Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The assassination of Olof Palme - the place where all conspiracy theories meet

Last week, an old friend very kindly sent me Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme. It's by Jan Bondeson, a Swedish-born rheumatologist who lectures at Cardiff University, and is a prolific author, mainly writing about medical mysteries and true crime. I always feel a bit guilty when I hear or see Olof Palme's name, because I couldn't abide the man's achingly left-wing, cultural Marxist politics, or the miasma of self-righteous smugness that seemed to surround him. Whenever lefties in the '70s and '80s pressed the case for applying Swedish solutions to Britain's problems - i.e. nanny-statism on steroids, a sort of crisp, snowy dream-world of tall blondes, Volvos and endless benefits - I'd always think of Olof Palme, and, consequently, he annoyed the hell out of me. So, when I heard he'd been gunned down late at night in Stockholm while walking home from the cinema with his wife, I won't pretend I was hugely upset. Just a bit surprised. But even more surprised at how long it seemed to take the Swedish authorities to arrest someone for the crime.

The reasons for the lack of credible suspects are cruelly exposed in Bondeson's book. The police investigation into Palme' death was possibly the worst murder investigation into the assassination of a leading politician in all of recorded history. The police failed to pick up the phone when an eyewitness called them from the scene. When the police eventually got there, they initially failed to recognise Palme, even though he hadn't been shot in the face. Members of the public were allowed to trample over the crime scene. The first senior officer to arrive went into some sort of fatalistic trance when he realised who the victim was. Several of the witnesses (36 in all, 21 of whom had actually seen the killer) who approaches police officers at the scene were given the brush-off. Nobody knew how to operate newly-installed communications equipment at police HQ. When the cabinet held an emergency session in the middle of the night, there were no police there to protect them, even though their leader had just been gunned down.  Hours passed before airports, railway stations and other police forces in Sweden were alerted.

No wonder there was suspicion that the police were deliberately hobbling attempts to catch Palme's killer - but the real problem seems to have been that the ruling Social Democrat party had heavily politicised the police force, and that, as a result, many senior figures were political apparatchiks with no experience of actual policing.

Sweden's state-run radio and television took hours to broadcast the news - the first television news anchor to arrive at work only did so because her daughter in London had phoned her with the news of Palme's murder. The lone overnight operative at the radio station only realised something was up when foreign news organisations phoned to check on the reports they'd been receiving. Within an hour of John F. Kennedy's assassination, 90% of Americans had learned of it - it would be over NINE HOURS before a similar percentage of Swedes were aware that their Prime Minister had been killed. Okay, it happened late at night, but still...

One key factor in the failure of the investigation that followed was that Palme's aristocratic wife turned out to be a raving ratbag - prickly, hysterical, extraordinarily unhelpful and utterly useless as a witness, even though she'd been standing next to her husband when he was killed. Another factor was that the man initially placed in charge of the investigation was absolutely convinced - despite an almost total absence of any evidence - that Palme had been assassinated by members of the Kurdish group, PKK, even though the Kurds would have had nothing whatsoever to gain from the murder.

Eventually, a truly repulsive Swedish criminal, an alcoholic and drug addict who'd already served time for murder, was convicted of the crime, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. The problem with any sort of "lone nutjob" scenario was that (a) nobody could have known that the Palmes would visit the cinema they visited that evening - it was a last-minute decision: even their secret service bodyguards didn't know about it, because Palme had dismissed them for the night (he often did), and (b) nobody - absolutely nobody - could have predicted that the Palmes would decide to walk home from the cinema late on a freezing cold night, or that they wouldn't take the shortest, most sensible route to their apartment.

Jan Bondeson's theory is that the assassination had something to do with a massive deal which involved the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors supplying howitzers to the Indian army. Despite his peacenik reputation, Palme had put a lot of effort into securing the lucrative deal, trading on his friendship with his Indian counterpart, Rajiv Gandhi. Palme had a meeting on the day of his assassination with the Iraqi Ambassador, after which he was reported to be uncharacteristically upset and distracted - almost beside himself, in fact. Bondeson speculates that the reason for Palme's distress was learning that Bofors - or a Guilford-based intermediary, AE Services - had bribed Indian officials to secure the deal (a racing certainty, I'd have thought), and that Palme was appalled that his snow-white reputation might end up besmirched by his connection to such sleazy, real-world shenanigans. Did something he said to the Iraqi ambassador - perhaps a threat to reveal Bofors' corrupt practices - result in the arms dealers ordering Palme's assassination?

Well, yes, it sounds far-fetched - but slightly less unlikely than any of the multitude of other scenarios advanced by conspiracy theorists since the moment Palme was fatally shot in the back in a Stockholm shopping street just before midnight on 28th February 1986. (My own theory at the time was that one of those unfortunate Swedes who found themselves having to pay more than 100% of their earning in taxation  - I kid you not - had finally decided they'd had all they could take of Palme's deranged socialist policies. Still makes more sense than any other theory - apart from Bondeson's.)

What a fascinating, clear-headed account of one of the great criminal mysteries of the 20th Century - many thanks to my old chum for such an immensely enjoyable gift.


