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James Hanson
Upper Sixth
Moberly's House

New Labour figures with blood on their hands

New Labour figures with blood on their hands

The current crisis in Libya raises a lot of disbelief. For one thing, the sheer delusion of Colonel Gaddafi when he makes statements such as ‘all my people love me’ points to the man’s growing insanity. Secondly, one has to wonder where the recent spread of discontent through the gulf will stop. However, from a British perspective, aside from the slow reactions of the government to stranded citizens in Libya, the actions and policies of the previous government beggar belief.

As we all know, Colonel Gaddafi is nothing less than a murdering tyrant, who has oppressed his own people for over four decades. He is widely suspected on having ordered the Lockerbie bombing, developed a dangerous chemical weapons program during the 1990s, has resisted any attempts to insert strains of democracy into Libyan politics and has committed torture and various other war crimes against his own citizens during his premiership. Simply, he is a man the west should condemn.

However, for almost their entire 13 years in office, the New Labour triumvirate of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson courted and cuddled up to Gaddafi in return for oil and naked financial interest. Now, I am not so naïve as to imagine real politic does have an essential role in foreign policy, and sometimes one has to negotiate with brutal dictators, no matter how abhorrent their crimes. Neither am I suggesting the desire for oil is entirely ignoble, for such resources are still intrinsically vital for the British economy and have to be supplied from somewhere. Yet the extent to which the New Labour trio pandered to Gaddafi’s vanity and self-important delusion cannot be considered healthy or morally justifiable.

Firstly, the concept of brokering deals with such a leader is tricky ground as it is. However the likelihood is that Blair or Brown agreed to free the man charged with the Lockerbie bombing, Abdulbaset-al-Megrahi, in return for access to Libya’s plentiful oil supplies. Quite frankly, this alone is sick-making and condemnable, but what is worse is the way in which the previous government not only failed to make any attempt to encourage Gaddafi to introduce democracy, or change his oppressive ways — they actively grew close ties to not only the Libyan administration but the entire Gaddafi family.

Peter Mandelson is reported to have enjoyed a weekend on a super-yacht with Gaddafi’s supposedly more moderate son (the video clips of him threatening his fellow Libyans with finger-wagging arrogance suggests otherwise) Saif. Last week Tony Blair was described as a ‘family friend’ of Gaddafi, whilst Gordon Brown appeared to receive a warmer reception from the Libyan leader when he was Prime Minister than he did from Barack Obama.

Although I am not suggesting our former government are to blame for events in Libya, for that is clearly the work of a deranged dictator who would have reacted in this way even without the sycophancy of the doting New Labourites, I would contend that the trio of Blair, Brown and Mandelson did shamefully little to discourage Gaddafi from his tyrannical ways. In fact, I would argue they went even further, and that by pandering to his deluded ways and demands they contributed to his insane concept that he is a leader loved by his own people, imparting good onto his great nation. Simply, the previous government have blood on their hands.

7 March 2011

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