Monday, May 11, 2009

The Breathtaking Idiocy of Criag Murray

The former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray is a funny old chap. A quick Internet search for anyone that doesn't know him will tell you most of what you need to know. Some years ago he caused a bit of storm when he, quite rightly, voiced concerns about Britain's relationship with Uzbekistan because its leader, President Karimov was rather adept at doing things like boiling his political opponents alive.

Obviously at a time when Britain was supposed to be following an "ethical foreign policy", her cordial relations with such a man were somewhat contradictory to the stated official position. As a result of voicing his concerns, and I'm speaking from memory here, Craig Murray basically lost his job, and I believe there were things said and written about him, the truth of which were questionable, in relation to his personal life, mental stability etc etc.

The real problem though is that sometimes, on the odd occasion, this Rector of the University of Dundee and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law, has a tendency to formulate argument that really is not becoming of such lofty titles. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't bother commenting on them but if they're going to be directed at me then, well, I might as well replied to them directly.

Today is such a day and Craig Murray has done a blogpost which is, and I'm being kind here, utterly retarded. Under the title of The Breathtaking Hypocrisy of Tory Bloggers he has decided to soil his Tena ladies by making an argument with circumstantial ad hominen fallacies and, more amusingly for me, out of context quotes which are used to push a line that had the quote been put into context was already being made by me anyway. I pity any undergraduate that has to experience such woefully weak argument.

Last night I posted and linked to the Spectator where Fraser Nelson had posted a snippet from an interview with Michael Gove from a while back. The snippet noted that Gove had made it quite clear that he was moving his main home. I noted the following,
The whole "flipping" thing on an MPs main/second residence looks to be one that, unless someone did it with odd and convenient economic circumstances, for example Margaret Moran, then it may be difficult to prove that a fiddle was the intent of the switch. Especially if, like Gove, you're on the record talking about it yonks ago because you really did move.

Note: Flipping or non-flipping aside, it doesn't excuse splashing out excessive amounts to do your place up of course.
Pretty straight forward I think. If you flip your residence and suddenly discover moments after doing it that you need to spend thousands on building work or something like that it looks dodgy. If you flip and do actually move because of family and you're pretty open about it then it doesn't. However, if you splash out cash excessively after the flip, even if the reason for the flip was legitimate, then it's not a valid excuse.

Ergo, Gove flip itself not bad; Gove splashing out excessively on new "main" home is bad. Doesn't take a genius to see that was actually what I said. Painstakingly obvious in fact. Disdain for Gove's spending on the new home; but accepting of the fact that the move itself appears not to have been motivated by the desire to buy some new chairs. The move itself does not justify the spending, but the move itself was not unjustified. Duh!

And so on to the Rector of the University of Dundee and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. His post chose to quote only this bit, "it may be difficult to prove that a fiddle was the intent of the switch. Especially if, like Gove, you're on the record talking about it yonks ago because you really did move." From this starting point Murray concludes that I'm ignoring Gove's spending on decking out his new home, and further that,

"trendy Tory blogs will be even more lickspittle yes-men, purveyors of excuses for the inexcusable, servile followers of uncaring leaders, than NuLab blogs are now."
Err... Craig... you lamentable tithead. Firstly, I'm not the least bit trendy. True I wear a lot of Bench and Animal clothing because I hate the fact that I have passed the age of 30, but I don't eat organic food, nor drive a Prius. I have a 4x4 and love battery farmed eggs because they're cheap. Secondly, and this is the really important part so I'll speak s l o w l y. Had you left the important "Note" in then you wouldn't have needed to argue your outrage against me at all because I'd already made your point for you.

Admittedly, I made your argument for you in just a sentence rather than a number of paragraphs. But then I'm a mere prole of a chap who hasn't reached he lofty heights of the Diplomatic Service or been given Fellowships or any such thing. A worthless little oik who's just a trendy tory lickspittle yes-man. Go me! However, I digress. I also mentioned some fallacious reasoning by "our man [formerly] in Uzbekistan".

You see, he took issue with me using the phrase "on the record" noting that "except he's not on the record. It wasn't published." Slight problem here Craig old chap. Being "on the record" is not necessarily the same as "being published". An on the record interview can be edited after all. The pieces on the cutting room floor are not, off the record per se, they're just not published.

I understand that might be a difficult concept to grasp but we all have our faults right? I mean, sometimes I have piles, but these are the things we have to live with. One of my biggest fault little one is that I tend to patronise and condescend people when they're painfully wrong. It's not my fault, I just enjoy it. Especially if it's someone that banners themselves with their former or honorary titles to make themselves look tremendously smart.

There is though another rather amusing little fallacy that I'm sure the undergraduates of Dundee's Philosophy Department's would enjoy in your little post. It was where you said,

We have the word of crazed ultra neo-con, and favourite Murdoch commentator, Frazer Nelson. I would take the word of Ronnie Biggs before I took the word of Frazer Nelson. On anything.
This is a rather neat little trick of laying out what one believes someone is, in order to argue that what they say must therefore be false. In the words of Tony Blair to John Major it is "weak, weak, weak".

