Tag Archives: United Kingdom

A Certain Lack of Historical Sensitivity: 2022, Migrants from UK to Rwanda; 1940, Jews from Europe to Madagascar

Not to suggest any real equivalence but still…and the underlying assumptions about Africa and Africans…

1) Reuters story (how much did BoJo’s government pay Rwandan officials, one way or another?):

UK migrant flight to Rwanda grounded as European Court steps in

Britain’s first flight to take asylum seekers to Rwanda did not take off as scheduled on Tuesday [June 14] after the European human rights court issued last-minute injunctions to stop the deportation of the handful of migrants on board.

The British government’s plan to send some migrants to the East African country has been criticized by opponents, charities, and religious leaders who say it is inhumane. It has been forced to fight a series of legal challenges in London courts aiming to stop it going ahead…

2) At the Jewish Virtual Library:

The Nazis & the Jews: The Madagascar Plan (July 3, 1940)

The Madagascar Plan was a proposal for Jewish settlement devised by the Nazi regime in the late 1930’s.

On December 9, 1938, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet informed German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that in order to rid France of 10,000 Jewish refugees it would be necessary to ship them elsewhere. At that time, the Nazi regime considered mass emigration to be the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem.”

On March 5, 1938, the SS officer in charge of forced Jewish emigration, Adolf Eichmann, was commissioned to assemble material to provide the chief of the Security Police (SIPO) Reinhard Heydrich with “a foreign policy solution as it had been negotiated between Poland and France,” i.e., the Madagascar Plan. Temporarily shelved in the wake of the war, the project was taken up again after the fall of France in the summer of 1940.

Eichmann prepared a detailed official report on the island of Madagascar and its “colonization” possibilities based on information gathered from the French Colonial Office. He added an evacuation plan calling for 4 million Jews to be shipped to Madagascar over a period of four years and also advocated the creation of a “police reserve” as a giant ghetto. The plan was to be financed by a special bank managing confiscated Jewish property and by contributions exacted from world Jewry.

The plan leaked out and was published in Italy in July 1940. In August 1940, the Third Reich officially endorsed the Madagascar Plan. Alarmed by the plan, the American Jewish Committee commissioned a special report, published in May 1941, that sought to demonstrate that Jews could not survive the conditions on the island. By that time, however, the Nazis were already well underway with a different “Final Solution” – the extermination program.

On February 10, 1942, only a few weeks after the Wannsee Conference, the Madagascar Plan was officially shelved and replaced in public policy statements with the lexicon of “evacuation to the East.”

Text of the Madagascar Proposal

Words fail. In both cases.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The Great Game, Lord Curzon and a Bucket List Book of Mine Read

(Image at top of the post is here.)

The book:

Russia in Central Asia in 1889 & the Anglo-Russian Question

At pp. 296-97 of the book:

…the power of menace, which the ability to take Herat [far western Afghanistan near Iranian border] involves, has passed from English [in India] to Russian hands; that the Russian seizure of Herat in now not so much of war as of time [never happened]; and that the Russians will thus, without an effort, win the first hand in the great game that is destined to be played for the empire of the East.

The British feared that the vast 19th century Russian advances in Central Asia threatened Afghanistan and, through it, an invasion of the British Indian Empire (paranoid though that may seem today given the distances and logistics involved–and then came the railway…).

From 1864-68 Tsarist Russia captured Tashkent and Samarkand in Central Asia; from 1873 to 1885 territory north of Persia from the Caspian Sea east coast towards Afghanistan was taken and called “Turkestan“. The Russian Transcaspian Railway, from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea through Turkestan and the (nominally independent until 1920) Emirate of Bukhara to Samarkand, was completed in 1888. From November 1888 until January 1889 Curzon, with the assistance of Tsarist authorities, took the line to its then-terminus at Samarkand and went on to Tashkent by road (the line finally reached Tashkent in 1898). A succinct 1889 account of the railway is contained in this pamphlet by Lord Curzon.

When he made his rather remarkable trip for a man of his station (“eldest son of the 4th Baron Scarsdale”), Curzon (b. 1859) was a recently elected Tory MP.

Earlier, when at Oxford, he was the subject of a piece of poetic doggerel that lives on:

My name is George Nathaniel Curzon,

I am a most superior person,

My cheek is pink, my hair is sleek,

I dine at Blenheim once a week.

He went on to become notably involved with his great game as the youngest-ever viceroy of India (1899-1905) and as foreign secretary (1919-24).

Quite a great gamer, what?

Plus great gaming in action in 1918, a wonderful memoir by a British Indian Army colonel (and political officer) sent overland by the government of India, via Kashmir and Kashgar in Xinjiang, to spy on the Bolsheviks in Central Asia in 1918: “Mission to Tashkent“:

We’ll not see his like, nor Lord Curzon’s, again. Sadly, as far as I can determine, there is no longer a direct passenger rail service to Tashkent from the Caspian along the old route of the Transcaspian.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

No Exit, or, the Absurdities of Northern Ireland’s Existential Realities

From an article in The Atlantic by a northern Englishman (County Durham):

The Truth About Irish Unity

The knottiness of Northern Ireland is by design. Remaining stuck is the only way the place works.

By Tom McTague

Three seismic events have occurred in one go in Northern Ireland. One, for the first time in Northern Ireland’s 100-year existence, an Irish nationalist party placed first in an election—and not just any nationalist party, but Sinn Fein, the longtime political wing of the Irish Republican Army. Two, the Alliance Party, which challenges the traditional Protestant-Catholic division that has defined Northern Ireland since its inception, scored its best-ever result and has now established itself as a genuine third force in Northern Irish politics [more on the elections here]. And three, the great political row that has dominated Northern Irish politics since Brexit—over the so-called protocol establishing new border controls—was tested with the public, and while those that oppose it have hardened in their opposition, a majority voted for parties that are fine with it.

The truth of Thursday’s [May 5] elections, then, is surely that the reunification of the island of Ireland is now more likely, and that Northern Ireland will finally be able to put to bed the divisions over Brexit and move on. Right? Wrong [emphasis added].

…The knottiness of Northern Ireland is by design. Remaining stuck is the only way the place works.

Two inescapable truths continue to govern Northern Ireland. The first is that while Sinn Fein emerged ahead of all other parties in Thursday’s election, a sizable majority of the electorate is still in favor of remaining part of the United Kingdom rather than joining the Republic of Ireland [emphasis added]. The second is that the Northern Ireland that exists is a strange, unfair, and largely dysfunctional place that works only when both its nationalist and unionist communities consent to the system governing it. While more people are now voting for the third-way Alliance Party, which argues that other bread-and-butter issues matter more than unionism or nationalism, for now, Northern Ireland’s political and constitutional reality remains unchanged.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, power must be shared between the two largest designations elected to the Northern Irish Assembly, which has thus far been made up of blocs identifying as unionist and nationalist. Until those that declare themselves “other”—such as the Alliance Party—finish in the top two, it doesn’t matter whether a nationalist or union party finishes first or second, because they must share power with the other.

This reality most directly affects the future of the Northern Irish protocol agreed upon by the United Kingdom and the European Union in 2019 as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit divorce deal. Under the terms of this agreement, a trade-and-customs border was erected between Northern Ireland and mainland Great Britain (that is, within the same country), in order to avoid one being imposed between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (that is, between two different states that share the same island). Ever since, Northern Ireland’s unionist parties have fiercely resisted this protocol, arguing that it is unfair because it prioritizes the wishes of one community in Northern Ireland (nationalists) over the other (unionists). In Thursday’s elections two things happened, each pulling in the opposite direction. First, parties that supported the protocol won more votes than parties that opposed it. But second, among the unionist parties that oppose it, it was the most hardline of the parties that increased its share of the vote at the expense of the others [emphasis added–on the unionists: “Many of the DUP’s votes were lost to Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionists Voice (TUV). This hard-line unionist party increased their share of the vote by 5.1% to reach a total of 7.6%].

And so we are back to where we have always been when it comes to Northern Ireland, with everything upended in theory but nothing changing in practice. Once again, we have fallen down the rabbit hole of the Northern Irish border problem into a world of the absurd…

One side, led by the EU, holds up the protocol as an almost sanctified document that must be adhered to in order to keep the peace in Northern Ireland. Without it, this side argues, checks on goods moving between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland would have to take place on the land border, stirring up the resentment of Irish nationalists, and therefore undermining support for the political settlement established by the Good Friday Agreement. Yet the protocol has never been implemented in full, because to do so would cause such disruption that it would further stir up the resentment of unionists, therefore undermining support for the political settlement established by the Good Friday Agreement.

In essence, then, the protocol is held up by one side as an agreement necessary to keep the peace, but has never been implemented in full because to do so would undermine the peace [emphasis added]. (The truth is, neither the U.K. nor the EU has ever fully implemented the protocol: The British government has unilaterally extended “grace periods” for businesses to avoid disruption, while the EU has agreed not to implement parts of the protocol that would restrict the flow of medical supplies from Britain to Northern Ireland.) Yet because it has not been implemented in full, the situation has never become so intolerable that anyone has actually changed it. This is a look-the-other-way solution where everyone acknowledges that the agreement cannot be enforced or scrapped.

The fear, though, is that the situation cannot last much longer. As of today, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party, the most successful unionist bloc in Thursday’s election, have six months to set up a new power-sharing executive (a Northern Irish government, essentially) before the British government imposes direct rule from London and sets a date for another round of elections to break the deadlock. Again: The British government would call elections to break a deadlock over a deal that is essential to security but that cannot be implemented because it would undermine security [emphasis added].

To find a way through the crisis, Johnson is flirting with the idea of passing a law giving the British government the power to bypass bits of the protocol it considers intolerable. Such a move, critics argue, would be a breach of international law. Proponents counter that the British government has obligations to two international agreements that are now in conflict: the Good Friday Agreement and the protocol. To maintain the former, the latter will have to change. To balance such a move, some experts believe the British government will offer concessions to Irish nationalists that have, so far, been blocked by unionists. By granting concessions to both sides, officials hope that a route through the crisis might be found. If you’re confused, that is because the whole issue is so fiendishly complicated that nobody has managed to solve it in the six years since Britain voted to leave the EU.

The truth, as has always been the case in Northern Ireland, is that the choice is between compromise and chaos…The final compromise itself matters less than the fact that everybody—the EU, Britain, the Republic of Ireland, and the two (or three) sides in Northern Ireland—must be equally unhappy with it. Only once everyone is somewhat aggrieved will the solution be somewhat tenable.

