Daily archives: June 24, 2007

Week Round-Up

Having explained in the post below why I have been hors de blog combat, here is my lightning take on the week’s events.

Reports on the captured sailors. What a farce! The government appoints a couple of “trusties” to produce reports, and is miraculously exonerated of all blame. We have seem it time and again – Legge, Butler, Hutton – and nobody buys this Whitehall Whitewash any more.

My favourite stupidities – apparently an ultra-sophisticated anti-submarine frigate, launching rubber dinghies, is indeed exactly the right sort of vessel for inshore coastal patrolling, and no mistakes have been made in the shaping of our navy. Also nobody could be found to take a proper decision on whether the sailors could sell their stories, because it was the Easter weekend, and all the Ministers had buggered off, in the middle of a so-called hostage crisis.

Of course, neither of the reports asked the key question – what on earth are we doing there in the first place?

Also this week, Menzies Campbell has somewhat surprised me by making the right decision and refusing to enter a government of war criminals. In a Machiavellian way I don’t think Brown came out of it badly anyway, appearing open. Northern Ireland is a political graveyard for British politicians – it was Blair’s ploy to get rid of the hugely popular Mo Mowlam by sending her there – and Brown’s offer of it to Captain Ashdown – who has just founded a new right-wing “security” think-tank with the Brownites – carried few political risks.

Finally, I don’t think the EU Treaty is bad at all, and I don’t think it needs a referendum. Interesting that Sarkozy so quickly has moved to populist economic nationalism. The treaty is a very small step closer to an effective common foreign policy, and a good thing too. Blair’s rampant support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and for the US invasion of Iraq, illustrate why we need a common European Foreign Policy. So does the excellent European Parliament report on Extraordinary Rendition.

My solution to prevent a future Blair is to split up the UK into its constituent nations, each a full member of a strong, European Parliament led, EU.

Finally, on Blair’s ill-hidden Catholicism, why would the Catholic Church want him? Are they short of mass murderers? Confession must be interesting. When the war criminal does convert, I hope that they make him read out the names of every individual his wars killed, as a penance. They should make him do it at the Cenotaph or in Parliament Square, then we could have the great irony of his being arrested under his own draconian laws. Perhaps a death-bed conversion would more suit Blair’s sense of drama. Go for it, Tony, and don’t keep your audience waiting too long!

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The Blog fell silent these last four days because I have been at Dundee University for graduation, in my capacity as Rector. Graduation is done very pleasantly at Dundee, with each new graduate walking up individually to be touched on the head by the Chancellor with a ceremonial bonnet, to general applause plus whoops from their family and friends. Even though I haven’t been in office long enough to get to know many of this year’s graduates, I have to say it brought a lump to my throat on several occasions.

The University is now so large that this takes six ceremonies, each for about seven hundred new graduates. We finished five last week, the new doctors graduating next month, and I must confess I felt a bit weary after applauding three and a half thousand individuals over three days. With two ceremonies per day, interspersed by a formal lunch, and followed by a garden party then a formal dinner, I hope you will understand why I didn’t find time to blog.

I return to find a letter from the Council of the University of Lancaster offering me an appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow in their School of Law, which is most kind of them. They have one of the UK’s three leading Human Rights Centres. I need to give some thought to how I might fit this in, in a way which would make a useful contribution to the University. Then at lunchtime I have to leave to give a lecture in Geneva tomorrow.

I feel increasingly “in from the cold”, I suspect because those who think now almost universally acknowledge that the War in Iraq and the so-called War on Terror are indeed both a disaster, and I was telling the truth back in 2002 about torture. Now all I have to do is work out how to make a living!

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