Tag Archives: Tony Blair

Gordon Brown’s Lies about Labour and the NHS in Scotland

Gordon Brown and the rest of the Labour Party like to tell us how it was their party that created the National Health Service. That’s true. But what is equally true is the way the Blair and then Brown governments handed over millions of pounds worth of contracts to private companies under the Private Finance Initiative or PFI. Brown, who has recently been seen in Scotland in a desperate bid to save the Better Together campaign, is damaged goods. No one will ever trust him or his party again and it’s his and Blair’s fault. The Scottish Labour Party, too, is guilty because they refused to make a clean break with their English cousins. Johann Lamont, the party leader, has hopelessly tied herself to the same rotten neoliberal economic policies as Blair and Brown.

A Yes vote is not only good for Scotland, it’s also good for British politics. Saor Alba! Bon Accord! Vive la revolution!

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Selling War

Is your economy in the khazi? Are you poll ratings low? Have no policies? Well, why not start a war? It worked for others, now it can work for you.

Just look at some of our testimonials!

“War makes me go all gooey inside” – Tony Blair.

“Think of the money” – George W Bush.

“I live for the deaths of others” – Henry Kissinger

“Thanks to my Falklands campaign, I won a landslide election. I highly recommend it to others” – Margaret Thatcher

Remember, all you have to do is tell the public that so-and-so is “killing his own people” with weapons of mass destruction and Bob’s your uncle.

Worried about what the UN might say? Well, there’s no need. Who pays much attention to them anyway? Go ahead and make war. Remember that JP Morgan, Raytheon, Blackwater and Bechtel are there to support you.

If the public don’t believe you or pick holes in your argument, you can always call them “appeasers” and use the example of Hitler as your defence.

War: helping greedy psychopaths to make lots of money for centuries.

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Filed under Middle East, Syria, World

Cameron, Blair and Kazakhstan

Today, David Cameron is in Kazakhstan with a 33 strong business delegation. There are two words that spring to mind: oil and arms.

I always suspect ulterior motives for these trade visits. Only a few months ago, Cameron was swanning around the Persian Gulf flogging arms to the region’s absolute rulers. Now here he is in Kazakhstan doing the same thing under the aegis of ‘trade’. In the case of both visits, oil and gas was part of the attraction.

Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan was arranged by none other than Tony Blair.  The Guardian’s Nicholas Watt writes:

The Kazakh foreign minister praised the prime minister and Tony Blair, who is advising the president, for helping to improve the republic’s image on the world stage.

Ah, so it’s part of some PR stunt, is that right?

Erlan Idrissov said: “We are very honoured and privileged to have such attention on the part of two prime ministers [towards] Kazakhstan – Tony Blair and David Cameron. We cherish and enjoy the support of developed countries on our part for development … We are grateful that Mr Tony Blair and his colleagues are providing invaluable advice.”

Hmm, that must be very nice for you. Kazakhstan’s record on human rights is appalling. At home, Cameron’s coalition government wants to abolish human rights legislation so that we may become a sweatshop economy that is supported and protected by the repressive apparatuses of the state.

Watt says:

The business leaders accompanying the prime minister, including representatives from Shell, BG and Petrofac, are due to close deals worth £700m. Downing Street has its eye on future deals estimated by officials to be worth £85bn over the coming years.

Kerching! It’s boom time for our corporate overlords.

At the end of the article, Watt writes:

Britain is also to encourage trade by piloting a special visa service, called the Business Bridge, in the new capital of Astana for selected companies. Britain still processes visas from the old capital, Almaty, which is 60 miles away.

Simply spiffing.

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in power for over 20 years.  Something that wannabe dictators like Cameron can only dream of.

Blair is one of the most dangerous men on the planet and Cameron is his true heir. Should Cameron lose the next General Election, there’s always a job waiting for him at The Office of Tony Blair as well as a nice cushy number with JP Morgan. Jobs for the boys, eh?

