House of Lords

here is an article that was printed a while ago about Wilson’s lavender list

Harold Wilson’s resignation honours – why so controversial?

Twentieth Century British History

Twentieth Century British History publishes outstanding work on all aspects of the history of Britain and the British world during the long-twentieth century.  More than a record of specialized research, the journal places recent British history in conversation with the largest issues animating the historical discipline.  For a quarter of a century, Twentieth Century British History has published landmark work by leading scholars in the field, while also providing a key forum for the emergence of new scholars, subjects, methods, and fields.  The editors are committed to extending this tradition, publishing the finest work on modern British history from scholars in Britain and around the world.

On February 6 Marcia Falkender, the Baroness Falkender, died. She was one of the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s closest and longest-serving colleagues, first as his personal then political secretary. An enigmatic figure, she has been variously reviled, mocked, and defended since the end of Wilson’s political career. Most notoriously she was connected to Wilson’s 1976 resignation honours list, the “Lavender List.”

Twice a year, every year, the British government publishes a list of people it has decided to honour. The honours list is probably best known outside of the United Kingdom as the way people get knighthoods, though the list includes various other orders, decorations and medals to recognize various types of service. In exceptional cases, such as royal anniversaries or political resignations, the government produces extra lists to recognize special service. Throughout the twentieth century the purpose and focus of these honours has evolved with changing political and social priorities. British honours represent both a judgment of merit and one about hierarchy. Today civil servants (who have been one of the main beneficiaries of the system) portray it as a politically neutral and organic expression of national worth that rewards good people, and whose most egregiously hierarchical, imperial, and political manifestations are consigned to the distant past. In this narrative, a few past scandals were moments of individual corruption rather than revelations of fundamental problems in the system. The Lavender List was one such moment when civil servants, the press, and politicians portrayed choices about whom the government would honour as a corrupt violation of normal practice.

Of all the parties involved the civil service usually exercised the most control over honours lists. One of the few types of honours that escaped this oversight, though, were those on prime ministerial resignation lists. By tradition, these lists offered outgoing prime ministers the opportunity to recognize people who had helped them personally. Advisers, drivers, detectives, and secretaries often filled out these lists.

Wilson’s 1976 resignation list looked different. The first draft included multiple appointments to high honours–knighthoods and life peerages–to businessmen who had limited connections to either Wilson or the Labour Party. Most were immigrants who had made it good in the UK. They included notorious financier James Goldsmith, raincoat manufacturer Joseph Kagan, show-business tycoon Lew Grade, and Grade’s brother, EMI executive Bernard Delfont. Wilson seems to have chosen men in whom he was interested or who impressed him in some way. While he did not know Goldsmith well, he was impressed that Goldsmith was suing Private Eye, a magazine Wilson and his wife disliked.

This first draft was quickly leaked, sparking controversy months before the list was confirmed. Civil servants, political allies, and, indirectly, political enemies alike put pressure on Wilson to remove or change many of the senior appointments on the list, including Goldsmith, who was removed.

Wilson resisted most of the pressure for change. The final list was greeted with derision by politicians and many in the press. Labour politicians objected to the presence of capitalist entrepreneurs with limited or no connections to their party. Conservatives sneered at Wilson’s choice of men who seemed more aligned with capitalist values. Other social conservatives sniffed at their foreign (and often Jewish) origins. Some treasury officials also knew that a couple of the men, including Kagan, were under investigation for financial crimes.

Many critics portrayed Falkender as holding power over Wilson beyond her role as his political secretary. Joe Haines, a long-serving member of Wilson’s political staff, coined the name “Lavender List” to support this idea by presenting the list as an intrusion on the corridors of power that was illegitimate because of its femininity. They derided Wilson for his supposed weakness to Falkender’s persuasion.

The main official criticism of the list came from the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee, a group of Privy Counselors led by civil servant, chess master, and former code breaker Philip Stuart Milner-Barry. The committee had been set up in the wake of the “sale of honours” scandal of the early 1920s. In effect, though, it laundered the sale of honours by parties by giving them an official stamp of approval. It censured the list precisely because there was no evidence of political donations to Labour on the part of the recipients. To the committee the lack of evidence for money changing hands for honours was proof of the list’s corruption because it was a break with the standard practices of party-sponsored honours sales.

Civil servants who were usually secretive about honours lists also leaked news of the undesirable names to the press. Men like Milner-Barry and Wilson staffers Haines and Bernard Donoghue attacked Falkender as unprofessional, but in hindsight their actions and responses look pettier, less discreet, and less professional than Falkender’s. For all that they drew on gendered notions of Falkender’s alleged feminine irrationality they were the ones leaking to the press, playing games, and, above all, furiously gossiping.

Wilson was already known for innovative honours. In 1965 his appointment of the four Beatles as MBEs (Members of the British Empire) had caused a minor controversy. He had also engineered an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for cricketer and anti-apartheid symbol Basil D’Oliviera in 1969. The 1976 resignation list seemed to be a last gesture of defiance by Wilson at the system, and the scandal a last punishment by civil servants and other establishment figures for his attempts at innovation.

But the seeming violations of tradition in Wilson’s lists were to become normal in the 1980s and 1990s: popular culture celebrities, “ruthless” entrepreneurs, women Lords, and others from outside the traditional boundaries of the establishment. The political culture that derided Falkender’s influence was in for a surprise. Within three years, a woman would occupy Ten Downing Street not as secretary, but as prime minister. Wilson’s model of honours won out. Most of the controversial names on the Lavender List would look normal today.

OUP Blog

Nadine Dorries

ulture Secretary Nadine Dorries appeared in front of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on 19 May, to talk about the proposed privatisation of Channel 4.

During the sitting, Dorries made the claim that a Channel 4 reality show featuring the now Cabinet minister had used paid actors. Dorries had appeared on the show, Tower Block of Commons, in 2010. It was designed to show MPs the circumstances of some of the most deprived parts of Britain.

“I discovered later they were actually actors… It was a Channel 4 production actually… The parents of some of the people, of the boys in that programme, actually came here to have lunch with me – contacted me – to tell me actually they were in acting school and that they weren’t really living in a flat and weren’t real,” Dorries said at the DCMS Committee.

The show’s producer, Love Productions, told Byline Times and The Citizens that: “Love Productions does not use actors to impersonate contributors in any of its documentaries or constructed factual series. Nadine Dorries took part in the making of Tower Block of Commons for Channel 4 alongside other genuine contributors, and we are confident that her claims are unfounded.”

Byline Times interviewed one of the participants of the reality show, who detailed her time spent with Dorries and some of the interactions between the pair.

Rena Spain and her family are originally from Liverpool, but have lived in London for a number of years. She said that Dorries’ accusations had affected her mental health, and that she needs to set the record straight. Byline Times and The Citizens also talked to Spain’s sister, Renesha, who confirmed her claims.

Spain claims that Dorries adopted an exaggerated scouse accent with the participants, and claims that Dorries initially asked for security to accompany her on the estate.Cheats

Tom Robinson investigates the disproportionate state investment ploughed into benefit fraud, while other anti-fraud efforts suffer from austerity

The point of the programme was for MPs to experience what life was like living on benefits. However, when the cameras were turned off, Spain says that Dorries revealed that she had smuggled in a £50 note and a credit card in her bra. The fact that Dorries had smuggled money into the show, breaking its rules, was reported at the time by various media outlets, including the Telegraph.

Spain told Byline Times and The Citizens that Dorries brought and offered the family cigarettes, and that she took “a ziplock bag of tablets” which she offered to her hosts. Spain gave an interview to the Mirror in 2010 which claimed that Dorries had offered the family Temazepam sleeping pills.

The situation between Dorries and her hosts became increasingly tense, according to Spain. On the first night, the sisters held an Ann Summers party at their flat, which Dorries refused to join in, instead choosing to drink by herself.

Spain says she questioned Dorries about employing her two daughters in her office. “She said: ‘Yes, I employed my daughter’, and I said: ‘No, you employed both of your daughters’. She went: ‘No, no, I never. I employed one, and she moved on to another job, and I employed the other’. And I said: ‘Well that’s two’, and she was trying to convince me that that was one. And I was saying: ‘I might not be from where you’re from but I know how to add up one and one.’”

Spain claims that she confronted Dorries about smuggling in the money – saying that it proved the impossibility of living on benefits. “She couldn’t answer me,” Spain claims.

Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

“That’s bullshit,” Spain told Byline Times and The Citizens, in response to Dorries’ accusation that Channel 4 had paid actors to appear on the show. “That is one big bag of lies. Unless someone else’s parents have got in contact with her but I can’t see who, I was the only person on there with my sons, so she’s got to be referring to me… I’ve never contacted her or been to lunch with her. I wouldn’t go to lunch with her even if she paid me.”

Spain said the accusation that the show had used actors hurt people on benefits in general: “It just minimises it. How difficult it is, for families and people to live on those types of estates, to be on benefits and to be poor. So being poor, are they what? Acting? Are they acting at being poor?”

Away from politics, Dorries has made a lucrative career as a writer of pulp novellas about working class Irish families in Liverpool.

“I’ve always worked, even with five kids, sometimes I’ve had two jobs,” Spain says.

A Political Vendetta?

Spain says that the Culture Secretary’s allegations have caused people to accuse her of being an actor. “A couple of years ago I was in a car accident and now I’m housebound,” she says. “You know when you can’t go out on your own and clear our name? It’s horrible, it’s horrible to have people inbox me – ‘are you really an actor?’ – I’m not an actor.”

Dorries herself has routinely voted against providing increased relief to those less fortunate than herself, including voting for a reduction in benefits spending, voting against paying higher benefits over long periods for illness or disability, and has voted against raising welfare benefits in line with current prices. 

Dorries’ claims about the programme have resurfaced as she pushes for the privatisation of Channel 4, while polls show that the public overwhelmingly disapproves of this move.

