New Labour Opened The Door For Torture 25

It is no surprise to me that detectives in the Metropolitan Police have been using waterboarding.

The government has specifically decided that it is acceptable to gain information from torture in the context of the “War on Terror”. When I recently gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to the effect that torture is now government policy, I was disappointed to find that rather than take the view that torture is illegal, the MPs were concerned to establish just how much torture material might be accepted before it becomes illegal.

The prohibition of torture must be absolute. Once you say it is OK in some circumstances, once you admit torture into government policy, it will spread like a cancer. You cannot then claim to be shocked that agents of the state thought that, if it was justified in x case, it might be justified in y case too.

This is well understood in international law. That is why Article 2 of the UN Convention Against Torture states:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

We are a signatory to that convention and bound by it in law. But as anybody will plainly learn who watches the youtube link posted above, we are plainly breaking it. It is the grossest hypocrisy. New Labour have sent public policy back to medieval times. Is it any wonder the police follow?

It also points up perfectly the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown’s reform plan. He says he wishes to

strengthen the powers of parliamentary select committees. But Foreign Secretary David Miliband has point blank refused to appear before the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to answer questions on government policy on using torture material. New Labour’s real attitude to parliament and people is one of total arrogance.

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25 thoughts on “New Labour Opened The Door For Torture

  • Oliver

    Sorry, excuse me a moment of pedantry… your first sentence states the Met “have” used water-boarding yet the Guardian article you link to only uses terms such as “accused”, “alleged” and in no way states that water-boarding has actually taken place.

    Love reading your blog, keep up the great work!

    With kind regards, Oliver

  • xsdogskin

    I agree 100% with your sentiments.

    But. Crooked coppers have always existed, this way no incriminating bruises are left.

  • Abe Rene

    I once attended a talk by Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six. He said that the police told him that they had to get a confession out of somebody, and he was “it” – so they proceeded to thrash a confession out of him. This would have happened in 1974.

  • Ruth

    Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits torture, and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. There are no exceptions or limitations on this right.

  • sam

    Well, pedantry or not, the Telegraph is reporting expected arrests:

    You’re right though, Oliver, in times like these it’s absolutely necessary to be pedantic, to watch every little ‘slip of the pen’, to pick up every little loophole…. It’s because most people have failed to do so that we’ve now got a situation where, it appears, most of our institutions are shot through with corruptions of all sorts.

    It’s beyond me how delusionally apathetic most people are. And incomprehensible how people just do not connect the ethics, values and MO of those who sanction the torture against which Craig bravely campaigns with the ‘ordinary’ tortures that are part of everyday life in the UK.

    It’s all part of a truly nauseating piece. Imposed by a gvt whose ethics are virtually non-existent and whose values are now only self-serving. Complicity in torture, international and within the UK, is the tip of the very grubby iceberg which blights our country from top to bottom….

    Jeez! did you see the report of the rubbish men bullying – and getting away with bullying – a resident for a whole year simply because she asked them to put her empty bin back in the place from which they collected it?? That they got away with bad behaviour for one week was barely excuseable; that they’ve not been sanctioned for a year until the lady goes to the national press demonstrates gobsmackingly arrogant dereliction of respectful duty and a complete, though typical NuLab, disconnect from common decency on the part of the local authority. Is she now a marked woman, who’ll be RIPA’d and spied on by that authority to catch her out in some minor infraction so that some sadistic little jobsworth can get back at her and bully her some more? It happens. It’s all part of the bullying/torture/fear piece that this NuLab project has encouraged in the UK.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    If one stepped back a bit then:-

    1. Nu Labour; or

    2. Old Conservatives

    are different sides of the same political coin.

    With that coin I place a political bet:-

    A. The Tories are going to win the next general election.

    B. The polices on torture will be spun to rationalise the continuation and support of breaches of domestic and international law.

    C. Craig ?” once elected ( I hope) – will have a tough challenge ahead of him to continue speaking honestly about the evident hypocrisy of the government on issues of torture.

  • Ruth

    It makes no odds which government is in power – the fundamentals will stay the same though the dressing may be slightly different. It’s not the government in power which drives policy but the permanent unelected government or as some writers call it ‘deep government’

  • Abe Rene

    “the permanent unelected government or as some writers call it ‘deep government’ ”

    These sound like the chaps who go ‘Yes, Minister’!

  • anon

    The more I read and hear, the more I think that elected politicians are largely “front men” sent out on stage to sell some policies or laws to the punters – and take the flack – while the designers and architects, civil servants working tom a non-party agenda, remain unknown back stage. It explains why some policies resurface at different times and under different governments.

  • MJ

    But for the record I think pointing the finger at the Civil Service is barking up the wrong tree.

  • avatar singh

    blair is a war criminal as is jack starw . If the british are not going to hand over thse criminals to international justice then may be someothers need to do that?

    6th march,2007.

    BBC comment(atleast her washingtons correspondent’s comments) on scooter LibBy’s gulity verdit on 6th march,2007–“it does not matter to white house as long as iraq war turns out to be all right”!! for BBc illegal occupation of iraq and killing of million civilians does not matter -it will be al r ight for american occupation. This is human rights and democracy ala BBc and british propaganda.

    see and watch todays bbc and realize how much bbc and other british propaganda machinary is responsible for bush war crimes.

