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<B>
Blair, Tony
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★ Blair, Tony

Blair, Tony: see Labour Party & Politics & Parliament & Empire UK & Iraq

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77,361.  These are extraordinary times.  With the United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the Nazis at Nuremberg.  This defined rapacious invasion as ‘the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole’.  International law would be mere farce, said the chief US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, ‘if, in future, we do not apply its principles to ourselves’.

 

That is now happening.  Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Britain have long had ‘universal jurisdiction’ statutes, which allow their national courts to pursue and prosecute prima facie war criminals. What has changed is an unspoken rule never to use international law against ‘ourselves’, or ‘our’ allies or clients.  In 1998, Spain, supported by France, Switzerland and Belgium, indicted the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, client and executioner of the West, and sought his extradition from Britain, where he happened to be at the time.  Had he been sent for trial he almost certainly would have implicated at least one British prime minister and two US presidents in crimes against humanity ...

 

Like them, Tony Blair may soon be a fugitive.  The International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, has received a record number of petitions related to Blair’s wars.  Spain’s celebrated Judge Baltasar Garzon, who indicted Pinochet and the leaders of the Argentinean military junta, has called for George W Bush, Blair and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar to be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq – ‘one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history: a devastating attack on the rule of law’ that had left the UN ‘in tatters’.  He said, ‘There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation to start without delay’ ...

 

Today, the unreported ‘good news’ is that a worldwide movement is challenging the once sacrosanct notion that imperial politicians can destroy countless lives in the cause of an ancient piracy, often at remove in distance and culture, and retain their respectability and immunity from justice.  In his masterly Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, R L Stevenson writes in the character of Jekyll: ‘Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter ... I could thus plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and, in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty.  But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete’.


Blair, too, is safe – but for how long?  He and his collaborators face a new determination on the part of tenacious non-government bodies that are amassing ‘an impressive documentary record as to criminal charges’, according to international law authority Richard Falk, who cites the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul in 2005, which heard evidence from 54 witnesses and published rigorous indictments against Blair, Bush and others.  Currently, the Brussels War Crimes Tribunal and the newly established Blair War Crimes Foundation are building a case for Blair’s prosecution under the Nuremberg Principle and the 1949 Geneva Convention.  In a separate indictment, former Judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court E W Thomas wrote: ‘My pre-disposition was to believe that Mr. Blair was deluded, but sincere in his belief. After considerable reading and much reflection, however, my final conclusion is that Mr Blair deliberately and repeatedly misled Cabinet, the British Labour Party and the people in a number of respects. It is not possible to hold that he was simply deluded but sincere: a victim of his own self-deception. His deception was deliberate’ ...

 

These are extraordinary times.  Blair, a perpetrator of the epic crime of the 21st century, shares a ‘prayer breakfast’ with President Obama, the yes-we-can-man now launching more war.  ‘We pray,’ said Blair, ‘that in acting we do God’s work and follow God’s will.’  To decent people such pronouncements about Blair’s ‘faith’ represent a contortion of morality and intellect that is a profanation on the basic teachings of Christianity.  Those who aided and abetted his great crime and now wish the rest of us to forget their part – or, like Alistair Campbell, his ‘communications director’, offer their bloody notoriety for the vicarious pleasure of some – might read the first indictment proposed by the Blair War Crimes Foundation: ‘Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of one million deaths, four million refugees, countless maiming and traumas’.


These are indeed extraordinary times.  (Internationalism & Law & War & War on Terror & Crime & Blair)  John Pilger, Fake Faith & Epic Crimes, article New Statesman, viz Website

 

 

99,035.  Members of the flexible workforce might find a lesson in the dockers’ fight against casualisation.

 

Near the end of Dockers, shown last Sunday on Channel 4, there is a scene in which Big John, a docker, is found dead in his garden.  It is deeply moving.  I remembered the freezing day last year when Bill Rooney had a heart attack and died.  A week later, Jimmy McUmiskey, who seemed a fit man in his 50s, followed.  He was the fourth to die since the Liverpool dockers and their families made their stand: one of the longest and most tenacious in British labour history.

