israel’s chief stooge at Westminster shames us again

Israel’s chief stooge at Westminster shames us again

 

Binyamin Netanyahu and Theresa May

By Stuart Littlewood

“As prime minister, I am proud to say that I support Israel. And it is absolutely right that we should mark the vital role that Britain played a century ago in helping to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” 

Thus spoke Theresa May the other day as she welcomed members of the Jewish community to 10 Downing Street. But by focusing on creating a homeland for the Jewish people she’s also celebrating the hell that Balfour’s Declaration created for the gentle Palestinians and for the rest of the region. “Born of that letter, the pen of Balfour, and of the efforts of so many people, is a remarkable country,” said May, apparently blind to the reality.

Proud of “unspeakable misery, dispossession and displacement”

Right now we’re on the run-up to the centenary of what is arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder in British history: the Balfour Declaration. In 1917 Arthur Balfour, Foreign Secretary, bowed to Zionist demands for a homeland for the Jews in Palestine and gave an undertaking that set the world on course for long-term turmoil and, for the native Palestinians, unspeakable misery, dispossession and displacement. It was a criminal conspiracy. And Balfour was an A-list idiot who bragged that he wasn’t even going to consult the local Arab population about this theft of their homes and lands.

Yet he remains a hero of the Conservative Party which, led by Theresa May, plans to celebrate this hundred-year “running sore” – as Lord Sydenham called it – in great style, inviting Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu to the festivities. That’s if the mad-dog warmonger isn’t under arrest by then on imminent charges of corruption back home.

“I will always do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe,” May added. “Through our new definition of anti-Semitism we will call out anyone guilty of any language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews. We will actively encourage the use of this definition by the police, the legal profession, universities and other public bodies.”

She was referring to the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

BDS “unsucessful”? Really?

One of May’s Cabinet minsiters, Sajid Javid, told the World Jewish Congress that the UK would celebrate the upcoming anniversary with pride. “Someone said we should apologise for the declaration, to say it was an error of judgment. Of course that’s not going to happen.” To apologise, he said, would be to apologise for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist.

Israel stooge Sajid Javid

Israel stooge Sajid Javid

Instead, he emphasised the UK government’s intolerance towards any kind of boycott of Israel. He said:

I’ll be 100 per cent clear. I do not support calls for a boycott, my party does not support calls for a boycott. For all its bluster, the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaign is most notable I think, for its lack of success… As long as I’m in government, as long as I’m in politics, I will do everything in my power to fight back against those who seek to undermine Israel.

The UK, Javid said, has maintained close diplomatic, trade and security ties with Israel since its inception, and is counted upon by Israel to vote in its favour at the UN and other international institutions.

As Noam Chomsky has aptly observed: “People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”

Israel lobby stooges like May and Javid continue trying to ram their pro-Zionist nonsense down out throats despite the fact that last time they attacked the successful BDS movement, warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”, they came spectacularly unstuck. Two hundred legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe put May in her place by pointing out that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. Her efforts to repress it amounted to support for Israel’s violations of international law and failure to honour the solemn pledge by states to “strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

May needs a crash course in human rights

Top legal experts were recently asked for their views by Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Their verdict was that those in public life cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population”.

What’s more, there is an obligation to allow all concerned in public debate “to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”. Article 10 says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says the same sort of thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.

Eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC has sharply criticised the anti-Semitism definition touted by May. Firstly, it isn’t a legally binding definition so doesn’t have the force of a statutory one. And it cannot be considered a legal definition as it lacks clarity. Therefore, any conduct contrary to the IHRA definition couldn’t necessarily be ruled illegal.

He says it was “most unsatisfactory for the government to adopt a definition which lacks clarity and comprehensiveness” and suggests the government’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition was simply a freestanding statement of policy – a mere suggestion as to a definition of anti-Semitism that public bodies might wish to use. But no public body was under an obligation to adopt or use it, or should be criticised for refusing to. He warned that if a public authority did decide to adopt the definition then it must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights mentioned above.

