More axes to grind than a blacksmith

The SMH today reprints a piece from the Guardian, written by John Laughland, who argues that the Ukranian elections were really pretty fair. Now I don’t know much about Ukraine, but it did strike me as odd that his arguments seemed to contradict every other election observer (eg). Interest piqued, I thought I’d see what else Mr Laughland has written.

On Sudan, in August:

It is far from clear that the sudden media attention devoted to Sudan has been provoked by any real escalation of the crisis – a peace agreement was signed with the rebels in April, and it is holding. The pictures on our TV screens could have been shown last year. And we should treat with skepticism the claims made for the numbers of deaths – 30,000 or 50,000 are the figures being bandied about – when we know that similar statistics proved very wrong in Kosovo and Iraq. The Sudanese government says that the death toll in Darfur, since the beginning of the conflict in 2003, is not greater than 1,200 on all sides.

On Kosovo, in July:

But if Milosevic can be convicted for complicity in crimes committed by people in a foreign country, over whom he had no formal control, how much greater is the complicity of the British government in crimes committed by the US in Iraq, a country with which the UK is in an official coalition? This is not just a cheap political jibe but a serious judicial conundrum: the UK is a signatory to the new International Criminal Court, and so Tony Blair is subject to the jurisdiction of the new Hague-based body whose jurisprudence will be modelled on that of the ICTY. So if Slobbo goes down for ten years in Scheveningen jail because of abuses committed by his policemen, then by rights his cell-mate should, in time, be Tony.

Mr Laughland’s views on Ukraine can, methinks, be taken with a grain of salt.

UPDATE 1: Troppo Armadillo were clearly as cross as me when they came across the Laughland piece ( They link to an extraordinary demolition job on John Laughland from the Guardian, which (inter alia) points out that Laughland is probably the only person to have put the word genocide in inverted commas when talking about Rwanda. See,3604,1362333,00.html

UPDATE 2: The SMH have now gone back to reporting the election as fraudulent, with no mention of Laughland’s views.

UPDATE 3: Nice response in the SMH today from Anne Applebaum (reprinted from Washington Post).

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3 Responses to More axes to grind than a blacksmith

  1. An interesting map which shows the % change in voting patterns from one round to another.

    I dont know enough about Ukraine to really comment but there are some drastic % changes in the east, possibly indicating large scale vote fraud. The per-cent change is above 20 in many of the far eastern regions.

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    Thanks Cameron. Also, here’s the OSCE’s report, which I should’ve included in the original post.

    Click to access 3771_en.pdf

  3. Adam Swift says:

    Discoshaman reporting from Kyiv is Ukrainian and offers a reasoned demolition of Laughland’s perverse contrarianism. Check out “What about the other 43 38%?” on

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