Blair/Libya/Megrahi/SNP/Straw: Deal or No Deal, BLAIR IS INNOCENT

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    30th August, 2009

    LIBYA

    SHOCK NEWS!

    tblair&gaddafi_june07

    Blair met Gaddafi for the last time as PM, June 2007

    BLAIR IS INNOCENT

    OF ANY & ALL BACK-DOOR DEALS

    Blair, Brown, Straw and the Scottish (SDP) government. What did they ALL know?

    Following today’s Times article – Lockerbie bomber ‘set free for oil’ – and its leaked letters from Jack Straw to the Scottish Justice Minister, we are all at the conspiracy theorising again. And since, like Alex Massie at The Spectator, I can’t see Salmond sitting down to a comfy chat over ANYTHING with the hated British government,  we are left with few choices:

    1. Megrahi’s release really WAS only on humanitarian grounds.

    OR/AND

    2. The Scottish government too knew it would benefit Scotland financially from the ‘prisoner for oil’ arrangement.

    QUICK BACKGROUND: THE LIBYA CONNECTION

    Tony Blair resigned on the 27th June 2007. Since 2003 through largely PERSONAL efforts, he had brought Libya in from the international cold. He had stopped their nuclear ambitions AND had secured hugely important and lucrative commercial deals for Britain. Then came the Lockerbie bombing and the conviction of Megrahi. Blair never ONCE agreed to include Megrahi in any future tit-for-tat arrangement on prisoner release, despite being constantly pressed by the Libyans.

    TONY BLAIR’S HANDS ARE CLEAN

    On this video interview Tony Blair on CNN explains WHY exactly he did not and could not have had any link with any “arrangement” over Megrahi’s release.

    “I did not have the power.” More from Blair here, 22nd August 2009.

    One month after Mr Blair left office, July 2007, Jack Straw attempted to hold Blair’ s line on Megrahi’s possible future release NOT being tied to trade agreements. The new SNP government also STRONGLY wanted Megrahi excluded. It may be that his inclusion would have given them a responsibility too many. Straw was not successful with the Libyans.

    Six months later, December 2007, fearing the possible collapse of the commercial deals secured by Blair since 2003, Straw capitulated to Libyan demands to include Megrahi in the PTA arrangements. He immediately TOLD the Scottish government that Libya would not agree to his exclusion. (Odd how we have not been reminded of any of this until now, don’t you think?)

    Six weeks later, in early 2008, BRITISH PETROLEUM signed a lucrative Libya-oil based deal with the UK government.

    CONCLUSION on BLAIR:

    All the way through HIS ten years in office Tony Blair NEVER EVER agreed to include Megrahi in any deal of any sort, trade or otherwise.

    THAT, Blair’s fair-weather friends, should be remembered by you ALL.

    BROWN’S GOVERNMENT: JACK STRAW’S INPUT

    jackstraw_1981_laboursplit

    Jack Straw has been involved in any "deal" arrangement longer than Blair

    POLITICAL DUCKING AND DIVING

    Watch Sky News report here

    Clearly there has been ducking and diving by all parties involved for ALL sorts of reasons. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, says that the Scottish Nationalist government wanted a “carve-out” for Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement. They did NOT (at that time) want any possibility of his being released under any agreement.

    The Libyans would not agree with this exclusion and so Megrahi was not excluded.

    “ABSURD”

    Straw says it is all “an absurd argument” because the SNP government has released Megrahi outwith any Prisoner Transfer Agreement and only on “humanitarian” grounds.

    On a Radio 4 interview today Jack Straw said that in 2003 “we forced Libya to abandon its nuclear weapons development.”  (He may have misremembered. He meant to say – “Blair forced …”)  Straw also pointed out that it was always open “at any time” to the  SNP government to release Megrahi for their own reasons. Until last week Salmond’s government could have decided either way. According to Straw the whole debate is absurd and “academic because Magrehi was not transferred under PTA.”

    CONCLUSION on STRAW

    This is politics. Impure and simple.

