Conspiracy - a class act

by Gina Nicholson

If you should suggest that a story about, say, Russia’s involvement in a criminal act could be a fabrication, you might well be accused of being paranoid, and putting forward a ‘conspiracy theory’. This last phrase – ‘conspiracy theory’ – has a nasty ring to it. And yet if you look back in history there were undoubtedly many conspiracies to present false stories to a more or less gullible public. Conspiracies existed. And if they existed in the past, why not in the present?

There were suggestions of conspiracy after the 1964 assassination of President Kennedy in the United States. So many, indeed, that the Central Intelligence Agency issued guidance to its “assets”, including the following:

“Innuendo of such seriousness affects not only the individual concerned, but also the whole reputation of the American government. Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation. Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries.”

Thus the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ started on its way.

The following is from the website in 2016: “ ‘Conspiracy theory’ is a term that strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events as off-limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States, raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.” (my emphasis)


In 1950 there was trouble in Korea. The first reports of the Korean war stated that southern troops invaded the north. This was quickly ‘corrected’ to state that the north invaded the south. At that time the United Nations Security Council had five permanent members, as it does now: The United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union (now Russia) and China. But the China seat was held by Chiang Kai-shek, safely ensconced behind the Seventh Fleet in Formosa (Taiwan), while mainland China was excluded. In protest the Soviet Union boycotted the Security Council. Thus a vote was taken by the Security Council endorsing the second interpretation of the beginning of the Korean War, in the absence of the Soviet delegate and with mainland China unrepresented.

However, the rules state that in all matters of substance, for a vote to be valid there must be an affirmative vote of all five permanent members. This clearly did not happen, so it would seem that the vote was invalid that laid the blame for the war on North Korea. In other words, the West ganged up on the communists. Is this view of what happened a ‘conspiracy theory’?

In fact governments routinely use lies, innuendo, ad hominem arguments etc to get their way, as well as concealing unpleasant truths. The notorious Zinoviev letter was a forgery, and likely planted by British intelligence with The Daily Mail, four days before the 1924 election, in order to drain support from the Labour Party. More recently, the ongoing row over antisemitism in the Labour Party, talked up by the BBC (which ignores powerful refutations by, for example, the Charedi Jews) has done serious damage to the reputation of the party itself and many leading left-wingers within it.

The proposed war on Iraq over the claim of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) (which did not in fact exist) led to Robin Cook’s famous resignation speech in the House of Commons in which he stated the undeniable fact that “Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner - not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council."

Dr David Kelly, a leading world expert on WMD, denied publicly that there were any WMD in Iraq.  His death soon after was put down as suicide. But serious questions remain. The scenario presented to the British public was that he, distraught by the uproar caused by his denial, took his own life by ingesting a large number of painkillers and then cutting his wrists. But the post mortem revealed that there was a minimal amount – less than half a tablet – of painkiller in his body, although a large number of tablets was missing from a bottle. He is supposed to have cut his wrists with a garden pruner – not very sharp. The paramedics present at the scene said that he had lost very little blood and was “incredibly unlikely” to have died from the wounds they saw.

There were other British casualties from that 2003 catastrophe, besides the actual war in Iraq in which possibly between half a million and a million people were killed. Craig Murray wrote: “the BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan, who correctly reported that there were no WMD, was fired for telling the truth. The punishment of the BBC for failing to unquestioningly echo Blair lies went much further. The Chairman and Director General were forced out. All because the BBC said there may have been no WMD, when there were not.”

Furthermore John Morrison, who was the parliamentary intelligence and security committee’s first investigator in 2004, had his contract prematurely terminated after he appeared on the BBC television programme Panorama, maintaining that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were not a “current and serious” threat as Tony Blair had argued. He also said, in a phrase that resonated widely with the media, that he “could almost hear the collective raspberry going up around Whitehall” in response to Blair’s claims. Asked if he regretted speaking out, he said: “The function of intelligence is to speak truth unto power – if it doesn’t do that it fails, and I felt somebody had to speak up for intelligence standards. I did that, I got sacked – I don’t regret it for a moment.” (From his obituary, written by his son, in The Guardian 28 June 2018)

So there were no WMD in Iraq and the Chilcot Inquiry drew attention in its Report to: “The need to be scrupulous in discriminating between facts and knowledge on the one hand and opinion, judgement or belief on the other.” and “The need for vigilance to avoid unwittingly crossing the line from supposition to certainty, including by constant repetition of received wisdom.”

Despite that mild warning from Chilcot (I love the word ‘unwittingly’) the practice of disinformation continues in this country. More recently and most blatantly, the affair of the Novichok poison. It is notable, by the way, that the BBC, in this instance, has been rather more loyal to the government of the day than in the WMD debacle.

I shan’t go over all the inconsistencies arising from the official accounts of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. These were well documented at the time. One suspects that the story did not arouse quite the heights of indignation that were needed. Thus, a second poisoning and – finally the unmasking of two suspects.

These two men, supposedly very able and accomplished employees of the GRU (Russian military intelligence), using Russian passports, were photographed coming through the gate at Gatwick at precisely the same second, although in the photographs released there is only one man in each, with none visible following. According to official accounts, they were supposed to have left “traces” of Novichok in their hotel bedroom. It is difficult to imagine a scene in which these two accomplished spies casually spill some of a lethal poison in their hotel room and then walk out apparently unharmed. In their interview with Russia Today they admitted they went to Salisbury, to see the cathedral, Old Sarum and one of the oldest working clocks in the world. They asked, pointedly, why the media did not show photographs of them at Salisbury Cathedral, since there were CCTV cameras there. Craig Murray did the maths and claimed that they could not have had time to reach the Skripal house on their visit.

At the time of writing the government’s latest claim is that these two men’s identities did not exist prior to 2009 because they had no passports before then.


Of course these few examples from a plethora of lies (barefaced or more subtle, baseless or supported by questionable evidence) do not arise simply from human nature. They have a purpose, and that purpose is always to serve the interests of the ruling class.

The recent attempts to demonise the Russian state by the use of the Skripal affair were helped by two more factors. One, the existence of socialism in the Soviet Union gave rise historically to the hatred of our ruling class and thus to countless lies, distortions and concealments of the truth which created a false image of that part of the world which capitalist Russia has perforce inherited; and two, the unwillingness of most people to believe that their own elected government could perpetrate such infamy, however other governments might behave.

So why is capitalist Russia a target of the United States and its allies? We are back to the attempted redivision of the world by capitalist forces. Russia is proving to be an obstacle to American (and Israeli) ambitions in the Middle East. Having destroyed Libya and seriously damaged Iraq, there is also the ongoing murder of thousands in Yemen. In Syria, however, the Western forces came up against a force which dared to withstand them and so far has succeeded. It remains to be seen whether Syria will survive. What is clear is that whatever our media tell us about Syrian and Russian crimes will almost certainly be untrue.

President Kennedy