Byline Times and The Citizens spoke to Spain’s local MP, Sir Stephen Timms, who confirmed that he had spoken to her and was looking into the issue.

“It does sound as though Nadine Dorries had a rather unhappy time on this programme,” Timms told us, “and I suppose it’s possible this has influenced her view about Channel 4 since then and possibly her policy position.”

“Rena has made it clear to me that she is not a professional actor and neither are any of her children”. Timms added that: “It’s an indefensible policy to privatise Channel 4.”

Byline Times contacted Dorries on multiple occasions for a comment but did not receive a response.

Putin takes questions:

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr  President, a lot has been said about science this time. In my opinion, one of the most interesting sessions was about how to develop science and technology in these conditions.

Ruslan Yunusov is sitting in the hall – he just painted a very interesting picture for us.

Roman Yunusov:  Thank you.

Today I represent Rosatom and the Valdai Club.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, you really said the right words about science. We see that over the past twenty years, support for science in Russia has grown significantly, and the mega-grant program has made it possible to launch many dozens of modern laboratories in Russia, we see this.

However, on the other hand, we as scientists see that most of the professors who opened these laboratories never came to live in Russia and work full-time. You can even understand why it’s hard to compete: here you have a mega-grant for five years, and here you have a lifetime professorship. It’s really a question.

On the other hand, yesterday we discussed at the session: over the past twenty years, our Chinese colleagues have made a colossal breakthrough in science. Today, they have not only brought scientists back, they are taking first place in many areas.

Here we are dealing with quants, and I want to say that we know that the most powerful quantum computer today is in China, not in the US, the maximum number of patents is published in quants by China, not the US.

But, on the other hand, of course, in Russia we also have programs that bring together many laboratories. The same quantum project, a quantum computer, consists of twenty scientific groups, 15 universities, universities, institutes of the Academy of Sciences. But we have five years of planning.

I think that today we are faced with increased pressure, we really have a challenge to scientific and technological sovereignty, and maybe this is the right time to start formulating strategic projects and make a ten to twenty year horizon.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  Yes, the higher the horizon, the better, the further the horizon, the better, I agree with you. We need to look at the positive examples of other countries, our friends and partners, including the People’s Republic of China. A lot has been done there in recent years under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, he pays great attention to this – not only the development of science, but also China as a whole, the Chinese economy, and improving the standard of living of the Chinese people. I know it, we are on good, friendly terms. And where they achieve real results, of course, can be the subject of our study and implementation in our practice.

As for mega-grants, they really played a good, positive role, and the next stage, which we are now implementing, is not just research and the creation of separate laboratories, but the creation of scientific communities of young scientists. And this, in fact, is the future of these mega-grants.

I agree with those who initiated this process. We do it. (Turning to A. Fursenko.) Yes, Andrei Alexandrovich?

We will continue to do this.

You said no one came. Some come and work here, even if they are formally registered somewhere abroad, they spend most of their time in Russia, there are many of them. These are our former compatriots, and not only former, but compatriots who are somewhere on the job, but come to work with us all the time.

You know, the world of science, just like the world of art, does not tolerate artificial boundaries and restrictions. People should feel free, and we will not lock anyone here, but we will welcome everyone who wants to work in Russia. In general, we are succeeding, and we will continue to follow the same path.

Increase planning horizons – you are probably right. Although we now have mega-grants for five years, right? You can, of course, extend them. These are issues, of course, related to budget financing, but it can be done. In any case, today we can expand these horizons.

Although what you said about the fact that somewhere there a person works, occupies some kind of professorial position, and this is for life, is far from being everywhere. You yourself are a scientist, you know: a contract was signed there for several years, the contract has ended – goodbye, be healthy. Therefore, there, too, this is not all for life. But to live in the space of your native language, your culture is for life.

Therefore, this freedom of choice should be granted to both cultural figures and scientists. We must create conditions that will be more attractive than those created abroad. This is not an easy process. We are following this path, achieving results and will continue to move along it, including – you are probably right – and expanding the planning horizon.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Please, Wang Wen.

Wang Wen (retranslated) :  Thank you.

My name is Wang Wen. I work at Chongyang University. This is a Chinese university. This time I visited more than 20 cities in Russia and wrote a number of articles in order to demonstrate the real Russia to China. In China, many people love Russia and you in particular.

I want to ask the following question. Surely now you are under great pressure, you have a big burden on your shoulders. Do you feel fear or nervousness, or perhaps excitement, especially in light of the threat from the West? Do you think that you have created a new Russia? Or did the Russian fate create you?

And the second question: what would you like to say to the Chinese people? What could you say about the last ten years of Russian-Chinese relations? What are your forecasts and expectations for the future of Russian-Chinese cooperation?

Thanks a lot.

Vladimir Putin:  You know, when I work, I never think about any historical accomplishments, I just proceed from what needs to be done and what cannot be done without – this is the most important thing. And in this sense, of course, the circumstances in which the country lives shape any person, including me, of course, this is true.

As for the fact that we should be afraid of someone … Of course, probably, many would like to hear now that I am afraid, but if I was afraid of everything, I would not do anything. I cannot be guided by considerations of this order in the place which I occupy. I must be guided by the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, and I am doing this and will continue to do so. I will do what I consider necessary for the interests of my people and my country.

As for Russian-Chinese relations, in recent years, in recent decades, they have acquired an absolutely unprecedented level of openness, mutual trust and efficiency. In the country dimension, China is our largest trade and economic partner. We really work in all spheres: in the military sphere, we constantly conduct exercises together, in the military-technical sphere, and more confidentially, as perhaps never before in the history of our countries, we work in the field of culture, humanitarian interaction and in the field of economics, of course.

Russia’s largest trade turnover is with China, and it is growing, and growing at a very fast pace. The pace was picked up even before any restrictions and redistribution of our commodity flows towards Asia, including towards China.

Together with my friend, we have set certain tasks for ourselves – he talks about me the same way, I consider him my friend – Mr Xi Jinping in terms of a certain level of trade. We will definitely achieve it. We are moving towards this at a faster pace than we even planned.

As for our attitude towards China, we treat China and the Chinese people as a close friend, with great respect for culture and traditions. I am confident that, relying on this solid foundation, we will confidently move forward.

F. Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, regarding fears, Professor Wang said, this year, when the nuclear factor somehow arose in the spring, and you pointed out its presence in this way, and in general, many people became a little nervous, remembering your statement here same, at our event, four years ago, that we will all go to heaven. We’re not in a hurry, are we? (Laugh.)

You thought, this is already alarming somehow.

Vladimir Putin:  I specifically thought about it so that you would be on your guard. The effect has been achieved. (Laugh.)

Fyodor Lukyanov:  I understand. Thank you.

Mohammed Ihsan, please.

M. Ihsan (retranslated) :  Professor Mohammed Ihsan, Kurdistan region of Iraq.

I am very pleased to be here, Mr. President. I have a direct question for you.

The theme of this session is peace after hegemony, justice and security for all. Do you think that at this stage the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan will achieve better security, more justice in the future? Could you dwell on this issue in more detail?

And as you said, in Central America, in Africa, Russian flags are everywhere, there are a lot of people who love Russia, who support it. And I want to assure you that the same can be said about the Middle East – there are also a lot of people who support Russia and love it.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  Thank you for the concluding part of your speech. Flags are present in European countries, and in the States, by the way, too, we have many supporters there. By the way, in the United States there is a very large proportion of people who adhere to traditional values, and they are with us, we know about it.

As for the Kurds, I have already spoken not in relation to the Kurds, but in general to all peoples: of course, we must strive for a balance of interests. Only if a balance of interests is achieved can peace be sustainable, including the fate of the Kurdish people.

F. Lukyanov:  Please go on. Mr Old Man.

Konstantin Starysh:  Thank you.

Good evening!

Konstantin Starysh, Republic of Moldova. I represent the parliamentary opposition, of course, the opposition, because our government, to the misfortune of our country and our people, still prefers some other routes for their foreign trips. As a result, since today, the lights in Chisinau have almost completely gone out. But it’s not about that.

I have a question, but first, an assignment. You spoke so well, Vladimir Vladimirovich, about your family that I would risk it. I have two children, they are eight and ten years old, they are students of the Pushkin Lyceum in Chisinau. They really asked me to say hello to you, and I could not deny myself this little paternal pleasure. So hello to you from Alexandra and Gavril from Chisinau.

Vladimir Putin:  Thank you.

Konstantin Starysh:  Now a question.

In your speech, you spoke about the inevitability of the emergence of new models of interaction between countries and regions. Perhaps, in this context, it makes sense to return to the idea that you voiced back in 2001 about a single economic, humanitarian, cultural space that will stretch from Vladivostok to Lisbon?

For us, Moldovans of different nationalities, such a statement of the question would suit us very much, since it is always very difficult for us to choose between good and good, between Europe and Russia. For us, this would be a very promising project and, as it were, a light at the end of the tunnel.

But is this possible in the world that we are about to build, in a post-conflict world, in a world where there will no longer be a hegemon, a global policeman and a dominant power?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  Is it possible to create a single space – humanitarian, economic – and even a region in terms of ensuring the security of all who live on this vast mega-continent from Lisbon to Vladivostok? Of course yes. Hope dies last. It’s not our idea. True, then they said “to the Urals”, it was only later that I transformed this idea of ​​our French colleagues and former French leaders “to Vladivostok”.

Why? Because people of the same culture also live beyond the Urals – this is the most important thing

Difficult, difficult, tragic events are taking place today. But in general, why not? In general, it is possible to imagine such a thing. I think it will happen one way or another.

I spoke in my speech about Eurasia as a whole, including the European part. Do you know what is very important? It is really important, I want to return to my speech again, so that this European part will regain its legal personality.

