Tuesday 21 July 2020

Russia in Britain

Once upon a time the headlines would have spoken of "Red Faces" at such revelations on Russian activities, but the doctrinaire aspect is missing in these days of pure venality.  By way of some background thoughts, here are a couple of observations.

1.  For the best part of a decade, Western politicians forced a fixation on Iraq and Afghanistan that was so totally all-encompassing for the security services and armed forces that attention to, and expertise on Russia was allowed to dwindle to almost zero** (and not just in the UK).  The scrabbling around to rectify this began a few years ago, but there was an immense, gaping window of opportunity for Russians to exploit - and they did.

2.  Of course, it's handy that Corbyn was a blatant, card-carrying Useful Idiot, operating in plain sight on RT and on his feet in the Commons.  (Suggesting that the Russians be given our Salisbury Novichok evidence for their review and considered response ... - for pity's sake.  It might even - justifiably - have cost him the 2019 GE: not many voters have any truck with that kind of crap.)

But.  There are some truly masssive scandals for the Conservative Party lurking out there.  It'll be curtains for some.  (Should be, anyway.)


** Belated update for the record,  from the Graun:
... the agencies’ post-cold war workload ... was dominated by counter-terrorism, especially in the wake of 9/11, as well as ongoing issues related to Northern Ireland, and the mounting threat from far-right violent extremism.  By 2008-09, according to the Russia report, just 3% of MI5’s effort was allocated to work against “hostile state activity”.  By 2006, just 4% of GCHQ’s work was focused on the former Soviet bloc, for similar reasons.  These proportions have risen again recently, although the precise figures have been redacted from the report.  Nevertheless, they mean that Putin’s Russia was largely faced with an open goal.


dearieme said...

"these days of pure venality": well phrased.

Raedwald said...

Lisa Nandy was on the radio yesterday raising the question of political donations - an achilles heel for both Conservative and Labour parties. She forgot however that 'large donations' includes Union money as well as alleged donations from Russian oligarchs.

The issue of political funding has never gone away. The official alternative - beloved of party treasurers - is State funding. However, voters rightly think this sucks.

There *have* been workable suggestions, from the Power Enquiry and others, that seek to cap donations, including from Unions, at something like £50k and to match donations from individuals 1:1 with State money, as well as measures to ensure donations reach local associations and aren't just hoarded by London HQs.

As for electoral integrity - after EQ's are balanced (boundary reform) we need to look at postal votes - 37% at the Dec '19 election.

Matt said...

What did the Intelligence and Security Committee say actually happened (Section 39/40 for example)?

Did they find any evidence of Russian interference?

Actual evidence or hearsay (Section 28/29) and or evidence from people with no credibility or specific agendas (Section 8)?

What are their recommendations?

The answers to the above will determine how Red Faced HMG needs to be.

E-K said...

We shouldn't have dicked them around so much.

Anonymous said...

Russian interference!

What is this wank?

Do you think the Russians (soviets) weren't trying to interfere in the UKs internal affairs all through the last half of the last century?

'Russian interference', my arse. This is just the pablum fed to the gormless by Adam Schiff and that ugly walking cadaver Nancy Pelosi.

Meanwhile they are both and Biden up to their elbows recycling US aid to Ukraine into their back pockets.

That cushy relationship where the MI5 would do the dirty tricks in the US that the CIA was not permitted, and vice versa, that died a death when the communist Brennan and the thief Hilary Clinton got into position.

Anonymous said...

Don't we have MI6 and MI5 to keep an eye on Russian (and other) interference? Isn't that their job?

Although they seemed to be sound asleep when a Mossad guy and Rob Halfon's assistant were discussing 'taking down' a Tory cabinet minister. No one seems to have even been interviewed, let alone charged.


There are two reasons this Russia crap is being dumped all over UK media

1/ just as in the US with Trump, our elites plus their low information followers (who think they're high information because of 3 years uni indoctrination) are horrified by Brexit - and there HAS to be someone to blame. "We demand the saboteurs and traitors face justice!"

You could blame Blair and Merkel, you could point out that male median real earnings habve fallen over the last 21 years while pensions have vanished and house prices quadrupled, but that would never do.

2/ There's a need in pretty much all of us to love and express their love, and to hate and express their hate. To everything there is a season... but since South Africa became a rainbow paradise our elites haven't really found a suitable replacement hate-object. They tried substituting racists, smokers and foxhunters, the Guardian and BBC think Brexit voters are a better target - but Brexit and 2019 GE showed that for a large number of people the EU and the elites themselves were the hate objects of choice.

Now this is a very disturbing thing to find out, and the search was on very early to find someone or something upon which to deflect all that richly deserved hate. Russia fits the bill well - white, Christian, small-c conservative, all things our elite hate. It's been fascinating to watch the Guardian's volte-face on Russia, which they loved when it was a Communist dictatorship. But now their views are pretty well aligned with the Economist and the FT - the Edward Lucas brigade.

(Was that OK, tovarich? Just leave the Stolichnaya and gold rubles in the usual place)

Raedwald said...

It's utterly beyond me why the alt-right are such staunch defenders of Russia, to the extent that many of them are still in absolute denial that Russia's GRU was behind the Salisbury poisonings.

Putin's propaganda is clearly scoring a hit somewhere - and it seems to be at both extremes of the political spectrum. Quoi?

Anonymous said...

Whilst Russia is nasty, China are far more powerful and dangerous. We are so addicted to either Chinese money or Chinese cheap labour that it's created a blind-spot on the right.

Anonymous said...

Frankly when you look at the terrorism the UK taxpayer has armed, funded, and trained in Syria and Libya, not to mention in Afghanistan in Thatcher's day, we are hardly in the best position to throw stones.

"many of them are still in absolute denial that Russia's GRU was behind the Salisbury poisonings"

I haven't a clue if they were or not, although the GRU don't seem a patch on the old KGB, whose targets tended to die and stay dead. Did Salisbury bear all the hallmarks of professional hitmen? I remember what (reportedly - a wilderness of mirrors out there) happened after 4 Russian diplomats were kidnapped in Lebanon.

As anon 12.09 says, Russia is no threat to the UK. China on the other hand has a billion high-IQ people, does most of our manufacturing, and is sat snugly at the heart of our comms networks and a big chunk of scientific academia.

Someone's propaganda is clearly scoring a hit somewhere. But as I said, people need an enemy to hate, so deflecting attention in Russia's direction is a rational if transparent move.

(Don't send that Raspberi Stolichnaya again please, it brings me out in a rash. Plain is fine.)