The Curmudgeon


Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Catholic Orangemen of Togo

and Other Conflicts I Have Known

Before his spot of bother in Uzbekistan, Craig Murray was employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in western Africa. This account of Murray's adventures in Ghana, Togo and Nigeria clearly shows that, even at that early stage of his career, he had the makings of an enemy of democracy.

For one thing, he appears to have been genuinely concerned for the welfare of Africans, rather than the profit of British corporations and their New Labour chums; for another, the Africans whose welfare most concerned him appear to have been, not hard-working dictators or enterprising politicians, but common everyday wogs whose villages could often be reached only after much hard driving in an off-road vehicle, much to the inconvenience of certain saloon-bound security personnel.

Indeed, it is tempting to regard the very structure of Murray's book as a slap in the face to the slick self-exculpation of Blairism. The Catholic Orangemen of Togo opens and closes with discreditable episodes from Murray's complicated and, as he himself admits, unfair love-life, which is not at all the Reverend Tony's sort of thing. Murray's book is about a third of the length of A Journey and, fortunately for the forces of righteousness, isn't nearly so well packaged. The dust jacket illustration swamps the title; and the text itself, though charmingly written, could have done with the attention of a professional proof-reader.

Murray's lack of an appropriate perspective has led him into trouble time and again, whether from want of Blairite moral absolutism in dealing with the perpetrators of illiberal atrocities, or from inability to match the fierce indignation of Clare Short in a presumably well-meant but hopelessly maladroit blather about the sins of the British Empire. For many beneficiaries of a British education, Africans divide fairly neatly into cartoon-monster dictators, machete-wielding barbarians, and dusky, mildly retarded children. His perceptions handicapped by chronic lower-class Scottishness, Murray sees only human beings.


  • At 1:04 am , Blogger Philip said...

    My thanks to "Komodo", the commenter on Craig Murray's blog who linked to a couple of posts here and thereby reminded me that The Catholic Orangemen was still in the stacks.


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