Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Politics

by Nazir Tabbasum

A loss of just six seats would be enough to turn Theresa May out of Downing Street                                                                                                              

Prime Minister Theresa May has been in the office just for nine months. She was not at ease with the governance feeling that her mandate to rule was borrowed. She wanted to be strong enough to go to negotiate over Brexit in Brussels. For that matter she felt that only her own mandate could give her enough strength necessary to negotiate over her own terms and conditions. Thus she chose to appeal to the right wing of her own party as well as anti-immigrant part of the UK population. But this aspect of her thinking is deeply unpopular with the British business and with much of the country. Thus she has gambled taking into account the gains of Tories in the last general elections and the losses of Labour party.

The polls of these elections would be about a week away when these lines would be published. Election manifestos of the three main stream parties are already launched. Lib Dams promised a vote on Brexit and to raise £1billion by legalising cannabis. Labour chose Bradford and Conservative, Halifax, to launch their manifestos.

Labour kicked off by pledging to abolish tuition fees and nationalise mail, rail and energy firms. Theresa May’s slogan “join me on this journey” to a land where old people worth more than £100,000 will pay for their social care. Moreover, about 900,000 children who are either eligible for the pupil premium supplement or classed as being in ordinary working families will lose the right to a free hot lunch. Tory candidates expressed their private concern about their party’s plan to make people pay for their old-age home care through their estates. The campaign is going on full swing. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested hustings to the incumbent prime minister but she avoided to face his opponent publically on the electronic screens.

There is a remarkable rebound in Tory manifesto as it strikes against the rock hard progressive manifesto of the Labour party. Going through it, one feels that what Labour has offered to the toiling masses of the UK groaning under the Tory rule since 2010, Conservatives have changed their usual course of conservatism in the shape of Mayism by claiming: “We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and Ideology not just as needless but dangerous”.

Is this a new technique to woo voters? Is this an evolutionary aspect of the Toryism? Mrs May breaks away from David Cameron on one hand and from Thatcherism on the other, yet she reacts violently by saying that there is no such thing as Mayism. We are left with no other conclusion than the one that the secret of winning election by the Tories lies in the fact that the Party is immensely fluid and changes colours like chameleon, according to the need of the hour.

After the launching of the manifestos of the two parties, the opinion polls swung in favour of the Labour Party. The first survey since the Conservative manifest was brought to light published by YouGov on 17 May brought the Conservatives down to 44 %, with the Labour up to 35%. The change in opinion is the direct result of the publication of manifestos of the two parties. In this way, Labour’s standing has gone up, the highest since the last general election. The credit goes to the Party’s offering to the public whose living standards have gradually been going down since the Tories came to power in 2010.

These are the indicators that point to the probability that there won’t be any such thing like landslide victory of the Tories. Now the percentage point difference between the two parties is just 9. If Labour continued to spread their message “For the Many, not for the few”, they may continue to improve their standing before the polling day, and the result could be anybody’s guess.

Mrs May’s election manifesto clearly said that people needing social care at home will have to pay for it until their value of their assets – including their homes – reached a floor of £100,000. The party also promised that a family home would never need to be sold in a person’s life time, with costs, initially uncapped, instead recouped after death. But later, while visiting North Wales, she announced that the social care costs would now be subject to an unspecified cap. She said that her social policy will limit winter fuel allowance to the poorest and take peoples’ properties into account in the means test for social care at home.

Soon after these announcements, Mrs May was accused of “chaos, confusion and indecision” as she made a U-turn on her plans to make people pay more for social care just days after these were first announced. Thus her announcement was dubbed as “dementia tax”.

A political scientist, Sir David Butler, who has covered every general election since 1950, used his new Twitter account to declare it unprecedented. Manifestos are documents indelible and sold as such to the voters, later becoming mandate in the exercise of powers. The U-turn made by Mrs May leaves her undefended and thus leaving her accusations of weakness of others as baseless.

A pertinent question about her credentials as a Brexit negotiator has been raised by Labour’s election co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne: If this is how they handle their own manifesto, how will they cope the Brexit negotiation?”

Theresa May has confessed publically that if she lost just six seats, she will lose majority and Corbyn will become Prime Minister.

The long and short of it is that these elections are an opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to go to the country with his modern socialist manifesto he has always wished that the Labour party would put to the public. This election is going to be a defining moment in the contest between the left and the right of the party.

There is just one Labour MP in Scotland today that once was a stronghold of Labour party. We have yet to see during these elections if Labour could retrieve a few more seats in that country that was called a predominantly Labour province.

As temperatures rise across the district, the Bradford West election campaigns are also heating up.

Independent candidate Salma Yaqoob has been accused by the Labour Party of making misleading and false claims on her campaign leaflet.

The Labour Party has demanded that Yaqoob, from Birmingham, stop making these ‘misleading and false’ claims on her campaign literature, which have been distributed across the district.

leafletThe ex-Respect politician has been exposed for including a photograph of herself with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on her leaflets, along with the palpably false phrase “a vote for Salma is a vote for Corbyn.”

A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “There is only one Labour Party candidate in Bradford West and that is Naz Shah. Naz has been an outstanding member of parliament for Bradford West since trouncing George Galloway two years ago and if re-elected will continue to be a strong voice for local people.

“She, and only she, has the full support and endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn as the best choice for Bradford West.

“People in Bradford West have a choice on 8th June – re-elect their strong Labour MP who will stand for the many, not the few, or elect a Tory who would sit on his hands while his Party in government slash funding to local schools and further run down our crisis-hit health service.”

Salma Yaqoob was unavailable for comment.

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
Theresa May’s sudden decision to hold a snap election on 8 June 2017 surprised many political observers and politicians. She said ‘I have taken this decision as Britain needed stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.’ Last month, the Parliament endorsed her decision with more than a two third majority which was required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Generally snap elections are called by the incumbent at an advantageous time when they believe the political climate is in their favour. And usually to capitalise on such a favourable opportunity to increase their majority to decide any pressing issues. For Theresa May, the current most pressing issue, of course, is BREXIT. On the one hand she is faced with the internal rift within her party. The far-right MPs who are pro-hard BREXIT want to sever links with Europe and to ensure the implementation of a strict immigration and refugee policy.

Ms May seems to have caved into the ultra-right threats. Also the investigation of twenty MPs from her party over the last elections’ expenses is very serious and if the allegations against them are proved, they could be disqualified. In view of these difficulties and the current thin majority of only ten of her party in the parliament, she believes it may not be possible for her government to carry on effectively and even be faced with a no vote of confidence. Hence, she has taken a calculated risk of going for a snap-election.