Northern Ireland can feel like a land where raw power and violence still matter in a way that should not be the case in a modern state. Yet in many ways, it is also a deeply unreal place, where the politics of make-believe is the only thing that works: where democracy is real, but not really; where peace settlements rule, but do not settle anything; and where sectarian division is lamented, but entrenched by the system lauded by all. It is a place where Irish nationalists win but are no closer to Irish unity; where unionists lose but are no less powerful; and where clean, rational solutions that look good on paper need to become dirty, irrational compromises that look terrible on inspection if they are to stand a chance of working.

Another way to sum up Northern Ireland (following a theme in the title of the post): “Brexit but no Brexit”. Simultaneously. Nationalists and Unionists trapped together. Crazy, man. Good luck squaring all those circles without violence at some point.

UPDATE: Latest on results at the BBC, note Sinn Fein did not actually gain seats:

NI election results 2022: What does Sinn Féin’s vote success mean?

Plus aJuly 2021post based on a piece by the superb Fintan O’Toole:

Northern Ireland, or, BoJo is Making a right Mash of Brexit, Links to Bangers Section

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Theme song, with “the echo of the Thompson gun”:

Putin vs Ukraine and the West? When will Europe Wake Up?

Julian French-Lindley opens this piece with a horrifically graphic account of the start on an all-out war begun by Russia and follows with three scenarios as to how the current crisis may go. He then discusses the X factor of the PRC and the dilemma presented by ongoing major threats in both the Indo-Pacific and Europe. The following in his conclusion:

Frozen War: The Whiff of Munich?

Ukraine, Europe and the fall of Singapore

Eighty years ago today British Imperial and Dominion forces surrendered to their Japanese conquerors.  It was perhaps the worst British military defeat in history.  Much has been written about the fall of Singapore and the incompetence that led to it. The real reason was that by 1942 Britain was heavily engaged in multiple theatres from the Atlantic to North Africa and was simply unable to defend the eastern Empire [and Australians have never forgotten and have relied on the US for security back-up ever since–see this piece at the Australian Strategic Policy Instute]… 

Singapore became a metaphor for decline and marked the real beginning of the end of the British Empire which by 1942 had become a hollowed out façade of power. Ukraine? In late 2010, I sat on a podium next to British Minister of Defence Philip Hammond at the Riga Conference. In my hand was an empty tube of Pringles crisps (chips in American) which I held upside down. David Cameron and Hammond had just slashed the British defence budget right in the middle of a major campaign in Afghanistan in which British forces were engaged in perhaps the most dangerous province, Helmand. The empty tube was to demonstrate the fate of European defence if Western European powers continued to load tasks onto their hard-pressed armed forces whilst slashing their budgets.  Five years ago I made a short movie for the Johann de Witt Conference in Rotterdam to demonstrate to the politicians and others present what a major war in Europe would look like.  Last year, I published a major new Oxford book Future War and the Defence of Europe which warned of just such a crisis.That Putin is even contemplating such a war – frozen or hot – is due in no small part to the strategic illiteracy of too many Western European leaders. Yes, there was the 2008-2010 financial and economic crisis and, yes, we have just faced the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is the disastrous pieties of the post-Cold War which for too long Britain, France and Germany have clung to, which has led Europe into this new age of danger which has just dawned.  It is the profoundly mistaken belief to which for too long political leaders have clung that geo-economics will trump the dark side of geopolitics.  That they need recognise only as much threat as they thought they could afford politically or financially. It is the absence of leadership in Europe which has created the opportunity for Putin to impose his fiat on other Europeans. One can only hope that if Russia does force such a dreadful war upon Ukraine it would finally begin the long overdue bonfire of strategic illusions that has underpinned the denial which has afflicted Western Europe and its leaders. 

The West will not intervene with force in Ukraine but Putin must be seen to pay a heavy price and that means real sanctions and the strengthening of NATO’s defence and deterrence posture so that there is no Alliance bluff Putin can also call. If President Putin succeeds in destroying Ukraine do not for a moment think his ambitions will stop there. Ukraine may be not be the whiff of Munich, but it has the scent of Singapore. It is time for democracies to stand firm, and together.

Plus a related post from September 2021 also based on a piece by Mr French-Lindley:

NATO, the EU and the US in the Not-So-Brave New World after Afghanistan (note UPDATE)

British strategic analyst Julian Lindley-French (his rather impressive “About me” is here) takes on Western European elites in his latest piece. You will note that Canada receives (deservedly in the circumstances) no mention at all; I would hold that what is said about those Euro elites applies to ours in spades…

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

No “Canadian” Dreadnoughts: Liberals in (appointed) Senate Block Major Financial Aid to Royal Navy before World War I

A little remembered part of our pre-war history; the British were not best pleased. Excerpts on their efforts and views, from Genesis of the Grand Fleet: The Admiralty Germany and the Home Fleet 1896–1914 by Christopher Buckley:

1) First Sea Lord Jacky Fisher in 1908 (p. 85):

…the Canadians were “an unpatriotic, grasping people who only stick to us for the good that they can get.”


2) 1912 (pp. 156-57):

Whither Canada?