    THE SCOTTISH (NATIONALISTS) CONNECTION

    The Prisoner Transfer Agreement, April 2009

    Salmond in Scottish Parliament 7th May, 2009

    Alex Salmond: “The United Kingdom and Libyan Governments ratified a prisoner transfer agreement on Wednesday 29 April 2009.”

    Salmond

    The SNP, under Alex Salmond has found that its expected "popular" decision to release Megrahi has re-bounded at home and abroad.

    [Aside: That’s 29th April 2009. This year. The PTA discussions were clearly set in train by Mr Blair as were Libya’s return to the international community and its dropping of its nuclear arms ambitions. However, two years have passed since Mr Blair left office. Two years to amend the PTA before final acceptance and ratification. In the end the actual wording of the agreement had nothing  do with Tony Blair.]

    SALMOND continued: “An application for prisoner transfer has now been received from the Libyan authorities on behalf of Mr Al Megrahi. The application will be considered according to the agreement, relevant legislation and the merits of the individual case.

    Any decision on the transfer of prisoners who are held in Scotland is for the Scottish ministers. In practice, the CabinetSecretary for Justice makes the decision on any prisoner transfer request. That emphasises our point that, whatever decisions are made elsewhere, our decisions will be made on judicial grounds, not economic or political ones.”

    CONCLUSION on SALMOND’S SDP GOVERNMENT’s DECISION

    They wanted to play with the big boys. They can expect the rules to be tough. This too is realpolitik, Mr Salmond

    The Scottish government’s message:

    They are NOT the British government. They are NOT under Westminster’s control. They will decide for their OWN reasons and through their OWN justice system, notwithstanding the British government’s and people’s interests.

    That might be worth remembering,  all my fellow-Scots still based in Scotland, when Salmond presents you with a referendum on Independence due within the year.

    It’s also worth remembering that the SDP were NOT in power in Scotland when Blair started to discuss a PTA with the Libyans, and were possibly never expected to be.  In fact they had just come into power a month before Blair left in June 2007 years after he had started to negotiate a PTA with Libya.

    The new devolution arrangements since devolution in 1998 were always likely to lead to some confusion over power and authority on international issues.

    With an anti-union party in place in Scotland – perhaps we ain’t seen nothing yet!

    MORE ON THE STRAW MAN

    Today in The Times

    The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

    Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

    The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

    The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

    In a letter dated July 26, 2007, Straw said he favoured an option to leave out Megrahi by stipulating that any prisoners convicted before a specified date would not be considered for transfer.

    On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.

    In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: “I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion.


    BETWEEN A ROCK AND A SOFT PLACE

    A couple of points to sum up –

    Straw’s and Brown’s inability to finalise Blair’s trade deals without excluding Megrahi from the PTA does NOT in my opinion make Straw or Brown guilty of anything other than of not being Tony Blair. He it was who brought Gaddafi and Libya in from the cold internationally. He it was who got the oil and other commercial deals in the first place. Whether there would have been backtracking on the inclusion of Megrahi  if Blair were still Prime Minister in December 2007 we will never know.

    Brown may have been invisible again recently, but the Scottish Nationalist government too has been illiberal with the verity. They say they made the decision to free Megrahi NOT on trade/oil/co-operating with the British government grounds, but for humanitarian reasons.  They all knew that Straw had failed to carry through on Blair’s refusal to include Megrahi’s release in the PTA.  None of this prior knowledge has been mentioned until today. For the SNP they wanted and NEEDED it to be known that they were above all this grubby trade shenanigans. Their holier-than-thou approach was that Scotland was particularly humanitarian (presumably in comparison to the rest of us.)

    As a Scot I can tell you this –

    THAT’S RUBBISH!

    We Scots are no more humanitarian than anyone else in this great island or in the western world. In fact the Irish are far more generous charity givers than the Scots pro-rata.

    The SNP for all its hand-wringing and whiter-than-white cries is as politically driven as any other political party.

