Sunday, August 29, 2010
[UK LibCon Coalition Government 2010] -- Will The LibDems Be Able To Stop The Tory Arms Kickbacks?
Is this why Michael (Lord) Ashcroft is screaming blue murder? Because one of the reasons David Cameron did a deal with the LibDems was to spike Ashcroft’s plans to revive illicit arms dealing and kickbacks under a purely Tory Government?
In the Eighties and Nineties, a group of Tory politicians, City businessmen, Ministry of Defence officials and intelligence personnel instituted a scheme to make hundreds of millions of pounds from illicit kickbacks from legitimate arms deals and illegal profits from illegitimate arms deals. [http://tinyurl.com/y8bnpyd]
The public came to know this group as the “Savoy Mafia.” Margaret Thatcher’s son, Mark, was a member. As was her husband, Denis, and disgraced former Tory Cabinet Minister, Jonathan Aitken – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Aitken. But what the public learned through the mainstream media at the time wasn’t even the half of it – http://www.conservativecampaign.com/tory_arms_corruption.php.
My now deceased best mate, Hugh Simmonds CBE, a former rising star in the Conservative Party, was responsible for setting up the money-laundering pipeline (unbeknown to me, I hasten to add), which pipeline included the then Conservative Central Office – http://www.conservativecampaign.com/hugh_john_simmonds.php.
Hugh was able to do this since he was a member of the Conservative’s National Board of Finance, based in CCO. I only found out about Hugh’s involvement when I started asking questions after he turned up dead in the woods in suspicious circumstances in November 1988.
I’ve written a book about my little adventure of discovery. “Dead Men Don’t Eat Lunch” @ http://www.lulu.com/content/384105. In addition to giving my book a plug, the other reason for raising all of this now is that there is a good chance history may be about to repeat itself.
One of the prime behind-the-scenes brokers of the notorious ‘Al Yamamah’ arms deal with Saudi Arabia was Jonathan Aitken, who made his money by acting as an arms middleman for various senior members of the Saudi Royal Family - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Yamamah.
Aitken didn’t believe in giving up the day job when he joined the Conservative Government of John Major in the early Nineties. And so it was that, in September 1993, when Aitken secretly met with a representative of the Saudi Royal Family in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, to carve up ‘commissions’ (we call ‘em bribes up in the mountains) from ‘Al Yamamah II,’ he was also serving as Major’s Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury (a Cabinet Ministerial position). [http://tinyurl.com/26qxy32]
That meeting was exposed by the owner of the Ritz, none other than Mohammed Fayed. Aitken denied he was ever there. He went to Court to prove himself innocent. Lost. Went to jail for perjury. But. Business had to carry on.
Aitken’s business partner was Alan Duncan, MP, who took over as the new arms middleman with the Saudi Royals, on behalf of the Conservative contingent - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Duncan.
Thing is, New Labour then came to power (1997). They wanted a piece of the continuing action. Their arms middlemen were the Maxwell twins (sons of Cap’n Bob Maxwell: deceased billionaire Labour politician, publisher, Israeli agent and arms dealer in his own right).
Now, all sorts of introducing and handshaking took place, to get the new guard into position. I explain in detail in my book. But you get an idea of the connections from this blogger, Hopi Sen –http://tinyurl.com/23q326u
In addition to having middlemen in place to negotiate their interest in the arms action, both sides, Conservative and Labour, then needed overseers to look after and distribute the accumulating kickbacks.
In the case of the Conservatives, the Keeper of the Key (to bank accounts in Switzerland, reputed to hold a total of £200 million (plus interest)) was and is Michael (Lord) Ashcroft (an undisclosed but senior member of the “Savoy Mafia,” and a close buddy of Sir Denis Thatcher). [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Ashcroft,_Baron_Ashcroft]
The Labour money was and is being looked after by Geoffrey Robinson (Labour MP for Coventry North West, a former Cabinet Minister and bagman for Bob Maxwell – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Robinson) and Peter (Lord) Mandelson (who is a walking, talking scandal, thrice over, and good buddies with Wafic Said, another of the brokers for Saudi arms deals – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Mandelson).
This explains why both Ashcroft and Mandelson wield such enormous influence in their respective Parties.
