2007 - 2022

These Islands — An Open Letter

3 doors down from my house in Berlin, cobbles commemorating Jews deported and murdered in 1943
3 doors down from my house in Berlin, cobbles commemorating
Jews deported and murdered in 1943

These Islands have played a distinguished part in articulating a civic British nationalism in Scottish public life. That matters.

When the Orange card is played again in a Scottish Election, and 10 Downing Street head-hunts out-of-the-box-thinking eugenicists, that matters.

But, there’s always a but.

These Islands Board Member Nigel Biggar is threatening that good work.

Last year, he organised a conference on the theme of ‘censorship’. It is not unreasonable that that would have questionable speakers. Here’s the programme, make your own mind up.

Let us look at 3 in particular.

The keynote is Eric Kaufmann, author of Whiteshift, Populism, Immigration And The Future Of White Majorities. Clearly ethnic nationalist forces are on the march in the UK and the US, the subject is critical.

But is Kaufmann a reporter on, or celebrant of, the phenomenon? Make your own mind up. Kaufmann’s work makes me decidedly uneasy but, in my opinion, doesn’t put him entirely beyond the pale.

Second, the once-British Lenin, Frank Furedi. The RCP cult he spawned (Living Marxism, the weirder, if that is possible, end of the Brexit Party, Spiked) have made a certain type of free speech their calling card.

It is a free speech that stretches from the right to be offensive on Twitter all the way to blowing up Mrs Thatcher and the Tory cabinet in Brighton.

But for all the noise, they are also genocide deniers.

Their former party and magazine collapsed under legal costs after they accused the ‘fake news’ MSM of fabricating evidence of Bosnian Serb mass murders.

Thirdly Bruce Gilley. He sprung to prominence when he hijacked an academic journal to publish his own un-peer-reviewed article of which the abstract reads:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.

War crimes, there is no way to ‘create new Western colonies from scratch’ without them, because creating a new colony is a war crime.

But the kickers comes this year.

First up with the recent call in The Daily Telegraph by Andrew Roberts for the Prime Minister to purge academia.

The thrust of this article is that now that the Tories have won a majority the Prime Minister needs to purge universities and the arts to ensure the opposition can’t win — a call for British Orbánisn.

Surely the great defender of academic freedom will rush to protect it from such an imposition? Au contraire.



With a flash of lightening, the conference on censorship, the cry of victimisation issued from the lofty heights of a column in The Times is revealed as a fraud.

And this week the announcement of a Free Speech Union — the first cause championed by his co-founder, Toby Young, is that of Andrew Sabisky.

The Sabisky case is not free speech. Nobody is proposing he be arrested, or his reddit posts or blog comments be censored. This is not an employment case of a tree surgeon employed despite his membership of the NF.

Sabisky was selected because of his beliefs, beliefs that include reproduction management for the underclass, an intrinsic race basis for intelligence and eugenics.

This is not a game, this eugenics debate, this return, this ‘scientific’ racism. This is not defending powerless free thinkers at the fringe of academia — this is defending the right of a Prime Minister to staff his policy organisation with people like Sabisky.

This is about breaking down the norms of a free and just society.

Recognition of the Russian colonization of Crimea, denying genocide, or calling for the purging of Scottish academic and civil life of opponents of the Scottish Government would all be grounds for exclusion from civil debate and discourse in Scottish politics — and rightly so.

The notion of First Ministerial advisers promoting Picto-Scotti fantasies of ethnic superiority is grotesque and unthinkable.

If it were not, I would hope and expect These Islands to lead the charge against it. Tom Holland honourably jumped boots first into Labour’s anti-semitism row.

Nigel Biggar is not fit to be on the board of These Islands. To lose the leading British civic nationalist organisation to Orbánist ethnic-populism would be a profound loss. Don’t leave us, Scotland needs you.

4 doors down from me in Berlin there are three brass cobbles set in the pavement. One for Arthur Rosenhow deported from Graefestraße 3 in 1943 to his death in Auschwitz. A pair for Jenny and Isidor Bukofzer, deported at the same time, fate unknown, marked with three hopeful question marks.

I like to think the Bukofzers got away, but those question marks are a stark reminder that never again is now.

Comments (12)

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  1. Meg says:

    It takes time for arrogance to implode..as surely it must….we must keep the spotlight on it…draw attention to it..let it not flourish…arrogance and all that follows is like a demon sitting in the Westminster govt….feeding on fear instilled in ordinary people……..and spitting out policies without conscience or care …for they the government people are well fed and well shod no doubt and they do not see beyond ..they know no other way to see…..and that is the most dangerous thing…who will inform them ?

  2. maxwell macleod says:

    An interesting evaluation of the conference with particular reference to the ” Keynote speaker.”
    I note that he makes no mention of some of the other presumably less significant speakers who include; Gordon Brown, Douglas Alexander, Gerry Hassan and Chris Whitley. I found the tone distinctly uncomfortable.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Mr MacLeod, your comment is rather spare and, consequently, it is not clear what you actually mean. Can you elaborate it a little, please?