Legally invalid definition of anti-Semitism

According to Tomlinson, then, the IHRA definition doesn’t mean that calling Israel an apartheid state that practises settler colonialism, or urging BDS against Israel, can properly be characterised as anti-Semitic. Furthermore, a public authority seeking to apply the IHRA definition in order to prohibit or punish such activities “would be acting unlawfully”.

Retired Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley has weighed in by criticising the IHRA definition for lack of legal force. “It is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.” He added that the right of free expression, now part of our domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, “places both negative and positive obligations on the state which may be put at risk if the IHRA definition is unthinkingly followed”. Moreover, the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions “which cannot be cut back by governmental policies”.

Sedley felt the IHRA definition was open to manipulation. “What is needed now is a principled retreat on the part of government from a stance which it has naively adopted.”

As for Javid’s crack about not having to apologise for Israel’s existence, he must have forgotten that in the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which granted the Jews territory within defined borders, they declared statehood in 1948 without borders, grabbing as much extra land as they could by armed terror and ethnic cleansing. The new state of Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditional upon honouring the UN Charter and implementing UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 and 194. It has failed to do so and to this day repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the Charter.

When the UK Conservative government makes pronouncements on foreign affairs it pays to consider that 80 per cent of its MPS are claimed to be signed-up members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) lobby group and this is a stepping-stone to higher office. CFI, according to its website, is active at every level of the party.

It is sad that so many of our politicians are so spineless and so insecure that they feel the need to herd together under the flag of what the UN has called a racist state.

 

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UK banks ‘complicit’ in Palestinian oppression, rights group claims

UK high street banks are investing in and arranging loans for firms supplying arms to Israel

Palestinian children play amidst the ruins of a building destroyed during the 50-day war Israel waged on Gaza in the summer of 2014 in Gaza City, on April 13, 2014 (AFP)

British high street banks including HSBC and Barclays are a “crucial link in the chain” of Palestinian oppression as they invest in and loan money to companies who supply arms to Israel, a campaign group has claimed in a report.

The “Deadly Investments” report by War on Want explores the business relationship between the UK’s financial sector and 19 companies which supply Israel with weapons and technology it says are used against Palestinians.

“The deadly trade of arms is facilitated not only by the UK government,” it claims. “UK banks and financial institutions participate in Israel’s militarised repression by holding shares in companies that sell military technology and weapons to Israel, and by providing and facilitating loans to companies producing such military technology and weapons.”

“Our findings show that UK banks and other financial actors facilitate and profit from Israel’s militarism, making them complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Investments and loans

The report comes on the back of the release of guidance by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last month, clarifying that banks and financial institutions have a responsibility to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts” and “prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships”.

The report said the banks in question hold shares worth more than £10.8bn ($13.9bn) in military and technology companies such as BAE Systems, General Electric and Lockheed Martin.

War on Want used the Orbis database, a commercial financial database, and the nasdaq.com website to produce the report.

According to the group, HSBC owns shares worth more than £831m ($1.07bn) in firms that provide arms and technology to Israel, including £180m ($232m) of shares in BAE Systems, which manufactures the target selection displays in F-16 fighter jets used by Israel in its 2014 assault on Gaza.

HSBC is also said to own £102m ($131.4) of shares in Boeing, the US company that provides Israel with Apache helicopters and Hellfire missiles.

The British high street bank also has significant investments in Caterpillar, whose specially modified bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes, and in Raytheon, whose “bunker buster” bombs were used by Israel to target civilian homes during the 2014 assault on Gaza.

HSBC in 2010 published its ethical guidelines for investments in the defence industry. It said that while it does not invest in any company that manufactures cluster bombs or anti-personnel mines, it does provide financial services to customers who sell or manufacture weapons among other business.

HSBC told War on Want that it holds shares in arms companies on behalf of clients, but did not say which investments these were.

