Like many readers of this blog, I was there on 15 February 2003, and I’ve never had cause to regret it. But I don’t share the self-righteous preening of tyrant-lovers like Andrew Murray, nor the slightly more forgivable solipsism of Laurie Penny (who at least has -or had- the excuse of youth). Even at the time, I was sickened by the refusal of the SWP, Galloway, Murray, etc to address the human rights issues and their systematic, deliberate, whitewashing of Saddam (Galloway, of course, being the most grovelling and egregious Saddam fan). A little later, their support for the fascistic gangs who were murdering Iraqi trade unionists alienated me once and for all. The subsequent degeneration of the Stop The War Coalition into a shrivelled Westphalian excuse-machine for vicious dictators and tyrants everywhere has only served to confirm my worst expectations.
Ian Taylor, an unrepentant marcher and anti-war campaigner, puts his finger (in the present issue of the New Statesman – no link presently available) on the central weakness of the ‘line’ of the SWP/Galloway leadership at the time, though he naively puts it down to a lack of political imagination rather than a lack of political will:
“In my opinion, what we needed more than anything else was an answer to the dilemma of what should have been done about Saddam Hussein and the appalling human rights abuses that were undoubtably that were undoubtably going on inside Iraq. Questions about this came up a great deal at public meetings, when leafletting the high street and in letters to local and national newspapers from supporters of the war. When asked about Iraq now, Blair always plays this card because he knows that opponents of the war don’t have an answer to it. If being on the left means anything, it ought to mean standing up for the oppressed. It shouldn’t have been beyond the wits of those speaking for the movement to have woven an answer to the problems of human rights abuses by non-western regimes into the fabric of their anti-imperialist principles. My view is that, just as we had weapons inspectors in Iraq, we should also have had human rights inspectors there. That would have done a lot to wrong-foot Blair et al.”
I can remember stumbling across the following searingly honest ’Letter to an unknown Iraqi’ that pretty much summed up my own feelings at the time. I circulated it on the local Stop The War email list, where it didn’t go down terribly well as I recall:
The Urge to Help; The Obligation Not To
By Ariel Dorfman (February 28, 2003)
I do not know your name, and that is already significant. Are you one of the thousands upon thousands who survived Saddam Hussein’s chambers of torture, did you see the genitals of one of your sons crushed to punish you, to make you cooperate? Are you a member of a family that has to live with the father who returned, silent and broken, from that inferno, the mother who must remember each morning the daughter taken one night by security forces, and who may or may not still be alive? Are you one of the Kurds gassed in the north of Iraq, an Arab from the south displaced from his home, a Shiite clergyman ruthlessly persecuted by the Baath Party, a communist who has been fighting the dictatorship for long decades?
Whoever you are, faceless and suffering, you have been waiting many years for the reign of terror to end. And now, at last, you can see fast approaching the moment you have been praying for, even if you oppose and fear the American invasion that will inevitably kill so many Iraqis and devastate your land: the moment when the dictator who has built himself lavish palaces, the man who praises Hitler and Stalin and promises to emulate them, may well be forced out of power.
What right does anyone have to deny you and your fellow Iraqis that liberation from tyranny? What right do we have to oppose the war the United States is preparing to wage on your country, if it could indeed result in the ouster of Saddam Hussein? Can those countless human rights activists who, a few years ago, celebrated the trial in London of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet as a victory for all the victims on this Earth, now deny the world the joy of seeing the strongman of Iraq indicted and tried for crimes against humanity?
It is not fortuitous that I have brought the redoubtable Pinochet into the picture.
As a Chilean who fought against the general’s pervasive terror for 17 years, I can understand the needs, the anguish, the urgency, of those Iraqis inside and outside their homeland who cannot wait, cannot accept any further delay, silently howl for deliverance. I have seen how Chile still suffers from Pinochet’s legacy, 13 years after he left power, and can therefore comprehend how every week that passes with the despot in power poisons your collective fate.
Such sympathy for your cause does not exempt me, however, from asking a crucial question: Is that suffering sufficient to justify intervention from an outside power, a suffering that has been cited as a secondary but compelling reason for an invasion?