  1. Sweden, Moral Superpower5 February 2016 at 03:40

    Many of the secrets of the Bofors Indian connection were carried to the grave when Martin Ardbo died. Ardbo's successor as Bofors CEO, the kurta - wearing Paulsen , had not been as involved in Indian affairs.

  2. "....the ruling Social Democrat party had heavily politicised the police force, and that, as a result, many senior figures were political apparatchiks with no experience of actual policing."
    When Stalin had over 32,000 officers murdered and replaced by useless commissars in the '30s the Red Army was rendered temporarily ineffective [Winter War in Finland, German Invasion 1940-41]. More recently the effect of the Mcpherson Report of 1999 on the efficiency of the British Police and the toothless reaction of the Swedish and German Police to the "multi-cultural practices" of their migrant communities show the dangers of outside interference by politicians.
    Palme was a left-wing nincompoop and drip [a forerunner to Corbyn although better tailored]. On his watch in 1976 Ingmar Bergman was publicly arrested for tax evasion [while rehearsing a Strindberg play at the Swedish National Theatre]. He suffered a nervous breakdown and on recovery went into exile. Palme begged him to return. In the same year Sweden's most famous children's author, Astrid Lindgren, was threatened with prison when she protested that she was being charged a marginal tax rate of 105%. Which she was.
    Palme's party was the Social Democrats [Lindgren said at the time "Having power for so long has destroyed these people"]. Another member of that party, Anna Lindh, was assassinated in 2003. She was the Foreign Minister. Her assassin was Serbian migrant, a Mr Mjailovic.
    A very interesting post. Keep these left-wing bastards in the cross-hairs. "We will never suwwender," as Dr Worsley would say. Or was that somebody else?

    1. I gather that Uncle Joe did a bit of self-hoisting with his petards re the Soviet Intelligence service as well. What kind of a person likes sitting around in cafés all day, chatting to intellectuals and doing crosswords, he asked himself, and came up with the answer bourgeois Jews. Out they all went and the cause of Soviet Intelligence was set back several decades.

  3. Sweden , Moral Superpower5 February 2016 at 11:27

    Perhaps Palme's most egregious political influence was Gunnar Myrdahl , a social engineer whose mania for levelling appealed to the Swedish Prime Minister's puerile sense of righteousness.

    Palme should have been informed by a responsible adult that if you want equality you'd better ask it of Santa Claus.

  4. Sweden , Moral Superpower7 February 2016 at 02:27

    Marxoid feminists in Sweden now prefer rape over "racism" and have informed protectionist right wing street groups of this just and wise choice.

  5. In the recent series of the much-improved Swedish crime drama, Arne Dahl, Detective Gunnar Nyberg (the vast former steroid-abuser) utters the line, "I hope it wasn't immigrants" while attending a murder scene. The other detective nods in agreement. Strange, because it means the characters want the murderer to be a native Swede. Now, it's a TV drama, and they're all made by whacko leftists, but still... what level of self-loathing does a nation have to reach to think that it's okay to think this way?

    I don't pretend to understand the psychology underlying the seeming determination of Swedes to commit national suicide, but I've often wondered if it has something to do with a collective sense of guilt over giving WWII a miss. Perhaps they're trying to make up for that lapse (if, indeed, it was a lapse) by creating a state where equality-of-outcome trumps protecting themselves, their families, their property or their culture. Facing economic ruin, they implemented some decidedly Thatcherite economic policies under Prime Minister Carl Bildt in the '90s, but cultural Marxism seems to have been allowed to run riot without a break. Hell of a way to exorcise one's sense of guilt. Of course, it could just be that they've been indoctrinated by looney left teachers, university lecturers and state television bosses. Like here.

  6. Sweden , Moral Superpower11 February 2016 at 05:58

    The leader of the Swedish Left party provides some insights (above) into how a country should be defended.

    Her name is Gudrun Schyman and she has probably spent lots of time sitting in cafes doing crosswords .

  7. Would she were doing her crosswords behind bars or in a padded cell.

    Thank you for the link to the Sweden Report ["Sweden, Moral Superpower"]. I knew things were really bad in Sweden, but reading this blog really shook me up. How can politician do this to their country of birth? It is criminal. Instead of trudging through the mud at Sangatte why doesn't Corbyn go for a walkabout in the banlieus of Paris or Lyons or the ghettoes of Malmo or Goethenborg.

    This blog has closed down and here is a quote from the author's farewell article in case you haven't read it:

    "Today, it’s as if the inmates are running the asylum. The politicians are participating in a chicken race of “goodness” where everybody tries to one-up each other in caring for the citizens of OTHER countries while Swedish retirees, school children, handicapped and other vulnerable categories of people are thorougly ignored. Violence is exploding. Jihadist Trojan horses are flowing through the porous border along with the tens of thousands ID-less refugees."

  8. Sweden , Moral Superpower11 February 2016 at 23:07

    As we can see from the above link , Ms Schyman's other country of citizenship takes a different view of Muslim criminality.