David Cleggeron is new Liberal leader

Nick Clegg

Is that Dave the Chameleon?

No it’s Chris Clegg.

I’m sorry, I mean David Cleggeron.

Sorry again, it’s Nick Clegg.

For sure, we now have three Tory parties in England…

Clegg’s for nuclear weapons, privatisation, and the EU. Sound familiar?

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Israeli war crimes, British weapons

Rarely does a leader of the ilLiberal unDemocrats impress me, but by gosh, Cleggeron has done it.

His call for the UK government to cease sales of WMDs to Israel is a practical suggestion that shows up the silence of the Tories, the feeble responses of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, and the inability of the UK media to adequately convey how the British government supports Israel’s military:

Brown must also halt Britain’s arms exports to Israel, and persuade our EU counterparts to do the same. The government’s own figures show Britain is selling more and more weapons to Israel, despite the questions about the country’s use of force. In 2007, our government approved £6m of arms exports. In 2008, it licensed sales 12 times as fast: £20m in the first three months alone.

There is a strong case that, given the Gaza conflict, any military exports contravene EU licensing criteria. Reports, though denied, that Israel is using illegal cluster munitions and white phosphorus should heighten our caution. I want an immediate suspension of all arms exports from the EU, but if that cannot be secured, Brown must act unilaterally.

There’s a petition on the Number 10 website, which is worth signing:

This petition recognises that the government has taken positive steps to tighten weapons exportation to Israel since 2005. However, only a complete arms embargo will send a clear message to Israel that this government will not accept the prolonged armed conflict which is aggravating existing tensions in the region. Additionally this will ensure that the government adheres to the UK Export Control Act of 2002 and the EU “consolidated criteria” governing the export of military equipment. Equally such a stance would set a precedent showing that this government is committed to establishing peace in the region. This precedent will have a far reaching impact in terms of marginalising the ideologies of radical extremist groups.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade has plenty of details:

Export licences approved in the first half of 2008 include:

  • components for combat aircraft
  • components for electronic warfare equipment
  • components for helmet mounted display equipment
  • components for military aero-engines
  • components for naval radars
  • components for surface-to-air missiles
  • equipment for the use of weapon sights
  • general military aircraft components
  • general naval vessel components
  • military communications equipment
  • technology for the use of weapon sights

Israel has used F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache combat helicopters to bomb Lebanese and Palestinian towns and villages. These contain significant UK components including missile triggering systems for Apaches and Head-Up Displays for F-16s.

In July 2002, the government approved the export of components for F-16 fighters being made by the US company Lockheed Martin and sold to Israel. Then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw justified the sales saying: “The Government has judged that the UK’s security and defence relationship with the US is fundamental to the UK’s national security … Defence collaboration with the US is also key to maintaining a strong defence industrial capacity.” He went on “Any interruption to the supply of these components would have serious implications for the UK’s defence relations with the United States.” In other words, the commercial relationship between BAE Systems and US companies such as Lockheed Martin was judged more important than the lives of Palestinians.

The UK continues to sell arms to Israel despite the UN stating that Israel “violates humanitarian law” and even though the UK’s own “Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria” are supposed to assess the impact on regional peace, security and stability and the human rights record of the recipient.

More information on UK companies known to have supplied military equipment to Israel

Bliar’s Catholicism non-story trumps BAE revelations

Yes, it’s official.

Bliar’s become a Catholic. Not a great surprise, it’s a shame he didn’t have the balls to convert years ago.

Confession’s going to be difficult, isn’t it? He’s not one for being honest.

Take the inquiry into BAE Systems’ alleged corruption:

The Grauniad’s reporting that newly released documents prove that he pestered the attourney-general Lord Goldsmith to call of the inquiry, then claimed it was not about the big bucks, but national security.

New Liberal leader “Dick Cleggeron” – who recently came out as atheist – is calling for an official inquiry into the whole thing.

The BAE deal, I mean, not Bliar’s Catholicism.

Anyhow, since it seems to be the season for coming out, here’s one of my friends…

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Party leadership and party policy – South Africa and England compared

zuma.jpg

No, this post is not about Jacob Zuma (the picture above illustrates what the Western worries are, for the spectre of communism is haunting the “end of history“).

I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t like to use this blog to comment on affairs outside of the Anglo-Celtic Isles. One must have an aim and stick to it – mine is to examine English politics.

So, whilst Zuma’s election reflects the growing strength of working class opposition to the neoliberal consensus in South Africa and is a positive development, I won’t be saying any more.

The leadership election in England today was for the Liberal Democrats – the ideologically feeble third-party of “British” as well as English politics.

The winner, one Nick Clegg, whom I rudely referred to earlier today as “David Cleggeron”, is an Orange Booker.

What does this mean?

The FT tries to explain:

Mr Clegg, a 40-year-old former MEP from the right of his party, won 20,988 votes to edge past Mr Huhne, who amassed 20,477 votes through a tenacious outsider’s campaign.

The lack of a resounding endorsement from the party’s left-leaning activists may make it harder for Mr Clegg to establish his authority and pursue more radical public service reforms to extend choice and diversity.

Now, understand that “choice and diversity” refers not to what is offered to service users and providers, but rather the fat cat corporations that are hungry for some guaranteed profits from the state…

Greenman gives us the lowdown from our perspective:

The chink of light is that there might be a hung parliament at the next election. This might give an opportunity for the Lib Dems to force through (as their main demand when the post-election discussions begin) a referendum on the introduction of a form of PR. This is one of the few uses for which that particular political party is fit – and something the leadership would presumably find it difficult to trade away given its’ totemic value to the bulk of their membership.

I expect Clegg will have to walk the tightrope between his economic liberalism and his need to assuage the party’s left – so, this means out-playing Cameron as “progressive“, downplaying the neoliberal aspects as a consequence. He’s done this already during the campaign, backing away from his previous support for NHS privatisation. That’s total privatisation, note.

In light of Toque’s analysis, I may have to reverse ferret on my prediction the next Liberal leader would pounce upon the English Question and come out for devolution to be extended to England. We’ll have to see if Clegg will continue to be as evasive as he has thusfar…