It also referred War on Want to its Defence Equipment Sector Policy which said that “HSBC decided in 2000 to withdraw progressively from the financing of the manufacture and sale of weapons”.

British financial institutions have also been providing or arranging syndicated loans that run into the billions for companies that sell arms and technology to Israel.

Syndicated loans are provided to a borrower by a group of lenders, where the financial institution or bank can manage the syndicate, act as a lender, or both.

Barclays alone participated in 29 such loans totalling £41.1bn ($53bn) to firms including American aerospace company Lockheed Martin, which is in the process of delivering 50 F-35 jets to Israel, and Northrup Grumman, which built three Saar V missile ships used by the Israeli navy to police the coast of Gaza.

According to the report, HBSC participated in 15 syndicated loans totaling £19.3bn ($25bn) which went to several companies including British manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

‘Profiting from oppression’

War on Want’s senior military and security campaigner, Ryvka Barnard, said: “UK high street banks are key players in the UK-Israel arms trade and make these deadly deals possible.

“Banks like HSBC are a crucial link in the chain of oppression, facilitating and profiting from the brutal military repression of Palestinians.

“War on Want is calling for banks to divest from, and stop facilitating loans to, companies that sell weapons and security services to Israel.

“We also repeat our call for the UK government to implement a two-way arms embargo on Israel.”

The campaign group, which has been a stalwart advocate of the BDS movement and has called for a two-way arms embargo with Israel until it complies with international law, suggests that some of the companies mentioned could be criminally liable for complicity.

“A company that facilitates the violation of international law by, for example, providing weapons to a government that uses them to carry out war crimes, may be criminally complicit with that crime.”

The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly called on companies to stop all business involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements and voted to create a database of companies that are involved in supporting and facilitating settlement activity in 2016.

With the release of the report coinciding with 50 years of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, and 10 years since the continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip began, the report said: “The impacts of the occupation and siege on Palestinians have been devastating, an ever-intensifying system of human rights abuse and imposed poverty on millions of Palestinians.”

2017 also marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration which declared British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

In a statement to MEE, HSBC said it had “progressively withdrawn from financing the manufacture and sale of defence equipment”.

“We believe that our policy, which is reviewed regularly, is one of the most restrictive in the financial services industry,” said Francis Sullivan, European regional head of sustainability.

“We value the work carried out by NGOs such as War on Want and we have sought to meet with them to understand their specific concerns.”

‘Weapons for tyrants’: UK blasted for inviting human rights abusers to arms trade fair

Source

Britain’s biggest arms fair starts Tuesday, and will play host to several countries labelled human rights abusers by the UK Foreign Office.

The full list of the 56 countries which received official invitations to the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition (DSEI) was released by the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation in response to a parliamentary question.

Among them are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – all named ‘Human Rights Priorities Countries’ in the 2016 Foreign and Commonwealth Report published last July.

Others accused of human rights violations on the guestlist include the Philippines, Indonesia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey.

The arms fair – which is described as the world’s leading defense and security exhibition –  takes place at the ExCel Centre, London, from September 12 to 15.

Some 1600 exhibitors including BAE Systems, Thales, Rolls Royce, General Dynamics, Israel Defence, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will display products at the event.

Keynote speeches will be made by Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon and Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, among others.

READ MORE: Arms giant BAE sold powerful mass surveillance equipment to oppressive regimes – report

The UK remains the second largest global defence exporter, winning defence orders worth a total of £5.9 billion ($7.78 billion) in 2016, according to government statistics published last July. Some 57 percent of total UK defence exports between 2007 and 2016 were sold to the Middle East.

Campaign Against Arms Trade  members have been leading protests outside the venue since Monday, September 4. The week of blockades is intended to highlight the “deadly consequences of the arms trade.”

“This list includes a roll call of despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers. They will be greeted by civil servants and Government Ministers who are there for one reason only: to promote weapons. It’s impossible to promote human rights and democracy while arming and supporting authoritarian regimes and tyrants,” Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said.