    But, for their own reasons, oil to replace Scotland’s offshore diminishing resources perhaps, they are just as ‘grubby’ as any politicians in this world where humanitarian, diplomatic and commercial considerations do not always make comfortable or vote-winning bedfellows.

    So if not humanitarian what WERE the real reasons for the Scottish government releasing Megrahi early?

    SIMPLER EVEN THAT ALL THE ABOVE?

    Perhaps the SNP’s action and the ongoing furore is far more simple than all of this.  Could it have been a desire NOT to draw attention to the fact that it was Tony Blair, Salmond’s nemesis, who stood firm for years against keeping Megrahi OUT of a PTA. That admission – that Mr Blair was on the SNP’s ORIGINAL side on this – would today be hard for Salmond to own up to and harder to admit publicly.

    Instead did they choose to sell the release of Megrahi as being on humanitarian grounds, insisting that the British government had not interfered and could not interfere with their decision?  With this, at least the present British government was happy to concur.

    So was it just that Salmond wanted to draw attention away from the fact that on this issue, Mr Blair was and still is  the only politician whose position has not moved on prisoner transfer?

    Worse still, from Salmond’s angle, given all of the mishandling of the Megrahi release decision, Mr Blair above all others has particularly clean hands. His input was only ever for good. Our trade arrangements with Libya will soon come to fruition and prove their value, as will Libya’s increasing distance from its past threatening position vis-a-vis nuclear weapons.

    Thank you Mr Blair.

    SICKENING, ISN’T IT, MR SALMOND?


    RELATED

    Alan Cochrane at The Telegraph takes some stick from his commenters after telling the conspiracy theorists to cease their mindless prattle, more or less. There you go, Mr Cochrane – you can’t tell ’em. THEY KNOW, y’know.




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    27 Responses to “Blair/Libya/Megrahi/SNP/Straw: Deal or No Deal, BLAIR IS INNOCENT”

    1. Iraq: Ooops we forgot. We DID have an airforce « Tony Blair Says:

      […] why exactly Mr Blair is no longer British Prime Minister. Iraq? Pull the other one. « Blair/Libya/Megrahi/SNP/Straw: Deal or No Deal, BLAIR IS INNOCENT Blair:”Hamas & Hezbollah COULD play Middle East Peace role” […]

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      […] (Quite, but not “apparently”. Just as it should be, and as it was, as I mentioned here recently.) […]

    3. Peter Chappel Says:

      How much was Blair paid by Libya for his involvement in the release of the Lockerbie bomber?

      Was the bribe paid in one amount or over a period of time,was the money deposited in one of his offshore bank accounts?

      I will be writing to David Cameron recommending that Blair appears in person before the enquiry and that his bank accounts are examined.Clearly,the Iraq War was not the only bribe involving Blair

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        How much, Mr Chappel, do you pay to devour and regurgitate the ignorant press on all of this? Or were you the “fly-on-the-wall” at every meeting in which Mr Blair sat? The proverbial “troof-seeker”?

        I will be writing to Mr Cameron congratulating him on understanding the complexity of international issues. In the meantime his government will no doubt still find it “refreshing” to talk to Mr Blair on his Middle East tasks.

        What have YOU done today to make you feel proud?

    4. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      It’s quite amazing that you claim Libya’s nuclear programme was “threatening”. Libya’s programme, like Iraq’s (which had ended long before 2002) and Iran’s (if it exists – with both the Iranian government and the US government greatly exagerrating how advanced it is), was about getting a deterrent against attacks by other countries.

      As Condoleezza Rice wrote during the 2000 US Presidential election campaign “These regimes [rogue states] are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence — if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration”
      http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20000101faessay5-p50/condoleezza-rice/campaign-2000-promoting-the-national-interest.html

      Despite all the empty rhetoric about September 11th “changing everything” it didn’t change that. “Rogue” states still can’t use nuclear weapons or WMD on nuclear armed states or their allies without risking nuclear annhilation themselves – so they don’t try it – just as Saddam didn’t use any of his chemical warheads for his scud missiles in attacks on Kuwait or Israel during the 1991 Iraq war.

