Daily archives: June 27, 2007

Exit Tony, Enter Gordon

I spent most of a fun day outside Downing St shouting “Boo!”, and giving a lot of interviews to foreign television media. One very pretty Spanish television journalist interviewed me under the impression I was John Major. I expect some Spaniards tomorrow might be puzzled by Major’s radical views. I rather enjoyed aspects of this. She asked me “What was it like when you left Downing Street, Prime Minister Major” and I replied “I think it was sunny, oh yes.” She looked very confused.

Arriving back home I did a very good, long documentary interview for ITV, this time as me again, then watched the TV. Adam Bolton on Sky News gave a remarkable bit of information – Gordon Brown has been a personal friend of Henry Kissinger for a long time, and the last time Kissinger came to London, Brown and Kissinger spent two hours alone together in 11 Downing St discussing Kissinger’s latest book. That should disillusion those daft enough to believe that Brown’s five year support for Bush’s wars was a aberration forced upon him by circumstance.

Meanwhile Blair, for whom the House of Commons was never more than a vehicle for personal interest, has quit it even sooner than decently possible, so not a penny of the tens of millions of pounds about to flow his way from corporate America will have to be declared in the register of member’s interests.

Beyond satire is Blair’s appointment as Middle East envoy. Blair is the most wholehearted Zionist ever to lead a major British political party – including Balfour. He is at one with the religious right in the United States in having a gut Zionism perversely engendered by fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

Remember, Blair is leaving today because he was forced to announce his departure last summer. Even the eternally supine Labour Party revolted over Blair’s support for the Israeli attack on the Lebanon. Blair is going because he sacrificed his last remaining political capital to block a UN call for a ceasefire. He did this, knowingly and deliberately, to give the Israelis another two weeks to devastate Southern Lebanon from the air.

This is the man who, in the Rose Garden, moved the UK away from the EU consensus and lined us up uncritically with George Bush’s professedly pro-Israeli policies. All that is without counting the buckets of Iraqi arab blood on Blair’s hands. No self-respecting Palestinian representative, of any party or group, should have any truck with Tony Blair.

Blair is the most famous liar in the World, since the Iraqi WMD debacle. Why should anybody trust him as an envoy?

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War for Oil

The frantic efforts of the US and British governments to persuade Iraq to sign over its oil to Western companies on terms wildly unfavourable to Iraq, happily continue to run into the sands. But it is instructive to those who still try to argue this whole war wasn’t about oil.


Meanwhile, the major oil companies have no desire to step into the bloodbath yet anyway. They are making truly unbelievable profits from the high oil and gas prices the war has engendered.

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Ghana – Democracy and Economy

In Ghana, President Kuffour has demanded, in line with his party’s constitution, the resignations of eight ministers who have declared themselves as candidates for the Presidential nomination of their party, the NPP.

John Kuffour is a good man, and he himself is standing down as President after two terms in accordance with the law, something so very few leaders in Africa do. He is right to enforce the provisions of his own party constitution, too. There is also the point that he has been annoyed for at least a year that a minority of the candidates were so engaged in preparing their Presidential campaign, that they were neglecting their ministerial duties. It is also typical of Kuffour that he did not make an exception for hiw own brother, formerly Minister of Defence. Finally, as Kuffour has battled hard (and not 100% succesfully, but more succesfully than anyone else in Africa) against corruption among his ministers, it removes the temptation of ministers to use their ministries to fund their campaigns.

But still, it is unlucky for Ghana that they should prematurely lose the services of good ministers like Nana Akuffo Addo, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey and Kwame Addo Kuffour. We wait to see whether the new team bring new impetus to Kuffour’s remaining time in office. One thing Ghana does not lack is talent

It is very difficult for me, because I count most of the presidential aspirants as personal friends, several of whom have really outstanding qualities – in mentioning the three above it would be churlish not to mention another former minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, who has a brain the size of a planet.

Ghana is a genuine democracy and there are good people in the opposition NDC, too, particularly John Mahama. The whole Presidential process should be fascinating.

Ghana is a ready corrective to the gormless naivety of the Make Poverty History campaign. Ghana has done everything right. It is a democracy with a first class human rights record. All governments everywhere are corrupt, but Ghana’s is less so than, say , the UK (no billion pound BAE slush funds in Ghana). Because it ticks all the right governance buttons, Ghana has benefitted enormously from debt relief, and from aid flows. The money has all gone to exactly the right places – education, and bottom-up rural development.

Yet after a decade of being held up as a “Model” by the IMF, DFID and NEPAD, Ghana remains stubbornly poor. Accra is booming in terms of roads and literally miles of burgeoning middle class estates, but for ordinary Ghanaians, rising rents, transport and food costs squeeze out any improvement in their standard of living. Even when you do everything right, trickledown just isn’t happening. Why?

I fear part of the answer is, it never does. You can also point to climate change and electricity shortages because of falling water levels in the Volta Dam. I believe that part of the problem is that it was wrong for aid agencies to turn their backs on project work, and we should be building roads, bridges and power stations – fully funded by us – in addition to the increased budget support. But what Ghana shows is that the prescriptions of the development experts, which change with fashion every decade, will not in themselves bring Africa out of poverty.

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