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Filed under Asia, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Kazakhstan, Tony Blair

David Miliband exits stage right

David Miliband is packing his bags and slinking off across the pond to take up a new job with International Rescue. So who’s he going to be? Virgil? Gordon? Or that other fella… wotshisname? Oh yeah, Brains. Oddly enough, this was supposedly his nickname when Blair plucked him off the backbenches and took him under his wing. Blair… there’s another one.  He’s doing all right for himself and I expect Miliband will also make a decent wedge for himself in the States.

The Labour party may have lost one of its arch-Blairites but that doesn’t mean the parliamentary party is shifting to the Left any time soon. Baby brother, Ed, has the unemployed in his sights and seems happy with the government’s attacks on the working poor of this country. His frontbench team is composed largely of disciplinarian headbangers like Liam Byrne and lily-livered cowards like Stephen Timid Timms.  They are out of touch with the lives of ordinary people whom they spit on from the lofty height of their ivory tower. Don’t be fooled by the brand spanking new One Nation Labour brand either: it is really little more than New Labour Mark 2. Mr Ed despises so-called Old Labour and he told us so in his speech back in January.

David Miliband’s South Shields seat is now vacant and a by-election has yet to be called. It’s a safe Labour seat, so there’s little danger of the party losing it… unless, the real Left can get its act together and snatch it from them. As for the Tories, they have about as much chance of taking the seat as I have of becoming Pope. Capiche?

I read a terribly naive tweet a few hours ago that went something like “ordinary need to join Labour and take it back from the Right”. Good luck with that, I thought. Loads of people have tried and failed. The parliamentary Labour party needs more than a few dedicated Left-wingers joining it in the vain hope that they can seize the party from the grip of the Blairites. It needs a complete overhaul from root to branch. It needs to welcome back the socialists it expelled in the 1980s and 1990s. But I don’t see that happening. Do you?

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Tony Blair, Paul Kagame and Iraq: arrest this man

Tony Blair. What can you say about a man who led the Labour party to a landslide victory in 1997 and who presided over the longest period of economic growth for decades? Well, it was a great victory for sure and as for economic growth… what’s there to say? GDP is no great indicator of a nation’s wealth. And economic growth, like any kind of growth, cannot be sustained forever. Blair and his government continued the neoliberal consensus: the free market is great, the free market is good. All hail the free market.

The other day someone on Twitter, calling themselves “@blairsupporter”,  placed me on a list of “Blair haters”. Charming, I thought. And the reason for this? It’s because I referred to Blair as a “warmonger”, which indeed he is… unless the word itself has been redefined overnight, Blair still qualifies – in my mind, at least – as a war criminal.  He’s most certainly unrepentant. Take his appearance on Newsnight a couple of weeks ago, in which he said that Iraq had not turned out “as he hoped”. Instead of admitting his actions were wrong, he blames the continuing violence on insurgents and external forces.  Yet without his and Bush’s intervention, there would be no sectarian violence.

It’s easy to claim that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who “killed his own people” when you know nothing of the history of Iraq or Britain’s 40 year on-off occupation of the country.  It’s a handy default position: after all, Saddam Hussein had a big moustache. Surely that’s good enough to have considered him as another Stalin or a Hitler? Remember Gamal Abdul Nasser?

Most people knew nothing about Iraq before 1991 and took their information from the usual news sources. That’s always a big mistake. Britain was in, what was once called Mesopotamia from 1917 till 1958, with a wee break before WWII when it marched back in and kicked out the Nazi-sympathizing Prime Minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani (who had seized power in a coup in 1941) and connived to reinstall their man Nuri es Said, who dominated Iraqi politics with much repression and violence for the next 17 years.

Britain’s time in what became Iraq is hardly mentioned and is often skipped over to promote the narrative of a uniquely blood-thirsty Saddam Hussein. Nuri was really bad but then so was General Bakr Sidqi (a Kurd), who was largely responsible for the Simele Massacre in 1933, which matches Halabja for the sheer scale of its brutality.

