Saturday, October 22, 2005

Subversives and Conspirators

picture Westmorland Gazette,

These are Lancaster's "George Fox 6", students who were found guilty of "aggravated trespass" because they invaded the George Fox conference centre at their own university and leafletted against a business conference being held there by firms like Shell and British Aerospace. Lancaster University Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings insisted on the prosecution, accusing the leafletters of "intimidation".

The Six, four of them current students, one a Lancaster graduate and the sixth a member of St. Martins College (affiliated to the Uni) have had costs of £300 each awarded against them as well as being given conditional discharges for two years meaning that if they re-offend, the punishment for this conviction can be looked at again. Two of the six are now subject to proceedings aiming to apply Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (CRASBOs) against them, which may well prevent them from ‘associating’ with each other - to do so would then become a criminal offence, all because they demonstrated about the commercialisation of research and the presence of some of the worlds biggest and most unethical businesses being on campus.

Looking at Lancaster's links with the military industrial complex, and the rise of "strategic studies" at the university, I recalled the conference on police-military co-operation in "counter-insurgency" held at the University in the early 1970s. My fellow Lancaster graduate Nigel Todd, now a Newcastle Labour councillor, has reminded me of "Robert Moss (so called 'security' expert) who regaled the gathering, which we gatecrashed, with the view that joint Police-Military operations were essential because the country was under threat from serious terrorists, including the Clay Cross Councillors!"

For those too young to remember, the Labour councillors at Clay Cross, in Derbyshire had not smuggled explosives from the mines and quarries to guerrillas operating in the Peak District. They did supply milk to the local schoolchildren, in defiance of the Tory government which had abolished it. They refused to implement the Tory Housing Finance Act, and somehow contrived not only to keep down rent and rates but to give council workers a big pay increase.
For this they were dragged before the courts, surcharged and barred from office.As Clay Cross councillor David Skinner (brother of MP Dennis) remarked::
"Our opposition was based on being honest with ourselves andthe people who put us there and because, even in local government, it is possible to assist in changing society. To hear most councillors talk one would imagine they are incapable of organising resistance to the impositions of the central government. If all the Labour councils followed the example of Clay Cross it would be impossible to carry out the Housing Finance Act".

Using local government to defend working people and even help in changing society! How fantastic that idea must seem today, when we look at our local councils loyally serving Blairite policies, shedding services and privatising. How old-fashioned. People might actually think it was worth voting.
But back to our "security expert" Robert Moss. He was an associate of Brian Crozier in operations linking the mucky work of CIA and MI6 spooks with helpful journalists and sympathetic academics. Forum World Features, which planted suitable material in the media, begat the Institute for Study of Conflict, which was then reborn as the Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism (RISCT), whose director Professor Paul Wilkinson of Aberdeen University often popped up as a government advisor and media expert on "counter-terrorism".
Moss also joined Crozier in the National Association for Freedom, NAFF, along with Norris McWhirter, Michael Ivens of Aims of Industry, and Winston Churchill, junior, MP. But two particular items stand out on the Robert Moss CV. He worked for the Economist Foreign Report, and was Economist correspondent in Chile, producing a book "Chile's Marxist Experiment"(1974), supposed to justify General Pinochet's 1973 coup against the elected President Allende, which brought mass arrests, torture and murder.
These right-wing specialists in countering "subversion" boasted of their part in plotting the downfall of Labour government, and they hoped, smashing the power of trade unions. It was a speech written for Margaret Thatcher that earned her the title "Iron Lady" and Robert Moss an invitation to Chequers.
We should not get carried away by conspiracy theories, but nor should we ignore evidence of real conspiracies.

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