Tag Archives: Gordon Brown

Is Israel exempt from international law?

This week has seen a startling series of events redefine the way the UK acts on international law, and the way British governments understand the power of the courts. Under the principal of Universal Jurisdiction, an arrest warrant was issued by Westminster magistrates court for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, accused of war crimes during the most recent invasion of Gaza. As soon as this information reached the Israel, its government reacted furiously (which was to be expected). Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, said in a statement:

“The current situation is absurd and unacceptable in equal measure. Israelis cannot continually be held hostage by fringe groups of anti-Israel extremists, preventing politicians, businessmen and officers from visiting the UK.”

While Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu described the situation as an “absurdity”.

What happened next was that the British government leaped into action, apologising to Israel and promising to better control the way international law is applied to Israeli officials in Britain. Gordon Brown and David Miliband both rushed to condemn the warrant, assuring Israel that it’ll never happen again.

So why is it that a senior Israeli politician can’t be arrested in the UK for alleged war crimes? The answer, as usual, is that British government ministers have acted entirely out of personal self interest. The precedent that would be set by arresting Livni would make it far more likely that British officials could be arrested for their own war crimes. And that just wouldn’t do.

The way international law is applied currently suggests that the only people who can ever face it are either (a) a few of the operators in the Yugoslavian war of the 90s and (b) Africans. Israeli and British and other ‘western’ government officers are effectively exempt not because of any weakness in the law, but because every single time an arrest warrant is issued, or an arrest is attempted, the move will be swiftly quashed by politicians. Who aren’t supposed to have that much sway when it comes to the courts.

One of Livni’s statements was particularly telling:

“I have no problem with the world wanting to judge Israel. A problem arises the moment [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are compared to terrorists.”

By ‘terrorists’, she’s obviously referring to Hamas (the political organisation of which, the UK does not designate to be a terrorist group). Well I don’t have such a problem with that comparison, Ms. Livni. But it seems that as ever, uniformed soldiers are seen by Britain as being naturally better than rag-tag freedom fighters. Unless they’re our rag-tag freedom fighters, of course.

thebadPoll: Will the G20 Finance Summit achieve anything?

As previously mentioned, the 20 largest economies meet this weekend to ‘fix the world financial crisis’ and ‘stop it ever happening again’. With people like Gordon Brown arguing that laissez-faire free market capitalism has died a death, can we really expect anything to change as a result of the summit or will the result be more of the same, please!

The question is simple. Will the G20 Finance Summit achieve anything? Possible answers are: Yes, No, or I would rather have polls about Catalan. Vote early, vote often.

‘Antisistema’ activist ‘stole’ €492,000 from banks, to prove how stupid they are

This is a brilliant story.

Basically, this guy claims to have defrauded several banks and Caixas (savings banks) of €492,000, purely in order to prove how easy it was to do. He used the money to publish 200,000 copies of his free newspaper, Crisi, which denounces the world financial system for inefficiency, dishonesty, living in a make-believe land and causing poverty and famine throughout the world. The money not spent on the Crisi newspaper project was given to charities and NGOs. And the author has also fled Spain (understandably) and will only return when his crimes have been pardoned.

The author couldn’t really have timed this better as the world’s financial markets are still reeling from the largest crisis since 1929, and the insurance giant AIG has just been nationalised by the US government (something they refused to do for Lehman Brothers just the other day).

Opinion is divided on who exactly is to blame for this calamitous situation. I think it’s obviously the bankers’ fault as they’re the ones playing with imaginary money, things they don’t own and other things which they invent the value of. Banking analyst, Diana Choyleva made the incredible claim on Monday’s Newsnight that central banks (and therefore, by extension, governments) were to blame for the crisis because they had allowed a long period of low policy (interest) rates to occur, they allowed a situation to develop whereby bankers felt almost obliged to take more and more risks. In other words, bankers are nothing but irresponsible risk-taking children with no control over their actions, who need to be reigned in better. I’m not sure how well that will go down with her banking chums.

