The Right to a Choice 207


You may have to trust me on this, but the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a terrific organisation that does remarkably good work, considering that it works for member states as diverse, and governments as severally ill-intentioned, as the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan and the UK.

When I was looking to leave the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I applied for a senior post at ODIHR and travelled to Warsaw for an interview. I believe my application was torpedoed by the FCO, who considered me far too committed to democracy and human rights to be allowed to work on the subject in a formal international body. There is a de facto – amd perhaps even an acknowledged – veto by member states on employment of their individual nationals in international institutions.

Yet somehow despite national governments ODIHR has managed to do its job credibly, and by and large OSCE election monitoring in particular has been very valuable, even where the result of the monitoring is not what some or even most member states on the OSCE Council want. All of Uzbekistan’s elections have been judged not free and fair, for example, with election monitoring missions generally not even being deployed on the grounds of assessment by ODIHR that the preconditions for free and fair elections simply do not exist.

Unfortunately ODIHR has no means to prevent member states from simply ignoring its reports, which they do, and the Heads of State whose election OSCE pronounced fraudulent immediately turn up as members of the OSCE council. But the rports themselves and the work behind them are good.

One important criterion for a free and fair election is that there should be a real choice offered to voters between genuine political alternatives. You find this expressed several times in the ODIHR guidance for election observers:

Genuine elections presupposes that the electoral process will be conducted in an accountable
and transparent manner and will provide a real and informed choice for voters,

A genuine election is a political competition that takes place in an
environment characterized by confidence, transparency, and accountability and that provides
voters with an informed choice between distinct political alternatives.

In Uzbekistan, for example, everyone has the chance to go and vote and there are several alternative candidates to choose between, but they all support President Karimov and his policies. In fact, this provision on distinct political alternatives and genuine choice has been repeatedly used by ODIHR and OSCE against elections throughout the former Soviet Union.

So what do we make of the EU – all of whose members are members of the OSCE – insisting that the leaders of all Greek political parties must sign up to an agreement to supprot the dreadful cuts in public spending, in imminent elections? With severe financial menaces, they are demanding that the Greek people be denied any real choice in the upcoming election. The EU members are thus in the most brazen breach of their OSCE commitments and obligations. It is appalling hypocrisy.

I am not sure in practice what mechanisms exist in Greece to keep independent candidates off the ballot or deny them access to the media. But the institutional advantages enjoyed by the main parties are massive throughout Europe, and having all the main parties campaigning on the same economic policy – due to direct foreign political pressure – cannot be a free and fair election.

I hope that the example of Greece will further open people’s eyes to what has happened in the UK, where the massive and growing gap between rich and poor is enmeshed with complete corporate control of what are now three neo-con main parties, whose policy distinctions are absolutely tiny. They all support bank bailouts, quantitative easing, public spending cuts and aggressive neo-con wars. The differences of degree are extremely marginal.

I published an article on this in The Guardian before our last general election – the rather foolish headline was not mine. But I am quite proud of that article, and believe there is increased understanding and support for the view it expresses.


207 thoughts on “The Right to a Choice

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  • guano

    William Hague has used his political opportunity to re-open the cold war fear of death or illness by nuclear war. This fear-mongering is designed to panic us into accepting the New World Order. A nasty political game from a nasty, spiteful little man who is permanently grinning about the pressure on others his position gives him. No wonder he loves the mad mullahs of Al Qaida who shared the destruction of Libya with him. Yorkshire pudding: NATO bombs sausages in half-baked AlQaida Islam. Vermin continue to pick off civilians, police and soldiers from sniper positions in Syria paid for and directed by him.

  • Fedup

    Courtenay Barnett,
    Funny you should come up with this link.,
    Take a gander at this too.
    Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge Then find more on Chiasso financial smuggling case in wikipedia.

    Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Fedup,

    We can be sure that there is a global financial crisis.

    We can suspect that there are games being played because vested interests need to hold on to power.

    We can be reasonably sure that not many of us really know what is truly going on.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Uzbek,

    ” It is simple math. If you cannot live by means then you need to cut your spending. Why Germans need to contribute to Greek’s artificial economy? Is it fare?”

    I belive that back in around 1953 the Germans got a break to get their economic going again. The whole story behind the bogus bonds, and Germany’s and France’s roles suggests that there are two levels of finacial play:-

    1. The marco level which brings on the big debts; and
    2. The micro domestic level ( to which you refer) which exacerbates the loses from the toxic loans.

    Cruel world.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Uzbek,

    This is what I was saying a little earlier on ( this is from Wikepedia):-

    “The London Agreement on German External Debts, also known as the London Debt Agreement, was a debt relief treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany on one part and on Belgium, Canada, Ceylon, Denmark, the French Republic, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Pakistan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Union of South Africa, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and Yugoslavia and others. The negotiations lasted from February 27 – August 8, 1953 [1] The London Debt Agreement covers a number of different types of debt from before and after the second World War. Some of them arose directly out of the efforts to finance the reparations system, while others reflect extensive lending, mostly by U.S. investors, to German firms and governments.