A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade told RT that the “government undertakes a stringent process of scrutiny and approval before issuing any invitations to foreign governments to attend a major UK defence exhibition like DSEI.”

“Respect for human rights is a mandatory consideration in the process and a country would not be invited where that would contradict the UK’s international obligations. Invitations are reviewed if the situation in any one country changes.”

London’s Met Police told RT that 102 arrests had been made since protests began last Monday. Arrests were for a variety of offences, the majority, however, were for obstruction of the highway, according to a police spokesperson. No information is yet available on any possible charges.

Last year a court dismissed charges against eight protesters who blocked the road outside the DSEI in 2015 after the judge stated the defence had presented clear and credible evidence that illegal activity had taken place at the event in previous years.

He also said police arresting the activists had failed to investigate to ensure it was not happening again.

A spokesperson for the DSEI told the Guardian at the time that compliance regulations were not breached at the 2015 fair.

RT has reached out to DSEI for comment on procedures in place to combat potential illegal activity at this year’s event. The compliance section of the DSEI website states that all exhibitors are subject to the UK Export Control Act 2002 and the Export Control Order 2008.

It also outlines goods banned from the exhibition; these include those designed for executions, those banned by the EU because of evidence of their use in torture, landmines and certain cluster munitions

British troops to end their illegal presence in South Syria & training to terrorists

British Troops Withdraw From South Syria, End Training to Militants

By Andrew Illingworth,

The United Kingdom has withdrawn its troops from the coalition-operated al-Tanf base in Syria’s southwestern desert and de facto ended all military assistance hitherto provided to Free Syrian Army (FSA) affiliated mercenaries in the region.

Just like US military personnel who were also part of the so-called “moderate opposition” training program in southern Syria, British special forces troops operated from a coalition base established at the town of al-Tanf near Syria’s border with Iraq.

Virtually all of the FSA fighters who were part of the Pentagon-vetted training program had, in previous years, fought pro-government forces in Syria’s Deir Ezzor region alongside the Al-Qaeda-linked Jahbat al-Nusra terrorist group.

According to the UK-based Daily Telegraph news group, the British wind-down of support to FSA militants began in June of this year when at least 20 special forces troops were confirmed to have withdrawn from the al-Tanf base.

As of very recently, the remainder of the British contingent at al-Tanf has departed taking with them any further UK support for FSA militants in southern Syria.

The coalition-backed militants at al-Tanf have proved themselves almost entirely more interested in fighting against forces led by the Syrian government in southern Syria rather than fighting ISIS, which was meant to be their official purpose as Western proxies in the region.

The original source of this article is Al Masdar News

UK government must come clean about its secret wars, including helping Syrian terrorists

The government must come clean about its secret wars

How the British government is using a Special Forces loophole to wage war without democratic oversight.

British Army soldiers with the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, wait inside the belly of a Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron CH-53D Sea Stallion. Image, public domain.

When David Cameron made his case for airstrikes in Syria in 2015, he explicitly ruled out sending in UK ground forces to fight Islamic State. Yet the following year British soldiers were photographed on the ground, reportedly fighting alongside Syrian rebels. All without any disclosure to parliament.

How is this possible?

The answer comes through the use of special forces. As far as the government is concerned, the operations of any units that come under the command of the Director of Special Forces are exempt from public disclosure and scrutiny. In theory, this means British troops can operate anywhere in the world without the public or parliament ever knowing about it, let alone getting the chance to debate or vote.

This may not seem unreasonable at first glance. After all, aren’t we talking about a very small number of elite troops carrying out a similarly small number of ‘quick-in, quick out’ operations? We could hardly equate missions like ending the Iranian embassy siege in 1980 or the rescue of British soldiers captured by the ‘West Side Boys’ in Sierra Leone in 2000 with full-blown military interventions. And secrecy has arguably been understandable to avoid compromising these missions and endangering the personnel involved.