    He also assuredly told that this “white house is quite safe”as wished for by the british ofocurse. during gore-bush florida tussle bbc was advocating gore to leave bush alone as britian was waiting for american missile defence to come her shore soon and so no delay in small matter of who should be presidentof usa be allowed.d-bit belicve it? look at all british propaganda between 1st novembr till 20th novembr of 2000.

    it is high time that engish spies in american establishment be eliminated..

    it is high time that these english spies in usa are taken care of .

    also during and after the gulf war(first iraq war) the british were taking full creidit for insitagating bush 1 to start and persue war agasint iraq. the reason war criminal blair diidnto take full creidt for iraq war 2 was because that went sour(failure has no fathers claming thiers). itis a fact that merciless war done by america has benen perpetauted by the british agents inside america( and not some indepdnet israli agents as claimed-it jsut so happend that only know israli interest happend to coinside with those of english parasites -that is why war on and for behalf of england is being waged by america the world over.

    By the way in IN ’88 when Dalai lama, at the height of Tibetan disturbances, visited west, the then british prime minister refused to meet Him. Later on with the demise of Russia and usefulness of China gone and with manipulation to keep power in Hong Kong somehow intact, the same british media and government ,like dog, started barking at China. It is interesting that amnesty international selectively targets those very countries( as it did china after cold war) who are out of favour (because they would not be a british stooge) of the british media and govt. This is not surprising as amnesty international is the creation of british govt, and british media. england with the most appalling record of human rights in last 200 years of her evil rule, needed some organisation to keep the others from charging england off her past and current evil practices. In other words it went for aggressive posture in propaganda war so that others can be demoralized and stopped from pointing out the real evil which is england. That is why amnesty international is one armour of the british lies to exploit the rest of the world. Amnesty international must be ignored and an independent human watchdog (which england will simply ignore) created. One purpose of amnesty international is to create an atmosphere for hatred towards the would be victims of british exploitation so that a victim could be blamed to have deserved the consequences. That is why ,now amnesty international sometimes threatens China, sometimes India and etc.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Life cannot be sensibly lived by thinking about when the next war is due to begin; it might be sustained by working to ensure that the existing ones end.

    Quote from Courtenay Barnett to his friend Ernie ?” emailed this 10th Day of June, 2009.

    Peace and love!

    Ruth – see what you started – “the permanent unelected government” was your phrase.

    Abe Rene, it seems to me that it is not so much the civil service that explains where the foundational power resides – but I believe that if the sate is viewed as follows:-

    A. Who, or which institution, heads the British state?

    B. What interests produce the armaments?

    C. Which interests control and most impact the financial life of England?


    the answers all lend themselves to verifiable factual institutions, entities and individuals. These “permanent unelected” concerns actually do wield a lot of power, which remains constant whichever party is elected. In the US President Eisenhower sensed this phenomenon of a “power elite” and having known the hell of war, identified the culprits with a name ?” “the military industrial complex”. I believe that the phrase ” the military-industrial complex” is attributable to him. In these ways, and by reference to these interests of power – I believe that one can begin to understand the interlinked interests, which would have relied on the likes of a Tony Blair to engineer the Iraq war. Craig Murray being elected ain’t going to change much – but better to have this well intentioned and sincere person, rather than having a room full of only cunts in Parliament – as usual.

  • Iain Orr

    Ruth (and others): Be positive! Yes, there may be dark forces. Shine light on them. There will be less torture ( and bureaucratic brutality, which is far more pervasive) if people expose and condemn. Silence gives consent – that’s why we need to shout against every bit of official brutality and stupidity. Strong lungs = healthy societies.

  • eddie

    ..and fifty million stayed at home. When did demonstrations ever determine public policy? That’s the slippery slope to mob rule.

  • Abe Rene

    Courtenay Barnett

    I was joking, of course. No doubt there are big profits in the arms industry, but once we use start using words like ‘complex’ too freely, we are on the slippery road to Mordor where the dark forces hold sway, and are liable to the terrible fate of censorship in that big volcano in which the ring of power is supposed to be chucked …

  • jives

    Torture in the UK?

    No surprise to me-and many others who watch with great interest when the full scale of this becomes known.

  • Jjives


    You miss the point eddie…public demonstrations may,or may not,not determine public policy but they can certainly influence it.

    Further,demonstrations do not have statisitcal weight on an absolute numerical scale but rather as a per capita indicator. Important difference.

  • rwendland

    Craig, off-topic but I think you’ll be ineterested in this Blackburn/Police story:

    Blackburn-based Lancashire Constabulary’s Preventing Violent Extremism team have produced a video for Primary schoolchildren apparently warning them about the danger from terrorists, and urging them to report anyone with “extremist views” to the authorities. Typically the good-guy character is a Lion.

  • Arrested State

    From an article in the New Statesman today on 20 Ways To Save The Labour Party (I didn’t see ‘7 bullets in the head’ anywhere, sigh), Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship has said, “David Miliband is at this moment attempting to stop information on British intelligence’s complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed (the former Guantanamo detainee) from coming into the public domain.” If this is true Craig, I think it is something that you could bring to more peoples’ attention, alongside the vetoing of the minutes to the lead up to the Iraq War, and other phenomenal abuses of power like this. These are things that should be being debated in parliament, but the floor is generally sadly silent on these matters. The Lion’s Den awaits!

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