David Cameron’s Big Lie about Syria

The following blog was published as a letter in the Guardian and Independent of 1st December 2015:

Tony Blair’s big lie, before the war in Iraq, was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. David Cameron’s big lie is that there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ Syrian ground troops, ready to sustain ‘democracy’.

In fact, the majority of anti-Assad forces fighting alongside ISIS are violent Islamists – such as the Al Quaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. The Front is known to pose a serious threat here in Britain, yet we are expected to maintain the fiction that its fighters are moderates or de facto allies. If the government gets its way, we will bomb only ISIS – and civilians of course.

Cameron’s long term aim continues to be illegal regime change. He is intent on removing Assad by force, even if it means allying himself with people far worse than the Syrian President. The consequences for the people of Syria, especially for women, the Shia, Kurds and other minorities are likely to be truly terrible.
Jean Calder.

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Dithering Dave is tearing the Conservative Party apart over Heathrow’s third runway

In politics, a politician’s entire legacy can sometimes be defined by a single word, usually with negative connotations. Say “sleaze” and you think, probably unfairly, of John Major. “Iraq”, most fairly, Tony Blair. With David Cameron, his repeated use of the word “dither” could become the word associated with his time as Prime Minister.

Take this reshuffle.he wanted to move Ian Duncan-Smith, but IDS refused to move. He really should have sacked or moved George Osborne, widely booed at the Paralympics. But he dithered and left George in situ. Before the election he said that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.

But now he is dithering. First he sacks Justine Greening. Now it is being said the commitment was not to build the third runway in this parliament. Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has threatened to resign his seat and fight a by-election in his West London seat if there is a U-turn on the third runway.

So what has Cameron done? Decisive Dave has given way to Dithering Dave by asking Howard Davies to lead a commission into the UK’s airport capacity.  Boris Johnson has attacked Cameron by calling the enquiry as a “fudge”.

The greenest government ever is desperate to find a way to get out of its pre-election pledge regarding Heathrow. Because of his dithering, Cameron is tearing his party apart. Perhaps it isn’t just Osborn that needs sacking.

‘War Crime’ allegations against Tony Blair causing ongoing problems for Labour

A problem that Labour continues to have, and one that it would love to wish away, is the issue of Tony Blair. Labour activists will tell you that it is not an issue on the doorstep or that we should be looking forward. I sympathise with those Labourites who marched against the war and desperately want this issue to be forgotten.

Unfortunately, Tony Blair and Iraq will just not go away. There are calls from the idiot wing of the Blairites that he should be brought back to help Labour’s prospects for 2015. (I imagine the Greens and Lib Dems would love the human manifestation of this grotesque war to return).

Archbishop Desmond Tutu refused to share a platform with him at a conference in Johannesburg on Friday, and in today’s Observer the Nobel Peace Prize winner has called for Blair and George W Bush to be put on trial at The Hague.

He writes in today’s Observer: “The then leaders of the United States [Mr Bush] and Great Britain [Mr Blair] fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

“To say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.”

He added: “The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.”

Referring to the death toll as a result of military action in Iraq since 2003 he said: “On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague.”

Tony Blair has responded angrily, repeating his usual line that Iraq and the world is better off without Saddam Hussain. The problem with that position is that it is a public interest defence, it doesn’t go to the heart of the allegation. It is a plea of mitigation but it does not respond to the basic allegation that the war itself was illegal.

Blair and Iraq remain a spectre that haunts Labour’s efforts to rehabilitate itself in the run-up to 2015. Tony Blair remains a member of the Labour Party. It ill-becomes a party that it has amongst its ranks a man who many in and out of the Party regards as someone who has questions to answer about war crimes.

While Labour refuses to act against Blair, or while its activists remain in denial about the legacy of Iraq, there remain electoral consequences in Brighton and Hove. It was a factor that saw Caroline Lucas pip Nancy Platts at the post in 2010 (in spite of Nancy’s unblemished record as an anti-war activist

And it goes further for Labour. There was the entire Cabinet who supported the war, and there are the ranks of back benchers who voted for this war. They did so because of the hope of preferment or because they were simply obeying orders from the Whips. Remember, there was an honourable member of the Cabinet who resigned on principle  over the war and there were a hundred or so Labour back benchers who also voted against it (in spite of threats and bullying).

A lingering doubt remains: how would a future Labour Government respond if the ‘intelligence’ demanded action against the next international villain? With Blair there, or thereabouts, I retain more than a sense of unease

Oh dear, Ed. You’re making a mess even of your own feeble Big Idea

Further to my post this morning, Ed Miliband has exacerbated his feeble ‘Big Idea’ by refusing to confirm that the £6,000 student fee would be a manifesto commitment, nor would he confirm that £6,000 would be the maximum that Labour would support. His performance on the Andrew Marr programme will have hardly inspired. Watch it here if you can bear it.

I supported Ed Miliband for the leadership, and still believe that David Miliband would have been a disaster. David is, and always will be, associated with the worst aspects of Blairism. The Tories are keen on him for one or possible two reasons – he is more right wing that Ed, and there are sufficient suspicions about his record in office to allow him to be truly independent. The problem with Ed, he may have a cleaner past, but he is falling over himself to appear safe and to compromise.

On the other hand, Harriet Harman, Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper …?

Tony Blair and THAT baptism in the River Jordan

Tony Blair and that baptism in the River Jordan

A reminder of the good old days when Tony was still in charge

Blair and Gadhaffi

Who knew what about MI6 and Number 10’s dealings with Gadhaffi?

Last evening’s revelations from Human Rights Watch regarding MI6, the CIA and Gadhaffi is probably the most explosive plitical news story in a generation, and has the potential to bring down some leading Labour politicians from the last decade, perhaps even see some prosecutions.

At the very least it looks as though Number 10 under Blair and possibly Brown worked with the Gadhaffi in order to rehabilitate this monster, even to the point of helping him with speeches and the stage-managing of the 2004 meeting between Blair and Gadhaffi in the latter’s bedhouin tent (the venue was the idea of Number 10).

According to the Independent newspaper, “[The prime minister’s office is] keen that the prime minister meet the leader in his tent,” (quoting a memo from an MI6 agent). “I don’t know why the English are fascinated by tents. The plain fact is the journalists would love it.”

In another memo according to the Independent, UK intelligence appeared to give Tripoli details of a Libyan dissident who had been freed from jail in Britain.

Foreign Secretary William Hague tried last night (Saturday) to play down the revelations, saying that they “relate to a period under the previous government so I have no knowledge of those, of what was happening behind the scenes at that time”.

That isn’t good enough. Our strange ‘constitution’ doesn’t have Labour Governments and Conservative Governments, they have Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s Opposition, that ensures continuity regardless of the occasional general election. David Cameron understood this when he apologised for the Bloody Sunday massacre on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, even though he was a boy in short trousers at the time of this atrocity carried out by the British Army.

Questions need to be asked about who knew what and when. These questions will be asked, and it would be best if they were asked openly and answered publicly and honestly by the political establishment. For Labour, the party with most to lose from this Watergate moment, will it damage itself further by being party to a cover-up, even though the truth will out in due course – it always does. Will Ed Milliband assist in ensuring that light is shone in the darkest corners even if it provides discomfort, or worse, for his brother David who was the previous Foreign Secretary?