut the legs from the idea Scottish-America could play a role in his Scottish independence project.

I would have grabbed this gold-plated invitation to speak the truth in the most powerful arena on the globe.

It worked for me ve years ago in exactly the same committee room Salmond has forsaken. en I, too, faced - entirely voluntarily - false allegations about connections to the dirty black stu - oil.

By the end of the session the senators, used to being treated like princes, looked like they'd heard enough of the Scottish accent and wished they'd never allowed me my big opportunity.

Of course, it only works if you are telling the truth, have nothing to hide and have the courage of your convictions.

And maybe there's the rub.

You see, I supported the release of Megrahi, but not for the reasons given by Kenny MacAskill. Indeed, if I thought Megrahi really had blown up hundreds of innocent people over Lockerbie I would have kept him behind bars until it was his turn to burn in hell.

But I never believed it. I believe Libya was falsely framed for mass murder, Megrahi was falsely imprisoned in Greenock jail and I believe his thenimminent appeal would have unmasked a miscarriage of justice and placed us in the middle of the mother of all international scandals.

Megrahi was not dying when freed on "compassionate grounds", but Scotland was dying to get rid of him before he got to the Court of Appeal.

e Libyan was forced to abandon his appeal in order to return to his country. Why? He has called for publication of all the documents relating to the case and now in the hands of the Scottish Crown O ce. is has been refused. Why? Because the new evidence his solicitors had amassed was even more terrifyingly explosive than the bomb which blew the Pan Am jet out of the sky all those years ago, that's why.

Salmond's government took the right decision in freeing an innocent man, but they did so for the wrong reasons. ey behaved in an unprincipled way, and that always ends in tears.

As it happens, I believe Salmond when he says he was never lobbied by BP. ey had no need to, they already had the British government of Tony Blair in their pocket.

It is inconceivable that BP didn't put unrelenting pressure on Downing Street over Megrahi and that the PM didn't try everything he could to rid ourselves of this turbulent presence in Greenock prison.

After all, BP had a chance to make a billion dollars worth of black gold o the Libyan coast - but only if the prisoner was freed.

When Blair met Colonel Muammar al-Gadda in the desert of Sirte it's unlikely the walls of the tent had ears. So we will never know for certain there was a deal. But that Blair lobbied for BP's deal is certain. at Gadda demanded the release of his falsely imprisoned comrade doubly so.

Well, the prisoner was released and BP got the deal and, according to Gadda 's son, Blair has embarked on a mini career as an adviser to the Gadda family on the country's sovereign wealth funds.

Well, just one more thing, as Colombo used to say. What was it that brought together the New Labour governments' interest in Megrahi's release and the otherwise virulently hostile SNP administration's interest in closing this le? Why did the sovereign government of the UK allow this decision of such vital moment to the foreign policy interests of the whole state to be taken by a devolved executive and in the persona of MacAskill? e answer is that the clock was ticking in Edinburgh loudly enough for Whitehall to hear.

Not the life-clock of Megrahi - who has demonstrated entirely predictable Ernest Saunders-like powers of recovery. But the clock ticking to Megrahi's appeal.

Whitehall realised they might never need their prisoner transfer agreement. at they could let MacAskill be the patsy.

at they could let Scotland take the blame for a release bound to cause outrage in the US, whose nationals were the overwhelming majority of those slaughtered by the bomb. So, who did conspire and execute mass murder over Lockerbie? I write this with trepidation but without any doubt that what I am saying is correct.

I am writing this from the Bekka valley in Lebanon. Back when the Pan Am jet exploded it was a heartland of Palestinian resistance groups, including Captain Ahmed Jabril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command.

Next week I will be writing this column from the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

e Lockerbie atrocity was, I believe, carried about by Jabril's PFLP-GC and I believe the British and US governments have always known this.

I believe it was ordered - and paid for - by a section of the then Iranian intelligence in retaliation for an equally atrocious act of mass murder.

e USS Vincennes, a US warship stationed in the Persian Gulf, shot down with a ballistic missile a civillian airliner ying from Iran to Dubai. All the airline's crew and passengers were lost. e ship was there in support of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the nal stages of the crazed war with Iran, which Saddam launched with the support of the US and UK.

Libya was a convenient scapegoat for Jabril's crime. It was the main international outcast at the time, and Gadda was referred to as the latest in a long line of "mad dogs", otherwise known as Arab leaders who stand up to the West. Evidence was fabricated, exculpatory evidence suppressed, witnesses suborned. Megrahi spent years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Send me to the Senate
2 Aug 2010 00:00

I managed to get out of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon without retribution and as you read this I should be in Iran, where eagle-eyed readers of the Daily Record have already spotted online my piece about who really was responsible for the Lockerbie bomb.

I managed to get out of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon without retribution and as you read this I should be in Iran, where eagle-eyed readers of the Daily Record have already spotted online my piece about who really was responsible for the Lockerbie bomb.

I spent last week avoiding the likes of Newsnight seeking denunciations from me about the cowardice of Salmond/Straw/ BP with regard to the Senate foreign relations committee and their wish for a Brit to pillory on TV.

I felt it was becoming a liberty beating those old punchbags, defenceless as they are. All I have to say on this issue now is this.

If the US Senate really wants to hear a Scottish voice telling them the truth about Lockerbie, the Iran-Iraq war, terrorism and the perfidious performance of British Petroleum (whose initial petroleum was once the property of the very Iranian people among whom I'm sitting) then I'm their man.

I am ready to fly without delay to appear in front of their commitee. I promise, by the time I'm finished, Tony Blair will be under arrest.



Who does Hewitt look like here?
2 Aug 2010 00:00

The cad James Hewitt is in soapy bubble sending lewd bath-towel pictures of himself over the internet to a virtual kiss-and-teller who courted him on the absurdly entitled sugardaddie.com.

The cad James Hewitt is in soapy bubble sending lewd bath-towel pictures of himself over the internet to a virtual kiss-and-teller who courted him on the absurdly entitled sugardaddie.com.

What she expected from sugardaddie.com is hard to imagine. The love of a good man perhaps? Hope springs eternal, right enough.

The lady in question's outrage was several months in the gestation, of course, in the way of these things, but it's hard to feel sorry for her, or the cad and bounder who kissed (and more) and told on the saintly (well, perhaps not) Princess Diana.

What caught my eye, however, was a picture of Di with her then lover Hewitt back in 1991. In the picture the princess is coming over all shy as she is presenting him with a polo trophy.

The thing is, in this picture, Hewitt really reminded me of someone. Can my readers jolt my memory as to who that might be?



Law will catch up with Blair in the end
2 Aug 2010 00:00

David Cameron had a cheek accusing Pakistan of "exporting terrorism" and the result has been a predictable, if temporary, cutting of security co-operation by the Pakistani government.

David Cameron had a cheek accusing Pakistan of "exporting terrorism" and the result has been a predictable, if temporary, cutting of security co-operation by the Pakistani government.

After all, the people who have been exporting terrorism - as well as importing it - is us.

Rejoicing in the name of Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller (PG Woodhouse would have hesitated before inventing such a moniker) the former head of secret service MI5 gave evidence recently to the pseudo-inquiry into the war on Iraq.

There, she said MI5 had warned the Blair war cabinet that Britain would be gravely endangered as a result of joining the war. at our people, our interests and even our homeland security would be put at risk. And that Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed no threat to the UK or our interests.

Predictably, the Great War Leader Blair, a zealous light shining in his increasingly mad eyes, ignored her, with equally predictable and bloody results.

The point is that the Tories - with honourable exceptions such as Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke - not only fully suported the Blair War but, in the form of oddball Iain Duncan-Smith, briefly and quietly the leader of the Tory Party, actually egged him on. They wanted more of a war and quicker, too. Cameron, I well recall, was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the war and therefore shares the guilt for all that then happened.

Which makes all the more interesting the current position of the British government as enunciated by the acting - and deputy - prime minister Nick Clegg at Prime Minister's questions the other week. Make no mistake about it, no acting prime minister ever speaks or can speak in a "personal capacity", certainly not at the dispatch box (which contains the Bible, the Koran and the Torah) answering Prime Minister's questions.

Clegg taunting the war-mouthpiece, the increasingly doddery Jack Straw - Foreign Secretary during the war - declared the invasion of Iraq to have been "illegal".

So there we have it. at, which people like me were reviled and slandered for saying before, is now the official position of the British government. is has grave implications for the warmongers and opens the way for the prosecution of those who waged "illegal" war - described in the Nuremberg Tribunal as the ultimate crime - principally Tony Blair himself. For starters.

For that reason, I have been meeting with some of the world's leading legal minds, and with those with the means to bring such a prosecution, with a view to seeing justice is done. Watch this space. Tony Blair certainly is.


A JOLIE CLOSE LOOK AT STAR
2 Aug 2010 00:00

Revelations have jolted our faith in the surely saintly Angelina Jolie. The woman, who has adopted half the world, turns out in a new portrayal to lack certain "family values". According to a report, Angelina is a "voracious man-eater". Sit down, Sanny, she draws the lin e at men like us. The book will "blow apart " the Brangelina relationship, claim the publicists, though that seems unlikely. I reckon Brad will shrug it off and act as normal. But then, so wooden an actor is he that, as Dorothy Parker said when told the nearcatatonic US president Calvin Coolidge had died, "how could they tell?"

Revelations have jolted our faith in the surely saintly Angelina Jolie. The woman, who has adopted half the world, turns out in a new portrayal to lack certain "family values". According to a report, Angelina is a "voracious man-eater". Sit down, Sanny, she draws the lin e at men like us. The book will "blow apart " the Brangelina relationship, claim the publicists, though that seems unlikely. I reckon Brad will shrug it off and act as normal. But then, so wooden an actor is he that, as Dorothy Parker said when told the nearcatatonic US president Calvin Coolidge had died, "how could they tell?"



Time to take stand on Gaza
2 Aug 2010 00:00

David Cameron was right and courageous to describe Gaza in Turkey last week as a "prison camp" - and even more brave to refuse to bow to criticism from the Israel lobby that followed.

David Cameron was right and courageous to describe Gaza in Turkey last week as a "prison camp" - and even more brave to refuse to bow to criticism from the Israel lobby that followed.

What else can you call a population of 1.6million people who cannot leave through the triple-locked gates and who have been on starvation rations for four years? A prison camp is what it is. The question is how are we going to break down the walls? On the 18th of next month I will lead the biggest siege-breaking convoy yet, from London, Casablanca and the Arab Gulf countries.

Columns of aid vehicles will leave all three places at once. We will sail from Latakia, Syria, on the Mavi Marmara, the ship murderously attacked by Israeli commandos on May 31, bound for the Al-Arish, Egypt. The only sea lane we can follow is the one the Marmara took last time. I do hope Cameron isn't going to allow the same thing to happen to us..



Anne's a breath of fresh heir
9 Aug 2010 00:00

While we don't have peacocks on the throne in Britain, it won't surprise regular readers that however dowdy, dull or downright daft our royals are, I'm agin them.

While we don't have peacocks on the throne in Britain, it won't surprise regular readers that however dowdy, dull or downright daft our royals are, I'm agin them.

Not as individuals but as a system. In a grown-up country in the 21st century, it's just infantile to choose the head of state based on primogeniture.

That's the fancy word for the fact that even if Princess Anne had been born before Prince Charles, she would have had to make way for him because he has a penis.

Charles chucked Diana for Camilla, talks to the plants and thinks endlessly replicating 19th-century architecture is good taste. Need I say more? Well, I could say Anne would make a much better head of state. She has made a life out of working really hard on real problems.

Her decades at the top of the Save the Children Fund are just the half of it.

The rest of her family slaughter dumb animals for fun. She saves children's lives.

I once accompanied her as an MP on a day she had in Glasgow. Her dry wit and laconic good nature bowled over hard-bitten Glaswegians. And in her daughter, Zara, the good Queen Anne would have a worthy heir and successor.



Our hostility to Iran is the real danger
9 Aug 2010 00:00

The religious establishment, from Khomeini to today's Ayatollah Khameni, have issued fatwas against nuclear weapons

I'm just back from Iran and the latest in a long line of wars threatened or already burning. As I left Lebanon, half a dozen lay dead or critically wounded on the border with Israel after a clash over demarcation.

As I arrived in Tehran, speculation was reaching fever pitch about a US-backed Israeli attack on Iran. In my experience, no country is more misunderstood than Iran.

Fifty seven years ago this month, the elected, Labourminded government in Tehran was overthrown in a coup by British and US intelligence.

Its crime? To nationalise Iranian oil, enraging what is now BP, which owned, controlled and grew fat on it.

The puppet popinjay peacock Shah was re-installed and ran the country for foreign interests until ousted in Khomeini's revolution in 1979.

Today's Iranians, most of whom were not born at that time, will never go back to the days when foreigners looted their country and left them dependent on others. And there's the first conundrum.

Despite appearances, Iran's rulers are more nationalistic than Islamist fanatic. ere are, of course, religious fanatics just as there are pro-American "liberals". But the government of Ahmadinejad is, in fact, in Iranian terms, centrist, a fusion of religion and nationalism, but as unpopular on its religious right as on its liberal left.

My hotel, interestingly, was full of Iranian exiles, mainly fabulously wealthy American citizens and including princesses from the deposed Iranian monarchies all rallying to the national flag.

The nuclear stand-o with the US, however, unites almost everybody. Just as any military attack against their achievements in this field would, too. It's vital to remember the march to the Iraq war was paved with lies about weapons of mass destruction which proved to be a mirage.

Iran has no nuclear weapons, unlike Israel, the US, us, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea. Not to mention those who could make them in a jiffy like Germany, Japan, Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. Neither is there any evidence they seek to build one.

None. Says the IAEA who police these things. And the religious establishment in Iran, from Khomeini to today's Ayatollah Khameni, have issued fatwas against nuclear weapons.

When I interviewed Ahmadinejad last week in the presidential palace for Press TV, he thought his country's latest enhanced offer to the so-called international community through his allies Turkey and Brazil would defuse the tension.

We'll see. One thing is for sure. If anyone strikes Iran, she will strike back.

Firstly in Iraq. Already ungovernable, this brokenbacked neighbour will become simply uncontrollable. In Afghanistan, the already unbeatable Taliban will send a terrible surge the way of our soldiers.

In Lebanon, in Palestine, in friendly Arab countries in the Gulf such as Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. ere will be war throughout the world. You'd better make sure your MP doesn't support this madness.

During the interview, I appealed to Ahmadinejad to free Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

I told him this and similar judicial barbarities were helping dark forces to attack his country. It was clear from his answer that he's exasperated by such provincial court judgements, too. You'll see from his answers in my interview what he's doing about it.

In the constant powerstruggle in Tehran, where every ayatollah, institution and political player is jockeying for power, we'd better hope the president comes out on top.

He told me a tale about Britain's role in the rioting that erupted after the result, which helps explain why we are being singled out in Iran as the little Satan to America's great Satan, again.

British mobile calls to and from Iran are currently banned, the BBC Iranian language station harassed and our gigantic embassy there - on Bobby Sands Street - is suspected of being a nest of spies.

Dangerous for Britain? You bet. Wait till you hear what he says about David Miliband.



MIND you, it could be [...]
9 Aug 2010 00:00

Mind you, it could be worse. Prince Andrew could have got the gig. Air Miles Andy has feathered his nest handsomely but what's the betting we'll end up bailing out his ex-wife Fergie, facing bankruptcy over more than 5million of debt? Last week, Randy Andy was squeezing 25-year-old model Alexandra Escat, just three years older than his daughter. But it's possible she was really Andrew's carer. A romance has been denied.

Mind you, it could be worse. Prince Andrew could have got the gig. Air Miles Andy has feathered his nest handsomely but what's the betting we'll end up bailing out his ex-wife Fergie, facing bankruptcy over more than 5million of debt? Last week, Randy Andy was squeezing 25-year-old model Alexandra Escat, just three years older than his daughter. But it's possible she was really Andrew's carer. A romance has been denied.



Traitor to the cause
16 Aug 2010 00:00

I've never been a fan of Alan Milburn, the erstwhile New Labour cabinet minister and phantom challenger to Gordon Brown.

I've never been a fan of Alan Milburn, the erstwhile New Labour cabinet minister and phantom challenger to Gordon Brown.

In those days, Milburn was a cipher for Tony Blair, his hand-picked great white hope who might just stop the Brown Bomber.

It was not to be. Milburn had a glass jaw and all the heart of Primo Carnera. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, of course, and Milburn fell right out of the ring, out of parliament, an ex-contender.

When I first knew Milburn, he was a raving Trotskyist running a bookshop in north-east England, called Days Of Hope, known locally as Haze Of Dope.

He was then a devotee of the International Marxist Group - like Alistair Darling. Both regarded me as a "reformist", then a term of vulgar abuse. He called himself - to my face - a Bolshevik. Now he's joined the Con-Dem coalition as a tsar.

This act of betrayal does not surprise me at all. In my experience, the lefter they were in their youth, the greater the apostasy in their dotage.

Ennui precludes me rehearsing the sins of the likes of "Dr" John Reid, Adam Ingram, et al. In fact, the only Scottish Labour figures I can think of who remain in the same political position as they were back then are Glasgow MP Ian Davidson and me. I'm no friend of Davidson but at least he's worthy of respect.

Milburn will now cover himself in the shame of the laying waste of the community from whence he sprang and who sustained him in parliament.

The people who rolled spliffs and bought his Leninist pamphlets were hallucinating if they thought this man was a working-class hero.

He was a fraud, a goldmedallioned popinjay. A lost "leader". For the Blairites, it will never be glad, confident morning ever again.



Michelle has boobed by ditching Kelly
16 Aug 2010 00:00

I'm a big fan of Scotland's entrepreneurial queen Michelle Mone and, for reasons which I shall keep to myself, her gel-filled plunge bra.

I'm a big fan of Scotland's entrepreneurial queen Michelle Mone and, for reasons which I shall keep to myself, her gel-filled plunge bra.

From nothing, she has transformed the landscape and lifted horizons for all (well, most) of us. But I wonder if she has been a little hasty in dispensing with Kelly Brook as the, er, face of the Ultimo.

Kelly, a 32E, looked simply amazing in Michelle's engineering and, by all accounts, sales were bulging.

The trouble, apparently, is on account of Kelly's other work with Reebok in which she displays her wares without the distraction of any other clothing. I haven't seen this campaign but I am a big Reebok fan anyway.

My guess is that it will only help boost their sales.

Certainly, I'm thinking about a purchase even as I write. Ditto her controversial decision to pose for a Playboy centrefold.

The bottom line is that Kelly is an underwear model, the two most loaded words in the English language. Michelle is selling underwear. They go together like ham and eggs. Or, if you prefer, bra and pants.

Kiss and make up, Michelle. But if not, well it's all good publicity anyway, isn't it? . SOON Scottish Labour will be joining battle with the SNP again, in next May's elections to the Scottish Parliament. Despite all the water that's flowed under the bridge, I remain fundamentally a Labour man.