A glimpse of what is likely to dominate the election is mirrored in the daily headlines of our national newspapers. The flagship for Tories is BREXIT. Therefore, their strategy is to keep voters mainly occupied with this issue and create the impression that Theresa May will be a strong and unassailable leader to successfully conclude the negotiations for BREXIT. This sort of tactic may divert the attention of voters from the irreparable damage and influence the UKIP supporters to vote for the Tories. Interestingly very little emphasis is placed on social and economic problems facing the country.

Jeremy-Corbyn-Theresa-May-Brexit-YouGov-poll-Article-50-Len-McCluskey-785174The Labour Party has presented the voters with its ten point’s plan that embraces mainly its policy on social, economic and health, housing and education. It also aims to raise the minimum wage, the tax on wealthy and re-nationalisation of railways. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a target for the media and Tory Party from the first day of his successful bid for leadership. He has been consistently smeared, vilified and at worse described as a security risk for the country. He has been tainted as incapable of leading the party. His enemies within the Labour Party have refused to accept him as their leader and yet despite all such odds, he has not only survived but steadily increased his popularity.

The former Labour Prime Minster and Leader of the Party, Tony Blair has publicly said that even Labour voters should consider seriously to support the Liberal Democrat and Tory candidates who are against hard –BREXIT. His statement is another thin end of the wedge into already fragile unity of the party.

One of the most critical aspects of Labour policies is its defence and the controversial future of Trident. The Labour Party have to be transparent and unambiguous on the policy to allay suspicions and confusion. However, the position on BREXIT is gradually being clarified and explained to the public.

Seven years of Tory rule and its policy of austerity has broken the back of the poor and lower middle class families. The National Health Service has been forced to its near collapse. Massive cuts in public services have crippled the ability of local councils to provide essential services.

The education of our children is in disarray. The disabled citizens are facing extreme hardship. Homelessness in recent years has rapidly increased. Even begging has become more visible in the centres of our cities. Such are the dire side effects of austerity on the lives of poor and unemployed people. The systematic tendency for social and economic inequality, in Britain, that is rooted in its institutional structures has been reinforced in the last seven years of Tory reign. Such structures of systematic inequality and increased poverty are counter-posed to the very idea of the social justice.

What else can we expect from this flawed and lopsided paradigm? Ms May, under the irresistible pressure from the far-right is refusing to accept refugees from Syria for whose plight to flee their country, we have share of our responsibility too.

The Liberal Democrat Party is hoping to capture the Remain vote as its main election focus is on Remain. Since the party is free from the shackles of coalition with the Tories, it expects to lure the Remain voters across the board. This could prove to be a false hope. However, they may increase their seats in their heartlands.

It is difficult to make any predictions about the outcome of snap-elections and particularly the election on June 8 is exceptional. The major focus of all mainstream parties is on BREXIT. During referendum and even now, the country is divided right in the middle. About 52 per cent of electorate who then supported BREXIT were from all major political parties of the land.

It is assumed that of this number, a good percentage may no longer be willing to support BREXIT. These apologists now may switch their allegiance to pro-soft or pro-Remain parties. If this hypothesis comes true, the Tories might lose a significant segment of these voters which could be a gain for the Lib Dems. It is envisaged that Labour’s support in large cities of the Midlands and North may remain undisturbed. But most importantly, both Labour and the Tories have to reclaim their share of votes in Scotland. The failure to achieve this target will have a decisive impact on the overall results of the election. A greater proportion of young and ethnic voters are traditional supporters of Labour whereas the older population may continue to be loyal to the Tories. However, one must not ignore to recognise that there is a strand of strong anti-government sentiments deriving from the shoddy treatment of the disabled and slow bleeding demise the National Health Service and massive cuts in public services which may tilt the scale in favour of Labour.

One should not rely on daily results of opinion polls. They have proved to be wrong in the recent past, both during the referendum in our country and elections in America. The current election is different to past general elections in Britain. It is not only about the national issues. The main plank used by the Tories is BREXIT.

Snap elections are always fraught with uncertainties and risks. The last such election was called by Edward Heath in 1974 in order to get a mandate to face down the miners’ strike. It resulted in a hung Parliament in which Labour won more seats by a narrow margin. Heath resigned and was replaced by Harold Wilson. It would not be a miracle if history repeats itself!

Editors note: This article was written before the publication of the parties manifesto

Six months ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke about her commitment to the ‘just about managing’, the poor as well as the rich, and to tackling the ‘burning injustices’ of social and economic inequality. The need for national consensus in the wake of the Brexit referendum and a revival of one nation conservatism. She made great capital about the steadfast and steady leadership she would provide and the cynicism and opportunism of those encouraging her to call an early election. The country she argued could not risk the instability that would inevitably cause!

Understandably today’s announcement of a General Election on June 8th caught many by surprise. In contrast to her often quoted prime ministerial predecessor, this Lady certainly is ‘for turning’ especially when the fruits of our electoral system beckon so strongly.

It seems that building a national consensus and safeguarding the country against political and economic instability are of scant importance, especially when compared to the prospect of locking out opposition to a hard Brexit whilst burying the Conservative Party election expenses scandal.

Today’s announcement is political game playing of the highest and most deplorable order. A cold and calculated attempt, less than a year since her leadership success and not two years since the last general election to create political advantage from uncertainty.

Theresa May and the Conservative Party have shown their true colours. After seven years of Tory austerity let us be in no doubt what a further term of office would mean.

This is a government that is dedicated to exploiting division not healing it.

I represent Bradford West, I have sought to work tirelessly on behalf of all the people living in a constituency that I was born in, grew up in and have lived in all my adult life. There are things a working class woman from West Bradford knows in her heart and can see with her own eyes that no Tory election spin can hide.

Since 2010 the Tories have imposed an agenda of economic austerity with unswerving disregard for its impact on the people of my home city. The simple fact is that Tory policies have hit the poorest people in the poorest places hardest. Those least able to cope with the loss of public services live in the areas where they have been cut most.

The Tories told us that savings could be made with cuts to top heavy management but it’s clear that its front line services that are now in a state of collapse. Those working in schools, hospitals, social services or the police work longer hours and carry a greater workload as they desperately strive to shield the most vulnerable from the full impact of Tory cuts.

Cuts to management that are so extreme that strategic and organisational capacity are undermined. The impact hits working class communities hardest. They make the greatest use of public services and notice what are initially presented as small changes to hours, waiting times, and cost. The effect is cumulative and disproportionate. When allied to a world of employment that is increasingly precarious and uncertain, where wages have stagnated for years and employment rights feel like a thing of the past, Theresa’s May’s hypocrisy is staggering.