All arms deals need to be sanctioned by the Government. Although it’s not as simple as that. And let me just say, I’m not trying to encapsulate some 450 pages of my book into this brief Note. I’m using this Note to alert. If you want the whole picture…er…buy the book.
Anyways, Government and defence contractors work together to encourage folks to buy British arms. The Government effort is spearheaded by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence with special responsibility for Defence Procurement (which is deliciously-Orwellian doublespeak for ‘arms sales’).
Once the deals are agreed in principle, the private defence contractor has to apply to the Export Control Organisation (ECO) for an export license. This Organisation used to be in the Trade and Industry Department, but now finds itself under the supervision of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Back in the Eighties, when the whole illicit arms-bribes-for-pols enterprise was getting underway (under the Thatcher Government), it was given huge assistance by Alan Clarke and Lord Trefgarne, who swapped Ministerial positions at Defense and Trade, where they respectively oversaw Defence Procurement and the ECO. (By the by, before he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Aitken was a Minister of State for Defence Procurement.)
Fast forward to 2005, when David Cameron is miraculously elected Leader of the Conservative Party – with help from Ashcroft’s wife (http://tinyurl.com/2vqfus4). The first thing Dave does is to make Ashcroft Deputy Chairman of the Party, putting him in charge of spending millions of ‘his own’ money in those all-important 100 Labour marginals.
Dave then appointed Alan Duncan as his new Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. And Gerald Howarth and Julian Lewis as his two shadow Ministers at Defence.
Right. Who the heck are these Gerald and Julian characters? Gerald Howarth was an old right-wing (and I’m talking WTF loony right-wing) chum of Hugh’s from the Seventies, when the two frequented that choice playground for all aspiring Neanderthal Tories and sometime intelligence officers, The Monday Club. [http://tinyurl.com/2e2qslb – buried away in this wiki-biog, you’ll find mention of a libel action in 1986; it was my mate Hugh from whom Gerald first sought legal advice in this matter]
On the subject of Gerald Howarth and libel actions, Gerald is one of my FB Friends - I strive for an eclectic network; I want to know what folks are up to, and for them to know likewise. If you see what I mean. Anyway, let me just check...yup...he's still a FB Friend.
Which raises a point which I will allow to distract me for just a moment. It's important - especially for those of who who think I'm way out on a conspiratorial limb here, and are unaware of the 10 years of investigation behind my allegations.
Every single person, about whom I have made potentially libelous statements in my book (and those in this article are mere repetition of the book), has been informed of what I have said, and has been given a physical address in the country of their residence, where they may formally serve upon a representative of mine a Writ of Libel. The credibility of these allegations is a serious matter for me. To date, I have received not one notice of legal proceeding.
The only threat of one came from Michael (Lord) Heseltine, John Major's Deputy Prime Minister. Michael demanded I desist in saying he knew there was arms corruption in the Conservative Party in the Eighties and Nineties. I checked with my original source to make sure that source had been correct about the allegations concerning Michael. I then wrote back to Michael respectfully declining his 'request.'
I gave him two options: sue me, or I would feel justified in saying that he was not doing so because he knew the allegations to be true. And by the way, I wasn't alleging that he was a part of the corruption (he wasn't). I was only saying that he knew about it. I have heard no more from him.
So. One more time. Michael Heseltine knew there was arms corruption in the Conservative Party in the Eighties and Nineties. Right. Enough of that. Where was I? Oh yes...Gerald Howarth...
Gerald was a bit of a hanger-on with everyone and everything. But he became, over time, a favorite toady of intelligence, the military and Margaret Thatcher. A safe pair of hands to look the other way as serious crooks went about the business of…well...doing arms bribe business.
Julian is altogether a more substantive sleazebag - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Lewis. Officially, he was Deputy Director of the Conservative Research Department in the early Nineties. But his unofficial work included negative research on the Opposition, and covering up all trace of the arms money moving through the Conservative Central Office (where, by the way, at that time, Ashcroft was a Joint Treasurer).
So. As the Tories headed into General Election 2010, they were all set to revive the pipeline funneling arms bribes into Tory coffers from both legitimate and illegitimate arms deals. The personnel were all in place to make this happen.