How to talk with this or that partner if he does not decide anything and on every occasion he has to call the Washington “regional committee” and ask what can be done and what cannot.

In fact, this is what happens in real life.

I remember when very difficult events around Syria began, one of the leaders arrived, I meet with him. We agreed what we would do, how we would do it. Specifically: this, this, this I will do.

From us, from Moscow, he flew to Washington. Returned to Paris – everything is forgotten. As if there were no agreements. How to talk? About what?

And there were directly concrete agreements, right down to where the fleet would move, what we would do, how we would agree. Are we against it? We’re for it. And they agreed. Deal.

How about talking? Why talk to them then? Then it’s best to call Washington directly. That’s all. Now I’m talking and not inventing anything, you understand?

Of course, Europe is protecting its interests, especially in the economic sphere, and even then not so much. Vaughn blew up gas pipeline systems. These are not ours, they are pan-European. There, five European companies are represented in Nord Stream 1. So what? Everyone is silent, as if it should be so. Moreover, there is enough impudence to show there: maybe it was Russia that blew it up. Russia blew itself up. Completely crazy, right? No, they still do.

Gazprom even published pictures from 2016, when, in my opinion, an American-made explosive device lies under the gas pipeline system. They said that they lost during the exercises. They lost it so that this explosive device went right under the gas pipeline, which, in my opinion, was intended to destroy underwater mines. Look, here’s the photo.

No, the world media do not even broadcast it, no one repeats it, it all dies in the bud, nowhere is there: neither on the Internet, nor on television screens, there is nothing. This is also the use of a monopoly in the media in order to promote the necessary information and kill everything that interferes with them. It’s there, but everyone is silent.

Therefore, of course, it is necessary to create this single space in every sense from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But this can only be done with those who have the right to vote. I do not want to provoke or offend anyone, but such is the practice, such are the realities of today’s life. But nevertheless, in my opinion, in a historical perspective it is possible.

I have already mentioned this, now I will say it again. Helmut Kohl once told me that the States would someday take care of their own affairs, including in Latin America, Asia would develop powerfully in its own way, if European civilization wants to be preserved as some kind of world center, then, of course, you need to be with Russia. This was the position of Helmut Kohl. The current leadership of the Federal Republic, apparently, holds other views. But this is the choice of European countries.

But I would like to return to where you started. You said that the lights went out in Chisinau. It is not clear why it went out, we definitely have nothing to do with this.

Do you know why I’m talking about this? Because Russia is always blamed for everything: somewhere the lights went out, somewhere the toilet does not work, sorry, somewhere else – Russia is to blame for everything. This, remember, as in the famous film: did we also destroy the chapel of some XII or what century? But, thank God, no. But I want to inform you, and what I will say is, as they say, the pure truth. When we were negotiating with representatives of the Government of Moldova on gas supplies, on gas prices, Gazprom took an absolutely pragmatic market position on a contract with Moldova for natural gas supplies.

The Moldovan side did not agree with Gazprom’s position and insisted on price preferences. “Gazprom” rested, then Mr. Miller came to me, stated his position and said that he considers his point of view correct. I asked him to meet the needs of the Moldovan side, bearing in mind the economic and financial possibilities of the Moldovan state. I told him: although the prices are fair from a market point of view, they are unbearable for Moldova; If they can’t pay, what’s the point?

He did not really agree with me, but listened to my opinion. Gazprom met the Government of Moldova halfway and signed a contract for the supply of gas on Moldovan terms – on the terms of the Moldovan side, the Moldovan government.

There are a lot of details, I just don’t want to bore the audience, because, except for you, this is probably not interesting to anyone. There it is connected with debts, connected with current payments, with a certain prepayment. But in general, in terms of price parameters, they fully met the Moldovan side. You have to pay, of course. This in itself, I think, is obvious.

Why things have been brought to the point where there is no electricity in Moldova, this, excuse me, is not our problem.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr  President, you mentioned Europe. There was such an interesting episode two months ago or even less, when it turned out that when you spoke with President Macron shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, journalists were sitting in his office, all this was broadcast over the speakerphone, they recorded it all. Such a somewhat unusual form. Okay, this isn’t the first time. So how do you feel about things like this?

Vladimir Putin:  No. I believe that there are certain formats of communication between heads of state and they must be observed, otherwise trust in what the partner is doing is lost. In general, there is nothing reprehensible here, if what we say, what we are talking about, if our assessments reach the representatives of the media. But then you just need to warn about it, that’s all.

F. Lukyanov: Were  you not warned?

Vladimir Putin:  Of course not. On the contrary, when there are telephone conversations, including through closed communication channels, we always proceed from the fact that these are confidential conversations, they are not subject to publicity, or something is subject to agreement by the parties. If this is done unilaterally, then this, of course, is indecent.

F.Lukyanov:  And now, when Macron calls, do you specify who is next to him?

Vladimir Putin:  No.

F. Lukyanov:  And why? As much as it would be worth it.

Vladimir Putin:  Because I now assume that someone is listening.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  I understand.

Please, guest from Indonesia.

RB Connie (retranslated)  Thank you.

Mr. President, I really liked your speech. I think she brought us the spirit of how we can build together, build stronger. Sounds like the motto for the G20.

We hope that you will come to Indonesia next month.

I’ll ask you about the title “The World After Hegemony: Security for All.”

Mr. Sukarno already said in 1955 that all security alliances are dangerous for peace. You and China are on the UN Security Council. Can you handle getting rid of QUAT, AUCUS, NATO together. Is it possible?

Question two.

Everyone in Indonesia loves you very much. Everyone is always yelling “hooray”. I want to ask: is it possible later, later, to take a picture with you?

Vladimir Putin:  Yes, with pleasure. With such a beautiful woman with pleasure.

We have had very good relations with Indonesia throughout almost the entire recent history.

President Widodo, when he calls me, calls me “brother”, I tell him the same thing. We cherish the relations we have established with Indonesia.

I am grateful to the leadership and the President for the invitation to the G20. We’ll think about how we can do it. Russia will definitely be represented there at a high level. Maybe I’ll go too. I will think.

As for the creation of new blocs in Asia, in my opinion, this is an attempt to transfer to Asia the failed system of bloc thinking from the Atlantic region. Without any doubt, this is a harmful undertaking. This is again an attempt to be friends with someone against someone, in this case, to be friends against China. Not only do we not support the attempt to revive or recreate now in the Asia-Pacific region what happened in the Atlantic, but we also believe that this is a very harmful and dangerous undertaking.

I must say that this has adverse consequences for the participants or allies of the same United States, which, as we know, are being deprived of contracts for the supply of submarines, or something else. It’s just that nothing has been done yet, and the negative consequences, including for the US allies, are already coming. And if this practice continues, the number of these errors and problems will only increase. Of course, we have opposed and continue to oppose a policy of this kind.

F. Lukyanov:  General Sharma, I know I wanted to ask you.

BK Sharma (retranslated) :  Mr. President, in the post-hegemon world, what role do you expect India to play?

Vladimir Putin:  India has come a long way from being an English colony to its current state. Nearly 1.5 billion people, and the remarkable results of development inspire both universal admiration and respect for India from around the world.

A lot has been done in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. He is definitely a patriot of his country. And his thesis “Make in India” has both economic and moral significance.

India has made great strides in its development, and, of course, it has a great future. India not only has the right to be proud of the fact that it is the largest democracy, in the best sense of the word, but also to be proud of the pace of its development. This is an extremely important base on which India develops.

We have a special relationship with India that has been created or built on the foundation of a very close allied relationship over many, many decades. India and I have never had any, I want to emphasize this, never any difficult issues, we have always only supported each other. This is what is happening now, and I am sure it will continue to be so in the future.

Now the pace of economic cooperation is growing. First, the trade turnover as a whole is growing. But as an example, Prime Minister Modi asked me to increase the supply of fertilizer, which is very important for Indian agriculture, and we did it. How much do you think? Deliveries of fertilizers to India have been increased by 7.6 times – not by some percentage, but by 7.6 times. The trade turnover in the sphere of purchase and sale of agricultural products has almost doubled.

Our relations in the field of military-technical cooperation continue. Prime Minister Modi is the man, one of those people in the world, who is able to pursue an independent foreign policy in the interests of his people. Despite any attempts to restrain something, limit something, you know, like an icebreaker, it is moving calmly in the direction necessary for the Indian state.

I think that countries like India have not only a great future, but also, of course, a growing role in international affairs.

F. Lukyanov:  Since we are talking about fertilizers, for some reason I immediately thought of Brazil. Igor Gilov, where is he sitting with us?

Vladimir Putin:  By the way, we agreed with Brazil that the supply of fertilizers would also increase, but, unfortunately, they have slightly decreased. I don’t know why, maybe because of logistics, there, in my opinion, the supply of fertilizers was reduced by a few percent.

F. Lukyanov:  He left us, well, it doesn’t matter. Then I’ll actually ask what I know he wanted to ask.

Here they have elections in a matter of days. How are we? Lula will probably come back. Are you on good terms with him?

Vladimir Putin:  We are on good terms with Mr Lula, we are on good terms with Mr Bolsonaro. We do not interfere in internal political processes – this is the most important thing.

We know that in India, despite the acute internal political processes, there is a consensus on cooperation with Russia, a consensus on our interaction within the BRICS framework. For us, this is of fundamental importance, we proceed from this.

We also have a consensus on cooperation with Brazil. We consider Brazil to be our most important partner in Latin America, and indeed it is, and we will do everything to ensure that these relations develop in the future.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, since we went for BRICS, there was an initiative just a week and a half ago that Saudi Arabia wants to join.

Do you support?

Vladimir Putin:  Yes, we support it. This requires the consensus of all BRICS countries. But Saudi Arabia is a rapidly developing country, and this is due not only to the fact that it is a leader in the production of hydrocarbons and oil production.

