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November 26, 2014



So, as a kipper, he's a birther, but is he a truther?


I like the reference to a 'second-hand nuclear weapon', as though it was sold parked-up on a grass verge by a roundabout.

Igor Belanov

It wasn't 'second-hand' in the sense of 'used' then?


"When I told Mr. Shrimpton about the shielding effect of ordinary water at the time, he was delighted, and promptly offered me the post of secretary of state for the environment in a government he said he was forming."
Not guilty by reason of insanity, m'lud.


We can get onto the second hand nuke in a minute, but right now I would like more detail on which of the rivers in south east England are deep enough to hide a submarine. Does he mean the Thames?


dsquared: there is at present a second-hand Russian submarine moored in the Medway. I have seen it. PS: I am not a crackpot.
Whether it could get underwater without banging its keel on the mud, though, I do not know. There is a shipping channel in the Thames estuary that is kept dredged to 11m deep. This is ample for even a pretty large ship but very marginal for even a small submarine. Small subs have a draught (when surfaced of 4-5m, and then you have to add the height above the waterline, which could easily be another 3-4m.


Wait, I thought Monkton was against subsidies?


This blog has a new article with a bit more about Shrimpton, if you can get past the right wing stuff.


Yes I figured that you could probably sail[1] a submarine up the Thames if you were prepared to have the Indiana Jones bit sticking out of the water, just going by that fact that HMS Belfast must have got up there once and is bigger than a sub. But a) this would be quite conspicuous and draw attention of the sort that would get your cargo investigated and b) if you are not able to use the underwater capability, why not put your nuke on a normal boat rather than going to all the trouble of finding and restoring a U-boat. I think this guy might be a nut.

[1] or whatever the right verb is


Or thinking about it, rather than a simple nutter, he might be a sane but rather gullible person whose high-level mates in there intelligence services don't actually like him and/or have a cruel sense of humour. It is not uncommon tradecraft to try to destroy a potentially damaging source's credibility by feeding him risibly false information in a cloak and dagger way that makes him suspend his usual judgement. But having a fucking nuclear Nazi submarining up past Tower Bridge seems pretty extreme.


you could probably sail[1] a submarine up the Thames

The Austrian Navy, I seem to recall, had sail-powered submarines.

I think this guy might be a nut.

Well, as General Turgidson said in similar circumstances, I hardly like to rush to judgement on a matter like this until all the facts are in.


Actual RN submariners tend to refer to "driving" a submarine, which is disappointing in a way.


He read extracts from his address book with a number of 'contacts' in the CIA, FBI, MI6, the Pentagon, Chinese intelligence and Parliament.

Shrimpton said: "I admit that the stuff I deal with is bound to sound strange, high falutin', incredible and fantastic.

"It's my world, welcome to my world."

(From the Mirror.)

And maybe it is. But there's nothing to stop him being ex-intel and a Kipper and crazy.

What Monckton is playing at, on the other hand... but I need to get some work done today.


I suppose eventually we'll hear the outcome of the court ordered psychiatric examination.


"I'll be blogging properly again soon, maybe..."

Hope you do. Don't always agree with your perspective but B & T is one of the more interesting offerings to link to from the Crooked list.


But there's nothing to stop him being ex-intel and a Kipper and crazy.

In fact ISTR noting that, at least judging by the CIA's history, there's probably a correlation, in that symptoms of craziness are more difficult to spot in the intelligence world; if you're a hairdresser (and crazy) and you tell a colleague that you think someone followed you in to work and has bugged your house, they will think you are nuts, but if you're in MI5 (and crazy) they'll take you entirely seriously and even if you're proved to be mistaken they'll just think you're being laudably vigilant and erring on the side of safety.


ajay, that sounds about right. Counterintelligence in particular is, by definition, being a professional conspiracy theorist. So it must be really hard to weed out the actual nutjobs.


guthrie: wow, blogger heroically throws self between paedo inquiry and Tories. Talk about a skewed distribution of payoffs...if it turns out to be a bust, you get to be a comments thread guru for 15 minutes, if not, you're that person who said the victims are all like the crazy nuke submarine guy, for life.


Also, LOL at the 2005-style stream of consciousness, paragraphs are for old media shtick. A bad case of "there's only one Belle Waring and you're not".


Ajay and Dan: James Jesus Angleton...

Dan Hardie

'A bad case of "there's only one Belle Waring and you're not".'

Although of late, the same judgement could be applied to Belle Waring herself.