There is an alternative. We need to start funding the public sector again, and we need to rebalance between investment and saving. We need to listen to alternatives because austerity has not worked. Debt is higher, borrowing is higher, and we have paid enough of a price for this government’s failure to deliver.

The time for bleak, pessimistic austerity from Tory governments is over.

It has bought the NHS to its knees, stripped local government of vital resources, decimated school funding and put immense pressure on those who were struggling the most.

This is a chance for optimism. It is a chance for us to want better. WE deserve better!

Better for ourselves and better for the next generation.

It is a chance to make a change.

This is your opportunity to vote for it!

Naz Shah MP
Bradford West

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
The immediate effect of the Executive Order by the US President was complete confusion and chaos at the airports as approved refugees, valid visa holders, non-US dual citizens and US legal residents were detained, barred from planes or ordered out of the US. A Federal Judge in New York ordered a stay on the deportation of the people with valid visas. Universities, hospitals and tech companies staggered from the order which threatens or has already banned thousands of doctors, students, researchers, engineers and others. Refugees persecuted for their sexual orientation or suffering from medical crises are still in limbo with other people denied entry because the order makes no exception besides for minority religion applicants.

The Executive Order banning entry of citizens of seven Muslim majority countries into the US is being taken as closing the door on the world. Its natural and rebounding effect would be that the world will start closing the door on the US.

There is a growing concern that this policy would throttle the flow of foreign talent, block certain employees from returning to their home offices and harm small businesses that rely on immigrant spending. That is what made some US corporations to decry the immigration blockade. The fears are growing that big foreign investors like Kraft, General Mills and Nestle would scale back foreign investment plans. Thus, counterproductive measures are afoot to stop the government from carrying out the ban. Lyft, a ride-hailing firm has donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union to battle the ban. Uber too pledged a $ 3 million legal defence fund for immigrant Uber drivers caught outside the US.

Many other companies whose professionals are spread out among citizens countries reacted gingerly, in such a way that some declined to comment on the policy altogether, while others expressed mild concern and yet a few others criticised the ban out rightly. For example Ford, the major US automakers openly assailed Trump’s action. Ford CEO Mark Field and Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman told employees in an email: “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

Although Ford said it was not aware of any employees who were personally affected, reports came to the limelight of other organisations that were affected directly. For example, a Saudi-born and Sudanese-passport-carrying doctor at the Cleveland Clinic was reportedly denied entry to the US upon returning and was forced to return to the Middle East.

General Motors sent an email to its employees obtained by the Detroit Free Press, about the travel and immigration policy. John Quattrone, GM’s senior vice president of global human resources said in the memo: “Some of our colleagues operate here with a GM-sponsored work visa and a few are from the countries affected by the Executive Order. Please know that, per our normal business practices, if any GM employee travelling back to the US with a visa encounters difficulties, GM will provide the employee and his/her family with support.”

The US Chamber of Commerce said that some companies are advising potentially affected employees to “simply stay in place and avoid travel until the confusion can be rectified. The Chamber said in a statement: “Companies are understandably confused with regard to the status of green card holders and dual nationals, and we hope the administration can quickly clarify how these will be handled.”

Certain corporations like Exxon Mobil and BP that have significant operations in the Middle East declined to comment. Others were low key, such as Cargill, which employs many immigrants in its meat and poultry plants, said it is working with its travel and security partners to determine what the action means for its workers.

Jennifer Walske, a professor in the school of management at the University of San Francisco says: “It is not surprising that companies are cautious of opening up a Pandora’s Box by taking up the issue when they apparently could be ‘a tweet away from annoying the administration’.

Malissa Arnoff, chair of corporate communication at Levick Strategic Communications says: “In the end, companies need to look at the fundamentals, what their business stands for and where their customers are. Because of that many firms are being cautious of what they say. If you look at a lot of the statements, people are criticising the policy without criticising the President. It’s a fine line, but they are trying to not blatantly say he’s a horrible person.”

Michelle Sternthal, deputy director of policy and government affairs at the Main Street Alliance says: “The ban could undermine American innovation because 25% of science and engineering companies have at least one immigrant founder. The chilling effect is just enormous.”

Several law suits are under way in Federal Courts in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington State challenging Trump’s executive order. Thousands of Americans protested at airports and outside a Brooklyn courthouse in the 48 hours following the executive order. Democrats and civil rights attorneys have criticised the order, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer saying it contradicts the ideals enshrined in American culture and on the Statue of Liberty.

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have stood by Trump praising his executive order. Republicans like senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticised the order.

Barack Obama, ten days after handing power over to Mr Trump, stated that he supports mass protests against the “extreme vetting” orders. It is rare for former Presidents to criticise their successors and certainly not just ten days after they are sworn in. Protests continue across America and around the world – including in Britain.

His entry into the White House was marked with the beginning of an era of pride not only for himself but also for the colour-skinned Americans. He marvelled in certain fields of public service such as marriage equality, expanded healthcare, a renewed economy, federal divestment from for-profit prisons, the Fair Sentencing Act reducing the disparity between crack and cocaine sentencing, the end of the war in Iraq, the appointment of thelandscape-1429889065-obama first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and a lot more.

During this time, it was witnessed that equality is never free. Those who invested in the system of justice make the oppressed pay for any progress they make. Thus, those who were mildly prejudiced became vehemently racist. Rumours of Obama’s “Muslim Identity” during his campaign didn’t dissipate after his election; instead these became a regular part of the Conservative lexicon that fuelled violent Islamophobia.

Thus, with his elevation to the American Presidency, an increase was seen in the hate crime and hate groups nationwide. During the recent US elections, many Americans lamented the angry and sometimes violent rhetoric and actions, frequently demanded by the angry white people to “take the country back” – as if the election of the black president amounted to a coup.

Black Americans had to bear the brunt of getting into the White House of a black president. An email message was circulated among all female persons of colour in an office in Washington that read: “Congratulations bitches! Don’t come crying when you’re forced to wear a burka in a few months”.

Conservative Americans dismissed political views of their fellow coloured Americans as being ignorant; just once in American history their support to a black man was labelled as race-based while none of them ever questioned what must have been their 100% support for white men in all previous elections. Just in one instance of black leadership, the nation stood divided, hate sentiment of whites against the coloured Americans rose to the new heights.