…Canada’s prime minister, Sir Robert Borden [Conservative], and four of his cabinet ministers participated in a CID [Committee of Imperial Defence] meeting on July 11th…Churchill [First Lord of the Admiralty–minister in charge] was reduced to “practically asking for three Dreadnoughts…[to be paid for by] Canada…

[Subsequently] the Admiralty asked Canada to provide “the largest and strongest ships of war which science can build or money can supply.” This meant three Queen Elizabeth-class battleships. Borden was enthusiastic, his cabinet colleagues less so. The Canadian prime minister asked for assurance that the three ships could be “transferred to the Canadian government” provided adequate notice, and further suggested the ships be named Acadia, Quebec, and Ontario [how Canada would have provided crews and officers…]

…So important was the fillip provided by the Canadian dreadnoughts that when the Canadian Senate killed funding for them in May 1913 [see “Naval Aid Bill“] Churchill spent the remainder of the prewar period trying to persuade Borden to make another go at it…

3) 1913-14 (pp. 199-200):

East of Gibraltar, West of Halifax

June 1913 saw Churchill trying to make the best of the failure of the Canadian dreadnought project…the Cabinet..continued “stressing the importance of the Canadian dreadnoughts” in correspondence with Robert Borden. Some of the subsequent correspondence on the Canadian dreadnoughts bordered on the absurd–Louis Harcourt [colonial secretary, also in charge of relations with the Dominions] wrote Churchill in September that General Sir Ian Hamilton had ‘derived the impression from Ministers in Canada that they [Conservatives] wd have a majority in the Senate in 12 months owing the exceptional mortality amongst its members [emphasis added, they served for life in those days–the Conservative PM would appoint the Liberals’ replacements]. In November the British Columbian premier, Sir Richard McBride, reported that Borden would try to revive Canada’s naval contribution by passing a “direct money grant” for the Royal Navy through Ottawa’s Parliament. A month later Borden telegrammed Churchill such a proposal would likely fail in the Senate, and by January 1914 he saw “absolutely no hope of passing it.”

Ah, the glory days of Canada’s un-elected chamber of sober second thought.

But see the examples at this post of Canada’s helping Britain, though rather more cheaply:

Canadian Spookery in US on Behalf of UK before and during World War I (and the Komagata Maru)

Canadian Spookery in US on Behalf of UK before and during World War I (and the Komagata Maru)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

BoJo the Buffoon–and a Clownish Historian too (note COVID 19 UPDATE)

From a New Statesman re-upping of a 2015 review by the excellent historian Richard Evans:

“One man who made history” by another who seems just to make it up: Boris on Churchill

Churchill “was no party-pooper” according to Boris Johnson, whose self-serving biography of the wartime leader was derided by the historian RJ Evans in this review published in the New Statesman in 2014. The irony is palpable: faced with Tory defection and a rebellious media, it seems as if Johnson’s own efforts to live up to his hero’s reputation as a reveler – attending parties in No 10 while the population endured grinding lockdowns – have backfired with potentially terminal effect.  

Boris Johnson, as the subtitle of this book proclaims, is a firm believer in the “great man” theory of history. Not for him the subtleties of the complex interplay of historical forces and individual personalities. Subtlety is not Boris’s strong point. Winston Churchill alone, he writes, “saved our civilisation”. He “invented the RAF and the tank”. He founded the welfare state (although Boris gives David Lloyd George a bit of credit for this, as well). All of this, he argues, confounds what he sees as the fashion of the past few decades to write off “so-called great men and women” as “meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history”. The story of Winston Churchill “is a pretty withering retort to all that malarkey. He, and he alone, made the difference.”

…Anyone who has the time or energy to press a couple of keys on a computer to look up “tank”, “RAF”, “welfare state” or even “the Second World War” on Wikipedia will see Boris’s sweeping claims vanish in a cloud of inconvenient facts…

Johnson doesn’t weigh up policies and ideas with any care or penetration. If he doesn’t like them, he dismisses them as “rot”, “tripe”, “loopy”, “bonkers”, “barmy” or “nuts”; their advocates and practitioners as “loonies”, “plodders”, “Stilton-eating surrender monkeys”, and so on.

There are some truly cringe-making metaphors and wordplay in the book. Churchill, we learn, was “mustard keen on gas” as a weapon in the First World War. He was “the large protruding nail on which destiny snagged her coat”. Young Tories “think of him as the people of Parma think of the formaggio Parmigiano. He is their biggest cheese.” And Chamberlain’s “refusal to stand up to Hitler” was “spaghetti-like” (clearly Boris is rather fond of Italian food)…

In a book that involves a good deal of modern European history, Boris the Eurosceptic clearly doesn’t find it necessary to master the details. Croatia, he tells us casually, was ruled by “some Ustasha creep or other” in the interwar years (it was not), while in the same period there was a plague of “communist uprisings in eastern Europe” (there was not). The Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam, he writes in his offhand way, was “originally intended for some minor offshoot of the Hohenzollern dynasty” (it was not – it was built for the crown prince, heir to the German throne)…

Present-day politics obtrude in other ways, too. Anyone who wonders why Boris has written this book need look no further than the general election that is due in a few months’ time. If the Conservatives lose, the leadership of the party will be up for grabs and Boris will be a candidate. Writing a book about Churchill might help people take him seriously. After all, Churchill, he writes, “spoke in short Anglo-Saxon zingers”. He was a “rogue elephant” in the Tory party. He made a career as a highly paid journalist. He was definitely not a “lefty-liberal Milquetoast”. “He was no party-pooper.” He was “incorrigibly cheerful” and his verbal style was both “demotic and verbally inventive”. He “incarnated something essential about the British character – and that was his continual and unselfconscious eccentricity”. Now, who is this meant to remind you of? 

