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. []

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 – But what the public learned through the mainstream media at the time wasn’t even the half of it –

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 –

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” @ 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 -

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). []

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 -

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 –

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). [,_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 – 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 –

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 ( 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. [ – 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 - 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 -

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 – And why he is almost immediately working to undermine Dave – 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 –

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...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

UK General Election 2010: Will David Cameron Be Hung Out To 'Dry'?

Well, the British polls are going up and down like Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton’s EKG’s. Probably giving British Tory Party Leader, David Cameron, more than the occasional heart murmur (

But the fact remains this: the Tories are ahead in the 60 most marginal UK Parliamentary Constituencies, and Young Dave is more than likely to succeed Gordon Brown as Prime Minister later this year.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear either that Dave may have only a very small overall majority (we have a lot of minority Parties in the UK), or even that he will find that he has the largest number of MP’s in the newly-elected Parliament, but without an overall majority – what we charmingly and somewhat grotesquely call a ‘hung’ Parliament ( And yes, we’ve heard all the jokes…

Now, contrary to what most of the pundits in the UK are speculating, I think that, in such circumstances, Dave is going to have difficulty governing with any consistency. Not because of his inability to keep the opposing Parties at bay. But due to the newfound, frisky independence of his own MP’s.

Just to set this in context. We all know that the underlying theme of Obama’s first year in office, and his continuing travails with healthcare reform, is how to keep the ranks of Senate Democrats lined up behind his proposals, so that Republicans cannot filibuster their passage – the so-called Super Majority of 60 Senators.

British Prime Ministers normally do not have such problems. In the UK Parliament, our Party Whips are more than mere window-dressing. They do actually wield power. And the tactics they use to ensure that every last one of the Prime Minister’s MP’s vote ‘Yes’ would make even the most extreme political dominatrix blush.

My favorite is what we call the Three Line Whip - - which is basically a penalty flag, red card and air raid siren, all rolled into one. You defy one of these babies, and you are declaring that you became an MP because you really, really wanted to spend the rest of your life reviewing pest control problems in the Outer Hebrides.

The problem is that Dave (who as a politician, makes a pretty good Eton-educated barrow boy; he is to public relations what Lucifer is to sin)…where was I?...oh yes…Dave, in his all-consuming drive to return the Tories to government, after 13 years in the wilderness, has made sure that he hasn’t missed a trick to convince the British electorate of his sincerity.

That includes establishing himself as the Alpha and Omega when it comes to responding to the public’s disgust with professional politicians. No more, exclaims Dave. The Tories are now the Party of political purity.

Last summer, he issued an invitation for folks, who were not Tories, to apply to be his Members of Parliament. Every chosen Parliamentary Candidate has to sign a form undertaking that, in the event of a conflict of conscience between an elected MP’s own views and the interests of his constituents on the one hand, versus what his own Party and Prime Minister are urging on the other hand, the Tory MP must choose his conscience and constituents. Which effectively consigns the Tory Parliamentary Whips Office to toilet detail.

Of course, you say, no Tory MP is actually going to defy his Prime Minister. I mean, he or she wants to curry favor in order to get a plum job. Right? Not so fast. After this next Election, it may not be as simple as that.

The Tories are likely to be hanging on to government by their fingertips (you’ll have noticed lots of hanging references in British Parliamentary jargon). In order to win, the Tories will have to capture about 150-200 Parliamentary Seats from the other Parties – the largest electoral swing to the Tories since 1930. This new intake of Tory MP’s will be the single largest influx of Tory MP’s in one Election in history.

It will be the clearest representation possible of the irrefutable volatility of the British electorate. A volatility which is daily being recorded in those rollercoaster polls. An electorate which can swing so wildly one way, one day can just as quickly and violently swing the other way, the next day. Your average newbie Tory MP is going to know that. And they’re going to know that the job they want to protect is the one they already have (MP), rather than holding out hope for a job they might never get (Minister).

Time was, even a few decades ago, we all knew which were the safe seats and which the unsafe, for any given Party. Yet, boundaries have changed so much in the past couple of decades, politics has been so uncertain, that no-one really knows what the new ‘safe’ is. Every single one of those 150-200 new Tory MP’s (out of a total of about 350-400 Tory MP’s) is going to be sitting on what they will still regard as a marginal seat. That’ll make them more likely to want to please their new constituents, rather than their new Prime Minister.

Add to this the fact that, again, in his never-ending campaign to return the Tories to power, Dave insisted that seats choose their Candidates as early as possible in this last Parliamentary cycle, and that chosen Candidates then move lock, stock and barrel into their seats. None of this commuting to the country from the London ‘burbs. Dave wanted each and every one of his Candidates to be able to say, after a couple of years, ‘hey, I’m local, too.’

In his newfound progressivism, Dave also ‘invited’ all of his Candidates to undertake a welter of ‘social action’ projects in their respective constituencies, the more to ingratiate themselves with their chosen ‘locals.’

The upshot of all this is, when push comes to shove, most of this new intake of Tory MP’s is likely to turn around and say, ‘er, Dave, I’m just as responsible as you for my getting elected; I’ve got to consider my constituents if I want to keep the seat; nothing is certain with my constituents; and, by the way, you told me to put my constituents before you…so…sod off.’

It gets worse. The Party attaining power after an Election has to find about 150-190 MP’s to form a Government and fill important associated Parliamentary positions. Dave is highly unlikely to form a Government made up of MP’s who’ve only just been elected. So, he’s going to have to use the boys and girls who are already there. Who are not necessarily the ones calling for the Great Dave Progressive Revolution.

So. There may be something of a lag in Dave being able to introduce all those wonderful, radical ideas that he is convinced will (a) reform GB; and (b) ensure his re-election. Rendering even more wobbly his powers of persuasion when it comes to those newly-independent MP’s. Who, as I’ve just said, will be on the backbenches, not in Government. As a general rule, the Headboy tends to have more sway with his fellow Prefects than with the guys having a quick smoke behind the cricket pavilion…

Those nervous MP’s might be better persuaded if the Headboy was having demonstrable success on the national stage, rather than having to negotiate every day with a bunch of go-slow, has-beens from a previous era. An era which was visibly more right-wing than Dave’s current precocious and fragile progressive perch.

In other words, in his first year, Dave could be getting it from both ends. A Government made up of old-timey MP’s, who yearn for the days of Iron Maggie [Thatcher], and who may be a little leery of Dave’s touchy-feely ‘hug-a-hoodie’ approach. And a whole flock of backbenchers too new to be in Government, anxious at any sign of a lack of public progress, and nervously glancing over their shoulders at their constituents’ ever-changing outlook (

Add to this the fact that whoever is elected is going to face a smorgasbord of intractable problems – runaway government debt; an economy that could deflate if public spending cuts are too severe; and two wars in lands where the British have a history of getting a bloody nose. The chances are that Dave could be facing an inevitable one-term administration (not unlike Obama) – and I’m pretty certain all of the new intake of Tory MP’s will be painfully aware of this possibility also.

AND. Yes, it never ends! There is one other entity to which a Tory MP must pay constant obeisance – his or her Constituency Association. It matters not if you are an MP who was ever so graciously and delicately ‘parachuted’ into a seat by Central Conservative Campaign HQ. The Association retains the right to deselect you and find another.

The Associations are, at least for the moment, somewhat to the right of Our Dave. Look, some of them (cf. Norfolk, Suffolk, et al - are to the right of Attila the Hun and Cardinal Richelieu. As a general rule, Associations will pretty much back anyone or anything that puts the Tories back in Government. But not necessarily this time.

In addition to being a tad unhappy about some of Dave’s ‘wetter’ policy initiatives, the goodly folk in Association Land are definitely up in arms about his attempts to impose his chosen Candidates on Associations, which fiercely protect their prerogative to choose their own Candidates and MP’s (

At the slightest sign of anything other than overwhelming success by Dave at the top, it may well be that these Associations will exact their revenge by replacing their ‘wet’ Flopsy Mopsy, MP with something a little more ‘dry’ – say, Sir Hunting Horsewhip, MP. [Er…’wet’ = progressive; ‘dry’ = Thatcherite…for my US Friends.]

Are you beginning to sense a potential trend here? Far from being a wave of New Tory progressivism, Dave’s election may well herald a return of old-style Thatcherism. First, with the old-timers he may have to call on to man his new Government. And then, with a new intake of MP’s nervous about failure and anxious of what their Associations might do to them (

Where it gets really interesting is how Dave decides he has to react to such a trend. Let’s back up a bit. If this coming Election leaves the UK with a hung Parliament, the word is that Dave will introduce the Budget he wants (regardless of old-timer MP’s, new intake, Associations or constituents), and then dare the opposing Parties to reject it.

Whether they do or not, it is highly likely that we will see another Election within the year. I do not think that that Election will have any more clear a result than the first. In which event, Dave has already indicated that he is not unwilling to make overtures to the middle-of-the-road Liberal Democrats (

Your average hot-blooded Tory Constituency activist would rather walk on hot coals, and then feed them to his progeny, than join forces with the Liberal Democrats. But Dave wants power. Or rather, his Notting Hill-set Tories want power that badly. And that’s his position now – he’d do a deal with the progressive Liberal Democrats to attain or stay in power.

Let’s say in this next Election, or a second, after the first leaves us with a hung Parliament, let’s say Dave ends up with a smallish overall majority or a second hung Parliament. Let’s say he finds it difficult, nigh on impossible, to negotiate a path through his now frisky and more right-wing old-timers/Associations/fearful new intake, et al, on the one hand, and Liberal Democrats on the other. Let’s say it all ends in yet another Vote of Confidence in Parliament (the convention being that, if you lose one of those, you have to call another Election). Throwing all of that into the pot, might Dave decide re-alignment is the answer?

I mean, I’ll give him a little credit. I think he may be a genuine progressive. Whether I’m right on that or not, Dave definitely understands politics and public relations, and feels as much fealty to old-style Thatcherism as a hermit crab feels to an old shell (

I think that Dave knows that a lurch to the right would spell doom for his Party in any ensuing Election. The future, at least for the moment resides in the middle.

I’m not sure how it would happen, but in the light of all my Sunday-morning meanderings above, I have an inkling that, within the next ten years, we might see a major re-alignment in British politics: Dave (and the likes of the Miliband Brothers (Labour) and Nick Clegg, Vince Cable (Liberal Democrats)) leading a new (what?) Liberal Conservative Party; the Tory right joining forces with UKIP; and a substantial rump of the old Labour Party (100 MP’s?) remaining, well, the old Labour Party.

And one final prediction? If that new Liberal Conservative combo doesn’t finally put the issues of Europe and immigration to rest, then, within twenty years, I’m guessing we’ll have a very reactionary Tory/UKIP Government in Great Britain – likely, with Daniel Hannan as Prime Minister…