In that climate of unprecedented hatred against the coloured Americans by the white supremacists, President Obama had to make heartbreaking and unforgiveable compromises during his eight years in the White House. The carnage wrought by drone strikes would likely result in paying for the enemies thus made with all the indefensible deaths caused.

Millions of families were torn apart as Obama’s administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in the American history. Obama tried to walk the “middle road” on the extrajudicial killings of black people at the hands of police officers, knowing that if he were to voice too much support for the Black Lives Matter campaign, he would be lambasted by those who would claim that he is anti-white and anti-police.

rt-obama-trump--72-er-170120_4x3_992Today, at the end of his eight years in the White House, the African Americans as well as all other coloured Americans are not the least safe, not the least equal and not the least free. Their children are still knocked out of schools. They are locked up. A third of their men are more likely to be imprisoned. They are still 13 times poorer than their white counterparts. They are still four times more likely to die at the hands of police.

The cloud of glory and optimism with which Barack Obama entered into the White House eight years ago, he has now departed from the White House leaving the nation in a cloud of disappointment, recrimination, and even paranoia.

None of the wars Obama inherited are truly over, and he started or joined several more. If anything, the sense of America’s decline is even more palpable than before. For a sense of that decline, look at the pathetic tantrums that the Obama administration threw in its last days.

After the White House received some criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in the media for letting a non-binding resolution condemning Israeli settlements pass at the UN, Secretary of State John Kerry let fly with speech on Israel and its settlements at a bewildering length. He scolded Israel for having the “most right-wing (government) in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements”. It was petty and unnecessary. Letting the resolution pass said everything that the administration hoped to express. This indicated clearly the impotence of administration in the backdrop of no intention to stop economic aid or military aid to that country.

Now comes the treatment meted out to Russia as an omnicompetent rival by the Obama administration. Just before his departure from the White House, his administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families in retaliation for their government’s supposed hacking. But when the Obama administration presented its evidence for Russian hacking to the public, it was so week and circumstantial, it almost invited those perusing it to disbelieve the administration’s claim.

Obama administration has fallen far short of the soaring aspirations in which it began. The wars have not ended. Obama is the first two-term president to be in one war – the war in Afghanistan, the war that even his own “surge” could not end – for his entire presidency. And it’s a war in which Taliban have been making a comeback. Obama hands off American involvement in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and a humiliating wind down of its five-year covert intervention in the Syrian war.

Obama was hailed as a genius and political saviour. Now his Democratic Party has fallen to new lows in the state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country. Instead of handing on the executive branch to an ordained successor, he is passing it onto the man who questioned his birth certificate, a certain Donald Trump. God help America!

By Mohammed Nazir Tabussam

By M Nazir Tabassum

The Presidential elections take place in the US after every four years. Today is the day that American’s decide between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

According to the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution, an incumbent president cannot contest presidential election a third time, that is, the term of the president is limited to only two terms. The presidential primaries and caucuses took place between February and June 2016 in 50 states and the District of Columbia and US territories. As a result of these, Donald Trump, a real estate businessman and reality television personality, became Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and former US Senator from New York, became the Democratic Party’s nominee.

6360139435793044861461393096_donald-trump-prune-faceBoth the contestants have been in the headlines with their good and bad points since the campaign started. FBI, the American spy agency is after Mrs Clinton for her alleged emails relating American interventionist policies. Donald Trump, since he came to the limelight as a presidential candidate, has become a highly controversial figure because of his political naivety. In the very beginning, he earned notoriety for using foul language against Muslims. He confuses Iran’s Quds Force (a US adversary) with Kurds (by and large US allies) and does not seem to care. He has almost never met a Middle East problem that he hasn’t at one point suggested could be solved by force.

Now Trump denies that he backed the Iraq and Libyan wars too. “We‘re gonna get rid of ISIS … fast”, he says. He will “bomb the hell” for not hitting the Syrian leader with “tremendous force “after he used chemical weapons against the rebels. He would have Iranian vessels that taunt American ships “shot out of water”.

There is unanimity of thought and action among most of the Americans that Islamic State must be destroyed. They think that the weak states in the Middle East, if allowed to fail completely, they could become havens for the extremist groups. Therefore, they agree that America needs to stay in the Middle East for its oil production that keeps the global economy afloat. In spite of all that, they do not want any new commitment of military force because of the bitter war going on in Iraq, a less disastrous but more unpopular intervention in Libya and a failed democratic revolt in Egypt which is a key American ally.

Hillary Clinton who has a long experience of structuring America’s foreign policy is in favour of a low risk plan little different from the one perused by Barack Obama. She favours the use of Air Force to support Kurdish and Arab allies slowly moving in an IS stronghold and special forces to train the local troops, preferably with origin in IS-held regions, to garrison the cities after they have been taken back. She vows an “intelligence surge” to hunt Jihadi leaders, rules out any big commitment of American ground troops, and offers no time table for success.

A number of women have come forward who accused Donald Trump of assaulting them sexually. Thus, there were protests in no less than 15 states across the US against the presidential candidate. One of the largest protests was at the Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York.

A Survey Monkey poll of 15 battleground states conducted with the Washington Post and released on Tuesday the 18th October showed Clinton leading in enough states to put her comfortably over the 270 majority needed to win the presidential election on 8th November. Top Republican leaders are now worried that Trump’s irresponsible behaviour is going affect their elections of Senate and House of Representatives.

Polls say that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the final Presidential Debate. The CNN/ORC poll named Clinton the winner for the third time. During the debate, the two candidates sparred over Supreme Court, abortion policies and immigration, among others. Trump notably declined to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. “I will look at it at the time,” he said, adding that he “will keep you in suspense”. The answer prompted strong criticism from many who argued it threatened democratic principles. Hillary Clinton’s response was succinct.

Trump seems jittery while facing his doom today, that is why he is becoming more and more controversial by claiming that the election is being rigged. In the third and final Presidential Debate, Donald Trump twice declined to say whether he would accept the results of the 2016 election. As a result, leading Republicans disowned Donald Trump’s claims that the US election is rigged. President Obama said: “One way of weakening America and making it less great is if you start betraying those basic traditions that have held it together for well over two centuries.” The President also accused Trump of irresponsible “whining” and said there was no evidence at all to support his allegations.

The Daily News, a New York Tabloid, published 14-chapter editorial that rallied against Donald Trump and everything that he stands for. Its front page on Friday (21 September) morning:

NEWS TO AMERICA: BURY TRUMP IN A LANDSLIDE. Restore US honour with giant defeat of the fear mongering demagogue.