The problem is the scope of the operations is changing. Special forces are now being used to conduct sustained combat missions as well as quick, one-off operations. In June 2016, around the time UK special forces were photographed in Syria, they were reported to be frequently crossing the border to aid Syrian rebels on the frontline, and they also appear to have established a base in Al-Tanf from which to conduct sustained operations. Reports also suggest UK special forces are present in Libya on a sustained mission to advise, train, and assist Libyan allies. Thanks to a leaked memo from a briefing given to US lawmakers by the King of Jordan, we know they have been deployed there since January 2016, and they were also reported to have attacked Islamic State targets outside Misrata in May of the same year.

The numbers of special operations forces have also been increasing[i1]  with the emergence of dedicated support units such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment in 2005 and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) in 2006, adding upwards of 500 and 800 personnel respectively and helping to take the total number of special operations forces up to around 3,000. The SFSG incorporates regular military forces, notably from the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines, and when I recently tabled a parliamentary question asking if these regular units within the SFSG would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way, the answer that came back was a clear no.

There is also a concern that the same is true of drones and other aircraft when they’re involved in special forces operations. When Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood on UK special forces activity in Libya last year, he said ‘I am not able to provide any comment whatever on any questions involving the role of special forces.’  However, when asked whether the RAF had flown over Libya in 2016, he stated ‘It has flown over Libya, yes.’ When the committee later sought details about the flights they were told the government does not comment on special forces, suggesting even RAF flights are being included under the non-disclosure umbrella.

This has dangerous implications for our democracy. The government could in theory assemble a quite substantial military force, comprising special forces soldiers, regular troops, support personnel, drones, and manned aircraft, and bring them all under the blanket of ‘no comment’. Instead of following the now well-established convention that parliament should authorise the use of military force, and risking a no vote as with the proposal for military intervention in Syria in 2013, the government can simply push military interventions under the radar by re-classifying them as special forces operations.

A Ministry of Defence document leaked in 2013 suggested that one way to continue conducting military operations despite the scepticism of the British public was “investing in greater numbers of SF [Special Forces].” And this is exactly what the government has done. In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government pledged to more than double investment in special forces equipment.

And this isn’t the only loophole the government could exploit. Operating outside of UK command structures, embedded British troops can fight alongside their host nation’s forces in wars the UK is not officially a party to. I also recently asked a parliamentary question asking for up to date information on the deployment of British military personnel within the armed forces of other states. As of March 2016, there were 176 UK personnel ‘embedded’ with other nations’ armies. For example, in July 2015 it was revealed that UK personnel embedded with allied forces operating in Syria were involved in carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State, without prior authorisation of parliament…

The truth is, the government knows the public are rightly sceptical of military intervention after the terrible legacy of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, in a 2013 poll, about 60 per cent of respondents said recent military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya made them less likely to back future military interventions. In another poll in the same year, 69 per cent of respondents said the role of the UK military should be to defend British territory and provide humanitarian assistance in emergencies. Instead of exploiting loopholes to make military intervention more secretive, the government should think about listening to the public who they’re accountable to.

The answer, for me, is clear. If British troops – any kind of British troops, whether special forces, regular, or embedded – are committed to comprehensive, long term combat operations, there should be open disclosure and a debate and vote in parliament. There should also be parliamentary committee oversight of special forces (no committee of parliament currently has the formal power to scrutinise them) so that they’re accountable for secret operations. The government must come clean about its secret wars. Only then can the public have confidence that our military is being used as they would want it to be

Tony Blair in Wonderland

Tony Blair in Wonderland

Photo by Chatham House | CC BY 2.0

Tony Blair is clearly a piece of work.  Incidentally, I’ve known about him for decades before he became well-known.