      There’s no risk of them handing them over to terrorist groups either for the same reason – they’d have no control over how they used them and would be risking committing national suicide by proxy, which is why, despite all the propaganda, Iran has never given Hezbollah any nuclear material.

      The biggest risk of terrorist groups getting hold of WMDs is when there’s complete chaos – as in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, when some chemical weapons supplies left over from the 1980s may well have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups.

      Blair did not remove any “threat” to anyone through the deals he negotiated (except maybe to Gadaffi and his regime and ordinary Libyans suffering under sanctions – who faced being bombed and invaded like Iraq if they didn’t give US and British oil companies new contracts).

      Blair’s deals are the typical shoddy oil-for-arms and military training deals with a dictatorship, like the ones our governments already have with the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia and Mubarak in Egypt.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        We are SO-O-O grateful Mr McFarlane for all your inside knowledge on this, I am sure. You must have been that fly-on-the-wall at every high-powered meeting. Y’know, the one who keeps appearing under several guises in our papers.

        Imho, a lot of the toing-and-froing on the whys and wherefores IS kept from the public, and rightly so, simply because the public can’t deal with it. And why can’t they deal with it? Because there is a virulent press in this country which would rather hang our leaders and the west out to dry than paint a true picture of the complexitieis within and outwith international relationships – trade/energy/power – nuclear or otherwise. All politics is said to be local, and we have simply not been educated, or we have insufficient interest to understand that international politics is a game for big boys and girls.

        For instance, there is no point yelling about human rights when it’s only the yellers who care about them. And there is no point describing any deal with “oil” in it as “shoddy” in that Daily Mail way.

        Presumably you’d rather Libya was still out in the cold and being susceptible to the charms of AQ as it spreads its influence across North Africa? And what if the side-effect of that approach were only that we run out of power some time soon. Russia will still supply us. Won’t it? No problem, I’m sure.

    5. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      First thanks for the sarcasm and expressions of contempt for the public which make up most of your reply, which are presumably your way of padding out your response to hide the lack of substance in most of it.

      I’ve not claimed any inside knowledge of any meetings, so your comment about that is completely irrelevant (looking at your reply to another comment, maybe just your standard copy-and-paste line).

      Your claim that politics “is a game for big boys and girls” is either just empty and patronising, or else it’s elitism and contempt for democracy – people don’t know enough to make decisions – and can’t be told enough to make decisions because they’re too stupid/lazy/uninterested seems to be your line – or else it’s all the media’s fault and nothing to do with Blair and other members of government making up fairy stories about Al Qa’ida being in Iraq and whipping up fear that Saddam was going to use WMD on us or our allies or British bases and risk nuclear annhilation in response (despite the fact that he wasn’t in 1991 when he actually had chemical warheads for his scuds but only used conventional ones).

      You claim that if we weren’t allied to Gadaffi, then Libya would be “susceptible to he charms of AQ” (Al Qa’ida).

      Al Qa’ida and other armed jihadist groups operate in many countries in which our governments back dictatorships and one party states – Egypt (Mubarak), Saudi (House of Saud), Jordan (King Abdullah), etc.

      In his book ‘The Far Enemy’, Fawaz Gerges, an expert on jihadist groups, found that these groups had turned towards targeting ‘developed world’ governments because these governments were backing dictatorships in their countries which tortured them.

      For instance Bin Laden’s second in command Zawahiri was tortured by Mubarak’s police.

      Far from weakening Al Qa’ida and similar groups, our governments’ backing for these dictatorships strengthens groups like AQ, because non-violent alternatives (e.g participation by the Muslim Brotherhood in elections in Egypt) is banned – and can result in harassment, beatings, sexual harassment of women campaigners, torture, jail or death for people trying to oppose the dictatorships in elections.

      I’ve not referred to any deal with oil in it as shoddy, but oil deals with dictatorships in which we support them, arm them and train their police and soldiers to oppress their own people in return for oil deals.

