The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

Meet the Professor

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Feebly, we're reminded of Hunter S. Thompson. Sent to Zaire to cover the Ali/Foreman fight for Rolling Stone, he had no copy to file, primarily because he spent the night of the fight floating in the hotel pool with a pound and a half of marijuana and sundry chemicals.

Westminster's last 10 days should have been a feast for the Ministry. Grayling caught red-handed misleading on crime stats, MPs facing criminal charges, then attempting to hide under "parliamentary privilege", Cameron denouncing them...  all extremely good grist for the mill, and all pointing towards the need for legal accountability.

Regrettably we've failed dismally in our coverage and can offer no reasonable excuse. Call it Westminster fatigue if you like.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blair not on trial

Today, and no doubt for the weekend, the front pages will be plastered with "Blair on trial etc. Make no mistake, he isn't. The mother of all democracies is on trial, it's systems, methods and governance.

Blair will say ;
I thought it was the right thing to do.
You elected me to make this kind of decision.
I made that decision.
You elected me again.

If we learn anything from the Chilcot enquiry (and it's remit is to find out exactly what went down with the sole purpose of learning from any mistakes made - nothing more) it's that our system facilitated all that has passed. In the unlikely event that Blair breaks down, cries like a baby and asks for forgiveness it wouldn't change any of the statements above.

Notice an almost total lack of noise from the opposition benches on Chilcot in the last weeks. There's a reason for this, they're elected representatives, they sit in Parliament, they do that to balance, moderate and challenge the government. If they find the Labour party in government wanting it is because they're spectacularly wanting themselves as opposition. The force of their (counter) arguments, their direction, their purpose - all spectacularly wanting. By definition, they are complicit. Lest we forget the expenses debacle. What responsibility do they accept for the emasculation of the Commons, Parliament and Parliamentary process ? What reforms have they proposed ? Have we heard a pipsqueak of lateral thought, the likes of, "the opposition should have the same access to the intelligence documents that built your dodgy dossier before we're asked to vote on it". The status quo will suit them just fine when they're in the driving seat.

As the Ministry discovered, Parliament's lack of legal accountability is at the heart of the matter, if anything should be on trial it is this. Instead, the press shouts "Judgement Day for Blair/Goldsmith/Straw" expecting some weird freaked out confession from a procession of civil servants, ministers etc. As we've seen, the truth is far more banal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Goldsmith conclusion

Mixed feelings at the Ministry on Goldsmith's Chilcot performance.

He was swayed to believe use of force was lawful by any one member state after being given the run through on how the crucial two or three words of how the UN resolution were negotiated and finalised, taking into account specifically the intentions of the US, France and Russia.

This writer has had some experience of the UN council's chamber (mainly being summarily ejected for impersonating the representative from Fiji) and it's machinations for arriving at resolutions. Inevitably these are drawn up with enough flexibility to make everybody happy. Under those circumstances, it is entirely conceivable that the Bush/Blair interpretation is legit.

That said, both the enquiry and Goldsmith explicitly expressed their frustration at the government for refusing to de-classify the documentation that backs this up. Again, a case of "trust us, it's all in the public interest". You've got to wonder what else those documents contain...  a copy of the Ministry of Truth on DVD for the wittiest answer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chilcot. See you in court ?

Blair at the Chilcot thing may make good viewing, but as always, it'll come down to the lawyers.

Straw, Goldsmith, Sir Michael Wood and Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

Goldsmith's timely pre-war change of heart gets the armed forces off the hook - without his confirmation that the invasion was legal, our armed forces would be liable for prosecution (on an individual basis) and no-one would have asked the armed forces to invade - the likes of Colonel Tim Collins would simply tell you to fuck off. No legal basis for war = no war.

All well and good for the services, but what of

Yesterday, Sir Michael Wood (Goldsmith's deputy) told the enquiry he felt there was no legal basis for the war. Sir Michael's former deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst was crystal clear on the lack of legality. She's the only civil servant to have resigned over the issue.

Sir Michael's opinion was rejected by Straw on these grounds, documented in his written response ;

1) There's room in the issue for genuine disagreement
2) International law is "uncertain".
3) With legal uncertainties in the past, Straw had proceeded and gone on to win in court.
4) On the Iraq invasion issue, there is no international court of law.

Sir Michael reasoned that because there was no court, it's incumbent on members of the international community to act scrupulously. It would appear Straw's inclination was that in the absence of a court to answer to, the decision was for Blair/Parliament and history will be the judge.

Either way, the enquiry is specifically there to find out "what lessons can be learned", its legal powers to hold participants to account are essentially non-existent - we should be used to that by now. For those of you who aren't, Monbiot is campaigning for a citizens arrest of Blair (as per Tatchell/Mugabe). It's legal standing has yet to be tested and there's only one way to do that....   you'll find the man you're after at The Queen Elizabeth Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3EE this coming Friday. Probably best not to catch up with him on his way in.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thank the BNP

Apparently we owe the BNP a very big thank you for breaking the expenses scandal.

In the wake of Harry Cohen MPs £65,000 forfeit being announced last week, the Ministry had a quick look at the complaint and paperwork lodged with our Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The complaint was made by a Mr Michael Barnbrook in response to an article he'd read in the Daily Mail on Cohen.

His trail leads to the BNP website ...

"The controlled press continue to ignore the fact that it is the BNP’s Mr Barnbrook who has been the main driver behind the exposure of the entire Westminster expenses swindle"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Straw... don't forget...

The Ministry has had it's run-ins with Straw before...

....and he seemed to be fairly frank in front of the enquiry. Unkind souls have been quick to remind us that on leaving our interview with him we were initially bedazzled, only to find the rhetoric unwound under close scrutiny. These same critics were also quick to remind us of this...

Banning an FOI request for the release of cabinet discussions on the legality of war on the grounds of "serious damage to the work of government... and that outweighs the public interest". Really ? We're taking bets as to whether this makes it onto this years manifesto ?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catch up

The protracted absence has left us red-eyed and catching up on the last few weeks in Westminster...

Distinct signs of warming to the notion of criminalising political deception from the Lib Dems - it'll be interesting to see if it makes it onto the manifesto - that'd put the cat amongst the election pigeons. Talking of which, pre-election hot air seems to be decidedly underwhelming. Numerous feints at drawing dividing lines have been half-hearted at best - Cameron's "we believe in marriage and will back it up with tax breaks" quickly drew, "you can't afford to" followed by stymied mutterings from camp Cameron of "I suppose not".

The Iraq enquiry trundles on, Blair's turn promises a decent gate but not much more - what can he add to Jonathan Powell's, "we got it wrong". If Blair says the same, what next ? Despite all the post-invasion doubts he still got a mandate in 2005. Maybe we don't really want our leaders to be legally accountable - it'd be too embarrassing to think they were elected into office... repeatedly.

The number £26bn surfaced as the amount government has wasted on IT projects. Ripped off by private contractors ? Actually, by all accounts from friends in the world of IT, a government contract is all well and good but ministers and departments are a nightmare to deal with - last-minute spec-changing etc. leaving you lucky to walk away with your reputation intact. Which reminds me... all quiet on the expenses front - maybe they've forgotten that before we get to a polling booth, before we even begin to try evaluating the intention/logic of election pledges we have to trust the people making the pledge itself...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Apologies due

Sincerest apologies - it's been way too long. An unavoidable trip to the US / extended investigation into the criminal justice system (more of which later) has kept us ridiculously busy and seeing as Parliament were on holiday....   well. Apologies anyway.

Much news to come. Please bear with us.