Blair went to Fettes, the Scottish equivalent of the elite English private school Eton (the former’s alumni include the composer Michael Tippett, the winner of the Nobel Prize in economics Angus Deaton, Churchill’s foreign secretary John Simon, the actress Tilda Swinton, the golfer Tommy Armour, the gay climber and child psychiatrist Menlove Edwards (who committed suicide after living a difficult personal life), and numerous legal figures and army generals).  Blair was at Fettes from 1966 to 1971.

A good friend of mine during my undergrad days in the late 60s/early 70s had the misfortune (his term) to attend Fettes the same time as Blair.

My Old Fettesian undergraduate friend, like me a future university teacher, moved in very different circles from Blair at Fettes (admittedly my friend was a couple of years older), who at that point had seeming thespian aspirations and gloried in the nickname “Emma”.

My friend was unable to tell me how this nickname came to be bestowed on the future prime minister.

The outlines of Blair’s career after he left Fettes and went to Oxford are well known.  His academic career at Oxford was just as undistinguished as his time at Fettes.  His main claim to fame at Oxford was playing in a band that did covers of hits by the Rolling Stones.

At Oxford, we’ve just been told by Blair himself, there was a brief flirtation with Trotskyism.  Blair is all veneer, so with supple convictions that drift effortlessly above this veneer, his time as a “Trot” did not last long.

It was now time to turn to religion, and he became a church-goer, Anglican at first but becoming converting to her faith when he married the Catholic Cherie Booth.  Mrs Blair combines her Catholicism with instruction and guidance from a New Age guru, and Blair has been known to join Cherie and her guru for the occasional session of ritualistic mumbo-jumbo.

Buoyed by the recent High Court decision blocking the bid by a former Iraqi army chief of staff to bring a private prosecution against him over the Iraq war, Blair decided he now has no need to lie low, and promptly made headlines by speaking of the need for a new anti-Brexit centrist party, uniting liberal Tories and right-wing Labour supporters.

Needless to say, Blair would be the leader, or the undefined ringmaster, of this political confection.

Blair apparently believes he can emulate the French president Emmanuel Macron in bringing about a “new” centrist realignment in his own country, perhaps not heedful of the fact that Macron is tanking in the polls (in part over spending large sums of money for make-up) and getting nowhere with his realignment “project”.

Such a UK centrist party already exists in the form of the Lib Dems– now largely discredited because they formed a coalition with the Tories from 2010-2015 with ruinous consequences for Brits (apart from the 1% of course) — so Blair’s new party would have to compete with the Lib Dems for the same somewhat limited electoral turf.

Blair’s pitch for a new party could probably be dismissed as a vainglorious attempt to signal he remains a “real and relevant” force in British politics.  We know he can still face prosecution for his role in the Iraq war if this is initiated from within the UK, or if he arrested in foreign country accepting the jurisdiction of the international court at The Hague.

Blair, like his partner in crime Dubya Bush, is still potentially a wanted man in certain parts of the world, so displaying his continued “importance” as the leader of a western political party with parliamentary seats is probably his main safeguard against those wanting him still to be accountable for war crimes in Iraq.

In itself, however, the notion of a new “centrist” party in the UK is asinine.

In addition to the Lib Dems there are “centrists” in both the Labour and Tory parties.

Labour’s “centrists” are Blair supporters determined to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as the party leader.

Corbyn, despite losing the recent election, nonetheless secured Labour’s largest share of the vote since its landslide in 1945 (Blair was unable to do this in his three election victories), and Blair’s willingness to form a new party may be a signal to his supporters that they have no foreseeable future as Blairites in a Labour party led by Corbyn.

Tories these days, apart from a tiny remnant of “One Nation” Tories such as Ken Clarke, do not signal themselves as “centrists”, but most Tory big donors are pro-EU corporate fat cats, and these one-percenters are at odds with the party’s xenophobic Little Englander base.

The Tory corporate fat-cat donors love globalization and the EU, the Tory Little Englander Tory base not so much.

