Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2376

The government can’t keep track of its many imperialist crimes

This article is over 10 years, 7 months old
Issue 2376

The forgetful Foreign Office has just admitted to the existence of a hitherto secret archive of 1.2 million files recording how Britain ran its empire.

Only last year the government suddenly recalled that it had a warehouse in Buckinghamshire stuffed with 8,000 files from Kenya and 36 other former colonies that it had previously neglected to mention. 

The confession was forced by a court case brought by victims of torture by British forces during the Mau Mau independence war in Kenya during the 1950s. 

At the time of decolonisation many imperial documents were considered too sensitive for native eyes and the retreating colonialists removed them to the mother country.

But now the Foreign Office has admitted that these documents were part of a much larger secret archive, taking up about 15 miles of floor to ceiling shelving.

Legally all such documents should have been on record and made public after 30 years, unless granted special dispensation.


Some of these records go back to the Crimean War of 1853-56, which is considerably more than 30 years ago.

The archive is so large that countries and subjects are listed by the amount of space they take up. So there are 15 metres and 27 centimetres on Palestine. 

There is also a “bag” on the notorious cold war propaganda unit, Information Research Department.

Unsurprisingly the government’s first response to the discovery was more secrecy. Justice secretary Chris Grayling signed an authorisation last November putting the archive on a temporary legal footing. This didn’t include telling the public that it actually existed.

Now the story is out, the Foreign Office has rushed to assure everyone that the reason they weren’t made public was because “resources have not been available to review and prepare” them.

The Ministry of Defence has also admitted to having a secret archive. But it only contains 66,000 files and their warehouse is in Derbyshire.

  • The documents have been named as the “Special Collections” since they were discovered
  • The warehouse holding them is co-run by the Foreign Office and MI6
  • It is called Hanslope Park and is in the Buckinghamshire countryside near Milton Keynes. If they are declassified at the same rate that the earlier archive is achieving it will take 340 years to transfer them all to the National Archive at Kew

British Gas boss Chris Weston is hiking up prices - but hes alright

British Gas boss Chris Weston is hiking up prices – but he’s alright

Recruitor abuses unemployed people

Danny James, a recruitment consultant in Worcester, got himself lots of publicity denouncing the town’s jobseekers.

He had advertised 50 jobs and didn’t get any applications. That they were for night work on minimum wage advertised only four hours before the start of a shift probably didn’t help.

But there was more to the story than that.

Dean Scollan turned down one of the jobs. Danny James told him by text that he would be contacting the job centre to have his benefits stopped. 

He Facebooked, “You give someone a job that has been scrounging from us taxpayers for months if not years for them not to turn up on the first day of work!!! Lying, thieving arsehole!!!”

James said, “People like me do not work my bollocks off for lazy fuckers like you to sit on your arse and play computer games!!!!!”

Dean pointed out he would lose his housing benefit if he had taken the low pay job and he couldn’t afford a computer.

Hardworking MP tells truth to power

Daniel Kawczynski towered over disabled drug addict Mark McGuigan who was begging outside parliament. He told Mark “Get a job, find some work.”

Kawczynski knows about earning. On top of his MP salary and expenses he is the sole director and shareholder of SAH Solutions.

Government departments are among its clients.

He has not declared how much, if any, income he receives from SAH. In 2012, Kawczynski was paid £9,000 for three sessions of consultancy by a mining company, Tigris and £1,000 by Shamraeff, an engineering firm. 

In 2011, he got £2,000 for five hours’ work by a PR firm. He is a busy man.

Kawczynski has received donations in kind by a number of individuals, organisations and governments, including Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Morocco, Israel, and India.

As if one Osborne wasn’t enough…

George  Osborne and Boris Johnson have been in China, promoting trade and flogging contracts to build new nuclear power plants. 

They’ve even managed to send tweets about the trip. Which is odd, as the Chinese government blocks the social networking site Twitter. 

But it turns out it was just their assistants pretending to be them.

Council that thinks cuts are a game

Durham County Council is giving you a chance to choose your cut. 

In order to slash £100 million a year, residents will be asked to decide which services should be cut, and by roughly how much.

Residents will sit around a Monopoly-style board hosted by a council officer.

Where’s me jumper? asks the coalition

Energy Secretary Ed Davey declared he wears a jumper at home to cut heating bills. Cameron’s spin doctor suggested it was good advice.

The remark comes after the government’s own adviser warned that energy price hikes will kill this winter. It sparked a furious backlash from campaigners and politicians.

But Tory donor Lord Ashcroft backed the advice. 

The billionaire tweeted a picture of himself, “Wearing a jumper in support of the PM’s advice to cut energy costs.”

Cameron hires British Gas boss for advice

David Cameron gets regular advice from a British Gas boss—despite criticising the firm’s brutal 9.2 percent price hike.

Millionaire chairman Sir Roger Carr is said to provide “regular, high-level advice to the prime minister on critical business and economic issues facing the country”.

Carr lives in a £10 million London mansion with an underground swimming pool. Carr is on the PM’s Business Advisory Group.


Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance