Week Round-Up 20


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!


20 thoughts on “Week Round-Up

  • Sabretache

    What a crazy world we inhabit! Dour aging 'Stalinist' socialist Prime-Minister-in-waiting, demands (allegedly) removal of the impediments to laissez-fair capitalist (Internal Market Free-trade) controls proposed by newly elected right-wing capitalist President. You just couldn't make this up could you? It says much about the nature of the EU too, not-to-mention the 'Vicar of Bray'-like qualities of the political class in general.

    In spite of the untenability of our relationship with the US, as a resource constrained future unfolds, I'm still surprised at your apparent enthusiasm for Europe though. Very much the marginally-lesser-of-two-evils I'd say, with its gross democratic deficit and consequent potential for abuse by the same categories of military/corporate/state interests that hold such dominant sway in the US. Maybe you'd be eligible for a post in the new Euro-Diplomatic Corps though eh? – just a thought.

    Thoroughly agree with your 'goodbye Britain/British' sentiments though. I am frankly ashamed to have to carry a 'BRITISH' passport these days and go out of my way to refuse use of the term on all and any government data-gathering trawls – nearly succeeded in provoking a spat with TPTB over my completion of the last census form on the issue in fact (I'm ENGLISH – NOT one of their garden variety 'native' British) – but they chickened out.

  • Craig

    Sabretache,

    I agree about the need for Europe to become much more democratic – by and large so far the EU has not been as manipulable by individual business interests as nation states, including those comprising it. I am not sure why.

    Your first para is spot on about the extraordinary hypocrisy of political belief and labels.

    I am looking forward to being Scots Ambassador in London, eventually.

  • Randal

    "I agree about the need for Europe to become much more democratic – by and large so far the EU has not been as manipulable by individual business interests as nation states"

    Am I alone in suspecting that when the EU becomes more "democratic" it will prove to be much more manipulable by the evil interests that currently find Britain and the US such easy fodder?

    "More democratic", in practice, actually meaning: maintaining ever fewer of the institutional and conservative constraints on what the powerful can get away with. Money finds smooth talking expert liars, and the combination inevitably wins elections.

  • jono

    Craig,

    I'm sure I'm not alone being surprised by your enthusiasm for the EU and its undemocratic institutions. The current "treaty" is the "constitution" regurgitated with some simple wording changes so as not to alarm the public. The Constitution was soundly beaten in 2 referendums but has been simply pushed through anyway; just called something else.

    Whilst you might feel bitter with the Government of the country at least is half way democratic; the EU on the other hand has no democratic mandate and regularly displays its disdain for any sort of democracy or even accountability.

    "Blair's rampant support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon" is no reason to throw away our rights to an unelected and unknown bureaucracy.

    Enjoying the book by the way!

    jono

  • Buenaventura Durruti

    Sounds like the Pope may have told dear Tony just what was expected of him in the confessional before he'd be welcome.

    It was time someone he can't write off as an extremist nutter told him some home truths face to face.

  • MilkMonitor

    Perhaps we could just have a referendum on the protocols.

    "On Britain's central demand not to be subject to a European charter of fundamental rights which can be enforced by the European court of justice, the government won an extra "protocol" denying the court the right to get involved in British litigation, according to sources."
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,,210952…

  • Tonys Akiller

    "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."

    And herein lies the danger for what if the whole EU were to adopt Bliarite stances like the ones you highlighted? The disasters would be much much worse. A different method of stopping great war crimes like Bliars orgies of slaughter are needed. E.g. a civil movement which can challenge intelligence in cases that are highly significant towards serious issues like war or terrorism or and cases where international law may possibly be hazy, A kind of Lords like second chamber that is not party political.

    We need to reform the UK first before anything else.

    Many EU countries unofficially ignored the Geneva conventions on torture and the like (extraordinary rendition). Imagine if they legislated an end to those acts, declaring them null and void? And you just know they are going to adopt a supporting role in the US's fake "War on [sic] Terror" and that scares me to bits! As does a Euro ID card and euro database which I believe is inevitable. Privacy and anonymity in Europe will one day be a thing of the past.

    And of course, lets not forget the power a uniform and resource hungry EU would be able to exert in the matter of continued African economic enslavement / closed borders and so on.

    I have severe reservations about a political conglomerate. The greater the power base, the greater the disaster should the policy fall foul to corrupting and manipulating forces.

    I want a government with LESS power, less centralization.

  • Randal

    "And herein lies the danger for what if the whole EU were to adopt Bliarite stances like the ones you highlighted? The disasters would be much much worse. "

    "I have severe reservations about a political conglomerate. The greater the power base, the greater the disaster should the policy fall foul to corrupting and manipulating forces."

    Exactly so!!

    And imo the worst outlook for the human race as a whole would be if an effective world government were to be established. Then the entire world would be prey to whatever malign incompetence it dreamt up.

    If we didn't find any extraterrestrial life they'd probably have us living under some paranoid police state out of fear of imaginary Martians under our beds. If we did find extraterrestrial intelligence, the world government would probably have us planet-busting the crap out of some species of harmless hippy aliens because we don't approve of their drug laws or system of governance.

    "A kind of Lords like second chamber that is not party political."

    Like, perhaps, the House of Lords?

    What it lacks in modernity it more than makes up in established historic pomp and authority. All that is needed is to ban party political organsation in the Lords, imo (wouldn't be a bad thing if we could do the same thing in the Commons as well, actually, and have proper representative democracy where constitutencies elect who they want (not whoever wears the right rosette) and the elected representatives choose amongst themselves who leads the government).

  • Tonys Akiller

    Yes, I was indeed suggesting THE House of Lords but of course only after a mega makeover. A chamber where party political association is disallowed and is made up entirely of Joe Soaps with the power to call in experts to help scrutinize proposed bills from the commons, with the power to decide referenda and to impeach sitting commons MP's.

    These people are allowed leave from work on a kind of sabbatical while giving service and of course, get paid for it. A proportion of sitters being elected for long term posts, and others chosen at random for short term stints.

    You know, something along those lines. Get the people back into politics and enable them to stop the rotten leadership we've seen savage our own country and others for far too long already.

    Yeah, there'll be problems. Show me something that doesn't. But something like the prickly 'West Lothian question' didn't scupper Scottish devolution. Most problems can be worked around.

    Come on guys, lets get the juices flowing here. We must do something, if not for us then for hundreds of thousands of victims from the next war of aggression.

    Actually, a similiar structure for the commons would be a good call. Why not have both houses like that and the Queen totally kicked out of politics altogether. The Republic of England. Sounds horrible doesn't it. But I'm sure it would be a much better place, despite the name

  • Randal

    "We must do something, if not for us then for hundreds of thousands of victims from the next war of aggression."

    Too little time to make any substantial changes before that comes to pass, I fear. Given the full flood of propaganda, it's pretty clear Iran's next for "preventive" war, if not imminently then certainly before Bush leaves the White House.

    As for reform, we come at this from opposite sides, I think. I don't want anybody elected in the second chamber – elections are what drives the selection pressure for wealth-backed liars that has given us the likes of Blair and Cameron.

    I'd suggest one third hereditary and church peers – they are harmless, part of our heritage, and have an inherent preference for the long term viewpoint and owe little or nothing to the government of the day. One third selected at random from the population as a whole on the basis you suggest, and one third appointed peers to give a cheap way to reward the "great and the good".

    Personally I believe government should always have a conservative (small c) bias, to put a brake on politicians' and activists' tendency to leap ahead with hare-brained but fashionable ideas.

    But banning political parties in general – now that is something with few if any drawbacks, imo. It's the evils of party discipline that sustain the most twisted and evil regimes in power (such as Blair's). There should be strict limits on political organisation above the constituency level. It might be difficult to police in practice, but at least we could prevent the buildup of professional party hierarchies.

    Why should big party candidates in a constituency benefit from money and volunteers provided from outside the constituency? That's simply giving them a massive unfair advantage over the independent candidates, when the whole point of the election should be to allow the inhabitants of the constituency to have a free choice of whom they prefer to represent them in Parliament.

  • Jan Wiklund

    Why on earth would a EU foreign policy be any better than UK's? Are the brits genetically incapable of decent foreign policy while the french are the other way about? Or what?

    My tip is that the bigger a unit is, the worse it will behave towards outsiders. If the EU develops towards a superstate, as Mr Murray seems to favour, it will behave in exactly the same way the US does.

  • Craig

    This thread is developing in some interesting directions.

    No, I don't think the British are genetically pre-conditioned to an aggressive foreign policy. Nonetheless the maverick support of an EU minority for the War in Iraq was a disaster. The EU should constrain any of its members from participation in any war for which there was not two thirds support of both member states and the European parliament – while never being able to compel a member to participate.

    The EU is nothing like a "superstate". That is simply pejorative. Plainly it is very undemocratic and that needs to be reformed, in a way governments aren't even looking at.

    Actually I don't thik there is a correlation either way between the size of a political unit and its tendency to corruption. Local government, for example, is often very corrupt.

    I support the EU in the same way I support the UN, as a furtherance of internationalism or supra-nationalism. Those who are instinctively hostile tend to turn out to be petty nationalists.

    No, democracy isn't perfect, but the right of people to choose how they are governed is important. I favour an all elected upper chamber. I would have PR by STV in multi-member constituencies, strictly enforced local spending limits and a total ban on national party advertising and broadcasting during the campaign, for a start. Plus enforceable, binding rules on equal media access for candidates.

  • Tonys Akiller

    "Actually I don't think there is a correlation either way between the size of a political unit and its tendency to corruption. Local government, for example, is often very corrupt."

    That may well be true, but the IMPACT of that corruption from a body of weaker power is less severe. I've so far not heard of West Sussex County Council bestowing a depleted uranium nightmare onto countless generations of Iraqi's (and their neighbours!)

    A common foreign policy, which surely brings to life, a newspeak 'defence' policy, has far more potential for destruction, compared to a single nation off on an all too familiar resource grab. {OK many nations doing such things may mean cumulatively a similar devastation may occur, but is less likely to occur}

    I'm hostile to the UN too, not because of its publicly stated goals, which are quite admirable, but the for the fact that it acts in ways which directly contradict those goals, and the power structure of the UN is beyond a sick joke. There is no accountability towards some of the strongest imperialists the world has ever witnessed, e.g. no action taken against the US and UK for what Kofi Annan described as an illegal war. Israel too has had countless resolutions against it in the General assembly, but to no avail. The veto 5 weren't moved so, So What!

    But the point about greater ability to economically exploit/squeeze other politico/geographical regions of the world WILL become much greater – power merging usurps a free and fair market. Nobody can tell me that Africa, South America and parts of Asia will benefit from this.

    This thread is interesting. Would be nice if others would be go kind as to contribute too.

    Whats even more interesting is that in some parts of the world, I get the impression they don't much care whether they have the power influence who leads them. Maybe such a thing is an aquired taste? It's definately a point of relativity.

    P.S. Craig, I trust you'd be against electronic voting???

  • Craig

    Tonys Akiller,

    yes, I am against electronic voting. I am even against postal voting, except for the infirm.

  • Randal

    Electronic/postal voting: I certainly agree with both of you on that! We only have national elections every few years – if it is too much of a hardship for someone who is not infirm to take the time to walk to a voting centre and cast his or her vote then that person doesn't get to vote – end of issue.

    The least worst reason why politicians support postal and electronic voting is that they are embarassed that so few people see them as important enough or sufficiently worthy of being taken seriously to bother voting at all, and they want to cover this up by tinkering with the system to increase turnout. The worst case is that they actually want to make the system easier to rig.

  • Randal

    "No, I don't think the British are genetically pre-conditioned to an aggressive foreign policy."

    I think we are culturally pre-conditioned towards militarism and paternalism, though – you can't just ignore the effects of centuries of history. (And I consider myself a patriot – imo a true patriot recognises the faults in his own people as well as the strengths).

    "Those who are instinctively hostile tend to turn out to be petty nationalists."

    That's a bit rich coming from a self-described Scottish nationalist., isn't it, Craig? If one is to be honest, surely one has to admit that group loyalty is a reality of human nature, that manifests as nationalism in modern times. It isn't going to go away, and it isn't necessarily either good or bad – it can be a force for real good, and it can be a force for the worst of evils.

    "I support the EU in the same way I support the UN, as a furtherance of internationalism or supra-nationalism. "

    I see the UN as excellent when it is operating as a mechanism for resolving disputes between sovereign states without the need for war. I see it as bad (ultimately, disastrously so) when it tries to exercise world government functions. The EU is the same, but the problem is that it is much more disposed to the supranational government aspect than the conflict resolution aspect.

    And consider this point. A man who, as a young child, watched the celebrations as his nation of Virginia acceded to a voluntary association of similar nations, might well have lived to see his great grandchildren butchered on the fields of Gettysburg and the Shenandoah valley, by citizens of some of the same other nations with whom he had naively celebrated union, merely for trying to leave that "voluntary" union.

    Given that stark lesson from history, is it really so unreasonable to fear the possibility that one day French or German troops might be bloodily suppressing an attempt at secession on these isles, within our lifetimes? Remember, war between the states that formed the US was much less conceivable then that it is between the nations of Europe today – they even mostly spoke the same language!

    "No, democracy isn't perfect, but the right of people to choose how they are governed is important. I favour an all elected upper chamber. I would have PR by STV in multi-member constituencies, strictly enforced local spending limits and a total ban on national party advertising and broadcasting during the campaign, for a start. Plus enforceable, binding rules on equal media access for candidates."

    Perhaps we would agree that, as the Man said: "democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others". It appears we might agree on taking measures to limit national party influence.

    But why on earth do we need elected members in the second chamber when the primary chamber is fully elected? What's the point? Why would you expect the kind of people elected to the second chamber to be any different from those elected to the first? Seems to me one of the main benefits of a second chamber is precisely to insulate against some of the populist evils of democracy.

  • Randal

    "I'm hostile to the UN too, not because of its publicly stated goals, which are quite admirable, but the for the fact that it acts in ways which directly contradict those goals, and the power structure of the UN is beyond a sick joke. There is no accountability towards some of the strongest imperialists the world has ever witnessed, e.g. no action taken against the US and UK for what Kofi Annan described as an illegal war. Israel too has had countless resolutions against it in the General assembly, but to no avail. The veto 5 weren't moved so, So What!"

    If I remember correctly, the veto was introduced to reassure the Soviets that the UN would not be used against it by the non-communist majority (please do correct me if I'm wrong, as it's a while since I looked into this particular bit of history). It was given to the allied great powers of WW2 (rather theoretically, in the case of France) and does function as a recognition of the realities of power. Granted, you could today argue for the UK/French vetos to be merged into a jointly exercised EU one, and perhaps for India to have one now (though that would seriously put Pakistani noses out of joint). There is no real case for Japan or Germany to have vetos, as the veto is currently understood, since neither is a nuclear power.

    The most logical alternative would be for the veto to go to every nation upon the acquisition by it of an independent nuclear capability with a full second strike capacity, but that would represent too great an incentive for proliferation.

    However, there needs to be a way of recognising that some nations are sufficiently powerful that trying to use the UN against them would merely result in it going the way of the League of Nations.

    In my view, the fact that the US, far and away the most powerful nation in the world today, was unable, despite its best efforts, to bully, bribe and bluster its way to a legalising resolution for its invasion of Iraq, represents the best we can hope for in the real world. Similarly, what would be the point of being able to pass resolutions condemning Israel's disgraceful ongoing colonisation of the West Bank if the US were determined to continuing its full support for Israel? It would merely be an empty gesture, and the gesture itself is all but achieved every time the US wields its veto on Israel's behalf.

    It is up to people around the world to recognise the actions of the US as those of a rogue state and take individual action against it by doing their individual best to oppose their nation's cooperation with it. There is no way the US can be forcefully constrained, before the long process of isolating it and building a coalition against it has been completed. In Britain, at this stage, we should all be pushing for the end of NATO, imo, as the first step towards containing the US.

  • Tonys Akiller

    @ Randal at June 27, 2007 10:11 AM

    Love the post. Agreed with almost every word. Beautifully put.

    Craig. Have these posts resulted in a movement of your stance on these EU matters?

    ——————

    The best way to avoid the US Leviathan, is to impoose a form of Economic boycott on it. I've been doing it for a few years now. In doing so, it has managed to reduce some of the pain in my heart I've had for a long time now. I urge everyone to do something similiar, and espcially against the Zionist occupation of Palestine…

    Please visit here for details:
    http://www.inminds.co.uk/

    God bless all of you for you ability to think and for not abandoning your humanity.

    TA

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