The conjuring trick required of a Tory leader, and the US Republicans in an analogous way, is to take lots of money from pro-business fat cat donors, while conning their Little Englander/Middle America bases with largely symbolic gestures (typically involving immigration controls, subtle or not so subtle Islamophobia, getting rid of foreign aid, being tough on crime, pandering to the far-right on a largely cosmetic nationalism, and so on).

In the UK in 2017, all this has been nothing more than a repristination and modification of what Thatcher started in the late 70s:

Thatcherism Mk 1: Thatcher with her “Iron Lady” habitual snarl and handbag swinging.

Thatcherism Mk 2 (Blair/Brown): Thatcherism morphing into a seeming human face (Blair’s characteristic fake suntan and rictus smile).  Under Blair and Brown, the UK’s richest households – concentrated in London and the south-east – took an even greater share of national income than they did under Thatcher.

Thatcherism Mk 3 (Cameron/Osborne): Thatcherism, now called “austerity”, delivered with a posh-boy smirk and patronising tone.

(Wannabe) Thatcherism Mk 4 (Theresa May/Labour’s largely clueless neo-Blairites): Thatcherism must now be placed in the hands of pragmatic professional politicians like us, who will follow the dictates of focus groups and opinion polls.  Exemplum:  May has over time taken all three positions on Brexit.  Before the Brexit referendum she campaigned for the Remain side.  During the recent general election, May campaigned for a hard Brexit (i.e. a complete severance from the EU) hoping to prevent Tory voters from defecting to the far-right anti-EU UKIP.  When she lost her majority, May endorsed a soft Brexit (i.e. a break from the EU but hoping vaguely for a to-be-negotiated market arrangement with it).

No thanks to all the above embodiments of a pernicious dogma!

Tony/Emma in Wonderland is not going to reconfigure the terrain of British politics.  Emma will simply reshuffle the deckchairs on the Titanic that is today’s Ukania.

The journalist Paul Mason, who writes intelligently about UK politics and economics, has said that the creation of a new UK centrist party will be a magnet, not so much for Labour’s diminished Blairite remnant, but the neoliberal segment in the Conservative party.

This claim seems counterintuitive at first sight, but some reflection suggests that Mason could be right.

The driving force behind UK neoliberalism from Thatcher onwards has been the Tory party, with Blair/Brown’s New Labour falling in line with the appropriate adjustments here and there.

Brexit, however inchoate in its implementation and diverse in its underlying motivations, represents a repudiation of neoliberalism.

Culturally, Brexit seems to involve the rejection of a more cosmopolitan outlook, an endorsement of an insular Little Englanderism, but this is hardly the case– the people who voted for Brexit may have opted for Little Englanderism on the surface, but this is because they have been royally screwed in large numbers by neoliberalism, of which the EU, and the Tory party, have been unremitting proponents.

Since Thatcher, the Tory party has combined, or sought to combine, neoliberalism with a culturalist gloss on nationalism.  In essence, this has been an absolute bluff.

Blair’s “centrist” party, however inadvertently, will call this bluff.

Why put up with this Tory Little Englander pantomime, just to get votes from a xenophobic, and largely elderly and less educated, base, when you can have the option of voting for a flat-out neoliberal party, now unburdened by having jettisoned both Little Englanderism–  Conservatives belonging to the 1% view this confining xenophobia as a drag on wealth that has been parked offshore in places like Panama and on lucrative deals to be made with dictators from balmier climes), and also Corbyn’s Labour (which, dear oh dear, wants a return to all that outdated socialist stuff)?

A new neoliberal and resolutely post-socialist “centrist” party will probably cut the Tory Gordian Knot existing once Thatcher took office– i.e. purporting to be the party for “all” Brits while only benefitting the 1%– but also bypassing what neoliberal one-percenters and Blair himself believe to be a no longer relevant socialism (now represented by Labour under Corbyn).

“Utopia” for these neoliberal one-percenters, in essence, is for London to remain the money-laundering capital of the world.  And of course, the EU has allowed, and will allow, all of this to continue, if the UK did not/does not opt for Brexit.