Because Trump refused to say at the last Presidential Debate that he would accept the election result, the Daily News urged the public to deliver an unequivocal message on Election Day. The editorial offers a point-by-point takedown of Trump across 14 chapters that question his policy positions, his business record, his fitness to serve and even his sanity: “TRUMP THE DEMAGOGUE,” “TRUMP THE FRAUDSTER,” “TRUMP THE HEAD CASE,” “TRUMP THE FAKE PHILANTHRPOPIST,” “TRUMP THE LIAR,” “TRUMP THE FLIP-FLOPPER,” “TRUMP THE IGNORAMUS,” “TRUMP THE CONSPIRACY THEORIST,”TRUMP THE TAX EVADER,” “TRUMP THE DIVIDER,” “TRUMP THE AUTHORITARIAN,” “TRUMP THE SECURITY RISK,” “TRUMP THE MISOGYNIST,” and finally, “TRUMP THE ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY.”

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by M Nazir Tabassam

A British politician of Indian origin rose to the horizon of prominence like an evening star and fell into the mire of ignominy like a leaden ball. Born in Aden in 1956 with a birth name Nigel Keith Anthony Standish Vaz, drove his name from a distant relative of 17th century missionary Saint Joseph Vaz, has been creating ripples in the British politics since the good old days of New Labour. When he was 9-years-old, he moved along with his family to the UK in 1965 where he attended Latymer Upper School in London before joining the University of Cambridge for a degree in law. He practiced law as a solicitor before entering the House of Commons.

keith-vazHe found himself in the headlines in 1987 when he was elected as an MP for Labour in Leicester, the first Asian for whom the Commons opened up their doors. Controversy and self-contradiction have been his hallmarks during his political career. He has been a Eurosceptic as well as a Euro-enthusiast. In 1990, we saw him marching along Muslim protesters against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses; and yet it is on record that he offered words of support for the author.

When Labour came to power in 1997, Vaz rose to prominence in 1999 becoming the first Asian minister in the Lord Chancellor’s department before being promoted as minister for Europe. In 2000, an investigation began into whether Mr Vaz had taken payment from a solicitor. He delayed investigation for months, refusing to hand over information and refusing to answer questions. However, most of the allegations were not upheld in these investigations, but unusually many allegations were listed as “not completed” rather than rejected.

As said earlier, Keith Vaz, like a cat, has many lives, and at every turn of the tide he reinvents himself. In 2001, an investigation against him reopened. This time the allegation was that Mr Vaz helped process the UK passport application of one of the Indian billionaire Hinduja brothers, who gave £1million towards the Millennium Dome. It was shown that Hinduja had paid Fernandes Vaz – the legal firm run by Mr Keith Vaz’s wife – for work on visa. Keith Vaz married Maria Fernandes 23 years ago in 1993. Maria is a former barrister and Principal of the law firm Fernandes Vaz, established in 1995.

In 2001, Keith Vaz’s tenure as Europe minister came to an end when he resigned on “health grounds”. In 2002, the investigation committee concluded that Mr Vaz had provided misleading information to the first investigation and he was suspended from the parliament for a month. But the central allegations made against him remained unproved. He was not found to have illicitly received money from outside sources that had not declared. However, his suspension from the Commons for a month was a humiliation that made his decline and fall look absolute.

Time went on and by 2007, Mr Vaz slowly and gradually became more influential in helping to prop up the increasingly significant Asian vote, firstly for Tony Blair and secondly for Gordon Brown. In June 2007 he was promoted to Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Select committees have limited formal powers and resources. But with a keen eye for a passing bandwagon, and by ensuring committee grilling are theatrical enough to get on the television news, they can put themselves to the centre of the political action.

In 2009, the Telegraph disclosed that Mr Vaz had claimed more than £75,500 for a Westminster flat despite his valued at £1.15 million family home being just 12 miles from parliament. Although his actions were not illegal, he was asked to pay back a four figure sum. Not only to suffice that, he was accused of writing to a high court judge trying to halt proceedings against a solicitors’ firm which had lavished hospitality on him. The lawyer has since been struck off after being found guilty of 104 breaches of the rules governing solicitors’ conduct.

In 2008, Vaz backed the government at a crucial moment for the 42-day terrorist detention without charge. During the debate on 10th June 2008 Keith Vaz was asked in Parliament whether he had been offered an honour for his support. He said: “No, it was certainly not offered – but I do not know; there is still time.”

Vaz led efforts to curb Britain’s cocaine trade by heading up a Government inquiry into the drug. A subsequent report – The Cocaine Report – was published by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Vaz argued against a proposed ban on amyl nitrate, also known as poppers. His Parliamentary support came during a Commons debate on the Psychoactive Substance Bill.

Now, in 2016, Mr Vaz stands down from the Home Affairs Select Committee following allegations involving male escorts and their use of amyl nitrate. The tales of prostitutes, drugs and suspicious cash are bubbling around. Two years ago he was caught on CCTV camera meeting a young man at a hotel. And an ex-worker at a London hotel said: “the married MP often arrived at short notice, sometimes with young men. There were a number of times when he did not stay the whole night. He would stay for just a few hours before checking out”.

Keith Vaz has all the while been a great survivor. We have yet to wait and see if he could reinvent himself once again after this huge ignominy.

Jim Greenhalf reports

On September 24 Labour Party members will decide whether they want Jeremy Corbyn to carry on as leader or Welsh Labour MP Owen Smith to replace him.

Jeremy-CorbynIf the dark horse Smith is first past the post the Parliamentary Labour Party will breathe a collective sigh of relief. They think he represents the best chance of making the party electable in 2020. After the June 23 Brexit Referendum was lost, more than 40 of them resigned from shadow ministerial and other positions. It was their way of saying that Corbyn had not done enough to persuade voters of the merits of remaining in the European Union.

A very different view of a Smith win is likely from the host of three-pounders, the people who flocked to join the party for a few quid to secure an emphatic victory for Jeremy Corbyn. They were able to do so because Ed Miliband, party leader until the 2015 General Election defeat, had lowered Labour’s annual membership fee from £25. Only another convincing Corbyn win will satisfy them that they have not been stitched up by the Parliamentary party establishment.

It was ever thus. Eighty-five years ago there were riots in Glasgow and Manchester after Ramsay MacDonald turned his back on the party to form a coalition government in the Great Depression of 1931. King George V was said to have asked the moustachioed Scot to play the role of wicked Sir Jasper. The subsequent General Election victory for the National Government decimated Labour, reducing the Parliamentary party to just 56. Ever since then Labour’s rank and file have mistrusted their leaders.