 

Dockers, the film, was written by Jimmy McGovern and the dockers themselves and their wives.  It is fine work that guards the memory and tells the truth from the ground up.  Among the characters, I recognised Doreen McNally.  Feisty, funny, eloquent wife of Charlie, a Liverpool docker for 29 years, Doreen helped found Women of the Waterfront.  I first saw her one Saturday in the autumn of 1996 at the Pier Head, a year after the sacking en masse of 500 men described by Lloyds list as the most productive workforce in Europe.  The heroic Liver building reared up behind her to a watery sun; a flock of seagulls rose and fell until a hooter sent them flapping back to the Mersey.  ‘Where is the union,’ she asked a rally, ‘where is Bill Morris, where is the TUC?’

 

It is a question millions of Britons might ask as Tony Blair’s ideas about flexible working guarantee a poverty that gives the children of British working people the worst health in western Europe, now on a par with Slovenia and Albania.

 

This was everything the Liverpool dockers fought against.  Since the abolition of the National Dock Labour Scheme in 1989, casualisation had spread through the docks; they believed they were next.  In September 1995, they refused to cross a picket line which included their sons and nephews sacked by Torside, a sub-contractor to the main company at the port, Mersey Docks.  Within 24 hours, their jobs were advertised.  When they tried to return to work, they found the gates locked.  It was a trap.

 

In July 1996, Bernard Bradley, managing director of Torside, revealed to the Commons employment committee that he had wanted to give his men back their jobs almost immediately.  Having passed the offer to a regional official of the TGWU, Jack Dempsey, he heard nothing.  The Torside dockers were never told about the offer.  Had they been told, Mersey Docks would never have had a pretext to get rid of the main workforce.

 

Almost none of this was reported.  Misrepresented as relics from a bygone era, the dockers looked abroad.  ‘It was 6 am on a December morning in the fiercest blizzard for 70 years,’ said Bobby Morton, one of four dockers who set up a picket at the port of Newark in New Jersey just as a container ship had docked from Liverpool.  ‘We didn't know what to expect.  When we told the longshoremen coming to work what it was all about,they turned their cars around.  We were dancing on the picket line, and we hadn’t had a drink.’

 

From a room with one phone, a fax line and a tea urn, they ignited a show of international labour solidarity believed to be without precedent this century.  ‘Pacific Rim trade sputtered to a halt’, reported the Los Angeles Times, as dozens of mammoth cargo ships sat idle in their ports as union dockworkers from LA to Seattle backed the dockers of Liverpool.  In Japan, 40,000 dockworkers stopped.  Ships were turned away from Sydney harbour.  In South Africa, dockers closed all ports ‘in solidarity with the Liverpool dockers who stood by us during the years of apartheid’.

 

Five months after the dockers were sacked, Bill Morris, general secretary of the TGWU, their leader, came to Liverpool.  ‘I am proud to be with you,’ he told them.  ‘Your struggle is so important that our grandchidren will ask, ‘Where were you at the great moment?’ and you will either stand up with pride, or you’ll hang your head in shame.  There can be no backsliding until victory is won … God is on our side.’

 

The union gave the dockers money, though not enough to live on.  Morris refused to make the dispute official, claiming the government would invoke Thatcher’s law on secondary picketing – a technicality in this case – and sequestrate his funds.  Had he launched a legal campaign challenging the injustice of the dockers’ dismissal and anti-trade-union laws that are shameful in a democracy, the battle could have been won there and then.

 

Betrayal is the political theme of Blair’s Britain, whose pillars include those paid generously to protect the vulnerable, with or without God.  In such surreal times, the dockers’ great achievement was to show what was possible.  For me, watching their principled fight as they lost almost everything, until the loss of Bill and Jimmy proved too much to bear, was watching Britain at its best.  (Docks & Strike & Solidarity & Industrial Action & Dispute & Blair)  John Pilger, article July 2006, ‘What Did You Do During the Dock Strike?’

 

 

105,146.  Don’t be shameless, Mr Blair.  Don’t be immoral, Mr Blair.  You are one of those who have no morals.  You are not one who has the right to criticize anyone about the rules of the international community.  You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favor with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet.  Go straight to hell, Mr Blair.  Hugo Chavez, February 2006

 

 

105,147.  I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged.  I said from the start that there was something wrong in his head, and each passing year convinces me more strongly that this man is a pathological confidence-trickster.  To the extent that he even believes what he says, he is delusional.  To the extent that he does not, he is an actor whose first invention – himself – has been his only interesting role.  Matthew Parris, The Times 18th March 2006

 

 

105,148.  I view him as the kind of air guitarist of political rhetoric.  I don’t think he’s debased political debate because he lies, I actually sadly think he believes a lot of what he says, that’s what’s so depressing about it, for people who stand outside of politics.  So my rather bizarre viewpoint – should he go? – it feels like he left a long time ago, leaving this Tony Blair-shaped hole that carries on talking.  Will Self, 29th September 2006

 

 

105,149.  Torture, encouraged from above, became a fact of life [Iraq].  Perhaps some good liberal apologist for Blair will soon explain how democratic torture is much nicer than authoritarian torture.  (Blair & Torture)  Tariq Ali, The Guardian 26th March 2005  

 

 

105,150.  A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.  Tariq Ali, Counterpunch 10th May 2007

 

 

105,151.  Like millions of others, I now bitterly resent that a prime minister [Tony Blair] could use such a farrago of lies and manipulation to deceive us and to take the nation to war so dishonestly.  (Blair & Lies)  Michael Meacher, The Guardian 1st December 2006

 

 

105,152.  The righteous will evidently never tire of the pelting and taunting of Tony Blair, and perhaps those like him who choose to join the Roman choir of extreme unctuousness must expect their meed of abuse. But I cannot forget the figures of Slobodan Milošević, Charles Taylor and Saddam Hussein, who made terrified fiefdoms out of their own people and mounds of corpses on the territory of their neighbours.  I was glad to see each of these monsters brought to trial, and think the achievement should (and one day will) form part of the battlehonours of British Labour.  Many of the triumphant pelters and taunters would have left the dictators and aggressors in place: they too will have their place in history.  Christopher Hitchens, 5th September 2010

 

 

105,153.  A lightweight.  I don’t like his political morals and how he’s been enriching himself since leaving office.  He preaches high moral language but … I have a visceral contempt for Blair.  Not dislike.  Just contempt.  (Blair & Insults)  Zbigniew Brzezinski, 13th January 2012

 

 

105,154.  Like anyone else who knows anything about the Middle East, you just pray that this man [Tony Blair] will shut the fuck up.  (Blair & Middle East)  William Dalrymple, June 2014  

 

 

49,606.  Rich and powerful people have always cherished their bogeymen.  They like to reduce what Marx and Engels called ‘the spectre of communism’ to human shape: to a personality who can be pilloried in their Press and patronised at their table.  For the unfortunates who get singled out for this honour, life is hard.  The assailants are well-practised in the art of character assassination and blackmail.  Every public statement of their prey, however harmless, can rapidly be translated into the language of someone who rapes nuns on Fridays and nationalises a bank every day before breakfast.

 

Tony Benn has played the role of chief bogeyman for the rich men of Britain for a good time now.  He has been treated perhaps more shamefully even then his predecessors in the Parliamentary Labour Left, men like John Wheatley.  George Lansbury and Aneurin Bevan.  In the past year, the abuse has risen to a crescendo, deafening even his most tenacious attempts to argue back.  Yet its effect is not all as intended.  For as the society splits wider apart, so the abuse from the halls of the powerful boosts their bogeyman’s radical and socialist credentials ...

 

It is worth saying at once that Tony Benn’s credentials for Chief Bogeyman of the Tories are a little difficult to understand.  For eleven out of the last fifteen years he has been a loyal and for the most part silent member of a Labour government which has systematically torn up the pledges on which it was elected.  (Socialism & Labour Party & Blair & Left Wing)  Paul Foot, The Labour Left’s Brightest Star, March 1980

 

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