It’s Not Prince Andrew’s Fault 21


The wave of urgent desire for freedom that has swept the Arab world has its pale reflection in the belated realisation that we have as a nation been complacent in maintaining and indeed supporting hideous dictatorships.

Somehow it all became real to the sheepish British public. We had been complicit for years in flying extraordinary rendition victims in to suffer hideous torture by Mubarak’s security forces. But suddenly a few pictures of torture victims appear on facebook, and television stations for once start giving some young Egyptian torture victims a sympathetic chance to tell their stiry. Suddenly, instead of becoming rag-headed al-Qaida members who deserve all they get, the public sees these are attractive educated dissidents who just want the kind of life we take for granted.

Governments have moved behind public opinion to catch up with the sudden public revulsion at the heartless realpolitik that has been going on for decades, to the benefit of rapacious Arab oligarchs, Western oil tycoons and arms manufacturers, and Israel and its relentless western lobbies.

The last 48 hours of broadcast news have been giving graphic detail of torture in Libya. Do people not realise that Gadaffi’s torture rooms were always extremely busy, at the same time that he and Blair were hugging each other so warmly and BP were getting those oil contracts?

Government now picks and chooses its advocacy of democracy by the criterion of media, and thus public, attention. Democracy in Libya has become an urgent necessity worth our servicemen’s lives. Recent government killings of pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen go unmentioned by the UK government, as does the ban on all public assembly in Saudi Arabia. While the Uzbek dictatorship, so essential to our Afghan war, is still strongly supported. The British government will continue to support those allied tyrannies it can get away with.

One interesting sign of that public revulsion has been a sudden wave of remorse by those who had private dealings with the Gadaffis. Howard Davies has resigned from the LSE, which is an accidental boon for higher education from events in Libya. Nelly Furtado has given back her fee for a private Gadaffi family concert. This wave of public revulsion laps gently on this website, as we have this week hundreds of new visitors to an old page about Sting’s private performances for the Karimov family in Uzbekistan.

Oh Sting where is thy death?

But the strange thing is that Prince Andrew has become the lightning rod for our revulsion at the deep collaboration with horrible dictators by the British government, longstanding but brought to its highest pitch by Tony Blair in his “War on Terror”. British and US ministers and heads of government embraced such monsters as Karimov, Aliev and Mubarak, and there are whole banks of the civil service engaged in arms sales to them.

Prince Andrew’s role is plainly a sympton of our national and governmental complicity with dictators, not the cause of it. He is a victim of an accident of birth – he might have lived perfectly happily and usefully as a heating engineer or something if he had been born in less degrading circumstances.

Prince Andrew makes a useful lightning rod for outlets like the Guardian, staunch supporters of the New Labour war criminals who warmly endorsed the relationship with (in this case) Aliev which they complain about. It is the personalised trivialisation of a national disgrace.


21 thoughts on “It’s Not Prince Andrew’s Fault

  • mrjohn

    I wonder if any western intelligence services, thinktanks, journalists, commentators, or academics with an interest in the region predicted this sudden change in the state of affairs.

  • Herbie

    This whole about turn on Gadaffi by media and politicians neatly exposes the hypocrisy in which they routinely engage.

    Gadaffi was a baddie when he was increasing the living standards of his people and supplying weapons to those who wished to overturn other imperial regimes.

    Then he was a goodie when he bowed to the imperialists wishes.

    Now he's a baddie again because it looks like he may be ousted by opponents in a civil war.

    The poor travelling minstrals who got caught up in the mess could have reasonably pointed out that they performed for him and his entourage when he was considered a goodie.

    Is it just me, or was there a greater degree of clarity during the days when the little darlings made big bucks from Apartheid and Sun City?

    Loved Sting's response on the Uzbek gig. Is he still a big draw down Amazon way?

  • Dr Paul

    Thinking about official attitudes towards governmental leaders, what if Gadaffi wins and the insurgents lose? What then? Does Libya become rehabilitated, Gadaffi become once again a good person with whom to do business? And will all the hoo-ha over his lad's dodgy PhD slip down the memory-hole?

    • Guest

      Well of course. Just look at the "villain to hero and back to villain again" response of the West to the USSR in just six years, before, during and after WW2, ( including some laughable and/or sickening propaganda films such as "North Star" and the sycophantically pro-Stalin "Mission to Moscow"),

  • Guest

    It seems an odd defence to say that it's not Andrew Windsor's fault. Who forced him to stay in the mansion of, and maintain his association with, a convicted paedophile? Was he reading from a Foreign Office prepared script when he made those comments decrying the investigation of bribery and corruption for a baying audience of British 'merchant venturers' in the presence of a US ambassador? Are we all merely puppets – the victims of nurture and nature? Doesn't free will enter into our behaviour somewhere? "It's a fair cop, guvnor, but (high) society is to blame." He has evidently been very willing to embrace the perks of his post, (at great expense to the British taxpayer), including the bizarre purchase of "SouthYork" for several millions above the original asking price. We are entitled to ask if there was a quid pro quo involved, and if so what? Bercow's obsequiously deferential forelock-tugging response to Bryant's question in the House of Commons was sickening and cringeworthy. It made you feel embarrassed to be British. It was also factually incorrect as the outdated rules of etiquette governing MPs' questions relate to the monarch, and have nothing to say regarding the fourth in line to the throne. I don't doubt that Andrew is a mere figurehead, and a very costly one at that, being a literal "loss leader" for UK.plc, – someone that anachronistic unconstitutional monarchs can still relate to, sharing their little jokes about the subordinate role of women, serfs and proles etc. There is a saying in Italy, "The fish stinks from the head down." The worm eaten figurehead weighing down the ship of state should be cast overboard. British royalty, (as inappropriate in a democracy as the cast system in India), only serves to maintain the fossilised stratification of our society. Living in a plutocracy is bad enough already without the extra drag of these freeloaders.