Despite having spent most of my life as a firm anti-interventionist, protesting American aggression in Latin America and Asia, and Soviet invasions of Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, during the 1990s I gradually came to believe that there might be occasions when incursions by a foreign power could indeed be warranted. I reluctantly agreed with the 1994 American expedition to Haiti to return to power the legally elected president of that republic; I was appalled at the lack of response from the international community to the genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda; I applauded the Australian intervention to stop the massacres in East Timor; and, regarding Kosovo, though I would have preferred the military action to have taken place under the auspices of the United Nations, I eventually came to the agonizing conclusion that ethnic cleansing on such a massive scale could not be tolerated.
I am afraid that none of these cases applies to Iraq. For starters, there is no guarantee that this military adventure will, in fact, lead to a “regime change,” or peace and stability for your region.
Unfortunately, also, the present affliction of your men and women and children must be horribly, perversely, weighed against the impending casualties and enormous losses that the American campaign will surely cause. In the balance are not only the dead and mutilated of Iraq (and who knows how many from the invading force), but the very real possibility that such an act of preemptive, world-destabilizing aggression could spin out of control and lead to other despots preemptively arming themselves with all manner of apocalyptic weapons and, perhaps, to Armageddon. Not to mention how such an action seems destined to recruit even more fanatics for the terrorist groups who are salivating at the prospect of an American invasion. And if we add to this that I am unconvinced that your dictator has sufficient weapons of mass destruction to truly pose a threat to other countries (or ties to criminal groups who could use them for terror), I have to say no to war.
It is not easy for me to write these words.
I write, after all, from the comfort and safety of my own life. I write to you in the knowledge that I never did very much for the Iraqi resistance, hardly registered you and your needs, sent a couple of free books to libraries and academics in Baghdad who asked for them, answered one, maybe two, letters from Iraqi women who had been tortured and had found some solace in my plays. I write to you harboring the suspicion that if I had cared more, if we all had, there might not be a tyrant today in Iraq. I write to you knowing that there is no chance that the American government might redirect to a flood of people like you the $200 billion, $300 billion this war would initially cost, no real interest from those who would supposedly liberate you to instead spend that enormous amount of money helping to build a democratic alternative inside your country.
But I also write to you knowing this: If I had been approached, say in the year 1975, when Pinochet was at the height of his murderous spree in Chile, by an emissary of the American government proposing that the United States, the very country which had put our strongman in power, use military force to overthrow the dictatorship, I believe that my answer would have been, I hope it would have been: No, thank you. We must deal with this monster by ourselves.
I was never given that chance, of course: The Americans would never have wanted to rid themselves, in the midst of the Cold War, of such an obsequious client, just as they did not try to eject Saddam Hussein 20 years ago, when he was even more repressive. Rather, they supported him as a bulwark against militant Iran.
But this exercise in political science fiction (invade Chile to depose Pinochet?) at least allows me to share in the agony created by my own opposition to this war, forces me to recognize the pain that is being endured at this very moment in some house in Basra, some basement in Baghdad, some school in Tarmiyah. Even if I can do nothing to stop those government thugs in Iraq coming to arrest you again today, coming for you tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, knocking once more at your door.
Heaven help me, I am saying that if I had been given a chance years ago to spare the lives of so many of my dearest friends, given the chance to end my exile and alleviate the grief of millions of my fellow citizens, I would have rejected it if the price we would have had to pay was clusters of bombs killing the innocent, if the price was years of foreign occupation, if the price was the loss of control over our own destiny.
Heaven help me, I am saying that I care more about the future of this sad world than about the future of your unprotected children.
Dave Quayle, Chair of Unite’s National Political Comittee, was recently interviewed by Solidarity, paper of the AWL, on the subject of Unite’s strategy for the Labour Party.
You can read the article here.
Now The Sun has picked up on it:
Union’s vow to go left
HARDLINE union bosses have vowed to drag Labour further to the left before the next General Election — sparking civil war in the party.
Dave Quayle, a leading figure in Labour’s biggest financial backers Unite, issued the chilling warning in an interview. He said: “We want a firmly class-based and left-wing general election campaign in 2015.
“We’ve got to say that Labour is the party of and for workers, not for neo-liberals, bankers and the free market. That might alienate some people — but that’s tough.”
Mr Quayle, who is chairman of Unite’s national political committee, added: “We want to shift the balance in the party away from middle class academics.”
His comments are further evidence of the union’s plot to take over the party — as revealed by The Sun in March. General Secretary Len McCluskey has said he wants Labour to have more “working class” candidates.
