Sunday, September 13, 2009

THE DISGRACE OF THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: IT'S TIME TO THROW THE BUMS OUT!


Simply put, by the time he left office Tony Blair had become a disgrace. It took awhile for people to figure it out. He had style and elegance, and could give a good speech. Those attributes and skills were good enough to get him elected as leader of the British Labour Party in 1994 at the young age of 41. At the time, Labour had been out of office for several years. It was hankering for someone who looked young and vigorous and who had the bearing and potential to win the big enchilada and become Prime Minister. So too was the British public that had grown tired of the Conservatives under the hard as nails Margaret Thatcher and the doltish John Major. The talented Blair was embraced by first his party and then his country, and by 1997 was Prime Minister.

As a politician Blair had an eel-like quality to him that saw him move from being a socialist to the centre right and in the process create the right leaning New Labour out of the traditional old left-wing Labour Party. Indeed, under Blair’s watch the British Labour Party for the most part became indistinguishable policy-wise from the Conservative Party.

Blair went off the rails with the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’ in 2001. He quickly wrapped himself in the American flag and offered his unflinching and misguided support to George W. Bush. Through the whole of the disaster of the Iraq war Bush had no greater admirer, yes man, and lackey. Blair promoted the Bush lies about weapons of mass destruction, and led his country into the rag-tag coalition of the willing which proceeded to make an even greater mess in Iraq without any plan for cleaning it up. His coziness with Bush earned for himself in his own country the same disrespect and opprobrium that Bush gradually acquired in his. Like Bush, Blair has even been accused of war crimes.

Blair was also a man who looked out for Blair. During his years in office he repeatedly displayed a Republican Party-like affection for money and power. His genuflections to Bush were an example. Indeed his kowtowing to ‘W” earned him the coveted Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. He also enjoyed the company of more unsavory representatives of wealth and power. He vacationed with the likes of Silvio Burlusconi and Rupert Murdoch, and acquired a somewhat odious record of stroking media barons. The trappings of and proximity to wealth and corporate power were important to Blair, the former socialist.

The Labour Party gradually grew exasperated with Blair and finally sent him packing in 2007. By then he cuddled up to enough people in high places that upon his resignation as PM in June 2007 his pals in the UN, the U.S. Bush administration, Russia, and the European Union – self described as the Quartet of International Mediators - made him Middle East Envoy to promote peace . This was despite the fact that not only were his credentials for objectivity in the region never high, they were most certainly shattered with his blind devotion to Bush. Predictably, Blair’s record as a peace envoy is not enviable. An example of his effectiveness was that the press noticed his attendance at the opening of the Armani store in Knightsbridge during the first nine days of the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza hostilities.

Blair proved, as countless but well-connected failures have proved in the past, that friends in high places can compensate for a lot. Presently he is a senior advisor to JP Morgan Chase and Zurich Financial Services and performs obscure but expensive services for other giants in the corporate world. He is reported to be making a cool $ 15 million a year, and stupid people throughout the world continue to shell out $250,000 in fees for one of his 90 minute rubber-chicken circuit snore fests.

In recent weeks it appears that the moral decay that was so evident in Blair’s final years in office has been passed on to the Labour government of his successor Gordon Brown. It has recently been disclosed that the promise of future trade and oil deals helped get the convicted Lockerbie bomber, 57 year-old Libyan national Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, an early release from a UK slammer and back safely into the welcoming arms of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli. The oil deal was for Britain’s mega oil company flagship British Petroleum, or BP – which, by the way, is still reviled in Iran as the great Satan because of its earlier days as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company when it used to siphon off gazillions of revenues from Iranian oil straight into the British Exchequer.

Scottish authorities initially took the fall for al-Megrahi's early release, saying that the convicted killer of 259 people was released on compassionate grounds because he was dying of prostate cancer. Naturally, victims’ families joined opposition politicians and sensible British citizens in condemning the move. Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied complicity in any Al-Megrahi for oil and business swap. However, Brown’s Justice Secretary Jack Straw says that a BP oil deal in Libya was very much a factor. Other UK officials say that the release of Al-Megrahi was an attempt to bring in Libya from the international cold and improve British – Libyan trade. Col. Gadhafi’s son who was part of the negotiations that led to al-Megrahi’s release says that Libya put the heat on the Brits to include al-Megrahi in a prisoner release program tied to future trade deals. Documents have surfaced which seem to confirm the Straw/Gadhafi version of events.

It is also true that BP inked a $ 900 million oil deal with Libya and the company admits that it urged the government to sign a prisoner transfer deal, although it points out that it did not specifically refer to the bomber. Brown continues to profess innocence in the whole matter – much as the piano player in the bordello who claimed he didn’t know what was going on upstairs.

Also, in the past few days it was reported that The UK’s thirst for oil has led it into further moral quicksand. Sources say that the UK’s secretive SAS – one of the world’s most efficient commando units – is giving special forces training to Libyan soldiers. This is the same SAS who fought IRA rebels in Northern Ireland who were armed to the teeth with weapons and explosives supplied by, guess who? The Libyans. The government’s response is that Libya has changed from rogue state to responsible ally, a conclusion hardly in keeping with the very public hero’s welcome bestowed upon Al Megrahi when he arrived back in Tripoli after his years of incarceration for the mass killing conviction.

The story is clearly one of a political party having lost its moral compass. These events convey the unmistakable principle that in the UK, if one has access to a large supply of oil and is prepared to part with some of it to British interests one can get away with murder. Or to put it another way, to the Labour government of Great Britain money and oil, trumps all else - including justice. This is the legacy of Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown. In these circumstances the British people should either provide the British Labour Party with a very long respite from political power in order to allow it to try to restore to itself some semblance of honour and principle, or, throw it into the trash heap of history. In light of recent events, I believe that the latter alternative is the best.
See:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/05/uk-official-oil-played-a-_n_278112.html http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hfXTbOTyYDD_tqwD8e1cX67p2x6QD9ALST5O2
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/09/05/libya.megrahi.britain/index.html

4 comments:

Tim said...

Mr. Raymaker,

I read your blog and always pass on what you have to say to my Dad.

Same as you, he is a lawyer, less of an internet adopter but still very interested in the stories of the day.

We're from SW Ontario and Dad is a Clear Grit so he likes your commentary mostly. He's in England (on the west coast) for a holiday just now. He'll like your latest for sure when he gets back.

Lap dog is what we called Tony Blair in the W days.

Darryl Raymaker said...

Thanks for that Tim. The cynicism and expediency of the Blair/Brown years is astonishingly over-the-top.

I'm a liberal and have always admired the British Labour Party - until the Blair years - and more particularly, since Blair jumped into bed with Bush. His actions throughout the Iraq war and since have been deplorable.

The latest dalliance with Libya is reprehensible and cynical to the extreme for which they and their party should pay a very high price.

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