Richard J Evans is Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History 
Boris Johnson

One rather suspects BoJo might, at least in his fantasies, admire this aspect of Churchill–an earlier post:

Churchill on Killing Pathans

More clowning at this post:

Northern Ireland, or, BoJo is Making a right Mash of Brexit, Links to Bangers Section

UPDATE: More buffoonery–excerpt from an article in the London Review of Books by John Lanchester:

What the UK needed in early 2020, more than anything else, was for the pandemic to be taken seriously. We needed someone willing to look at what had happened in Wuhan and Lombardy, and make the most of the few weeks’ notice the UK had providentially been granted. Unfortunately, in Johnson it had a prime minister whose entire personality and philosophy are based on not taking things seriously. This was to have tragic consequences. In the early months of 2020, when the news about Sars-CoV-2 was emerging and getting rapidly, frighteningly worse, Johnson failed to chair five consecutive meetings of Cobra, the government’s crisis committee. It is almost unknown for the prime minister not to chair Cobra when he or she is in London. According to David King, the former government chief scientific adviser, Blair and Brown never failed to chair a Cobra meeting. Johnson failed five times in a row, always on the subject of Covid. The reason isn’t far to seek: he didn’t understand it and didn’t take it seriously. In the early months of 2020, the UK government had 25,000 civil servants working on Brexit, which Johnson was well aware lay somewhere on the spectrum between a mistake and a disaster. His private life was on the same spectrum. In the months after becoming prime minister, Johnson became the first holder of that office to get divorced, get married and have a baby, more or less simultaneously. Covid was not a priority. It’s amazing he showed up to any Cobra meetings at all.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

CCP Infiltrating UK Politics/Parliament–and Canada?

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Royal connections: Li Xuelin [also known as Christine Lee] with Prince Charles in 2017″.)

Very unlikely to be much different in Canada–and then we’ve got all those provincial legislatures, municipal governments, and a Chinese Canadian population proportionately much larger than its British equivalent and much more influential in politics at our various levels, especially in certain areas where it is concentrated.

First from at story at the progressive Guardian:

MI5 accuses lawyer of trying to influence politicians on behalf of China

Warning circulated to MPs and peers about Christine Lee, accused of targeting parliamentarians

Christine Lee and David Cameron at the ceremony of the British GG2 leadership awards in 2015.

Christine Lee and David Cameron at the ceremony of the British GG2 leadership awards in 2015.

An unprecedented security warning from MI5 was circulated to MPs and peers on Thursday [Jan. 13] that accused a lawyer, Christine Lee, of seeking to improperly influence parliamentarians on behalf of China’s ruling Communist party.

It is the first time that MI5 has issued an “interference alert” relating to China and concerns a high-profile Anglo-Chinese lawyer who received an award from Theresa May and who has donated £584,177 to the office of Labour MP and former shadow cabinet member Barry Gardiner [British political funding laws are very lax].

The alert names and pictures Christine Ching Kui Lee, who has allegedly “knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist party”.

It added that the UFWD was “seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum” and to “cultivate relationships with influential figures [emphasis added, same in Canada, see post note at end of this one]”.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, the Chinese embassy in London said: “China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament. We firmly opposes the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK [playing the racist card!].”

The security warning was shared in an email from the Speaker’s office to MPs. In it, the authorities also accused Lee of having “facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China”.

Lee, 58, has been active in political circles for at least 15 years, promoting Anglo-Chinese relations through a range of groups such as the British Chinese Project and the all-party parliamentary group Chinese in Britain. Photographs also show her meeting David Cameron when he was prime minister, and China’s president, Xi Jinping.

A law firm that bears her name made political donations totalling £675,586, of which £584,177 were “donations in kind” to Gardiner’s office, according to Labour. The first of these was made in 2015.

Electoral Commission figures show Lee’s firm also donated a further £90,029 in cash, largely to Labour party bodies, including Gardiner’s Brent North constituency party. A further £5,000 was received by Labour centrally, the party said.

A further £5,000 was sent to the Lib Dems in Kingston in 2013, where the party leader and then energy secretary, Ed Davey, holds his seat.

Lee had also received a Points of Light award from Theresa May, when she was prime minister. In a personal message, the then Conservative leader praised her for “promoting engagement, understanding, and cooperation between the Chinese and British communities in the UK [emphasis added]”. On Thursday night, the award was withdrawn. The online page for Lee’s Points of Light award said it had been “rescinded”…

Gardiner also employed a son of Lee’s as a diary manager. He said the son had resigned after MI5’s disclosure. “The security services have advised me that they have no intelligence that shows he was aware of, or complicit in, his mother’s illegal activity,” Gardiner said.

Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour, Gardiner was shadow trade secretary and briefly shadow energy secretary in 2016, when he spoke in support the new nuclear power station at Hinckley Point, in which a Chinese company was a minority investor…

Interference alerts are issued very rarely, after talks between the spy agencies and parliamentary authorities. No such alerts have ever been released relating to China, and only one relating to Russia, Whitehall sources said.

MI5 is understood to have been monitoring Lee for some time, concerned that she was targeting politicians from all political parties. The decision to issue an alert was made inside the agency, sources added, based on the tools at their disposal and without external political direction [emphasis added–one wonders how much PM Trudeau’s government would allow the Canadian Secrurity Intelligence Service to say in similar situation].