But figures on the right of the party fear more left-wingers will be elected — and drag Labour back to the 1980s, when they lost two general elections.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, who visited Corby, Northants, yesterday, was urged to act.
A source said: “This is a test of the party leadership to see if they’re serious about being a modern party capable of winning.”
…something that cannot be said of the Blairite Labour Uncut website, which really is a classic. It also seems likely that Labour Uncut tipped off the Tory press about Quale’s interview.
Dave Quayle has since been leant on by “senior figures” from the Party about the article, but is standing firm. Here is what he posted on the United Left email list:
“First of all apologies to comrades for having to read this in the Scum/Sun [...] I’m a former hot metal newspaper printer who did his time on picket [duty] outside Wapping so won’t buy or even read under normal circumstances any of Murdoch’s publications.
“I attach a copy of the publication in question so you can read it all. I was asked to do the interview by ‘Solidarity’ the newspaper of the AWL. I have no problem doing this but it has become an issue in itself. Now I think the article is a balanced view of our Political Strategy which was overwhelmingly endorsed at the recent Policy Conference and I stand by every word of it.
“The article was picked up by the uber Blairite blog site ‘Labour Uncut’ who went hysterical in denouncing me and UNITE, check it out it’s a good laugh! For example the piece under the denunciation of me/us is about the need to come clean and tell people about how much we ‘need’ to cut the NHS by. I kid you not.
“Then the mainstream right wing press picked up on the the blog, which was also [reported] in the Daily Telegraph.
“Now at least a good many of our activists and members know about our strategy!
“I have been contacted by, shall we say, senior figures in thge Labour party, very off the record saying they have no major problems with the article but please don’t do any more interviews for Trot papers (their words not mine). So ever onwards!”
Gordon Brown is a tragic figure in many ways. I always regarded him as a flawed character, but much more principled than Tony Blair. Unlike Blair, he was of the labour movement, and seemed to want an end to the Thatcherism that Blair perpetuated.
Today, at Leveson, Brown was asked straight, whether (as his erstwhile friend Rebekah Brooks, claimed) he gave permission to the Murdoch press to publish details of his young son’s illness. He denied that he had, effectively calling Brooks a liar. Similarly, he flatly denied Rupert Murdoch’s claim that, in the course of a phone call in late September or early October 2009, he’d (in Murdoch’s words) “declared war” on Murdoch’s business empire when the Sun changed sides and came out in support of Cameron before the last election.
I certainly believe Brown on the matter of his son. I’m not sure (who can be?) about the phone conversation with Murdoch. But even if he did say what Murdoch claims, who could reasonably blame him?
But, I’m afraid, Brown has proven himself to be a liar, plain and simple, on a further matter: in his evidence to the Inquiry, Brown denied asking his Treasury adviser Charlie Whelan to brief against Tony Blair while he (Brown) was Chancellor.
Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell had, previously, told the Inquiry that there was a “real problem” with Whelan.
Asked by Robert Jay, Leveson’s “forensic” inquirer, if Whelan or any other advisers briefed behind Blair’s back in order to force him from office, Brown replied: “I would hope not, I have no evidence for that.”
There was “tittle-tattle”, he said, but all special advisers’ media dealings went through civil servants under tough guidelines.
Now, we all know that’s a lie. Sadly, it taints everything else that this tragic figure had to say at Leveson today, including the stuff about his son that was almost certainly true.
Lest we forget:
Tony Blair is godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter
Tony Blair is godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s young children, it has emerged in an interview with the media tycoon’s wife Wendi.
Blair and [Alastair] Campbell took to heart the advice of the Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, on how to deal with Murdoch: “He’s a big bad bastard, and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too. You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength.”
Blair and his team believed they had achieved exactly that. A deal had been done, although with nothing in writing. If Murdoch were left to pursue his business interests in peace he would give Labour a fair wind.
In the footnotes to his book, Price, who worked at No 10 as Campbell’s deputy, attributes that final sentence to “private information”.
Exclusive report from Bruce Robinson:
About 100 people attended Wednesday’s debate between Clive Searle of Respect and Lucy Powell, Labour PPC for the Manchester Central by-election. Unfortunately there was only an hour for debate which followed a Trades Council meeting, so little time for speakers.