During the pre-independence period… and when I say “independence” I use this word in its loosest possible sense… Britain used Iraqi Arabs and Kurds as target practice. The great racist, Winston Churchill once opined that the use of poison gas against “recalcitrant Arabs” would “spread a lively terror”, which would thus force them to submit to British imperial rule. The military commander in Iraq, General Aylmer Haldane was enthusiastic about the use of gas and other armaments when dealing with Arabs and Kurds. His passion for wanton death and destruction was shared by others.

Other officers seemed to enjoy the work. One who did was Arthur Harris, who would later achieve fame directing the bomber offensive against Germany in the second world war. Known to his friends as Bomber and to his enemies as Butcher, he first practised his trade against Kurdish villages in Iraq. “Where the Arab and Kurd had begun to realise that if they could stand a little noise, they could stand bombing, and still argue,” he reported after one raid in 1924, “they now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage; they now know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured by four or five machines which offer them no real target, no opportunity for glory as warriors, no effective means of escape.” The British employed “police bombing” elsewhere in the empire – in Transjordan; against the Pathan tribesmen on the north-west frontier of India; in the Aden Protectorate (now the southern part of Yemen); and against the Nuer people of the southern Sudan.

Wherever you find brown people, you’ll find Britain and the United States bombing the crap out of them.

But what about the company Blair keeps? Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, has been accused of human rights violations. Blair is his “special adviser”. One wonders what kind of advice you give to a man with no respect for the lives of others? “Carry on, Paul, my old son”!

In 2009, The Office of Tony Blair website (question: how many former Prime Ministers have created their own office? The answer is none. Not even Thatcher did it) said,

Tony Blair hailed President Kagame’s visionary leadership as he saw for himself the remarkable pace of Rwandan progress during a two-day visit to the East African country.

The founder of the Africa Governance Initiative met with the President and senior officials to discuss ways in which Mr Blair and his team could help Rwanda build the capacity to deliver on the priorities of the Rwandan people, before witnessing examples of Rwandan progress in education, clean energy and business.

More often than not, former PMs sit on the backbenches after they’ve lost a general election. Not Blair (Thatcher was packed off to the Lords within a couple of years). He was off gallivanting around the globe. He picked up a nice cushy number as an adviser with JP Morgan and was hand-picked by George W Bush to become the Middle East special envoy. Blair also has his eye on the job of European president. Except no one wants him. But then, no one – except Bush, his neo-con buddies and the swivel-eyed Rapturists wanted Blair to be Middle East’s special envoy either.

According to the Telegraph, Blair has set up an investment unit at his Mayfair  offices... this must be the location of The Office of Tony Blair. Let’s face it, he wasn’t going to base his operations in Greenford or New Cross.

His investment unit, headed by a former senior banker at Barclays, reflects the former prime minister’s growing business empire, worth tens of millions of pounds.

Five members of his staff are registered with the Financial Services Authority and trading screens have been installed at Mr Blair’s offices, in Grosvenor Square in central London.

Mr Blair has established a complex web of companies, designed, according to accountants, to hide just how much money he makes and from where his money comes.

He has denied being “super rich”, but having built up a property portfolio of several homes and two multimillion-pound businesses, it is expected that he will enter the rich-lists for the first time this year with a fortune of somewhere between £35 million and £60 million.

Details of his trading desk have been pieced together by The Sunday Telegraph, which has conducted a series of investigations into Mr Blair’s finances since he left office in 2007.

Greed, thy name is Tony Blair.

So what about Kagame? Well, here’s what Blair said to The Guardian’s Chris McGreal three years ago,

“I’m a believer in and a supporter of Paul Kagame. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognise that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.”

McGreal adds,

But a sound economic policy hardly justifies the years of abuses in Congo.

Quite right. Yet Blair is unable to see anything other than the colour of money and his place in history.

Death, thy name is Tony Blair.

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Filed under Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Rwanda, World

French special forces guarding uranium mines in Niger

Uranium mine in Niger. Pic courtesy of The Guardian

Uranium mine in Niger. Pic courtesy of The Guardian

What did I say a couple of weeks ago? That the French intervention in Mali was about more than shooting Islamist militants and indeed it is. When I was listening to the BBC World Service last night, my fears were confirmed when I heard that French special forces were now guarding uranium mines in Niger.