This is due to the fact that the Crown Prince and the government of Saudi Arabia have very big plans, which is very important, to diversify the economy – there are whole national development plans drawn up in this direction. Bearing in mind the energy and creativity of the Crown Prince, I am confident that these plans will be implemented.

Therefore, of course, Saudi Arabia deserves to be a member of major international organizations, such as the BRICS and the SCO. Most recently, we determined the status of Saudi Arabia in the SCO. We will develop relations with this country both bilaterally and on multilateral platforms.

F.Lukyanov:  Now in the West they write a lot that Ben Salman is rude to the Americans because of you.

Vladimir Putin:  This is not true.

Ben Salman is a young man, determined, with character, these are obvious facts. He does not need to be rude, and then in response you will not hear harsh assessments from him, that’s all. We must respect both the Crown Prince and Saudi Arabia itself, and they will respond in kind. The same will be answered by those who are rude to them.

As for us, this is complete nonsense, because in general both the Crown Prince and the entire Saudi leadership are guided by their own national interests. And if we are talking about whether to reduce or increase production – and I already know the Crown Prince well personally, I know what he is guided by – he is guided, of course, by national interests and the interests of balancing energy markets.

In this sense, his position – I’m not joking now – is absolutely balanced. It is aimed at balancing the interests of both producers and consumers, because in the energy markets, it is not even the final price that is important, it is not that important – it is the current economic or political situation. For international energy markets, predictability is important, stability is what is important. This is exactly what the crown prince strives for and generally achieves what he wants.

F. Lukyanov:  So you won’t sit on his neck either?

Vladimir Putin:  Certainly not.

F. Lukyanov:  Muhammad Javed, please.

MA Javed (retranslated)  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I convey love and respect from Pakistan, from Islamabad. Thank you for your decisive and thorough analysis of what is happening.

My question is related to a very important factor, also related to the history before the Second World War, when the Jews were demonized, and then everything that was connected with them was ignored by the USA and Western Europe. Then came the monstrous Holocaust. Now there is a syndrome of hatred that is being created around Russia. You talked about the Donbass, about how people were treated.

I myself have been to the UK, to the Scandinavian countries: neo-Nazism is on the rise there. I, in particular, worked on a project that is related to the assessment of these trends. What we learned from this project is that there are several vices: for example, neo-Nazism is not reported, as, for example, before the Second World War, and secondly, everyone is trying to level it, not to report it. This means that there is a need, as you said, on the part of Russia to protect the Russian language, Russians outside of Russia, as well as the need to create a counter plan to combat the rise of neo-Nazism. This is a serious threat.

And the last component is next. In Ukraine, non-state actors are being recruited from various regions. There are credible reports that this is in order to use brigades to fight traditional armies in order to overwhelm combat capability.

I would be interested to hear your analysis – this is very serious: Europe is facing the rise of neo-Nazism.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  You know, it seems to me that one of the serious, fundamental problems of those who allegedly care about the future of Ukraine, the so-called Ukrainian nationalists, is that even the nationalist movement is merging with the neo-fascist, neo-Nazi movement.

After all, they rely on those who cannot but be attributed to collaborators and Nazis. It is impossible not to include those who, as I have already said, on behalf of the Nazi authorities, destroyed the Polish, Jewish, Russian population in the territories occupied during the Second World War. It is impossible to separate today’s so-called jingoists and nationalists from Bandera – in fact, one and the same thing. This is their biggest problem, in my opinion.

Therefore, I say, including to our so-called Western partners: look at what is happening on the streets of Kyiv and other large cities, when thousands of people walk the streets with a swastika, torches, and so on.

Yes, manifestations of neo-Nazism are also possible in our country. In all countries, it is tenacious – such a tenacious infection. But we are fighting this, but they support it at the state level – this, of course, is a problem. It is hushed up, but it exists, and there is no getting away from it, because it exists.

Well, today’s “cheers-patriots” in Ukraine are not driven by this – not even by interests, not by the ideas of nationalism, everything is very primitive: they are driven by economic interests, the desire to keep billions of dollars in Western banks that they stole from the Ukrainian people. They stole it, hid it in Western banks, and in order to ensure the safety of their capital, they do everything that they are ordered from the West, wrapping it in a nationalist wrapper, presenting it to their own people as a struggle for the interests of the Ukrainian people. This is what is happening in reality – they do not regret and fight with Russia to the last Ukrainian.

I say this with regret. There losses are one in ten, one in eight. Recently, almost always one to seven, one to eight. People are not sorry at all. Can true patriots of their country allow this? They go straight along this path calmly and even without looking back, they do not think about it. Of course, they are not protecting their national interests.

But this infection of nationalism is tenacious, and the fact that it is tied to neo-Nazism, they try or prefer not to notice. And this, of course, is a huge problem for the current Ukrainian regime itself, and for those who support them, of course. But we cannot ignore this and will always point to it, including as one of the root causes of today’s crisis.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Mr. Kim.

H. Kim (retranslated) :  Hello, my name is Kim Heung Chong, I’m from South Korea. I came to the Valdai Club for the second time, I learned a lot. Thank you very much for the opportunity to hear a lot.

I have a question about security. I would be interested in your opinion on the Russian position on the growing tension between China and the United States over Taiwan, North Korea and its nuclear development program.

The second question is about the fight against climate change. Russia is very rich in natural resources and fossil fuels. Accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality may be contrary to Russian interests.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  I will start with the last one. The transition to carbon neutrality does not run counter to Russian interests, because we have opportunities to develop alternative types of energy, including hydrogen, including pure hydrogen, and here we have serious competitive advantages. We can also use gas, there are many opportunities, this does not frighten us at all, but, on the contrary, creates incentives for us to develop. And as a transitional energy source, primary gas is the best source of energy. If we talk about deep oil refining, then here we have to a large extent the advantages that I just mentioned. It doesn’t run counter to our interests.

Only orgy in the energy sector, running ahead in resolving issues related to energy security, related to the provision of “green” energy, is contrary to our interests. How was it possible for many, many years to underfund, hinder investment in traditional energy without preparing everything related to green energy for this transition? How could this be done?

To a large extent, this is at the heart of today’s energy crisis. After all, Western politicians are just talking their tongues in order to win voters over to their side. At first they scare ordinary citizens with possible climate change, then on the basis of this fear they begin to promise something that is impossible to fulfill, they get votes, they come to power, and then – “boom”.

What is happening now – a return to coal generation, a return to heating oil? And what, they chatted, but what is the result? It’s not about Russia. We are ready to supply gas, we are ready to supply oil as well – why are you refusing something? After the Nord Stream explosion, we have one pipe left, it is working, we can pump 27.5 billion cubic meters. But they don’t want to – what do we have to do with it? If they don’t want to, they don’t need to.

As for green energy, I repeat, everything must be prepared in a timely manner. Systemic measures limiting the development of traditional types of energy have led to just this serious crisis. There is no financing, banks do not give loans – not only European ones, and the same thing happens in the States. Why is it limited there – banks do not give, they do not insure, they do not allocate land, they do not build transport for the oil and gas transmission of these products, and this has been going on for years. Significant underfunding of the industry has led to a deficit. That’s all.

From the strategic reserves, the United States allocates oil – well, well, but they will have to be replenished later, market experts understand this. Today they took it and took it from the strategic reserves, but tomorrow it will be necessary to buy. We hear: we will buy when prices fall. But they don’t fall. And what? Hello, we have arrived! We’ll have to buy at high prices, prices went up again. What are we doing here? These are systemic mistakes in the energy sector of those who should think about it and deal with it. This is the first.

Second. About North Korea and about Taiwan. Taiwan is, without any doubt, an integral part of the People’s Republic of China. We have always adhered to this position, and it does not change with us.

All gestures of a provocative nature, connected with the visit to Taiwan by the highest officials of the United States, are perceived by us in Russia as nothing more than a provocation. Why they do it, I honestly don’t know.

You know, we have known many people here for many, many years and we speak the same language – let’s just do it like a family. Here is what is happening: the tragedy in Ukraine. The entire West has attacked us there, trying to ruin our economy, supplies weapons and ammunition in the billions to Ukraine. Fighting Russia.

But why is it necessary at the same time to spoil relations with China? Are they normal people or not? It seems to be completely contrary to common sense and logic. Why did this grandmother have to drag herself to Taiwan in order to provoke China into some kind of retaliatory action? At a time when they and Russia can not regulate relations in any way because of what is happening in Ukraine. It’s just Brad.

It seems that there is some subtle, deep idea in this. I think that there is not a shish there, no subtle ideas. Just nonsense and everything, and self-confidence. Do you understand what’s the matter? Self-confidence and a sense of impunity is what underlies such irrational actions.

Our position is clear, I have stated it.

Now, regarding the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In my opinion, this problem also lies – you know what – in the unwillingness to talk, in an absolutely boorish attitude towards the interests of North Korea, including in the field of security. After all, almost everything was agreed, there was a moment. The North Korean leaders agreed, in fact, with the proposals of the United States on how to resolve this problem, including the nuclear issue.

No, at the last moment the American side changed its position and forced, in fact, the North Korean leadership to abandon the agreements reached. The states have done this – they have imposed additional sanctions there, they have begun to restrict something in the sphere of finance and banking, although there was an agreement not to do this. What for? It’s also not very clear.

By the way, we have joint proposals with the People’s Republic of China on how we should move towards resolving this problem. These proposals are formulated in our two documents, and this is well known to all. We will adhere to the agreed position.

By the way, with regard to humanitarian issues and similar issues, here you also need to understand the state of the North Korean economy, what are the needs of ordinary citizens, and not tighten the screws, but, based on humanitarian considerations, resolve certain issues.

We have very good relations with the Republic of Korea, and we have always had the opportunity to have a dialogue with both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But now we know that the Republic of Korea has decided to supply weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. This will destroy our relationship. And how would the Republic of Korea react if we resume cooperation with North Korea in this area? Would it make you happy?