The introductions were largely about the Bradford West campaign. Searle opened by saying that people had tried to dismiss the result as a Muslim bloc vote, but that was not true and he was, anyway, proud of Muslim votes. The Labour Party was in denial. Ed Miliband had said one couldn’t talk to people who denied Israel’s right to exist, but millions of people do so. The result was also a message on a range of other issues – for instance student fees, There is an alernative to trade unionists giving money to Labour. Interestingly, he made no mention at all of Galloway. Later in the discussion he said: “We want Labour to be more like Old Labour.”
Lucy Powell was very conciliatory, saying that Chris Searle had made a compelling case and that there was a lot Labour could learn from Respect. They had a common enemy in the government. Labour puts down Respect at its peril. People in Bradford had wanted change and there’d been a deficit in political leadership. George Galloway was charismatic and principled and there was a place for him within the Labour spectrum. Labour remained the only way to get rid of the government.
Initial contributions from the floor were largely pro-Respect, including those from SWP’ers and a woman who was once in Socialist Action, who said she was thinking of leaving the Labour Party to join Respect. There was also lots of criticism of the (Manchester) Labour council’s cuts, turning the city over to private developers, etc, etc.
I got to speak for a couple of minutes. I made the point that the politics of both Miliband and Galloway are symptomatic of the crisis in working class representation and attacked Galloway’s appeal to religious identity as a “better Muslim” as communalist. This brought some muttering from SWP and Respect people. Powell gave a wry smile when I pointed out that Galloway had recently come out against public ownership.
Kay Phillips, one of the ex-SWP people who’d stayed with Respect, replied saying it was a libel to say Galloway supported the clan-based Bradree/Biradiri system – which of course was not what I’d said. Much was made in the discussion, of the Respect campaign’s appeal to young people and women through the challenge to the traditional system (ie: Bradree/Biradiri) of patronage and clan loyalty.
There was an interesting contribution from a Labour Party member from Bradford who described how the Labour campaign had not nadressed non-Asian voters and had based itself upon Bradree/Biradiri clan loyalties.
Star contribution of the evening came from an Asian Labour Party member from Preston, who said that as one of the very few Muslims in the room there were two people in politics he couldn’t stand: Tony Blair and George Galloway. Galloway was leading Muslims up the creek without a paddle. He noted that Respect had never won anything where less than 40% of the electorate was Muslim, and challenged them to stand elsewhere.
In the summing-up Searle said he was going to stand for Respect against Powell in Manchester Central which certainly doesn’t have a 40% Muslim population, so we shall see.
I had an amusing and political bus journey home…
Lest we forget:
By Matt Prodger , BBC Newsnight, 25 February 2011
On Sunday Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, appeared on Libyan state television telling protesters to clear the streets or face rivers of blood.
The contrast to his appearance as a guest speaker at the London School of Economics (LSE) two years ago could not have been more stark.
Having just donated £1.5m to the university to fund its Global Governance Unit, he was introduced in glowing terms by the university’s Professor David Held, who said:
“I’ve come to know Saif as someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.”
But even Saif Gaddafi could not keep a straight face as he began giving a speech about democracy in Libya.
“In theory Libya is the most democratic state in the world,” he said to laughter from the audience, before chuckling and adding, “In theory, in theory.”
As a final embarrassment, the university has been forced to investigate allegations that parts of Saif Gaddafi’s LSE PhD were plagiarised.
The irony of its title – The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions – is lost on no-one.
‘Failure to learn’
But Saif Gaddafi’s examiner, the renowned economist Lord Desai, says that he had earned the PhD, and that the LSE had been right to accept his donation.
His only regret, Lord Desai said on Thursday, was that Saif Gaddafi had failed to learn enough about democracy:
”I read the thesis, I examined him along with an examiner, he defended his thesis very, very thoroughly, he had nobody else present there, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think he didn’t do it himself.”
“This is over-egging the pudding. The man is evil enough – you don’t have to add that he’s a plagiarist as well.”
The LSE is not the only British institution Saif Gaddafi’s name has been mentioned alongside, he has cropped up in all manner of meetings and mutual connections.
He described Tony Blair as a family friend, although the former UK prime minister says he has only met him once since leaving office and has no commercial relationship with him.
Britain’s trade envoy, the Duke of York, has hosted Saif Gaddafi at Buckingham Palace, though a palace spokesman said he is no friend.
Then there is former business secretary Lord Mandelson, who met Saif Gaddafi a number of times – once at the Corfu villa of British financier Nat Rothschild.