This was on  France 24 last week,

France is to deploy special forces to protect uranium mines belonging to French nuclear energy giant Areva in Niger, according to a report in a news magazine this week.

According to weekly Le Point, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has given the go-ahead for an elite team from France’s armed forces to reinforce local security at the company’s two sites in Niger, a former French colony.

The move comes amid a heightened security threat following a French-led offensive to drive Islamist separatists out of northern Mali, and the deadly hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, which militants said was in revenge for the French military intervention.

The US are about to base drones in Niger. Coincidence?

Here’s what the ever-reliable BBC had to say,

Niger has confirmed that French special forces are protecting one of the country’s biggest uranium mines.

President Mahamadou Issoufou told French media that security was being tightened at the Arlit mine after the recent hostage crisis in Algeria.

Despite having large deposits of uranium, gold and other minerals, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world.

After independence in 1960 its progress was stymied by political instability and a five-year drought, which devastated livestock and crops.

With little primary education, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Its health system is basic and disease is widespread.

After a break of a decade, Niger again experienced an insurgency by Tuareg rebels in the north in 2007.

Political instability only benefits France and other countries, who continue to exploit Niger’s mineral wealth and give nothing back to the country. One thing you can say about China is that they at least build infrastructure, Western nations take and give nothing in return. But we also know that Tuareg rebels have been fighting with the Nigerien (as opposed to the Nigerian government in Nigeria) government for decades as they have in Mali. This is a typical scene across the Sahel and it is barely mentioned in Western news reports.

I also heard  that 2,000 Chadian troops had joined French forces in Northern Mali. There is a precedence for this too. France first organized the Chadian army and its military works alongside it,this included the long civil war (1965 to 1979), which began with a peasant uprising. In that conflict, the Chadian government asked France to intervene. Does that sound familiar?

Yesterday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show (sans le mal Andrew Marr, mais avec la minaudant Sian Williams en lieu), the war criminal Tony Blair gave his support to his ‘heir’, David Cameron.

Blair said: “I think we should acknowledge how difficult these decisions are.

“Sometimes in politics you come across a decision which the choice is very binary, you go this way or that way and whichever way you go the choice is very messy.

“If we engage with this, not just military but over a long period of time, in trying to help these countries, it is going to be very, very hard but I think personally the choice of disengaging is going to be even greater.”

Blair talks about choices being “binary”. Nothing is ever that simple, especially where geopolitics is concerned.

As you’d expect, the mining of uranium is hazardous.  Greenpeace produced a report in 2010 about the levels of atmospheric contamination as well as the dangers posed to those who work in the mines.

Watch this Greenpeace video.

I wonder if the French special forces realize what they’re dealing with? They’re not only guarding these mines but they’re being exposed to the health dangers too. I expect to hear stories of French soldiers being afflicted with mysterious ailments, which can all be traced to their time in Niger. But it’s the people who live near these mines who will continue to live with the consequences of the Areva’s mining operation and the French demand for nuclear energy. They don’t benefit from France’s intervention; they’re merely pawns in another great game.

For more on French military interventions on the African continent, read this.

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Filed under Africa, Chad, World

Mali: we’ve seen this movie before

French Mirage fighter jet in Mali

It all began with the familiar rhetoric, “We’re going after Islamist terrorists” and with those magic words, the UK swung behind its neighbour, France,  in support of another desperate, but nakedly brazen, military adventure in Africa. The use of Islamists and associated “terror” groups to justify mass killing on an industrial scale is, by now, a familiar refrain. Indeed, the UN Security Council, on which France has a permanent seat, rubber-stamped the mission. François Hollande, the so-called Socialist Président de la République,  has revealed himself to be quite the little warmonger.

France enjoys wreaking havoc in Africa. It was quick to swing into action in the Central African Republic when the ostensible tyrant, Jean Bedel Bokassa, declared himself Emperor of his newly created “empire” (he was copying Napoleon I). France even has a military presence in Chad, a country that has a lot of desert and little else. It just happens to share a border with Libya.