  3. Bill says:

    The Sabisky case is the most frightening. There is no scientific proof for the eugenics poison. In fact many peer reviewed articles conclusively report that it is dangerous rubbish. Scientifically the the eugenics argument does not hold up. YET Sabisky was hired as a member of the new wave of scientific advisors to the government by the leading scientific advisor – Dom Cummings.

    The irony of the position has obviously escaped them all. – as has the statement by ‘Not so Priti Patel’ that under her new legislation, her parents would not have been allowed to enter Britain.

    One is left wondering – when will they start burning books?

  4. Daniel Raphael says:

    Outstanding–which is the benchmark at this site. Tweeted to as many as I can fit into a tweet.

  5. Rob McClair says:

    What a splendid post…despite the objectionable nature of both the subject and those referred to therein.
    That said, we Scots need to be constantly reminded that we too have evil elements in our midst today too.
    Following the collapse…it can be described as no less…of the Tory party in particular inside Scotland, we increasingly see that desperate and anti-democratic methods are being used to try and head off the inexorable and democratic progress to independence through the ballot box .
    The presence of an increasing vocal and as always, vitriolic opposition who…having been embarrassingly rejected by mainstream scots in the last three general elections in succession ….represents what is argubly the last remaining, and even remotely cogent, organised opposition in the sinister form of the Orange Order.
    Their increased profile seems to be a direct consequence of those electoral results…( which for the record were as follows)
    Scotland has 59 Westminster seats, which means that, over the last 3 successive elections, the various parties were contesting a total of 177 seats.
    Labour………….9 seats won
    LibDems………9 seats won
    Tories…………20 seats won
    …………..leaving the union-supporting parties with some 38 in total.

    Meantime, the SNP….a party formed for the very specific purpose of achieving independence for Scotland and the scottish people…….achieved some 139 seats.

    Now, that would seem to indicate very clearly indeed, the ever-increasing tide of support for a party with that constantly and openly expressed objective……..and correspondingly, the rapid demise both at the ballot box, and in freefall membership numbers amongst the aforesaid unionist movements.
    That leads us today to a position whereby, in the absence of any POLITICAL opposition, another movement, with no democratic credentials beyond an incessant pursuit that, regardless of the electorates expressed views, ‘ the union must prevail”.
    That first launched itself ( well, in modern times that is) on the electorate by its organisation of the biggest-by-far pro-union rally in Edinburgh in the days immediately preceding their victory in the original 2014 vote….and as a democrat, I have no issue with them re that…
    However, we DID see, in the immediate aftermath hours of that win, what can only be considered as a gang of unionist thugs , rampaging through George Sq. In Glasgow on the 19th….(and indeed, the interested can see this on you tube video in their own time )………….Also worrying, during that lawlessness so apparent on that video, is the obvious pleasure being taken in ripping up the saltire…and even more so….the clear tones of many ulster accents amidst the ranks of these animals, suggesting that these were not mere ‘ locals’ having celebratory festivities.
    I therefore raise the spectre of a scottish public who, (having rejected yet again, the democratic union-supporting political voices), are soon to have a renewed onslaught from those neo-fascist, union-at-whatever-cost thugs, being the last throw of the dice ( apart from bricks, bottles and the like) for a cause that most thinking, democracy supporting scots now eternally show to be lost…and show that, as it should be…at the ballot box.
    …..and ask yourself, if that be NOT the case….and referring back to the electoral results tabulated above….what ARE unionists left to do…..now that democratic solutions have evaporated for a movement that the public has a very clearly expressed opinion upon.
    I invite you therefore to beware those who seek to influence you through violence, and who inevitably fail to put their case ever before us at a polling booth ! They will not go quietly….far less peacefully !

  6. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    Nigel Biggar expressed his opposition to Scottish independence in a STANDPOINT mag article (pre-referendum 2014):

    ‘Independence Will Do Nothing for Scots: The claimed benefits are doubtful and the risks for all Britons are considerable. Only a fool would vote for Salmond’s wild adventure’


    Responses to that article seem to be no longer online, perhaps due to a re-jig of the STANDPOINT site. However, a copy of my own lost comment can still be read here:


  7. Alan says:

    Never again is now. See Après Brexit in the LRB, in which a former head of Thatcher’s Number 10 Policy Unit explains why the current Johnson government amounts, at best, to “low-tar fascism”.

  8. SleepingDog says:

    The idea of fascist infiltration of tertiary education in Scotland did not occur to me until I witnessed it. It may have been what the Ghost in the Shell committee call a “standalone-complex” which the urban dictionary defines as “Accidental collectivism made up of detached individuals, resembling a highly organized conspiracy and lacking a deliberate origin.” And in any case, it was in the support not the teaching divisions. But it was pretty clear that a senior manager can start recruiting and promoting people on the basis of, say, open military or militarist backgrounds without presumably raising red flags.