But why would squeaky-clean Dave go along with all of this? Again, you’re gonna have to read the book. But the bottom line is, Dave didn’t ‘go along’ – with anything. The same powers that smoothed the path for Dave’s rise to the Leadership were and are the same powers that wanted the Tories back in power, so that those Powers could start making money again from arms sales.
Dave had no choice. It was a take-it-or-f**k-off deal.
But, here’s the big ‘but.’ And this time, I am going way out on a limb. I don’t think Dave went along all that willingly. I believe Dave thought and thinks that he could jettison this corrupt element from his Party – an element which drew most of its strength from the right-wing of the Party. (I could be wrong. Dave did accept that money from Ashcroft's wife. And he also accepted some rather unusual money from a Lebanese arms-dealing chum of Jonathan Aitken - http://tinyurl.com/ycm749j)
But, to continue with the theme of Dave-as-the-Tooth-Fairy, if he could get rid of the right-wing, it would take care of much of the corruption. And so, he moved to the left. Now, I’m not saying the move was a sham. It’s a self-reinforcing circle. Dave’s better instincts make him progressive and non-corrupt. Which makes him opposed to the right-wing, and the corruption they have decided to clasp to their bosom – as it were.
It must be late at night. I’m talking about bosoms…
Along comes the Election Campaign, and lo and behold, Dave agrees to let Nick Clegg of the LibDems into the TV Debates. Nick does splendidly. And we now have a Liberal-Conservative Coalition Government.
Now, I’m not saying this was all a carefully thought out plan. C’mon. We’re talking about Tories here. I’m one of them. And the most planning we do is taking up a collection for a round of drinks after a Constituency Executive Meeting.
But. I do think there were some hopes and aspirations at play here. Which began with a young Leader seeing a Party totally in thrall to right-wing and corrupt elements, and ended with those corrupt and right-wing elements potentially held at bay by coalition with the LibDems.
Which is why I believe Ashcroft is screaming so loudly – http://tinyurl.com/2e86gyy. And why he is almost immediately working to undermine Dave – http://tinyurl.com/37hmlgz. Ashcroft didn’t spend £14 million getting Dave elected, just to see his (Ashcroft’s) chances of renewed arms kickbacks get…well, kicked into touch, by Dave’s new LibDem buddies.
Now, we’re not in the clear yet. Alan Duncan, notwithstanding his unfortunate comments about Miss California, has just been appointed a Minister of State at the Department for International Development.
So what? Well, there’s another important Department to be found under the auspices of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (for the love of all things holy, Dave, can we please shorten that bloody name!). It’s the Export Credit Guarantee Department.
The largest part of ECGD's activities involves underwriting long term loans to support the export of military equipment (about 50% to be precise). As part of its risk management process, ECGD has to make a judgment on the ability of a country to meet its debt obligations. The Department uses a ‘productive expenditure’ test, undertaken in consultation with the Department for International Development.
In other words, Alan’s going to be wandering around the world making sure countries are good, not only for repaying our Government’s loans to sell them arms, but also for coughing up the necessary kickbacks to the Tories.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the fact that there will be a LibDem Minister of State in Defence (Nick Harvey), to keep an eye on shenanigans, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement is still going to be Gerald Howarth.
And, although Ashcroft is no longer Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, he will still wield influence since he continues to be the one granting access to the bank accounts with the past arms millions. And who’s to say he’s not waiting with new deposit slips in hand…??
The bottom line is this: there was massive arms corruption under the last two Tory Governments (although, on an aside, John Major did try to stop it, but got shafted by Rupert Murdoch and Sir James Goldsmith for his troubles – both businessmen also being beneficiaries of the arms largesse; with Sir James Goldsmith’s son, Zac, now a Conservative MP and Cameron BFF). And this arms corruption continued under New Labour – http://tinyurl.com/2dp79tj.
I honestly believe that Dave is hoping he can prevent a repeat. But he hasn’t completely cleared out the Augean Stables. It will be up to non-corrupt and progressive Tories to keep a weather eye on their own mob. And to LibDems to keep their Coalition partners under close scrutiny. Either that, or follow the activities of the individuals mentioned above, and find yourself eye-witness to the next major political scandal, as it unfolds.
Personally, I would really rather not find myself having to write a sequel to “Dead Men” in ten years time...