Despite the warning, however, it is understood Lee is not being prosecuted…

In 2020, Britain quietly expelled three alleged Chinese spies who it said were posing as journalists. MI5 concluded that the three worked for China’s powerful Ministry of State Security (MSS), although claims of espionage are typically rejected by Beijing…

And related tweets:




Start of the Daily Mail story:

China’s Communist Party and the Tiger women now influencing the very heart of the Establishment – one of whom gave £200k to a top Labour MP who argued against his party’s opposition to a Chinese-funded nuclear plant

Prominent Britons of Chinese heritage are very important in promoting China’s interests in the West. Christine Lee is a solicitor whose firm has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, as well as London.

Her links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) go deep. She has been chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an agency of the Communist Party’s vast network of influence overseen by its United Front Work Department.

These positions are unmistakable signs of her importance to the Party. Yet she is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group of the British parliament.

n 2006 she founded the British Chinese Project, whose stated aim is to ‘empower the UK Chinese community, making them aware of their democratic rights and responsibilities, whilst ensuring the needs and interests of the community are heard at a political level’. It sounds a very worthy multicultural enterprise.

But its Chinese name has different echoes. It translates as ‘British Chinese Participation in Politics’, linking it to the huaren canzheng infiltration policy of the CCP to maximise political influence in democracies by promoting trusted people of Chinese heritage…


An earlier post based on Mr Cooper’s book–he’s a superb investigative reporter for Canada’s Global News:

“How China made Canada a global node for narcos and cyber-criminals”

“How China made Canada a global node for narcos and cyber-criminals”

And to close a very relevant post on the Canadian UFWD angle, note who’s in the photo:

The CCP’s United Front Work Department Infiltrating Canadian Politics at all Levels–then there’s Organized Crime and some Rogues’ Galleries

The CCP’s United Front Work Department Infiltrating Canadian Politics at all Levels–then there’s Organized Crime and some Rogues’ Galleries

Plus a very recent post:

Globe and Mail to PM Justin Trudeau Gov’t: Time to Get Real about Foreign Interference, esp. by PRC (note UPDATE)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

What’s a poor British Grenadier to do?

The well-informed British defence blog Thin Pinstriped Line looks at the latest of a series of official plans to move the British Army forward. Keep in mind the Brits, besides operating within NATO, as part of UN peacekeeping missions, and in ad hoc coalitions, still see using their army abroad in independent fashions to pursue their own national interests, if they can figure out how to pull off the trick. Canadian have never really had any such ambitions– some further thoughts on the Canadian Army at end.

Be The Army You Want To Be – Thoughts on ‘Future Soldier’

The British Army has announced its new plans for its revised future structure and operational roles. The announcement made by the Secretary of State for Defence sets out how the British Army will be restructured into a force of 73,000 regulars [Canada about 20,000], supported by reservists and civil servants…

By defining the Army as being an organisation more intended to focus on training, assistance and operations in the ‘grey zone’, this plan could be potentially significant. If there is genuine, long term and sustained commitment to growing Ranger Bns [battalions], and using them as long term training teams to enhance capabilities of partner nations, then this will have very positive benefits for UK security.

A long-term plan, which sees training delivered year after year, with sustained regional presence to build relationships that last a career can potentially be a hugely positive outcome. Done well and done with the intention that this is the long term plan, then the future looks positive.

There is always strong demand for British Army training around the world, and having the means to offer it, to build capacity and to deliver to partners could be good news…

…This move to working with partners, letting their forces take the lead in conducting kinetic operations while providing skills, training and niche assets will be a compelling offer – it may prove a policy and permissions challenge, but it is something that looks an extremely positive offer [but how happy will ‘partners” be if Brits stay behind the front lines? and will the UK government wish necessarily to support those “kinetic operations”?].

The bigger question though is what beyond Ranger Bns is the British Army actually going to do? The paper focuses on a return to older missions like supporting the Civil Authorities, and assisting allies, but there feels like there is a gap between low-key low-level training abroad, stuffing sandbags and then moving into the high intensity conflict space where suddenly the Army will be used to deter peer rivals globally.

…the return to a more assertive deterrence posture in central and Eastern Europe by putting more troops and vehicles through on exercises will be welcomed by many NATO partners. This commitment to Europe is a welcome sign of the UK continuing to play a serious and credible role at the heart of European security, and to act as an additional complication in Russian planning for mischief making [Canada for its part has “540 soldiers leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia” but they are present simply as a deterrent, er, tripwire–the Canadian Army does not significantly take part in NATO exercises in Europe].

However, as the Cold War showed, the ability to turn up and fight as a coherent worked up battlegroup in time to deter others isn’t easy and requires a huge amount of training and effort. Is the will and funding there to seriously train and sustain a credible force that can reinforce and defend the borders of Eastern Europe as required ?

…Over the last 10 years the Army has tried on several different occasions to reinvent itself and offer new roles, structures and organisational changes – for example the ‘Army 2020’ plan.

In this period there has been the vision of the Army as laid out in the SDSR, the Army 2020 vision and now this vision of the Army in 2025. Each time the answer feels different – different structures, different locations, different unit roles and different objectives – there is a sense of near perpetual change as the Army strives to find a version of itself that it feels comfortable being.

Between1945 and 1990 it had this through the existence of BAOR – it knew that its role was to deter in peacetime, and in wartime expand rapidly to provide enough troops to buy time to avoid the war turning nuclear. Once the war had turned nuclear, then there was no role for it – bluntly the Cold War Army existed to fight for 7-10 days then die [as with the Canadian Army in Germany with NATO; UN peacekeeping was a sideshow, see this post: “Not Remembering Canada’s Real Post-WW II Military History“].