In London, Saif Gaddafi has lived a playboy lifestyle. Two years ago he moved into a £10m house complete with suede-lined indoor cinema not far from an area of north London known as Billionaire’s Row.
The Libyan Investment Authority also owns properties in the city, on Oxford Street and at Trafalgar Square.
There has always been a thin line between Gaddafi money and Libyan money – one of the reasons that have made Saif Gaddafi so influential.
“The Gaddafi family controls everything in Libya and no deals are signed either for inward or outward investment without their approval,” Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski, who has written a book about the Gaddafi family and heads the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libya, told Newsnight.
“They have had up until now a total stranglehold on the economy. I haven’t seen anything like it around the world.”
The fact is there was always a good reason for cosying up to the man who until recently was considered the heir to the throne of an oil rich wealthy country.
Sooner or later the old man, Col Gaddafi, was going to go and his avowedly pro-Western, and apparently reformist, son would take the reins.
Only it does not appear to be working out that way, and those associated with him are now counting the cost.
Lest we forget:
Murdoch’s courtship of Blair finally pays off
By Fran Abrams and Anthony Bevins
The Independent Wednesday, 11 February 1998:
“In July 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: ‘If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines – very carefully.’
“For Mr Blair, the relationship bore fruit when he was elected with the key support of the Sun. But Mr Murdoch had to wait until yesterday for full satisfaction when No 10 launched a passionate attack on his critics after the Lords passed an anti-Murdoch amendment to the Competition Bill.
“A year earlier, few Labour MPs would have believed such a scene was possible. In fact, in July 1994 the shadow financial secretary to the treasury, Alistair Darling, sponsored a Commons motion condemning a newspaper price- cutting campaign by Mr Murdoch. “The newspaper industry is not only an important business but also a vital organ of the democratic process … predatory pricing, with the intention of forcing rivals out of the market, will reduce choice and undermine competition,” it said, before calling on the Conservative government to prevent the practice. No fewer than 81 Labour MPs signed the motion. Among them was Nigel Griffiths, who as competition minister could now be expected to take the Competition Bill through the Commons and to lead the government defence of Mr Murdoch’s price cuts. A week earlier, a separate motion signed by 59 MPs said the price-cutting battle would lead to “fewer titles, fewer jobs, less choice for readers and a further dangerous concentration of ownership”. One signatory was Peter Mandelson, now minister without portfolio and a friend of Elisabeth Murdoch, the tycoon’s daughter.
“Altogether 24 ministers and 55 MPs still in the Commons backed one or both of the critical motions. Labour boycotted News International titles for a year after the move to Wapping in 1986 that led to the dismissal of 5,000 print workers.
“In 1992 Murdoch’s flagship Sun claimed it had scuppered Labour’s election chances by suggesting that if Neil Kinnock won, the last person to leave Britain should turn out the lights. The day after the election it boasted “It was the Sun wot won it!”.
“Even before he became leader, Mr Blair met Mr Murdoch at a dining club in Belgravia. It was reported that the tycoon was impressed by the politician’s ‘puppy-dog, youthful, company-lawyer image’.
“Once Mr Blair was elected, things moved quickly. Mr Murdoch gave an interview to Der Spiegel magazine in which he mused: ‘Last year we helped the Labour government in Canberra. I could even imagine supporting Tony Blair.’ In September 1994, the two men and their wives were dining in the private room of a London restaurant with Gus Fischer, chief executive of News International. Although there was no talk of how Mr Blair could help Mr Murdoch, there were separate meetings with Mr Fischer at which ‘issues of mutual interest’ were discussed.
“By March 1995, there were reports that Labour plans for cross-media ownership would not force Mr Murdoch to sell any of his empire. And a year into his leadership, Mr Blair was on Hayman Island, Australia, listening to praise from Mr Murdoch at the News Corporation conference for his “courage” in attending.
“On the first day of the 1997 election campaign, there was proof that the courtship had not been in vain. ‘The Sun Backs Blair,’ the headline on Mr Murdoch’s leading tabloid read. The manoeuvring had paid off.”
Not just David Held and Howard Davies cuddled up to the Gaddafi regime. Anthony Giddens, former LSE Director and advisor to Tony Blair, also publicly defended the Libyan dictator back in 2007.
