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A foreign intervention that’s more than justified

Today, Jim Murphy makes a much trumpeted speech on the importance of intervention in foreign states. Labour will continue to support military interventions, we are told, as “an essential response to the world in which we live”. Now we, like most Labour members and most of the British public, believe that recent interventions in Iraq and elsewhere have been pretty disastrous, and we are not happy about a Labour shadow minister making an allegedly important speech on a platform tainted by neo-con Islamaphobes so we’ll wait to hear what Mr Murphy has to say before commenting further. However, there is one way in which the undermining of authoritarian regimes in the middle east is more than justified — the exposure of their corruption in British courts.

Unfortunately, this type of bloodless, non-military intervention was a step too far for New Labour in government. The decision by Tony Blair to stop the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Al-Yamamah investigation into the claims that Britain’s biggest defence firm, British Aerospace (BAE), had paid bribes to secure an arms deal with Saudi Arabia in the 1980s was one of the great stains on New Labour in government. It was stopped in order to protect the corrupt unelected rulers of Saudi Arabia from exposure that might have brought about their downfall at the hands of their own people.

Although Blair knew that the corruption allegations were well-founded, as BAE later admitted, this particular bunch of corrupt despots who systematically oppress women, torture prisoners, deny religious freedom, ban trade unions and political parties, behead people for “apostasy,” adultery“witchcraft” and “sorcery” and amputate the limbs of petty thieves were apparently our friends. As he said:

Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is vitally important for our country in terms of counter-terrorism, in terms of the broader Middle East, in terms of helping in respect of Israel and Palestine. That strategic interest comes first.”

Unfortunately, the pressure to protect these people continues today. It seems, according to their lawyers, that considering allegations of corruption in open court might put them at risk of “serious personal injury or death from reprisals from citizens of Saudi Arabia or certain organisations“.  How confident are we of Jim Murphy’s commitment to open justice?

One Comment

  1. Dave says:

    Looks like Murphy advises EU-wide opposition to Islamist extremism in Africa with a permanent “preventative” war footing, echoing the words of Bush in a speech from 2002: “We will not send American troops to every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead.”

    And with military contracts galore up for grabs:

    Murphy: “Adaptable units would demand strong supportive expeditionary capability and enablers alongside force protection. C4-ISTAR, naval resources, unmanned technology, helicopters, airlift, close air support and refuelling capabilities would all be essential.”

    Full text here:,2013-02-14

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