      Your point about oil supplies is valid, but in direct contradiction to all Mr. Blair’s high-sounding talk of spreading democracy, opposing tyranny and brutal, torturing dictators etc.

      You really need to pick a line and stick with it – is Blair a crusader for democracy or is it ‘sod democracy, we’ll back any dictator so long as we get affordable oil’?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        You are MOST welcome, Mr McFarlane.

        ‘OUR’ governments (evidently YOUR real enemy) have to make decisions according to the conditions at the time, and often they can be seen or painted as inconsistent. That’s politics, for you. Not as consistent as we might like it to be.

        I think Blair does fight for democracy worldwide, as do those countries in Africa (oh, and Kosovo, btw) who KOW he is supporting their fight for good governance.

        But I am also not naive enough to think that this “truth” business is what matters in the big picture. Not that “truth” doesn’t matter. Of course it does. But it is clear to me that no matter how Blair is lauded worlwide (and he is) people who disagree with him and/or his decision over Iraq, cling onto this “liar” and “inconsistent” and “oil” business in order to blacken everything about him.

        So I don’t need to pick ANY line and stick to it. The ‘line’ is not straight and without waver. It never was. A lot like life.

        Life is complex, as is politics.

    6. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      For someone who says we have to accept the complexity of the world to try to reduce every person’s position to being either for our governments or for Al Qa’ida is really pretty rich.

      I support some actions of British governments and oppose others. Supporting all their actions, right or wrong, harmful or beneficial to most people, on the grounds that they’re not Al Qa’ida would be pretty stupid.

      Accepting that decisions are a trade off between doing right and doing what’s in our interest is one thing ; making up scare stories about Al Qa’ida being in Iraq, Saddam preparing to use WMDs on us or our allies and that he would hand them to terrorist groups is going far beyond that.

      The Iraq war was neither right nor in our interest (unless you define ‘our’ very narrowly as the interests of British oil, arms and ‘security’ (often mercenary) companies.

      It got large numbers of Iraqis killed, thousands of American troops, hundreds of British troops – and then dozens of British civilians in the July 7th bombings.

      It also strengthened Al Qa’ida and allowed it to operate throughout Iraq. Before the invasion it wasn’t in Iraq at all. Ansar Al Islam, a group with a similar ideology, was operating in the Kurdish no-fly zone in the North – that was it.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Mr McFarlane.

        First of all, what do you make of Baghdad today, according to my other post?

        Tony Blair to The Hague for the ‘mess/disaster/folly’ that is Baghdad today!

        Secondly, I too do not support every action of the government – ANY government. For instance I think we made a BIG mistake in not insisting – DECADES ago – that immigrants with a culture unlike Britain’s – Islamism, in other words – MUST fully assimilate into OUR culture. Otherwise they should not, and should never have, come here. Blair began to notice this, but it was a little late, around 2005/2006. Others in Labour and ALL the other main parties STILL fail to notice how our society is changing far too much in a wrong-headed (imho) effort to accommodate those whose politicised religion does not see “democracy” as we know it, as legitimate.

        There are umpteen arguments as to whether al-Qaeda was in Iraq prior to the invasion, true. Arguments both ways. Certainly there were differently named groups which probably used the invasion to then re-group under the AQ flag.

        Taking YOUR position, which seems to say we should have looked the other way, I see as immoral and irresponsible. It doesn’t take much online searching to find that almost daily there are attacks worldwide by Islamist terrorists somewhere in the world. And they started decades ago. But we didn’t notice. We were looking the other way.

        Do you really think it would be responsible to IGNORE these attacks from multiple worlwide terror groups? To just say – “oh, we’ll be all right if we don’t get involved”? I think we should be proud that it is our generations trying to work it out. Not leaving it to our children and/or grandchildren, when the battle will be, would have been far tougher.

    7. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      P.S i supported military intervention in Kosovo – just not by pointless air strikes from high altitude which killed many Kosovan Albanian refugees and Serb civilians too, without saving a single life.

