Gordon Poodle

[Tuesday]

Yesterday, Gordon Blair attempted to impress the British ruling class by displaying his hard-on for US imperialism:

Gordon Brown has said Britain’s “most important” relationship is with the US, in his first major foreign policy speech since becoming prime minister.

He warned that he had “no truck with anti-Americanism” and said the EU should strengthen ties with the US.

Mr Brown also called for more “hard-head internationalism” in peacekeeping, aid and reconstruction.

In the speech at the Lord Mayor of London’s banquet, he also warned Iran over its “nuclear ambitions”.

The analysis of the speech offered by the BBC’s Paul Reynolds correctly notes that there’s no legal basis for a war with Iran, nor evidence the country is constructing anything other than power plants – something Brown is keen on in the UK – but the following is dodgy:

When considering the relationship a British prime minister must have with the United States, it must never be forgotten that there is a not-so-secret tie binding the US and UK together.

It is the agreement, renewed only in the past year, under which the United States and Britain swap information on nuclear weapons and Britain buys US missiles for its nuclear submarines.

No British prime minister can afford to distance his or her country from the US to such an extent that the trust involved in such an arrangement is dissipated. After all, the US has given the UK the ability to destroy much of the American homeland, an act of trust with no parallel in history.

If Britain were ever regarded as an unreliable or perhaps even an ungrateful ally, the US could pull the plug.

The US has not given it’s junior partner the power to destroy it, however. The so-called “independent nuclear deterrent” is no more independent than it is a deterrent – the missiles cannot be launched without first getting permission from the US government.

The Morning Star‘s James Tweedie also notes Brown’s turn towards Washington, the opposite of Malloch-Brown’s promise of a foreign policy distance:

Mr Brown welcomed the recent improvements in relations between the US and Europe, formerly referred to as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” by US neoconservatives.

He argued that French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s cosy relations with George Bush had paved the way for reforms of international institutions such as the UN.

Mr Brown added: “I think it’s important to remember that Britain is part of a network of relationships around the world and the strength of our relationship with America is incredibly important to the future of the world.

“If we’re going to rebuild the international institutions, as I think we should be doing, to meet the challenges of the next stage, then we want to work with America to enable us to do so.”

Mr Brown refused to rule out support for a US attack on Iran, claiming: “The diplomatic route is bearing some success and it’s got to be stepped up over the next period of time, if that becomes necessary.

“I believe, however, that, while nothing should be ruled out, it is important to say that the sanctions we are placing on Iran are having some effect.”

A Stop the War Coalition spokesman charged: “After Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent trip to the United States, we now have Gordon Brown saying ‘plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.’

“Exactly as Tony Blair would have done, Brown has given his fulsome support to the preparations for an attack on Iran. He is as close to George Bush as Blair was.”

Respect MP George Galloway added: “This is a deeply disturbing, although predictable, development. It’s predictable because Gordon Brown has never given any indication that he would distance himself from Washington.

“But it’s disturbing because he is making this speech at a time when the telephone wires are buzzing with talk of an attack on Iran.”

The focus on Iran was to the detriment of Pakistan – Brown didn’t have much to say about the crisis in Pakistan. No threats, here, and it’s little wonder, as General Musharraf, and the army he leads, could not survive without the political support and military aid from the UK and America:

Washington would prefer to give Pakistan’s client state a democratic facelift. This is why it supported the British-brokered deal between former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf, enabling Musharraf to maintain power while allowing Bhutto to get “democratically” elected to prime minister.

The deal has been costly to Bhutto and has borne no fruit for her. Bhutto’s popularity has greatly suffered not just among the public but specifically within her own People’s Party, many of whose members are opposed to dealing with the military dictatorship. This is why Bhutto has spoken out against the imposition of martial law in recent days.

Will Brown speak out for the billionaire Bhutto, or has Washington told him to keep quiet on this one?

No nukes or prescription charges for Scotland, free school meals and social housing instead!

[Tuesday]

If the British ruling class have any plans to back the US in bombing Iran over its nuclear energy programme, they should think again. It could cost the Union…

The SNP/Green Scottish government is keen to push for nuclear disarmament, which is actually a stated aim of the UK Labour government.

First Minister Alex Salmond is seeking support from the international community in his campaign to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons.

He has written to representatives of 189 countries signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr Salmond is asking them to back his bid for Scotland to have observer status at future treaty talks.

Labour MP Eric Joyce said the letter could “potentially damage our national security interests”.

[…]

Mr Joyce, the MP for Falkirk, said that the UK had very complex relationships with some countries such as Iran and Zimbabwe.

Ah yes, complex relations. In the case of Iran, the British government has in the past intervened with the US to depose a democratically-elected government; as for Zimbabwe, it is a former colony to which the UK government did not meet its commitments and has helped cripple its economy with sanctions.

But neither state threatens the interests of any of the nations in the “United Kingdom”…

What are the other objections?

David Cairns, the Scotland Office minister, says that Alex Salmond should be sorting out the free personal care instead of “cavorting across the world stage with his discredited loony-left policies” and giving comfort to our enemies. Well, they are also his loony policies, since Labour is still formally committed to pursuing “multilateral nuclear disarmament” under a defence policy which dates from the late 1980s.

Well, it looks like the matter of freebies hasn’t escpaed the Scottish Health Secretary:

Charges for prescriptions are to be abolished within four years, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.

The deputy first minister said some people were being forced to go without vital medication because they could not afford to pay.

And there’s more:

Primary pupils are starting to receive free school meals as part of a pilot project in five parts of Scotland.
The scheme for all children in the first three years of school is under way in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

They will be followed in the coming days and weeks by schools in East Ayrshire, Fife and the Borders.

The Scottish Government has invested £5m in the pilot scheme, with about 8,500 additional pupils expected to take up the offer in Glasgow alone.

The city already has free fruit, milk and mains-fed water coolers in its schools.

The six-month pilot has been set up to see if providing a nutritious lunch for all children could help improve their diets.

It all sounds very “Old Labour”, doesn’t it? Okay, the SNP are objectively a party of big business, but they are committed to winning independence for Scotland, and to this end will push the limits of devolution and provide reforms for working people to win them over to independence…

With measures like this:

The SNP government will consider a ban on the sale of new council and housing association homes.

A Scottish Government source said it would consult on the option, which would only affect those tenants moving to new-build homes.

The option will be contained in the government’s housing green paper, which should be published in coming weeks.

Now, this shows two things:

1. Socialists north of the border need to work together to ensure that these progressive reforms are implemented. This means some kind of conciliation between Solidarity and the Scottish Socialist Party.

2. Devolution can stall the neo-liberal agenda and allow a return to social democratic politics and reforms to benefit working people, which is why socialists should back a parliament for England.

Here endeth the lecture.