Labour and torture…

One of the immediate effects of reading some of the Torture Report last night was a feeling of deep anger. My memories of 2003 and protesting against the planned invasion of Iraq came flooding back – and my anger towards Tony Blair in particular and the Labour Party in general came flooding back. I tweeted about it a bit last night and this morning – and though most people seemed to agree with me, a number seemed to think I was being unfair. After Polly Toynbee’s suggestion yesterday that we should ‘ignore the flaws’ of the Labour Party, having this particularly huge flaw shoved in my face seemed a touch ironic. So am I unfair to be angry with Labour? The people suggesting so seem to have a three main complaints:

This wasn’t Tony Blair – or even the UK. This is about the CIA.

It’s certainly true that the Torture Report is about the CIA’s activities – but the UK is not unconnected. Firstly, the UK was involved in the CIA’s activities, helping with rendition at the very least, and turning a blind eye to other things. Secondly, anyone who imagines that the UK is totally innocent of similar actions seems to me to be deeply naïve – the fact that we don’t know for sure may well have as much to do with our secretive and seemingly ineffective forms of oversight. A report like the Torture Report is almost unheard of in the UK. We have the odd whitewash from time to time, but nothing more. What’s more, Blair made the UK complicit in the whole ‘war on terror’ – and the torture was part of that.

Tony Blair didn’t know what was happening

For that to be true, he would have to be a complete fool – and that’s one thing I would never accuse him of. What’s more, over a million of us warned him.

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I was on that march – and we weren’t just saying ‘don’t invade Iraq’, we were saying ‘don’t go into bed with the most reactionary and objectionable US president in living memory.’ We may not have known the details – details confirmed by the Torture Report – but we knew who and what Bush was, and what joining him implied. Blair must also have known – and if he didn’t make the obvious inference about things like torture, then as I wrote before, he would have to be a fool. And he isn’t a fool.

Tony Blair isn’t the Labour Party

No he isn’t – but he led the Labour Party, and a very significant number of the current crop of MPs voted for Blair and Bush’s war, effectively voting for this torture. Some of the ‘big figures’ who actively supported the war are still very much part of the party – names like David Blunkett and Jack Straw spring to mind, but there are others. More importantly, the current Labour Party seem to be very much carrying on Blair’s agenda. Yvette Cooper seems to be almost as much an authoritarian as the rest of them!

 

So yes, I do blame Labour. And yes, I think that’s fair – and until Labour makes a proper break from the past, and shows that it understands what went wrong, or even that it was wrong, I will continue to blame Labour.

6 thoughts on “Labour and torture…

  1. Ironic really that people are outraged by the alledged cover up in parliament about child sexual abuse and rightly so. It seems that a cover up is accepted in the main, yet there is doubt and argument about the possibility of a Labour governments involvement in torture and a subsequent cover up. Where is the logic I ask myself? Let’s face it politicians are very good at hiding the real truth.

  2. In one sense we are all responsible…..and yes, you are right Paul… ….If we are in government we ought to know what is going on and if we don’t we have collusion..it is that simple.

  3. I understand how you feel Paul, and I think a considerable part of the problem has to do with that deep fear in the Labour Party of being seen as wishy washy lefties. Sadly, they’re still so worried about not being Tories they don’t seem to be able to deal with many political issues that might make them appear girly, as distinct from pro-business, pro-war, tough guys. That’s the success of the Iron Lady as she herself said.

    I would absolutely vote Labour regardless of my principles simply because as PT argues the alternative is so utterly unthinkable. It’s wrong alright. But… whatever I do, the Tory will get in. We’re all, politicians and voters alike, trapped by the outmoded electoral and parliamentary systems.

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