In October 1981, for example, during another civil war in the party over the election of a leader capable of standing up to Margaret Thatcher, Joe Ashton MP told a Solidarity Campaign meeting at Dudley Hill Socialist Club: “I don’t agree with the method of voting for the leader of the Labour Party, it was rotten and corrupt and needed to be changed, but don’t tell me we have changed it for something better. Nothing makes me spew more, and I choose my words carefully, than when I hear members of the party attacking the last Labour Government on the grounds that it betrayed the manifesto.”

He gave the audience of more than 60 a summary of that pre-Thatcher Labour Government’s achievements: the nationalisation of the ship-building and aircraft industries; the scrapping of hospital pay beds; and equal pay for women. The party had to unite and stop the in-fighting if it was to offer itself as a credible alternative to the Thatcher Government. “We have got to get back to deciding if we are going to have an incomes policy, if we are going to come out of the Common Market and how we are going to create one-and-a-half million jobs,” he added. Thirty-five years later the Labour Party is now all in favour of membership of the European Union. Some things change but evidently not the party’s predisposition for civil war.

Is it coincidental that Labour’s internecine battles over the leadership in 1931, 1981 and 2016 occurred during times of economic turmoil? When Joe Ashton came to town unemployment in the Bradford Metropolitan District had shot up to more than 30,000 – nearly three times what it is now. Industrial recession across the country was one consequence of the hike in the price of crude oil imposed by the members of the Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in retaliation for Israel’s crushing military victory over an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The revenues from North Sea oil coming ashore – worth more than £40 billion – benefited the Thatcher Government especially during the year-long stand-off with the National Union of Mineworkers in 1984. By that time Labour was in serious conflict with Left-wing elements of the membership – hard-line Trotskyites to some – intent on raising Socialism’s red flag above town halls in Greater London, Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester, against the austerity policies of hard-line Thatcherism.

The clash with the Government culminated in a dozen Labour-run local authorities refusing to set a rate, which was illegal. Lambeth, led by ‘Red’ Ted Knight and Liverpool, led by Derek Hatton, were singled out for retribution. The councils had to pay substantial penalties and its leaders were disqualified from holding office. The clash with the Labour leadership culminated in the party conference at Blackpool when party leader Neil Kinnock tore into the activities of what the Press called ‘the Loony Left’. To jeers from Militant Tendency members at the back and cheers from moderates in the middle of the hall, he described the antics on Merseyside as “the grotesque chaos of a Labour council, a Labour council, hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.” Labour’s National Executive Committee followed up by suspending the Liverpool District labour Party and expelling all of a Militant Tendency persuasion.

The leadership election crisis that convulsed Labour in the early 1980s turned out to be a catalyst for change, for out of it emerged the Social Democratic Party. Comprising largely of defecting Labour MPs and former Cabinet Ministers, the SDP was an attempt to shift the battleground of British politics away from the extremities of Left and Right to the centre – a move that Tony Blair’s New Labour was to emulate so spectacularly in 1997. In effect it was a move towards European-style Social Democracy against Democratic Socialism and Conservatism.

Some SDP recruits said they were disillusioned with the Labour’s attitude towards the European Economic Community, as it was then called, the dependency on trades unions’ money and national economic policy. Others were alarmed by the in-fighting over the selection and de-selection of MPs (still an issue today) and the election of the party leader. Former Cabinet big guns Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Dr David Owen and Bill Rodgers, otherwise known as ‘the Gang of Four’, were joined by long-serving back-bencher Labour moderates such as Edward Lyons QC, who represented Bradford West.

Just as many thousands of three-pounders joined the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn, more than 60,000 people signed up for the SDP. Out of the misery of the recession and the warfare in the Labour Party, the SDP was more than a breath of fresh air; the new party offered many the chance to breathe freely again without fear of being challenged by some officious party ‘committee of public safety’ ideologue. Evidently they liked what they heard from former Foreign Secretary David Owen in his book Face the Future:-

“Both parties are locked into dogmatic, doctrinaire, divisive policies which many of their supporters deplore. Yet their leaders appeal to blind loyalty – party first, country second. Adversary politic s thrives on polarisation, polemic and fear…We do not believe in the politics of an inert centre merely representing the lowest common denominator between two extremes. We want more, not less radical change in our society, but with a greater stability of direction.”

Two days of the SDP’s first national conference took place at Bradford’s St George’s Hall, an event welcomed by city centre hotels but snubbed by Labour and Tory councillors on Bradford Council perhaps because for some of them the Gang of Four represented the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who had come to lay waste the two-party system of Lab-Con politics. For all the talk of freshness and fairness the conference was carefully stage-managed with announcements of new defections timed to coincide with media deadlines. Hopes were high. Among the senior members of Bradford Labour Party there was an air of gloom at what might happen and contempt for the traitors who had brought about the uncertainty.

Constituency Labour Parties and the wards that made up each CLP had been infiltrated by the Corbynistas of their time – activists who wanted to change things, who wanted to make Labour MPs directly accountable to their constituents and who wanted those constituents to have an equal say in the election of the national party leader. Most of them wanted Michael Foot to lead the party rather than former Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey. Under Foot, so to speak, they believed the party would win the country for Socialism and kick Margaret Thatcher and her possee of privateering monetarists out of office. Constitutional hard-liners in attitude, they believed that Labour MPs were delegates mandated to carry out the instructions of their CLP, Labour’s National Executive Committee and, of course, the all-important annual party conference – very different then to the tame show-piece affairs they subsequently became. Edwards Lyons thought differently. He said MPs were representatives, not delegates, and as such had the right to make their own judgements on serious policy matters. He denounced what he rather weakly described as “yah-boo politics”, the aggressive, doctrinaire dialectic espoused by those of a more militant tendency.

In March 1981, after more than 30 years in the party, Lyons left Labour’s den and defected to the SDP. For a while the SDP frightened Labour stalwarts and radicals alike. In the summer of 1981 Ken Livingstone, Left-wing leader of the Greater London Council that was, said he could see the Tories vanishing and the SDP becoming the New Right. In April 1988, during an interview with Mr Livingstone, I picked him up on his failed prophecy. He replied: “The projections for the SDP at that time were very favourable. If it hadn’t been for Thatcher’s come-back through the Falklands War, the SDP might have broken through.” Instead, they joined forces with the Liberals to become, after much wrangling, the Liberal Democratic Party. The SDP was dissolved in 1990.

