Saturday 17 March 2018

Who has got the nuttiest Salisbury conspiracy theory?

In the feverish atmosphere in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack there have been some absolutely bonkers conspiracy theories flying around.

In this article I'm going to attempt to give a measured perspective on the attack before detailing some of the nuttiest reactions.

The difference between questions and conspiracy theories

Like almost everyone reading this article, I don't have access to the chemical analysis that's been conducted on the nerve agent, and I don't have access to any intelligence that may have been gathered in relation to the attack.

This lack of information means that it's impossible to fly off into alternative explanations for the attack without the danger of wandering off into the tinfoil hat conspiracy zone.

However this lack of vital information doesn't prevent us from asking questions about the official position, which according to Tory ministers like Boris Johnson, involved Vladimir Putin directly ordering this hopelessly botched hit on a long-retired double agent.

The glaring problem with this theory is that it relies on the idea that Putin is some kind of idiot with no regard for consequences. Of course Putin is your archetypal strong-man tyrant with a disregard for human rights, but if you've ever actually paid attention to any of his speeches, he's clearly an intelligent man, not an idiot.

So, given that just a couple of weeks ago the Tory government pliantly did Putin's bidding by obstructing Labour's efforts to introduce Magnitsky powers to clamp down on all the Russian dark money sloshing around in the City of London, the UK housing market, and the coffers of the Tory party, why would Putin then decide to personally authorise an attack that would massively increase the chances of Magnitsky sanctions being imposed?

You can attempt to answer this kind of question in whatever way you like, but be careful you don't end up wandering off into the tinfoil hat twilight zone  ...

The fireman conspiracy

The first conspiracy theory to deal with is the idea that the attack was faked because of one out-of-context photograph of firemen with no biohazard suits standing next to people with biohazard suits.

It says a lot about the kind of person you are if you can look at a single photo and deduce a convoluted conspiracy theory from it, which you then believe without giving thought to other potential explanations, like maybe the fact that people in biohazard suits need to take off their biohazard suits at some point. 

Perhaps a much simpler explanation that the whole attack being an elaborate hoax, is that that's what was going on?
The evil mother-in-law

Then there's the theory that Yulia Skripal was poisoned by her future mother-in-law who supposedly doesn't want her son to marry the daughter of an ex-spy.

How the evil mother-in-law got her hands on a supply of highly toxic nerve agent isn't related in this particular conspiracy theory.

It was the CIA

If you really want to get into the kooky conspiracy shit, then UKIP is definitely a great place to turn. I mean who could forget the Ukipper "Somerset floods were caused by gay marriage" theory from a few years ago?

Well Godfrey Bloom has publicly stated his suspicion that the attack was carried out by the CIA in order to ringfence the budget for the military industrial complex.

It's interesting to see the way the hard-right UKIP mob have moved from adoration of anything American to outright hostility and conspiracy theorising against the US intelligence services ever since the Mueller investigation into links between Russia and the Trump campaign started getting serious.

It's all about Brexit

Another bizarre UKIP conspiracy theory is that the Salisbury attack is a false flag attack orchestrated by the British government in order to derail Brexit!

Here's what Richard Wood of UKIP told Sputnik News: 

"Theresa May has been absolutely stupid because she is now in a hole over Brexit with the European Union and the EU is doing its best to keep Britain in and we want to be out. The whole point about this fiasco is that something happened and Mrs. May is now being able to point another finger at Russia and say this is our enemy. They are finding some excuse to actually blame Russia for something else so Russia becomes a big bad man again to take the pressure off Theresa May with the Brexit negotiations because she is not getting anywhere. Everybody I speak to is not on her side and not against Russia. I do think it was staged."
Trust the UKIP loons to come up with a load of batshit crazy nonsense about how it's all a conspiracy to undermine their beloved Brexit.

It's all about the UN

Another theory doing the rounds is that the Salisbury incident was a "false flag" attack designed to ramp up international pressure to get Russia thrown off the UN Security Council.

The idea that Russia could be removed from the Security Council over this incident is as impractical as it is unrealistic.

If Russia and the United States managed to stay part of the UN Security Council together throughout the theft of US nuclear weapons secrets, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Olympic boycotts, countless near misses and sanctions impositions, and all of that, how on earth is an incident like Salisbury going to register enough impact to essentially destroy the United Nations?

Even if the endgame was to get Russia thrown off the UN Security Council, how would that be achieved given that Russia has a Security Council veto, and China (another of the 5 permanent members) would obviously never let it happen either?

It's all about football

Then there's the probably the most ridiculous theory that the attack was staged to somehow undermine Russia's hosting of the FIFA World Cup, as if football is somehow the most important thing in the world.

The problem with wild conspiracy theories like this is that there's always some absolute dullard who comes along to give credence to such nonsense. In this case the right-wing Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who has started gabbing on about how the UK should somehow form a global alliance to pressurise FIFA to delay the World Cup until 2019 and ban Russia as the hosts!

If Argentina being over-run by one of the most violent and repressive military dictatorships of the late 20th Century wasn't enough to stop the World Cup in 1978, then it seems a tad unlikely that Kinnock is going to succeed with his plot to get this summer's World Cup taken off Russia.

Trust a right-wing Labour melt like Kinnock to hear the most bonkers conspiracy theory of all, think it's actually a really good idea, and then try to pass it off as his own policy!

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