Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Picking the right Miliband

When the Labour Party election came along, I voted for Ed Miliband as the least worst option. My friend Ben holds that David Miliband was much more electable and voted for him.

When David came to the university recently, he seemed quite thoughtful, very human and approachable and trustworthy, even though I knew he'd authorised torture and kidnapping, including to Libya. A couple of days later, his apparent saintliness was exposed as a sham by his acceptance of £25,000 from the government of the United Arab Emirates to make a speech on East-West relations to 'business leaders and opinion formers' in the Emirate.

No doubt human rights and democracy went unmentioned: the UAE is not a democracy. The rights to assembly and free speech are not recognised. Torture is frequently practised and the jails are full of people arrested but never charged. The 80% of the population who aren't native lack any kind of rights, and exist in a state of indentured labour - and are never glimpsed from the luxury skyscrapers beloved of British tax evaders. The press is censored, and the UAE has never signed any of the international human rights treaties, such as the International Convention Against Torture.

Sheik Issa bin Zayed, a member of the ruling family, filmed himself torturing and murdering a former business partner: he was acquitted because he claimed his servants had got him drunk. The Ministry of the Interior agreed that justice had been done: it's a mere coincidence that the Minister was bin Zayed's cousin, and it's certainly a coincidence that my university then gave him an honorary degree in recognition of his services to law and order.

But I digress. When David Miliband tweets that he's
Honoured to speak at the @OneVoice Gala Dinner last night. Vital work to build coalition for peace in Middle East. 
we should keep in mind his political background. No doubt he would like a peaceful resolution to the Palestine/Israel situation. But like his mentor Blair - another man who's friends with anyone waving a cheque - his actual role in the region is to dispense platitudes while hobnobbing with a gang of torturers and despots. Israel is an illegal nuclear weapons state which illegally annexed huge areas of land, conducts collective punishments and discriminates against Palestinians in every walk of life. Most Arab states are ruled by tame royals appointed by the British at the end of empire on the basis that they can do what they want as long as the oil keeps flowing.

One Voice looks, on the surface, to be a decent organisation which calls for a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. It's not going to happen because both sides want victory rather than peace, and because Israel is in such a position of strength that it has no reason to negotiate, but well--meaning pressure groups doubtless make everybody feel good to pretend it will.

Like Blair, Miliband can have no credibility as an independent broker: he's tainted by his time in office - leading to the deaths of untold numbers of Arabs at the hands of Western forces and their own governments - and by his readiness to take cash from despots. Underneath the saintly exterior, there's a man more comfortable kow-towing to power than in challenging it.


Anonymous said...

Ed Miliband = Labour Friends of Israel
David Miliband = Labour Friends of Israel

Pretty much every politician in the UK = [Insert party name] Friends of Israel.

This is why it doesn't matter who you vote for in the UK, we will always have the same foriegn policy. As will the US.

Now, I am no anti-semite, but I think that they should all declare their interest a bit more publically, we should have a government that represents our interests and takes a balanced view of the interests of the rest of the world (I'm not a nationalist either).

Ok, I'm prepared to be flamed by all of the bots now who will no doubt accuse me of being an anti-semite.

The Plashing Vole said...

It's a tricky one. US Politics has reached the stage at which anyone who disagrees with the Israeli government is accused of anti-semitism (which must make a lot of Jews anti-semitic by that logic).

I don't think the UK is there - yet. UK politicians will mention that Israel is in breach of multiple international laws, but they won't do anything about it. It's a fact of global political life that Western interests are held to be those of Israel. I think that's naive. But it doesn't make it easy for politicians to apply new thinking to the situation.

I'd call myself a friend of Israel. Just a candid one.