Last Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.
Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.
Twitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.
When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
Privatisation of national assets. Deregulation – grotesquely, bakeries and milk are specifically mentioned as no longer to be subject to pesky government interference. Bread and milk. Removing workers’ rights to strike, to collective bargaining, to their legal rights in the wake of mass redundancies. No matter what the Greeks voted for, no matter what they wanted their government to do to help them: no democracy allowed.
This is a replay of another war: but not seventy-five years ago, only twelve.
One of the plans for the conquest and plundering of Iraq that went awry for the Bush administration was that all Iraqi nationalised assets were to be privatised. Saddam Hussein’s government had nationalised about 30% of Iraqi industries: the plan post-conquest was for the Coalition Provisional Authority to pursue policies that, as Donald Rumsfeld said in the Wall Street Journal in May 2003, ‘favour market systems’ and ‘encourage moves to privatise state-owned enterprises‘.
But, as the Bush administration discovered, their planned timetable of conquer, plunder, then hold elections, made the selling of the plunder unlawful: only a properly-elected government can lawfully sell national assets. A government established by foreign conquest explicitly can’t do so. Bush declared victory in Iraq on 2nd May 2003. The first post-conquest democratic elections were held 30th January 2005. One certain reason for the 18-month delay was that the Bush administration was trying to find some legal loophole that would let their planned mass privatisation go ahead.
- Forty years ago on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, crushed the democratically elected Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende.
Thousands of people were tortured and killed, others ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the authorities, the secret police and more were illegally detained. Men, women and children were rounded up by the military and taken from their homes. Most were never seen alive by their families again. 1 million people were forced into exile. – Chile 40 Years On network
In the UK, widespread public support against the coup was not welcomed by the Conservative government in 1973:
The shipbuilders’ union urged the government not to sell warships to Pinochet, even though losing these contracts could threaten their own jobs. The government’s response? To send spies to shipyards across Britain to check workers were not sabotaging vessels destined for Chile.
When Labour came to power in 1974, it cut off arms sales, aid and credit to Pinochet and, in 1977, withdrew the British ambassador. But existing arms contracts were to be honoured, so trade unionists took matters into their own hands. Employees at East Kilbride engineering yard in Scotland refused to fix bomber-plane engines destined for Chile, forcing Rolls Royce to break its contract with the Chilean air force. This forgotten history of solidarity will be celebrated across Britain today, the 40th anniversary of the coup.
Unsurprisingly, when Pinochet’s most prominent defender, Margaret Thatcher came to office in 1979, diplomatic relations were soon restored and arms sales resumed. Declassified papers reveal that, by June 1982, her government had sold the dictatorship: two warships, 60 blowpipe missiles, 10 Hunter Hawker bomber planes, naval pyrotechnics, communications equipment, gun sights, machine guns and ammunition. A unique attempt at a British “ethical foreign policy” had ended.
- On 11th January, 2002, the first 20 illegally-detained prisoners were delivered to cages at Guantanamo Bay: over 11 years later, the US is still holding 164 prisoners in extrajudicial detainment illegal under international law.
- Since 12th July 2005, it has been publicly known that the US government authorised US soldiers to torture Guantanamo Bay prisoners: US soldiers also tortured prisoners in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the US military is also linked to the use of torture in Iraqi-run prisons.
Asked in a candid interview on BBC2’s Newsnight whether he minded if “people call you a liar, some people call you a war criminal, protesters follow you; it’s difficult to walk down the street in a country”, he replied: “It really doesn’t matter whether it’s taken its toll on me.
“The fact is yes there are people who will be very abusive, by the way I do walk down the street and by the way I won an election in 2005 after Iraq. However, yes it remains extremely divisive and very difficult.”
By 23rd July 2002 George W. Bush had already decided to invade Iraq.
For Tony Blair, at the time, it seems quite clear what his reasoning was.
- Saddam Hussein was a terrifying dictator – anyone who travelled in Iraq while he ruled there confirms that.
He had unquestionably been guilty of horrifying atrocities, though as those had been committed at a time when he was regarded as a useful Middle Eastern dictator, they had then been ignored by the governments of the US and UK. He had been using Iraqi oil money for internal investment, building Iraq up to become a fully-developed nation (yes, he also spent it on his “palaces”, but so did every other Middle Eastern dictator with oil: he also spent it on Iraqi industry and infrastructure, and that’s what really bothered oil magnates). He had invaded a neighbouring country with intent to conquer and occupy (Gulf War II).
Four days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gathers his national security team at Camp David for a war council. Wolfowitz argues that now is the perfect time to move against state sponsors of terrorism, including Iraq. But Powell tells the president that an international coalition would only come together for an attack on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, not an invasion of Iraq.
The war council votes with Powell. Rumsfeld abstains. The president ultimately decides that the war’s first phase will be Afghanistan. The question of Iraq will be reconsidered later. The evolution of the Bush doctrine: chronology
In March next year, it will be the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the US, supported by the UK. In the past ten years, over a million people in Iraq have been killed and millions more have become refugees. George W. Bush and Tony Blair are responsible.
Since the UK invaded Iraq in 2003, the biggest human rights crime committed by my country in my lifetime, I have voted Scottish Green whenever they gave me the opportunity.
Tony Blair was guilty of an international war crime when he took the UK into war with Iraq in 2003. Whatever the Conservatives like to say now, they were even more gung-ho for war in 2003 than Tony Blair was: the sexed-up dossier that Downing Street produced was intended to justify the case for war on Iraq to the Labour backbenchers, not to other parties.
This criminal act does not condemn the whole Labour Party, much less all of the MPs, not those who were honestly fooled by the dossier and especially not the 139 MPs who voted against Blair’s war. But the Iraq war is a huge crime, a horrible blot on the party in government then who instigated it, and the party in government now who supported it. I stopped being an instinctive Labour voter in 2003. Prior to that year, in any election where there was a Labour candidate, they would have had the strongest claim on my vote. After that: no.
Today is the ninth anniversary of the day that 15 million people round the world – over a hundred thousand people in Glasgow – came together and said No to the Iraq war. And we were right.