You see, Fraser Nelson could be a Stalinist oppressor of millions, or a jackboot wearing Mussolini type. He could even be a street beggar with a litany of criminal offences against his name and a history of perjury. However, it does not therefore follow that what he might say is a priori untrue, and trying to argue as such actually makes a mockery of the official positions you currently hold.

So finally, I guess all I have to say is. Bugger off.

20 comments:

IanW said...

Prehaps geekdom is becoming trendy, Dizzy. Your perl scripts will blow their minds, I'm sure.

Alex said...

I am afraid I incline to the Murray view of the Gove switcheroo, although I don't share his view of Gove in general.

Family reasons be damned. I don't mind if he switches houses from time to time, but to claim for improvements at both homes so quickly looks like milking the system.

dizzy said...

Alex, I think that was my point as well. Spending wrong, moving not in itself wrong.

MerkinOnParis said...

Mr. Gove has previous form for dishonesty, does he not?

I am thinking of 'forged receipts from bookshops' type of form.

dizzy said...

You see, Michael Gove could be a Stalinist oppressor of millions, or a jackboot wearing Mussolini type. He could even be a street beggar with a litany of criminal offences against his name and a history of perjury. However, it does not therefore follow that what he might say is a priori untrue.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Craig Murray a blog mate of good old Tim Ireland?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Isn't Craig Murray a blog mate of good old Tim Ireland?Fucking tedious you mean?

lwtc247 said...

Is your posiiton that whenever it is said 'a verbal communication was exchanged' and it didn't happen to get published, then we should be content that it did happen?

If not, then what is your position?

Thanks.

dizzy said...

"Is your posiiton that whenever it is said 'a verbal communication was exchanged' and it didn't happen to get published, then we should be content that it did happen?"

No, my contention is that a being "on the record" is not necessarily the same as "being published". An "on the record" interview can be edited. The edited parts are not therefore, off the record per se, they're just not published. The question of their truth or untruth is not the point. The point is that to say that that which is unpublished is not on the record is the flaw in Craig Murray's argument.

lwtc247 said...

You made the being "on the record" is not necessarily the same as "being published" quite clear, but that is quite off focus.

Murray is saying (apologies to him for my unauthorised ‘explanation’ of his written words) is that the convo should be regarded as suspicious because it relies solely upon the retrospective declarations of an associate of Gove. If however it have been published, (which would mean it was on the record) then Gove’s claim could not in fact be questioned.

I find it very difficult to use “he told me” as reassurance a claim is true. Neither (presumably) do a number of judges who have imprisoned thousands employing such a defence.

dizzy said...

Murray is saying (apologies to him for my unauthorised ‘explanation’ of his written words) is that the convo should be regarded as suspicious because it relies solely upon the retrospective declarations of an associate of Gove.

circumstantial ad hominem argument

lwtc247 said...

"circumstantial ad hominem argument"

Thanks.

Demetrius said...

I admit to sometimes doing things one way when I say they should be done another. This simply shows my ability to relate to changing circumstances. Other people do one thing and say another. They are hypocrites. So there.

Henry Crun said...

Bench and Admiral, Dizzy.

Blue Harbour can't be far away now.

Anonymous said...

You don't understand rhetoric, do you?

dizzy said...

Err was that directed at me? I ask simply because rhetoric can be easily demolished with logic.

MerkinOnParis said...

You see, Michael Gove could be a Stalinist oppressor of millions, or a jackboot wearing Mussolini type. He could even be a street beggar with a litany of criminal offences against his name and a history of perjury. However, it does not therefore follow that what he might say is a priori untrue.I don't think Mr Murray is saying that one follows from the other.

He is just saying, I think, that past behaviour is a good indication of how much weight we should give to the claims of crazed neocons Nelson and Gove in this case.

dizzy said...

As already mentioned, past history and circumstances is irrelevant to an assessment of truth.

Charles Crawford said...

Dizzy/All

As another former British Ambassador turned blogger I have written at some length about what Craig Murray and his behaviour tell us about the conduct of diplomacy and the issues of substance he raises. See www.charlescrawford.biz under The Craig Murray Saga category of postings.

I also have invited him to a public debate of some sort on Diplomacy and Ethics and the themese thereof. Negotiations continue.

In this case CM is wildly flailing away again using even libellous language to draw attention to himself. Not alas untypical.

On the substance, it seems to me that even if Conservative MPs have abused the system, the overwhelming responsibility for this fiasco lies with Labour. They have had a huge majority for years, plus they have appointed a Speaker not up to the job. So they created a context in which this sort of behaviour could happen and did nothing to stop it.

Grotesque.

Charles

Numberstation said...

Dizzy, I am inclined to agree with Murray and think your little rant frankly pathetic.

As for Mr Crawford - you are just one of many undertaking intellectual post hoc rationalisation in order to make this a labour/tory issue. It's not - it is quite clearly a culture that runs deep through all of Westminster. To say that 'the overwhelming responsibility for this fiasco lies with Labour.' degrades any respect one could have mustered for you previously.