Dan Hardie

About fifteen or twenty years ago, the Telegraph used to re-publish selected obituaries in book form, organised thematically. (I think it still does re-publish some of them, but alas just in a non-thematic way.) One of the most-thumbed books on my shelf is a secondhand copy of 'Heroes and Adventurers', including the likes of Harry Ree, DSO, the conscientious objector turned SOE saboteur who escaped from a Feldgendarm by biting the poor man's nose off. Another collection, which I kick myself for not getting at the time, was entitled simply 'Rogues'. So a question for the B&T collective: if we were editing a collection of obits of the greatest rogues who died in the years 1994-2014, who would make the grade?

Savile would have to be in, obviously, though there's the embarrassing problem that all his actual obituaries verged on the obsequious. Perhaps there'd be some merit on re-printing them as an object lesson in just how wrong the press and public can get things.

Dan Hardie

Correct spellings are Feldgendarme and Harry Rée. The Rée obit had some great stories. Having parachuted by night into France, he walked in civilian clothes several miles along country towns, encountering the odd peasant but fortunately no Germans, until someone was kind enough to tell him that a Sten gun was sticking rather obviously out of his rucksack. Having made it to the nearest town, the first French Resistance operative who met him advised him to go back to England immediately because his Manchester accent was so strong.

None the less, he succeeded in sabotaging the Peugeot works in Sochaux, converted to tank production, essentially by walking into the owner's office and suggesting that it would be a good idea for him to show a sabotage team round the works so that they could blow up the essential bits. Postwar he ended up as a Professor of Education, a job he gave up when nearly sixty in order to go back to classroom teaching in a London comprehensive... Autres temps, autres moeurs.


So a question for the B&T collective: if we were editing a collection of obits of the greatest rogues who died in the years 1994-2014, who would make the grade?

Let me be the first to suggest Colonel Gaddafi. (I am assuming that 'rogues' includes 'evil bastards', given we're including Savile, rather than just the sort of lovable rascal it normally implies.)

Dan Hardie

Gaddafi, definitely. I think the book should be heavy on serious rogues, with just the odd lovable rascal to provide a little light relief- so Savile, definitely.

Also: Slobodan Milosevic; Franjo Tudjman; Osama bin Laden; Richard Nixon (d. Apr. 1994); Sani Abacha (d. June 1998); George Wallace (d. September 1998)...

Dan Hardie

Pol Pot died in April 1998, so he's in. Foday Sankoh, the poor man's Pol Pot, shuffled off this mortal coil in July 2003, without anyone having amputated his hands with a panga.

Boris Yeltsin? I won't claim to be an expert on post-Soviet Russia, but I think there are arguments that things might have been even more awful without him, dreadful though they were with him.


Are we not doing Saddam Hussein because he's too obvious, or because we're middle class liberals, who by definition love him?


Moving away a bit from the history's greatest monsters theme, Clifford Baxter (suicide, 2001) would summarise the Enron collapse, and although it is a bit unfair to call Brian Lenihan a "rogue" as he was by all accounts a charming and principled man, he is the only major player in the Euroland banking crisis to have an obituary. Also, you don't get to be deputy leader of Fianna Fail by being charming and principled all the time.


dsquared's approach is a good one, I think; ideally what you want to end up with is not just a collection of obits as they originally appeared in the paper, though that would be good, but a collection of sort of LRB-type articles on various broad topics of roguery, where you use the appearance of the book (or in this case the cadaver) as an excuse to write a long article about the general topic.

So, Clifford Baxter is dead: let me tell you about Enron and the 2000 financial bubble and all the wrongdoing around that. Brian Lenihan and the euro crisis. Gaddafi: let me tell you about terrorism in the 1970s and 80s. Yeltsin: let me tell you about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Putin. Nixon: the rise of the American Right.

Which means you might not have to do both Tudjman and Milosevic, for example. Or you could do them jointly. Nixon and Wallace too for that matter. bin Laden and Najibullah. Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad.

All eight of the Eight Immortals hit that bracket as well. There's one for jamie to write.

Actually this sounds like a really good book idea.


Ken Lay hits the bracket as well, doesn't he? And he got his conviction voided posthumously!


Of course, he does.

I would have Hurricane Higgins in there with George Best, representing the class of "lovable rogues" whose talents with a ball sort of blinded us to the fact that their actual behaviour was often disgusting (Jeffrey Bernard, Oliver Reed - this one could be quite a long category if you broadened it beyond sport). And Kenneth Williams with a "just in time" award, for managing to pop his clogs and fix his National Treasure status shortly before it was decided that the practice of paedophiliac sex tourism was no longer an amusing peccadillo to be expected among theatrical types.


Not sure why Gadaffi gets a mention, his country seems a lot worse off without him than it was with him. Ditto Saddam, or even Najibullah.


Really, etudiant? You're sincerely not sure? You are honestly puzzled about why the former head of KhAD might appear on a list of evil bastards?