    8. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      keeptonyblairforpm wrote “For instance I think we made a BIG mistake in not insisting – DECADES ago – that immigrants with a culture unlike Britain’s – Islamism, in other words – MUST fully assimilate into OUR culture. Otherwise they should not, and should never have, come here.”

      I see. So should Catholics have been forced to convert to Protestantism when they came here from Ireland too? Should atheists and agnostics be forced to become Christians? And Jews? Should they be forced to “assimilate” too? There is not one uniform culture in any country in the world and efforts to force everyone to adopt one person’s view of what being British (or any other nationality) is have tended to go along with fascist and authoritarian regimes.

      You seem to believe all Muslims are Al Qa’ida or Al Qa’ida sympathisers. They’re not, but by treating them as if they are, you play into Al Qa’ida’s hands by making Muslims who were moderates feel alienated.

      KeepTonyBlair wrote “There are umpteen arguments as to whether al-Qaeda was in Iraq prior to the invasion, true. Arguments both ways.”

      No, there aren’t. There are the intelligence assessments, which were that Ansar Al Islam was in Northern Iraq (the area outside Saddam’s control since 1991) and had an ideology similar to AQ’s – though it was not part of AQ.

      Then there were the wild exaggerations and deliberate misrepresentations of the intelligence produced by the Blair government and the Bush administration, which completely changed the assessments for political reasons – because no-one would have backed war if the majority knew two things 1) Saddam and Al Qa’ida are enemies 2) Saddam had already proven he was not willing to use WMD on nuclear armed states or their allies for fear of a nuclear counter-strike.

      KeepTonyBlair wrote “Taking YOUR position, which seems to say we should have looked the other way, I see as immoral and irresponsible. It doesn’t take much online searching to find that almost daily there are attacks worldwide by Islamist terrorists somewhere in the world. And they started decades ago. But we didn’t notice. We were looking the other way.

      Do you really think it would be responsible to IGNORE these attacks from multiple worlwide terror groups? To just say – “oh, we’ll be all right if we don’t get involved”? I think we should be proud that it is our generations trying to work it out. Not leaving it to our children and/or grandchildren, when the battle will be, would have been far tougher.”

      I have not suggested we should ignore terrorist attacks. We should use effective means to fight them. That means intelligence and policing (armed police if necessary) combined with ending our support for dictatorships in their countries and ending our support for the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, as well as our own occupation in Afghanistan.

      It’s madness to start wars that kill as many civilians as combatants though and so play into the terrorist groups’ hands.

      The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the use of drone missile strikes and death squads in Pakistan and Somalia have not won any battles against terrorism – they’ve gained the terrorist groups far more new recruits and supporters then they would ever have had otherwise.

      The reason is that when you go to war you inevitably kill at least as many civilians as combatants – when you add in the systematic torture used by Coalition forces in Iraq (and in the past in Afghanistan) and the Coalition and NATO governments’ alliances with repressive dictatorships and backing for the continuing Israeli policy of taking Palestinian land by force (along with large numbers of shootings of civilians – often merely teenage or younger boys throwing stones) then you end up with a lot of people wanting revenge.

      When Americans were attacked on 9-11 many of them wanted revenge. Afghans, Pakistanis, Somalis, Iraqis and Palestinians are no different. When their friends and neighbours and family and fellow nationals are killed many of them want revenge – and just as after 9-11 in America, those calling for restraint are in a minority.

      You can’t kill large numbers of people, torture many others, with many of them being civilians with no involvement in terrorism and expect not to make a lot of people who never previously hated you hate you.

      The terrorists then make the same mistake they made on 9-11 (of holding ordinary people responsible for their government’s actions) and the same mistake then made by many Americans (of holding all Muslims and Arabs responsible for the actions of a tiny minority of them) and kill ordinary civilians here as revenge for the killing of civilians in their own or Muslim countries.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Just a quickie – I have a meal waiting. You said –

        I see. So should Catholics have been forced to convert to Protestantism when they came here from Ireland too? Should atheists and agnostics be forced to become Christians? And Jews? Should they be forced to “assimilate” too? There is not one uniform culture in any country in the world and efforts to force everyone to adopt one person’s view of what being British (or any other nationality) is have tended to go along with fascist and authoritarian regimes.