I ask you to pay attention to this.

F. Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, since you yourself said that it’s like a family here, open the veil then to our family circle – there was a lot of speculation.

When you were in China in early February and met with President Xi, you warned him about plans for a special…

Vladimir Putin:  No.

F. Lukyanov:  And then he didn’t express an insult to you that they didn’t share it in a friendly way?

Vladimir Putin:  You know, the Chinese leader is not the kind of person who expresses grievances about anything. He is a self-sufficient world leader. And then, we do not have such a need for this, we make sovereign decisions: both Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

Therefore, China sees very well what the desire of the West to advance the infrastructure of the NATO bloc to our borders means for Russia, they objectively assess these situations. Just as they see what happened in the Donbass in the last eight years, they are perfectly able to assess the consequences and causes of the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014.

Of course, the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese leadership stand for pragmatic, balanced solutions to the crisis that is taking place in Ukraine through peaceful means, and we respect this position.

F. Lukyanov: Then Nelson Wong, probably.

N. Wong (retranslated) :  Thank you.

My name is Nelson Wong, Shanghai, PRC. It is a great honor for me to be here, Mr. President.

In your speech and your remarks, you mentioned that the rules-based world order has been used and is still used very often by the West, although it is not clear where this order came from. And I must say that this issue has been discussed quite often over the past four days here as part of our discussions.

Mr. President, my question is the following. Looking to the future, we see that we are entering an era where there will be no superpowers. It must be said that we talked about this on the first day of our discussions. As the only superpower, the US, is losing control and we are entering a new era. This is not only the beginning of the end of US superpower status, in fact, we are already in the process of losing it.

At the new stage, it seems to me that we will also need certain rules. If we want to work out such rules, from your point of view, Mr. President, what rules would be most important? It is clear that there are no such rules yet, but as a hypothesis: what principles should be observed when new rules are developed?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  Why are there no such rules? They exist, they are laid down in the Charter of the United Nations. And these rules are called international law. All you need to do is to follow and understand these rules in the same way. It is possible to abandon these rules or radically modernize them only when the basis for the development of relations on some other principles has been prepared.

The Charter of the United Nations fixed the existing balance of power after the Second World War. Of course, the world is fundamentally changing, has changed. Giants such as China, India, Indonesia, with a large population, are growing, such huge countries are emerging and developing in Africa – 200 million people each, in Latin America.

The world is changing. Of course, the norms of international law must follow these changes and regulate relations between states in accordance with the balance of power that develops in real life in the world. But this should be done calmly, slowly, according to understandable principles, and not by someone invented rules.

I said in the introduction, and who read these rules? They talk about some rules – what rules? Where are they written, who agreed? It’s just some nonsense. For idiots, or what, all this is said? To some general public of people who don’t even know how to read properly. What are the rules, who worked with them? It’s just bullshit, that’s all. No, it’s endless, as our people say, endlessly. And against those who do not comply with them, we will introduce some kind of restrictions and sanctions.

They are waging a trade war with China and so on in this regard, pointing out what China should do in its individual provinces, regulate what kind of relations there should be, respect for human rights. These are tools in the fight against the People’s Republic of China, and tools of unfair competition, that’s what it is. They are afraid of the growing power of China, and because of this, everything happens: they seek out human rights, and certain regions of China are put under the distribution of solutions to current issues of an economic and political nature. The point is only this: the fight against China as a growing competitor, and all sorts of tools are being invented.

What can be the basis – the observance of interests, openness and general rules, uniformly understood and applied by all participants in international communication. We need to achieve this balance of interests, restore this balance of interests and follow these norms. But it seems to me that this should be done publicly, and not behind the scenes, not in the interests of one country or a group of countries, but in the interests of the entire international community.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Without leaving China, Mr Putin, and a little about the previous question about green energy and other issues. It is clear that the European energy market, apparently, will be completely closed for us in the coming years. There is such a possibility.

Are we ready to quickly build infrastructure for Asian markets?

Vladimir Putin:  You know, we did it, not based on today’s situation, we did it a long time ago. The Power of Siberia was not built in connection with the events in Ukraine – it was built because we were aware that the energy needs of our friends in China are growing, and we have the ability to meet these needs.

We are also negotiating with India on various ways of delivering our energy resources to the Indian market and with other countries. We will continue to liquefy natural gas. Our participation in the global LNG markets is still modest, but it is constantly growing. We will continue to do this. We will develop this direction, I repeat, not even in connection with today’s restrictions, but because these are the trends in the development of the world economy.

The Chinese economy in purchasing power parity has become larger than the American one – it’s a fact, and the needs are growing. Why should we, especially our friends, neighbors, we have wonderful relations, a common border, why shouldn’t we deliver something there in the same way as to other Asian countries? We have done it and we will continue to do it.

Now, in fact, we have already agreed on a new system through Mongolia. Both Mongolia and China are interested. We will allow our friends and partners to mine our resources – for some reason – just as we did with the Europeans, with the Americans, but they prefer to leave our market – the flag is in their hands, let them move where they want, at any side. Is it good for them or not? I think it’s really bad.

They leave with losses. Whoever wants to, let him come in, we are open for cooperation, this process will continue. Whether we are ready for this or not, we have been preparing for this for a long time, for many years, and we will continue this process further. I don’t see any insurmountable obstacles here at all, no issues that we couldn’t resolve, everything will be resolved.

Alexander Dzermant:  Alexey Dzermant, Minsk, Belarus.

Before I ask my question, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would like to convey the words of support from many, many Belarusians. I often meet with them at discussion platforms where we discuss events, including Ukraine. Therefore, personally to you and Russia, which is fighting Nazism in Ukraine, the most ardent support from the citizens of my country.

The question I would like to ask is the following. Due to the fact that the West, in fact, is building real walls, setting up a blockade, sanctions pressure on the Republic of Belarus and Russia, the North-South corridor is now becoming very important in a logistical, financial sense. Of course, it is important now to fill it with specific projects that include both Russia and Belarus.

But don’t you think that with the growth of the development of Asia, the East as a whole, we need not only to develop the material infrastructure, but also pay attention to the cultural and humanitarian aspect, so that our ideas, values, and certain views on the world coincide with the countries of the East?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  You are right. But we do. And not even because someone is building a wall from the West, but we always do that.

After all, look, the bulk of the population of Russia is located in the European part, but the territory is largely beyond the Ural Mountains, so Russia is a Eurasian country, we always remember this, we never forgot about it. We traditionally develop relations with Asian countries, and even more so now, when such explosive growth is observed there – not right now, for several years already.

We see it all, which is why we have already reoriented our cooperation with Asian countries to a large extent. Well, of course, is it possible to develop economic ties without paying attention to the humanitarian component? But, to a certain extent, China and India are the “cradle” of world civilizations, we always treat this with great respect, attention and interest.

The interest of the Russian public in these civilizations has always been very high. By the way, schools for the study of India, China, the culture of both states, the peoples of these states, and these are also multinational states, we have a very high level of science in these areas, this has always been traditional for Russia, and we will support this in the future.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Dear colleagues, we have entered our fourth hour of work. I think that we have already abused the time of the President of the Russian Federation. One more question, does anyone else have a burning one? There is.

Vladimir Putin:  Please.

P. Mtembu (retranslated) :  Thank you. Pilani Mtembu from South Africa, Institute for Global Dialogue.

Mr. President, you said that the West is not capable of unilaterally leading all of humanity and that we need to build a symphony of human civilization. I would be interested if you could tell us in more detail about your thoughts if we want to build a multipolar world order, the importance of regional cooperation as a way to maintain and build the building blocks of multipolarity.

And a few more words from the point of view of Russian interaction with Africa, in particular related to the Russia-Africa summit.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  We have very good, traditionally good relations with Africa as a whole, including with the Republic of South Africa since, as you know, Africa’s struggle for its independence, since the struggle against colonialism. These absolutely unique relations developed during the years when the Soviet Union and Russia supported the African states in their struggle for their freedom.

And this foundation of our relations, which was formed in previous decades, of course, should be used in the new conditions for the development of multilateral relations with African states today, including with the Republic of South Africa, which, as you know, is our very active and effective partner and within the framework of BRICS.

We value this, we know the possibilities of the Republic of South Africa. We know the possibilities and are confident in the future of the African continent, and we will certainly develop our relations with African countries, both with those with which we have established traditional relations over the past decades and with those with which they are developing only now.

But as to the essence of your question and its first part. I, in principle, it seems to me, answered – I can hardly detail my position in a short answer.

We need to find a balance of interests. This cannot be done in conditions of hegemony or an attempt to maintain the hegemony of one country or group of countries in relation to the rest of humanity. These hegemons will have to reckon with these legitimate demands of the vast majority of participants in international communication – and not in words, but in deeds.

After all, what is happening? In words, everyone is for equality, for the support of African countries, for example, and so on. In words, everything sounds beautiful, but in practice what happens? After all, what instruments are used today, say, an instrument of the same dollar or other currencies, say, the euro. What happens in practical life? 5.9 trillion dollars have been printed in the last two years and 2.9 trillion euros have been printed. Where did this money go? They went to buy goods on world markets, and the United States, from a net food importer, began to buy more food on world markets than it sells to world markets, began to buy food due to the fact that they have a printing press.

This is what the financial monopoly leads to – immediately there was a shortage. Not only was there a crop failure in the previous year and a pandemic, a reduction in production, money was printed in the fight against the pandemic, thrown away to their population – food buying began, prices went up. And who suffers? First of all, the countries of Africa and partly of Latin America and Asia. Does anyone think about it? Of course, those who do it think. They didn’t care about the consequences. They decide their interests without thinking about the consequences that come for the same African countries.