It is perhaps telling that files from this period on planning for home defence struggle to identify a post-strike role for the Army beyond helping the civil power. Yet this structure and reason to exist gave a sense of purpose [emphasis added].

The period 1990 – 2015 was arguably a period of fighting wars that felt familiar, without having to answer the difficult ‘so what’ question about what value this added to British foreign policy outcomes. For all the huge sacrifices made in Iraq and Afghanistan, this tactical set of victories still has arguably resulted in at best strategic stalemate or defeat in both countries [ditto for Canadian Forces’ activities].

The problem then is trying to work out how the Army can avoid these challenges in future – what roles can it take on that avoids the errors of the past, while in the same turn provides relevant assets that can add value to help deliver Government security objectives.

The move to a training focus seems sensible, and one that if committed to, could be a really valuable outcome. But the problem is, lurking behind this sense of opportunity is the concern that we may find ourselves going around this buoy again in another 5 years when the ‘Army 2030’ vision inevitably gets launched.

The other big concern about this document is that for all the talk of impressive new capabilities and investment coming downstream, it remains the case that the British Army will be unable to deploy a modernised divisional level capability until around 2030 – the best part of a decade away [emphasis added–the Canadian Army’s intent is to be able to deploy a combat-capable brigade group, see antepenultimate bullet point at bottom of p. 11 PDF here; that is impracticably aspirational, to be charitable].

…many of the strands in the paper feel like a greatest hits of Defence papers dating back 30 plus years. The call for better integration of reservist and civil servants, and the call to address retention and gapping, and also to make better use of skills and experience to create a digitally enabled workforce – all of these are themes that go back at least as far as 1998, and probably a lot further. (It is also notable that both Space and Cyber remain a ‘new’ domain despite being a military issue for over half a century).

The fact that once again there has been a rallying call to say ‘we must have a better integrated workforce’ not only leads you to conclude that all of the previous commitments to doing so have been a total failure, but also that there is little likelihood that without serious cultural change, this time is likely to be any more successful either…

What is needed is a period to let these changes work through, to try things out and to actually get the new equipment needed and make sure the Army is able to do the jobs it wants to be able to do. Right now it feels that whether it wants to or not, we’ll be hearing in a few years’ time about how Army 2030 / 2035 is the bright exciting future of the British Army…

One might add that the current Canadian government is even unwilling to deploy the army for UN peacekeeping missions to perform any boots-on-the ground roles such as reconnaissance or patrolling that might risk casualties–see this post:

UN Peacekeeping: PM Trudeau and Liberals too Fearful to Meet their Pledges when they Realized the Realities of “Killer Peacekeeping”

In fact one suspects that with increasing natural disasters and the pandemic problem that that government may be trending along these lines:

COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

Top UK Officer Highlights Russian Activities in Arctic, whilst Royal Canadian Navy Silent about whose Subs might be a North Atlantic Threat (plus Royal Navy/Canadian Coast Guard)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “HMS Lancaster sails into Arctic Circle for High North operation” 2020.)


Further to this recent post,

US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy?

now the Brits weigh in–note the specific mention of the Atlantic link to Canada–as the Canadian Armed Forces give almost no public notice to Russkie activities relevant to our NATO anti-submarine mission in the North Atlantic (and the Royal Canadian Navy plays the “Silent Service” about the object of that ASW mission). Weird. From US Naval Institute News:

Defense Chief: U.K. Needs to Develop ‘Capability and Deterrence’ in the High North

By: John Grady

Keeping the Atlantic open so European allies can remain in the loop with the United States and Canada during a crisis has “always been the case in NATO military strategy” and remains so today, the chief of the United Kingdom’s defense staff said Tuesday [Oct. 19].

Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter said that even in this “era of consistent competition” with authoritarian powers like Russia and China, London looks first to the challenges coming from Moscow in assessing threats.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security forum, he said the Kremlin’s advances in submarine technologies and deep undersea capabilities in its Northern Fleet means “you are right to focus on the maritime” from the North Atlantic to the Arctic as a major security concern for allies and partners like Sweden and Finland.

Seeing this as a new threat, Carter said “we need to be thinking hard about … capability and deterrence” in the High North, especially where operating conditions are difficult…

The United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands – what Carter called “the Quint” – “are focused on the region” and the changing maritime security conditions in the Arctic [of course mainly on the European side of the Atlantic]

And look at this Canadian angle that the UK has publicized and which, as far as I can find, has had no official mention by the Canadian government or Coast Guard–a Royal Navy news release:

Royal Navy sailors to get Canadian polar training as part of a new collaborative agreement

More Royal Navy sailors will be trained in taking ships into challenging polar waters thanks to a new collaborative agreement with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Its sailors will benefit from Canadian training in navigating through icy waters, breaking sheets of ice where necessary, while Canadian Coast Guard personnel will have operational training opportunities and gain experience with crewless technology with the Royal Navy.

The agreement was signed between the two NATO nations at the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) headquarters in Ottawa by its Commissioner, Mario Pelletier, and Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Nick Hine…

The agreement follows an initiative in early 2020 which saw several watchkeeping officers from HMS Protector, the UK’s sole ice patrol ship, gain valuable experience in ice operations aboard a CCG vessel…

The sharing of the Canadian Coast Guard’s wide experience and expertise will mean British sailors are better-equipped when sailing to the frozen region. 

In recent years the Royal Navy has demonstrated renewed interest in the Arctic region given its key strategic importance to the security of the UK…

Why do Canadians often have to find out about defence matters our country is involved with from other countries? And why cannot we be specific about countries that our services may have to deal with? See this classic case–a tweet:

Hint: the country is (once again) Russia.

UPDATE: NATO can name Russia, why not our Navy?

Nato agrees master plan to deter growing Russian threat

More here from NATO.

OSINT UPPERDATE: Aircraft tracking by people points out RCAF CP-140 patrol plane in Iceland, clearly surveilling for Russian subs with NATO. Yet our air force, navy never mention this mission:

The lack of transparency about our military’s missions is a joke. And increasingly ineffective in an OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) world.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

UK, US Complicity in Indonesian Military’s Mass Murder of Hundreds of Thousands while Suppressing Communists, 1965-66

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “In this Oct. 30, 1965, file photo, members of the Youth Wing of the Indonesian Communist Party (Pemuda Rakjat) are watched by soldiers as they are taken to prison in Jakarta following a crackdown on communists. AP Photo/File)

The British at least could tell themselves that they were fighting a nasty, defensive undeclared jungle war on Borneo against President Sukarno’s neutralist government of Indonesia.

First from the British National Army Museum:

Indonesian Confrontation

Between 1963 and 1966, British Commonwealth forces fought against Indonesia in a conflict that focused on the future of Brunei and North Borneo. The fighting consisted of small-scale jungle clashes in the border areas, and ended in a victory for the Commonwealth.

In 1962, northern Borneo consisted of the British protectorate of Brunei and the colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo (later known as Sabah). The rest of the island was made up of the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan.

Map of the island of Borneo, 1962

Britain hoped to incorporate Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo – all close to independence at that time – into the Federation of Malaysia, along with Singapore and the states of the Malayan Peninsula.

However, President Sukarno of Indonesia was wary of continued British influence in the region. He wanted to extend Indonesian control on the island by adding these territories to the rest of Kalimantan…

Now a story at the Guardian:

Slaughter in Indonesia: Britain’s secret propaganda war

Declassified documents reveal how in 1965 a shadowy dirty tricks arm of the Foreign Office incited anti-communist massacres that left hundreds of thousands dead

In early 1965 Ed Wynne, an official from the Foreign Office in London in his late 40s, arrived at the door of a two-storey villa set in the discreet calm of a genteel housing estate in colonial Singapore.

But Wynne was no ordinary official. A specialist from the Foreign Office’s cold war propaganda arm, the Information Research Department (IRD), he had been assigned to lead a small team. A junior official, four local people and two “IRD ladies”, seconded to the unit from London, would join him.

The arrival of Wynne and his colleagues in the Winchester Road cul-de-sac marked the beginning of what would later be claimed, by those who led it, as one of the most successful propaganda operations in postwar British history. A top secret operation that helped overthrow the leader of the fourth most populous country in the world and contributed to the mass murder of more than half a million of its citizens.The proof of Britain’s role in inciting what the CIA later described as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century” lies in another leafy suburb. In declassified Foreign Office documents – held far beyond the 20-year rule – in Kew in London.Recently released in Britain’s National Archives are pamphlets purporting to be written by Indonesian patriots, but in fact written by British propagandists, calling on Indonesians to eliminate the PKI, then the biggest communist party in the non-communist world.

The outcome of the turmoil was a brutal and corrupt 32-year military dictatorship whose legacy shapes Indonesia to this day…[Read on.]

As for the Americans, keep in mind that Communism was seen as an existential threat and they were already fighting what was becoming a major war against them in Vietnam–from a 2017 AP story, the US then under President Johnson::

Files reveal details of US support for Indonesian massacre

Declassified files have revealed new details of U.S. government knowledge and support of an Indonesian army extermination campaign that killed several hundred thousand civilians during anti-communist hysteria in the mid-1960s.The thousands of files from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta covering 1963-66 were made public Tuesday after a declassification review that began under the Obama administration. The Associated Press reviewed key documents in the collection in advance of their release.

The files fill out the picture of a devastating reign of terror by the Indonesian army and Muslim groups that has been sketched by historians and in a U.S. State Department volume that was declassified in 2001 despite a last-minute CIA effort to block its distribution.

In 1965, Indonesia had the world’s third-largest communist party after China and the Soviet Union, with several million members, and the country’s president, the charismatic Sukarno, was vociferously socialist and anti-American.

U.S. officials despaired of Indonesia’s apparently unstoppable drift into the communist fold and were ecstatic when conservative generals imposed martial law in Jakarta, seized state radio and set out to annihilate the country’s communist party on the pretext that it had tried to overthrow the government. Within months, the army would prevail in its power struggle with Sukarno, shifting Indonesia’s political orientation to the U.S. and opening its huge market to American companies.

The newly released files underline the U.S. Embassy’s and State Department’s early, detailed and ongoing knowledge of the killings and eagerness to avoid doing anything that would hinder the Indonesian army. Historians had already established that the U.S. provided lists of senior communist party officials, radio equipment and money as part of active support for the army…[Read on.]

And a few years later the US, now under President Nixon, turning a blind eye to another massacre–a post:

Nixon, Kissinger and the Birth of Bangladesh: Blood on Their Hands

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds