Amb. Craig Murray Speech: The Uses of Torture
The Uses of Torture
February 27, 2005 [last updated July 6, 2005]
From UK Watch
The following is a transcript of a speech given by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray at York University on the 24th February. It has been slightly edited for ease of reading.
I’m going to start with a brief anecdote from my career. I was in the diplomatic service for twenty years after leaving university in 1984. I worked my way up the ranks until I became Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002 until October 2004 when I was sacked. It had been a good career up until then. I’d like to tell you something from a slightly earlier period in my career. It may not seem immediately relevant but later on you’ll hopefully understand its relevance.
I was first secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw in the mid-90’s. I was in charge of the political and economic section of the British embassy in Warsaw. There was another first secretary in the Embassy who officially did a similar job to me, but in fact he was MI6. I had a friend in Warsaw who was a Polish restaurenteur; he owned and ran the best restaurant in Poland at that time. He also ate at a lot of government functions. He was a kind of society figure, he’d be invited to political dinner parties, he was a great gossip and purveyor of political tittle-tattle. His name was Stephan. One day I met Stephan and he told me a story about the then Polish Prime Minister- Joseph Alexis and I was able to say to Stephan – that’s not true, it didn’t happen- I was there, that isn’t what he said. ‘Alright’ said Stephan.
The next day I was at a different restaurant in Warsaw- that’s what diplomats do mostly- the sit in restaurants and eat substantial amounts. I was having lunch in another restaurant and I saw Stephan and this other first secretary Tom ensconced at a table on the far side of the room. Low and behold the very next day I received on my desk in its striking bright red cover a piece of MI6 intelligence material containing this story about the Polish Prime Minister. And I wrote on it ‘This is nonsense, this came from Stephan (and I put his full name) – he told me this too. It’s not true, I was there.’ And I sent it back to MI6. The result of this was that I was formally disciplined for having named the source of the information- which you’re never allowed to do. The fact that the information wasn’t true at all didn’t seem to trouble MI6 in the least. And the sequel is even more interesting.
Two days later I met Stephan again and I said ‘Stephan you told Tom that story didn’t you?’ And he said ‘Yeah.’ And I said ‘but I’d already told you that it wasn’t true’- why did you do that? Stephan smiled and said ‘well he paid me $8000 for it.’ Absolutely true story. It will give you more of an insight into the actual workings of MI6 than James Bond Films ever will. And the relevance of it will perhaps become obvious to you as I carry on with my tale of what happened to me in Uzbekistan. And what I saw in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is a pretty dreadful state. It’s immediately North of Afghanistan. It’s one of those former Soviet Union States “the stans” that people have difficulty telling apart. It’s the largest of them. Its population at 24 million is effectively half the population of central Asia. And Tashkent the capital was the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. The government is a post-soviet government and the leadership hasn’t changed. Islam Karimov the President was the president of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and had been for many years. Its well to understand what happened and how the country got independence.
Most of you are probably too young to recall it but there was an attempt at a coup against Gorbachev while he was President of the Soviet Union. They had tanks outside the Russian Parliament- the white house. There was a big stand off – the parliament building was being fired at by the tanks. Yeltsin famously clambered up on the tanks and talked to the soldiers out of supporting the coup which subsequently collapsed. It was the start of Yeltsin’s rise to power. Karimov and the other heads of the central Asian states who were politburo members supported the hardliners – supported the hardline communist coup against Gorbachev and were most upset when it failed. Very quickly after the Soviet Union fell apart and the reason they opted for independence was to maintain the soviet system. Plainly Russia was going its own way – Russia was abandoning communism – moving towards market reform and greater political freedom. They didn’t want that- they could actually only maintain the soviet system by seceding which is slightly counter-intuitive but that’s how it happened.
Now it’s very important to understand that because George Bush doesn’t understand it. Karimov is now the United States’ great friend and ally in the region. And Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney – they’ve all been to visit Uzbekistan. Karimov has been Bush’s guest in the Whitehouse for tea. When then US treasury secretary O’Neil visited in November 2002 he gave a speech which absolutely sums up the American misconception in that he praised Karimov as one of the people who helped destroy the Soviet Union and bring down the evil empire and said he was a freedom fighter alongside Walleca and Havel. Completely wrong, fundamental misconception of the kind that only an American Neo-conservative could come up with.
The Soviet system has been maintained in that there’s no private ownership of land – all land is still state owned. There’s been very little privatization of industry – and what has been privatized has been privatized into the hands of members of the regime and their families notably into the hands of the daughter of the president. The economy is still very heavily agriculturally based – 60% of the workforce work in agriculture on state farms and agriculture produces about 60% of GDP. Cotton is the biggest single crop – Uzbekistan is the world second largest exporter of cotton.
The cotton is produced on state farms and sold only to state trading companies – they are the monopoly purchasers. The price the companies pay for the cotton is about 3% of the price of cotton in neighboring Kazackstan where production is private. So that’s a pretty good guide to the market price- it’s about 3% of the market price. The state trading companies then sell it on to international trading companies at the world price- so as you can imagine their profit margin is absolutely incredible. Not only incredible but totally non-transparent – there are no official statistics- you’re not allowed to know revenue is, what expenditure is, where it goes. This of course leads to a tremendous margin for corruption. It’s important to understand that western trading companies are involved in that corruption.
How do you make cotton farms produce cotton so cheaply? Well I visited one farm for example with 12000 hectares and 16000 workers. And the workers are $2 a month which is 7 US Cents per working day. The point is this is slave labour. They still have not only exit visas to prevent the population from escaping the country – they still have internal visas. If you are born on an Uzbek state farm you are there for life. You are not allowed to leave and go to another town. So effectively the system is serfdom. Not only that but come the cotton harvest which is harvested by hand in scenes reminiscent of the American south 150 years ago, others are conscripted in for no money at all to harvest and particularly all university students and all school pupils have to, without pay, harvest cotton for two or three months in the autumn. University students having to go three whole months and live and work in the cotton fields. They have to pick 80 kilos a day each of cotton. Schoolchildren as young as seven have to do this – they sleep in the fields, they are hardly fed. And no one is paid for it. This really is slave labour on a massive scale. And there is almost no realization of this in the west.
Sadly there is not a great deal that can be done about it other than try and put pressure on the trading companies. None of us know whether the shirt we are wearing contains Uzbek cotton because while the labeling will tell you where the shirt was manufactured it won’t tell you where the cotton fibres came from. That’s the cotton industry.
Gold is Uzbekistan’s second biggest industry. Uzbekistan is the 6th or 7th largest Gold producer in the world. Again it’s produced by a state combinat also one of the worlds leading producers of Uranium. It does not operate as a company in the sense that we understand it. The companies revenues bear no relation whatsoever to its sales or the price of gold. The company gets an allocation of funds to meet its costs from the ministry of finance with which it pays its meager wages and for its equipment and other costs.
The gold is shipped off to Switzerland to be sold. How much is produced is a state secret. The price at which it’s sold is a state secret. There’s no means of knowing what the revenue was but it’s a hell of a lot more than the ministry of finance allocation to the company. The huge profits are what finance the state budget but also the secrecy of it gives tremendous opportunity for stealing. The gold industry in particular is where the bulk of the President’s personal fortune comes from. And he takes according to sources I believe who are in a position to know he takes 10% of the revenue of the gold industry.
Socially and political Uzbekistan is an efficient totalitarian state with no freedom of assembly, no freedom of speech, absolutely no freedom of the media, no freedom of religion, no opposition is allowed to contest elections. The system runs on informants and secret police and torture. Tashkent is a city of just over 2 million people; one telling fact is that there isn’t a bookshop in Tashkent, not one in the whole of the city. There are a few stalls that sell old books which occasionally get closed down. But there’s no bookshop. Gives you some idea of the poverty of information.
There’s no independent media at all. All information is strictly state controlled. When 9/11 happened everywhere in the world within a few hours people were seeing that dreadful event on television screens. In Uzbekistan no news of it was permitted at all for 72 hours after the event and you are talking of a country so remote, so cut off, that that kind of news management can work; people just don’t get information.
When I arrived in this country and I’d been there about a fortnight a chap in my political section came and asked if I wanted to go and attend the trial of a dissident. I agreed to go along. The gentleman on trial was a chap called Hudar Begeinov. He along with five others were charged with a series, a charge sheet of about 20 crimes. Not all of them were charged with each of the crimes. It was a kind of pick and mix thing. Some were charged with some of them. Three charged with this one, two charged with that one and so on. They were kept in an Iron cage they looked emaciated, they looked bruised. They were surrounded by 17 armed guards. Throughout the trial they were harangued regularly by the judge.