      • Guest

        What's irony got to do with it, any more than, say, silvery? I prefer the adjective ferrous anyway.

        • Sheldon Lee Cooper

          Thank you for drawing our attention to that homonym, Mr Guest, but the semantics of metallic chemistry seem to be precluded by the context of rhetoric, so I don't understand how you could make that error in earnest. Unless perhaps you are attempting to provoke some jocularity via an absurd semantic juxtaposition. In which case, "Ha"; and (might I add by way of qualification) "Ha".

  • Eddie-G

    Agree completely. Who Prince Andrew hangs around with in his spare time is basically his own business, it was a choice of the government to formalise a role for him and the people in government who made this decision should be called to account.

    On the reporting of the torture chambers etc, I suppose better late than never, I wonder if someone in the media will be bold enough to report that it is not something uniquely horrible about Gaddafi but instead a feature of most – if not all – of the dictatorships in the region.

  • Dick the Prick

    I thought Andy was getting more flak because his chum's a convicted nonce – introduced by Robert Maxwell's daughter.

  • Michael.K

    The problem, if it is a problem, is that the West has lost all, total, credibility in the Middle East, after decades of backing ghastly military dictatorships and colossal corrupt feudal monarchies, which have criminally mismanaged their countries and squandered their resources.

    The idea that western leaders give a damn for the ordinary people in Libya is laughable, what we are interested in is the oil and gas that lies underneath the sand, not the people suffering on top of it.

    One wouldn't know it from the western media, but most of the "international community" that is, the non-western world, is firmly against the west launching a military attack on Libya, for a variety of reasons, mostly they simply don't trust the West's motives, which is understandable, and they think an attack would make things worse.

    If the West didn't seem so massively hypocritical and cynical things might be different, but we are where we are.

    Where was the cry from outraged western leaders and emotional cries for a no-fly zone when Israel was bombing the hell out of a defenceless Gaza under Cast Lead? When the revolution breaks out in Saudi Arabia, which it might do as early as tomorrow, will we impose sanctions on the kingdom when the security forces begin to shoot their own people down?

  • Strategist

    Craig, can we persuade you to speculate on the story behind Fred Goodwin's superinjunction?

    • Guest

      I hear that, under the terms of said super-injunction, we are no longer allowed to make any reference associating him with his former job description, so we shall have to use the new rhyming slang term for that particular profession – merchant WANKER, although it may be libelous to harmless masturbators.

  • Stuart

    Andrew is no more guilty of sucking up to dictators than any suck up Ambassador toadying up to brutal governments on the orders of HMC. I have met many rich and influencial people and a number of them seem to have pretty unsavioury habits. Some more open than others about their perversions or flaws. My theory is a rationale not an excuse, but when you have lots of money and power the normal pleasures in life get boring and you need more and more stimulus to get excited. So if you like football you buy a team. If you like sex you buy 3 16 year old prostitute if you like to bully or hurt people you form a secret police and torture people. People still deliver milk to these people and clean the sheets because life goes on power money and influence are all corrupting and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When you are rich and powerful you are popular.

  • Alan B

    Craig…I agree with you, BUT, why did you rejoin the Libs. If the media is correct (if) on the formation of the new Con/Lib government thousands of Liberal members and activists flocked to labour. Is it because their policies would appear to be closer to Liberalism than Conservatism. Yet by association you identify with these ideals. Everytime i read your articles lambasting the Labour Government this springs to mind. You support a party where vast swathes of its members would rather support Labour, its wars and torture than a mildly right wing government. Dont figure

  • ingo

    Somebody must have read your blog Craig, the scottish Green deputy yesterday made the very same point on Question time. What good are the nastifications of people like Andrew and Jullian Assange, when real nastiness oozes out of every trade negotiation and politicians pore, presented with a smirk and a smile, so we know what is acceptable and what is not.

    They raided a secret police building in Egypt and were surprised to find eight, yes 8, floor below ground level, torture chambers where the extraordinary renditioned had their fingernails pulled. Mr. Karimove must be especially busy now that so many Arab countries are off the menu for Obama's Guantanamo fan club.
    Any news on the new book?

  • Rhisiart Gwilym

    Who Andrew Windsor hangs out with, at our large public expense, is very much our business. It's simple-minded to think otherwise. He's always used, along with the rest of the Windsors and their high-profile hangers-on, as valuable PR chips for government/ruling-'elite' realpolitik.

    Personally, I'd much prefer to see them all weaned off their large public handouts, and sent off to learn how to be — actually useful — heating engineers and such; and to get their own livings thereby, as plain Misters and Mzes

  • Suhaylsaadi

    God Save the (Stuttering) King! Prince, I mean. Give that man an Oscar, what!

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