    Although the article is clearly highlighting a call for an organized ideological invasion, the groundwork may have already been laid.

    Eugenic positions have long been held through the racist British Imperial establishment. Some care needs to be taken, as some soft eugenic positions border on questions of social or medical ethics. Eugenics technically just means ‘good genes’, and some of the more terrible implications or abuses can be out of sight as long as proponents take care not to talk about ‘master races’ and Untermensch. Apparently William Beveridge of delivery-society-from-evils report fame was part of a eugenics group for a while. Ethicist and animal rights philosopher Peter Singer’s views have been protested against as eugenecist, although presumably he comes from the unfashionable viewpoint that humans are not a ‘master race’.

    If the arguments of Nigel Biggar and Andrew Roberts are the typical frothing rightist gibberish that is popular but easily exposed by critical analysis and largely uncontested public interpretations of history record, then it is clear why they want to suppress critical analysis and control historical interpretations through the kind of ideological straitjacket that historian Tom Devine has apologetically described as having throttled discussion of Scottish participation in slavery, and indeed the promising modern tools of inquiry that treat women as people.

  9. Jo says:

    “Recognition of the Russian colonization of Crimea….”

    This is factually incorrect.

    The existing Ukraine government was toppled via a coup (which was supported by Western governments like the US and the UK).

    The people of Crimea opposed this and chose to remain with Russia.

    These events were actually reported accurately at the time by news outlets like the BBC.

    There was significant coverage about the deep disquiet in Crimea that the existing Ukraine government had been taken out. It was clear there was no support in Crimea for that coup. There was a referendum in which Crimea made a very clear choice. Yet, subsequently, the narrative was completely rewritten by the UK media. We’re now told that Russia just decided to partition Crimea!

    One of the terrible things today is the dishonesty employed even while people are objecting to dishonesty! It would make you weep. But the scariest thing of all is when one has actually witnessed the original (accurate) news broadcasts about certain events at the time and then, later, witnessed a dramatically altered account and a very different (untrue) version being put out altogether.

    The same issues arise with Syria. Yesterday I watched Dateline London on the BBC News Channel. It featured the “political commentator” Yasmin Alibhail Brown shouting and sniping viciously at Abdel Bari Atwan across a desk on the subject of Syria. She too was content to peddle a seriously dodgy narrative, refusing to allow any related discussion on the catastrophic impact of Western interference in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, lately, Syria. Or “regime change”. It didn’t suit her own dishonest narrative.

    It is increasingly difficult to trust media in general. For when one has witnessed so many major events unfolding at the time yet sees these peculiarly named “political commentators” and established news outlets actively seeking to mislead, no, lie, about them it becomes impossible to have confidence in anything.

    1. Arboreal Agenda says:

      The media is one thing (and I partly agree) but it also comes down to our own honesty / integrity.

      There was a programme on R4 last night about how we so easily deliberately misinterpret stuff to suit our own worldview. Nothing special in that except to say that studies show that those who are most keen to apparently be objective and honest whilst still very much pushing a line, can be the worst culprits. This is because they are very good at knowing about stuff and are armed with facts so can always argue well and convincingly, but their use of such material is almost effortlessly one-sided. My experiences in ‘my own’ particular social media bubble (and it has to be said – of a fair bit of the material on this site) is that this is frustratingly true such that I often find myself arguing with my ‘own side’ for pushing well-informed but completely one-sided arguments that purport to be the whole truth.

      There is nothing new in any of this of course. I remember thinking the same decades ago when I first got involved with leftist politics and anti-nuclear actions in the mid 80s, way before the online world existed. But it matters more now because of the net since falsehoods and / or distorted ideologies can spread so much and so deeply and there is a very strong temptation to use that power for apparently good and progressive cause and sort of worry about dealing with the consequences that positive change was built on false and dishonest premises later: the end justifies the means in other words. But I decided very early on when learning about the detail of revolutionary movements that for me, that mantra was both dangerous and often false and can lead ultimately (and sometimes a long way down the line), to failure.

    2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Further to Jo’s comment – in the mid 1950s Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine when both were part of the USSR. This action was taken on the instigation of Nikita Khruschev, who was Secretary General of the Communist Party and also a Ukrainian.

      Of course, in the long epoch’s of history, the Crimea, like most other places, has been part of different empires, states, provinces, etc. and this historic argument has been used by leaders throughout the ages as a casus belli usually for self-aggrandisement.

      Jo is right to deplore the biased presentation in the UK media. The UK media do not have a monopoly on bias, but that does not excuse them and many self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ like Yasmin Alibhai Brown can be as guilty as the right wing media of perpetrating such porkies. In my opinion, The Guardian has been far more anglocentric and dismissively colonialist in attitude to Ireland, Scotland and Wales than most of the right wing media. The Mail, Express, Sun, Times, for example, all have had Scottish editions for many decades.

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