I never wanted to leave the party.

Indeed, I spent thousands of pounds in legal fees and brought in Tony Benn, the late Michael Foot and my union leader Tony Woodley to speak against my expulsion, by Tony Blair, for my role in opposition to the now utterly discredited war in Iraq.

I still hate the SNP's brand of Scottish nationalism, for all my admiration for Alex Salmond as a politician.

I stand ready to do anything I can, as a speaker, writer and activist to help defeat the separatists.

Scottish Labour, take note.



Spellbound by a true working-class hero
16 Aug 2010 00:00

Ifirst met the late, great Jimmy Reid in a now defunct Glasgow hotel in what later became my constituency. It was 1974, I think, and the big man, then at the height of his fame and power, was giving a lecture on Scottish nationalism.

Ifirst met the late, great Jimmy Reid in a now defunct Glasgow hotel in what later became my constituency. It was 1974, I think, and the big man, then at the height of his fame and power, was giving a lecture on Scottish nationalism.

"Nationalism is like electricity," he said. "It can fry a man in the electric chair or keep a baby alive in an incubator.

"The electricity is neutral. The point is who is using it and for what."

Reid was making the case for Home Rule as a means of strengthening the working people of these small islands. He was against breaking up "a small country in a small world".

He was mesmerising. And what authority he had. A key leader of the battle to save the yards on the Upper Clyde, the only popular communist in the country since Willie Gallagher 50 years before, regular star of the Michael Parkinson show, friend of Billy Connolly.

Later, I sat with Reid and the late Jimmy Airlie (formerly of the Palestine Police, later the leader of all Britain's engineering workers) and laughed until my ribs hurt at their double act.

Never did I hear such stories, anecdotes lovingly told of the special character of the shipbuilders. But Jimmy Reid was always diving for pearls. He knew the limitations of trade unionism, its defensive nature.

He knew that politics and political transformation was the ultimate need for the workers of the world.

That's why I threw myself into his 1979 effort to be the elected Labour MP for Dundee East, where I was the party's full-time organiser.

Our enemy then was a provincial Paisley solicitor and long time SNP MP, whose very presence in the city we resented with all our hearts. It offended against our internationalism.

Gordon Wilson had won the seat in 1974 by trading on the fact that our MP was English, George Machin, a Sheffield engineering worker.

Against Reid in Dundee, the SNP lurched into primitive anti-communism and, despite a huge, inspirational campaign, Wilson saw off the challenge.

I hated the SNP then and I will always do so.

Their shortbread tin White Heather Club nationalism was the electricity in the wrong hands. I fell in and out with Jimmy many times over the years, though I'm glad to say, over the last 15 years, we were friends and comrades again.

I hated him writing for a gutter English tabloid. I loved him writing for the Scottish Press. I hated his attacks against the leaders of the miners' union during the strike. I loved his televison and radio work, his Glasgow University rectorial address and especially his platform oratory. He was a lion at the microphone. Handsome, authentic, courageous.

I hated the fact he later joined the SNP, who red-baited him out of a chance to sit in the Commons where he would have been immense, potentially Labour leadership material.

Jimmy was a working-class hero all right. And, as John Lennon reminded us, that's something to be.



It's in our own interest to help
23 Aug 2010 00:00

I've been pondering why the fundraising for Pakistan is so slow, and why the Pakistan government appear to be taking the blame for a simply unprecedented water-borne disaster.

I've been pondering why the fundraising for Pakistan is so slow, and why the Pakistan government appear to be taking the blame for a simply unprecedented water-borne disaster.

An area the size of the whole of England is under water. at which the poor had, in terms of huts, schools, clinics, roads and bridges, has been swept away.

Everything from simple diahorrea to hepatitis, even cholera, is now cutting a swathe - and particularly affecting the children.

Desperate doctors appeal for help on our news bulletins, sometimes breaking down in the face of the Everest of problems they are trying to scale.

Just a few miles away in Afghanistan, there is a trillion dollars worth of military hardwear - planes and helicopters, bridge-building equipment and software, and soldiers from dozens of countries - yet a mere fraction of the treasure being deployed to kill people is being given to save millions of flood victims.

Has nobody even calculated the self-interested point that being seen to be going all-out to save Pakistani Muslims might just help the balance of opinion in the Muslim world now risen in a general revolt throughout the area?

Even the Americans in the Vietnam War grasped, if did not practise, the need to win hearts and minds. I declare an interest. I have been closely involved with Pakistan for more than 30 years.

I put a motion through Dundee District Council in the 70s to appeal for the life of the country's leader Zul kar Ali Bhutto, murdered by the West's favourite hangman, General Zia-ul-Haq.

For more than 25 years I was a close friend of his daughter Benazir, the first woman leader of a Muslim country, until she herself was murdered, and by the same people too. Now there seems like a wish to politically murder her widower, the country's now president Asif Zardari, using the floods as an excuse.

In fact, though the UN chief Ban Ki Moon described the floods as a "slow tsunami", less than 3000 people have been killed in Pakistan compared to hundreds of thousands killed in the tsunami and in the Haitian earthquake for that matter.

Coverage of those disasters never lingered on the imperfections of their political leaders and it's hard to believe that had nothing to do with the level of charitable giving and governmental aid.

If the world doesn't get its finger out, the fragile democracy in Pakistan - which for half its life has been under brute military dictatorship with the consequent swelling of Islamist fundamentalism - will be swept away too. And after that, I promise you, comes the deluge.

Please, contact the DEC Appeal www.dec.org.uk or phone 0370 60 60 900 and give generously, now.


AS the "last US combat troops" [...]
23 Aug 2010 00:00

As the "last US combat troops" scuttled from Iraq last week, some shouted "We won!" to unconvinced news crews covering the rush. Well, up to a point.

As the "last US combat troops" scuttled from Iraq last week, some shouted "We won!" to unconvinced news crews covering the rush. Well, up to a point.

They have unleashed a wind in which more than a million people have been killed, including nearly 50 00 of their own men. Millions are in exile. Millions more are disabled, homeless, jobless and hopeless. Islamist fundamentalism stalks the land, and many lands including our own, in direct consequence of their "win". Iraq, five months after an "election", has no government, indeed no longer exists as a single country. Iran, which we continue to threaten with more "shock and awe", is now well placed to answer any aggression against her.

They have sewed that wind. Unfortunately, all of us will have to reap the whirlwind.


A recipe for flood relief
23 Aug 2010 00:00

The full Bhuna, London PR girl Zala Zia, has roped me in to a project you're going to be hearing much more about.

The full Bhuna, London PR girl Zala Zia, has roped me in to a project you're going to be hearing much more about.

Dismayed by the oh so slow fundraising in response to the "tsunami" of the Pakistan floods, the beautiful Zala is putting together a cook-book with recipes donated by celebrities, along with inspirational quotes, to sell for rehabilitation of the devastated infrastructure of one of the world's poorest countries.

I'm trying to help her and so should you. She needs a pro-bono publisher for the book, free celebrity snapper, all kinds of help to ensure the book sells far and wide.

I'm looking for a recipe for a piping hot "Scottish" curry and we all know the best curry in the world is here, probably in Glasgow's west end.

I've lost touch with the city's entrepreneur curry kings but I'm sure they read the Record and I hope to hear from them.

Email fundraisercookbook@gmail.com if you can help.


Holly is Burning to be a star
23 Aug 2010 00:00

Holly Burns was red-hot on the X Factor on Saturday and I already predict she'll go all the way to the final. And remember folks, I'm the one who tipped Leona Lewis from the start.

Holly Burns was red-hot on the X Factor on Saturday and I already predict she'll go all the way to the final. And remember folks, I'm the one who tipped Leona Lewis from the start.

The 25-year-old Glasgow pub and club singer sounded grounded and sensible too, unlike some of the deluded wannabes on the show.

Like the woman called Geri who imagines she's some kind of star. I'm told she was once part of a mercifully briefly popular girl-combo who were spicy for their day. As far as I know, she hasn't done an honest day's work in the last decade.

At least the audience had the sense to boo her every asinine intervention. But who knew that in Clackmannanshire there was a Zimbabwean family with a world-class talent like Gamu?

The Alva Academy teenager was simply stunning, a diamond in the rough of refugee exile, and surely the winner of the competition already.

I never thought I'd ever say it but, last night in Tillicoultry... A Star Is Born.



I had a Gael of a time at the Beeb
30 Aug 2010 00:00

On Off The Ball on Saturday with Tam Cowan, I had an aside with Kenny MacIntyre - standing in for Stuart Cosgrove - in which I asked Kenny if he was the son of the late, great BBC political newshound of the same name. He is.

On Off The Ball on Saturday with Tam Cowan, I had an aside with Kenny MacIntyre - standing in for Stuart Cosgrove - in which I asked Kenny if he was the son of the late, great BBC political newshound of the same name. He is.

Tam, riskily but hilariously, opined that the BBC had no choice but to hire MacIntyre junior after he mooched at the graveside that there was "no future in crofting" and the family would starve.

Which led me to ask Tam if he was the only person from mainland industrial Scotland who actually had a job at BBC Scotland?

Isn't it amazing how many Highlanders and islanders pop up on screen and on the airwaves at the Beeb.

Crawfords and Farquhars are also everywhere backstage. And they've got BBC Alba, too!

Perhaps given the current fad of re-locating to the "north" - Salford - BBC Scotland could do the same. Stornaway's nice a couple of weeks a year. And the staff must be homesick.

Who was in my seat when I got to Sky News yesterday to review the Sunday papers, but former foreign secretary David Miliband.