Why my vague “did not/does not” formulation?  The Tories led by a thoroughly discredited Theresa May will have to face an election sooner rather than later.  Every indication so far points to a Labour victory.

Here then is a possible scenario.

With an election victory secured, Labour will now insist it needs its own mandate to implement Brexit.  Corbyn will sit on the fence this time, maintaining this must be a vote based on each person’s “conscience” (his own conscience as always being for a Lexit).

The pro-EU Ukanian plutocracy will be better organized for a referendum this time round, and in this second referendum Brexit will probably not pass.  Even the queen, supposedly “above” politics, wore a hat resembling the EU flag when she gave her recent speech at the opening of the new session of parliament.  The Ukanian plutocracy, from the land-owning aristocracy to the financial elites, will not have this “accident” repeated a second time.

Labour, now in power, will use this vote against Brexit to call for a more “democratic” EU.

Given that the neoliberal EU is constitutively undemocratic, Labour will need something akin to a revolution to succeed in any attempted “democratization” of this ghastly monstrosity.

A few cosmetic changes will in all probability then be thrown at Labour as a sop, to show how much the EU “loves” its repentant flip-flopping Ukanian member.

The old dictum therefore still applies in 21st century Ukania:  socialism or barbarism!

In the meantime, let’s continue to find ways to put Blair in the dock at The Hague. Emma genuinely needs to be given an extended opportunity to make his case for the Iraq war while contemplating the prospect of a long spell in a Dutch jail cell.

Boris Johnson bashing: Foreign Sec ridiculed as ‘joke’ by Trump team, EU diplomats & UK officials

Boris bashing: Foreign Sec ridiculed as ‘joke’ by Trump team, EU diplomats & UK officials

Boris bashing: Foreign Sec ridiculed as ‘joke’ by Trump team, EU diplomats & UK officials

US President Donald Trump’s team does not want to work with Boris Johnson because “they think he’s a joke,” it has been claimed.

White House officials, as well as diplomats across Europe, are confused by Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to make Johnson Britain’s foreign secretary and do not take him seriously, according to the Times’ Rachel Sylvester.

Johnson, who went up against May in the race to succeed David Cameron as PM, has been accused of insulting foreign counterparts and demeaning his own office on numerous occasions since becoming foreign secretary last year.

Diplomatic sources told Sylvester that figures in Trump’s team “don’t want to go anywhere near Boris because they think he’s a joke.”

“It’s worse in Europe. There’s not a single foreign minister there who takes him seriously. They think he’s a clown who can never resist a gag,” a current British minister added.

Another Tory MP said “The French think Boris is totally unreliable, the Germans think he’s lying and the Italians think he’s dangerous. He is undermining our ability to negotiate internationally and degrading our position abroad. The foreign secretary is supposed to enhance Britain’s reputation but all over the world Boris is making matters worse.”

Civil servants in the Foreign Office are “horrified” by Johnson’s lack of discipline and professionalism, Sylvester adds.

“It’s all about managing Boris, not respecting him,” she quotes one Whitehall source as saying.

“He’s got no concentration span so it’s difficult to have a detailed discussion with him. The whole thing is completely ramshackle for someone who is supposed to be so clever. He doesn’t know what he thinks so he flies by the seat of his pants,” the source added.

Downing Street responded to the newspaper by saying it had “full confidence” in Johnson and that he was “doing a good job.”

Concerns about Johnson have also been raised in the left wing British media. The Guardian’s Owen Jones wrote on Tuesday that the foreign secretary is a “national humiliation.”

Jones says the charge sheet against Johnson was extensive before he was appointed.

“Here was a man who described black people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles,’ who suggested Barack Obama’s opposition to Brexit was driven by his ‘part-Kenyan’ ancestry.

“As editor of the Spectator, he published articles describing black people as having smaller brains and lower IQs and blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster. If equal marriage should be permitted, he once wrote, then why not allow ‘three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog’ to get hitched?” he added

 

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