One Labour stalwart who saw the conflict from the inside was Barry Seal, formerly leader of Bradford Council’s Labour Group and for 20 years from 1979 the Yorkshire West Member of the European Parliament. Days before Angela Eagle dropped out of the current Labour leadership race, Dr Seal told me she was just a stalking horse for the real alternative candidate coming up fast on the outside, Owen Smith. Which of the two candidates is he backing to win the leadership and does he think Labour will split as it did on that cold January Sunday in 1981 when the Gang of Four assembled to publish the Limehouse Declaration and announce the creation of the Council for Social Democracy?

Barry Seal, now chairman of Age UK, Leeds, has his money on Jeremy Corbyn. If Owen Smith wins he said he would leave the party after more than 50 years as a member. Although he admits that the divide between the Parliamentary Labour Party and the membership at large is dangerous and may lead to a split of some kind, he believes that the party, like the country, is in need of radical change away from unregulated corporate Capitalism.

He said: “The situation now is similar to 1981 but the big difference is that for 13 years Labour had people like Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair screening the party and changing the make-up of MPs. They pushed Labour more towards the centre to make it a social democratic party where the issue wasn’t the ownership of the means of production but the management of them. Instead of members having a say in policy formulation in ward and constituency parties and the conference, policy forums were set up to discuss ideas passed down by Blair and Mandelson. The present policy forums don’t discuss things from members. Instead of bottom up it’s top down.

“My perspective is that Parliamentary Labour Party members forget the membership who put them there. They are not the same as the membership. They’ve come into politics from university and then working as political research assistants. The majority of the PLP, a lot of them, don’t know what it’s like to have a dead-end job with not enough money to live on.”

The three-pounders who fired Jeremy Corbyn from the obscurity of Labour’s back-benches to the front bench as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, regard him as a democratic socialist, not a social democrat. The difference, as Barry Seal outlined, lies in the ownership and management of the means of production and distribution. A democratic socialist believes that the state should have a controlling interest in fundamentals such as the NHS, power and water supply, transport, housing and education. Social democrats, said Dr Seal, believe in academies, NHS foundation trusts, private finance initiatives and allowing global corporations to own water, power and transport.

He regards Owen Smith as a social democrat because he’s not sure what he stands for. “He’s trying to look as Left as Corbyn but more reasonable in the way he presents things. If he wins I will leave the Labour Party, so will a lot of other people. Under him Labour won’t change, it will become more like the SDP. Corbyn’s opponents say that to win the next general election Labour needs to move to the centre; but I think people are getting fed up with the capitalist system where some people are very rich and others don’t have a job. If Corbyn is confirmed as leader the problem will be with the Parliamentary party. It may split, with a group of MPs declaring UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence); but it won’t necessary split the membership in the country. There would be a battle over the selection of MPs.”

Significant differences between today and 1981 include the role of social media. Thirty-five years ago politics was media driven. Television journalists such as Robin Day, Vincent Hannah, Andrew Rawnsley and Brian Walden, to name but a few, made politics interesting, as did newspaper journalists such as Alan Watkins, Ann Leslie, Polly Toynbee and Peter Jenkins. The public was more engaged in argument; more of them turned out to vote in local and national elections. Today the public dimension has changed out of all recognition. George Galloway, at the Bradford West Parliamentary by-election in 2012, and Jeremy Corbyn in his Labour leadership battle last year, by-passed the usual mass publicity routes with spectacular success. Smart phone technology became the means of organisation and communication, leaving the mainstream media trundling along behind, out of touch and unaware of what was going to happen. More recently, the Brexit Referendum went completely against the expectations of media experts and politicians, mainly because of social media exchanges and blogging.

Barry Seal thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of democratic socialism has broader public appeal than the media allows. “Socialism isn’t communism,” he said. “We had socialism in the post-war Attlee Government which brought in the NHS and the nationalisation of the railways. I used to be regarded as Right-wing in Bradford because I said you couldn’t nationalise everything. You can have small companies running enterprises; but what you can’t have is big corporations running the country’s railways, the water and power industries, the NHS. They can’t be allowed to close down something because it’s not making a big enough profit.”

The turmoil in the Labour Party in the early 1980s sustained the Conservative Party’s grip on power, in spite of its own convulsions over Europe, until 1997 and the age of Tony Blair’s New Labour. Unlike 35 years ago, Labour Party members today, Jeremy Corbyn’s three-pounders, have the means to publicise and assert their wishes and desires irrespective of what the party establishment wants and what well-paid, self-regarding media opinion-formers say. The technology may be unique to this age but rolling dialogue involving friends and strangers is reminiscent of the mid-1840s when the Chartists drew up their six proposals to reform Britain’s Parliamentary democracy. The demands, including secret ballots, payment of MPs, no property qualification for prospective candidates – were the equivalent of Loony Left proposals of the time. However, all but one of them – annual Parliaments – subsequently came to pass.

By Jim Greenhalf

Next week sees the publication of the much-delayed Chilcot Report into the UK’s involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2009.

There are two aspects to this. The first, how we got involved, is primarily political; the second, what Britain’s armed forces did during those seven years in response to the Islamic insurgency or uprising, is mainly military.

article-2197109-00806128000004B0-665_634x579The course of the war, which led to the Iraqi Government of Nouri al-Maliki telling Britain to withdraw its forces by 2009, is not the concern of Chilcot. However, the failure of Britain’s military campaign and the cost in lives, money and material, was one of the factors which prompted Tony Blair’s successor in 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown, to commission Privy Councillor Sir John Chilcot to conduct his inquiry.

The inquiry, which has cost more than £10m, was set up to:- ‘Consider the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-in to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned.’

Peter Oborne sums up the importance of the Chilcot Report in the final pages of his new book, Not the Chilcot Report:- “The British people used to trust the British state. This trust is the magnificent legacy of World War Two, when we united in common sacrifice to confront fascism. Ever since then we have regarded our state as ultimately decent and benign…

“This trust was shattered by the Iraq war, and its gruesome aftermath. We have learned that civil servants, spies and politicians could not be trusted to act with integrity and decency and in the national interest. This discovery was shattering because it calls into question the moral basis on which Britain has been governed for the last hundred years or more.

“That is why the Iraq Inquiry matters a great deal. It is the last chance for the British Establishment to show that it can learn the lessons of its failures – and hold those who fail to account. If Sir John Chilcot and his inquiry fail to achieve this, the Iraq Inquiry will be the final proof that our system of government is broken.”

But in striving to strike a resounding note, Oborne appears to have forgotten those shabby instances after World War II when the British people’s trust in the state was shattered: the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal area of Egypt in 1956; John Profumo’s resignation as Secretary of State for War in 1963 after admitting that he had lied to the House of Commons about his relationship with call girl Christine Keeler; and Prime Minister Edward Heath’s explicit public denial in 1972 that membership of the European Common Market (now the EU) would mean the sacrifice of Britain’s independence and sovereignty.

The Iraq Inquiry Is LaunchedWhen political leaders want things to happen irrespective of public opinion, is anyone seriously surprised that they may be economical with the truth? Were this not the case, hanging and conscription would have both been brought back by public demand years ago.

The simple question is this: Who needs the Chilcot Report? Are the families of the 179 British service personnel killed in Iraq – among them Sergeant Robert Stevens, from Shipley, Sergeant Christian Hickey, from Bradford, Captain Guy Philip, from Skipton and Corporal Chris O’Neill, from Halifax – expecting Chilcot to be an improvement on the four reports published to date, including the Hutton Inquiry into the death of weapons inspector David Kelly?

Reg Keys, who contested Tony Blair’s Sedgefield seat in the 2005 General Election following the death of his son Tom in Iraq in July 2003, has already said the war was illegal and that Tony Blair was a war criminal for persuading the House of Commons to vote in favour of it without the explicit approval of the United Nations Security Council. Many people agree with him.

Operation Telic, as the American-led invasion of Iraq was code-named, took the lives of 4, 491 US service personnel, while the Iraq Body Count Project puts the number of civilian dead in the region of 174,355 up to March 2016. The Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimated that by 2008 there were 4.7m Iraqi refugees, while 870,000 children had been orphaned. What is the Chilcot Report to them?

The Inquiry, which was only supposed to last for a year but went on for six, was not a court of law. Criticisms are likely, the finger of blame may be pointed at Prime Minister Blair and his men, as well as senior military figures; but what real difference will be made either to the public’s willingness to trust its leaders or the way we are governed?

“If the Inquiry has done its job, it will have demolished forever the myth that the failure to deal with the Iraq insurgency was entirely the fault of the politicians and that the military was blameless. The Iraq occupation was as much due to military incompetence as it was political inadequacy,” said Dr Richard North, Bradford political analyst and author of Ministry of Defeat: The British War in Iraq 2003-2009.

His book chronicles the failure of the Ministry of Defence and British Army commanders to respond to the realities of the Shia insurgency, one of which was the use of Improvised Explosive Devices against army vehicles more suitable to patrolling urban areas of Northern Ireland than the roads and tracks in Basra, one of four provinces assigned to the British Army.

It wasn’t lack of money, as the public has been led to believe by Ministry of Defence apologists, Dr North maintains; but the misuse of money to procure the wrong equipment for an army being re-modelled to fit the European Union’s proposed multi-national European Rapid Reaction Force.

Those under the age of thirty may be surprised that up until the invasion of Iraq, Tony Blair was widely admired for the military action he advocated in the trouble-spots of Kosovo, in the Balkans, and Sierra Leone, West Africa, to prevent massacres. At the time of the invasion opinion was divided. Most who went along with the Government line thought that war was the lesser of two evils. Some, like the late journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, publicly defended the Blair Government’s prosecution of the war against Iraq’s homicidal leader Saddam Hussein.

In the minds of President George W Bush and Prime Minister Blair, Saddam Hussein was the greater evil. Professor Paul Rogers, of Bradford University’s Peace Studies department, smiled mischievously when he reminded me that in the 1980s US President Ronald Reagan described the former USSR as the ‘evil empire’ and less than twenty years later George W Bush tried to frighten the world with his vision of ‘the axis of evil’ – North Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq.

Professor Rogers, who submitted written evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, said: “I think the Report will be pretty critical of Blair and senior military figures. It may not say that Blair lied. A person may believe something that’s wrong in good faith. Chilcot will make a bit of a difference in that many people think the war was wrong. I don’t think it will be a whitewash. ” Nor does he think it will lead to the dock of the International Criminal Court.

Peter Oborne says plainly that the evidence shows that Tony Blair colluded with the United States to further the agreed strategy of regime change. He and George W Bush did so by maintaining, against the evidence of UN weapons inspectors, that Saddam had stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction and was in league with al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden’s group behind the attacks on the United States on September 9, 2001, which killed almost 3,000 people.

He dismisses as “fantasy” the idea that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was necessary to destroy Saddam Hussein’s links with al Qaeda. Oborne says the notion of such an alliance was “invented to provide some sort of an answer to the question: why are you invading Iraq when you say that the greatest threat to the West is al-Qaeda?

“The pragmatic thing for the US to do after 9/11 was to make peace with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a secular Arab state opposed to al-Qaeda, and with Iran, a Shia state opposed to al-Qaeda – and do what was necessary to force Saudi Arabia and its Gulf state allies to cease providing inspiration to al-Qaeda.

“But, instead, Iran was included in the ‘axis of evil’ and shunned by the US and its allies, and Iraq was invaded and occupied, falsely justified in part on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was one of the architects of 9/11 – and in the process Iraq was transformed from an al-Qaeda free zone into an area where Islamic extremists flourished…Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has continued to inspire al-Qaeda and its offshoots – and continues to be the US’s best friend in the Middle East.”

In his book The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution, Patrick Cockburn says a 2013 study published by the directorate-general for external policies of the European Parliament began by stating: “Saudi Arabia has been a major source of funding to rebel and terrorist organisations since the 1980s.”

One of the documents released by WikiLeaks in December 2009 quotes the-then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton observing: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan) and other terrorist groups.” In July, 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that 45 per cent of all foreign militants attacking US troops and Iraqi civilians were from Saudi Arabia.

If George W Bush and Tony Blair were truly bent on snuffing out Islamic terrorism in March 2003 to further the Project for the New American Century, they sent their armed forces against the wrong country.

Richard North said: “Iraq was not about 9/11. It was the excuse (for) Bush junior and unfinished business. In terms of sponsorship (of terrorism) Saudi is the key. Ironic that it was used as a base against Iraq for Operation Desert Storm in 1991.” Desert Storm was the US-led military coalition which drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait during the presidency of George W’s father, George Herbert Bush. Evidently, Bush junior had a lot to live up to.

Robert Fisk’s mighty chronicle The Great War For Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, reminds us of what Bush’s Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said about Weapons of Mass Destruction. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

We are told that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them, as Britain did first in Iraq, then Afghanistan, where 453 British service personnel were killed, followed by Libya and latterly Syria.

Perhaps the only lesson governments ever truly learn from its mistakes is how to repeat them – with more expertise.

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