    In the London Agreement, the German government under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer undertook to repay the external debts incurred by German government between 1919-1945.[1]

    The total under negotiation was 16 billion marks of debts from the 1920s which had defaulted in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation. This money was owed to government and private banks in the U.S., France and Britain. Another 16 billion marks represented postwar loans by the U.S. Under the London Debts Agreement of 1953, the repayable amount was reduced by 50% to about 15 billion marks and stretched out over 30 years, and compared to the fast-growing German economy were of minor impact.[2]

    The agreement significantly contributed to the growth of the post-war German economy and reemergence of Germany as a world economical power. It allowed Germany to enter international economic institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization.”

    The point, of course, is that Germany got about a 50% break and economic breathing room and it advanced its economy. Now, when one finds that Greece is getting money (note the bonds backgroud to the Greek problem) – but nothing impacts the domestic economy and all goes out in interest payments and austerity is imposed -what does one expect but ongoing chaos without Greek economic growth.

    Just look at the irony – “Greece” was one of the countries in the debt deal with Germany, when Germany needed help. Now – what does Germany do?

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    @Passerby 18 Feb, 2012 – 12:43 pm A none Nuclear Iran still can deliver a hard kick despite all the propaganda in the world. This we all know: if Iran was a weak country that could not defend herself, by now she was invaded umpteen times.
    .
    Good point. Iran has huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and the largest arsenal of missiles outside the US, Russia and China.

  • Rhisiart Gwilym

    Have OSCE monitored choices between genuine alternatives, made by reliably well-informed voters in the US or Britain, Craig? I think they should.

  • Mary

    ‘According to other accounts by diplomats requesting anonymity…’
    .
    The BBC take us for a load of simpletons.
    .
    Iran ‘may boost nuclear programme’, diplomat warns
    Iran insists its sole focus is peaceful nuclear power generation
    .
    Iran may be poised to expand its nuclear programme at an underground site near the city of Qom, a Vienna-based diplomat has told the BBC.
    .
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17087695

  • Mary

    That phony story about diplomats saying Iran is poised to bosst its nuclear programme is leading on the news bulletins. Repeat a lie over and over and it believed by the sheeple. First rule of propaganda.
    .
    Elsewhere Tesco and Matalan, and doubtless other companies too, are exploiting the unemployed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17084634
    .
    It was an advert for work experience with a guaranteed job interview at the end of it as part of a government-led work experience scheme.
    .
    Placements last for six weeks, the Department of Work and Pensions said.
    .
    A spokesman for the Right to Work protesters said: “Tesco reports that over the past four months some 1,400 people have worked for them without pay.
    .
    “Only 300 got a job with the company.
    .
    “The Tory government is slashing jobs and then punishing the jobless. And to add insult to injury, they are forcing people to work for free to boost profits for big business.”
    .
    /..

  • angrysoba

    Have OSCE monitored choices between genuine alternatives, made by reliably well-informed voters in the US or Britain, Craig? I think they should.

    .
    When I checked the website of that group it seems they gave high ratings to the transparency of the UK elections and low ratings to Russian elections while suggesting that US elections were not bad but not exemplary. Apparently they have no data on Iranian elections.
    .
    The UK electoral system is not explicitly about parties. This is merely an assumption made by people bemoaning the obvious fact that parties try to attract as many voters as possible by moving to the middle ground rather than stake out extreme or alternative viewpoints.
    .
    But the UK parliamentary system is based on elections at the constituency level where there are often a plethora of different parties. In fact, there are often so many that any anti-government or anti-incumbent or anti-main party vote gets diluted. But this does not mean that there is no choice.
    .
    It seems to me that what the OSCE is talking about when it says there is no choice is they are talking about systems pre-rigged such as in the Iran of the Palahvi’s in which there were two parties completely subservient to the ruling clique – the “Yes Party” and the “Yes, Sir Party”. Or else the choice available now in post-Revolutionary Iran where all candidates have to be approved by the Guardian Council.
    .
    Clearly these systems don’t operate in the UK. Neither does the Uzbekistan system operate in the UK.

  • guano

    European Jewish Parliament
    .
    Sausage rolls: inner layer porkies, outer layer patsies, oily to touch, be careful not to burn your fingers, followed by indigestion.

  • guano

    A Muslim businessman trying to find something without traces of pork to eat in China, like trying to find something in politics not flavoured by Israel, ordered sea-slug soup because all fish is Halal. While he was eating it he was talking to his wife who was looking it up on the internet:
    /imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Chelidonura_varians.jpg/220px-Chelidonura_varians.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_slug&h=207&w=220&sz=35&tbnid=4o-nAYbYoDhibM:&tbnh=108&tbnw=115&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dsea%2Bslu
    No wonder Al Qaida prefer cutting deals with Zionists like William Hague instead of sticking with what is halal.