        I have to answer that in at least two parts.

        1. No – Catholics are Christians too and do NOT believe in murdering the infidel, just because they are infidels. Anyway, until Henry V111 this was a Catholic country. And we all know HIS reasons for establishing the Church of England! As for agnostics/atheists/Jews – even Sikhs and Buddhists NO, of course not. The first three are naturally as western as any religious Christian (I have no religious beliefs, btw, in case you wondered) and have a culture based on Christianity/Judaism and the latter two have assimilated naturally into our culture and do not threaten our society by altering it bit by Muslim-Only toilets and Muslim-Only Swimming Pool sessions bit. Oh, and Sharia law courts, of which, the last time they mentioned it, there were 85 (up from 12 just after Brown came in. Brown, not Blair.)

        2. This assimilation/not multiculturalism argument is misleading here. I was using hindsight. 20/20 vision. I shouldn’t have. Too facile. When I first noticed immigrant Somali ten-year-olds fighting with imigrant or 2nd/3rd generation Pakistani kids in schools, I expected it to pass. They would soon, I reckoned, settle into our multi-cultural, tolerant good ol’ British way of life. Though it did seem odd that parents and teachers seldom met the mothers of many of these children. The mothers were kept at home. Even though English lessons were provided FREE and notices plastered all over schools, the mothers of many of these children never knew about it, or would not have been allowed to take advantage, even if they had known. That was more than 30 years ago. Why on earth politicians didn’t get tough with that violent behaviour and hatred THEN is the question. I expect they thought they’d soon setlle into our multicultural….etc.

    9. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      KeepTonyBlairforPM wrote “Bill Clinton only wanted to hit from on high in Kosovo. He took some persuading to engage US land forces. And by whom? Tony Blair. I expect you know that.”

      True. Unfortunately there were months of bombing and many civilian deaths as a result of the bombing, Serbian attacks on Albanian civilians and Kosovan Albanian KLA attacks on Serb civilians before that happened – and the KLA attacks continued after it, plus deaths of British forces and Kosovan civilians from cluster bombs dropped by the USAF (some in schools)

    10. Duncan McFarlane Says:

      Your post quoting John Rentoul paints a very rosy picture of life in Baghdad.

      No doubt there is money to be made for some there. Even during the worst of the occupation and insurgency there was plenty made by Halliburton, mercenary companies and many contractors handed US and British taxpayers’ money, as well as billions of dollars taken from Iraqi government oil funds which had been administered by the UN and were appropriated and handed out by “Governor” Bremer.

      That does not mean Iraqis are better off as a result of the invasion. In fact torture by the new Iraqi government continues, using many of the same methods Saddam used. Bombings killing between dozens and hundreds of people still happen regularly, but the fact that these aren’t as frequent as they were a few years ago is painted as “success”.

      In Iraq IMF policies imposed as conditions for debt reduction include cuts in food price subsidies and provision of food rations to the poorest. In Iraq by autumn 2007 more people relied on government rations for food than under Saddam and UN sanctions – and the quantity and types of food available were reduced compared to the 1990s. Hundreds of people in Baghdad were scavenging in bins for food. Yet in December 2007 the Iraqi government cut the budget for food rations again on the stated grounds that the budget (much larger than under Saddam and sanctions in the 90s) couldn’t pay for them. In theory the rations were to be replaced by cash payments of social security – but with rocketing food prices and Iraqi and US government corruption this has never been implemented and would be unlikely to allow Iraqis to afford enough food to eat. Many refugees inside Iraq – ‘internally displaced people’ forced out of their homes by coalition offensives and sectarian killings by other Iraqis – can’t get food rations at all as they are no longer at the address they were listed at for rations but in tents elsewhere. (see sources 79 – 87 on this link
      http://www.duncanmcfarlane.org/GetSadr/index.html#_ftn79

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