Britain

Review: The Imperial Controversy: Challenging the Empire Apologists By Andrew Murray, Foreword by George Galloway Manifesto Press, 152 pages, paperback £12.95 In the past decade or so, politicians, journalists and academics have attempted to rehabilitate the notions of empire and imperialism. For example, in 2009 then-British PM Gordon Brown told the Daily Mail newspaper: “The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over. We should move forward. We should celebrate much of our past rather than apologise for it.”
One year after workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight in protest at the company’s decision to cease production, a new organisation, Sureblades set up by former Vestas employees has risen from the ashes. It is due to start making blades within two months just yards from the closed factory. Sureblades has been driven by Sean McDonagh, a National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) member. He was one of the sacked Vestas workers involved in the occupation, during which he ran operations from outside the gates.
The global carbon market, which trades “pollution rights” to encourage industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions, grew in 2009. Far from signaling a success, this reflects a huge increase in fraud, the dumping of surplus emissions permits by industry, and a rise in financial speculation.
Joe Glenton, the British Army Lance Corporal who refused to return to fight in Afghanistan, was released from military prison on July 12. Glenton was jailed in March after going absent without leave from the army in 2007. He had previously spent seven months in Afghanistan as part of the US-led military occupation. He campaigned against the occupation, speaking at an anti-war demonstration in October. Glenton was greeted by about 30 supporters and dozens of reporters outside the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, Counterfire.org said on July 13.
Anti-war campaigners have challenged British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to act on his belief that the invasion of Iraq was illegal by making sure those responsible were tried for war crimes, including former PM Tony Blair. Clegg, from the Liberal Democrats, shocked his pro-war Conservative Party coalition partners on July 21 when he declared the US-led invasion “illegal”. Clegg was standing in for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for prime minister’s questions in parliament.
Poverty and inequality are at record levels according to a new report. The redistribution of wealth from poor to rich overseen by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and continued under Labour, will be accelerated by the huge public spending cuts proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition — unless they are stopped. The Institute of Fiscal Studies’ annual Poverty and Inequality in the UK report released in May makes for bleak reading. Incomes for most households had stagnated for the last seven years under Labour.
How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”. In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”. This followed a claim, also fake, that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked a US warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.
Women, the unemployed, the ill and frail will be the biggest losers from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s slash-and-burn budget — and there will be no economic recovery. That was the dire warning on June 23 from Canadians who have bitter experience of an identical right-wing assault on the public sector. In the weeks leading up to the June 22 budget, the Con-Dem coalition sought advice from Canada’s former finance minister Paul Martin, who wielded the axe on his country’s public spending in the 1990s.
On June 15, something amazing happened: British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the British army shooting Irish people. “It was wrong”, said Cameron, after a government inquiry found the British army was responsible for the killing of 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators, seven of them teenagers, in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. On January 30, 1972, up to 30,000 people marched in Derry, in the six Irish counties occupied by Britain, to demand an end to internment, a policy that allowed for the jailing of people without trial.
In the wake of Britain’s inconclusive general election, there is much talk of the “national interest”. It’s said that politicians of all parties have to pull together to address the crisis caused by the country’s enlarged fiscal deficit. Specifically, they must agree to a package of deep public spending cuts. Nothing, it is said, is more urgent, more unavoidable. In contrast, it seems climate change can be left perpetually on the backburner — though there is a far greater expert consensus about its dangers than those of a large deficit.

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