The atmosphere was just awful; it called to mind for me old television pictures of Nazi show trials. Two comments of the judge stick in my mind and they were typical of the general anti-Islamic tone of his comments. He said “I’m surprised they found the time to do all these evil things when they had to stop and pray five times a day.” All the court officials laughed in unison. Similarly he said at one stage “How could you understand each other talking when you all have such long beards”.
A jeweler came in who’d been the victim allegedly of an armed robbery. It was alleged that three of the men had robbed him. He was asked to identify the three who had robbed him. I’m not a statistician but the odds against this are extremely high- he managed to choose three of the six who were not charged with robbing him. The judge got very angry at this, read out the names of the three who should have been identified, they stood up and he said “that was the men wasn’t it” the witness said “oh yes” and the judge said “let the record show that they were correctly identified”. I just find it hard to believe I was there.
And then something happened that put the seal on the nature of the event – what it was designed to show us. An old man came in and he was charged, he had signed a statement saying that two of the accused who were nephews of his were associates of Osama Bin Laden, had been to Afghanistan, and met Bin Laden on a regular basis. He was standing there, and he was an old gentleman, frail and bowed, with a very oriental appearance, a long white beard, and a skull cap. And he was standing there while his sentence was given out, mumbling his answers and suddenly he pulled himself erect looked at the judge in the eye and he said “it’s not true- they tortured my children in front of me until I signed this. We are poor farmers, what do we know of Osama Bin Laden? What have I to do with Bin Laden?” He was quickly hustled out by the military. It felt to me that what he was saying was the truth.
At the end of this trial the defendants were all found guilty and some were given death sentences. One of the charges they were involved in was the murder of two policemen. I discovered from Human Rights Watch that a significant number of people 12 or 20 I forget which, had already been convicted of this murder. There was no suggestion that these policemen had been murdered by a mob or that it was a conspiracy. It’s simply that when a real crime occurs, like a murder, the Uzbek government uses that to get rid of a lot of dissidents and they don’t have any trouble. The other people convicted were not just people in Tashkent- people all round the country had been convicted for this particular murder.
I’ll tell you another fact- in Uzbekistan the conviction rate in trials is over 99%. I know this because DFID had a project of putting recording equipment into courtrooms so there could be an official record. Because one of the problems of the system was that nothing the defense said was ever recorded. Several thousand trials had been conducted, that had been recorded. So I asked how many verdicts of not-guilty were there among these trials- the answer was nil. No one had ever been found not-guilty in any of the trials recorded. I raised this with the Uzbek foreign minister and he said to me “you see our system is perfect” “You have a very bad system – in your country innocent people get accused. In our country the innocent are never accused, only the guilty are accused. That’s why they are all convicted.” This of course left me greatly reassured.
The next day I received from the same member of my political section an envelope. He said you might not want to look at these; this is a case that’s come in. I did in the end take the photos out of the envelope. They were photos of a corpse of a gentleman called Avazov. The photos had been brought in by his mother. He was allegedly a member, he probably was, of the Hiz but Tahrir sect- a rather extreme Muslim sect, though not one that promotes violence. Membership of that sect is itself a crime and he had been put into prison where he had been tortured to sign a recantation of his faith this is something prisoners are very regularly tortured to sign. They have to sign a recantation of faith, an oath of loyalty to the president and then give the names of half a dozen or so of their associates. If you do all that you then have a fair chance of getting out of jail through a presidential amnesty. He had been tortured with a view to signing the recantation along with his colleague Mr Abisov. They had refused and had also refused to cease praying five times a day. As a consequence they had been plunged into a vat of boiling water and had died both of them as a result. I didn’t know that at the time, I just saw the photographs of this body in this appalling state; I couldn’t work out what could account for it.
I sent it to the pathology department of the University of Glasgow; there were a lot of photographs. The chief pathologist of the University of Glasgow who is now chief pathologist of the United Kingdom wrote that the only explanation for this was “immersion in boiling water”. He said it was immersion, not splattering or splashing, because there was a clear tide line around the upper torso and upper limbs. It was also clearly the kind of burning caused by boiling liquid not by flame. The pathologist also found that his fingernails had been pulled out. That clearly took me aback.
