On Wednesday 8th July 1914, the Manchester Guardian published an editorial against the practice of force-feeding imprisoned suffragettes, as well as two petitions addressed to the Liberal Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna:
We publish to-day two reasoned and powerful pleas, the one from distinguished Free Church ministers, the other from a large number of medical men, against the practice of forcible feeding still persisted in by the Home Secretary, although the “Cat and Mouse” Bill was understood to have been passed as a substitute for a practice which public opinion rightly and with increasing urgency condemns.
Both petitions are addressed to the Home Secretary, and will, we trust, carry weight with him, and at least secure the interview for which the medical men ask and which the gravity of the case and the weight of the protest should make it difficult to refuse.
Forcible feeding, as carried out against resisting prisoners, is frankly a form of torture, and it is really as such that Mr. McKenna, so far as we understand his position, defends it. He says it is deterrent, and so it well may be, but so would be any other form of torture – the thumbscrew or the rack, or any other ancient and accredited method of inflicting intolerable pain; yet we do not now have resort to these methods, not even against women.
- 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.
11th September is the day in 1997 when we went to the polls to vote yes/yes to a Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers: a Parliament that had already been crowdsourced and mutually agreed to over seven years of debate in Scotland. Tony Blair later claimed to have “given” it to us, but however much that may rankle, it isn’t every day that an MSP suggests we arrest him.
Margo MacDonald holds a special place in Scottish politics, when in 2003, discovering that her party did not intend to have her re-elected by pushing her down the Regional list of candidates, she stood as an Independent. And won. And has continued to win ever since. She has a solid reputation for independent thinking and common sense. The SNP may well feel that their attempt to cut her out of Lothian and Scottish politics was one of the worse mistakes they’ve made since they decided not to get involved with campaigning for devolution.
Motion S4M-04022: Margo MacDonald, Lothian, Independent, Date Lodged: 06/09/2012:
That the Parliament agrees with Archbishop Desmond Tutu that Tony Blair should be tried for waging aggressive war against Iraq and further believes that the Scottish Government should take the opportunity afforded by the independence of Scots law to complete the incorporation of international criminal law by introducing a simple amendment making illegal the waging of aggressive war with the intention of regime change so that Tony Blair could be brought to trial in Scotland.