  • Mary

    Add a few noughts in Werritty’s case.
    .
    Knowing a cabinet minister is worth £113,000 a year to a lobbyist, academics have calculated.
    Adam Werrity case highlights value of lobbyists’ links to ministers
    .
    By David Millward
    15 Feb 2012
    .
    Research by the Centre for Economic Performance suggests that there are rich rewards to be had from close acquaintance with senior ministers.
    .
    The calculation made by Jordi Blanes I Vidal, Mirko Draca and Christian Fons-Rose was based on the $177,000 fall in annual income suffered by US lobbyists when the senator they used lost office.
    ,
    “The scale of the business dealings of Adam Werritty, Liam Fox’s associate, suggests that the return to cabinet-level access in the UK could also be very high,” they wrote in an article for CentrePiece.
    .
    “That said, Werritty’s case is unusual because it appears that he was functioning as a lobbyist and as a political adviser at the same time. This would have been difficult to achieve in the more transparent US and Canadian systems.”

    .
    They have called for Britain to follow the US system where every lobbying contract is reported every quarter.
    .
    “Like senators, cabinet ministers have a lot of strategic power in policy-making and they seem to be the main target of lobbying activity in the UK political system.”
    .
    In Britain ministers have to disclose details of meetings with outside organisations, foreign travel, hospitality they have received along with information about gifts they have been given worth more than £140. The Cabinet Office has also produced proposals for a statutory register of lobbyists.

    .

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9084470/Knowing-a-cabinet-minister-worth-113000-a-year.html

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Courtenay – In simple terms the art of market disruption (which Lord James is describing) is such that a few keystrokes can wipe out an entire economy with complex recursive algorithms that banksters call ‘intrepid devaluations’ that are possible after supercomputers expose patterns from billions of transactions in an instant. This $trillion algorithmic trading is controlling economic recovery or relapse, has no social function and provides virtual funds for military intervention as required to further the West’s long term strategy of power and control.
    .
    As an example the ‘put options’ are monetized using these methods and I believe false flag operations are now an integral part of this mechanism.

  • Fedup

    pre-rigged such as in the Iran of the Palahvi’s in which there were two parties completely subservient to the ruling clique
    ,
    ,
    ,
    Iran did not have a multi party system during the Shah time.
    ,
    That was the case in the early part of the Shah’s reign, and the parties were mostly ran by the trustees of the Shah. In later years leading up to his ouster, he had decreed a single party system by repealing even the pretence of choice of the past.
    ,
    The current system in Iran requires that candidates must have attained academic qualifications of at least MSc, or higher, and then they are background checked. This is in line with any other system. Then Guardian council that is composed of 12 specialist jurist, with expertise in various disciplines (legal, constitutional, etc) that approves the candidates for elections. This somehow is insinuated as some kind of rigged affair, by the majority of those whose rotten electoral practices smacks of rigged and phoney elections that would make a banana republic electoral system to be fair and credible.
    ,
    So far as UK systems is concerned, your assertion; ” Clearly these systems don’t operate in the UK” is baseless wishful thinking. The murky selection procedures which are supposedly a constituency affair is rigged, the predetermined candidate is not chosen based on various merits but on whose support they have garnered (crony nepotism) which is then put to vote in a quiet and unassuming meeting attended by no more than twenty party activist whom know who is the winner before hand. Craig has a very good understanding of the situation in UK.

  • Tom

    Mary, true interpretation of the Torah and Talmud particularly is that the Judeaites must set themselves apart, the ‘ghettoes’ too were of their own making and insistence, bear in mind that the followers of this creed insist all must follow it literally, not a word, piece of punctuation should be changed or interpreted differently from the majority group, quite apart from the parts which were excised from earliest translations calling for death and destruction to everyone else on earth, but particularly Christians, which are still passed on only verbally and nevermore written; failure to observe this leads to excommunication, lynching and in many historical cases death by ‘suicide’. The more Israel can be included in things non-exclusive, the more it enrages the prevailing majority fanatics, so I’m all for having Israel as a full member of the Commonwealth, the EU, the Tufty Club, the Dennis the Menace (and Gnasher) Fan Club and more. The more the better. They vehemently resent European football and Eurovision inclusion far more than it puzzles us for its incongruity.

    Ask Jeeves for pdf ebooks by respected Times journalist the late Douglas Reed, particularly the Controversies of Zion, no relation to the Protocols, just an unfortunate title. It helps to understand the bonkers mindset of all religious believers, that they may be countered and marginalised, even institutionalised.

    You should find pdf and html versions here: http://www.controversyofzion.info/

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig,

    This announcer on Fox News was a well respected Judge and academic before he took up his job as commentator.

    This is what he had to say:-

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30568.htm

    I now am told that he lost his job at Fox after he made those statements.

    Last time I checked, one Craig Murray also lost his job for speaking the truth. At the time the law was rolled back pre-Bill of Rights 1688.

    The Judge had an easier run, his lost job only rolled the law back pre-First Amendment 1776.

    Fortunately, what you say on your blog is an expression of your conscience and freely held views. When the government, or the powers that be, are able to shut this down, then we can all be assured that the UK has moved from deep, to very deep trouble.

    PEACE, JUSTICE AND FREEDOM.
    ALUTA CONTINUA….AND WHATEVER OTHER SLOGANS YOU BLOGGERS WANT TO ADD….

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