The same is happening in another part of the food market related to fertilizers. Listen, how is it possible? I have already spoken about this, I will say it again. How could a decision be made to lift restrictions and bans on Russian fertilizers in Europe, and then issue an explanation that these restrictions have been lifted only for the EU countries? Are they completely crazy, or what? They issued this clarification in writing. How can you imagine it? But they do it without embarrassment, without anything. What is this, maintaining a balance of interests, or what?

We have already said many times: we have 300,000 tons of fertilizers arrested, lying in European ports. Our companies are ready to give away for free, but they do not give it away, including to African countries. Some leaders of African countries asked me where exactly. I asked my assistants to send them where and how much they find – 300,000 tons, that’s millions of dollars.

Give to the poorest countries, they need it. No, they don’t let go. What is this, maintaining a balance of interests? If you want to fight Russia, put the flag in your hands, fight. You don’t want us to receive additional income, but we give it away for free, there is no income. Give it back to the developing countries, your actions only contribute to the fact that prices are rising. Why are you doing this? So they are interested in it.

What is this, a balance of interests? How to ensure that the relationship is stable? We need to achieve this balance, we need to act within the framework of the norms that we call the norms of international law, we need to coordinate and adhere to them, including in the financial sector to create independent systems of international settlements, which I spoke about.

Here I gave a specific example of what the endless emission, unlimited emission of major currencies leads to. It also has practical implications, including and above all for developing countries.

I would like to return to this once again: in order for the world to be stable, this balance of interests must be achieved.

Please raise your hand here.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Natalia Zaiser.

D. Constantakopoulos ( retranslated :  Mr. President, two small questions.

Vladimir Putin:  It doesn’t look like Natalia, of course.

D. Constantakopoulos : Do you think the time has come for deeper integration in the space of the former Soviet Union?

And the second question. What is your message to ordinary citizens of Western countries? If you had a citizen of the West in front of you, what would you say to him?

Vladimir Putin : First, with regard to integration.

This is a very subtle question. Here, too, we must achieve exactly what I have been talking about in relation to the whole world – we need to achieve a balance of interests. This must be done professionally, without any haste and consistently. We have certain plans within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. This concerns the removal of restrictions on the most important commodity groups in order to fully ensure the free movement of goods, finance, capital and labor.

I don’t think it’s advisable to get ahead of ourselves, as it was, say, in the European Union, when some countries with a certain level of economic development got into the euro zone, and then they didn’t know what to do with it, because problems arise when the inflation tool becomes unavailable to regulate the situation within the economy. I mean the well-known situation, for example, with Greece, and with some other countries.

Therefore, we must not get ahead of ourselves, but must consistently move towards the implementation of the plans that have been outlined. We know what we must do in this direction, and we will definitely do it, taking into account the interests of all participants in this process.

As for our message to ordinary citizens of Western countries – both the United States and Europe. I want to say the most important thing: fight for wage increases – this is the first thing. Second, do not believe that Russia is your enemy or even adversary. Russia is your friend, and we have been doing everything for decades and are ready to do everything in the future in order to strengthen our relations.

In this regard, an anecdote that I recently told my colleagues came to my mind. A friend from Germany told me recently. Family, son asks dad: “Dad, why is it so cold?” And he says: “Because Russia attacked Ukraine.” The child asks: “What do we have to do with it?” “And we imposed sanctions against the Russians.” – “Why?” – “To make them feel bad” – “And we – what, Russians?”

I want to say that all the problems, and this is addressed to citizens in this case of European countries, and the United States as well, all the problems that arise in this regard are not related to Russia’s actions. They are connected with the systemic mistakes of your political leadership, the political leadership of your countries – both in the field of energy, and in the field of food, and in the field of monetary policy, which has led to an unprecedented increase in inflation and a shortage of energy resources. Russia has nothing to do with it, this is the result of systemic mistakes by the leadership of your countries. And we need to conduct a sound analysis of what is happening, and seek a change in economic policy.

As for international politics, of course, this is always the decision of sovereign states, but it must, of course, be based on the opinion of voters, ordinary citizens of a particular country. But ordinary citizens should know – I will end where I started: Russia is not an enemy and has never had any malicious intentions towards European states and the United States.

And we know that we, Russia, have a lot of friends there. We will build our relations with the so-called collective West, relying precisely on this part of the population of European countries and the United States.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr Putin  , does the call to fight for higher wages also apply to Russian citizens?

Vladimir Putin:  Yes.

F. Lukyanov:  Excellent. Everyone heard.

Vladimir Putin:  And I must tell you that this is one of the fundamental issues that the Government should deal with, and the trade unions are doing it, doing it no matter what, doing it no matter what special operations.

There is a complex dialogue in the tripartite commission between representatives of employers, trade unions and the Government. This dialogue continues.

We see that the nominal incomes of citizens are growing, while the real ones have become slightly lower. Bearing in mind the state of the Russian economy, we can and must do so. In accordance with the existing plans of the Russian Government, I hope that all the tasks that we set ourselves in this sense and in this vein will be resolved.

Someone else wants to [ask a question].

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Vladimir Vladimirovich, you don’t give orders here, I give orders here. (Laugh.)

Vladimir Putin:  This is called hegemonism.

F. Lukyanov:  What to do, we have not overcome it yet.

Colleagues, I propose a blitz at the end. Natalia [Zaiser] is offended, and there are two more questions, and we will finish with this.

Vladimir Putin:  Good.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Natalia.

Nikolai Zaiser: Mr  President, good evening!

Natalia Zaiser, African Business Initiative Union.

For almost 15 years I have been developing international relations and expanding contacts in the field of public diplomacy. As a person who builds bridges, it is important for me to always project some actions into the future.

It is obvious that we are facing a certain new historical stage, and when the chapter of current events is over, there will be a need to form new or other institutions of international partnership. And we are talking, probably, not about countries that have made up their minds, but also about countries that, due to their geopolitical position, cannot openly express their intentions and position.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, how do you see the new institution of international partnership? What parity basis is Russia ready to offer to the international level? What mechanisms, tools and persons are needed to acquire new allies, partners, friends not at a declarative, but at a fundamentally responsible level in their agreements? Do you think it makes sense for us to change some or build other approaches within the international partnership of the future?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:  You know, you have such a broad question, if it can be called a question, it is like a position.

What I would like to say. It seems to me that in general I have already answered practically what you have just asked. We must and can focus on cooperation, above all with those countries that are sovereign in making their fundamental decisions. This is the first.

Second. Consensus must be sought in making these decisions.

And thirdly, to achieve a balance of interests.

Within what institutions? First of all, of course, these are universal international organizations, and number one here is the United Nations.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Alan Freeman, please.

A. Freeman (retranslated) :  Mr. President, I came from Canada, a NATO country. The future Prime Minister, or rather his grandfather, was a Bandera. Dissatisfaction with NATO’s position is heard around the world, and there are many voices in the global South. These voices exist both in the North and in the collective West. Why don’t we hear them? Because they are suppressed.

Look at what happened to Julian Assange. The media, political elites, academic elites are waging an unprecedented campaign, it is racist and Russophobic, it intimidates people, does not allow them to express their full measure of disagreement with what their governments are doing. Here you don’t see the full scale of the opposition that exists in Europe, in Canada, in the UK, here you don’t see it.

What can we do to build a relationship between those in the collective West who are fighting what their government is doing and those who are supporting what is happening in the global South and in Russia for Russia’s brave actions on the global stage?

Vladimir Putin:  It seems to me that no one should sacrifice anything from the set of their national interests, you just need to fight for your national interests, and we will work in unison with you.

Of course, we are not immersed in the details of the internal political struggle in the countries of the collective West, as you mentioned. We do not – you know, probably better than I do – work with the opposition practically at the level of special services, as the West does with respect to us and to our opposition. We know that hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, are being spent there to support the opposition, and in all directions, through various channels, they are already coming up with everything in order to send financial resources to Russia for these purposes. We can’t even keep track of it. But we don’t do any of that.

But we expect – and I have said this many times today, in my opinion, even in my speech – that our very position on the fundamental issues of the development of international relations and simply development, the development of societies, is attractive to a large number of people not only in the world as a whole, but also in Western countries.

I just said about it. We know that we have a lot of supporters there. Relying on these supporters, we will build relations with the countries of the so-called collective West.

For my part, I can only wish you success in the struggle for your national interests. This will be enough to establish good relations with Russia.

(Turning to F. Lukyanov.)

Anyway, let me have the last word. I will ask any of those present to raise their hand and answer your question.

Yes. Please.

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Gabor Stir.

G. Stir:  Good afternoon, Mr. President!

At the beginning of the conversation, you talked about what the goals were, how you assessed the situation, and my question is the following: on February 24, did you think that in eight months the NWO would continue? And not only continues, but the situation is aggravated. In addition, many in the world already fear the start of the Third World War.

Hence the question. One of my favorite cities in the post-Soviet space is Odessa. What do you think, give me advice: if I would like to go there next summer, or in two years …

Vladimir Putin:  Don’t delay, go as fast as possible. Joke. Kidding.

G. Stir:  In two years, then, should I ask for a Russian or Ukrainian visa?

Vladimir Putin:  You know, Odessa is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As you know, Odessa was founded by Catherine II, and even extreme nationalists, in my opinion, do not dare to demolish the monument to the founder of the city.

Odessa can be both a bone of contention, and a symbol of conflict resolution, and a symbol of finding some solution to everything that is happening now. The issue is not with us. We have said many times that we are ready for negotiations, and I recently, speaking in the Kremlin, publicly mentioned this again. But the leaders of the Kyiv regime decided not to continue negotiations with the Russian Federation. Those who – and there are many of them… However, the decisive word belongs to those who implement this policy in Washington. It is very simple to solve this problem: to give an appropriate signal to Kyiv that they should change their position and strive to solve these problems peacefully. That’s all.