Even though it ostensibly gave up its empire in West and Central Africa, France seems to spend rather too much time on the continent. It has a military presence in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and possibly Niger too. Niger being the alleged home of the infamous yellow cake uranium hoax.

It’s obvious why France is in Mali and it has nothing at all to do with “Islamist terrorists”, it’s more to do with the stuff that lies beneath the ground; the mineral wealth. Well, why else are European countries still exercising considerable influence on a continent that has been plundered and looted; its inhabitants forced to endure autocratic and capricious puppet rulers for the last 50 odd years? It ain’t humanitarianism, baby! Altruism is the last thing on their minds.

Britain wants a slice of the action too. We can see echoes in the Second Opium War, which was a joint military enterprise between the classical liberal British Empire and the newly liberal  Second French Empire, ruled by the vain and impulsive Napoleon III. Markets: they must be opened up – by force, if necessary. Yes, Britain is happy to provide military “assistance” because it wants a share of those riches – even though it may overstretch itself. Afghanistan?

Already, French air strikes have killed hundreds of civilians. There’s nowhere to hide in the desert and one group of people looks much the same as any other to the French pilots. If they wear turbans, gun them down where they stand. Better still, bomb the lot of them and save the bullets. The trouble is, a lot of people wear turbans in that part of the world.

This is another scramble for Africa. Desperate to relive the glories of 19th century imperial power and all the wealth it provided for the few, France is having another bash at the old imperialism game. A spokeswoman for the Stop the War movement, quoted in today’s Morning Star said,

The civil war in Mali is a direct consequence of the disastrous intervention in Libya and shows that the war on terror is a source of instability in Africa as in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Libya. Remember that place? It’s a total mess. And one mess leads inexorably to another mess. And messes can be used to the advantage of countries with massive military machines. They usually call this peace-keeping or a humanitarian intervention. Like the various aid appeals for famine-hit Ethiopia, the claim of humanitarianism rings rather hollow when weighed against the evident dash for the continent’s resources, backed up by the latest in killing technology.

The Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor warns of mission creep,

David Cameron has insisted that no British combat troops from the UK will be involved in operations in Mali. Britain’s top military commanders have no wish to join French combat troops there — a view they were expected to make quite clear at a meeting on Tuesday of the National Security Council, chaired by Cameron.

However, that may not be the end of it. Britain and the US could yet provide surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft or pilotless drones. The European Union is planning to deploy a military training mission consisting of several hundred troops, including British soldiers, to Mali in the next few weeks.

This could be the pattern of future European military interventions, as our blog has suggested before. Britain, France, the US, all know air strikes from high-flying planes or drones is not the most effective way, militarily (or politically or ethically, given the likelihood of civilian casualties) to fight mobile forces speeding around on pickup trucks.

So the emphasis is on training local forces, in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and now Mali. They could be backed up by special forces, rather less visible than warplanes.

And mercenaries too, I shouldn’t wonder. After all, European and US mercenaries have been hanging around African countries for decades now. In 2002, the war criminal Blair chillingly told us how he would have liked to see mercenaries operate in a peace-keeping role in West Africa. Mercenaries only know how to do one thing: kill for money. Asking a mercenary to be a peacekeeper is a little like asking a butcher to perform keyhole surgery on a seriously ill patient. Why would you do it?

Finally, I need to mention arch-Blairite, Hatchet-job Hodges, who penned this blog, designed to goad and mock the left, whom he declares have “been silent” on the issue of military intervention in Mali.  As a “Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest” (the Torygraph’s words, not mine), he no doubt supports the Orwellian notion of “liberal intervention” and turns a blind eye to the war crimes associated with it. It seems to me he has no room to talk. He offers us this myopic vision from his crystal ball,

Francois Hollande is unlikely to emerge from his Mali adventure as the new De Gaulle. But he may well become the new Left-wing poster boy for progressive interventionism. It would be enough.

What a nasty piece of work. Just like his war criminal idol in fact. But in his haste to have a dirty little dig, he failed to spot this blog on the Stop the War Coalition website. Hodges talks shit, just like his war criminal idol.

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Filed under Africa, Mali, World