Here is the full text of the letter of resignation from Howard Davies addressed to Peter Sutherland, the LSE’s chairman of the Court of Governors:
When the reputational consequences for the LSE of accepting the donation from the GICDF (Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation) became clear, I offered to resign my position as director. You asked me to reconsider, and to talk first to the council. At its meeting on Tuesday the council offered me its support, and I was very grateful for that. But on reflection I have concluded that it would nonetheless be right for me to step down, even though I know that this will cause difficulty for the institution I have come to love.
The short point is that I am responsible for the school’s reputation, and that has suffered. I believe that the decisions we have made were reasonable, and can be justified. The grant from the foundation was used to support work on civil society in North Africa, which will have value in the future. The training programmes we have run in Libya will also prove valuable in enhancing the practical skills of many people who will be needed under whatever successor regime emerges. I should also say that I have no evidence whatsoever that anyone has behaved improperly in this whole episode. To the best of my current knowledge (though we are currently reviewing the evidence), the degrees to Saif Gaddafi were correctly awarded, and there was no link between the grant and the degrees.
But however laudable our intentions, in the light of developments in Libya the consequences have been highly unfortunate, and I must take responsibility for that. I advised the council that it was reasonable to accept the money, and that has turned out to be a mistake. There were risks involved in taking funding from sources associated with Libya, and they should have been weighed more heavily in the balance. Also, I made a personal error of judgment in accepting the British government’s invitation to be an economic envoy, and the consequent Libyan invitation to advise their sovereign wealth fund. There was nothing substantive to be ashamed of in that (modest and unpaid) work, and I disclosed it fully, but the consequence has been to make it more difficult for me to defend the institution than it would otherwise have been.
So I think it would be better for the institution if we announce that I intend to step down. I know this will cause some short-term disruption, but I have concluded with great sadness that it is the right thing to do. I am of course willing to help with the transition in any way I can, and to stay on for a period of time if that is helpful. I am grateful to you and your predecessor Tony Grabiner for giving me the opportunity to lead this fine university, and I wish it every success in the future.
Davies and the LSE’s money-grabbing Blairites were warned at the time by Prof Fred Halliday, that rare thing: a principled and honest LSE academic.
Meanwhile, Tendency Coatsey reminds us of the role of another (former) LSE boss, Tony Blair’s friend and guru…
Lord Giddens of Enfield and the Third Way.
Baron Giddens , after a trip to Lybia, observed in March 2007,
“If Gadafy is sincere about reform, as I think he is, Libya could end up as the Norway of North Africa.”
As one-party states go, Libya is not especially repressive. Gadafy seems genuinely popular. Our discussion of human rights centred mostly upon freedom of the press. Would he allow greater diversity of expression in the country? There isn’t any such thing at the moment. Well, he appeared to confirm that he would. Almost every house in Libya already seems to have a satellite dish. And the internet is poised to sweep the country. Gadafy spoke of supporting a scheme that will make computers with internet access, priced at $100 each, available to all, starting with schoolchildren.
Will real progress be possible only when Gadafy leaves the scene? I tend to think the opposite. If he is sincere in wanting change, as I think he is, he could play a role in muting conflict that might otherwise arise as modernisation takes hold. My ideal future for Libya in two or three decades’ time would be a Norway of North Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking. Not easy to achieve, but not impossible.
Read the rest here.
Tonight on BBC Radio 4 at 8.00 pm: not to be missed! Listen and tell us what you think.
Hitchens versus Blair: The Religion Debate
Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens discuss the proposition that religion is a force for good in the world. Recorded in front of a live audience in the Canadian city of Toronto, the debate is chaired by Rudyard Griffiths, and forms part of the twice yearly series of Munk Debates.
Andrew Marr to Anthony Blair Esq:
“A lot of people would say, well it’s absolutely clear, your vision is actually of a mostly conservative politician, and your journey has been from somebody who thought he was a Labour politician to someone who realised actually he’s not.”
Blair: “I am not a conservative, I’m a progressive…” (lists various policies, like the minimum wage, devolution and equality for gay people).
Marr: “David Cameron would support these (policies) too.”
Blair: “Why should we then say we’re like him, rather than he’s trying to get on our territory?”
Blair also as good as endorsed David Miliband, which I would guess, has lost young David several thousand votes at a stroke.
H/t: Andrew Sparrow
Stop Press: Dave (not Miliband) thinks those memoirs sound quite good, and may even buy them.