He gave a polished performance, spoilt only by almost stumbling down the steps while trying to avoid making eye contact with me.

Perhaps he anticipated that the first story I was going to cover was the extraordinary broadsheet scoop that Tony Blair conspired with George Bush and Condoleezza Rice to keep Gordon Brown out of No10 because Bushites "couldn't work" with him.

According to the story, Blair agreed to break his promise to his chancellor to make way for him, in order to please the President, whom Blair's memoirs will describe as "visionary and highly intelligent".

The plan was apparently to "groom" someone else. Who was that? "My Wayne Rooney," said Blair, David Miliband.


IF David Miliband is to [...]
30 Aug 2010 00:00

If David Miliband is to win the leadership and, even more, if he is to win power back for Labour, he will have to bury this persistent perception that he is just another Tony Blair. He will have to realise that Labour lost five million votes since 1997, not from "middle class" voters but blue-collar workers. And not to the Tories but to the Liberal Democrats and to nowhere. These are established facts. Chasing the chimera of middle Britain, which doesn't exist, is precisely how we got into this state. Being as un-Labour as possible will do nothing to bring us back to office.

If David Miliband is to win the leadership and, even more, if he is to win power back for Labour, he will have to bury this persistent perception that he is just another Tony Blair. He will have to realise that Labour lost five million votes since 1997, not from "middle class" voters but blue-collar workers. And not to the Tories but to the Liberal Democrats and to nowhere. These are established facts. Chasing the chimera of middle Britain, which doesn't exist, is precisely how we got into this state. Being as un-Labour as possible will do nothing to bring us back to office.



200k would get me in big bother
30 Aug 2010 00:00

Iturned down 200,000 for 10 days' work in the "Ultimate Big Brother" house - they might have gone to a quarter of a million, too.

Iturned down 200,000 for 10 days' work in the "Ultimate Big Brother" house - they might have gone to a quarter of a million, too.

And I'm glad I did. Reincarceration with Preston, the "Ordinary Boy", my ire at whom cost me dearly last time I was in, would have been too much to bear.

I said back then that he was a double-dealing phoney and who, witnessing the tears of poor (and much improved) Chantelle, now doubts me? He was engaged to be married to a French girl when he entered the house in 2006, though that has now become "I was sort of with someone" in retrospect.

He married Chantelle, banked the photo-shoot cheques for the pictures then left her in under a year.

He "met someone else" within a week of the split and now, her name tattooed on his ankle, he's back to haunt Chantelle who, despite this - maybe because of it - will surely win again.

Despite the "Mockney" accent and demeanour, Preston is, in fact, the grandson of a lord.

An aristocratic cheat. Who would have thought it? I hear, on the other hand, that my old mate Pete Burns is going in to replace cool Coolio and that certainly will make this dull crew of wannabes come alive.

The cross-dressing troubadour, whom I described as a cross between Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker - and I can't praise higher than that - was, with the other frockwearing housemate Dennis Rodman, the only lasting friend I made in BB.

I have declined all Dennis's invitations to his house in Malibu on the grounds that, though liking women's clothes - who can forget his worship of Chantelle's lingerie? - he is all man. Most of his other guests are Baywatch-type women and it would only get me into trouble.

Pete, on the other hand, has had a troubled time of it. I have variously been asked to bail him out of jail and pay for an incognito cab trip to his Port Sunshine probationary exile - a round trip of 500miles. I don't know if he's tagged but I flag up his arrival as a mustwatch television moment.



Gordon the new Dewar
30 Aug 2010 00:00

It's nearly 10 years since the death of Donald Dewar, the first First Minister.

It's nearly 10 years since the death of Donald Dewar, the first First Minister.

I got to know the long fellow when he picked me up from Glasgow's Queen Street Station to work full-time at the 1978 Garscadden by election.

He drove me - I know it sounds implausible - to a pub in Yoker and while we were inside, his car was broken into and my luggage stolen.

Donald won the epic, pivotal contest and I was handsomely rewarded by his insurance firm.

We didn't have a happy next 20 years or so but I always respected him - even after his reply to my speech that I wanted to remain in the House of Commons until carried out feet-first.

He said " hoped to be there to see it".

Each Labour incumbent in Edinburgh has been a smaller and smaller man - even if spring-heeled Jack has had a tooth job, as Tam Cowan maintains, it's extra inches in stature we need.

We are approaching a pivotal moment again in May and I wouldn't like all of Donald's and my own good work to go up in smoke. It's now time for Gordon Brown to come out from behind the typewriter.

He must become the Scottish Labour leader and become First Minister of Scotland.

Only a real Labour leader can stop the SNP.
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GOOD TO SEE GLEN'S STILL IN THE FRAME
6 Sep 2010 00:00

Leaving the festival, I caught the beginning of an astonishing set by the leading Irish stadium performers The Frames.

Leaving the festival, I caught the beginning of an astonishing set by the leading Irish stadium performers The Frames.

I was knocked out by the vocals and had an odd feeling I'd seen the singer somewhere before. Sure enough, it was Glen Hansard, last seen, by me at least, belting out the blues in The Commitments (I say last seen, but I have actually watched the film about 10 times).

Since being sacked from the band in the film for fighting, fornicating and otherwise mucking things up, Hansard has won an Oscar for best song Falling Slowly (from the film Once) and now fronts a hugely popular band in real life. It's a Revelation all right.

. IT looks like Mr Murdoch may be in a bit of trouble as a result of my action in the High Court on the alleged tapping of my telephone by the News of the World during my celebrated battle with the fake sheikh.

Suddenly last week, when the imminence of our court encounter became clear - as clear as my determination to call all the grandees of his empire to testify - and the knowledge that I'm more interested in the truth than the money began to dawn, the dam broke.

Now everybody from John Prescott, Tessa Jowell and Peter Mandelson to footballer and pundit Andy Gray are queuing up with actions of one kind or another.

Suddenly the balance sheets of Rupert Murdoch Inc. don't look so healthy.

Neither do relations between Downing Street and the Digger. David Cameron hired his man Andy Coulson partly to please the Digger and partly because he appreciated Coulson's mastery of the "dark arts".

Cameron didn't know it would all end this way. Well, as the late Duncan MacRae used to say: "Ye ken noo."


I've had a lucky escape
6 Sep 2010 00:00

The novel 1984 was, of course, the best work of George Orwell, aka Eric Blair.

The novel 1984 was, of course, the best work of George Orwell, aka Eric Blair.

It envisaged permanent wars throughout the world and a Britain ruled by Big Brother, who would appear nightly on a compulsory television broadcast.

But he could not have imagined anything so malevolent as Nadia.

Having done for Coolio, the former Portuguese man, who daft as a brush Nikki thought must be acting up "because she's on her period", turned her Marciano-like brawn towards stick-like Ulrika.

She left the blonde flat on her back which, come to think of it, is where she's spent a fair bit of the last 20 years.

If I had taken the 200,000 offered by Big Brother, just think. I'd now be lying in the next bed to Vanessa Feltz in her white wedding gown.


OF course, he wasn't having [...]
6 Sep 2010 00:00

Of course, he wasn't having sex with him but that William Hague fair took a shine to his young hirsute male assistant.

Of course, he wasn't having sex with him but that William Hague fair took a shine to his young hirsute male assistant.

Yesterday it was revealed that Hague and Gideon Osborne took the young fellow, at the expense of the Ministry of Defence, on a tour of the battlefield in Afghanistan. He was at the time the volunteer "chauffeur" of Hague.

Furthermore, on the way home from the gruelling tour, Hague and the boy had a couple of days' break in Bahrain.

Hague then personally paid the boy's first-class airfare from Bahrain to London.

He must have been a hell of a driver.


Treacherous words of warmonger Blair
6 Sep 2010 00:00

I'm Writing this from the Electric Picnic, a kind of mini-Glastonbury near Portlaoise in Ireland just past the rolling racing country of The Curragh.

I'm Writing this from the Electric Picnic, a kind of mini-Glastonbury near Portlaoise in Ireland just past the rolling racing country of The Curragh.

In a "mindfield", poets are postulating, Gaels are gallivanting and politicians are pontificating. It's a whale of a time.

There was some pretty peculiar tobacco being rolled, so I was expecting a high octane "exchange of views" with the feisty woman from Fox News against whom I was pitched in a debate on the Middle East.

What I didn't expect was a woman from the Disney Channel who didn't know left from right, one end of the Middle East from the other and who clearly thinks war with Iran will be some kind of Toy Story dust-up.

Fox is now the number one news channel in America.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of several downmarket English newspapers, is never short of ambition.

There was the Iraq war, getting rid of Gordon Brown, getting David Cameron in with a pair of deregulatory shears in his hands, getting President Obama out after just one term and launching a military invasion of Iran.

You'd think only an air-headed autocue chick in a field who'd inhaled too much of other people's tobacco could think that was a good idea? But wait, here's somebody else in Ireland who wants another war. Why, it's that broth of a boy Tony Blair, who turned up in a Dublin bookshop amid a hail of shoes and eggs to sign copies of his new book.

It's a bloody good read. Well, it should be, given how much of it he shed - other people's, of course.

I'm only a quarter of the way through it but I could save you shelling out the half price by telling you that this is the most vainglorious, narcissistic, delusionary, treacherous compendium of words ever compiled in the English language.

Space permits me only to mention the treachery - and that only to his friends.

In the space of three pages in the first chapter, Blair confesses - well, "confess" is not the right word, for it implies remorse and penitence ... "boasts" would be more like it - that he "owed a lot" to Neil Kinnock but that he "continually pressed" John Smith to ask Kinnock to "step aside".

That though he "liked John Smith a lot", he pressed Gordon Brown to stand against him for the leadership in 1992.

And that, although from 1983 to 1994 he had promised Brown that he would support him for the Labour leadership, it was just another pre-election promise broken.

On the next page, he admits that which his acolytes continually denied: that he did promise Gordon Brown not once but twice that he would make way for him in the second term.

Then he tells us Brown was mad. Well, crazy enough to have thought he had a friend in Blair, stupid enough to believe the promises of a man who had already betrayed Kinnock and Smith, and driven mad no doubt by having to breathe the toxic fumes of treason smouldering from this Dorian Gray.



The truth about 9/11 is out there
13 Sep 2010 00:00

Remember remember the 11th of September. That's how I began a newspaper article nine years ago, in the afternoon, sandwiched between the second aircraft striking the towers and their subsequent collapse.

Remember remember the 11th of September. That's how I began a newspaper article nine years ago, in the afternoon, sandwiched between the second aircraft striking the towers and their subsequent collapse.

Even I didnt know then just how unforgettable the day would turn out to be. It was the day that drove the whole world mad.

Madness which unleashed war after war, killing many hundreds of times the number of innocents murdered in those towers.

It incinerated ancient liberties, empowered torturers and state kidnappers, cascaded terrorism around the globe, filled the swamp of bitterness and hatred in the world.

Last Friday on my new TalkSport radio show I interviewed the spokesman of 911truth.org, the master conspiracy theorists who claim all is not what it seemed about that day.

Actually, he made some impressive points. Like where are the indestructable black box recorders from the four aeroplanes? Where is the video footage from the Pentagon? And what really happened to Flight 93, whose passengers have become legendary for having brought it down safely for all except themselves in a field rather than on top of the White House? And what was the role of the vice-presidential evil genius Dick Cheney? Why were the airforce not scrambled? Why did so many systems not work on that day of all days? Me? I tend to believe the official story. That 19, mainly Saudi, fundamentalists based in Germany and in the US itself, learnt to fly, hijacked the planes and flew them to destruction beyond their wildest dreams.

Though probably not controlled by Osama bin Laden - he was at the time in a cave in the Tora Bora and oddly has neither been killed nor captured this last near decade - they were surely his followers.

He claimed responsibility (having initially denied it) in a subsequent video. Truthers say it's not him on the video. I know it is.

But who is bin Laden? Who does he really work for? Whose interests does he serve? That, for me, is what we used to call the $64,000 question.

I support the demand for a new and proper investigation of 9/11.

Not because I think it was a "false flag" or an "own goal". Not because I think the towers were "blown up". I don't think "Bush did it", "the Jews" did it, "the Israelis" did it or any of the other fantastic claims made by those armed with that most dangerous of things - a "little knowledge".

But given the anniversary's continuing power to shock, and the seismic impact of 9/11, the tremors of which continue moving the tectonic plates of the world, we better start getting answers to some of the Truthers' questions.


Ann is Strictly 2nd rate
13 Sep 2010 00:00

The BBC's effort to compete against The X Factor on Saturday nights was probably always doomed.

The BBC's effort to compete against The X Factor on Saturday nights was probably always doomed.

But there's doom and there's doom.

Strictly Come Dancing are apparently hoping a romance might emerge from among the grisly troupe they've assembled.

Ann Widdecombe has partnered Anton Du Beke. I can think of at least two reasons why that won't be the coupling that, er, couples.

But not even an orgy with Ann Widdecombe, William Hague and his hairdresser could compete with Cheryl, Louis and Simon and the cast of hundreds performing without pay on The X Factor.

The show has everything from "Mamma told me not to come" no-hopers like Bun 'nd Cheese and flash Kash, a Bollywood wannabe from Cardiff who couldn't sing.

Then there's simply wonderful acts you can't believe have never had a professional gig.

At the weekend we saw the next Louis Armstrong, a narcissistic Italian who wowed Cheryl and a McDonald's girl who will never toss another burger.

Tv doesn't get much better. And whoever in the BBC thought Ann Widdecombe might be the answer to Auntie's prayers really needs stringing up.


WRONG ANSWER TO BAG PUZZLE
13 Sep 2010 00:00

The latest suggestion that deceased MI6 agent Gareth Williams climbed into a holdall in his bath and zipped and padlocked himself inside as a solo "sex game gone wrong" surely takes the biscuit.

The latest suggestion that deceased MI6 agent Gareth Williams climbed into a holdall in his bath and zipped and padlocked himself inside as a solo "sex game gone wrong" surely takes the biscuit.

It's just about possible to imagine the zip-up. But not the padlock.

He may have been a spook, he may even (though his family are furious at the suggestion) have been a sexual kook. But not a fool.

The North Face holdall was unburst-out-able. And even if you could, as apparently a policewoman at the weekend did, padlock yourself in one, why would you want to - unless you were committing the strangest act of suicide since that black man in Mississippi with eight bullets in his back? And why in the empty bath? Strange things happen, it's true. Ligatures I know about.

Even grown men wearing nappies, I've heard about. I'm the first to admit there's nowt as queer as folk.

But I don't get the "sex game" of padlocking yourself in a holdall with neither ligature, nor nappy, nor room for the slightest movement, knowing you will never get out and remain there until you are dead, decomposed and discovered.

If the London coroner believes that, he will believe anything.


Pope bashers are throwback to 1605
20 Sep 2010 00:00

As Bridget Jones might have said, he's not my favourite Pope or anything, but the malignant undertone to much of the coverage of the Pope Benedict visit fair takes you back.

As Bridget Jones might have said, he's not my favourite Pope or anything, but the malignant undertone to much of the coverage of the Pope Benedict visit fair takes you back.

To hundreds of years of British hosti lity to the Catholic Church, exemplified by the burning of the Guy and guys like him since around the time of the Gunpowder Plot.

When Guy Fawkes began plotting his treason, being a Catholic in Britain was a bit like being a Jew in Occupied Europe during the war.

Not as bad as but there were many similarities.

Catholic "recusants", refuseniks, were on the run, going to Mass in the woods, martyrs were hanging from trees - after having their fingernails pulled out first to force them to betray the whereabouts of others.

The Church of England, founded on the libido of Henry VIII, was determined to root out the Mother Church.

When my grandson Sean was christened in the chapel in Westminster Hall, it was the first Catholic baptism in Parliament since Oliver Cromwell turned that very chapel into a stable for his horses.

When Michael Martin became Speaker of the House of Commons, he was the first of his faith to hold that position in hundreds of years.

That's why the right-wing English press called him Mick, a name he has never been known by. And why they called him "Gorbals", though he has no connection with south of the river Clyde.

Even now a Catholic cannot be Lord Chancellor, and no Catholic may marry into the Royal family without converting first.

You can be a drunkard, a trollop, an adulterer and be welcomed into the House of Fun and Royal Games, but it's a knockout if you look to Rome.

Helen Liddell, Dr John Reid and Tom Clarke MP were all given a half-day's holiday from St Pat's school in Coatbridge in 1967 to celebrate the first Catholic ever landing a job in a bank in the Lanarkshire town. I could go on, but Record readers are wearily familiar with the litany.

Benedict is slated because he is against the practice - as opposed to the state of mind - of homosexuality.

Stupid, really, because gays were born homosexual and can no more choose their orientation than the colour of their eyes.

Presumably God made them homosexual for mysterious reasons as yet unrevealed. But ALL religions are against homosexuality.

He's slated for "covering up" sexual malpractice in the priesthood, though there is not a jot of evidence that he ever did anything not common practice in most societies and agencies at the time when faced with such "unspeakable crimes". In any case, child sex abuse happens in many places, and many churches too. I was myself sexually abused in the Army Cadet Force, by a non-denominational school janitor while he dressed up like Captain Mainwaring.

Others have been abused, in Boys' Brigades, Boy Scouts, football teams, clubs of all sorts.

As a kid, me and a neighbouring boy had to leg it off the bus from Arbroath after an obscene suggestion by the "kindly" elderly RSPCA volunteer who'd taken us all on a day trip to that Riviera of the north-east.

He's attacked over the Church's teaching on abortion, even though ALL religions are against abortion because it's the wilful killing of unborn children.

He's even denounced for his childhood membership of the Hitler Youth, even though membership was compulsory for all boys in Germany at the time of his membership and the concentration camps would have been his fate if he had refused - as a 12-year-old.

There is something ugly about what the Pope called the aggressive atheism of modern Britain.

And from the No Pope Here catcalls of the bigots, to the ritzier columnists of the liberal chatterati, we've seen its Bridget Jones big pants over the last week.


Julia's journey
20 Sep 2010 00:00

Julia Roberts' latest film, Eat Pray Love, looks like it will pack them in, adding to her 32million make-up deal with Lancome.

Julia Roberts' latest film, Eat Pray Love, looks like it will pack them in, adding to her 32million make-up deal with Lancome.

Mother-of three-Julia, 42, is definitely not going quietly into that goodnight of middle age.

What is less well-known is the role our own Michelle Mone has played in the, er, uplifting of Julia's career. She wore her cleavage enhancing Ultimo bras in her Oscar-winning film Erin Brockovich.

In her latest movie, based on Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir, Julia's character leaves the life and marriage with which she is so dissatisfied to embark on a spiritual journey to eat (in Italy) to pray (in India) and to love (in Indonesia).

It is on this last part of the journey of, er, "self" discovery, in Bali, where she finds Felipe (rugged Spanish actor Javier Bardem) and realises that she does indeed want a man after all!


Convoy tribute
20 Sep 2010 00:00

I'm in Paris with the fifth vivapalestina.org aid convoy to Gaza which left on Saturday simultaneously from London, Kuwait and Morocco.

I'm in Paris with the fifth vivapalestina.org aid convoy to Gaza which left on Saturday simultaneously from London, Kuwait and Morocco.

We will sail from Syria, through the international waters on which the last humanitarian flotilla was assailed by Israeli troops with 10 aid workers dead, scores wounded and hundreds kidnapped.

We will pause at the very spot our friends were killed to drop flowers in the water in remembrance.

But if Israel imagines we would be deterred, this convoy proves them wrong.


RUSS DID RIGHT THING BY KATY
20 Sep 2010 00:00

This item will be a mixed blessing for the picture editor, given that it involves an upskirt shot, Russell Brand, Katy Perry and a punched photographer - but I'm backing Brand.

This item will be a mixed blessing for the picture editor, given that it involves an upskirt shot, Russell Brand, Katy Perry and a punched photographer - but I'm backing Brand.

Although he may look like a wuss, what with the big hair, bling and all, Russell is, in fact, all man as many a maiden bowled over may testify, usually for a cheque from a downmarket paper.

And he's hung up his penchant for the hurly-burly of the chaise longue in favour of the deep peace of a marriage bed containing the lovely Katy, a formerly God-fearing lass from the US bible belt.

At least that's the plan. Passing through Los Angeles airport at the weekend, the couple say a papparazzo tried to er, snatch an upskirt shot of the singer - that's Katy not Russell.

A fracas followed in which Russell whacked the snapper, whose face was supposedly injured.

The photographer then affected a citizen's arrest and Russell's now out on 13,000 bail.

In language redolent of the day when cowboys were real men, Katy tweeted "if you try and put a lens up my skirt my fiance will do his job and try to protect me".

Such sweet, oldfashioned traditional values. Surely even Pope Benedict would approve.


SINS AGAINST MILLIONS JUSTIFIED BY ZIONIST LIES
27 Sep 2010 00:00

Today I'm in Turkey, full steam ahead to besieged Gaza.

Today I'm in Turkey, full steam ahead to besieged Gaza.

I'm visiting the Mavi Marmara, the aid ship set upon by Israeli commandos in what the United Nations has now declared was a "war crime", which may prove to be the tomb, not just of the 10 humanitarian workers murdered there, but of Israel's already threadbare claim to be a legitimate member of the international community.

Last week on Aljazeera International, I debated with an Israeli general, a former aide of the notorious Ariel Sharon, now in his sixth year of a persistently vegetative state. It is already a hit on YouTube.

I don't normally debate with Israeli officials, unwilling to convey my recognition of a "state" built on stolen property, as one of the greatest of Jews, Albert Einstein, described it.

I did so out of loyalty to the host of the show - Inside Iraq - on its last-ever episode. It was a spectacular example of everything I have ever thought about Israel.

Let me call it Galloway's Law. Nothing good can come out of bad. Sin cannot give birth to virtue. And once embarked upon, sinfulness can only be sustained by more sins.

Because Zionism was based upon a lie - that Palestine was a land without people and the ideal spot, therefore, for a people without a land - it has had to maintain that lie since.

Which is ever more difficult when the people who had to be driven from that land number many millions. This lie reaches the heights of its absurdity in this interview. Check it out.


Ed must ride the tide to Downing St
27 Sep 2010 00:00

Not since Cain and Abel - well, Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel at least - has there been a fratricide like it.

Not since Cain and Abel - well, Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel at least - has there been a fratricide like it.

Unless you count the last two "blood-brothers", Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Mind you, the best man won and I felt genuine hope that in the election of Ed Miliband my old party was becoming a Labour Party again, and just in time too.

But it is kind of weird, a younger brother fighting his elder for the glittering prize and leaving him shedding the tears of bitter disappointment and defeat.

How does their mother handle this? What would their late father think? But then the Milibands are no ordinary family.

Their father, Ralph, was one of the greatest left-wing figures to seek shelter in London since Karl Marx himself. With HIS father, Ralph escaped on foot from the Nazi genocide of occupied Europe.

As Jews and socialists, their card was doubly marked. Then, as now, right-wing voices bayed against the tide of asylum seekers but what a bargain Britain got out of that great escape - an intellectual giant, a former British foreign secretary, AND a future Prime Minister. Phew!

Miliband Minor is NO "Red Ed", as Tory rags are already tagging him. I wish he was.

Neither did "The Unions" give him his job. Every single vote for him was cast in secret by a real live individual human being - some (especially powerful) by MPs and lords, some by individual members and some by political levy-paying trade unionists like me.

Except my ballot paper mysteriously never arrived (neither did I vote in the Blair leadership election when I could have done so in all three capacities).

I would have voted for Ed, not because his poitics are closest to mine - they are not. Diane Abbot's are that. Nor even because he was the most impressive candidate. He wasn't. That was Balls.

But because, of those candidates who COULD win the premiership, he was far and away the best. I told you here months ago about his rapierlike mind, huge intelligence, blazing sincerity and all-round mastery of his briefs.

And I didn't just mean he leads a monk-like blameless life. All that could have been said about his brother David, too, but for one, as it turned out, fatal flaw - or make that t wo.

The first was the failure to abjure the sins of his former master, Tony Blair. Throughout the five-month campaign, David Miliband disastrously clung to the wreckage of Blairism, rather than swim away from the whirlpool.

From the appeasement of the super-rich (now being pursued in their Swiss bank hideouts by a Tory government) through to the Everestian disaster of the Iraq War, Miliband Senior stood by his man. Men, really, for Peter Mandelson's malignant shadow was never far from his campaign.

All of which could have been excused as merely an excess of loyalty, an unwillingness to turn on the hand that had nurtured him, the Government in which his own rise had been stellar.

Except loyalty and David Miliband don't go together like a horse and carriage. Who will forget that banana, on which just one of his serial abortive plots against his leader Gordon Brown came a cropper.

Which brings me to the second flaw. "Treason never prospers," said Shakespeare, "for if it prospers, none dare call it treason."

All David's plots against Brown were aborted. He never could go through with them. If he had, he may have succeeded. If he had, perhaps it would be Labour sitting in a coalition government today, rather than the Tories. But somehow he couldn't seize the day.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men" - to continue with the Stratford Bard - "which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

Ed Miliband did not quail from that tide. Seeing its swell, and the co-sanguinity of the others seeking to ride it, he did not falter. He has taken that tide at its flood. He deserves his victory. We must hope it sweeps him into Downing Street.


Not glad to be gay
27 Sep 2010 00:00

So Britain is not nearly as gay a place as we had thought.

So Britain is not nearly as gay a place as we had thought.

When I learned political correctness in the1970s, it used to be said that one in 10 of us was gay, lesbian or bisexual.

In later years, the gay rights lobby settled on a figure of seven per cent.

But a survey by the Office of National Statistics has just completed the first official tabulation of sexual preference. It turns out that only one in 100 is gay.

The survey has some oddities, though. While London, as you would expect, has the greatest concentration of gays, in Northern Ireland they are as rare as a cheerful Presbyterian pastor.

But is it not likely that there are still plenty people afraid, embarrassed or ashamed to tell the truth about themselves? And doesn't that say more about us than it does about them?


Ribbing the thin
27 Sep 2010 00:00

Britain is now officially the fattest country in Europe, which may or may not be connected to the fall-off in competitive sports.

Britain is now officially the fattest country in Europe, which may or may not be connected to the fall-off in competitive sports.

For someone my age, a fat kid at school was so unusual they remain in my childhood memory, guiltily.

I'd like to apologise to Fatty Adams and Tubby Swinton for having routinely addressed them thus.

I hope they have had a happy life. But I remember them because obesity was so rare then.

What do cruel children shout out now at the overweight, when 66 per cent of men in the country are weighing in well over the odds? Or is it the skinny kids, now, who get the ribs?
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LEGEND CURTIS HELPED TO SET THE TONE
4 Oct 2010 00:00

The demise of the legendary Tony Curtis marks the end of the swashbuckle era for many of us of a certain age.

The demise of the legendary Tony Curtis marks the end of the swashbuckle era for many of us of a certain age.

Along with Kirk Douglas - Spartacus himself - Tony Curtis never looked better than when swashing his buckle, his short sword flashing, his groin barely covered by a short leather skirt.

And, indeed, when he graduated to frocks with Marilyn and Jack Lemon, none could like it hotter than that.

It was as good as it gets. Curtis leaves his oft-estranged and frequently luminous daughter Jamie Lee, who inherited his good looks, acting talent and all-round star quality.

He also leaves something else you don't see much any more but formerly ubiquitous; the "Tony" - called after him, the DA, the hairstyle which marked the late Fifties and into the Sixties when it was cropped first by the Beatle-cut and then the formless hippie long hair.

In Dundee in my youth, real men sported a Tony and shouted at youths like me: "Hey, are you a laddie or a lassie?" Sexually ambivalent as he may have been, the late Tony Curtis was in the end all laddie.


Ban backfires on knave Kenny
4 Oct 2010 00:00

Oh Canada. I drew a map of you in the blue TV light, and sketched your face on it twice.

Oh Canada. I drew a map of you in the blue TV light, and sketched your face on it twice.

Joni Mitchell may be the most universally loved Canadian but there's no competition for the least loved.

at's Jason Kenny, the right-wing immigration minister who sought to ban me from Canada, saying I was a "terrorist" and "a threat to Canada's national security".

He fathered 500 headlines to that e ect and now he will have to pay. He placed my own security at risk, he frightened my children, contributed to my defeat in the general election, caused me to buy a bulletproof coat and lay on extra-security.

at will all end up in quite a bill.

In a 60-page judgement, one of Canada's most senior judges has just proved that his country remains a country governed by laws, not the caprice of here today, gone tomorrow politicians.

He fair caned the neo-con last redoubt of George Bush-ism, which is the minority administration in what was once known as the kinder, gentler north American state.

e judge stated the case; I am not now, nor have I ever been, a terrorist nor a threat to anyone's national security.

He studied all the evidence for six long months. He said the Canadian Security Services had told the Canadian government this before they banned me, but they had ignored him out of political bias. He pointed out that the Canadian High Commissioner in London had warned his government not to do it, but they ignored him too.

He pointed out the obvious; that delivering ambulances and other humanitarian aid to Gaza can't possibly be described as material support for terrorism.

e High Commissioner claimed that I was an inconsequential fellow of no importance and not worth all the fuss and waste of taxpayers' money this ban would cause.

You, as you're reading this, could of course think that I represent a set of views which need to be heard if a balanced and more successful set of policies towards the Middle East are to be arrived at.

In trying to suppress those views therefore, Mr Kenny is a knave. I don't know which is worse, but I do know Canada deserves better than this.

at is why I made a 24-hour visit to Toronto at the weekend, to a clamour of shutters, bathed in blue TV screen lights, and an audience of millions more than would have been watching if they hadn't tried to ban me.

It is a salutary lesson, which could have been delivered for free by any bookseller.

Any fool knoweth that the books they try to ban always end up on the bestseller list.


PRESCOTT GETS HIS JUST DESSERTS AFTER FOUL PLAY
4 Oct 2010 00:00

Few moments were sweeter to me than the final bursting of the lard bubble that is "Lord John Prescott" at the Labour conference in Manchester last week.

Few moments were sweeter to me than the final bursting of the lard bubble that is "Lord John Prescott" at the Labour conference in Manchester last week.

The ignoble Lord had sought to be the treasurer of the Labour Party, a historic position held by such greats as Nye Bevan and the former Labour premier James Callaghan.

Prescott was soundly beaten by trades unionist Diana Holland and rolls away from Labour's conference as a nobody.

He betrayed everything and everybody he ever mattered to with his behaviour, his apostasy, his gluttony.

"Chipolata", as he was dubbed by his secretary after he table-ended her in Whitehall, is well-described by his master Tony Blair in his execrable memoirs.

He was a nodding dog, retained to fool the faithful that there was a Labour man at the heart of the New Labour government. But all he did was foul the pavements. Thank God they're now cleaning up.


Action speaks louder
4 Oct 2010 00:00

By the time you read this I will back on the aid convoy to Gaza, in the ancient Arab capital of Damascus.

By the time you read this I will back on the aid convoy to Gaza, in the ancient Arab capital of Damascus.

These convoys, which I started but are now emulated from every corner of the world, are a lifeline, bringing assistance to the prisoners in what David Cameron described as an "open-air prison camp".

But they are also a reminder to the world that what Britain of cially considers an "illegal" "unsustainable" and "cruel" siege is still going on, despite the condemnation of virtually every government, NGO, and UN agency in the world.

Words of condemnation are cheap. They butter no parsnips, they feed no refugee children, they light no homes, they repair no roofs. Action speaks louder than words.

We take action. That's why governments like Canada's - virtually the last supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu - hate me so much. If a man can be judged by his enemies, I am truly blessed.

Very soon I will attempt to sail from the Syrian port of Latakia to the Egyptian port of Al Arish, just a few miles away from besieged Gaza.

I hope to lead hundreds of ambulances and aid vehicles lled with millions of dollars worth of aid collected from 27 countries.

It will be dif cult enough getting there - we have to sail past the spot where nine of my friends were murdered in cold blood by heavily-armed Israel commandos last May. I visited their graves in Istanbul last week and sought to console their grieving families.

On past experience though getting close to Gaza isn't the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning.

Watch this space. Everyone else will be.


TORY SNOBS ARE THE ONES SHOWN UP BY THEIR BREEDING
11 Oct 2010 00:00

The heirs and successors of Lord Londonderry (see right) are back in power.

The heirs and successors of Lord Londonderry (see right) are back in power.

Eton, Oxford and the white-tie Bullingdon Club - where Tory Flashmen such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson frolicked - are the playing fields on which the ruling class have always played. And, as The Durham Miners found, if you give them the chance, our owners will come back red in tooth and claw if they can.

Take the blood-curdling cry of Jeremy Hunt - well on his way to being a piece of rhyming slang - that the poor shouldn't have big families.

Like Sir Keith Joseph in the 70s, Hunt worries about the unemployed breeding.

Of course, most didn't know they'd end up unemployed at the time they bred.

And if everybody waited until they could afford to have children and had enough in the bank to keep them for 20 years - should the parents become unemployed - our birth rate would be even more disastrous than it is.

Scare stories have helped fool many working-class people into fear and loathing of their own kind.

Yet, official figures show only 900 claimants in the country have the fabled eight children beloved of right-wing commentators. Those 900 are not the cause of our problems, they're just the scapegoats. Go chasing them and you're running in the wrong direction.


A game of soldiers that must end now
11 Oct 2010 00:00

When I was a kid, there was a Kandahar House in Dundee and a Lord Roberts Workshop.

When I was a kid, there was a Kandahar House in Dundee and a Lord Roberts Workshop.

His Lordship knew a thing or two about the Empire and his HQ recalled his time in command of the British Expeditionary Force, which came a cropper on the plains of Afghanistan.

Rudyard Kipling advised British soldiers wounded in the campaign to blow their own brains out - before the local people could reach them.

The British left thousands dead on those plains during two failed occupations in the 19th century.

The weekend marked the ninth anniversary of the current occupation of Afghanistan, making this war half as long again as World War II, and counting.

It is surely absolutely clear that, this time around, the outcome is going to be no different.

Disaster. Indeed, for hundreds of families of British servicemen it already is.

Ill-clad, ill-equipped, ill-armoured, underpaid, their families poorly housed, poor Tommy Atkins has been sent into a doomed conflict that never had to be fought, is achieving the opposite of its declared intention, and could have been ended on the negotiated terms it will end on at any time over the last nine years.

This will mean the vast majority of the thousands of dead have died in vain and the great majority of the trillions spent on the war need not have been spent.

Ministers say we are fighting "the terrorists". But they've already left.

Al-Qaeda now proliferates in many places but, according to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward in his new book Obama's Wars, there are now just a few dozen al-Queda members in Afghanistan.

When I said this on my radio show last Friday, a fool, Ronnie from Dundee, asked who, if the terrorists have gone, is killing our boys on a daily basis.

Like many, Ronnie hasn't yet reached for his own tin hat and kit bag but is gung-ho that you should reach for yours.

The answer to his question is the Afghans.

It's true they are killing us nearly every day. But only because we are there, with guns, tanks and planes occupying their country on a pretext that had disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Lord Roberts got us out of the killing fields of Afghanistan.

"To hell with this for a game of soldiers," he said, or words to that effect.

Which British leader will be big enough to say, "We support our troops... bring them home"?


WE NEED TALENTED PEOPLE LIKE GAMU
11 Oct 2010 00:00

It's hard to know whether Cheryl Cole's unfathomable decision to let Gamu go was in any way influenced by the imminent deportation of the girl's family.

It's hard to know whether Cheryl Cole's unfathomable decision to let Gamu go was in any way influenced by the imminent deportation of the girl's family.

What's clear is that Tillicoultry has risen in revolt.

Scotland was, until last year, the only countr y in the world with a declining population. We need immigration. By all accounts, Gamu and her family would make model citizens -hard-working, decent, talented. What on earth is gained by dumping them back in Zimbabwe?

Tillicoultry needs them. Gamu put them on the map. Scotland needs them. Who's going to be working to pay your pension or to wipe your nose in the old folks' home? New shadow home secretary Ed Balls should show some heavy hitting on this one.

Saturday night proved one thing, at least in my household-that Dannii Minogue (above left, with Cole) is the most beautiful X-Factor judge.

Cheryl is lovely and all that but new mum Dannii, well, she really takes t he biscuit don't you think? If, as has been reported, Sharon Osbourne is to be brought back from the dead for the final, Dannii, who Sharon treated abominably, will probably walk. Don't do it Simon, she's just not worth it.


A major hero for miners
11 Oct 2010 00:00

On Saturday, I was the guest of the Durham Miners.

On Saturday, I was the guest of the Durham Miners.

We were commemorating Thomas Hepburn, who effectively started the Miners' Union back in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Hepburn was forced down the pit by the death of his father and the need to support his widowed mother and his three sisters. He was, after all, man of the house - at eight years old.

Don't be surprised. The British coal field was filled with children working underground.

After we'd laid wreaths on Hepburn's grave, I spotted another obelisk in the church grounds erected over the graves of 104 Durham miners killed in an explosion in 1801.

I say "miners", although dozens of them were children, the youngest aged just six.

Hepburn's union won a reduction in hours for "boys" - from an 18-hour day to just 12 - in the victorious miners' strike of 1831.

But the owners soon got their revenge. They took back their concessions, blacklisted Hepburn and destroyed him and the first Miners Union.

The main owner was Viscount Londonderry. Speaking in Parliament decades later against the abolition of child labour in mines, the noble Lord said that "The British Empire will not survive this abolition measure".


Wrong job, Alan
11 Oct 2010 00:00

Either Mr or Mrs Balls should have got the shadow chancellorship.

Either Mr or Mrs Balls should have got the shadow chancellorship.

Alan Johnson - who would have made a good leader himself - has been given a post he doesn't understand.

His joke upon hearing of his surprise appointment - that he was going to "pick up a primer, Economics for Beginners, and will read it over the weekend" - will hang like a monkey on his back.

It recalls the blunder by Alec Douglas Home, the Tory PM in the early 60s, who revealed he used a box of matches to help work out economic problems.

Harold Wilson mercilessly lampooned the old fool into an early political grave.

Let's hope the same doesn't happen to Alan.




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George Galloway
By George Galloway

I AM NOW, OFFICIALLY, AN EXILE FROM PALESTINIAN SOIL
18 Oct 2010 00:00

The good ship VivaPalestina5 has sailed and will enter Gaza maybe later today with hundreds of vehicles, hundreds of people from more than 30 countries and millions of dollars of aid.

The good ship VivaPalestina5 has sailed and will enter Gaza maybe later today with hundreds of vehicles, hundreds of people from more than 30 countries and millions of dollars of aid.

Although I am not with them on board (the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak wouldn't let me), it may be my greatest achievement yet on the Palestine front.

After all, nearly 60 of those on board are the survivors of the Mavi Marmara massacre, which saw Israeli commandos murder 10 unarmed Turkish aid workers on the decks. The International Criminal Court is about to begin an attempt at prosecution following the UN inquiry findings that Israel should face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

And the earth from the graves of these martyrs, personally collected by me, will shortly be mixed with the soil of Palestine to give life to a memorial garden there.

So, after 35 years of fighting, I am now, officially, an exile from Palestine.

Perhaps it's time for me to quit while I am, mainly, ahead.


Meaning of Life for Keith
18 Oct 2010 00:00

A must-READ is Keith Richard's Life. For 50 years, his double act with Mick Jagger has made the Rolling Stones the greatest live act of them all.

A must-READ is Keith Richard's Life. For 50 years, his double act with Mick Jagger has made the Rolling Stones the greatest live act of them all.

Yet they hardly speak any more. Richards claims Jagger, below, has a small todger, which can't retain the love interest for long.

He calls Mick "Her Majesty" and "Brenda" and reveals that he slept with all of Mick's best girls (as well as Brian Jones's wife Anita Pallenberg just after they'd dropped Brian at the hospital, in the Rolls Royce, as they were driving away).

He thinks he has been "off the dope" for more than 30 years, when he continued to daily consume cocaine until 2006.

He only stopped because he fell out of a tree and now has a metal plate in his head.

He laughs at Mick's fitness, while, "dope" or not, Keith can hardly stand up, or think, straight.

Jumpin' Jack Flash will still be dancin' when Keith has been reunited with Lucifer. The only reason God has spared him is as a daily reminder of the awful decay of the portrait of Dorian Gray.


FAITH RESTORED BY MINERS' JOY
18 Oct 2010 00:00

There has rarely been a story more celebratory of life than the rescue of the Chilean miners from what might have been their grave 700metres below nearly a million tons of rock.

There has rarely been a story more celebratory of life than the rescue of the Chilean miners from what might have been their grave 700metres below nearly a million tons of rock.

Give thanks, not just for the lives of the rescued, but for for those of the rescuers.

And let us praise the skill and tenacity of the engineers, the assiduity of the mines minister Laurence Golborne and the Chilean population who took the 33 to their hearts and thus ensured government commitment to success, whatever the cost.

But what will stay with me forever was the reaction of the rescued themselves, when they came out from the darkness to the light. None of them emerged clutching Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion or spouting the Christopher Hitchens blasphemies.

For all of them, God is great all right. The miners, with their faith in God, their love of their families, their pride in their country, their dignity and pride in being workers who did real and important things for a living was, alas, a salutary measure of how far behind Chile Britain now is in the most important respects.

Besides, wasn't it wonderful how Mrs Thatcher woke up on her 85th birthday to find the telly full of celebrating miners.


LET'S HAMMER THE YELLOW TRAITORS AT THE BALLOT BOX
25 Oct 2010 00:00

I've never fallen for the lie that "we're all in this together" when it comes to the suited savagery of the Tory front bench.

I've never fallen for the lie that "we're all in this together" when it comes to the suited savagery of the Tory front bench.

I specifically say Tory - not coalition - because it is now obvious that the Liberal Democrats, including that big daft laddie Danny Alexander, are merely a cod piece for the cads Cameron and Osborne.

Luckily, in Scotland next May we have the chance to electorally annihilate these yellow traitors and we should do so.

Tactical voting against the Lib Dems in Scotland could precipitate the collapse of the Cameron government in London.

The savagery of the cuts, 81billion axed from the social fabric of our already unequal society, the million livelihoods about to be wilfully butchered, the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable among us being told that the de'il will tak the hindmost are all the stuff of the history of the next epoch. But it's the little things that remain in my head at the moment.

The sight of Tory MPs waving their order papers and cheering as Gideon Osborne, of Eton, Oxford and the Bullingdon Club, hammered blow after blow against the skulls of his victims.

And, I'm sorry to be petty, the sight of Alexander so desperate for a spot in the butcher's TV limelight, finding the front bench full of ghouls, actually sat down on Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's lap.

Not since Burke and Hare has there been a coupling like them. But then that duo were merely stealing cadavers.

The Tories and their Lib Dem accessories before the fact are fully engaged at the business end.


Less of the XXX Factor
25 Oct 2010 00:00

THe X Factor finalists are so good you could fill the West end and the Top 10 with their talents.

THe X Factor finalists are so good you could fill the West end and the Top 10 with their talents.

Mary you can hear doing the next Bond theme. Aiden, all quivering and sensitive, is a new River Phoenix.

TrayC Cohen - big bum, thighs and all - surely the Tina Turner de nos jours. Katy, the bubbly blonde the tabloids have decided to hate, is the desperately sought after new Madonna.

Rebecca a black Cilla Black, Matt the new David Gray, One Direction for whom the only way is up, Wagner the most talented Brazillian in Dudley, Belle Amie the new All Saints ... I mean no insult - Simon Cowell is a genius. I just wish he wouldn't be so mean to Louis. Mind you, either might be a monster behind the scenes. How could we know? When I was young, Opportunity Knocks was the X Factor of its day. It had a genial winking, twinkling host, Hughie Green.

Folks thought butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. In fact, he was a bounder impregnating other men's wives and, ahead of his time, taking plenty up the hooter.

Then there was Frank Bough, the BBC presenter of first resort on everything from Grandstand to breakfast TV, clad in the kind of sweaters grans gave their sons for Christmas. There seemed nothing Frank couldn't do.

Until it was revealed that off set, he liked to wear lingerie, bend over for six of the best and snort industrial quantities of Colombian marching powder with hookers even baser than Wayne Rooney's.

Ah well, there's nowt as queer as folk.


UNITED THEY'LL FALL
25 Oct 2010 00:00

The greatest living Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson has had a bad week too.

The greatest living Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson has had a bad week too.

Betrayed by a delinquent, low-life ingrate and blackmailed out of the price of hundreds of hookers and a truckload of fags by the Shrek lookalike, Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex kept his personal dignity.

But Manchester United relinquished theirs.

This player should have been ordered off by his employers the moment he publicly humiliated them as part of his contract negotiations.

He said that United weren't good enough for him and it all ended with them stumping up a rumoured 200,000-plus a week to persuade him to stay. The club will Roo the day they dealt with the blackmailer by abject surrender.


My eyes have been opened by Iraq leaks
25 Oct 2010 00:00

It is a truth so ugly that Apocalypse Now doesn't get close. It's hard to get gruesome enough to give you the full picture

The biggest leak of secret documents in history is the latest service Wikileaks has done for citizens of free countries.

This is what journalism should be. Four hundred thousand hitherto suppressed memos of mayhem Telling the truth to the people about the actions of those with power.

Those in power rant about "putting servicemen's lives at risk" by such revelations, as if it was Wikileaks who sent them off to these bloody wars.

This marks the second time I have reproached myself in relation to Iraq.

The first came when it became clear that Saddam Hussein was telling the truth about Iraq's weapons - while Bush and Blair were lying.

In August of 2002, in the second and last of my meetings with him, Saddam told me: "We would not lie to you - Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction".

At the time I thought, "lying b******". After all, it couldn't be true, could it, that the entire (it seemed at the time) US and British governments, their intelligence services, media, military brass, were all liars? But they were. Not every man jack of them, some were merely fools, hoodwinked by the liars.

For the last seven years, I swear to you, Arab contacts of mine have been insisting the occupation in Iraq and its embedded media were suppressing the truth of what was happening on the ground.

The number of armed encounters taking place, the thousands upon thousands of civilians being secretly murdered, the extent of the wounded and the maimed, the intimate involvement in coldblooded torture, rape and murder by occupation forces and their puppet Iraqi army.

For seven years I have insisted that in our countries such things cannot remain unknown for long. That someone, from within our military or diplomatic service would blow the whistle. And at least the best of our journalists would kick-off. Shame on me - they've fooled me twice.

It has taken Wikileaks, led by a vilified Scandinavian, using American whistleblowers, to bring us the truth.

It is a truth so ugly that Apocalypse Now doesn't get close to comparing. In a family newspaper it's hard to get gruesome enough to give you the full picture. Suffice to say this: I will never denounce "conspiracy theorists" again.

That doesn't mean such conspiracists will always be right, or even often be right.

It's just that with my track record of falling for the essential bone fides of our establishment, for me, it will never be glad, confident morning again.
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