Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

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‘Blair’s Judgement Day’

January 27, 2010

The timetable’s sorted for the protests outside Blair’s much-anticipated appearance at the Chilcott Inquiry. Details on the Stop the War Coalition site here. The police are currently trying to shove any demonstrators out of sight of the media – and indeed Blair himself – around the corner, citing the risk that we might ‘damage the grass’ opposite the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre: an eerily familiar excuse. If there’s enough of us there, they won’t be able to do that. Stop the War are asking people to get down to Westminster from 8am to greet Blair’s arrival in appropriate fashion.

The day before, Brown’s Afghanistan PR exercise opens at Lancaster House.

Brown’s international conference on 28 January is nothing more than a public relations exercise aimed at turning the tide of public opinion, running so strongly against a war which is clearly futile and unwinnable. In truth the warmongers are gathering for a war council masquerading as a peace conference.

This why the Stop the War has called for a blockade of Lancaster House, where the conference is being held, giving voice to the majority of people in US, Britain, Germany, France and most of the 43 countries in the “coalition”, who do not want more war, but all foreign troops to be brought home.

Protests start at 8.30am, Lancaster House – down The Mall from Trafalgar Square.

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Life imitating the Thick Of It

January 8, 2010

You do have to wonder what the hell they were playing at.

Gordon Brown is expected to capitalise on the complete collapse of Wednesday’s leadership coup by quickly handing out clear election campaign roles to leading cabinet ministers, including the key strategy role to Lord Mandelson. Uncertainty about Labour‘s election team is thought to lie behind some of the discontent inside the cabinet over his leadership.

I’m trying to imagine under what circumstances it would be a good idea to ditch your party leader four(ish) months before a General Election. But worse than that: what super-strength Blairite happy-juice would you need to have been drinking to think that, of the dismal selection available, someone genuinely any better for New Labour – more credible, more popular – than Brown might be found? Seriously: Miliband? Mandelson?  pffft.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it would seem even the statesmanlike Geoff Hoon can royally fuck up on occasion.

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A Very British self-pity

June 29, 2009

Chris Mullin, MP for Sunderland South, author of A Very British Coup, writing in the London Review of Books, myopically unable to conceive any (Labour) MP had done anything much wrong in the expenses scandal:

The damage is incalculable. Not just to us, but to the entire parliamentary system. We are sinking in a great swamp of derision and loathing. No matter that the guardians of public morality at the Telegraph appear to have paid a large – and so far undisclosed – sum of money for discs that seem to have been stolen, open season has been declared on we wretched, despised servants of the people.

Self-pitying whinging aside, the sheer blinkeredness of Mullin – and close to every other MP asked to comment on the issue – reminds me of the standard Labour Party reaction to the Iraq protests.

Opposition to the war on Iraq, we were told, was just a problem of communication on this one issue; that voters were otherwise happy; that the Parliamentary system was fundamentally sound. New Labour loyalists either could not or would not grasp that the ferocity of the opposition to the invasion was the bubbling to the surface of many, other, much deeper-rooted discontents: with Labour’s steady abandonment of its core support; with the ill-concealed contempt Westminster held for opinions in the rest of the country; and with the casual, blase attitude to the truth Blair and Campbell evinced, in particular. All these separate complaints and irritations fuelled the anger. Underneath it all was a withering of political legitimacy in this country – as noted by the unjustly (if predictably) ignored Power Inquiry.

That withering has become a near-collapse, in the wake of economic crisis. Scarcely an institution exists  that has not been damaged in the last eight months: the police, the City of London, Parliament, the Treasury: either directly, or indirectly, the economic crisis has had extraordinary political effects.

(The last of the above, for many reasons, interests me especially: from secretly running the country under Brown, the Treasury  has been pushed into a  position of  what must be almost unprecedented weakness – certainly nothing like this has been seen since the war. Take Mervyn King’s continued insubordination, for example, unthinkable even a few years ago, “independent” central bank or not; whilst Darling and his mandarins have been wholly unable to prevent Mandelson creating a new super-department overseeing key economic functions.)