And as for your possible trip to Odessa, if without any jokes, I recommend that you do it. This is really a very good, beautiful city with wonderful traditions and history. It’s worth admiring it.

True, in recent years, at least when I was in Odessa, it did not make the best impression on me, because the public utilities were clearly in decline, this was evident even from the facades of buildings, although there seemed to be nothing in the center yet still, it was preserved, a little to the side – everything already looked not so presentable there. But Odessa is worth seeing.

Let’s finish. Please.

F. Lukyanov:  Then Carlos Ron, after all, Venezuela, as without it.

Vladimir Putin:  Venezuela?

Fyodor Lukyanov:  Yes.

Vladimir Putin:  I would like the Russians to finish. Well, let’s.

Caroline Ron (retranslated) :  Mr. President, greetings from Venezuela, from your friend, Mr. President Nicolas Maduro.

At the moment, about 30 percent of the world’s countries are under some kind of illegal sanctions from the United States. You spoke about the importance of protecting the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Last month, the Group of Friends in Defense of the UN Charter met in New York, and one of the questions that was raised at the meeting was how to contribute to the creation of a zone free from illegal sanctions, where one could do business, affairs without fear of such sanctions?

What do you think Russia could do to create such a space? And how do you think this could happen? Maybe you have another message for the people of Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: By  opposing the sanctions that have been imposed on it, Russia is actually creating, in a certain sense, a space of freedom so that one can not be afraid of sanctions pressure and freely develop economic ties between various regions of the world and most different countries.

There is no need for any special solutions. Just the very example of what is happening, it seems to me, is indicative. Now a colleague asked what kind of signals we are ready to send to citizens of European, Western countries in general. I spoke about this, but I also spoke about the mistakes that were made by the political leadership of Western countries in the global economy, financial, energy and food sectors.

Here is one of the confirmations. Sanctions have been imposed on Venezuela. She was one of the largest oil producers until recently. Sanctions were imposed on Iran, sanctions were imposed on Russia. Now they are threatening to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia. They want to introduce a cap on the prices of Russian oil and gas. Well, at every step they make a mistake that leads to dire consequences for the countries that impose these sanctions. This is just one of the examples. And then they look for someone to blame. They do everything themselves, and then they look for the guilty.

Nevertheless, Venezuela is developing. There are big problems, we know about it, but Venezuela overcomes them.

These sanctions were imposed on Russia, they expected a complete collapse of the Russian economy, we already talked about this here at the beginning of our meeting today. But this “blitzkrieg” against the Russian economy did not take place.

What’s happening? Look, our inflation will be around 12% a year, and it tends to go down. In the first quarter of next year, according to our experts, it will be somewhere around 5 percent. In advanced EU countries it is 17 (here in the Netherlands), and in some countries it is 21-23 [percent], twice as much as ours.

Unemployment – 3.8 percent. It has become less, unemployment than in the pre-pandemic period was 4.7. Our budget deficit next year is 2 percent, then 1.4 percent, and a year later, 0.7 percent. It is higher in almost all eurozone countries. Public debt is fundamentally lower than in the eurozone, either in the United States or in Britain.

We will have a recession in the economy this year – about 2.8-2.9 percent. Will be. But industrial production and processing remain approximately at the same level. Construction, the construction sector grew by more than 5 percent – 5.1 percent – over the eight months of this year. Agriculture has doubled, and the trend is growing.

We are increasing the volume of lending to both the corporate sector and the consumer sector. There has been an increase in lending. Yes, we have seen some issues related to the outflow of money supply from banks, related to well-known events. The money began to come back, and citizens are doing the right thing, because rather than keeping money under the pillow, losing money on inflation, it is better to have at least some interest in the bank, this is quite obvious. The stability of the banking system is reliable, the banking system is highly stable. I repeat, lending is growing.

You asked me: what can Russia do to create the conditions for living independently of these sanctions and for sustainable development? It seems to me that this is a good example, and it is necessary to unite the efforts of all those who are interested in this, to achieve this agreement and a balance of interest, which I have already spoken about many times. And then, without any doubt, success will be ensured.

Let’s finish here.

F. Lukyanov:  Well, finally.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I began by saying that we were looking forward to seeing you. It seems to me that we will leave extremely satisfied and will reflect for a long time. It’s hard for me, sitting here, to [evaluate] – of course, the impressions can be different, but I think this is one of the most successful discussions of ours in terms of both coverage of topics and general atmosphere.

Thank you very much, and we really hope, we are already starting to look forward to seeing you in a year.

Vladimir Putin:  All right.

I want to express my gratitude to our moderator, presenter. And, of course, to thank you all for the interest you show in relations with Russia, I mean, first of all, of course, our foreign guests.

I would like to thank all the experts of the Valdai Club for the fact that you are working on this site, and, of course, making a noticeable, significant contribution to those brainstorming sessions that are so needed, including for decision-making at a practical level.

Thank you. Good luck.