Chris Williams

I'd agree that Libya itself looks worse off without Gadaffi than it was with him, but:
a) a full accounting has to look at the impact of his batshit crazy foreign policy, not just in Berlin and the Ardoyne, but crucially in the rest of Africa
b) how much of the post-Gadaffi melt-down can be blamed on 30 years during which any effective civil society institutions which were not part of the regime were ground out of existence? My answer would be 'not all, but some'.


Not to mention that it would be possible for someone to be a truly evil bastard and still to be succeeded by someone or something worse. Lenin was not a nice man. Stalin was worse.


Hell, Germany looked a lot worse off immediately after Hitler died than it did for pretty much all of his time in power.


Euro-rogue: Jörg Haider. Crooked, shameless closeted neo-Nazi who became an icon both of stupid crap euronationalist politics AND the neoliberal banking disaster.


It is rare in any dictatorship to find 'effective civil society institutions which were not part of the regime'.
So Gaddafi's regime was not unusual in that regard. At most he could be blamed for not broadening his regime more effectively, but he did try to develop the country and put a lot of money into infrastructure. His African policies may have been 'batshit crazy', but just looking at Mali, not to mention points further inland, he does not look as demented. I think his successors and emulators will conclude that giving up his nuclear program was his fatal mistake. He was actually trying to play ball with the Western powers but they kicked him out anyway. Presumably devolving the country into tribal chaos was the intervention's goal and if so, mission accomplished. I guess Syria is the next country to experience this kind of 'liberation'.
As for Najibullah, post Abu Graib I'm less persuaded that he was a greater blight than his foreign successors. The Soviet invaders were a lot less destructive and deadly than their western replacements.


At most he could be blamed for not broadening his regime more effectively

You're really not giving an inch on the mass murder and torture thing are you?

nick s

Idi Amin lasted till 2003 in Saudi Arabia, Mobutu until 1997 in Morocco, Baby Doc Duvalier just last month, and that reminds me that the whole "dictator-in-exile" thing that was the preferred retirement for 70s-vintage dictators seems to have gone out of fashion at some point.

Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chavez...

For lesser-grade roguery: Felix Dennis died this year, and though he wasn't a professional rogue, he certainly operated at the edge of dodginess, which translated into a house in Mustique and poetry readings that were actually pissups with extremely good wine from his cellar.


Marc Rich, for showing you really can have it all: wanted fugitive and billionaire business mogul.

Berezovsky, for...oh, hang on a minute.

Actually, a combined obit for the pair of them, as East/West variations on a theme, could be pretty interesting.


Idi Amin lasted till 2003 in Saudi Arabia, Mobutu until 1997 in Morocco, Baby Doc Duvalier just last month

These could all be bundled together with Hosni Mubarak into a portmanteau essay on "dictators who were are mates right up until we remembered we always hated them" (third world division; I think Pinochet and Sir Nicolae Ceaucescu would be a separate essay)


Strange to find myself thinking "Thatcher? Ian Paisley? Nah, not awful enough". They're too straightforward -- I think rogues have to be people whose life story you can't quite believe. Gaddafi is great, because he just gets weirder the more you look.

Richard J

John Aspinall would seem to be a shoe-in.

Barry Freed

These could all be bundled together with Hosni Mubarak into a portmanteau essay on "dictators who were are mates right up until we remembered we always hated them"

Looks like we may need an update on that Mubarak entry. Also, holy shit.

1995 was a good year: Ronnie Kray, Siad Barre, Murray Rothbard, Edward Fucking Bernays *drops mic*

Barry Freed

Oh, and the Harry Rée stuff is great.

Chris Williams

If we are to go Northern Irish and keep up the joint-biography theme, for maximum effect we might have to wait until Martin McGuiness and Billy Hutchinson shuffle off. Or are shuffled. There's actually a slight chance that the DNB could be persuaded to do a themed release on 'rogues', but they would need to be UK-linked to qualify.

Chris Williams

Alan Clark.


I would jointly biographise (?) The Reverend Ian with Bob Jones Jr (d.1997). Northern Ireland is obviously important, but the split in American evangelism and the rise of fundamentalist Christianity as a political force was really really important and Dr Ian (an honorary doctorate from BJU) was a massive influence on BJ2. Because of the political thing, people underestimate Paisley's importance as a theologian.


It's not enough to be awful to be a rogue, though. Pinochet, for example, was a monster but no rogue - he was far too earnest, far too obvious, and far too dull to get in. Haider was a rogue but no monster - you don't get monstrous status just by being annoying and losing money. Jimmy Savile or Foday Sankoh were both monsters and also rogues.

Ahmed Chalabi is certainly a rogue, a prize rogue, and you can argue how much of a monster he is. But he's not dead - and it strikes me that one of the defining characteristics of a good rogue is that they always seem to get away with it.

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