Once it became known in Uzbekistan that I was interested in such cases people started coming to my door- both victims and parents of victims and we started to build up a catalogue of these dreadful cases and I can’t give you a precise statistic but of those 99% of people convicted well over 90% confess very often to things they didn’t do at all. And that extraordinary conviction rate and that extraordinary confession rate is based on these appalling forms of torture and this is in no way isolated- the United Nations special rapporteur on torture came in November 2002 and produced a report in which he said the practice of torture in Uzbekistan was “widespread and systemic” throughout the security services.
When you become an ambassador you pay courtesy calls on your counterparts. I went and I called on the French and the German ambassadors and I said to them ‘this is just appalling, I can’t believe the things I’m finding here. I’m completely struck by it’. The French ambassador said ‘Oh well you shouldn’t meet these people if it upsets you’. The German ambassador said ‘of course we all know human rights abuses here are very bad, but of course we also know President Karimov is a very close ally of the United States and so we have an agreement that we don’t mention it’. I sent a telegram back to London in which I reported he’s said this and said that I presumed that there wasn’t such an agreement in any formal sense and I had no doubt whatsoever that British ministers wouldn’t agree to such a thing and I proposed to start making some speeches and kicking up a fuss about it, which I then did (before they had time to reply).
The call I made on the American ambassador was the most interesting. I said that Human Rights Watch were saying that there were some 7000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan. Now by this stage I had started going round towns and villages talking to people. I was trying on each occasion to get an idea of how many political/religious prisoners had been taken in, in that town. In one town in the Ferghana valley they had lost over 300 people out of a population of about 1500. I was forming a view that actually there were an awful lot more than 7000 prisoners. Particularly as the 7000 only included those who were imprisoned on ostensibly political or religious grounds. Whereas many thousands more had narcotics or firearms planted on them. It seems remarkable but almost all political dissidents in Uzbekistan appear to sleep with substantial amounts of narcotics in their bedside cabinet which the police invariably “find”.
If you include these people, whom Human Rights Watch don’t like to adopt because officially they have been charged with some crime, the number is more like ten to twelve thousand people in jail in Uzbekistan effectively for their beliefs. The American ambassador said to me ‘well most of them are Muslims’ as thought that explained everything. I said that I didn’t think that seemed like particularly good reason why they should be locked up. He said ‘But they’re extreme Muslims’. I said ‘from what I can see there is very little history of political or terrorist violence in Uzbekistan and most of these people are not extreme in the sense that they are advocating violence’. What he said to me was ‘We are next door to Afghanistan; we are next door to the Taliban. The kind of society the Taliban impose is itself a form of violence and for example the subjugation of women is itself a form of violence. So if that’s what we are holding back, then some reduction of civil liberties in the interim is no bad thing. To which I replied that there was virtually no history of Taliban type Islamic extremism in Uzbekistan and certainly the people I had been meeting were not Taliban type extremists in any sense. Furthermore even if some of these people did propound a Muslim based society, with Sharia law and so on, then as long as they were not advocating violence to achieve it then this was a case of ‘well I detest what you say but I will defend your right to say it.’ I certainly didn’t think there was any excuse at all for throwing them in jail and pulling their fingernails out.
However the Americans were prepared and are prepared to give Karimov a great deal of latitude. To the extent that several hundred million dollars a year in aid goes to Uzbekistan. Since concern has arisen regarding human rights in Uzbekistan the Americans have become much more reluctant to admit the full extent of aid. There is so much coming from different budgets (some of which are hidden) that it is very hard to pin down exactly how much aid Uzbekistan gets from the United States. In December 2002 the US embassy in Uzbekistan put out a press release saying that US aid to Uzbekistan in 2002 was over 500 million dollars. To put that into perspective that is a great deal more than the total aid given by the US to all of West Africa which shows I think that development isn’t the criteria. Since then they are much more wary, particularly when it comes to the military and security aid of giving an exact figure. It has probably come down a bit – it is probably now somewhere between 300 and 500 million dollars a year going to prop up the Karimov regime.
Now I said to you before that there’s no room for democracy, there was something of a tradition of parties dating back to the pre-Soviet period. There were two parties in Uzbekistan both of which include distinguished dissidents amongst their membership. Both were banned from contesting December’s parliamentary elections and I very much doubt anyone here knew this, as there’s no way you would, but Uzbekistan held elections on the 26th of December the same day as the Ukraine- both former Soviet republics. In the Uzbek elections opposition parties were not allowed to stand; only parties who supported the President and his program were allowed to stand.
Now we all saw Colin Powell on TV decrying electoral fraud in the Ukraine, talking about the need to spread democracy. The United States said absolutely bugger all about their friend and his rigged election in Uzbekistan, because democracy is not really the agenda. Just as we allegedly went to war with the United States – I thought at the time it was to do with this dodgy dossier of lies on weapons of mass destruction- but apparently it wasn’t that at all- it was to impose democracy. How can we do that their when we are backing one of the worlds most vicious dictators in Uzbekistan at the same time? The answer is of course that there is no logic because democracy in Iraq is an excuse for a war designed to promote the hydro-carbon oil and gas interests in the United States- which is also their interest in Uzbekistan.
America has an airbase in Uzbekistan at which there are officially two squadrons of the United States Air force – there is plenty more that they will not tell you about. It is defended by several thousand troops; it was used in operations in Afghanistan. It has now become a permanent installation. It’s a vital component in Donald Rumsfeld’s concept of what he calls “lilleypads” surrounding what he calls “the wider Middle East”. This is a series of airbases which the US has access to – the British bases in Cyprus are at the Western end and Uzbekistan is at the eastern end- a series of “lilleypads” whereby America can project military power quickly in any of the oil-rich regions of the Middle East.
Just in the last couple of days the go-ahead has been given for the construction of the pipeline to Afghanistan which will bring Central Asia’s massive gas reserves out. Uzbekistan while the dominant country in central Asia it does not have the dominant amount of hydro-carbons but in terms of military strength and population it is the dominant regional player and central Asia has enough gas to supply the Western world at present levels of consumption for at least fifty years. So this is all about power play and hydro-carbons and if that power play is best advanced by backing a dictator that’s fine so long as no-one knows about it because no-one in the West does know about it. The number of people in the West who already know the things I have told you is extremely small. You’re probably the only people in York who know anything about Uzbekistan. The Uzbek’s play their part and help the American justification for what they are doing by saying that they are an integral part in the war on terror. The main way they do this is by providing intelligence material linking the Uzbek opposition to Al-Qaeda.
In November 2002 I was sitting looking through MI6 intelligence material I saw some of which the markings indicated it was a re-release of CIA material passed on from another security service – from the text it was plain that was Uzbek. There were two intelligence reports; one about a threat to Samarqand – a city in Uzbekistan- from Tajik militants in the hills- Islamic militants who were supposedly going to sweep down and attack the city. We happened to know that this just wasn’t true- the defense attaché had been there, we knew the places, there weren’t training camps where it said there were. The second one was talking of the links between some Uzbek opposition group with Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden – it was just the same formula that I had seen before. And I started thinking now has this been got through torture? How did it get here? Where did it come from? So I said to my deputy ’I want to go back to London and complain about this but I don’t want to make a fool of myself so could you go and see the Americans because it’s possible that they have a protocol in place to make sure that any information passed on by the Uzbek’s doesn’t come from torture. Perhaps Americans have to be present during Uzbek interrogation if the material is to be used by the Americans.’
This of course is before Abu Ghraib when I rather naively felt that having Americans present at the interrogation would prevent people being tortured as opposed to helping to facilitate it. So She went and saw the CIA head of station in Tashkent and said to him’ my boss has been worried that this intelligence might be obtained by torture’ and he said to her ’well it probably is obtained by torture – we don’t see that as a problem’ She came back and reported to me so I went back to London saying’ This material is nonsense and probably obtained by torture’ London did not actually reply.
I went back in February saying much the same thing and they called me back to a meeting in March 2003 where the foreign office legal advisor Sir Michael Wood said that it was not illegal to obtain or use intelligence material that had been got under torture. If you read the UN convention against torture it didn’t say you couldn’t do it- it said you couldn’t torture people, it said you couldn’t use material obtained by torture in court- it didn’t say that you couldn’t go to someone else who’d tortured someone, get the torture material off him and use it. I think it didn’t say it because it didn’t need to be said. Also he was ignoring article four of the convention which talks about complicity in torture. Basically if you are regularly obtaining material from a security service that is routinely practicing torture and you have a system of getting that material again and again then you become complicit. The foreign office argues to this day that it’s ok to get the stuff. The official line is ‘we do not torture and we do not instigate torture but it would be irresponsible to ignore material which is relevant to the war on terror.’
If you really push them they’ll say ‘what if the Uzbek’s suddenly gave us information that an airplane was about to crash into Canary Wharf? Would you really want us to ignore the information?’ This of course discounts the fact the information’s all not true anyway. It’s all nonsense. It would be impossible through all that dross to pick out the true bits. I must admit I was completely flabbergasted, again possibly naively. I thought ‘we’re getting this material from people who have been tortured; obviously people in London don’t realize that. When I point it out to them they will want to stop.’
This of course was not the case. At this stage they got very annoyed, they seemed particularly annoyed that I was saying that the intelligence wasn’t any good. I don’t think I helped myself by pointing out that the dossier on Weapons of Mass Destruction was rubbish too. They seemed very fond of intelligence that was rubbish. So they didn’t find that very conciliatory. But it’s a very important point; you have to ask yourself why do the intelligence services like material?
I told you the story of my mate Tom and Stephan; the dossier on weapons of mass destruction which contained 152 articles all of which turned out to be untrue, every bloody single one of them. Almost all of those had come from paying wadges of cash to dodgy informants. Not only that they were getting the information they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that Saddam Hussein was a terrible threat; they want to hear that the opposition in Uzbekistan are all linked to Al-Qaeda and all want to blow up Canary Wharf. Why? Well if you’re going to be totally cynical you’d say that whether subconsciously or not the truth is the bigger the threat out there the more we need the security services, the more they need massive budgets and resources and pay increases and toys to play with. And you have to ask ’who benefits?’ Well they benefit, they benefit. They also benefit government by providing these excuses for Tony Blair to stand up in the house of commons and say ’because I am responsible for the safety of all the people in the UK we can abolish freedoms that have existed in this country since Magna Carta. They benefit from this edifice of lies, and lies gained through torture. There are people still today in Belmarsh prison who have been in there for three years without charge, without trial. Without even being told what they are accused of, on the basis of intelligence material.
Now I only saw it in Uzbekistan. If I’d been the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the ambassador in Egypt or in Syria and a number of other countries I would also have been seeing material obtained through torture. Furthermore there is increasing evidence that the United States is shipping people from country’s that don’t practice torture to those that do in order to get them tortured. A kind of sub-contracting of torture. So this is the kind of rubbish evidence that the government is using to lock people up in this country and it seems to me that we have lost all perspective of legality in international relations. In November, this country- the United Kingdom- was criticized by the UN committee against torture in Geneva. How did we let that happen? We entered an illegal war against Iraq, expressly against the wishes of the Security Council. We didn’t even bother to go for a second resolution because we had checked and we knew we were going to lose the vote, so we went to war without it. Koffi Annan has subsequently said that that war was illegal. And I don’t think you will find many academics or public international lawyers that will disagree. Legal opinion is very heavily on the side of the view that that war was an illegal war.
We have abandoned morality; we seem to have no shame at the fact that we presented to the Security Council a dossier full of actual lies. What has happened to this country? I used to enjoy my job, I was proud to represent this country, I was proud to represent a country that I thought stood for human rights. And that stood for the rule of law that stood for the United Nations, stood for fairness in international relations. And we seem to have thrown that entirely out of the window in favor of a policy that says ‘the United States is the world’s only superpower – they can do what the hell they want and we’ll be ok cos we’ll be their best mate. That’s no basis for foreign policy at all.
I think it’s absolutely necessary for people of good will in this country to really start to kick up a fuss about it. And you’ve got a chance because there’s a general election coming. It’s imperative that when you get back to your homes, to your constituencies that you find candidates who are willing to take these issues on. If they are in the Labour party you ask why the hell they haven’t left the Labour party. They can be liberal democrats, greens whoever, but we have to try to reinvigorate the democratic process and get people interested. I’m actually going to go to Blackburn and stand against Jack Straw as an independent in order to raise public awareness of these issues as far as I can. ‘The Guardian’ are going to publish my campaign diary which will give an opportunity to get some of these issues aired. But it’s no good just saying ‘oh yeah, it’s terrible’ you need to get out there and do something, because there’s a real danger that in a few years time if we continue this slide towards authoritarianism and this slide towards supporting an international order based on nothing but a single superpower that in a few years time this won’t be a country that any of you will be able to be proud of.