Category Archives: politics

Too little too late….

News today that the ICC (International Criminal Court, and not the International Cricket Council) would be seeking the arrest of the African country’s president Omar Al-Bashir for his role in the terrible genocides in the region does seem like a little bit of an empty gesture. While it’s good to see the international community finally try to move to take action to bring those involved in one of the continent’s darkest episodes to account, it does smack of guilt over the inaction from the western world at the time.

Understandably, the Sudanese government doesn’t recognise the ICC, and there’s still question marks over whether a warrant, or even an arrest should that come, would even materialise. But, just as depressing as the slowness of action, so long after the 2003 tragedy, is the Sudanese government’s insistence that it never happened. Like others before them, be it Rwandans, Pol-Pot, and Hitler, denial is the safe haven for those that seek to erase it from, at least their own, history.

Questioned today on 5 Live, a spokesman for the government passed the affair off as a set of tribal disturbances, between local militias (and not the infamous janjaweed) and said that there were only 17 reported rapes in the whole period of the bloodshed. It’s both staggering, but also unsurprising, those in power moving to wipe the memory of the episode off their consciences as well as their history books.

But the biggest question to come of this is that, by making such a public statement from the ICC, has this very action, borne for the right reasons, even if the wrong time, begun to cause more instability in the region? The UN are withdrawing troops fearing retaliation, and fears from aid groups that this will again place the millions of already displaced people at risk once more.

So, what’s the answer in the end? Probably different depending on who you ask, but I can’t help feeling that it’s too little too late, a gesture of intervention when we should have acted in 2003…..

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4 billion pounds…. money well spent?

Is it really necessary to stump up almost 4 billion (yes, BILLION) pounds for two new huge aircraft carriers for the British Navy when we don’t have the armour to keep our soldiers alive? Ok, so there’s more jobs, for an industry that’s almost dead, but think of what that could’ve done on healthcare, social welfare, inner cities, or even charity. The mind boggles, but hey, we prop up the defence industry and have for the last century, so why stop now?

42 steps to the end of civil liberties…..

I could say a million words or ten, but today’s been a day when the government has achieved the slightest and most humiliating of ‘victories’ to extend the detention time of a suspect without charge to 42 days. 42…. not 41, 44, 65, 33, just 42. As if plucked from nowhere, for no reason, other than it’s longer than 28, and it’s something on which they can, after bullying, exhaustive use of the whips, and the recruitment of the Ulster Unionists to prevent a calamitous defeat.

For what though? Certainly, the laws and caveats that revolve around the current 28 days are far from perfect, in fact they’re in need of an overhaul, but not one that pushes the ability of the security services to detain any individual for up to 42 days, simply on the suspicion of terrorist activity. Suspicion. It could be you and me, for downloading something about Al Qaeda, for information. That puts you in the sights.

And the flowery, pithy concessions that rescued it have made it a lame duck. The Lords will most likely reject it, barring a delay of huge proportions that takes the fire and the vitriol from the upper chamber. But it’s the symbolism, that both Brown will use to boost his non-existent credentials, but more so that we are willing to  tear up the Magna Carta, a document written in 1215, in order to supposedly further protect this country from the threat of terror, a threat which their own lies, deception and paranoia has bred, that has taken us to an unjust war, and that will further erode the rights of the individual for the rights of the state.

It’s a sad day to be British.

All aboard the gravy train….

So, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But who’d want to be a politician? Well, if it can get someone like Robin Cook (RIP) sex with a secretary 20 plus years his junior, and Boris Johnson – please god, don’t let the pantomime clown have the keys to the capital – an affair or two (god knows there can’t be any other reason) then maybe it’s proof that, like beer, power can give even the most repulsive people the chance of fornication with those whom, in any other situation, given the choice, would choose the firing squad.

 

With sleaze and spin the watchwords of the last decade, would it really be worth it though? The tabloids adore nothing like a whiff of political scandal, (Tory peers sex addiction last weekend gracing the thoroughly morally upright ‘News’ Of The World) and considering, for such an apparently intelligent lot, their propensity for total and utter cranial bypass when cheating on wives/misappropriating funds/negotiating Saudi arms deals, you’d have thought that the only thing power does is cloud the grey matter.

 

But fret not, for there’s a place where all politicians go to die: Europe. Sacked from the party for dodgy tax affairs? Has-been powerhouse from the left? Just ask  Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandleson how lucrative being an MEP is and they’ll probably smile, wink, and wander off to their chauffered car.

 

Maybe that’s a little unfair (or not) on the ex-Labour monoliths, but last week proved that, compared to the vaguely transparent UK political system, Europe appears to be a black hole, especially when it comes to expenses. This is backed up by the astounding news that a report (reported in the Scotsman in February http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/100m-fraud-inquiry-over-Euro.3805159.jpof hugely damaging proportions into MEPs expenditure, uncovering such gems as employing not one, but often multiple members of their family in ‘jobs’ as political researchers and secretaries (and often, them not even working for them), digesting vast amounts of expenses (6 figure sums that make our MPs seem like children after pocket money day) on holidays, (*ahem*, sorry, constitutional business), first class flights, limousines, (one wonders if ‘flowers’ got a mention?).

 

So, it’s hardly surprising, but utterly infuriating, that a report into their antics was astonishingly taken to vote, where, in a heart-warming moment of moral solidarity, they agreed by majority to suppress its publication. Why bite the hand that feeds? So, they get 150,000 to fly around the world all year, and our nurses and teachers have to strike to achieve sub-infaltion pay rises that take them to 50% of fuck all. If there’s one group that the tabs leave mostly alone but deserve our contempt it’s the wonderful MEP.

 

Still, if you can’t beat them….. flights to Brussels certainly are cheap this time of year.