Actually, there have been a lot of people who put this entire crisis down to poor or ineffectual regulation. Yes, the very same regulation which was previously railed against as strangulating and diametrically opposed to the ‘ethics’ of neo-liberal free market capitalism. Of course, the real problem is the system of so-called free market capitalism. From inventing vast amounts of ‘value’ where no true capital exists, to deregulating money markets, this socio-economic ideology has done nothing more or less than place the fate of pretty much every living person under the direct control of three unelected, practically unseen organisations. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation are the tripartite leadership and main proponents of this ideology, and they are all wholesale controlled by the United States government.

If we are ever to escape this inherently unstable and totally illusionary cycle of boom and bust, it will not be, as Gordon Brown thought, via the means of free market capitalism which is, after all, the name of the problem itself.

Fawkes and the nasty right

Those of you who follow the UK political scene will be aware of the Guy Fawkes blog. For many, it’s not much more than the most famous of many scurrilous, muck-raking (not that this is a bad thing), anti-Labour Westminster blogs.

But its composition, as well as its readership, is riddled with what might at best be termed ‘dodgy’ thinking. Comments on posts are generally uncensored and expose that the modern, Tory right wing has not changed, despite what Cameron would have us believe. They remain as nasty – and comtemptible – as ever. Those of you tempted to vote Tory in the next election (after all, it wouldn’t make much difference, right?) – remember that Guido Fawkes is very popular not only with politically astute Conservative voters but also, apparently, with many of the party’s activists.

Some comments from a thread that included a picture of Gordon Brown and a group of young boys:

“They all look like nice boys – are they aware of the turd-burgling snot-gobbler’s predilections?”

“I hope Brown is paying for those rentboy’s out of his own pocket.
You never know what these cunt’s try to put on their expenses.”

“He looks uncomfortable because he’s dithering over which one to pick.”

“Hey guys, we all know the filthy habits of Gay Gordo, but those are likely just ordinary innocent (so far) kids – unfair to call them rentboys just because that is what that foul perverted fucker likes.”

“I wonder if the photographer got any shot’s of Brown getting spit roasted.I’m sure his mate’s at Liebour HQ would pay handsomely for them.”

“next thing you know kids get touched up, then go missing, media blackout and files buried for 100yrs
geoffrey, how many times have i told you, naughty naughty, very naughty”

“So lads where is the nearest public lavatory?”

…and I haven’t even posted the ones about Harriet Harman. Nice guys, huh? I always wonder what makes some men write such knowledgeable, angry depictions of the gay sex they claim to hate.

Oh, and the other day I saw someone referring to Labour as ‘ZaNu LieBore’ – possibly the worst attempt at making up a name since that whole ‘Bliar’ fiasco.

A coup is a transition

There’s a lot of interesting spin coming out of the PM’s office and the Treasury at the moment. Blair’s supporters are blaming Gordon Brown for orchestrating a ‘coup’ and have appeared on the BBC in their droves insisting that forcing Blair out now will be ‘damaging to the party’ and that Brown wouldn’t want to inherit that, now would he?

I take issue with the main argument here: that removing Blair ASAP will damage the Labour party, whereas allowing Blair to hang on for eight months will strengthen it. Is it not true that the single most unattractive thing about Labour is Tony Blair himself? Is it really worth hurting the party even more than it has been hurt over the last decade, just so that Blair can get his jubilee?

It looks to me as if Blair is now committed to preventing Gordon Brown from becoming leader. The eight month wait is ample time for John Reid or another loyal Blairite to establish himself as a successor to the great leader.

I wouldn’t say that Brown deserves to be PM in any way. But someone needs to take over pretty quickly if Labour is to slow – and reverse – its sliding in the polls. Besides, where’s the categorical difference between a coup and a transition? A coup is a transition… much quicker, of course, and sometimes bloodless.

(Oh, and by the way: anyone referring to Blair as ‘Bliar’ in these pages will have their IP address blocked.)