Putin’s speech

We have used the Valdai Club platform to discuss, more than once, the major and serious shifts that have already taken place and are taking place around the world, the risks posed by the degradation of global institutions, the erosion of collective security principles and the substitution of “rules” for international law. I was tempted to say “we are clear about who came up with these rules,” but, perhaps, that would not be an accurate statement. We have no idea whatsoever who made these rules up, what these rules are based on, or what is contained inside these rules.It looks like we are witnessing an attempt to enforce just one rule whereby those in power – we were talking about power, and I am now talking about global power – could live without following any rules at all and could get away with anything. These are the rules that we hear them constantly, as people say, harping on, that is, talking about them incessantlyThe Valdai discussions are important because a variety of assessments and forecasts can be heard here. Life always shows how accurate they were, since life is the sternest and the most objective teacher. So, life shows how accurate our previous years’ projections were.Alas, events continue to follow a negative scenario, which we have discussed more than once during our previous meetings. Moreover, they have morphed into a major system-wide crisis that impacted, in addition to the military-political sphere, the economic and humanitarian spheres as well.The so-called West which is, of course, a theoretical construct since it is not united and clearly is a highly complex conglomerate, but I will still say that the West has taken a number of steps in recent years and especially in recent months that are designed to escalate the situation. As a matter of fact, they always seek to aggravate matters, which is nothing new, either. This includes the stoking of war in Ukraine, the provocations around Taiwan, and the destabilisation of the global food and energy markets. To be sure, the latter was, of course, not done on purpose, there is no doubt about it. The destabilisation of the energy market resulted from a number of systemic missteps made by the Western authorities that I mentioned above. As we can see now, the situation was further aggravated by the destruction of the pan-European gas pipelines. This is something otherworldly altogether, but we are nevertheless witnessing these sad developments.Global power is exactly what the so-called West has at stake in its game. But this game is certainly dangerous, bloody and, I would say, dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and tramples upon other states’ interests. In any case, even if denial is the not the word used, they are doing it in real life. No one, except those who create these rules I have mentioned is entitled to retain their identity: everyone else must comply with these rules.In this regard, let me remind you of Russia’s proposals to our Western partners to build confidence and a collective security system. They were once again tossed in December 2021.However, sitting things out can hardly work in the modern world. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind, as the saying goes. The crisis has indeed taken on a global dimension and has impacted everyone. There can be no illusions about this.Humankind is at a fork in the road: either keep accumulating problems and eventually get crushed under their weight, or work together to find solutions – even imperfect ones, as long as they work – that can make our world a more stable and safer place.You know, I have always believed in the power of common sense. Therefore, I am convinced that sooner or later both the new centres of the multipolar international order and the West will have to start a dialogue on an equal footing about a common future for us all, and the sooner the better, of course. In this regard, I will highlight some of the most important aspects for all of us.Current developments have overshadowed environmental issues. Strange as it may seem, this is what I would like to speak about first today. Climate change no longer tops the agenda. But that fundamental challenge has not gone away, it is still with us, and it is growing.The loss of biodiversity is one of the most dangerous consequences of disrupting the environmental balance. This brings me to the key point all of us have gathered here for. Is it not equally important to maintain cultural, social, political and civilisational diversity?At the same time, the smoothing out and erasure of all and any differences is essentially what the modern West is all about. What stands behind this? First of all, it is the decaying creative potential of the West and a desire to restrain and block the free development of other civilisations.There is also an openly mercantile interest, of course. By imposing their values, consumption habits and standardisation on others, our opponents – I will be careful with words – are trying to expand markets for their products. The goal on this track is, ultimately, very primitive. It is notable that the West proclaims the universal value of its culture and worldview. Even if they do not say so openly, which they actually often do, they behave as if this is so, that it is a fact of life, and the policy they pursue is designed to show that these values must be unconditionally accepted by all other members of the international community.I would like to quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous Harvard Commencement Address delivered in 1978. He said that typical of the West is “a continuous blindness of superiority”– and it continues to this day – which “upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present-day Western systems.” He said this in 1978. Nothing has changed.Over the nearly 50 years since then, the blindness about which Solzhenitsyn spoke and which is openly racist and neocolonial, has acquired especially distorted forms, in particular, after the emergence of the so-called unipolar world. What am I referring to? Belief in one’s infallibility is very dangerous; it is only one step away from the desire of the infallible to destroy those they do not like, or as they say, to cancel them. Just think about the meaning of this word.Even at the very peak of the Cold War, the peak of the confrontation of the two systems, ideologies and military rivalry, it did not occur to anyone to deny the very existence of the culture, art, and science of other peoples, their opponents. It did not even occur to anyone. Yes, certain restrictions were imposed on contacts in education, science, culture, and, unfortunately, sports. But nonetheless, both the Soviet and American leaders understood that it was necessary to treat the humanitarian area tactfully, studying and respecting your rival, and sometimes even borrowing from them in order to retain a foundation for sound, productive relations at least for the future.And what is happening now? At one time, the Nazis reached the point of burning books, and now the Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” have reached the point of banning Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky. The so-called “cancel culture” and in reality – as we said many times – the real cancellation of culture is eradicating everything that is alive and creative and stifles free thought in all areas, be it economics, politics or culture.Today, liberal ideology itself has changed beyond recognition. If initially, classic liberalism was understood to mean the freedom of every person to do and say as they pleased, in the 20th century the liberals started saying that the so-called open society had enemies and that the freedom of these enemies could and should be restricted if not cancelled. It has reached the absurd point where any alternative opinion is declared subversive propaganda and a threat to democracy.Whatever comes from Russia is all branded as “Kremlin intrigues.” But look at yourselves. Are we really so all-powerful? Any criticism of our opponents – any – is perceived as “Kremlin intrigues,” “the hand of the Kremlin.” This is insane. What have you sunk to? Use your brain, at least, say something more interesting, lay out your viewpoint conceptually. You cannot blame everything on the Kremlin’s scheming.Fyodor Dostoyevsky prophetically foretold all this back in the 19th century. One of the characters of his novel Demons, the nihilist Shigalev, described the bright future he imagined in the following way: “Emerging from boundless freedom, I conclude with boundless despotism.” This is what our Western opponents have come to. Another character of the novel, Pyotr Verkhovensky echoes him, talking about the need for universal treason, reporting and spying, and claiming that society does not need talents or greater abilities: “Cicero’s tongue is cut out, Copernicus has his eyes gouged out and Shakespeare is stoned.” This is what our Western opponents are arriving at. What is this if not Western cancel culture?These were great thinkers and, frankly, I am grateful to my aides for finding these quotes.What can one say to this? History will certainly put everything in its place and will know whom to cancel, and it will definitely not be the greatest works of universally recognised geniuses of world culture, but those who have for some reason decided that they have the right to use world culture as they see fit. Their self-regard really knows no bounds. No one will even remember their names in a few years. But Dostoevsky will live on, as will Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, no matter how much they would have liked the opposite.Standardisation, financial and technological monopoly, the erasure of all differences is what underlies the Western model of globalisation, which is neocolonial in nature. Their goal was clear – to establish the unconditional dominance of the West in the global economy and politics. To do that, the West put at its service the entire planet’s natural and financial resources, as well as all intellectual, human and economic capabilities, while alleging it was a natural feature of the so-called new global interdependence.Here I would like to recall another Russian philosopher, Alexander Zinoviev, whose birth centenary we will celebrate on October 29. More than 20 years ago, he said that Western civilisation needed the entire planet as a medium of existence and all the resources of humanity to survive at the level it had reached. That is what they want, that is exactly how it is.Moreover, the West initially secured itself a huge head start in that system because it had developed the principles and mechanisms – the same as today’s rules they keep talking about, which remain an incomprehensible black hole because no one really knows what they are. But as soon as non-western countries began to derive some benefits from globalisation, above all, the large nations in Asia, the West immediately changed or fully abolished many of those rules. And the so-called sacred principles of free trade, economic openness, equal competition, even property rights were suddenly forgotten, completely. They change the rules on the go, on the spot wherever they see an opportunity for themselves.Here is another example of the substitution of concepts and meanings. For many years, Western ideologists and politicians have been telling the world there was no alternative to democracy. Admittedly, they meant the Western-style, the so-called liberal model of democracy. They arrogantly rejected all other variants and forms of government by the people and, I want to emphasise this, did so contemptuously and disdainfully. This manner has been taking shape since colonial times, as if everyone were second-rate, while they were exceptional. It has been going on for centuries and continues to this day.So currently, an overwhelming majority of the international community is demanding democracy in international affairs and rejecting all forms of authoritarian dictate by individual countries or groups of countries. What is this if not the direct application of democratic principles to international relations?What stance has the “civilised” West adopted? If you are democrats, you are supposed to welcome the natural desire for freedom expressed by billions of people, but no. The West is calling it undermining the liberal rules-based order. It is resorting to economic and trade wars, sanctions, boycotts and colour revolutions, and preparing and carrying out all sorts of coups.One of them led to tragic consequences in Ukraine in 2014. They supported it and even specified the amount of money they had spent on this coup. They have the cheek to act as they please and have no scruples about anything they do. They killed Soleimani, an Iranian general. You can think whatever you want about Soleimani, but he was a foreign state official. They killed him in a third country and assumed responsibility. What is that supposed to mean, for crying out loud? What kind of world are we living in?As is customary, Washington continues to refer to the current international order as liberal American-style, but in fact, this notorious “order” is multiplying chaos every day and, I might even add, is becoming increasingly intolerant even towards the Western countries and their attempts to act independently. Everything is nipped in the bud, and they do not even hesitate to impose sanctions on their allies, who lower their heads in acquiescence.For example, the Hungarian MPs’ July proposals to codify the commitment to European Christian values and culture in the Treaty on European Union were taken not even as an affront, but as an outright and hostile act of sabotage. What is that? What does it mean? Indeed, some people may like it, some not.Over a thousand years, Russia has developed a unique culture of interaction between all world religions. There is no need to cancel anything, be it Christian values, Islamic values or Jewish values. We have other world religions as well. All you need to do is respect each other. In a number of our regions – I just know this firsthand – people celebrate Christian, Islamic, Buddhist and Jewish holidays together, and they enjoy doing so as they congratulate each other and are happy for each other.But not here. Why not? At least, they could discuss it. Amazing.Without exaggeration, this is not even a systemic, but a doctrinal crisis of the neoliberal American-style model of international order. They have no ideas for progress and positive development. They simply have nothing to offer the world, except perpetuating their dominance.

Newspaper piece

Many of us have felt isolated over the last year but I had a taste of Reality TV “isolation” before lockdown. I never applied to be on “The Circle”. I simply received a call out of the blue on a wet day in Cambridge and I am still grateful for the experience and the deep friendships that I made both with other performers in that short time on the telly.

There was a downside as well. The underbelly of Reality TV is unattractive and, had I known more, maybe I would have turned down the show. Instead, as someone who has been inside Reality TV and has experienced, at first hand, the extreme stress of coming out of one of these shows, I am committed to talking and ensuring it gets better for all. Efforts to reform have been thwarted at the highest level and the “new” OFCOM regulations are a sticking plaster, a scab that endorses what is already common practice in the industry. This is a money-machine machine and one of the most powerful forces in media.

While I have been critical of the “Aftercare”, more a word than practice, “The Circle” itself remains remarkable TV and it is exactly what we need. It showed that isolation can be the foundation of friendship; it celebrated a deeper communication, whether performers were catfishing or genuinely themselves and it was both entertaining and nurturing. I speak regularly with my friends from the show.

Indeed, both Woody was there for me when, a week ago, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It is scary and I value his support hugely. As I am writing, I face imminent surgery. But I know I will get on better by talking, however tough that may be. Silence must be challenged. We do not live in a vacuum. We live in a Circle. It is not perfect but we are better for the reciprocity it fosters.

I reached crisis-point about 10 days’ ago when, what had been minor rectal bleeding, dismissed over the last couple of years, led to a haemorrhage in my office. As I have a blood disorder on the haemophilia scale, I am not afraid of a bit of bleeding-and I have embraced it as a badge of honour with its esoteric “factors” as well as the influence of the mad Rasputin over the Russian Tsarevitch. It is a disease that links me to Queen Victoria who passed it to the royal princes of Europe. But this, frankly, was the stuff of nightmare. So, with the greatest sang-froid we could master, my partner and I put my clothes in the washing machine and went to A and E.

In the hospital, late at night, with my trousers round my ankles, I found out just how much impact a brief appearance on TV can have. A nurse lent over and asked if I was “Tim from the Circle”. I wondered, for a moment, what must have given me away. But I welcomed the diversion to chat about the programme. “Did you really never meet?” “We really didn’t,” I gasped as the doctor said, “That’s just my finger.” That nurse had exactly the right approach- it was a point of contact and she neutralised the terror with the warmth of conversation.

The NHS moved with speed so, in a couple of days, I was ready for a colonoscopy. I was warned the preparation was foul and that the procedure uncomfortable. In the event, both were quite manageable. I was fascinated by the progress of the Doctor’s camera and he kept up a careful reassuring description. On the monitor, it was like a “Star Wars” journey and, lurking in my colon like a capsized asteroid or a badly mangled “Maltese Falcon”, was my own personal cancer. There was no mistaking it.

Far from feeling isolated by the diagnosis, I feel invigorated to reach out to others who may feel lost or frightened at this time. It is frightening, do not doubt, to face a serious cancer. It is something that many of us fear and that, sadly, half of us will experience at some time in our lives but no one is truly alone, no matter how isolated we feel, no matter how silent are those hours after 4am when sleep eludes us and darker thoughts press. It is at those times, in the last week, that I feel an alliance with those friends I cannot see, just as I felt a growing bond, even a telepathic connection on the show with Sy, Brooke and James even though we had never met. It is the same alliance when I gaze into the eyes of my beloved cat, Bey who reaches up to rub noses. This is the message of the Circle: an unspoken bond that we are together. Conversation, language, even honesty is secondary. I would very much prefer not to be in this situation but we must deal with the Reality we face, not the Reality we want, and at the same time, I am in good company- Lynn Faulds Wood, for instance, who campaigned so forcefully for screening and Bobby Moore, the English footballer who died after years’ of being mistreated for IBS. His wife said his death had been “unnecessary” and she called for more awareness of Bowel cancer. I hope we have moved on since then, but I realise that, as a face from the Telly, as someone who the public got to know over the month-long series of “the Circle” on Channel 4, it falls to me to carry on their campaign and draw attention to something that can be overlooked or even dismissed in the early stages. This is now my Reality. It is deeply serious and something we need to be more mature about and more open to discussing. Speaking about bowel cancer, encouraging scans and action, I believe, will save lives. Knowing we are together gives those lives meaning.